Shelling of American troops and abandonment of Kurds - what if Obama had done this

Brian W

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You misrepresented the Congressional process that is going on and I called you on it.
I'll ask again.

Chas, I'm interested in what the legality and morality is of an officeholder seeking help from the government of a foreign country to defeat his/her political opponent.

You want to change the discussion to process, but unless we can agree that the above is a crime, then process really doesn't matter.
 

Paul M. Weir

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Paul, don’t be a fool!
Yes, I'm a fool to have believed that Spanky could have a minimum level to which he would descend and no more. That guy is just warming up his warp engine and pressing "Down".

"All roads lead to Putin." may not quite have the ring to it as "Moscow Mitch", but still quite apt.
 

von Marwitz

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Yes, I'm a fool to have believed that Spanky could have a minimum level to which he would descend and no more. That guy is just warming up his warp engine and pressing "Down".
Trump with all his scandals, outrages, incompetence, lies, racism, corruption and heck knows what does one thing exceedingly well:

He captures and consumes all attention of friend and foe alike.

However, being what he is and what he does, it would be easy - repeat easy - to have him impeached and removed from office to begin with and later on put on trial for his illegal activities.

What should make people really worried:

It does not happen.

The only explanation for this is that certain interest groups profit by having Trump remain in office.

IMHO the US would be very well advised to scrutinize what is going on while everyone is fixated on Trump in his wake where nobody is looking. I believe that for the interest groups that keep Trump in office by preventing his removal, this so called 'President' is akin to the con distracting the victim while anotherone is picking its pockets.
The latter is the one doing the real damage.

For all his lies and obfuscation, Trump is too stupid to remain President if it weren't for those backing him.

These who are responsible for organizing the backing of Trump are the really dangerous ones.
 

Paul M. Weir

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I believe that for the interest groups that keep Trump in office by preventing his removal, this so called 'President' is akin to the con distracting the victim while anotherone is picking its pockets.
vM, you are sounding just like a conspiracy theorist. However these days that sort of stuff is not only sounding somewhat believable but looking like the only possible conclusion.
 

Brian W

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It's not like nobody noticed when Trump's Department of Homeland Security started putting children in cages; or, when Trump's EPA opened up the national parks to vastly increased exploitation; or, when Trump rolled back EPA regulations.

That's what got him elected in the first place. He was quite plain about what he wanted to do. His people love him for his brutality and for his rape of the natural world, not in spite of it. The people that elected him want ruin on their "enemies", and that is what they think Trump is doing when he lowers emissions standards, worsens air quality, criminalizes undocumented immigrants.
 

Brian W

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The Gröfaz proclaims, ""[Mattis is] the world's most overrated general. . . I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take 2 yrs. I captured them in 1 month"

In a meeting on Wednesday that included Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Trump trash talked former Defense Secretary James Mattis, calling him "the world's most overrated general," per a Democratic source familiar with the meeting's events.

In Wednesday's White House meeting, Schumer attempted to read a quote from Mattis, stating:
"if we don't keep the pressure on, then ISIS will resurge. It's absolutely a given that they will come back," according to a Democratic source.

But Trump reportedly cut Schumer off, asserting Mattis "wasn’t tough enough."

"I captured ISIS," Trump touted, adding, "Mattis said it would take 2 yrs. I captured them in 1 month."

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley clarified: "ISIS is defeated not destroyed."
 

Brian W

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Previously, on As the Pumpkin Turns Rancid,

"[I remember] when Donald Trump introduced James Mattis to his supporters [in 2016] and called him 'the closest we have to Patton today'. "
 

von Marwitz

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vM, you are sounding just like a conspiracy theorist. However these days that sort of stuff is not only sounding somewhat believable but looking like the only possible conclusion.
Haha, I wish I were a conspiracy theorist. Reading about UFO-abductions etc. is somewhat entertaining.

However with the insights into behavioral economics provided for example by Daniel Kahneman & Amos Tversky ("Thinking Fast and Slow") or Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Stunstein ("Nudge") to name but a few, we know that the concept of the homo oeconomicus always acting in his best interest - provided he had the knowledge to base his decision on which is practically not the case anyway - is an illusion. People act irrationally under circumstances that can be analyzed and - what is more - predicted.

Pair this knowledge with vast amounts of data collected by invasive proceedings, sold, stolen, and analyzed by an ever increasing number of companies spearheaded by Google, FB, and Amazon and the funds these actors have available. These companies are not committed to the benefit of their users from which they acquire the data but rather their customers (which is a most important difference), to which they sell it.

The result is that by taking advantage of the insights of behavioral economics (or rather their abuse) and engrossing and collecting ever more data from people who have no possibility to prevent this even if they wanted to, that their actions will become ever more predictable to the extent that companies and actors can guarantee predictable profits and eliminate risk.

Commercials will strike and pop up in the very moment when you are most vulnerable and receptive to them. This moment is known, because data on you is permanently accumulated everywhere - and more and more of it in real time: By your smartphone, your credit card, your car, your fitness armband, your pay-back points, your "smart" TV, your "smart" home devices, all sorts of RFID chips, cameras, sensors, smartphone apps that become ever more invasive and ubiquitous and whose "privacy policies" are a farce - if any exist at all. Artificial intelligence and machine learning fed with these huge amounts of data will continuously hone the effectiveness of such measures.

Alas it does not end with commercials but with the manipulation of your actual behavior. 'Pokemon Go' was a test-balloon to that effect. By gamification, people were herded to places they would have otherwise never sought out. And lo and behold the surprise: Maybe a Pokemon just "happened to be found" at a place that paid for this and knew that the effect would be a guaranteed increase of their profits.

As buy this sort of manipulation guaranteed irrational economic behavior can be bought at a price lower than the incoming profit, nothing prevents these methods to be applied to non-economic behavior. At least it would be naive to believe they would not. So why not apply them to political opinion?

On one hand you have the masses of ultimatively absolutely transpararent users (i.e. the people) at the mercy of financially potent companies and their customers protected by vicious intransparency, obfuscation, legal departments and lobbies thinking of their benefit or that of their shareholders but surely not of the benefit of the people. The conduct of Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and their ilk bear witness to that. Interesting read in that regard is Shoshana Zuboff's "The Age of Surveillance Capitalism ".

Basically, the consequence of all this is that anyone with sufficient funds can simply buy behavior for his profit and interests without the people really realizing what is happening to them.
Currently, the methods are still under development but progress is made fast.

While in the US, we will face the corporate variant based on economic coercion and manipulation, in China we can observe the "state" variant of behavioral control being established for example by means of a personal "social score" that punishes what is deemed "inappropriate" by the power-elite.

Needless to say, that either variant attacks freedom, liberty and democracy at its core and is enabling totalitarian systems and concentration of power, wealth, and information in the hands of a very few.

Brave new world...
 
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DWPetros

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Trump with all his scandals, outrages, incompetence, lies, racism, corruption and heck knows what does one thing exceedingly well:
He captures and consumes all attention of friend and foe alik.
However, being what he is and what he does, it would be easy - repeat easy - to have him impeached and removed from office to begin with and later on put on trial for his illegal activities.
What should make people really worried:
It does not happen.
The only explanation for this is that certain interest groups profit by having Trump remain in office.
IMHO the US would be very well advised to scrutinize what is going on while everyone is fixated on Trump in his wake where nobody is looking. I believe that for the interest groups that keep Trump in office by preventing his removal, this so called 'President' is akin to the con distracting the victim while anotherone is picking its pockets.
The latter is the one doing the real damage.
For all his lies and obfuscation, Trump is too stupid to remain President if it weren't for those backing him.
These who are responsible for organizing the backing of Trump are the really dangerous ones.
I agree that there are those who hold considerable economic power (industrialists, financiers, tech companies) are dangerous. They initially liked Trump due to his willingness to go along with the political entities in DC who support keeping these economic interests profitable. He's been good to them generally. Taxes down. Profits up. It's been a pretty good gig for them since the '08 crash and Trump didn't interrupt their fun.

But I don't agree that these economically powerful people 'arranged' Trump to be President. In hindsight, Trump's presidency should have been predicted, based on the failure of our so-called liberal democratic system; brought down by the rise of neoliberalism in the past 40 years. Trump was an odd fluke of circumstance. These power groups didn't anticipate him and preferred a more predictable servant of their needs - such as Jeb Bush or later Hillary Clinton. Above all, they prefer the stability to allow themselves to continue their game. They probably held their breaths at first about how exactly Trump would roll. At first, pretty good. But now they know he's nuts and that's bad for business.

Due to his unhinged behavioral problems, he's become more a liability for them than an asset. Too unpredictable for their investments and interests! They want him out and would prefer someone more predictable. They'd prefer someone like Biden to insure their control over the resources. They want a neoliberal. If not Biden (he's fading), then Klobuchar, Buttigieg, Harris will probably work as well. And many Americans agree with this arrangement.

The donor class; those who actually control a complicit government, don't want someone who'll openly call them out or interrupt their profits. Sanders, Warren are to them too dangerous for their business interests. Watch (mainstream media) as they try to destroy these progressive candidacies. Watch as they promote the more complicit neoliberal partners.
 
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von Marwitz

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But I don't agree that these economically powerful people 'arranged' Trump to be President.
I do not believe that either.

But I do believe that he could not remain in power right now if he weren't backed or tolerated by them.

The 'immediate' people Trump needs to maintain his position are currently Republican senators that will (at least the majority of them) protect him from a successful impeachment despite his obvious and glaring moral depravity that is a disgrace to the office of POTUS the USA and the American people.

Why do they do that?

Can't really be their fear for their personal careers. Basically anyone but Trump is less dangerous to your personal career as his political associate. So why not get rid of him and establish Pence or anyone else more 'predictable'? What is keeping them from doing that?

I believe for the Kochs, Mercers, Murdochs and their ilk, a functioning state is not a prerequisite for their profit. It may well be more an impediment. Because the only one who could keep them in check and contain their selfish interests would be the state. But to do so, you need a functioning state (which is compromised by Trump and his lickspittles). And you need incorrupt representants of the state - regardless of whether they are Republican, Democrat or else.

So it is the logical thing for the Kochs, Mercers and Murdochs to allow a few crumbs (i.e. millions of $) to end up in the pockets of those directly or indirectly that promote their interests to assure that the billions of $ reach their own pockets as a consequence of custom-made legislation (and many Republicans have just taken that neo-liberalist stance as have numerous Democrats). Or if you don't shun the public, you do it yourself - like Trump. Or all those millionaires and billionaires that concentrate in the house of Representatives and the Senate.
 
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DWPetros

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I do not believe that either.
But I do believe that he could not remain in power right now if he weren't backed or tolerated by them.
The 'immediate' people Trump needs to maintain his position are currently Republican senators that will (at least the majority of them) protect him from a successful impeachment despite his obvious and glaring moral depravity that is a disgrace to the office of POTUS the USA and the American people.
Why do they do that?
Can't really be their fear for their personal careers. Basically anyone but Trump is less dangerous to your personal career as his political associate. So why not get rid of him and establish Pence or anyone else more 'predictable'? What is keeping them from doing that?
I believe for the Kochs, Mercers, Murdochs and their ilk, a functioning state is not a prerequisite for their profit. It may well be more an impediment. Because the only one who could keep them in check and contain their selfish interests would be the state. But to do so, you need a functioning state (which is compromised by Trump and his lickspittles). And you need incorrupt representants of the state - regardless of whether they are Republican, Democrat or else.
So it is the logical thing for the Kochs, Mercers and Murdochs to allow a few crumbs (i.e. millions of $) to end up in the pockets of those directly or indirectly that promote their interests to assure that the billions of $ reach their own pockets as a consequence of custom-made legislation (and many Republicans have just taken that neo-liberalist stance as have numerous Democrats). Or if you don't shun the public, you do it yourself - like Trump. Or all those millionaires and billionaires that concentrate in the house of Representatives and the Senate.
I misunderstood - apologies.
And agreed that his ability to remain in office depends on these 'front line', immediately complicit GOP senators (esp. McConnell).

Why don't they throw Trump out? I do think the majority of these smaller potato operators (senators) stay on for their own economic, political power, and legacy purposes. At least so far. But these guys are already very rich as you say and so money alone doesn't seem to be the driver. Reputation, legacy, prestige - this remains important, I imagine. They'll not want to look to their future inheritors of their estates like boobs who've thrown in with the biggest boob in history. So they may soon throw Trump under the bus when it's safe for them to do so. After all, how will it look if they stick with Trump after the SHTF for him? How would they explain that at Connor & Trish's wedding next year? And what will their golf buddies say at the club? Not good.

Agreed that some of the bigger potatoes; Koch's, Mercers, Wall Street bankers, tech giants, etc., keep this floating largesse in play and which both the GOP and corporate, 'moderate, pragmatic' (the mainstream news loves using these terms) wing of the Democratic Party continue to enjoy.

So it will be interesting to say the least as the hounds corner their prey. Where will the goodly gents go?
 

Brian W

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But I do believe that he could not remain in power right now if he weren't backed or tolerated by them.
I completely disagree. Trump holds power via his populism. If it were up to the Kochs of this world, Trump would never have been president and they would remove him if they could. Trump holds power because 35% of voters will stick with him no matter what he does. Because he knows that, he controls his party nearly completely. Our system is set up for gridlock and party extremism, and Trump happened to find a way to leverage that to his advantage through popular jingoism and white racism.
 

von Marwitz

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I completely disagree. Trump holds power via his populism.
And what is among Trump's most powerful tools to spread his populism?

Fox News.
Owned by the Murdoch family.
The circle closes. Go figure...

Boris Johnson ist fanatically backed by the "Daily Telegraph". Owned by David und Frederick Barclay. Both billionaires and tax exiles. Read up on how they acted on the British channel isles of Sark and Brecqhou.

Italy's Berlusconi owned serveral TV-stations and publishing companies. You don't need to be reminded that Berlusconi is the Italian version of Trump. Bunga-Bunga parties, countless lawsuits against him involving corruption, tailormade laws to solve his legal issues, etc. pp.

In Hungary more than 400 media were concentrated in a foundation by special permit issued of Victor Orban overriding antitrust-considerations. The owners of those media were mostly dependent on the government by Victor Orban. Victor Orban who tries to undermine the independence of justice by numerous laws, countless accusations of corruption and nepotism.

Who came close to win the election in Tunisia? Some corrupt media billionaire who was in prison until less then a week before the final poll. Luckily, he did not win.

In Russia and China instead of corporate media conglomerations owned by those benefitting by spreading populism as one base of their influence, you have the 'state-controlled' version of the media to meet the same end.

Numerous examples could be added for both the corporate or state-controlled media versions that by means of populism acts in the interest of their owners.

This is not happenstance, this is a pattern that has been adopted by many of the Murdochs, Berlusconis, Orbans for the corporate side or Putin, Xi Jinping or Kim Yong Un on the state side.

Why? Because it works.

If you keep telling people lies, they will eventually believe. Especially, if alternatives are hard to find or unavailable at all.

Tried, tested, and proved in Germany more than 80 years ago by Goebbels.
 
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DWPetros

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I completely disagree. Trump holds power via his populism. Trump happened to find a way to leverage that to his advantage through popular jingoism and white racism.
Generally agreed, but Trump sold himself as a populist - even though he's not one. He's done a great job fooling his followers into thinking he's 'for the people', but it's more than clear he's not. He's a faux-populist. A fake.

He's filled his swamp with every sort of billionaire conman/woman he could find. He's taking full advantage of his position to make money. He throws 'the people' under the bus to further his personal interests.

But you're right - there's a lot of people who have faith in this conman. Perception rules.
 

Brian W

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And what is among Trump's most powerful tools to spread his populism?
You have the power relationship flipped. FoxNews et al support Trump because their viewers support Trump. He is not simply a FoxNews Production; indeed, I would say that for most of the republican primary season in 2015-16 FoxNews was neutral and even anti-Trump. I'm certain that if FoxNews could put a Dubya back in the White House, they would.
 
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