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Topics - AI Wessex

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General Comments / The Fourth Debate
« on: October 24, 2016, 04:20:39 AM »
I'm not talking about Hillary and Donald standing on a stage together battling for the heart and soul of the TV audience, and not about SNL's surrogate debates between them.  The Fourth Debate is supposed to be happening in our homes and coffee shops and where we work, as we figure out what we think of the two candidates in this mess and what we hope and fear will happen after election day.  Those conversations are just as poisoned as any of the debates between the candidates themselves or the surrogate representatives and corporate media advocates.

Then we go vote on November 8 and then we'll have the Fifth Debate where we talk about what comes next.  Will Clinton get some help from the new Congress or even worse obstructionism than Obama has suffered?  If the Republicans hold onto the House, will Paul Ryan be the next Speaker?  If not him, who?  Will they try to impeach Hillary for the emails?  Will the alt-right rise up in insurrection or launch terrorist attacks?  Will anybody be held to account for the lies they told during the campaign (on either side)?  Will Russia pay for their interference?

Your thoughts?

General Comments / The Third Debate
« on: October 19, 2016, 07:14:12 PM »
Getting the popcorn started...

General Comments / Tax Experts
« on: October 05, 2016, 07:09:43 AM »
Last weekend the NY Times published an article about Donald Trump's $915M loss on his 1995 tax return that entitled him to write off up to $50M in income tax over each of 18 years.  Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie defended Trump doing that as a sign of a "genius at work" for knowing the tax code so well that he figured out a way to do that.  I'll note two things about what Trump did.

First, it wasn't his money that he "lost", it was the bank's.  Although it's speculation to put a specific dollar amount on how much of his own money was lost in the businesses he claimed losses from, from what I understand he personally may have lost as little as $1M, and the banks wrote off their loans for the remainder because there was no recoverable or sellable asset left. That appears to have been the case because the collateral for the loans was Donald Trump's signature, not the businesses themselves.  Due to the way the laws worked at the time (and may still, I'm no expert), Trump was able to declare the bank's loss as his own.  I'd be interested if anyone else here can correct anything I might have just said that is in error.

The other thing worth mentioning is what his head tax attorney at the time said about Trump's genius:
An attorney who oversaw Donald Trump's income tax returns in the mid-1990s said the Republican presidential had little interest in the tax code — contrasting with the billionaire's claim that he understood tax "better than almost anyone."

"As far as I know, and that only goes through late '96, he didn't understand the code," said Jack Mitnick, a former tax adviser for Trump, in an interview with NBC's TODAY. "Nor would he have had the time and the patience to learn the provisions. That's a lifetime of experience."

General Comments / GOP convention
« on: July 22, 2016, 08:42:27 AM »
Probably should have started this on Monday.  Just commenting on last night, Trump's speech was given a positive rating by 56% of people polled right after.  Who are these people?!?  Also, it was clear that not only Trump but at least half of the men in the convention center would like to "date" his daughter.

All the smart people on the conservative side seem to have left the room, leaving only people who feel energized by Trump's particular brand of exclusionary and hateful rhetoric.  Did Laura Ingraham really give a nazi salute?  Not sure, but Reince Priebus gave a huge shout-out to the man (William Knudsen) who led GM in the 1930's when GM was a key industrial force behind Hitler's military efforts.

What the hell is going on?

General Comments / Chilcot
« on: July 19, 2016, 11:02:12 AM »
Isn't anyone going to defend Blair and Bush against these unfair attacks?  I would expect Ornery's members who supported the war to jump to their defense by attacking the partisan nature of the report:
Overall, Chilcot’s explosive and excoriating report delivered a damning verdict on Mr Blair’s decision to commit British troops to the US-led invasion. It contains blistering criticism of his decision to go to war on the basis of flawed intelligence, which had been described as sporadic and patchy, and of a catastrophic lack of planning for the aftermath.

The report’s main findings were:

• The UK chose to join the invasion before peaceful options of disarmament had been exhausted so that military action at that time was not a last resort.

• There was no imminent threat from the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, and judgments about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction were presented with a certainty that was not justified because the intelligence was flawed and should have been challenged.

• Despite explicit warnings, the consequences of invasion, including sectarian violence, were underestimated and the post-war planning was wholly inadequate.

• British troops were sent into battle ill-equipped for the task.

Specifically, Mr Blair was criticised for deliberately exaggerating the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in making the case for military action. Despite warnings by the intelligence agencies about the inadequacies and unreliability of their sources, he had described the intelligence as “extensive, detailed and authoritative”, but fears were expressed at the time that the intelligence was being “fixed around the facts”.

General Comments / Reality sets in
« on: July 18, 2016, 01:55:21 PM »
The Trump campaign, which has declared its full support for the 2nd Amendment, has asked Gov. Kasich to suspend 2A rights during the GOP convention out of a concern that the presence of guns could lead to violence.  The Governor responded that he doesn't have the authority to suspend state laws or federal rights guaranteed by the Constitution.  But a few "bad guys" with guns could be overwhelmed by a large number of "good guys" with guns, so if as many people as possible are armed, wouldn't that lead to a safer and more polite environment for everyone?  Is Trump being hypocritical?

[Edit to add a clarification: Some people on Trump's campaign are agreeing with the police union that guns should be prohibited, but the Trump campaign itself is not making the request.]

General Comments / Orlando massacre
« on: June 13, 2016, 05:21:28 PM »
I can't believe nobody has started a thread on this.  Slate has this about Trump's response.  He is a truly sick person.

Some questions about us.

* Why do we tolerate this pattern of extreme violence?
* No one here wants to ban guns.  Does this event change anyone's mind about allowing people to buy and own AR15's?
* Does anyone believe that support of ISIS is the reason he did this? Should we believe what a mass killer says about himself or instead try to figure out what mental illness drives him to act out in this bizarre way?
* What law(s) would you change or introduce to reduce the likelihood of this happening in the future?
* Are all mass shootings of strangers acts of terrorism?

Add your own questions...

General Comments / The Deluded Left
« on: April 16, 2016, 08:12:47 AM »
I thought this article was interesting, mostly because it constructs an argument using many false assumptions and then uses it to condemn liberalism/progressivism.  It uses American Jews as its foil, but could apply to any group the author might choose to focus her telescope on.  Reading it is like watching a pathogen grow and multiply in a petri dish, kind of fascinating:

What does life look like when an individual is completely driven by choices made through the lens of a progressive worldview? Most who subscribe to it fit a stereotype: single, childless, and proud of it. Comedian Sarah Silverman, raised by progressive parents, embodies the progressive woman image. Having recently and passionately endorsed Bernie Sanders in a viral Facebook video, the vulgar but funny Silverman is a darling of the feminist Left. Her sister Susan doesn’t fit quite the profile, though: a married mother of five, and a rabbi at that. Despite Susan’s more traditional household, she too has let her progressive politics guide every major life decision, from marriage to motherhood.

Political observers on the Right often wonder why the vast majority of Jews in America fall on the other side of the political spectrum. A father of the neoconservative movement, Norman Podhoretz, wrote an entire book on the subject, attempting to answer the question “Why Are Jews Liberal?”

If the Democratic Party is the one that boos God at their convention and has a president so hostile to the Jewish state that the most recent ambassador wrote a scathing tell-all about the breakdown in relations between the two countries — while both the American president he criticized and the Israeli prime minister he served were still in office — why don’t Jews vote in their own self-interest?

Unfortunately for the Jewish community, a great deal of religious observance has been replaced with the worship of social-justice movements and a belief that tikkun olam (translated as “repairing the world”) is what Judaism now requires of us. Judaism in America falls within three major branches: Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox. Reform and Conservative make up the bulk of the Jewish population, though it is shrinking thanks to intermarriage and low birth rates. Because its demographic trends are opposite of their more religiously liberal peers, Orthodoxy’s share of the American Jewish population is rising.

The article continues with the section heading: The Failure of Liberal Judaism.

I'm curious what others think of the arguments made.

General Comments / Trump, The Reality Show
« on: March 12, 2016, 08:18:42 AM »
Weeks after telling his supporters that he would like to punch a protester in the face and several other times saying that protesters deserve what they get from his angry supporters, and two days after a Trump supporter sucker punched a protester at a rally and later said next time he would kill him, a near riot broke out at another Trump rally in Chicago.  It means that the Trump reality show is starting to pick up momentum, so much so that the unthinkable is happening where Cruz is beginning to look like the reasonable alternative.

Anger surrounding Donald Trump's presidential campaign reached a boiling point in Chicago Friday night.

The Republican front-runner canceled a campaign rally over security concerns when thousands of protesters gathered outside an arena at the University of Illinois, then flooded the venue where he was scheduled to speak, reports CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds.

Trump's campaign events have turned increasingly hostile with sometimes violent confrontations between his supporters and demonstrators.

Five people were arrested, but the demonstrators were mostly peaceful, and police say they did not recommend Trump cancel the event.

The announcement by a Trump staffer postponing the event set off celebrations for some and disappointment for others.

As police tried to clear the pavilion, some fights broke out. Demonstrators - many of whom are students at the University of Illinois Chicago - say Trump received their message.

Trump loyalists say the protest is an attack on free speech.

General Comments / Duh Debates
« on: December 16, 2015, 08:05:30 AM »
Too bad this thread has to be recreated.  Here's a link to the old one, but let's move on.  The Las Vegas debate featured the usual incoherence, lies and denials of obvious facts and truths, but there were some good-ish lines in the noisome bickering.  My take...

Bush scored a big (YUGE) stroke with a single word, chaos.  He's exactly right that Trump isn't talking about policies he could reasonably expect to put into effect, just one-liners that grab people by the emotions and pull them into a place where you can see that they are frozen like deer in the highlights.  This will signal the start of a slow rise in the polls for Bush.

Christie nailed Rubio and Cruz for letting Senate debate tactics spill over onto the stage where, as he said, nobody gives a *censored*.  They've never done anything consequential in their careers except talk about how great they would be if they were the most powerful person in the world.  He made them both seem like liars, which in politics is another word for what they are, political animals.  This won't help Christie, but it will hurt both Rubio and Cruz.

Carson's moment of silence in honor of the San Bernardino victims (about 3 seconds by my count) was his most coherent moment.  He's toast.

For the life of me, I cannot fathom who exactly Fiorina thinks she is, Churchill?  She's done nothing in her career except have one that sputtered out when she cratered one of the largest and previously most successful technology companies in the world.  She actually said all the "Silicon Valley" companies would pitch in to help fight ISIS and was then followed up by someone else who pointed out that those very companies have proudly announced that they implemented unbreakable encryption so that the government can't read any of their user's emails.

Overall, it was a combination food fight and game of liar's poker.  Every one of them is totally opposed to everything Obama thinks, says or does, but none of them really said they would do anything different other than ignore rational policy limits.  They all stand for individual freedoms but want to gather tons more information about ordinary citizens so they can assure the citizenry that they will stop the next attack and keep them safe.  It's apparently worth throwing out the Constitution in order to preserve it.  Other than Trump, they won't ban all Muslims but want a rigorous vetting process that will keep them out, despite and ignoring the two years it takes now for a refugee to get here.  Vetting Christians is much easier, just ask them if they are.

It's like watching yet another Chipmunks holiday (okay, Christmas) movie where the first one was hysterical and when the newest one arrives you were already dreading it, but your kids make you take them, anyway. 

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