Suicide of the West; Health Care?; Investigations

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for the West as it commits suicide.

James Burnham

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Military suicide: the US military was never a very impressive one, certainly not when compared to the British, Russian or German ones. But it did have a couple of very strong points including the ability to produce a lot of technical innovations which made it possible to produce new, sometimes quite revolutionary, weapons. And if the US track record on ground operations was rather modest, the US did prove to be a most capable adversary in naval and aerial warfare. I don’t think that it can be denied that for most of the years following WWII the US had the most powerful and sophisticated navy and airforce in the world. Then, gradually, things started getting worse and worse as the costs of the very expensive ships and aircraft shot through the roof while the quality of the produced systems appeared to be gradually degrading. Weapons systems which looked nothing short of awesome in the lab and test grounds proved to be almost useless once they to to their end user on the battlefield. What happened? How did a country which produced the UH-1 Huey or the F-16 suddenly start producing Apaches and F-35s?! The explanation is painfully simple: corruption.

http://www.unz.com/tsaker/the-empire-should-be-placed-on-suicide-watch/

The entire linked article is worth reading, particularly the two sections on national suicide (Political Suicide and Foreign Policy Suicide). Note I am recommending this for reading and contemplation, and perhaps discussion. This is not a blanket endorsement, particularly of his criticism of Generals Petraeus and Mathis. The politicization of the nation’s military leadership is manifest, but it too needs discussion at another timed; and of course we may look forward to considerable reform. Mr. Trump was not known for appointment of incompetent political cronies to run portions of his financial empire. Draining the swamp is not going to be simple nor will it be quick given the world situation.

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President Trump has gone all out for passage of the health care bill; he made a promise that he would repeal Obamacare and replace it with something better. The current bill does not appear to be “conservative” enough, and the Freedom Caucus is willing to stick us with Obamacare until we get near perfection. Their reasoning is that we will never get more than we ask for, and this bill is nowhere near perfect; get a perfect bill through the House, let the Senate reject it, and the Democrats now own Obamacare just in time for the 2018 elections with waves of Democratic Senators up for reelection in Red states.

President Trump is apparently working a different strategy; since this bill will fail in the Senate, the Democrats will own Obamacare anyway. Obamacare is a disaster, and will be repealed, leaving us with the situation we had before the midnight lame duck passage of Obamacare. And that – well, at this point I find myself saying beedee, beedee, beedee…

It is pointless to comment on this now, because the “news” changes every hour and nothing is certain. I continue to believe that President Trump is a very competent man, and if he is crazy he is crazy like a fox.

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Justice Department warned White House that Flynn could be vulnerable to Russian blackmail, officials say

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/justice-department-warned-white-house-that-flynn-could-be-vulnerable-to-russian-blackmail-officials-say/2017/02/13/fc5dab88-f228-11e6-8d72-263470bf0401_story.html?utm_term=.093f89ca8cc8

By Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Philip Rucker February 13

The acting attorney general informed the Trump White House late last month that she believed Michael Flynn had misled senior administration officials about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and warned that the national security adviser was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail, current and former U.S. officials said.

The message, delivered by Sally Q. Yates and a senior career national security official to the White House counsel, was prompted by concerns that ­Flynn, when asked about his calls and texts with the ­Russian diplomat, had told Vice ­President-elect Mike Pence and others that he had not discussed the Obama administration sanctions on Russia for its interference in the 2016 election, the officials said. It is unclear what the White House counsel, Donald McGahn, did with the ­information.

The one thing we are certain of is that revealing that if a government agency taps a non-citizen’s telephone, and that phone is used in a conversation with a US Citizen, the situation changes instantly; the conversation, especially including the identity of the Citizen, becomes highly classified, and access to that identity and conversation is greatly restricted; consequently there must be a record of who told Ms. Yates and the as yet unidentified senior career national security official must know who told them the details of the conversation and the identity of t. General Flynn. There is also the question of who told them what Flynn told the Vice President about the conversation? They were, they say, concerned that Lt. Gen. Flynn might be blackmailed because he had not told the Vice President about the sanctions that then President Obama imposed on Russia the day before the phone call. The Russian Ambassador did not ask Lt. Gen Flynn, then the National Security Advisor designate for President Elect Trump how Mr. Trump, as President, would react to a Russian counter-sanction deporting 31 American diplomatic families in retaliation? Or he did but Lt. Gen. Flynn did not tell the Vice President this? Really? But Ms. Yates had a transcript of the call, and inferred that Flynn could be blackmailed, and the President ought to know.

And no one is asking her who told her the details, not only about the admittedly tapped telephone from Trump Tower to the Russian Ambassador, but also the conversation between Flynn and the Vice President. How did she know what Flynn told the VP? No Congressperson seems to have asked that question. Do they already know, or have they been hit with a stupid stick?

Very odd. Very Odd indeed.

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I just saw this:

The Flynn leak

“if a warranted tap of a non-US Citizen’s phone discloses and records a conversation with a US Citizen – which of course Lt. Gen. Flynn is – then special rules apply to dissemination of any information, specifically including the identity of the citizen. “
When does a leak become a leak? Can the guy (or gal) who actually recorded the conversation discuss this with his or her bosses? Does it become a felony as soon as this is mentioned to anyone else within the agency. Or does it remain OK as long as the ID of the caller and the content remain confined to people with high security clearances, and they treat that information as if it were confidential, and not to be widely shared? Does the Acting Attorney General of the US have a high enough security clearance to be briefed on the matter (or does the law specifically prohibit that kind of notification)?
Perhaps they need to start by looking at who within the Trump administration was notified. Do we know for certain that this leak wasn’t done by one of Trump’s own people, someone jockeying for position within the new administration? Some of those folks might not be quite as familiar with government policy in this area, and might not have understood the gravity of leaking information to take out a potential rival.

Craig

Since we know nothing, I have no answer. Sally Yates was an Obama holdover and instantly went to work as a Democrat political operative on being fired as Acting Attorney General. Somehow she knew what Lt. Gen. Flynn discussed with the Russian Ambassador in that call from thee Trump Tower just after President Obama deported 31 Russian diplomats and families, and also that Flynn did not tell the VP about the discussion of Obama’s sanctions or Putin’s lack of retaliation; how she knew what Flynn told the VP is not known to anyone I know; but I find it unbelievable that no one in Trump Tower knew all about that phone call, since it was known there that Flynn was making it.

 

Here is all I know:

 

Husband of fired AG top donor to Dems, Obama

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/husband-of-fired-ag-top-donor-to-dems-obama/article/2613466

https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/deputy-attorney-general-sally-q-yates-delivers-remarks-new-york-city-bar-association

https://www.palmerreport.com/politics/sally-yates-testify-trump-russia-house-intel/1828/

 

Ms. Yates was said to be on the witness list for the Congressional investigation back in February, but I find no record that she did. I’d have thought she’d be the first person called, but I’m not in Congress. Those inside the Beltway think differently from the rest of us.

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Wiretapping “Investigation”

Hello again, Dr. Pournelle –
In your Chaos Manor of Mar 20 you said of wiretapgate – to coin a phrase – “That’s the interesting investigation. Have we any agents with the competence to conduct it?”
I think you used the wrong “c” word.
Not “competence” but “cojones.”
Keep well!
Cam Kirmser

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re- Doctors that kill and B-‘s dad.

Jerry

I had B’s experience in mind when I asked my question: “Do you want to die?” I really expected, given what the wife and the doctors said, the patient would nod his head Yes. But he was like my own dad and indicated NO. People like B’s dad really should make out living wills in addition to healthcare proxies. What I really like about the story was that doctor who noted that he had seen a miraculous response. He slowed down the action until he knew which way the guy would go, then advised B and his mom. Fine story. Deftly illustrates that end of life care is an art, and relies on the experience of human beings. Cut and dry rules don’t cover it.

Ed

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How Leonardo DiCaprio Can Persuade Me on Climate… buffy willow

Jerry

This, from Scott Adams’ blog:

http://blog.dilbert.com/post/158549646496/how-leonardo-dicaprio-can-persuade-me-on-climate

“ . . . If you want to convince me that climate change is real, the best approach is to abandon the current method that packages climate models in a fashion that is identical to well-known scams. (Or hoaxes, if you prefer.) . . . By the way, my educational background is in economics and business. And for years, my corporate jobs involved making complex financial projections about budgets. In other words, I was perpetuating financial fraud within the company, by order of my boss. He told me to pretend my financial projections were real, and I did. But they were not real. My predictions were in line with whatever my boss told me they would be. I “tuned” my assumptions until I got my boss’s answer.”

Thought the perspective is interesting.

Ed

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Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

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Improvement and Frustration; Investigations; Penrose and Strong AI; and other important matters

Monday, March 20, 2017

“The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.”

Donald Trump

If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983

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One of the improvements they have made to Word is that it comes up with a list of things you’ve done recently and an offer to open the one you choose. These are only the recent documents themselves, not the folders they were in, which may save you time but can also be confusing if you don’t remember where they were. At the bottom of this list is the choice of “Open Other Documents, but if you are operating at less than full screen mode, you may not see it: I went up to the monk’s cell to work on fiction today, only to find in the travails around here someone had unplugged the power strip into which Zen, my USUS ZenBook laptop is plugged, resulting in near discharge of the computer, a bit of panic because the power strip was also turned off, and turning it on didn’t help. Eventually I found that it was also unplugged, but not before I – oh. Well. I needn’t burden you with details. I got it working and all’s well.

But I hadn’t worked on the interstellar colony book in a while, and it wasn’t a choice I was given for opening it; the window was sized just right to make the “Open Other Documents” choice invisible; and I’d forgotten where it was. There’s no key that just opens Word with the ribbon and the choice of looking for what you what – the ‘File’ menu. More panic, which is against the first rule, but it’s sometimes hard to control, especially if it’s tempered with previous panic and perhaps a bit of resentment for someone having let the computer go unpowered. Finally I hit on the bright idea of opening a blank document, which produced the ribbon, which produced “File” which produces the drop down menu that lets you go find what you wanted to work on. Unfortunately I was in fiction mode and all this shifted me into reporting mode, and I was pretty much stuck there, so I didn’t get much done. Tomorrow ought to be better.

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It’s after dinner, and the news is full of “Investigations”, none of which are meant to find truth, but to cover things up unless they embarrass the politicians the finder doesn’t like. Millions have been spent, not counting the supposedly valuable time of the Senators and Members of Congress involved, and what has been found?

One wiretapping we know of, and knew about before the investigations started: the conversation originating in Trump Tower between Lt. General Flynn, then advisor to President-elect Donald Trump, and the Russian Ambassador. We know that conversation was listened to by US security agents, because it resulted in one felony we know of, the leaking of Flynn’s identity as having spoken to Ambassador Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak on a wiretapped call.

General Clapper says no FISA warrant to tap the Trump Tower lines was ever issued. Various others have said that no US agency ever tapped the Trump Tower telephones, and you can believe as much of that as you want to. The inference is that the Russian Ambassador’s telephone was tapped, and that is how the Flynn to Kislyak call was transcribed; presumably with a FISA warrant, since no other warrant record is found; and of course the United States would never tap a telephone without a warrant. You may believe as much of that as you want to.

But whatever warrant was used, one thing is black letter law: if a warranted tap of a non-US Citizen’s phone discloses and records a conversation with a US Citizen – which of course Lt. Gen. Flynn is – then special rules apply to dissemination of any information, specifically including the identity of the citizen. Violation of that rule is a felony.

And therefore there must be a record of everyone who was officially informed of that phone call, including the person who informed Acting Attorney General Sally Yates. Every one of those is required to keep a record of everyone informed of the name of the citizen involved. If they did not make and keep such a record, penalties apply; and surely Yates knows who told her. The President has a right to know this identity.

It may be difficult to identify the person who leaked Lt. Gen. Flynn’s name, along with a transcript of the call, to the public, although given the restrictions on who can have access to that it can’t be a long list. The leaker is guilty of a black letter law felony, and should be found and prosecuted, and this wasn’t a computer hack or mistake; this was a deliberate and willful felony by someone who knew very well that it was a felony. And who did that felon conspire with?

That’s the interesting investigation. Have we any agents with the competence to conduct it?

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President Andrew Jackson famously said, “John Marshall has made his decision. Now let him enforce it. “ A Hawaiian judge has issued orders to the executive branch. For a commentary and some discussion, see http://www.breitbart.com/radio/2017/03/16/robert-barnes-trump-could-go-full-andrew-jackson-ignore-interference-activist-judges/ . I do not recommend invoking the inevitable Constitutional Crisis that would result, but clearly if this sort of judicial interference in powers granted by the Constitution to the Executive continue to be usurped by judges appointed for life, such a move is eventually inevitable.

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What if we go through the judicial process for deporting someone, but the home country refuses to admit him? He came here with a Ruritanian passport and visa and Ruritania doesn’t want him back; what now?

First, of course, we immediately cease to honor Ruritanian visas, and admit no more Ruritanians. That ought to be automatic. Of course some Ruritanian legally resident in the US will then sue to have a federal judge declare that unconstitutional and demand the right to be visited by his Ruritanian relatives, but we can ignore that one for a moment. Secondly, we can cease all aid to Ruritania; there may be none, but it is likely there will be quite a lot. Congress could also levy a 100% tariff on all imports from Ruritania. But assume Ruritania will not relent: they don’t want this dude nohow, and that’s that.

One thing we could do: auction the deportee off. We will pay $XX to the country that accepts him. Lowest bid wins. Perhaps that is a bit harsh, but it can be negotiated. Realistically, though, this is a real problem.

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A few web tabs I’ve kept open; this is not a recommendation or condemnation; just pointing to them. I’m about to close some;

 

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170315-the-invention-of-heterosexuality

http://dailysignal.com/2017/03/12/the-daily-signal-wont-be-bullied-by-the-establishment-media/?utm_source=TDS_Email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Top5&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTXprelpHUmxZamRqTTJRNCIsInQiOiJ0U3R4SVBFenpRSUh6aVB5emFNa2M2Uld0enV2d2EySVVLeU5HUmZWMld5WVA4YnNnY01cL1JRTzFvRzQyUU5tdW1MK2N4V2dkdUJrXC81M2N5emw1NlVBcmFMUzZkQ0tZU2VIRmpLWjhaVk45MlFyeHZHU3VYMkozcXJCRFlhck4wIn0%3D

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/03/space-travel-wont-save-you-from-capitalism/518853/

 

https://www.reddit.com/r/The_Donald/comments/5zovs7/holy_mother_of_mary_i_just_inadvertently/

http://exiledonline.com/malcolm-gladwell-unmasked-a-look-into-the-life-work-of-america%E2%80%99s-most-successful-propagandist/

 

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Limbaugh: We’re on the Verge of a Constitutional Crisis.

<https://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2017/03/17/were-on-the-verge-of-a-constitutional-crisis/>

—————————————

Roland Dobbins

I’ve said that too. We’ll just have to see.

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New Study Suggests Our Understanding of Brain Cells Is Flawed, and Here’s Why.

<http://www.sciencealert.com/new-study-says-our-understanding-of-our-brain-cells-is-flawed-and-that-s-a-big-deal>

—–

“A fundamental belief in neuroscience has been that neurons are digital devices. They either generate a spike or not. These results show that the dendrites do not behave purely like a digital device,” said Mehta.

“Dendrites do generate digital, all-or-none spikes, but they also show large analogue fluctuations that are not all or none. This is a major departure from what neuroscientists have believed for about 60 years.”

—–

I’ve always thought Penrose had a strong argument on the nature of consciousness. This seems to support his stance on the (in)feasibility of strong AI.

—————————————

Roland Dobbins

It’s worth a lot more discussion than I have time for just now. Penrose is always worth paying attention to.

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Robots With Human Level Intelligence

https://www.markmanspivotalpoint.com/robotics/here-comes-i-robot-a-decade-early/?sc=PP-E

“In a little over a decade, the next evolution of human beings starts. According to a noted engineer and futurist, that’s when we can expect brain implants that will link us to supercomputers.”

Actually that description reminds me much more of “Oath of Fealty” than “I, Robot”.

Charles Brumbelow

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ADA to UC Berkeley: take free lectures offline

A DOJ ruling on an ADA complaint made by students at Gallaudet University resulted in UC Berkeley taking down 20,000 free online lecture videos to avoid the cost of adding closed captioning to all 20,000 videos.
https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/03/06/u-california-berkeley-delete-publicly-available-educational-content

Joel

Tragic but predictable. And more of that to come. It can only harm; there is no benefit.

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SteynPost #9 – Steyn on Sweden – YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUPgfEM9OzM

Mike

Interesting,

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EM Drive redux

Hope you finally have all your locusts (and termites) under control.
I just ran across a short-short called “Toy Story” by Harry Harrison which seems to be to be a perfect explanation for the progression of the EM Drive. It’s in the public domain at Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/22966/22966-h/22966-h.htm
I found it in an anthology:

England Sends Soldiers to Russian Border

According to this tabloid, England is sending almost an entire battalion of soldiers to the Russian border…. Almost a battalion but they’re sending more armor:

<.>

Britain is sending 800 assault troops to Europe’s border with Russia in the UK’s largest military deployment against Moscow since the Cold War.

An advance spearhead of more than 120 soldiers flew to Estonia to bolster the nation’s defences against the military might of Vladimir Putin.

Backed by 300 armoured vehicles including Challenger 2 tanks, the force will swell to 800 within weeks.

It is part of a huge NATO operation in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland to strengthen 700 miles of Eastern Europe’s borders with Russia.

</>

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/british-troops-join-showdown-again-10049584?service=responsive

I tried to find more reputable sources to confirm this and what I found was interesting; troop movements from the UK of this character are common under conditions where tensions with Russia rise. Also aircraft and other assets are often committed in similar numbers of several hundred but nearly always under a thousand in terms of both personnel and materiel.

I also confirmed this story via Reuters, MSN, and other “mainstream”

sources. But, I heard about it first from a populist aggregation that listed the tabloid as the initial source of the story. However, Reuters mentioned that NATO plans to add 4,000 troops to the area on a rotational basis. That’s about four battalions, which generally means nothing in military terms but might help create populist revolts, and support for war, if those soldiers died in an attack. Ah the joys of political and social capital.

https://www.reuters.tv/v/FkF/2017/03/18/over-120-british-soldiers-arrive-in-estonia

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

Massive troop movements are used as diplomatic signals, and to prevent border incidents. Presumably all parties know this; and it’s European matter. I hope.

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Oregon Descends to Feudalism?

It seems that we are going into feudal society after all. How is

this any different from making homeowners into lords of the homeless?

The more property you own, the more peasants on your land. I understand this is a simplification and I’m speculating on what could happen in the future, but I see this as part of the overall trend:

<.>

With more than $300,000 and volunteer homeowners, Multnomah County has a new idea to fight homelessness: Build tiny houses in people’s backyards and rent them out to families with children now living on the street.

The homeowners would pay nothing for the construction. They would become landlords and maintain the units for homeless families for five years.

Then the tiny houses would become theirs to do with what they want. If the homeowners break the contract before then, they pay the cost of construction.

</>

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2017/03/multnomah_county_wants_to_ince.html

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

Industrial feudalism — more local control – may be an answer to the modern age. Probably not, but let Oregon try it. Of course that’s not really feudalism.

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Doctors Who Kill

My father suffered with heart trouble in his later years (heavy smoker).  

He had such a massive heart attack he was lucky to survive it and

ended up on experimental medication to control his heartbeat.

Eventually luck ran out and his heart went into a fatal rhythm.

 

The paramedics managed to bring him back, but his brain was

without oxygen for too long.  So there he was on life support.

The doctor said he had a patient (much younger than Dad)

have this very thing happen to him and after treatment walked

out of the hospital on his own power.  The doctor ‘pinched’

Dad’s toe and just barely got a response.  After several days

of this the doctor said he did not expect Dad to get any better.

 

So Mom and I decided to pull the plug.

We were fortunate for him to have made his wishes clear

many years before about not wanting to live as ‘some kind 

of freak’, so there was no doubt what he would have chosen

if he had the capacity to choose.

 

This can potentially open up a long discussion about

Situational Ethics. How far gone does someone have to be before the quality

of life has deteriorated to where it is no longer worth it, and

how is something like that measured?  

B-

It is when the circumstances are not so clear that discretion enters the picture; and here is not always a rational solution.

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Alexa worth it?

Dr. Pournelle,
IMO, Alexa is not worth learning, and is difficult to turn off. If my only interaction with Amazon was frequent shopping for a small number of standard items, then perhaps it would be more valuable. Like Cortana, it seems to have a big local machine processor, network, and memory footprint, and I believe that there are privacy and personal security issues with the application. I’ve tried to disable it on my Kindles, and attempted to keep it disabled on my other devices, but the settings and administrative interface is pretty obscure to me.
Cheers,
-d

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War in Space is Becoming a Real Threat

Dr. Pournelle,
Please only use my alias Terrier1 for this posting. Do not publish my real name. Thank you:
The Washington Post figured out what has been known among readers of this site for a long time: that war in space is a real possibility.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/war-in-space-is-becoming-a-real-threat/2017/03/16/af3c35ac-0a8f-11e7-a15f-a58d4a988474_story.html?utm_term=.c60d3db3d139
Maybe Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon.com, the Washington Post, and the Blue Origins private space program, has figured out that war in space can be a threat or a source of revenue to Blue Origins.
Terrier1

I doubt that. Mr. Bezos has never preferred quick profit to long term structure and long term gains. Remember when the joke was that Amazon might make a profit next year?

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Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

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