Thursday, November 20, 2014

Obama Takes Executive Action on Immigration. America Yawns.

Eli,

From The Hill:
Officials with ABC, CBS and Fox confirmed to The Hill that Obama's 8 p.m. speech from the White House will not be carried on their networks. CNN reported that NBC would not be carrying the address either...

A source at one of the major networks told The Hill that the White House did not officially request prime-time coverage on the networks Thursday, a big night for ratings given popular shows on several networks, including ABC’s “Shondaland” schedule of shows created by producer Shonda Rhimes.
I would guess my interaction with illegal and legal immigration is about the same as most in the suburbs of New York, which is probably a lot less than those living in San Diego, Phoenix, Houston and Santa Fe. That said, I really don't see why this issue has sucked so much of our time and attention. Where's the crisis (beef)?

A CEO I was speaking with yesterday pretty much summed it up for me. H was decrying the lack of  immigration "reform" and his sole example of the crisis lack of immigration action has had on the US is a paucity of long-haul truck drivers. I tried not to laugh.

Personally, I'm a big fan of immigration. The more the merrier as far as I'm concerned. Amnesty for those who are here illegally? Absolutely. Sure, why not. Ironically, this puts me in opposition to the comprehensive immigration reform touted by Obama et al. That reform puts rather strict limits on immigration with quotas controlled by an (unholy) alliance of the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO. Yuck.

But in any case, a crisis? We have to act now? We can't wait any longer? I don't see it. Bring on Shondaland please.

Bill

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

What's So Funny About Peace, Love and Net Neutrality?

Eli,

How can anyone be against net neutrality? It sounds so right. As President Obama indicated last night the way to net neutrality is via Title II.

I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act
That's Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 (not a misprint, 1934.) That title deals with regulation of Common Carriers, and it was modeled after regulation of trains (I kid you not).

Here's the first part of Title II:


It shall be the duty of every common carrier engaged in interstate or foreign communication by wire or radio to furnish such communication service upon reasonable request therefor; and, in accordance with the orders of the Commission, in cases where the Commission, after opportunity for hearing, finds such action necessary or desirable in the public interest, to establish physical connections with other carriers, to establish through routes and charges applicable thereto and the divisions of such charges, and to establish and provide facilities and regulations for operating such through routes.
This will place the FCC squarely into the planning and approval of expansion of the internet's pipes.


(b) All charges, practices, classifications, and regulations for and in connection with such communication service, shall be just and reasonable, and any such charge, practice, classification, or regulation that is unjust or unreasonable is hereby declared to be unlawful:.....

The Commissioner may prescribe such rules and regulations as may be necessary in the public interest to carry out the provisions of this Act.
 New services will be approved by the FCC. Prices will be approved by the FCC.

Supports of Peace, love and net neutrality say the FCC will simply forebear this type of regulation. I think they are naive. Regulators use the power they are given. Regulatory agencies are also often driven by their political masters. For instance, the IRS investigates conservative non-profit groups at the very public behest of Democratic Senators. How long will it take a Republican Administration to ask the FCC to stop internet services favoring Democrats? How long will it take a Democrats Administration to ask the FCC to stop internet services favoring Republicans. 

Title II regulation of the Internet is a frightening prospect.

Bill


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

"That Badly Damaged Republican Brand" Wins 57% of the House, at least 52% of the Senate and 62% of the Governors

Eli,

The NY Times reports

It was a dispiriting outcome for Democrats, who just a few months ago were optimistic that a badly damaged Republican brand would help them prevail in a handful of races
According to the AP the Republicans will take somewhere around 248 House seats. I keep reading this is the biggest Republican House since either the 1920's or Harry Truman.  248 is 57% of the House seats. Not bad for a badly damaged brand.

I know what you are thinking: It's all the result of gerrymandering. Then explain this.

The Senate right now has 52 Republicans. Alaska and Louisiana probably go Republican, so the Senate is somewhere around 52-54% Republican. Not bad for the obstructionist party of no that gerrymands its way to victory.

I know what you are thinking: It's just the luck of the 33 Senate seats up for election. Then explain this.

The AP is currently showing Republicans with 31 of the 50 Governors,  62%. The GOP picked up Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts. All without gerrymandering. I haven't been able to find easily tabulated state house results but I believe it is similarly unbalanced towards the Republicans. Not bad for those extremist, racist, homophobic, war-mongering deniers.

I keep asking myself this: If the Republican brand is badly damaged, and they now control 57% of the House, at least 52% of the Senate and 62% of the Governors, what does that say about the Democratic brand? Not to worry though, there is hope (and change). Parties, or brands, respond to competition and will adjust their message and messengers in order to survive. I don't know how the Democrats will change, but they will.

The conventional wisdom seems to be coalescing around the notion that the Republicans must now "get things done." I don't know why. If they were elected to stop the Democrats and Obama, then it seems all they need to do is stop the Democrats and Obama. I don't really believe that's all they were elected to do, but they should be careful of over-interpreting their mandate. The Republicans will at some point over-reach and get slapped hard, just as the Democrats over-reached and got slapped, hard.

I don't buy this notion of an ineluctable trend to the Democrats based on demography and gender and I would discount any thesis (and I've seen a few) of a permanent Republican majority.

Now the chattering class can move on to their next shibboleth. Again from the NY Times:
 Republicans now face a challenge that is the mirror opposite of their counterparts’: how to avoid merely being a powerful congressional party and be competitive again in presidential campaigns, in which Democrats have won the popular vote in five of the last six elections.
 The last six Presidential election winners (source FEC.gov)

2012        Obama     65.9M     51.1%
2008        Obama     69.5M     52.9%
2004        Bush        62.0M     50.7%
2000        Bush        50.5M      47.9%
1996        Clinton    47.4M      49.2%
1992        Clinton    44.9M      43.0%

The Democrats have won the popular vote in five of the last six elections, but not a majority of the popular vote in five of the last six. Ross Perot ran in both the 1992 and 1996 elections, winning almost 19% of the vote in 1992 and 8% in 1996. Besides, lets be honest, Clinton became Republican in 1994.

So let's rephrase it a bit. In 4 of the past 9 Presidential elections the Republican candidate for President received a majority of the popular vote, but in only 2 of the past 9 did a Democrat candidate for President receive a majority of the popular vote. In the remaining three elections, no candidate received a majority of the popular vote.

Bill



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Best Endorsement Ever: "Very Grimm Choice: One is bad, the other is worse"

Eli,

Read the whole thing, it's priceless. From the New York Daily News:

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and beyond all doubt we are desperate in considering the choice for Congress in the district representing Staten Island and southern Brooklyn.

In Domenic Recchia, the Democrats have fielded a candidate so dumb, ill-informed, evasive and inarticulate that voting for a thuggish Republican who could wind up in a prison jumpsuit starts to make rational sense.

At least Michael Grimm can string three sentences together in arguing that he deserves the presumption of innocence on federal criminal charges stemming from his past operation of a restaurant.

Should he be convicted, Grimm has promised to resign, paving the way for a match between two fresh candidates. All the better.
I had much the same feeling when voting this morning. I certainly wasn't going to vote for someone that voted for Obamacare, but was I really going to pull the lever for the pale imitation running against him? And in the state races I wasn't going to vote for any incumbents, but the ding-dongs running against them were just as horrible to think of in office. Someone called this a "hold your nose election." Precisely the case for me.

Bill

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Connecticut Early Voting Amendment, Question 1

Eli,

For reasons I don't understand, this ballot measure seems to divide along party lines.

The official question is:
Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to remove restrictions concerning absentee ballots and to permit a person to vote without appearing at a polling place on the day of an election?
The "Further explanation" of the ballot summary states:
The state constitution contains provisions regarding the administration of elections in Connecticut, including requiring voters to cast their ballots at their polling place on election day, unless they qualify to vote by absentee ballot. Under the constitution, voters may qualify for an absentee ballot if they will be out of town, are sick or have a physical disability, or the tenets of their religion prohibit secular activity on election day. Because these restrictions are in the constitution, the General Assembly does not currently have the authority to pass a law that changes them. The constitutional amendment would eliminate these restrictions.
Voteyesct.org seems to summarize the argument as I've heard it stated:

This year, there will be a Constitutional Amendment (Question 1) on the Connecticut ballot. The purpose is to improve voter turnout by removing impediments that often discourage and deter eligible voters from voting.

Voting YES can help families, commuters, employees, employers, seniors and students – anyone eligible to vote. 

As Americans, voting is among our most fundamental rights. Especially in Connecticut – the Constitution State – eliminating obstacles so that residents can exercise that right is why Question 1 is so important.
The purpose is to improve voter turnout and removing the current restrictions will increase voter turnout. There should be a lot of data on this, and my simple google search of the term: "early voting voter turnout," showed the first entry a 2007 study by Gronke et al finding:

In conclusion, we remain skeptical of those who advocate in favor of early voting reforms primarily on the basis of increased turnout. Both these results, and prior work in political science, simply do not support these claims. There may be good reasons to adopt early voting—more accurate ballot counting, reduced administrative costs and headaches, and increased voter satisfaction—but boosting turnout is not one of them.
The second hit on the search returned a 2013 Pew study claiming:
Reformers hate it when this happens:  The country’s most widely adopted reform designed to make voting easier may lower the chances that an individual voter will go to the polls, according to a new study to be published in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Political Science.
 There may be many good reasons to vote for this amendment, but increasing voter turnout isn't one of them.

Bill


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"Don't let anybody tell you that, you know, it's corporations and businesses that create jobs.”

Eli,

Mrs. Clinton is taking a lot of unjustified (in my view) flak for her comment, "Don't let anybody tell you that, you know, it's corporations and businesses that create jobs.”

She was making completely silly remarks about the minimum wage, then the "Don't let anybody tell you that, you know, it's corporations and businesses that create jobs,” then some straw man remarks on trickle down economics. If I were to take issue with anything she said it would be the nonsense that somehow price increases for labor has no impact on demand at the low end of the wage scale.

I think there is great validity in the assertion, "Don't let anybody tell you that, you know, it's corporations and businesses that create jobs.” A corporation doesn't create a job then hand it out like a lollipop to deserving beggars. Jobs are created by a transaction. Corporations hire workers because they need the workers and agree upon the price. At a certain price, the corporation NEEDS the worker. The worker agrees to work at that price. Without the agreement, the transaction, there is no job.

My daughter, fresh out of college created a job, in partnership with her current employer. The employer got her time and skills. She got money and benefits. The transaction created the job. If the price she demanded was $1 million dollars per year there would not have been job creation. If the employer offered $5,000 per year there would not have been job creation. They met somewhere between the extremes and a job was created.

(Parenthetically, putting a floor on the transaction price is why mandatory mum wages result in job destruction).

My son, working at a minimum wage job went through the same negotiation, as did I. Corporations don't create jobs on their own. I would prefer the critics focus on Mrs. Clinton's blather about the minimum wage.

Bill



"Report Reveals Wider Tracking of Mail in U.S."

Eli,

Because terrorists use the US Post Office to communicate, of course. From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — In a rare public accounting of its mass surveillance program, the United States Postal Service reported that it approved nearly 50,000 requests last year from law enforcement agencies and its own internal inspection unit to secretly monitor the mail of Americans for use in criminal and national security investigations.
The audit found that in many cases the Postal Service approved requests to monitor an individual’s mail without adequately describing the reason or having proper written authorization.

In a show of bipartisanship both Republicans and Democrats support trampling on our Fourth Amendment rights.

Bill