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The Damning Evidence that the Russians Hacked the Brexit Vote

 

In the Times today:

“The Russian town of Gelendzhik, on the banks of the Black Sea, has a population of 55,000. According to Twitter, one of its inhabitants is Svetlana Lukyanchenko, a voracious user of the social platform who signed up in May 2016 — less than a month before Britain voted to leave the European Union.

Sveta1972, as she called herself online, did not fit the profile of someone interested in British politics. Yet in the four days before the vote on June 23 she posted or retweeted at least 97 messages mentioning “#Brexit”.

Her messages were mainly pro-Brexit and often repeated conspiracy theories. On June 21 she retweeted a story by the website Zero Hedge that said Britons were “appalled and disgusted” by a Brexit postal ballot “fraud”.

Later that day she tweeted that the EU was an “unelected assembly of corporatist agents” imposing debt and austerity “on all member states”.

After the vote she lost interest, confining her 12,000-plus tweets to subjects such as lighting design websites or free e-books on web traffic. Despite her Russian origins, most of her tweets were in English, Spanish or Italian.

According to researchers at Swansea University, working with the University of California, Berkeley, Sveta1972 was one of thousands of suspect Russian accounts tweeting copiously about Brexit in the run-up to the vote.

Tracking 156,000 accounts in Russia, the research found that their mentions of #Brexit spiked on the day of the vote and the day after, before dropping off almost entirely. The accounts include genuine commentators but many appeared to be either fully automated bots or semi-automated “cyborgs” — bots with some human involvement.

These included Stormbringer15, a virulently pro-Kremlin Twitter power-user with 241,000 posts mainly asserting Russia’s rights over Ukraine. On the day after the referendum he tweeted a fake picture of President Putin giving a medal to Nigel Farage.

Tweets posted by the Russian accounts were often sent at 4am UK time, or 7am in Russia. They were probably seen many millions of times………

Separate research from the Oxford Internet Institute and City University has revealed the scale of bot activity around Brexit. Oxford researchers found that 30 “highly automated” accounts posted 135,597 tweets from June 20-24. These were viewed about 11 billion times. While there is no direct connection between the bots and the Russian state, intelligence officials in Britain and the US are confident that many have been backed by Moscow.”

This is the ‘evidence’ supposedly that the Russians hacked the Brexit vote. It is absolutely risible in my opinion. So, 156,000 Russians suddenly got interested in Brexit around June 23rd and started posting ‘about’ Brexit, then lost interest almost immediately thereafter. Wow, I mean amazing, far out, that never happens on Twitter. Ever. There are bots on Twitter and some may be Russian. That too is a startling revelation. Nobody could have guessed that. Nobody. Most tweets were posted at 4am BST. Yep, that would definitely have swung the result; millions of undecided voters were glued to their computer screens in the wee small hours a week or two prior to Brexit, hoping, praying, for some sign from the Twitterworld how to vote for the best, then up pop the Ruskie bots, obligingly reassuring that all will be well if they cast their vote for Leave.

It’s a slam dunk. The evil Russians made Brexit happen in order to sow discord in the West and screw up the plans of those terribly nice people in Brussels who were relying upon Britain in their quest to advance world peace and Europe-wide cooperative harmony. Article 50 must be reversed pronto and the gullible proles must never be allowed to vote again on an issue of such vital constitutional and economic importance.

 

151 thoughts on “The Damning Evidence that the Russians Hacked the Brexit Vote

  1. Sen. Joe McCarthy’s mistske was clear:
    If he gad been aligned with the leftists of his day he would gave been a hero for all time.

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  2. Is that all there is! As far as I can tell, Twitter is a vast echo chamber where people tend to follow like – minded people. Its ability to change people’s minds must be very limited.

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  3. Your argument seems to be that because (in your judgment) the approach was unlikely to succeed (risible I think you called it) it didn’t happen, but this is not a logical conclusion. We do agree, however, that if it were tried it would have been largely ineffectual: not totally because before me I have the example of my teenage granddaughter who spends her waking hours attached to her I-phone ignoring the written word and television with a great deal of effort.

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  4. No Alan, my argument is that there is nothing remarkable to see here. So 156,000 Russian accounts took to Twitter in the weeks before Brexit to tweet ‘about’ Brexit. Apart from Sveta1972, there is no suggestion or evidence provided that a majority of these accounts and tweets were strongly pro-Brexit. Russia is a very big country with a large population (144m). The EU ref vote was a big deal, trending especially strongly on Twitter. So we are told that 0.1% of Russians (some of them bots) started tweeting ‘about’ Brexit in the run up to the vote, then lost interest very soon after 23rd June and we are invited to believe that this is evidence of a Russian conspiracy to influence the vote in favour of Brexit!

    I wonder how many US accounts were tweeting about Brexit just before the vote? I saw quite a few tweets from Americans (hardly any from Russians) and not surprisingly perhaps, quite a few were indeed in favour of Britain exiting the EU. I’m pretty certain that hundreds of thousands of Americans probably tweeted ‘about’ Brexit prior to June 23rd, then quickly lost interest. So should we now accuse the Obama administration of trying to hack the Brexit vote? Er, probably not – ‘back of the queue’ and all that!

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  5. Yes Jaime. You’re looking and failing to find evidence of effectiveness, I’m just concerned with involvement.
    Do you believe the Russian tweets after the Westminster Bridge incident, where claims were made that an Islamic woman deliberately ignored an injured victim (with the intent of stirring up Islamophobia) were benign and totally ineffective?

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  6. Oxford researchers found that 30 “highly automated” accounts posted 135,597 tweets from June 20-24. These were viewed about 11 billion times

    That’s about a hundred thousand views per tweet, or 500 views per British voter.

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  7. Jaime just how do you expect to find evidence of an organised conspiracy? Do you think they will have left clues? The link that Paul gives that failed to find the identity of a single troll is enlightening, it suggests that any attempt you might make to identify Russian state involvement is doomed to fail.
    Oddly I am willing to trust my government (and a host of other governments) in this matter over protestations of innocence by Russia, until there is concrete evidence one way or the other. You (and many others here) obviously are not.

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  8. Lol. Quite a few people are adding ‘Russian bot’ or similar to their Twitter names now in order to make it easier for these dedicated people to identify them. I thought that was very considerate.

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  9. Alan, I’m inclined not to trust Mrs May or indeed many other of our politicians an inch more than I can throw them. Yesterday, May gave the distinct impression that she considered that Russians were interfering in Western politics – including ours, though she gave no specific examples. Cue the media feeding frenzy about how the Russians hacked the Brexit vote. Today, in the Commons, she makes it quite clear that she was only referring to examples of Russian interference which were “not in the United Kingdom”. That’s pretty pathetic from a British Prime Minister.

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  10. So Jaime, in this matter you have two alternatives: to accept the possibility that what our government and its intelligence apparatus tells us is “true” (a position matched by other Western sources) or that an increasingly hostile and repressive Russia’s innocence protestations are true. From what you are writing, you believe the Russian version. I find this extremely odd.

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  11. Swallowing camels while straining at gnats! I am delighted that Russians are permitted to tweet. Why does this surprise anyone that a few people in Russia (and doubtless every other nation on Earth) involve themselves in politics? Can you count the ways in which the United States over the years has meddled with Russia? VOA (Voice of America) comes to mind; a counter to Radio Moscow and the very smooth talking Vladimir Posner. Part of the game includes trying to persuade your opponent to cease playing the game. It is a “shame game” but presumes that your opponent can be shamed by your revelations rather than proud of it.

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  12. I believe no ‘version of events’ Alan. I trust no politician. I would trust in conclusive and convincing evidence – but it’s not there, at least it is not in the public domain. Therefore I remain unconvinced that the Russians tried to interfere in the EU referendum vote and I reject the hypothesis that the Russians actually swung the vote in favour of Brexit for the far more likely explanation that the British electorate voted to Leave based on a fair and balanced assessment of the actual issues involved. I don’t think that’s an extremely odd position to take.

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  13. Michael. I have no doubt that you are completely right. The UK is trying to influence the EU, Russia , the USA (and perhaps even Lesotho) by any means in its power. What I am objecting to is the denial by some, possibly for political reasons, that the activities of some countries (eg Russia) or individuals (eg Trump) do not occur or, if they do, can be (or should be) ignored because they are ineffectual.

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  14. Let me place my cards on the table.
    1. I do not believe that any Russian involvement had more than the tiniest influence on the EU referendum.
    2. If by some unimaginable happenstance it were to be proven that Russia had been instrumental in influencing that vote, I would not be arguing for another vote. My view is that if people were stupid enough to be influenced by tweets, then we deserve everything we are going to get. I am a regretter, not a remoaner.
    3. I have no doubt that the current Russian regime wishes us (and the West) harm and is weaponizing social media. (I suspect we are doing the same).
    4. I strongly suspect, but cannot prove, that Russia tried to influence the US elections (and may have been a contributory factor to the outcome) and may have tried to nudge the EU referendum.
    5. The current fuss in the MSM is rubbish, but the potential threat from Russian cyber influence is very real.
    How much do we agree or differ Jaime.

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  15. Just because there are bots sending political messages from computers in Russia doesn’t necessarily mean they were put in place by anyone connected to the Russian government. Setting up bot-nets is a world-wide free enterprise phenomena. All the is needed is the willingness to take up a extremist political stance an a modicum of hacking skills, or at least a willingness to pay someone to do the dirty work.

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  16. What would it take to convince people that Russia interfered successfully in recent elections? What would you consider strong enough evidence? I suspect that this will go unanswered, as it did last time I asked, because to accept the possibility is to accept that the election of Brexit or Trump was illegitimate; that is the driver behind the indignation about Russia-related stories. It is the same story as with climate change, the motivated reasoning that directs skeptics to find fault in evidence because not to do so challenges a core belief or desire.

    I’d still like to know, Jaime, what evidence of treason (and the other failures of the system you listed before) you have.

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  17. And for those of us who didnt follow twitter, I guess we just had too make our own minds up – clearly something these people can’t comprehend…

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  18. I tweet in a mixture of languages, mostly in Spanish and English. The use of tweeter bots is fairly common. For example the Maduro dictatorship had thousands of bot accounts. Now that they censor the Internet and there’s so much repression, those bots are quiet.

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  19. There were certainly a lot of dodgy commenters on news articles on the run up to Brexit and bot votes to match. There were many interested parties putting their time, effort and money into influencing the vote including a lot of business people from countries the World over. It’s debatable what effects those efforts had. It’s not even sure which way a particular type of comment will make people jump. I’m sure that Obama didn’t intend to strengthen resolve to Brexit.

    I’m less worried about Russians trying to influence our elections than that our political discourse is now so weak that Tweets might make a difference. I resent those who have easy access to maleable minds with no responsibility for the outcome, but I’m not sure that the Russians feature in the top 100, never mind the top spot of those who I’m worried about.

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  20. Len Martinez asks “What would it take to convince people that Russia interfered successfully in recent elections?”

    As you suspect, such a thing is impossible. All I have is words on a computer screen; those words can come from the hand of a fiction writer as easily as from an investigative journalist.

    What matters is the vote, and its tally. Democrats try to influence elections (duh) so do Republicans.

    “What would you consider strong enough evidence?”

    My brother voting for Donald Trump would come as a bit of a surprise, followed by, “Putin convinced me to do it!” and if the convincing was adequate, well, there you go. It is still my brother’s decision.

    “because to accept the possibility is to accept that the election of Brexit or Trump was illegitimate”

    Not possible. Elections are legitimate of votes are properly counted without fraud. That is all. That this person or group tried to influence an election, well wake up and smell the coffee! That is how politics is done.

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  21. Quite right, Alan Kendall. The human instinct is to accuse you of something, perhaps something like having two eyes, and your instinct is to deny it. It is a fun game I have played since childhood; put on a shocked face and announce to someone, “Look! There’s a nose on your face!” and the usual response is the other person goes crosseyed to confirm the truth of the accusation.

    It is a big distraction and I would not be a bit surprised that Donald Trump did not engineer all this because of the beautiful distraction it provides. What is he doing that hardly anyone notices while they investigate Russian influence, a thing that can be counted on to exist just because Russia…

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  22. The evidence for the success of the Russians on Twitter in influencing the Brexit result needs to be viewed in the wider context. There are close parallels with the new evidence for the CAGW hypothesis.

    First is to check the data in support of the argument. As Geoff Chambers pointed out @ 15 Nov 17 at 1:51 pm, the 11 billion estimated views of the 135,597 automated tweets from June 20-24 seems somewhat high. 500 views per person in the UK, is likely far more than the average Twitter account holder in a five day period.

    Second is to look at the other tweets. The bot accounts were not the only source of tweets supporting Brexit. Further, there were quite a lot of tweets in the support of Remain.

    Third, is that there are other sources of news/information/propaganda in support of both sides in the campaign. What about the official campaigns? Or the support of international political leaders or International Organisations (e.g. IMF, EU) or businesses? Would a majority of the British public really prefer the opinions of a Twitter Bot over those of President Barak Obama, Chancellor Angela Merkel, Prime Minister David Cameron, the British Treasury, celebrities like St. Bob Geldof, the majority of British MP’s or most British businesses?

    Fourth is the actual evidence of the vote. I believe that Twitter use is inversely related to age. Therefore, one would expect that if there had been undue influence, the young would have voted more for Brexit than the older folks. Lord Ashcroft’s Polls surveyed 12,369 on EU Referendum day and published on 24th June under “How the United Kingdom voted on Thursday… and why“.  73% of 18-24 year olds and 62% of 25-34 year olds voted to remain in the EU. It would suggest that the Leave campaign as a whole failed to reach the Twitterati. Further, whilst 25% of Remain voters decided in the last week, just 22% of Leave voters did so. Remember that Nigel Farage effectively conceded defeat as the polls closed, as the polls seemed to be swinging in the Remain direction.

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  23. Further evidence that runs counter to a Russian influence through Twitter on the Brexit vote is in the geographical distribution of the Brexit vote. In England and Wales the constituencies that voted most strongly for Remain were in inner cities, particularly London, Manchester and Liverpool. The strongest pro-Leave votes were widely spread. But the many of the extreme pro-Leave constituencies in the traditional Labour heartlands in the North of England and South Wales.

    I live in Manchester. This encapsulates the divide. The City of Manchester has some of the most pro-Remain constituencies in the country, whilst much of the rest of Greater Manchester was pro-Leave. But as the City of Manchester folks has the most vocal people in the region, along with the most vocal twitterati, it would seem that Greater Manchester is full of Remainers. The estimated vote by constituency gives a quite different picture.

    A parallel with climate alarmism is that both the extreme alarmists and the extreme Remainers cannot accept opinions that run contrary to their own as coming from a valid perspective. This could be why in climate alarmism they fall for Lewandowsky’s false conspiracist ideation hypothesis and the importance of scientific consensus, whilst with Brexit they fall for people being unduly influenced by the Russians and the £350 million a week extra to the NHS claim. In both, they do not recognize that extreme and non-credible alarmism, along with denigration of opponents as being ignorant or gullible, may actually cause people to vote in the opposite direction.

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  24. Alan, I agree with you on 1. and 2. Our main point of disagreement is that you strongly suspect Russia tried to influence the EU referendum, whereas I am sceptical of that claim.

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  25. Michael, you or I can’t know, but our intelligence agencies certainly can. There are many ways they can tell where attacks or other stuff is coming from, an obvious example being if they’ve already owned the box or infrastructure being used by the attacker. They’re not going to tell you and me about how they know, but rejecting what they say in favour of, say, the assurances of Putin requires shit for brains.

    As for elections being legitimate as long as the votes are “properly counted without fraud”, well that is untrue as a general statement, as should be obvious. Think of the many ways systems, governments and others can and do disenfranchise voters. Gerrymandering and voter suppression are only two of the ways in which US elections are not legitimate. Similarly “safe seats”, where the sitting MP can’t be dislodged, and first past the post are the British system’s ways of stealing peoples’ votes. Any system that can deliver victory to the contestant who commands only minority support within a constituency (or country) has to be questioned.

    The EU referendum didn’t suffer some of these problems but one could reasonably claim that the 16/17 year-old population was disenfranchised, as were some expats. So yes, I’d question the legitimacy of the result.

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  26. Len Martinez wrote “Michael, you or I can’t know, but our intelligence agencies certainly can.”

    Maybe; but that merely moves the goalposts — how do you know that our intelligence agencies are telling the truth (to us or even the President)? There’s little reason to do so and plenty of reason NOT to do so.

    “There are many ways they can tell where attacks or other stuff is coming from, an obvious example being if they’ve already owned the box or infrastructure being used by the attacker.”

    Maybe. From time to time I evaluate malware and viruses for my employer; it is easy enough to discover the most recent “hop” from which the attack seems to have originated but it can be very uncertain that it is the actual originator especially if TTL and TCP sequence numbers have been regenerated to seem to have originated from the box you are supposed to think it came from.

    “They’re not going to tell you and me about how they know, but rejecting what they say in favour of, say, the assurances of Putin requires shit for brains.”

    You mistake that I *care* about it; for much of my adult life the Soviet Union was the enemy, a reasonably intelligent enemy but one that because of its predictability was less dangerous than, say, modern terrorists. Of course the Russians meddle, either by government edict or just the nature of many Russians to seek advantage and they are pretty good at it.

    “As for elections being legitimate as long as the votes are ‘properly counted without fraud’, well that is untrue as a general statement, as should be obvious.”

    It is not obvious to me; I accept your declaration speaking for yourself. I have spoken as well.

    “Think of the many ways systems, governments and others can and do disenfranchise voters.”

    It is those voters, or their predecessors, that created “franchise” in the first place, with advantage to whatever group created the franchise by wresting political power from kings and princes.

    “Any system that can deliver victory to the contestant who commands only minority support within a constituency (or country) has to be questioned.”

    So get started. Questioning is easy; we are doing it right here for what it’s worth. All systems have weaknesses. Strict majority rule produces tyranny. Too many candidates allows the person that more people find less detestable to become elected; not on his strength but on his relative lack of weaknesses. It helps to keep the game itself in mind. There’s pretty much only one rule that matters in any game: Win. Parliamentary systems give more people a “voice” for what that’s worth; then those voices are mangled and wrangled trying to form a coalition that can pass legislation; once that’s done your voice is probably eliminated same as in USA’s two-party system.

    “The EU referendum didn’t suffer some of these problems but one could reasonably claim that the 16/17 year-old population was disenfranchised”

    Or not franchised in the first place. I am happy that 16 year old people are not deciding national economic policy. Perhaps no one under 40 should be voting.

    “So yes, I’d question the legitimacy of the result.”

    That happens when the outcome is not to your liking.

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  27. Manic. Interesting, but what you have convincingly demonstrated is that, if there were to have been any attempt to influence the referendum by Russia to enhance the Leave vote, it was ineffectual (I’m even prepared to countenance it being counterproductive). It, however, provides absolutely no evidence as to whether Russia tried or not. The only evidence for that are claims from intelligence agencies. My guess is that the evidence is not definitive but is of the “balance of probability” variety.

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  28. What the tweet discussion has in common with the climate question is the lack of a sense of proportion. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the British Communist Party and Enoch Powell M.P. were united in their belief that NATO could be abolished. Instead of which, the Polish Army invaded Babylon, the Danish Air Force recently murdered 60 Syrian soldiers, and British troops are in Estonia. And some Russians sent some tweets.

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  29. Come off it Geoff. What about Eastern Ukraine, Georgia and the indiscriminate bombing in Syria? Are you not in danger of being put into the Полезный идиот box.

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  30. Thanks everybody for an interesting discussion.

    I’m in the camp that suspects the Russians of trying to influence the EU referendum, but failing to chieve their aims. The only difference between them and the massive effort put in by the establishment to influence the vote is that the establishment efforts were overt while the Russian efforts (assuming they existed, which, like Alan, I accept on a balance of probabilities basis) were covert. Democracy is indeed a fragile flower.

    MBC’s posts I found particularly interesting – thank you for articulating clearly what I suspected – namely, that any attempt to use Twitter and social media to influence UK voters into supporting Brexit seems to have failed, given that the people probably most exposed to those media (the young) are the demographic who voted most strongly to remain.

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  31. “That’s about a hundred thousand views per tweet, or 500 views per British voter.”

    I don’t twitter, I want to know who viewed my share…

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  32. ALAN KENDALL (16 Nov 17 at 8:50 am)
    Better a useful idiot than a useless one. I’ve no illusions about Putin’s niceness, which is why I find the discussion about Russian tweets so pointless. We expect our secret services to interfere in other people’s elections. If they didn’t, the wrong side might win, and then we’d have to invade or go to the bother of assassinating their leaders. And is Russian bombing more indiscriminate than ours?

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  33. Michael: <i"… if TTL and TCP sequence numbers have been regenerated to seem to have originated from the box you are supposed to think it came from."

    Bullshit.

    “It is those voters, or their predecessors, that created “franchise” in the first place, with advantage to whatever group created the franchise by wresting political power from kings and princes.”

    Double bullshit.

    “Perhaps no one under 40 should be voting. “

    You managed a bullshit hat-trick. Well done!

    As expected, nobody can identify what would convince them of Russian malfeasance. And neither Jaime nor anyone else can provide any evidence of treason that so upsets them.

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  34. LOL at Len. So desperate to prevent evidence impinging on his senses that he starts making up history as well as refusing to read what people write in reply to his infantile outcries.

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  35. Not so much frustrated, Jaime, as disappointed to find that all your outrage was just regurgitated propaganda from the pages of Breitbart or Zero Hedge or even the Mail without even getting the rough edges knocked off it by your brain.

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  36. Len, would it be a better course of action for you to say that, just because there are signs of action that seem to be useless and pointless , there might still have been effective action from Martians with ray guns? I suppose Occam’s Razor is a banned concept in your circles

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  37. I’m still not coming out to play Len. Your baiting is soooo obvious.

    I just know you will have to respond, condescendingly and mockingly, as is your wont, but don’t expect more from me.

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  38. Agree with Len; the very concept of “wrong side of history” is amusing BUT it speaks to George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” and it is the winners of conflicts who write the history books, thus giving history a “side”.

    You managed a bullshit hat-trick. Well done!

    I try harder. You should see what I wrote over on WUWT; burgers at Mickey D’s absorb infrared from the heat lamps because the wavelength of the infrared has been tuned to match the thickness of the burgers creating a cavity resonator effect.

    Life is conflict. When the United States came into existence; was it universally celebrated? No. I’m not even sure a simple majority of people wanted it. But that doesn’t matter; they are on the “wrong side of history”.

    Those persons with the power and the desire to make a new nation did so and that’s pretty much the substance of that story. Pennsylvania didn’t automatically make everyone into American citizens either; each person was required to take an oath of citizenship to become a citizen, or you could remain a citizen of GB or France or whatever.

    Consequently, those persons with a dog in the race, skin in the game, paying TAXES, ought to be the ones that vote on how those taxes are used. It’s EASY for impoverished people to vote to spend my money on themselves (big double DUH). My answer to that was to take a huge pay cut, drop down below the 10 percent tax bracket, and my *take home pay* is nearly unchanged!

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  39. Jaime, “Quite a few people are adding ‘Russian bot’ or similar to their Twitter names now in order to make it easier for these dedicated people to identify them. ”

    Ben Pile on twitter is now Бенски Пилески (Benski Pileski)

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  40. More bullshit, Michael. You are consistent. Where did you get that from? You probably share Jaime’s taste in brainless media. What was it, Fox News perhaps?

    The idea (that only those who pay taxes can vote) has the simplicity that only a simpleton would embrace. Maybe what you’re really after is a return to only white male property-owners having the right to vote and damn the last 200 years of progress.

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  41. Where is the heretic media to standup against this cynical rehash of anti-Russian hysteria?
    Oh..yeah..nevermind.
    This Russian bs is similar to how the climate hypesters went on and on about coral bleaching being due to global warming…
    But never actually explained the mechanism.
    And then it comes out that bleaching was due to super low tides.
    And that it has happened before.

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  42. Poor Len, walked into a discussion requiring thinking skills and sank withiut a trace.

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  43. Hunter. Oh I disagree. Len keeps bobbing up, no matter how much we load him with reality. On some subjects, however, IMHO he has a valid point of view that just happens to disagree with the majority position here.

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  44. Alan, I expect that I’m with the majority here on many subjects. I doubt for example that more than a few oddballs think the voting franchise should be reduced, as Michael seems to.

    I’d also question your idea that people here deal in reality and I don’t believe you think that either on anything unconnected to climate.

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  45. Len Martinez writes “I doubt for example that more than a few oddballs think the voting franchise should be reduced, as Michael seems to.”

    Perhaps you should explain why you think it should be expanded. I have provided my reasoning; can you do likewise? I suspect probably not, but give it a try. How exactly does “voting franchise” come into existence? Try to think on it and see what you come up with.

    “I’d also question your idea that people here deal in reality”

    No one deals in reality. Your entire presumed existence, from my perspective, is limited to some words on a computer screen. But I accept that some people try harder to discover what is “out there” beyond Facebook, Twitter and blogs.

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  46. “I have provided my reasoning; can you do likewise?”

    No, you didn’t provide any reasoning. You said, “Consequently, those persons with a dog in the race, skin in the game, paying TAXES, ought to be the ones that vote on how those taxes are used.” but it was consequent to nothing. You gave no reason for excluding women, indentured labourers and slaves – this was just the prejudice of the day. I’m sure they’d have used the same argument as you – of course women, labourers and slaves shouldn’t vote on how we organize society, they might want society to reflect their interests instead of those of property owning men. Your argument about taxes is spurious. There are many more taxes than just federal income tax and exactly where tax incidence falls is often quite different from who/what pays any tax directly.

    As for expanding the franchise for the EU referendum, a 16 year-old, considered old enough to marry, will have to live with the consequences of Brexit for many more decades than a 60 year old. One could even argue that the old should have less say than the young in such a question.

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  47. Len Martinez wrote “You gave no reason for excluding women, indentured labourers and slaves – this was just the prejudice of the day.”

    I have not specified exclusions; rather, I have specified inclusions. Only in a narrow, binary-framed mind can not-inclusion be judged exclusion; but that’s an important part of understanding other people. If I say my favorite color is green, have I said I hate everything else? Not at all, and yet, for some people that is exactly the interpretation they will make, and it seems unique to People of the Left.

    I find it endlessly fascinating. Annoying at times.

    Let us engage in parables:

    You and your buddy Fred form a club. You work to earn some money and build a treehouse. Tom wants in, but he hasn’t done anything to help build the treehouse or club, but you give him something to do so he earns a place in the treehouse. You and Fred have a social contract with each other, and you extend some of the benefits to Tom if he subscribes to the social contract, but your contract with Tom is not like your contract with Fred.

    So one day you have a party with root beer and donuts up in your treehouse. Naturally this attracts a bit of attention from the neighborhood boys and girls, and they want to be invited to your party. They bring nothing to the party, but wish to eat your donuts and drink your root beer.

    Even though you are a Person of the Left and feel strongly about equality (of benefits at least), you really don’t have enough root beer and doughnuts to feet the whole neighborhood (and after that, everyone on Earth).

    So, you pull up the rope ladder and all the boys and girls accuse you of engaging in exclusion, disenfranchisement, racism, half a dozen other “isms”, all designed for the sole purpose of getting at your root beer and doughnuts.

    Still not following? I will suggest for your reading pleasure The Parable of the Ant and the Grasshopper also the story of The Little Red Hen.

    “women, labourers and slaves shouldn’t vote on how we organize society”

    There is no WE.

    If I achieve one thing in my lifetime it will be to pound this concept through the iron and concrete walls that surround the thought processes of the typical Person of the Left.

    Whoever takes it into his mind to organize society starts with one other person and forms a social contract. Over time more and more people join that contract. But at the same time, other contracts exist, other societies exist. Many of these societies ignore the existence of other societies, such that “we” becomes Everyone On Planet Earth, except of course that it does no such thing just because you think it is so.

    In the case of Brexit it appears that younger people are the ones most likely to have voted to EXIT and it is older people that voted to remain.

    “they might want society to reflect their interests instead of those of property owning men.”

    Well DUH. I want your stuff!

    “Your argument about taxes is spurious.”

    On the contrary; it is right on target. “Spurious” is a word you use when I have scored a bullseye. The United States of America has a strong memory of “no taxation without representation”. This can be flipped around; no representation without taxation.

    Taxes subscribe you to the social contract.

    “There are many more taxes than just federal income tax and exactly where tax incidence falls is often quite different from who/what pays any tax directly.”

    Indeed. True on both counts. Any tax subscribes a person, in varying degree, to a social contract. As it happens, the incidence of tax is always on human labor and intellect.

    “As for expanding the franchise for the EU referendum, a 16 year-old, considered old enough to marry, will have to live with the consequences of Brexit for many more decades than a 60 year old.”

    Let us engage in reductio ad absurdum (*); the 6 year old will live with the consequences for ten more years than the 16 year old; to use your apparent reasoning a 6 year old has more vote than a 16 year old, and a 1 year old more vote than that.

    * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_absurdum

    Perhaps people older and wiser than 16 years old can shape the future FOR and on behalf of the 16 years old. I wonder how many examples you have of teenagers forming a successful nation and social contract. Nations seem to be formed by the efforts of UMA (Upper Middle Age) to ND (Nearly Dead). That is where you find wisdom. Someday you’ll get some too. It’s a long road with no obvious shortcuts.

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  48. “I have not specified exclusions; rather, I have specified inclusions.”

    More BS, your stock in trade, as shown by your:

    ““Consequently, those persons with a dog in the race, skin in the game, paying TAXES, ought to be the ones that vote on how those taxes are used.””

    or even your: “Perhaps no one under 40 should be voting. “

    Or maybe you think it is not an exclusion because you specify who can vote instead of who cannot? I suppose you would say that an election that had only one category of voters, namely women, did not exclude men?

    “In the case of Brexit it appears that younger people are the ones most likely to have voted to EXIT and it is older people that voted to remain.”

    BS. Where did you dig up that “alternative fact”?

    “Taxes subscribe you to the social contract.”

    Even if anyone believes that, as I said, most people pay taxes of one sort or another, either directly or indirectly, so it is meaningless. As for you seeing democratic society modeled as a treehouse club, I think I see why you have so much trouble understanding reality.

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  49. Len Martinez wrote “Or maybe you think it is not an exclusion because you specify who can vote instead of who cannot?”

    Yes; thank you for reading the words of my comment. I am particularly tuned to logic and language. For instance, sometimes in the drive-through at Mickey D’s the cashier will say, “That will be two dollars at the first window” and I will sometimes reply, “How much would it be at the second window?”

    You see, having placed a condition on the price as that of the first window it implies that the price might be different at the second window. A more correct way of stating what is probably wanted is “That will be two dollars. Please pay at the first window” which conveys that the second window isn’t staffed, or that the second window is where you get your food.

    “BS. Where did you dig up that ‘alternative fact’?”

    Well let’s see. Where did I find that? Right here. Oh, you are correct, youth preferred to remain, which shows that the Russian Meddling via Twitter was not effective. What did they hope to gain by remaining in the EU? Who knows; “stuff” of some sort.

    “As for you seeing democratic society modeled as a treehouse club, I think I see why you have so much trouble understanding reality.”

    Yes. I am human and do not see or understand reality. You also do not see or understand reality. The problem is that reality is recursive; inasmuch as you are part of reality, the act of understanding reality changes you, thus reality has just changed. You cannot catch up with this and close the cycle; you will never understand reality.

    Also, reality is really, really big. It’s bigger than an Oxford Unabridged Dictionary. Got that memorized, do you? I thought not.

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  50. I bet they love you here, Michael. You make them look like normal people. Tosser.

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  51. Len Martinez writes: “I bet they love you here, Michael.”

    Just as there is no “we” there is also no “they”. Some do, some don’t. There might be a quantum effect producing a discontinuous spectrum of love.

    “You make them look like normal people.”

    I did not realize I had the power to make anyone look like anything.

    By many measures I am not normal; have never been normal, do not wish to be “normal” (sheep, in other words). You seem to be normal; that’s not exactly a compliment.

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  52. Michael, I admire your patience. Most people tire of the clown dancing much earlier. Look how he threw in the concept of tax incidence, without knowing what it meant, in an attempt to derail you. But you are right all taxes are incident on people in the end. So Len, as usual, makes a fool of himself

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  53. iMHO both Len and Michael have made good arguments (although I find myself more in agreement with Len) but both are shouting at each other and not particularly listening (but Michael scores slightly higher here). Why don’t you both try to find things you can agree upon and work from there? You will never agree on big matters.

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  54. Alan, if you think Michael made a good argument, please summarise it without the BS and contradictions he spreads so thickly. I surely cannot.

    Barrel man, just because you have to look things up doesn’t mean others do.

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  55. Alan Kendall writes: “Why don’t you both try to find things you can agree upon and work from there? You will never agree on big matters.”

    I do not have “work from there” as a goal. My goal is to understand people that are not like me; they be many and diverse.

    Finding People of the Left willing to argue their point of view is difficult. It might not be possible; I am assuming from the outset that what motivates such persons *is* a rational argument, or at least can be forced to look like such a thing. My belief at the moment is that right-brain dominant, leftwing politically, persons *emote* rather than *think*.

    Len *feels* that 16 year old teenagers ought to have a vote in their future; he certainly cannot articulate an argument for it since the counter to that argument be many, of which I chose just one; why not 6 year old? Education, experience, wisdom is what forms nations (the social contract); not the hot blooded emotions of a raised-fist teenager. True it is that the emotional energy of the teenager is handy when it comes to persuading people to die for your cause because teens tend to have a “binary” mind; all-or-nothing, fire-aim-ready! They simply do not have the life experience needed to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” and decide whether a course of action is necessary.

    it is so with global warming FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). Once you have “triggered” susceptible persons, any hope of a rational discussion with that person has vanished. On the other hand, I sometimes “judo” argue; agree where the script calls for disagree (and v/v). Most people’s scripts don’t go very far. So I “agree”, now what? Gaze and navels and wait to die? In a few hours you are going to be hungry, you’ll go to the refrigerator and scavenge something to eat. Think about that. 100 years ago, or so, that would have been impossible. On much of planet Earth it is impossible right now.

    So I come at it sideways. Attack the root of the tree, not the tree itself or its low-hanging fruit. The keystone of the arch, the thing that holds it all together, is “we”, a belief that I am part of this huge machine that cannot be mistaken. It is the basis of religion. Notice how many leftists use the word “we” in an unqualified way; it presumes upon the entire human race and reveals a certain level of hubris; that the person using “we” is authorized by and superior to this huge “we”.

    Insert a doubt on the magnificence of “we” and a few persons might start to think about their presumptions and assumptions, realize perhaps that the “emperor has no clothes” figuratively speaking.

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  56. Michael. You certainly are a believer in much cod science and state it with such authority. As a confirmed lefty I could not possibly compete with your steely intellect, my opinions being, from the outset in your eyes, only emotes.
    I find it interesting that in this site I am able to vehemently disagree with someone with different opinions and/or politics, someone like Jaime for instance, without any nastiness. I have no expectation of convincing her (and I suspect she has none of changing me) but, for me at least, it is pleasing to engage. I used to spend much more time at BH and WUWT but they have become inhabited more and more by right wing zealots and bores. I suggest you might find “more congenial” company there.

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  57. Michael, understanding people is sometimes not that difficult – people like Len would like to see the voting age lowered because gullible, naive teenagers would vote Labour and support the EU and support ‘climate action’!

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  58. Gosh Paul you write as if voting Labour or to remain in the EU were reasons to exclude those between 16 and 18 from voting. As if, upon attaining the transforming age of 18 they magically transform into Tory Brexiteers and then are “safe” to be awarded the awesome responsibility of the vote. The fact that, at the time of the referendum a 17-year old might have already have been paying income tax for almost two years but according to you and Michael should not have been entitled to vote seems to have escaped your notice. Why were Scots of similar age entitled to vote about Scottish Independence, or was this an error?

    My granddaughter, who wouldn’t have been old enough at the referendum, was incandescent that her slightly older friends couldn’t vote. She was much better informed than many adults and the referendum had been a hot topic of discussion in the playground for months.

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  59. The point is, Len, that someone told you about tax incidence and because you thought that no one else would know the concept you threw it randomly into some half-formed argument, where it sat like a rubber duck on a pizza. You get funnier as the days pass

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  60. Man in a barrel
    Please explain why Len’s statement “There are many more taxes than just federal income tax and exactly where tax incidence falls is often quite different from who/what pays any tax directly.” is wrong or inappropriate in the context that he used it. I do nor totally agree with Len’s views upon franchise (but I certainly disagree with Michael’s) but there are good arguments on both sides – arguments raised and used before the voting age was lowered to 18 years.

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  61. Paul, you flatter yourself in thinking you understand “people like Len”. I’ve never voted Labour and I doubt I will if I’m in the UK in 2022. I also did not say that the franchise should be lowered to 16 in general, only that in the context of the referendum (I know you don’t do context, but give it a go) “one could reasonably claim that the 16/17 year-old population was disenfranchised, as were some expats”.
    It is clear that the principals of democracy don’t run very deep in people in the UK who’d rather get their way than admit those with differing views into the franchise. And in the US where people would prefer to exclude the poor or minorities to ensure that when it comes to borrowing 2 trillion dollars, the money goes to the right people.

    Alan, the barrel man isn’t going to answer that, ditto Michael. They prefer the purity of “no representation without taxation” than the messiness of economic reality.

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  62. Len I know of no society that follows the precept “No taxation without representation”. Americans often claim it, but they don’t. I lived there 4 years, paying federal and state income taxes, and sales tax. But when it came to even the most local of votes, I saw no opportunities for any representation.

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  63. Alan Kendall writes “I could not possibly compete with your steely intellect, my opinions being, from the outset in your eyes, only emotes.”

    You can always compete and you never lose, not here.

    Intellect is at the service of emotion, not the other way round. Emotion is at the service of your limbic system.

    Society happens when people realize, or believe, that competition can be beneficial (trade) or harmful (war) and make agreements. These agreements are culturally influenced and highly variable. A friend of mine that works for NIST introduced me, today, to an essay on this topic.
    http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/11/13/book-review-legal-systems-very-different-from-ours/

    Intellect answers “how” questions but not ‘why” questions.

    This discussion about Russia meddling is all about emotive triggers. The indication is that it wasn’t very successful and I find that odd since the Russians have traditionally been very good at what they do. Vladimir Posner spoke in perfect, midwestern English, might as well have been broadcasting from Topeka. He is your friend; sympathetic to the plight of American workers and here in the Soviet Union you have a guaranteed job, guaranteed health benefits, a whole stable of benefits. What’s not to love about it?

    Persons that only emote are drawn in like moths to a flame. Who *provides* all those benefits? Well, the Soviet workers, that’s who; and if the benefit is guaranteed, well then the work is conscripted.

    I feel the tug or pull of the left wing ideas; nobody to hurt or make afraid on Mount Zion. But my intellect is that it is a dream; it must be actualized by human beings that care to make it so, that have among themselves formed a social contract, and have in advance decided what to do about 7 billion people that want to enter Utopia without signing the contract.

    The ultimate dream of my religion is as progressive and liberal as a Star Trek wet dream but along the way Christians recognize that most of the human race is going to have to be obliterated because they didn’t join the social contract (or more properly, the wrong ones). You simply cannot have Utopia with Open Borders. That’s where “intellect” kicks in; to answer the “how”, can it be done at all?

    So I prod the Len’s of the world; explain how and why you want to do what you want to do. That is all. Risk analysis: What happens if you *succeed*? Voting age lowered to 16, then 14, then 12; age of soldiering similarly reduced — if you can vote, you can fight. The next thing you know the western “democracies” have 12 year old boys in boot camp same as in some places in Africa.

    People strain at gnats (Russian meddling) while swallowing camels (propaganda from DNC and RNC, “mass media”, etc).

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  64. I studied the arguments for the 16 year old vote. I was a beneficiary of the 18 year old vote in the United States; apparently it was the Democrats that pushed it through but unexpectedly the youth overwhelmingly voted for Nixon, as did I, pretty much for the simple reason that the Vietnam War was a Democratic party invention for the most part. It shaped a generation (my generation).

    The “pro” argument is that 16 year old, all the way down to 12 year old, have functional “executive function” in their brains. That may well be so, I feel the same now as I did when I was 12, more or less, but how could I pretend that at 12 I had the *knowledge* that I now have?

    A powerful computer is nothing without data and programs; it takes a lifetime to collect data and develop your own programs (or the illusion that they are yours).

    The one thing in favor of youth voting is that there’s no guarantee. They might have “executive function” but does that really govern voting? I doubt it. It helps, but intellect helps you find the reasons for the decision you have already made.

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  65. In case it isn’t obvious, I was a beneficiary of reducing the voting age to 18. I have not actually recommended to raising the voting age to 40; rather, I suggested it as a mental exercise to contemplate how society might be shaped if it were so, for so it was in the beginning of the United States (more or less. Not specified to 40 but I believe a requirement was to be a landholder).

    Had there been universal suffrage, would there be a United States? Probably not. But the very concept is absurd; for such a vote would be taking place under the auspices of the King of England, and do you suppose he would sanction such a vote? Probably not.

    There’s little doubt that were voting limited to 40 and up, that retirement benefits would be enhanced and the tax burden on younger people significantly higher.

    Now suppose that voting went the other way; youth vote only. What would happen? Impossible to say but the nearest actual example is college campuses where freedom of speech does not exist and people really expect to be given everything without the slightest expectation of something in return. A society built that way would collapse almost instantly. College campuses are a much purer form of democracy — 51 percent dictates to the 49 percent “everything not compulsory is forbidden” (from T.H. White, Once and Future King).

    There is a story that uses somewhat of these ideas: Lord of the Flies.

    The movie “Starship Troopers” seems a bit hokey but it has an important concept: Citizenship is not automatic at birth; it must be earned in some way. Military service or public service earns citizenship and the right to vote. I consider that to be the very best approach to it; a bit of your own blood sweat and tears helping build or maintain your nation certainly gives you a right to help govern it.

    But of course, I am biased by my own public service. I have earned my citizenship.

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  66. Alan Kendall wrote “but according to you and Michael should not have been entitled to vote”

    If I had my way, voting would be limited to those who had earned citizenship in some manner. It would not be age based, income based, gender based; but rather whether you had “skin in the game”, dog in the race, military service. public service; something that binds you to the success of the enterprise, this social contract called “nation” which has no physical existence but only exists as shared imagination or illusion..

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  67. I should have added that merely paying taxes might earn you representation, but inasmuch as most taxes are compulsory doesn’t really reveal that you subscribe to a social contract; merely that you haven’t figured out how not to pay taxes. BUT if you pay into something then in my opinion you have a right to benefits even if you don’t actually subscribe to the social contract and that includes immigrants that haven’t bothered with citizenship. If they pay, they play.

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  68. Alan Kendall asks the Man “Please explain why Len’s statement [] is wrong or inappropriate in the context that he used it.”

    I perceived the comment as having two probable meanings. One of the meanings deals with a fairly common left-wing belief that corporations should be taxed more than people, the other is that everyone pays at least a hidden tax and thus ought to have visible rights.

    As I explain above, people should get *something* for paying taxes. But the social contract is voluntary, not compulsory. I cannot make you “sign” the social contract, bind yourself willingly to it, improve the nation in a cooperative manner. People voting on legislation ought to have some sense of citizenship, some sense of what it takes to make and keep a nation; not just “get stuff for me and my cohort”.

    The age of 18 is arbitrary to be sure but there you have it; law must have a NUMBER, usually measured with considerable precision. I know my birthdate and even time of day. Thus, I know when I turned 18 and so does my nation; rights kick in but so does obligation to register for military service.

    I suppose I would have been understanding, if not exactly happy, to have been told “At 18 you are old enough to pull a trigger and kill someone, but not old enough to drink alcohol or vote.” It is well demonstrated that 12 year old boys can pull a trigger just fine. They are not particularly skilled at making nations.

    SOME young people have the citizenship qualifications to vote, many adults are woefully ignorant.

    I interview young men regularly for the rank of Eagle Scout. There’s little question that some of them (well, essentially all of the Eagle candidates) understand citizenship better than the average American and so I’d probably extend voting to an Eagle Scout of any age. That is a thing the Law cannot do; for it cannot just say “If you understand citizenship you can vote”; a thing that would tend to exclude a vast swath of Americans of all ages.

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  69. Len Martinez, straining at gnats (but then, so am I) writes “one could reasonably claim that the 16/17 year-old population was disenfranchised, as were some expats”.

    You cannot disembark a ship until you have embarked. People that don’t even know what is a ship are neither embarked nor disembarked.

    You cannot be disenfranchised until you are enfranchised.

    A better word that doesn’t quite strain as hard is “not eligble to vote”. One could reasonably claim that the 16/17 year-old population was not eligible to vote.

    Then you could make a case why they should vote. What benefit accrues to the *nation* to allow teenagers to vote?

    Voting starts with small votes; school votes, Boy Scout patrol leaders. The best learning is from mistake; oops, should not have voted for Billy.

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  70. Alan, tax incidence is about where the brunt of a particular tax lies. So you can levy a corporation tax. The company pays the tax but the burden of the tax is suffered by a combination of workers (lower incomes and lessincome tax), owners (lower dividends, thus less income tax), customers (higher prices, more VAT, less income), suppliers, (less income, lower wages, less profit, less tax paid, as long as the workers are still paid the same). Even if the nationalised industry pays the tax, where does the money come from or who gets paid less as a result?

    Corporations are legal fictions. People pay tax. A corporation writes the cheque but people pay the tax.

    Even Richard Murphy, the Sage of Ely, agrees that there is a moral point in having voters pay tax. How else do you enforce fiscal responsibility?

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  71. Alan Kendall writes “Americans often claim it, but they don’t.”

    Add “land of the free” and “home of the brave” to that list.

    I discovered freedom (liberty) in Iceland; where the government is socialist but society is libertarian. Socialism is a delight when people choose it and thus do not evade its responsibilities. On returning to the United States I was dismayed by its lack of liberty, fragmented society, multitude of social contracts (cultures).

    Adding yet more divisive forces to the mix seems to carry some risk.

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  72. Man in a barrel. You may have thought you answered the question I posed (5.45pm Nov 21) but you didn’t. You only gave a partial explanation of the concept, not your understanding of how Len used it. As far as I can tell Len used it correctly which is the important point, not how he acquired it.
    FYI I acquired my understanding when I taught myself some aspects of economics back in the 1990s, and refreshed this by reading the entry in my friend Wikki yesterday.

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  73. Michael. After reading last night’s library from you, it occurred to me that you were born well after your time. I think you might have been happiest in Sparta – so long as you had been born a Spartiates and not a helot. You would have had to undergo the agoge training and education and therefore bought into your society’s mores.
    I believe the ‘Starship Troopers” society was partially based upon Sparta.

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  74. Michael. “If I had my way, voting would be limited to those who had earned citizenship in some manner”. It is interesting that in most past societies where this restriction operated there was a male only franchise. This despite the fact that women performed the very act that perpetuated the society, as well as other essential roles.

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  75. Alan Kendall writes “Michael. Utopias don’t exist (except in the minds of the wishful).”

    It is the literal meaning of the word “utopia” (No Place).

    On the other hand, your utopia is whatever you decide is “just right”. The Utopia described by More’ does not seem to me to be desirable; they achieve tranquility by removing all vestiges of personal choice and from that also all sources of conflict.

    My ancestors found the living conditions of Scotland and Norway to be less attractive than what they hoped to find in the United States, and so here I am. Whether that escape was political or economic I don’t know; but I’ve been to the scanty farmstead in Norway and marvel that anyone was able to live there at the end of the Little Ice Age.

    Coming to Minnesota isn’t all that much better, particularly in winter, so you create utopia in your mind and make the most of what you’ve got.

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  76. Michael. I lived for ten long years on the Canadian prairies so I know what you mean. For us it was something to live through (with two weeks sunbirding in southern climes) but for many of our Canadian friends and colleagues it was the best part of the year. I took up cross country skiing with the outcome that I broke both ankles – effects of which have returned in the past two months.
    One man’s paradise or utopia is another’s hell.

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  77. Alan Kendall writes “I believe the ‘Starship Troopers’ society was partially based upon Sparta.”

    Likely so. In part I think it is a parody and the non-politically correct parts stand out. For instance, near the beginning the sergeant that is a teacher asks his class how many times has raw force been used to solve the world’s problems. His students give the usual politically correct answers that force solves nothing, then he gives a very satisfying answer that raw power has solved most of humanity’s problems. Of course, the winner writes the history books so what else would one expect?

    “Starship Troopers (1959) by Robert A. Heinlein is a controversial science fiction novel that received a Hugo Award in 1960 and is the only science fiction novel on the reading lists of four out of five of the United States military academies, as well as the official reading lists of the United States Army and the United States Marine Corps. It has been in continuous print since its first printing in 1959.”
    https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Starship_Troopers

    Quote:
    Suddenly he pointed his stump at me. “You. What is the moral difference, if any, between the soldier and the civilian?”
    “The difference, I said carefully, “lies in the field of civic virtue. A soldier accepts personal responsibility for the safety of the body politic of which he is a member, defending it, if need be, with his life. The civilian does not.”

    And yes, I do believe it. When it is oh-dark-thirty in Iceland (nearly 24 hours of the day in winter), the wind is howling, and someone asks me permission to open the hangar doors, it becomes my choice, my duty, to know the wind direction and force; which if excessive will destroy the hangar. But to not open the hangar may mean postponing a mission. That was a while ago and I don’t remember my answer (I think it was “no”, that mission wasn’t vital but the hangar IS).

    It is a peculiarity of society that society must be protected by non members of that society, in a certain way. I cannot simultaneously be a provider of benefits (such as national security) and a recipient of those same benefits (I’m at the edges of the nation).

    Several books exist with similar themes. One of my favorites is Orson Scott Card’s “Folk of the Fringe” where the hero finds himself with purpose in life helping to protect a society that he doesn’t actually fit into very well. He prefers the “fringe” and so do I.

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  78. Alan Kendall writes “It is interesting that in most past societies where this restriction operated there was a male only franchise.”

    I wish I had the power to cure your blindness, for then I would apply it widely.

    Franchise is never given. Anything given can be taken again. Franchise is created out of nothing, ex nihilo, and so is society itself, which is also where society eventually returns.

    Women will be waiting a LONG time if they don’t create their own franchise! Blacks in America are starting, just starting, to figure this out. They don’t need a white vote, a vote in someone else’s culture and society. Scotland is starting to figure this out. You don’t need a UK vote; you need only a Scotland vote. Now the next time Germany comes storming over Europe you might suddenly remember why there’s a UK and not a cluster of tiny nations that would barely qualify as a county in the United States.

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  79. While researching for a reply; I’ve seen the movie “Starship Trooper” and probably read the book 40 years ago, no particular memory of it, anyway, seems you are correct that it is based on Sparta or at least many observers find it so.

    “Now we see why so many worry about the glorification of fascism in Starship Troopers. Heinlein had the audacity to explore a world where Sparta works, and is durable. Understandably, this puts our Athenian sensibilities on Red Alert. The novel’s justifications for franchise restrictions, perhaps the ultimate blasphemy in our egalitarian-democratic age, highlight a second sociopolitical truth: Any society that decouples rights and responsibilities thereby enables irresponsible power.”
    http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2016/08/rights-responsibilities-political-economy-starship-troopers.html

    Or as I have sometimes written, rights do not exist except in the minds of believers. How often have you encountered “I know my rights!” when it is acutely obvious he does not. He believes he has a right, and if others also believe it, then he does; otherwise he does not.

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  80. Michael one small point. I was probably wrong about Sparta being a source for the society in Starship Troopers, it was instead based on Military Education within the USA. Heinlein graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland and then served in the Navy (initially on the first US aircraft carrier).

    With regard to franchise (or suffrage) I think you are dead wrong, but am loath to clutter up this discussion on Russians hacking the Brexit Vote (I had to look that up!) any more than we have. If the opportunity arises I’ll return to the fray.

    Sorry Jaime

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  81. The Lost Journalistic Standards of Russia-gate

    The Russia-gate hysteria has witnessed a widespread collapse of journalistic standards as major U.S. news outlets ignore rules about how to treat evidence in dispute, writes Robert Parry.

    A danger in both journalism and intelligence is to allow an unproven or seriously disputed fact to become part of the accepted narrative where it gets widely repeated and thus misleads policymakers and citizens alike, such as happened during the run-up to war with Iraq and is now recurring amid the frenzy over Russia-gate.

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  82. From Paul’s link:

    “People in Official Washington, for reasons of careerism and self-interest, saw advantages in running with the Iraq-WMD pack and recognized the dangers of jumping in front of the stampeding herd to raise doubts about Iraq’s WMD.

    Back then, the personal risk to salary and status came from questioning the Iraq-WMD groupthink . . . . . .”

    In this country, Dr David Kelly ended up losing rather more than his career.

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  83. Alan Kendall writes: “With regard to franchise (or suffrage) I think you are dead wrong”

    It is neither right nor wrong, not on a cosmic scale. Whoever sets up a society makes the rules, and could easily establish from the very outset universal suffrage. If I remember right in the clan system of old Scandinavia women had as much vote as men; but it wasn’t so much “vote” as “say”. When the Mormons created their own society in the western not-yet-United States, women had the vote and lost it when Utah became a state and thus subject to US federal regulations.

    All such rules are arbitrary and thus cannot be right or wrong. Natural selection will eventually reveal what works best in various circumstances.

    It is those circumstances that I have explored as a hobby for quite a long time; why it is that the King of England failed again and again to export European ideas and to this day European ideas simply don’t export — except along the 45th parallel. There’s a reason for that: The northern temperate climate has strong seasonal phenomenon which encourages adaptation to those seasons, a thing that breeds toolmaking, and it also requires societies to support farmers during the winter and other people during slow times because at other times those people are urgently needed (as an example).

    But consider equatorial areas that have little or no seasonal effects. Clans battle each other constantly; anything that weakens a clan renders it quickly extinct. These clans are heirarchical and the hunter/warriors almost inevitably the most valued members; because without them they would quickly be extinct. You cannot “vote” on whether to go north or south, that’s absurd, like flipping a coin or rolling a dice to decide where is the enemy or the prey.

    A strict hierarchy reduces conflict in a clan; everyone knows his place, his role in the clan. Questions do not arise and there is nothing to vote on or for.

    It is when Clans decide to quit fighting each other that some sort of mechanism arises to settle disputes and choose a leader of all of the clans.

    Thus enters elections and voting.

    It is very gradual, evolved rather than decided, for who is there that can decide and impose upon the clans? Nobody. So it evolves by mutual agreement; and will be an extension of Clan internal politics.

    Armed forces of pretty much any nation are hierarchical, designed expressly for quick action without a lot of democratic voting. When a military leader is wrong the result is spectacularly bad, when right, the results are equally spectacular and valuable (for the winner). My 20 years in the US Navy has doubtless shaped my views, but I would not have joined the Navy without already feeling some sort of affinity for that kind of ordered society.

    And yet philosophically I am libertarian. I choose an ordered society; that is my liberty, but the society I choose must impose the minimal amount of control over my daily life, my choice of ice cream, things like that, where I can go, what I can do. It is, for instance, illegal to walk along the beaches in Washington State. They are privately owned. In Hawaii, the state owns the beaches. In Iceland, you can traverse private property without permission if that’s the path to where you are going, it is not trespassing.

    I loved Iceland. They have socialism where it counts; health care and education; and liberty everywhere else. No fences around Strokkur (not then anyway; might be now). If you want to look right down the borehole and watch a geysir blow up in your face, that’s your choice and you alone bear the consequences.

    I realize now that some vestige of my Scottish ancestry calls out to me from Iceland (which has nearly the same climate). There isn’t much I won’t do to help someone in need but do NOT tell me what to do.

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  84. “now recurring amid the frenzy over Russia-gate.”

    I am bemused by this whole thing; mildly interested in the details. Of course Russia meddles; but it isn’t exactly news. It’s right up there with dog-bites-man. It’s what they DO.

    I hope they discover some clever, creative way to meddle, something interesting, turn it into a motion picture entertainment.

    The Russians are outnumbered by the Chinese, whose products are now ubiquitous in the United States. I think eyes are on the wrong ball.

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  85. Michael, Have just read the analysis of Starship Troopers that you recommended – a good read with IMHO two major flaws. Salter fails to relate the organisation and rationale of the society depicted in the book with 1) the overall war setting or 2) Heinlein’s own history. The book is set at a time of great military danger. At such times people are willing to accept, tolerate or even promote militaristic governance. At other times, not so much. Salter commends Heinlein for the insights he introduces into the book. But whereas I would commend Heinlein’s abilities to introduce them into an easily readable format for the general reader, I believed he gained his understanding from his military education and service experience. It wouldn’t surprise me to find that major characters in the book that gave recruits classes in civic responsibility were not real people that Heinlein met during his own military service, admired, and influenced his own politics. I have, however, found no evidence to support this conjecture.

    Do you think your own military experience and training makes you more willing to accept Heinlein’s overall thesis?

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  86. Getting back to the main topic of this discussion thread, I presume that no one disputes the spike in activity that occurred around the day of the referendum, nor that this originated from Russia. Leaving aside the question of effectiveness, the questions still remain – why did it happen? and who was responsible? I refuse to accept a proposition that it happened spontaneously, without some organisation. Whoever was responsible surely must have known it would not be effective, but went ahead regardless.
    I suggest looking at the event from this angle might be more productive than endlessly arguing about whether the Russian State wished to interfere with the referendum vote, for which there probably never will be any definitive evidence.
    The possibility that it was a trial run should not be excluded.

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  87. Alan, of course there was a spike in twitter #brexit activity around the time of the referendum. The story seems confused though – according to the Guardian, most of these Russian tweets occurred after the vote!
    “Prof Laura Cram, director of neuropolitics research at the University of Edinburgh, told the Guardian that at least 419 of those accounts tweeted about Brexit a total of 3,468 times – mostly after the referendum had taken place.”

    “That this originated from Russia” is highly questionable. 3,468 tweets about Brexit from Russia – what was the total number of tweets about Brexit around the time of the election? How many tweets were there from, say, France or Germany? And see my first comment on the thread, about the “Russian” Glaswegian!

    I rather like your idea that it might have been a kind of experiment.

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  88. All right Paul, I’ll even temporally retreat on the Russian attribution. There was a peak in Twitter activity by people possibly masquerading as Russians. Why? Who organized it? It must have had some purpose. The only other explanation I might accept is that it was copycating gone rogue (might explain the day-after effect).

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  89. Paul I have just completed reading your paper upon climate sceptics, which I found most interesting . I assume you are still interested in this subject. One clear trend seems to be the partial demise of sceptical blogging. Some blogs have almost stopped functioning as discussion sites for climate scepticism – Climate Audit and Bishop Hill being notable examples. The other change I have noticed is that active sites (and here we must include parts of BH) are frequented by many fewer contributors. If you look back only two years using BH and Cliscep as examples, the number of different contributors was much larger then than it is today – where have they all gone? Is this reduction affecting blogs supporting the “consensus”? I don’t follow them to make a judgement. Another notable trend is the concentration of effort that is devoted to countering specific individuals that are commonly disruptive and are considered by many to be trolls – Entropic Man and Phil Clark at Bishop Hill, Len (and sometimes Ken) here. I find it odd that they restrict themselves to one blogsite – almost as if they have shared out a task. I have always considered that these individuals provide a valuable service – keeping sites vibrant.

    What sort of reception did you get from reviewers when you submitted your manuscript?

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  90. Alan,

    I find it odd that they restrict themselves to one blogsite – almost as if they have shared out a task.

    Just for clarity, I don’t restrict myself to one blogsite and there is certainly no sharing of a task (either explicit, or implicit).

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  91. ATTP. It should have been evident (by placing you in brackets) that for the most part I don’t usually consider you to be a troll and certainly I know you contribute to several sites (including your own). But, for example I have not seen Entropic Man here.

    Using a phrase like “almost as if” usually implies that the writer doesn’t believe what otherwise seems likely.

    So just for clarity, I never implied Ken restricted his expertise to a single site, nor did he arrange with others to share out the onerous task of keeping our heresies in check.

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  92. Alan Kendall wrote “Do you think your own military experience and training makes you more willing to accept Heinlein’s overall thesis?”

    Probably, but I also think there’s an affinity that exists even before obtaining that military training.

    As you observed, some kinds of society (military being a society) cannot operate in an egalitarian manner while others must operate in an egalitarian manner. It seems evident to me that they operate in a symbiotic manner; Utopia can exist but requires guardians at the borders. The guardians do not themselves participate in, or even understand, what it is to be egalitarian. By similar thinking the Utopians do not comprehend hierarchy for it doesn’t exist for them. But they have a vague understanding that the world is dangerous and so these two kinds of society interact and in a strange way support each other.

    Resonating is “American Sniper”, where Kyle’s father challenges Kyle after a schoolyard fight. “Did you start the fight?” No. “Did you end the fight?” Yes. He then explains that people come in three flavors: Sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. Sheepdogs are of the same kin as wolves, but protect sheep whereas wolves eat sheep.

    MIT conducted an experiment years ago, 1980’s I think. The class was a psychology class and in the class were three persons having had military experience. A fight was staged out in the hallway. The three military persons immediately went to intervene, the other students ignored it. It seems to be an instinct of some sort.

    I have seen it many times and sometimes makes the news when military persons, even those who have completed their tours of duty, intervene on behalf of strangers. It is an instinct.

    It is difficult for the sheep to distinguish good canine from bad canine. Thus the good canine must do the watching for them, suffering the distrust that the sheep necessarily express to all canines. Good canines are self-rewarding; it is fulfillment of that instinct or drive that creates its own reward.

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  93. Alan Kendall “Whoever was responsible surely must have known it would not be effective, but went ahead regardless.”

    Behavior that continues is being reinforced. I suspect that its goal *was* achieved. What is the natural instinct of a teenager? Rebellion. So these tweets say “leave!” and the result is instinctive rebelling against being told what to do so they choose “stay!”

    The Russians are *very* good at this sort of thing and in my opinion the Americans are terrible at it.

    When I was in Iceland the cultural affairs officer was trying to instill a sense of Russian “think”. He said a fairy offered one wish to each of an American, a British person and a Russian. The American wished for a ranch. The British person asked for a cottage in the country. The Russian asked that his neighbor’s pig die because he didn’t have one.

    That he could have asked for a pig, so that both he and his neighbor had pigs, wasn’t a viable option. The Russian doesn’t believe he will be permitted to keep his pig so the path to equality is to remove the pig from his neighbor. A thousand years of not being able to keep things, no sense of property, produces intense jealousy of other nations that enshrine property rights so if you have a pig you can keep it.

    To be sure, the egalitarian does actually have a sense of property but is uncomfortable with the implications. In Utopia every person has three white shirts. Not two, not four, but three. They are free for the taking and you must have three. Because everyone has exactly three, there is no jealousy, no hoarding, no theft. Needless to say the people that make white shirts are compelled to do so but at some point it becomes part of the fabric of society and doesn’t feel like compulsion.

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  94. Alan Kendall writes: “people possibly masquerading as Russians. Why? Who organized it?”

    A distraction. Right now the mass media in the United States is obsessed suddenly with sexual harassment; frequently of the most innocuous flavors that got Bill Clinton elected! How is it that the left has been turned against its own kind?

    That’s clever and purposeful. Not hard to figure out who is behind it all, someone whose initials are Donald Trump and, if I remember right, runs casinos among other things. You distract the customer.

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  95. Alan Kendall writes: “I find it odd that they restrict themselves to one blogsite – almost as if they have shared out a task.”

    Or are sock puppets of the author or moderator thereof and can thus operate with assurance on home turf.

    One such is “Wow” that is almost exclusively found on Barry Bickmore’s blog https://bbickmore.wordpress.com. I have tentatively concluded that he might *be* Barry Bickmore’s alter ego. I’ve seen it before when a person known to the community is not permitted to speak his mind on a topic it builds tension in one’s mind and pops out as an alter ego, a sock puppet. This alter ego isn’t a real person and thus cannot be persuaded or changed; it is an “output only” device. You can still have some fun with that kind. Anyway, histogram analysis shows he was active only at certain times and certain days; but with a strong seasonal affect; suggesting in summer he was in North America but in winter he’s in classes probably in the UK. Whether student or professor I could not determine but twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays he never posted in a span of 2 hours in the afternoon on those days. That suggests professor because students can always post.

    With the overall decline in traffic on climate blogs due simply to the fact it is no longer much of an issue there’s also not much for “Wow” to push back against. I haven’t looked at Barry’s blog in a very long time and it gets updated only a couple of times a year anyway.

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  96. Alan, thanks. Yes, the decline of blogs such as BH and CA is interesting. I think twitter is a major factor. Some people have switched their focus to that. I suppose another factor is that nothing much has changed, so people lose interest in saying the same things that they were saying 10 years ago.

    The reviewers were very fair. They made some criticisms and I had to make some changes and ‘climb down’ on a few points, but I think the paper was improved by the changes they asked for. There is a bit more on this here.

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  97. Alan Kendall writes: “You may have thought you answered the question I posed (5.45pm Nov 21) but you didn’t. You only gave a partial explanation of the concept, not your understanding of how Len used it. As far as I can tell Len used it correctly ”

    Apologies for not keeping up-to-date with this particular thread. So tax incidence is the analysis of who ultimately bears the burden of a tax. When Len wrote

    There are many more taxes than just federal income tax and exactly where tax incidence falls is often quite different from who/what pays any tax directly

    he is correct but it is a meaningless comment to throw out in that context because it doesn’t matter whether, say, a tax increase is 30% incident on employees and 70% incident on shareholders, the crux is that people have had their welfare reduced to some extent by a tax increase.. There have been forms of government where payment of taxes or ownership of real estate was the critical factor in getting a vote. I imagine that Michael’s point was that people who pay tax have more stake in the kind of society that they live in.

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  98. Barrel man, Michael suggested that only people who pay TAXES (in capitals, maybe that made it different) should get a vote. The variation in forms of tax and unknown tax incidence mean that everyone probably pays taxes in one form or another. And as everyone pays TAXES, everyone should be eligible to vote in Michael’s eyes. I thought that was rather obvious.

    Alan, I comment because I like a discussion. What I don’t like is too many nutters and posts being deleted. WUWT suffers from both, BH from the first, Homewood, Mearns from the second.

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  99. Len Martinez “Michael suggested that only people who pay TAXES (in capitals, maybe that made it different) should get a vote.”

    Let us put emphasis on the verb “pay”. Having it taken before I get it means someone else paid, not me. To be sure my income is reduced, but *I* didn’t pay, I did not make that choice and I’m not involved in that choice.

    Not only is there incidence of tax, but there’s a nexus of decision or opportunity. At what point are you, personally, involved in giving money to government (or anyone else)? it is at that moment that you obtain expectation of something in return, a contract of sorts.

    Does invisible incidence entitle that person to a vote? No.

    Does invisible incidence entitle a person to benefits? Yes.

    Suppose your local social club demanded a few thousand from you; very likely you’d consider yourself entitled to have some say in the social club’s spending. But if that social club managed to get their income stream before you got your salary or wages, then it is not you that is paying money to the social club, but someone else, and it becomes that someone else that now has a moral right to say what is done with that money.

    Of course, you might have a right to vote in that club based on something else such as membership dues or you created the club in the first place (that is, it is your social contract).

    The fact that this someone else might have been your employer, and thus your wages reduced, does not transfer that entitlement to vote to you, even though the incidence of this donation to the social club does eventually impact you.

    Whoever hands money over to another obtains a moral right thereby. That’s the ancient way. It has force of law in many nations; “implied contract” and so forth.

    “And as everyone pays TAXES, everyone should be eligible to vote in Michael’s eyes. I thought that was rather obvious.”

    I am capable of explaining what is in my eyes. No need for you to post strawmen. In the business world this pay-to-vote principle is called stock, more specifically voting stock; you own a portion of the business thus obtain a right to vote on its operations.

    How different is a nation? Do you own a portion of your nation? If not, you ought to. Paying tax, from your hand to theirs, is like buying stock. You now own a tiny piece of your nation. This is more obviously true in the case of buying bonds. But you redeem bonds and when you do, there goes your vote. Paying taxes, well you don’t get that back, it creates a rather permanent contract or obligation.

    At any rate, your examples are much too simple minded; like there’s only two choices, vote or not vote — one being all powerful and the other shameful emasculated nothingness.

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  100. Michael
    “Having it (tax) taken before I get it means someone else paid, not me. To be sure my income is reduced, but *I* didn’t pay, I did not make that choice and I’m not involved in that choice”.
    I don’t agree. In many jurisdictions when you pay you are presented with a bill that lists the basic price together with whatever taxes you have paid. The seller merely passes this tax on. They are tax collectors, not payers.

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  101. Michael, tl;dr. Your proposal is stupid, your arguments supporting it, more so.

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  102. Alan Kendall writes “In many jurisdictions when you pay you are presented with a bill that lists the basic price together with whatever taxes you have paid. The seller merely passes this tax on. They are tax collectors, not payers.”

    That is correct, and to varying degree impinges upon the consciousness of the person presented with a bill or receipt. In my case all receipts get scanned and logged into a database so I am particularly aware of those taxes. I have observed that most people seem to just discard receipts and don’t really care about the presence of tax on a bill or receipt.

    This is why I specifically and carefully chose the annual ordeal, in the USA anyway, of filling out the IRS Form 1040 as to make you acutely aware of THE tax that binds you to the United States of America. My city tax binds me to the city. Either gives me a right to approach the council and declare, “I am a taxpayer…” and then state my case. Not many people do that. Citizen participation in governance (the social contract) is nearly nonexistent, which means such persons haven’t “signed” (subscribed to) the contract, any contract, but certainly not the national contract.

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  103. Len Martinez writes “Your proposal is stupid, your arguments supporting it, more so.”

    Len, you mistake that I am writing to YOU. Billions of people (well a few hundred anyway) will read my words; thoughtful and explanatory, and they read your words.

    I need someone totally committed to his belief system so that it doesn’t change while I am observing it; creating kind of a Schroedinger Paradox or something like that. It would scramble the thread to have you, or anyone, say “Oh, I see your point. I’ll adjust my thinking just a little bit”.

    I adjust my thinking frequently; although I’ll admit it doesn’t often stay adjusted so I have to revisit topics from time to time to re-establish why I think a certain thing a certain way.

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  104. You flatter yourself, Michael. But maybe that is an identifying characteristic of climate “skeptics”.

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  105. Len Martinez writes “You flatter yourself, Michael.”

    Thank you. Might as well be me that does it ensuring a quality flatter.

    “But maybe that is an identifying characteristic of climate skeptics”

    I have never met a climate skeptic (and neither have you) but flattering oneself seems fairly common.

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  106. Len.
    ” I comment because I like a discussion. What I don’t like is too many nutters and posts being deleted.”

    I also like a discussion and for me this is a very pleasant place to do it. But for you, not so much? You are treated as a troll (and too often you behave as one) and that cannot be pleasant. IMHO you ask for everything you get regarding climate but on other matters you are (perhaps unnecessarily) treated in the same way. So I find it difficult to understand why you continue.

    You don’t like posts being deleted – but that does happen (rarely) here: it has happened once to me.
    I still regularly read and comment over at BH: yes there are nutters but I tend to skim read. I rarely comment on political matters except to stir things up (I retain my non-de-blog Supertroll).
    I rarely comment on WUWT except on matters of fact, having been called a communist for venturing an opinion that most contributors might not be aware of the full facts about a purely UK matter. You need a much thicker skin than I possess to bathe in those waters.

    BTW Debating with “nutters” can be interesting. You and I have been “debating” with someone who, on my count, has reversed his position completely at least twice in 48 hours, with no sign of embarrassment whatsoever. Interestingly those who have entered the fray on his side have not noticed or have chosen not to. I am becoming suspicious.

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  107. Hi Alan, yes it it is generally pleasant here but it would be nicer without the insults. But some commenters have nothing left to say without them (barrel man, weasel, etc). I think I give as good as I get.

    I stay because it is often interesting and I learn things when I have to research to try to defend myself. But with more Michaels or Piles, I would cease to have any interest.

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  108. Alan Kendall “You and I have been debating with someone who, on my count, has reversed his position completely at least twice in 48 hours, with no sign of embarrassment whatsoever.”

    Not much of a debate, seems to me. At any rate it’s noise on top of nuance. The information stream fluctuates slightly above and below a threshold, for purpose of demonstration the threshold is 0.5. Below that, the reader reads “zero” because he’s binary and there can be only 0 and 1. At or above 0.5 the reader reads “one”.

    Life is complicated with large numbers of factors and nuances. So at any given moment the argument might be 0.49, and you read “zero”. An hour later you or someone else introduces a factor that now makes it 0.51, and you read it as “one”.

    Flipping and flopping is likely in your mind. As I’ve said, I adjust my thinking; but not from zero to one back to zero.

    To put this back on the topic, any time there’s an election whose outcome is close to 0.5, which is certainly true for BREXIT, a little nudge is all it takes to go from zero to one and people wonder what just happened. Well, not much just happened, a nudge. Big impact on the outcome because of the decision gate which imposes binary outcomes on a nuanced input.

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  109. Twaddle Michael, signifying nothing. I am ashamed it took me so long to realize.

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  110. Alan – There would be more traffic and comment at Bishop Hill and Climate Audit.. if the owners actually wrote any new blog posts.. But I feel the same. nothing much has changed, just rehashing themes form ten years ago.. look at the Mckinnon – Climate denial paper. academic discovers climate, revisits very old themes. that and the world is a very much more ‘interesting’ place with a lot else going on.

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  111. Of course someone with access to the emails of people who used to post here several years ago but have since ceased to do so could contact them to ask why they had stopped. Rather than speculate, we might get some real data.
    Refocusing on twitter I feel is an unlikely explanation given the word restriction. Staleness, doesn’t explain the continued vibrancy of WUWT or the unthreaded and discussion sections of BH.

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  112. Twitter is more lively for debate and the potential audience is much greater and varied. Also, 280 word limit allows you to cover more in depth.

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  113. It may reflect natural wastage: people don’t live forever and many skeptics seem to be oldish.

    It has also become ever harder to deny climate change. The supposed pause maybe gave people hope but only diehards would still hold on to that.

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  114. “Natural wastage” – a term invented by (oldish) lefties to express the fervent wish that their opponents die off before they do and that the younger generation do not wise up in time to replace the sad old bastards who croak.

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  115. Len Martinez “It has also become ever harder to deny climate change.”

    Do you know anyone that denies climate change? You seem obsessed with a kind of person I doubt exists except in negligible numbers.

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  116. Alan Kendall says “Of course someone with access to the emails of people who used to post here several years ago but have since ceased to do so could contact them to ask why they had stopped.”

    A phenomenon exists that is somewhat relevant to Russian propaganda, American propaganda, many churches and a few three-letter agencies along with why people eventually lose interest in Saul Alinsky style tactics they weren’t born to (those born to it will of course continue).

    In the 1950’s experiments in “brainwashing” were somewhat successful but the effect is not durable and requires frequent refreshing; for typical Christian churches the refresh cycle is every 7 days.

    At any rate, seems to me that all traces of brainwashing vanish after about 10 years although heightened sensitivity to triggers, sometimes know as PTSD, might be life-long.

    “In short, manipulation and misrepresentation by marketers is still possible, but will have a much shorter half-life of effectiveness and may well cause terrible damage to the brand when it is exposed.” https://www.futurelab.net/blog/2012/08/end-brainwashing

    A bit simpleminded but interesting exploration of the topic: https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/brainwashing.htm

    “doesn’t explain the continued vibrancy of WUWT or the unthreaded and discussion sections of BH.”

    WUWT isn’t a single-topic obsession website and occasionally presents solid science and occasional anecdotes, like WE’s sailing stories, that I find interesting. ATTP occasionally presents solid science and is at times interesting. He ought to post more of his astronomy. I look at WUWT almost daily and ATTP monthly or so; it slows down during lunar phases of “I hate Monckton” because it is tedious. I don’t care particularly who you don’t like. How about those quarks?

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  117. OH, well, squirreled myself it seems. The point I was getting to is that I suspect some of these no-longer-participating writers were like fresh religious converts; zealous at first but eventually the effect wears off, the love wears thin, “same ol, same ol” I hate {Watts, Monckton, etc} and so should you. It was a social effect.

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  118. Alan Kendall writes “Twaddle Michael, signifying nothing. I am ashamed it took me so long to realize.”

    No worries. You are fairly in the middle of the pack. Sooner or later people, without having offered significance of their own, also do not perceive significance from me because it does not pass their filters.

    In other words, significance is in the mind of the beholder. Sometimes I see a complex mathematical formula and it has no significance to me, but it might to you. The significance is not in the expression (not entirely anyway) but in your perception, and where a perception challenges your belief you will not perceive.

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  119. I suggest that Michael 2 is a troll of a very interesting type. Here he has attacked our own resident troll – Len who was debating a non-climate topic. When I offered Len support Michael engaged with me, initially sensibly but then increasingly oddly and with decreasing relevance. I began to suspect troll or weirdness. A sarcastic post from me was met with a string of reasonable and, to me, interesting posts. Yet these became weirder and with unexplained logical reversals. He appears to confirm his troll status by claiming that I am only “middle of the pack” after I admitted to being ashamed it took me so long to realize his status.

    What I find so interesting is that, because Michael attacked Len, he was protected here. Len’s responses to Michael’s trollish behaviour were attacked by other contributors here and Len was subjected to a series of totally unwarranted insults. The motto should be “support our own troll”.

    I have never before experienced one troll attacking another. Almost like a bacteriophage.

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  120. I didn’t think it was a climate related expression, Jaime. And it applies to both sides (Pella Pirila, an enormously knowledgeable commenter died not so long ago). But skeptics seem predominantly old if videos of audiences in talks by e.g. Salby is any evidence.

    Alan, thanks for the support, I think. And don’t feel bad. Michael was banned or blocked over at ATTP years ago. It would not surprise me if regulars here didn’t recognize his style as anything unusual or objectionable, it being close to that of very many “skeptics” on consensus sites. They get blocked for good reason. You are rather different and don’t seem normal fodder for blocking, though your ‘ATTL’ might explain it.

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  121. Alan Kendall writes: “I have never before experienced one troll attacking another. Almost like a bacteriophage”

    That is an excellent analogy. I troll the trolls; but more than one reason can exist for doing that. I wish to understand why he thinks (not a lot of evidence of it) or feels, but feels don’t go through the internet and must be converted to words and the conversion isn’t very reliable.

    It is at least in part about father and brother: I try to have a rational conversation but it blows up almost immediately into a rant about neocons. I spent two fruitless years trying to get my father to explain what is a “neocon” and basically that’s just a label he applies to someone he doesn’t like, or has been told not to like, or something. Having spent 18 years out of the continental United States I had no idea what sort of political drift was happening and I certainly wasn’t part of any of it. He had built in his mind an “avatar” of who I was, and hated it, and that was that. My mother did something similar; based on when I was born and the alignment of the planets she knew that I was her “dispositor” and thus her enemy. It is strange to have such totally irrational parents and I wonder about myself as a consequence.

    I seem to have an instinct for pretenders. I suspect it is the sheep-wolves-sheepdog thing. I don’t like pretend leftwingers. “Good” socialism is very good; it is what Iceland has, or had. But good socialism quickly becomes bad socialism when the pigs take over (George Orwell’s Animal Farm). The animals are much too trusting.

    Anyway, Len is invited to explain why 16 year old teenagers ought to have a vote. He is invited to explain why he believes the social contract is automatic and that a person does not need to personally commit to it, or even know what it is. He is invited to debate the parables of the Ant and the Grasshopper, or The Little Red Hen, and explain how it is that people who have not contributed to a system nevertheless should benefit from it.

    That is what, in my opinion, a rational person with a belief would do. Defend the belief. I defend mine. In fact, I defend *ideas* that aren’t even in my belief set. I had a clever economics professor, a woman from India, who assigned to me to debate a point of view (socialism) that is not my natural think. My debate opponent, a natural socialist, was assigned to the point of view of libertarian. Inasmuch as we were both skilled the result was a hopelessly confused class of students that now didn’t know WHAT to believe — and that is the point! Figure it out, accept the resulting belief because you figured it out for yourself, it’s not your mother’s antibodies (figuratively speaking).

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  122. Len Martinez writes: “skeptics seem predominantly old if videos of audiences in talks by e.g. Salby is any evidence.”

    Agreed; for almost obvious reasons. Youth depend on parents for everything; food, shelter and beliefs. Eventually they realize there is no Santa Claus or tooth fairy (except in my house, where it was well known that I was the tooth fairy and disbelief had consequences). That is when “skeptic” starts to appear; a realization that other people might be lying for their own purposes and advantage.

    What that means for your hopes that skeptics will die off is that new skeptics will arise, as has been the case for millions of years. Do you believe in evolution? Anything that exists serves a purpose in survival and reproduction. Skepticism is usually a healthy survival adaptation.

    “Michael was banned or blocked over at ATTP years ago.”

    That’s not exactly true although it is somewhat unpredictable of what I write gets through and reaches the moderation queue in the first place. I haven’t tried to post there in a long time.

    Where I am undeniably banned is Scientific American for having the audacity to point out that Michael Mann’s offer of data and a model download was a fine thing, but of course, being a deterministic computer program you will of necessity obtain the same results as he did, unless your computer is broken.

    Oh, and Daily KOS. I’m a bit proud of being banned at DailyKOS; the pride factor being how quickly one can be banned there. It took me about three hours I think. They do not tolerate dissent; it is a social alignment tool for their own herd. Cannot be having wrong thinking exposed to delicate minds.

    “They get blocked for good reason.”

    Indeed. George Orwell describes it well in “1984”. Conform or be outcast (or dead; seems to be a small consensus of imprisoning or even killing “deniers”). That is the religious aspect of consensus group websites.

    On the other hand, I posted frequently at Huffington Post where good lively debate brings in the readers. That lasted several years then suddenly they made a hard left turn and I quit posting and closed my account. There’s an instinct by the left to purify itself, like a religion, and not tolerate dissent. You exhibit those same behaviors right here.

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  123. A recent event in Canada illustrates the power of leftwing groupthink. This is so “1984” its scary.

    http://nationalpost.com/news/canada/heres-the-full-recording-of-wilfrid-laurier-reprimanding-lindsay-shepherd-for-showing-a-jordan-peterson-video

    I listened to the entire audio clip. It’s not easy to listen to; three staff members ganged up on 22 year old teaching assistant but by golly she fights back and stands for meaningful choice by having contrary opinions presented in her class; let the students decide for themselves. But you wield the banhammer, or you would if you had one 🙂

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  124. With Christmas coming up, I think we should all join Michael 2 in talking only about Michael 2.

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  125. Alan, I’m not quite clear what you mean by ‘troll’. Do you have a definition – if so, could you share it? On all sides, we can get cross, which can make us uncivil, and impede debate. We’d do better to avoid this. But I have in mind that you feel a troll is one who is insincere – who takes what he knows to be bad points, and is more interested in confusing those he disagrees with than enlightening them. Who feels that the priority is to win the debate – “not to let the Whig dogs have the best of it”. We are all (in some degree) “engaged in the endless struggle To think well of ourselves” so allowances must be made. There is a rule applied by the Samaritans – that no phone call from a potential suicide may be treated as a hoax, but must be treated with respect – a rational application of the Precautionary Principle. I think the same rule should be applied to blog posters.

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  126. Osseo. Thank you for your question. You are correct that I believe trolls are insincere and are more interested in confusing those they disagree with than enlightening them. I maintain that Michael2 exhibits these characteristics (you may disagree) although in some posts he appears almost normal. I agree that, too often, people are identified as trolls purely because they have very different views from the majority who contribute to a blogsite. On matters of climate Len sometimes exhibits trollish behaviour – but not always and at several occasions here I have expressed my appreciation for his continued activities. Unfortunately the troll tag gets applied when he engages in debates other than upon climate. Then his views and opinions should, in my opinion, be given weight.

    I do not believe trolls should be banned or their output expunged. With someone like Michael 2 I just will no longer engage. Not because he isn’t interesting but simply because I cannot believe anything he writes is true or is something he believes in. In my book he has been shown to be a multiple liar.

    I don’t believe discussion sites like his one should be treated in the same way as The Samaritans.

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  127. Vinny Burgoo writes: “With Christmas coming up, I think we should all join Michael 2 in talking only about Michael 2.”

    No need to confine it to Christmas.

    Shall we discuss Richard Tol?

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  128. osseo writes: “I’m not quite clear what you mean by ‘troll’. Do you have a definition – if so, could you share it?”

    It seems to have several meanings; sometimes simultaneous. I tend to use it as “trolling for fish, dangling a lure and see what bites”. But the other troll is a dangerous beast hiding under bridges; but you can pay the troll to be permitted to pass. Both conceivably apply at times.

    Given the flap over that teaching assistant in Canada I decided to listen to Jordan Peterson, the embodiment of evil, that has the left wing in such a twist. Imagine my surprise that instead of a Hitler I find a soft-spoken professor that has studied the rise of the social justice movement, or “Postmoderns”, giving a history of its morphing out of Marxism by French students who have re-branded Marxism.

    He goes on to say that there can be no debate because to engage in debate “legitimizes” the opposition, at which point the opposition has already “won” by mere virtue of being acknowledged to exist.

    This is astonishing; answering in an hour what I have spent ten years trying to understand; debating where debate is itself feared.

    That is why the word “libertarian” is the best trolling lure of them all; a thing I have discovered inadvertently, much stronger than “climate denier”. There is a biological component to it; sheep need the herd and fear not-herd. They fear liberty. This is strange to me, but I can see that it is so. My father fears, my brother fears, it even brings Vinny Burgoo out of the woodwork. Of course I talk about me; why would I talk about anyone else? I am my authority, you are your authority. I choose for me, you choose for you; we can make agreements, a social contract.

    “On all sides, we can get cross, which can make us uncivil, and impede debate.”

    There is no we, there is no us. This is a concept that is probably in your DNA; resistant to inspection and debate. I am always civil. In fact, there’s a meme for me; the “sea lion”.

    “I have in mind that you feel a troll is one who is insincere – who takes what he knows to be bad points, and is more interested in confusing those he disagrees with than enlightening them.”

    That may be; but this judgment exists in your mind, not necessarily in objective reality. When I engage what *might* be a troll, I nevertheless see it as an opportunity to speak plainly.

    “Who feels that the priority is to win the debate”

    I’ve never seen a debate “won” on the internet. But some people don’t know it to be impossible and will try.

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  129. Make your closing remarks folks. Despite what I said earlier, this thread has reached its expiry date I feel. I’d be surprised if many people are following the (numerous and long-winded in Michael’s case) comments with much interest. Thanks.

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  130. There was also this from a passionate supporter of Brexit leading up to the vote in June last year:

    To which legal blogger and FT columnist David Allen Green, who probably voted Remain and is by no means starry eyed about the prospects now, tweeted “Twaddle.” And has it seems since deleted that.

    There is something decidedly odd going on. I don’t think bots and trolls seeking to divide and confuse are blameless for the oddities. I just don’t think all the bad bots originate with Putin.

    Also, thanks Jaime, this was a good thread until a couple of pseudonymous posters went off on one. No connection to the light being shed just prior to that I’m sure.

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  131. Paul,

    “A Russian link to Boris Johnson and Michael Gove’s successful plot to persuade Theresa May to take a tougher stance on Brexit has been uncovered by The Mail on Sunday.”

    Tougher stance? Would that be the ‘I’m going to give Brussels £40bn+ of British taxpayers’ money (the exact figure to be kept secret) in exchange for Brussels ‘negotiating’ a ‘transition’ deal which will benefit Brussels even further and I’ll also allow the ECJ to lord it over us during that indeterminate period’ stance?

    The Mail goes full retard. Perhaps StopFundingHate really have got the wind up them.

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  132. Jaime: I think your last sentence needs qualifying. The Mail on Sunday is now viciously against the Daily Mail on the subject, with the editors reportedly hating each other. That’s free speech for you!

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  133. EU to set up euro-election ‘troll patrol’ to tackle Eurosceptic surge

    The European Parliament is to spend almost £2 million on press monitoring and trawling Eurosceptic debates on the internet for “trolls” with whom to debate in the run-up and during euro-elections next year amid fears that hostility to the EU is growing.

    The Daily Telegraph has seen confidential spending proposals and internal documents planning an unprecedented propaganda blitz ahead of and during European elections in June 2014.
    Key to a new strategy will be “public opinion monitoring tools” to “identify at an early stage whether debates of political nature among followers in social media and blogs have the potential to attract media and citizens’ interest”.

    Spending on “qualitative media analysis” is to be increased by £1.7 million and while most of the money is to be found in existing budgets an additional £787,000 will be need to be raised next year despite calls for EU spending to reflect national austerity.

    “Particular attention needs to be paid to the countries that have experienced a surge in Euroscepticism,” said a confidential document agreed last year.

    “Parliament’s institutional communicators must have the ability to monitor public conversation and sentiment on the ground and in real time, to understand ‘trending topics’ and have the capacity to react quickly, in a targeted and relevant manner, to join in and influence the conversation, for example, by providing facts and figures to deconstructing myths.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/9845442/EU-to-set-up-euro-election-troll-patrol-to-tackle-Eurosceptic-surge.html

    ‘You don’t understand!’ MPs round on Obama over his interfering in EU referendum

    BARACK Obama “does not understand” the true nature of the relationship between Britain and the EU, a Cabinet minister said last night.

    https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/661829/Barack-Obama-MP-interfering-US-president-EU-referendum-visit

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