Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Talking about Big Data will give you goosebumps!

Doug:
One of the things I worry about most these days is people mining Big Data and finding ways to manipulate us. Some of the studies of Big Data are interesting, insightful, and funny. For example, The NYTimes reported on a Google analysis of the most misspelled words, state-by-state:

Google conducted a state-by-state analysis of the most commonly misspelled words for the first four months of 2017.
Indiana's most checked-on word was "hallelujah" and Pennsylvania's was "sauerkraut." That, no doubt, says something about our respective locales. Wisconsin's most-searched misspelling was "wisconsin."

But such analysis can also find what we find irresistible. For example, here is a study on social media headlines by BuzzSumo:

The article, wryly titled "This Study on the Most Effective Facebook Headlines Will Make You Cry Tears of Recognition," shows what works and what doesn't, in attracting eyeballs. Of course, just getting you to read something isn't worrisome manipulation. However, combine that with fake news, and we're in trouble.

David:
This just seems to be Advertising 101. Tag lines to get your attention have always been used to entice readers to take a longer peek at specific ads. "Be the first to impress your friends by using our new and improved widget! But wait! Buy it now and we'll include a once-in-a-lifetime guaranteed offer of a second widget at no additional fee! Hurry, as quantities are limited!" How many thousands of times have we heard that message?

Are you saying that there is something new and improved with big data collection?

Doug:
Yes, there are new things with these techniques, but not "improved" from our perspective. If you combine fine-grained details (like misspellings per state, or county) with targeted, effective headlines, you get "advertising" that works. But I'm not worried about this from a sales perspective; I'm worried about this combined with fake news. Now you are sold lies to get you to believe something that isn't true.

David:
Not true. We get these sales pitches all the time, yet we can spot a lemon or snake oil salesman. An effective ad may get your attention, but it doesn't make you purchase something. You still have to make that decision yourself. Fake news headlines are the same. Remember the National Enquirer back in the 1970's and 80's? Headlines about Elvis and alien babies certainly grab your attention, but few believed such nonsense. Fake news is more sophisticated, to be sure, but it is still the reader's responsibility to sort out truth from fiction.

Doug:
We don't get these pitches all the time. This is new. This is targeted. And it is designed to both be believable, and also to pitch you what you want to believe. How will you be able to tell the difference between what is true and false? You won't be able to, and, doubly insidious, you will want to believe it. And they don't want to sell you something; they just want your attention, and for you to believe.

David:
The biggest problems I see at this point is Americans are poorly informed about civics and the real world around them, and also that news organizations have become so biased themselves that fake news seems more believable. When everyone is peddling a biased narrative, some story that fits that narrative becomes more believable. Even CNN has had to fire people because they bought into a fake story that fit their belief system. Remember Dan Rather? That was what got him into trouble: he wanted the story to be true so much that he failed to investigate.

Doug:
You are confused. I'm not talking about CNN or Dan Rather. But I'd be more concerned about people's ethics than their civil knowledge. I am talking about information that is created to sell you a narrative. Here is an excellent, if long, article on the problem; I recommend following the author. (CNN fired people because they made missteps in their reporting, not because they believed fake stories. And the reporters may very well end up correct.) If you can't tell the difference between CNN and any of the fake news outlets, then you have already been duped. If you can tell the difference, then "hallelujah" and pass the sauerkraut!

David:
I don't think CNN is trying to publish fake news stories, but they do leave out important details at times because of their bias. If you watch the news portion of Fox News, not the opinion shows, you might pick up on certain words that you would believe are biased. I see the same thing at MSNBC, CNN, and many other outlets. Polling shows that most Americans do not care at all about the Russia-collusion story, but the daily news is intensely focused on the story as though it were all true. Continuing to run non-stop coverage about an issue with no proof appears to be based editorializing. Some might call that investigative journalism, some might call it fake news pushing an agenda.

Doug:
Unnamed sources does not mean "no proof." The Washington Examiner: borderline! And that article was from May, 2017. You realize a few things have happened since then, right? But even if no one cares, it is still news! Oh, wait... maybe your news only gives you "news" that you care about. That is part of the equation for fake news: your pump is primed, to coin a phrase.

David:
What I'm saying is that you must make decisions about what you believe. Individuals must be informed and take some responsibility for what they believe.

Doug:
But there is no way that any one person can know what is true! How can you tell if any one story is based on fact, or is designed/engineered/tested to appear that way? You can't. We need reliable sources.

David:
But I do agree that it is a problem, and the problem is likely to get worse. This summer we watched the newest Star Wars movie, Rogue One, which had dead actors portray major characters. It isn't too far of a stretch to see how easy it would be to make a video showing someone doing something or saying something that they never did. Soon, we may not be able to believe our own eyes.


Doug:
That is my point: you can't tell (from pictures or text) what is the truth. But with artificial intelligence and advanced geometric graphics, this isn't limited to the big studios; you'll be able to do this too. Consider this research: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohmajJTcpNk


Combine that with Big Data and targeted research, and we don't stand a chance. Unless we have reliable sources. We can't watch only news that we want to watch. We have to watch the news we need to watch. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

In the News - Healthcare Reform and Travel Bans

David:
There is a great deal of news in the media recently, and some of it is actually important. One of the things I thought we might analyze is the pros and cons of the current health-insurance-reform bill.  Currently, it is stuck in a quasi-limbo state in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The main two sticking points, as I see it, are how to curb the uncontrolled expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, and how to restore freedom of choice in the insurance marketplace.

Doug:
It is funny how "freedom of choice" is one of your "two sticking points" on insurance. You are "pro-choice"! Most people would rather have good, low-cost healthcare rather than a choice of terrible, expensive insurance. Why do we even need insurance on healthcare? Everyone needs healthcare. Insurance for something everyone needs is not necessary. It is like having insurance for food. We can save money by bypassing the health insurance middleman. Everyone needs to be educated, so we have public education in this country. Everyone needs healthcare. The Republicans are paving the way for single-payer healthcare. Perhaps they really want single-payer healthcare, but they just don't want to do it themselves.

David:
That just isn't true at all. The vast majority of people don't require any interaction with a physician for most of their lives.

Doug:
Shorter: most people don't need a doctor, until they do. You especially don't need a doctor once you die. If you want to save money, get poor people to die earlier. Say, you don't think...

David:
Ah. So you're against right-to-die laws that allow you to refuse medical interventions. I'm for freedom to make your own health-care choices.

Once you've been born and get immunizations, most will not need anything that the health care industry provides for decades. Most would like to have insurance for emergencies, and they should, and they want to be able to get it cheap. That is the underlying structural deficit of Obamacare: It mandated that all insurance carriers must provide services that the majority of Americans didn't want or need, and that drove premiums through the roof. As an example, if the government mandated that all auto insurance provided for gas, tires, and oil changes, no one would be able to afford car insurance.

Doug:
I don't know about Indiana, but the state government of Pennsylvania does mandate that my tires, headlights, turn signals, engine, and the rest pass inspection. And that costs money. Not a lot, and it goes directly to the doctor, er, I mean, mechanic. And insurance is mandated as well. So to follow your analogy, you are either suggesting that the car inspection services and car insurance agencies should be the same companies, or you are suggesting that health insurance companies also do mandatory checkups. Somehow many people can still afford to drive cars in PA.

David:
You get to choose whether or not to drive. It's a privilege, not a right. If you choose not to drive, you don't have to pay those fees. And the money for the inspections goes to the government. And car insurance is available over the internet, and there are hundreds, if not thousands of auto insurance companies that provide a host of services.

Doug:
Not everyone needs a car. But everyone needs health, until they don't. Healthcare insurance should be regulated at least as well as car insurance:
"Insurance companies are part of a large industry — one of the largest and most profitable in the United States. It’s important for these companies to be tightly regulated."  - autoinsurance.org
Tightly regulated. That is part of what Obamacare did. You couldn't buy an insurance policy that did nothing, even if you wanted to, just like car insurance. And Obamacare was curtailing costs, until the current Republican administration starting whacking on it.

David:
This plethora of options and competition keeps prices lower. Health insurance should follow that model. Many companies, with a menu of services, that you can buy online would create a true marketplace and keep premiums low. If you want to wait until you're older to purchase insurance, you can do so. At least we can agree that most people want good, low-cost insurance.

Education is provided by the states, not the federal government. If you're arguing to return health care back to the states, then I'm all in.

Another important piece of news this week was a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court to allow the majority of President Trump's travel ban to be enacted, rebuking the lower court's decisions to stop it. While you may disagree with the ban itself, this decision certainly reinforces the separation of powers set forth in the US Constitution. Immigration is not within the prerogative of the judicial branch.

Doug:
Whoa there fella! You missed a step. The Supreme Court has not heard the Muslim ban case yet; it merely scheduled for a hearing in October 2017. That will be after the 90-day imposition defined by the executive order itself, so it will be interesting to see if a Supreme Court ruling has any effect. But it would be more interesting to see if they rule on whether a President can enact orders that are illogical even if he has the right under the constitution.

David:
Whoa there yourself. While the SCOTUS has not heard the final case yet, they did, as a mater of fact and law allow the majority of the ban to be enacted. The other thing you apparently fail to realize is that the courts can decide if something is constitutional, but they don't get to decide if a decision is wise or not.

Doug:
Wise? I didn't say wise. I said "logical." Can a President issue an Executive Order about growing flowers in Finland? I guess he can. But is it logical?

David:
Can you imagine if the President nominates a Supreme Court justice, and the Senate confirms that candidate, and then the court rules that the nominee isn't who they would have chosen? Apparently you can, if you believe they'll overrule a constitutional order because they don't like how it plays out, or disagree with the logic behind it. Since this preliminary decision was unanimous, it indicates that they felt the merits of this case give the President a high likelihood of success in October.

Doug:
There was other import news this week. Some state governments shutdown this past week. That had an impact on people's 4th of July travel plans. Here is a beach that closed to the public. Hey! There are some people there:


Can we zoom in? Ah, Republican Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie:


Three states did not pass budgets: New Jersey, Maine and Illinois. All three have Republican governors.

David:
Right. Three Republican governors all insisted that their legislatures send them budgets that balance and make sense. Governor Christie can't sign a budget bill, because the Democrat-controlled legislature didn't send him a bill to sign.

Doug:
Poor Chris. Let's make Chris Christie the face of Republican party. There was also news on the healthcare front: the Republicans failed to bring their secret health care bill (also know as the Big Tax Cut for the Rich) to a vote. That means more time to examine what effect this will have on the economy and lives.

David:
Which is the original point that I brought up in this blog. Was that picture of Christie sitting on the beach so jarring that your train of thought derailed?

Doug:
Yes, the Republican hypocrisy always derails my train. I didn't understand that when you said "health-insurance-reform" that you were referring to the "Big Tax Cut for the Rich."

David:
While Democrats, and you, portray the bill as a freebie for the rich and a death sentence for everyone else, there are lots of things within the bill that actually do need some discussion.

Doug:
Ya think?!

David:
Sure. There are things that should have been discussed when Democrats originally forced Obamacare through on Christmas Eve, without entertaining any Republican amendments.

Doug:
I think it is certainly true that congress entertained hundreds of amendments. 564 amendments, to be exact. Many of those (hundreds actually) were technical in nature. But many were substantial, like the lack of a single-payer option. But it took time to offer hundreds of amendments, don't you agree? Time that seems to be unavailable with the Republicans in charge.

David:
No Republican amendments saw the light of day. Not very bipartisan. Once the bill gets through reconciliation, then perhaps Democrats will be willing to sit down and make corrections. Right now, they have refused to participate in anything other than some minor tweaks around the edges. You can't paint a Yugo a different color and then call it a Cadillac.

The discussion should happen with the few Democrats who actually are willing to admit Obamacare didn't pan out and is about to collapse, and with the Republicans who will admit that the discussion on healthcare has changed in the past 8 years.

Doug:
Obamacare is not ready to collapse. But if you say it often enough maybe someone will believe you. Obamacare is not ready to collapse.

David:
There are entire states that now have no coverage from the exchanges. That sounds like a collapse.

In my opinion, Republicans should once again pass the repeal bill they passed in 2015, and then sit down at a big table and start over with compromise in mind. There were things in Obamacare that people liked, and there will certainly be things from this new bill that will make things work much better.

Doug:
You are wishfully describing Obamacare in the past tense.

David:
Turning Medicaid into block grants, and allowing the states to manage the system by their own rules will likely lead to more innovation and better coverage for more people at less cost.

Doug:
Obamacare was a compromise. Single-payer is what we should have done to begin with. Why is Obamacare so hard to replace? Because it is fundamentally conservative.

David:
It was a compromise with Democrats who didn't want a single-payor system. There was no input from Republicans, and no compromise with Republicans.

Doug:
Also, Trump couldn't stop himself from tweeting on what's on his mind, including more talk about a woman bleeding:

Why is he talking about Mika's face?

David:
You just can't help talking about his tweets, can you? Neither can the media. Maybe his strategy is working (whatever his strategy regarding the tweeting is...).

Doug:
In the second tweet above, Trump implies that he controls what the National Enquirer prints. Why would he say that? Perhaps blackmail?

David:
I hate to get dragged into another discussion about Trump's crazy tweets, but in this instance, the second tweet was in response to a comment from Joe Scarborough that Trump refused to intervene regarding a National Enquirer story. Unnamed, anonymous sources at the White House claim it was Scarborough, who had been on good terms with Trump previously, requested his friend Jared Kushner ask Trump to call the publisher of The Enquirer to kill an unflattering story about the two Morning Joe hosts and their relationship. I doubt Trump ever even heard anything about any of it. That was months ago. Rather than Trump threatening blackmail, it sounds like Scarborough was pleading for assistance from an old friend.

Doug:
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: this man does not have the temperament to be president. I think these smaller crimes may be his undoing with his base. But that may just be wishful thinking.

David:
Tweeting isn't a crime, big or small. And from what I've seen, the base loves it. You've said a great many things about Trump during the campaign, and since the election, and so have I. And yet there are things still getting done. If you watch the news, however, you'd think that tweets are all the President does all day. Maybe he'll stop tweeting at some point, but I doubt the media would focus on any of the positive news anyway. They'd just start attacking this administration about something else.

Doug:
Это все на этой неделе!

David:
Almost. I still find it to be an example of Democrat and media hysteria that if you talk to someone who is Russian, that conversation is equated to talking to "THE Russians". It's as if every Russian is a representative of Putin himself. I've worked with several physicians who were Russian. Does that mean I've colluded with THE Russians? Okay, now we're done.

Doug:
No, we are not done. Why would you think that, and why would you think you could declare it? It is a ridiculous assertion that the Republicans were just talking to plain old Russians. I have Russian friends. I have professional colleagues who are Russian. I have students that study in Russia. But there is a quite clear difference between such people and Russian Oligarchs and those acting on behalf of Putin. You really want to claim that Natalia Veselnitskaya is just a regular Russian? Chuck Grassley was already investigating her:



Grassley, an Iowa Republican. She shouldn't even be allowed in the country! In any event, I guess we want to find out exactly who she is and what she was selling. We don't want to sweep her under the rug and assume that she is just a regular Russian citizen. Right? We want to know. We want to know if Trump is a puppet.

David:
Your own comment lists her as an undeclared lobbyist. Not exactly the same as a Putin spokesman. Nice try. Now we're done.

Doug:
You sure want this to be done. You are right though: Natalia didn't describe herself as a "Russian Spy." If you read Grassley's request, you'll see that part of this goes back to the Obama Justice office. This is much more interesting if you actually look at the facts.

David:
See you all next week!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Does Rhetoric Lead to Violence?

David:
There has been much talk in the past week about the inflaming rhetoric that now saturates our media and social media environments. Do you think it's the worst it's ever been? Does rhetoric lead to violence? What should be done about it?

Doug:
Do I think that there is more rhetoric-leading-to-violence than there ever has been in the history of the world? No. Can rhetoric lead to violence? Of course. Rhetoric can lead to peace, toast, war, money, time shares, and sex. Well, you'd have to have some pretty good rhetoric to lead you to toast. What should be done about what?

A Fox Talking Head is just asking questions about VIOLENCE FROM THE LEFT. What can be done about it?

David:
Perhaps I should rephrase the question for your rigid thinking: Is the current state of angry political rhetoric causing violence, or leading some to commit violence? While there certainly has been angry rhetoric throughout the country's political history, very few times has it lead to violence towards legislators, or supporters of those legislators. Can or should anything be done about it?

Doug:
I think that there has always been people that have been inspired by talk to commit violence. But I admit that I have never heard presidential candidates advocating violence like this last campaign. Do I think something can be done? Yes! Get better candidates into such positions. And perhaps keeping people with mental health issues from being able to operate dangerous mechanical devices that can kill people. And get better support for people with mental health issues!

David:
You've touched on two potential issues/solutions. Better candidates seem unlikely in our current system of primaries. I believe we've discussed this before. The only voters who show up for primaries are the base of each party. That means the candidates that often emerge from the primaries are those who are farthest from the center, or those who are furthest towards the right or the left. Bernie Sanders had an excellent chance of securing the Democratic nomination for that reason, but Democratic leadership intervened to get a candidate they thought would run better in the general election. Perhaps we should abandon the old primary voting system, and just have candidates selected by party officials from each state.

Doug:
If the Republican Party had "intervened" in the Republican primaries, you would have had a much better candidate. But if you think that Bernie Sanders would have had a better chance at beating Hillary, then you don't understand the last election. The truth is that the system is designed to try to balance individual wishes with those of the establishment. That is not necessarily a bad thing.

David:
Funny. The Republicans would have benefited from such a system, even though their candidate won, and yet I'm the one who doesn't understand what happened during the last election.

Doug:
Yes, the Republican candidate won. But was he the best that the Republican field had? No. I like to make that distinction. I want a qualified president, regardless of the party affiliation. Will Trump have a long-lasting negative effect on the future of the Republican party? We'll see.

David:
You still seem to be mixing your thoughts on the subject. You feel that Trump was not the best candidate, nor is he qualified, yet you think the system works? Since Trump won, that means that Clinton, the best that Democrats had to offer, couldn't beat a mediocre Republican? What long-lasting effects will 2016 have on both parties?

Doug:
There is a system in place (that the Democrats used in the primaries) in order to attempt better candidates from the establishment. The Republican national committee did not use that. If they had, you would have had a better candidate (literally any of the other candidates). The fact that Trump won means that we need to get more of the population (the US population, not Russian population) to vote.

David:
The second point you bring up is about keeping "mentally disturbed people" (your original words, before you edited them to "people with mental health issues") from "operating dangerous mechanical devices". When you talk about "mentally disturbed" individuals, about whom are you speaking? If you're talking about persons with a diagnosis found in the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)? That would include not only those with schizophrenia or paranoid disorders, but also those with depression, ADHD, transgenders (gender dysphoria), PTSD, anorexia, and even some people with insomnia. If you are talking about guns, then you are advocating removing  constitutionally-guaranteed rights to certain people because of their medical condition.



Do you mean to restrict the rights of people who are currently suffering from untreated mental illness, or people who are controlled with medications as well? What about those who only have a history of mental illness, like someone who had a temporary bout of depression, or was once treated for suicidal thoughts? What about a veteran with PTSD? Can that veteran no longer have access to a hunting rifle? Should a transgender person not be able to purchase a gun for protection just because they're transgender?

Doug:
You ask many unrelated questions. You forgot people who are afraid of spiders. You forgot drunk people. You forgot people who have a history of abuse. You forgot children, for whom shootings are the third leading cause of death. But I think that you have convinced me that guns (and other dangerous mechanical devices) need more technology to help prevent deaths.

David:
All of my questions are related. You apparently just don't understand how. That's a problem.

All of the things I listed are various mental illnesses. Alcoholism, and other addictions, is a mental illness. The other things you listed are not. Children killed by other people is a tragedy. A fear of spiders is only a mental illness if it causes irrational behavior. But you failed to answer the question I posed to you with your diversionary tactic. Mental illness covers a great scope of medical conditions. Is the entire debate about "mentally disturbed" people just a red herring to try to ban guns? Or do you have any serious thoughts about what mental conditions fall into a category that patients who suffer from them need to have their rights restricted?

Doug:
I didn't say that people with mental health issues lead to violence. But you have to admit that if you want to kill innocent people, then, by definition, you have a mental health issue.

David:
Interesting. This poll indicates that 84% of Americans believe an unborn baby is an innocent "person".

You have selected people with mental illness as a group to target for certain restrictions. I'm trying to tell you that the issue is much more complicated than the current narrative suggests. Mental illness covers a very broad and divergent group of illnesses. Patients can be in a gradient of incapacitation within each diagnosis. My question is how do you determine which patient, or which diagnosis, makes the list? Who gets to make that decision? I fear that legislators will put political expediency ahead of thoughtful discussions (as usual).

Your choice of the phrase "dangerous mechanical devices" is curious, but accurate. Do you mean trucks or automobiles, which have been used in numerous recent terrorist attacks. Should someone with mental illness not be issued a driver's license? Would that even make a difference? What about knives, or axes? There are many questions that would need to be sorted out in the mental illness debate. There are issues that many have not thought through yet.

Doug:
Do you consider a knife to be a "dangerous mechanical device"? If so, there is your problem: your concepts aren't very well defined. I think it would be quite useful to have many devices become inoperable if the mental state of the operator is in question. That way, even if rhetoric does lead to violent actions, the damage can be minimized.

David:
So says the man who believes a fear of spiders is on the same scale as paranoid schizophrenia.

Doug:
I think I see your problem.

David:
I chose knives as an example of a dangerous weapon that isn't mechanical. Shouldn't we consider them in the discussion as well? (although a switchblade is technically mechanical).

Doug:
No.

David:
Yes, it's true. A switchblade is mechanical.

You seem to be making an argument that someone with a diagnosed mental illness shouldn't be allowed to drive? Can they have a job where they use power tools?

Doug:
You seem to be suggesting that the advice "don't operate heavy machinery" when your mind is not operating as usual is not good advice.

David:
There are already laws on the books about driving while impaired. Just ask Tiger Woods. What we're discussing at the moment is banning guns, or other "dangerous mechanical devices", from people with mental illness, just because they have mental illness.

Doug:
Why do you jump to "banning guns"? I said they need better technology that disabled the device.

David:
The "device" gets disabled when someone gets a mental illness? Which mental illness? How does the "device" know? Come on, brother, you're talking about banning guns.

The question is do you restrict someone's rights because of a diagnosis. But does that include someone under treatment? What about someone who is currently being treated, but decides not to take their medications? Should doctors or psychiatrists be the ones making the decisions? Do they have liability if the patient disagrees with their evaluation? What if two doctors disagree?

You claim my concepts aren't very well defined, using the example of a knife, but you have no answers at all to the very serious questions I'm posing. You fling words like "mental disturbed" around without understanding how difficult the underlying questions really are. You really have not put forth any serious answer at all to how we should categorize or even document these people. Should the federal government access your medical records to deny you a gun permit? Who in the federal government should that be? A local official or a desk clerk like at the BMV? Can you imagine, "I'm sorry, sir, but you can't get a gun because you're mentally disturbed" being announced at the sporting goods store?

Doug:
Regardless of what you think, most of the topics we discuss here have difficult, underlying questions. Mostly you tend to think that they have simplistic answers. Most do not have simplistic answers, like ensuring gun safety for everyone. So, yes, I can fling my rhetoric all over the place, on any topic of my choosing. Can you imagine selling a gun to someone with a known, mental issue? Apparently you cannot imagine not giving that person a gun! And at the same time, you ask: what can be done?

David:
Again, after you just correctly noted that the issue is not simple (which is the point I'm trying to make) you once again lump everyone with "a known, mental issue" into one category. My entire point is that mental illness isn't a single disease. It's a broad category. And each individual disease runs on a continuum, from mild to serious. Yes, I can imagine selling a gun to someone with a mental illness, and I can also imagine not selling a gun to someone with a different mental illness. But the issue needs to be carefully thought out before laws start getting passed.

Doug:
For someone who opposes legislation, why do you jump to the idea that we need to pass laws? I certainly didn't mention that.

David:
Sure you did. You're the one who brought up the idea of "keeping people with mental health issues from being able to operate dangerous mechanical devices that can kill people".

Back to rhetoric. Just this week, Hillary Clinton said that the Republicans are the "party of death". Nancy Pelosi said that "hundreds of thousands of people will die" if the Senate passed their version of the health reform bill. Neither of those things is true, but the hyperbole is extreme. Don't you think that kind of language could trigger someone to commit a crime against Republicans? After all, both Clinton and Pelosi have said that Republicans are out to kill innocent people. Is their rhetoric over -the-top? Should they tone it down a bit,  re-enter the real world, and discuss the actual merits or problems with the bill?

Doug:
Lots of people are saying that the GOP healthcare is going to have an adverse effect on tens of millions of people's lives. You want to prevent "that kind of language"?

David:
See. You've already changed their words to be something more palatable, in order to defend their words. Having an "adverse effect" on their insurance is not the same as "killing" people. By changing their words, you have, in effect, admitted that you think their particular language is over-the-top.

Doug:
Some will die. There. Not over the top.

David:
Not from this bill, they won't. And even now you continue to water down their words, from "hundreds of thousands" to "some". I'm glad to know that at least your sub-conscious won't allow you to share their words. There is hope for you yet.

Doug:
Do people really hate your disparaging comments in the form of supposedly insightful questions? Do they think asking such questions is really a viable argument? Do they believe that tying Clinton to a particular belief will make them hate that belief? Do they believe that the Republicans really want to have a discussion on the actual merits of the bill, while attempting to have a vote in the next day or two? Rhetoric, done well, can be insightful. But asking simplistic questions like "does rhetoric lead to violence?" is just a ridiculous hobby for the privileged.

David:
We've been talking about health care reform for 10 years now. The House passed a bill over a month ago, and the Senate bill is similar in many ways, yet now you think we need to start having a new discussion on what it is we're talking about? Democrats have somehow been caught off guard?

Asking questions is what starts dialogues. And dialogues lead to more questions, and ultimately answers. Complicated problems all start with simple questions.  But as you think all Republicans are simple-minded, it doesn't surprise me that you think my questions are simplistic. Seeking answers to serious problems like the causes of violence seems to be worthwhile, not a "ridiculous hobby".

Doug:
Oh, sorry! I should have asked: Don't you think that asking simplistic questions like "does rhetoric lead to violence?" is just a ridiculous hobby for the privileged? I'm just asking. Now we are making progress! And I appear serious. Win win!

David:
Privilege: A liberal, rhetorical phrase used to disparage someone you disagree with, or their arguments, when you can't debate them with logic. Example: "Don't listen to that old, white man's argument because he's privileged. If you do, you'll be ostracized and shunned from our Antifa tribe!"