Morning Ed: United States {2017.12.20.W}

[US1] How Brit autocompletes for the various states of the United States. Wisconsin cracked me up, as did the different answers for the Dakotas.

[US2] Sometimes the argument against immigration is a jobs one. Sometimes people will expressly sacrifice jobs to keep immigrants out.

[US3] Sexual harassment scandals, not just for men anymore. Though also for men.

[US4] James Lileks looks at the history of American utoipias, in their various forms.

[US5] Saleno Zito looks at depression and suicide among farmers, which is evidently a problem.

[US6] A first-eye look at our atomic history. Today, it seems like Los Alamos needs to shape up.

[US7] I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We are too big of a country to be trying to stuff all our talent into a couple of areas. Fortunately, we are branching out.

[US8] Michael Junge argues that we’re being negligent with our navy and Hal Brands exposes what he considers myths about our defense spending.

[US9] Wasn’t this a story in Ghost World?

[US0] It was:


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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37 thoughts on “Morning Ed: United States {2017.12.20.W}

  1. US2: It’s hard to feel bad for those who have been left behind economically when they seem hell bent on rejecting any opportunity that doesn’t fit their ideology.

    US8: re Navy – I agree, although he seems a little too willing to let ship commanders off the hook. Or rather, commanders need to be empowered to speak up to command to highlight deficiencies in the crew or ship without it blowing back on the commanders.

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    • That took me by surprise too, that an active duty O-6 would advocate end[ing] the concept of absolute culpability for ship captains

      That is literally the entire foundation on which the sea services rest and what makes them unique.

      There has also been a strategic readiness review disseminated in the time since CAPT Junge published that complements the other reports cited.

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      • I get his point, that the game is rigged against captains, who are not given the resources to do their jobs, and then get penalized when they complain about not having sufficient resources.

        But that should trigger a review of the game, not ending the absolute authority and responsibility of captains.

        As an aside, one does have to wonder just how much money the pentagon has pissed away on crap like the JSF, and the engagements in Iraq, Syria, and Afghaistan, and USAF spending on a seriously aging nuclear arsenal, etc.

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        • It’s not clear to me that JSF should be on that list. Yes, it has had ungodly cost overruns, and yes, some people say it is a piece of crap. But both are true of pretty much any new weapon system. I remember the same discussions back around 1980 about the M-1 tank. They have managed to deploy the F-35. I don’t claim any inside information whatsoever, and I don’t pay as close attention to such things as I once did, but my finger-to-the-wind sense is that the “piece of crap” critiques are fading.

          Or perhaps the edict has come down that anyone who criticizes it will be crushed like a bug. As I said, I don’t actually know anything about this.

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          • I also don’t follow it in any detail, but do read about the software fiascos from time to time. The last I saw, the radar subsystem software still reboots in flight at apparently random times (effectively disarming the plane), and the critical ground/ship-based system for handling all inventory and maintenance activities is still buggy as hell.

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          • I don’t think it’s a piece of crap, as such. Rather, it was a mess from the word go because it had ridiculous program demands. The 3 branches of service with air power requirements have very different needs, and trying to satisfy all three with a singular airframe, while laudable in it’s ambition, is not something the state of the art is ready to do, which is why the program costs so much and is a mess.

            Yes, we learned a lot from the program, but most of what we learned is that this is something we should bother trying to do for another decade or two, the engineering just isn’t there yet.

            What would have been smart would have been to develop a common airframe for the Navy & the USMC, and another similar airframe for the USAF, and then make sure they share as many common parts as possible (radios, nav gear, hydraulics, avionics, etc.).

            Actually, the really smart thing would be to tell the USAF that they get to fly strategic bombers and cargo aircraft and AWACS, and leave the air superiority to the Navy, and let the Marines do CAS. But the USAF is far too wedded to their own fighter pilot mythology to ever accept the loss of that mission without a complete scrapping of the service.

            Hell, even the one area where it was supposed to be good, a unified supply chain, seems to be having issues.

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    • Which is surprising given that Costco is often discussed as providing a more ‘enlightened’ pay scale. In 1985, the starting salary in meat-packing was $8.75 per hour ($20.06 in today’s dollars), and here they are bragging about starting pay at $13 an hour which also appears to be Costco’s starting wage in its retail stores. Does Costco save any money by having a single pay structure?

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  2. Okay. Federal Law Game Theory Time.

    Let’s say a celebrity sends out a tweet like this:

    so how about this i promise to give 2 million dollars to senator susan collins and 2 million to senator jeff flakeif they vote NO NO I WILL NOT KILL AMERICANS FOR THE SUOER RICH DM me susan DM me jeff no shit 2 million casheach— ROSIE (@Rosie) December 20, 2017

    Does this constitute an instance of the behavior described in 18 U.S. Code § 201 – Bribery of public officials and witnesses?

    Specifically, this part:

    Whoever—
    (1) directly or indirectly, corruptly gives, offers or promises anything of value to any public official or person who has been selected to be a public official, or offers or promises any public official or any person who has been selected to be a public official to give anything of value to any other person or entity, with intent—
    (A) to influence any official act

    If it does, should it be prosecuted?

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      • …it’s just twitter. But then, she does seem to rather double down on the whole thing even after people point out that you can’t (or at least shouldn’t) bribe government officials.

        I wonder if this is one of those moments where twitter exposes an “open secret” this time about bribery?

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        • I’ve seen any number of tweets explaining that you have to give a speech first, or you have to vote that way and then trust that you’ll get a 2 Million/year job for one year after you retire (or, if you vote reliably, end up on a board somewhere).

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            • what ever happened to our norms in bribery?

              Which sounds like the entire point of her tweet in the first place.

              She is advocating for traditional, small batch artisanal bribery, bespoke and carefully curated, the kind our forefathers intended.

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                • In sports news, Major League Soccer has shown a remarkable ability to shake down local municipalities for new stadiums. This makes no sense on its face. I can see how an NFL franchise threatening to move to Mexico might put the fear of God into a local politician, who doesn’t want to explain to voters why he let their beloved team leave. But soccer? Yes, MLS has a growing following, but I have a hard time believing it is enough to frighten a politician about the next election. So why submit to the shakedowns? I assume they are bought and paid for. Which is to say that MLS has enough in its slush fund to buy these guys. MLS has a lot of money, having gone all in on the “rich man’s hobby” ownership model, but presumably this has to be money that can disappear from the books. I suspect this bribery has a spectacular return on investment.

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      • I’d have phrased it, “I have a series of speech giving opportunities that each pay $500,000 each over the next couple of years and I’m really interested in hearing the perspectives of Republican senators who are on the fence about the tax bill. Also, I’ll be very angry at people who vote in favor of the tax bill.”

        Then there wouldn’t even be a question of impropriety.

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        • Also, have I mentioned that in a few years, I will have a series of high paying openings heading up research at my think tank in the Department of Being a Maverick and Trump’s Tax Plan is Bad? I’ll be looking for a conservative point of view on the topic. I really think we can do some great research without a major time commitment.

          Also, Rosie is a threat to the Republic.

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    • If this should be prosecuted then should be we prosecuting all the rape and murder threats that go out over twitter and social media?

      Having gone through conversations about all the threats on social media one side points out the threats are just hyperbole and that free speech thing. That always seemed a bit weak to me.

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    • Popehat is weighing in.

      He’s saying that the use of the word “corruptly” is what this hinges on.

      Courts have found that “corruptly” means you must intend actually to influence or induce the public official to do something. Hence the standard jury instructions for the offense.

      He then links to these jury instructions.

      I was thinking about mens rea in the car as I drove to work. I’d love for mens rea to be something that makes it into the standard defense toolkit for everybody, not just cops and celebrities. But, yeah, if there’s a way out, it’s through mens rea.

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      • And how about that homeless Mexican immigrant who shot that woman? He got himself a bunch of that mens rea and he was a ferner!!!

        More seriously, Popehat is almost certainly right. Blagojevich had several convictions reversed because the jury instruction and evidence failed to distinguish bribery from logrolling/horse-trading. He had a dozen still in the wings so it didn’t really matter. These statutes aren’t going to be interpreted to criminalize political speech or the founding fathers.

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    • I have a hard time interpreting actual intent to bribe out of this. It looks like an expression of frustration with these politicians’ behaviors to me, and I do not infer that O’Donnell would seriously give these Senators money.

      Here’s a hypothetical. Imagine two dudes in a bar, working through their respective beverages of choice. Let’s call them Howard and Marvin.

      Howard: Man, I’m so mad at my old lady. She’s sleeping with the next door neighbor! I wish she were dead, it would be easier on me than this.
      Marvin: [scoffs] Really? Do you want her dead?
      Howard: I dunno, man. Right now I do.
      Marvin: [smiles] Because I can make that happen.
      Howard: [scoffs] Hah! How much?
      Marvin: Twenty grand.
      Howard: Wait, you’re serious. Have you done this sort of thing before?
      Marvin: Yup. This is … this is what I do.
      Howard: Half up front, half when it’s done.
      Marvin: Then we never see or speak to each other again.

      At the start of the conversation, Howard is pretty clearly just venting obviously and understandably intense emotion. By the end of the conversation, Howard has contracted for Marvin’s services as a hit man, which is a crime regardless of what Marvin does next.

      At what point did Howard cross the line from “just venting” to “actually soliciting murder”? I see three choices: a) “Hah! How much?” b) “Have you done this sort of thing before?” and c) “Half up front, half when it’s done.” And my vote is c). Answers a) and b) both offer reasonable doubts that Howard actually wants Marvin to kills his wife; he could credibly think that his new drinking buddy is just joking with him. By the time we get to c), it’s not reasonable to conclude that Howard is joking.

      Which is why I don’t think O’Donnell has offered a bribe.

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      • And then what if you changed the hypothetical to one in which the entire exchange is in public, knowing that everyone hears it? I think Howard can testify credibly that it was a joke; he was just playing along.

        Frankly though I think O’Donnell was engaged in protected speech. In addition it was political speech, which has lot of “chilling effects” concerns.

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  3. At first I thought… what a weird/random JB game to play…must be a Wednesday…then I clicked on the link. : – |

    On the serious side, if both Rosie and Trump were brought low for bribery and corruption on the same day – and both had to go to prison (and maybe even share a cell) – wouldn’t you have to admit that God exists? Or that maybe we were already in the Bad Place?

    [Notwithstanding anything Phil/Ravi/Steve say about the Book of Daniel]

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  4. US1 – Rhode Island is the funniest autocomplete on that map although I’m always amused by seeing any test that produces exactly opposite results for the two Dakotas.

    New Hampshire remains, in the grand sense of things, the best question our British cousins and friends are asking.

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