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Has U.S. Democracy Been Trumped? Bernie Sanders wants to know who owns America?

#14341 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-November-26, 13:48

Laura Litvan @LauraLitvan covers the U.S. Senate and the 2020 elections for Bloomberg News said:

NEW: House Judiciary Cmte just noticed its first impeachment inquiry hearing for Wednesday, Dec. 4.

Chairman Nadler sent a letter to President Trump inviting him to participate.

https://judiciary.ho...ite%20House.pdf

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14342 User is online   johnu 

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Posted 2019-November-26, 19:17

Trump claims he'd 'love' to have his top aides testify in impeachment probe

LOL

Quote

President Donald Trump on Tuesday claimed that he would “love” for various current and former senior members of his administration to testify before impeachment investigators, despite the White House’s directive for those officials not to cooperate.


Except for ordering anybody and everybody in his administration to not testify, the Criminal in Chief would "love" for them to testify. I'm sure he will allow them all to freely testify immediately after the IRS stops auditing his tax returns and he voluntarily releases them to Congress.
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#14343 User is online   johnu 

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Posted 2019-November-27, 03:28

andrei can add this to the list of the stable genius's major accomplishments.

Donald Trump’s Boast About Celebrating Women’s Rights Gets The Treatment Online

Quote

Social media users schooled Donald Trump on what a centennial is after the president on Tuesday asked why a new coin to mark the 100 years since women’s suffrage had not been created before his time in office.

“I’m curious why wasn’t it done a long time ago?” Trump asked during the signing of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act. The act instructs the Treasury Department to issue $1 coins commemorating the 1920 ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. The money will be circulated from January.

To be fair, the Manchurian President will be the only person in history to be US president on the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. Well done.

In other news, the stable genius is one of the few presidents, maybe the only one, who presided when the earth rotated on its axis continuously without interruption, and the sun rose in the east and set in the west every single day of his administration. I'll bet that very few people knew that.
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#14344 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-November-27, 12:42

In The post-Christian culture wars, Ezra Klein argues that the key to understanding why white Christian evangelicals support Trump lies in a couple of speeches that William Barr gave in October and November.

Quote

Speaking at Notre Dame in October, Barr argued that the conflict of the 20th century pitted democracy against fascism and communism — a struggle democracy won, and handily. “But in the 21st century, we face an entirely different kind of challenge,” he warned. America was built atop the insight that “free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people.” But “over the past 50 years religion has been under increasing attack,” driven from the public square by “the growing ascendancy of secularism and the doctrine of moral relativism.”

This is a war Barr thinks progressives have been winning, and that conservatives fight in the face of long institutional odds.

Today we face something different that may mean that we cannot count on the pendulum swinging back. First is the force, fervor, and comprehensiveness of the assault on religion we are experiencing today. This is not decay; it is organized destruction. Secularists, and their allies among the “progressives,” have marshaled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.

Whatever political power conservatives hold, progressives occupy the cultural high ground, and they strike without mercy. “Those who defy the [secular] creed risk a figurative burning at the stake,” says Barr, “social, educational, and professional ostracism and exclusion waged through lawsuits and savage social media campaigns.”

In a November speech before the Federalist Society, Barr expanded on the advantage progressives hold. It’s worth quoting his argument at length:

The fact of the matter is that, in waging a scorched earth, no-holds-barred war of “Resistance” against this Administration, it is the Left that is engaged in the systematic shredding of norms and the undermining of the rule of law. This highlights a basic disadvantage that conservatives have always had in contesting the political issues of the day. It was adverted to by the old, curmudgeonly Federalist, Fisher Ames, in an essay during the early years of the Republic.

In any age, the so-called progressives treat politics as their religion. Their holy mission is to use the coercive power of the State to remake man and society in their own image, according to an abstract ideal of perfection. Whatever means they use are therefore justified because, by definition, they are a virtuous people pursuing a deific end. They are willing to use any means necessary to gain momentary advantage in achieving their end, regardless of collateral consequences and the systemic implications. They never ask whether the actions they take could be justified as a general rule of conduct, equally applicable to all sides.

Conservatives, on the other hand, do not seek an earthly paradise. We are interested in preserving over the long run the proper balance of freedom and order necessary for healthy development of natural civil society and individual human flourishing. This means that we naturally test the propriety and wisdom of action under a “rule of law” standard. The essence of this standard is to ask what the overall impact on society over the long run if the action we are taking, or principle we are applying, in a given circumstance was universalized — that is, would it be good for society over the long haul if this was done in all like circumstances?

For these reasons, conservatives tend to have more scruple over their political tactics and rarely feel that the ends justify the means. And this is as it should be, but there is no getting around the fact that this puts conservatives at a disadvantage when facing progressive holy war, especially when doing so under the weight of a hyper-partisan media.

It's really something to see Barr using the power of the Justice Department to do what he accuses progressives of doing: "Their holy mission is to use the coercive power of the State to remake man and society in their own image, according to an abstract ideal of perfection." Talk about a guy on a holy mission. Barr is a fanatic pretending to be a defender of the Constitution.
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#14345 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-November-27, 13:12

 y66, on 2019-November-27, 12:42, said:

In The post-Christian culture wars, Ezra Klein argues that the key to understanding why white Christian evangelicals support Trump lies in a couple of speeches that William Barr gave in October and November.


It's really something to see Barr using the power of the Justice Department to do what he accuses progressives of doing: "Their holy mission is to use the coercive power of the State to remake man and society in their own image, according to an abstract ideal of perfection." Talk about a guy on a holy mission. Barr is a fanatic pretending to be a defender of the Constitution.



Quote

Today we face something different that may mean that we cannot count on the pendulum swinging back. First is the force, fervor, and comprehensiveness of the assault on religion we are experiencing today. This is not decay; it is organized destruction. Secularists, and their allies among the “progressives,” have marshaled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.
my emphasis

He forgot to mention the three main assaults on religion: reason, abandonment of unnecessary superstitions, and increased knowledge.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#14346 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-November-27, 18:19

From Emily Cochrane at NYT:

Quote

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump on Wednesday signed tough legislation that would impose sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials responsible for human rights abuses in Hong Kong, expressing support for pro-democracy activists in the territory and most likely angering China as the two countries negotiate ending their trade war.

“I signed these bills out of respect for President Xi, China and the people of Hong Kong,” Mr. Trump said in a statement on Wednesday. “They are being enacted in the hope that leaders and representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences leading to long-term peace and prosperity for all.”

As late as last week, Mr. Trump refused to commit to signing the legislation, which Congress had overwhelmingly approved, saying that he supported the protesters but that President Xi Jinping of China was “a friend of mine.”

“I stand with Hong Kong,” he said on Friday during a nearly hourlong interview on the morning program “Fox & Friends.” “I stand with freedom. I stand with all of the things we want to do. But we’re also in the process of making the largest trade deal in history.”

The bill would require the State Department to annually review the special autonomous status it grants Hong Kong in trade considerations. That status is separate from the relationship with mainland China, and a revocation of the status would mean less favorable trade conditions between the United States and Hong Kong.

After the Senate approved the bill, the Chinese Foreign Ministry denounced it, saying it “interferes in China’s internal affairs” and “violates the basic norms of international law and international relations.”

The Hong Kong government said the bill was “unnecessary and unwarranted” and would harm relations between the United States and Hong Kong.

Because the bill, in theory, has the support of a veto-proof majority in Congress, it could have been enacted into law even if Mr. Trump had vetoed it.

The bill is the latest sign of a strong bipartisan push in Washington to confront China and its authoritarian leader on a wide range of issues, including commercial practices, global infrastructure building and the detention of at least a million Muslim ethnic minority members in camps in northwest China. Because of the pro-democracy protests, Hong Kong has become a central rallying point.

Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, and Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, both flew to Hong Kong in October, while Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, has met with activists in Washington.

“We have sent a message to President Xi: Your suppression of freedom, whether in Hong Kong, in northwest China or anywhere else, will not stand,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said last month. “You cannot be a great leader and you cannot be a great country when you oppose freedom, when you are so brutal to the people of Hong Kong, young and old, who are protesting.”

While there was no immediate reaction from the Chinese government to Mr. Trump’s signing of the bill, Beijing had previously made clear its strong hostility to the measure.

On Monday, China’s Foreign Ministry summoned the American ambassador to Beijing, Terry Branstad, to criticize the bill. According to the ministry, Zheng Zeguang, a vice foreign minister, demanded that the United States “stop interfering in China’s internal affairs.”

Although Mr. Trump announced last month that the United States and China had reached a “historic” Phase 1 trade agreement, signing a deal has proved elusive. Both the United States and China have tried to keep the Hong Kong issue separate from their bilateral trade talks. The Commerce Ministry issued a statement this week that talks were going well on a partial resolution of the issues.

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#14347 User is offline   Chas_P 

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Posted 2019-November-27, 19:47

 hrothgar, on 2019-November-26, 13:43, said:

What I find remarkable is that BBO lets him act as a Yellow


A lot of we "yellows" are volunteers Richard. We simply committed to helping fellow BBO'ers with the software, booting inactive table hosts, cheaters, etc. We are not paid. Our political views were never questioned. OTOH, barmar, Diana_Eva, and others are on BBO's payroll and have the power to remove my yellow mantle at any time they wish and if they do that's OK with me. I have given freely of my time and will continue to do so if they wish. With that said I wish, once again, a happy Thanksgiving to you, your family, and your friends (if you have any).

#14348 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-November-28, 21:22

Vladimir Putin has much to be thankful for. From Gerald F. Seib at WSJ:

Quote

Vladimir Putin has had a good year, and it just keeps getting better. He now is collecting his winnings on multiple fronts.

Even Mr. Putin must be amazed at how well he is achieving his goal of sowing discord within the U.S. political system. First, his agents interfered in the 2016 election. Now they can sit back and watch as their efforts to deflect blame away from Moscow and toward Ukraine are bearing fruit, in the form of a bitter American debate that is driving pro-Trump and anti-Trump forces further apart.

Fiona Hill, until recently the top Russia expert on the staff of President Trump’s National Security Council, summarized the Russian success on this front succinctly in her testimony before a House impeachment hearing last week: “The impact of the successful 2016 Russian campaign remains evident today. Our nation is being torn apart. Truth is questioned. Our highly professional and expert career foreign service is being undermined.”

Mr. Putin appears so confident in his success on this front that he actually is publicly gloating about it. “Thank God no one is accusing us of interfering in the U.S. elections anymore; now they’re accusing Ukraine,” he said at a conference in Moscow last week.

Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, heads early next month into his first meeting with Mr. Putin—whose forces have invaded his country and lopped off part of it—knowing that American support for Ukraine can be, and was, caught up in domestic U.S. political fights. Ukraine’s leader thereby enters talks with Mr. Putin less certain of support from Washington in his country’s confrontation with Russia.

But these successes on the American front are only the top of the list of trends moving Mr. Putin’s way.

The British political system is being torn in similar fashion by a debate over how much Russian disinformation was unleashed in an attempt to convince citizens to vote in 2016 to leave the European Union.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a Brexit advocate, is declining to release a sensitive report by the Parliament’s intelligence committee on Brexit interference, setting off a partisan argument just as Britain heads toward a new national election.

Regardless of whether Russia actually influenced the Brexit vote, the reality, three years later, is that Britain appears to be on the road toward exiting the EU in the messiest, most damaging way possible. What’s bad for European economic and political unity is good for Russia, so Mr. Putin can put the continuing Brexit mess as a big entry on the positive side of his 2019 ledger.

Meanwhile, the most important members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are descending into an argument about the functioning and future of the 70-year-old alliance, originally formed to deter expansionist moves by Moscow.

French President Emmanuel Macron, articulating what other NATO leaders are reluctant to say, has criticized Mr. Trump for his decision to pull back American forces in Syria and open the way for a greater Syrian role for both Mr. Putin and Turkey’s authoritarian leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

From Mr. Putin’s point of view, discord within the main Western military alliance is good news of the first order.

At the same time, that American retreat in Syria has helped further a trend in which Mr. Putin is becoming the man to see about Middle Eastern affairs.

In fact, Syria has worked out smashingly well for Mr. Putin: American troops and their Kurdish allies did the lion’s share of the work to extinguish Islamic State and its caliphate there, which Russia actually opposed, too. Now, having finished the dirty work, Washington has essentially ceded oversight of Syria to Moscow and allowed its Kurdish allies to be obliterated or pushed aside.

Russia’s most reliable regional proxy, Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, now appears secure in his position and certain to survive his country’s civil war. Having assumed a new position of prominence in Syria, Mr. Putin has Middle Eastern leaders of all varieties—Saudi Arabian, Iranian, Turkish and Israeli—beating a path to his door for consultations.

Mr. Putin is a former KGB operative, and it shows. He learned during the Cold War how to use disinformation and propaganda to exploit weak spots in Western democracies, and the dark space of the internet has opened a whole new playing field for him. He is a master of his craft.

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#14349 User is offline   diana_eva 

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Posted 2019-November-29, 02:14

@johnu your constant tracking of whatever chas posts to point out he once said he will not post in this thread again is more annoying that anything else in this thread, which is quite an achievement. Cut it out, many of the forumers rage quit and came back and so what. Especially in a thread like this one which seems to bring out the worse of everyone -- it's even worse than the climate change thread.

@hrothgar I removed the post where you're attacking chas.

For what is worth chas has been a helpful and useful yellow on BBO for a long time. I wish I never saw what his political views are, but that wont change that online, interacting with BBOers, he has been helpful and offered his time for free for many years.

#14350 User is online   johnu 

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Posted 2019-November-29, 04:03

 diana_eva, on 2019-November-29, 02:14, said:

@johnu your constant tracking of whatever chas posts to point out he once said he will not post in this thread again is more annoying that anything else in this thread, which is quite an achievement. Cut it out, many of the forumers rage quit and came back and so what. Especially in a thread like this one which seems to bring out the worse of everyone -- it's even worse than the climate change thread.


I'm not constantly tracking Chas, just remembering previous posts from very recent history. It's no great memory feat. If it seems frequent, it is because he constantly trolls, then posts that he is quitting the thread, and then almost immediately breaks his word to start posting again. As far as posters in this particular thread, he is the only person who rage quits and then embarrasses themselves by almost immediately posting again. Other posters have written that they were stopping posting because of apparently legitimate reasons at the time, and have started posting again when the circumstances changed. That seems perfectly acceptable to me. Are you trying to equate these other posters with Chas?
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#14351 User is offline   diana_eva 

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Posted 2019-November-29, 04:51

 johnu, on 2019-November-29, 04:03, said:

I'm not constantly tracking Chas, just remembering previous posts from very recent history. It's no great memory feat. If it seems frequent, it is because he constantly trolls, then posts that he is quitting the thread, and then almost immediately breaks his word to start posting again. As far as posters in this particular thread, he is the only person who rage quits and then embarrasses themselves by almost immediately posting again. Other posters have written that they were stopping posting because of apparently legitimate reasons at the time, and have started posting again when the circumstances changed. That seems perfectly acceptable to me. Are you trying to equate these other posters with Chas?


No I'm just trying to tell you to stop doing that. I don't care why you feel compelled to do this sort of post tracking but it's not interesting and not constructive and in the end how many times do you really need to express that "chas said he wont post but he did".

#14352 User is online   hrothgar 

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Posted 2019-November-29, 09:46

 diana_eva, on 2019-November-29, 02:14, said:

For what is worth chas has been a helpful and useful yellow on BBO for a long time. I wish I never saw what his political views are, but that wont change that online, interacting with BBOers, he has been helpful and offered his time for free for many years.


And Jeffrey Epstein gave lots of money to MIT...

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#14353 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-November-30, 08:29

From Martin Wolfe at FT:

Quote

History does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes. This remark is often incorrectly attributed to Mark Twain. But it is a good one.

History is the most powerful guide to the present, because it speaks to what is permanent in our humanity, especially the forces that drive us towards conflict. Since the biggest current geopolitical event, by far, is the burgeoning friction between the US and China, it is illuminating to look back to similar events in the past. In a thought-provoking book,Destined for War, Harvard’s Graham Allison started with the account of the Peloponnesian war by Thucydides, the great Athenian historian of the 5th century BC. However, I will focus on the three eras of conflict of the past 120 years. From them much is to be learnt.

The most recent conflict was the cold war (1948-1989) between a liberal democratic west, led by the US, and the communist Soviet Union, a transformed version of the pre-first world war Russian empire. This was a great power conflict between the chief victors of the second world war. But it was also an ideological conflict over the nature of modernity. The west ultimately won. It did so because the scale of western economies and the speed of western technological advances vastly outmatched those of the Soviet Union. The subjects of the Soviet empire also became disenchanted with their corrupt and despotic rulers and the Soviet leadership itself concluded its system had failed. Despite moments of danger, notably the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, the cold war also ended peacefully.

Going further back, we reach the interwar years. This was an interregnum in which the attempt to restore the pre-first world war order failed, the US withdrew from Europe and a huge financial and economic crisis, emanating originally from the US, ravaged the world economy. It was a time of civil strife, populism, nationalism, communism, fascism and national socialism. The 1930s are an abiding lesson in the possibility of democratic collapse once elites fail. They are also a lesson of what happens when great countries fall into the hands of power-hungry lunatics.

Going further back still, we reach the decisive period 1870-1914. As Paul Kennedy noted in his classic book, The Rise and the Fall of the Great Powers, in 1880, the UK generated 23 per cent of global manufacturing output. By 1913, this had fallen to 14 per cent. Over the same period, Germany’s share rose from 9 per cent to 15 per cent. This shift in the European balance led to a catastrophic Thucydidean war between the UK, an anxious status quo power, especially once the Germans started building a modern fleet, and Germany, a resentful rising one. Meanwhile, US industrial output went from 15 to 32 per cent of the world’s, while China fell into irrelevance. Thereupon, US action (in the 20th century’s big conflicts) and inaction (in the interwar years) determined the outcomes.

Today’s era is a mixture of all three of these. It is marked by a conflict of political systems and ideology between two superpowers, as in the cold war, by a post-financial crisis decline of confidence in democratic politics and market economics as well as by the rise of populism, nationalism and authoritarianism, as in the 1930s, and, most significantly, by a dramatic shift in relative economic power, with the rise of China, as with the US before 1914. For the first time since then, the US faces a power with an economic potential exceeding its own.

The pre-1914 period ended in a catastrophic war, as did the interwar period, albeit with a relatively successful post-1945 aftermath. The cold war ended in peaceful triumph. Now, the world confronts challenges that easily match those of the earlier periods. So what lessons are we to learn from these eras?

Perhaps the most obvious one is that quality of leadership matters. President Xi Jinping’s capacities and intentions are clear enough: he is devoted to party dominance over a resurgent China. But the political system of the western world and especially the US and UK, the two powers that dragged the world through the 1930s, is failing. US President Donald Trump’s erratic leadership recalls that of Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm. Without better leadership, the west and so the wider world are in deep trouble.

Another lesson is the overriding importance of avoiding war. Prof Allison describes well how mutual suspicion fueled the journey to war in 1914. It is even more crucial for the US and China to avoid head-on conflict now. That was the great success of the cold war. But nuclear deterrence may not be enough.

Yet perhaps the most important conclusion is that avoiding yet another catastrophe is insufficient. We cannot afford the old games of great power rivalry, however inevitable they must seem. Our fates are too deeply intertwined for that. A positive-sum vision of relations between the west, China and the rest has to become dominant if we are to manage the economic, security and environmental challenges we face. Humanity has to do far better than it has done before. Today, that must seem a fantasy, given the quality of western leadership, authoritarianism in China and rising tide of mutual suspicion. But we must try. We have to manage this difficult new era strategically. On our ability to do that all our futures now depend.

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#14354 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-November-30, 17:03

Turns out the "no quid pro quo" phone call is a phantom - didn't happen.


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The impeachment inquiry has been crippled from the beginning by the Exec Branch's obstruction, and its refusal to produce any records to the House.

But detailed, contemporaneous documentation showing Sondland lied in his testimony does exist. Because the NSC lawyers have it.

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#14355 User is offline   akwoo 

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Posted 2019-December-01, 00:25

I have a sad prediction.

China is going to commit genocide in Hong Kong.

The Chinese rulers realize that this would set them back a generation economically (and seriously, but to a lesser extent, damage the global economy), but democracy in Hong Kong is an existential threat to them, and going back a generation economically is not. Given the depth of support for democracy in Hong Kong, it will take genocide to wipe out the threat.

The sad thing about this event is that the rest of the world won't do much to stop it, and might not even be willing to take in 5 million or so refugees (a rough estimate of the number of Hong Kong residents who want democracy) if (as I think is likely) the Chinese government lets them all leave. It will to a certain extent normalize genocide, and might encourage some other countries to copy the example.

The success of the Chinese will encourage authoritarian governments around the world as well as advocates for authoritarianism elsewhere.

A significant number of Americans might not even object that strongly, on the grounds that such an action enhances US power in the world (which it certainly does).
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#14356 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2019-December-01, 08:15

 akwoo, on 2019-December-01, 00:25, said:


I have a sad prediction.

China is going to commit genocide in Hong Kong.

The Chinese rulers realize that this would set them back a generation economically (and seriously, but to a lesser extent, damage the global economy), but democracy in Hong Kong is an existential threat to them, and going back a generation economically is not. Given the depth of support for democracy in Hong Kong, it will take genocide to wipe out the threat.

The sad thing about this event is that the rest of the world won't do much to stop it, and might not even be willing to take in 5 million or so refugees (a rough estimate of the number of Hong Kong residents who want democracy) if (as I think is likely) the Chinese government lets them all leave. It will to a certain extent normalize genocide, and might encourage some other countries to copy the example.

The success of the Chinese will encourage authoritarian governments around the world as well as advocates for authoritarianism elsewhere.

A significant number of Americans might not even object that strongly, on the grounds that such an action enhances US power in the world (which it certainly does).


There is a young married couple with kids, they are having troubles, I would love to be able to interfere in a positive way, but how? That's the way I feel about Hong Kong. Surely everyone involved in setting things up back in 1997, or whenever it was, understood that it would eventually come to this in some form. Nobody could be so naive as to think that the dual government idea would actually be stable. So they, the experts, didn't know what to do about it then, and I, just me. don't know what to do about it now. I am open to good suggestions, I just don't have any.
Ken
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#14357 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-December-01, 11:17

From The Economist (Nov 21):

Quote

China’s official narrative about Hong Kong is that Western “black hands” are training, organising and even paying protesters to destroy Hong Kong—part of a larger plot to hold down a rising China. When America’s Senate passed a bill supportive of the protesters on November 20th Beijing reacted with a fury that grew out of and fed that narrative. Many mainlanders, bombarded by state media with images of protesters insulting China or waving foreign flags, long to see the protests crushed.

The Chinese government is clear that it wants things sorted. But it has held back from sending in the People’s Liberation Army (pla) and paramilitary police to quell the disturbances—indeed, though one can never know what a secretive leadership is planning, it may never seriously have been considered. In leaked comments from a private meeting with businessmen, Mrs Lam implied that China’s threats had been so much bluster. One of her advisers says that, although the protests represent a big loss of face to China’s leadership, the loss of face that would come with abandoning all semblance of “one country, two systems” would be worse.

For a government that makes much of its decisiveness under the brilliant leadership of Xi Jinping, the absence of anything resembling a strategy to sort out Hong Kong is striking. The best spin that officials can put on it is that their leaders are playing a long game, waiting for popular sentiment to turn against the protesters and reconcile itself to something like the status quo ante. This seems unlikely—but possibly looks more plausible if you sincerely believe, as hardliners say they do, that Hong Kong opinion polls cannot be trusted because they are conducted by universities and think-tanks that are hotbeds of Western liberalism, and if your view of the territory has long been coloured by reports from Liaison Office officials who tell you what you want to hear.

A deeper problem is that the government in Beijing has pre-emptively undercut the possibility of a satisfactory settlement. As the Hong Kong police argue in private, the unrest needs a political solution. But the Communist Party has systematically constrained the space in which the give and take of Hong Kong politics can take place. Those constraints created the dissatisfaction that led to the protests; coming to some accommodation would require setting some of them aside. But China’s leadership is unwilling to countenance such action. An example: when Hong Kong’s high court overturned a ban on face coverings imposed by Mrs Lam, the National People’s Congress in Beijing made its disapproval clear.

If expecting politics to work in a place where they have tried to remove that possibility fails, China’s leaders “have no Plan B,” according to a senior adviser to Mrs Lam with close links to Beijing. And so things are left in the hands of Mrs Lam and her paralysed, incompetent government. Mrs Lam is showing the same intransigence in the face of calls for an independent investigation into the causes of the unrest and into police behaviour as she originally did over the extradition bill. When in an unaccustomed fit of good sense she acknowledged the need to reach out to young people, she did so at a youth camp organised by the reviled pla—and in the Mandarin of the overlord rather than Cantonese.

Going with the flow

With no one in power taking the initiative and violence ratcheting up, the outlook appears grim. But the district-council elections set for November 24th could possibly help move the action away from the streets. These elections, mostly concerned with rubbish collection and the management of public housing estates, have never previously been a big deal. This time democrats see them as an opportunity to show that the energy of the streets can be channelled into the ballot box.

With a democrat contesting every council seat and 386,000 (mainly young) new voters, the poll offers the chance for a symbolic coup de théâtre and, indirectly, a shift in the composition of Legco. Half of the committee’s 70 members are directly elected—six of the others come from the district councils. The election results will also affect the make-up of the committees, tightly circumscribed by Beijing, which every five years choose the chief executive.

It might seem strange, in the current circumstances, that the elections are going ahead. But both sides want them. Mok, the protester behind the barricades at PolyU, says that though he views the elections as part of the tainted system he is fighting, he and his comrades are determined to vote. The government, for its part, desperately wants to show that some things are carrying on as normal. And for the elections to go ahead, it says it needs calm. This puts democratic leaders in something of a spot. They need the frontliners to leave the barricades—yet saying so out loud would risk splitting the protest movement.

When his pupil in “Longstreet” worries that wateriness does not sound like the way to beat his fearsome opponent, Bruce Lee upbraids him: “You want to learn the way to win, but never accept the way to lose.” The Hong Kong protesters know that they are not going to win a liberal democracy any time soon. But nor do they necessarily need to follow Lee’s last advice: that the pupil must learn the art of dying. Some in Beijing acknowledge that a fundamental change has taken place in Hong Kong, and suggest that the central government will be “very cautious” about its next steps. In response to the suggestion that the Communist Party had lost the hearts and minds of a whole generation in Hong Kong, one thoughtful person in the capital said: “Oh, two.” That is the case for giving Hong Kong the political space to start sorting out the mess itself. It is not a case Mr Xi is likely to take to. But some waters flow slowly.

From The Economist (Nov 30):

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District elections in Hong Kong are normally about rat control and bus routes. The polls on November 24th were a vote on Hong Kong’s future as a liberal Chinese enclave. The question, in effect, was whether ordinary people support the government and its backers in Beijing in their illiberal methods. The answer was a resounding no. The turnout, of over 70%, was higher than any recorded in any kind of election in Hong Kong in which the public has a say (see article). Pro-democracy politicians almost swept the board.

For Hong Kong’s leaders and China’s Communist Party, this is a rebuke—compounded three days later when President Donald Trump signed into law a bill that supports Hong Kong’s democracy. Irked by months of protests, but unwilling to use troops to crush the demonstrators, they had hoped ordinary Hong Kongers would turn against the black-clad pro-democracy protesters. The election result destroys that dream. The “silent majority” turns out to back the protesters’ cause, despite the violent tactics of some.

In a true democracy a vote in which opposition candidates took control of 17 out of 18 councils, having previously held none, would end political careers. But Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s hugely unpopular chief executive, shows no inclination to give in to the protesters by stepping down. That is a pity. Even though Mrs Lam’s successor would be chosen in effect by the Communist Party, a change of leader would allow both sides to draw a deep breath. Concessions are easier to make when they do not involve a climbdown by the person offering them. Mrs Lam has too much at stake.

Whoever leads Hong Kong has to seek the Communist Party’s approval when making important decisions. So it is in Beijing that the next crucial steps for Hong Kong will be worked out. An obvious one would be to launch an independent inquiry into police conduct since the unrest began in June. This has long been one of the protesters’ main demands—they allege that the police have been brutal, just as the police accuse the protesters of dangerous aggression. Mrs Lam has approved an investigation, but only by a body that tends to side with the government. She would not have to shift much to win a cheer from the streets.

The next, harder, step should be to restart a public debate about political reform. This was suspended in 2015 after pro-democracy legislators rejected a party-backed proposal that would have let the chief executive be chosen for the first time by popular vote, but from candidates picked by a committee stacked with the party’s supporters. Were the offer revived, the democrats should consider it favourably. Such an arrangement, though far from ideal, would encourage chief-executive candidates to appeal to ordinary Hong Kongers. Sunday’s elections show that voters would spurn a party yes-man.

Sadly, there is no sign that leaders in Beijing are contemplating any concessions. The Communist Party’s media have depicted the district elections as unfair. They say pro-establishment politicians were intimidated by the “black terror” unleashed by protesters whom officials accuse of being trained and paid for by America and Britain. They point to the roughly 40% of voters who went for pro-government candidates, and say this suggests that many people are repulsed by the protest movement.

Some Hong Kongers are indeed sickened by the violence and fed up with the loss of business that the protests have caused. But disaster will follow if the party concludes that Hong Kong welcomes its relentless encroachment, or that it should never be trusted with democracy because votes can produce embarrassing results. The vote halted the unrest. China’s leaders should seize the moment, not assume that the lull will last.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14358 User is offline   Chas_P 

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Posted 2019-December-01, 19:53

 diana_eva, on 2019-November-29, 02:14, said:

@johnu your constant tracking of whatever chas posts to point out he once said he will not post in this thread again is more annoying that anything else in this thread, which is quite an achievement. Cut it out, many of the forumers rage quit and came back and so what. Especially in a thread like this one which seems to bring out the worse of everyone -- it's even worse than the climate change thread.

@hrothgar I removed the post where you're attacking chas.

For what is worth chas has been a helpful and useful yellow on BBO for a long time. I wish I never saw what his political views are, but that wont change that online, interacting with BBOers, he has been helpful and offered his time for free for many years.


Thank you Diana. I have tried to do my job as a yellow as I saw it, and I never really considered my political views to be in conflict with my commitment to try to give something back to BBO for the pleasure it's given me to play online the greatest card game ever invented. This message board is just that...a message board. And I have read numerous times Rain's post from March 3, 2006.

"This is meant to be a place to engage in dialogue, share your views and perspectives on global events, anything that can't fit into the other forums. However, we'll still follow some basic rules:

1) No personal attacks. Insults are a No-No. You can have issues with someone else's opinion and attack that (in a civilised manner hopefully), but don't go after anyone personally.

2) No advertising, no spam.

3) No obscenities.

Posters who engage in hateful, vulgar, threatening, knowingly illegal and inaccurate posts may be suspended not just from forums, but also our related websites.

In general, please follow this rule of thumb (which is a good rule I've picked up from another forum): If you aren't comfortable emailing a post to your grandmother/mother/colleague, then it probably shouldn't be posted here.

By posting in this forum, you have also agreed to the terms stated here."

Obviously John and Richard feel that they are exempt from these rules. And, up to this point, apparently they are. Anyway, thank you again for your support.

#14359 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2019-December-02, 04:28

 Chas_P, on 2019-December-01, 19:53, said:

In general, please follow this rule of thumb (which is a good rule I've picked up from another forum): If you aren't comfortable emailing a post to your grandmother/mother/colleague, then it probably shouldn't be posted here.

I am not so knowledgeable about American language but I have to say I had not realised that "meathead" was a compliment over there. Is that then how you address your grandmother?
(-: Zel :-)

half-wit -- Chas_P the racist
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#14360 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-December-02, 09:24

There's an old joke that goes "How do they say f#ck you in LA? ... Trust me".

It seems to me that many of chas_p's posts fall into this category of coded abuse and are clearly meant to antagonize other posters. This is trolling and it is a form of abuse that should not be tolerated in the water cooler IMO.

The only time I am exposed to this annoying behavior is when other posters reply to chas_p's troll posts and highlight the text therein which is also annoying.

As far as I know, there is no way to delegate a per thread mod capability to thread starters or to block someone from posting on a thread on which they have been asked to stop trolling which would relieve official mods of the tedious chore of dealing with trolls.

Until we have such a capability, can people please not encourage trolls by replying to their posts?

For the record, I'm the guy who reported the post in which hrothgar called chas_p an azzhole. I agree with the sentiment, but this is the water cooler, not the Dubliner.
If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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