Empire in Decline

time

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The USA is the heart of the English-speaking world, and probably the flagship of modern democracies. Countries like Australia and the UK have derived indirect benefit from the USA's very existence. But the future has looked bleak for the last decade or two.

The extent of the riots, following on from everything else, makes now a good time to raise this as a topic for discussion.

Here is an analysis/opinion piece by a senior journalist from outside of the US. I think it is worth reading, even if it confirms everything Americans already know:

The US is tearing itself apart because its political system has failed
 

jtr1962

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Honestly, this is the start of a planet of the apes scenario. Today the cities burn. Who knows if or when we'll come out of the ashes? I would hate to be a kid in today's world. I've already told young people don't waste your time or money on school since there's no future for you. That's even more true now given how many jobs this pandemic just made disappear. The real problem is the US has failed to invest in its human capital for decades. Lots of people with no healthcare (me included). Higher education only accessible by going heavily into debt. Employers unwilling to train people. Lots of jobs with no sick time or vacation. It just goes on and on. All the benefits of greater productivity have accrued to those on top. Meanwhile life expectancy is down, and people are working longer hours, not the much shorter ones foretold by futurists when I was a kid.

If there is any one thing I can pin down for the problem, it's the widespread distrust of experts. This article sums it up nicely:


When you have laypeople making complex policy decisions, the end results are all too predictable. Anyone with half a brain could have saw this disaster in the making. We have experts for a reason. That's why you study things for years, even decades. You can't Google the solution to every problem in 5 minutes, as much as the general public feels otherwise. Donald Trump is the ultimately non-expert acting like he's the consummate expert on everything. He recently added epidemiology and pathology to the list of things he knows more about than anyone else.
 

snowhiker

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The extent of the riots, following on from everything else, makes now a good time to raise this as a topic for discussion.
I was going to start a thread last night so I'm glad you got the ball rolling.
Honestly, this is the start of a planet of the apes scenario. Today the cities burn. Who knows if or when we'll come out of the ashes?
I don't think we'll descend into chaos. Things will get back under control and normalcy will return. Will things change? Probably not.
 

jtr1962

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Does anyone else get the feeling that Trump senses he may not win the next election, thus is creating as much havoc for the next person to clean up?
Some of us said as much in the coronavirus thread. I see several angles to his tactics:

1) Use the protests to create disorder by infiltrating the ranks of protesters with white supremacists or even police offices. This will appeal to people's desire to get back security at any cost. Of course, Trump is positioning himself as the "law-and-order" President exactly for this reason.

2) Kill the economy further, especially in swing states, so Trump can say he wanted to keep things open but the Democrats didn't.

3) Point to the (currently rising) stock market as a sign that the economy is back on track. Of course that's not true. The only reason the markets are up is because of the feds pumping in lots of bailout money to prop up the markets.

4) Do nothing about the millions of unemployed, and block any attempts by Congress for more economic stimulus payments. Trump knows the worst effects of the pandemic on the economy won't be felt until long after election day. If the next President isn't him, a major depression which will surely take more than one term to get out of will help the GOP in 2024. Heck, for all we know he might want to run in 2024. Or perhaps Ivanka will. If he does get re-elected, I'm sure one the first things he does would be a big round of stimulus payments to keep the economy from completely tanking in his second term. Basically, he wants to ensure that if he doesn't get re-elected he'll leave a big, steaming pile of shit to his successor.

I wouldn't put it past him to use a second term to structurally change the Presidency. That would include giving the President a lot more power, and also making it a lifetime position with the successor chosen not by the people, but by the sitting President.

Trump is taking a page straight out of Senator Palpatine's playbook. If he does get re-elected, we'll likely be calling him Emperor Trump before long. And publicly criticizing anything he does will be grounds for a long prison term, maybe even an execution. Remember Hitler came to power in a strongly democratic country. It can happen again. And then we have his new "Space Force". Doubtless building a death star would be one of the first things he uses it for.
 

time

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Very good explanation of the George Floyd autopsies:

Dr Mike Hansen is one of my favorite YouTube medicos. As a pulmonary and ICU specialist, he has provided invaluable insight into the realities of COVID-19.
 

snowhiker

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I don't think we'll descend into chaos. Things will get back under control and normalcy will return.
Wow was I wrong. Things went FUBAR all over the place.
Thank God we have looters burning down businesses and stealing goods from Targets to honor the man who's been in jail/prison NINE separate times and high on meth at the time of his arrest/death. Cops were scum but Floyd was no angel either.
This is the perfect gift from Trump to the Chinese media.
Trump is damned if he doesn't do anything to stop riots and damned if he sends in Federal troops to end chaos. THE STATES need to end the violence not the Feds. This won't happen when a bunch of virtue signaling mayors and governors have told their police force to back off and stand down. DAs have been told to release those arrested and not to prosecute the criminal rioters.

More black people have been murdered in the last few weeks during the riots than those killed by cops the last two years.

Explosion of crime in major U.S. cities including NYC. But thank God the idiot mayor has 27 officers guarding the "Black Lives Matter" sign painted on the street in front of Trump Tower. /SMH

Does anyone else get the feeling that Trump senses he may not win the next election, thus is creating as much havoc for the next person to clean up?
Hillary Clinton had a 92% chance of winning the election in 2016. She lost. People are fed up with the riots and lockdowns. The polls aren't capturing this accurately.
Some of us said as much in the coronavirus thread. I see several angles to his tactics:

1) Use the protests to create disorder by infiltrating the ranks of protesters with white supremacists or even police offices. This will appeal to people's desire to get back security at any cost. Of course, Trump is positioning himself as the "law-and-order" President exactly for this reason.

2) Kill the economy further, especially in swing states, so Trump can say he wanted to keep things open but the Democrats didn't.

3) Point to the (currently rising) stock market as a sign that the economy is back on track. Of course that's not true. The only reason the markets are up is because of the feds pumping in lots of bailout money to prop up the markets.

4) Do nothing about the millions of unemployed, and block any attempts by Congress for more economic stimulus payments. Trump knows the worst effects of the pandemic on the economy won't be felt until long after election day. If the next President isn't him, a major depression which will surely take more than one term to get out of will help the GOP in 2024. Heck, for all we know he might want to run in 2024. Or perhaps Ivanka will. If he does get re-elected, I'm sure one the first things he does would be a big round of stimulus payments to keep the economy from completely tanking in his second term. Basically, he wants to ensure that if he doesn't get re-elected he'll leave a big, steaming pile of shit to his successor.

I wouldn't put it past him to use a second term to structurally change the Presidency. That would include giving the President a lot more power, and also making it a lifetime position with the successor chosen not by the people, but by the sitting President.

Trump is taking a page straight out of Senator Palpatine's playbook. If he does get re-elected, we'll likely be calling him Emperor Trump before long. And publicly criticizing anything he does will be grounds for a long prison term, maybe even an execution. Remember Hitler came to power in a strongly democratic country. It can happen again. And then we have his new "Space Force". Doubtless building a death star would be one of the first things he uses it for.
1) If Trump using the riots (for whatever reason) was an issue, why don't the local mayors, city counsels and governors (mostly dems) simply use their police forces to end the riots and arrest the criminals burning building and stealing TVs? The riots hurt Trump and his re-election because he gets blamed for them and the aftermath. WHY didn't Trump do anything they'll ask? Or it would be; HOW could Trump send in Fed troops and stop those "peaceful" protests honoring Floyd or countering BLM. I guess racism didn't exits until Trump was elected.

2) The economy was flying high before COVID-19. Unemployment AND black unemployment were the lowest in decades. Good economy equals Trump re-elected. End of story. (not saying Trump was fully responsible for good economy, BTW) --- If anything it's the dems that want to see the country burn and the economy take a dump. Bad economy and chaos equals Trump defeated.

3) Rising markets a rebound from Covid shutdowns reversing and bailout/stimulus money.

4) Ending the shutdown and getting people back to work will help the economy tremendously. Going to be a jump in manufacturing to catch up. People already talking about returning manufacturing jobs back from China. We can't keep giving out stimulus and bailouts. The debt is already too high. Now that is a, perhaps the real, problem in the coming years and decades.

If Trump loses in 2020 he won't re-run in 2024. People were saying the same things about Hillary Clinton too. She's dead as a politician and if Trump loses he'll be dead too. Plus he'll be 78 then and probably just want to retire, or he'll have dementia like Biden. If the "second Covid spike" doesn't really happen and we can open the economy back up fully the economy will be fine and we won't need another stimulus.

And finally the idea that Trump wants to leave a huge pile of shit if he doesn't get re-elected is just dumb. Regardless of what Rachel Maddow or Don Lemon say Trump doesn't hate America. If anything Trump would want to leave office on a high note to show how wonderful he is.

And regarding Trump, "structurally change the Presidency," and "making it a lifetime position with the successor chosen not by the people, but by the sitting President," is pretty much the same thing the prepper, hillbilly nutjobs were saying about Obama. It's Ridiculous and it's said about every president. Bush-41 left peacefully after losing second term. Clinton left peacefully. Bush-43 left peacefully. Obama left peacefully and Trump will leave peacefully. Anything else is conspiracy theory nonsense.

"Hitler came to power in a strongly democratic country" is true, but one of the first thing he did do was DEFUND THE POLICE. Sound familiar? But anyways we might not have much of a country left because according to Biden 150,000,000 people have died from gun violence and another 120,000,000 people have died from COVID-19 this year. LOL. The Trump/Biden debate (if the Dems will allow him to debate) is going to be really interesting.

I don't love Trump as he has lots of ego problems, is a poor communicator and surrounds himself with idiots (save the new press secretary) but I hate him a whole lot less then Biden, the BLM rioters/Marxists, liberal cancel culture and anybody who hates America because it's cool to hate America.
 

jtr1962

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1) If Trump using the riots (for whatever reason) was an issue, why don't the local mayors, city counsels and governors (mostly dems) simply use their police forces to end the riots and arrest the criminals burning building and stealing TVs? The riots hurt Trump and his re-election because he gets blamed for them and the aftermath. WHY didn't Trump do anything they'll ask? Or it would be; HOW could Trump send in Fed troops and stop those "peaceful" protests honoring Floyd or countering BLM. I guess racism didn't exits until Trump was elected.
Because those same police forces are actively staging a work slowdown which their unions are doubtless strongly encouraging. The unions obviously don't want to have fewer members, which is exactly what would happen if police forces are cut. And in most cases, those cuts won't result in more crime if police actually do their jobs. The NYPD has about 3 times as many officers as it needs. But the union doesn't want cuts, so they figure staging slowdowns will make people think cutting the police forces are a bad idea.

As for riots, wait until Trump loses. I suspect his followers will engage in riots which will pale next to anything BLM has done.

2) The economy was flying high before COVID-19. Unemployment AND black unemployment were the lowest in decades. Good economy equals Trump re-elected. End of story. (not saying Trump was fully responsible for good economy, BTW) --- If anything it's the dems that want to see the country burn and the economy take a dump. Bad economy and chaos equals Trump defeated.
Why would they want that? A bad economy will continue well into the first term of a Biden Presidency, perhaps even the second assuming he gets re-elected (which won't happen anyway if the economy remains bad). Tanking the economy intentionally to get Trump out is a dangerous game unless you can guarantee a swift rebound in 2021. Nobody can guarantee that.

Also, the economy was never really "good" in the sense that there were lots of good jobs which created upward mobility. There was low employment, sure, but it was a McJobs economy where lots of people lived paycheck to paycheck. To be fair, this situation was brewing long before Trump took office, so I'm not blaming him 100% for it.

3) Rising markets a rebound from Covid shutdowns reversing and bailout/stimulus money.
Mostly from bailout money. I'm not seeing a whole lot of economic good news to justify the rebound. In fact, since I nearly made up my losses I'm thinking of putting everything in cash equivalents since I see a market crash when the fall wave hits as almost inevitable.

4) Ending the shutdown and getting people back to work will help the economy tremendously. Going to be a jump in manufacturing to catch up. People already talking about returning manufacturing jobs back from China. We can't keep giving out stimulus and bailouts. The debt is already too high. Now that is a, perhaps the real, problem in the coming years and decades.
But we can't safely reopen the economy until the virus is under control. That basically means widespread testing and only 1% or fewer test positive. We'll still need precautions like masks and social distancing even then. Reopening when positive tests are much higher, as much of the country did, only guarantees a rise in cases, and probably the need for more lock downs. I see way too much magical thinking with this virus. It's not disappearing if people wish it away. We have to actively take steps to get rid of it.

The answer to the debt is to selectively default on it, meaning we start first with any treasuries held by foreign nationals. In fact, in order for this country to get back on track a lot of debt needs to be wiped clean.

If Trump loses in 2020 he won't re-run in 2024. People were saying the same things about Hillary Clinton too. She's dead as a politician and if Trump loses he'll be dead too. Plus he'll be 78 then and probably just want to retire, or he'll have dementia like Biden. If the "second Covid spike" doesn't really happen and we can open the economy back up fully the economy will be fine and we won't need another stimulus.
Mathematically we can't avoid a second spike at this point. Sorry, it's a mathematical certainty at this point. The rest of the country right now is more or less where NYC was in early March where there was a tremendous amount of community spread. We locked down in mid-March, which prevented an even more horrendous death toll, but by not locking down earlier we pretty much sealed our fate for a large number of deaths, roughly 0.3% of the city's population. It's probably going to worse in most of the country on account of more preexisting conditions, plus hospitals in a lot of states which are frankly third world.

I don't love Trump as he has lots of ego problems, is a poor communicator and surrounds himself with idiots (save the new press secretary) but I hate him a whole lot less then Biden, the BLM rioters/Marxists, liberal cancel culture and anybody who hates America because it's cool to hate America.
If someone put a gun to my head to vote in 2016, I would have picked Trump because he had fewer negatives than Hillary. Also, I figured we already tried career politicians. Time to try something else. I also hoped Trump might grow into the job, which of course didn't happen. Unfortunately, I don't think anybody realized the depths of his incompetence. Up until the pandemic it might have been all fun and games. Now his dismissal of science has already cost over 140K lives, with many more to follow.

As for Biden, a vote for him is really a vote for his running mate. I'm sure most of his supporters realize this. He's obviously not my first or even second choice. I liked Yang and Buttigieg the most out of all the candidates but at this stage I'll take anybody over Trump.
 

jtr1962

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Wow was I wrong. Things went FUBAR all over the place.
Thank God we have looters burning down businesses and stealing goods from Targets to honor the man who's been in jail/prison NINE separate times and high on meth at the time of his arrest/death. Cops were scum but Floyd was no angel either.
I wanted to address this separately. No, the riots aren't about Floyd. They never were. They're partially career criminals simply taking advantage of the situation, partly white supremacists and/or cops trying to discredit protesters, and partly just a lot of pent-up anger over what has been going wrong in this country over the last generation. I can relate to the last part. When I was young I did everything they told me to, but I soon learned the economy was gamed against people like me. It started with lower pay for the same work compared to those only ten years older. Add in housing costs which were artificially inflated by real estate speculators. Then top it off with student debt which not only was impossible to get rid of if you couldn't pay it, but which also increased by multiples as for-profit collection companies got in the game. All this, and I'm not even black. If I were, add in a long list of other roadblocks to upward mobility. So yes, some of the rioting is push back against all that. People might be thinking I tried to get ahead by legitimate means but the deck was stacked against me, so taking what I want by force suddenly seems a viable strategy. If I wasn't taking care of my mom and also afraid of catching the virus, I might well have been right out there looting stores with the rest of them, and also destroying rich people's neighborhoods. I figure it's long past time the rich had to live with some of the problems their obsession with keeping every dime they got by underpaying their workers has caused. I'm just surprised at least some cops didn't join them. The cops are just as much exploited by the wealthy as the rest of us. That's actually what it will take to change things, when the cops start telling the wealthy, sorry, we're with them. We're not protecting you or what you own any longer.
 

sedrosken

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I didn't like Trump then, I really don't like Trump now, I just wish people would stop giving him attention as that's apparently all he seems to want. When all eyes and ears are on him he seems to be at his happiest. I won't be voting for him this November and I didn't vote for him in November 2016. I don't think the country's falling apart yet but I do think that's the image the media wants to portray as constant crisis keeps dials turned and view counts rising. I don't want to take part in any looting, frankly anything I actually want I tend to be able to get for myself. Then again I tend to keep my wants pretty realistic.

I've given up any huge ambitions I had for myself. At this point I'll be happy if I can dig myself out of this dumb student debt hole I dug myself into, which I'm making great progress on by the way, and get to a point where I can support myself on my own, which I'm getting pretty close to. I don't want to start a family, frankly the way the world's going that just seems irresponsible. Maybe I'll find someone to watch the world burn with, maybe I won't. I don't mind much either way.
 

Newtun

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International reflections, from the German magazine Der Spiegel (the mirror):

1595694091396.png

(The caption translates to "the Fire Devil".)
 
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