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Messages - Greg Davidson

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1
The long life thing is a challenge for a synopsis. In the ten generations between Noah and Abraham, the length of the long lives of the firstborn sons keeps declining, From 850 years for Noah, to 603 years for Shem, all the way down to less than two hundred for Abraham's father. In contrast, even before the Flood, God declares that the human lifespan shall be limited to 120 years (that's almost the only specifics that Genesis has on those individuals in the Line of Noah). So there is a mystery, and let's just say that may be tied up into the evil before the Flood...

I am struggling a bit in how to summarize Shem's response to these circumstances in just a sentence. If you had lived for almost a century in a society that honored you, and then came to understand it was based in evil, what would you do with the guilt? Your arrogance might be gone, you wouldn't trust your judgement, and so instead you'd look to follow the guidance of someone who knew better. But what if there was no one? The day they were off the Ark, God comes and blesses Noah and his four sons, but even when Shem tries to treat God's words as a guide to life, there's not much there in that blessing to shape a religion. As Shem's more cynical brother puts it forty years later, "Breed, feed (but not if it bleeds), here's a rainbow." Shem looks to Noah for guidance, but as per Genesis Noah becomes addicted to alcohol. And yet after 40 years of women having twins every year, almost all female, there are thousands of people in the world and most of them are children. So what do you do? 

 

2
I realized I already got a lot of free help from a bunch of you, but I did update my synopsis, so if anyone has any further comments, I would appreciate hearing them.

Quote
Shem was evil. All men were. That’s what his father Noah said. The survivors from the Ark may have a second chance, but after the rainbow blessing, God’s voice goes silent. Noah invents wine and falls into drunkenness, his mothers and brothers die, but Shem lives on as the new generations invent technologies, writing, cities, cults, and war. Through the centuries, Shem seeks atonement by searching for protections from the evils that might forestall annihilation, but his contemplation is interrupted by immediate needs of real people, a man captured by slavers, later a pregnant woman whose child is to be sacrificed. Shem is forced to act.

The voice of God is finally heard centuries later, sending Abram to Canaan. Shem serves Abram in disguise, hoping to learn God’s intent. But God’s words are never clear enough, and Shem must rescue Abram and his family from threats and mistakes. When obedience is not enough, Shem must make choices. But is it rebellion to challenge the will of Noah, Abraham, and even God? Or is that the lesson?

A respectful biblical fantasy in the tradition of The Red Tent, telling the story of Shem whose life spans six centuries from before the Flood until Jacob flees Canaan. A thoughtful speculation on how men and women might have struggled for meaning in a time before modern religion emerged. And a story of Shem’s relationships, with his father and mother, his Great Grandson Eber, with Sarah, Abraham, Hagar, Isaac, Rebekkah, and Jacob, as they might have experienced the remarkable events indicated by the cryptic Genesis text.

3
Thank you all for all of your comments.

I find really interesting (but valid) the level of concerns people have with the anticipated narrative perspective, and the potential for conflict. I didn't even think of that as an issue. I have used primarily Jewish sources, but Christian (and Muslim) scripture provide additional detail for the setting, and I have tried not to have anything offensive to any faith (although the plot has to deviate, as it is Ishmael and not Isaac who Abraham takes to Moriah to sacrifice in Islamic scripture). In the book, God exists, but generally at a distance (or later, in telling Abraham some specific things on a few specific instances), but there is no other religion except for practices that the characters invent.  I guess some may find offense by the absence of certain religious elements that they expect, and there's bound to be some people who don't like any retelling of biblical stories, but Anita Diamant with The Red Tent and OSC's Women of Genesis series seemed to dodge huge controversy. I don't think of my narrative as being more provocative, but you never know. The natural implications of repopulating a world from three brothers and their wives, particularly when the commandment of God is to be fruitful and multiply, may be shocking to some, but only in terms of "I don't want to hear about it," not in terms of what had to have happened.

And for the most part I am telling a more modern-perspective story. Unlike the conventional narrative that in the bible, life was pretty much unchanged and God was everywhere, the text suggests the exact opposite. In seven generations the world moves from three couples to seventy nations, with cities, technology, and society evolving rapidly -- but God is mostly a memory from centuries earlier. What would they have thought about, particularly someone like Shem is lives an unnatural life centuries long, seeing all the change.

Anyhow, thanks again for the comments

 



4
I've been spending my writing time on a novel rather than commenting on politics. 200,000 words (too long I know, maybe it's two novels chopped in the middle). And I have simultaneously been doing research on novel-writing (I know, maybe not the right sequence). One suggestion they had was that if you were writing a genre novel, know the expectations of readers so you could fulfill them. And if you were not writing a genre novel, you still needed to understand genre expectations to know where you would need to guide readers off of the path that they might expect.

Assume my novel is in the fantasy genre, using the background of the biblical book of Genesis from Noah through Jacob fleeing Canaan (an alternate assumption is that it was in the biblical fiction genre, but I am assuming more Ornery people are fantasy readers). I wrote up this blurb in 20 minutes, but if you saw something like this on the back of a 560 page paperback book, what would be your expectations about the novel? Are there any ways this could go that you would find particularly satisfying? Is there anything that if it were excluded you would feel cheated?

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What would you do if almost everyone on earth had been killed, and your father said it was because you were evil? Humanity has a second chance, but after the rainbow blessing, God’s voice goes silent. While Shem’s family dies and his father Noah falls into drunkenness, he lives for centuries, seeking atonement by protecting future generations from the evil that caused the Flood.  As the population explodes and people invent technologies, writing, cities, cults, and war, Shem’s efforts never seem enough. Then, after three hundred and sixty-eight years, word comes from the East that God has spoken again – to a man named Abram.     

5
General Comments / Re: Injustice of the Republican Tax bill
« on: January 03, 2019, 11:59:43 PM »
If a Democrat President like Hillary committed America to unnecessary wars as a form of military corporate welfare, I would absolutely be strongly critical.

I also believe that is an unlikely scenario (as is the similar suggestion that a Republican would commit to unnecessary wars as a form of military corporate welfare - in either case, (1) you don't need actual wars to drive military spending, and (2) paying companies to do work is much less like "corporate welfare" than changing the tax laws to cut taxes by 33%).



6
General Comments / Injustice of the Republican Tax bill
« on: January 03, 2019, 10:18:32 PM »
Are you angry yet?

I just plugged my data from 2017 into the 2018 version of TurboTax to see what the Republican Tax Law does to the income of those in the 1%. There's still two provisions that TurboTax says that the IRS has not finalized their determination, so this is approximate. The difference is a savings of $13,600. Note that  includes a provision aimed primarily against wealthy Blue states that limits deductions for state taxes to $10K - if I came from a lower-tax state than California, the net benefit of the tax law to someone with my income would be $22,400.

So all of you who voted for President Trump and the Republicans in 2016 - how much are you saving on your tax bill this year? Do you think that this tax cut primarily aimed at the wealthy was a good idea? Do you still?

And this is income tax savings - don't forget that by cutting Corporate tax rates by 1/3rd, everyone who owns stock got about a  9% increase in the value of their portfolio. For my retirement account, that's about another 100K.

Of course, this tax cut has ballooned the deficit by $300B+ in just the first year (and that's when the economy is doing well - it will be disastrous when the economy slows).

Okay, any of you Republican voters angry yet? Because this was by far the single greatest impact that the Republicans elected in 2016 had on the country - this is what you got for your vote. And don't blame me - I voted (and donated) to stop injustice such as this.


7
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It's a systemic problem.  Conservatives sometimes do it, and so do Liberals.  There is plenty of blame to go around.

But do they? Can you name a Democratic President who has incited crowds to see the press as the enemy of the people? Or to urge crowds to lock up political opponents? We have Fox News promoting anti-Semitic conspiracies like George Soros running the State Department (Soros figures like Emmanuel Goldstein in Orwell's 1984, a designated hate figure on the right even though his political contributions are small relative to those of conservatives such as Sheldon Adelson or the Koch Brothers). After the bombings (are you sure they were fake?), any decent human being as President would have called those who had been targeted for assassination, and would not be campaigning the next day, and would not be attacking one of the intended victims in his speeches (as a matter of fact, any decent human being would not justify continuing to campaign by lying that the Stock Market opened the day after 9/11, as President Trump has done).

The claim of "both sides do it the same, so it doesn't matter" is false. There's no President who has acted like this in our lifetimes  in the United States.   

Grant, I was all willing to give you kudos for condemning specific inciting bigotry and hatred resulting in attempted and completed murders in your underlined text, but as I read it, you just can't do it.

8
Islamic terrorists sometimes commit attacks at times that are not politically convenient for their causes. But those who complain about the lack of condemnation from other Muslims do not believe that excuses their behavior. Why should America's Republicans be held to a lower standard?

9
Conservatives often claim that they don't hear Muslims properly condemn the ideology of hatred that inspires acts of terrorism by Islamic extremists. That includes a number of those who post here on Ornery. Well, the grotesque events of this week provide an opportunity to test the sincerity of those condemnations: 

Wednesday - A shooter attempts to get into a black church, when that fails he goes into a Kroeger's and executes two African Americans but tells a white guy "whites don't shoot whites"

Friday - The largest number of simultaneous political assassination attempts in American history, with the targets being those identified by the President, Fox News, and the right-wing media as enemies of the people

Saturday - Pittsburgh shooter, echoing the narrative from the President, Fox News, and the right-wing media about Jews bringing in "hostile invaders to dwell among us?", kills 11 Americans at a Synagogue.

Under President Trump, the US government-supported Radio Marti put out a program five months ago attacking George Soros as  “multimillionaire Jew” and “the architect of the financial collapse of 2008.”  Soros was one of the targets of Friday's assassination attempts


So, any condemnations of this ideology from Republicans?

 

10
General Comments / Re: Corey Booker and Kavanaugh Hearing
« on: September 30, 2018, 11:41:54 PM »
Quote
A good place to start would be with the witnesses Ford says will corroborate her story - they don’t. Another good place to start is noticing that details of the story change during questioning. These kinds of things are vastly more reliable in identifying liars.

Kavanaugh has made claims about the witnesses that are false. He asserted that several of them refuted her statement, whereas their comments were that they were unaware of what was going on in a room upstairs. Some of those witnesses have publicly rejected the interpretation that Kavanaugh put on their comments.

In contrast, your assertion is that there are witnesses that Ford said would corroborate her story. Who is that? She said to call Mark Judge not because he would corroborate her story, she doesn't know what he would say, but she claims he was a witness.

This is what the Republicans fought.

As for your scorekeeping, most of those articles were irrefutable refutations of Republican talking points. To count how many of them didn't speak to Ford's credibility is wrong because they were not intended for that purpose; they were intended to address the frequent, false assertions that Republicans are presenting.


11
General Comments / Re: Corey Booker and Kavanaugh Hearing
« on: September 30, 2018, 01:10:44 AM »
I believe that there should be some real skepticism of a single accusation of this sort; that being said, the actions since this issue emerged have shown Ford to be far more credible than Kavanaugh. Republicans accuse Democrats of politics (there's politics on both sides, of course) because their position is unsupportable on the facts.

Democrats did not use this sort of tactic against Gorsuch (who arguably was being appointed to a stolen Supreme Court seat). Ford even made her contact with her Representative before Kavanaugh was nominated with the full understanding that an equally extreme conservative Republican would be appointed instead - but it would be an extreme conservative Republican who had not committed sexual assault.  Ford took a lie detector test with an independent retired FBI investigator that validated her assertion that she is certain that he committed this crime.

Ford answered every question asked of her; look at this graphic of just how many questions Kavanaugh refused to answer while testifying (https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/9/28/17914308/kavanaugh-ford-question-dodge-hearing-chart).

Republicans fought an FBI investigation; when they heard of additional accusations they tried to accelerate the approval (with no explanation as to why 71 days was a magical time; this next appointee will probably be serving until the year 2053 and yet there was a rush in days

Even now, there are reports that the White House is setting limits on what the FBI can investigate. I believe that there actually should be limits - but can you identify any situation in which Republicans would have trusted the Clinton or Obama Administrations to be the ones setting limits on what the FBI could investigate? Why does the Trump Administration get special privileges?

And I think that refusing to investigate Mark Judge, who is an eye witness named by the accuser (who, I will remind you, passed a lie detector test), is undefendable.

Finally, Kavanaugh himself has ruled as a judge that employers can use lie detector tests in the hiring process (which is one of a vast range of things that cause many liberals to be concerned with him). If he truly believes that is valid for situations where employees are being hired for jobs with vastly less power than Supreme Court Justice, and jobs without a lifetime hiring guarantee, should he be willing to take a lie detector test himself?


12
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I think he made an attempt at doing so, but was solidly rebuffed by the Democrats and the Tea Party Caucus alike, so he reverted to form and hasn't made an attempt since

This may describe your thinking but not reality. Can you name the specific "veer to the center" policy approach that Trump proposed after in office that was "solidly rebuffed" by Democrats?

13
General Comments / Re: Check your voter registration
« on: September 21, 2018, 10:36:34 AM »
That's one of the telling indictments of the false Republican bills about voter fraud. By far the most frequent cause of registration errors is disconnects between states when voters move from one state to another. And yet not a single one of the Republican voter suppression bills (that are advertised as if they are about voter fraud) actually address a national voter registration system that would catch these disconnects between states.

14
Quote
Synthetics (credit default swaps) were not 10x20 multiples of the market.  The market itself was $7 trillion and the synthetic market was $5trillion (at least if you believe Wikipedia).

The market may have been $5 trillion but the exposure was $54 trillion (https://democrats-oversight.house.gov/sites/democrats.oversight.house.gov/files/migrated/20081024163819.pdf) - and that was private sector firms making that decision. 
That level of exposure is validated by repeated estimates

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The US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has just published its latest quarterly report on bank trading in derivatives, and disclosed that the exposure of US banks to them now totals $US237 trillion.

Of that, the big four - JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America - account for US$219.7 trillion. And that's just the Americans.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-12/kohler-controlling-derivatives/5515666

15
General Comments / Re: Corey Booker and Kavanaugh Hearing
« on: September 16, 2018, 07:35:32 PM »
Quote
I think it's interesting though that you seem to find it terrible that President (who has the Constitutional authority to pardon) would pardon some one in their own interests, but that a prosecutor can effectively pardon someone if that person agrees to testify how they want them to do so.

You are really climbing into the fortress of criminality now...

16
Seriati, among the many things you are missing is that the market for mortgages was transformed into a market for mortgage derivatives and a betting market associated with those derivatives. There was far more money in those markets than just in the mortgage markets (by a factor of 10-20 more). Clever financial people in the private sector arbitraged past mortgage stability into instruments that had the appearance of stability without all of the associated costs that historically went in to that stability.

As for your right wing theory that the government has primary responsibility for this economic collapse, please explain why government and not the private sector is responsible for the $54 trillion in bad bets made by investment banks? Please explain why government and not the private sector is responsible for the private sector ratings agencies making the false determination that these mortgage derivatives were AAA and low risk. Please explain why the government and not the private sector is responsible for mortgage companies such as Countrywide making many billions of dollars of bad loans (Fannie Mae should get a minority fraction of the blame, but remember even as you call them a "governmental" entity, it is important to include the caveat that their employees were not civil servants and they were driven by their share price just like stock firms).. Oh, and please explain why government is responsible for the actions of all of those private sector individuals who signed up for mortgages they could later not pay.

17
General Comments / Re: I’m sorry but I don’t get it
« on: September 16, 2018, 07:20:07 PM »
Quote
But when I get asked with a straight face why Obama's lies about how great Obamacare is going to be are worse than Trump's lies that tells me that people have very subjective measures for how serious a lie is based on whether or not the person telling it is their guy.

I am about to go on hiatus soon, part of how I will free up time to try and write a novel is by giving up on-line argumentation. However, I can't pass this by without mentioning that I did a comprehensive assessment of all of our comments on Obamacare a few years ago, and through hundreds of pages it turned out that almost every prediction of the anti-Obama advocates was wrong, and almost all of the predictions that I made (which were generally consistent with the Obama positions) were right.  And that analysis was detailed and specific.

18
General Comments / Re: I’m sorry but I don’t get it
« on: September 15, 2018, 04:54:58 PM »
Fenring, thanks for the polite response but I disagree. People have been making excuses for liars for much further back than your grandfather, but that does not mean that the argument is valid. If we use common standards of judgement, there are significant differences in the degree to which politicians lie. And the premise that "truth is anything my guy says", and the assertion that everybody believes that premise is itself the final argument that liars use to bring everyone down to their level.  Because when they have been proved to be lying, the only mitigating step is to suddenly declare that lying is an acceptable standard.

19
General Comments / Re: I’m sorry but I don’t get it
« on: September 15, 2018, 10:06:56 AM »
cherry,

You are flailing. Your argument seems to be:
  • I can eliminate lies by pretending that they are mere optimism
  • As a Trump supporter, of course I do that, and so do Obama supporters
  • This is inevitable

That argument is the last line of defense for liars*, when all of the rest of their arguments have already proven false.


* To be clear, this wording is intended to refer to those who defend liars - this is not specifically calling you a liar. From what I can tell about your writing, I do believe that you genuinely believe what you are saying right now as you are saying it. 


20
General Comments / Re: I’m sorry but I don’t get it
« on: September 15, 2018, 01:32:32 AM »
cherry,

You have no logical standards behind your assertion. You say in your first paragraph that simply by appointing two Supreme Court Justices, every possible lie would be justified. You discount every single lie by the claim that all lies were trivial. On what basis do you render his lies about providing health care to all Americans at lower prices as trivial?

And crunch is in a fantasy world where Obama was a narcissist always talking about himself.

 


21
Hey, thanks for pulling this up:

This prediction was right on target - 3-4% growth based on the stimulus of a tax cut on the 1% that pushes the deficit up to almost $1T/year:
Quote
I can hope for all the positives here, including many that cherry mentioned, and 3%-4% growth sounds great. The ability to increase the deficit with higher government spending can get that much growth or more, as it did with Reagan.  But I suspect that the deficit will increase dramatically based primarily on tax cuts on the 1%... Deficit spending will go up to just shy of $1T per year (fraudulently justified because of the "Obama deficits" that Obama inherited from Bush), and with a limited fraction of that being additional government spending

Here's another one that's pretty darn prescient
Quote
I expect that there will be tangible, actual evidence of the crimes that Hillary Clinton was accused of but never proven, but that evidence will be about Donald Trump and members of his Administration.  I believe that President Trump will unintentionally reveal classified information (and significant information, not something like a Snowden news article). I believe that there will be a number of financial/graft indictments/convictions similar to under Reagan (or US Grant if you want to go that far back). And I believe that no one who expressed concern about Hillary Clinton with regard to classified information or corruption will spend 1/100th the amount of time an energy on those topics when they occur in a Trump Administration.

22
How can anything bad come from merely asking a hypothetical question such as "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?" 

23
Quote
My example of Obama being autocratic would be when he said he didn't have the Constitutional authority to unilaterally declare a mass amnesty such as DACA and then, after declaring that if Congress wouldn't act that he had a phone and a pen, and he did it anyway.

Cherry, if you were doing an fair tally, you would show the number of executive actions and the number of successful court challenges by President to show a differential level of autocracy. President Trump's Muslim ban was found to be un-Constitutional in several iterations, why isn't that just as bad or worse?

24
 
Quote
I would definitely say that Obama continued or even endorsed many Federal policies that I would consider not only authoritarian but even fascistic,]I would definitely say that Obama continued or even endorsed many Federal policies that I would consider not only authoritarian but even fascistic,
Those words don't mean what you think they do, at least when used by most people in the rest of the world. How many other countries in the world right now would you consider "not only authoritarian but even fascistic" based on the policy criteria that you use to judge President Obama?

Here's what a poster developed before the Trump Administration and sold at the U.S> Holocaust Museum listed as early signs of fascism. Does this sound more like President Obama than President Trump?

Quote
EARLY WARNING SIGNS OF FASCISM

1. Powerful and continuing nationalism
2. Disdain for human rights
3. Identification of enemies as a unifying cause
4. Rampant sexism
5. Controlled mass media
6. Obsession with national security
7. Religion and government intertwined
8. Corporate power protected
9. Labor power suppressed
10. Disdain for intellectual and the arts
11. Obsession with crime and punishment
12. Rampant cronyism and corruption

25
General Comments / Re: Hey Doc--I figured out a treatment for schizophrenia
« on: September 11, 2018, 06:35:50 PM »
Quote
If anybody else thinks that an apology from me would help mend our relationship (my relationships with every single one of my ornery friends have been very important to me, even though I was too scared to show it before), I would really love the opportunity to practice this new skill.

Hey, there's a good chance we debated something or other even though I probably don't count among the close ornery friends. I don't need an apology of any sort, I hope as well that I didn't write anything that caused you undue stress and I am sorry if I did. I will tell you that we are in the time period of the High Holidays of the Jewish calendar, where a traditional action is to offer apologies for intentional or unintentional offenses that we may have given. This is considered to provide an opportunity to us as Jews to enter the New Year (at the conclusion of Yom Kippur) with a clean slate regarding or fellow man (and woman). In this context, your comments are timely.

As for the rest, it really sucks on a deep level that you have to deal with this challenging condition, and I am glad that you are seeing some improvements.

26
Quote
Obama was, beyond any doubt in my mind, an Authoritarian, and as a consequence of that, espoused support for policies and systems which DO facilitate the formation of an Autocracy. Which isn't to mention Obama's imfamous "I have a pen and a phone..." and I'm not afraid to use them statement. Which was VERY autocratic in and of itself.

Please explain your mind to the rest of us. Because using a pen and a phone don't sound very authoritarian, they sound like a President who was elected by the citizens of America so that he could sign legislation, use the powers of the office that he was elected to, and speak to people. Why is that a nightmare scenario of autocracy for you?

Meanwhile, focusing on Trump's policy to "not espouse support for political systems that would actually facilitate an Autocracy", one of his two major accomplishments will be to appoint Supreme Court Justices who were chosen with the explicit objective of stripping away abortion rights. That sounds like a pretty sensitive regulation of inter-personal interactions. 

Be clear about what you want without abusing words. You don't like Obama, and you don't like his policies. So make your case about specifics.

27
Quote
I DO agree that Obama does strongly favor autocratic forms of governance far more than Trump does.

Seems that you define "autocratic" as a policy that you disagree with. Case in point, Obamacare - if a popularly elected President, along with a popularly elected House of Representative and Senate all go along to pass a law that you disagree with, is that what you consider autocratic?

edited to fix error about Senate votes.

28
First, in some other forums I have found some interesting and refreshing progress by asking positive-oriented question that still cover values, but don't necessarily align across the same old partisan boundaries. Second, I am curious if we would have agreement on this. And I am asking for practical experience, rather than theoretical doctrine. When you meet a new person, whether they are a neighbor, co-worker, or someone on the street, what considerations (if any) go through your head?

29
General Comments / Re: Conservative Property Destruction makes me laugh
« on: September 11, 2018, 01:04:20 AM »
If there are ~5 major brands of sneakers ad Nike takes a stand that pisses off 45% of the population and strongly pleases ~0% of the population, that would be a huge win for Nike.

30
Quote
Trump is less autocratic than Obama was, yet the outrage is far greater. 

Seriati, please defend this assertion. Provide a definition of what you mean by autocratic, and then show why President Obama's actions violate that definition to a greater degree than President Trump's. 

31
General Comments / Re: National Novel Writing Month
« on: September 09, 2018, 12:13:19 AM »
I think it will be really difficult; similarly, I have a plot but character and story will be really hard

32
General Comments / National Novel Writing Month
« on: September 08, 2018, 11:31:57 PM »
Also known as NaNoWriMo - it's in November, and I have signed up. I figure the time I spend here, on Facebook, and Quora can all be converted into novel writing. The rules of NaNoWriMo are that you can think about plotting and characterization, but you annot start writing the novel until right after midnight as you are entering November 1st. The goal to "win" is to get 50,000 words of a first draft out before midnight November 30th 

My favorite novel that originated in NaNoWriMo is Wool by Hugh Howey.

33
Cherry, please explain the logic why you consider worse lies affecting 20 times more people to be piddling when told by a Republican.

Just focusing on healthcare, Obama's claim about keeping your own doctor was true for ~98% of Americans. Trump claimed that he would provide healthcare for everyone and that there will be no cuts to medicaid. https://www.politico.com/story/2017/03/trump-obamacare-promises-236021

Since having no care is worse than having care provided by a different doctor, and since the hundred million people affected by Trump's lies is a larger number then the ~5 million who had to change doctors, how do you reach your conclusion that the Trump lies are the ones that are piddling?

34
General Comments / Re: Corey Booker and Kavanaugh Hearing
« on: September 07, 2018, 07:25:02 PM »
Quote
The Archives said Wednesday that the decision for Bush's representatives to provide documents directly to the Judiciary Committee, bypassing the agency, "is something that has never happened before."

"This effort by former President Bush does not represent the National Archives or the George W. Bush Presidential Library. The Senate Judiciary Committee is publicly releasing some of these documents on its website, which also do not represent the National Archives," the agency said in a statement.



http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/402061-national-archives-distances-itself-from-bush-team-on-kavanaugh-documents

Notably, the guy performing the screening (Bill Burck) is the lawyer for multiple Senior Trump White House officials, including Reince Preibus, Steve Bannon, and is also the lawyer for the primary White House official responsible for getting Kavanaugh confirmed (Don McGahn).
https://www.vox.com/2018/9/4/17819062/bill-burck-kavanaugh-explained

So Kavanaugh is the nominee with the most extreme position anyone has ever heard regarding Presidential immunity from criminal charges or even criminal investigations. Just this week, Kavanaugh refused to say that he found anything illegal or improper about a President offering a pardon in exchange for silence. And Burck represents multiple people from an Administration that has already had multiple criminal convictions.

Remind me again why you flipped out when a former President spoke for 20 minutes on a tarmac with the Attorney General, but somehow this is okay?

35
General Comments / Re: Corey Booker and Kavanaugh Hearing
« on: September 07, 2018, 10:26:42 AM »
The legal process is not being followed for release of Kavanaugh's records - according to the law, it is the National Archives that should go through the documents to determine what is to be released. For the Kavanaugh documents, they have a former co-worker of his in the Bush White House making those determinations. 
 

36
If the author were truly sincere, he or she would not publicize what was being done.  Publishing this op-ed changes the environment such that it will be much harder to do what has been doing for so long. I believe that undermining the President is a serious action (at the same time our discussion of preventing a Trump tantrum from starting a nuclear war is predicated on exactly this kind of undermining).

However, what I find more interesting from the remarks above is how little concern is extended in regard to the actual claims of the op-ed. The op-ed asserts that the President is an amoral, ignorant, impulsive idiot who arguably should be removed from office via the 25th Amendment. The Woodward book paints the same picture (and while Woodward has flaws, he also has a methodology where every claim has at least two sources, and he has all of interviews on tape). And these assertions about President Trump's dangerous unfitness from the job are not attacks from Democrats - they are the consistent feedback from the Republicans closest to Trump (the ones who were willing to take a job with him, and that he was willing to hire).

For those who don't care very much about this, why don't you care?



 

37
From what I read, the motivation may be more that the polls are looking like a Democratic takeover of the House combined with the convictions of Cohen and Manafort are indicating that there is going to start to be legal retribution. And this is right after Labor Day, when the final push to the elections is occurring. So some Republicans are preparing for the next phase, where they say that Trump was never really a Republican. and that they were always fighting against him.

If this sounds ridiculous, just look at how the Republicans acted with President George W Bush

38
General Comments / Re: Woodward book
« on: September 06, 2018, 10:11:19 AM »
We are always 18 minutes away from a nuclear strike. How certain can we be that at any minute of the day, those in charge of executing the President's orders are going to be willing to violate their entire training and essentially end their life as they know it in order to refuse the order from the President? And refuse to be fired by him and replaced, so this is an instantaneous coup. 

We are one really bad temper tantrum away from that moment at all times

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General Comments / Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« on: September 05, 2018, 09:56:05 PM »
Here is the op-ed which appeared mid-day today. The indication that it might be by VP Pence is the word "lodestar" - almost no one uses this term, but VP Pence has done so repeatedly in the past. So it might be VP Pence, or it could be a set-up designed to implicate VP Pence. The NYT did vouch for the source, saying that they knew who it was, and that the person was a "senior official in the Trump Administration".

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President Trump is facing a test to his presidency unlike any faced by a modern American leader.

It’s not just that the special counsel looms large. Or that the country is bitterly divided over Mr. Trump’s leadership. Or even that his party might well lose the House to an opposition hellbent on his downfall.

The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.

I would know. I am one of them.

To be clear, ours is not the popular “resistance” of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.

But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.

That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.

The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.

Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people. At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright.

In addition to his mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the “enemy of the people,” President Trump’s impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic.

Don’t get me wrong. There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.

But these successes have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.

From the White House to executive branch departments and agencies, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief’s comments and actions. Most are working to insulate their operations from his whims.

Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back.

“There is literally no telling whether he might change his mind from one minute to the next,” a top official complained to me recently, exasperated by an Oval Office meeting at which the president flip-flopped on a major policy decision he’d made only a week earlier.

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The erratic behavior would be more concerning if it weren’t for unsung heroes in and around the White House. Some of his aides have been cast as villains by the media. But in private, they have gone to great lengths to keep bad decisions contained to the West Wing, though they are clearly not always successful.

It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.

The result is a two-track presidency.

Take foreign policy: In public and in private, President Trump shows a preference for autocrats and dictators, such as President Vladimir Putin of Russia and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and displays little genuine appreciation for the ties that bind us to allied, like-minded nations.

Astute observers have noted, though, that the rest of the administration is operating on another track, one where countries like Russia are called out for meddling and punished accordingly, and where allies around the world are engaged as peers rather than ridiculed as rivals.

On Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But his national security team knew better — such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable.

This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state. It’s the work of the steady state.

Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.

The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility.

Senator John McCain put it best in his farewell letter. All Americans should heed his words and break free of the tribalism trap, with the high aim of uniting through our shared values and love of this great nation.

We may no longer have Senator McCain. But we will always have his example — a lodestar for restoring honor to public life and our national dialogue. Mr. Trump may fear such honorable men, but we should revere them.

There is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first. But the real difference will be made by everyday citizens rising above politics, reaching across the aisle and resolving to shed the labels in favor of a single one: Americans.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/05/opinion/trump-white-house-anonymous-resistance.html

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General Comments / Re: Woodward book
« on: September 05, 2018, 09:47:30 PM »
Bob Woodward has flaws, I don't particularly like his books on Presidents over the past few decades (he slants it in the direction of his sources), but he also is diligent about notes and recordings. If he writes a quote, there is a high likelihood that someone relevant actually said what Woodward quotes him as saying. 

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But my point is that you can adopt any philosophy you want, and all it's going to do is to suggest that you should do (with monetary policy, for instance). But what it's not going to do is make any striking predictions or anticipate most of the significant variables in the system. So while Keynes may suggest that an influx of capital (say, into the real estate market) via credit will have a multiplier effect and 'zoom the economy' as Reagan put it, it does not in any way suggest what exact micro-systems will form, what people will prefer to do within that system, how prudent they will be, how enforceable prudence will even be, and whether the influx itself may inevitably be responsible for or at least create the danger of a particular pathological pattern forming. It won't and can't state any of that, since its purpose such as it is is to suggest a general course. It's a decision-making system but not a diagnostic or prognostic system. So Keynesian theory will neither predict nor prevent pathological patterns that emerge from micro behaviors out of macro decisions, and is therefore not to blame for systemic failures but also not to praise either.

Your assertion is completely wrong. From the above comment, I see the assertion that there are no meaningful predictions from Keynes that could drove policy in a way that better protects the economy. If that is your claim, it is entirely false. The first meaningful prediction of Keynesian theory is that the economy is vulnerable to economy-wide collapse. That is not possible in the context of Austrian economics. Secondly, there are specific Keynesian policies to pro-actively address the risk of economic collapse such as government regulation of banks and financial institutions (including antitrust) - these are specific policies implemented in the 1930's that primarily Republicans have been fighting against, with success starting in the 1980's. In addition, once an economic collapse has started, there are very different policies that come out of a Keynesian framework relative to an Austrian economic framework. Keynes would suggest a government stimulus to stop the downward spiral of business expectations, while the Austrian economics response is austerity.  United States policy in response to the economic collapse was different in two ways from the rest of the developed economies: we had relatively higher stimulus, and we had a faster recover.  And all of this happened even though the stimulus was not enough (because initial estimates in January 2009 of the severity of the collapse in Aug-Dec 2008 were far too low, and because many state governments pursued an austerity path that counteracted some of the federal stimulus). 

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The problem with any principle or philosophy is there are always some hacks who can say they are followers but actually distort the key fundamentals. Keynesian economics is not immune - for forty years there have been those calling themselves Keynesians who fundamentally accept the market-clearing assumptions common to Austrian economics and just account for a little turbulence before the market naturally finds the optimum at some point in the long run. But not Keynes, who noted in the long run we are all dead.

There really is a difference

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cherrypoptart,

Your "credible sources" are no better than the numerous sources who claimed to see Jews drinking the blood of Christians in the Middle Ages. 

There were no thousands. Donald Trump didn't see thousands. And yet he lied repeatedly to claim that there were major groups of American Muslims celebrating a terrorist attack on the US (an attack where the only role that US Muslims played was as victims in the twin towers).

Your contrary evidence is that this one retiree reported that he heard 30 Muslims were celebrating something on a Tuesday, and with no understanding of Arabic he leaped to the conclusion that they were celebrating the terrorist attack on the US. 

Look, I don't deny the possibility that there could have been some Muslims who approved of the terrorist attacks on 9/11. With populations of millions, there are always crazy outliers. Immediately after the attacks, the powerful televangelist Jerry Falwell called 9/11 a punishment from God and laid the blame on "paganists", "abortionists", "feminists" and "gays and lesbians", claiming that they "helped this happen" and Pat Robertson (who came in 3rd place in the 1988 Republican Presidential race) concurred with the statements. There are Jews living in Israel who pray for the state of Israel to be overthrown (more of whom are probably among the ultra-orthodox who do not believe that a nation of Israel should exist prior to the coming of the messiah). There are crazy people everywhere - but there were not thousands of Muslims cheering the 9/11 attacks that Tuesday, and to tell that lie is to denigrate the entirety of the American Muslim population.

Your "As usual, the truth is somewhere in the middle" repeats the common Republican assumption to normalize morally abhorrent behavior with bothsides-isms. There were not thousands of American Muslims protesting in NJ. Donald Trump lied repeatedly when he claimed that there was, and that he had seen it. And this claim of thousands cheering for 9/11 at its core is a racist lie, just like the lies about African Americans raping white women that were used justify lynching, and just like the racists lies that were used in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia to incite racial hatred.

 

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To be fair here, it was more Keynesian Economics that failed to predict what happened than the "Austrian" school

This sentence should win a prize as one of the most wrong statements ever made on Ornery - I believe that it would be hard to write a sentence that was more appreciably wrong than this. Before addressing this argument, The Deamon, I am curious as to what possibly could have been your source for such a wrong-headed statement. Do you remember what you read that made this suggestion to you? And if you do remember where, when you find out from me (or check independently) and find out how wrong this is, what steps will you make in the future to shift your skepticism to the false source(s)?


The risk from a collapse exactly like the one in 2008 is at the heart of the writings of John Maynard Keynes - the notion that industry can be collectively driven by irrational speculation ("animal spirits" in Keynes colorful language), and that once there is a collapse in business prospects, that can create a spiral of collapse in which businesses foresee a still worse business prospects in the future, so they fire workers and cut investments, leading to fewer purchases on newly-fired employees and reductions in orders for capital investments, all of which cause future cut-backs across industries. 

In contrast, Austrian economics is driven by the concept of praxeology, which means that you take on faith that people and firms always optimize in the aggregate. In Austrian economics it might be possible for one or several firms to fail, but you cannot have a speculative failure across the entire financial system.

And your "without historical precedent" comment is also way off base.  Within 100 years in the United States, besides the 1999 dot-com bubble and the 1987 Savings and Loan Crisis, there is the Great Depression itself (which was particularly proximate to Keynes and his writings). And during this time there actually was decent regulation to prevent such speculative bubbles, and antitrust to keep firms smaller to prevent such dangers to the entire economy - such speculative collapses were much more common in the 50 years prior to the Great Depression.

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The ONLY thing I've ever claimed was so stable as that it would be nonsensical to have "predicted" such a non-historic change is the default rate.  That was the underlying factual basis for the entire sub-prime crisis, and honestly, its just an indisputable fact as to its stability.

Right, and that "ONLY" claim is both wrong and not germane. When you are changing policy in a dramatic way because of your economic ideology, you have a responsibility to assess the likelihood of uncertainties and risks. That is not nonsensical - it is basic competence. I hope and assume that you have never been hit by a car - but it would be nonsensical for you to assume that since you had never been hit, you never could. We have never had human-caused effects that changed the climate, are you saying that it is nonsensical to even consider such a possibility because it is "a-historical"?

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I would tend to agree with you, Greg, that he's overstating the case, however I also agree with him that this new brand of 'justice' often does sound awfully racist to me.

Yes, I absolutely agree that there are voices on the left who say things that I consider to be bigoted/racist, including Sarah Jeong. But there is no comparison between the racism of the Republican Party and its nationally elected leaders and that of the Democratic Party and its leaders when it comes to racism.

TheDeamon, your reference to the Black Panthers is interesting (even in 2008, Fox News only had "the New Black Panther Party", which was two angry black men shouting in a clip that Fox News broadcast across the nation something like 248 times running up to the election).  I disagree with your both-sides-do-it argument, the history and extent of the Black Panthers is nothing like the history and extent of the Ku Klux Klan, and the current endorsement of President Trump by extremists is unprecedented and unmatched by anything for any other President in living memory.

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You want to bring it up solely because you view it as a trump card to overrule any other possible disputes.

Wrong again - I have probably made 5000-6000 comments here and never done that. How many false things do you have to assert, Seriati, before you recognize that you sure are asserting a whole lot of false things.

Oh, and my favorite is your assertion that the Democrats are the racists. Come on, even the actual racists like the Klu Klux Klan are 100% behind President Trump. Ar you saying they don't know what they are talking about but you do?

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So in other words you haven't actually looked at what we are actually talking about - historical default rates on mortgages.

You are in error, sir, that's what you are talking about. I am talking about the creed of free market (or neoclassical or Austrian) economics that posits certain behavioral patterns about the entire economy that are frequently refuted by history. When Alan Greenspan confessed that there was a fundamental flaw in his philosophy, he was not referred to a data trend on mortgage defaults, he was referring to the behavior of the vast majority of firms in an economy. Of Greenspan is wrong (and even he admitted he was wrong), than the Republican platitudes that regulation is bad and the free market is good are dangerously simplistic and wrong.

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Claiming he saw American Muslims cheering 9/11?  That isn't hate speech.

This is either hate speech or something worse - if you look at cases such as Rwanda or Serbia under Milosevic, the words of Donald Trump are as severe as those used to incite genocide. Trump has not incited genocide, so on that scale he's not as bad as Milosevic. If this is not hate speech, exactly what would qualify as hate speech for you?

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And there is just a blizzard of things that you say Seriati and clearly believe but they are not anchored in fact.

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they believed they had a permanent majority and would never have to give up the reins again

I am a member of "they" and I never believed that, neither did most people I know who are on the left. I am sure some did, because there are millions of people on the left.

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Who is engaging in open hate speech? 

Candidate and later President Trump. Repeatedly lying that thousands of American Muslims in New Jersey were cheering on 9/11 is indefensible. Calling immigrants rapists and murderers. Inciting his crowds to consider the press as the enemy of the people. These are the acts of despots across history - inciting hatred is an evil but common tactic of authoritarian regimes.

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I've yet to see a credible argument of a moderate policy that Obama put forward that was opposed.

His very first policy was a stimulus for the economy. Republicans and Democrats had voted for a $150BM stimulus plan under President Bush just 12 months earlier https://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/25/washington/25fiscal.html. A year later when President Obama proposed a stimulus plan under much more dire circumstances (losing 800,000 jobs per month), Republicans not only voted against it, but they asserted that stimulus plans don't create jobs. In fact, 115 of those Congressional Republicans made this very assertion in Washington, and later when the stimulus arrived they took credit in their district for the jobs that were created by the stimulus. 

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Heck, above Greg asserts that 'tens of millions of Americans' support slavery because they make arguments about the confederacy in the civil war.  That's an incredibly broad and false brush.  One can easily view that slavery was completely wrong, but that hasn't nothing to do with another issue that was connected to the civil war.  It's this bizarre tribal world we live in where a tribe has to be right about 100% of everything or about 0% and we can't have a somethings that make sense on each side.

No, it is a very nuanced world where determinations of justice require careful consideration. But that doesn't mean some things can't be true. I would agree that many people love the Confederacy not because they love (or even think of) slavery, but because they love the culture of nobility and virtue that they grew up associating with the Confederacy. But I hold them responsible for understanding that at the heart of all of their positive associations there is a horrible evil, and that the historical Confederacy was built to defend and protect slavery.

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Where its wrong is the easy acceptance of the lie that millions of people that have legitimate policy disagreements with her can be dismissed as nothing but racists.

What evidence do you have that policy is a substantially greater motivator of Trump supporters than racism? It's not a lie if it's true, and for your counter to be true you would need to prove that there is not even a few "millions" of people who are for Trump because of racism.

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DW, the "Melting Pot" is anathema for most left-wing groups. That implies integration, that means "uniqueness is lost." (It also makes "us vs them" harder to play out)

The last thing they want is for people to become "Americans" or for "Americans" to become more like another group. (Hence why "cultural appropriation" is no longer acceptable)

No, that's not true of me. And it's not true of most liberals that I know. When you think of national politicians, it is more Republicans who use phrases like "real Americans to exclude others.   


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So many Seriati posts to refute

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First of all, Greg, all these questions were answered on the prior thread.  If you've forgotten the answers I would suggest you re-read it.

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If the models were "fine", how did they result in a catastrophic failure.

They didn't, they failed to express what would happen in a non-historic event.  Much like I've never seen a "standard" climate model that throws in a random catastrophic meteor strike (and there we know they happen so it's not even non-historic), the financial models did not include a consideration of a national scale increase in default rate.  If you look at the historical record, stability is the only word to describe it, prior to the crisis.

That last sentence explains how you can believe in conservative economics - because you have no memory for history. Because before the economic collapse of 2008 there was the dot-com bubble, the Savings and Loan crisis in the 1980's, the Great Depression, and a string of many more speculative collapses running back to Dutch Tulip bulbs in the 17th century. If you don't understand or recognize that history, you can't understand Keynes or appropriately value the benefits provided by the financial regulations implemented to address these repeated "instabilities". 




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