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December 20, 2016 06:45 AM UTC

Tuesday Open Thread

  • by: Colorado Pols

“When people conclude that all is futile, then the absurd becomes the norm.”

–Stanley Crouch


30 thoughts on “Tuesday Open Thread

  1. Who'd have thunk? If Trump had found the time to read his intelligence briefing that morning he'd known the 'crisis' was over before it started – and I wouldn't have had to suffer the boys at the local cafe yapping about how Trump scared China with his tweet.   

    That Drone Skirmish With China? It Was Over Before Donald Trump’s First Mean Tweet.

    It’s unclear whether the president-elect or his aides knew that fact ― it would have been included in the intelligence briefing available to him each morning ― before he sent out his misspelled missive of outrage at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

    “China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters ― rips it out of water and takes it to China in unpresidented act,” Trump wrote. He deleted that version and replaced it with “unprecedented” spelled correctly at 8:57 a.m.


    1. I just translate any Trump tweet as "I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK I'M DOING AND I'M REALLY LOUD ABOUT IT!"

      Actually his use of Twitter has caused me to use it far less than I had been which has actually worked out for the better for me cuz I'm spending less time and energy arguing with stupid fucking Trumpkins. Thanks Trump!

  2. Hannah Arendt is an author we need to read these days. An intellectual during Hitler's rise to power, her books "On Revolution",  "The Rise of Totalitarianism", "Eichmann in Jerusalem – the Banality of Evil", and others are written in a gentle, inexorable, very clear prose that precisely delineates how autocrats come to power; their tools, their propaganda techniques, their terrorist strategies – and how to resist autocracy.

    (If you're short on time and patience, you can check out  Peter Levine's
    sparknotes version of "On Revolution")

    Below; Mural of Hannah Arendt, By Bernd Schwabe in Hannover – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

    From the introduction of "On Revolution":

    …Nationalism and internationalism, capitalism and imperialism, socialism and communism, which, though still invoked by many as justifying causes, have lost contact with the major realities of our world – war and revolution still constitute its two central political issues. They have outlived all their ideological justifications…no cause is left but the most ancient of all, the one, in fact, that from the beginning of our history has determined the very existence of politics, the cause of freedom versus tyranny.

    Arendt never caught on the way other contemporary anti-Nazi writers such as Wiesel or leftist writers such as Alinsky did. Probably because of sexism, but also because she refused to align herself with the "Left" totalitarians, either.  She describes Stalin the same way she describes Hitler. She would probably be a Libertarian today, as she identifies freedom and the struggle against tyranny as more fundamental drives than profit or control of the means of production.

    However, she would differ from modern conservative Libertarians in that she sees happiness as deriving from community freedom, not individual freedom defined by the limits of one's own skin, one's own gated community, the length of one's own gun barrel.

    As someone who profoundly distrusts all "socialist" movements that promote "a dictatorship of the proletariat", I relate to Arendt's thinking.  I know that those movements are opportunistic, male-dominated and ego driven, party-building machines. Pretty much like all American major political parties, – but without the corporate sponsorships.

    I wonder what Hannah Arendt, a secular German Jew who escaped to France and America during WWII,  would make of the other mighty forces shaping our contemporary political discourse; the impending meltdown of the planet due to human-induced climate change,  inundation of information and instantaneous communication via the internet, breakdown of gender roles and feminism. She would understand all of the iberation movements across the globe, the right wing ones and the fundamentalist religious ones, terrorism and repression. She would understand all of that very well.

    I think, at the least, we should learn what Arendt learned about how to survive under totalitarian rule; how to hold the media accountable; how to demand honesty, not just from our enemies, but from our friends:

    The problem, …, was not what our enemies did, but what our friends did. Friends ‘coordinated’ or got in line.” And this coordination was not necessarily due to the “pressure of terror,



  3. One step forward, two steps back.

    In the world of Trump, one daughter withdrawing from a "make a donation, get access" scheme to benefit her brother's foundation (and ultimately, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis).

    Two sons involved in a "make a donation, get access" scheme to benefit unnamed "conservation" charities. Those who could donate a million "will get a private reception and photo opportunity for 16 guests with Trump, four autographed guitars by an Opening Day performer and a multiday hunting or fishing excursion for four guests with Trump's adult sons." 

      1. As another viewpoint, we may have Donald Jr. to thank for his father selecting Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) as Interior Secretary designate. Zinke is far from perfect in his conservation views. But he has been a strong advocate for keeping public land in public hands. He's a better nominee than some of the other names tossed around in recent weeks (Bob Beauprez, outgoing Rep Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), or Rep. McMorris-Rogers (R-WA)). 

      2. When I came back from Vietnam I gave up hunting. I didn't see the thrill in ambushing small animals. Now if the could shoot back that is a different hunt. But I do love my guns. I know friends that hunt and I hate on them for it, just not something I enjoy. This big game hunt is even more objectionable. I would encourage the Trumps and others to find a alternative to killing animals for fun.

        1. Well, it finally happened, we agree on something.   I like guns, not hunting.   Yes, I eat meat, but don't enjoy killing.  I love to shoot target and also collect some historically important guns, like my M-1 Garand, the gun that stopped Hitler.  Probably half of my guns have never been fired, and most of the ones that have are .22 target weapons.   I do have a Glock 17 I bought specifically to piss off Bill Clintonsmiley   My guns are mostly for target shooting or historical wall hangers.   

          1. If you're a real eastern plains patriot you make it the theme of your Xmas card (posted solely to irritate those ever-so-scholarly lurkers on this website) Because the baby Jesus would want you to be armed.

              1. I'll let a real Christian defend their faith on that one.

                For a polyglot heathen like myself, I see that one of the main values of Jesus' teachings was to break that cycle of revenge; the revolutionary idea that one could just stop ! before taking the "Eye for an Eye"thing until everyone was blind. I do value nonviolence as a principle, and we're not going to agree.

                That said, the early Christians were (mostly) nonviolent*; later Christians used their faith  as a reason to violently enslave millions, conquer nations, wipe out whole cultures, burn witches, and on and on. So your Rambo Jesus, or Brophy's hyper- armed Christmas greeting, is totally consistent with later versions of the "faith militant".

                *except for a few episodes like the driving of the moneychangers out of the temple. Wonder how many “prosperity gospel” churches really preach that one with a straight face?

                1. If you want the real story of Jesus's execution and his attempt to overthrow Roman rule, read Hyam Maccoby's "Revolution in Judaea"  far and away the best book on the subject.  Bottom line: Jesus was no pacifist and the Romans weren"t  wrong to see him as a foe of their tyrannical rule.  It's out of print but you can get it at the Denver public library.

  4. Presser at 5:30… #thanksobama

    Obama invokes 1953 law to indefinitely block drilling in Arctic and Atlantic oceans

    The law allows a president to withdraw any currently unleased lands in the Outer Continental Shelf from future lease sales. There is no provision in the law that allows the executive's successor to repeal the decision, so President-elect Donald Trump would not be able to easily brush aside the action.

    The White House also indicated Canada will take measures to prevent oil and gas exploration in its waters.

  5. I saw that ! The best part is it's not reversible. So vast areas of Alaska and Canadian shoreline would be permanently off limits. So even if Exxon CEO  Tillerson is confirmed by the Senate as Secretary of State, Rosneft would only be able to drill in the Kara sea off of Russia's northern coast.  That's where that $500 billion project is.

    And mother earth can fight back. It turns out that when Arctic ice is melting, the ground gets slushy, it's harder to move equipment, there's more floating ice which can damage rigs, there's no permafrost layer to hold structures rigidly in place, migratory animals protected by law change their migratory routes, and all manner of obstacles conspire to deny the poor oil billionaires what they feel they are due. Rosneft and Exxon could end up investing even more billions of dollars into Arctic oil exploration, and still lose money as oil prices remain below $100/barrel.

    #thanksobama indeed.

      1. Which means tweaking the OCSLA, which has similar provisions to the Antiquities Act. I think we can all agree they'll go down that route; the Fossilonians won't go quietly into the night. The question will be whether it's before or after the '18 mid-terms.  

        From PoliticoPro

        Obama is turning to section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to bar drilling in the offshore areas. Similar to the Antiquities Act, which presidents can use to designate national monuments to permanently protect parcels of land from development, Section 12(a) does not include language that allows future presidents to undo the withdrawal of offshore areas from future leasing.

      2. Who will stand in the way? In a way that matters. Court rulings will be meaningless if unenforceable. A nod and wink, or tweet, and they're unenforceable. 

        One thing supports continuing the USA on paper long enough to survive Trump: credit. Enough of us owe enough $ to lenders that it is not beneficial to them to dissolve the Constitution. one day that document will again be useful.

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