Friday, December 22, 2017

Trump signs off on the GOP Tax Scam

And just like that Trump has signed off on a tax bill that neither he nor his lawyers nor any of the usual presidential economic surveillance staff have actually read. 

Something called a "Tax Cut" has been passed which on paper sounds good, but the moment you try to get a clear sense of what it actually means you get a set of extremely confusing answers. 

I am quite surprised he signed off on it. I was expecting him to hold back on it to make sure that the GOP killed the Mueller investigation first. He hasn't even waited for Trey Gowdy to shut down the House Russia probe. He just went ahead and signed it. 

I am quite baffled by his desire to give up his leverage like this.

I suspect it has something do with the objections he raised to anti-Russia portions of the NDAA[1]. He has basically said "I am signing this NDAA but I am going ignore parts of it I don't like at any point of time." This is completely bizarre, I have never seen such a disconnect between a President and his own party dominated House and Senate. This whole GOP super majority and GOP President thingy is always a total freakshow, but I feel this NDAA-ignore-whatever-I-dislike is off the charts as shitshows go.

Is this why he gave up his leverage?  He felt he didn't need it? Because keeping his leverage with Russia was more important? Because Putin's ass is in the sling with no end to sanctions and an election looming while the RU reserve fund is depleted? Am I reading this right? 

Bannon and Lewandowski are going up before a separate house committee. Bannon is openly departing with Trump Family (such as Ivanka) [2] and Trump himself - He's indicated he wants to run for President in 2020. My guess is that he found out he would be going to jail as part of Trump's deal with the GOP but Jared and Ivanka would go free. 

Apparently Ivanka and Jared aren't too sure if they are going to jail or not - and think Bannon is out of line for criticizing them (a "f***ing liar" is the phrase she used apparently). [3]

Trouble in Trump's inner circle suggests whatever Trump has just done - he made a difficult choice. A choice where none of his crew know who is going to get thrown to the OSC dogs. 

This decision was taken yesterday. I am guessing that is why so many astrologers claimed it would be unluckiest day of 2017. Either that or those SOBs are dabbling in BTC too much. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The GOP Tax Scam

You are going to hear a lot of weird stuff about the tax plan. People are going to tell you it is good for the economy. There is going to all manner of news about bonuses and capital investments by banks and major corporate houses and the numbers are going to sound very big to you and you might even be told that "trickle down" economics is actually working.

Unfortunately it is all bullshit.

The major problem with the current economy is that we are accruing debt (both private and federal) at an astronomical rate. The reason this is happening is that corporate productivity is poor - companies aren't paying workers enough money and what profits they do make, they are sending to offshore to avoid taxes. The government is basically having to cover for the loss in welfare. As there aren't enough taxes coming - the government has to borrow more money. This debt has to be serviced, if not directly by the boomers then indirectly by the boomers.

With rising entitlement expenditures on the horizon and significant disaster relief problems anticipated due to climate change - a reduction in tax revenue is NOT a good thing for the US Government at this time.  We need more tax revenue if we are to keep up with the loan repayments. If we default on the loan as Donald Trump has promised to do so many times in his campaigns, the global financial system (which provides all your investments a most basic level of security) will collapse! We may be able to dodge the bullet by cutting back entitlements (SS and Medicare) but that will come at great cost to the country.

Trumpers are not going to get this - because GOP will make sure that they remain in their stupid vegetable state and never grasp how badly they are getting screwed here.  Rich GOPers will make the bank with this kind of thing of course, but the reality is that they don't actually care about the flag waving ethnocentric idiots that form the "base" anyway.

I can't understand how a group of people so hell bent on preventing White Genocide are letting the GOP get away with placing the very machinery that will wipe out their kind in place. It is truly like watching sheep led to the slaughterhouse. Each sheep seems quite happy about being given a free bus ride!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Trump attempts to escape Russia probe

Per the rumors doing rounds in the Trumper world, Trump is going to get a "clean chit" from SCO Mueller. Apparently Trumpers believe the GOP has agreed to get SCO Mueller to back off on arresting members of Trump family (i.e. Jared, Donald Jr, and Ivanka) in exchange for Trump giving their tax bill a free pass in law. The GOP will use its majority in the House and Senate to draw attention away from Trump by sacrificing Jill Stein on the altar of Russian' interference.

It seems the Russians are okay with this because they are able to sluice enough money out of their US real estate holdings into some Panama corporations and then transfer that money to digital currencies. The big gains are not so much in BTC but rather in other coins which can then be moved from Panama to RU backed client states in places like Cyprus, Hungary and Bulgaria. Once the alt-coins are put into these places, they are exchanged for Rubles and other currencies which can be moved around freely over the Russia EU border and used to shift loyalties inside the Grand Duchy of Moscow and ensure Putin's re-election. Once Putin is re-elected, whatever happens in DC - will all play out to his advantage regardless of whether Trump or Stein are put to the sword - or so Moscow seems to believe. 

Apparently the GOP Tax cut act still has numerous problems inside it. Most of these problems are due to the fact that the GOP wrote it up in a few days without letting any of the real local stakeholders have a look at it. An army of lobbyists wrote up the tax cuts and no one - not even the GOP senators are really sure what is in the bill and what its true legal and tax implications are. They need to have this bill passed because otherwise they not be able to keep their looted money in their own pockets. Without a chunk of cash in the pockets it is unlikely that the GOP will survive the political winters that lie ahead. As long as Trump signs off on the GOP bill and doesn't try to independently cut deals with stakeholders kicked outside the process, the GOP can keep slipping in edited versions with no one being the wiser. This is how the GOP would like to see it work out.

With SCO Mueller hot on is ass and Jared, Ivanka and Trump Jr looking at time behind bars, Trump is frightened he will end up jail too. I doubt he cares if anyone else goes to jail but he thinks he will fare poorly in a place like that. He wants to see this Russia investigation killed before it kills him. He can't handle the stress that comes with this secret investigation burning a hole under him. He knows he is guilty - so his only hope is to kill the OSC-DOJ-FBI itself. Again nothing new in that. We all knew this day would come. I suspect he tried to get OSC Mueller shut down himself via pressure on DAG Rosenstein but the public backlash at that was so intense he had to back off and choose a different approach.

This latest thing spouting from the Trumpers is "new plan".

All I can say is that this is a great plan. When I read it on paper - it looks like it could work. It is way better than all the other stupid plans I have seen come out of the Trump admin so far. All those were really nothing more than media deflections - they would never work against a real investigation.

But see - herein lies the problem - NOTHING works against a real investigation!

This is not some stupid corporate fraud case that you can just shake off. In a corporate fraud investigation no one is really concerned about the outcome, there is always the possibility of an out of court settlement.

This matter goes to the heart of nation's security. This gets to the core of national elections.

This kind of probe cannot be shut off. There is no such thing as an "out of court settlement" in a Nat Sec related investigation.

Trump has a fantastically poor grasp of what it actually means to be in the executive branch.

The instant that Trump signs off on the GOP Tax Bill - he is on the hook for delivering the results he promised to his voters and donors. He will be held to blame even if he quits. Furthermore, once the bill is signed, the GOP will collect their checks and walk out on the whole thing - saying "hey we did our job, its all in Trump's hands now". The GOP will owe him nothing. With the cash in their pockets they will be free to pursue whatever strategy is expedient to secure their re-election in 2018 including cutting deals with Russia that prejudice Trump's ability to act as the ultimate deal broker or including re-opening the investigation into Russia ties as a way of deflecting criticism for Trump's failure to do anything right.

If Trump signs off on the bill - he will be fucked by the GOP. At that point McConnell and Ryan will have won and Trump will have lost.The stalemate will end.

If Trump vetoes the bill, the stalemate  will continue and attrition losses on both sides will continue to mount.

A plan is always a good idea - we should all have a plan, but the reality is that some plans just don't work. And this is one of them. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Security of Indian EVMs

The Indian EVM has two parts to it - a control unit and a ballot unit. The current generation of EVM use a EEPROM and a Renaesas/Microchip processor in the control unit to maintain a count of the votes cast and operate the ballot unit. [ref 1]

Here are the knowable sources of vulnerability

1) The die used to make the microprocessor and the fab lines used to actually make the chips are not under ECIL or BEL control. Absent this control, there is no way to ensure that when the chips are made additional circuitry is not fabricated on to them that permits interference. This kind of hardware hacking is rare but it is entirely possible in the context of something as prized as an Indian electoral verdict.

2) The firmware and the EEPROM data are loaded on to the control unit at the factory. It is not known if there are ways of ensuring that the code as written by ECIL/BEL is actually on the EEPROM or functions without vulnerabilities with the firmware. It is unclear how firmware changes are rolled out by the chip manufacturers and to what extent ECIL/BEL has visibility to those changes. Given that the small volume of chips produced (only a few million as opposes to tens/hundreds of millions) it would be difficult to imagine that EC of India has leverage with the chip manufacturer on both transparency and volume pricing issues. Malicious firmware attacks are becoming increasingly common, I expect the situation will get worse as The Shadow Brokers release NSA/TAO toolkits to all manner of criminals across the world. Neither the EEPROM data nor the firmware are verified after the EVM is handed over into EC custody as there is no means of doing so.

3) The ballot unit has a "None Of The Above" (NOTA) option at the end of every ballot. This is a specific entry that is labelled identically in every ballot definition file. The ballot definition files (BDF) which correlate the buttons on the ballot unit to specific parties are usually created at the state level election commission. Given where the NOTA entry is on the BDF, I can write a script which transfers one vote out of every 10 or so from certain positions in the BDF to the NOTA entry. As long as I have control of the local EC, I can ensure that my political party of choice is not on those "certain positions" and I can ensure that votes for my adversary party would be added to the NOTA list. In this fashion even if my adversary had enough votes I would be able to reduce their total relative to mine and I would see the total number of votes conserved.

Given that NOTA votes could have changed the outcome in 24 constituencies in the recent Gujarat elections, it is important to review the EVMs used in these constituencies and if there are any gen 3 devices with VVPAT - EC should go over those VVPATs to see if they match the votes recorded. If the EC does not do this - it will further impair the growing lack of trust between the EC and the people of India. This loss of trust is corrosive to the idea of India.

I feel the ECIL/BEL scientists have done a great job designing a cheap and reasonably secure device for use in the Indian context, but like all technology it comes with vulnerabilities and flaws and it is contingent upon all Indian citizens to be a part of reducing the effects of those flaws.

It is time other Indians rose to challenge at hand, and picked up where ECIL/BEL have left off.

UFO article in the NYT

Guys - before you go around screaming "THERES ALEIENSS EVERYWEWHERE!!!" from the rooftops, here is a few things you want to keep in mind.

There are a vast number of unexplained electrical phenomena in the atmosphere. You can broadly call these phenomena "lightning" because as with lightning - we understand jack about them. The entire earth and its atmosphere is a complex capacitor with mobile ions in it. Due to gravity these atmospheric ions have what can crudely be termed a barometric profile in steady state, but given the vagaries of space weather and the unknowable nature of interfacial currents at the earth's surface - we can see large electrical transport phenomena in the atmosphere.

If you ever want to read about this in greater detail, look up the chapter on atmopheric ions in Feynman's book. It is a good starting point for further reading. Feynman doesn't capture the transient phenomena only the static or steady state solutions. The transients are a very rich phenomenology - unless you have worked in that area you basically know nothing about it. There are weird couplings between the Navier-Stokes equations and the Poisson Equation, there are variations in the local gravity field you have to consider and you have to think about what exactly is going on under the specific area of the earth's surface you are on. Sub-surface electrical currents have mirror charge rearrangements above the surface. It's pretty ridiculously complicated and a lot of weird shit happens.

For a scientist - a fellow scientist saying - "Yeah, I don't know what the fuck is going on" is pretty normal. Most of our kind live in that sort of permanent haze where we keep asking ourselves "which way is up?" - ordinary civilians they can't handle that. So most times we offer them the simplest possible explanation to keep them from going ape-shit about something we don't really have any answers for. The civilians make fun of us - "look at those idiots arguing about how many angels fit on a pinhead" - and that's okay - cause face it - you'all can't handle the truth.

Apart from those as yet ill-understood atmospheric electrohydrodyanmic phenomena, there is the a vast array of subterranean SCI aviation projects with (lets just say) "Lofty" goals. These projects usually get their test flights scheduled through a special airspace control which monitors dark spots in satellite coverage and ensures that any accidental imaging in sequestered data (i.e. the central trove of NRO vetted images) is scrubbed. Most of the coverage dark spots are near designated locations in the CONUS and at sea where satellites turn off recording and transmit the data to ground stations. Barring the odd MIL a/c that is outside its task area or accidentally imaging on a non-sequestered camera feed - these "ghost" flights do not turn up. You can  map them, with a couple of SDRs and MLAT - but it takes effort - serious amounts of it to "see" these flights. I strongly suspect a bunch of guys scanning ADS-B channels have this implemented already - but they are keeping it down to ensure the USG doesn't crawl up their asses.

Outside of these unexplained weather and secret planes - there is the realm of the truly unexplained. There is a very small fraction of these "truly unexplained" events in the data. Merely because these events were observed by military or civilian pilot/LE personnel doesn't mean that they fall into the "truly unexplained" category.

If you see a politician complaining about UFOs - they are likely doing so for a reason. That reason usually has to do with the limited nature of external oversight into TS-SCI research projects. The politicians are not evil - there is actually a very bad history here which no one wants to talk about because it just makes you feel miserable. There was a lot illegal human experimentation done back in the day under the guise of TS-SCI programs. Really toxic shit that you wouldn't believe a democratic government would ever do and yet that went on for quite a while. The whole gamut from state sponsored sexual abuse of women and children to unsanctioned medical experiments on infants. It is all completely fucked up shit that went down a while back.

So when you see someone like Harry Reid bringing it up - it should be red flag. A warning that something has shifted in research underworld.

The details of this secret underworld of research activities may be invisible to all of us common folk - but you know who had unfettered access to all this stuff back in the day? - the Project Paperclip guys. Yeah - that's right - "former" Nazis had more access to these secrets than most people serving in the US military or NASA did.

So I personally wouldn't be too surprised if a whole bunch of "UFOs" just popped out of the ground to help Trump seal his grip on power.  And if that ever happened, you should be legit scare but just know - it wouldn't mean that Aliens exist or that they support Trump. It just means a core of Nazis has wormed its way into some TS-SCI projects and it's gonna be a real pain weeding them out.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Mueller's inevitable firing and the equally inevitable consequences

Trump appears to be setting up to fire Mueller and pardon Micheal Flynn. Micheal Flynn agreed to testify against Trump in exchange for Mueller agreeing to not prosecute his son Micheal Flynn Jr.

This created a major situation for Trump, he wanted more than anything else to make this all go away. But with Flynn offering to testify that Trump himself had ordered extraordinary contacts between Flynn and RIS representatives before he became President - Trump found himself cornered.

Flynn for his part indicated that the only reason he was offering to testify against Trump was because Mueller had pinned his son down in a case involving the Turkish government. Apparently Flynn Jr was mixed up with Erdogan in some kind of money and gold thing. Mueller got his claws into Jr and that was his ticket to getting Flynn Sr to turn on Trump.

It is only natural for Trump to believe that firing Mueller will solve his problems and Trump is simply too stupid to realize that this will not help him survive. Whoever takes Mueller's place will have to continue Mueller's attack on the Flynn family as an avenue to secure a case against Trump and outside of whacking Flynn/Flynn Jr - I don't see how to actually secure Trump from inevitable betrayal by these two.

And then there is matter of Trump Jr himself. Both him and his dad seem to think that they can afford highly paid lawyers to cover their mistakes. Again that is not true. Neither of these two have really faced the full brunt of a Federal criminal investigation. It is highly likely that Trump Jr will turn on daddy to save his own skin. Mueller has him bang to rights, whoever takes over when Mueller is fired, will go after Trump Jr as a way of securing themselves from criticism that they are Trump's proxy. After all this Trump phase will end at some point and the public at large will want blood - which prosecutor wants to take the blame for Trump's sins.

Everything is in a state of suspended animation as Mitch McConnell attempts to get his tax bill passed. This state will end soon. It is unlikely that Mitch McConnell will wait for Doug Jones to be seated before he votes on this bill. I feel it may be best in the long run if the GOP owns the "tax cut" completely and what follows is placed on Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan's head.

As Tiger Memon's balding friend informs in at the lunch meeting in the Durbar Restaurant in Dubai (see screenshot from the movie Black Friday below). "Tera bachna mushkil hain"( it is unlikely you will escape)

At that time, no one had any idea that Tiger had orchestrated the entire Bombay Blasts on March 13, 1993. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

EVM security - asking the right questions

This is a difficult topic to discuss. A lot of people have opinions but opinions are NOT facts.

Here are some questions you can ask people in your government to determine for yourself what the "facts" pertaining to your EVM's security are.

Historical note - before EVMs, elections would be rigged by compromised returning officers or police officers. These people with the help of gangsters would stuff the ballot boxes with votes for a candidate that had paid them to fix the election for them. After EVMs came into play, people started rigging elections using GOTV and anti-GOTV operations. These operations involved using bribes to get voters out to the booth on polling day (Get Out the Vote) and running interference on such GOTV using various criminal agencies (anti-GOTV). The operations were difficult to hide and there was serious risk of discovery. This led to electronic hacking. Like all cyber crimes this was harder to detect.

The general experience in consumer electronics has been that secure devices can be built by well meaning manufacturers but secure systems (i.e device+ecosystem+users) are nearly impossible to build.The questions people should be asking are listed below, if the answers to these are "no" then the EVM is vulnerable.

1) Is 2+FA (multi-factor authentication) implemented on the actual EVM devices, on related communication servers and electoral commission consoles with access to EVM functioning and data?

2) Are all user accounts associated with the EVM and EVM system password protected? Are the passwords stored in salted and peppered form?

3) Are all the unused ports and services on the EVM turned off?

4) When the EVM communicates with other servers, is it using PGP style encryption?

5) Are servers associated with EVM data continuously monitored and audited for security breaches? is there a dedicated team that does this?

6) Is there a data fusion center that tracks activity patterns on the network and identifies unusual activity?

7) Is there an education team that ensures that all users on the EVM network are informed about best practices and infosec hygiene?

8) Are all updates to the EVM system rolled out with appropriate certification?

9) Is there a "White Hat" team that continuously monitors the EVM system for vulnerabilities and advanced persistent threats?

10) Is there a protocol for coping with a large information security emergency? Has the election commission drilled its operations staff in contingency responses?

Merely asserting security through obscurity doesn't make for actually secure EVM systems. Even if you control the source code rigidly - binaries can be hacked and you have to update the source code as hardware generations and firmware are changed. These updates have to be rolled out with appropriate certification and you have to verify that the EVM device providers carried out the actual updates you sent out.

This is a lot of work - and if your election commission is cutting corners or simply flaking out on some of these details, you will get evasive answers from them. This is a bad sign. It means your EVM is not secure.

What you do once you find out that your EVM is insecure, is up to you. I can't advise what will be appropriate in your situation, but I can tell you that knowing is half the battle.

In general - if enough people know what is going on with respect to their EVMs - the people messing about with them will very wary about the consequences of public discovery. This fear will induce them to make mistakes and that is where one can catch them.

No political system can afford exposure of the underlying EVM fraud - if enough people know about it - it will wither away.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A few comments on Israeli national security

I am not offering advice of any sort here, merely trying to understand what is happening.

The idea of a Jewish nation became a beacon of hope for survivors of the Holocaust fleeing Europe. The defeaters of Nazism built a great nation out of the ashes of British Palestine.

This new nation was not welcomed by its Muslim Arab neighbors. The defeaters of Nazism found themselves locked into a war for their survival. Having just been through one Holocaust, they had no interest in becoming subaltern to another culture. Unlike their Arab adversaries, the defeaters of Nazism were not afraid of the night or high technology. By mastering high technology and night assaults using light infantry, they won the wars against their intrusive Arab neighbors. Israel earned the right to live.

In an ideal world, Israel would build on this sense of security. Having convinced its neighbors that it is not going anywhere, it would promote itself as a reliable regional trading partner. One step in the right direction here is establishment of "megascale" seawater desalination plants along the Israeli coastline. Israeli plants are far more efficient than other similar operations and they make a lot of water. Ideas to turn the Negev green seem within reach with this kind of water supply.  Even if that lofty goal is not achieved, these plants could launch Israel as a major regional supplier of water. It is not hard to imagine an oil-for-water exchange where the middle eastern countries supply Israel with oil and get water in return. The possibilities seem endless.

Israeli success came at a steep price. Israel has a vast native Palestinian population. There were almost as many Muslim Palestinians as there were Israeli Jews. As the survivors of the Holocaust had no desire to be minorities in the promised land, the rights of these non-Jewish populations were severely curtailed and their lands seized without due process. A very shaky idea was put forth to justify this occupation - that the lands these non-Jews were settled on, originally belong to Jews who had been evicted by hostile powers. Therefore seizure of these lands without due process was only restoring the land to its original owners. This is shaky because there is no evidence of original title or ownership and there is no way to claim that the lands are being transferred to actual lineal descendants of the original owners. The Palestinians took to violent dissent and paid the price.

In the lands that were seized Kibbutzim set up shop. They worked hard on the land and a great many were able to eke out a living in the desert. Using advanced farming techniques, they were able to restore fertility to this lost land and a great miracle occurred in the desert. This positive development however was undone by the cost of keeping the Palestinians deprived of their natural rights. The biggest sign of the troubles within came from clashes between settlers and the Israeli Army and when several members of the Israeli national security community began to openly ask whether modern Israelis were failing to recognize the creeping shadow of Nazism on its national policies. What else could any sane person say about the ghettotization of Palestinians.

A group of Israelis began to see the Palestinian occupied territories as a lucrative real-estate opportunity. By deliberately promoting high risk property developments in Palestinian dominated areas of Jerusalem, these shady developers transferred their exposure onto ordinary pious Jewish families living in the suburbs of New York, New Jersey and Chicago. Again the idea put forth was  that Jews were merely returning to Judea and Samaria and there will be some teething problems but it will all sort out in the end. Ordinary people have uprooted their lives in US and planted themselves into the middle of the desert on this promise. The storm of unrealistic expectations this has created seems quite unmanageable to me.

I do not understand how this continued mistreatment of Palestinians will help Israel further its cause of normalization of relations with its neighbors. In that light, I wonder if Trump's weird announcement on Jerusalem is a positive development for Israeli security. It looks to me that Trump wanted to secure some cash from his patrons in certain parts of Manhattan and so he did some usual "Trumpy Stuff" to get the check but there is no real plan or followup. Meanwhile Israeli security has to cope with the prospect of anotherIntifada breaking out in the region and all the Jihad crazies in the world now have another reason to attack Israel. One could argue - they didn't really need a reason and this is true, but war fatigue was kicking into their base populations and now this has just reinvigorated them. All those Hamas guys pointing guns at each other are now pointing guns at the Israeli settlers. I am not even sure if it has helped the settlers who desperately sought some kind of international recognition.

I really can't get my head around how any of this is helping. Let me ask a stupid question - how many houses in East Jerusalem overlooking the Temple Mount will one have to sell to make up for the bill for the security of Donald Trump's visit to the area? How many helos did IDF fly on that one mission? How many IDF battalions were deployed in the city center that day? Was it really worth it? I can't say.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Democratic Party decides not push for Donald Trump's impeachment at this time.

Quite unsurprisingly the Democratic party has decided not to push for Donald Trump's impeachment at this time. The central calculation of the party appears to be that given the GOP super-majority, it is unlikely that impeachment would succeed and that Donald Trump would vindictively strike back in ways that would hurt their voters.

I have indicated earlier that the Democratic Party does not really care what happens to Donald Trump or the GOP and it is focused on ensuring the survival of its overall political agenda. That agenda has been severely damaged by the GOP's relentless assault on the courts. The manner in which the GOP is shoving political partisans into the US courts is truly frightening.

Since Donald Trump and GOPers have decided to kill their own voters en masse, there is little the Democratic Party can do to stop them. Only the "Second Amendment" folks can really do anything on this timescale and since they are all in Putin's pocket - they will restrict themselves to killing unarmed civilians (preferably women, LGBTQ and POC only).

Even if the Democratic Party were to go to great lengths to stop Trump and the GOP, it is not like the GOP voters would ever actually vote for the Democratic Party. We are seeing the kind of dynamics in the Alabama Senate election. The manner in which mainstream Republicans have chosen tribal instinct over common sense speaks volumes for what the Democratic Party can expect to gain for its efforts.

So my friends - the "Shoah" will continue.

Bitcoin continues to be Russia's preferred way of exfiltrating the funds needed to ensure Putin's electoral victory. Though I confess, I do not know if it will be enough to guarantee it. Listening to the responses on the street in Moscow, one senses that the Russian people are tired of Putin but they don't want to show it for fear of being murdered by his allies. A sensible man would consider sitting in the opposition for a term just to wash off the anti-incumbency but that's now where things are headed in Moscow.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

New fit from climate change modeling groups is alarming.

Some of you may have seen a spate of articles in the last month about revisions to existing global warming models. If you haven't here is a short list:

1) The ice sheets are melting faster [1]
2) The marine ice cliff instability [2] (the link here will take you to a site where you can hear expert opinions about an article about the marine ice cliff instability. This is a good link to have handy when discussing informed skepticism of climate change literature).
3) Revised rates from Brown and Caldiera [3]

There are many other articles that came out during the last round of climate change negotiations in Bonn [4]. (A lot of people dismiss those articles are being part of the negotiations posturing but I don't know if that is the correct way to think about it).

I want to focus on the Brown and Caldiera data. They started off building a model that would better match recent historical data and when they succeeded, they found it predicts a much faster global warming. This graph above summarizes their results.

There are several interesting parts to this but you can see that the point of crossing 2C (black dashed line crosses red solid line v/s black dashed line crosses light blue dashed line) has moved closer by about 5 years. The "Observationally informed model" is the new prediction (red solid line) and the "Raw climate model" is the older blue dashed line.

While it is important to remember that no model of climate phenomena can capture new emergent physics, it is equally important to note that a better fit to recent historical data is much more likely to capture the ongoing critical dynamics.

Let me put this another way.

We can crudely track two things - carbon energy consumption patterns and global temperatures. These two pieces of information are correlated in a general sense - we know that as we burn more carbon energy, we expect to see more GHG emissions and we throw off the balance between heat absorbed and radiated by the earth. That in turn raises global temperatures.  We do not have an exact model for how that will happen and to top that off we know our measurements of both these data sets have errors in them.

In order to understand the relationship between these two imperfectly measured quantities we need models that cross-correlate them. There are a range of models used by the IPCC to cross correlate the global energy budget with the global temperature shift. These are collectively called RCP.
The number after the RCP (such as RCP4.5) denotes the extent to which the energy budget mis-matches due to rising GHG emissions. Ideally the earth would absorb and re-radiate the same amount of heat as it did in pre-industrial times, but we can model the effect of an imbalance to that heat balance. These RCPs capture those kinds of imbalances.

The most heat imbalanced model is RCP 8.5 (that is what is shown as the blue in that above graph). The issue that is repeatedly raised by people is that RCP 8.5 doesn't match recent observations. This is an accurate statement. Saying this is also a veiled way of saying that model does not appear to be perfectly capturing all the relevant physics.

What Brown and Caldiera are saying is that - if you make a model (red line) that better fits recent data, then you see a massive rise above RCP 8.5. The predictions become even more alarming.

Now there are two ways of reading this

1) The recent past represents some statistical fluctuations that correctly averaged by the RCP and we should not dismiss them on account of their inability to fit the recent data. This is the view proposed by Brown and Caldiera.

2) The models that return a better local fit also better capture present day dynamics (i.e. the REAL link between REAL carbon emissions and REAL global warming). This is the view that I find myself drawn to.  I feel this is not some esoteric modelling community dissonance on the credibility of fit quality.

The problem in all this modeling has *always* been difficulties capturing emergent physics that creates feedback loops. When I saw the Brown and Caldiera article, the hair on the back of my neck stood up.

What if the RCP8.5 is wrong - and Brown and Caldiera have correctly captured an emergent physics that is driving global temperatures up at a much higher rate than IPCC estimates? 

I understand the one would not want to rock the boat by saying things like that, but the boat may be able to hit an iceberg - and if rocking it a little bit like that - stops that from happening why not?

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Solving yesterday's mystery of the sudden GOP love for all things Trump

I was a bit baffled yesterday when in the morning there was completely alignment between Trump and the GOP leadership. They were all pally pally on the Moore issue and all the GOP heavy weights in Senate and Congress were lining up to give us fond accounts of how they all gave Trump handjobs whenever he wanted it.

I couldn't figure out what had brought about this change of heart. And then I found out what was going on.

It appears in their haste to push the "Tax Cuts" through the Senate, the GOP screwed up.

With multiple drafts of the same bills floating around, they failed to notice that they had *eliminated* Corporate tax dodges *while* keeping the AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) high! [1]

This is a major fuck up on part of Turtle & Co. ( I feel like McConnel is really good at the long game and really bad at tactical stuff. He just can't keep up with the fast dynamics).

For reasons I don't quite get Bob Murray (or all people) is all mad about this. [2] I can't really get my head around why Bob says anything, but some people say he just likes the attention.

Anywho - with this fuck up - Mitch McConnel needs Trump's help to retrieve the bill (and fix all the shit he screwed up). He also needs Trump to not go around pointing out GOP incompetence to donors. Especially at a time when Mitch might need them (oh... like for his re-election perhaps?) So he's playing nice with Trump.

Most of the others that were counting on having Mitch's support to keep Trump off their ass now find themselves in the wind. So they too have started sucking up to Trump in the hope that he doesn't land blame for Mitch's mistake on them.

In the previous post, I had said that Trump wants Mitch and Paul Ryan to kill the Russia investigation. There is no way Mitch and Paul can do that without hurting themselves badly. Now that they screwed up bigtime, Trump has leverage. My guess is that Trump will fire Mueller and Mitch+Paul will let that slide - at least until a public uproar forces them to undo it.

From the perspective of a democratic strategist, Mitch's fuck up is a god-send. This has now locked the entire GOP-Trump system into a mutual collapse more - neither can live while the other survives.

Monday, December 04, 2017

The Simple Model of GOP-Trump relationship

I have a simple model of the GOP-Trump relationship. I think it captures most of the transactional aspects. There are a few key assumptions:

1) Together the GOP & Trump are a rent seeking entity. Any stakeholders outside this GOP+Trump universe must pay "rent" to the combined system in order to keep what they have (ex. a viable business model, tax breaks they enjoy, environmental free-lunches, faith based status etc...).

2) Any "rent" that is so paid travels differently inside the GOP+Trump system depending on whose hands it falls into and what specific action is demanded. You can pay the GOP not to harass Trump, you can pay Trump not to pick fights with the GOP etc

3) The GOP & Trump are mutually antagonistic in that they each want a larger fraction of the "rent". Whatever you are paying to keep your share of the pie, they want a bigger piece of it for themselves.

In terms of the current patch of internal dynamics.

The GOP wants a tax cut so that its leaders can pocket some cash for what they assume are difficult times ahead. Clearly if the "demographic collapse" that so many social thinkers posit actually happens, the GOPers are going to need much cash to pay lawyers, hire security guards, build secure bunkers in Whitefish etc... to fend off the maelstrom of public disapproval that is soon to come. Older GOPers have simply decided not to run again and put up a show of opposing Trump. Younger GOPers seem to be trying to decide if they should avoid running or tie up with RIS and have the Russians "throw" them the election. Political retirement or "outsourcing" GOTV or antiGOTV to the RIS costs money - so they need the money.

Trump always is short of money. He's made too many promises to too many people and he knows he can't even make the minimum payment due to most of them. Take Putin for example. He was promised an end to sanctions, instead he has been given a "look the other way" as he spikes the stock market and then painfully slowly transfers wealth over the BTC + Offshore route. He was hoping to make billions in a day, now he make a few thousand here and there. Putin's not happy having to fight challenges inside the Grand Duchy of Moscow - but that is what you get when you put faith in Trump. As long as the sanctions stay in place - Putin is reduced to begging Trump to do his bidding. That suits Trump fine - but it doesn't suit Putin for very long. I wouldn't be surprised if Putin starts leaking out stuff about his interactions with Trump. What holds for Putin holds for others that Trump made promises to. This Russia investigation is every Trump creditor's way of putting pressure on him to pay up.

The Russia investigation places pressure on the Trump end of the GOP-Trump balloon, if the GOP doesn't vent the pressure - the balloon bursts. The GOP has to keep signing a "get-out-of-jail-free" card for Trump. In order to do this, the GOP demands payment (i.e. passage of *their* tax cuts). However as with any outside stakeholders, Trump can't accede to the GOP demand, if he does - they will have their tax cut and hang him out to dry. The GOP doesn't need Trump, Pence could do as good a job of acting as a foil (and probably charge much less). Heck they'd probably be okay with Ivanka too. (poor Donald - that would really hurt bad). So somehow Trump has to leverage any motion of the Tax Cuts (such as implementation, Presidential veto, etc) to ensure that GOP relieves the Russia investigation pressures. Essentially IMHO Trump can only sign off on/let the GOP actually have its the tax cuts if the GOP agrees to shut down Mueller and end the impeachment issue.

Trump's belief in the GOP's ability to give him a permanent "get-out-of-jail-free" card appears to be rooted in the assumption that GOP has the ability to actually do such a thing (Hint - it does not).

The GOP's belief that they can leverage Trump and get this ridiculous pay-off (i.e. Tax Cut) is rooted in the belief that there is no real accountability for their actions. (essentially that they can either "retire" from politics or they can pay RIS to hack the next elex for them). Again this reflects a lack of real thinking in the GOP echo chamber more than a deep understanding of how the electorate reacts. (Hint - you can't fool people forever.)

Obviously this model is a slightly re-worked version of my model of the Pakistani "Civil Military" relationship. There are similar "dyad" models that people have constructed for the regimes in Burma etc... these are easier to analyse than a triad or tetrad (or n-ad) models. I feel I am almost at the point where I can say the entire post 2014 India event cycle has been a dyad model of Modi+Shah v/s RSS Main in Nagpur.

I think the key thing here is that a dyad model with two extremely large centers of political gravity is very prone to instability as neither element of such a dyad is capable of sustaining itself for any length of time.

The additional caveat here is that the US is much much bigger than Pakistan so there is an "inertia" effect. Small fluctuations are damped out to some degree but should a fluctuation grow beyond a certain size - it will couple to massive shifts. Once something big gets going - it is hard to get it to stop.

Friday, December 01, 2017

So Flynn pleaded guilty to the charge of lying to the FBI...

Most of you are probably jaded by the drip drip drip of indictments of Trump's guys. You are rightly wondering "so what is the big deal with Flynn being arrested?" It was known almost a year ago that that guy was up to no good. So why all the fuss?

If you are a Trumpflake you will say "its a conspiracy man!!! the reptilian Zeta Reticulans in the Deep State and Lyin Fake News Media are carrying out a witch hunt!!!" 

But if you are not a Trumpflake you might have read this news item from ABC News.

It appears Flynn is prepared to testify that Donald Trump asked him to contact the Russians.

Before Trumpflakes jump into their "But Hillary Emails" or "Collusion is not illegal" (Actually it is...)  - you might want to think about what you are jumping in to here.

For those of you who think Flynn is lying to save his son, I suspect he has proof and Manafort got a bail plea for a shockingly small sum wouldn't you say?

Naturally if you are  GOPer you are probably on your knees going "Look man I just want my tax cut!".  Okay I get it - but doesn't make treason legal.  Also you can't pass a bill without agreeing on a text dude. And that's where you GOPers come up short - agreeing on anything - your party is so messed up right now - you guys constantly rat each other out. That presidential primary where there were so many of you competing for one position... that is emblematic of your party. Too many satrapies, too little empire.

The relationship between ideology, politics, and money

Every inventor faces the same problem. If I have an idea, how do I get others to buy into it? Regardless of whether the invention is a piece of technology, a novel material, or simply a way of thinking about something - this problem keeps popping up.

The usual answer is "Marketing" - i.e. make it look good to people who don't know about the idea. This is what they mean by "sell the idea".

Communicating the idea or marketing the idea to a large group of people inevitably runs you up against a vast number egos (individual and collective) and that is where "politics" comes into play. Playing politics is always a dissipative process, you always lose out in the end. So one might think of politics as a kind of drag or frictional loss that counteracts the propagation of your idea.

Also to overcome the frictional loss that transmitting your idea over large distances (and numbers of people) creates - you need money.

Sourcing the idea is difficult enough, but overcoming the political drag and keeping the idea supplied with enough funds to ensure propagation is a millions of times more difficult.

I can speak to this in the context of novel technology or material science but that would probably bore most of my readers and likely violate non-disclosure agreements that govern my existence. So I will talk about it in the context of ideology as most people can relate to that.

If you look at various ideological movements - you typically see a pattern. The ideas seem to lurk below the surface of public consciousness and then one day there is an emergence. After the emergence, there is a viral growth. After the viral spread, the idea seems to lose its prominence and there is a gradual decay of its visibility in the public consciousness. This cycle applies to you regardless of whether you are preaching a new-age religion like Sri Sri Sri Sri Sri Sri whatever or running an international terrorist group like Al Qaeda (Yes Ayman, sure I am still listening to what you have to say... we all know how important you are.). You get your "15 Min of fame" and that's it - you are done. (if you are asking "Hoodahell is Ayman?" - I rest my case).

One can attribute the decline to a genuine lack of product performance (as in... "hey this Nazism thing huh? not what was promised on the box....") or a failed marketing strategy (for example..."I think I want to be environmentally conscious because that girl in Greenpeace is hot") or running out of money (such as ... oh why bother?... you all know what I am going to say - you and I are not the ones afraid of losing in Gujarat).

Sorry snowflakes, I am at a complete loss to explain why else you would be so triggered at the prospect of losing Gujarat. It has to be that "the Gujarat Mythos" is at the core of the Bhaktflake havan kund (Holy Fire) .

Could it be that the Bhaktflakes actually believed He was eternal? exempt from the laws of political mortality that govern all things? that the myth of the Man would never age? never die?

Is that why Gujarat Election is trotted out as a response to concerns about the Loya murder? Because an electoral success in Gujarat can be spun as some kind of acquittal in for this heinous act in the court of public opinion? If that is so - then I really doubt that is what will happen.

A victory in Gujarat will not translate into a pause in the natural decline of the myth.