Whattup, America?

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Rorschach
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Whattup, America?

Post by Rorschach » Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:33 pm

You're all being very quiet.

What did you make of that then?

I caught the last couple of minutes of the inauguration speech on the radio. A lot of reference to God. I hope he's right about that.
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Re: Whattup, America?

Post by Deacon » Sat Jan 21, 2017 12:44 am

No clue. I didn't watch. Didn't really care to be honest. I'll hear all about what I should've loved/hated it about it on Facebook. I support shaking things up in general. I don't support the way in which it's being done, and I don't support him. Mostly I don't respect him, which is a different thing as well. But he accidentally got himself elected, so I guess we'll see what happens.
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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Re: Whattup, America?

Post by The Cid » Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:18 am

I didn't watch. I was busy with juggling my various jobs.

Trump's politics disgust me and the politics of most of his administration, if anything, are worse than his own. There are Americans in violation of absolutely nothing who will wake up tomorrow afraid of the government, and with good reason, and that's a failure on about every count.

Government will likely grow in power and scope over the next four years, able to wield more influence and power over every single person in this country and many people well outside of it. There is nobody on the immediate horizon who gives me much hope for meaningful change.

I fear Trump's rhetoric being further legitimized because I generally think it's wrong to pit America against itself.

That all being said:
Since when did all the values we hold dear become so damn fragile?

I hear it on both sides, this idea that voters in violation of nothing at all are going to somehow undo some of our most precious ideals. My neighbors today are panicking that Trump and whatever coalition of Republicans he builds will destroy the very concept of individual liberty in America. Likewise, you turn on any conservative anything and they talk about these imaginary menaces coming for their way of life.

We have a national anthem that boils down to "bring it on, because what we stand for can't be defeated." What makes America America is a pretty strong set of values, hard to believe a couple hundred jackasses in Washington led by a guy who can't make money running a damn casino are going to bring the house down. I like to think it's a little too well-built for such a thing.

At the end of the day we'll be fine. Trump will come and go and whatever awful stuff he gets passed through will be shaken off like a dog coming in from the snow. Maybe we'll learn lessons from it. Likely, we won't.

Personal bottom line, this is the kind of stuff that makes me want government to be as limited as humanly possible.
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Re: Whattup, America?

Post by Deacon » Sat Jan 21, 2017 2:00 am

Yeah, it's pretty incredible to hear how many people are suddenly talking about limiting government power, especially consolidation and expansion of executive power. And it's both gratifying and hilarious how leftists are suddenly looking into that "constitution" thing and bringing it up in conversation.

Nothing like a good old fashioned devil to make a devil's advocate seem less unhip and irrelevant.
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Re: Whattup, America?

Post by FirebirdNC » Sat Jan 21, 2017 12:17 pm

I did not vote for Trump (nor Hilary) and on a personal level find him to be a disgusting pig. That being said I hope he does "make America great again". America seems to be spending a lot of time and money worrying about what the rest of the world is doing when so much at home needs to be fixed. I was just watching an old interview with Pres. Obama and he talked about how the Presidential office doesn't have as much power as people seem to think and that is how it should be as it was set up. Too many sheeple seem to think that there will be SS troops marching in the streets tomorrow to throw out all foreign, illegals and gays. It is the violent sheeple that make me the most nervous like the ones breaking out windows in DC to protest Trumps presidency. 1. You achieve nothing more than damaging your town 2. Where was this passion when he was winning? I am trying to respect the office when I don't respect the man.
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Re: Whattup, America?

Post by NorthernComfort » Sun Jan 22, 2017 3:18 am

Time to see how America handles being presided over by the most insecure man to ever don a spray tan and toupee.

It's a national embarrassment.

So we are wrapping up our first full day with Trump, millions of people marching worldwide in an angry reaction to his inauguration, and what has he done? He has bitched about the media, lied to everybody's faces about how many people attended and lied to everybody's faces about whether or not God stopped the rain while he spoke. Some of the pettiest, most insecure, weakest shit you could possible imagine. But what did we expect? This is going to be one hell of a shit show.
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Re: Whattup, America?

Post by Rorschach » Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:52 pm

At the end of the day we'll be fine. Trump will come and go and whatever awful stuff he gets passed through will be shaken off like a dog coming in from the snow. Maybe we'll learn lessons from it. Likely, we won't.
I'm similarly pessimistic.

I think Trump is possibly the ultimate and inevitable embodiment of misplaced blame. Not to be a special snowflake about it, but his rhetoric is very familiar withing a global context. Things are pretty shitty for a lot of people at the moment. Scapegoating is easy and encouraged. Trump is your Brexit. Your Theresa May. Well, I say 'your' but if I hear one more Brit say 'Oh, it won't affect us', I'm going to knock their bowler hat off with my walking stick.
I'm not sure the tide of unpleasant public attitudes upon which he and his ilk have risen to office and influence will go with him.

Bad times man.
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Re: Whattup, America?

Post by Deacon » Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:50 pm

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Re: Whattup, America?

Post by The Cid » Tue Jan 24, 2017 1:24 pm

NorthernComfort wrote:It's a national embarrassment.
Just please, please, do not forget that this embarrassment is omni-directional. It is not just Trump. It is not just the Republican Party. I've got my bones to pick with both right about now, but it goes far beyond those two entities.

I think we all share in the embarrassment. We sure as Hell all share in the blame.

Donald Trump winning the presidency is a direct result of where our politics have been going and where our political attitudes continue to head. When you vilify large swaths of the country at a time out of political convenience, and you do it for decades, at a certain point America becomes America's enemy, and we know what Lincoln said about that.

That's what really hurts, to me, because it makes it hard to see us coming back together anytime soon. I live in one of the bluest states, and little has happened since Election Day to make me believe the True Believer Democrat (not all Dems, just the hardline types that might suggest that Senator Warren doesn't lean left enough) is willing to meet the opposition in the middle.

In parts of America that lean one way or the other politically, we tend to stereotype the opposition, and in the most negative possible light. Around my neck of the woods, people refer to Trump voters like they took an abbreviated bus to get to the polling stations. That is, those of them who didn't vote for Trump purely out of bad intentions toward women, minorities, and immigrants. Of course, there's ample evidence that the bigots did come out to vote for Trump, but to paint all of the voters who voted for him with that brush is foolish, dangerous, and wildly counterproductive. I say with absolute certainty that a lot of my neighbors would not care less if some of these empty former factory towns saw people start starving to death. At this point they might even say it serves the rednecks right.

Likewise, people who live outside of states like Massachusetts tend to believe we're a bunch of "special snowflakes" that observe a bunch of things like safe spaces and trigger warnings and other stuff that never existed in any real prevalent way. Also that a bunch of people who really stretch the phrase "non-profit" and live in a city where investment houses are a major part of the local economy are somehow not into capitalism. When I travel, people tell me this about my home state. They talk about political correctness taking over. It's wildly untrue, it's a false stereotype created by people who actually buy the bullshit Breitbart publishes, but people believe it. And they believe people around here, and in other cities, are targeting them for marginalization. To hear them tell it, their way of life is under threat.

It's a way of deflecting blame, so nobody has to be wrong. I swear, most of our politics are based on the idea that nobody should ever have to consider that they might not be correct about everything in the world. That's why we prefer biased pep rallies disguised as cable channels to real news, because preachers never tell their choirs that they might be wrong. It's why we create unreasonable stereotypes out of those who disagree with us politically, and then vilify them. After all, if it's all those other states' faults, we never have to take a good hard look inward. In my neck of the woods nobody has to ask if maybe we're throwing good money after bad without much of a plan, because we're right and it's their fault. In the opposite parts of the country nobody has to ask if perhaps all these protesters have some kind of a point, because the protesters are anti-America and there is no room for dissent.

Until we get over that, this isn't just what we selected, it's what we've earned.
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Re: Whattup, America?

Post by Deacon » Tue Jan 24, 2017 4:26 pm

The Cid wrote:And they believe people around here, and in other cities, are targeting them for marginalization. To hear them tell it, their way of life is under threat.
They're not wrong, not entirely. Just the why of it, though, they get pretty far wrong.
It's a way of deflecting blame, so nobody has to be wrong.
This is the most important thing in all of what you said. It's bread and circuses. It's what's been around all along, but now that people can communicate so much more freely and more often with each other (e.g. social media), wives' tales and the "I know right??" aspects of locking into a feedback loop are more prevalent than they've ever been. That's worldwide, of course, but what makes it worse in the US is the long devolution into the entrenched two-party system. There's no "prime minister" or party coalitions. There's only a winner-take-all, first-past-the-post president and vice president. And two parties playing tug of war in congress. So everything is that much more exaggerated compared to most other western nations.

I don't really see a way out other than continual struggle to get people to open up to views that aren't whatever they've already had cemented in their mind. Maybe the government isn't the answer for everything always, and maybe sometimes it is necessary. Maybe illegal immigration isn't the problem, but maybe there at least some part of the problem, or maybe it's just a symptom of a larger problem. Maybe banning stuff isn't always the way forward, either, because while both the left and right seem to think banning things is the greatest, they disagree on which things should be banned. Maybe let people make their own decisions?

Facebook in particular has shown me that the secret lives people craft for themselves rarely has much connection to reality. That includes how they view themselves, what image they want to project, what tickles their momentary political fancy, and how cool they want to look for whichever group of people they're trying to fit in with or impress.

When I see posts like this on Facebook from intelligent people, it breaks my heart: "I choose PATRIOTISM not SKEPTICISM."
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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Re: Whattup, America?

Post by The Cid » Tue Jan 24, 2017 8:37 pm

Deacon wrote:They're not wrong, not entirely. Just the why of it, though, they get pretty far wrong.
They are absolutely wrong to believe that Americans in violation of nothing are maliciously targeting their way of life for extinction.

What's more, every single person who has been selling that particular lie to them makes me wish I still were religious so I could hope they burn in a very special Hell.
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Re: Whattup, America?

Post by NorthernComfort » Wed Jan 25, 2017 2:34 pm

I think you two are close the crux of the matter. We don't have many unifying themes left. But we have tons of narratives that pit viewpoints and lifestyles against each other, and the vibe is winner-takes-all, not compromise. So people get freaked out, afraid, and it's self-perpetuating. But is it real?
The Cid wrote:And they believe people around here, and in other cities, are targeting them for marginalization. To hear them tell it, their way of life is under threat.
Deacon wrote:They're not wrong, not entirely. Just the why of it, though, they get pretty far wrong.
The Cid wrote:They are absolutely wrong to believe that Americans in violation of nothing are maliciously targeting their way of life for extinction.
Potential marginialization can quickly turn into the extinction of your way of life, at least figuratively. For the most part it's hyperbolic or blown out of proportion, but there's usually a grain of truth being manipulated by cynical pundits, so I agree with Deacon. Most people seem to get the net effect of the loss/threat even if their reasons are illogical and they can't fill in any of the details.

The phrase "way of life" is remarkably one-sided. It sometimes would pop up in an Obama speech about our principles as a nation, but the vast majority is conservatives bemoaning changes in society or fretting about external threats: muslims and liberal values, typically. The lesson I learned during 9/11 is that New Yorkers are incredible decent people, and for every decent New Yorker there are 25 assholes from out of town who want to co-opt the attack for nationalistic and xenophobic agendas. So I think for the most part this "threat" is just stoking the fears of ignorance, and giving people somebody to blame for why they think their way of life is gone, and the country is moving away or even against them. Yep, a few immigrants caused all of that! (sigh)

But the irony is that they are actually right! Their way of life IS completely under attack, and it's likely terminal! But the culprit is macro-economic circumstances, which is really hard to campaign against. When I see Trump promising to bring back coal jobs, which of course is nonsensical given natural gas prices, I think of the cavalry officers during WW1, insisting they were still relevant. Make America Great Again is basically sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that the last 50 years of global economic progress didn't happen.

The US economy is pretty screwed, but it's an intractable problem and macro-economic themes are completely opaque to most citizens. Most people are going to continue to get screwed by globalization, not having the relevant skills, or just living in a slumping region.

As for the so-called culture wars, what a terrible distraction and divisive element to discourse. It's so bad everywhere I look. Obviously we have the far-right fringe groups who hope Trump is like Hitler-Light. Fuck them. And we have a huge chunk of America hating on Islam, but I charitably think it's mostly out of ignorance. It's awful, yes, but maybe if they lived more diverse areas they wouldn't feel afraid. That's my instinct, although most people are probably lost causes. But then we get to the left. And wow... the depths of insanity that the left has descended to is absolutely staggering. Snowflakes, trigger warnings, safe spaces, intersectionality, white privilege... what a shit sandwich. But they aren't content to alienate the majority of Americans. No, they have to go even further- whites should not speak, but only listen to people of color! Yeah, that's really going to unite people, asshats. Stronger Together! (no whites allowed)

It doesn't take an oratorical wizard to look at the assholes on the left that quite literally CLAMOR to change peoples way of life and say, hey, these assholes want to end your way of life.

edit to add:

I just saw this, and it's a nice example of liberal thought in 2017. David Brooks, a frumpy-but-tolerable NYT columnist, is about as centrist as they come. (He's called a conservative, but these days, no way). So he wrote a piece about the womens march [1], and this was his general point:
Identity-based political movements always seem to descend into internal rivalries about who is most oppressed and who should get pride of place. Sure enough, the controversy before and after the march was over the various roles of white feminists, women of color, anti-abortion feminists and various other out-groups.

The biggest problem with identity politics is that its categories don’t explain what is going on now. Trump carried a majority of white women. He won the votes of a shocking number of Hispanics.

The central challenge today is not how to celebrate difference. The central threat is not the patriarchy. The central challenge is to rebind a functioning polity and to modernize a binding American idea.
Makes sense right? I mean, I think we can all agree with the facts and use our brains for half a second and realize what he is saying is pretty obvious.

So one day later, this piece [2] gets written in Slate (ugh): "David Brooks’ Column About the Women’s Marches Should Be Dumped in Acid and Set on Fire"

I skimmed it because it was awful, but this stuck out:
But the New York Times, given its reach and influence, shouldn't be giving its readers the impression that someone with David Brooks' viewpoint has relevant insight into what does and doesn't work in modern American politics. There's no particular reason aside from name recognition that the Times should continue to give him a platform to misinterpret current events through the niche lens of his own small-ish tribe.
If you can overdose on irony, this might prove fatal.

1 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/24/opin ... march.html
2 http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/ ... _good.html
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Re: Whattup, America?

Post by Deacon » Wed Jan 25, 2017 10:55 pm

That was excellent. Thank you for sharing.
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Re: Whattup, America?

Post by The Cid » Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:57 pm

NorthernComfort wrote:But the irony is that they are actually right! Their way of life IS completely under attack
Not the way they say it is.

You listen to the louder parts of the political right these days and you might get the impression that my neighbors here in Boston would throw a party if everyone in the rust belt starved to death. "The left" hates "the right" and vice versa, and they are out to destroy each other.

This is not true. If it were true, it wouldn't much matter, because both sides have become too large and unwieldy to permanently defeat the other. If it were true, it's all over and we just haven't realized it yet.

The good news is, it isn't. America isn't at irreconcilable differences with America, we're just told we are. And people who tell us this, and people who believe it, are doing us all a great disservice that will certainly put us even more entrenched in our groups.

The economic realities of it are real. The talk about the left targeting the right? Not real. Dangerous. And if it were true it'd be too late to do anything about it.

Either we drop this stupid "with us or against us" crap or we're playing out the string. It is that simple. The divisiveness has to stop. If it doesn't, Donald Trump is a warmup act. It has to stop. We have to see eye to eye again. We have to see the humanity in our political opponents again. Until we do, you can stop even dreaming about any progress being made on any fronts.
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Re: Whattup, America?

Post by NorthernComfort » Thu Jan 26, 2017 2:55 pm

The Cid wrote:Not the way they say it is.
Yeah, we've talked about how their reasoning for being under attack is incorrect, but they still can sense the threat.

Funny anecdote: a good friend of mine, very smart with politics and history, admitted the only thing he's looking forward to with Trump is watching his supporters lose their ACA insurance, feel betrayed, and look foolish when they realize the con. And I don't really disagree. I guess this makes me absolutely part of the problem, but I literally quit my job to oppose Trump after he got the nomination, so at this point I'm just eating popcorn and saying fuck all these idiots.
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