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

#14401 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-December-06, 07:48

 johnu, on 2019-December-06, 04:02, said:

Yep, those new border walls are impossible to climb.

Trump Says His Border Wall ‘Can’t Be Climbed.’ Watch.


And now, the rest of the story: ICE brought in 20 seniors in their 80's and 90's in wheelchairs from a nearby long term care facility and none of them were able to climb the wall. To be fair to the seniors, they might have been able to climb the wall if they had been able to get out of their wheelchairs. :lol:


I haven't been keeping up with the latest in scientific discoveries, but what is a ladder and when was it invented? B-) I'll bet not many people knew that these ladder things could be used to climb up high structures.

I still don't know why they didn't build a a moat filled with sharks with frickin laser beams attached to their heads which would protect the border 100% with no wall required.


The answer to "Why do they support his wall?" is answered in the post of Y66 above, the one by Paul Krugman:

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As best as I can tell from the endless series of interviews with white guys in diners — who are, we all know, the only Americans who matter — these voters are driven more by animosity toward immigrants and the sense that snooty liberals look down on them than by trade policy.


However, another quote is more chilling:

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So that’s why Trump is a Tariff Man: Tariffs let him exercise unconstrained power, rewarding his friends and punishing his enemies

“It’s just so unfair that American companies aren’t allowed to pay bribes to get business overseas,” Trump whines
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#14402 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-December-06, 08:47

From Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg:

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With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing the next steps in the impeachment process on Thursday, Democrats now face two tough choices: What should go in the formal impeachment articles they’re drawing up? And how quickly should they move? Keeping in mind Brendan Nyhan’s reminder that Pelosi is good at her job, I’ll still suggest that she could be taking some unnecessary risks.

On the first question, it seems likely that there will be three articles, two focused on Ukraine and a third on obstruction of justice in the special counsel’s investigation — which, as Greg Sargent reports, some Democrats are resisting. I think Sargent is right that if they’re going to do this, they might as well include all the major ways in which President Donald Trump has violated his oath of office. That would probably entail a catchall abuse-of-power article that could charge the president with everything from his disregard for secure communications to his contempt for official-records laws to his attacks on the media. It should also include his violation of the constitutional emoluments clauses.

Would Democrats in marginal districts shy away from supporting a more comprehensive impeachment? Perhaps. But that’s fine: As long as the Ukraine articles pass with a unified Democratic vote (or close to it), there’s no harm in winning by a narrower margin on the others or even losing them. In the impeachments of both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, articles were defeated along the way and promptly forgotten by everyone. And it’s just as likely that those in tough districts would welcome a chance to split their votes.

As for timing, Pelosi’s urgency is probably warranted. But the rush to get this done before the Christmas recess — to get from drafting articles to approving them in committee to considering them on the House floor to voting on them in just two weeks — seems arbitrary. Perhaps Pelosi is worried that waiting until January could jeopardize votes that she now has. But if Democratic support is really that tenuous, then she’s risking a disaster in the Senate. I don’t see the downside to spending the next two weeks presenting the case carefully, gathering further evidence and then beginning deliberations in the judiciary committee when Congress returns.

Of course, holding off too long would weaken the Democrats’ argument that Trump’s behavior is so egregious that it demands impeachment even this late in his term. But a late February vote would have some advantages. It would mean a trial after the Democratic nomination process is well underway — or has even produced a winner — and it would allow time to meet a number of other House filing deadlines. For those lawmakers who are queasy about the whole process, it would also put plenty of time between impeachment and the November election.

That said, Pelosi usually knows what she’s doing, and she knows more about what her caucus is thinking than outsiders do. But I do wonder whether a pause would make sense to think over the best course of action — and to make sure that haste isn’t going to force any preventable mistakes.

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#14403 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-December-06, 13:23

It appears Trump has boxed himself in and will have to chose a side:

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Suspect in fatal Fla. air base shooting is Saudi military pilot who was training in U.S., senior official says


What are the odds he claims mental illness as the problem?
“It’s just so unfair that American companies aren’t allowed to pay bribes to get business overseas,” Trump whines
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#14404 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-December-06, 15:32

From Neil Irwin at NYT/Upshot:

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There are a lot of good things to say, and few bad things to say, about the November employment numbers that were published Friday morning.

Employers added 266,000 jobs, a blockbuster number even after accounting for the one-time boost of about 41,000 striking General Motors workers who returned to the job. Revisions to previous months’ job counts were positive. The unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent, matching its lowest level since 1969.

Other numbers were less evocative of a boom time. The share of the adult population in the labor force ticked down, and average hourly earnings continued growing at only a moderate pace, up 3.1 percent over the last year — but it feels churlish to complain when the big-picture numbers are so good.

Still, there is a bigger lesson contained in the data, one that is important beyond any one month’s tally of the job numbers: that the American economy is capable of cranking at a higher level than conventional wisdom held as recently as a few years ago. As the economy continues to grow well above what once seemed like its potential, without inflation or other clear signs of overheating, it’s clearer that the old view of its potential was an extremely costly mistake.

The mainstream view of the economics profession — held by leaders of the Federal Reserve, the Congressional Budget Office, private forecasters and many in academia — was that the United States economy was at, or close to, full employment.

In January 2017, for example, nearly three years ago, the Congressional Budget Office forecast a 4.7 percent unemployment rate as far as the eye could see, and it projected that the United States labor force would consist of 163.3 million in 2019. The jobless rate has averaged less than 3.7 percent through the first 11 months of the year, and the labor force now stands at 164.4 million people.

The Federal Reserve likewise was too pessimistic about the potential of American workers; in projections three years ago, the consensus view of its leaders was that the unemployment rate would average 4.5 percent in the final months of 2019. If that forecast had materialized, 1.6 million more Americans would currently be unemployed than actually are.

They also expected their target interest rate to be around 2.9 percent — reflecting rate increases they believed would be needed to head off inflation. Instead, that interest rate is around 1.6 percent, and you have to squint to see signs of inflation.

If you go back even further, to the late Obama years, there was an even more pessimistic tone about the outlook for American workers embedded in the fine print of both public and private-sector forecasts.

If we knew then what we know now, it would have had big implications for what seemed like sensible policy. The United States probably didn’t need to reduce budget deficits the way it did between 2013 and 2016, now that we know how much untapped growth potential there was. The Fed probably didn’t need to raise rates as quickly or as much as it did.

There are clear signs that Fed leaders are starting to internalize these lessons, and are now more open-minded to letting the economy run and seeing just how many people can be put to work and how much wages can rise before it causes inflation or other problems.

And markets seem to be getting that message. For years, whenever there has been a strong jobs report like the one issued Friday, markets viewed it as hawkish for monetary policy — as tilting the balance toward more interest rate increases. But this time, analysts and financial markets seemed to take the big-time job growth numbers in stride, given that they weren’t accompanied by any signs of ill effects from the low unemployment rate and strong growth.

People often say that this expansion, now in its 11th year, is growing long in the tooth, or that we are late in the economic cycle. And maybe that’s right. But the biggest lesson when you contrast where the labor market stands at the end of 2019, versus where smart people thought it would stand just a few years ago, is that there’s a lot we don’t know about just what is possible and how strong the United States economy can get.

Does this mean we can blame the economics profession for the 2016 election results and this thread? Yes, I think so.
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#14405 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2019-December-06, 18:51

The Manchurian President can apparently walk and chew gum at the same time B-)

While whining about the Impeachment process, the Stable Genius has time to investigate matters of national importance.

Trump takes aim at problem of toilets flushed '15 times'

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While desert areas may need water conservation, he said, "for the most part you have many states where they have so much water that comes down -- it's called rain -- that they don't know what to do with it."

Still on the subject of regulations intruding on daily life, Trump renewed his frequent criticism of a drive to replace traditional light bulbs with energy saving variants.

"The light bulb, they got rid of the light bulb that people got used to," he said.

Are these "real" problems??? So the solution is to weaken or get rid of EPA clean water standards (which also affect the safety of our drinking water), and go back to incandescent light bulbs that may use 1000% more electricity than the LED and CFL's that are replacing them?

As far as toilets are concerned, people can buy power flush assisted toilets which are very effective at removing waste and keeping the toilet bowl clean after flushing, FYI.

Maybe the Manchurian President is just being over patriotic and depositing giant Lincoln logs in the White House toilets :blink:
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#14406 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-December-07, 14:18

Is It Possible Trump Is on the Right Track With China?

Paul Krugman responds to reader questions about the lasting effects of Trump’s trade wars at NYT:

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Vitor, Greensboro, N.C.: I fully agree that tariffs are bad, there are no winners. However, these tariffs can also be of some use to control unfair trade practices (labor, environment and other issues). Other than tariffs, how could we influence other countries to adopt better trade and industrial practices?

Paul Krugman: It’s O.K. to link trade policy to other goals, as long as it’s transparent and consistent with a rules-based system. The North American Free Trade Agreement actually contains labor-rights conditions, although they haven’t been well enforced.

In the past, I’ve supported tariffs to counter Chinese currency manipulation — which was a real issue circa 2010, but isn’t now — and carbon tariffs in support of climate policy if we ever do impose carbon taxes or cap and trade here. Basically, the threat of tariffs can be used to induce other countries to play by the rules; but we can’t do that unless we ourselves are playing by the rules!

Meggan Dissly, Paris: All of the business people I know appreciate that Trump is standing up to China — the first president to do so — and they approve. Is it possible that he is on the right track as far as China is concerned but completely off base with other countries like Canada, France and Brazil?

Krugman: None of the businesspeople I know think that. China is a bad actor in some ways, especially in not respecting intellectual property and arguably in de facto subsidizing some industries. But Trump isn’t taking on China over those issues, and hasn’t even made any clear demands.

He also hasn’t rallied other countries to join America in pressing China to change. Instead, he’s picking fights with everyone. So even if you think China should be confronted, Trump is doing it wrong.

Michael Wilson, Boulder, Colo.: Peter Navarro (assistant to the president and director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy) makes the claim that Americans are not incurring much increase in costs from tariffs on goods from China because China is devaluing its currency in order to offset any such increase. In this way, it’s China that’s paying the cost of the tariffs. To what extent is that true?

Krugman: We have numbers on this! If China were bearing the tariff, the price of imports to the United States from China would be falling a lot. They aren’t. All the evidence says that United States consumers are bearing the tariffs, and that Navarro is just making stuff up.

Barbara De Matteo, Setauket-East Setauket, N.Y.: Does anyone look at his family’s investment moves when Trump makes these trade announcements? I am curious about the impact on their wealth when he makes these seemingly arbitrary announcements. I wonder if this is all one big strategy for him.

Krugman: Everything suggests that Trump is using his office to enrich himself. But I think it’s a lot cruder than that — more about extortion (don’t expect any favors unless you book my hotels) than stock market manipulation. It’s a sort of corruption Occam’s razor: never assume sophistication when crude thuggery is sufficient.

Jan Saver, Brussels: Is it possible to put a value on certainty — or uncertainty?

Additionally, I think there is a significant cost attached to giving up the rules-based trading system, which the United States should try to factor in. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and World Trade Organization rules have kept trade conflicts from escalating (tit-for-tat tariffs or, worse, wars). The brakes now seem to be off.

Krugman: Really hard to put a number on it, but given what has happened to business investment despite huge tax cuts, it looks as if the costs are pretty big. As I said in the column, the costs of the trade war have surprised even those of us who opposed Trump’s policies.

Rickard Waern, Göteborg, Sweden: What are the ramifications of Trump’s trade war on the global economy? Is there a risk of recession?

Krugman: The trade war is hurting, but nothing I see is big enough to produce a global recession, at least so far. At worst, it’s a contributing factor to a bunch of other things that may be weakening the world economy — nothing remotely on the scale of, say, the late 2000s housing bust.

Those other things, by the way, include a Chinese slowdown that some of us have been predicting for years and finally seems to be happening; the troubles of Europe, which have a lot to do with a drastic slowdown of population growth; and, maybe, shifts in United States business that have moved us toward technology companies that don’t need to do a lot of physical investment. Again, on their own, none of these things are huge, but collectively they add up.

Paul Krugman is a Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He won the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on international trade and economic geography.
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#14407 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-December-08, 09:17

From Finland is a capitalist paradise by Anu Partanen and Trevor Corson:

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HELSINKI, Finland — Two years ago we were living in a pleasant neighborhood in Brooklyn. We were experienced professionals, enjoying a privileged life. We’d just had a baby. She was our first, and much wanted. We were United States citizens and our future as a family should have seemed bright. But we felt deeply insecure and anxious.

Our income was trickling in unreliably from temporary gigs as independent contractors. Our access to health insurance was a constant source of anxiety, as we scrambled year after year among private employer plans, exorbitant plans for freelancers, and complicated and expensive Obamacare plans. With a child, we’d soon face overwhelming day-care costs. Never mind the bankruptcy-sized bills for education ahead, whether for housing in a good public-school district or for private-school tuition. And then there’d be college. In other words, we suffered from the same stressors that are swamping more and more of Americans, even the relatively privileged.

As we contemplated all this, one of us, Anu, was offered a job back in her hometown: Helsinki, Finland.

Finland, of course, is one of those Nordic countries that we hear some Americans, including President Trump, describe as unsustainable and oppressive — “socialist nanny states.” As we considered settling there, we canvassed Trevor’s family — he was raised in Arlington, Va. — and our American friends. They didn’t seem to think we’d be moving to a Soviet-style autocracy. In fact, many of them encouraged us to go. Even a venture capitalist we knew in Silicon Valley who has three children sounded envious: “I’d move to Finland in a heartbeat.”

So we went.

We’ve now been living in Finland for more than a year. The difference between our lives here and in the States has been tremendous, but perhaps not in the way many Americans might imagine. What we’ve experienced is an increase in personal freedom. Our lives are just much more manageable. To be sure, our days are still full of challenges — raising a child, helping elderly parents, juggling the demands of daily logistics and work.

But in Finland, we are automatically covered, no matter what, by taxpayer-funded universal health care that equals the United States’ in quality (despite the misleading claims you hear to the contrary), all without piles of confusing paperwork or haggling over huge bills. Our child attends a fabulous, highly professional and ethnically diverse public day-care center that amazes us with its enrichment activities and professionalism. The price? About $300 a month — the maximum for public day care, because in Finland day-care fees are subsidized for all families.

And if we stay here, our daughter will be able to attend one of the world’s best K-12 education systems at no cost to us, regardless of the neighborhood we live in. College would also be tuition free. If we have another child, we will automatically get paid parental leave, funded largely through taxes, for nearly a year, which can be shared between parents. Annual paid vacations here of four, five or even six weeks are also the norm.

Compared with our life in the United States, this is fantastic. Nevertheless, to many people in America, the Finnish system may still conjure impressions of dysfunction and authoritarianism. Yet Finnish citizens report extraordinarily high levels of life satisfaction; the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ranked them highest in the world, followed by Norwegians, Danes, Swiss and Icelanders. This year, the World Happiness Report also announced Finland to be the happiest country on earth, for the second year in a row.

But surely, many in the United States will conclude, Finnish citizens and businesses must be paying a steep price in lost freedoms, opportunity and wealth. Yes, Finland faces its own economic challenges, and Finns are notorious complainers whenever anything goes wrong. But under its current system, Finland has become one of the world’s wealthiest societies, and like the other Nordic countries, it is home to many hugely successful global companies.

In fact, a recent report by the chairman of market and investment strategy for J.P. Morgan Asset Management came to a surprising conclusion: The Nordic region is not only “just as business-friendly as the U.S.” but also better on key free-market indexes, including greater protection of private property, less impact on competition from government controls and more openness to trade and capital flows. According to the World Bank, doing business in Denmark and Norway is actually easier overall than it is in the United States.

Finland also has high levels of economic mobility across generations. A 2018 World Bank report revealed that children in Finland have a much better chance of escaping the economic class of their parents and pursuing their own success than do children in the United States.

Finally, and perhaps most shockingly, the nonpartisan watchdog group Freedom House has determined that citizens of Finland actually enjoy higher levels of personal and political freedom, and more secure political rights, than citizens of the United States.

What to make of all this? For starters, politicians in the United States might want to think twice about calling the Nordics “socialist.” From our perch, the term seems to have more currency on the other side of the Atlantic than it does here.

In the United States, Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are often demonized as dangerous radicals. In Finland, many of their policy ideas would seem normal — and not particularly socialist.

When Mr. Sanders ran for president in 2016, what surprised our Finnish friends was that the United States, a country with so much wealth and successful capitalist enterprise, had not already set up some sort of universal public health care program and access to tuition-free college. Such programs tend to be seen by Nordic people as the bare basics required for any business-friendly nation to compete in the 21st century.

... Finnish employers had become painfully aware of the threats socialism continued to pose to capitalism. They also found themselves under increasing pressure from politicians representing the needs of workers. Wanting to avoid further conflicts, and to protect their private property and new industries, Finnish capitalists changed tactics. Instead of exploiting workers and trying to keep them down, after World War II, Finland’s capitalists cooperated with government to map out long-term strategies and discussed these plans with unions to get workers onboard.

More astonishingly, Finnish capitalists also realized that it would be in their own long-term interests to accept steep progressive tax hikes. The taxes would help pay for new government programs to keep workers healthy and productive — and this would build a more beneficial labor market. These programs became the universal taxpayer-funded services of Finland today, including public health care, public day care and education, paid parental leaves, unemployment insurance and the like.

If these moves by Finnish capitalists sound hard to imagine, it’s because people in the United States have been peddled a myth that universal government programs like these can’t coexist with profitable private-sector businesses and robust economic growth. As if to reinforce the impossibility of such synergies, last fall the Trump administration released a peculiar report arguing that “socialism” had negatively affected Nordic living standards.

However, a 2006 study by the Finnish researchers Markus Jantti, Juho Saari and Juhana Vartiainen demonstrates the opposite. First, throughout the 20th century Finland remained — and remains to this day — a country and an economy committed to markets, private businesses and capitalism.

Even more intriguing, these scholars demonstrate that Finland’s capitalist growth and dynamism have been helped, not hurt, by the nation’s commitment to providing generous and universal public services that support basic human well-being. These services have buffered and absorbed the risks and dislocations caused by capitalist innovation.

With Finland’s stable foundation for growth and disruption, its small but dynamic free-market economy has punched far above its weight. Some of the country’s most notable businesses have included the world’s largest mobile phone company, one of the world’s largest elevator manufacturers and two of the world’s most successful mobile gaming companies. Visit Finland today and it’s obvious that the much-heralded quality of life is taking place within a bustling economy of upscale shopping malls, fancy cars and internationally competitive private companies.

The other Nordic countries have been practicing this form of capitalism even longer than Finland, with even more success. As early as the 1930s, according to Pauli Kettunen, employers across the Nordic region watched the disaster of the Great Depression unfold. For enough of them the lesson was clear: The smart choice was to compromise and pursue the Nordic approach to capitalism.

The Nordic countries are all different from one another, and all have their faults, foibles, unique histories and civic disagreements. Contentious battles between strong unions and employers help keep the system in balance. Often it gets messy: Just this week, the Finnish prime minister resigned amid a labor dispute.

But the Nordic nations as a whole, including a majority of their business elites, have arrived at a simple formula: Capitalism works better if employees get paid decent wages and are supported by high-quality, democratically accountable public services that enable everyone to live healthy, dignified lives and to enjoy real equality of opportunity for themselves and their children. For us, that has meant an increase in our personal freedoms and our political rights — not the other way around.

Yes, this requires capitalists and corporations to pay fairer wages and more taxes than their American counterparts currently do. Nordic citizens generally pay more taxes, too. And yes, this might sound scandalous in the United States, where business leaders and economists perpetually warn that tax increases would slow growth and reduce incentives to invest.

Here’s the funny thing, though: Over the past 50 years, if you had invested in a basket of Nordic equities, you would have earned a higher annual real return than the American stock market during the same half-century, according to global equities data published by Credit Suisse.

Nordic capitalists are not dumb. They know that they will still earn very handsome financial returns even after paying their taxes. They keep enough of their profits to live in luxury, wield influence and acquire social status. There are several dozen Nordic billionaires. Nordic citizens are not dumb, either. If you’re a member of the robust middle class in Finland, you generally get a better overall deal for your combined taxes and personal expenditures, as well as higher-quality outcomes, than your American counterparts — and with far less hassle.

Why would the wealthy in Nordic countries go along with this? Some Nordic capitalists actually believe in equality of opportunity and recognize the value of a society that invests in all of its people. But there is a more prosaic reason, too: Paying taxes is a convenient way for capitalists to outsource to the government the work of keeping workers healthy and educated.

While companies in the United States struggle to administer health plans and to find workers who are sufficiently educated, Nordic societies have demanded that their governments provide high-quality public services for all citizens. This liberates businesses to focus on what they do best: business. It’s convenient for everyone else, too. All Finnish residents, including manual laborers, legal immigrants, well-paid managers and wealthy families, benefit hugely from the same Finnish single-payer health care system and world-class public schools.

There’s a big lesson here: When capitalists perceive government as a logistical ally rather than an ideological foe and when all citizens have a stake in high-quality public institutions, it’s amazing how well government can get things done.

Ultimately, when we mislabel what goes on in Nordic nations as socialism, we blind ourselves to what the Nordic region really is: a laboratory where capitalists invest in long-term stability and human flourishing while maintaining healthy profits.

Capitalists in the United States have taken a different path. They’ve slashed taxes, weakened government, crushed unions and privatized essential services in the pursuit of excess profits. All of this leaves workers painfully vulnerable to capitalism’s dynamic disruptions. Even well-positioned Americans now struggle under debilitating pressures, and a majority inhabit a treacherous Wild West where poverty, homelessness, medical bankruptcy, addiction and incarceration can be just a bit of bad luck away. Americans are told that this is freedom and that it is the most heroic way to live. It’s the same message Finns were fed a century ago.

But is this approach the most effective or even the most profitable way for capitalists in the United States to do business? It should come as no surprise that resentment and fear have become rampant in the United States, and that President Trump got elected on a promise to turn the clock backward on globalization. Nor is it surprising that American workers are fighting back; the number of workers involved in strikes last year in the United States was the highest since the 1980s, and this year’s General Motors strike was the company’s longest in nearly 50 years. Nor should it surprise anyone that fully half of the rising generation of Americans, aged 18 to 29, according to Gallup polling, have a positive view of socialism.

The prospect of a future full of socialists seems finally to be getting the attention of some American business leaders. For years the venture capitalist Nick Hanauer has been warning his “fellow zillionaires” that “the pitchforks are coming for us.” Warren Buffett has been calling for higher taxes on the rich, and this year the hedge-fund billionaire Ray Dalio admitted that “capitalism basically is not working for the majority of people.” Peter Georgescu, chairman emeritus of Young & Rubicam, has put it perhaps most succinctly: He sees capitalism “slowly committing suicide.”In recent months such concerns have spread throughout the capitalist establishment. The Financial Times rocked its business-friendly readership with a high-profile series admitting that capitalism has indeed become “rigged” and that it desperately needs a “reset,” to restore truly free markets and bring back real opportunity. Leading captains of finance and industry in the United States rocked the business world, too, with a joint declaration from the Business Roundtable that they will now prioritize not only profits but also “employees, customers, shareholders and the communities.” They are calling this “stakeholder capitalism.”

If these titans of industry are serious about finding a more sustainable approach, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. They can simply consult their Nordic counterparts. If they do, they might realize that the success of Nordic capitalism is not due to businesses doing more to help communities. In a way, it’s the opposite: Nordic capitalists do less. What Nordic businesses do is focus on business — including good-faith negotiations with their unions — while letting citizens vote for politicians who use government to deliver a set of robust universal public services.

This, in fact, may be closer to what a majority of people in the United States actually want, at least according to a poll released by the Pew Research Center this year. Respondents said that the American government should spend more on health care and education, for example, to improve the quality of life for future generations.

But the poll also revealed that Americans feel deeply pessimistic about the nation’s future and fear that worse political conflict is coming. Some military analysts and historians agree and put the odds of a civil war breaking out in the United States frighteningly high.

Right now might be an opportune moment for American capitalists to pause and ask themselves what kind of long-term cost-benefit calculation makes the most sense. Business leaders focused on the long game could do a lot worse than starting with a fact-finding trip to Finland.

Ms. Partanen is the author of “The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life.” Mr. Corson is an author.
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#14408 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-December-08, 11:21

From https://www.nytimes....pgtype=Homepage

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The once impeachment-wary leader whom many in the Democratic Party considered a liability has transformed into a powerful symbol of the caucus.
It was hard to miss: On Thursday, in front of a row of American flags, and sporting a crisp white suit, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House will draft articles of impeachment against President Trump next week, setting the stage for a vote before Christmas.

Hours later, just as she was ending a session with the press, a reporter asked her if she decided to move ahead with the impeachment process (her second as a member of Congress, she was also a legislator when President Clinton was impeached) because she hated the president.

She was not pleased.

She wagged her finger at the reporter and stormed back to the podium.

Then, staring straight at the camera, she delivered a dramatic retort.

“This is about the Constitution of the United States and the facts that lead to the president’s violation of his oath of office,” she said sharply. “As a Catholic, I resent your using the word ‘hate’ in a sentence that addresses me. I don’t hate anyone.”

“So don’t mess with me,” she added, before gliding out of the room, metaphorical and literal white suit intact.

And just like that, the one-time impeachment-wary leader who was once seen as a liability for many in her own party cemented her position as an impeachment warrior who managed to rally her party behind her and steer the process through the House with a measured hand.

At age 79, Pelosi is running rings around her last two predecessors.
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#14409 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-December-08, 14:34

 y66, on 2019-December-08, 11:21, said:

From https://www.nytimes....pgtype=Homepage


At age 79, Pelosi is running rings around her last two predecessors.


In the meantime, the entire Republican party is corrupted to the point of helping Russia spread Russian lies and propaganda.

https://www.washingt...-putins-stooge/
“It’s just so unfair that American companies aren’t allowed to pay bribes to get business overseas,” Trump whines
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#14410 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-December-08, 15:07

From Ross Douthat at NYT:

Quote

In last Sunday’s column, I argued that Democrats looking for someone to unify their fractious coalition should take another glance at Bernie Sanders — on the grounds that he’s more popular across the party’s different factions, more unifying, more exciting and more potentially appealing to non-liberals than his critics tend to assume.

There was one point I gestured at but didn’t stress, which is that in nominating Bernie, the Democrats would be embracing one of the key forces in American politics right now — the distrust of technocracy, the sense that the smartest guys in each political coalition can’t really be trusted, the feeling that the whole model of credentialed meritocracy is corrupt and self-dealing and doesn’t deliver on its promises.

In the Democratic coalition more than the Republican one, meritocracy and technocracy have long been unifying forces. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama represented somewhat different party factions, but they both embodied wonkery, a vision of competence and expertise governing to some extent above ideology, in which there are assumed to be “correct answers” to policy dilemmas that a disinterested observer could acknowledge and the right technocrat achieve.

The candidates carrying on this tradition in the Democratic primary are Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren and the late-entering Michael Bloomberg — Buttigieg and Bloomberg as center-left figures, Warren as the progressive promising to direct her “I’ve got a plan for that!” wonkery to more ambitious ends.

But Sanders is different; he has policy plans, too, but he’s fundamentally a moralist arguing for a politics of righteous struggle, in a way that separates him from Warren as well as from Buttigieg or Bloomberg. And just as Donald Trump benefited in 2016 — and figures like Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush suffered — from a sense that the G.O.P.’s libertarian and neoconservative intelligentsia bore some responsibility for the double disasters of Iraq and the financial crisis, Sanders benefits from a widespread left-wing disappointment with what the Obama-era politics of expertise produced.

This disappointment has been strongest on health care, where Obamacare’s most popular provision was the simple socialism of the Medicaid expansion rather than the complicated, expert-fashioned architecture of the exchanges. But it’s also palpable in education policy, where after two decades worth of technocratic experiments — Race to the Top, Common Core, etc. — we have chronically disappointing test scores, persistent racial gaps, the same basic stagnation despite reformers’ best-laid plans.

On both issues and others, the appeal of Sanders has less to do with the details of his plans and more to do with a simple formulation: The experts had their chance; let the moralists and radicals have theirs.

However, that’s only one possible response to disillusionment with technocracy. The other response is to prefer a return to transactional politics, to dealmakers who keep the system running rather than optimizing for efficiency, to machine politicians who aren’t going to dramatically improve the status quo but also aren’t likely to embrace clever plans that accidentally make it worse.

This is clearly the appeal of the other non-technocrat in the Democratic field, the still-front-running Joseph Biden. Of course the former vice president also has plans and policy papers — no Democrat lacks them — but even more than Sanders he’s running as a non-wonk, an anti-technocrat, the guy who’ll shout “malarkey!” when the clever McKinsey guy shows up with the white paper and says you need to overhaul a popular program because there’s a more efficient way.

Despite his constant invocations of Obama, Biden no less than Sanders (and much more than Buttigieg and Warren) is running against the Obama governmental style, and especially the first-term Obamanaut confidence in intelligence and expertise as the essential oil of governance. If Sanders woos voters by saying, why not elect a moralist instead of an expert, Biden woos them by saying, how about we just elect a [expletive] politician?

In this contrast Sanders comes out ahead with the many Democratic voters who don’t think old-fashioned dealmaking is really possible anymore, and also with the important swath of disaffected voters who don’t like politicians or the Democratic Party, but do want to experiment with radicalism in Washington, D.C.

But Biden’s status quo-oriented version of the anti-technocratic pitch is better suited to the economic moment. America has systemic problems, certainly, but institutional sclerosis and futility are much more tolerable when the G.D.P. is running hot and unemployment is at a generational low. As long as that environment persists, there is an obvious constituency, in Biden’s party and in the country, for pushing out Trump but otherwise eschewing grand ambitions, and just letting the expansion run as long as it can go.

So if the exhaustion with technocracy makes a socialist a viable nominee, that exhaustion plus a solid economy explains why the socialist may yet fall to an even more archaic breed — a party politician.

Douthat's distrust of technocracy point is well taken and also might explain why Biden supporters prefer Sanders over Warren as awm noted a few weeks ago.
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#14411 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-December-09, 08:16

From Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg:

Quote

If you’re not in the mood for impeachment hearings today, I suggest turning your attention to an important recent article by Jonathan Rauch and Ray La Raja, in which they argue against primary elections and for more party control over nominations.

I’ll start by saying that on the big questions I’m totally with them. Nominations should be controlled — or at least heavily influenced — by political parties. Democracy depends on it. So does the election of people who are good at the job of presidenting. I agree that primary elections are fundamentally flawed. I agree with their critique of voters. And I agree that the vetting of candidates by those with strong incentives to find good ones is far preferable to vetting only by the mass media and voters.

I also agree, finally, that the victory of Donald Trump in 2016 is best understood as a failure of the process, and a failure of the Republican Party to prevent an outsider from taking its presidential nomination — the most important thing that U.S. political parties have.

All that said, I think Rauch and La Raja are too pessimistic about the current process. Yes, it failed in 2016. And they’re right that the system doesn’t guarantee that party influence will be successful or that it will eliminate candidates who are poorly suited to the office. But there’s no plausible system that could make such a guarantee. That’s true anywhere (see the U.K. Labour and Conservative parties right now), but it’s especially true in the U.S. because of the highly unusual nature of American parties, which are sprawling, decentralized, non-hierarchical messes made up of both formal organizations and informal networks.

Rauch and La Raja are fans of strengthening the formal organizations, on the theory that they’re less likely to be ideological and more likely to be pragmatic and responsive to the healthy incentive of winning elections. But it’s not as simple as that. Formal organizations have weaknesses of their own. Very strong party organizations may develop extensive bureaucracies, for instance, thus leading to very complicated incentives. As it is, there are complaints that the national party committees are more concerned with protecting their budgets and control than with winning elections.

But a more important problem is that there’s no reason to think state and local organizations are central to the overall party — see, for example, Seth Masket’s excellent study of party networks in California. And making them crucial players in nomination politics risks results that are unrepresentative of the party as a whole. Even worse, it risks factional takeovers.

A lot rests on whether Trump was a fluke or a sign that the process has broken down. I’m basically on Team Fluke, because I think changes in the nominating process in 2016 made it harder than usual for party actors to work together to ensure an acceptable candidate won. So far in 2020, and despite the persistence of some candidates who would’ve been eliminated by elite vetting, it looks likely that the Democrats will wind up with someone most party actors are comfortable with. It’s also true that parties do best with stable rules and norms.

That said, there’s still a long way to go in 2020. Among the serious contenders at this point, according to the polls, are at least one factional candidate (Bernie Sanders), and another without conventional experience (Pete Buttigieg). It’s even still possible that Tom Steyer or Andrew Yang, candidates with hardly any party support and no relevant experience, could win the nomination or come close. (Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg Opinion parent company Bloomberg L.P., is also seeking the nomination.) My guess is that we’ll look back on the 2020 nomination and see that party actors had been intensely vetting candidates all along and that the process worked just as Rauch and La Raja would want it to — just not exactly in the way that they envision. But as with so many things about this process, we’ll know more in a few months.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14412 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-December-09, 17:28

Quote

The former British spy who authored several reports alleging links between Russia and President Trump’s 2016 campaign had been a personal friend of Trump’s daughter Ivanka, a relationship that he said made him “favorably disposed” to the Trump family.

The previously unknown friendship between former intelligence officer Christopher Steele and Ivanka Trump was alluded to in a new report released Monday by the Justice Department’s inspector general, which said Steele had “been friendly” with a Trump family member, a relationship he described as “personal.”

Steele told investigators he had visited the Trump family member at Trump Tower in New York and had once gifted the person a family tartan from Scotland.

A person familiar with Steele’s business Orbis confirmed that the family member was Ivanka Trump.


Yes, one and the same Pee Tape Steele is friends with Ivanka. :lol:
“It’s just so unfair that American companies aren’t allowed to pay bribes to get business overseas,” Trump whines
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#14413 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2019-December-09, 21:47

 hrothgar, on 2019-November-29, 09:46, said:

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

You are judged by the company that you choose to keep.

Sorry for the micro-necro, but I haven't been participating in the forums much while I was in SF.

Comparing being an Internet troll to being a sexual abuser is way out of proportion, IMHO.

We don't even know if Chas is truly a racist, or he just likes to act like one here to provoke the rest of you.

And being a racist isn't even somehting someone should lose a job over. If a business has a racist employee, but he expresses his racism only outside the job, there's no legitimate reason to fire them. Employees are judged by how well they perform their job, not their character.

They should lose friends over it, but it's likely that most of their friends are also racist so that won't happen.

#14414 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2019-December-10, 06:01

 barmar, on 2019-December-09, 21:47, said:

...
And being a racist isn't even somehting someone should lose a job over. If a business has a racist employee, but he expresses his racism only outside the job, there's no legitimate reason to fire them. Employees are judged by how well they perform their job, not their character.
...


This opinion is one that many US corporations do not agree with, and the courts have generally backed these companies. The issue is that when someone known to be an employee of company X (especially in a role where customer relations is a big part of the job) loudly advocates for controversial position Y, people may assume that company X endorses position Y, or at least is tolerant of position Y. This can potentially lose the company a lot of business, convince customers or advertisers to boycott their products, and make it hard to hire people who are offended by position Y.

There have been a number of cases where employees were fired for advocating racist or sexist or anti-gay or anti-immigrant positions because the company did not think publicly endorsing such policies was good for business. The fired employees have not gotten anywhere in court.

It is tricky dividing “private life” from “public life” but the principle that activities in “public life” can get you fired even if they’re not on your employer’s time seems pretty well established.
Adam W. Meyerson
a.k.a. Appeal Without Merit
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#14415 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2019-December-10, 07:02

 barmar, on 2019-December-09, 21:47, said:

And being a racist isn't even somehting someone should lose a job over. If a business has a racist employee, but he expresses his racism only outside the job, there's no legitimate reason to fire them. Employees are judged by how well they perform their job, not their character.

Actually Barry this is demonstrably untrue. Most larger companies have a social media policy and it is relatively standard for that to contain a clause that any posts made that have a direct connection to the company and that damage the reputation of the company are subject to disciplinary action. Posting as a BBO Yellow on a BBO forum would qualify. One well-known example of racism in social media getting someone fired (with considerably less connection to the employer) would be Justine Sacco but there are plenty more cases, most of which never reach the viral stage.

Please note that this should not be seen as a recommendation to fire Chas_P, that is absolutely an internal thing, but please do not post rubbish that insults our intelligence as justification.
(-: Zel :-)
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#14416 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-December-10, 08:10

From Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg:

Quote

My Bloomberg Opinion colleague Eli Lake has a good summary of the report from Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general, on the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and contacts with Donald Trump’s campaign. For a longer analysis, see Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare; for a quicker one, see this Twitter thread.

But while I agree with Lake that some Democrats “might want to show a bit more humility” about law enforcement and national-security operations after this report — which turned up a number of significant flaws in how the FBI handled the probe — I disagree with his assertion that Republicans are merely “challenging its findings.”

That’s not the main thing happening. In fact, what a lot of Republicans from the president on down are doing is flat-out lying about a report that debunked conspiracy theories that they’ve been running with for a long time. As it turns out, while the FBI made errors that suggest some serious reforms are in order, those errors weren’t motivated by partisan politics or efforts to undermine Trump. Nor did they lead to the investigation, which began — as everyone in the fact-based universe knew long ago — with a tip about Russia’s meddling from a foreign official.

Here’s how Wittes puts it:

Quote

Today, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz declared in more than 450 pages that the "Witch Hunt" narrative was nonsense. Yes, the investigation had problems—some of them serious. But the problems were not political in character. There was no effort to “get” candidate Trump. There was no “insurance policy.” There was no coup. There was no treason.

There was, rather, a properly predicated investigation that began when the FBI has always said it began and because of the information the FBI has always said triggered it. The investigation used proper investigative techniques. And while there were errors along the way, a degree of sloppiness that warrants addressing seriously, the inspector general does not find that any authorized surveillance was illegal.

Trump didn’t challenge these findings; he simply lied about the report, saying that it showed “an overthrow of government, this was an attempted overthrow — and a lot of people were in on it.” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said, “The IG report proves Obama officials abused their FISA power to trigger an investigation into @realDonaldTrump's campaign,” when in fact the report said no such thing.

Challenge the findings of an investigation? Absolutely legitimate. Spin the parts that are good for your side? Everyone in politics does that. But to say up is down, day is night, apples are vegetables and baseball is played by horses on a chessboard? No. That’s not part of a healthy democracy.

Trump, and Republicans in general, have been dead wrong about this investigation. And if they insist on claiming otherwise, it’s up to the media to make clear that they’re simply not telling the truth — and that none of the nefarious things they’ve been alleging actually happened.

Again, the report says that the FBI made significant errors. I hope that Congress takes the need for reform and better oversight seriously. It’s just that the errors made didn’t launch the investigation, and they weren’t a plot against Trump.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14417 User is online   kenberg 

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Posted 2019-December-10, 08:33

 barmar, on 2019-December-09, 21:47, said:

Sorry for the micro-necro, but I haven't been participating in the forums much while I was in SF.

Comparing being an Internet troll to being a sexual abuser is way out of proportion, IMHO.

We don't even know if Chas is truly a racist, or he just likes to act like one here to provoke the rest of you.

And being a racist isn't even somehting someone should lose a job over. If a business has a racist employee, but he expresses his racism only outside the job, there's no legitimate reason to fire them. Employees are judged by how well they perform their job, not their character.

They should lose friends over it, but it's likely that most of their friends are also racist so that won't happen.


There is a rather daring personal opinion piece in the latest issues of the AMS Math Notices.

https://www.ams.org/...rnoti-p1778.pdf

I say daring because while I can understand people disagreeing with her, it is very possible this will go beyond disagreement. Name calling at least. People are rapidly learning that it is best to keep their opinions to themselves.

And it is obvious, is it not, that you do not get a person to change their views by calling them names. Maybe that won't happen here.
Ken
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#14418 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-December-10, 10:06

Who says Dems can't walk and chew gum?

House Democrats Unveil Articles of Impeachment Against Trump

Trump Aides and Democrats Strike Deal on North American Trade Pact
If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14419 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2019-December-10, 20:19

 Zelandakh, on 2019-December-10, 07:02, said:

Actually Barry this is demonstrably untrue. Most larger companies have a social media policy and it is relatively standard for that to contain a clause that any posts made that have a direct connection to the company and that damage the reputation of the company are subject to disciplinary action. Posting as a BBO Yellow on a BBO forum would qualify. One well-known example of racism in social media getting someone fired (with considerably less connection to the employer) would be Justine Sacco but there are plenty more cases, most of which never reach the viral stage.

Please note that this should not be seen as a recommendation to fire Chas_P, that is absolutely an internal thing, but please do not post rubbish that insults our intelligence as justification.

I don't think BBO has an offocial social media policy, nor if our new parent company 52 Entertainment does (no one informed me of any company policy changes when the merger happened). The only instructions I've ever gotten from Uday have been when there have been Bridge Winners threads regarding BBO, he reminds us not to participate, and especially not to disclose proprietary information.

However, I really consider the Water Cooler, especially the political threads, to be in a world of its own. Controversial opinions and trolling are practically expected here. And while this is technically a public forum, the WC community is sufficiently small that I have a hard time considering it to impact the image of the company. I think it would be incredible if something said here "went viral". OTOH, if Chas posted this kind of stuff on Twitter with the handle @BBO_Chas, that would be a problem.

To be honest, until someone brought it up last week I didn't even realize Chas was a Yellow. I'm not involved in the customer support side of the company, so I don't know most of the yellows, and I don't pay much attention to that field in the posts.

#14420 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-December-10, 21:51

From Ross Douthat at NYT:

Quote

In fighting successfully to publish documents showing that United States officialdom has been telling lies for years about our military endeavors in Afghanistan, The Washington Post has shown how little has changed since the Vietnam era — and yet also how much more sustainable, strangely, our own era’s quagmires seem to be.

The sameness lies in the substance of the revelations. In the Afghanistan document trove, as in the Pentagon Papers, you can see military and civilian officials feeding the press over-optimistic assessments of a likely unwinnable conflict, conducting clever statistical manipulations to create illusions of success, telling hard truths in private while lying subtly or baldly in their public statements. All quagmires seem to require a similar culture of bureaucratized dishonesty, a similar mask of optimism with the death’s head underneath.

The differences begin with the absence of a draft and a much lower American casualty rate, but they extend to the larger political and cultural landscape as well. The Pentagon Papers weren’t the first great disillusioning moment of the Vietnam era; by the time they came out, public trust in government had already fallen considerably from its early-1960s high.

But the country had not yet fully lost the capacity to be shocked by official lying, and the political and military establishments had not yet grown used to conducting foreign policy without strong public support. As Americans decided the war was unwinnable and its architects dishonest, policymakers responded by abandoning the war itself. The agony of Vietnam seemed endless at the time, but the American troop presence rose and fell in a simple arc, climbing from 1964 until 1968 and falling thereafter. Three years after the Pentagon Papers were published, we weren’t in Vietnam anymore.

The Afghanistan revelations, on the other hand, arrive in an America already so distrustful that it’s hard to imagine how it could be disillusioned further. Over 50 percent of the country still trusted the federal government to do the right thing at least most of the time in the early Nixon years; today the equivalent figure is 17 percent. The Washington Post’s reporting should be shocking, but in the current environment it’s hard to imagine any reader actually being shocked.

And with the absence of shock, it seems, comes an absence of antiwar energy as well. The newly disillusioned America of 1971 wanted withdrawal from Vietnam and got it within a few short years; the more cynical America of 2019 has favored withdrawal from Afghanistan for almost a decade without getting it.

This disconnect has no doubt contributed something to the instability of our politics; both Barack Obama and Donald Trump, in their different ways, drew on forever-war fatigue in their winning presidential runs. But the permanence of the policy is the more remarkable fact: American disillusionment with the war in Afghanistan has been substantial and stable since 2012, and yet without much domestic controversy, or even much attention, thousands of American soldiers are still there.

Admittedly, our troop presence has declined substantially since the Obama-era surge of troops and the much smaller early-Trump-administration troop increase. So it’s possible that in a Trump second term or a Bernie Sanders presidency it will finally trace a slow descent to zero — with or without a deal of some sort with the Taliban — and after 20 years or so we’ll finally discover that even endless wars can end.

But it’s also possible that in cutting troop numbers the Pentagon is groping toward sustainability rather than an endpoint — toward some figure that’s deemed sufficient to manage stalemate, to preserve certain American objectives and prevent the embarrassment of real defeat.

In that case, despite the similar pattern of deception and denial, Afghanistan could represent something very different from the Vietnam experience. Vietnam proved that despite a certain amount of patriotic naïveté, Americans ultimately wouldn’t put up with a seemingly unwinnable war founded on lies and self-delusion. But Afghanistan may yet prove that given an all-volunteer military, the right amount of cynical detachment at home and a low enough casualty rate in the theater itself, Americans will accept a war where there is no prospect for victory, and no clear objective save the permanent postponement of defeat. More even than our Indochina debacle, it could bury George Patton’s dictum about our addiction to victory, our contempt for defeat, by proving that 21st-century Americans have learned to swallow stalemate.

In which case the documents published by The Post will tell a story of how policymakers lied their way not toward a Vietnam-style debacle but through a strategic transition — one which, when complete, won’t require quite so much official lying, because nobody will even be paying attention anymore.

Seen in this sort of hypothetical hindsight, the first 10 years of the Afghanistan War represented a last experiment in conventional war, nation-building, idealistic democracy promotion … but in the second decade, the conflict gradually became just the largest example of the endlessly multiplying, low-casualty police actions that have defined our grand strategy under Obama and now Trump.

And this strategy, for all its possible defects, has one obvious advantage for national security policymakers: It frustrates popular opposition by never supplying a strong reason — whether in mass casualties or clear military defeats — for antiwar sentiment to leave the rightward and leftward fringes and become a major popular concern. As Samuel Moyn of Yale Law School put it last year in a perceptive essay for The New Republic, the more “contained” American warfare becomes — the more our wars look like Afghanistan in 2019, rather than Afghanistan in 2010, Iraq in 2005 or Vietnam in 1968 — “the more likely it is that the war will continue indefinitely.”

You can agree with this diagnosis without fully embracing antiwar anguish or despair. As with other features of our decadence, a Pax Americana sustained by indefinite police actions, indefinitely frozen conflicts and indefinite postponements of defeat is hardly the worst geopolitical scenario imaginable, and definitely preferable to certain bloodier alternatives.

But there is still something unusually grim about reading The Post’s catalog of the official deceptions that have carried us through 18 years in Afghanistan, and then considering the possibility that it could be years, decades, even generations before the last American soldier finally dies for these mistakes.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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