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US Politics: A Feast for Crows

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This is because, as the House Intelligence Committee majority’s publicly released report indicates, the GOP appears to have all but openly encouraged its witnesses to deny any and all potential wrongdoing, regardless of the plausibility of their denials. Thus, the GOP members and their staffs appear to have been singularly uninterested in testing the veracity of witnesses’ testimony or even inquiring into elemental questions, such as whether Donald Trump Jr. called his father regarding his Trump Tower meeting with representatives of the Russian government, or whether Amway heir Erik Prince lied regarding yet another Trump Tower meeting, this one including Don Jr. and, among others, representatives of two Gulf states.

As a result, some witnesses affiliated with Trump and his campaign may have been lulled into thinking they could lie with particular impunity. It is therefore possible, if not likely, that a fairly substantial number of witnesses, including possibly the president’s eldest son, will soon find themselves facing the unusual prospect of being criminally charged for lying before a House panel that all but welcomed their dishonesty.

And as Mueller’s prior felony charges for lying against individuals including Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, and Alex van der Zwaan have demonstrated, the threat of such criminal liability can often be just what it takes to induce liars to tell important truths to investigators. 

 

How Devin Nunes Helped Robert Mueller
The House Intelligence Committee chair may have unintentionally assisted the special counsel in building cases against Trump associates.

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/11/michael-cohen-lying-to-congress-plea-deal-devin-nunes.html

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20 minutes ago, Darzin said:

Climate change is not a huge threat to developed countries, we can make seawalls to stop the sea and farm vegetables indoors using hydroponics we already have amazingly productive farms using these technologies. The technological solutions to climate change exist already in the developed world. Is all that expensive?  Yes but not prohibitively so.  The danger lies in the developing world where governments and societies lack the money to implement the solutions we have. There is no way a country like the Congo or Bangladesh will by able to weather the effects without significant hardship. 

Sure, and just making sure California doesn't all burn down and the southeast doesn't get torn apart by increasingly vicious hurricanes. And I guess we'll have to build giant walls to keep out all the people displaced from less developed countries when their lands become unsuitable for farming. Other than that though, no big deal.

This is a terrible post on so many levels.

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19 minutes ago, Darzin said:

Climate change is not a huge threat to developed countries, we can make seawalls to stop the sea and farm vegetables indoors using hydroponics we already have amazingly productive farms using these technologies. The technological solutions to climate change exist already in the developed world. Is all that expensive?  Yes but not prohibitively so.  The danger lies in the developing world where governments and societies lack the money to implement the solutions we have. There is no way a country like the Congo or Bangladesh will by able to weather the effects without significant hardship. 

You are living in fool's Paradise if you think those are the problems and they can be fixed so easily to keep your status quo, and that of billions of people right here in NA.  Look what just happened to Anchorage, thanks to fracking and etc.

Climate change isn't just change but catastrophe and it affects just about every single person, just like the Black Death did in the 1340's of Europe.  Not even the royals in France escaped that (though due to better administration and organization King Edward's England did a lot better.  Perhaps only a single or two royal died from the Bubonic Plague).

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18 hours ago, The Anti-Targ said:

The problem is Elon Musk could sink his entire fortune into trying to develop technologies to deal with climate change to the point of impoverishment and wind up with nothing. Whereas public policy has essentially an inexhaustible supply of money to dedicate to the necessary research. The US govt alone can use Musk's entire personal fortune every year to research climate change solutions, and that would only be ~4% (and falling) of the US's Defense budget. All of the OECD countries together can easily spend Jeff Bezo's entire net worth every year on climate change solutions without making a substantial dent in any one country's national budget or national debt. The thing is, it requires the political will and commitment to dedicate that amount of public money to such research, which means voters have to vote those people into office.

It might take $1 trillion in research and development to finally get a (or several combined) technological solution for climate change. No individual or even a collection of the most wealthy individuals is capable or willing to make that kind of commitment. It may be private individuals or institutions that come up with the solutions, but it won't happen without public money.

He basically has sunk his entire fortune into futuristic technology... but the trick is that he winds up with more than he started with and many other people with money rush to emulate him. Governments do not behave this way: at best they help startup an industry with tax breaks and subsidies, but if things go wrong, the recipients of the assistance not merely fail, but become political punching bags thus damaging the cause as a whole.

I do understand what you are saying: if the US government truly wanted to do so, it could brute force the issue with existing technology even without international collaboration. For example, given the price of solar power today, we could probably outfit every roof in the country with solar for the same kind of money that was spent on the wars in the Middle East these past two decades. However, our government has never, ever spent that kind of money except in the face of an imminent threat (usually war, sometimes stuff like the space race). You are right that the advances will not happen without public money and in fact the US government has been subsidizing solar power, electric cars and other green tech for a while (yes, even under Trump)... but the way our system is structured, it pretty much can't happen without most of the money coming from the private sector.

15 hours ago, OldGimletEye said:

Perhaps one of the most neo-liberal things I've read in awhile.

Which is odd, for somebody that has continually ranted about neo-liberalism.

But, oh, I forgot, your conception of neo-liberalism (your definition: "identity politics" gone wild) is different from everyone else's (which is a belief in free market fundamentalism).

Can I ask should we regulate anything or will the market always take care of it, along with a select few Johnny Galts?

I think we've discussed our disagreement of the definition of neoliberalism to the point where we'll just have to disagree (and no, it's not merely identity politics, the main component is that the government is an integral part of the neoliberal system). And yes, we should regulate, but the regulation should take the form of, for example, breaking up corporations that are effectively monopolies or duopolies rather than, for example, imposing an ever growing list of rules that only large companies have the resources to comply with.

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3 hours ago, Darzin said:

Climate change is not a huge threat to developed countries, we can make seawalls to stop the sea and farm vegetables indoors using hydroponics we already have amazingly productive farms using these technologies. The technological solutions to climate change exist already in the developed world. Is all that expensive?  Yes but not prohibitively so.  The danger lies in the developing world where governments and societies lack the money to implement the solutions we have. There is no way a country like the Congo or Bangladesh will by able to weather the effects without significant hardship. 

Plenty of areas cannot be defended with sea walls (eg the ground beneath Miami is inherently porous). And changing rain patterns are a huge threat as well (Dutch flood control earthworks crumble when they get too dry in current summers).

And of course while indoor farming is nice for some vegetables, it is not a solution for any of the staple foods. Just look at the area used for wheat, rice, potatoes, etc, etc, etc.

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1 hour ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

George H.W. Bush has just died.

Yes, and we all know how much many hate him, so can we shut up with the vitriol this time? There was enough of it when he was on death’s door a little while ago.

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6 hours ago, Altherion said:

And yes, we should regulate, but the regulation should take the form of, for example, breaking up corporations that are effectively monopolies or duopolies rather than, for example, imposing an ever growing list of rules that only large companies have the resources to comply with.

I don't disagree that we need stronger anti-trust laws, and Robert Bork and his crew, sent us down a bad route.

But, I don't agree that is the only form of regulation necessary. And despite what conservatives may think, I don't believe in passing regulation for just any old reason. That said, basic economic theory suggest several reasons why regulation is often necessary. Negative externalizes being one example. Informational asymmetries being another reason. Principal agent problems being another. Adverse selection problems being another reason.  And so on and so forth.

Take banking for example. Should require banks to hold higher equity capital? Yes, I think there are very good reasons to think so.  For one, I am very skeptical that assets are always priced correctly ie according to a rational expectations rational valuation formula (and so are conservatives, evidently, when they are inclined to blame financial crises on poor minority people ie the CRA).

Edited by OldGimletEye

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1 hour ago, Fragile Bird said:

Yes, and we all know how much many hate him, so can we shut up with the vitriol this time? There was enough of it when he was on death’s door a little while ago.

I actually don't despise George H.W. Bush. I don't agree with everything he did or said, but this country would be hell of lot better off if we had more old school New England Yankee Republicans like him around.

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The Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders part of the Democratic Party still remains deeply skeptical of free trade.

Not that all their fears are unfounded. Anyway, the issue still remains a divisive issue on the left.

Some recent stuff.
Starting with:

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Prior to the Global Financial Crisis the world economy experienced a period of increasing global imbalances where a group of countries saw their surpluses increase rapidly while, on the other side, a group of countries increased their deficits. These patterns were partly related to the "saving glut" hypothesis put forward by Ben Bernanke to explain the decline in global long-term real interest rates. It was also the case that some of the deficit countries (in particular in the Euro periphery) found themselves in a large crisis after 2008.

This post is an update of the last ten years. Today the world displays smaller imbalances than at the peak of 2008 but what it was more interesting is the extent to which rebalancing had happened between different country groups.

 

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China is moving fast towards a balanced current account (IMF forecasts suggest that China's current account will be balanced within the next 2 years)

I'm not surprised by this. China has a huge amount of internal debt it needs to pay off and its return to its investments are likely to fall. In short, it is quite likely it will have higher consumption than it did in the past. The point here is that in dealing with China, don't fight the last war. The "China Shock" is likely over and done with.

 

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The Euro area has massively shifted towards a large surplus (the largest among the surplus regions)
Advanced Asia has maintained or increased its surplus relative to previous years.

While in 2008 many emerging markets were savers, in 2018 all the surplus countries are advanced economies (Euro and Asia). Some emerging countries appear under rest of the world as absorbing some of these capital flows.

Interesting that most of the countries running positive Current Accounts are evidently advanced nations ie nations that aren't likely to have significantly lower labor cost than the US.

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The US continues to be the country that absorbs most of the surpluses. The US deficit is smaller than in 2008 but remember this is measured as a ratio of World GDP not US GDP (relative to US GDP the decline would be less pronounced).

This is largely the result of US monetary hegemony and the fact that people want to hold safe US financial assets.

Krugman explains here:

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The dollar is strong because foreigners want to buy U.S. assets. And Trump’s policies — tax cuts for corporations, big deficits that drive up interest rates — are so far making the dollar even stronger.

.................................................................................................................................

The good and bad of the USMCA:

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Mexico has also agreed to pass laws giving workers the right to union representation, extending labor protections to migrant workers, and protecting women from discrimination. The countries can also sanction one another for labor violations.

I'd suspect that if their is growing evidence of monopsony in the US, it likely exist in other countries like Mexico. Good.

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It also extends the period that a pharmaceutical drug can be protected from generic competition

Very bad.

..............................................................................................................

The United States' immigration non-problem

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The total number of unauthorized immigrants in the US climbed very rapidly in the 1990s and early 2000, but peaked around 2007, and has declined since then. Jeffrey S. Passel and D’Vera Cohn report details in "U.S. Unauthorized Immigrant Total Dips to Lowest Level in a Decade," just published by the Pew Research Center (November 28, 2018).

 

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 But with the passage of time since the 1990s, and the dropoff in recent unauthorized immigration, we have moved to a situation where about two-thirds of the unauthorized immigrants have now been here for more than 10 years, and only 18% have been here for less than five years. "By 2016, an unauthorized immigrant adult had typically lived in the U.S. for 14.8 years, compared with a median 8.6 years in 2007."

 

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But the main immigration enforcement problem at present is not to block growing numbers of unauthorized migrants: it is how we address the issue of about 7 million unauthorized immigrants who have been here more than a decade, and who have put down roots in their communities. For example, about 43% of the unauthorized immigrants live in households that include a total of about 5 million US-born, American-citizen children.

I think the issue is simple. Put them all on a path to US citizenship. Nobody in their right mind thinks we are going to kick these people out.

 

Edited by OldGimletEye

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7 hours ago, OldGimletEye said:

I actually don't despise George H.W. Bush. I don't agree with everything he did or said, but this country would be hell of lot better off if we had more old school New England Yankee Republicans like him around.

I do.  He should have been in jail: complicit, colluding and guilty of the Iran Contra and, Panama sales of drugs to Israel, who in return sold US arms to Iran (coke and heroin, etc., sold here in the USA and very much helpful for the crack epidemic, making the shyte so cheap), massacre of innocents in Iran and so much more -- and of covering it up.  Funny how nobody is mentioning any of this, including the NY Times.

This hurt the US so much, right here, people one even knows -- or knew.  So don't tell us in the US to shut up about the evil doings of this fellow, OK?

Don't believe me? There have been many investigations since it was all shoved under the rug, and Ollie North took one for the gipper, which rolled up that rug again.  But everybody's so polite . . . .

https://www.brown.edu/Research/Understanding_the_Iran_Contra_Affair/profile-bush.php

 

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The Iran Contra pardons are certainly a large stain on Bush's legacy.  Perhaps most damningly, they give Trump a fairly compelling precedent for pardoning former administration officials while an investigation is ongoing and those officials' cases are still being adjudicated.

However, his role in the affair has never been presumed to be expansive, even among the prosecutors.  The main conflict for him personally centered on Bush's refusal to hand over his personal notes on the matter.  Based on this refusal and the eventual pardons, it seems Bush's guilt entails having knowledge of the deal(s) before and while they were being enacted, actually supporting the action (whereas it appears SoS Schultz and SecDef Weinberger were oopposed), and then using the presidency to complete a cover-up of any further information coming to light.  The most important thing he was likely covering up was Reagan's knowledge of the affair.

The ignorance of the American public on Iran-Contra is something that grinds my gears, and I make it a point of describing the scandal whenever it's remotely relevant in classes I'm instructing.  It is a large blemish on Bush's record, to be sure, but as VP his active role in the affair is almost certainly minimal.  Put another way, if Bush wasn't VP, the affair would have been conducted and ordered exactly how it was in reality. 

He is primarily responsible for the eventual cover-up, of course, but in my book the largest stain on his legacy is not Iran-Contra but rather the elevation and use of Lee Atwater and his politics - culminating in the Willie Horton ad.  Atwater and his politics presaged the intransigency and demagoguery that the GOP would descend into from Gingrich to Rove to the Tea Party to Trump.

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14 hours ago, Zorral said:

You are living in fool's Paradise if you think those are the problems and they can be fixed so easily to keep your status quo, and that of billions of people right here in NA.  Look what just happened to Anchorage, thanks to fracking and etc.

 

Where did you find the idea that the earthquake near Anchorage had anything to do with fracking? The Anchorage area is not near any oil fields as far as I know and isn't even near the route of the Alaska pipeline. It seems highly unlikely this particular earthquake had anything to do with fracking to me.

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34 minutes ago, Ormond said:

Where did you find the idea that the earthquake near Anchorage had anything to do with fracking? The Anchorage area is not near any oil fields as far as I know and isn't even near the route of the Alaska pipeline. It seems highly unlikely this particular earthquake had anything to do with fracking to me.

I’m curious to devine the basis for that particular assertion as well.  Are Alaskan oil fields on the north slope fracked?  I was under the impression they were producing long before fracking was employed in oil exploration.

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison

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8 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

I’m curious to devine the basis for that particular assertion as well.  Are Alaskan oil fields on the north slope fracked?  I was under the impression they were producing long before fracking was employed in oil exploration.

From a quick search of Google News I think it must come from confusing the Alaska quake with a 4.5 magnitude quake which hit near the city of Fort St. John in British Columbia on Thursday night, which evidently DID involve fracking, but that's over a thousand miles from Anchorage. 

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10 hours ago, OldGimletEye said:

I actually don't despise George H.W. Bush. I don't agree with everything he did or said, but this country would be hell of lot better off if we had more old school New England Yankee Republicans like him around.

Lol you serious with this? Do you realize how fucking racist he was or how racist his policies were? 
Do you realize how many people died because of his homophobia and doing nothing about AIDS? 

How about how many war crimes he committed? 

The world is better off with less scumbags like him. 

I guess you like their bigotry to be hidden so you don't feel uncomfortable seeing it out in the open in the person like a Trump. 

 

Edited by Bonnot OG

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I'm sure many here are already quite knowledgeable of this history...but I didn't know just how far back all this shit goes!:stunned:  It appears the seeds were sown long ago paving the way for someone like Trump to become president and for the absolutely appalling state of current US politics.

From a Washington Post article titled "Swamp builders: How Manafort and Stone created the mess Trump said he’d drain":

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None of them knew it then, but that one conversation, a chat among three ambitious young Reaganites — Stone was just 28 and Black only 33 — would have a transformative effect on the capital, nudging Washington into a generation-long evolution. Their business would morph into a then-unheard-of hybrid, a bipartisan firm that would help elect politicians — sometimes hedging by playing both sides in the same race — then lobby those same politicians. Radical, disruptive and frequently criticized as ethically unsavory at the time, the mix is de rigueur now.

“I don’t think they invented the swamp,” said John Donaldson, a veteran Washington strategist who was an early employee of the firm. “They invented an innovative way to navigate the swamp.”

One of the first clients of the firm they christened Black, Manafort & Stone was a New York developer named Donald J. Trump, brought into their portfolio by Stone, who’d met him through the notorious Gotham lawyer Roy Cohn.

The brash Reagan boys would become essential architects of the city Trump now dominates, a place where the line between the lobbyists and the lobbied is so blurred that some question whether it exists at all.

Probably old news (apologies if this has already been posted/discussed) but I found it a fascinating if depressing read.  Now I have to go take a shower...

ETA: Changed link to article to be from the actual source rather than secondary.

Edited by Prince of the North

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1 hour ago, Bonnot OG said:

The week really ended on a high note.

There is currently only ONE person in the world I'd wish ill and think his demise a positive thing. And it's not the current President of the United States. I won't give his name and the only clue I give is that it's a man.

The point is I try not to wish ill on anyone. I only have one weak spot.

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4 hours ago, Ormond said:

Where did you find the idea that the earthquake near Anchorage had anything to do with fracking? The Anchorage area is not near any oil fields as far as I know and isn't even near the route of the Alaska pipeline. It seems highly unlikely this particular earthquake had anything to do with fracking to me.

I dwell in the region (Kenai Peninsula, south of Anchorage) and have multiple relatives who work in oil fields.

There has been substantial oil and natural gas production in and around Cook Inlet for over sixty years - which is an issue, because many of the pipelines are old, with attendant problems. (among other things, an aging natural gas pipeline near a platform in the inlet sprung a leak a few weeks ago).  There is no significant fracking, but 'advanced techniques' are used in many of these fields.  Without those techniques, most of the fields would have been abandoned decades ago. 

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