It’s no sure thing that Republicans will lose seats in the mid-term, but based on the current polling, they’re off to a pretty poor start.
Hip-hop mogul Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, left, interviews Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee, for MTV before the final night of the Republican National Convention Thursday, Sept. 2, 2004, in New York. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
During the Bill Clinton-George W. Bush era, the party of the President losing seats in the midterm was not guaranteed. Barack Obama’s personal popularity changed that back to the previous pre-war trend, but he’s no longer in office. Donald Trump is, and it’s an open question how his voters will operate in a midterm environment.
Apple has taken personal data security as a way of distinguishing themselves from Google. Now all the right people – the snoops – are getting angry. To me, that sounds like a pretty good endorsement!
FILE – In this April 30, 2015 file photo, Apple CEO Tim Cook responds to a question during a news conference at IBM Watson headquarters, in New York. The dispute over whether Apple must help the FBI hack into a terror suspect’s iPhone is about to play out in a Southern California courtroom. The hearing Tuesday, March 22, in U.S. District Court in Riverside is the first in the battle that has seen Cook and FBI Director James Comey spar over issues of privacy and national security. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
According to Detective Jason Friedman from the Fairfax County Police computer forensics department, “It’s very frustrating for law enforcement because it makes our job much more difficult to support the community.” He adds, “Most of the forensics community in law enforcement has known for a while, through the Apple IOS 11 betas, that security was going to be even more difficult and hamper law enforcement’s ability to extract data.”
This isn’t just about Face ID. This is about the underlying design of the hardware-software interaction, to keep your data in your control.
But Apple isn’t just locking government out. They’re also getting online advertisers angry by going beyond Do Not Track, and actively seeking to block their cookies:
In an open letter to Apple obtained by AdWeek, the [online ad] organizations say, “Blocking cookies in this manner will drive a wedge between brands and their customers, and it will make advertising more generic and less timely and useful. Put simply, machine-driven cookie choices do not represent user choice; they represent browser-manufacturer choice.”
Here’s the problem with this statement: Apple gave the advertisers a chance to honor customer choice, with the Do Not Track flag. Advertisers willfully chose to ignore that flag, and chose to track people anyway. So they had the chance to be honest, chose to be scummy, and now they pay the price.
Apple has chosen in recent years to adopt an old-school approach to hardware sales. Unlike the Microsoft model, which divorced software from hardware and made money on licensing, or the Google model, which gave away cloud software for free and made money selling data about you, Apple is trying to sell hardware and software integrated in a single, coherent package. Politics aside, they seek to stay in business by giving you a good experience as a customer.
Not bowing to government or advertising snoops is a great way to do that, in my view. As a customer, that trumps whatever eccentric politics Tim Cook may express.
Facebook has been building good will from major Internet software communities, but an arrogant move has caused a major backlash this month. Can they recover?
FILE – In this Tuesday, April 18, 2017, file photo, conference workers speak in front of a demo booth at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference, in San Jose, Calif. Facebook announced Tuesday, June 27, 2017, that it now has more than 2 billion users. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)
Facebook has released a decent size library of open source software, perhaps most notably the React system. React is a tool for creating dynamic websites. But Facebook tied an unusual license to the project, one that restricts your ability to defend yourself should Facebook sue you over patents.
As a result of that license being incompatible with most projects, the community of people using React, or wanting to use React, asked Facebook to change the license. They have refused. As a result, the dominos are falling of communities rejecting all Facebook software.
Apache was first. The Apache Foundation makes the world’s most popular web server, along with many popular projects serving as the building blocks of the Internet. Facebook-licensed code is banned from the entire project. Apache will seek alternatives, diminishing Facebook’s mindshare.
Now WordPress is next. WordPress – which RedState has run on for years – was set to announce a major rewrite of the post writing and administrative interface built on the React library. But now that’s not going to happen, and in fact code that already uses React will be written to use something else.
These are major opportunities to get the community, and the world, using their libraries and making Facebook better as a result. However Facebook now has lost those opportunities through arrogance, and Facebook’s code will become a niche tool, far less likely to see wide use and adoption.
Contrast with Apple, who made their Safari browser great because they collaborated with the open source KDE project, or Google. Google has done serious open source work, and continues to do so. Facebook now has catching up to do.
Forget the polls. Watch this one key leading indicator, and you’ll have a good idea of whether Republicans should worry about losing the House of Representatives next year.
Newly elected House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., receives the Speaker’s gavel from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015. Republicans rallied behind Ryan to elect him the House’s 54th speaker on Thursday as a splintered GOP turned to the youthful but battle-tested lawmaker to mend its self-inflicted wounds and craft a conservative message to woo voters in next year’s elections. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Normally when we predict the Congressional elections, we use polls. But the polls can be wrong, especially in this era of cheap robo polling. But there’s one clear indicator of whether it’s going to be a bad year for a party: we watch how many of them retire from politics.
Not all retirements are a bad sign: Sometimes incumbents retire to run for another office. That’s ambitious, and it’s not a bad sign. It’s a bad sign when they just quit. Just quitting means they already know they’re going to lose, so they get when the getting is good. That or they know they’re going to lose the majority, and so they quit before it stops being fun.
Only four times since the 1994 realignment has a party needed 10 or more retirements above the other party. In 1994, the Democrats had 26 retirements to 7 for the Republicans, D+19. In 2000, Republicans had 17 to 3 for the Democrats (R+14). In 2008, the GOP saw 23 retirements to 3 for the Democrats (R+20). And in 2016, the GOP had 20 retirements to 8 for the Democrats (R+12).
Four times it happened. Three times it came during a Presidential election, and the Republicans retired en mass on the way to the Democrat getting more votes than the Republican, however it just happens that the Republican squeaked by in two of those years with the Electoral Vote. It’s still a terrible sign to get out-voted in an election.
The one, the only time it happened in a midterm was 1994 itself, possibly the most devastating midterm loss a party has suffered in the modern era. Sure, Republicans gained more seats in 2010 than in 1994, but 1994 ended decades of Democrat-run majorities. It was the sign of a major partisan realignment that has lasted since.
So that’s your number to watch. If Republicans have at least 10 retiring members more than the Democrats do, excluding members running for another office, we can expect that Nancy Pelosi has a shot at being Speaker. If they hit 20, then the sky is falling. Currently that number is 6, as 7 Republicans have announced retirements to only 1 Democrat. That’s not a great start, but Paul Ryan still has hope.
I’ve written before about efforts by some red states to get the Supreme Court to reverse course and allow them to force out-of-state, online-only retailers to collect and remit sales taxes to state governments where their residents buy goods from Overstock, third party sellers on Amazon, and so on.
Well, there’s a new entrant to the game: Indiana, which joins Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Dakota and South Carolina in wanting to see tax rules in America changed forever.
With President Donald Trump looking on, Anthony M. Kennedy, senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, swears in judge Neil M. Gorsuch to be the Supreme Court’s 113th justice Monday, April 10, 2017, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C. Gorsuch’s wife Louise held a family Bible. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
Indiana has filed a lawsuit in defense of a new law that would allow the state to collect sales tax from out-of-state businesses.
Gov. Eric Holcomb said Monday that he wants the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn its 1992 ruling that said out-of-state retailers don’t have to collect and remit sales tax if they don’t have a physical presence in the state.
Holcomb is mad because Overstock, Wayfair and others not having to collect and remit these taxes means the state is failing to bring in $77 million in taxes that are already legally owed by Indiana-based buyers. Not surprisingly, that means people who want even higher taxes have a stronger argument for jacking them up, though so (theoretically) do conservatives who want to cut spending.
Will Holcomb get his way?
First of all, if the issue goes to the Supreme Court, the answer is is looking to be “yes.” Anthony Kennedy has already signaled that he thinks the caselaw preventing states from enforcing Indiana-style laws is wrong. It seems that Gorsuch does, too.
But on second glance, maybe not. A lot of states, and retailers, would drop their lawsuits if Congress passed a bill that allowed states to require collection and remittance, but streamlined the system, limited the size of retailers who could be compelled to collect and remit, limited insane audit obligations and so on. Congress clearly can do this, under the Commerce Clause, and arguments for doing it seem to be gaining steam since mom-and-pop operations selling $100,000 of goods a year on Etsy really don’t want to have to pay over taxes on sales in 40-some states and countless other localities, and then get audited on top of it all (but, really, big sellers can easily cope with the requirements the Court is going to hit everyone with, eventually).
A lot of people aren’t going to like all this, but the best answer really is to press for spending cuts and sales tax cuts in your state or city. If they’re only collecting 2 percent instead of 5 percent, you’re going to care a lot less about that extra line item on your delivery bill (after all, you’re already paying tax when you buy Amazon goods). And there’s nothing Anthony Kennedy can do to stop legislators instituting conservative tax policy in Virginia, or Texas, or Ohio.
JPMorgan Chase makes billions for its shareholders. CEO Jamie Dimon gave his best estimate of the future of Bitcoin, and wow.
Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, discusses his Annual Letter to Shareholders on Tuesday, April 4, 2017 at the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America in Washington, DC. (Paul Morigi/AP Images for JPMorgan Chase)
Dimon’s words on Bitcoin, in the wake of China flatly banning corporations from using cryptocurrencies to offer “ICOs” in places of IPOs, don’t mess around at all:
A fraud! Further, he’s actually banning the company from making investments into Bitcoin. That’s how serious he is. He’s betting that Bitcoin is a bubble driven by criminal activity, just as I’ve been saying in this space for a long time.
Dimon could be wrong, but ask yourself this: the US Dollar has value because the US Government requires that taxes be paid in US Dollars. That creates a fundamental demand for the US Dollar by forcing people to acquire and use the currency. What gives fundamental value to Bitcoin?
Equifax is a company that had one job. The company failed, and now it must die. Here’s why.
This July 21, 2012, photo shows Equifax Inc., offices in Atlanta. Credit monitoring company Equifax says a breach exposed social security numbers and other data from about 143 million Americans. The Atlanta-based company said Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, that “criminals” exploited a U.S. website application to access files between mid-May and July of this year. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
Equifax is known for being a “Credit Bureau.” That means that their job is to gather and be a central repository of information about debtors in America. When a creditor wants to evaluate whether to give you a loan or a line of credit, they ask a firm like Equifax to rate you. The creditor then feeds back information into Equifax after making the loan.
So it is true that Equifax had one job. Their one job was to be a good steward of information about you. And they have failed miserably in that. I say that not just because they were hacked. Hacks happen. I say this because the executives of the firm, collectively, conspired to protect themselves before giving notice to us about the information they mismanaged.
Three Equifax executives sold shares of the credit-reporting company worth nearly $2 million shortly after a massive data breach was discovered. The sales occurred before the company announced the breach to the public on Thursday.
While it is true that $2 million out of Equifax’s then-$17.5 billion market cap is no huge amount, given that the company has lost about 15% of its value because of the hack, this means these executives netted themselves $300,000 as a result of this form of insider trading. That amount may yet increase if the market continues to punish them, or react to possible criminal or regulatory action going forward. I can’t tell you whether this was illegal insider trading, but it certainly was a textbook case of executives trading on non-public information.
Add to this the sneaky, adversarial stunt pulled by Equifax, in which they tried to get worried customers to waive their right to sue in exchange for simple information about their security. We see a company gone rogue.
This tells us the nature of the leadership at Equifax, and what kind of company is being run there. This act of insider trading suggests that the leaders of Equifax neither cared about the general public whose information they were entrusted with, nor with the well-being of the shareholders who had entrusted them with the company. Equifax has become a corrupt organization.
As a result, as a matter of public policy, we should seek to have the corporation liquidated. It has valuable assets. Auction them off. Take the company apart and sell it. Equifax has divisions and subsidiaries. Put them on the block as well. In a free market, and an open society, we cannot tolerate this kind of combined failure and malfeasance to stand unpunished.
We as a society have done this before. Enron was entirely run out of business, and in fact had over twice as many employees as Equifax does. We need to make Equifax the next Enron.
Can you imagine the outrage in the media if an oil company got a climate researcher fired for criticizing the actions of oil companies? We’d never, ever, ever hear the end of it. The hysterical shrieking would be over the top. Well, look what happened here.
In this June 8, 2017 photo, oil derricks are busy pumping as the moon rises near the La Paloma Generating Station in McKittrick, Calif. California’s vast San Joaquin Valley, the country’s most productive farming region, is engulfed by some of the nation’s dirtiest skies, forcing the state’s largest air district to spend more than $40 billion in the past quarter-century to enforce hundreds of stringent pollution rules. Its bad air is the byproduct of booming farms, oil production, two major highways, a web of rail lines – and the valley’s bowl-shaped geography. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian)
Well, it’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating: that’s basically what happened at New America when they fired an entire department of people because its CEO, Anne-Marie Slaughter, believed the organization would lose funding from Google if she did not do it.
The foundation’s Open Markets initiative employed ten people. But they had to be crushed under Google’s heel, and says the New York Times, the order came from the very top:
Google officials — including its parent company’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt — had complained about Open Markets multiple times. Their grievances could not be easily ignored. The company, Mr. Schmidt and his family’s foundation had donated more than $21 million to New America since the think tank’s founding in 1999, according to voluntary disclosures and tax filings.
Why did the Open Markets Ten have to be fired? They, as left-wing researchers, took a standard left-wing position that strong government regulation should be applied to powerful corporations, and so they praised the European Union’s fining of Google. That was the last straw.
Being out of power, this is precisely the kind of thing that could send the hard left into a hysterical frenzy, unless you know, the sites would criticize Google are also getting Google funding.
Today the Democrats are wailing about how unfair it is to begin winding up the illegal, unconstitutional DACA amnesty program for illegal aliens. But it’s their fault this happened to begin with!
FILE – In this April 21, 2009 file photo, President Barack Obama meets with Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
The truth is, if the Democrats though amnesty for people who entered the country illegally as minors, they had every opportunity to do something about it, but they chose to pass the buck.
The whole “DREAM Act” concept is an old one, having been introduced in the Senate as far back as August 2001. That concept was wholly incorporated into the Ted Kennedy-led amnesty effort in 2007, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act introduced by Harry Reid. At the time, the Democrats held a 51-49 Senate advantage, but the CIRA failed 34-61. Kennedy then himself tried a second bill that year, which failed 46-53.
So by the time the 2008 elections came, and the 111th Congress sat in 2009, the Democrats had the issue on the radar. They entered that Congress with 60 votes in the US Senate, enough to break any Republican filibuster. The Democrats used that advantage to pass many bills, including Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, the Fair Pay Act, and more.
Despite the ability to pass any bill they wanted, the Democrats chose to do nothing. They did not act. Instead of pressuring the Congress to act, Obama went golfing. As a result, no bill passed, and Obama was left to put out an plainly illegal administrative amnesty.
If the Democrats really cared, they’d have passed a bill, and then Donald Trump wouldn’t have the means to rescind it unilaterally. It would take a bill to repeal it, and you know how much of a disaster Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell are at passing repeals.
So every time you hear the Democrats complain about DACA repeal, ask them why they failed to pass DACA legislation. They had the votes. They just didn’t care enough when no Republican was in power to blame.
As folks stand up to rescue victims of Hurricane Harvey, it’s important that we recognize them. Ted Cruz visited the US Coast Guard yesterday in that spirit.
On Thursday, August 31, 2017, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) visited with members of the U.S. Coast Guard at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base. There, Sen. Cruz met with Captain Kevin Oditt, commander of Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston, and joined a helicopter crew in flight where he surveyed the impact of the storm on the Houston-Galveston region.
Ted Cruz went to the US Coast Guard Emergency Operations Center at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base, outside Houston. Touring the facility, and talking with the men and women at work to save lives, he said this:
It is an honor to stand among these incredible heroes. The selfless service and sacrifice of the U.S. Coast Guardsmen in the midst of this crisis, has saved countless lives. Hurricane Harvey, a category four hurricane, was a 500 year storm. It has devastated entire communities along the Texas Gulf Coast. From Port Aransas, to Rockport, to Corpus Christi and Victoria, we’ve seen tremendous wind and tidal surge damage. In Houston up through Beaumont, we’ve seen unprecedented and life-threatening flooding. Through it all we have seen over 7,000 high water rescues. Yet even in the face of disaster, Texans are coming together. Every day, every hour, every minute, we see incredible acts of heroism. Texas will come back stronger than ever in large part due to the help of the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Socialist ghouls in the media are trying to use death and destruction to promote their agendas, but Ted Cruz here has a message of hope and rebuilding. And heroes like these of the Coast Guard help bring that hope.