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1  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Use of the Phrase "American Empire" on: March 26, 2017, 05:42:40 pm
I think the term American Empire is best used as a historical one about the early 20th century and the Philippines. The Philippines had a third as many people as the US itself and was a hugely significant colonial holding.
2  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Use of the Phrase "American Empire" on: March 26, 2017, 03:00:30 pm
American simply refers to the indigenous peoples of North America or South America, or to a citizen of the U.S, or is generally a reference to the United States.

An empire is a major political unit having a territory of great extent or a number of territories or peoples under a single sovereign authority, or it is something resembling a political empire or an extensive territory or enterprise under single domination or control

If we put these together we get American Empire.  I don't think the term is meant to be offensive, and I don't think, as cathcon suggests, that it is meant to sound cool.  Is it modern?  Well, to the extent that there were many American empires (the olmec, the huastec, the mixtec, the aztec, the Tihuantinsuyu, the Maya, etc.), long before the age of conquest, it is not necessarily modern.  But to the extent that it specifically refers to the hegemony of the US in world affairs, then it is fairly modern.  The Monroe Doctrine is probably where it began, but it has since evolved into:  (1) the political unit into which the United States has evolved and the vassal states in the Americas subject thereto;  (2) a general reference to the cultural, military, and economic hegemony of the United States.

I think it's a reasonable and inoffensive term.  It is also useful, since it reminds of how badly twisted our government has become since the days of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  I guess I'm a bit optimistic in the sence that such a reminder will act as a slap in the face.  I'm no fan of The Donald, or of his wall, his impropriety, his general disdain for polite conversation, or of his lack of geopolitical curiosity, but I have to admit that his anti-imperialist rhetoric has some appeal.  We might applaud those who remember that imperialism doesn't really best suit our economic ends.




Jefferson himself described the United States as the Empire of Liberty.
3  General Discussion / History / Re: What killed the democrats in the white south? on: March 22, 2017, 11:53:01 pm
It was never an overnight shift, and a lot of people who grew up voting Dem due to memories of the Depression etc. never left the party. It was the dying off of the Depression/WWII gen that really cemented the GOP ascendancy: even though the GOP was steadily rising in the 1970s and 1980s, it didn't really solidify until the late 1990s and early 2000s.
4  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2000 U.S. Presidential Election Results / Re: A Nader-Bush Swing Voter Isn't as Unlikely As You Think on: March 22, 2017, 01:15:24 am
Yes, and Nader also didn't cost Gore NH. Heck, I would have been a Nader-Bush swing voter in 2000.

IIRC, Nader's own estimate after the fact was that 50% of his voters would vote Gore, 25% Bush, 25% not vote. If those numbers had held, Gore would've lost NH by about 3000 votes rather than 7000 votes IRL, sure.

That said, there's no reason to assume that number was accurate. Obviously, there were Nader supporters who would've gone to Bush, but I think that the number was significantly lower than a 2-1 ratio.
5  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Presidential Election Process / Re: EC supporters: Do you think any other place should have an "electoral college"? on: March 17, 2017, 06:07:28 pm
Both Argentina and Brazil used to, though they eventually got rid of theirs.
6  General Discussion / History / Re: Congratulations, Russia. on: March 16, 2017, 07:08:05 pm
Not really. If the Kerensky government had negotiated peace with Germany, it could have survived. The Russians were sick of WW1, that is why it happened. Let's not forget it was the Czar who started and bungled the war in the first place. Without the Czar, we would have been spared both WWI and WWII and communism!

Like it was at all possible for a government that was heavily in debt to the Entente to peacefully break out of the war and not become a hated pariah. It's more likely that the British and French would've subsidized Kornilov couping the state to turn it into a military dictatorship to keep it in the war than that they'd have allowed it to peacefully leave the war.
7  General Discussion / History / Re: Congratulations, Russia. on: March 16, 2017, 12:09:20 pm
In 1917 the Russian Empire was a great power, with the potential to be a superpower rivaling or even surpassing the USA. In 2017, Russia now has a GDP roughly the same as Australia and it's population drinking itself to death with a first world birth rate and 3rd world death rate.

It's been a rough 100 years.

In 1917 it was the weakest of several European powers, have being most recently beaten by Japan. It was a backwards agrarian economy where most people's lives had hardly advanced from the Middle Ages. Today it's the world's second most powerful country, with a growing population and the 6th highest GDP in the world. To be sure, it could have done better had it switched immediately to liberal, Western democracy, but it was going down the drain under the Czars.

Um...You are acting like they didn't lose 23% of their territory, over half of their population, and over half of their GDP 25 years ago and are struggling to try to crawl their way back to where they were 30 years ago while the rest of the world has moved on.
8  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2020 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Is Michael Bloomberg electable nationally? on: March 12, 2017, 11:31:12 am
He's just about the worst possible candidate. He only has appeal to people making six figures or over.
9  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: I'm a master's student in theology. AMA. on: March 08, 2017, 07:39:25 pm
An expert in any field will probably have a "unless you have read THIS book, I'm probably wasting my time talking to you" moment regarding something they've read that's formative to their thought process. What's yours?

(I don't mean to phrase that in a rude way, I mean that there's something you've read or learned that leads to a fundamental experience gap vs ordinary people)
10  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2020 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Nate Silver talks politics with Mark Cuban on: March 07, 2017, 11:21:53 pm
Yeah, Silver changed his tune pretty thoroughly after Trump won NH and was on the Trump Train for the rest of the primaries even while some people on his staff were getting on the brokered convention train.
11  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Presidential Election Process / Re: Could 2016 be the last year the electoral college will matter? on: February 28, 2017, 03:07:00 am
While I'd prefer either a top-two runoff or IRV for the Presidency, a national popular vote would be an improvement.

Top two runoff wouldn't be very popular, given how ridiculously long our campaigns are...

Unless it was done Louisiana/California style where instead of "primaries" we had one national jungle primary where the top-two vote-getters faced off one-on-one in November.

That'd be something.
12  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: "We won't return to 2016's level of progress until the 2030's" on: February 28, 2017, 01:31:40 am

I'm not talking about something easily quantifiable.

I need metrics. I can't evaluate the two unless I know what I'm comparing. Sad
13  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: "We won't return to 2016's level of progress until the 2030's" on: February 28, 2017, 12:17:52 am
The word "progress" is so meaningless in this context. What does it mean? GDP growth? Wage growth? Unemployment rate? Like, I have no idea what this comment is supposed to be suggesting.
14  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: President Trump orders his steak well done with ketchup on: February 28, 2017, 12:16:21 am
Remember 8 years ago, when Hannity s**t on President Obama for eating a hamburger with dijon mustard instead of ketchup?

This is the polar opposite story. Rather than "president thinks he's too good for us," it's "president is an unsophisticated rube."

Both are equally nonsense, though. President will eat what the President wants. I'm more focused on what comes out of Trump's mouth than what comes into it (unless what comes into it is Russian urine, in which case all bets are off).
15  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2020 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: What is an ideological mix that is a surefire way to win an election? on: February 27, 2017, 10:22:13 pm
Regarding the death penalty, I think the old Clinton formulation on abortion of "safe, legal, and rare" would do the trick for the largest share of voters.
16  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Trump skipping White House Correspondents Dinner on: February 25, 2017, 11:57:51 pm
I absolutely hate the White House Correspondents Dinner and think it should be abolished.

By boycotting it, Trump is just going to turn it into a horrible Internet sensation for everyone who is a self-proclaimed member of the hashtag Resistance or whatever the hell idiot left Twitter is on these days.
17  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Are religions that use military power instead of moral authority and persuasion on: February 25, 2017, 06:10:25 pm
"Gnostic" is a useless catch-all label that encompasses many wildly different and contradictory schools of thought and Gnosticism is usually loved by contrarians who love the losing side of history.

In a Gnostic world, Greatest I Am: "Today's Christianity has an elitist focus on secret knowledge and that only a select few can receive salvation through gnosis. The early Christian heresy of "Chalcedonianism" was far more progressive and extended salvation to all without access to special knowledge or study and lacks the elitist class bias of our inferior Gnostic form of Christianity."
18  General Discussion / History / Re: Why didn't the UK send troops to help Russia in 1941? on: February 05, 2017, 06:15:00 pm
Surely they could have sent them through Canada/Alaska? If Hitler had captured Moscow he would have won the war, why didn't they send reinforcements to help?

Wait, what?

You want the beleaguered and besieged British to send forces away from their island to go around the world the long way to Vladivostok and to be shipped from there to the front lines?
19  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Cenk Uygur launches new wing of the Democratic party on: January 25, 2017, 09:47:22 pm
If you're Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks and you need to name a faction in a political party...

How do you not go with "Committee for Unity and Progress?"

It even sounds like something that Democrats would go for.
20  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Star Wars Episode VIII will be called "The Last Jedi" your opinion of the name? on: January 24, 2017, 02:16:26 am
My guess:

Rey is the talented-yet-impatient pupil of Luke Skywalker, who now talks backwards. Luke warns her repeatedly that even though she has a powerful destiny, she cannot take on Kylo Ren, and warns her that her father was a great Jedi who fell against Kylo Ren.

Kylo Ren leads a blistering assault against the Resistance and captures Finn. In a conversation with Snoke, Ren mentions that Rey is of a mighty bloodline and destiny and would be more valuable turned than dead. Snoke agrees. Kylo Ren tortures Finn to draw out Rey.

Rey ignores Luke Skywalker's protests and goes off to confront Kylo Ren. He defeats her and reveals the truth:

"Skywalker never told you about your father."
"He told me enough! He told me you killed him!"
"No. He is your father."
"No! That's not true! That's impossible!"
"Join me and together we will rule the galaxy as first cousins."

Rey escapes, wounded, and the Resistance looks to be on its last legs. Rey has to confront that her Master Skywalker is the deadbeat father who abandoned her many years ago, and deal with her leftover anger and trust issues. Times are truly dark for the Resistance.
21  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Polyamory on: January 18, 2017, 11:06:44 pm
I'd like to observe that "consenting adults" isn't actually a complete moral argument, appealing as it is to us denizens of "I'm okay, you're okay, all we need out of life is to Be True To Ourselves" post-modernity. Substantially it's the same as "it's my First Amendment right" or "it's a free country". All it means is that what you're doing isn't a felony.

My mother had a great deal of help raising me--from relatives, friends, my godparents, social workers, and so forth--but I still suffered a great deal from not having the stability and conceptual felicity of two clear-cut parental figures. Please don't armchair diagnose what the problems with other people's childhoods were.

This is a valid point which deserves its own thread to discuss. "It shouldn't be illegal" is not at all the same thing as saying "I approve of this," and I feel that contemporary discourse tends to ignore the middle ground between those two statements.

One issue I feel this way about is gambling, for instance. I strongly disapprove of gambling. I also don't want to criminalize it.
22  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Was Judas' "betrayal" a mistranslation? on: January 16, 2017, 04:55:50 pm
Fun story:

The English word "traitor" comes from the Latin word "traditor," which literally means "one who hands over."
23  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Polyamory on: January 14, 2017, 11:38:56 pm
I have a whole host of concerns about joint property ownership and income tax filings when more than two people are joined, and especially the nature of divorce law when, say, one person leaves a four-person marriage. It would be frighteningly complex and, unlike same sex marriage, would require rewriting marriage laws from top to bottom to account for all of the scenarios.
24  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Favorite Poster: Best of the Best on: January 14, 2017, 01:41:18 am
The Trump phenomenon is shocking and upsets the apple cart of how we understood the world for decades. Antonio, as someone who professionally studies political science, should rejoice that he does at a time when drastic changes to the way we understand politics are occurring all over the world. There's many a dissertation in 2016.

The most compelling thing about Trump, to me, and the tipoff that he was something seriously new and dangerous, was the total freshness of his game. At a time when every Republican politician had consigned their ideology to the Ted Cruz game of a laundry list of positions they were obligated to take to be sufficiently right wing (a game that if the GOP base actually cared about it would've carried Cruz to victory), Trump threw it out the window and said what people didn't know they wanted to hear rather than what they thought they wanted to hear. I was saying at the time when everyone was freaked out about Trump blaming G. W. Bush for 9/11 and Trump saying that John McCain wasn't a hero and so on that it wasn't going to hurt him at all, and I was right about it. The American voter is thicker-skinned than anyone imagined, and you can literally insult the Pope like Trump did if you do it with sufficient conviction.

Hillary Clinton, the most calculated and artificial politician in America, was the exact wrong alternative to Trump (though I don't think a naive crank geriatric from Vermont would've been a significantly better choice).

EDIT:

We are about to see vivid, real-time proof how how weak, institutionally, the United States is, and how its institutions can and have been totally subverted by a demagogue.

Even if Russia did release a video of Donald Trump masturbating to Russian hookers urinating on President Obama's bed, Donald Trump will still be our president four years from now and would almost certainly give a speech in which he remarked about how large his penis was in the video. Total shamelessness and ability to just keep trucking through any negative consequence no matter how awful it looks makes Trump formidable in a way we haven't seen in this country before, and I take this seriously. NOTHING you get on Trump will ever make him resign or make the GOP Congress, who are petrified in terror of him, impeach him. The only way to beat Donald Trump is to get far, far more votes than he does.
25  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Favorite Poster: Best of the Best on: January 13, 2017, 11:08:31 pm
He was one of those awful semi-ironic left-wing T***p supporters back in the day.

Really?  I actually don't remember that at all.  IIRC, he was posting very little during primary season, and I don't remember him commenting on Trump.

I remember an IRC chat in which he said that very explicitly (along with, sadly, Gully, whom undoubtedly should have known better). I also note he hasn't denied it.



My biggest regret of the 2016 election season was letting the debates and Trump's tape leaking in September talk me out of my long-standing belief that Trump was a strong candidate who was going to seriously challenge, if not beat, Hillary Clinton.

My proudest moment of the 2016 Presidential campaign was seeing Donald Trump in August of 2015, deciding "He's a winner," and sticking through that for months on end while everyone was saying I was trolling or being stupid for thinking that Trump could actually win. Including for that week after Iowa when everyone said he was toast. I believed in Donald Trump's ability to win the nomination wholeheartedly, and I just wish I had kept a similar belief through the general election and not let myself be talked out of it.

I still feel proud that I called that primary when so many people here were left looking like idiots for saying that there was no way that Donald Trump would win.
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