Friday, December 16, 2016

Last Call For The No-State Solution

The Trumpian process of putting the worst possible person in charge continues unabated as The Donald continues to destroy decades of foreign policy. Meet David Friedman:

David Friedman is a bankruptcy lawyer who believes the two-state solution is an “illusion,” Barack Obama is anti-Semitic, and that Israel has a legal right to expand settlements in the occupied West Bank — or else to annex the territory in its entirety.

He believes that America’s embassy in Israel should be immediately relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — even though decades of Republican and Democratic administrations have opposed making such a move before a peace deal is secured, as both the Israelis and Palestinians see the city as their rightful capital.

Friedman has nothing but contempt for Jews that disagree with him. Last June, he wrote the following about members of J Street — an advocacy group for pro-Israel Americans who oppose the occupation of the West Bank and support a two-state solution: 
Finally, are J Street supporters really as bad as kapos? The answer, actually, is no. They are far worse than kapos – Jews who turned in their fellow Jews in the Nazi death camps. The kapos faced extraordinary cruelty and who knows what any of us would have done under those circumstances to save a loved one? But J Street? They are just smug advocates of Israel’s destruction delivered from the comfort of their secure American sofas – it’s hard to imagine anyone worse.

None of this should be newsworthy. There are plenty of smug advocates of indefinite Palestinian subjugation lounging on sofas in New York City or in one of Sheldon Adelson’s well-appointed sitting rooms. Friedman is just some bankruptcy lawyer, who happens to have views that make Bibi Netanyahu look like Peter Beinart.

But Friedman isn’t just any bankruptcy lawyer — he’s Donald Trump’s personal bankruptcy lawyer.

And so, he is now the president-elect’s pick for ambassador to Israel.

Yep, Donald Trump's pick for ambassador to Israel wants to end the two-state solution, wipe out the West Bank, move our embassy to Jerusalem and thinks the liberal Jewry are literally worse than Nazis.

Ambassador. To Israel.  This guy.

I'd say this horror show will never end, except there's a very good chance it will "end" us all.

The Rough Beast Slouches Towards Wisconsin

Wisconsin talk radio host Charlie Sykes is blessedly hanging up his microphone after 25 years, in which he fully admits he helped Paul Ryan, Reince Priebus and Scott Walker come to power. Normally I'd note his retirement gleefully and yell "good riddance, asshole" but before the door hits him where the good Lord split him, in a NY Times mea culpa, Sykes at least admits that he helped bring about Trump as well.

How had we gotten here? 
One staple of every radio talk show was, of course, the bias of the mainstream media. This was, indeed, a target-rich environment. But as we learned this year, we had succeeded in persuading our audiences to ignore and discount any information from the mainstream media. Over time, we’d succeeded in delegitimizing the media altogether — all the normal guideposts were down, the referees discredited
That left a void that we conservatives failed to fill. For years, we ignored the birthers, the racists, the truthers and other conspiracy theorists who indulged fantasies of Mr. Obama’s secret Muslim plot to subvert Christendom, or who peddled baseless tales of Mrs. Clinton’s murder victims. Rather than confront the purveyors of such disinformation, we changed the channel because, after all, they were our allies, whose quirks could be allowed or at least ignored. 
We destroyed our own immunity to fake news, while empowering the worst and most reckless voices on the right
This was not mere naïveté. It was also a moral failure, one that now lies at the heart of the conservative movement even in its moment of apparent electoral triumph. Now that the election is over, don’t expect any profiles in courage from the Republican Party pushing back against those trends; the gravitational pull of our binary politics is too strong.

I’m only glad I’m not going to be a part of it anymore.

Good to know Sykes admits the right has destroyed the country.  But hey, he's retiring, and most of the "Never Trump" GOP he'll suffer very little from Trump's American nightmare, nor do I expect him to lose too much sleep over it.

But hey Charlie, thanks for playing the game, and thanks especially for Paul Ryan, the guy who's going to ruin the retirements of all those hard working folks in Wisconsin that you care about so much, with Trump and Priebus's help.

You're a good soldier, Chuckles.

Drinking A Big Glass Of Fool-Ada

Over at Down With Tyranny, Howie Klein argues that Clinton campaign director Robby Mook depended way too much on a data-driven model algorithm called Ada, named for the mother of computer science, Countess Ada Lovelace.

It was a shock to the Clinton Machine when Bernie beat her in the March 16 Michigan's primary. Bernie took 595,222 votes (49.8%) to Hillary's 576,795 (48.3%). He won 73 of Michigan's 83 counties but she won big in the rich suburbs and the in Detroit. He beat her in all the little working class counties no one outside of Michigan ever heard of-- Cheboygan, Muskegon, Ingham, Eaton, Monroe, Kent, Benzie, Marquette, Jackson, St. Clair, Barry, Livingston, Allegan, Washtenaw, Charlevoix, Kalamazoo... He even beat her in Clinton County (55.8-42.1%). 
The Clinton Machine blames everyone and everything for Hillary's loss-- FBI Director Comey, Vladimir Putin, sexism, media bias-- except themselves... and ADA. (Bill Clinton is smart enough to blame ADA and he did all along but no one listened to him. We'll get to ADA in a minute.)

Imagine if Nate Silver was running your national campaign with his poll modeling software, and you made the bulk of your strategic and tactical decisions based on his models. You'd get something like Ada.

Yes, that was Ada. Let's go back to John Wagner's Washington Post little-noticed story of November 9 about Ada, when he wrote that Ada was like Hillary-- "she had a penchant for secrecy and a private server." So what's Ada? Wagner describes her as "a complex computer algorithm that the campaign was prepared to publicly unveil after the election as its invisible guiding hand. Named for a female 19th-century mathematician-- Ada, Countess of Lovelace-- the algorithm was said to play a role in virtually every strategic decision Clinton aides made, including where and when to deploy the candidate and her battalion of surrogates and where to air television ads-- as well as when it was safe to stay dark."

So let's go one step further.  We know at this point the Russians compromised the Democrats and the Clinton campaign.  What if the strategic advice Ada gave was also compromised?

What if Ada was deliberately giving Clinton terrible advice?

While the Clinton campaign's reliance on analytics became well known, the particulars of Ada's work were kept under tight wraps, according to aides. The algorithm operated on a separate computer server than the rest of the Clinton operation as a security precaution, and only a few senior aides were able to access it. 
According to aides, a raft of polling numbers, public and private, were fed into the algorithm, as well as ground-level voter data meticulously collected by the campaign. Once early voting began, those numbers were factored in, too. 
What Ada did, based on all that data, aides said, was run 400,000 simulations a day of what the race against Trump might look like. A report that was spit out would give campaign manager Robby Mook and others a detailed picture of which battleground states were most likely to tip the race in one direction or another — and guide decisions about where to spend time and deploy resources. 
The use of analytics by campaigns was hardly unprecedented. But Clinton aides were convinced their work, which was far more sophisticated than anything employed by President Obama or GOP nominee Mitt Romney in 2012, gave them a big strategic advantage over Trump.

So what if Ada was fed bad info, and Robby Mook was going off that?  It would be like you were using a GPS with a bad, outdated map.  You would follow the directions but end up in a much different place than what you expected.

So what if the Russians got into the server and fed Ada garbage?

Maybe I'm nuts.  Maybe Ada was just badly coded.  Maybe it overlooked obvious stuff that Clinton should have caught.and nobody was willing to challenge the assumptions.  Maybe the garbage was fed to Ada by Clinton's own team, based on wildly awful assumptions bordering on incompetence, which is most likely the reality at least in part.

But what if the Russians made things worse?  It would explain a lot of things, especially in the last week or two in the campaign.

Something to consider.


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