Donald Trump is a pathogen evolved to thrive in an attention-maximization ecosystem

My latest Locus column is The Engagement-Maximization Presidency, and it proposes a theory to explain the political phenomenon of Donald Trump: we live in a world in which communications platforms amplify anything that gets "engagement" and provides feedback on just how much your message has been amplified so you can tune and re-tune for maximum amplification. Read the rest

Koch is abundant and low value: how the super-rich are buying American politics

In Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century, he advances a theory that as the rich acquire a critical mass of the national wealth, they are able to influence policy in ways that diverts even more of the national wealth to their benefit, getting even richer, and giving them more opportunities to buy policies that increase inequality. Read the rest

The upside of big tech is Russia vs Telegram, but the downside is Cloudflare vs SESTA

Yesterday, I wrote about the way that tech-sector concentration was making it nearly impossible for Russia to block the encrypted messaging service Telegram: because Telegram can serve its traffic through giant cloud providers like Amazon, Russia can only block Telegram by blocking everyone else who uses Amazon. Read the rest

We won't have Paul Ryan to kick around anymore

House Speaker Paul Ryan, an asshole, is quitting his job. Read the rest

To solve America's housing crisis, build public housing

You know what works better than giving tax-credits to property developers, or mandating a few poor-door accessible affordable housing units in a new luxury high rise? Just building affordable housing on public land that's publicly managed. Read the rest

Trump will never, ever be impeached and removed from office

For Trump to be impeached and removed from office, 67 Senators would have to vote in favor of impeachment; assuming no Democrats voted against impeachment, the only way Trump could be impeached is if every single 2018 Senate election was won by a Democrat, and nine Republican Senators voted in favor of impeachment. Read the rest

Alt-labor: the new, ungovernable red-state labor movements, led by teachers

America's "red states" are often thought of as homogeneous nests of parochial reactionary voters; it's more accurate to say that their places that have been cruelly dominated by Republican lawmakers who owe their seats to gerrymandering and voter suppression that disenfranchises progressives. Read the rest

In Chicago primaries, a string of defeats for the Democratic establishment at the hands of progressive Democrats

Four Democratic challengers backed by United Working Families (linked with the progressive Working Families Party) have successfully challenged establishment Dems backed by Chicago's legendarily unassailable "Democratic machine," effectively winning their offices at the same time, because the Democrat candidate always gets elected to those offices, thanks to Republicans not bothering to field candidates (leaving a vacuum that is sometimes filled by Holocaust-denying Illinois Nazis). Read the rest

White House Chief of Staff in a rage after leak reveals that Trump congratulated Putin against Cabinet advice

After Vladimir Putin stole another Russian election, Trump placed an official call to the Kremlin; his national security advisors' briefing notes for the call included the all-caps instruction "DO NOT CONGRATULATE" -- naturally, Trump congratulated Putin. Read the rest

Just because Cambridge Analytica tells its customers it can sway elections, it doesn't follow that they're any good at it

Unilever founder John Wanamaker famously said, "I know that half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. My only problem is that I don’t know which half." It's an odd testament to the power of advertising, an industry whose executives are incredibly effective at selling their services to other executives, even if they can't prove they're any good at selling their customers' products to the public. Read the rest

Facebook once boasted of its ability to sway elections, now it has buried those pages

Facebook maintains a repository of success stories trumpeting the advertisers who have attained greatness by buying Facebook ads; most of these are businesses, but until recently, Facebook also trumpeted Florida Governor Rick Scott's use of Facebook ads to "boost Hispanic voter turnout in their candidate’s successful bid for a second term, resulting in a 22% increase in Hispanic support and the majority of the Cuban vote." Read the rest

Six immortal superweapons the Democrats made for the president, which Trump gets to wield

Through the Obama years and even into the Trump administration, Democrats have voted a range of powers for the president that gives him almost unlimited authority, out of a combination of the foolish conviction that no one untrustworthy would inherit Obama's tools, and cowardice about voting against mass surveillance and being criticized by war on terror hawks. Read the rest

Democrats, citing Hayek, introduce Net Neutrality bill to force lawmakers to take an on-record position prior to the midterms

Calling the FCC's decision to kill Net Neutrality the "road to serfdom" Senator Ron Wyden [D-OR] introduced the legislation he'd co-sponsored with Senator Ed Markey [D-MA] to restore Neutrality. Read the rest

Surveillance-happy authoritarian "Democratic" California senator Dianne Feinstein loses California Democratic Party endorsement

Dianne Feinstein has represented California in the US senate for 28 years, garnering the California Democratic Party endorsement every year despite her far-right positions on mass surveillance, military adventurism, and authoritarian rule (she's trumpeted these policies as evidence of her "independence"). Read the rest

Why the voting age should be lowered to 16

Every American 16-year-old enrolled in high-school has to learn civics, with extensive instruction on the more confusing aspects of the American electoral system, such as the Electoral College; they are also required to study current affairs -- so why not let them vote? Read the rest

Before standing for the Democratic nomination in a NY congressional race, Patrick Ryan was in business spying on union organizers and left-wing activists

Patrick Ryan wants to be the Democratic nominee for New York's 19th district in the Hudson Valley, a Republican seat that Dems hope to flip; he's gone on record stating that he can do the job because of his entrepreneurial success -- but he didn't mention that he built his career at Berico Technologies by pitching a product to help businesses spy on union organizers and left-wing activists, a plan that included spying on left-wing Democrats and planting fake documents in order to discredit labor unions. Read the rest

32 Democratic senators demand to know if Trump's consumer finance boss has let Equifax off the hook

Following reports this week that Mick Mulvaney, Trump's new chief of the Consumer Finance Protection Board had stopped all activity related to probing the Equifax breach in which the sensitive financial data of virtually every adult American was stolen, 32 Democratic senators have written to Mulvaney demanding that he account for himself. Read the rest

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