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Comment Democrats Desperate to Hide Clinton-Putin Ties (Score 2) 120

One of which is the fact that Tony Podesta, a big Hillary bundler and brother of John Podesta, her campaign manager, is registered lobbyist for Putin's bank:

The revelations of the so-called Panama Papers that are roiling the world’s political and financial elites this week include important facts about Team Clinton. This unprecedented trove of documents purloined from a shady Panama law firm that arranged tax havens, and perhaps money laundering, for the globe’s super-rich includes juicy insights into how Russia’s elite hides its ill-gotten wealth.

        Almost lost among the many revelations is the fact that Russia’s biggest bank uses The Podesta Group as its lobbyist in Washington, D.C. Though hardly a household name, this firm is well known inside the Beltway, not least because its CEO is Tony Podesta, one of the best-connected Democratic machers in the country. He founded the firm in 1998 with his brother John, formerly chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, then counselor to President Barack Obama, Mr. Podesta is the very definition of a Democratic insider. Outsiders engage the Podestas and their well-connected lobbying firm to improve their image and get access to Democratic bigwigs.

        Which is exactly what Sberbank, Russia’s biggest financial institution, did this spring. As reported at the end of March, the Podesta Group registered with the U.S. Government as a lobbyist for Sberbank, as required by law, naming three Podesta Group staffers: Tony Podesta plus Stephen Rademaker and David Adams, the last two former assistant secretaries of state. It should be noted that Tony Podesta is a big-money bundler for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign while his brother John is the chairman of that campaign, the chief architect of her plans to take the White House this November.

        Sberbank (Savings Bank in Russian) engaged the Podesta Group to help its public image—leading Moscow financial institutions not exactly being known for their propriety and wholesomeness—and specifically to help lift some of the pain of sanctions placed on Russia in the aftermath of the Kremlin’s aggression against Ukraine, which has caused real pain to the country’s hard-hit financial sector.

        It’s hardly surprising that Sberbank sought the help of Democratic insiders like the Podesta Group to aid them in this difficult hour, since they clearly understand how American politics work. The question is why the Podesta Group took Sberbank’s money. That financial institution isn’t exactly hiding in the shadows—it’s the biggest bank in Russia, and its reputation leaves a lot to be desired. Nobody acquainted with Russian finance was surprised that Sberbank wound up in the Panama Papers.

        though Sberbank has its origins in the nineteenth century, it was functionally reborn after the Soviet collapse, and it the 1990s it grew to be the dominant bank in the country, today controlling nearly 30 percent of Russia’s aggregate banking assets and employing a quarter-million people. The majority stockholder in Sberbank is Russia’s Central Bank. In other words, Sberbank is functionally an arm of the Kremlin, although it’s ostensibly a private institution.

Snip.

John and Tony Podesta aren’t fooling anyone with this ruse. They are lobbyists for Vladimir Putin’s personal bank of choice, an arm of his Kremlin and its intelligence services. Since the brothers Podesta are presumably destined for very high-level White House jobs next January if the Democrats triumph in November at the polls, their relationship with Sberbank is something they—and Hillary Clinton—need to explain to the public.

And this is just one of many Clinton ties to Putin...

Comment i reject the premise (Score 1) 529

Hey look, it's Slashdot concern trolling their readers again!

I reject the premise.

"Why are software developers working on this trivial Internet thing rather than solving world hunger?"

It's the Von Mises knowledge problem, aka the economic calculation problem. You don't know what the most important problems to solve are because you (and by "you" I especially mean "any government body") can't see the future. One person can only be an expert on their own life, not everyone else's lives. You don't necessarily known what the real biggest problems today are, because when you read or watch the news you're watching edited abstracts of selections of other people's limited knowledge, with biases conscious and unconscious at every step of the process.

You have no way of known that specific technology you're working on won't have far greater benefit to society than whatever our cultural elites have decided to focuses on for clickbait concern trolling this week, especially ones with easy emotional appeals ("Show me rain forests! Show me police killing black people!") rather than more difficult or abstract ones ("Show me how deficit financing eventually destroys economies!").

It turns out that creating the Internet probably did more to help solve world hunger than, say, studying how to make krill into food patties.

Work on the problems that interest you and that you have the capacity to solve, not what other people think are "more important," because there's a good chance they're wrong.

Comment Been Tried Before, Failed Before (Score 1) 630

Read the section in Charles Murray's Losing Ground about the SIME/DIME experiments in guaranteed minimum income. They were colossal failures.

They might be less of a failure in Finland, due to greater cultural and ethnic uniformity. But that doesn't mean it won't fail, it just means it will take longer to fail.

Comment "The peasent will be forced to keep voting..." (Score 2) 621

"...until they pick the alternative the ruling class prefers."

That worked before on EU votes. I don't think it will work this time.

A lesson of the past few days is the danger of groupthink. Along with the major international institutions, the assembled might of establishment opinion – in the CBI and TUC, massed legions of economists and a partisan Bank of England – was confident that the existing order here and in Europe would be preserved by promises of unspecified reforms. Until around 2am on the morning of Friday 24 May, the bookies and currency traders followed the playbook that had been given them by the authorities and the pollsters. Then, in a succession of events of a kind that is becoming increasingly common, the script was abruptly torn up. A clear majority of voters had reached to the heart of the situation. Realising that the promises of European reform that had been made were empty, they opted for a sharp shift in direction. The consequences can already be observed: rapid political change in Britain and an accelerating process of unravelling in the European Union. The worldwide impact on markets and geopolitics will be long-lasting and profound.

There are sure to be concerted efforts to resist the referendum’s message. The rise of the hydra-headed monster of populism; the diabolical machinations of tabloid newspapers; conflicts of interest between baby boomers and millennials; divisions between the English provinces and Wales on the one hand and Scotland, London and Northern Ireland on the other; Jeremy Corbyn’s lukewarm support for the Remain cause; the buyer’s remorse that has supposedly set in after Remain’s defeat – these already commonplace tales will be recycled incessantly during the coming weeks and months. None of them captures the magnitude of the upheaval that has occurred. When voters inflicted the biggest shock on the establishment since Churchill was ousted in 1945 they signalled the end of an era.

Predictably, there is speculation that Brexit will not happen. If Britain can vote for Brexit, it is being argued, surely anything is possible. But those who think the vote can be overturned or ignored are telling us more about their own state of mind than developments in the real world. Like bedraggled courtiers fleeing Versailles after the French Revolution, they are unable to process the reversal that has occurred. Locked in a psychology of despair, anger and denial, they cannot help believing there will be a restoration of an order they believed was unshakeable.

Still, the Europhilic ruling class is exceptionally cross that mere citizens would dare to express opinions that differ from their elite betters:

Many liberal journalists, representing elites throughout the advanced world, have reacted with indignation to the fact that 52 percent of U.K. voters (many without degrees) have rejected the EU system of supranational government of which the elites approve. Naturally, these journalistic spokesmen argue, the common people could not possibly have good reasons for such an act of multinational vandalism. So they must be inspired by, er, racism, xenophobia, fear of globalization, and related other thought-crimes.

That account doubtless condenses and oversimplifies the elites’ response to the Brexit shock, which is just one small skirmish in a new class war in advanced societies between geographically mobile, liberal, skilled, high-earning professionals and more rooted, communitarian, particularist, and patriotic citizens (or what British journalist David Goodhart calls “nowhere” people and “somewhere” people). “Nowhere” people simply didn’t grasp the outlook of “somewhere people” in the referendum, not seeing that many decent people who voted for Brexit had such respectable anxieties as loss of community or, one step up, the transformation of their country as motives for casting their votes. So the elites thought the worst. They were still making the same mistake in their television and columnar explanations of the result on Friday morning. But what was remarkable was the Darwall-McArdle thesis that in other countries the elites reacted to the Brexit shock as if personally or spiritually affronted in their own lives. Alarmed, they asked: Why weren’t we told that they might vote for Brexit?

It’s a hard question to answer.

One aspect of it, however, is ideologically fascinating. Among the central arguments of those favoring Brexit was that the Brussels system was dangerously undemocratic and that British voters and MPs had lost the power to propose, amend, or repeal failed or oppressive laws. This was a passionate concern among English people who had grown up in a self-governing democracy, who may have fought for it in wars, and who simply couldn’t understand why the loss of their democratic rights didn’t worry their opponents. Yet again and again liberal journalists treated this passionate belief as either abstract or a cover for more primitive emotions and bigotries. Democracy as such was rarely given weight in Remain or liberal debates on the cost/benefit analysis of Brexit. They treat multinational political institutions as such unalloyed goods that it would be impolite to raise questions about such defects as a democratic deficit. Has the knowledge class/meritocracy/cognitive elite/nowhere people/etc., etc. developed not only an intellectual snobbery towards the rest of society, but even an impatient, dismissive contempt for democracy that cannot be openly avowed but that does influence its other political attitudes?

Predictably, the losing side seems to have doubled-down on calling their opponents racists:

Bigotry! Nativism! Racism! That’s what elites in Britain, Europe and here have been howling, explanations for why 52 percent of a higher-than-general-election turnout of British voters voted for their nation to leave the European Union.

But there is plenty of bigotry, condescension and snobbery in the accusations and the people making them. And it’s incoherent to claim, as some do, that it’s undemocratic for voters to decide. That amounts to saying that ordinary people should be content to be ruled by their betters.

Comment All we see are Federation propaganda films! (Score 1) 359

Remember: All we see are the myriad propaganda films that paint the Federation in the best possible light. We never see the vast slave gulags back in the Federation hinterland. "Look, our society is perfect! No one is ever jelous, enraged, power-hungry, greedy, or ambitious! Starship Captains never abuse their positions to accumulate vast wealth!"

It's set in a magic fantasy world where communism works and people never have personal conflicts with each other. It's Potemkin Villages all the way down...

Star Wars, on the other hand, is set in an imaginary hereditary monarchy where out of untold trillions of living beings, only a handful of intermarried power families seem to control everything, and true virtue and magic ability only comes from those favored by God who have inherited high midichlorian counts...

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I never cheated an honest man, only rascals. They wanted something for nothing. I gave them nothing for something. -- Joseph "Yellow Kid" Weil

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