Weekend Open Thread

“The truest characters of ignorance are vanity and pride and arrogance.”

–Samuel Butler


70 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. kwtreekwtree says:

    Good news on voting rights in Florida- ex felons can still vote if they demonstrate that they genuinely can’t pay whatever financial obligations they still owe. 

    It is still a kind of poll tax in that Floridians have the burden of proof to show inability to pay – but it’s a small, maybe significant victory. Overcoming the GOP voter suppression project is critical to keeping our democracy.


  2. RepealAndReplace says:

    Dr. Jill Stein…..

    Will be on Smerconish this morning with her diagnosis of what happened in 2016 and who is (and is not) a Russian asset.

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      As if Jill Stein is actually believable………..

      I recall posting on Pols back in 2016 that the only person less qualified than Trump to be president was Stein.

      • VoyageurVoyageur says:

        Whoever wrote that was wrong.  Benedict Arnold would have been a better president than Stinky Don.

      • RepealAndReplace says:

        I watched the anti-vaxxing dingbat's interview this morning.

        She did say one thing with which I strongly agreed. She called for ranked voting – like Maine has done – nationwide.

        Then she said that ranked voting would prevent the problem of the "unintended consequences" of voting for your preferred candidate.

        HELLO….  Someone needs to introduce this moron and her idiotic followers to the concept of foreseeability.

        She claims she is not running next year. If true, I'm sure there is another useful idiot waiting in the wings. Tulsi? Nader 2020?

  3. JohnInDenverJohnInDenver says:

    Michael Bennet has some rare exposure — a leading article in Politico

    The author watches the October Democratic debate with Bennet.

    As the debate approaches the two-hour mark, Bennet goes silent, gazing emotionlessly at the television for a prolonged stretch. Finally, I ask what’s on his mind. “I’m sitting here thinking, 'Who can beat Trump?'” he says. “Can any of these people beat Trump?”

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      Good article that exposes the weakness of Elizabeth Warren.

    • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

      I read that article as an explanation about why Bennet will never win the nomination. And if he did, why Trump would cream him.

      First off, the system is rigged against the bottom 99.9% of the country. And more important, everyone realizes that. Someone who runs to keep things as they are, and is a clear lackey of Wall St., will lose in this climate.

      When the system is fucked, crazy (Trump) beats stay the course (Bennet).

      In addition, I have never seen him get people charged up and seeing a wonderful new world. You can be boring and win a Senate seat (against very damaged opponents). You can't be boring and win the presidency.


    • The realistThe realist says:

      Maybe he needs to focus on what the House and Senate need to do now, to deal with the massive corruption of the Trumpies. Doesn't he have any influence with some fellow Republicans in the Senate regarding impeachment (okay, I didn't word that quite right but you know what I mean . . .)?

  4. Genghis says:

    According to Hillary Clinton, the  Russians may be grooming Tulsi Gabbard for a third-party run.

    In a very real sense, it doesn't matter who wins the Democratic nomination. Trump & Co. can and likely will spend large blocs of time running against Clinton.

  5. harrydobyharrydoby says:

    Conservative David Brooks lists all the reasons in the case it is Trump vs. Warren that might tempt the "politically homeless" to either stick with Trump or sit out the election.  But then he explains why neither of those two options are viable.

    A hard but necessary choice to save the country.

    Politics is downstream from morality and culture. Warren represents a policy wrong turn, in my view, but policies can be argued about and reversed. Trump represents a much more important and fundamental threat — to the norms, values, standards and soul of this country.

    Last week, Trump all but greenlighted the ethnic cleansing of Kurds without an ounce of remorse. He normalizes dishonesty and valorizes cruelty. His letter to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reminds us yet again that we have a president whose professional competence is at kindergarten level. Once a nation has lost its heart, mind and soul, it is very hard to get these things back.

    Furthermore, Trump is an unprecedented threat to democratic institutions. Over the past few years, I’ve thought the progressive fears of incipient American fascism were vastly overblown. But, especially over the past month, Trump has worked overtime to validate those fears and to raise the horrifying specter of what he’ll be like if he is given a second term and is vindicated, unhinged and unwell.

    This election is about whether we can hold together as a functioning nation, across our economic, racial, geographic and ideological divides. In such circumstances, a bad option is better than a suicidal one.

    • Genghis says:

      Fuck that clown. A few weeks ago he was blabbering about how Marianne Williamson was the clear choice for beating Trump. 

      I've gotten vastly more peace loving over the decades, but if ever met Brooks in person, I'd feel morally obliged to beat him into a state of severe, permanent neurological damage.

    • kwtreekwtree says:

      He was lying….upper management at Google /YouTube have to know that they’re building white supremacy and conspiracy theory craziness…but it’s profitable, so they keep doing it.

      What’s really scary is how many young people are watching these YouTube videos for hours every day. As a teacher, including now as a substitute teacher, I have occasion to see plenty of what teenagers watch on their phones.

      There were teens who swore that there were murderous clowns stalking a park and high school football field in Greeley, because they “saw it on YouTube.”

      An old girlfriend, well-educated, professional, now espouses whatever crazypants stories are circulating about Obama, Hillary, that Trump is being “persecuted by the deep state”,all based on these YouTube sites she frequents. I just try to keep gently questioning her and keep the friendship, even though sometimes we just can’t rationally talk about politics, trying to keep her from wholly turning to the dark side.

      So the article you cited makes too much sense…that Google is intentionally maximizing views and advertising dollars by using algorithms that increase views of the worst, most racist and f%cked up crap that anyone ever put in front of a camera.

      So David, as an expert in the tech field, how hard would it be to tweak these algorithms so they don’t keep channeling people to more extreme videos? What would it take?

      • MADCO says:

        What would it take?


      • kickshot says:

        From "Surveillance Capitalism" Shoshana Zuboff, pg. 19:


        … all aspects of human experience are claimed as raw-material supplies and targeted for rendering into behavioral data.




        New automated protocols are designed to influence and modify human behavior at scale as the means of production is subordinated to a new and more complex means of behavior modification.

        • kwtreekwtree says:

          kick shot, please translate: 

          New automated protocols are designed to influence and modify human behavior at scale as the means of production is subordinated to a new and more complex means of behavior modification

          I understand the first clause of that sentence; “new protocols are designed to influence and modify human behavior “. That’s Google, YouTube, spyware, Facebook , social media news bubbles that self-perpetuate. 

          But what the hell does this mean? 

          the means of production is subordinated to a new and more complex means of behavior modification

          “Means of production” means making stuff to sell – impossible burgers, candy corn, tampons, movies, blogs,  ads to sell more stuff.

          “Means of reproduction” is where patriarchal vs. feminist theory comes in- making babies to grow up and do and buy and make stuff has to be under the control of people capable of making babies.

          So how does all that get “subordinated to…..behavior modification “?



          • kickshot says:

            "New automated protocols" -> algorithms

            "designed to influence and modify" -> hardcoded weighting factors in the algorithms

            "human behavior at scale" -> all users of surveillance capitalist platforms (FB, Google, Microsoft, etc) 

            "the means of production" -> (For surveillance capitalists) "The most-predictive raw-material supplies come from intervening in our experience to shape our behavior in ways that favor …. commercial outcomes". Think about how the developers of Pokemon Go were paid by commercial interests such as McDonald's to steer foot traffic their way.



            • JohnInDenverJohnInDenver says:

              I took the "means of production" phrase to be an indication that the author believes there is a shift from the classic socialist understanding.  shortcut WIKIPEDIA article:

              The social relations of socialism are characterized by the proletariat effectively controlling the means of production, either through cooperative enterprises or by public ownership or private artisanal tools and self-management so that social surplus goes to the working class and hence society as a whole.

              So if there is a new means of production, presumably there will need to be an adjustment in the plans for the rising of the proletariat.

              • kickshot says:

                Tough sentence to crack but it means that the "means of production" is replaced in Surveillance Capitalism by the "means of behavioral modification".

                • MADCO says:

                  We don't like talking about it

                • kwtreekwtree says:

                  “Replaced”? No. Definitely not. Manufacturing of durable and non-durable goods is less of a force in the American economy than it once was, but still is ~ 12- 20% of GDP. (Depending how you define the terms)

                  And even what I do -teaching- is variously defined as producing workers who can fit conveniently into slots in the economy and be zipped in and out as needed. That’s not how I see education, because I’m an old school Dewey gal, but some do see education as worker production.

                  Of the 5 sectors listed by Investopedia as dominant in the American economy, only two-technology and retail – really depend on surveillance and prediction and shaping of consumer behavior. 

                  Granted, those are big chunks, and those experts in “analytics” of shopping get the big bucks. My nephew does this – I think it’s really creepy, and wish he had stuck to musical theater,  but he’s happy and wealthy, so who am I to judge. 

                  Marxist Leninist theory about “means of production” can’t really apply in a world in which production is distributed, ownership is shared, roles are fluid, and information is a huge industry which is also distributed and democratized. As Toffler predicted long ago. 

                  So I think that “Surveillance Capitalism”, while it may accurately describe shaping of consumer behavior, leaves a lot to be desired as an economic model. But it is thought provoking…so thanks for that.

                  Still unresolved is the question of what the hell to do about the YouTube model of growing white supremacist terrorists. The “consumer behavior” shaped is the purchase of weapons and armor designed to kill large numbers of civilians quickly. 

                  Facebook just decided to not fact check political ads anymore – “Let the people decide”, Zuckie says. You tube will probably take a similar stance if forced to.

                  But I think they have to fact check, censor and regulate political speech. I think it’s a moral and ethical question. First Amendment doesn't protect all speech. It shouldn’t protect “Immigrants are invading so go take an AR 15 to Walmart and kill a bunch of people you think are immigrants.”

                   This ranks up there with climate change as “must solve” issues.


                  • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:


                  • kickshot says:

                    By 'replaced' I meant only the replacement of the phrase ""means of production" with the phrase "means of behavioral modification" so that the scenario becomes one in which industrial civilization has flourished by transforming natural resources and raw materials (means of production) into consumables. All of that will stay in place and become the resources and materials, augmented by personal consumer data, that surveillance capitalism will direct consumptive behavior (means of behavior modification) to.

                    Not sure what to do about the YouTube model of growing white supremacist terrorists that we've read so much about of late. I am led to believe that tweaking the neural network that serves as their recommendation engine would be the simple solution.

                    Doable but only Google/YouTube have control over that and what they optimize for is watchtime. A vid within the current category that is watched from beginning to end makes that vid rise in their recommended list. Vids that are watched to completion that autoplay other vids that are watched to completion maximizes the time in which they can serve up ads. They promote the obsessive behavior that makes them $$$.

                    Other suggestions are that it is the human nature of their users that selects the rabbit holes willingly and is probably what makes vids completely watchable.

                    Even others suggest that the recommendation engine can be gamed by the content that users load into the YouTube library.

                    Regulations? It would be like a game of whack-a-mole.

                    • kwtreekwtree says:

                      Better “whack a mole” than “Shoot the shoppers”.

                      I know what it will take for Google/ YouTube to start enforcing its existing rules against hate speech and violation of community standards.

                      Its going to take some successful lawsuits by grieving family members of whacko supremacists’ latest victims.

                      Case in point: 

                      The young man who killed his sister and 8 others in a bar in Dayton, Ohio ( I know, all these mass murders blur together) was a member of a metal “pornogrind” band. 

                      Pornogrind is a metal head music genre that features lyrics about raping and killing women. Yes, there are YouTube videos. No, I’m not going to link to them. Yes, these violate YouTube community standards. No, they have not been taken down. 

      • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

        The problem is the algorithm delivers what people want. It's not biased itself. It's like giving you stronger and stronger pain meds – you end up mainlining heroin.

        So the solution is to take political viewpoint into account and steer away from addicting but poisonous content. And that puts Google in the job of deciding what political viewpoints they think are acceptable. And how would they do that when the country is so divided politically.

        And for what it's worth, it's where people are good with going. I mostly listen to Russian Pop on YouTube and while I get some bad songs, it's all music.

        • kickshot says:

          You've contradicted yourself between the first two paragraphs:

          "want" vs. "steer"

          In the case of Google/YouTube "want" is the initial condition. The algorithm then predicts/steers based on hard-coded weighting factors. Those factors can steer in any direction the coder wants.

          It IS biased itself. The only way to not be dragged into the algorithm’s cesspool is to quit the session and maybe start again with a different initial condition. The first autoplay is programmed to drift in a specified direction, the next more so, etc.


          "And YouTube’s recommendation algorithm offers videos that become more and more extreme as viewers watch them."


          • kwtreekwtree says:

            So you think that a tech fix is possible, if, as MADCO says, there is the desire to fix it. 

            David seems to be blaming the consumers of YouTube content- if they didn’t seek out political content by searching for “Hillary Clinton” or “Trump”, then they wouldn’t get presented with more and more extreme content, including violent white supremacist imagery. So it’s the consumers’ fault. That lets the designers off the hook pretty well.

            Most teens are on YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram much more than Facebook. I haven’t seen any movement to try to detoxify these social media spheres, or even any discussion of it until these articles. 

            • kickshot says:

              The progression of content that, e.g., YouTube delivers is decided by the algorithm but the algorithm contains weighting factors that search for and find other contact that varies slightly from the last view. 

              The direction of variation (more extreme or less extreme) depends on what factors are derived from the library of content and whether the weighting factors are positive or negative (literally +/-) and how large they are.

  6. kwtreekwtree says:

    From CNN:$rump backtracked, now won’t try to hold the G7 at his Doral resort. Too much backlash, especially from Republicans.

    It was a trial balloon to see if Republicans would let him get away with it, IMHO. 

  7. kwtreekwtree says:

    FYI: Impossible Burgers have 11x the levels of cancer-linked glyphosphates than the Beyond Meat or other plant-based meat substitutes : https://www.momsacrossamerica.com/gmo_impossible_burger_positive_for_carcinogenic_glyphosate?fbclid=IwAR0tiWQU2FdmXWEES37_lUoA2GqaIKF4PrEy5R1ZrBN46Aq8M8FgnSbERks

    I tried these, and they are tasty, but I’ll get my glyphosphate dose the old-fashioned way- eating food that I have no idea if it’s been sprayed or not. 

    • VoyageurVoyageur says:

      Try my fave:leek soup with lima beans and onions, with lots of vegies.

      Chop the onions and add them, raw, just before serving. Toss in carrots, celery and radishes .
      A savory delight.

      I’ ve cut back on impossible burgers because each has 370 milligrams of Sodium.

    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      Glyphosate is the lead of our time, and almost no one escapes it.  I think something upwards of 98% of all soybeans now are sprayed with the chemical.  It's even found its way into the ultimate Trojan horse, tampons.  We could do better, but that would require Congress growing a backbone and standing up to the monied interests. I contend that over time consumer demand will force the industries hands – but until then we're stuck with the Faustian bargain between Congress and the chemical industry

      For years we had to deal with the Toxic Substances Control Act (which did almost nothing to 'contol' their damage to humans or the environment).  Under Obama the Lautenburg Act was passed, which put some additional guard rails around the list of approved chemicals on TSCA.  The Trump EPA is in the process of rolling those safeguards back. 

      In particular for the ladies here, I saw a presentation on cancer by Fran Drescher when she was lobbying Congress on TSCA reform that was outstanding. Check out her resource page here.

      The good news?  We have options. 

      The bad news (for now)?  We have a broken food system 

      This decline occurred as a result of deliberate policy decisions made by politicians from both parties who favor multinational corporations at the expense of rural communities. But contrary to what the senior official at the Iowa Farm Bureau said, rural America can be revived. It has a future, but only if we challenge who holds power in the current system and create an agricultural system that rewards meaningful work.

      The funny stuff? 

      Promoting laws to protect a market share makes you look weak. It is like you are running the meat marathon and you are looking nervously over your mighty shoulder at the scrawny chain-smoking vegan in a latex gimp suit and high heels running 25 miles behind you, worrying that he’s gaining ground. Maybe he looks different, sorta trendy, maybe even attractive to some, but you don’t have much to worry about in the race to the North American plate.

  8. Powerful Pear says:

    Proud to be a Russian bot for Tulsi Gabbard. Vlad and I talk each day about how we can trick the Pol Cats into supporting Tulsi. Please donate $25 to, Russian Bots for Tulsi, in care of Roger. For each $25 donation you will receive a wallet size photo of Vladimir, shirtless riding a horse. For a $50 dollar donation you will receive a Russian & Colorado flag pin to wear proudly to your next Bernie rally. And for $100 you will receive a text directly from one of Vladimir’s elite bot farms located in Hunter Bidens garage. Please donate today! After Hillary exposed our efforts we may have to switch support to Spartacus.

  9. MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

    Wait. What? The #G7BedBugDoral grift is dead?  (it lasted five days less than #InfrastructureWeek!)

    This is sadder than the Bowling Green Massacre.


  10. RepealAndReplace says:

    Former US Rep Sean Duffy is a raging idiot…….

    He's on CNN this morning shamelessly shilling for Trump. He was doing it over the weekend, too.

    He's been going off about the financial sacrifices Trump and his family have made to serve this country. (Working without a salary. Ivanka lost her product line at Nordstrom's.) Over the weekend, he was ranting about how Trump is growing the GOP because he carried WI, MI and PA. 

    Professional courtesy? One former reality TV show performer promoting another.

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