Ashley Madison

A few weeks ago, hackers claimed to have stolen a wealth of data from the website Ashley Madison, a site that purports to enable people to have extra-marital affairs. They claimed this would reveal real-life details of millions of Ashley Madison users and threatened to release this data if Ashley Madison didn’t close shop. They then released it this week. Several prominent people have been outed as well as several not-so-prominent people and that’s just in the first few days.

One of the more interesting things to come out of this is a look at how Ashley Madison actually functions. There have been allegations for years that Ashley Madison was overpromising, to say the least. There were allegations that the gender ratio was massively skewed and that thousands of fake profiles were on the site to separate men from their money (you have to pay for interactions through the site). The release of the data seems to confirm some of these allegations, which would make Ashley Madison sleazy even by the standards of … uh … sites that enable adultery.

So how much adultery are we talking about here? Ashley Madison claims to have 37 million members, but most estimates I’ve seen indicate, at most, two million active users. Furthermore, a lot of them are just playing around and not actually having affairs. Dan Savage:

There are lots of “fakes and flakes” on hookup sites and apps. Talk to anyone who has actually looked for sex partners online and they’ll bitch about about the flakes and fakes who wasted their time. They’ll bitch about all the people—scores of them, some of them dogs—who exchanged text messages with them, swapped sexy photos with them, and shared their fantasies with them and then disappeared on them—went silent, ghosted them, blocked their numbers—when it was time to meet up and fuck. Sometimes they disappeared on them after making concrete plans to meet up and fuck. So finding spouse’s name on Ashely Madison—if you decide to search for it—doesn’t mean your spouse ever intended to cheat on you.

Of course, to a lot of people, especially women, the difference between a spouse who planned to cheat and one who actually did is academic. I have some sympathy for people who feel trapped in loveless or sexless marriages and want some intimacy. If people want to have open marriages or whatever, that’s their lookout (although the key word there is “open”, not deceptive). But in the end, the Ashley Madison users were people looking to have a cheap affair. Maggie, from my first link:

One of my serious university boyfriends (he was 28 when I was 19) once told me, “Maggie, nobody can take advantage of you unless you have larceny in your heart.” It took me a while to understand what he meant, which is this: There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, and anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something. Ashley Madison holds out the promise of something for nothing: Extracurricular sex without monetary cost, commitment or risk. But as with all such offers, it’s a lie: Pussy costs, and free pussy is the most expensive kind. And Noel Biderman, AKA “Ashley Madison”, has figured out a way to tack on a hefty surcharge.

Exactly. Ashley Madison makes money not just off of deception and infidelity but off of gullibility. Its users wanted to believe they could have an affair without complications or expense. Many bought into this fantasy so hard that they couldn’t be bothered to get an anonymous gmail or hotmail account, using their work e-mail accounts (including many government employees). Hell, I have two anonymous e-mails accounts and the only thing I’m cheating on is sleep.

Despite the vileness of Ashley Madison and the stupidity of their clients, I am however getting increasingly uncomfortable with the gloating over this. It’s really not my business what other people are doing with their lives. Rolling in the details of this mass doxing like a dog in a dead possum is just awful. So I will not be commenting on anyone whose name comes out, even if it’s some hypocritical religious right figure or prominent politician. Glenn Greenwald:

That the cheating scoundrels of Ashley Madison got what they deserved was a widespread sentiment yesterday. Despite how common both infidelity and online pornography are, tweets expressing moralistic glee were legion. Websites were created to enable easy searches of the hacked data by email address. An Australian radio station offered to tell listeners on air if their spouse’s names appeared in the data base, and informed one horrified woman caller that her husband did.

It’s hard to overstate the devastation to some people’s lives from having their names published as part of this hack: not only to their relationships with their spouses and children but to their careers, reputations, and – depending on where they live – possibly their liberty or even life. What appears on the internet is permanent and inescapable. All of the people whose names appear in this data base will now be permanently branded with a digital “A.” Whether they actually did what they are accused of will be irrelevant: digital lynch mobs offer no due process or appeals. And it seems certain that many of the people whose lives are harmed, or ruined, by this hack will have been guilty of nothing.

In short, everything is awful. Ashley Madison is awful for offering this service and milking desperate men for every dime they could get. The people who used Ashley Madison were greedy and stupid. The hackers are awful for putting this information out there, no matter how much they try to cloak it in social justice rhetoric. And the people digging through the database and gloating over the suffering of cheaters and cheatees are awful.

I don’t have any political slant on this. The government should go after people who hack databases no matter how slimy the victims or how noble the sentiment. It’s not like the hackers were exposing government abuses of power or something.

She must think she is royalty or something

One of our credentialed intellectual superiors that thinks they belong to a special class that absolves them from the plethora of laws and regulations they foist on us peons, again showed us how broken our legal system really is. Mrs. Clinton, whom believes America owns her the title of POTUS because it is her turn, again shows how little respect she has for the system she seeks the highest office of. In a display of disconnect with reality that should frighten anyone with a modicum of intelligence, she answered questions querying the possibility that her people, under her direction, had wiped her highly illegal mail servers with the stupid kind of snark she believes shows her superiority to the rest of us rubes who she would have no problem turning the partisan legal system out on. Note that having such servers, let alone destroying evidence like she did when people found out about them and asked her to deliver that evidence for legal evaluation, would have landed anyone else in jail because they would be violation of congressional laws put in place to safeguard sensitive and secret information. Others have been punished – harshly – for far less than what is obvious to everyone was done by her and her staff.

I am not sure if she was just flaunting the fact that she believed she was above the law by wearing that ugly orange jump suit, or if she subconsciously was making another snarky remark for the jail time anyone else that had committed this string of crimes would be facing. This medusa must have some serious shit on the Obama administration. The lack of action by the legal entities in this administration, especially after they so vigorously crucified others for far less, is astounding. They have to know how the general populous is viewing this freak show, but its as if they don’t care. Then again, Obama is also a crime boss and believes himself royalty as well, so maybe it is just one crime boss helping out another. I for one have held for a long time that I would never trust the corrupted system run by agents of the left to fairly treat someone like me while on the other hand allowing one of their own to get away with practically anything, and so much of what has transpired over the last 7 years prove that I was right to feel that way.

Making Black Lives Really Matter

I can’t believe I’m going to say this but … ahem … is this thing on? … I agree with Hillary Clinton.

Last week, she met with members of the Black Lives Matter movement. Hillary has a lot to answer for. As First Lady and then as Senator she actively supported the harsh prison sentences and militarized police tactics that have led to two million Americans being incarcerated, millions more under some kind of supervision and cops with assault weapons and body armor assaulting Americans mostly for drugs.

The 2016 candidate even gave suggestions to the activists, telling them that without a concrete plan their movement will get nothing but “lip service from as many white people as you can pack into Yankee Stadium and a million more like it.”

“Look, I don’t believe you change hearts,” Clinton said, arguing that the movement can’t change deep seated racism. “I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You’re not going to change every heart. You’re not. But at the end of the day, we could do a whole lot to change some hearts and change some systems and create more opportunities for people who deserve to have them, to live up to their own God-given potential.”

She is absolutely correct, although probably for reasons she would disagree with. I think it was P.J. O’Rourke who defined a statist as someone who thinks government can change human nature. Government can not make people less racist, assuming that racism is the problem here. Government can, however, make itself less powerful, less intrusive, more accountable and more respectful of our basic civil liberties. In other words, it can create a system whereby human weaknesses and failings — greed, power-lust or even racism — have less ability to damage the lives of its citizens.

She’s also right about Black Lives Matter. Right now, they don’t have any solid proposals for how to deal with any of the problems they are worried about. They are reminding me increasingly of Occupy Wall Street which had an issue (wealth inequality, bailouts) but no idea of what to do about it.

Raising awareness is a good thing. But ultimately, it has to be followed by concrete action or it’s just noise. And I’ll give Mrs. Clinton credit for saying so.

The Biggest Corporate Welfare

Scott Walker — supposed conservative — has become just the latest politician to dole out a few hundred million in corporate welfare:

Last year, two New York City hedge fund owners purchased the Milwaukee Bucks, a down-at-the-heels N.B.A. team. The new owners smiled, took a victory lap around this handsome lakeside city and laid down their terms.

We’ll keep the Bucks in Milwaukee, the owners said, if the public foots half the cost of a $500 million arena. (The owners spoke of their “moral obligation” to the city and pledged $100 million toward their arena, with the remainder coming from other private funds.) N.B.A. officials acted as muscle for the owners and warned that if Wisconsin did not cough up this money within a year’s time, the league would move the team to Las Vegas or Seattle.

These opening feints were right out of the professional sports owner handbook. From start to desultory end, Milwaukee offered a case study in all that is wrong with our arena-shakedown age.

Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill Wednesday to subsidize the arena, which could cost the public twice as much as originally projected. Echoing the owners’ arguments, the governor proclaimed that the arena, a practice complex and a promised “entertainment district” would spur a renaissance for downtown Milwaukee and attract tourists. Income taxes paid by the pro athletes, the governor said, would fill local coffers.

The governor is repeating the standard mantra of stadium extortionists everywhere. It is categorical nonsense. Twenty years of economic research has shown that the economic benefits of stadiums are somewhere between non-existent and slightly negative. Sports teams mostly affect how people spend their money, not if. It is true that that taxes paid by the athletes would pay for a stadium … in a century.

The ability of extremely rich men who own extremely successful business to extract hundreds of millions in public welfare from cash-strapped cities and states is baffling. The lack of benefits of stadium building has been known for years, but sports teams, including my Braves, are still able to work this scam to perfection.

In reality, the power should flow the other way. Sports teams benefit from being in big cities way more than the big cities benefit from having sports teams. Do you think the Yankees would be making hundreds of millions of dollars if they moved to Louisville? They still got a billion dollars in subsidies for their stadium. Would the Milwaukee Bucks, sans subsidies, make more money in Vegas or Seattle than they do in Milwaukee? I doubt it. Seattle just gave up a basketball team and Las Vegas has … um … a lot more than a sports team going for it.

The most recent baseball team that moved was the Montreal Expos. That move benefited the Expos way way more than it benefited Washington. They went from an empty stadium and minimal revenue to a full stadium and overflowing coffers. Sports teams should be begging to play in the big markets, not holding them for ransom.

There are two problems that underlay the subsidies to sports. The first is plain ordinary corruption. It’s not just sports stadiums; cities invest tens of millions into “big projects” that are going “stimulate the economy” and “revitalize downtown”. When I was growing up in Atlanta, we heard those same arguments dragged out for Underground Atlanta, World of Coca Cola and the Olympics. Yet, somehow, it didn’t work. The area around the Olympic Stadium (later Turner Field) was still a dump. Sports teams have an advantage in terms of visibility and the ability to give guaranteed luxury seats to powerful politicians. But fundamentally, this shakedown goes on every day. And sports teams have become very skilled in doling out cash to local community groups and working lobbyists so that they can ride that well-greased track.

The problem that is more specific to sports teams is a basic prisoner’s dilemma. Everyone knows that cities would be better off not caving into the demands of sports teams. But the cities and states are afraid of losing their teams to other cities and states that give in. They could say “no” but it only works if everyone else does too. What you would need is for state and city governments to sign onto a compact: no city or state will subsidize a sports stadium … ever.

That won’t happen, of course, because politicians love this. Scott Walker is far, far from the only politician doling out this particular brand of corporate welfare. The political class love it because they get to claim credit for keeping a sports team in town and building a huge stadium. They love it because it sounds good to say your going to stimulate the economy, even if the stimulus never happens (see Obama, Barack). They get wined and dined by rich team owners and corporate sponsors.

It’s a win-win. The only people who lose are the taxpayers and, really, who cares what those plebs think?

She obviously did this because she had nothing to hide!

Democrats are fucking criminals. Have no doubt about it. The son of a bitch in the WH has been running his administration like a crime syndicate boss for close to 7 years now, and his underlings are no better. In fact, the leading democrat according to all the intelligentsia, just had to professionally wipe her illegal email servers because she didn’t want anyone to know the depths of these people’s depravity. In fact, I suspect that the main reason the Obama admin does nothing about this is because this stuff was horribly damaging to their racket as well. This nation no longer is one of laws, but one of connected people, and the only people getting privileged treatment are those that serve the democratic machine.

Can anyone imagine any republican getting away with the dismantling of the US legal system, the abuses of power by government agencies, and the outright disregard for the people of this country like these democrats get away with? I know we get told they are evil and bad, but even Nixon got stopped for asking the IRS to do something illegal. These crooks are breaking the law every fucking second of the day, and the media gives them a pass. This country is doomed.

Clinton on Education: MAWR MONEY!

One of the reason I harp on Trump: Hillary Clinton is slowly unveiling her ideas for running the country. And they are terrible:

Today, Hillary Clinton is beginning the launch of her plan to allegedly make college more accessible to Americans without forcing them into huge loads of debt. Her plan has a price tag estimate of $350 billion over 10 years.

Half that money would be granted to states that agree to increase their own education spending with the goal of having “no loan” four-year degrees. It would be made for by tax hikes on the rich, as always.

This is mind-bogglingly stupid. The reason college costs have gone up so dramatically is because of the bottomless promise of the Feds to pay for it. Yes, states have cut the amount they spend on higher ed. But between grants and loans, the Feds have more than made up for it. And by simply pouring trainloads of money into higher ed, the Feds have eliminated any incentive for efficiency.

It gets worse. A substantial amount of the money would be used to encourage colleges to do the very thing that has made higher education so expensive:

To improve the nation’s 60 percent college graduation rate, Clinton would offer grants to schools that invest in child care, emergency financial aid and other interventions to boost completion. Students entering college are older and have more family responsibilities than those a generation ago, yet many institutions have been slow to respond to their needs. Investing in on-campus support systems could help, as could Clinton’s proposal to allow federal student aid to be used for online career training programs offering badges or certificates, rather than degrees.

In other words, Clinton wants college to invest yet more money in administration. This is precisely the problem higher education is having. Over the last two decades, faculty hires have been flat. Many universities now depend on adjunct faculty who are poorly paid. Meanwhile, the number of administrator have soared as have their salaries. And yet Clinton wants them to do more of this.

So, under Clinton, we would basically spend $350 billion to do … exactly what we’ve been doing for the last twenty years. And this is the best the Democratic Party has to offer right now.

First Debate

Surprise! I actually watched (most of) tonight’s debate, around tucking kids into bed. I must say that Fox News did a good job moderating, going after the candidates in a way that the MSM has completely failed to go after Clinton. Megyn Kelly, in particular, asked some tough questions. This is a good thing for the GOP because it will help separate the contenders from the pretenders.

My quick take:

Marcio Rubio did very well (despite the tough abortion question). He was relaxed, genial and had a grasp on the struggles of the middle class. I think — or maybe hope is the right word — that he has put himself back into the conversation.

I was unimpressed by Bush. No one laid a glove on him but he didn’t really make the case to me that he should be the front-runner. To be honest, I was kind of reminded of Romney in 2012. It seemed like Bush just didn’t want to get bloodied while the other candidates took each other out. “Last man standing” worked for Romney, but it may not be enough this time.

I was surprisingly unimpressed by Walker. He didn’t do badly but he didn’t jump out at me either and I’m having trouble, 15 minutes after the debate ended, remembering anything significant he said. This is part of Walker’s style, though.

I have really soured on Mike Huckabee. He’s big government in every way — a massive social conservative and opposed to any meaningful budget cuts. He’s also a supporter of the Fair Tax gimmick, which I oppose.

I liked Ben Carson a lot, not necessarily as a candidate but as a person. Of all the candidates, he seemed the most likable and the least politicized and the most unaffected by the spotlight. But he also didn’t show any credibility on policy and seemed to disappear at times. He would definitely win the “who would you like to have a beer with” competition (Rand would call for straight whiskey). His line about how we are our minds and not our skin was moving.

John Kasich made the case that he belong in the race, giving a great answer on gay marriage and highlighting his solid experience. I expect him to stay in this for a while.

I was once very high on Chris Christie, but I don’t think he brings anything unique to the table (other than flogging his 9/11 experience, which is not as impressive as he thinks). And his record in New Jersey is poor.

Rand Paul didn’t impress me that much either, I must say. I like Paul in the mix and I like him in the Senate. I think his chances of winning the nomination are basically zero.

Ted Cruz and Donald Trump had some one liners but neither seemed to make any real statement that they should be President.

I didn’t see the “kids table” debate earlier in the day but I’m told that the only candidate who did well was Fiorina. I’m not surprised. She’s very smart and savvy and she’s the only one that I think has a chance of getting back onto the big stage. I think there’s a very good chance she will be the Vice Presidential nominee.

So, right now, my impression of the candidates is:

Front-runners: Bush, Walker, Trump
Back in the Coversation: Rubio, Kasich
Call it a Night, Fellas: Christie, Cruz, Paul, Carson, Huckabee

YMMV.