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Mark Mercer
Fuzzy Wanderer, Corporatism Critic, Former Corporate Tool. Uruguay Immigrant rather than US Expat.
Fuzzy Wanderer, Corporatism Critic, Former Corporate Tool. Uruguay Immigrant rather than US Expat.

Mark's posts

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I'm from dirt-poor mining, farming and factory working Mercers. And British/Scottish working-class stock. <=> Not rich Trump-Big Data Mercers. Sick of being smeared as somehow aligned with or part of the ultra-wealthy Trump- and conservatives-supporting Robert and Rebekah Mercer.

And sick of the delusions of such that thing that it took some "big data" or "foreign interference" to bring about Brexit or Trump.

No, it took neoliberal elitist arrogance. It took ignoring or dismissing the "salt of the earth" people like those I came from only a generation or so back. That's all.

One more unthinking "liberal" internet commenter who writes something like "Oh, where else have I heard the name 'Mercer'?" as a way to undercut my political commentary is getting a virtual shoe thrown at them, and I wouldn't rule out a defamation action. Just because I don't buy the BS that Clinton lost because of "evil Big Data from the Mercers" or "Russians did it" does not mean I am part of your so-called "conspiracy".

Clinton lost, Brexit won, because your "hero" politicians ignored the solid working-class people like those from where my father grew up in the Appalachians. Where my grandfather grew up in the UK. The people from the places where your supposed "good" politicians didn't give a flying flaming fart about in their own smug and out-of-touch "big data" predictions.

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Obama's own Homeland Security head: <=> No Russian hacking of the election count. Put a sock in it.

Was there perhaps Russian influence of public opinion? Sure, maybe, whatever. Ever hear of this thing called Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, various CIA and open State Department US propaganda to influence elections in other countries? Including when Secretary Clinton encouraged Russians to reject Putin? We do it too, and far more than any other country.

That's not hacking. That's propaganda.

There was no Russian hacking. Period. Just stop embarrassing yourselves, Democrats, and learn why you really lost and keep losing. 

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When even the liberal-leaning LA Times calls you out.<!> Columnist David Horsey wraps it up as "After four special elections in which Republicans have prevailed, Democrats have no reason to think their moral victories are predictive of anything but a rugged road ahead."

But sure, keep on doing what you are doing. So much with the winning.

With every single minor race or disputed nomination or non-apocalyptic bill turned into a "Referendum on Trump" or "Last chance to stop disaster" - and then you keep losing. Because hyperbole and denigration of your fellow Americans who might have other views, does not work. I thought Democrats were the pro-education party. How come you never learn anything? How come you still keep refusing to learn from the election over 7 months ago and instead keep up your ridiculous Putin/Russians narrative?

You, not "we". Not anymore, I'm just about done with this era of Democrats unless Bernie, Tulsi and a few others inside the party and a bunch of resisters to the ridiculous #Resistance toss out the bunch of you continual-losers continual-elitists.

(Please check your dictionaries and education - elitists do not have to be wealthy, and not all rich are "the elite". Most non-coastal elites do not think rich Trump is part of the elite; do think horribly-underpaid reporters and college faculty often are "elitists". They're right about that in too many cases.)

BTW somebody remind me to consider dropping my registration as a Democrat. I did that so I could vote in Florida's closed primaries for actual progressives with actual brains and integrity. (Not who ended up winning the primary and then her own "participation trophy".) I'm pretty much sick of this party by now, despite still agreeing with more of its supposed principles than I do with the Republicans (though I do agree with some of theirs) or the Libertarians (some of whose I also agree.) At this point I'm either ready to go back to being independent (No Party Affiliation), or Republican officially so that I can try to support less-extreme congressional and senate Republican candidates in the primaries.

At least I can vote against Ted Yoho that way if some more-inclusive Republican primaries him. And then still vote for a decent Democrat in the general elections, if you guys ever get back to your roots.

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Über-douche Uber CEO and Founder Kalanick finally out entirely. <=> Long past time for this toxic creep.

No, it's not because of his recent family tragedy. It's because the board of investors, specifically five major funding investors, demanded he GTFO and not come back, after all the many ways he has ruined that company's reputation.

Wonder if he took a Lyft to leave the office. He probably shouldn't take an Uber after the way the drivers hate him.

The whole company is based upon arrogant rule-breaking and deliberate law-flouting wherever it goes, hoping to quickly sucker enough of you into loving it but not caring about the damage it's doing, that they become "too big to regulate". And much of that worst-of-tech-arrogance came from this guy. But without it, it's just an illegal "gypsy cab company" with no real standards, no screening of any significance, rip-off surge-pricing, and an app.

For more on how screwed up Uber is, read this, and realize it was written a few days ago, before Kalanick was forced out:

Uber being now essentially leaderless, but still with illegal operations as its normal mode of entry to a city, and still with all the lawsuits, is going to tank. As it should.

Calling it now. Uber is "Pets-dot-com" of the "sharing economy" bubble. Not talking about the (currently still private) stock value nor some eventual IPO, but about it existing in any real form at all. The whole concept is based on being a jerk.

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From the "Dammit Democrats, quit running weak centrist candidates instead of progressives" department: <=> Ossoff lost.

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1) Holy Crap! 2) Cue up a class action lawsuit. 3) The class? <=> EVERY registered US voter! RNC BigData breach.

Massive Big Data breach / exposure of a database the Republican National Committee commissioned. On all of us. 198 million registered voters, which is nearly every one of us, and is 61% of the total US population. Creepy that it even exists all in one place. Worse that it was put on the public web without any security.

This was not from the more well-known, if any of these secretive firms can be called that, political conservative Big Data company Cambridge Analytics, owned by Robert and Rebekah Mercer - to whom I AM NOT RELATED! (So stop harassing me in comments about that, internet turdbrain low-info sloganeering unthinking leftists. #NotAllLeftists. And even if I were, so what?)

This is one from a company I've never heard of until now, Deep Root.

"Spreadsheets acquired from TargetPoint, which partnered with Deep Root and GOP Data Trust during the 2016 election, include the home addresses, birthdates, and party affiliations of nearly 200 million registered voters in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, as well as some 2016 voters. TargetPoint’s data seeks to resolve questions about where individual voters stand on dozens of political issues. For example: Is the voter eco-friendly? Do they favor lowering taxes? Do they believe the Democrats should stand up to Trump? Do they agree with Trump’s “America First” economic stance? Pharmaceutical companies do great damage: Agree or Disagree?"

The exposure was having it openly available, unencrypted and not requiring login credentials, on an Amazon server for at least two weeks this month. Non-techies may not realize that Amazon's most-profitable business is being the largest supplier of "cloud computing" services - I use them myself for client backups, content distribution, and providing secure, locked-down, password/keyed-access to files to people authorized. Unfortunately this Big Data company missed that last "secured" point.

Correction. Not "unfortunately" but "blatantly negligently".

Complete with the usual institutional BS of "So far, Deep Root doesn’t believe its proprietary data was accessed by any malicious third parties during the 12 days that the data was exposed on the open web." Just like every firm says when they do stupid stuff with data security. There's no way to tell, so assume it was accessed by "evildoers" - 12 days is an eternity on the web.

The exposed data had info on you and me also gathered by Karl Rove's American Crossroads SuperPAC and by the Koch Brothers' Americans for Prosperity. Recall that the Kochs did not support Trump, unlike going all-in with Romney in 2012, and sat out weighing in on the Presidential race, focusing on Congress. But the RNC did use this data to help Trump as well as Congressional candidates.

Voter data is indeed public, but it is usually hard to get at in bulk, especially across every state, then correlated with polling records and even social media and reddit profiles. Obama did an early version of that social media profile/voter-record correlation but this goes way beyond that. And Obama's didn't leak to the world. The article mentions that some of the state-provided public voter and related public records may indeed be illegal to use for commercial purposes. Though one can argue that the RNC using it was for protected political purposes, one can (and I'm sure someone will) argue that the purchase of the data by a commercial firm, and the various aggregations, constituted illegal use.

But even if entirely legal, this was outright negligence of a high order on basic Information Security standards of practice, and of common sense too!

Plus there has never before, at least to public knowledge, been a database of every single registered voter in the USA, complete with public and privately gathered information. That is creepy AF.

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Not posting as Trump support. <=> Posting as "Breaking your Narrative" support.

Whatever his many flaws, Trump is the first US President who was pro-LGBT full rights from even before he ran for the office. Obama certainly wasn't, and it took Joe Biden making one of his classic gaffes to push the issue. Hillary Clinton certainly wasn't until she ran for the 2nd time, and Bill Clinton was the one who both instituted "Don't ask don't tell" and signed the Defense of Marriage Act.

It's ludicrous when the unthinking sloganeering subset of the Left accuses Trump of being anti-gay. He's from New York City, and was part of the glitterati there, and was in show business too. Have any of you actually lived in NYC? (I have, about 2 decades total, in Manhattan.)

By the way, this photo would be far less likely under a President Pence. So think hard about what you want, after you re-learn your basic civics on how it works.

There's plenty substantial to criticize Trump for, both personally and his policies, without making up crap. No anti-LGBT nor "he only won because Russia" needed. Get real or keep losing. I'd prefer you don't keep losing.

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Horrifying automation-gone-psycho tale that seems like scifi. It's real: <=> 2008 Qantas 72 disaster. Severe injuries.

Luckily, and by the skill and determination of the pilots, no deaths. They managed to wrestle the Airbus 330 into some limited manual control, and landed at an Air Force base. Could easily have been many deaths onboard, even if the plane still had not crashed. And it nearly did crash. Twice. Computer-ordered nosedive at high speed.

I like flying as a passenger on Airbus jets, finding them mostly more comfortable for passengers than equivalent-market Boeing. I've flown on everything they've made except the super-jumbo A380, and on over a dozen airlines flying them, so it's not just Airline A vs Airline B interiors.

But this makes me think again about the old saying, "If it ain't Boeing, I ain't going!" Not out of any American-industry boosterism. As a decades-long computer programmer (in a different specialty than aviation), out of serious concern that Airbus design puts the computer ahead of the humans in ultimate control of the aircraft.

Though all modern commercial aircraft designs of the last 10 years or so are now "fly by wire" rather than mechanical control linkages, Boeing's design philosophy is still that the pilots have the ultimate decision-making authority and choose what the computer can do. Airbus is essentially the opposite.

There's supposedly a secondary and tertiary "Law" on Airbus flight computers, that increasingly give override control to the pilots vs the computer. But there's no Airbus mode for "Shut the hell up and let the pilot fly the plane manually". Not entirely.

As somebody who knows how imperfectly designed software can be, and how complex its interactions, I am not very comfortable with that Airbus philosopy. Even if I'm more comfortable in an Airbus passenger cabin.

Haven't entirely decided. But it's indeed a concern. Though Airbus has improved their flight software and the external data sensors since this, and the somewhat similar all-lives-lost Air France crash only a few months later (also mentioned in the article), they still do not have the "Pilots have ultimate control" mode, other than in press releases.

Flown in A300, A330, every major variant of the A340 including the ultralonghaul A340-500, all the A320 series A318, A319, A320, A321, and the newest one, the A350 widebody. Liked the ride. But would like to get to the end of it safely too.

Great in-depth reporting and engagingly-written article in the Sydney Morning Herald. 

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Rarely share nor read "Salon" these days, but this opinion piece is great. <=> Clintonism dead on the vine, as is its UK cousin.

Prune that old failed neolib center-right "liberalism" right out of your parties, progressives and center-left folks, if you don't want to keep losing power. There shouldn't be a glorification of specific politicians into movements, in a functional civil society, but it happens. Thus Corbyn and Sanders should be seen as lodestars rather than saints, but their policies and inclusion of those outside the elite are indeed point the way to go.

I'm not as far-left nor entirely democratic-socialist favoring as them, but I am a raging dem-soc on education, healthcare, infrastructure, and some other areas - even if still a bit libertarian on much of the rest. Give me an educated, healthy society and good shared infrastructure, for the overall community, then get the heck out of all of our ways so we can work out our own lives.

But don't sell me privatised infrastructure, over-regulating yet ineffective government, international meddling, crappy public services, declining-quality and ineffective healthcare, crony capitalism, and call it "liberal".

These guys aren't perfect by any means but their direction, and integrity, is a whole lot better than what the neoliberal centre-right "Third-way" so-called liberals have dished up.

(Mixed US/UK spelling to be fair to both sides of the Pond.)

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Trump too stupid to be President? <=> Wait, take question seriously. Max Boot makes a compelling thoughtful case. Trump isn't sharp enough to carry out Trump's own policies.

I'm neither a fan of the Council on Foreign Relations (where Boot works) nor of unrestrained over-the-top Trump-bashing. But Boot's opinion / analysis piece at "Foreign Policy" is well-argued, well-documented, and doesn't rely in the slightest on any "Russian narrative" (no mention of Russia at all, thankfully!) nor gets into the hyperbole of too much low-information criticism from the Left.

There's plenty of thoughtful, informed, non-conspiracy-theory (Russia) material for criticizing Trump, whether one's preference is removal or improvement, whether supporting or resisting.

Like this face-palming example:

'Trump met with the pastors of two major Presbyterian churches in New York. “I did very, very well with evangelicals in the polls,” he bragged. When the pastors told Trump they weren’t evangelicals, he demanded to know, “What are you then?” They told him they were mainline Presbyterians. “But you’re all Christians?” he asked. Yes, they had to assure him, Presbyterians are Christians. The kicker: Trump himself is Presbyterian.'

He doesn't even know the difference between the "mainline" Protestant denomination (the specific one he belongs to, in fact!), and the extremely different evangelical Christians? Actually that makes him like much of the aggressive-atheist and Left, who also have no idea that many Christians are their allies (or could be) in terms of LGBT, immigration, reproductive rights, equality issues, unlike the evangelicals and fundamentalists who are almost entirely opposed. Once upon a time, even if not religious, people in the US had a basic sense of what the different religions, at least the major ones, were about. I get the Gen-X and Millennial ignorance about it - I don't see how a Boomer like Trump, brought up and confirmed in a mainline Protestant church, doesn't even know what it is.

Then there are the actual policy issues of economics, NATO funding, and much more, discussed in the article. But the whole, "doesn't even know his own religion" thing is quite juicy, and telling.

You could make a case for supporting all the things that Trump said he was for (without any of the warped hyperbolic exaggerations and spin the Left put on those, nor the far Right), and still make a case that Trump himself has to go -because he isn't up to the job. He doesn't have the intellect nor the accumulated knowledge, nor any indication that he intends to, or even is able to, acquire that knowledge.

Even if you want a secure border that comes along with better ways to legally immigrate, more vetting of refugees, helping keep would-be refugees safe in their home regions instead of disrupting their lives by a global migration, focus on US policies ahead of foreign entanglements, business sense and speed applied to governmental bureaucracy, fewer regulations, less "regime changing" of foreign nations, and trade policies that favor US jobs, Trump seems unlikely to be capable of doing those.

So what happens next? Pence is capable enough, but believe me, he knows what hard-right social Christian evangelical conservatism is, and he wants it. He knows what hard-right decimate-government fiscal conservatism is and he wants it.

What Trump wants, or said he wanted, when you take away the extremist spins of both the Left and the Right, maybe isn't exactly what you nor I want, but isn't actually world-destroying values-destroying the way the Christian Theocrat branch of the Republican Party and the Destroy All The Benefits fiscal-hawk part of the Republicans are.

What's the best-case, actually-possible, outcome here? Towards what should we be working (beyond good non-corrupt non-warhawking non-neolib-privatizing Democrats running in 2020)?

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