Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Cruising the Web

Election Day is finally here. I'll be so glad to be done with campaign ads ruining watching Jeopardy for me. I'll be glad to stop getting tweets from the RNC begging me for money and the unsolicited phone calls urging us to go out and vote. I'll be glad to have real results rather than guesses based on polling that is based on guesses as to who will turn out to vote. I'll be glad to stop reading all the tea-leaf reading on who turned out for early voting when we don't know how these people are voting, particularly the independents. The news tonight might be good or bad for Republicans, but most likely it will be mixed. But I suspect that there may be some disappointing results in some of these races. I hate the idea that certain really rather repellent candidates such as Keith Ellison, Bob Menendez, or Kyrsten Sinema might win. I would hate to see Mia Love be defeated. I can't stand the way that Andrew Gillum has cried racism any time he's been criticized. And I can't stand the phoniness of Beto O'Rourke. So there are a lot of depressing results that I'm anticipating.

And to pile disappointments upon disappointments, all the experts are predicting that Kentucky will defeat Duke tonight. That's the result I'm most interested in. I don't know if I'm ready for such a depressing evening.

This is extremely creepy.
My dentist, a registered Republican, did not vote in the last midterm elections, in 2014.

But the owner of my local bookstore, a registered Democrat, did vote then. So did my accountant, who is not registered with either party.

I know these details not because the dentist, the bookseller and the accountant volunteered to share their voting histories with me. I found out from VoteWithMe and OutVote, two new political apps that are trying to use peer pressure to get people to vote Tuesday.

The apps are to elections what Zillow is to real estate — services that pull public information from government records, repackage it for consumer viewing and make it available at the touch of a smartphone button. But instead of giving you a peek at house prices, VoteWithMe and OutVote let you snoop on which of your friends voted in past elections and their party affiliations — and then prod them to go to the polls by sending them scripted messages like “You gonna vote?”
Just because something is possible to do technologically doesn't mean it's a good idea. This is a bit reminiscent of China's social credit system in which people are ranked by their behavior, what they purchase, whom their friends are. People are already getting blocked from buying plane ticket for being bad passengers.
The eventual system will punish bad passengers specifically. Potential misdeeds include trying to ride with no ticket, loitering in front of boarding gates, or smoking in no-smoking areas.
The difference is that, in China, it is the government exacting penalties against people for undesired behavior. These apps are allowing people to be the ones to embarrass their neighbors and acquaintances. If anyone tried this with me, I would be so very irritated. It's bad enough that the parties know who has and hasn't voted in recent elections and target us accordingly. I dread seeing a time when other people start taking it upon themselves to butt into other people's political privacy.

The app did expose some liberal hypocrisy.
But what’s really amusing is that the NYT accidentally outed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a non-voter in the 2014 and 2016 elections:
They also reported that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat running for the House, did not vote in the last midterm elections in 2014. Nor did Alyssa Milano, an actress and activist who recently posted a video on Twitter urging her followers to vote.
So Dem Governor Andrew Cuomo disenfranchise her?

A spokesman for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said that she was purged from the New York voter rolls in 2016 and that he was looking into 2014....

Oh, and the Dem-leaning apps were caught collecting info that they didn’t need to actually accomplish the purpose of the app:
By inspecting data that the apps harvested from our contacts, The Times also found that they took more personal data than required to match voters — such as the workplace and email address of Senator Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican.
After queries from The Times, VoteWithMe and OutVote each said they had eliminated some types of data that their apps were harvesting. In subsequent testing last week, The Times found that VoteWithMe no longer collected email addresses, street names and numbers, or company names. But OutVote continued to do so. Mr. Makiya of OutVote said the app had stopped collecting social profile data but needed the email addresses to match voter files.

And Democrats are already using the information to threaten remind people about voting.
Democratic candidate Scott Wallace, who is running against incumbent Republican representative Brian Fitzpatrick in Pennsylvania's toss-up 1st Congressional District, is distributing door hangers in the area that oddly inform voters that "who you vote for is private, but whether or not you vote is public record" and adding that the campaign "can't wait to see that you voted on November 6!"

The door hangers used by the Wallace campaign were posted to Twitter by Albert Eisenberg, a digital and communications professional in the Philadelphia region. Eisenberg is working with the American Unity PAC, a pro-LGBT conservative committee.

Yes, yes it is creepy.

Tom Rogan explains why socialists will have trouble achieving their dreams. It's too easy for corporations to move out of countries that adopt such policies.
As the growth of technological innovation and the tech sector per se makes it easier for businesses to maintain strong market access regardless of their tax domicile, businesses will have ever increasing means of avoiding high tax domiciles. This is especially problematic for left-wing movements in Western democracies, where government policies are ultimately accountable to electorates in elections. After all, politicians like Corbyn and Bernie Sanders budget for their massive spending by positing on the foundation of imposing much higher corporation taxes. But if they can’t tax businesses without pushing those businesses abroad, they’ll be unable to collect the revenue they need to pay for their other spending priorities, and they’ll invite increasing unemployment. That's a recipe for losing elections.
It's as if people respond to incentives and disincentives. Who could have predicted that?

All the Democrats who have spent the past years cozying up to Louis Farrakhan should have to answer questions about this most recent outrage.
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan led chants of “death to America” on Sunday and derided American conceptions of democracy and freedom during a visit to Iran, planned as a show of support for the regime ahead of the re-implementation of U.S. sanctions.

Farrakhan, a notorious anti-Semite who has been embraced by prominent liberal activists and lawmakers, railed against American policymakers for harassing the Iranian people and siding with Saudi Arabia in its proxy war with Iran in Yemen.

“I understand how the enemies have plotted against the Iranian people and I would like to stay alongside you to stop their plots,” he said during a meeting with the secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, Mohsen Rezaei, according to state-owned news agency Mehr. “Satan seeks to divide Muslims and wants them to kill each other, while God tells us in the Quran to be united.”

During a subsequent speaking appearance at the University of Tehran law school, Farrakhan mocked America’s founding ideals while praising the Islamic conception of women’s rights and Iran’s strict enforcement of female modesty.

“America has never been a democracy and has always leaned towards the wealthy and powerful class,” he said before leading the law students in chanting “Death to Israel” and “Death to America.”

Farrakhan, who recently referred to Jews as “termites,” has been lauded by Women’s March leader Tamika Mallory as the “GOAT” or Greatest of All Time. Linda Sarsour, Mallory’s fellow Women’s March leader, has also praised Farrakhan on multiple occasions and has refused to condemn his anti-Semitism.

Asked about his relationship with Farrakhan, Representative Danny Davis (D., Ill.) said “I don’t regard Louis Farrakhan as an aberration or anything, I regard him as an outstanding human being who commands a following of individuals who are learned and articulate and he plays a big role in the lives of thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of people.”

Representative Keith Ellison(D., Minn.), who is now running to be Minnesota’s attorney general, has met privately with Farrakhan on multiple occasions. Then-senator Barack Obama’s 2005 meeting with Farrakhan was captured in a recently released photograph.

Karol Markowicz advises people not to join the Women's March unless you're comfortable with anti-Semitism.
Linda Sarsour is one of the leaders. Articles soon sprang up about terrible comments she made: She supported the radical Muslim Brotherhood. She praised Sharia law, which, among other things, includes second-class status for women. She was open about her fandom of Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam.

In 2012, she tweeted: “When we write the history of Islam in America, the Nation of #Islam is an integral part of that history.”

Perhaps she didn’t know Farrakhan said “Hitler was a very great man” in a 1984 speech or that in 1985 he warned Jews: “And don’t you forget, when it’s God who puts you in the ovens, it’s forever!”

Maybe she was ignorant of his 1996 remark about “fake Jews,” that is, Jews who disapprove of his anti-Semitic comments: “You are the synagogue of Satan, and you have wrapped your tentacles around the US government, and you are deceiving and sending this nation to hell.”

People change, goes the argument, and comments Sarsour made were several years ago, before she became a high-profile political figure on the left. Perhaps she’s more responsible now.

But in September, Sarsour said American Muslims shouldn’t “humanize” Israelis. There was no overwhelming response from the left to remind her that Israelis are actually human. American Jews who ignore this hatred are fooling themselves. Anti-Semitism is specifically about dehumanizing Jews until their murder makes sense.

In July, she tweeted birthday wishes at a fugitive cop-killer. This is not a woman who has done a lot of introspection and changed her views. Why stand with her?

Then there’s Women’s March co-president Tamika Mallory. In a February 2018 speech, Farrakhan said, “Jews were responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out, turning men into women and women into men. White folks are going down. And Satan is going down. And Farrakhan, by God’s grace, has pulled the cover off of that Satanic Jew, and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through.”

Mallory attended the speech. She once posted a picture of herself embraced by Farrakhan, referring to him as “the GOAT” (Greatest Of All Time). So when she pointedly refused to condemn Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic and anti-LGBT comments after being asked, it was no surprise....

Why march with such women? And note: While “Black women, Native women, poor women, immigrant women, disabled women, Muslim women, lesbian queer and trans women” are all specifically mentioned in the “Unity Principles,” Jewish women are not. Meanwhile, anti-Semitic attacks account for more than half of all hate crimes in the US. Maybe it’s not a coincidence.

Make no mistake: These aren’t comments made years ago; they’re happening now. Just last May, Mallory praised the “bravery” of Hamas terrorists. Two weeks ago, Farrakhan compared Jews to termites.

Some marchers think they can find common ground with these women. That’s misguided. A conservative marching alongside white nationalist Richard Spencer, because they both happen to agree on, say, economic issues, would rightly be pilloried. This should be no different.
This is so true. Don't provide support for such ugliness.

Jay Cost examines how Congressional elections have come to be about the president whose name is not on the ballot. It's all rather strange given that the Founders thought the Legislative Branch should be the preeminent branch.
What we have then is a series of institutional devices that all cut in the same direction: Congress is free from presidential interference, but the president is not free from congressional interference. So why is it that the president is so influential in congressional elections? Put simply, that is what the people want.

Just as the president is forbidden from interfering with Congress, so also is the Congress prohibited from interfering with public opinion. That is the essence of the First Amendment, which guarantees the rights of conscience, speech, press, assembly, and petition, all building blocks of public opinion. Congress is the most powerful branch of the government, and the people are guaranteed sovereignty over Congress.

Starting with the presidency of Andrew Jackson, the president came to be the dominant figure in American public life. This tendency waxed and waned over the 19th century, but the rise of mass communications and the growth of federal power during the 20th century created the mammoth executive office that now exists. The president draws the attention of the people toward him and away from Congress, the courts, and the states. So even though Congress remains at the center of constitutional government, it is the president who dominates public opinion.

It is in this way that the president can influence Congress so enormously. He does not do so directly, for the constitutional safeguards are basically insurmountable. Rather, he influences Congress through the people, who do have direct control over Congress.

Is this a good way to organize public affairs? I think not. The plain fact is that the president does not have the constitutional power that the people assume that he does. The Framers were far too Whiggish to give the president any kind of authority approaching that of a king. Real change in public policy comes inevitably through Congress, and Congress alone. If we want our government to function better, we should do the work of evaluating members of Congress more carefully, rather than using congressional elections as a proxy vote on our opinion of the president.

Ed Morrissey is also pondering the problem that a narrow Democratic victory in the House would present Democrats.
Ironically, the most paralyzing outcome for progressives may be a narrow Democratic majority in the House, of ten seats or fewer, with Pelosi in charge. They will have won that majority in part by recruiting and appealing to moderates in Trump country, which will make it more difficult to get the progressive agenda passed in the House — and it will go nowhere in a Republican-controlled Senate. Two years of failure, added to fanatical anti-Trump recriminations, will undermine their message in the next cycle, making it tougher to hold that majority especially if Democrats really turn on the progressive jets in the next presidential cycle. It won’t be fun for Republicans, mind you, but it might be a longer-term headache for Democrats to just barely eke out a win in the House.
Of course, the same would be true if the Republicans narrowly keep the House.