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Comment: The courts are a different branch and not elected. (Score 1) 723

by Ungrounded Lightning (#46776465) Attached to: Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

then why the recent decision ... that allowed individuals to contribute directly to *all* candidates, with no overall cap on contributions?

Because it'a a SUPREME COURT decision. We have three branches of government and only two are elected.

The supremes are appointed, for life (subject only to impeachment for high crimes, like the president). They have no re-election issues and can vote their mind without affecting their own tenure.

The court has repeatedly struck down campaign spending restrictions, because they're limits, not just on free speech, but on the POLITICAL speech that is the reason it is an enumerated right in the first place.

But it takes a while for a law to produce enough damage to give someone standing to challenge it, and to bring it to the supremes, and then they rule narrowly. Then, once a piece is struck down, Congress just turns around and does another version of it to evade the details of that decision, and the cycle starts over.

There are under 700 people that hit the max last time around, do you seriously think that decision will benefit the grass roots? Sounds to me like it's aimed squarely at giving the oligarchs more influence.

Of course it's the rich are the first who are bit and who have the resources to bring the suit. That's part of why the limits end up off the rich (like Soros) first, while they're still hobbling everybody else.

It isn't just the limits themselves that are an issue. There's all the reporting requirements, publication requirements, time limits, and maze of details that make compliance hard.

It's hard for candidates: They need a substantial political machine right off the bat. Getting dinged for campaign finance violations is costly, may involve jail time, DOES involve court time, and produces publicity that tarnishes the candidate's image and hurts his chances in future elections. This gives the professional politicians, especially incumbents with the machine in place, a massive advantage over any grass-roots upstarts trying to replace them.

And it can bring on reprisals against donors - including carreer-killing or physical retaliation. Who contributed to what political campaigns is public record and searchable online. This is an invitation to people with opposing views to exert social pressure or take revenge. (Within the last couple weeks we saw the CEO of Netscape forced to resign by just such pressure, as a result of the McCain-Feingold reporting of a past political contribution to a "politically-incorrect" campaign.)

It's the exact opposite of a secret ballot, which is secret to prevent such reprisals so the vote can be cast in safety. Why should financial support be any different? Why would publishing the amount and beneficiary of each contributor's political contributions be any less of a bias on the political system than publishing the way each voter voted?

Further, risking a job is far more of a hardship for a little guy living hand-to-mouth than a rich executive with millions in the bank and a golden parachute. So it's another force to suppress grass-roots opinion in favor of those who are independently wealthy or well-off.

Comment: Looks like methodology "canceled out" grass roots (Score 2) 723

by Ungrounded Lightning (#46765127) Attached to: Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for,

I'm curious about what "organized interest groups" were "controlled for". Did that include things like the AARP and the NRA, the two largest public pressure groups in the country? How about the various organizations called The Tea Party?

When a lot of people at the grass roots level want to redirect the government, they often join together and form orgizations to lobby for their interests. These groups are generally what gets things done. If the study counts such organizations as "organized interest groups" and subtracts their policy impact from the impact of the "Average American", it's no wonder the latter's impact is measured as " minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant".

Also: What counts as the policy desires of the "Average American"? Are they averaging out people with opposing oppinions on government policy?

Comment: Spending limits are aimed at grass roots. (Score 1, Interesting) 723

by Ungrounded Lightning (#46765075) Attached to: Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

You lift the limits on campaign spending, declare that corporations have the right of political speech and are now surprised that the rich people have all the say?

Actually, the campaign spending limits are aimed squarely at the grass roots.

The McCain-Feingold act of 2002, for example, was passed in reaction to the massive volunteer efforts that took down Mike Roos from the California legislature in 1991 (and caused trouble for David Roberti in 1994), and Tom Foley from the House in 1994. It makes the equivalent value of volunteer work and supplies (such as paper, envelopes, and stamps) subject to the spending limits and reporting requirements, as if they were contributions, but provides no caps for campaign spending for such people as labor unions, media conglomerates, and billionaires such as George Soros.

Comment: OpenSSL can just backport anything OpenBSD fixes. (Score 1) 284

by Ungrounded Lightning (#46759305) Attached to: OpenBSD Team Cleaning Up OpenSSL

There's no doubt that OpenSSL needs work, but they seem to be needlessly combining actual security review with "break every platform that I don't like." At a minimum, anyone else trying to benefit from this will need to unravel the worthwhile security changes from the petty OS wars crap.

I don't see this as a problem. Since OpenBSD is working on their own, for-themselves, branch, they can fix it any way they want. If they do a good job (as expected), the OpenSSL project can then backport their fixes into their project and integrate it to their hearts' content.k (If they chose not to, someone else can chose to fork and do it, and the two versions can fight it out for acceptance.)

This is how it works in the Bazzaar.

Comment: International "ethics" (Score 2) 282

... as they keep saying about Jerusalem, it will go something like this: "Annexed by Russia in a move not recognized internationally."

I recently too a course titled "Ethics in International Relations" at a major college. (This was to fulfill a distribution requirement for an "ethics" class and the particular course had the bonus of also fulfilling an international affairs requirement.)

One of the first points made:
  * Which regions are part of which countries is NOT a subject of international ethics.
A fait accopli is accepted as is. (This was taken as a universal, part of the definition of the boundaries of the field (as taught), which otherwise studied many different, often conflicting, schools of thought.

I interpret this as follows: "International Ethics", as a dicipline, is an attempt by academics (and the rich people who fund them - such as Andrew Carnegie, who largely founded the field) to influence governments, primarily to improve their treatment of the people they rule and otherwise use force upon. ("Improved" being viewed throught the biases of the academics in question.)

In order to sway the behavior of rulers - especially those who are oppressing their long-standing citizens, recent conquests, or those with whom they are considering resolving a dispute with force, they have to appear non-threatening to the rulers' core issue: that the ruler is in charge. So they must strictly avoid challenging WHETHER the rulers rule, sticking to issues of HOW they rule.

So don't expect academia to support any move for self-determination by the people of an occupied region. The rulers that make the claim and have the power to enforce it will be passively accepted.

DO expect them to oppose such people arming themselves to assert a right to self-determination, or even anyone speaking in a way that might "lead to conflict" rather than passification and quiet (but mainly non-violent) suffering. Thus you see them supporting things like censorship of speech an arms blockades to regions of conflict - which are then selectively enforced and lead to "ethnic clensing" genocides by the side that more successfully evades them against the side that is now largely disarmed.

(Example on censorship: During the period where the Benghazi attack was being blamed on a video posted on YouTube, Sarah Chayes, a senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote an op-ed for the L.A. times calling for its censorship.)

Comment: How is entertainment not useful? (Score 1) 723

by AdamHaun (#46738325) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful?

But let's talk hypotheticals: if there's a worldwide catastrophe in which civilization is interrupted, somebody specializing in gymel wouldn't provide much use to fellow survivors.

Are you kidding me? Without electronics and industry, all performance arts are live and local. There's no high-quality music on demand from iTunes or YouTube, no recorded music playing at restaurants, parties, or festivals, no constant background music in television and movies. Maybe you can get crappy records made out of wax if you're lucky.

During the day, when most people are doing grunt work, the gymel expert might not be anything special. (Or they might -- people are not solely defined by their profession.) But at night, when everyone's sitting around a fire relaxing? I bet someone who can make strange and beautiful music would be very popular indeed.

Comment: Not fragile: Redundant. (Score 1) 33

by Ungrounded Lightning (#46733625) Attached to: AT Black Knight Transformer Hits the Road and Takes a Hop

This actually looks good to me. Most helicopters can be shot down with a rifle. They are huge engines with large fuel tanks and large, whirling blades, and it is not that difficult to get them to destroy themselves with their own momentum, height, or fuel.

I concur. Helicopters are a collection of single-points-of-failure, disasters waiting to happen. (Particularly the pilot - they have to be continuously controlled and crash almost instantly if anything incapacitates him.) Their vulnerability is justified only because their extreme usefulness oughtweighs it. With eight rotors I'd be surprised if this vehicle couldn't at least come to ground safely with at least two of them destroyed, and the multicopter approach has been under autonomous computer control from the start - made practical only by the automation.

I envision this thing's missions as being primarily extreme rough-country ground transport, with short hops to bypass otherwise impassible terrain, reach otherwise inaccessible destinations or targets, attack from above, or put on a burst of speed when time is of the essence. Think a truck-sized "super jeep" ala Superman. Being primarily a ground vehicle lets it perform longer missions and reduces its visibility and vulnerability compared to a helicopter.

Just because you CAN fly doesn't mean you DO fly all the time. As is pointed out in the webcomic Schlock Mercenary: "Do you know what they call flying soldiers on the battlefield?" ... "Skeet!"

Comment: Re:Hardware requirements (Score 1) 641

by Ungrounded Lightning (#46697611) Attached to: Meet the Diehards Who Refuse To Move On From Windows XP

A lot of that hardware does not have Linux drivers either.

So write one!

(Ba-dah-bing! Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week.)

Seriously, though. If you're buying hardware with an embedded Windows OS as a necessary component, that's what you signed up for. Take that into account when negotiating with vendors for the replacement.

It is not every question that deserves an answer. -- Publilius Syrus

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