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76  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: On-Going Military Coup in Turkey on: July 16, 2016, 10:16:39 am
An American Enterprise Institute official published an article in Newsweek in March that, if it came from the State Department would have been considered a greenlight for a coup:

So if the Turkish military moves to oust Erdogan and place his inner circle behind bars, could they get away with it?

In the realm of analysis rather than advocacy, the answer is yes. At this point in election season, it is doubtful that the Obama administration would do more than castigate any coup leaders, especially if they immediately laid out a clear path to the restoration of democracy.

Nor would Erdogan engender the type of sympathy that Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi did. When Morsi was ousted, his commitment to democracy was still subject to debate.

That debate is now moot when it comes to the Turkish strongman. Neither the Republican nor Democratic front-runners would put U.S. prestige on the line to seek a return to the status quo ante. They might offer lip service against a coup, but they would work with the new regime.

Coup leaders might moot European and American human rights and civil society criticism and that of journalists by immediately freeing all detained journalists and academics and by returning seized newspapers and television stations to their rightful owners.

Turkey’s NATO membership is no deterrent to action: Neither Turkey nor Greece lost their NATO membership after previous coups. Should a new leadership engage sincerely with Turkey’s Kurds, Kurds might come onboard.

This came on the heels of a long Atlantic interview in which stated, "Obama acknowledged that he initially viewed Erdogan, mistakenly, as the sort of moderate Muslim leader who would bridge the divide between East and West — but Obama now considers him a failure and an authoritarian, one who refuses to use his enormous army to bring stability to Syria.”; Foreign Policy Magazine picked up on both in June.

The chatter was out there and one wonders how much the coup plotters were aware of these articles.
77  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: What's more important: democracy, or liberalism/secularism? on: July 15, 2016, 10:34:53 pm
A big discussion in the Turkey Coup thread right now.

 What's better?

 1. a democratically-elected government... even if it morphs into a populist elected-dictatorship that increasingly tries to consolidate power, oppresses free speech and the media and ethnic/religious minorities, treats women differently, and demolishes the separation of religion/government by making government lean more theocratic

That's not democracy. No one's saying Erdogan is particularly democratic. But starting an event which is pretty much guaranteed to result in deaths of innocent people and risks tipping your country into a civil war is the act of a murderer, and pretty stupid to boot.
78  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: A year ago today, did you expect the GOP nominee to be Trump? on: July 15, 2016, 10:17:49 pm
No, I had no idea who would be the GOP nominee. That being said, it's remarkable how consistent the objective data (polls) were on this.
79  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: So is Hillary going to work on the honesty/corruption problem at all? on: July 15, 2016, 10:15:57 pm
Yes, she does need to address this somehow.

Sadly, the expectation -- with no evidence at all -- that was kicked up that Clinton "might" be indicted (which I contributed to mightily myself) ended up making the verdict, when it came out, look illegitimate, for failing to satisfy an illegitimate expectation. In my foolish pessimism I ended up contributing to the swiftboating of my own candidate. That said, what would be most mitigating for Clinton on this issue is some contrition, or at least a display of contrition, for what she did indeed was indisputedly wrong.
80  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Trump: the Congress must formally declare "World War" on: July 15, 2016, 10:11:25 pm
A "war on terrorism" is like a war on drugs or a war on poverty, more so than WWII. The enemy is not a group of people or entity that can be defeated, but a concept or tactic, and it could go on forever. Basically a permanent state of war. Personally, I still think of conflicts against non-state actors as essentially policing, but that's just me. No matter how much the guys in Orlando and Nice may have thought of themselves as soldiers, at the end of the day they were just common criminals.
81  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: On-Going Military Coup in Turkey on: July 15, 2016, 09:12:31 pm
I'm so glad I live in a country where political differences are settled by elections.
82  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Any impact of US offering military alliance with Russia on the election? on: July 15, 2016, 05:22:26 pm
Can the president just offer a "permanent alliance" without Congressional approval? Would this take precedence over NATO?
83  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: On-Going Military Coup in Turkey on: July 15, 2016, 04:26:00 pm
Reminds me of the coup against Diem in '63. Basically, our little boy pissed off the State Department due to too many human rights violations, and there were longstanding animosities in the military to exploit.

Also, Putin probably told Kerry he wanted Erdogan out. If one looks at the Russia-Syria-Iraq-Iran noose Kerry wants to build against ISIS, Turkey was clearly the odd one out.
84  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: On-Going Military Coup in Turkey on: July 15, 2016, 03:56:51 pm
As much as I don't like Erdogan, the elected president should be respected. I guess this would be the first coup since 1997, and more violent than that one.
85  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Clinton VP news on: July 15, 2016, 12:47:37 pm
With Trump picking Pence, I think she would be best served with a Midwesterner who is somewhat popular with progressives for economic issues, or Elizabeth Warren. I don't think a Senate seat should be a concern compared to having the best ticket.

1. Sherrod Brown
2. Russ Feingold
3. Elizabeth Warren
4. Tim Kaine
5. Tom Perez
86  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Sanders Endorses Clinton Event - Portsmouth, NH Live Thread on: July 12, 2016, 11:25:44 am
Thank you, Bernie Sanders. What a freedom fighter.
87  General Politics / Economics / Re: Why do websites not have more competitors? on: July 12, 2016, 11:09:43 am
Yes, Netflix does have real competitors, albeit not as successful.

The failure of Google+ shows just how daunting the invisible barriers to entry are. If any company could successfully challenge Facebook, you would think it would be Google. If they can't do it...

However even the competitive industries do not pass the Herfindahl-Hirschmann index. .25 is considered the threshold for high concentration.

For instance, Netflix-style OTT subscription service:

(.48)^2+(.2)^2+(.1)^2+(.1)^2+(.1)^2 = .30

U.S. search market share:

(.64)^2+(.213)^2+(.124)^2+(.017)^2+(.009)^2 = .47
88  General Politics / Economics / Why do websites not have more competitors? on: July 11, 2016, 09:45:14 pm
Why do websites such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Netflix not have more competitors?

If you think about it, in most industries, you have different companies engaged in direct competition. So GM offers basically the same product as Toyota-- if you're in the market for a new car, you will likely buy either a GM car or a Toyota car, but not both. You will buy an iPhone or an Android. You will hail a Lyft or an Uber. You will fill up the gas at Exxon or Shell. But not so with the above listed companies! Facebook, for instance, has no direct competitors. Sure, there are other social networks, but they all offer something essentially different. There's no other "social network with a timeline for posting status updates and livestreams". There's no other "search engine." There's no other "140-character text-based followstream."

There are a number of particularly curious points here:

1. Normally, a lack of competition is due to barriers to entry. For instance, you can't just start up a Wal-Mart in town X if Wal-Mart is using it's huge scale to depress prices below what a smaller retailer could afford. You can't just start up an electric company in city Y if the electricity infrastructure is already owned by Tinseltown Electric, Inc. and the city government is giving it a monopoly use on that infrastructure. However, there are seemingly no barriers to websites. Microsoft, a huge company with massive capital behind it, tried to start a competitor to Google, (Bing search), and still failed, despite the fact that there's literally nothing preventing consumers from going to www.bing.com.

There are seemingly zero barriers to entry. Anyone can start a website, supposedly. But are there?

2. Normally, a lack of competition would trigger antitrust lawsuits. I can't remember the last time the government filed a major antitrust lawsuit to break up a major company. AT&T? Microsoft in the late 1990s? Yet Google has had an effective monopoly on the U.S. search market for 15 years now, it's one of the world's largest companies, and there has never been a whiff of anti-trust threats against it.

3. Another mystery about these companies -- is that they don't charge anything. Google has become one of the world's largest companies, Facebook has made its owners among the wealthiest in the world-- undoubtedly due to users like me, who use these products. Yet I have never spent a cent directly on either Google or Facebook. Normally, very successful companies get that way by getting err-- customers, to err-- spend money buying things. You'd think that would be the most basic aspect of business. Yet for these businesses, that's not occurring, even though it's clear users are very important to them.

I propose that the users of sites like Google and Facebook are actually laborers for them. It's our data that is valuable to them, and in using their product we are simultaneously working for them in an uncompensated manner. They've designed the product to ensure that the consumer wants to do this. I argue this is an entirely new model of capitalism for the information age and is not sufficiently recognized as such by our regulatory structures.
89  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Why aren't we talking about white-on-white crime? on: July 11, 2016, 11:10:37 am
Because no one endorses white-on-white crime. Just as no one endorses black-on-black crime. Crime is illegal; that's why it's called crime. The comparisons between widely acknowledged criminals who get put in jail if caught, and public servants who get off Scott free for homicide is just apples and oranges, and I wish people would stop making these.
90  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Police Brutality Megathread on: July 11, 2016, 08:36:56 am
Let's say in the worst possible case in the LA shooting, let's say even though the guy has been saying "what did I do wrong?" and is pinned to the ground by two officers on top with a gun pointed point blank range at him, he somehow has a suicidal intention to pull his gun out of his pocket, it's loaded, he will flip the safety, use his one arm to overpower both arms & body leverage of the 2nd officer, and he will deliver a lethal shot at one of the apprehending officers. In that case, they still could easily have shot off his wrist, or his arm, given how they had him down. They didn't have to put a bullet through the middle of his chest.

At least that's how it looks now. It looks unreasonable. If more information comes out, that could change. But given the 'blue wall' and the fact that the evidence is in the hands of the very cops whose actions are under scrutiny, it's understandable that some people are angry and protesting based on the video.
91  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Did James Comey abuse his power? on: July 10, 2016, 09:26:46 pm
I gurantee you Colin Powell and Condi Rice received classified email on their non-classified servers. In Powell's case, he was using an AOL address.

As we can see, career politicians at the State Dept were corresponding and forwarding Hillary emails with confidential or sensitive materials in the body of the email. These aren't people that Hillary just appointed - they are life long state dept officials. If they did that with Hillary, are you trying to tell me they didn't do that with previous Secretary of State appointees?

If an audit was done on Powell and Rice's non-classified emails, I would bet my life there would also be some sensitive materials there. And Powell even admits he no longer has his emails - they disappeared.

Rice never used email.

Her aides did, and classified information was found on those emails.

I believe they found a total of two classified emails on Powell's account, and they were classified at the lowest level of classification.

But, as has been said over and over again, and as Comey reiterated in the hearing last week, what Powell and Clinton did really aren't that comparable.

Powell never provided all of his e-mails, or even tried to, so investigators were only able to search fragments of his records. Had they looked at more, they very well might have found more.

Headlines: "Former Republican fails to indict Hillary."

Hillary Supporters: What a power hungry Republican!

Had he recommended a prosecution based on a poor case and Clinton was acquitted after being forced to drop out of the presidential race, it would have been malpractice at historic levels. He still did everything he could to damage her, including dragging out the investigation to ensure maximum public interest and then unprofessional personal editorial remarks outside the scope of his job as investigator.
92  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: BREAKING: Shots fired at BLM protest in downtown Dallas, TX on: July 10, 2016, 01:34:18 am
The really grim irony is that Dallas' PD seems to be one of the most reform-oriented in the country. Tons of tweets showing them mingling with protestors, reports about mutual respect between them and reformers. Terrible, terrible thing.

Just like the Red Brigades had to kill Aldo Moro, of all DC leaders.

Yeah, just like how the Detroit riots happened under Jerome Cavanaugh, who had a reputation as one of the most progressive and reform minded. Or how the trades unions declared war on the Callaghan government in '78-'79. All of these preceded sudden sharp turns to the right and historic losses to the perpetrating parties that they never recovered from.
93  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: BREAKING: Shots fired at BLM protest in downtown Dallas, TX on: July 08, 2016, 12:07:51 pm
In the words of one Rodney King, "can't we all just get along?"
94  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: If there was no Benghazi attack or no email troubles... on: July 06, 2016, 02:09:47 pm
There's a good chance some other scandal would have been trumped up against her.
95  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Should the Democratic Superdelegates refuse to nominate Clinton? on: July 06, 2016, 02:01:21 pm
But what exactly is convenient about hiring an IT staff to run servers out of your own home?  This is an elaborate scheme and we deserve to know the motives and reasoning behind it,

It's worth nothing that she had a server in her home during her 2008 presidential campaign (which in turn was an extension of a server Bill used prior to that), and by all accounts her later State servers were just an extension of that. From her perspective she was just doing the same thing she'd always done.

For instance, the server installed in her Chappaqua, N.Y., home as she was preparing to take office as secretary of state was originally used by her first campaign for the presidency, in 2008, according to two people briefed on the setup. A staffer who was on the payroll of her political action committee set it up in her home, replacing a server that Clinton’s husband, former president Bill Clinton, had been using in the house.


It's not like "Gee, normally Secretaries of State have a .gov account, but I'm going to go out of my way to set up this totally new thing."

It was more like "The last SoS had no e-mail address and her aides used personal e-mail domains, and the SoS before that used a personal e-mail domain himself, so I'll use my personal e-mail domain also, which just happens to be hosted at my house." Most likely, at the very beginning it really was just a matter of convenience and familiarity.
96  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Do Clinton's email claims over the last year collapse after the FBI findings? on: July 06, 2016, 12:25:09 pm
Except for the claim which she set up her email system because she only needed to carry one, Comey's contradictions of Clinton's statements all stem from the fact that, among over 30,000 emails, there were a small percentage that fell outside the norm, that her statements accurately characterized. It's like Clinton saying, "Everything in the documents are spelled correctly" after checking them for spelling and then Comey coming through and finding spelling errors. Her broad characterizations of 99.6% of the emails were accurate.
97  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Sanders booed by house democrats on: July 06, 2016, 12:20:54 pm
Who cares? Just leave the guy alone. He's not the enemy.

Anyway, given the approval ratings of Congress, getting booed by a bunch of politicians is a badge of honor. These people should have some more dignity.
98  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Donald Trump Praises Saddam Hussein on: July 05, 2016, 09:47:59 pm
"They didn't read him the rights, they didn't talk, they were a terrorist it was over..."

Hey I agree, Donald Trump would make a great third world dictator.
99  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Donald Trump Praises Saddam Hussein on: July 05, 2016, 09:05:33 pm
Stern: Are you for invading Iraq?

Trump: Yeah, I guess, so. I wish the first time it was done correctly.

100  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: FBI Director Comey giving press confrence at 11am today on: July 05, 2016, 01:39:06 pm
So no indictment. Thank goodness. Given my earlier comments, I clearly have to reassess the lens by which I look at politics. Maybe my critics are right that I'm too much of a chicken little. I will make an effort from here on out to be more objective and self-critical when examining what biases are affecting my analysis.

While it's a little strange to be celebrating one's own candidate not being indicted, from Mr. Comey's comments it's clear that this wasn't a close call. There was no intent to undermine national security or hide anything from investigators. There was only what you would expect from 30,000 emails - that there would be some mistakes in classifying them made by Clinton. 110 emails out of 30,000+ had some level of classification at the time they were sent or received. That's 0.4%. She's human, we are all human.

Her real mistake was having the private servers in the first place. That was wrong, and she was right to apologize for it. But given that her predecessors or their aides also used private e-mail of varying degrees and neither had government e-mail, it's fair to say that this was only allowed because compliance policies at State were sloppy and ill-defined. It seems clear that all sorts of sloppiness in many different agencies at all levels of government would be uncovered, if they were all subject to the same degree of scrutiny as Clinton. Hillary Clinton has been the most investigated, scrutinized public figures in modern history. Literally dozens of books and tens of thousands of pages of documents exist on her. There's probably more information out there about her than she even remembers about herself. Yet no "smoking gun" has ever been found - just one dead end investigation after another. The only time either of the Clintons were "gotten" was when it involved a blue dress. Go figure.

However, this incident should be a warning to all of our public officials to be scrupulous with classified information, no matter one's rank. If Hillary can be seriously damaged politically by something like this, than any public official who isn't careful to follow procedure strictly can be. And it must be a warning to both the Clintons and the people around them not to make unforced errors in the future - they can learn from the current president, Obama, who has been relatively scandal-free.
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