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User ID: 1422



4 followers   follows 0 users   joined 2022 October 02 23:23:48 UTC


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User ID: 1422

Would you like to put in some reasoning for why this magic is actually reality? Or just boo anything you disagree with? (I stand by that it's positing magic to make ridiculous claims that violate the basic laws of supply and demand in economics.)

I was thinking recently that this type of reasoning leads to some pretty hilarious conclusions. The splashy one is that every single pro-legalization advocate should be bowing down to the Sackler family and protesting against the cruel use of law against them, which, after all, only hurts drug users. Rather than being in any way related to increased drug usage (that's magically impossible), all they were doing was producing a perfectly safe pharmaceutical product which, as a matter of pure logic, necessarily saves lives. Will you join in erecting a statue in their honor? Maybe we can place it next to St. George Floyd's statue.

lifelong appointments

Right, so it's not even, "I'm gonna go in for a few years, make the maximum I can out of my time there, even if I'm hated, because at least after I'm done and gone, they might still remember hating me, but they won't care to try to make my life miserable anymore." With life tenure, there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

with security details

I don't know what the current state is of SCOTUS security details. I recall reading sometime in the not too distant past that most of the time, they went about their lives without any security. That it was more of a "special circumstances" or specific threat driven thing. I saw some articles around the time of Dobbs which said that they had round-the-clock security, but this was specifically a departure from the normal state of affairs. The delta between the security team protecting the president and the security team protecting John Roberts is gigantic. He's not being whisked around in motorcades, accompanied by tens of agents, following a forward team who already scoped out the destination. My sense is that if he goes out to a restaurant or just wants to take a walk around town or whatever, then if there is any security (which honestly, there might not be in the absence of a specific credible threat or a significant event like a polarizing opinion dropping or a hack journalist releasing a secretly-recorded trap conversation), it's more in the ballpark of, "Dude's got like one bodyguard to walk around with him and keep an eye on stuff."

both Thomas and Alito are tradcaths whose wives are unlikely to care very much what non-co-religionists think about them.

I mean, I'm not sure why this really matters? They can still have to fear all manner of general harassment and threat. In any event, from the recent brouhaha, it appears that at least Alito's wife very much cared about what their random neighbor thought.

The flippant answer is stochastic terrorism. They want the conservative justices to know that they can ratchet up faux outrage on literally anything imaginable and to fear that the next Nicholas Roske won't be so timid. They don't actually need something that serious to happen; it's the fear that matters. It's not even just the fear of physical death, it's that every time you get up in the morning, there are protesters outside your house; no matter where you move to, your neighbor will be very unneighborly; every time you go out somewhere, you have to be wary of anyone nearby carrying either concealed weapons... or milkshakes; every time you talk to literally anyone, you have to think, "Imagine this is being recorded; how could that recording be twisted on Twitter to make all of the above even worse?"

Your choices are that life... or maybe have a miraculous come to Sagan moment and start making lefty rulings. Then you'll get to, like, hang out with Beyonce and stuff.

For progressives here the answer is that their moral precepts that they should not be enforcing solutions on black communities (that they don't think black communities have asked for) means that is not an acceptable approach to black on black violence.

And part of the problem with that is that black communities are deeply divided themselves, on this. There is wariness about how their communities have been treated in the past, degraded trust levels, and much much more.

Where in this chain of reasoning do you think the progressives who are championing particular solutions, at a national level, get off this train? Do they think that it's okay for them to enforce their national-scale idea on black communities? Do they just not realize that black communities are deeply divided? (Do they just not care?)

When dealing with wolves (or when wolves deal with you), there is no 'right' in the moral sense; that only applies when you are dealing with moral actors interacting with each other.

I sense some ambiguity here as to what entails a "moral actor". Likely, it's not just "an actor that always chooses morally right acts", for that would be a bit weird. Most theories I've encountered have some lower bar for an actor to qualify as a "moral actor", one that allows them to choose morally wrong acts, yet be considered blameworthy for such a choice and possibly subject to morally acceptable punishment. Perhaps this punishment would involve large amounts of armed men and possibly helicopters, but the actors, themselves, are usually still considered to be "moral actors".

Of course, this is all very much complicated if you take what is either a strong minority opinion or possibly a majority opinion in this place, exemplified by @self_made_human and @SSCReader, that this whole morality thing is totally relative, anyway. Who's to say whether the wolves are moral actors? Maybe they're just actors with their own morality, which is I guess just as good as anyone else's. I don't know what else to say here, other than I think that this entire subthread kind of fails to get off the ground back a few steps if this type of thing is adopted.

the wolf is absolutely right

Might may not make right

I think there are multiple meanings of "right" in here, and that we have to be pretty careful with the concepts we're using for this topic.

In the Marxist view, after all, ownership of private property was theoretically illegitimate in the first place -- and so the police's role in preventing Bolsheviks and their constituents from stealing money and other valuables that they wanted to steal (or "expropriate", as they put it) was, in their view, a form of oppression.

Sometimes, I forget how core and radical this is. Then, I see things like this guy's most recent comic. It really kind of baffles me to imagine how they think that's actually supposed to work. What do they really think their life would be like if civilization reverted to essentially the state of nature and nobody was around to care every time a slightly larger hairless ape showed up and decided to take something from them by violence. I know the old joke about pro-capitalist people being 'temporarily embarrassed millionaires', but what are they actually envisioning? Are they 'temporarily embarrassed gang leaders/warlords'?

TIL that while we don't have access to the reporting numbers, we can sort all comments ever by controversial, with the most controversial comment of all time being about communication styles.

I was not surprised in confirming that it's easy to sort all posts by controversial... or really in seeing that the most controversial post of all time was about philosophy of science.

I don't think the intelligence part is the bottleneck. It's power for mobility.

Sure, but that doesn't really speak much to how difficult the human engineering problem is... or which aspect of the human engineering problem is the most difficult bottleneck.

I'm pretty sure they're not looking at fission reactors that are small enough to fit on a mosquito-sized drone.

Try to learn to enjoy the feeling of emptiness in your stomach.

Man, my wife 'taught' me that this is not necessary. She jams soooooo many vegetables into my stomach; I feel soooooo full on basically negligible calories.

I'm more interested in the questions that aren't worded in a tricky way that most humans would screw up. The ones where they corrupt a riddle to make it stupidly easy. For example, I saw one recently where they took the classic riddle, "Two mothers and two daughters order three drinks and each get one; how is this possible" riddle (where you're supposed to realize that if you have a chain of grandmother/mother/daughter, the one in the middle is both a mother and a daughter), and turned it into, "There are four women (sometimes with various emphases to really drive home that they are four distinct people), two are mothers and two daughters.... order four drinks...." At least some of the LLMs (I haven't followed differential outcomes from different LLMs) can't reason their way into saying, "This is a bullshit, trivial question." They parrot a 'reasoning' step that is, "One is both a mother and a daughter!" and somehow still bring it back to saying, "This is how two mothers and two daughters can have four drinks."

This is related to my interest in having an LLM with a "bullshit detector". The ability to actually think conceptually and tell me that some bullshit is afoot; that there's something conceptually weird about what it's seeing; that if we think properly about a thing, then it turns out to be kind of trivial. This is personally a capability that, without which, makes one of my major possible use cases worthless, but with it, would become incredible. That is, I have to read and digest a large number of academic papers. Frankly, due to all the screwed up academic incentives, I don't know if I'd say most, but at the very least many of them are essentially bullshit. Once I figure out what they're actually doing, what the core idea is, given my contextual knowledge of the rest of the field, I can conclude, "This is completely trivial if you already know about these other works," or sometimes even, "This is just wrong if you know about these problems." I can have that conversation with other humans who are reading the papers, too. "Do you think they're doing anything other than X?" "Nah; I think that's all it is." I need LLMs to be able to do this, but they can't even figure out that four women getting four drinks is a trivial problem, likely due to the fact that they're fitting a data set rather than doing conceptual reasoning. Similarly, we're not going to have a dataset that includes, "Here are the conceptual reasons why these various academic papers are trivial or bullshit." We're just going to have a dataset that includes all these papers parading how wonderful and novel and interesting these new developments are. (EDIT: Note that @confuciuscorndog says that if they anticipated corrupted riddles, then they could just create a dataset with a bunch of them and train on it. Maybe so, but again, I just can't see where we're going to get a dataset that can appropriately represent calling out bullshit in a bunch of papers.)

"millions or billions of mosquito-sized drones"

The primary problem that needs to be solved here is the power problem, not an intelligence problem. Of course, perhaps there will be an AlphaBattery program along the lines of AlphaFold that focuses on trying to come up with new battery designs, but my kinda-looking-in-from-the-outside view is that the battery folks don't really have a shortage of ideas for new designs; it's the empirical testing work (and things like not having the device explode) that is really the long pole in the tent.

I don't have any research cites on hand.... but then again, who needs research when you have Yes, Minister?

Without having thought about it super long, like letting myself gradually pick up examples over weeks/months, I can only think of a couple areas that have been able to resist a collapsing of disparate treatment and disparate impact. Credit scores and, currently hanging by a 6-3 thread, gerrymandering.

For gerrymandering, sigh. Honestly, it might just be that the Court is tired of these cases. They get stuck dealing with them over and over again, unlike most of the areas where the disparate treatment/impact distinction is collapsed.

For credit scoring, I think it's that there is soooo much money on the line from politically-powerful interests, plus a little historical "we've been using this for so long" factor. Would credit scoring have to fall under a strict interpretation of how these concepts work according to a radical (or even the otherwise dominant party line)? I think absolutely. Is the reason why it's been able to persist that you can get a human on the stand and ask about intent, animus, whatever? Not at all. Credit scores are an algorithm. An impersonal, just simple math, algorithm, with data in that may be subject to all the complaints people want to have about, "But if your data in is biased by a white supremacist patriarchy, then of course your algorithm is going to have racist and sexist disparate impact." Note that this Colorado law calls out that they're interested in:


No, the reason credit scores are still allowed is because too many connected people would stand to lose too much money if we let the collapse of disparate treatment/impact culminate entirely in the way that it seems to be going in nearly every other domain.

Was this meant to be a reply to this comment instead?

Ok, so not amending. Got it.

And ..sigh. Let me try again. If Trump uses personal funds to buy a "Blue Lives Matter" sign, do you have any citation from any statute, FEC interpretation, or DOJ manual, that "these types of expenditures" (I.e., Blue Lives Matter signs) actually meet the definition of "expenditure", as limited by the Supreme Court, and that they then trigger a reporting requirement (where it is a criminal offense to fail to report)? We'll get to NDAs in a bit.

I don't know what I'm supposed to do with that. Brad Smith's personal belief can't be the standard by which the law operates. There has to be some sort of actual standard

Aaaand now you're getting us into the land of 'void for vagueness'. Brad Smith says that the FEC believes that there is an objective test here. He believes he understands that objective test. But we know that the standard by which the law operates can't just be any of our personal beliefs about the few words we have in the statute (not even the jury's personal beliefs). If it were that, then there is no way for an individual to know ahead of time, objectively, whether the actions they were thinking about taking were in the illegal bucket or the not illegal bucket. This is classic void for vagueness territory.

The way these things are usually handled in the administrative state is something something agency rulemaking, something something Chevron maybe. Before you get into the morass of trying to prosecute people for a bunch of impossibly vague statutes, an agency, in this case, likely the FEC, should go through the rulemaking process to try to interpret the ambiguity in a clear way so that people can be suitably informed. There's notice and comment procedures and everything that you have to go through to get this, but if you did, then it would basically be "the FEC's personalinstitutional beliefsinterpretation" that would control. But we don't have that here. The best we have is a Democratic appointee to the FEC saying, "If the FEC had really gone through the process to make this abundantly clear, so that everyone knew that we were thinking that there was an objective test involved, then the result would be that this is not a crime." But we're stuck in a spot where the best that you can say against Trump is that they haven't gone through this process to put a full administrative interpretation out there. Not only is it classic void for vagueness in the absence of such an administrative interpretation, it heavily weighs against scienter, because Trump can't have intended to violate a standard that is only ex post knowable from your comments on an obscure website, the personal beliefs of a NY judge he's not met yet, or the personal beliefs of a jury which has not yet been convened.

The hilarious part about this is that we have to get through 90% of all these other examples of, "No, the wording in the statute doesn't actually mean what it appears to mean, because [reasons]," many of which are at least reasonably spelled out by clear FEC interpretation or Court precedent if you've read enough. But at the end of all that, when we get to the final stage, we still have a thing that likely doesn't mean what the words in the statute appear to mean at first glance, again, for [reasons]. This is the reason why many people don't view this as a simple case of, "Trump broke the law; he's not above the law; he should be prosecuted just like anyone else." It's why the entire concept of the case is so troubling, and it's frankly the reason why they pursued it the way they pursued it. If you just shove all the mess of the core, vitally-important questions into a tiny box that you try to mostly ignore and swear that it's totally a crime if you don't think about it too much, but trust us it's totally a crime, without actually having to prosecute and prove that crime in an appropriately competent court with domain expertise and appellate review for the trickier questions, it all appears sketchy as hell.

Like I said at the outset, when this eventually hits appellate review, either in a federal circuit court or just at SCOTUS directly from NY's highest court, I think it's highly likely that it ends up resolved in Trump's favor. I'd probably say more 80/20 than 50/50. It likely won't be until after the election, unfortunately, likely because there are too many folks in the process with the capability and desire to slow-play it. And that really is damaging to democracy.

We can go to the tape.

Suppose Trump pulls two crisp Benjamins out, which happens to be just enough cash to place a "Blue Lives Matter" sign, not on his own lawn, but on a patch of land that cannot be connected to him, personally. He happens to think that this message will implicitly bolster support among people who are likely to vote for him in addition to just personally believing/liking the message and wanting to support the police. Reporting requirement? Criminal?

I think that's a reporting requirement. I haven't gone into any case law, but a plain reading of the legislation would seem to indicate that any expenditure made for the purpose of influencing the election is a campaign expenditure.

Hell, we don't actually need to go all the way to Trump doing it. Could again just say that I, a random ass-individual, spent a few hundred dollars on a "Blue Lives Matter" sign (presumably because you picked it out; I don't think I'd ever do that otherwise), but let's immediately forget that parenthetical and assume that I did it because I thought it would implicitly bolster support for Trump and help Trump's election campaign. Reporting requirement? Criminal?

Neither. Not a reporting requirement, not a crime.

So, when you said:

I amend my answer: Not a reporting requirement nor a crime, because a "Blue Lives Matter" sign does not constitute "express advocacy".

Were you amending your answer to the Trump hypothetical or the random ass-individual hypothetical? Because if you were amending your answer to the random ass-individual hypothetical, that wouldn't be an amendment. It would be the same answer you originally gave. The natural reading is that you were amending your answer to the Trump hypothetical.

Do you have any citation from any statute, FEC interpretation, or DOJ manual, that "these types of expenditures" actually meet the definition of "expenditure", as limited by the Supreme Court, and that they then trigger a reporting requirement (where it is a criminal offense to fail to report)?

The FEC website says:

An expenditure is a purchase, payment, distribution, loan, advance, deposit or gift of money or anything of value to influence a federal election. "Disbursement" is a broader term that covers both expenditures and other kinds of payments (those not made to influence a federal election). All disbursements are reportable by the campaign.

Wow. Let me specify. "these types of expenditures" means, in the context of the conversation we were having, "a use of personal funds by a candidate that is within the constitutional scope of the definition of 'expenditure'". Like, I didn't think I had to specify this. After all the detail I went into to show how there are these important concerns that aren't captured by the broad definitions you might first encounter, this is basically a non-responsive reply from you. Really just throwing in the towel.

Here is another good one, where he says the kind of thing I've been saying about campaign finance law:

The problem, of course, is that campaign finance law is extremely complex and just reading the statute to people isn’t really going to help them very much.

Just saying that there's this irrespective test basically doesn't help unless you're steeped in this world. He gives some examples:

Go back to 1999. Hillary Clinton buys a house in New York. She bought it clearly to influence the election — I mean absolutely, right? — because she had to have a residence in New York. It is totally indisputable — that is a reason why she bought it. But it’s not a campaign expenditure. It doesn’t matter.


“I can tell you my personal belief is that clearly paying hush money, or paying for a nondisclosure agreement, does not constitute a campaign expense,” Smith said. “To use an example I’ve often used, it’s not a campaign expense if a businessperson is running for office and his businesses are getting sued, and if he goes to his company lawyers and says, ‘I want to settle these lawsuits against us. We’ve got some wage employment lawsuits and a woman is alleging sexual harassment. We’ve got 36,000 employees, but we’ve got these three complaints and the press will make a big deal about them. So I want you to settle these.’ And the company lawyers say, ‘No, these are great cases we should win. We shouldn’t settle them.’ He says, ‘I don’t care. I’m running for office. I don’t want press stories on it. I want you to settle them quietly.’ Well, he cannot use campaign funds to pay that settlement, even though he is clearly doing it for the purpose of influencing his campaign."

He's saying that, sure, the judge can mouth the words of the statute, but is that actually going to communicate what "the law" is? He doesn't think so, because you need some steeping. With that steeping, he thinks, the FEC would absolutely have considered it not a campaign expense and illegal for him to pay with campaign funds. Note that this is a somewhat different concern than in our other conversation, where we were talking about expenditures in terms of things that can be converted into contributions. There are still significant questions about whether it's a thing that could be captured as an expenditure, separately, and then whether constraints exist on Trump's ability to have expenditures and such in a way that can be sustained under the Constitution.

I mean, I feel like I'm not the one being confused. The hypo was specifically about Trump, and you said that you were amending your answer to there being no reporting requirement... in context of a hypo specifically about Trump. But this is why I asked, to make sure that you were saying what I thought you should be saying instead of what you actually said.

In any event, we can move on to seeing if your position seems to hold. There are a couple relevant portions of the code. You cited §30116(7)(B)(i), which is where there is the route to convert "expenditures" into "contributions". §30101(9) has the definition of "expenditure". The manual for federal prosecution of election offenses has this to say about the definition of "expenditures":

“expenditure” – in general, any purchase, payment, or anything else having pecuniary value that is made for the purpose of influencing the nomination or election of a federal candidate. § 30101(9). In the context of public communications, the definition has been judicially limited to disbursements for communications that contain “magic words of express advocacy,” such as “elect,” “defeat,” or “vote for,” or that otherwise clearly call for elective action for or against a clearly identified federal candidate. Fed. Election Comm’n v. Mass. Citizens for Life, Inc., 479 U.S. 238, 247–249 (1986); Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 44 n.52 (1976).

Clearly, they are seeing that there are significant Constitutional limits placed on the very definition of an expenditure. These limits are prior to the question of whether an expenditure can be converted into a contribution, because they cut at the question of whether something is even an expenditure in the first place. They don't seem to be saying that there is some separate route for a candidate's personal spending to be an "expenditure" which could be converted into a "contribution". Why wouldn't such an attempt run squarely into the same considerations in Buckley? I don't believe Buckley said, "Expenditures are limited to express advocacy, unless it's a candidate's personal funds, in which case they're not so limited." They just said, "Expenditures are limited to express advocacy."

candidates face reporting requirements for these types of expenditures

Do you have any citation from any statute, FEC interpretation, or DOJ manual, that "these types of expenditures" actually meet the definition of "expenditure", as limited by the Supreme Court, and that they then trigger a reporting requirement (where it is a criminal offense to fail to report)?

Lots of people see things lots of ways. All hail the mods and all that. As for me and my house, we will read the comments that people cite to justify the way they see things.

None of the lawyers I've seen arguing against the verdict have raised the definition of "campaign expenditure" as incorrectly applied

I think you've persisted in not addressing what Brad Smith has said, which is exactly that the definition of "campaign expenditure" was incorrectly applied.