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Messages - yossarian22c

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General Comments / Re: Public vs private infrastructure
« on: April 12, 2017, 10:56:57 PM »
The NC legislature passed a similar law prohibiting municipalities from providing broadband service even if the big companies hadn't decided to lay lines there yet.  Republicans seem intent on making sure the government doesn't start providing services to people who want them. 

General Comments / Re: Gorsuch and the nuclear option
« on: April 12, 2017, 10:50:22 PM »
I wonder what the time limit on the party with the majority in the Senate of a different party of the president will have for not considering nominees.  The Republicans have already basically said nothing in the last year and there were several who ahead of the elections said they would not consider anyone for 4 years if Clinton won.  The SC may end up having < 9 members for a much larger percentage of the time in the future.

This is a horrible idea.  I really don't see how it isn't unconstitutional as well.  Police are imbued with the power of the government and allowing religious institutions to have their own police seems like a clear blurring of the lines between church and state.  I can only imagine the outcry when a large mosque tries to form their own police force.  You'll have some of the same people supporting this bill decrying the imposition of Sharia law.

Private security is fine.  Private security (armed is ok if the employer wants to pay for the training and potential liability) should be limited to escorting you to the property line and/or detaining you only long enough for the police to arrive and decide what to do with you.

General Comments / Re: I-85 Arson
« on: April 12, 2017, 10:34:59 PM »
But why do we need to get the "whole story?"

Because I'm curious and just wanted to understand the thermodynamics of this fire because it didn't match what I (not a fire expert) expected to happen. 

General Comments / Re: I-85 Arson
« on: April 12, 2017, 10:30:07 PM »
I'm not assuming any report is fiction.  I was just commenting that I was expecting the arson investigators to come back with a report that showed the presence of something that burns really hot.  I haven't seen (or been able to find) an official report from the fire marshal on the extent of the fire.  From Crunch's link I saw that the pipe has a pretty high combustion temperature, but I don't know how to look up how much energy is released when it burns.  I'm also curious as to what failed on the bridge, was it concrete failing or steel.  Concrete has a combustion temperature between 300-1000 degrees, which is plausible if the type of concrete used falls on the low end.  If it were the steel supports which don't melt until 1100 degrees I'm curious as to how the fire got hot enough long enough to weaken the steel.

If in the end it was a fire of the pipes (~350 degrees) with concrete that melts at about the same temperature there isn't really that much strange about the fire.  But it seems like from the extent of the damage that the fire burned much, much hotter than that and I didn't realize high density plastics realized that kind of energy when burning. 

If anyone has a link that explains that explains what part of the bridge failed or the thermodynamics of combusting HDPE I would be interested.

General Comments / Re: I-85 Arson
« on: April 11, 2017, 03:49:52 PM »
Not that I've seen reported but I have to think that they were storing something else there "off the books" that burns a lot easier and hotter than PVC and fiber optic cables.  Either that or the overpass really needed maintenance because the concrete and steel was already becoming structurally unsound.

General Comments / Re: Gorsuch and the nuclear option
« on: April 05, 2017, 08:53:58 PM »
I wouldn't use morally justified but I would say that the Democrats are responding in kind to what the Republicans did.

General Comments / Re: Gorsuch and the nuclear option
« on: April 04, 2017, 11:27:52 PM »
The senate is playing tit-for-tat and generally spiraling downward from an institution that was deliberative and had some respect for the minority to a 100 member version of the house where the minority has no power.  Although the change in filibuster rules made this somewhat inevitable.  What used to require an extreme effort by the minority to sustain a filibuster was changed to basically no effort (simply one senator has to stay on the floor to prevent unanimous voice votes).  Which made using it too easy, parties started using it to oppose anything they object too, not just the extreme things they objected too.  The numbers bear this out showing a steady increase over the years, then a doubling during the Obama years.  At that rate of usage it is unsustainable long term.  For a graphical representation see link.

The question is how long the republicans will allow the filibuster on anything.  I'm guessing it will be gone by 2018 if the Democrats use it even half as much as the Republicans did during Obama's second term.  The Republicans seem to have escalated this quickly, I'm a little surprised they didn't let the nomination at least sit for a few months and see if they could pressure/shame some democrats into allowing a vote. 

General Comments / I-85 Arson
« on: March 31, 2017, 09:42:05 PM »
Authorities in Atlanta say investigators have questioned three people in connection with Thursday's fire that caused part of Interstate 85 to collapse. Two of the individuals have been released but a third is still in custody.

Atlanta Fire Rescue Sgt. Cortez Stafford identifies the third person as Basil Eleby, saying, "He is the individual we are holding responsible for the fire and Fire Investigators believe it was set maliciously." Stafford says investigators aren't releasing details on how the blaze was started. He says the other two individuals are charged with criminal trespass.

Seems like the fire was deliberately set, it will be interesting to see what the motive was.

General Comments / Re: Fake News (the fight we needed to have?)
« on: March 30, 2017, 08:15:51 PM »
LR, even for sake of argument the Russians were behind this, it still would be a left wing media conspiracy to focus on this to obfuscate and distract from the actual contents of the spilled emails.  E.g. Obama and Clinton knowing that the Sauds and other "allies" are directly funding DAESH.

The whole world basically knows the Saudi's fund all that stuff and spread the seed of Jihadi Islamism through Wahhabism. Therefore it isn't exactly shocking that Obama and Clinton are aware of those facts as well.  We don't talk about it much because of all that gooey black stuff the have under their sand.  The only real way (long term) to cut off the funding for Islamism is to develop an energy source that eliminates the need for oil.

General Comments / Re: Obamacare Repeal and Replacement
« on: March 29, 2017, 08:36:02 PM »
But have they gone through the FDA process and brought a drug to market, or are they producing products to sell off to other vendors?

Of course it's an estimate, but it was based on a look at the costs of brining over 100 drugs to market.  Some may dispute the financial costs component, but when you need to raise over a billion dollars in direct expenses it's totally reasonable to include the opportunity costs. 

There is no such thing as objective on these matters, I agree they seem to have an industry focus and that should be considered.  In any event, its way too much to be spent.

In almost all of the pharma sourced costs for bringing a drug from idea to market include some averaging in of all the failed drugs.

Also you do realize that the most expensive part of the drug process is called phase 3 (the earlier phases make sure the drug won't kill or cause lasting damage to the body) clinical trials.  This is where the company actually tests to make sure the drug works. In other words to make sure the drug cures people better than a placebo or to measure how effective it is compared to existing treatments.  Without this phase your individual couldn't make a rational assessment of the efficacy of the drug because no data would exist for them to make a decision with.  Eliminating these costly regulations would turn pharmaceutical companies into modern day snake oil salesmen, there would be no science to validate or refute their claims.  I agree this is an expensive regulation but the alternative is much worse. 

On another note as to the budgets of small biotechs vs the big price tag, here is the reason for the discrepancy you are seeing.

The small biotech usually can't fund phase 3, therefore this is a reason why a bunch of small biotech companies can produce promising drugs but don't necessarily have the resources to get them to market.  The small firms don't have the staff, connections, and money to organize the kind of large scale human trials required to show a drug actually works.  The small firms also don't have the sales and marketing departments of the big companies so when they have a promising drug they either sale the rights, partner with a bigger company, or are bought outright.

The Flynn transcripts are evidence of the Russian angle.  Since it was those transcripts that led to his resignation.  Also I'm not surprised by Nune's ascertain that some of the transcripts had nothing to do with Russia, as I said above I expect all of their conversations with foreign governments/embassies would have been collected as part of what the NSA considers routine surveillance.
We were talking about Nunes, and he specifically said some of the unmasked transcripts had nothing to do with Russia.  That makes their collection and unmasking almost certainly the result of political operations.

Collection as a result of a political operation almost certainly not.  Unmasking maybe, and if you listen to Nunes he said most of the recordings where properly masked but the context was clear enough to give it away in some cases.  So that leaves a pretty weak case for systematic unmasking for political purposes.

If you want to talk about Flynn, then you might want to note he was fired by the Administration for lying about his contacts.  I guess you've jumped so far down the rabbit hole you believe that's because he got caught, rather than because he lied to the administration.  You turning a victim into a secret colluder?

No I'm using the fact that the Flynn/Russian ambassador transcripts existed for Flynn to get caught as evidence that some of the recordings that are being referenced are between the incoming Trump admin and the Russians.  You claimed I had no evidence that some of the recordings were between the Trump admin and Russian officials, I provided you with the highest profile example of a recording between a member of the Trump admin and a Russian official.  The Flynn transcripts are evidence for the claim I made, I didn't make a statement one way or the other as to why I think Flynn was fired.  I'm not sure why you think that is relevant at all to the claim I made.

And yes, it is a smaller scandal for classified material that should potentially have not been circulated to have been circulated among people with the proper security clearance than for the former president to have ordered Trump Towers to be wiretapped leading up to and following the election.

First, I haven't seen convincing evidence that all communications (regardless of whether they are with foreign nationals) are not recorded.  The Snowden leaks, the reports on the FISA courts activities, certainly imply that the NSA has real time access to the communications backbone and that they pre-emptively collect all calls and then seek FISA warrants to go back on the data they have already collected.  If that is true, then the idea of a need for a separate physical wire tap is friggin red herring.  The president will never order one cause there is NO FRIGGIN NEED when the calls have already been recorded and stored.  All they have to do is access them.

And again here is a very different claim from "Trump Tower" was wire tapped and Obama is a sick guy.  Trump as president could order an end to such a program and ask congress to pass a law to prevent that kind of collection in the future, but again we are going really far away from a specific targeted wire tapping of Trump to a general violation of the 4th amendment.  We could discuss what the legal boundaries should be, but the argument that the government is collecting everything justifies Trump's specific claim is a joke.

We have evidence that some calls (if not all) were in fact recorded, accessed and illegally unmasked.  I can't imagine the world in which a Republican does this to Hillary's campaign and you make the arguments you made above.

We have evidence that some calls were recorded (legally according to Nunes).  We have no evidence other that Nunes assertion that he felt that some of the recordings were improperly unmasked to conclude that a crime was committed.  I am almost certain that there exist recordings of people from Hillary's campaign speaking with people from foreign embassies and that some junior analyst somewhere read them all because its their job to read everything staffer X at embassy Y does because someone at CIA believes staffer X is a member of a foreign intelligence service.

In my opinion here the only possible crime is potentially that some of the (legally made) recordings were improperly accessed/unmasked.  And yes that is orders of magnitude less scandalous than illegally recording everything from the Trump campaign in an effort to find information to sway the election.  And yes I would make the same argument if Bush had done this to Obama (the answer is the recording almost certainly happened, unlawful unmasking or access probably not, but without an investigation you would never know).

I am firmly working under the assumption that the CIA and NSA have basically every non secure/encrypted phone belonging to any foreign national associated with any embassy "tapped."

Which is criminal even under FISA.  If that is the case then your case fails as these recordings were not legally made. 

Umm, no. From Wikipedia:
Alternatively, the government may seek a court order permitting the surveillance using the FISA court.[17] Approval of a FISA application requires the court find probable cause that the target of the surveillance be a "foreign power" or an "agent of a foreign power", and that the places at which surveillance is requested is used or will be used by that foreign power or its agent.

Since foreign nationals employed by their embassies are the definition of an agent of a foreign power I have no doubt that the FISA court rubber stamps surveillance for every single foreign employee of an embassy.

If I have conversations of you talking with your mother who never committed a crime in her life and isn't under surveillance then that would be true.  However if the only transcripts I have are when you ordered food from a restaurant used to launder money for the mafia then it is tantamount to a lie to claim I wire tapped you.

I like how you jump to the mafia.  Is it your assertion that every foreigner is equivalent to a member of the mafia?  The FISA authority does not legally extend to wiretapping any foreigner, not even any foreigner associated with an embassy.  Your standard implies its legal to take diplomatic communications.  That's been understood to be spying forever.

Its whack that no refugee can be a terrorist, but every foreigner is a spy in your world.

Yes it is spying, that is what the NSA/CIA/FBI counter-espionage do.  I don't know what fairy tail world you live in where you think that just because a country calls something a diplomatic communication that every other country doesn't also try to read it.  Spying on foreign diplomats has been standard practice for at least the last 500 years (see Giovanni Soro) and probably long before that.  If you are interested in American spying read up on the black chamber and how it effected the arms control treaty with Japan post WWII.  America and every other country with the ability has a long history of reading diplomatic communications other countries.

I've never claimed no refugee can be a terrorist nor that every foreigner is a spy.  I stated that is my assumption that the NSA/CIA/FBI will treat every foreign national working for an embassy as a spy.

I may (I don't remember if I posted on that topic) have argued Trump's ban was stupid and ineffective (b/c it was/is) but it doesn't mean the risk is zero.  But our risk among refugee's is very low, especially compared to the European countries who just got the people who showed up at their door, we to a certain extent have picked who we wanted from among the people in refugee camps.

Its whack that no refugee can be a terrorist, but every foreigner is a spy in your world.

I get that it is easier?/fun? to argue against some liberal straw man in your head but it is much more interesting and educating (for both of us) if we actually try to respond to the arguments made instead of some "typical" liberal/conservative stereotype we have in our heads.

I expect all of their conversations with foreign governments/embassies would have been collected as part of what the NSA considers routine surveillance.

I'll just barge in on this conversation to mention that I am not comforted at all by considering what the NSA might, at this point, consider routine behavior. There has been a lot of behavior in American history that was considered 'routine' that is now viewed as a horror-show.

This actually is the job the NSA/CIA/FBI are officially tasked with.  Some of the employees of most embassies are members of foreign intelligence services.  If we aren't spying on them, then we shouldn't be spying on anyone, which is why I said it would take extra-ordinary micromanaging by the Obama admin to make sure that none of the conversations the incoming Trump admin had with those people were not recorded. 

Tell you what, if you say you're not wiretapping my house, and have transcripts of my calls none-the-less, it's a distinction without a difference.  Particularly if the reason you recorded someone else "legally" was to get at me "incidentally."  Step out from partisanship for a minute and think about what you're endorsing by implication.

If I have conversations of you talking with your mother who never committed a crime in her life and isn't under surveillance then that would be true.  However if the only transcripts I have are when you ordered food from a restaurant used to launder money for the mafia then it is tantamount to a lie to claim I wire tapped you. 

If it is true that Obama wiretapped everyone on Trump's staff then I would be outraged but if the only recordings are the conversations with foreign nationals then IMO it would have taken unprecedented micro-managing by Obama to avoid the transcripts being made.  I am firmly working under the assumption that the CIA and NSA have basically every non secure/encrypted phone belonging to any foreign national associated with any embassy "tapped."  If you doubt that look back at the Snowden leaks pertaining to foreign spying where we had tapped several foreign heads of states phones.  Spying on foreign governments is kind of their job, so it would be surprising if any unencrypted communication with the Russian ambassador (or any other staff member of any embassy) was not collected through some NSA e-surveillance.

There could be a smaller scandal that the recordings/transcripts were not properly handled, but IMO there is no scandal in the fact they were made.  And yes, it is a smaller scandal for classified material that should potentially have not been circulated to have been circulated among people with the proper security clearance than for the former president to have ordered Trump Towers to be wiretapped leading up to and following the election.  I view these as orders of magnitude different.  If I'm comparing to earthquakes improper circulation is a 5.0 (bad but not that uncommon with expected minimal damage) and deliberate wiretapping for political purposes a 9.0, in the words of Joe Biden a BFD.
So it seems likely Trump appointees were recorded while speaking with Russian officials (or other foreign nationals) that the CIA/NSA were monitoring.  Unless there is something shocking in those transcripts there is really no news here.

Not sure why you threw "Russian" in there (other than to make yet another unfounded implication).  Nunes specifically said there were unmasked people in transcripts that had nothing to do with the Russian angle. 

If there is nothing "shocking" in those transcripts then you have a felony case for the unmasking, or as you put it "no news", meanwhile you are prosecuting a "Russian angle" without any evidence in play.  Shocking, is not even enough of a word from what you're doing.

The Flynn transcripts are evidence of the Russian angle.  Since it was those transcripts that led to his resignation.  Also I'm not surprised by Nune's ascertain that some of the transcripts had nothing to do with Russia, as I said above I expect all of their conversations with foreign governments/embassies would have been collected as part of what the NSA considers routine surveillance.

Except not even the republican you are taking about is making a claim that bold.

On Friday, Nunes walked further away from Trump's position.

"There was no wiretapping of Trump Tower," he said. "That didn't happen. ... It looks like this was all legal surveillance, from what I can tell," the chairman said, alluding to the mysterious evidence. That's not a different stance than he took on Wednesday, but it is a blunter one.

So it seems likely Trump appointees were recorded while speaking with Russian officials (or other foreign nationals) that the CIA/NSA were monitoring.  Unless there is something shocking in those transcripts there is really no news here.

General Comments / Re: Day without a woman - wut?
« on: March 09, 2017, 05:37:39 PM »
Remember, Seriati, in this era of Fake News, the debunking can be false, too.  What is the source of your information, and how accurate is it?

His claim is accurate, sources vary but here is a report from the St. Louis Federal Reserve.

A recent report prepared for the U.S. Department of Labor analyzed the gender wage gap using Current Population Survey (CPS) data for 2007.  The report takes into account differences between men and women in educational attainment, work experience, occupation, career interruptions, part-time status and overtime worked. The result is striking—these factors explain approximately three-fourths of the 2007 raw gender hourly wage gap of 20.4 percent. The adjusted 2007 gender hourly wage gap is roughly 5 percent.

Most of the reports I've looked at have the show the wage gap when controlling for other factors varies from about 3%-7% and it is typically cut in half for women without children.

Pete, there are restrictions placed on cigarette advertisements so there is precedent to restrict advertising of certain harmful substances.

From wikipedia:
"Passed in 1997, the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement bans outdoor, billboard, and public transportation advertising of cigarettes in 46 states. It also prohibits tobacco advertising that targets young people, the usage of cartoons (such as the Marlboro Man or Joe Camel) in particular.[65] In the states which have not signed the agreement, billboards are a major venue of cigarette advertising (10% of Michigan billboards advertised alcohol and tobacco, according to the Detroit Free Press[66]).

In 2010, the Tobacco Control Act became active and placed new restrictions on tobacco marketing, including extensive constraints concerning the circulation of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to minors. Newly effective with this act, "audio advertisements are not permitted to contain any music or sound effects, while video advertisements are limited to static black text on a white background. Any audio soundtrack accompanying a video advertisement is limited to words only, with no music or sound effects."[67]"

General Comments / Re: Taxation of Robots
« on: March 05, 2017, 01:49:13 PM »
A lot of time here has gotten caught up on an "all or nothing" UBI.  But it doesn't need to be that way.  Under the economic conditions of today where most people can get a job (even if it isn't a very lucrative one) means a UBI should be scaled to replace welfare, food stamps, and other government assistance.  I would set the level at between $7,500 and $10,000 per year.  Enough to scrape by without other income but also a nice boost to lower to middle income households.  Index it to inflation + some level of the unemployment rate.  So as economic conditions mean fewer people are able to work the UBI becomes more generous but if economic conditions remain where labor is required they just continue to replace the government programs already in place. 

Here is what I think various levels of UBI would do with today's economy (assuming the UBI replaces other non healthcare related subsidies).
UBI < 5,000 : Ineffective and leads to increased deprivation in impoverished communities.
5,000 < UBI  < 7,500: Marginally effective for households with multiple adults, but probably is too low to acheive most of the types of positive outcomes from a UBI that supporters would advocate.
7,500 < UBI < 10,000: A UBI of this level should eliminate most homelessness and food insecurity. 
10,000 < UBI < 15,000: A UBI at this level would eliminate homelessness (for everyone not addicted to drugs) but I see some danger of inflationary pressures (at least in the short term as demand for better housing increases).  I think the inflation would be temporary (1-3 years) as builders caught up with the increased demand.
15,000 < UBI < 25,000: A UBI at this level with today's economy would likely lead to increased inflation and would end up harming the economy as it would be too large a shock to start at this level.
UBI > 25,000: A UBI in the current economy of above 25000 would almost certainly be almost purely inflationary and harm the middle class as much as it helped the lower class.  Many people would quit jobs thinking that they could easily live off the UBI to see inflation increase rapidly (and outpace wage growth) so that more people end up worse off than when they started.

In short I see the UBI like an economic antibiotic: too little is ineffective (and causes harm in terms of drug resistance), too much causes harm (poisons the body), but proper use makes things healthier.

I would be curious as to where other people see the line for a UBI being too little or too great.

General Comments / Re: Taxation of Robots
« on: February 27, 2017, 08:31:25 PM »
I am for a UBI currently.  However with the current demand and need for labor I would set it at about $7,500 per year per adult.  A married couple with no kids could survive pretty easily in an area with low cost of living however they could afford few luxuries and probably couldn't have fancy phones, data plans, and cable.  However most people aren't going to opt for the minimalist existence and will continue working with the UBI providing a nice supplement.  The only people I really see quitting jobs/working less for a UBI of $7,500 per year are: parents who want to transition from a two worker to a one worker household to raise their own kids, people who want to move to the country and have a large garden/grow their own food, people who work multiple jobs at minimum wage may drop down to just one job, and a few people who really hate working and don't mind being poor.  The majority of society would keep working. 

With a UBI I would phase out most other federal support, section 8, food stamps, and other non health care related aid. 

A UBI that did this would satisfy one of the very valid, if sometimes deliberately implemented, criticism that the right has of many federal assistance programs in that they make people dependent and discourage hard work.  Currently the programs are set up to either phase out or have a cliff where if people earn too much they may actually lose more in benefits than their additional earnings which sets up all kinds of negative incentives and feedbacks.  A UBI still rewards those who work with an improving life but provides a baseline that should keep people (at least those without mental health or substance abuse problems) off the streets.  A UBI would also encourage two-parent and multi generational homes (which many current programs discourage due to the cut off levels).  Homelessness should be all but eliminated, local charities, cities and states should be able to provide enough services and people with a minimal UBI that no one would be living off the streets and begging.  Forced prostitution, low level drug dealers (who make little money for high risk standing on street corners), and some other crimes for income would be reduced with a UBI.

I would index the UBI to increase with the unemployment rate, if the unemployment rate is high the UBI would increase at a greater percentage if the unemployment rate is low (near "full employment") the UBI would increase at or below inflation. 

I also see a UBI as a way to prop up and sustain rural communities.  Every community has to export (in goods and services) as much as they import.  It is difficult for small communities to have many competitive advantages but a UBI particularly rewards those who live in low cost of living areas.  A poor person in the mountains of West Virginia is going to be better off than a poor person in NYC.  The UBI is a way to put cash back into the rural areas and give entrepreneurial members of those communities the ability to start businesses that can provide services to others in the community who now have a bit more income to spend.

Getting the level right on a UBI is a bit tough, but starting relatively small and increasing as needed (as robots/AI displace more workers) is the only way I see to prevent society from decaying into a technological feudalism.

General Comments / Obama: Initial Final Grade
« on: February 08, 2017, 10:55:13 PM »
Thought I would post my analysis of Obama's presidency.

Overall: B-.  I think Obama will go down in history as a good but not great president and end up ranked in the 25th-50th percentiles by most presidential scholars.

Domestic: B. 
The good:
1) Obama inherited the country in the midst of the deepest recession since the great depression and ended up leading an economy that grew at a moderate pace for 6+ years. 
2) He implemented policies that ended up with 20 million more people insured.
3) Ended don't ask, don't tell (stupid policy) and DOMA (IMO unconstitutional).
4) Ended torture as an interrogation tactic.

The bad:
1) Despite being a gifted public speaker he failed to use those talents to effectively communicate with the American people (particularly Republicans), which in conjunction with Fox news led to an America where the opposing parties can barely agree on the facts much less what to do about it.*
2) He failed to reign in patriot act provisions that have the potential to be used to curtail liberties and freedoms.
3) He pursued and prosecuted governmental whistle-blowers vigorously.

*I get a lot of this has to do with the 24 hour news cycle endlessly looking for controversy and in particular Fox New's rhetoric. But Obama could have done better as well.

Foreign policy: C-.
Planned actions: B.
1) The Iran nuclear deal is probably as good as could have been achieved.
2) Generally strengthened our ties with long time allies (NATO, Japan, South Korea, and Australia.)

My biggest criticism of the planned foreign policy actions is the expansion of the drone program.  In particular profile attacks, or attacks where we kill people who are "acting" like or "look" like terrorists/Taliban.  If we are dropping bombs from the sky during peace time (and if it isn't peace time congress should get off their asses and declare war) we should know exactly who and why we are killing if that is our best option.

Stuff that happened: D.
1) Libya: Libya we either did too much or too little.  We either needed to use diplomacy (with the threat of force) to avoid the slaughtering of people in Benghazi or use enough force that the country didn't fall into chaos when the air strikes led to Gaddafi's death.
2) Syria: Likewise we either did too much or too little.  Obama should never have made the "red line" statements about chemical weapons.  Also he should have never backed himself into a corner very early on in the civil war by making Assad leaving a condition for a political solution.  We were then stuck with trying to find rebels to support without alienating Turkey (the Kurds would have been the easiest group to support otherwise.)  Again we should have either only been involved diplomatically or found a group to really support militarily to take over from Assad.
3) DAESH: Obama was slow to realize the threat posed by DAESH (in the region, not domestically) and coupled with a otherwise ineffective Syria policy left large regions of near anarchy for the barbarians to establish a territory to terrorize the local populace.

General Comments / Re: Satan's elves
« on: December 30, 2016, 10:42:55 PM »
I wish a few million more D's would have switched over and voted for Trump instead of Clinton during the primaries.  Then we could of had a Trump/Sanders election and I think that would have turned out much differently.

Although I think the closeness of the democratic primary minimized the number of people that actually "strategically" voted in this way.  If the race had been a blowout more people might have, but while not quite being a nail biter Clinton/Sanders was close enough that I doubt many ardent Clinton supporters voted in the Republican primary.

General Comments / Re: Cyber Showdown
« on: December 30, 2016, 01:00:45 PM »
Okay, Russia didn't "rig" the election.  But they did interfere with it and that should be a concern.  We should be concerned about foreign spy agencies hacking powerful people and exposing their secrets when it benefits them or holding onto them to blackmail them with later.  Did there interference change the outcome of the election, I think probably not.  Two years of hearing about Clinton's emails and her server, in addition to Comey's statement the weekend before the election made her much more likely to be impacted by these attacks than almost any other candidate would have been.  After two years of hearing about emails, any story with Clinton and emails in the headlines was bad news for her regardless of what the emails revealed or didn't.

The DNC did not "rig" the primary but they were certainly in the Hillary camp. Did anyone really believe otherwise before the emails were leaked?

Both are of concern, we know what the motivations for the DNC was, it has been in the Clinton camp since the 90's.  What is Russia's motivation.  That is what is concerning.   

General Comments / Re: Comrade Trump and Russian insurgent hackers
« on: December 15, 2016, 09:16:38 PM »
There are lots of issues that could creep up and bite Trump in the ass.  Some of his companies have large loans with foreign banks (including the Bank of China).  Let's say Trump makes a trade agreement with China (or officially recognizes the one China policy) and six months later the his companies loans get refinanced at a lower interest rate.  It could just be a standard business deal but it will look a lot like a quid pro quo.  Combine that with something that would drop his popularity in the USA and bye bye Trump, hello Pence.  The key here is republican leaders can go against Trump without directly benefiting the democrats.

General Comments / Re: Comrade Trump and Russian insurgent hackers
« on: December 15, 2016, 09:09:45 PM »
Part of the reason that Trump is vulnerable to impeachment is that the Republican establishment hates him almost as much as the Democrats.  So if he steps over the line in a way where he looses a big group of his supporters I don't see Paul Ryan and the other Republicans fighting any head winds to keep him in office.  I think they would be perfectly happy with Pence.

General Comments / Re: Trump's EPA Pick
« on: December 14, 2016, 06:53:24 PM »
Based on the picks I think we can expect short term economic gain at the cost of future generation pain.

Looking at these men I don’t get the impression of public service and suspect that like Trump most have believe, if sub-consciously, that what benefits them must benefit everyone.

I’m willing to bet that all the men involved leave office much richer then they entered

The US has the most business friendly worker laws of the developed world.  I don't know what imbalance you see there, my boss could walk up to me and fire me for no cause and it be perfectly legal unless I could prove it was because I was part of a protected class.

General Comments / Re: Comrade Trump and Russian insurgent hackers
« on: December 14, 2016, 03:25:08 PM »
Russia moving troops into Crimea and then annexing it isn't a fact?

General Comments / Re: Comrade Trump and Russian insurgent hackers
« on: December 14, 2016, 11:34:55 AM »
If it was senior political operatives leaking things to the Russians instead of the NYT (or even the Trump campaign) it would worry me just as much as a Russian hack.  Since it wasn't national security info it may not technically be espionage but it comes pretty darn close.

General Comments / Re: Trump's EPA Pick
« on: December 14, 2016, 09:55:29 AM »
I'm sure it would be much less desirable to outsource if companies could just pay Americans third world wages, work people 80 hours a week, and polluted our land and waterways.  I certainly hope we come up with a better solution to keeping jobs than racing to the bottom in terms of environmental and labor standards. 

General Comments / Re: Trump's EPA Pick
« on: December 14, 2016, 09:53:13 AM »
DoE - Former presidential candidate who know so little about the DoE that he couldn't even remember it as one of the government agencies he wanted to close.

DoE is one of the "gotcha" acronyms for government groups though. He may have been had by the whole Department of Education / Department of Energy thing and got stuck in "that can't be right" mode and just further confused himself while speaking off the cuff.

You call a planned line during a Presidential debate speaking off the cuff?  I suppose it wasn't speaking from a teleprompter but I would consider that far from speaking off the cuff.

General Comments / Re: Trump's EPA Pick
« on: December 13, 2016, 10:52:34 PM »
Quick Run down here:
EPA - Guy who sues the EPA for regulating mercury and other emissions from coal plants that go into the atmosphere and cross state lines.
DoE - Former presidential candidate who know so little about the DoE that he couldn't even remember it as one of the government agencies he wanted to close.
Labor - Fast food executive who has sued the labor department for granting those pesky workers too many rights.
HuD - Former presidential candidate who has no experience in housing and urban development or running anything larger than an operating room.
State - Exxon CEO who has friend of Russia status (literally).  Oddly the former oil executive may be the most progressive on energy policy of all trumps picks.

I just hope the government is harder to tear down than Trump thinks.  Stuff always takes longer to build than destroy.

I'm not sure how much progress we can expect from the DoE run by Mr. Oops I want to close the DoE.  Combined with the Trump administration filled with people who actually seem to love burning fossil fuels and hate renewable clean power.  Hopefully the wheels of bureaucracy can keep spinning enough to prevent research lines from completely dying out and having to be rediscovered in 10 years.

General Comments / Re: Trump's EPA Pick
« on: December 13, 2016, 01:51:31 PM »
What were Perry's 3 (oops 2) agencies that should be eliminated?

General Comments / Re: Air Force One Kerfuffle
« on: December 12, 2016, 04:46:15 PM »
I'm pretty sure political intelligence is not considered insider trading.  It is one of the reasons congress people were exempted from insider trading laws.  Also I know that wall street firms have "intelligence" operatives in DC and I don't think it is technically illegal but they may just be information that comes from open records like sub-committee meetings.

General Comments / Re: Trump's EPA Pick
« on: December 08, 2016, 09:58:06 PM »
Carson for HUD is turning out to be the reasonable pick b/c to my knowledge he isn't a slum lord nor has he sued HUD for providing housing to people.  That puts him two steps above his competition.

General Comments / Re: Trump's EPA Pick
« on: December 08, 2016, 09:20:17 PM »
This just in, Trump appoints fast food exec to head the labor department. 

General Comments / Trump's EPA Pick
« on: December 08, 2016, 08:05:27 AM »

It bothers me when Republicans specifically appoint people to head agencies that they don't believe should exist (or do the job they are tasked with doing).  I guess it gives them good material to run on in the next election about how ineffective and poorly functioning the federal government is.

General Comments / Re: Trump & Taiwan
« on: December 06, 2016, 11:19:58 PM »
I'm sure I'll have plenty to criticize Trump on in the future but this call was coordinated with Taiwan.  Taiwan is taking the big risks here with their safety and security, not us.  So if they want to talk with Trump and rock the boat in their waters that is their choice.  I don't see this as a masterful stroke of diplomacy but IMO it isn't some grave threat to the US that I am going to get hot and bothered about.  If he had cold called the president of Taiwan then I would be outraged because that wouldn't be his risk to take but if Taiwan wants to talk its their heads sitting over the chopping block, not ours.

General Comments / BLM: Social Media, Confirmation Bias, and Risk Analysis
« on: November 30, 2016, 11:14:56 PM »
These thoughts are partially in response to movements like BLM but apply to the more general issues of how we perceive reality and the dangers of creating false (or mostly false narratives through mostly isolated incidents).

Black lives matter caught on quickly because of the very real issues with policing in urban areas.  I can think of fewer mainstream policies that (IMO) are more unconstitutional than stop and frisk.  If walking down the street makes you subject to search and seizure I don't see how that doesn't violate the 4th amendment.  The war on drugs is a disaster, just like the "war on alcohol" was during prohibition.  But those policies combined with the increased crime that is typically correlated with poverty create a large segment of the population that views the police as adversaries or enemies. 

The issues with policing make it such that when a police officer kills a black man and the circumstances suspicious then confirmation bias kicks in to make the affected population believe the worst.  We saw this happen recently in Charlotte, police killed a man, his family claimed he was unarmed, turns out he did have a gun and refused to put it down (  But there were several days of protests (and some rioting) following the shooting.  Ferguson (the starting point) is a similar story, Mike Brown almost certainly attacked the police officer before he was shot.  But the BLM movement is ready to believe the worst about police officers because of confirmation bias and the adversarial relationship they have with police.

Social media makes these incidents "feel" closer to individuals.  The victim is no longer some guy that the traditional media reports on which can feel distant, it's a friend of a friend on facebook.  Two to three degrees of separation between an individual and the victim will make the incident feel more personal mostly because people will underestimate how big 2-3 degrees of separation in their online social networks is.  This leads to a vastly overestimated risk analysis for this type of incident.  We live in a country of 300+ million people, with over 40 million African Americans.  Bad stuff is going to happen so someone pretty regularly.  Police will have many interactions with young black men and 99.9+% of them don't end with the black man getting shot.  But a narrative grew about the danger that police posed to young black men, that is ultimately dangerous to the police and black men.  We have seen several police assassinations by people motivated by this narrative* that the police are running around rampant shooting black men at will.  I'm sure that this will cause some men when interacting with police to act in overly defensive ways (that lead to aggression) that either cause them to be injured, killed, or incarcerated for longer than they otherwise would have been.

I have a feeling we are going to see more of these types of movements in the future.  The human brain responds strongly to new perceived risks particularly when someone "we know" is harmed in a particular way.  We could see a movement like this spring up against self driving cars even if they end up on the whole to reduce traffic fatalities.

The conclusion here is: there are real issues with policing (but almost never is it them shooting people for no reason), confirmation bias (b/c of those issues) leads a group to believe the worst immediately, social media and poor risk analysis lead us to vastly overestimate the risk which can lead to narratives that don't truly reflect reality and can be dangerous.

*The "left" needs to recognize the danger of these narratives and speak out against them the same way they would when conservative christian groups liken abortion to the holocaust and abortion providers to nazi death squads.  Both narratives don't comport fully with reality and lead fringe members of the group to believe violent actions are justified and necessary.

General Comments / Re: The Third Debate
« on: November 28, 2016, 11:48:49 PM »
Actually Cherry it wouldn't be that hard to detect massive voter fraud.  Select 10,000 voters at random from a state where you think fraud occurred and go ask them if they voted.  It would require a modest budget but would give you an idea of how much fraud of the type you are describing occurred.  It wouldn't lead to arrests, but if you found 1,000 people on the roles who claimed they didn't vote then you know there was massive voter fraud, if you find 10 there may be a small problem.  If you find none then you can rest safe.  With all the effort Republicans have put into voter fraud it is hard to believe someone wouldn't have conducted a study like this IF they really believed in voter impersonation type election fraud.  The fact that none of the state legislatures, think tanks, or conservative organizations have published this kind of data leads me to believe they don't believe they will find it or have done the studies and not published the results because they found no voter impersonation fraud.

General Comments / Re: Holy......
« on: November 18, 2016, 10:40:03 PM »
Or Trump's business loans from the bank of China, no conflict of interest there at all.

General Comments / Re: Holy......
« on: November 16, 2016, 08:49:50 PM »
You're right, the media was so in the bag for Clinton that her email server was a top story in the news for over a year, despite being very similar to what every SoS had ever done (maintain a private email in addition to their .gov email).  The "media" was so in the bag for Clinton they just couldn't help but cover non-stop the technical minutia of classification law and which side of the rules/law line Clinton's server fell on.

The only real flaw in the media coverage is that they were too slow (as I think DW pointed out) to recognize that Bernie actually had a chance of beating her.  I don't really attribute that to anything nefarious on their part, just confirmation bias and laziness in digging into the details of the campaign.  Clinton also did a masterful job of putting off and scheduling debates at times when they were likely to have the least impact.  She didn't want to give Bernie the free air time, and he wasn't crazy enough for the media to broadcast every single rally live.

I predict Trump cabinet members will have on average the shortest length of service of any cabinet in the last 50 years.

Predictions are hard to make but here are some of my fears:
1) Trump unilaterally withdraws from all climate treaties leading to a chain reaction of other nations doing the same and it takes a generation to get things on moving again. The delay makes the action cost much more in lives and money and less effective to combat climate change.
2) The economy goes into a recession, Trump demagogues trade and all things foreign passes reactionary tariffs leading to a trade war and GD2.
3) Trumps bluster breaks apart the coalition battling ISIS leading to a resurgence of ISIS while what remains of the other rebels gets slaughtered by Russian planes.
4) Trumps bluster leads to an increase of recruiting of Muslim extremest from within the USA as many in that community will feel more alienated and threatened.
5) Trump makes gives the US the reputation (with his potential working relationship with Putin) of being an extortion racket demanding more money/concessions for our mutual defense alliances.  This leads to a much stronger anti-American sentiment throughout the world, particularly in places once considered friendly to America.
6) Trump gets to appoint enough SC justices to have an impact on the country for 30+ years.

General Comments / Re: Worst Job in the New Administration
« on: November 13, 2016, 09:16:26 PM »
AI, she was a crappy candidate b/c she has been under attack for 20+ years by the opposition.  She was a lightning rod for the opposition and a perfectly centrist policy wonk for Dems.  The relentless attacks aren't her fault and don't make her a bad person or a bad fit for president but they do make her a bad candidate because of the where there's smoke there's fire attitude a significant portion of the American population has towards political scandals.  So it doesn't matter how valid the criticisms were from the 90's on the fact that a sizable portion of the Republican based believed them and a reasonable portion of swing voters would have doubts because of them mean that she ends up a bad candidate because she galvanizes the opposition base, causes doubt (whether justified or not) with swing voters, and fails to excite her base (b/c she is a perfectly centrist politician who is more hawkish than a lot of her party would like on foreign policy).  Take her resume and remove the 20+ years of attacks and she would have been a very good to excellent candidate.

General Comments / Re: Holy......
« on: November 09, 2016, 12:11:05 AM »
Well ****.

General Comments / Re: Election Predictions (with 4 weeks to go)
« on: November 06, 2016, 02:01:13 PM »
I bet he changes his mind if it will change the outcome of the election, instead of being a "feel good" protest vote.

General Comments / Re: Trump on National Security
« on: October 31, 2016, 11:19:44 PM »
Would you support planting land mines along the border?  Having drones bomb people who try to cross illegally?  Those are the only ways I can really think of to keep people from walking over.  Walls only make smuggling more expensive, the border is just too long to have guards posted every couple miles watching surveillance cameras ready to jump into jeeps and track people across mostly rugged desert terrain.  That doesn't even touch those who come and overstay visas.  We don't have to stop enforcing immigration law just because its hard but don't act like Trump is going to stop the flow.  The only way to do that is to make America a less prosperous place to live (so people don't want to come in the first place).

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