Thursday, November 08, 2018

Voter ID Laws Approved in Multiple States

The claim that they disenfranchise blacks is pure racism.  It is a claim that blacks are too dumb to get and use photo ID

Amid competing claims over whether voter ID laws protect the voting process or disenfranchise minority citizens, both Arkansas and North Carolina voters have approved ballot propositions to create voter ID laws.

Arkansas currently requires ID to vote, but the proposal listed as Issue 2 on the ballot would require specific forms of identification.

Voter Eddie Bethany said the proposal made sense. “I think everybody should have a voter ID card, driver’s license, some form of photo ID, preferably a driver’s license,” said Eddie Bethany, a voter.

“It doesn’t make any difference to me if it goes into the constitution or not, it’s something that should be required by law,” Bethany said.

Arkansas has been trying to put a voter ID law in place since 2013, but court decisions have sidetracked implementation. The ballot question would end questions over the law by making it part of the state’s constitution.

In North Carolina, the debate has centered over whether a voter ID law is needed to address voter fraud, or whether it is designed to turn away voters.

“To me, it’s about making sure that every vote counts — one full vote — and that no one’s vote is diluted by votes which are cast either inaccurately or illegally,” said Republican state Rep. John Szoka, the Fayetteville Observer reported.

“This amendment, which we have been calling the ‘voter restriction amendment,’ we think would compromise access to the vote,” said Jen Jones, a spokeswoman for the Democracy North Carolina voting rights organization.

She said that when North Carolina’s voter ID law was in effect in 2016 before being struck down by the courts, legitimate voters were turned away from the polls.

Thirty-four states require ID at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, according to The Washington Post.

The American Civil Liberties Union said it believes voter ID laws exist to keep away minority voters, according to ABC.

“These types of requirements, these document requirements, they have a disproportionate burden on people of color, the elderly the poor the young and voters with disabilities,” Lakin said. “It is interesting that the voters affected by voter ID requirements and similar things we were seeing… had a disproportionate impact on voters who also turned out in unprecedented numbers in the 2008 election.”

President Donald Trump, however, has said that because of widespread voter fraud, voter ID is a no-brainer. “The time has come for voter ID like everything else,” Trump said at a recent Florida rally.

“Just take a look,” he said recently, according to The Washington Post. “All you have to do is go around, take a look at what’s happened over the years, and you’ll see. There are a lot of people — a lot of people — my opinion, and based on proof — that try and get in illegally and actually vote illegally. So we just want to let them know that there will be prosecutions at the highest level.”



‘Build the wall’ remains Republicans’ priority

With the House lost, legislation in the "lame duck" period may be the only hope of getting more funding for the wall

When President Trump signed a March 2018 spending bill into law, Congress allocated $1.6 billion for border wall construction and $400 million for repairing and replacing existing border fences. At the time, Trump referred to this as a “down payment” to begin wall construction, with more coming in the months ahead.

That money has already been put to good use.

Last week, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kristjen Nielsen unveiled a newly built 30-foot border wall along the border of California and Mexico. During her visit to the wall she reinforced her support for the president’s policy, “Let me be clear: Walls work. That’s not my opinion, it’s not a tagline, it’s not a political statement — it’s a fact. We have seen the success of walls in El Paso, in Yuma, in San Diego, and in the past right here in the El Centro sector”

But she continued to note that the President cannot do this alone and more action is needed by Congress, “It wasn’t just this physical barrier that led to decreased apprehensions, it was a combination of infrastructure, improved technology, and additional manpower. Together these attributes compromise a successful border wall system, this is the wall system we are requesting Congress to fund.”

Now more than ever, Republicans are needed to continue funding the border wall and build on the success they have achieved thus far.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has already introduced a bill that provides $23.4 billion to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, with $5.5 billion in funding available immediately. While a lame duck push is expected on the issue, a Republican majority in the 116th Congress could ensure our border is secured long term.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has already made it clear she does not support a border wall and does not see any Democrats voting for wall funding anytime soon, meaning a Democratic majority might destroy our chances of having a secure border before 2020.

This is particularly pressing as a caravan of several thousand illegal immigrants march toward our southern border demanding entry into the United States. Trump has said he is deploying the military in the meantime to deter the caravan.

Hill contributor Jen Kerns explains, “Humans aren’t the only entity streaming across the border — drugs are, too — at the hands of the Mexican drug cartels and others. In fact, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol data for fiscal 2018 show that seizure of illegal drugs along the border have consistently increased in the past five years. This election season, as U.S. politicians wrangle with whether or not they want to support full funding for a border wall and increase number of border agents, they might also want to consider these other intruders coming uninvited over the border.”

Kerns reminds the American people that in just the first five months of 2018, customs officials and border patrol agents seized 1,060 pounds on fentanyl, a lethal opioid becoming common in the U.S., at the border.

A border wall is necessary to slow the stream of these drugs into the U.S.

While the down payment for the wall has already been received, much more will need to be done to ensure the border is truly secure and if Republicans lose the House on Tuesday, this might be one of the reasons why. If the American people want the wall built, they must realize that will probably never happen if Democrats control Congress.



Snopes Gets Its Own Scathing Fact-Check, Learns the Hard Way Not To Mess with Conservative Media

Snopes is a verified fact checker for Facebook, which should tell you all you need to know about the state of social media in 2018. Few news organizations tilt so far to the left as Snopes does, and it’s supposed to be the site news organizations use to find out if a story is true. Ay dios mio.

Conservative writers and websites are pretty much used to the site’s bias; in fact, to borrow a phrase from Oscar Wilde, the only thing worse in conservative media than being assailed by Snopes is not being assailed by Snopes. It’s a sign that you’ve made it. Or, at least I think so, since I’ve been the subject of what I thought was one of its more eye-rollingly iffy pieces about a ridiculous essay that tried to draw a profoundly tenuous parallel between last summer’s solar eclipse and institutional racism. (Without going into specifics of why Snopes was wrong, let me just say this: Try harder next time, guys, and get a sense of humor.)

I don’t remember receiving any inquiries from Snopes about the piece in question, however. Apparently, that’s now a thing, since Snopes is demanding to know where Breitbart got images of members of the New Black Panther Party campaigning for Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, a Democrat.

“Over the weekend, Breitbart News — among other media outlets — published explosive photographs of armed Black Panthers campaigning for Abrams, holding up her campaign sign while also holding up various guns,” Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle reported Monday.

“In the story, Breitbart News
included a quote from the campaign of her GOP opponent, Brian Kemp, calling on her to denounce the radicals campaigning for her.”
"Stacey Abrams needs to denounce these armed thugs, but she won't. She agrees with the racist New Black Panther philosophy"

The story went viral and got picked up by a number of mainstream media outlets. This prompted Snopes to send a series of questions to Breitbart regarding the photos it had obtained.

“On Monday, a self-identified ‘reporter’ for Snopes, Bethania Palma, reached out to Breitbart News with a series of questions about the Black Panther report,” Breitbart reported.

“None of the questions implies anything was inaccurate about the report,” it said. “Facebook relies on Snopes as an official ‘fact checker’ to detect fake news and misinformation on the platform, along with a small group of other primarily left-wing organizations including Politifact.”

Here were some of Palma’s questions:

“The story says Breitbart ‘obtained’ images of the Black Panthers. Where did Breitbart obtain the images from?”

“Why does Breitbart quote the Kemp campaign with no obvious effort to get comment from the Abrams campaign?”

“Why did Breitbart use the term ‘lobby’ in the headline?”

“Breitbart normally takes a pro-gun stance. Does Breitbart maintain that stance when the gun owners are black?”

“Did anyone at Breitbart make an effort to contact the New Black Panther Party for comment?”

That last one is a doozy, because if there’s anything that’s going to make this story look better, it’s a quote from the equable folks at the New Black Panther Party.

However, Breitbart noticed some interesting things about Palma.

“Just a quick glance at Palma’s Twitter account or at her history of writing for radical leftist outlet Alternet shows a hard leftist mentality, one quick to accuse Trump of being ‘racist’ (the latest is a series of tweets attacking the president’s campaign ad on the migrant caravan as such) or linking Trump to the Ku Klux Klan any way she can — a history dating back years, as Breitbart News has reported about Palma before,” the publication said.

So, Breitbart had a few questions for Palma, which thus far have gone unanswered:

“1.) Why can anyone trust Snopes to be an independent authority on fact-checking when you personally are so clearly biased in favor of leftists?

“2.) You implied in your questions to us that our story had something to do with race. The story clearly did not. What made you think that? Please be specific.

“3.) In your questions to us, you did not indicate that there was anything even close to inaccurate in our story. So, again, please be specific: what exactly are you ‘fact checking’?

“4.) Do you send similar lists of questions to outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and others on their reporting?”

I’m sure the temptation to include that emoji with the smiley-face stroking its chin was very, very tempting.

We don’t need the answer to any of these questions, mind you, nor are they important. What they do is make a point: Snopes is supposed to be about fact-checking. None of what Palma asked had to do with the facts behind the pictures. It was an attempt to smear Breitbart by questioning its sources (I don’t remember Snopes taking a hard-line stance regarding anonymous sources in the past; quite to the contrary, if my desultory reading of the website wasn’t mistaken) and implying that Breitbart was against the New Black Panther Party because of race and not because it’s a revolutionary fringe organization with a history of voter intimidation inserting itself into a campaign.

“Palma has not replied to our request for comment before publication,” Breitbart dryly noted. I wouldn’t be counting on that email, but I’m sure an article “debunking” its piece is on its way.



The old, old folly of Rent Control

It's bad for both landlords and tenants

Californians have just voted on Proposition 10, which would allow local governments to impose and expand rent control laws. Consider the long-term harms the measure would inflict on housing quantity, quality, and affordability.

Rent control is a textbook example of a price ceiling, in which prices are capped below market rates (i.e., where supply and demand are left free to interact). As those Econ 101 textbooks will show you, many more people will demand housing at these lower prices, but fewer landlords will be willing to provide them at those rates. This leads to a shortage of housing, which only exacerbates the affordability problem. Furthermore, diminished landlord profits and a glut of prospective renters lead to less investment in maintaining properties and offering amenities, thereby reducing the quality of rental housing.

This is well understood among economists. Though they struggle to agree on many issues, an astonishing 93 percent of economists in a 1992 survey of American Economic Association members agreed that “a ceiling on rents reduces the quality and quantity of housing.”

And yet, here we have Prop. 10, which would roll back a 1995 law that curbs rent control. The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act prohibited local governments from implementing rent control for housing built after January 31, 1995. It also exempted condos and single-family homes from rent control laws and allowed landlords to bump prices back up to market rates once a tenant left.

Santa Monica, one of the early adopters of rent control, is champing at the bit to double down on the policy if Prop. 10 passes, and property-owners and developers have taken notice. The number of multifamily rental properties up for sale in the city is at the highest level in 20 years—with about 80 percent more listings than usual—and developers are holding off on land deals, the Wall Street Journal noted in May, as they fear plunging property values if the measure passes.

But if rent control is so harmful an economic policy, why is it still being pursued with such vigor at the ballot box? Because it is all about politics. As journalist Henry Hazlitt asserted in his book, Economics in One Lesson, “[t]enants have more votes than landlords.” In an even more sobering analysis, Hazlitt observes: “The more unrealistic and unjust the rent control is, the harder it is politically to get rid of it.” In effect, you have created a group with strong personal interests that feels forever entitled to such subsidies. The truth of this can be seen in any attempt to reduce—or even slow the growth of—any government welfare program.

The best way to improve housing affordability across the state would be to eliminate the laws and regulations that restrict supply and keep it from meeting demand. But this is much more difficult politically than blaming “greedy” landlords, wealthy tech workers in the Bay Area, and “gentrification.” After all, powerful unions want their prevailing wage laws, environmentalists want to prevent development to keep the environment in a “pure” state (and preserve their hiking and biking trails), neighborhood busybodies want to impose “smart growth” and prevent people from developing their own property to “preserve the character of the neighborhood,” and local governments want to impose high development fees and extract concessions from developers to pad city coffers and get others to pay for their priorities.

It is no wonder, then, that California produces 100,000 fewer housing units than it needs each year, particularly in coastal communities, according to a March 2015 Legislative Analyst’s Report, and why California home prices have gone from 30 percent above the national average in 1970 to 80 percent above average in 1980 to two and a half times the national average in 2015 (not to mention rents that are 50 percent higher).

The slogan should not be “The rent is too damn high!” It should be “The government is too damn big!”

It is dishonest for proponents of Prop. 10 to promise that rent control will deliver affordable rents for all. If they were more forthright, they would say, “We are going to violate people’s property rights and right of contract to force them to offer below-market rents, and only a small portion of you will actually benefit from it, while most of you will have to pay even higher prices for a smaller choice of more poorly maintained housing, or move farther away to areas without rent control.” But that requires longer-term thinking—and doesn’t work so well on a bumper sticker or a protest sign.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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