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AvatarComments by Michael Cain in reply to Oscar Gordon*

On “Rebuilding from Ashes

It's... complicated. The FCC manages all aspects of orbital policy for the US. From basic policy to detailed analysis of each license application to all of the international coordination. One of the first problems a private equivalent would have is that a lot of stuff goes through the ITU, and the ITU won't deal with anyone except state actors. Which is, from long-ago experience, a pain in the ass. Private companies can do a bang-up job on working out the standard, but God only knows what the FCC might do to it before they take it the ITU.


I disagree. I know I wrote "allocation" but it's much more complex than that these days. The communication plan for any particular satellite will include orbit, frequency, time, position, beam tightness, location of ground station, and perhaps more. The ITU is the coordinating international agency and so far as I know all the other countries that need to be coordinated with use government agencies.

IIRC, SpaceX's Starlink communications proposal ran to hundreds of pages because of the real-time problem of coordinating thousands of satellites and (potentially) tens of millions of US ground stations along with everything else that's up there. It's a hard enough problem that US Starlink ground antennas will point north. One of the reasons that SpaceX needs so many satellites for the service is that the ground antennas will point at a very limited strip of sky.


Fair. I certainly agree about Congress reviewing periodically. Congress faced up to the fact that SO2 emissions didn't fit well under the then-current definitions and allowed remedies in the Clean Air Act, and passed the 1990 Amendments to same. They have been unwilling to face up to the fact that greenhouse gases don't fit well under the now-current CAA and they need to do something about it. Heck, they won't even agree that greenhouse gases are a problem.


Indeed. When I was a member of the state legislative budget staff, one of my "unofficial" jobs was to discourage members from making permanent appropriations, since that ceded power to the executive branch. I wrote passionate staff opinions that whatever matter the bill was about, it did not rise to the necessity of making the appropriation permanent. Exceptions were items where failure to appropriate on time put us crosswise with the feds, which invariably had expensive consequences.

OTOH, I contend that it is not possible for an elected legislative body to write the sufficiently detailed policy needed for a moderately large modern country. Eg, Congress cannot manage the details of spectrum allocation so that satellites can send data to Earth without interfering with each other to the point that none of the data gets through.

Even worse when there are two chambers, elected on different schedules, possibly controlled by different factions, having to agree on the details.

On “The Perils of Impeachment

One of the dangers of the trial is that it gives thousands of Trump supporters a reason to congregate in Washington daily, provoking a large response in terms of fences and razor wire and lots of National Guard. Not a good look for a party that's pinning its hopes on a "return to normalcy."

On “Impeachment: A Briar Patch With No Rabbits

911 took about what, 4-5 years to pull off?

And would have failed if the protocol for attempted hijackings had not been stuck in the 1960s. And would have failed if the FBI had followed protocol for people taking weird sets of flying classes. And would have failed if people who overstayed student visas were apprehended and deported.

The proper response was not military, the proper response was improved policing.


The way that Trump lied?

I'm going to push back just a little on this statement, since it's applied to coal jobs. The Trump administration did lots of things to try to prop up the market for coal, which would have required expanding mining. They relaxed rules on CO2, fine particulates, heavy metals, and ash. Rick Perry tried to put in a requirement that a larger portion of the electric supply must be generated at plants that could store six weeks worth of fuel on site (ie, coal or nuclear). Some of the federal lands where they expanded leasing weren't oil/gas, they were coal. They looked at opening coal terminals at West Coast military bases to support exports. Indirectly, the push to force more raw steel to be produced in the US would have driven up demand for metallurgical coal. The coal promise was one of the few things where they really tried.

On “Fox News Shouldn’t Have Called Arizona When They Did

And I'm just pointing out why the Hoosier was probably more important to turning Colorado blue. Consider the case of our former Governor and new junior Senator.

Born in Pennsylvania, went to a liberal arts college in Connecticut, brought his shiny new geology degree to Colorado to work. When he got laid off during the mid-1980s oil bust, rather than retreating to Houston like so many of the laid-off geologists he stayed on and did something entirely different: the first brewpub.

During the sequence of the dot-com implosion, telecom bust, and 2001 recession, I knew a ton of well-educated people who said, "I'll stay in Colorado and find something else to do" rather than move.

In the literature about higher education, there's a thing called "the Colorado Paradox". We're only so-so at getting the kids born here through high school and college. But we have one of the highest-educated workforces in the country because so many people bring degrees they got elsewhere to Colorado to work.


The Californian may well vote blue simply out of habit.

The tipping point for the Colorado Democrats occurred around 2006, and one of the large keys was they figured out that if they could focus that Hoosier on the question of public lands for recreation rather than extraction, the Hoosier would also vote blue. The Gang of Four was very good at focusing specific voters on specific questions.


The California Diaspora is definitely a thing. Though watching the Colorado suburbs for 30+ years now, I think the inflow of young people from the Midwest is a bigger driver here: the staggering population growth for the last 40 years has not been mostly Californians. I'm not enough of a demographer to try to do anything rigorous with the idea that the blueing of the West and reddening of the Midwest over the same period of time are related, but that's my intuition.

On “Impeachment: A Briar Patch With No Rabbits

The D’s have limited ability to do anything to him...

The D's probably don't have to do anything to him to make me happy. I was reading on some business media that he has left the presidency but now has to deal with a company that appears to be in the process of imploding. I don't think anything would pain him so much as being actually broke.

On “Fox News Shouldn’t Have Called Arizona When They Did

I assert that AZ and GA reflect the "demographic trend" that matters: high growth in the suburbs. Couple that with the Republicans' leaning towards policies that will eventually piss off enough voters in those changing suburbs. If I'm right, then NC and TX are the two large states to watch. It may take a while. Colorado was 15 years behind California, and Arizona 15 years behind Colorado.

On “Weekend Plans Post: A Shirt Worth Stealing

My go-to t-shirt from Amazon is here. Not for the thick-necked: the collar is small relative to the dimensions of the rest of the shirt, and maintains that size for years.

On “Hank Aaron’s 715th Home Run

I'll entertain the idea that Bonds' number should have an asterisk as soon as MLB and any number of other sports rule that wins/records established after athletes who have had their vision Lasik'ed down to 20/10 get the same asterisk. If you push me, corrective lenses at all. Zero difference between "Age required that I have my vision restored" and "Age required I have my quick-twitch muscles restored."

On “Electoral Trends: Into The Biden Era

I'd like to see state-level populism added to any discussion. The populism that shifted Colorado from red to blue was environmentalism: public lands for recreation for the masses; emission controls that suit the suburban bicyclists.


I would also add that he was probably under the mistaken impression that he could just decree things. He was unwilling to do the hard work that would have been necessary to get Congressional Republicans to implement such policies.

On “President Biden’s Inauguration: Day One for Forty Six

What about the others often mentioned with Manchin on this topic? DiFi? Sinema? King?


130 or so years ago, Congress decided it was hard work to legislate for a very large modern country, so delegated increasing amounts of the job to the executive and judicial branches.

Imagine, if you will, a world in which the Chair of the House Finance Committee functioned as the Treasury Secretary does today.


Tell Facebook and Twitter and Google that there's no ad revenue any more. Parler's business model was to sell ad placement to underserved businesses.

On “First, Do No Fraud: The Unworthy Pardoning of John Davis

Governments. For Medicaid, each state handles the payments so would need a data mining system specific to its software. Tricare and Medicare don't use the same software. This is one of my simple-government hobby horses. One system handling the payments and we could afford to build a decent audit system. Dozens of systems? Not so much.

On “Fox News Shouldn’t Have Called Arizona When They Did

I called Arizona about the same time Fox did. Biden had taken the lead. It was the point in previous ballot counts where the "blue shift" kicked in. I also said that Biden would win AZ by 100,000 votes or more. I was wrong. Arizona had changed their process, and the ballots that caused the historical blue shift had already been counted. I suspect that Fox made exactly the same error. We got lucky. I can make the excuse that it's just me and there are only so many hours in the day*. Fox can't claim the same.

Look at 2018 for an example of the AZ blue shift. Sinema didn't take the lead in the counting for the Senate race until a couple of days after the election, but eventually won by >2%.

* F*ck anyone who criticizes. My wife was diagnosed with the early stages of dementia. I had to buy a house, move, sell a house, so she and the granddaughters can know each other while she's still her. In the middle of a pandemic. 2020 was a crappy year. But State-of-the-Discussion still works. may be available on git next month. I have faith that the "peaceful partition" book will reach a draft stage some year, and that the cat-chaser system will work before I die.

On “President Biden’s Inauguration: Day One for Forty Six

There at least reports that McConnell is telling Schumer, "Equal number of Republicans and Democrats on all committees, and a guarantee that Republicans can bring a bill to the floor in the case of a tie, or we'll filibuster the procedural votes." Manchin has finally got his committee chairmanship after waiting six years. I think he can be sold on dumping the filibuster on procedural votes. And eventually go along on other specific things like pandemic relief.

On “Mike Pence and One Cheer For Doing the Right Thing

He was already done. In 2016 he was running for reelection as Governor of Indiana and trailing the Democrat in the polls. In Indiana! Back then lots of people made fun of him for accepting the spot as VP candidate. I said it was a low-odds high-reward gamble. And he came within one heart attack or stroke (in a 70+ overweight exercise-shunning man) of grabbing the big brass ring.

On “The Politics of Survival: Putting Yourself in a Box

A welfare state similar to that of the 1950’s...

Try running seriously on ending Medicare and Medicaid. Because everyone is going to figure out that means Grandma will be coming to live upstairs, someone will have to change her diaper, and we'll be giving up cable TV to pay for her medications. (Keep in mind that half of all Medicaid spending is nursing home care for the elderly.)

On “Pardon Me, Sir

How does a pardon work in a case like Levandowski's? His big money problem and now bankruptcy was all civil proceedings, so that's not affected. Does he get the restitution and fine moneys that were part of his plea bargain on the criminal charges back?

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