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User Journal

Journal Journal: Some post election clarifications 16

1. No, Liberals were not "in a bubble". Our reaction isn't because we were surprised by the Trump victory, we knew there was a chance of one, pretty much every liberal I knew in a swing state voted for Clinton because we knew how close it was. Our reaction post election is horror, not surprise. Insofar as we expected a Clinton win, it was because the opinion polls seemed to suggest that. Those of us who trusted Nate Silver knew there was a one third chance of Trump winning.

2. No, Trump did not win because his supporters were called idiots, or racists, or fascists, or both. Nobody has ever said "That man called me a fascist! Well, that does it, I'm going to vote for a fascist who'll most likely destroy the country I live in and love! That'll show them!" Besides, we didn't, for the most part, call Trump supporters any of those things, we called TRUMP a fascist, and we also observed that actual self-described NEO-NAZIs ("Deplorables") were voting for Trump - as in David Duke was voting for him, and any analysis of what neo-nazis were doing showed they were enthusiastic about Trump.

(On that note: are you a fascist for voting Trump? You might be, you might not, but what is clear is that you don't consider fascism to be such a terrible thing that you'd refuse to vote for someone who runs as a fascist. That is not a good thing, and whether you're one or not, you should feel bad if you voted for him.)

2.1 No she didn't. She said half of Trump's supporters were "deplorables", an entirely reasonable statement to make. She never said that half of voters, or that all Trump supporters, were racists, you just made that up.

3. You may think he made it all up just to get elected. But you have no real evidence of that. We will be fearful that Trump intends to continue as a fascist until he proves otherwise. Thus far, he's been all over the map, we have to wait until he's in office before we can judge.

4. No, we will not "Hope for Trump's success". We'll hope for America's success, but to our eyes, that appears to be in conflict with the success of Trump. We'll hope that Trump somehow redeems himself, and turns into something completely unlike what we've seen so far.

Addressing a different crowd...

5. No, she didn't win the popular vote. She did great, and has a plurality, but she's not even near the 50% mark. The EC would have absolutely no mandate - moral or otherwise - to substitute Clinton for Trump. Both candidates lost the popular vote.

6. She was a shitty choice of candidate, get over it. No, she's not Nixon, she's the victim of a 25 year long smear campaign, but she's also a neo-con who doesn't represent liberal values on certain key issues like war and civil liberties, and she's spent so much time cosying up to the various establishments that she appears aloof of ordinary American's problems. She's rightly or wrongly associated with her husband who may or may not have been popular but is infamous for regressive anti-progressive positions during his time in office. In the primaries we may have had two shitty candidates to choose from, we may or may not have picked the best of the two, but she was still shitty.

6.1 Sanders? You really think a country brainwashed for more than a century to think Socialist is a bad word would have voted for Sanders? Really? Even Trump had the good sense to not explicitly use the word that described the ideology he was campaigning on. He wasn't even a great campaigner - he might have beaten Ron Paul if the latter had been the Republicans choice, but nobody else.

7. No, we're probably not going to win back either house in 2018. We're not Republicans, we're obsessed with looking reasonable and getting the blessing of the media, and the media is going to normalize Trump and the Democrats will end up compromising themselves and fucking themselves over. When Obama won, the Republicans went Scorched Earth despite there being no reason to think he was particularly offensive. Democrats need to go Scorched Earth now, but won't, because they're pathetic.

8. No, we shouldn't abandon our principles to win the next election. Supporting minorities didn't kill us, failing to address issues that affect everyone might have done, but the two are not in conflict. We need to abandon people suffering real hardship and discrimination so we can focus on the "White Working Class"? Bullshit. We need policies that lift up the whole of the working classes, not just whites. And while we do so, nothing prevents us from reforming chronically discriminatory institutions, or dealing with hate crimes at the same time.

We have precious little we can do at this stage, but we can resist in our own small ways, and make it politically possible for others with more power to resist too. That's what we must, at minimum, do right now.

User Journal

Journal Journal: No more /. subscriptions? 2

I realized that I had not topped up my /. subscription in some time and went to do so. Saw this:

"Please Note: Buying or gifting of a new subscription is not available
at the moment. We apologize for the inconvenience. This downtime though
does not effect your current active subscription in any way. We will
keep you posted on the latest"

Any idea what's going on? Are they sticking to a pure ad model (all blocked anyhow, but I did like to subscribe as I like the ol' barn.)

User Journal

Journal Journal: Slashdot archives journals, too? 17

Wanted to add a late item to the old Email Inquisition journal entry, only to find that it was archived. Annoying, and another feature I might want to help fund the fixing of, if only Slashdot had such an economic model. Here I was thinking that my journal was some sort of place to work on ideas that lasted longer than the main articles...

Oh well. I guess I can add the other comment to this entry?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Donald Trump is leader of the Free World 66

That, right there, is one very useful phrase, I'll have to admit. I've used it in all kinds of contexts, and for different effects, and it works great. It's like a rhetorical swiss army knife.

Moving on, talk about getting shafted! I'm glad my political gambling is a hobby, not an addiction, cuz Cheeto Mussolini just fucked me out of 5K. Although I'm even more glad of my Senate side bet since it helps take the sting out of it.

Congratulations to all the Republicans out there! It's been exhausting work pretending to care about the deficit, unemployment numbers, and whether or not the rest of the world thinks the US is a laughingstock, so I'm sure you'll all be glad for the break.

Last but not least, commiserations to all the kids out there, the ones who'll get punched repeatedly in the face as they struggle through life because global warming as a solvable problem is gone for at least a generation, whilst us Boomers and Gen Xers get to pop our clogs before the really bad shit starts. Time to start volunteering for those Mars missions, I guess.

For any non-Yanks out there, there is a small silver lining: Between, incompetence, corruption, and taking advantage of these historic circumstances to finally bury the Dem party forever, the incoming administration may be too busy trying to fuck over the US to have any time to fuck over the rest of the planet any more than they have already have. Fingers crossed!

User Journal

Journal Journal: Why China WANTS to unlink from America? 4

[Longer-term and slightly modified copy of a reaction to a dying discussion...]

Well, hey! Yours was one of the three insightful-moderated comments that actually struck me as slightly insightful. You hit a couple of key issues. Not deeply, but brevity is supposed to be wit's soul, eh? No wit in my verbosity.

None of the funny ones were funny. Didn't waste the time with informative or interesting, though I did some browser-level searches for the key terms related to what I would regard as actual insight on this issue. Came up completely dry. And of course the article and entire discussion have effectively timed out now, so making any comment is moot, eh?

What I was looking for was some discussion of how the international force vectors have been changed by this election. Seems obvious that Russia's international leverage will be greatly increased, and Iran benefits, too. If Trump delivers on a small fraction of his promises, then America's influence will drastically decrease, but I suppose we can hope he's just lying, as usual.

That sets the stage for considering China's response to the election. Insofar as the Chinese have any international ambitions (and I am certain they do), then their economic ties to America are now a disadvantage, even a vulnerability. They would much prefer to redirect their focus towards growing economies and perhaps even do what they can to push America into recession. China's new primary concern should be negotiating better deals with Russia. Should be easy to get concessions in Asia, but what will the Russians agree to regarding the Middle East and Africa?

But what about the economic damage to China? If you think about it for a second, you'll realize it is NO problem now. They'll just blame Trump for any and all problems and gladly stoke the nationalistic fires within China. The better not to buy your inferior American goods. Of course the Chinese economy couldn't continue to grow so rapidly, but now it's all the stupid American's fault. You can safely bet the Chinese people will agree.

Time to rethink your investment strategies. Obviously makers of wife beater t-shirts, anti-anxiety meds, and for-profit prisons should be hot stocks. However the big word is not "plastics". How can you get in on the ground floor of big poverty?

Will the Chinese even bother to compete in those areas? Maybe, but I bet they demand hard cash, and they probably won't even accept dollars.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Fuck Obamacare 13

Trump has been all over the map about the Affordable Care Act since he "won" the election, stating he'd like to keep the "popular" bits after meeting with Obama, then stating he'd organize a special session of Congress the day after he's inaugurated to repeal the whole thing. (He's apparently unaware Congress will already be in session, but, whatever.) If he chooses to keep the "popular" bits, the health insurance industry will crumble, for what it's worth, because they'll be forced to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions to people who refuse to pay a penny in premiums until they fall ill.

My view is nuanced on Obamacare, so I expect 99% of the replies to this post to miss the point completely, probably just focusing on the headline, but...

...this was entirely predictable. Obamacare was a really bad idea. I said so at the time. I stand by my comments. It was never feasible in the long term and it was politically the most inept attempt to introduce universal health care ever devised.

That it's going... is not to be celebrated, because it means suddenly a huge number of people will be unable to afford health care. That's bad. But simply blaming Republicans and Fascists for its removal is missing the greater picture: it was insanely unpopular. It was something Republicans were able to rally around to defeat Democrats. Think about that for a second: UH should be popular. It should have been a real concern by most of the country that they were going to lose it. When in 2012 Democrats wanted the Senior vote, they pointed out Paul Ryan planned to replace Medicare - UH for seniors - and were rewarded by a shift towards them. Nobody was able to stand up in 2016 and say "Hey guys, Trump will kill Obamacare, you don't want to lose that!" In fact, the opposite happened, Trump used Obamacare against Clinton.

Why did it fail? Because it sucked. It didn't control prices significantly enough that people noticed - in fact, most believed Obamacare was to blame for rising insurance costs. Most had insurance before, they had insurance afterwards, and the insurance afterwards was still going up in price way above inflation. It was the same system as they had before, but it was more expensive.

And those who didn't have insurance before, well, they resented it. Suddenly they were forced to pay for something they hadn't been required to have before, and most people don't have cancer or require an MRI, so they never saw any value in what they were forced to buy, despite the subsidies and so on.

The Democrats, if they ever get back into power, have to decide where they want to go with Universal Healthcare. But next time - if there is a next time - there's really only one option, and that's an income tax funded single payer system. If that's not politically possible thanks to Blue Dogs or whatever, then don't address the issue - it's a waste of time, and it'll result in Democrats being unable to address any other aspects of their agenda. But Single Payer is virtually the only healthcare system you can create that people would be frightened of losing. Which makes it politically the only choice worth pursuing. And in practical terms, it's also the only way to deliver truly universal healthcare.

RIP Obamacare. I'm sorry for the people who'll lose coverage, but I'm not going to blame the Republicans for getting rid of it.

User Journal

Journal Journal: /. pub key for nov-dec 2016

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-----END PUBLIC KEY-----

User Journal

Journal Journal: Hillary's True Crime: Governing While Human! 16

Where does the rabid hatred of Hillary Clinton come from? I think I finally figured it out. My theory is "existential crime". Like "voting while Black" in the South (until the Voting Rights Act was passed) or like "driving while female" in today's Saudi Arabia. Hillary wants to govern while being human, and many (perhaps most) of Trump's supporters hate her for that. Some of the Hillary haters are specifically misogynists, and for them the existential crime is "governing while female", while others are religious fanatics, and for them the crime is "governing while Methodist", but these are minor variations. The point of existential crime is that it isn't anything she actually did, but a crime of "being" the wrong adjective.

Hillary thinks that government is made of human beings and they have government lives and human lives. She probably thinks the two of them should be kept apart as much as possible, even though she knows that separating them is hard. Her REAL mistake was allowing the two aspects of her life to be so thoroughly mixed in her email. Then she tried to separate them afterwards by instructing her lawyers to delete the email about her private life, but in the many thousands of email messages there were some ambiguous cases and her Republican enemies have seized upon this detail and spent MILLIONS of your taxpayer dollars searching for evidence that some of the deletions were NOT for privacy of her personal life but were actually intended to hide something nefarious. That's on top of the MILLIONS of your taxpayer dollars that they have spent investigating her over the last decades, and they haven't found anything yet--but if you hate her for existential reasons none of that matters, because she still exists.

If Hillary was a megalomaniac or narcissist this would not be a problem in the same way. Perhaps I'm going too far, but I'm guessing that Donald Trump thinks his personal life SHOULD be his government life. He probably thinks that ALL of his email should be preserved for prosperity, except for the nasty bits that would tarnish his legacy. Deleting that stuff is fine, even if there were a few crimes, because he thinks of himself as a kind of gawd who deserves worship. When you project from that perspective, Hillary MUST be trying to delete the nasty bits, because you think ALL of your personal bits are GREAT!

The anti-solution of "Governing While Gawd" is really bad. You should be thinking of dictatorships and the sociopathic megalomaniacs who run them. Today's best example is probably the little clown in North Korea, but there are other less clown-like dictators around the world. Or perhaps you're thinking of religious lunatics who sell their used bathwater as holy water, the way the clown-like Shoko Asahara did before Aum Shinrikyo imploded. However Trump has the potential to be a YUGE clown with the YUGEST delusions of grandeur. (In that regard, he actually reminds me of Nixon, but without any polish or dignity.)

User Journal

Journal Journal: Nobody Expects the Email Inquisition!

But if you use email, you should expect the Email Inquisition!

Actually, the Email Inquisition has already begun, though it isn't clear when the floodgates were opened. Probably after 9/11, when Cheney could get anything he wanted through Congress without any pretense of debate. What we're probably seeing now may well be a turf war. The FBI just wants email-inquisition parity with the NSA and CIA.

We might disagree on a lot of things about Hillary Clinton, but surely you agree that she would like to increase the privacy of email. However email privacy is like a contagious disease. If she wants to protect hers, then she has to protect yours. Six degrees of Kevin Bacon is a REAL contagion from the FBI's perspective.

If Hillary had won big, which now appears unlikely because of the FBI's sudden intrusion into the election, then she surely would have supported legislation to increase email privacy. Now, even if she still wins, it's apparently going to be a narrow presidential victory. She won't have any leverage or Congressional support for any major changes and we really will get four more years like President Obama's last eight. Can you really imagine finding 60 Senators who are willing to work together on ANYTHING? To protect YOUR privacy? ROFLMAO. You silly peasant.

Now try to imagine the ramifications of a Trump presidency. Do you think he will resist giving the FBI more tools to use against HIS numerous enemies? Heck, if he actually wins, he owes it all to the FBI, so he should give them whatever they want. For example, do you know any Muslims? Have you ever exchanged email with one of them? That will be enough to justify keeping a permanent record of ALL of your email. Heck, they'll have to keep copies of all of your spam, too, just in case some of the spam was really secret communications from the Russians working for Putin.

Just in case it isn't sufficiently obvious to the most casual observer (in the idiomatic sense this time), let me remind you of why privacy matters to freedom, per my old equation:

#1 Freedom = (Meaningful - Coerced) Choice{5} â (Beer^4 | Speech)

Killing your freedom is about limiting and controlling your choices. Sometimes it involves lying to you, as when the (sociopath) Donald tells you he really feels your economic pain, even though he's been fabulously wealthy since the day he was born and he has dedicated his entire life so far to making you poorer. However, more often it involves carrots and sticks. In discussions of privacy, the focus is usually on the sticks, how the dangerous information about your mistakes or personal flaws can be used to threaten and control you. However, the carrots are also important, because your interests, preferences, and even your strengths can be used against you to influence and control you, from the job you work at to the toothpaste you buy to the presidential candidates you vote for. Your email is FULL of carrots and sticks.

Everybody should expect the Email Inquisition!

[This is actually modified from another venue, so I guess this is mostly a reference copy. Your sincere and thoughtful (or at least thinking-based) comments and questions are welcome, but if they aren't based on what I actually wrote, then my response will probably be some number of ZZs. Such ZZs will basically signify that I saw your comment and dismissed it for some reason (though the most frequent reason seems to be for marking trolls' posts for ignoring without reading past the handle). [If Slashdot had a member-driven economic model, reducing the visibility of trolls would be high on the list of features I'd support.]]

User Journal

Journal Journal: Why Hillary is better than the Donald 126

Based on a comment from one of Slashdot's typically transient discussions:

You [quite probably a troll, so I'll leave him nameless] are exaggerating each of your claims against Hillary to the point where is is not possible to distinguish between your claims and an outright lie. Notwithstanding, your last paragraph seems sane enough that some dialog might be possible, though I think I'm wasting keystrokes and time.

I think that Hillary is constrained by reality. Her decades of public service make that quite clear. She is not perfect and has an adequate number of flaws, though I don't count ambition as one of them. To fix the "ambition problem" with presidential politics would require a page-one rewrite of the Constitution. She has also made mistakes. So have you and I. She has even been foolish enough to acknowledge some of her mistakes in public, which is practically political suicide these days. However, I think you can only learn from your mistakes by first acknowledging them.

Trump is quite different. If you have studied his history, it is quite clear he is very greedy and heartless. He might even be a sociopath, though that is obviously not a disqualification for the presidency or even for "successful" corporate leadership these days. However my largest concern is that he is also stupid and easily manipulated, as was proven in all three debates (and in MANY of his business dealings over the decades, if you have looked into them). I have found extremely little evidence that he even understands his mistakes, though he sometimes appears to have gotten better at hiring smarter lawyers to protect him from himself.

I think that Hillary is probably a center right lawyer who doesn't much like change, but accepts that it will happen. She takes a gradualist, evolutionary approach to solving problems. I personally prefer evolutionary change over revolutionary change. The outcome of either approach is uncertain, but revolution leaves a lot of corpses behind, while evolution usually allows the losers to die off peaceably. The dead people don't care if things got better or worse.

I do not know what Trump really believes on ANY issue. He obviously panders to his audience, and he has made statements on every side of every issue. Because of the self-contradictions, it is absolutely certain that he is lying to many of his supporters, but each of them believes he is lying to the others. Though Trump frequently advocates revolution, I don't know if he believes that, but it is clear that many of his supporters want one (or more).

You raised the specific issue of war. As an honorably discharged veteran, the son of a 100% disabled veteran, and being named for an uncle who died fighting the fascists, I really don't like war. However, I do think there are some things you have to fight for, even at risk of an escalation to war. From the cowardly perspective, I suppose Trump is safer, because it would probably be easier to manipulate him so as to defeat America without any need for war.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Post election 12

Assuming we don't elect the fascist, both Democrats and Republicans are going to have to do some desperate soul searching this election.

Democrats are going to have to acknowledge that the race was, at one point, extremely close (at the time of writing, it isn't, but what's to say it won't again in the next three weeks.) They're going to have to recognize that this was, in large part, because whatever Clinton's professionalism and qualifications, and however unfair it might be that she's suffered a decades long smear campaign, even without the smears she was never a great candidate. She represents a centrism and a failure to push for substantive change that is anathema to a significant number of people in the US.

How bad is she? Trump's obvious fascism was not enough to make people vote for her. The entire election has just fallen because he's shown himself to be an unpresidential thug towards women. Not because he advocates violence against his opponents. Not because he has promised to abuse the power of the Presidency to punish and imprison political enemies and journalists. Not because he has promised to make it easier to punish those who criticize the rich and powerful. Not because he has scapegoated immigrants for the problems of Americans. Not because he has smeared as rapists, murderers, and terrorists, immigrants and members of minority religions. Not because he has enlisted and cultivated the support of foreign anti-American despots to his presidential campaign. And not because he's been blatant about it, proposing simplistic solutions to complex problems without details or fact based arguments to back them up.

No Presidential candidate in recent history has been so obviously opposed to the values America fought in WW-II to defend, and yet that candidate got close enough to the Democratic candidate to seriously threaten her chances of winning. The Democrats, by any reasonable measure, put up a terrible candidate.

Republicans are going to have to acknowledge that the experiment started in the early nineties (perhaps earlier) to discredit and illegitimatize Democratic Party Presidents has caused unbelievable damage to the country, and destroyed both parties in the process. From Rush Limbaugh's early beginnings as describing the Clinton Regime as an "occupation", to the scorched Earth treatment of the Obama Presidency by Republican legislators, the end result wasn't a stronger Republican party, but a party that lost control of itself enough to find itself under the control of the first Fascist major party presidential candidate in living memory.

That means Republicans will have to bite the bullet and work with Clinton if and when she gets into office. Both parties will need to find points of agreement, areas where ordinary people will benefit from action, from infrastructure to improvements in healthcare, That's not to suggest they should hide their differences, but the last eight years in particular have been completely ridiculous, with Republicans failing to support stimulus and infrastructure improvements they clearly have no problems with, simply because Obama might get credit.

If you want to get good, honest, respected people to stand for leadership of government, it's a good idea to make that government good, honest, and respected to begin with. It isn't.

Whether either side will do any of this is.... I'll be happy if they do, but it really requires both parties to understand what just happened, and to change direction. I'm not sure they can.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Value of voting? Even in winner-take-all elections? 16

The continuation of this discussion: https://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=9707139&cid=53004045

I think that any winner-take-all system (including instant run-off) is going to destroy a party's ideology, because for every "normal" issue the voters are going to be distributed on a bell curve. Actually, it is possible to imagine 3D or higher issues, but that's not how it works in practice as the elements and dimensions are reduced to the minimum in search of clarity (or suitability for public debate?). Black-and-white binary issues are quite rare in the real world.

Assume that you start with two politicians discussing an issue. Then each of them is motivated to change his position towards the middle to capture the largest number of voters. If he crosses the middle, then he may start losing the small tail of voters "far behind" his new position, and that's where you seem to be. However, because you are in the small tail, it's still a winning election strategy, and you're more likely to be "neutralized" by some extremist on the other end who is equally offended by the politician who started on his side before moving to the center.

Today's so-called Republicans tried to "fix" the problem by moving the goalposts. That's more like rigging the game. They quit worrying about their actual beliefs that could be rationally justified and just started each discussion from the most extreme position on each issue. Essentially they were trying to redefine the bell curves more in their favor, but they have completely fallen off the cliff at this point. In other words, they started each discussion by lying about what they really believed, but instead just said whatever was most distant from their political opponents. The party of Honest Abe has been taken over by right wing extremists, anti-government fanatics, and various strains of haters. Not all of their voters, but definitely the entire leadership. GOP party-line discipline has become more extreme than within Lenin's Bolshevik Party.

At this point, the internal strain has become so severe that the so-called Republicans are alienating a key constituency, the people who always vote the same way. The evidence indicates that most people prefer to repeat their last vote rather than admit they were wrong. (That's the key to gerrymandering, by the way.) About 60% of the voters have been regarded as predetermined voters. Trump is actually flipping many of them because he focused so strongly on the extremists. Inertia notwithstanding, I am increasingly unable to see how any moderate person is still willing to call himself a Republican.

I think that coalitions help, though some of that is by venting off the extremists into their own parties. They still feel like they are represented even though the votes of their representatives are almost never decisive. However, perhaps the larger problem is with direct democracy itself. It doesn't scale, and I'm increasingly in favor of scalable hierarchical systems where your votes are actually more meaningful.

You may be familiar with the economists' analysis? It is so unlikely that your vote will matter that any other use of your time is better than voting. Economists are supposedly good at figuring out prices, but not so good at real values. I'd prefer a mathematical approach... How many times would you have to vote before one of your votes would turn out to be decisive? It's kind of like the birthday paradox. With two people, the chance that the 2nd person has a different birthday is 364/365, which is quite small, but as you add more people, you multiply 364/365 by 363/365 by 362/365 by... Around 30 people, you're almost sure to have a match, and you can use the same approach (but with more complicated math for multiple races in each election) to figure out when you would actually get to pick a winner.

Thank you for the provocation of my thoughts. Seems heavy enough to be worth porting to my journal...

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