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Journal: Obama Lied About Benghazi 8

Journal by pudge

Some people don't know that Obama lied. But it's obvious fact based on the evidence. In another discussion some apparent trolls were complaining about the claim, but I am uninterested in discussing it, but for those who are interested, the basic summary is this:

* The administration said, for weeks, that the video and the unrest around it was a cause of the attack on the embassy in Benghazi.

* They claimed that the evidence led them to say so.

* They have never provided any such evidence. Some of what they claimed happened -- such as protests existing at the embassy in Benghazi -- was false, and there was never any evidence it was true (maybe in the first hours, but not after the first days).

* There was much evidence, even in the first days, that the attack was preplanned, but it was ignored in favor of the nonexistent evidence of spontaneity.

* The documentary evidence shows that, from the beginning, they had evidence that it was preplanned, and the only "evidence" of spontaneity cited was that it happened soon after protests in Cairo.

Draw your own conclusions, but I do not believe that the President would say it was a spontaneous reaction to the video without some evidence of it, and he had none. He said it because he thought it was believable and wanted to win an election, and if it were preplanned then it is a failure of his administration.

If you want more, check out last week's 60 Minutes report by Lara Logan. Most of it has to do with showing that we a. knew the attack was coming and b. didn't take reasonable steps to prevent it.

User Journal

Journal: Comments & Moderation Improvements Under Way 21

Journal by vroom
While reading through your responses to the reader survey from a couple months ago a couple things were clear. You both love & hate comments. You love the insightfulness of our readers, you hate trolls, and there are a number of things currently getting in the way from you being able to navigate through discussions as easily as you might like to.

Load All Comments

The number one thing that kept coming up in comments was an annoyance at not being able to see all the comments right away when you loaded a page. We'd previously made a design decision to show 50 comments to make for a fast page load, while allowing you the user to load more comments. (It should be noted if you login you can change your default view to 250 comments). The major nuissance many of you noted was that if you wanted to load all comments before reading a discussion you'd have to scroll down to the bottom of the discussion & mash on the button multiple times to load the entire conversation & then scroll up to the top to begin reading the discussion. One change we added a week ago or so was a 'Load All Comments' button at the top of the discussion to get around this annoyance.

Number of Initial Comments Shown

Another thing many of you noted was not liking only seeing 50 comments for your initial view. We bumped that number to 80 for an incremental change, and could be further increasing it as we monitor changes to page speed, and other comment dynamics.

Fix for Mod Point Allocation

About a week ago we corrected a bug with mod point allocation which brought a lot of new people into the moderation pool. The number of people moderating, and number of moderations done has gone up significantly as a result of this.

Comment Preview Speed

As part of our comment posting (and submission) processes we have some security checks that take a lot of time. Unfortunately for users many of you spent more time than you needed to waiting for the comment preview to come back while this check was occurring. We recently made a change to do this processing in the background when you trigger a reply form, as a result you should spend less time waiting to preview or submit a comment. Instead of making you wait to preview a comment we're doing processing in the background while you're typing up your comment. We made similar changes to the submit process. There may be further speed improvements later but this is a start, and should be fairly noticeable to frequent commenters.

Comment Threshold Inconsistencies

Another problem that was fixed recently was that comments above your threshold, that were children of lower rated comments didn't always appear. As a result the numbers on the slider for 'Full', 'Abbreviated', and 'Hidden' didn't necessarily reflect what was in the discussion. As of today that should be corrected, surfacing all the comments that should be surfaced by your selected threshold.

More to Come

We're by no means done with improvements to the comment system. Comments are in many ways one of the things that sets Slashdot apart so we want to continue working to make discussions easier to navigate, make interesting comments easier to find, and surfacing the insights within our community that set our community apart from many other places on the web.

United States

Journal: Porn King of Abbottabad (Ballad of Osama Bin Laden) 1

Journal by pudge

My new song, "Porn King of Abbottabad", is up.

Some asked me when I might follow up on my song "Osama Bin Laden, You Ruined My Birthday" (for which I won a coveted Schrammie award). Then, driving into work last week, hearing news about the porn cache Bin Laden had in his compound, it struck me that he probably used his terrorist information network to make some extra money on the side and became the number one provider of porn to the Greater Abbottabad region of Pakistan.

So there you go.

User Journal

Journal: Target Map 8

Journal by pudge

I've started a map of targets. I won't bother saying what the point of this is, because no matter what I write, people will, intentionally or otherwise, misconstrue it. I hope the links on each name targeted gives you enough of a clue, if you are inclined toward reading and understanding.

If you have any submissions for the map, send me email to targetmap@pudge.net with the name of the individual or organization, and a link demonstrating why they should be on the map.

Microsoft

Journal: Microsoft Supporting OpenStreetMap.org

Journal by Lord Satri

It's a dream come true. After MapQuest and Yahoo actively supporting the Wikipedia-like map initiative OpenStreetMap.org. Microsoft announced that they hired OpenStreetMap's founder Steve Coast for their Bing Maps team. But there's more, they committed providing orthorectified aerial imagery and more to the project. From the official announcement: "Continuously innovating and improving our map data is a top priority and a massive undertaking at Bing. Thatâ(TM)s why weâ(TM)re excited to announce a new initiative to work with the OpenStreetMap project, a community of more than 320,000 people who have built high quality maps for every country on earth. Microsoft is providing access to our Bing Aerial Imagery for use in the OpenStreetMap project, and we have hired industry veteran Steve Coast to lead this effort. [...] As a first step in this engagement, we plan to enable access to Bing's global orthorectified aerial imagery, as a backdrop of OSM editors. Also, Microsoft is working on new tools to better enable contributions to OSM." Microsoft already added the OpenStreetMap layer to Bing Maps last August.

United States

Journal: Koster/Larsen Debate 2

Journal by pudge

Many people, including myself, were disappointed that the Koster campaign chose to not participate in the KCTS 9 debate last Thursday.* But the next day, the pair debated and TVW has the video online.

If most voters watch this debate it's hard to see how Larsen could be re-elected, for one simple reason: everything Larsen said was about increasing the size, scope, power, and influence of the federal government. For every problem, Larsen sees the federal government as the solution. Even when Larsen correctly identifies mistakes Bush and the Republicans made in the last decade, Larsen indicts himself and his fellow Democrats because they want to do the same things the Republicans did, except more and bigger. Koster wants to go in the other direction: forward to liberty and smaller government instead of the monster debt that the Democrats and Republicans gave us last decade.

* I personally disagree with the Koster campaign decision to not participate on Thursday. Their stated reason was that Herald reporter and columnist Jerry Cornfield was one of the panelists, and the Koster campaign deemed him unacceptable because he's on the left, and they didn't believe he'd be fair. My take is that Koster could have handled Cornfield just fine, and that there's far less-fair journalists out there that Koster will run into if he's elected, and that he should have done the debate ... especially since, as this debate shows, the more Koster can put himself out there, side-by-side to Larsen, the better he looks: and that's something no journalist can take away, no matter how unfair they are.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

United States

Journal: Larsen and Koster on KCTS 9 9

Journal by pudge

Last night KCTS 9 had nice profiles on both John Koster (R) and Rick Larsen (D-inc.), the candidates for Washington's Second Congressional District (whom we collectively interviewed recently here on Sound Politics). The KCTS piece uncritically showed Larsen's dishonest ad falsely accusing Koster of wanting to privatize social security, and referred to an "anti-incumbent" wave that is generally understood to be anti-establishment, not anti-incumbent, but otherwise it was a pretty good piece.

The discussion afterward, however, was fairly awful. All of the pundits -- including former state GOP chair Chris Vance -- said the only thing Koster has going for him is the "wave" in favor of Republican candidates. Joni Balter said Koster is "rigid" and "inflexible," while Larsen has "been there" for his constituents (as if Koster hasn't been). Perhaps she missed the memo that most voters in the Second CD want government to "be there" for us by being a lot less "flexible" on government spending.

Next Thursday, October 21, at 7 p.m., KCTS 9 will host a debate between Larsen and Koster. Tune in!

Also check out this non-endorsement endorsement of Koster by the Seattle Times. They call Larsen out for his dishonesty, his lack of fiscal responsibility, and his desire to increase taxes. They praise Koster for his fiscal prudence, his experience, his responsible record, and says he would benefit Congress. But they say they don't endorse him because he agrees too much with his own constituents: he is anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, and is (as every scientist and responsible politician is required by the rules of logic to be) skeptical of anthropogenic global warming.*

The Seattle Times says they endorse Larsen, but at the same time, they demonstrate that Koster would better represent his constituents. Draw your own conclusions.

* If you're a liberal, you're supposed to be skeptical of religion, skeptical of politicians, skeptical of authority and media of every kind, but not skeptical of anthropogenic global warming. Even the IPCC leaves open the door that AGW may not be true; how could any lay person think there's no room for that? To decry skepticism in the face of uncertainty is to be anti-intellectual, and it is incumbent upon every policymaker and scientist to remain open-minded on all such issues.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

User Journal

Journal: What a socialist is 9

Journal by pudge

Anyone who defines what a socialist IS and states that therefore someone is NOT a socialist doesn't understand the word "socialist" or the English language very well.

The fact is, "socialist" has many meanings. In both French and English, for around 150 years, "socialist" has had a definition -- which has been very commonly used, even to today -- of, simply, massive social control by government for the purpose of taking from some people to give to others. As Bastiat said, for example:

Now, legal plunder can be committed in an infinite number of ways. Thus we have an infinite number of plans for organizing it: tariffs, protection, benefits, subsidies, encouragements, progressive taxation, public schools, guaranteed jobs, guaranteed profits, minimum wages, a right to relief, a right to the tools of labor, free credit, and so on, and so on. All these plans as a whole -- with their common aim of legal plunder -- constitute socialism.

Socialism does not just regard the ownership of the means of production. It's never only meant that, not in our lifetimes. Obama does favor controlling society through "an infinite number of ways" in order to take from some people to give to others. This is a perfectly reasonable, correct, and valid use of the word "socialism" ... and it's not a matter of "human dignity," but a matter of whether government should be the instrument of providing that "dignity." I contend that destroying liberty to give "dignity" to someone else is itself taking away the dignity of all.

Or, in other words of Bastiat:

Mr. de Lamartine once wrote to me thusly: "Your doctrine is only the half of my program. You have stopped at liberty; I go on to fraternity." I answered him: "The second half of your program will destroy the first."

United States

Journal: Murray Pretends There Is No Deficit

Journal by pudge

Several times in tonight's debate, Senator Patty Murray said that keeping taxes at their current level would make it impossible to fund critical federal programs. But the Democratic Congress, with Murray's votes, has shown no restraint in spending caused by a lack of revenue, racking up deficits of trillions of dollars.

On what planet does anyone believe that the Murray, or the Democratic Congress, is restrained by a lack of revenue?

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

United States

Journal: State Liquor Status Quo "Economically ... Doesn't Make Sense" 1

Journal by pudge

Am I the only one who noticed that in Robert Mak's piece on the liquor privatization initiatives on KING 5, a supporter of the status quo said that the status quo doesn't make economic sense?

John Guadnola, Executive Director of the Washington Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association -- which opposes both I-1100 and I-1105 -- said that if I-1100 passes, "[Safeway] won't have nearly the variety [as it has now] because economically, it just doesn't make sense for them."

But if it doesn't make economic sense for Safeway to have that variety, then why do we do it? If carrying a certain number of bottles in a local Safeway doesn't make economic sense, scaling up as we do now can't fix that problem. So Guadnola is basically admitting that -- in a time of severe recession, no less -- he and his group are backing a system that wastes money.

Of course, the truth is that wide variety will continue to exist. I've lived in several other states, all of which allowed retailers to buy with volume discounts and decide what they wanted to carry, and all of which had a wide variety of liquor widely available. We have one of the only states with this sort of a system, and all you have to do is look at the other states and see that almost every criticism of I-1100 is based on fantasy. The only true criticisms I've seen of I-1100 are that it would give us more access to the products we want to buy, which is, as best I can figure, a good thing.

(Oh, and I should also mention that the criticism that this takes money from schools is necessarily false. Any revenues lost by the schools -- if required to make "ample provision" for education -- must be made up by taking it from other programs, or increasing other taxes. Our Constitution requires it. For I-1100 to significantly hurt schools, our state government would have to violate the Constitution.)

Another truth is that the people most ardently defending the status quo, as well as the people behind I-1105, are no less influenced by their bottom lines than the backers of I-1100 ... and probably moreso. There are many people -- like me -- who don't consume liquor or are not in the liquor business, but value the freedom I-1100 provides.

But all of the people I've seen backing I-1105 or the status quo are in businesses that do, or would, profit from the government protection of their business interests, such as Guadnola's organization, whose members control about 95 percent of all beer and wine distribution in the state ... a virtual monopoly that is jeopardized by privatization. Of course, I have no problem with any of the companies represented by the WBWWA. They are probably all fine businesses doing fine work. I do have a problem with government being used to protect their interests, at the expense of the other interests of other companies and individuals.

My two cents? Vote Yes on I-1100, and No on I-1105 and other forms of government control.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

United States

Journal: Candy Tax

Journal by pudge

In order to avoid the new Candy Tax in Washington State, I am carefully selecting what candies to buy for Halloween. Candy is legally defined as not having any flour, so I am buying up Twix, Kit Kat, Twizzlers, and -- my favorite of all -- Nestle Crunch. Mmmmmm.

The funny thing is that I've found that flour products actually make me gain weight more than products more heavily based on sugar. I don't think Michelle Obama would approve of Christine Gregoire encouraging me to gain weight. And certainly, no one sane would approve of the government encouragement to punish the makers of certain candies over others just because it lists "flour" on the ingredients. But I must comply! Christine knows best!

Do your part by helping me and Christine punish the makers of candy without flour: make your Halloween a no-flour-free zone!

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

United States

Journal: Koster vs. Larsen: Your Turn 3

Journal by pudge

The two campaigns for Washington's Second Congressional District, for incumbent Rick Larsen (D) and challenger John Koster (R), have agreed to answer questions posted by you, the readers and voters. This is going to be a close race, and perhaps one of the most-watched in the nation.

So here's how this works: you guys ask the questions, posting them in this Sound Politics discussion. I pick good ones and submit them to the candidates. They send their answers back to me, and I post them. I don't censor, edit, or modify their answers in any way (though as "interviewer," I may ask for clarifications, giving them a chance to revise their answers).

It's no secret that I want John Koster to win this election. But I'll do my best to pick good questions, and since everyone can see all the questions being asked by the commenters, everyone can decide for themselves if I did a reasonable job.

I'll close the questioning at the end of this week. Everyone -- from libertarian to liberal -- is welcome to submit questions here, but not to engage in discussions about the questions or candidates, or to be abusive. Ask questions: don't answer them or fight about them.

Have at it.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

United States

Journal: Koster Winning, Berkey Losing

Journal by pudge

There are some surprising twists in our interminable Washington election.

Republican John Koster has come from behind to take the lead in the Second Congressional District race by 160 votes, and is likely to end up beating incumbent Rick Larsen. The good news for Larsen is that the total Democrat vote is over 50 percent; the good news for Koster is that independents who didn't vote in the primary will likely swing his way in the general.

Of course, Koster won the primary in 2000, too: but Larsen ended up winning the general. But it was an open seat in 2000, and that the incumbent might finish second in the primary is really bad for Larsen.

Similarly, incumbent Democratic Senator Jean Berkey (38th LD) is coming in third in her primary, and is likely to be eliminated from the general election ballot. At 32.24% of the vote, she's falling behing Conservative candidate Rod Rieger at 32.63%, and fellow Democratic candidate Nick Harper at 35.13%.

According to Jerry Cornfield at The Herald, she'd be the only incumbent for the state legislature to fail to get to the general election this year. More incumbents, like Sound Politics troll Geoff Simpson, are likely to lose in the general, though.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

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