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About OldGimletEye

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  1. Well, it looks like the libertarian overlords just couldn't help themselves and killed the goose that laid the golden egg.
  2. Somebody refresh my memory about Guatemala, but wasn't the guy that was running the place a rather moderate left of center sort, and the US government still freaked out and considered it "communist". I guess my point is that if you were even a rather a moderate sort, Guatemala had to make you nervous that Washington would see you as "communist", even if you weren't. It seems to me that Guatemala and Iran in the 1950s have to be some of the biggest screw ups in American Foreign policy that likely has bitten the US in the ass for a very long time.
  3. Paul "Numbers Guy" Ryan reminds why: You can call me a lowdown, no good, clown and scoundrel, and meh, yawn, not a big deal. Call me a Republican, and them thar are fightin' words.
  4. People smarter than me say, like Joseph Stiglitz or Amartya Sen have argued we should develop an aggregate statistic that better represents economic well being than GDP does. Certainly GDP numbers or growth doesn’t tell the whole story about economic well being. It’s kind of like the U3 numbers which don’t tell the whole story about what is going on with unemployment. Certainly though, a nation’s ability to produce greater output overtime is important in improving the well being of a country. With regard to Cuba, I’d imagine that the US’s silly embargo hasn’t been helpful. But, also, I’d imagine Cuba probably should do some economic liberalization. I’m hardly a free market fanatic, as I do believe the state should strive to make sure it’s all citizens have access to decent education and health care, that regulation is often necessary etc. etc., but I do think that the decentralized decision making nature of markets has some advantages that helps growth. Of course, I wouldn’t advise Cuba to adopt the American model as it stands right now as it’s mainly just produced enormous inequality, stagnating wages, people without access to health care, education, etc. etc., and a political system corrupted by money and a whole lot of nuttiness. Here in the United States, interestingly enough, GDP numbers pretty much tell us that the “Party of Business” isn’t as good at economic matters or producing economic growth as it claims, though just listening to it’s rhetoric, you’d think it’s on the pro bowl team of producing economic growth, when in reality it’s more like it’s a back bencher on the local JV squad. Who can forget such Republican or conservative top hits like "The Bush Boom", "Bullish on Bush", "Mornin in America", "The Brownback Boom", or now playing "Pumped For Trump". One might conclude that the US could use a few more progressive or maybe even “socialist” policies that would hardly harm GDP growth, leaving aside the issue that GDP numbers don’t always give the full picture.
  5. As somebody that has been an observer of American politics for a very long time, it’s hard sometimes not to cringe at the word “freedom” as it’s so often misused by conservatives to promote their preferred policies or is simply a term of propaganda. And I think there are two reasons for this. One is that their talk of “freedom” is often very hypocritical. They will talk about on and on about “freedom” but then have nothing to say about people like Arpaio blatantly violating the fourth amendment rights of the Latino population in Arizona. And then of course, I think most of us are aware of the civil liberties disaster that was the George W. Bush administration. But other than the mealy mouthed double talk about “freedom” that comes from some quarters here in the US, I think there is a more deeper philosophical issue, if you will, which is that often libertarians, particularly, hard core property rights libertarians, which tend to bleat about it the most and dominate the conversation about “freedom”, here in the US at least, with their preferred version of it, which is basically grounding their ideas in property rights and negative rights. Back a few years ago, Ron Paul quipped that he wouldn’t have supported the 1964 Civil Rights act. Now I think that is a horrible position to take, but it is highly consistent with Paul’s and the libertarian position on “freedom”. And I think for that reason, the libertarian conception of freedom is very flawed, mainly because it is unable to deal with the world we live in, rather than the one libertarians think we live in. Or expressed another way, the libertarian method about freedom simply disregards the threat of private power in limiting freedom. And then of course, the libertarian notion of freedom, sees there is a simple trade off between freedom and equality, ie you can have one or the other but not both, and I don’t think it’s as simple or as linear as libertarians sorts would make it. For instance, the ability to support oneself is pretty important to enjoy freedom, and if your not able to because you’re facing private discrimination, ie being treated unequally for some really arbitrary reason, your freedom is rather limited. And then of course if your at the bottom of the economic pecking order, you’re going to likely have less “freedom” than others, as your probably going to have to jump through more hoops just to survive, than others who are not at the bottom of the economic pecking order. In fact, your "freedom" in such case may likely be mirage, which I think is the main point of your post. Now having stated all this, I think it would be a mistake for liberal or left leaning people to think freedom isn’t a good thing in many cases. Certainly, freedom allows people to make their own private decisions with regard to their family arrangements, allows them to express their conscience, permits people to live in manner that may not be considered “normal” in a socially conservative society, and so on and so forth. The point, I’m making here, is that I think liberals or left leaning shouldn’t cede the ground about freedom to conservatives and libertarians so easily, and should dispute their version of it as being flawed. Now I’m not aware of liberals having a version of freedom, fleshed out from first principles, like say property rights libertarianism (maybe somebody did, but hey I’m more likely to read the TV guide than philosophy as it makes my head hurt), and libertarians might say that a notion of freedom not derived from first principles like the libertarian conception of it is unmoored and unprincipled, to which like Keynes I’d say; The libertarian conception about freedom is a fine example of how starting with a mistake, a remorseless logician can end up in bedlam. And a remorseless logician starting with a mistake is exactly how somebody like Ron Paul ends up in bedlam over the 1964 Civil Rights Act. But, anyway, I don’t think liberals or left leaning people should just give up on the notion of freedom, but rather should dispute the right wing version of it. In another thread I quoted Schlesinger about Cuba who in the 1950s made the remark: "The corruption of the government, the brutality of the police, the regime’s indifference to the needs of the people for education, medical care, housing, for social justice and economic justice...is an open invitation to revolution." And Schlesinger also said: "I was enchanted by Havana – and appalled by the way that lovely city was being debased into a giant casino and brothel for American businessmaen over a weekend from Miami. My fellow countrymen reeled through the streets, picking up fourteen-year-old Cuban girls and tossing coins to make men scramble in the gutter. On wondered how any Cuban – on the basis of this evidence – could regard the United States with anything but hatred." Based on Schlesinger's comments it doesn't seem to me that many Cubans were enjoying freedom all that much, at least not 14 year old Cuban girls and destitute men. Now, I don’t like authoritarian regimes, either left wing or right wing, as I guess you could call me an Orwell social democrat. But, one of the frustrating things about conservative sorts of people here in the US is that when they talk about Cuba, there is simply no acknowledgement of why revolution happened in Cuba and the US’s part in it. When people’s basic needs are not being met, when the wealthy plunder a country, and when a people have a feeling they have no control over their own country, being at the mercy of international businessmen, and in the case of Cuba, gangsters, it really ought not to be surprising that the people would get fed up and throw a revolution. And it seems to me that it’s a lesson that conservative sorts of people just never want to learn. Also at this juncture in our history, it is simply silly for the US to hold a grudge against Cuba, we should attempt to normalize relations with them, and let the Cuban people figure out for themselves what kind of political and economic system they want to have. Given enough time, I’m sure they will do alright.
  6. Trump might have attempted to do "America First". But, it looks, like what he's actually achieved is: "Man, America is the worst!" http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2018/01/in-the-era-of-trump-everybody-hates-us/ Oh now, remember way back when when conservatives and Republicans were saying something, "Obummer is hurting American prestige around the world!"(after of course they put Dubya in the WH, guess they forgot that little detail). Republicans: what a bunch of trash talkin' buffoons.
  7. I think Arthur Schlesinger summed up the situation fairly well in the 1950s when he wrote about Cuba: “The corruption of the Government, the brutality of the police, the government's indifference to the needs of the people for education, medical care, housing, for social justice and economic justice ... is an open invitation to revolution.” And further I’d add that the US was in a large part responsible for what happened in Cuba as it stood by and let the likes of Meyer Lansky and other mobsters pillage and take advantage of the Cuban people and gave support to Batista. Whatever one thinks about Castro, it ought not be surprising that the Cuban people would tire of their condition and react. There are things Castro did, that I do not like. But, I understand why he came to power. I understand why he was often supported by the Cuban people. I understand that when conservatives talk about what happened there, they don’t take stock of the conditions there, nor do they take stock of American foreign policy that made the situation worse. I would not make any harsh judement about the people of Cuba, but only feel pity for them, as they were ignored by so many. But, the point, I want to make here is I dislike this notion that one cannot make a judgement or an opinion on a matter if they don’t have “personal experience” with it. I think this is epistemologically a very bad idea. Certainly one can say things that are ignorant, unfactual, insensitive, illogical, or not reasonable on a variety of topics, but I think it’s not really a good idea to say somebody’s opinion isn’t valid because they don’t have “personal experience” with it. And sometimes I see some on left pushing this type of argument and I wish they would stop for a moment and think through it’s implications. For instance. I don’t run a huge multi-national bank. Does this mean I can’t criticize Jamie Dimon? I didn’t found a huge corporation. Does this mean, I can’t criticize Bernie Marcus? And so on and so forth. I did not live in Czarist Russia, or Bourbon France, or in pre Castro Cuba, but my take away, would be: Conservative sorts of people: If you let conditions get bad enough, don’t be surprised if people end up revolting. It would seem it’s a lesson conservative sorts of people, never want to learn.
  8. I’d agree that people that focused on the profanity, rather the actual meaning and important of his words, missed the main issue. One might describe Ireland in the 1840s as a “real shithole” as many Irish starved to death during the potato famine. It’s understandable why many of them started to emigrant to the US. During the 1840s one might describe the countries of central europe as “shit holes”, particularly after the revolutionaries of 48 failed to bring about reforms. It’s understandable why many Germans and other Central Europeans left and emigrated to the US during that time. After Trump and the Republican Party gets done, one might describe the US as a shithole. I personally don’t really care all that much if the POTUS says the word “shit” or drops f-bombs during private meetings. Really I could care less. States fail for a variety of reasons. Of course, one should have pity for the people that happened to be unlucky to be born there. And understand why they seek to leave. The problem here is Trump followed up his comment with wondering why good Aryan Scandavians weren’t interested in coming here. Well, probably because they developed into relative decent places to live. People typically don’t emigrate when things are going well. They leave when things are going bad. It’s Trump’s barely subtle racism that is the problem here and focusing on the profanity misses the bigger issue.
  9. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/1/17/16898496/blackrock-larry-fink A very short suggested list. 1. Take a very strong and uncompromising stand against Nazism and white nationalism, even if it means you don’t get the corporate tax cuts you’d like. 2. Before pontificating on a matter of public policy or public interest, please do your homework or don’t be a bullshit artist, so you won’t run around saying things like “Oh my god there is a skills gap!” 3. Just don’t say, “Golly, that’s anti business!”. Explain why it’s bad and don’t rely on your own personal experience to justify your preferred policy. Looking at you Bernie Marcus and Jamie Dimon. Because the alleged “anti business” policy might just have very good support both empirically and theoretically. For instance Jamie Dimon might say, “golly higher equity capital requirements are anti-business” except there are good reasons to believe it is the right way to go. 4. If you’d like globalization to continue, try to do something about international tax arbitrage games. 5. Don’t lie about raising wages because of corporate tax cuts. 6. Don’t run around Davos saying, “Golly, what can we do? We just don’t know what to do? Well, I guess we can just give tax cuts for ourselves!” Well this is good, if a tad late.
  10. Trump is a very stable beauty.
  11. I think there might be a bit of an endogenity issue here, as in did being a jerk make one become a GOP politician, or does being a GOP politician make one a jerk?
  12. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/1/16/16667264/trump-medicaid-work-requirements Seriously? Did Seema Verma get paid a couple hundred thousand, to offer up this wonderful piece of advice to Bevin or did he think up this all by himself?
  13. Yglesias on Trump’s relationship with the Republican Party. Touches on what I think we’ve discussed about Trump simply relying on the Republican Party to make policy for him. And of course, the Republican Party will not be able to be disown him. They may try, like they did with Dubya, but they cannot be permitted to get away with it. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/1/16/16883290/donald-trump-congress-fitness-policy-immigration
  14. Yea. We got us a brand new conservative conspiracy theory. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2018/01/heres-the-latest-stupid-conservative-conspiracy-theory/
  15. I think life down there has always been hard and poverty common, ever since the first mostly Scots Irish or Scots moved there, not trusting the elites on the coast or the lowlands. And over several centuries, certain kinds of expectations form, like say having a coal mining job is the best you can do. One might ask, why don't the people just move. And many did or have. My own family is from down there, arriving before the Revolutionary War, until my grand father decided he wanted no part of coal mining, like many others. But, often, there was a bit of cultural alienation, as many hillbillys were seen as ignorant, backward, and stupid. Where I was raised at, their is a special name for it. We're called "briars". Here is a definition of a "briar": https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Briar Now back in the day, shortly after World War 2, there was quite a bit of discrimination against briars. It isn't so bad now, as there was lots of us briars where I grew up, to the point we even joke about being briars. But, I think for many of those people in Appalachia there is a bit of cultural anxiety of moving to other places. Being a briar myself it's upsetting to see so many people from Appalachia become Trump supporters. Neither Trump and nor the country club Republican Party crowd gives a flyin' fuck about any of those people. Never will, never have. And they are certainly feeding them a bunch of bullshit about coal jobs, which are going to get smaller and smaller, and no amount of reversing EPA regulations is going to stop that. Of course, and I hate to say it, but it's true, that racism and cultural grievance plays a big part. And it just goes to show that those sort of things are deadly for many people down there and in other places where they might live. I just hope one day, they wake up and realize they've been had.