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Secret docs reveal: an FBI with vast hidden powers (theintercept.com)
397 points by cylo on Jan 31, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 167 comments



Anyone who thinks Trump is the problem is missing the mark: An imperial presidency with an unchecked intelligence apparatus is a systemic problem that inevitably led to this.

If one person can pervert a system, that system sucks.


One person cannot pervert the system. One person, 63 million voters, lots of members of congress, lots of federal employees, etc. can. Not that the system doesn't have problems, but the people that make up the system are voluntarily giving Trump power. It's not possible to design a system that the participants themselves can't destroy if they decide to.


> It's not possible to design a system that the participants themselves can't destroy if they decide to.

You can raise the bar arbitrarily high, though. Make the destruction of the system require lots of coordinated effort, and then make coordination difficult. Coordination is hard for humans as it is, even without a system that actively subverts it. That's why we have lots of issued labeled together as "tragedies of the commons".


> You can raise the bar arbitrarily high, though

You can, but then you run head-first into another problem: this "bar-raising" undermines the legitimacy of the system in the eyes of the people and, not unjustifiably, makes them feel that it is undemocratic. Worse: this is a positive feedback loop. The more you raise the bar, the angrier people get and the more radical they will get in their attempts to tear it down, and so the more bar-raising is needed.

This is the unfortunate paradox that Matthew Yglesias highlighted in "American Democracy is Doomed" [0]: people are raging against horse-trading, organized parties, and 'elites' poo-poohing the "will of the people". This is totally defensible, but to some extent horse-trading and elite rule are the only things that make governance possible. I don't know any solution to this problem.

[0] http://www.vox.com/2015/3/2/8120063/american-democracy-doome...


>This is the unfortunate paradox that Matthew Yglesias highlighted in "American Democracy is Doomed" [0]: people are raging against horse-trading, organized parties, and 'elites' poo-poohing the "will of the people". This is totally defensible, but to some extent horse-trading and elite rule are the only things that make governance possible. I don't know any solution to this problem.

Well, I think a parliamentary system with proportional representation would help a lot. In those systems, the parties/lists might trade horses, but you know that your vote bought some measure of strength for a platform you actually believe in. Oh, and real civil-service protections to keep government staff from being fired for political reasons, including for security and military officials.


I used to think that, but based on recent events I'm not so sure: European Parliamentary governments seem to be having the same populist uprisings based on perceived illegitimacy and disconnect from of government that we are. All things being equal, I'd rather the US had a Parliamentary system, but I don't think it's a silver bullet.


gov't is currently optimized with only two of three core primitives (literacy+numeracy). Gov't like all institutions will be re-developed with the relatively (50years) new primitive, computeracy. Nothing like automation and disagregated decision making exists in the corporate bureaucracy of government today. If you want more outcome, you literally have to hire more ppl. There is no software leverage in government. Changing that changes everything. Our problem is we are alive at a time similar to when literacy became possible for everyone. It's very obvious that institutions not built on literacy would change, but it took nearly 100 years.


handouts.


"The dole" didn't save the Roman Republic.


Not for more than a few centuries.


Not only that but given there are 318 million people in the US it costs 2.5 billion dollars to buy everyone lunch one time. Good luck bribing that many people into complacency without running out of GDP.


Remember the Bush (43) "Stimulus" cheques everyone got? Those were fun.


These days, it feels like that effort is well coordinated by a combination of voluntary ignorance, poor foresight, and targeted messaging. Tools like social media sure make it easier.


> make destruction of the system hard

One might argue it already is. Then you have a bad system with a lot of friction to change it.


One person can pervert the system if the system itself is based on broken consensus. The approach to everything being objective in this reality needs to come to an end now. There is ONE person making this a subjective reality manifest and he's doing so by spreading dissonance within the populations you list here. As long as we keep on keeping on with the current system, we're going to keep getting Trumped.


> everything being objective in this reality needs to come to an end now

How did you come to that conclusion?


> The approach to everything being objective in this reality needs to come to an end now.

That is the full sentence I wrote. I do not allow people to reword the things I write to make the statement change its meaning, as you have done here by shifting the subject from "the approach" to "everything". There is a mighty difference between bringing an approach to an end and bringing everything to an end. We already have a ton of people on this planet speaking for others, I figure it's my bag whether I defend against it or not. I've noted that most people who like to speak for others will take other's words, twist them a bit, then ask a leading question to change the conversation in a way that allows them to speak for others in a very unique way. It's an efficient technique when things are going well, given it can raise interest in groups. It's not so great when things are off the rails. All of that is regardless of whether an individual had intent to do it or whether they may formulate rationalizations to defend their actions in the future. Speaking for others isn't right and it's a wasteful, recursive operation.

Nevertheless, I will clarify that I am claiming the intent by humans to force everything into an objective reality here is causing issues for what can be considered the meta or unknown - the yet to be if you will. I don't consider the unknown anything magical necessarily, but I do consider it the result of causality based on both the current state of the universe plus some yet to be discovered phenomenon that governs quantum events and the rest of the unknowns around us. It is a direct observation that we struggle to explain these "types" of intuition of the unknown with objective descriptions or knowledge.

A good example that I give is aliens. About half of people believe in aliens and half don't. No probabilities exist that make any sense to us to figure out if aliens exist, so we are left looking for an objective (observed) alien signal to "prove" they exist. Any tendency to say "there are no aliens" is illogical, given the lack of proof of them is not proof they don't exist. On the other hand, claiming "there are aliens" has some reasonable intuitive basis, given we're claiming we exist and we're here on this rock in the middle of a HUGE universe. It's faith that aliens exist, but it is not observed, yet, so it can't be objective. Faith is based on a few primaries, including sacredness which is a regard with great respect and reverence by a particular religion, group, or individual. Making something sacred is primarily elevating the belief in the unknown, based on an intuition which is not forced by recursive self-supporting speculation or speaking for others.

So, claiming there are (objective) aliens is illogical, given lack of proof. Someone saying they have faith there are aliens is fine, however. Saying people who have faith there are aliens are wrong (because it is not yet observed) is speaking for others, given their internal frame is faith based and a truth to them.

There are certainly other examples. Michael Faraday believed there was a single unifying force in the universe, but was unable to prove it before he died. He did manage to pop off inventing the electric motor, but his master intent of discovering anti-gravity went undone. Still, he had faith anti-gravity (or shielding of gravity) was possible. I know this because I have read his words saying as much.

So, I have faith that anti-gravity will be discovered. Nobody else in existence can tell me otherwise, given they'd be speaking for me while doing so. And there's the point I was making to begin with - speaking for another's faith is speaking for their internal frames, which are subjective in nature. Not everything here is objective, so expecting that it is is also akin to speaking for all others here. We have free will, and I won't let anyone tell me otherwise.

I've left off discussing issues with faith in aggregates. Religion has gone horribly wrong in the past, and will likely do so again in the future.

Thank you for the question!


I like this comment. We are guilty of letting this happen. I doubt stating that will change the average person's willingness to go out and vote and get involved with politics, but it is important to acknowledge our part of the blame. We can't be Halocaust-deniers, and we can't pretend we didn't have some part in this surveillance overreach. We let our fear play into their hands - and their hands have stayed busy since 2001.

~ don't give in to apathy, no matter how depressing we must stay involved in politics ~


> we can't pretend we didn't have some part in this surveillance overreach

Agreed, whether "we" refers to the voters or the IT industry.


If this keeps up for the remaining four years, as is likely, it will be hard for the GOP to win 2020. With any luck there will some big turnover in the house as well.


> It's not possible to design a system that the participants themselves can't destroy if they decide to.

Enter systemic, omnipresent, pervasive mass-surveillance.

Tables turned 180°.


I guess by participants I was mostly referring to actual government participants. Trump can't pervert the system if Congress doesn't approve his nominees or pass legislation he wants, and federal agents don't follow his orders. A small group of people can control a large group of people, but one person can't really transform a government without its consent.


Hypothetically speaking, one person can if the other persons are of the greedy kind and believe that blind obedience will get them more green now and/or in the future. Not saying it is so but as Trump still has his companies he can (try to, but most people have their price) bribe whoever to do whatever. Especially if he picked them for that reason. Just in person over a few beers and pay out in 4 or 8 years when he is just a business man again.


> One person cannot pervert the system.

How many people were required to institute Executive Order 12333? How about NSPD 51?


It's not one person. Trump wouldn't be nearly as much trouble if the other parts of government weren't his willing accomplices. Separation of powers can only do so much. Once all the various parts are controlled by the same party, it ceases to matter much.


What we've seen in the past is the gentle swing of the pendulum. For a bizarre set of reasons, both parties are weakening rapidly.

Effectively, Trump hijacked the Republican Party. That does not sound like a strong mechanism to me.


> Effectively, Trump hijacked the Republican Party.

The Republican Party was hijacked by globalists a long time ago. G.H.W. Bush probably was very influential after Ronald Reagan was shot (1981?). Bill Clinton continued GHWB's globalization programs. G.W. Bush was mostly a figurehead. Like Clinton before him, Mr. Obama continued the globalization program, and transformed the globalists' boots-on-the-ground imperial war machine into a kinder, gentler aerial bombardment regime-changing machine.

Señor Trump wasn't supposed to win. The hysteria exhibited by some in response to Señor Trump's opening moves [1] is certainly engineered by those whose globalization programs are now on the executioners' block.

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/01/30/a-...


Trump did not hijack the Republican Party. Stop making him into some unexplainable force of nature, and letting this fantasy of "sensible republicans" take hold, letting them off the hook.


He's an extremely explainable phenomenon. Scott Adams has explained it multiple times. I'm just pointing out that the standard party mechanism was not even used in this case.

I am sure there is a better term than "hijacked".


My naive hope is that, post-Trump, we'll see a change in the relative-strength of the Presidency versus the Congress.

Over the years Congress has given away a lot of cultural and practical power to the Presidency, partly because it allows them to look good in the short term, by pushing decisions over to the executive branch and then giving "oversight".


I just gave up arguing over the surveillance state with people. People just trust that the government had their best interests in mind, or they think that they're too unimportant for anyone to care about them.


I would argue that paranoia about the intelligence services and spying helped create the situation we're currently in. We feel like we're living in a police state and that feeling is going to cause us to sit back and watch a true police state be implemented.

That isn't to say that spying and warrentless wiretapping isn't/wasn't a problem, but I think we'll come to realize that it was nothing compared to what we've done now.


s/paranoia/cynicism/ and you explain everything that's wrong with the current political atmosphere. And why it's not going to get any better. If you have no trust in government, nor even any faith that a non-corrupt, functioning government is a practical possibility, then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We're spiraling toward the state of affairs in Russia and Venezuela.

People don't see widespread government surveillance as a policy failure which requires increasing one's civic participation. They see it as a validation and even vindication of their cynical view of government. The problem with the latter is that it excuses them from doing anything about it. Worse, it excuses them for voting for "anti-government" politicians. Chavez was and Putin still is radically anti-government. That's basically like 80% of their political messaging.


That's not an excuse either.


If there's any silver lining in all this, it's that Trump and the alt-right aren't moving in the shadows anymore, and they're moving too quickly. If this keeps up, surely there must be a breaking point when Congress and the people are too alienated.


Uh, that's not the silver lining from my POV. The silver lining is that liberals will realize that maybe limited government is a good thing, because they can't always rely on their person being in power.


The trouble is that both parties seem to view an overreaching executive branch as a feature of the game, not a bug. This is similar to how powerful market incumbents prefer a winner-takes-all economy.

After all if you have a 50% chance of taking the whole pot you, do you want to change the rules?


> After all if you have a 50% chance of taking the whole pot you, do you want to change the rules?

If your choices are to have a 99% chance of taking 50% of the pot or to have a 50% chance of taking 100% of the pot and a 50% chance of someone else taking it and you being imprisoned or murdered by them, you pick the one that doesn't involve a significant risk of catastrophe.

The problem is you don't get to pick before the election, you get pick after. And then it isn't a 50% chance anymore. If you won the pot you have no incentive to change and if you lost then you don't have the power to change.

This is one of the problematic consequences of the 17th Amendment. Originally US Senators were chosen by the state legislatures. The purpose of the US Senate was to represent the states in the federal government, so it was inherently a check on federal power. States don't want too strong a US President.

But we got rid of that in a fit of populism in the 20th century. Meanwhile it's still the case that only a third of the Senate seats are on the ballot in a given election. And consider what the circumstance is when you simultaneously want to limit the executive and have the power to do it: It's the lame duck session.

To do it you need a) to currently have control of government (Presidency + House + a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate), and b) to not control any of those in the incoming government, so you fear what the new government will do, enough to pass laws to limit their power.

But since only a third of Senators can change at once, and it's unheard of that all open seats switch from one party to the other, that never actually happens. So the President gets stronger but never weaker, because we decided to dismantle a check on federal power and replace it with nothing.


To be more specific, they see it as a feature when they're in a position of power (where they can actually do something about it), and a bug when they're not (where they can't fix it).


> Uh, that's not the silver lining from my POV. The silver lining is that liberals will realize that maybe limited government is a good thing, because they can't always rely on their person being in power.

Conservatives are the ones that created this nightmare in the days after 9/11. "Liberals" simply did not remove it.

When it comes to civil liberties, smaller government is always a good thing but literally no party supports that. :/


I went through several version of this response full of profanity, but I'll trim it down to be appropriate. Absolutely not, and it's really harmful to think this. Hillary Clinton was a full supporter of the active military intervention, overseas CIA action, and domestic spying programs. Delusional tribal politics is a big part of the problem.


I voted libertarian in part because of the concerns you're mentioning about Clinton, but I think it's disingenuous to somehow imply that Trump isn't worse, or that this didn't start with the Bush administration's response to 9/11, or that unbridled GOP power concentrated in the executive and legislature isn't a horrifying thing.

I (1) don't think Clinton would have been worse policy-wise, (2) think Clinton would have been more psychologically stable and competent, and (3) the GOP in Congress would have actually criticized and raised concerns about what she was doing to score party points.

The current situation is terrifying to me. I'm tired of being labeled a liberal or conservative, because I don't fit in to either camp, and get accused of being one by the other, and am tired of these arguments about who's at fault. It just needs to stop.


>but I think it's disingenuous to somehow imply that Trump isn't worse, or that this didn't start with the Bush administration's response to 9/11

He never even remotely implied that. This comment is incredibly dishonest.


I'm not sure Hillary Clinton is a good stand in for "liberals" in this argument, for the same reason (if not to the same extent) that I think Trump wouldn't be a good stand in for "conservatives".

To clarify, your point may be entirely correct, I just don't think using Hillary Clinton advances your argument usefully.


Well, think on this.

The last President to shrink the NSA, CIA, etc was Jimmy Carter. Every other one increased it. Reagan got them into arms deals with Iran. Bush Sr, former CIA director, was a staunch ally. Bill Clinton expanded ECHELON, tried to regulate cryptography (remember the Clipper chip?), Bush Jr passed the Patriot Act, Obama expanded the NSA and in pursuit of leakers filed more acts under the Espionage Act than all previous presidents combined.

At what point can we conclude that the problem is bipartisan? Of all prominent nominees this time around, only Bernie Sanders, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz said anything against the continued expansion of the surveillance state. Of all prominent nominees for 2012, only Ron Paul spoke out against the surveillance state. For 2008, only Kucinich and Ron Paul spoke out against the surveillance state.

If Hillary Clinton were an isolated example, then your point would be good. But she is not. She squarely represents the political mainstream.


The last President to shrink the NSA, CIA, etc was Jimmy Carter.

It was also under the Carter administration - and under Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate - that the FISA Act was passed, which is what eventually led to all this secret surveillance.


No, the FISA Act restricted warrantless domestic surveillance by criminalizing it in response to abuses, largely by the Nixon Administration, before there was any statute law addressing the issue. What legally opened the door for subsequent warrantless surveillance was the passage of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 which loosened the FISA restrictions to make legal what the Bush Administration had already been doing.


  the FISA Amendments Act of 2008
In 2008, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.


> In 2008, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.

And neither of the major US parties (and especially not the Democratic Party, whose major factions include both a center-right faction and a moderate left faction) are unified cohesive parties with strong discipline as you might find in a multiparty parliamentary system; the FISA Amendments Act passed with every Republican that voted in either house (except one in the House) and a minority of Democrats on each house supporting it, and the majority of Democrats in each house opposing it.


> the FISA Act was passed, which is what eventually led to all this secret surveillance.

That's like saying speed limits led to to the problem of people driving fast. FISA was a set of limits put in place because the surveillance was already happening. Oversight where there was none prior.


The FISA Act replaced previous warrantless actions, so bad as it is it was still an improvement on the status quo.


>The last President to shrink the NSA, CIA, etc was Jimmy Carter. Every other one increased it.

And why was Carter able to shrink them? Because Nixon was caught using them to gain political power. The problem is beyond partisan politics. You either support the intelligence agencies, or you don't get elected. Simple as that.


Carter was able to shrink the intelligence budget because the 1975-1976 Church Committee hearings publicized bad practices by US intelligence agencies.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_Committee


The Church Committee was a response to things that came out during the Watergate scandal, and I find it hard to believe that the public cared more about that than the things that than the Watergate scandal itself.


And the result is that Reagan-Bush were strongly supported by the intelligence agencies.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_Surprise_conspiracy_th... for a conspiracy theory about how far that support might have gone. (I personally put that theory in the range, "quite plausible, but unproven".)


I'm merely pointing out that in a discussion about liberals and conservatives, picking one person to represent the liberal point of view and then arguing against that person instead of addressing goals of the party in general is not a constructive way to proceed.


She just won the popular vote by a large margin with a D next to her name. She has a ridiculous amount of evidence to show that she is the core of the Democratic party and the only person I had as an alternative to Trump to vote for. She isn't a stand in for every wing of liberalism in the US, but she is definitely the center of the liberal wing with any real influence.


> She just won the popular vote by a large margin with a D next to her name.

So? It's not like we have an unlimited pool of candidates of every possible variation such that we can choose the one that best averages all the views of a party. Consider that we were fairly closet to having Bernie Sanders and not Hillary Clinton be the person in that position. That should illustrate how ridiculous it is to use a single person to stand in for the entire group.

> She ... the only person I had as an alternative to Trump to vote for.

That's irrelevant. There was a discussion about liberalism and conservatism, and someone replied with criticisms about Hillary Clinton instead of liberals in general or liberalism (note this wasn't about Democrats and Republicans, so that D is a red herring). Even if Hillary were more representative of the norm in all mainstream liberal ideas, using her specifically would not be appropriate. As it is, she diverges fairly heavily from traditional liberal ideas in some aspects, which makes it even more of a bad idea.


Like conservatives, liberals are not a unified bloc. Look at the Bernie and progressives, who roundly criticized Hillary for her support of expanding executive power and the war on terror. Big government moderates on both sides are to blame. Liberal / conservative is the wrong axis


I prefer the two dimensional grid with 'authoritarian' on one axis and 'social conservatism' on the other. It does a much better job of defining the factions within the two dominant parties in the US.



Arnold Kling is up to three axes. It's not a bad model.


> I went through several version of this response full of profanity, but I'll trim it down to be appropriate. Absolutely not, and it's really harmful to think this. Hillary Clinton was a full supporter of the active military intervention, overseas CIA action, and domestic spying programs. Delusional tribal politics is a big part of the problem.

"When it comes to civil liberties, smaller government is always a good thing but literally no party supports that. :/"

The fact you missed the importance of that statement and got angry is, ultimately, on you.

"Uh, that's not the silver lining from my POV. The silver lining is that liberals will realize that maybe limited government is a good thing, because they can't always rely on their person being in power. "

The context of the first half of my comment that triggered you was responding to was specifically blaming liberals. (i.e. the tribal politics you despise)

So I'm uncertain what part of my comment caused you to believe I believed Hillary Clinton (or even a majority of democrats) genuinely believe in less government is better for many forms of civil liberty. However, any literal reading of the text should make it clear you misunderstood my comment.

So for the sake of clarity, I'll rephrase what I said in the comment you responded to in the hopes you'll better understand:

Both Democrats & Republicans believe "big government" is the solution to civil liberties problems. They just do not agree with "which liberties" deserve that solution.

Examples:

There is no legitimate government interest that justifies government intervention that restricts the 1st amendment (or passing judgment on people based on the contents of their religious beliefs). Both parties engage in it from different directions.

Same is true of privacy (as I assume you were attempting to mention with domestic spying programs).

Literally no "tribe" that holds elected office shares my belief system or values to a degree substantial enough I genuinely feel represented by the US Government.


I have no interest in misrepresenting your opinion so I will happily narrow my comment.

> Conservatives are the ones that created this nightmare in the days after 9/11. "Liberals" simply did not remove it.

What reason is there to believe that the core of the Democratic party was not fully supportive of activist intervention overseas and domestic spying? Why portray this creation as a result of Conservatives?


His argument was liberals were pro-government and by implication Conservatives wouldn't do that.

That is all I was responding to and the fact you don't get that is confusing at this point. I've tried to put it to you that way a few ways now.


> Delusional tribal politics is a big part of the problem.

As opposed to the delusional GOP supporters who are always suckered into the small-government-yay/taxes-are-evil meme and then sit idly by while spending is increased after cutting revenue.


Conservatives are the ones that created this nightmare in the days after 9/11.

The secret surveillance goes to the FISA surveillance act, from back in 1978.

I'm not inclined to put a party's stamp on this, I too believe it's systemic. But if you must, that was under Democrat Jimmy Carter's Presidency, with large Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.


Secret surveillance preceded FISA - FISA was specifically an attempt to rein it in.

I am very much with you in not wanting to apply party labels here.


When it comes to civil liberties, smaller government is always a good thing but literally no party supports that

Perhaps you should try to re-frame your statement in the context of local vs state vs federal government.

In reality, a government does not have to be big to be corrupt enough to willfully harm or infringe upon the civil liberties of its citizens. The "enforcement" piece of a local government doesn't have to be large to harass or detain or jail people. Or protesters. Or anybody they dislike for being ___________ or having voted __________.

The terrifying thing about Trump's administration is that he's fueling this delusion of an America that doesn't exist any more, empowering corruption at the local level (Martial Law) while simultaneously removing options for citizens to redress where grievances about their civil liberties matter -- at the federal level.


Labels are the problem. Democrats and Republicans, liberals, conservatives ect is creating a false sense of choice.

The problem has a solution: states right. ~400 million people will never agree on a leader or have their beliefs encapsulated by 1 person/party.

More choice, more parties, more power distribution


Yes, that is a route that is most likely to create a long term solution to the 2 party system. I just don't see it being implemented (or honestly) any genuine advocates for it.

It is one of those issues the GOP drops whenever they control the Federal government.

Realistically, I'd like to see a minimal federal government that was intelligently run as a LEO/Military/Justice/Treaty as its primary responsibilities and actually enforced the constitutional rights of Americans instead of restricting them. But that will never happen.


> Realistically, I'd like to see a minimal federal government that was intelligently run as a LEO/Military/Justice/Treaty as its primary responsibilities and actually enforced the constitutional rights of Americans instead of restricting them. But that will never happen.

It also doesn't work when anyone can freely migrate between the states. You can't have large social assistance programs and high taxes in one state and the opposite in an adjacent state and not expect an unsustainable influx of low income people into the state with more benefits and high income people and businesses into the state with lower taxes.

The problem with the federal government is that it's structurally too susceptible to special interests. Instead of an exception-free flat tax and a UBI that nobody can cheat, you get a tax code full of deductions for donors and a welfare system full of subsidies for industries with strong lobbies like insurance and finance. Instead of a normal-sized military that defends the country, you have a corrupt money train into the military industrial complex.

Probably the only fix for it is to put the important bits in the constitution, e.g. there shall be a flat value added tax the rate to be set by Congress, Congress may provide a universal basic income to every citizen in the same cash amount, no other federal taxes or federal social assistance shall exist, military spending in peacetime is capped at 5% of GDP (where "peacetime" means "no enemy soldiers on US soil"). Remove as much discretion and complexity from the federal government as possible, and if something isn't suited to be done simply and uniformly then the states have to do it.


> It also doesn't work when anyone can freely migrate between the states. You can't have large social assistance programs and high taxes in one state and the opposite in an adjacent state and not expect an unsustainable influx of low income people into the state with more benefits and high income people and businesses into the state with lower taxes.

> The problem with the federal government is that it's structurally too susceptible to special interests. Instead of an exception-free flat tax and a UBI that nobody can cheat, you get a tax code full of deductions for donors and a welfare system full of subsidies for industries with strong lobbies like insurance and finance. Instead of a normal-sized military that defends the country, you have a corrupt money train into the military industrial complex.

> Probably the only fix for it is to put the important bits in the constitution, e.g. there shall be a flat value added tax the rate to be set by Congress, Congress may provide a universal basic income to every citizen in the same cash amount, no other federal taxes or federal social assistance shall exist, military spending in peacetime is capped at 5% of GDP (where "peacetime" means "no enemy soldiers on US soil"). Remove as much discretion and complexity from the federal government as possible, and if something isn't suited to be done simply and uniformly then the states have to do it.

Yes, the way fiscal/monetary policy is built would need changes but I think it can be figured out. I think you hit on the "solution" I had in mind to a large degree.

When I made that comment what I envision is basically this:

A) A progressive federal tax system that funds the LEO, Military, Justice, and International obligations (i.e. Embassies, foreign policy) without deductions or much chance of modification via a constitutional amendment that no state is going to willingly override. (i.e. The tax rate will be progressive, be based on multiples of the median household income, and will not allow for deductions beyond a standard deduction of all income below the poverty line. In peacetime, there is a % cap of GDP for the tax rates outside of covering the cost of the poverty line UBI.)

B) The social safety net has to be built into that ultimate amendment as well. Yes, some people will try to cheat...but the government can just reduce payments if they do so fraud shouldn't be worse than unemployment now. (i.e. A UBI for the unemployed equal to the poverty line without trying to gauge the "why" of unemployment.)

C) A state of War requires the consent of 50%+1 of State governors to release the funding cap on the Federal government (as a check against the Federal government just "deciding" terrorists are enemy soldiers on US soil or other loopholes).

D) The Federal Government only intercedes in forms of regulation as a mediator between states or if the constitution is violated.

E) The basic structure of the Federal government otherwise remains the same.


It doesn't even need to be that complicated.

The progressive income tax was created by people who are bad at math. What they're trying to create is the effective tax rate curve that you intrinsically get when you combine a flat tax with a UBI. You can make it as progressive as you like; "more progressive" just means a higher flat tax rate which pays for a higher UBI.

And a flat rate eliminates twelve different kinds of tax cheating, and allows you to use a consumption tax that encourages investment over consumption, and eliminates the need for individuals to file tax returns at all because all tax can be collected by businesses, which saves millions of man-hours every year and makes everybody happy.

And the UBI is the safety net, so you don't need that either.


> The progressive income tax was created by people who are bad at math. What they're trying to create is the effective tax rate curve that you intrinsically get when you combine a flat tax with a UBI. You can make it as progressive as you like; "more progressive" just means a higher flat tax rate which pays for a higher UBI.

If I tax you at 50% on $500k and 10% on anything under $500k, the relative value of $500,001 vs. $500,000 is ~$.40. It really does have an impact on behavior that isn't as simple as a mathematical curve.

Is $600k nice under such an arbitrary set of numbers? Yes. Would you take $500k for a better working environment? Probably. The utility of those additional before-tax dollars is reduced even before you get into the relative utility of an extra $50k on such a large salary.

Realistically, you want a compensation range between the poverty line of ~$15k (not letting them die and encouraging them to work through a lack of luxuries) and wealthy ($500k or so in annual income) where the additional utility of the dollars simply isn't enough to be worth hoarding for yourself. And yes, if you have income over $500k/year (~10x median household income) you are just running up the score in practical terms and if you want to do that you should be able to...but society should also be able to collect a reasonable amount of that excess money to sustain the society that enabled you to reach that kind of income.

Similarly, lets take the example of a UBI that ignores employment status:

$15,000/year/adult

Let us also posit that the minimum wage is equal to the UBI amount ($15k).

UBI: $15,000 State Minimum Wage: $15,000 You want the UBI to (mostly) focus on the unemployed. So you set a progressive tax rate.

+$15,000 :: The UBI

-$15,000 :: Standard Deduction (the only deduction)

+$15,000 :: The Earned Income

-$6,000 :: 40% Tax Rate (to quickly recover the UBI)

-------------------------------------------------------

$24,000 in actual income (i.e. Tax of +$9k)

+$15,000 :: The UBI

-$15,000 :: Standard Deduction (the only deduction)

+$60,000 :: The Earned Income (Theoretical Median Household Income)

-$30,000 :: 50% Tax Rate (to quickly recover the UBI)

-------------------------------------------------------

$45,000 in actual income (i.e. Tax of -$15k)

+$15,000 :: The UBI

-$15,000 :: Standard Deduction (the only deduction)

+$180,000 :: The Earned Income (~3x median income)

-$30,000 :: 50% Tax Rate (to quickly recover the UBI on the first $60k)

-$36,000 :: 30% Tax Rate (we are no longer recovering UBI)

-------------------------------------------------------

$129,000 in actual income (i.e. Tax of -$51k)

+$15,000 :: The UBI

-$15,000 :: Standard Deduction (the only deduction)

+$1,000,000 :: The Earned Income (~3x median income)

-$30,000 :: 50% Tax Rate (to quickly recover the UBI on the first $60k)

-$132,000 :: 30% Tax Rate (we are no longer recovering UBI, up to $500k)

-$300,000 :: 60% Tax Rate (to discourage excessive compensation)

-------------------------------------------------------

$538,000 in actual income (i.e. Tax of -$462k)

Still progressive, very simple to process, and pretty low overhead.

> And a flat rate eliminates twelve different kinds of tax cheating, and allows you to use a consumption tax that encourages investment over consumption, and eliminates the need for individuals to file tax returns at all because all tax can be collected by businesses, which saves millions of man-hours every year and makes everybody happy.

The cheating comes from the itemized deduction process. If all deductions are the standard deduction of $X for all private citizens in the US and the brackets are standardized, the calculation difference between a flat vs. progressive tax is a toy project any intern could produce and could be publicly available for free for the cost of maybe ~$1k every time they change the tax rates.

I agree the tax cheating is a problem but all that requires to "fix" is the removal of itemized deductions. The points of vulnerability to this approach also exist in a flat-consumption tax model. (i.e. Someone has to collect the tax on behalf of the government and nothing stops them from lying about their income other than criminal penalties)


> If I tax you at 50% on $500k and 10% on anything under $500k, the relative value of $500,001 vs. $500,000 is ~$.40.

It's $.50, because $500,001 is more than $500,000 and you're taxing anything over $500,000 at 50%.

> -$30,000 :: 50% Tax Rate (to quickly recover the UBI on the first $60k)

> -$132,000 :: 30% Tax Rate (we are no longer recovering UBI, up to $500k)

> -$300,000 :: 60% Tax Rate (to discourage excessive compensation)

You don't need this and you don't want it. You have people making $200K paying a lower marginal tax rate than people making $20K. That makes no sense and is anti-progressive. Your highest tax bracket is more than 20% higher than the existing one (and really 40% higher vs. the long term capital gains rate), but you don't need that money unless you want to pay for a higher UBI, and if you did then you could just use a 60% flat tax rate and let the higher UBI make up for it.

Just use a flat tax with a UBI. All of the complexity really is completely unnecessary.

Also, if you have a UBI you don't need a minimum wage.

> The cheating comes from the itemized deduction process.

The cheating comes from not treating similar transactions the same. Part of that is all the deductions, but part of it is that two different people can make the same dollar and pay a different tax rate. So then you get families cheating because dad makes $240K from the family business and the three children are off at college making nothing, so instead they all get nominal jobs in the family business making $60K each and dad is down to $60K and out of the high tax brackets. And so on with a hundred other ways to redistribute income within a family/corporate hierarchy/whatever to arbitrage non-uniform tax rates.

If there is only one tax rate you can't do any of that.

> The points of vulnerability to this approach also exist in a flat-consumption tax model. (i.e. Someone has to collect the tax on behalf of the government and nothing stops them from lying about their income other than criminal penalties)

VAT solves this easily. Every time a business sells something it has to submit VAT and can only deduct the VAT collected by its suppliers if they actually paid it, so now you have every link in the supply chain with a financial incentive to report the others if they haven't paid.


The post-9/11 response was overwhelmingly bi-partisan. And both parties have increased the size of government.


It's hilarious that you think progressive extremists are pure and good, meanwhile the evil "Conservatives" pervert America with their traditional family unit, working-class values, and newly elected president.

Here's a newsflash -- the Dems are just as responsible for our current state of affairs by doubling down on pointless identity politics, hateful rhetoric, and hopeless fake news. Such adherence ideological extremism will only serve to destroy the Democratic party before 2018.


> It's hilarious that you think [ridiculous exaggeration of what OP said]

If you're going to restate someone's argument, do it in a way that they would agree with.


> It's hilarious that you think progressive extremists are pure and good, meanwhile the evil "Conservatives" pervert America with their traditional family unit, working-class values, and newly elected president.

> Here's a newsflash -- the Dems are just as responsible for our current state of affairs by doubling down on pointless identity politics, hateful rhetoric, and hopeless fake news. Such adherence ideological extremism will only serve to destroy the Democratic party before 2018.

1) As the other person mentioned, its a ridiculous exaggeration. You ignored the second half of my comment and went on a tangent like the other person did.

2) The Conservatives won through white identity politics, hateful rhetoric, and propaganda news produced by Bannon who now holds various key government positions. This is the pot calling the kettle black (at best).

3) The Conservatives already are launching attacks on the 1st amendment (and other portions of the Constitution) against legal residents of the US and its citizens. That is evil in its most pure form in America. It is also evil when Progressives do it. They just, frankly, do it differently and the problem here is you are clearly OK with one and not the other. I call either party attacking the Constitution evil.


In regards to 2): Both parties are using identity politics, but I feel like it's distinctly the progressive left that is using it to be divisive. They call out problems that are barely there and normal white/straight america is just kind of tired of being told they're a sexist/racist/whatever, when they're really not. "You're either with our most radical programs and subsidies for our favored identities, or you're against us!"


>In regards to 2): Both parties are using identity politics, but I feel like it's distinctly the progressive left that is using it to be divisive.

I don't think that having the Republicans tell me to act more white and Christian, when I'm actually only sort of white and not Christian at all, is unifying. It feels a lot more like being singled out and attacked.


Do Rs actually tell you to be more white and Christian? Calling BS. I've lived in Massachusetts, that was not my experience at all.


I live in Massachusetts. While they don't overtly wave racial and religious flags here, they do market themselves based on features that co-cluster, such as rural identity and "tradition".

Same rubbish, slightly nicer packaging.


> The Conservatives won through white identity politics, hateful rhetoric, and propaganda news produced by Bannon who now holds various key government positions. This is the pot calling the kettle black (at best).

Which only exists because the left has been playing identity politics for so long and has lately been demonizing being white.


The left hasn't been doing that. Not at all. The right has played the angry white racist card, and the majority of Trump's supporters trend towards the racist end of the spectrum (as shown in a YouGov poll in The Economist).

Trump started this with his racist birther lies, aimed at undermining a legitimate black president. He then made a series of racist attacks on other non-whites, and he also adopted an old racist slogan: America First. As a result, the KKK newspaper was almost the only newspaper to endorse Trump for President. (The other was owned by a large Republican backer.)

All of this is ultimately about white supremacists holding on to or regaining lost privileges and demonizing anybody who isn't white.


> The right has played the angry white racist card, and the majority of Trump's supporters trend towards the racist end of the spectrum

Your doing it right now, demonizing everyone that voted for trump as a white supremacist. Keep it up if you want but the more you do the more you'll ensure they'll never vote for the left again.

How is "America First" racist?


Yes, because everything I've said is provably true. This is not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of fact.

Didn't you look at the audiences (and flags) in Trump's rallies? Didn't you hear him attacking Mexicans as rapists, attacking an American judge for being of Mexican heritage, insulting a non-white Gold Star family, and on and on?

Trump has a long history of racism, dating back to being sued along with his father for not renting to non-whites. He has also boasted about his superior "German genes". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Yh0jAxOxGE

America First

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C2qf7rkWEAAyxja.jpg

Also look up all the cartoons from Dr Seuss Went to War, like this one http://library.ucsd.edu/dc/object/bb4164680v/_2.jpg


You've been reading fake news.

He never said Mexicans were rapists. He said some illegal Mexicans were rapists. Which is provably true. It's not opinion. Its also true that 80% of women crossing the border get raped, so something bad is going on down there and we're enabling it.

For the Mexican judge, its standard to dismiss a judge for having a bias in the case. 100% normal. And given how the media construed Trumps statements on Mexicans, and how he wants to build a wall, and how the Mexican judge is a member of La Rasa, you don't think she might have a bias?

I could go on but I won't. I've lost all respect for the media and the left in general. They can call me racist, sexist, I don't care anymore, because I've seen the lies they repeat and the bullying tactics. If the left thinks they can get back their credibility next election, they will be in for a big surprise.


No, I've been reading real news. You should try it.

> They can call me racist, sexist, I don't care anymore, because I've seen the lies they repeat and the bullying tactics.

Trump is the biggest bully around, and the biggest liar by a very considerably distance. He always projects his own faults onto other people, which is a well-known ploy, in psychology. Rather than apologize for blatant lies, he attacks the honest press to try to discredit them. This is deliberately corrupting America, and Trumpery is deliberately corrupting the American population.

It is, frankly, the most despicable thing I've ever seen in recent US politics, and there's no honest way to deny it.

Trump is, as a matter of fact, a 3x-married serial adulterer, a sexual predator, a racist and a pathological liar. It's a huge stain on America's character that he was elected, and there have been an unprecedented number of protests against him both in the US and across the world.


Now you've changed the topic to trump, not people that voted for trump.

And why is voting along racial lines only a problem when white's do it? Have you been calling out black people for always voting democrat?


>How is "America First" racist?

The America First Committee literally didn't want to fight the Nazis, and claimed that doing so would be of no help to Jews.[1]

[1] -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America_First_Committee


I think conservatives could stand to learn a few of those lessons as well. I'm referring to the massive amounts of spending and the creation of the TSA and the DHS under Bush.


That massive amount of spending on DHS, TSA, ... amounts to right wing social welfare. Conservatives are not going complain.


"Conservative" politicians or conservative voters? I'm not sure they are they same. Every conservative I know has no love for the TSA or DHS, but I'll agree, politicians are not going to complain.


You are confusing conservatives with libertarians (a confusion facilitated by the manner in which conservatives have—especially over the past ~50 years, though obviously the "states rights" line goes back much further—selectively adopted libertarian rhetoric to rally opposition to policies that they disagree with for other reasons.)


I written elsewhere that I don't see any distinction between libertarians and conservatives. Rather I see libertarianism as a flag of convenience, a pose. Gary Johnson was a Republican governor and ran in the 2012 Republican primary before running as a Libertarian in the general. Bob Barr was a Republican congressman and House manager of the Clinton impeachment trial; he is a Republican again today; he supported Trump. Ron Paul retired as a Republican.

Zero difference. At best the LP serves as a safe and convenient parking place for quasi-protest votes.


There's a substantial difference between libertarian and conservative ideology, even if both are, in the US two party system, often found in coalition within the Republican Party. (One of the effects of the electoral system in the US and the way it reinforces partisan duopoly is that ideological coalitions are not express coalitions between parties, but covered up under veils of unity within the major parties until someone else feels that their faction isn't getting enough attention within the major party and splits for a third-party as a protest.)


Where you see a difference in ideology, I see a difference in posture. I think you'll find 'libertarians' somewhere between mute and meek in their criticisms of Trump. This is their former standard bearer:

http://townhall.com/columnists/bobbarr/2016/12/14/of-cabinet...


Who the hell is "Bob Barr"? Was he married to Roseanne?


Bigger government works when the systems of checks and balances work. In this case the courts failed to uphold the constitution and strike down the expansions of unlawful surveillance powers.


>the courts failed to uphold the constitution //

USA has elected and politically appointed judiciary doesn't it? If so then is that at all unexpected, which politicians would put their guy in the judges seat if they thought they'd then have to obey the law.


> Bigger {organization}

> checks and balances

I'd say the two are mutually exclusive.


The Liberals have frequently not been in power, as Nixon, Ford, Reagan and two Bushes show.

However, Trump broke all the rules when running for President (by, for example, crudely insulting opponents and by being a pathological liar) and he seems to be keen to break all the rules now.

The system worked when both Republicans and Democrats had a similar view of the democratic process, even if they differed on policies. Trump is systematically wrecking the process.

Plenty of people are theorizing about this turning into a de facto coup, including Michael Moore.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trum...


> Trump is systematically wrecking the process.

Systematic how (what's the system, so far)? Wrecking how? What process? Talking in vague codewords without meaning (except in your head) does not tell me anything about what's wrong. I cannot agree with this kind of babble.


People need to stop viewing government as the third party it has become and remember that it is supposed to be an expression of their own voices, then fight like hell for its restoration as such.

Because, there will always be someone jockeying to rule over the masses (financially or otherwise), whether it's moneyed corporations and individuals directly or those who manipulate a government, irrespective of whether they claim they want it to be small.

The idea behind a democratic government is simply self-rule. As such, advocating for its weakening is advocating a silencing of your own voice. And where does that lead?

A strong democratic government is a good thing for "the people" when it functions properly and protects the less powerful. But, it doesn't. Our government has long been captured by those who are in position to bend it to their will (i.e. those same parties who would rather you dispense with government so they can rule more efficiently).

So, that is the trick: subverting government, then convincing the weak that the only fix is to dismantle it.

But, the solution is to get the money out and return it to the people, not do away with it altogether and invite a small minority to rule over the masses with impunity.


The silver lining is that liberals will realize that maybe limited government is a good thing, because they can't always rely on their person being in power.

Yeah I've really enjoyed the last several weeks' display of disrespect for democratic results and the office of the executive. Very refreshing! If only we could convince people to hold on to this feeling!


The problem, as history amply demonstrates, is that the "breaking point" is often reached after the means to coordinate an effective resistance are destroyed, leaving the population complying out of fear until the regime is stopped by an outside force.


That's exactly what I thought about 6 years ago, when the Republicans took over the Congress, and had every incentive to hold Obama to account.


We can see how well that went, can't we?


  Republicans took over the Congress
only the House.


there is the possibility of the breaking point coming too late.


I agree that Trump is not the problem, but only because it's Trump voters who are the problem.


You think that the FBI acquired these powers (under both Bush and Obama) because of Trump voters? Seriously?


This article is part of a massive 17-part drop about the FBI from The Intercept today. Wow. https://theintercept.com/series/the-fbis-secret-rules/


Just started diving into it. It's fascinating from a bureaucratic, administrative, and operational perspective. --we have to increase CI/Intelligence capability or we'll lose primacy to another agency-- Paraphrasing


Note that Intercept claims to have been sitting on this content since "before the election" yet holds it for a massive flood in the first week of the new Administration.


This seriously impacts my trust in them


Considering their treatment of the Obama administration, do you think that they would not have released these stories if the election had gone the other way?


Do you honestly think that, had Trump been the president during Snowden's NSA revelations, The Intercept would have continued to sit on 90% of the documents that still haven't been released?


That completely dodges my question, but yeah I do. I think the OP makes the mistake of assuming that once a journalist receives a source of information then their job is done, but good reporting takes a lot of hours of corroborating information with multiple sources and doing background.

The Intercept is definitely a leftist publication but to say that they are partisan Democrat just isn't true. They were one of the few publications that consistently reported on the outrageous drone bombing campaigns during the Obama administration. Glenn Greenwald was even accused of being a Trump supporter by people in the Hillary camp for about as long as they were running against each other.


> Note that Intercept claims to have been sitting on this content since "before the election"

Where do they say that? I don't see it in this article. Thanks.


What is going on with that page scrolling, picture changing insanity.


Hover state on an article changes the background. Took me a minute to figure out, def distracting.


...the FBI’s so-called Type 5 assessments — through which federal agents have authority to investigate people in the United States who are not suspected of having committed crimes, but who, in a federal agent’s opinion, could be recruited as informants.

In light of this, is anyone who has confidently declared "my personal threat model doesn't include nation-states" reconsidering?


Sometimes excluding nation states from your threat model gives you a blissful ignorance.

After all, proper computer security protocol isn't going to protect you from being disappeared.


Let's get real, though - innocent people aren't being disappeared because they don't want to be CIs.

On the other hand, "it'd be a shame if your wife saw these messages to your old girlfriend" doesn't seem that much of a stretch.


>innocent people aren't being disappeared because they don't want to be CIs.

Not to get too tinfoil, but do we really know this?

At any given moment 90k in the US alone are missing, and 60% of those are adults (source: google)


Seeing as it has been established that Tinfoil Hats would acutally amplify brainwaves, could/should the "Tinfoil Hat" concept be modified to connote a person who is overly-paranoid, and adopts lifestyle choices that unintentionally amplify their perceived risk?


None of this should be surprising after 9-11 and the Patriot Act.


It saddens me that we are still reacting to 9/11


Osama bin Laden predicted that America would overreact.

https://www.odni.gov/files/documents/ubl/english/Letter%20to...


It looks like you are supplying the linked document as a reference to support the statement that “Osama bin Laden predicted that America would overreact.” However, I am having trouble figuring out the connection between the linked document and the statement.

The document is from some time after 2009, as it makes references to Obama delaying the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. I failed to find any passage where he references previous statements he made in the past. From these observations, I am guessing that the prediction you are talking about is of some overreaction that takes place some time after 2009.

However, I am failing to find this prediction of overreaction you are referring to in the document. I’m assuming that’s a failure on my part to read between the lines in bin Laden’s writing, and I’m hoping you could clarify that.


Yes, you are right about the link which is more about OBL's thinking at that point. I had read something else back in 2003-5 whenever (NYTimes?) that was a prediction that America would overreact. And I can't find it. And searching through OBL's writings isn't easy.


This article does not reference a source for the quote but author writes this about Osama - "He repeatedly asserted that the only way to drive the U.S. from the Muslim world and defeat its satraps was by drawing Americans into a series of small but expensive wars that would ultimately bankrupt them. “Bleeding the U.S.,” in his words. The United States, first under George W. Bush and then Barack Obama, rushed right into bin Laden’s trap." http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/osamas-ghost...


At this point I'd call this not just overreaction, but an acute case of autoimmune disease.


Well, as a terrorist, wasn't that his goal?


Terrorism works.


that! and yet nobody is willing to revisit that topic


Any politician who supports weakening surveillance or anti-terrorism measures will be out on their ass as soon as there's another attack (maybe sooner). And there's always another attack. Unless that's the only issue they care about they're not going to sacrifice the possibility of advancing other parts of their agenda to commit political suicide over it.


People are willing to revisit it but it ends up ending in one side of the debate yelling "BECAUSE TERRORISM!" and then plugging their ears as to not listen to a response.

Mind you, the "one side" isn't a particular political party, it's both, depending on the context that lead up to the discussion.


Look at what can be accomplished with some fear-mongering and millions of apathetic citizens. The intelligence community must be so proud of themselves.


I wonder how many people would have to know if a secret Executive Order required a few XKEYSCORE terminals be installed in the West Wing.

If only Nixon had had that tech.


Secrecy is incompatible with a republic.


At the time of this comment: (6 hours after OP)

14 mentions of Trump. 8 mentions of Bush. 2 mentions of Reagan.

vs.

10 wistful mentions of Hillary Clinton being the better choice. 4 mentions of Obama. 1 mention of Bill Clinton expanding ECHELON.

Obama had 8 years building and using it this entire apparatus, after 8 years of Bush putting it into place after 9/11. Trump had been taking it for a test drive over the past 2 weeks.

Can we please rename HN to "Silicon Valley and Democrats Only" so lurkers know what they are getting into?


I'm not from Silicon Valley and don't identify as a democrat. I've never even visited the Americas. Throughout my years on HN I've seen that there are plenty others like me on HN. To say HN is for "Silicon Valley and Democrats Only" is very naive.


I'm also not located in silicon and not really a Democrat, but I agree with the parent. HN readers tend to be irrationally biased towards members of certain political parties, and I think it's healthy and constructive to point this out.


How about we try not to shame liberals? This is a community and we should all be respectful of each other. Don't take comments of a president current or past so personally.


The amount of "shame" from liberals is off the charts, not sure why you're upset by one comment to the contrary.

Above the parent comment is a chain essentially saying "lets dispel this notion of reasonable republicans"


Where Republicans are the diversity hire.


Trump is now at 43 mentions.

Obama is at 8.


At the risk of invoking the genetic fallacy, beware of far-left and far-right sources of information: http://www.allsides.com/news-source/intercept


Why am I getting downvoted? What is the rationale?


Your comment is non-sensical because The Intercept is pretty well known to HN readers and it's common sense that it's not a far-right or far-left media.

Your link doesn't help either: it doesn't support your implied claim that TI is far-left or far-right.


Would you disagree that HN generally skews "left" on the political scale? Wouldn't such a skew (left or right) affect HN readers' "common sense"?

While I can't comment on your intent, your reply appears to fit the description of a Bandwagon Fallacy:

The Bandwagon Fallacy (also, Argument from Common Sense, Argumentum ad Populum): The fallacy of arguing that because "everyone" (or someone in power who has widespread backing) supposedly thinks or does something, it must be true and right. E.g., "Whether there actually is large scale voter fraud in America or not, many people now believe there is and that makes it so." Sometimes also includes Lying with Statistics, e.g. “Over 75% of Americans believe that crooked Hodiak is a thief, a liar and a pervert. There may not be any evidence, but for anyone with half a brain that conclusively proves the case!”


Yeah it is the bandwagon fallacy.

But apparently, critical thinking skill is becoming rarefied even at HN.


upvoted for truth.


So basically, your counterargument to the evidence I presented (however flimsy, and at least they look legit: http://www.allsides.com/bias/about-bias) is the Proof by Assertion fallacy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_by_assertion as well as Argumentum ad Populum?

Perhaps you should put your Rational Debate cap back on and try this again. If I have any say in the matter, truth determination in the Age of Alternative Facts will be more rigorous than ever.


No, my counterargument to your evidence was that your link didn't support your position.


Position: "Beware of far-left and far-right sources"

Evidence: A large pool of people who vote on the bias of a site, reported by allsides to be far-left

How is that not supporting????????


There's nothing at your link about TI being "far-left".

(Also, your perception about how the evidence works does not seem to align with the description on the web page. The "blind survey" bit is greyed out, and it says it's based only on "secondary research" and the confidence level in the rating is "low or initial".)


Upvoted for attacking the data correctly.


In addition to what the sibling says, if you actually read the bit on the page you linked, it says their source for their determination is "secondary research" and their confidence in it is "low".


Because we have been conditioned to defend the honor and virtue of arbitrary political tribes by attacking viewpoints and ideas that do not align with our own preconceptions.

If there was a buzzword contest for 2016 I would nominate "cognitive dissonance". It requires far less intellectual effort to be dismissive of ideas and concepts that produce cognitive dissonance, than it is to wrap ones mind around the petty divisions that weaken our society.

Divided, to be more easily conquered? We could all do with a little Sun Tzu these days. Seems it might put our predicament in context.


my guess would be that the source you cite is not a reputable measure of bias.


And yet, the list of news media that biases "Right" seems to be pretty accurate, despite the big disclaimer at the top of the page. Are you disputing the data, or the concept that you can accurately measure bias?


It seems to sanity-check on every other source I look up, and its methods seem sound enough




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