So the POTUS didn’t ask for permission from the Legislative Branch before bombing Syria? Well No Shit Sherlock

Folks here is one of my lessons in practical US governance.
The House of Representatives and the Senate have no real interest in requiring any POTUS to get permission before committing US forces to action around the world. Never mind what some elected representatives might talk about or proclaim as part of their regular public strutting, watch what they actually do (HINT: Nothing of consequence).
Part of the reason is that many specific operations are covert, and so cannot be disclosed or debated in advance.
However, the main reason is that if the HoR or the Senate does not intervene, they get to have it both ways. If the military action is seen to be a success, they get to pass motions congratulating US forces, attend parades and homecomings in their states or districts, and generally bathe in reflected glory. If the action is perceived to be a failure, then they get to walk away and blame the POTUS for “misadventure” or some such, while burnishing their credentials as Real Americans (TM) by attending funeral and memorial events.
Cynical, moi? On this subject, yep. Very.

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Phrases that are useless and dangerous that need to be retired

Folks, there are a small number of phrases which I look for in postings and comments on the internet as part of my process of trying to determine whether I ought to take the posting or comment seriously.
Apart from juvenile nonsense like “libtard” and “drumpf”, I look for accusations based on strawman stereotypes (“you libs” being a classic example).
I also tend to discount people complaining about tone and style instead of substance. If they want to complain that I hurt their feelings, they need to have a damn good reason that shows I was unnecessarily unpleasant to them, or I am going to wave that off. There is a term for it in discussion forums. It’s called tone trolling.
However, there are some words and phrases that are certain to trigger my bullshit detector and give me a powerful incentive to discount the words I read.
Here is my current list of words and phrases.
Political Correctness
Absent a clear definition for this in the context of the posting or comment, it’s a slogan that has no clear meaning. I will also observe that a significant percentage of the people complaining about “political correctness” usually proceed to write like juvenile jerks.
Fake News
This is a term which usually means “anything I read on the Internet that I don’t like or agree with”. It’s use shows laziness in thinking and argument.
Snowflake
This is used most of the time by people engaging in weapons-grade projection.

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Rule #1 of capitalism and internet privacy elimination

You may have noticed that the House of Representatives has passed legislation this week that essentially allows ISPs (those people that bring you your internet access) to sell your personal information (including your postings, browsing history etc. etc. ) to third parties.
A lot of people are up in arms about this. Superficially, this is a gross breach of personal privacy.
And it is.
But…
It was inevitable.
And here’s why.
Since the Internet first became visible and usable (around 1994-95), one of the underlying paradigms that it implemented is that Everything Should Be Free.
The online world is full of social platforms all competing for your patronage. The vast majority of them are free of charge.
Now, I remember Rule #1 of capitalism. The one that says “there is no such thing as a free lunch”.
The likes of Facebook, Twitter et al have not been running a charity. They are, just like all businesses, trying to make money. If they cannot or will not charge users directly, there are only two ways that they can make money:
1. Put adverts into the content that they serve and manage
2. Sell your personal information to third parties (remember: everything you post on a site like Facebook becomes their property, to do with as they please. Read the small print).

There really is no other way that they can survive.
So, if you are surprised that the HoR passed the legislation that it did, you should not be. How else are these social platform providers going to make money?
Of course, you have a choice. It will require a mindset shift, but it could result in your private information not being sold to third parties.
The choice is to actually, you know, start paying for internet services.
I do this today, by donating to bloggers and news platforms.
If internet users are not prepared to actually pay for social platforms on the internet, they have no right to expect that their privacy will be respected. Simply, in an “everything is free” paradigm, your personal data is one of the few assets that a social platform company has, so it will be monetized.
We need to grow up about the internet, and understand reality.

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Friday Round-Up – 31st March 2017

’twas the night before April Fools Day, and this writer has concluded that the USA needs no April Fool. We have an entire collection of them trying to run the Federal Government right now.

1. Brexit
This article by Dennis McShane lays out in stark detail exactly how weak the UK’s negotiating position is on Brexit. The UK has no influence in Europe worth a damn, and is outnumbered numerically and economically. The initial letter from the UK triggering article 50 has landed the UK in hot water already because of what was widely seen as an attempt to link security co-operation to the negotiations. Note how the EU leaders that the UK is going to have to deal with are bending over backwards to show that they took it as a threat.
I believe that the most likely outcome at present is that the Brexit negotiations will fail and the UK will then crash out of the EU (the “hard exit” that some people have forecasted), and that this will lead to the break-up of the UK. I believe that once Wales finds out how much less money it will be getting from the EU, voters’ remorse will kick in. The only alternative is for the Tories to back away from Brexit. As for the Labour Party…they seem to be totally AWOL on Brexit, behaving like a collection of spineless and mute dumbasses. The Liberal Democrats have been consistently pro-EU, and may find their fortunes improving as a result.
I remain amused at the demands from Brexit supporters that the other side should “get over it”. I have been listening to and reading 40+ years of pissing moaning and whining from UK politicians (mostly Tories) about the iniquities of the EU, so no, bollocks to that. I think Brexit was a terrible decision that should never have been made via a referendum, and the Brexit scolds can go piss up a rope.

2. The Petulance of the POTUS
It seems that Donald Trump cannot handle any awkward questions. Asked about General Michael Flynn at an Executive Order signing ceremony today, he got up and walked out, having not signed a single document, leaving VP Mike Pence to pick up the pieces.
I have a word for this kind of behavior. It’s childish chickenshittery.
Ideally a few people would go into the Oval Office and tell the POTUS to stop behaving like a petulant dickweed, however, it seems that nobody wants to be the first person to tell him this. He is currently surrounded by spineless weasels. In other words, we elected a carnival barker, who promised to drain the swamp and then surrounded himself with sycophantic beneficiaries of the current system.
What could possibly go wrong?

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I had an interesting conversation with a prospective client yesterday as part of my day job.
Their IT service vendors are unable to meet some of their requirements for staffing IT delivery projects at present, because the suspension of fast-track visa processing means that they cannot quickly bring any new resources into the USA from elsewhere in the world.
This seems to be happening all over the place, from other conversations i have held this week with work colleagues. Fast Track visa processing is on hold, and renewals of current visas are being denied. I know of one IT consultant at one of my previous clients whose H1B visa expires in August and is not being renewed, so he is going to have to move his family back to India and go back there in August to find work.
Now, I know that some people are sitting there thinking “good, that means more jobs for US workers”, but it’s not as simple as that. There are two factors that work together to make this a significant issue
1. Right now, the bench for some IT skills in the USA is weak to non-existent. A lot (and I mean a LOT) of experienced IT people are currently retiring, they are part of the Baby Boomer generation. Many of them are genuinely old enough and have enough money in the bank to retire, and a lot of them are burned out and ground down by 10+ years of slash-and-burn by IT departments. The retiring people have 20-30 or more years of experience, and they will not be easy to replace. Anecdotally, I have around 220 names on my Skype Contacts list internally. I know of at least 3 people who have retired in the last 9 months off of that list. While retirements might improve my job security, the current SNAFUs on immigration and visa processing will negatively impact corporations in the USA. There aren’t the people out there in a working age bracket ready to step in and provide help.
2. The commodity mindset for IT services is well-established, even for people-based delivery. Corporations have been buying on price for a while. If the Indian “pure plays”, who currently have tens of thousands of people here in the USA on (mostly) H1b visas, run into visa issues, they will go to Plan B. Plan B will consist of them moving most of those people back to India, from which they will still hire them out to US corporations, only this time cheaper. The corporations will bite. Hell, they would hire penguins in Antarctica if it looked like a good deal.
(2) has negative consequences that go beyond the non-re-appearance of IT jobs. The people who leave the USA , who were all employed and paying taxes and spending money, will no longer be doing either, so the GDP and tax revenues of the USA will be impacted, as will service industry businesses.

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Replacement bill for PPACA introduces new charging system

Washington DC, 7th March 2017 – The replacement bill for the PPACA, announced today by the Republican Party, includes a radical overhaul of the charging structure for US healthcare.
Under the terms of the bill, all charges on all estimates and bills for healthcare in the USA after the bill becomes law will be denominated in IPU – iPhone Units.
“iPhones are now the preferred measure of the wealth of the poor” commented Rep. Jason Chaffetz at a press conference given to announce the publication of the bill. “If the wealthy poor always compare healthcare costs to iPhones, by God, we intend to make it easier than ever for them to work out the cost of healthcare”.
Asked if Apple might object to their brand name being used without permission to name a charging structure like this, Rep. Paul Ryan, the House Speaker, was blunt. “Apple has a nice business in the USA, be a shame if something was to happen to it” he said, winking at the questioner. He continued, “they have a lot of cash that they want to bring back to the United States, and I am sure that they will be amenable to a quid pro quo for the use of this name”.

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Impositional Conformist (phr, perjorative)

A person or group that believes that for society to function correctly, everybody in the society has to conform at all times to a narrow set of values, beliefs, and actions, as specified and defined by them. People or groups who fail or refuse to conform to the specified beliefs values and actions are defined as “Others”, and are regarded as lesser people who deserve diminution, condemnation, excoriation, demonization, and, in extreme cases, persecution up to and including death.
Impositional Conformism is now the preferred operating model for significant religious, political and other authoritarian-leaning groups in the modern USA.

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Graham Statement Of The Obvious – Healthcare bullshit

If a Republican politician, when discussing healthcare, utters the phrase “access to healthcare”, activate your bullshit detector.
Immediately.
What you are listening to is most likely going to consist of sophistry and doublespeak. The context in which it is usually used is a statement along the lines of “we will ensure that every American has access to healthcare”.
The phrase, in that context, is bullshit. Everyone of us has access to healthcare. As long as we can pay for it…
The weasel word “affordable” is also cause for one hand to be on the bullshit detector. “Affordable” for a millionaire Congresscritter is not “affordable” for an unemployed factory worker in Upper Podunk.
Pay attention to the weasel words, folks. The GOP had no plan for replacing the ACA, and the weasel words are a positioning game to create confusion and buy time.

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Don Quixote legislation attempts aka Virtue Signalling

A significant percentage of the cockanamie, likely unconstitutional legislation that is proposed almost daily by the censorious nitwit wing of the GOP is what I call Don Quixote legislation.
The people floating the legislation often have not bothered to draft them properly, and may not even have considered all of the implications of the proposed bills (this is probably why at one point the state of Texas proposed marriage protection legislation that, absent any different interpretation by the courts, could have outlawed heterosexual marriage. Personally I think the state should not be in the business of setting rules for marriage other than that the parties to the marriage are capable of informed consent, but that’s because on these any many other matters I am a libertarian).
The proposers of these bills know full well that they are unlikely to (a) ever make it into law, and (b) if they make it into law they will most likely soon be struck down by one or more courts.
They don’t care about these practical items. Their purpose is not really to get the half-baked cockanamie bill or bills passed into law. Their purpose is virtue signalling. They are saying to their base, for example “look, I know you’re terrified about perversion of The Children, and you’re for tough legislation against those three-legged trisexual perverts using the bathroom, so I just tabled the Unbelieavabubble Three-LeggedTrisexual Bathroom Bill”.
Virtue signalling is a no-lose tactic. If, by some bizarre series of events or miracles, the Unbelievabubble Three-Legged Trisexual Bathroom Bill makes it into law, they get to say to their base “look, I came through for you”. If the bill dies in committee (which is where most bad bills go to die), then they get to say to their base “look, I tried”.
If the bill makes it into law and gets struck down, they get to say to the base “see, here we go again – unelected judges legislating from the bench again – Please Send Money”.
If you want an excellent contemporary example of virtue signalling at national level, you can examine how the GOP, after gaining control of the House of Representatives in 2012, proceeded, over a 4 year period, to schedule at least 57 separate votes to repeal the PPACA. The votes were purely symbolic, a total waste of House time, and our taxpayer dollars, but they were a means of signalling to the GOP base that the party was Deadly Serious about repealing what they named “Obamacare”.
There is no downside to this form of political masturbation for the person doing the virtue signalling.

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Donald Trump is the Electoral College President

Donald Trump is the Electoral College President.
He was elected by the Electoral College 304-227. This is the 46th largest winning margin ever out of 56 elections where there was a clear result. So calling it a “landslide” is bullshit on both raw numerical and ranking grounds.
Donald Trump gained 46.1% of the popular vote compared to 48.2% for Hillary Clinton. So he did not win a majority of votes cast.
A total of 26% of eligible voters voted for Donald Trump.
If anybody attempts to argue that Trump voters are the “silent majority”, ask them how they can explain this using math. You might want to go get some popcorn and sodas to keep your body busy while you wait for a coherent logical answer.

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