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Thanks for the info on family separation agreement at the border, Kris. I think you’re largely right about the history here, and I was wrong. However, it’s a little more complicated than your comment suggests. Here’s a write-up from something called the Bipartisan Policy Center:

//Is this a new immigration enforcement policy?

Not completely. The George W. Bush administration implemented Operation Streamline in 2005, which also referred many people who violated these provisions for prosecution in federal courts, although the majority of prosecutions were for the felony charge of illegal re-entry and not for first-time offenders. The Obama administration continued and expanded the policy through 2014, but later shifted its enforcement priorities towards targeting specific criminal populations.

The Obama administration also used family separation when they prosecuted immigration offenses as a deterrent against illegal border crossings after 2014 as more children and families fled violence in Central American countries. However, immigration advocates allege that the new zero-tolerance policy against immigration violations will cause more families to be separated than before, with some claiming to have witnessed an increase in family separations since June 2017.//

So it appears to be part of a trend going back to Bush and escalating under Obama. But it has escalated much more because of Trump's "zero tolerance" initiative.

https://bipartisanpolicy.org/blog/why-are-families-being-separated-at-the-border-an-explainer/

Matt wrote:

“He acts like a person with a severe mental illness and/or dementia.”

Well no, not really!

“What if a president was walking around naked in the Rose Garden? What if he was randomly calling up world leaders on the phone and cussing them out?

Now you’re talking mental illness and/or dementia.

“If you don't agree with me, then nothing I can say can convince you otherwise."

No, I can be convinced with solid evidence, not wild fabricated exaggerations.- AOD

Just an observation;
I'm hearing a lot of the standard Democrat talking points here. More or less, "Trump is erratic. He's crazy!"

First, the economy is booming. Everyone is doing better, including minorities. Trump has not started any wars. In fact, he's resisted pressure to wage war on Iran. He's drawing down Troops in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. He's trying to defuse the NoKo situation. He resisted war in S. America.

All of that is evidence contrary to being a crazy erratic dictator.

How would anyone here know that Trump is erratic or crazy? No one here has even met the man, let alone sat down and worked with him day after day. No. They are getting that opinion from the media sources the view or read. The media, with only a few exceptions, has been caught time after time misrepresenting what Trump is doing and saying. The media has been openly opposed to Trump.

So it's hard to not come to the conclusion that hardcore anti-Trumpers are just parroting an opinion that is being fed to them 24/7.

Anyone can be made to look crazy if a media is selectively presenting that person's utterances and actions, removing context, imputing sinister motives to face value statements, mind reading (a lot of that here), and just plain outright lying.

Whereas, on the pro-Trump side we have real objective evidence that he's doing an excellent job; exactly what we elected him to do.

Now, you can be one that believes the federal govt should involve itself in all aspects of our lives and to top down social engineer society. Clearly that s what many anti-trumpets want. However, Trump being opposed to that concept as well as associated policies is not a reason to impeach him. That is something to be dealt with at the ballot box and in the courts (deciding what is constitutional and what is not).

Thanks Michael.

The Trump policy is simply brutal. It should have our so called family values crowd screaming but it instead they like it. I have learned if you want to find a personal radically different from Jesus find an Evangelical. If you want to find someone who is an utter contrast to Jesus look at the politicians Evangelicals support.

I am from the South and I used to be a huge Civil War buff. I am very familiar with phrases such as " peculiar institution" and " our way of life". I am also very familiar with we love " real Americans"

Right now we have some rather " peculiar institutions" in the US when compared to the rest of the first world. Our healthcare approach is very peculiar as it excludes many, and cost more per person than other first world countries. Our " peculiar institution" of ease of access to guns ( anyone can get a gun no background checks period on numerous private sales forums) insures we have high homicide rates compared to the rest of the first world. Our " peculiar institution" of mass incarceration, frequently for profit insures we have the worlds largest population of prisoners,that when they are released become virtual untouchables that frequently reoffend. Now we have a peculiar institution of mass caging children on the border.

We have a lot of " peculiar institutions" that are championed by right wingers who say they are simply " defending their way of life".If all the above is what it takes to defend your way of life doesn't it show your way of life is utterly wrong? How is it other first worlders can live their lives without these " peculiar institutions"

Matt wrote, "As to whether people become more Conservative as they age and/or gain experience, it would be interesting to see some actual research on that."

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/03/do-we-become-more-conservative-with-age-young-old-politics

As people get older they tend to become more successful and by default invest more in society and want to preserve it. That is a conservative shift.

The do not become like the conservatives of their youth though. Did the young abolitionist of the 1850s call for a restoration of slavery in 1900? Did the young civil rights advocates turn around and support segregation in their old age? In order for the current conservative movement in America to survive that is exactly what they need to happen and that seems very unlikely to me.

First and foremost for this to happen the current young generation needs to become far less brown. I do not see how this will happen. As Blacks and Hispanics have been on the receiving end of many of the current conservative policies I doubt they will be too keen on continuing them.

You also need to make this young generation far more religious. That is rather unlikely. Even if they do become more religious it is highly unlikely they will be Evangelicals. They, especially the Latinos will probably be Catholic which is far more civic minded and responsible.

Last and most importantly they simply do not have the civic apathy that currently infests conservatives. They are actually concerned with the environment, gun violence and access to healthcare.

I have no problem with being conservative minded toward systems that work. As the saying goes if it ain't broke don't fix it. The problem is our society has a lot of cracks in it and this current batch of conservatives wants to ignore these cracks or exploit them for all they are worth.

In my lifetime I have seen conservatives exploded the deficit twice, destroy the economy, allow the worst attack ever on American soil ( excluding the civil war), invade Iraq without cause, oppose healthcare reform, turn a blind eye to gun violence in particular mass shootings , trample on homosexuals, mass cage children, support foreign meddling in our elections, betray our allies and so much more.

The left in my lifetime has tried to make people very uncomfortable in bathrooms.

I cannot imagine short of a lobotomy ever supporting the Conservatives as long as they continue to act as they do.

To anyone who supports Trump, I would say this:

Do you like the state of our government today? Does the extreme polarization that exists—the virtual hatred between parties—make you feel good?

If not, then realize that we have a president who THRIVES on division and separation. More than any president in my memory, this one NURTURES such feelings in others because he knows that his hold on power depends on them. He glorifies *differences* between groups and praises the act of keeping people apart, based solely on his own opinion of who is worthy, and who is not.

How can things ever improve with this man at the helm?

PECULIAR INSTITUTIONS: THINGS THAT DON’T MAKE A LOT OF SENSE

Mass incarceration for profit

Imprisonment, whether in government facilities, non-profit facilities or profit making facilities costs money. Taxpayers pay for government incarceration in State or Federal prisons so if it is cheaper for tax payers to contract with profit-making companies that is a plus for the taxpayer. Even non-profit companies make a profit. It is just that they zero-out the profit by paying higher salaries, giving bonuses, buying more real estate or equipment and hiring more administrators. Non-profit hospitals are a good example of this. “People who do the crime must do the time.” It is not the tax payers’ responsibility to rehabilitate murderers and thieves. We all need to be responsible for our own lives.

Mass caging of children

There is no mass “caging” of children. At taxpayer expense children who are illegal aliens need to be housed, fed, clothed and protected from harm. That may mean that they need to be restricted to a facility that can insure their safety until they are either returned to the country from which they emigrated or placed with a responsible relative or other person until their parents’(if any) case has been adjudicated. The U.S. would be shirking its responsibility if it simply released these “children” into the country to fend for themselves.

Background checks for private sale of guns

If I sell a gun to my father, son, uncle or next door neighbor it seems ludicrous to me to have to do a background check on them since I have known them for many years, far better than any state or federal clerk. In Illinois where I live one has to have a FOID card (Firearm Owners Identification Card) from the State of Illinois to be able to purchase a firearm or ammunition. A background check is done before the card is issued.

“Healthcare Approach”

The U.S. health care is one of the best in the world. It serves a population of more than 330 million people and for good or bad provides health care that most of the population demands. Medicare and Medicaid and at times private organizations and charities pay for health care for people who cannot afford to pay the full price of health services. Some people receive service and do not pay anything. Under the Hill-Burton Act, hospitals nursing homes and other health facilities were provided federal funds for construction purposes. The program stopped providing funds in 1997 but about 140 health care facilities nationwide are still obligated to provide free or reduced-cost care. One large hospital in my city is a Hill-Burton hospital. - AOD

AOD wrote,

||Now you’re talking mental illness and/or dementia.||

Right, it's a matter of degree. I and a lot of other people look at Trump's behavior and see mental illness and dementia.

||No, I can be convinced with solid evidence, not wild fabricated exaggerations.||

My point is that we both have access to Trump's behavior and tweets, etc., and we have both come to our own judgments. I can't say anything to make you view these things in a different light.

Amos

As has already been discussed and Michael agreed the Trump Administration did begin a systematic separation of imprisonment of children at the border which had not been done by previous administration.

Many criminals are not murderers for one and they will one day will be reintroduced into society. It makes more financial sense to provide them with the necessary skills to function in regular society so that they do not reoffend and therefore cost the tax payers even more money.

For profit prison is cheaper... except when it isn't. It isn't cheaper when for profit prisons encourage longer sentences for criminals. It isn't cheaper when they create an environment which virtual guarantees recidivism which is simply profit for them.

It makes horrible financial sense yet conservatives just love it because they would prefer criminals be brutalized instead of reformed.

Guns. So what if they are family members? Does that mean you automatically know if they are qualified to own a gun? Of course there is a bigger issue here. Many private sales are between complete strangers and such a market assures criminals can get guns.

Of course conservatives don't like to be in the slightest bit inconvenienced by the needs of others so if someone poor kid gets blown away by a criminal who bought a gun from a private sale that's just too bad isn't it but ain't your problem.

The rest of the first world manages to offer the same level health care as the US for cheaper and guarantees it for it's citizens. Their citizens do not risk bankruptcy for medical problems. That is enough to refute Amos.

So we just had the typical conservative song and dance. Deny basic facts, a desire to be financially inefficient just to brutalize people, a callous indifference to the problems of others and pretending that the US Healthcare system is the best in the world when in fact every other first world system out performs it.

This is why the younger generation is not conservative and they will never become like conservatives of now. They have the ability to see problems and want them to be solved.

I for one will toast the grim reaper when he finishes getting rid of this horrid group of many older conservatives infesting America with their absolute indifference to the problems of others and the rest of us who remain can finally get down to dealing with their mess.

"Right, it's a matter of degree. I and a lot of other people look at Trump's behavior and see mental illness and dementia."

It's all a matter of perspective. A lot of people think that all of the 87 genders changing is evidence of psychosis and the "the world be destroyed in 12 years because warming!" is paranoid schizophrenia. A lot of people think that desiring socialism is madness because we've all seen what it turns into. On and on and on. My science v your science.

Some hate fanatical religious conservatives, but are, themselves, fanatical secular social science engineers.

Including 'science' in the name of thing means nothing. remember that science says there's no soul or life after death or psi either.

Then there's all the passive aggressive identity politics. But somehow Trump is the divider?

Oh well..whatever..this thread is evidence that a civil is *highly* likely. There are people at opposite ends of the spectrum and not only can't they understand each others' perspective, they believe that the other side is nuts and evil. That, my friends is exactly the perfect ingredient for a war with much killing. Because, after all, what else is to be done with irreconcilable evil?

Everyone is galloping around on their moral high horse.

Many don't appreciates the prosperity and justice we have, especially when compared to the rest of the world because they idiotically get duped by the media making noise out of rare unfortunate events.

Some hope the "evil ones" just die out due to old age, but that's still hoping for the death of those who see things differently.

Nope, left and right cannot live together and those in between will be forced to choose a side. This is how it always happens.

Glory glory hallelujah the righteous will fight the righteous. His truth is marching on.


Matt:
I voted against Hillary Clinton in the last election. That does not mean I am a Trump supporter or “Trumpster’ or whatever other silly name Liberals might come up with for someone who supports the current president. But I try to support every president whether or not I agree with his policies and behaviors. (Lord knows I put up with Obama for 8 years.) I may naively believe that every person who achieves the presidency of the United States has good intentions and I believe that they want the best for America. If I disagree with them about how to achieve that good , I know that I only have to endure the agony for 4 years or less after which I and the rest of the American voters will thankfully have a chance to rethink our choice and vote for someone else. I see no need to totally disrupt the government for 4 years (It is not Trump who is doing this by the way) chasing after false premises and fabricated parodies hoping to impeach the president because I don’t agree with his decisions or I just don’t like him personally. I don’t need to destroy property or attack people who wear red ball caps, spit on people or chase them out of restaurants, protest as a mob in front of the White House or cause Congress to be ineffectual for four years. I like to think that Americans are civilized and can act with intelligence. Unfortunately there is evidence that many Liberal Democrats do not act with a modicum of good sense. - AOD

Bruce:
What you have written is your opinion of President Trump; it is not fact. If it is based on intimate knowledge of Donald Trump’s emotions and intentions and not information from CNN or California rabid liberal Democrat Socialists then I appreciate your insight after having spent some time with him. I have not had that advantage of knowing Donald Trump personally so I only know him by the end result of the his decisions as he tries to lead the country under the burden of the Democrats in the House of Representatives and most of the mainstream media who violently rail against him, 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Such vituperous behavior on the part of the Liberal Democrats has gotten out of hand and more than thwarting this president it weakens the government generally, probably for some time to come long after Donald Trump has retired to his golf club in Ireland.

Any extreme polarization and hatred in the country among its people is not caused by Donald Trump. It is caused by the far left Democrat Socialists who refuse to acknowledge that President Trump is the legitimate President of the United States of America and rather than support him for 4 years for the good of the country and its citizens they are willing to destroy the civil government of the United States in order to remove Donald Trump from office. Somehow, I think that the Democrat Socialists are missing the big picture. - AOD


This is a pretty interesting discussion, actually.

At first I worried it was turning into a free-for-all, but now I think it’s informative and offers a good opportunity for both sides to air their views.

I also think it may be a good argument for becoming a Low Information Voter! Though I used to scorn the LIVs, lately I’m starting to believe they have the right idea. All this Sturm und Drang is, in a way, kind of silly. Not to belittle anyone’s passionately held views, but if you step back and just look at the situation ...

A reality-TV host with a trophy wife (his third) becomes president and proceeds to feud with other C-list celebs on Twitter while pursuing policies (like buying Greenland) that are so bizarre, even his own supporters aren’t sure if he’s joking. Meanwhile, the opposing party has unloaded a clown car of potential presidential candidates, including a small-town mayor with an unpronounceable name, a fake Cherokee who failed a DNA test, a New Age priestess, and two superannuated grifters with visible health problems.

Sensing certain defeat in an election only a year away, the opposition decides its only chance is to impeach the president and try to force him out of office on any pretext at all. It sounds like a long shot, but the goofball president insists on mounting an ill-conceived, ad-libbed defense that gets him in deeper and deeper, until some of his own allies are starting to sweat.

And this isn’t happening in the Duchy of Fenwick but in the world’s mightiest superpower. If it was a movie, it would have to be a black comedy like "Dr. Strangelove."

From a certain perspective, you have to admit it’s funny.

@AOD

"But I try to support every president whether or not I agree with his policies and behaviors. (Lord knows I put up with Obama for 8 years.) I may naively believe that every person who achieves the presidency of the United States has good intentions and I believe that they want the best for America. If I disagree with them about how to achieve that good , I know that I only have to endure the agony for 4 years or less after which I and the rest of the American voters will thankfully have a chance to rethink our choice and vote for someone else."

If you are dealing with a normal president. Trump is not normal. He encourages divisiveness and threatens to dispute the 2016 if it doesn't go in his favor. He never apologizes; if anything, he doubles down on his mistakes (even if it's as understandable as thinking Hurricane Dorian hitting Alabama). He is the reason why political tensions have increased dramatically. And I've seen his actions as a businessman and they all tell the same story:

1)Trump proclaims he's a genius and you must invest his business.
2) He completely screws up his business, breaks his promises, blames you for his screw-ups and tries to find every way to not pay you.
3) He declares bankruptcy, walks away, and leaves you to clean up his mess and take the fall. And you still don't get paid.
4) Rinse and repeat.

This man doesn't care about the US. This man cares about himself first and foremost in short-term thinking. The reason why people believe that he colluded with Russia is because his personality and past actions showed he would do such a thing without considering the consequences. That and the fact that Trump does nothing to make our elections secured from hackers. The Ukraine Calls showcased that he still seeks foreign aid to win the 2020 election (which was the final straw to the impeachment inquiry).

Such criminal actions cannot be left unanswered. It must be held accountable and if the executive branch isn't going to hold Trump accountable (like the 25th amendment), the legislative branch must do its job and impeach him. The Founding Fathers created impeachment because they know that if one president takes foreign aid for his personal interests, he would be susceptible to become a useful idiot for US's rivals and enemies.

"Such vituperous behavior on the part of the Liberal Democrats has gotten out of hand and more than thwarting this president it weakens the government generally, probably for some time to come long after Donald Trump has retired to his golf club in Ireland."

Trump had total control of the House, Senate and White House in his first two years. The Democrats had no real power back then. They could not stop bills from passing if the GOP were united. And what did Trump accomplished? One Tax Cut Bill and Supreme Court Judge Appointments. He failed to repeal ObamaCare because the GOP promised a replacement but could not agree on that replacement due to their own Tea Party members throwing a fit over everything. And if the GOP repealed with no replacement, they would get voted out by angry voters who lost their healthcare and gained nothing in return. This led to the Democrats taking over the House two years later.

Trump's bullying and divisive tactics are only good to divide enemies but they cannot unite his own allies. If anything, these tactics are the reason why Trump has become so weak. He drives away everyone that aren't yes-men and takes the worst advice from people who don't know what they're doing (one such advice was firing Comey, which ultimately led to the Mueller probe). A lot of problems that Trump faces are the problems of his own making. He is, as Nancy Pelosi puts it, "self-impeachable."

It would be an unbelievable plot of intrigue to write about, wouldn’t it Michael! Undoubtedly someday someone will.

Actually Donald Trump has spent most of his adult life as something other than a “reality TV host” with admirable accomplishments to his credit and probably President Jefferson’s supporters like Trump’s thought it was a bizarre joke when he suggested buying from France what turned out to be a larger portion of the United States of America and there were those in Congress in 1867 who were disinclined to support President Johnson and his administration’s efforts to buy “Seward’s Icebox” (Alaska) from Russia.

Just maybe, good governments under good presidents have people that can think outside of the box, so to speak. - AOD

MP: "And this isn’t happening in the Duchy of Fenwick"

The GRAND Duchy, if you please. (-;

Amos, thanks for the response. But we're so far apart I see no point in trying to talk this through. To be honest, I'm continually surprised at how anyone who agrees with me (at least to some extent) in metaphysical matters, can view a man like Trump in anything resembling a positive light.

Debates on topics like healthcare are important and we should have them. there are always opportunities for improvement.

However, people must listen and learn from experts. It doesn't help to take soundbites and latch on to them and then demonize anyone who doesn't agree with one's position based on the soundbite. It doesn't help to impute sinister motives to those who disagree. But that is what is happening these days. It merely furthers the divide in this country.

It takes all kinds to make the world go around. We must appreciate the realities that others live. If someone makes a six figure income they need to appreciate the experience of people struggling to get by paycheck to paycheck.

There are no easy solutions to any of society's problems. We all try the best we can and we all come at problems with different perspectives, levels of knowledge, etc.

I don't know how that basic outlook has broken down. It seems that there is a revolutionary movement that deprecates anyone not on board. I hear politicians bribing the populace. I hear the news media offering simplistic and often dark morality plays. Google is not a substitute for in-depth knowledge and experience. Social media and Google play a roll in all of this too.

If we don't all stop and take a deep breath, we're in trouble as a nation.

AOD, I’m not necessarily against purchasing Greenland. President Truman expressed interest in the idea also. But what’s weird is that Greenland isn’t for sale. And then Trump canceled a long-planned visit to Denmark because they wouldn’t sell it to him!

As one pundit said, it's like your aunt like canceling a visit to your house because you won’t let her buy the bedroom.

Intellectual Activist mentioned another example of how weird Trump can be — the hurricane map with Alabama crudely circled in ink. A trivial thing, but bizarre. Who does stuff like that?

Bruce, our politics has gotten so crazy that I’ve long since abandoned any notion of admiring our "leaders" in any spiritual or moral sense. Who is there to look up to? This is why I say politics is a low vibration business. I really am trying to become a Low Information Voter. Ignorance is bliss!

Roger, I stand corrected!

Bruce:
Yep! I think we are more alike than you know. = AOD

Michael,
I followed hurricane "Dorian" very closely every day, hour by hour because my wife lives close to the east coast of Florida. I remember very early in the progression of the hurricane in the Atlantic that for several days,I think Doppler weather maps suggested a hurricane path that would have placed it eventually fizzling out in Georgia and Alabama. As the prognosticators became more sure of the pathway they stopped thinking that it would go into those areas. - AOD

Michael;
I can’t imagine that you, of all people would ever just ‘put your head in the sand “ and become a low information voter. - AOD

AOD wrote, "Doppler weather maps suggested a hurricane path that would have placed it eventually fizzling out in Georgia and Alabama."

Yeah, but the humorous part was that Trump – or somebody on his staff – altered the map with a felt tip marker to crudely extend the predicted impact area to Alabama. This was for a TV appearance that took place after the forecasters had stopped talking about Alabama, and it was clearly a ham-fisted attempt to save face. No big deal in itself, but it does show a certain pettiness, not to mention a certain lack of smarts, since the alteration was easily detectable.

"I can’t imagine that you ... would become a low information voter."

I'm trying! I feel that my blood pressure is starting to go down a bit, now that I've stopped looking at my usual (right-leaning) political blogs. Plus, it's undeniably true that some of those blogs have been misleading me – for instance, on the matter of the child separation policy at the border. I'm not saying that the mainstream media or left-leaning opinion sources are more reliable. I don't know if there are any reliable sources anymore. A pox on all their houses!

Yes Michael,
We live in the Age of Misinformation. It does help to get outside more. I stopped watching television a couple of years ago but I must admit that I am addicted to the internet. I too, think I would be better off if I used that time honing my Photoshop skills or reading more. I do watch Netflix a bit but choices of good films are few and far between. I tend to like the foreign films more than the plastic predictable Hollywood movies.

I am currently watching "Once Upon a Time" a Canadian fairy-tale series I think. The first year was very good but the writers seem to be grasping for plot in the subsequent years. Early on the writers incorporated some very good teaching moments one of which is that there is some good in every bad person and often those whom we perceive as bad have had one or more reasons why they are the way they are.

There are a couple of excellent actors in that series including Lana Parrilla as the 'Evil Queen'. She has turned out to be a very sympathetic character and perhaps is the star of the show overshadowing 'Snow White' and 'Prince Charming'. 'Rumplestiltskin', played by Robert Carlyle provides an unbelievable characterization at times. Both Carlyle and Parrilla should get an acting award for this series in my opinion.

The show is a good escape from the fantasy of our current reality and maybe provides some lessons applicable to that reality. - AOD

I really liked the series "Dead to Me" on Netflix. Some great plot twists!

Turner Classic Movies continues to air some good stuff. Recently I watched "Throne of Blood," Kurosawa's brilliant reimagining of "Macbeth."

"Bruce, our politics has gotten so crazy that I’ve long since abandoned any notion of admiring our "leaders" in any spiritual or moral sense."

I hear you, Michael, and I don't mean this in a snarky way, but we Democrats feel differently. I, for one, am sometimes *inspired* by our leaders—their compassion, intelligence, energy, and courage.

Why, on rare occasions I’m even impressed by what Republicans say or do. :)

And how about that Afghan woman who was recently elected mayor of her town? She says she knows she'll ultimately be assassinated, but is determined to get things done in the meantime.

Call me naive or simple-minded if you like (though I would disagree), but it feels *good* to feel this way.

Bruce, if Democrats are so upbeat and inspired, why are they so angry all the time? Why are they always rioting and talking about assassinating their political opponents and telling us America sucks? Why do they love Antifa? Why do they embrace slogans like "Full Communism Now!" and "Eat the Rich"?

You may be feeling optimistic, but most of your fellow Dems appear to be one step away from going on a murder spree. ☹️

MP suggested taking the passing scene as a comedy. In that spirit, here's a link to a portion of Mencken's "On Being an American":
http://monadnock.net/mencken/american.html

The previous link to Mencken's "On Being an American" was only to part 4 of it. Here's a link to the whole thing:
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/53474/53474-h/53474-h.htm

Here's a selection from the end of Part 1:
--------------

Well, then, why am I still here? Why am I so complacent (perhaps even to the point of offensiveness), so free from bile, so little fretting and indignant, so curiously happy? Why did I answer only with a few academic "Hear, Hears" when Henry James, Ezra Pound, Harold Stearns and the emigrés of Greenwich Village issued their successive calls to the corn-fed intelligentsia to flee the shambles, escape to fairer lands, throw off the curse forever? The answer, of course, is to be sought in the nature of happiness, which tempts to metaphysics. But let me keep upon the ground. To me, at least (and I can only follow my own nose) happiness presents itself in an aspect that is tripartite. To be happy (reducing the thing to its elementals) I must be:

a. Well-fed, unhounded by sordid cares, at ease in Zion.

b. Full of a comfortable feeling of superiority to the masses of my fellow-men.

c. Delicately and unceasingly amused according to my taste.

It is my contention that, if this definition be accepted, there is no country on the face of the earth wherein a man roughly constituted as I am—a man of my general weaknesses, vanities, appetites,[Pg 13] prejudices, and aversions—can be so happy, or even one-half so happy, as he can be in these free and independent states. Going further, I lay down the proposition that it is a sheer physical impossibility for such a man to live in These States and not be happy—that it is as impossible to him as it would be to a schoolboy to weep over the burning down of his school-house. If he says that he isn't happy here, then he either lies or is insane. Here the business of getting a living, particularly since the war brought the loot of all Europe to the national strong-box, is enormously easier than it is in any other Christian land—so easy, in fact, that an educated and forhanded man who fails at it must actually make, deliberate efforts to that end. Here the general average of intelligence, of knowledge, of competence, of integrity, of self-respect, of honor is so low that any man who knows his trade, does not fear ghosts, has read fifty good books, and practices the common decencies stands out as brilliantly as a wart on a bald head, and is thrown willy-nilly into a meager and exclusive aristocracy. And here, more than anywhere else that I know of or have heard of, the daily panorama of human existence, of private and communal folly—the unending procession of governmental extortions and chicaneries, of commercial brigandages and throat-slittings, of theological buffooneries, of æsthetic ribaldries, of legal swindles and[Pg 14] harlotries, of miscellaneous rogueries, villainies, imbecilities, grotesqueries, and extravagances—is so inordinately gross and preposterous, so perfectly brought up to the highest conceivable amperage, so steadily enriched with an almost fabulous daring and originality, that only the man who was born with a petrified diaphragm can fail to laugh himself to sleep every night, and to awake every morning with all the eager, unflagging expectation of a Sunday-school superintendent touring the Paris peep-shows.

|| Bruce, if Democrats are so upbeat and inspired, why are they so angry all the time? Why are they always rioting and talking about assassinating their political opponents and telling us America sucks? Why do they love Antifa? Why do they embrace slogans like "Full Communism Now!" and "Eat the Rich"?||

*Please*. Are you serious? Either those right-leaning blogs you say you've been immersed in have brainwashed you, or you're going the all-hyperbole route.

||You may be feeling optimistic||

I never said I was (politically) optimistic. I said that I’m often inspired by fellow Democrats.

I'm optimistic *spiritually*. When it comes to politics, I have no idea what lies ahead.

Now I think you’re brainwashed, and I assume you think the same of me. So here’s an experiment both of us could try. For the next week or so, let’s lay off our usual sources, and get ALL our news from Associated Press.

https://www.apnews.com/apf-politics

AP is number one on this list of supposedly unbiased sources:

https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/top-5-world-news-websites-guaranteed-free-censorship/

Maybe we’ll each gain a new perspective on the world. In any case, *I'm* gonna try it.

"Bruce, if Democrats are so upbeat and inspired, why are they so angry all the time? Why are they always rioting and talking about assassinating their political opponents and telling us America sucks? Why do they love Antifa? Why do they embrace slogans like "Full Communism Now!" and "Eat the Rich"?

You may be feeling optimistic, but most of your fellow Dems appear to be one step away from going on a murder spree."

That'll be the first time I heard of it. And honestly, it sounds like a projection from the Alt-Right since most angry Democrats on the Internet want to see Trump and his cronies put on trial and imprisoned, not assassinated (because that would give him unneeded martyrdom). To be frank, you should not pay attention to online keyboard warriors (with the mask of anonymous, anyone can say nasty, horrible things without consequences) but rather at the people at the rallies.

The distinction between Democrats and Republicans at rallies is that Trump encourages hatred and violence amongst his crowds while Democratic candidates like Sanders and Warren encourage the crowd to make a better future together. When Obama was jeered by a protester, he told his crowd to not mock him but respect him as he had the right to speech, even if it's against him. Trump, on the other hand, tells his crowd to rough up the protester good.

This is what Bruce means by "*inspired* by our leaders—their compassion, intelligence, energy, and courage." He's not talking about online people. Because let's be honest, both sides (Republican and Democrats) have thrown nasty death threats at each other on the social network. But those Democratic leaders is what prevents the extremists from taking over and turning into a tribal war. It was Pelosi who reigned in the House from prematurely impeaching Trump the moment they took the job. It was her agenda to focus on policies and domestic issues unrelated to Trump that ensured the Democrats to win the House.

If that has appeared to change in recent days, it is only because Trump has given the Democrats an ironclad argument to impeach AND remove Trump from office that not even the Republicans could deny. As Pelosi had said before, Trump is self-impeachable.

Bruce, as I mentioned a little higher up on this thread, I avoid all news coverage now. I truly do want to tune out current events. Anyway, I have zero confidence in any news source, including the AP.

Intellectual Assassin, if you find Warren and Sanders inspiring, you have very different values from mine. I do think their side will win out eventually. Thank God I'm old enough that I won't have to see much of the future.

As I get older, I think more and more of the messages Victor Hugo received via planchette while exiled on the Isle of Jersey. The gist of those messages was that Earth is a penal colony for low-level spirits and for those expiating past sins. I don't know if these messages were genuine or came from Hugo's subconscious (reflecting his despair at being cast out of France), but they ring true to me.

https://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2008/04/things-to-do-on.html

Though I can joke about it, the truth is that I think we're seeing the watchfires of civilization snuffed out. Endless night is coming. The barbarians aren't just at the gate; they're running the show. If you ever wondered how the Western Roman Empire felt around AD 476, just turn on the news.

Like Prospero, I'm at the point where I want to drown my books ...

"And thence retire me to my Milan, where
Every third thought shall be my grave."

"The gist of those messages was that Earth is a penal colony for low-level spirits and for those expiating past sins." - Michael Prescott
-------------

This Earth life is a school and we simply learn here the things that can't be learned in heaven. It has to do with the difference between the physics of where we are now versus the physics of where we are going. They (the physics) of heaven is very different from where we are now. If you want to know what it means and how it feels to be separate, what it means and how it feels to be in a physical body and limited by time and space, and live in 3 dimensional + 1 time Universe it has to be learned here.

The soul's lessons are embedded in our everyday lives and it is holistically imprinted with what it needs to learn regardless of who we are, or where we live, or even what we believe. The more emotional the experience the more powerful and long lasting the memory it creates. In other words life has to be the way it is in order to overcome those feelings of oneness and connectedness and lack of time and space in heaven (as described by numerous near death experiencers).

We'll see which one of us was right after we get there.

Emotions make the memory last, WebMD
https://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20050131/emotions-make-memory-last

Hey, Art, good to hear from you!

Even if it’s true that we incarnate to learn about separation by means of painful experiences, it would still follow that life on Earth is essentially a series of painful experiences punctuated by moments of relief that allow us to register the pain more sharply. All as part of a master plan to torture us for our own good.

I’m not sure this is much different from what I’m saying.

Optimism with regard to our mortal existence isn’t my thing. Someone recently posted a meme on Facebook quoting the comedian Robin Williams on our wonderful power to change the world with words and ideas. I was tempted to ask: how long after he said this did he commit suicide? (I restrained myself. But it seems like an obvious question.)

I can feel optimistic about our postmortem prospects, because we’re finally delivered from this world, hopefully into a better one. But if you’re ever tempted to feel upbeat about life on Earth, remember that Anne Frank said that despite everything, she still believed people were basically good. The next day she and her family were sent to a death camp.

Getting back to the specifically political questions at hand, I think some on the left probably *are* feeling upbeat at the moment — positively giddy, in fact — but only because they’ve convinced themselves that Trump is about to be ousted from the White House. Time for a reality check: it's vanishingly unlikely that the Senate will muster the 67 votes needed to convict Trump. The most likely scenario is that Trump will be impeached by the House in a party-line vote, then acquitted in the Senate after a perfunctory trial. This would follow the Clinton pattern.

Given the public’s short memory, the whole kerfuffle will be forgotten by Election Day, and Trump will soundly trounce whatever left-winger is unlucky enough to run against him. Or at least that’s the way to bet, since an incumbent president riding the tailwind of a strong economy is nearly impossible to beat, no matter how weird his tweets are.

Of course, in such a volatile situation, anything could happen, but the narrative I’ve laid out appears to be the most likely one.

\\"Getting back to the specifically political questions at hand, I think some on the left probably *are* feeling upbeat at the moment — positively giddy, in fact — but only because they’ve convinced themselves that Trump is about to be ousted from the White House." - Michael Prescott//
--------------------

I read something yesterday that Moody (financial news) says that all the economic indicators are that Trump will win the electoral vote again in 2020 by a wide margin. I kind of figured that. I live in Tennessee which is a very conservative state and a lot of the people I know like Donald Trump... a lot.

Moody’s Election Models Predict Trump Will Crush Democrat in 2020

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/10/15/moodys-election-models-predict-trump-will-crush-democrat-in-2020/

"Getting back to the specifically political questions at hand, I think some on the left probably *are* feeling upbeat at the moment — positively giddy, in fact — but only because they’ve convinced themselves that Trump is about to be ousted from the White House. Time for a reality check: it's vanishingly unlikely that the Senate will muster the 67 votes needed to convict Trump. The most likely scenario is that Trump will be impeached by the House in a party-line vote, then acquitted in the Senate after a perfunctory trial. This would follow the Clinton pattern."

Unlikely? You underestimate what the Democrats want out of impeachment. Everyone knows that conviction was a long shot in the Senate but given Trump's blatant criminal and corrupt behavior (plus his consistently low-approval rating), an impeachment trial will serve as an albatross around the GOP's neck. Especially if using the same standards that GOP used against Clinton to highlight the hypocrisy (for example, Lindsay Graham's own words from 1998 comes back to haunt him). And many of the GOP Senate are up for reelection.

In fact, there are rumors that the GOP wants the Democratic Party to pass the articles of impeachment right away so the Senate can immediately acquit Trump during the trial and then try to move on from the impeachment issue during Election Day. But that's why the Democrats are taking their time. They are in no rush because they know that the Republicans squirm when they have to defend Trump every day for his increasing growing scandals and erratic behavior. If Trump's approval ratings go to terminal levels, then we might see the Senate change their mind about defending Trump.

"Given the public’s short memory, the whole kerfuffle will be forgotten by Election Day, and Trump will soundly trounce whatever left-winger is unlucky enough to run against him. Or at least that’s the way to bet, since an incumbent president riding the tailwind of a strong economy is nearly impossible to beat, no matter how weird his tweets are."

And yet, if I recall, you were the one who also predicted that Hillary Clinton will trounce Trump easily. Don't be too certain of a man who always had low approval ratings even when the economy is doing well. Trump is abnormal and he has left enough impression for the public to not forget about his misdeeds and awful personality. It could easily be distilled into three points:

1) Trump is a serial liar whose words cannot be trusted.
2) Trump is a coward lets other countries walk over him.
3) Trump is a criminal who acts like he's got something to hide.

What brought down Hillary Clinton despite her being the frontrunner was the fact she was associated with a political criminal investigation. It was that investigation, even if it cleared her name in the end, that crippled Democratic enthusiasm badly needed to combat Trump's fresh and untested campaign.

And if the past few years has been anything of late, it's that you don't want to bet on past trends to predict the future. A lot of people ate crow when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. A lot of people ate crow when Leonardo Dicaprio won an Oscar. And I had the misfortune of nearly hitting a buck on the road just as I was talking to my driver that we have never seen deers on the road for months.

After all, past impeachment trials never convicted a president before because up until this point, there was never a case where a conviction may necessary to do (the only possible exception being Nixon but he resigned before we can see it play out).

Time will tell, Intellectual Assassin. But I don’t think it’s correct that the Democrats are taking their time in order to draw out the impeachment process. Pelosi has said she wants to fast-track it and get a vote by Thanksgiving.

You’re right that I got the last presidential election totally wrong. And unlikely things do happen. They just happen less often than likely things. The most reliable poll analyst, Nate Silver, gave Hillary something like a 75% chance of winning. That is, if the election could be run four times in four parallel universes, she would win three of them. But Trump would still win one. He had to beat the odds by drawing an inside straight in the Electoral College. As it turned out, he did. At least in this universe!

Thanks for the link, Art. The analysis you linked to is actually what prompted my comment about historical trends. The economy is almost always the #1 issue. And swing voters tend to break for the incumbent unless the economy is going down the toilet. Of course there’s always a chance the economy will decline sharply before the election. Trump's burgeoning trade war with China is especially risky in that regard.

Still, you can’t beat something with nothing, and I just don’t see Biden, Sanders, or Warren doing that well in the general election. Biden looks ancient and seems to be losing his marbles. Sanders is a 78-year-old socialist with a heart problem. Warren is notorious for her Cherokee scam and has had to move left of Sanders to get the nomination. I think the Democrats, perhaps misled by social media where radical leftists are over-represented, have miscalculated by pushing for socialism, open borders, reparations, an end to private health insurance, unrestricted late-term abortions, hugely expensive plans to combat climate change, etc.

But again, unlikely things do happen, so I guess we'll see.

"Trump is a serial liar whose words cannot be trusted."

Apropos of that, this is from Associated Press, which seems to me about as unbiased a news source as there is.
https://www.apnews.com/APFactCheck

To get a feel for the flavor of AP's broader coverage:
https://www.apnews.com/

I've decided to add AP to my daily diet of CNN and NYT. I even check out Fox News fairly often, though (separate from any potential questions of political fairness) I find their sleaziness and sensationalism repulsive.

If others here can suggest additional unbiased reporting, please let me know. Unlike you, Michael, I think it’s a sad, defeatist, cop-out to deny the value of *all* news sources. (Especially while admitting your reliance on right-leaning blogs.) Why not try for balance? That’s how we approach our inquiry into the paranormal, right?

"Especially while admitting your reliance on right-leaning blogs."

I've already said I've stopped following those blogs or any news sources. I'm distrustful of the media altogether. Everyone has an agenda. CNN and the NYT are completely unreliable, and I doubt the AP is any better.

As for being a sad defeatist ... heck, yeah! I doubt there's any postmortem hell that's as soul-defeating as life on Earth. As Shakespeare put it in "King Lear":

... we came crying hither:
Thou know'st, the first time that we smell the air,
We wawl and cry.

P.S. I'm a little worn out with debating this. Feel free to carry on, but I probably won't keep chiming in. I do think it's been an illuminating discussion, but I need to get back to my project of becoming as uninformed as possible.

"I've already said I've stopped following those blogs or any news sources."

Yeah. I'm sure that'll last for at least a couple of days. :)

I was really hoping this would appeal to you:

"Why not try for balance? That’s how we approach our inquiry into the paranormal, right?"

But I guess not. :(

Sounds like you're in a difficult place, emotionally. I go in and out of those myself. At such times, *nothing* seems good, right, or trustworthy. I understand!

Thanks, Bruce. Yeah, I’m pretty burned out. I hope I can hold out in my commitment to being a Low Information Voter longer than just a couple of days! 😮

Eric wrote,

||I'm hearing a lot of the standard Democrat talking points here. More or less, "Trump is erratic. He's crazy!"||

It's not a "talking point"; it's the way the majority of Americans view Trump's behavior. Quoting you out of order, but this:

Eric wrote,

||How would anyone here know that Trump is erratic or crazy? No one here has even met the man, let alone sat down and worked with him day after day. No. They are getting that opinion from the media sources the view or read.||

By watching actual footage of him talking and reading his tweets. It's not a mystery, so I'm mystified by this comment. We couldn't get a direct impression of Reagan, Clinton, Dubya, etc., from watching their speeches, etc.?!

And how is it possible for you to get a correct enough impression of Trump so as to justify liking him if it is impossible for others to get a correct enough impression so as to justify disliking him?

||Oh well..whatever..this thread is evidence that a civil is *highly* likely. There are people at opposite ends of the spectrum and not only can't they understand each others' perspective, they believe that the other side is nuts and evil.||

Aside from the interaction between you and Kris, I haven't seen a whole lot of severe acrimony here.

So guys, guess where I am right now...

Nope, you'll never guess...

Mobile, Alabama! (I'm working here as an interpreter until the end of the year, perhaps longer.)

And guess what else? The people here are super nice! It's as red as a red state can be, but somehow things don't seem all that different than the blue states I've spent time in.

Could it be because we have a lot more in common throughout the US than we have things that separate us?

I think that's the case.

There's not going to be a Civil War. In fact, if we could recognize the truth that I stated above and if fewer politicians were grifting based on superficial and ultimately unimportant differences, we could easily have a Civil Renaissance.

Matt you say that “the majority of Americans” see President Trump’s behavior as erratic and that he is crazy; now that’s at least 51% of Americans which would be more than 168 million people. That’s a lot! Where did you get that statistic? - AOD

Matt,
Trump is going to win again, by an even larger margin than before.

I welcome you to make a bet again :-) I'm waiting for it.

I don't know anyone who sees it like you do. This is just a repeat of 2016, except everyone recognizes the Democrats as bat shit crazy. The actual footage reveals this. Then again...

….someone probably slipped nitrous oxide into my oxygen tank and mixed PCP into my Geratol. What've got to lose? I'm a dying breed. A barely living fossil. A hater on the wrong side of inevitable spiritual and cultural evolution. All rational and loving people see as you do. People want to give their hard earned money to all of the people of the world and to be told the right way to think and feel by their enlightened masters. It is self-evident that people like Trump, and me, are wrong wrong wrong.

I'm Krazy - Kookoo Krazy - a brainwashed, morally deranged, rightwing, throwback Neanderthal Nazi. And you've got a finger on the pulse of the nation. When you're ready to make an easy $500, which makes you whole from your 2016 loss with fair interest, let me know.

The bet is that Trump wins in 2020 by an equal or greater electoral vote than he did in 2016. ..Easy money! I'm pretty much giving it away! Don't even to think about it. Everyone knows he's crazy, right? Everyone knows I'm crazy!

Matt you say that “the majority of Americans” see President Trump’s behavior as erratic and that he is crazy; now that’s at least 51% of Americans which would be more than 168 million people. That’s a lot! Where did you get that statistic?

51% of the people polled by Fox News wanted Trump to be impeached AND removed. And Fox News is no friend of the Democratic Party (in fact, they are strong supporters of the GOP and Donald Trump so their estimates would be more bias towards conservative estimate). It doesn't take much to determine why 51% of the people want Trump gone despite having a "strong" economy and not sending people to war.

"Matt you say that “the majority of Americans” see President Trump’s behavior as erratic and that he is crazy; now that’s at least 51% of Americans which would be more than 168 million people. That’s a lot! Where did you get that statistic? "

Would you trust Fox News on this?

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/fox-news-poll-record-support-for-trump-impeachment

To be clear, Fox didn't ask about him being crazy, just whether folks wanted him removed from office.

"And how is it possible for you to get a correct enough impression of Trump so as to justify liking him if it is impossible for others to get a correct enough impression so as to justify disliking him?"

Thanks for injecting some common sense here, Matt.

As to whether most people think Trump is crazy, I'll put it this way: among those 51% in the Fox poll who want him removed from office, I'll bet not one sees him as a stable genius.

The very notion that a president of the United States would refer to *himself* in that way is so ludicrous that . . . words fail me.

And no—he wasn't joking.

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