Saturday, November 5, 2016

Just Say No on Measure A. Its for the Grown Ups.

Gay Independent Thinkers who don't drink the Kool-Aid

How to protect yourself from hacking

How Can Journalists Protect Themselves During a Trump Administration?

The president-elect’s attacks on the press hint at an unfriendly atmosphere for reporters.
Donald Trump talks with journalists during a rally against the Iran nuclear deal
Chip Somodevilla / Staff
The United States is one of the easier countries in which to be a journalist. Compared to countries with authoritarian governments in Russia, China, and nearly everywhere in the Middle East, a reporter can clash with the U.S. government and still go home from work feeling safe. Reporters without Borders, a nonprofit organization that advocates for reporters’ rights, has ranked the U.S. in the top 50 countries with the most press freedom since 2002.
Things are far from perfect. The Obama Administration has hotly pursued whistleblowers—especially those who leak information related to national security—and its attempt to force James Risen, a journalist for The New York Times, to reveal confidential sources was a major setback to press freedom.
But before long, these past eight years may look like summer camp for journalists. On Tuesday, American voters chose a new president, and he’s not a friend to the press.
Donald Trump has called for an “opening up” of libel laws in the U.S., which would make it easier to sue journalists who write unflattering things, and maintained blacklists of media outlets he didn’t want covering him. He’s got a penchant for surveillance, allegedly wiring up the phones in his Mar-A-Lago resort so that he could listen in on any call from the handset at his bedside. He’s called for boycotting Apple after the company refused to unlock the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters when asked by the FBI. He’s “keeping a list” of political figures who were disloyal to him, and he has a habit of singling out journalists he dislikes.
If you’re a journalist in the U.S., all this means that it’s time to protect yourself.
The government can ask technology companies to turn over information—like the contents of an email or instant message, for example—if they’ve got the appropriate warrant or court order. The best way to keep overreaching law enforcement from doing this is to use a messaging platform that, by design, can’t read the data it shuttles from user to user.
Here’s how: Tech-savvy reporters, including many who focus on digital privacy and surveillance, routinely use tools that encrypt their online communications end-to-end—that is, in such a way that not even the company delivering messages can read their contents. Signal, a smartphone app, is the medium of choice for privacy-conscious communicators, and is probably the easiest way to call or text securely. Encrypting email using PGP is also an option, but it’s far more cumbersome.
It’s also important to make up complex passwords—and never to reuse a username and password combination for more than one site. Password managers like 1PasswordLastPass, and Dashlane can create a different randomized password for every website, and remember them all so that you don’t have to. Turning on two-factor authentication on every service that supports it—Google, Slack, Dropbox, Amazon, etc.—makes it much harder for hackers to get into your accounts, by requiring you to approve every login with a mobile device. And for those who need to browse the internet securely, a properly configured Tor browser allows users to poke around the web anonymously.
Already, journalists and human-rights activists around the world operate under hostile governments that use surveillance to detect and disrupt their work. To understand what U.S.-based journalists might learn from them, I reached out to Ali Bangi, the co-director of ASL19, a non-profit organization that helps Arabic- and Persian-speaking internet users protect their privacy and anonymity online, and bypass internet censorship.
Bangi made two predictions based on his experience with the media landscape in Iran. First, he said, journalists will need to work harder to keep their anonymous sources safe. Electronic surveillance can make it easy for the government to determine the identity a whistleblower, if a reporter isn’t careful. A vindictive administration could deploy surveillance tools more freely in order to figure out who’s leaking information.
It’s also possible that more types of information will be considered sensitive and dangerous. That’s why people other than national-security reporters should think about communicating more securely: Even run-of-the-mill political reporting could make journalists a target.
“Activists and journalists working on hostile situations understand very well that, unless you take the necessary precautions, your online activities can have consequences for your physical safety,” said Daniel Bedoya Arroyo, the incident-response manager at Access Now, a digital-rights advocacy group. “For example, a mobile device can reveal with a decent level of accuracy your physical location, even if geolocalization services are disabled. And unfortunately, this increased risk and fear can cause self-censorship in many situations.”
A survey conducted by PEN America, an organization that promotes freedom of expression, found that 16 percent of writers in the U.S. avoided writing or speaking about a topic as a result of government surveillance, and that another 11 percent had “seriously considered” avoiding a topic for that reason. (The survey was conducted after Edward Snowden’s leaks first began to reveal the massive scale of the National Security Agency’s spying operations.)
“If the government is monitoring your communication, or if you even perceive that they might be, you are not going to say precisely what you think, particularly in repressive societies where there are consequences for critical expression,” said Joel Simon, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The fact that the government’s spying apparatus will soon be under Trump’s control is causing panic among privacy advocates. Writing in The Guardian,Trevor Timm, the executive director of the nonprofit Freedom of the Press, argued that Trump could wreak havoc using President Obama’s secret drone program and a powerful NSA:
In a little over two months, Donald Trump—after his shocking victory last night—will control a vast, unaccountable national security and military apparatus unparalleled in world history. The nightmare that civil libertarians have warned of for years has now tragically come true: instead of dismantling the surveillance state and war machine, the Obama administration and Democrats institutionalized it—and it will soon be in the hands of a maniac.
It will go down in history as perhaps President Obama’s most catastrophic mistake.
Evan Greer, the campaign director for Fight for the Future, a digital-rights nonprofit, called on Obama to shut down the NSA’s mass-surveillance programs in next few months, before he leaves office.
Institutional checks and a strong first amendment will probably keep press freedoms in the U.S. from eroding too much in the next four or eight years. It’s certainly won’t approach the situation in countries like Iran, where a journalist named Yashar Soltani was thrown in solitary confinement in September for exposing corruption in the office of Tehran’s mayor.
“Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt!” said Bangi when I asked him what an Iranian journalist might advise an American reporter working under Trump’s NSA. “And if it's not safe anymore, leave.”

Democratic Socialism is Still Socialism

Friday, November 4, 2016

Shopping in Socialist Venezuela

Technological terrors from license-plate readers to facial recognition.

States, Plates, and Pates
Technological terrors from license-plate readers to facial recognition.
By Kevin D. Williamson — October 23, 2016

Why voting for Measure A in Marin may be a complete waste of your Tax Money

Editor's Note: Marin County voters will have an opportunity to vote for Measure A, the so called "Smart Starts" program that promises free preschool, medical care and social services to low income people REGARDLESS IF THEY LIVE IN MARIN.    While there are many problems with the tax, what about the effectiveness of similar programs like Head Start?  It turns out that the governments own studies demonstrate that there is little benefit to the programs.  We urge you to vote NO on MEASURE A.

Hillary Clinton Wants More Kids to Get Nothing Out of Early Childhood Education

Useless pre-K programs give politicians the warm-fuzzies but don’t do much to help students, new study says.

Christopher Fitzgerald/Chris Fitzgerald/CandidatePhotos/NewscomChristopher Fitzgerald/Chris Fitzgerald/CandidatePhotos/Newscom

Overpaying for a low-quality product won't turn it into something better.
Outside of politics, this isn't a controversial notion. Plopping down $20,000 for a 10-year old Kia isn't going to turn that car into a brand new BMW. If you were repeatedly dissatisfied with your neighborhood pizza joint, you wouldn't go back to the pizza shop and pay double for the same thing. Instead, you'd order Thai or otherwise find a better way to spend the take-out food portion of your household budget.
Which bring us, somehow, to the topic of early childhood education.

new report published this week in Behavioral Science and Policy Journal, raises serious questions about whether the widespread adoption of publicly funded preschool programs is in the best interest of children and taxpayers. Dale Farran and Mark Lipsey, the two Vanderbilt University researchers who published the study, say governments are funding pre-K programs without having a good sense of what these programs should be trying to achieve and without knowing how to judge if they're working.
These programs aren't cheap. According to the Brookings Institution, state and federal governments spent more than $34 billion on pre-K last year. Head Start, probably the most well-known early childhood education program, has been around since the 1960s and it costs the federal government more than $8 billion a year—not counting the matching funds that state and local governments pay when they receive a Head Start grant.
After all that time and all that money, there's not much evidence that Head Start has given students much of a head start. A 2010 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concluded that any benefits from the program "yielded only a few statistically significant differences in outcomes at the end of 1st grade."
Still, that doesn't mean all pre-K program don't work. Oklahoma, for example, has been funding statewide early education since 1998 and boasts that 74 percent of all four-year olds are enrolled in pre-K. Studies that tracked Oklahoma students from 1998 through 2010 found that children enrolled in pre-K consistently outperformed others, regardless of class or race.
Oklahoma's successes set off a mad dash in state capitols. By the end of 2015, 54 state-funded pre-K programs were operating in 42 states plus Washington, D.C., at a cost of more than $6.2 billion for state taxpayers. Programs that used to be narrowly targeted to low income students are now being expanded—New York City recently adopted a universal pre-K program and Barack Obama called for states to do the same in his 2016 State of the Union address.
In the rush to create new programs and expand old ones, Farran and Lipsey say, states are misallocating money and not checking for results.
"Viewed with a critical eye, the currently available research raises real questions about whether most state pre-K programs do anything more than boost 4-year-olds' academic cognitive skills to where they would be by the end of kindergarten anyway," Farran and Lipsey conclude. "Children are not well served by a perpetuation of magical thinking about the likelihood of profound effects resulting from poorly defined, state-run pre-K programs."
You can think about it like this: federal and state governments are spending $34 billion annually on take-out pizza, based on a study of take-out pizza in Oklahoma that concluded take-out pizza in Oklahoma was delicious. These governments don't know if the pizza everywhere else is any good. They don't know whether they would be better off spending their money on Thai food instead. They don't even know how to decide if the pizza they are getting is any good, but they're willing to pay more for it.
Hillary Clinton is promising to join the party. The Democratic presidential nominee says she would double the number of children enrolled in Head Start and would expand other federally-subsidized programs with the goal of giving all four-year olds access to pre-K. Clinton is no stranger to the issue: in the 1990s, she pushed for an expansion of Head Start that passed during her husband's time in office.
As with many other topics, Donald Trump's view on early childhood education is difficult to ascertain. He's a firm believer in local control over schooling decisions—"I'm a tremendous believer in education. But education has to be at a local level," he bellows in one campaign ad—and he has outlined a plan to allow parents to deduct the costs of child care, but it's not clear how he views the government's role in providing pre-K (the Republican platform adopted in Cleveland opposes public funding for pre-K on the grounds that it's a government intrusion into the parent-child relationship).
Regardless of who wins the election, federal and state officials should be asking if it make sense to keep funding pre-K when even the federal government admits it can't find much evidence of success in decades of trying?
It all comes down to "the ongoing triumph of hope over experience," says Lisa Snell, director of education policy for the Reason Foundation, which publishes this website.
"There are solid reasons to remain skeptical of multi-billion dollar investments in universal preschool," said Snell. "While there is research that preschool may improve some outcomes for kindergartners in terms of language development, the long-term gains from universal preschool have been more difficult to capture."
That's true even in Oklahoma—remember, the one state that had gotten pre-K right?
Oklahoma's improved test scores in reading happened only after the state implemented a third grade retention program to hold back students who weren't reading at the appropriate grade level. New evidence suggests that policy probably has more to do with the state's recent uptick in verbal and reading skills than the state's decades-old pre-K program.
Universal preschool comes with a massive price tag. It would cost about $75 billion to implement, under the terms outlines by Obama earlier this year. States would be on the hook for about 10 percent of the start-up costs and as much as 300 percent of federal outlays by the tenth year of the program.
The New America Foundation predicts that preschool programs meeting the proposed standards would cost about $8,000 per pupil per year. At that rate, providing preschool to just 75 percent of all 4-year olds would cost taxpayers about $25 billion annually.
That's a lot of money for "magical thinking."

Take a Ride on the ‘Tide-tanic’: You’re Paying for It

Take a Ride on the ‘Tide-tanic’: You’re Paying for It

Virginia Beach taxpayers will vote on whether to fund an extension of a light-rail line that no one rides.

The Tide’s electrically powered light-rail vehicle at a station Norfolk, Va. PHOTO: SUNPIX TRAVEL/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
KATE BACHELDER ODELLOct. 28, 2016 6:48 p.m. ET

Norfolk, Va.

The clang—bling bling!—is familiar to anyone who lives along the edge of downtown, an otherwise pleasant part of this old Navy port town. The bell signals an arriving train on the Tide, a 7.4-mile light-rail line. Here’s something else you will notice if you hop aboard: The train is seldom carrying more than six passengers. The Tide moves from places you don’t work to areas you don’t wish to visit. It doesn’t stop at the airport or the world’s largest naval base.

But residents of nearby Virginia Beach will vote on Nov. 8 whether to use local tax dollars to extend the Tide to their shores. Proponents promise strong ridership, economic development, sustainable travel, even slimmer waist lines—commuting on light rail, one group says, reduces your odds of obesity by a precise 81%. If that claim sounds laughable, the rest are equally bogus. Virginia Beach taxpayers are actually considering a bailout for one of the least patronized rail systems in the country.

The Tide first picked up passengers in 2011, more than a year later than scheduled and $100 million over budget. A federal transportation grant and stimulus money funded the project, and by the end transit officials were under investigation for fudging cost estimates. A Federal Transit Administration profile predicted 10,400 weekday riders in the Tide’s opening year. The train doesn’t crack half that, even now.

The Brookings Institution last year bestowed on the Tide the dishonor of losing more money per ride—$6.63—than any other metro rail system in the U.S. Lamentably, the light rail in Santa Clara, Calif., sneaked past the Tide to steal the title of Biggest Loser before this tidbit could appear in Norfolk tourism brochures. But the race is still competitive. Tide fares contribute about 15% of operating expenses; the 2014 shortfall was $9.5 million.

The pitch for light rail is always the same: Businesses will pop up along the route, which is good for the economy; plus, millennials love riding trains. A city fact sheet suggests the Tide and other transit projects have spurred $600 million in development. But the methodology seems to count everything built since the rail opened, regardless of the train’s role. For instance, did light-rail riders demand a new $70 million medical office? As for millennials, their already dismal ridership is expected to decline. Young people grow older and do the unthinkable: Buy cars.

The Tide clogs roads, as drivers idle at intersections waiting for a train to pass. Another irony: “Because the light-rail cars are so empty,” the Cato Institute’s Randal O’Toole says, “they use a huge amount of energy per passenger mile”—nearly 7,200 British thermal units, or BTUs, in 2014 compared with 3,600 for the average SUV. Wonderful news for Norfolk’s Chevy Suburban drivers, who can buzz by the train with the smug superiority once reserved for people who bike to work.

Tide advocates aren’t fazed by any of this. Two years ago the economists at the opinion page of the Virginian-Pilot newspaper suggested slashing fares to 50 cents from $1.50, or maybe even making rides free. “It’s time to end the pretense,” the editorialists wrote, “that a 7-mile starter light rail line can on its own attract enough fare-paying riders to substantially offset the cost of operations.” For intellectual firepower the paper cited an article on mass transit published by

The idea to cut fares went nowhere, but Virginia Beach has debated for years whether the Tide deserves a cash infusion in the form of a 3.5-mile extension. The state would put up $155 million, but Virginia Beach taxpayers would be stuck with the rest—at least $88 million, not including inevitable cost overruns.

Proponents of the measure are largely the folks who would profit: railway developers. The No Light Rail in Virginia Beach campaign is run by the city’s treasurer, John Atkinson, along with a handful of Virginia Beach council members and activists. Acrimony between the two sides is running high. The light-rail crowd accuses detractors of the ultimate sin in 2016: Coarsening the “public discourse” with phrases like “lie rail” and “Tide-tanic.” Earlier this month opponents put up a sand sculpture at a beach festival—and someone raked off the three-dimensional letters telling residents to vote against.

The no campaign has the better argument. Extending the Tide would siphon tax dollars from bus services, schools or preparation for the occasional hurricane that submerges the place. But the vote could be close: An October survey showed the ballot measure polling dead even, with 48% in support and 49% opposed.

One sign of desperation is that rail proponents don’t even purport to discuss benefits. Instead they rely on bromides about posterity. Virginia Beach should be a place “where young people are valued and take part in building a 21st century community,” one activist wrote in a newspaper op-ed. “This includes making light rail part of our story.” Allow me to preview how this story ends: Empty trains to nowhere that barrel around town every 10 to 15 minutes. Bling bling!

Ms. Odell is an editorial writer for the Journal.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Ruling Class

The Ruling Class

The ruling class decide which ideas are acceptable, which scientific theories to believe, what speech is permitted.

John Stossel | October 26, 2016

America is often described as a society without the Old World's aristocracy. Yet we still have people who feel entitled to boss the rest of us around. The "elite" media, the political class, Hollywood and university professors think their opinions are obviously correct, so they must educate us peasants.

OK, so they don't call us "peasants" anymore. Now we are "deplorables"—conservatives or libertarians. Or Trump supporters.

The elite have a lot of influence over how we see things.

I don't like Donald Trump. I used to. I once found him refreshing and honest. Now I think he's a mean bully. I think that partly because he mocked a disabled person. I saw it on TV. He waved his arms around to mimic a New York Times reporter with a disability—but wait!

It turns out that Trump used the same gestures and tone of speech to mock Ted Cruz and a general he didn't like. It's not nice, but it doesn't appear directed at a disability.

I only discovered this when researching the media elite. Even though I'm a media junkie, I hadn't seen the other side of the story. The elite spoon-fed me their version of events.

Another reason I don't like Trump is that he supported the Iraq war—and then lied about that. Media pooh-bahs told me Trump pushed for the war years ago on The Howard Stern Show.

But then I listened to what Trump actually said.

"Are you for invading Iraq?" Stern asked.

Trump replied, "Yeah, I guess ... so." Later, on Neil Cavuto's show, Trump said, "Perhaps (Bush) shouldn't be doing it yet, and perhaps we should be waiting for the United Nations." I wouldn't call that "support"—the way NBC's debate moderator and many others have.

I was stunned by how thoroughly the media have distorted Trump's position. That's a privilege you get when you're part of the media elite: You get to steer the masses' thinking.

At the second debate, we all know that Trump walked over to Hillary Clinton's podium, as if he was "stalking Ms. Clinton like prey," said The New York Times. CNN said, "Trump looms behind Hillary Clinton at the debate."

Afterward, Clinton went on Ellen DeGeneres' show and said Trump would "literally stalk me around the stage, and I would just feel this presence behind me. I thought, 'Whoa, this is really weird.'"

But it was a lie. Watch the video. Clinton walked over to Trump's podium. Did the mainstream media tell you that? No.

The ruling class has its themes, and it sticks to them.

When Clinton wore white to a debate, the Times called the color an "emblem of hope" and a Philadelphia Inquirer writer used words like "soft and strong ... a dream come true." But when Melania Trump wore white, that same writer called it a "scary statement," as if Melania Trump's white symbolized white supremacy, "another reminder that in the G.O.P. white is always right."

Give me a break.

The ruling class decide which ideas are acceptable, which scientific theories to believe, what speech is permitted.

In the book Primetime Propaganda, Ben Shapiro writes that the Hollywood ruling class calls conservatives "moral scum."

He says, "If you're entering the industry, you have to keep (your beliefs) under wraps because nobody will hire you ... they just assume you're a bad person."

They won't tell you why you weren't hired. They just tell you, "You weren't right for the part," explains Shapiro. "Talent is subjective, which means that it's pretty easy to find an excuse not to call back the guy who voted for George W. Bush."

Years ago, the ruling class was the Church. Priests said the universe revolved around Earth. Galileo was arrested because he disagreed.

Today, college lefties, mainstream media, Hollywood and the Washington establishment have replaced the Church, but they are closed-minded dogmatists, too.

We are lucky that now we have a lot of information at our fingertips. We don't need to rely on the ruling class telling us what to believe. We can make up our own minds.

¡Inmigrantes! No vote como en el país del cual huyó (Immigrants! Don't Vote for What You Fled)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

YouTube vs. Conservative Speech

YouTube vs. Conservative Speech

Dennis Prager
Posted: Oct 25, 2016 12:01 AM
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YouTube restricting access to 16 videos -- down from 21 -- that were created and posted online by my nonprofit educational organization, Prager University. The subheading read, "YouTube thinks Dennis Prager's videos may be dangerous." The Journal said:

"Tech giants like Google and Facebook always deny that their platforms favor some viewpoints over others, but then they don't do much to avoid looking censorious. ... Dennis Prager's 'PragerU' puts out free short videos on subjects 'important to understanding American values' -- ranging from the high cost of higher education to the motivations of Islamic State.

"The channel has more than 130 million views. ... As you might guess, the mini-seminars do not include violence or sexual content. But more than 15 videos are 'restricted' on YouTube ... This means the clips don't show up for those who have turned on filtering -- say, a parent shielding their children from explicit videos. A YouTube spokesperson told us that the setting is optional and 'based on algorithms that look at a number of factors, including community flagging on videos.'

"PragerU started a petition calling for YouTube to remove the restriction, and more than 66,000 people have signed. YouTube is free to set its own standards, but the company is undercutting its claim to be a platform for 'free expression.'"

It is a good sign that YouTube's censorship of respectful and utterly nonviolent and nonsexual videos made it to The Wall Street Journal editorial page. It is a very bad sign that it had to. And it is a very bad sign that it made the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal but not that of The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times or any other mainstream newspaper that still purports to support the classic liberal value of free speech.

To understand what YouTube, which is owned by Google, has done, it is necessary to briefly describe what it has restricted access to.

Every week, PragerU (the generally used name for Prager University) posts at least one 5-minute video presentation online. These presentations are on just about every subject and are given by important thinkers -- some very well-known, some not. The list includes dozens of professors at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Notre Dame, Princeton, Dayton, Boston College, Stanford, UCLA, Harvard, and West Point, among other universities; a black member of South African Parliament; comedians Adam Carolla and Yakov Smirnoff; two former prime ministers (one of Spain, and one of Denmark); Pulitzer Prize winners George Will, Bret Stephens and Judith Miller; Mike Rowe of "Dirty Jobs"; Ayaan Hirsi Ali; Arthur Brooks; Jonah Goldberg; Alan Dershowitz; Nicholas Eberstadt; Larry Elder; Steve Forbes; Walter Williams; Christina Hoff Sommers; George Gilder; Victor Davis Hanson; Bjorn Lomborg; Heather Mac Donald; Eric Metaxas; Amity Shlaes; Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of British troops in Afghanistan; and many others. I also present some videos.

Any responsible person, left-wing or right-wing, would have to acknowledge that this is a profoundly respectable list of non-bomb-throwing presenters. It's hardly conducive to censorship.

YouTube placed restrictions on the following videos.

--Two videos on race: "Are The Police Racist?" and "Don't Judge Blacks Differently."

--Six videos on Islam: "What ISIS Wants," "Why Don't Feminists Fight for Muslim Women?" "Islamic Terror: What Muslim Americans Can Do," "Pakistan: Can Sharia and Freedom Coexist?" "Radical Islam: The Most Dangerous Ideology" and "Why Do People Become Islamic Extremists?"

--Two videos on abortion (the only two offered): "Who's More Pro-Choice: Europe or America?" and "The Most Important Question About Abortion."

--Two videos on Israel: "Israel: The World's Most Moral Army" and "Israel's Legal Founding" (the latter video, presented by Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, was reinstated after much publicity).

--Three videos on America: "Why Did America Fight the Korean War?" "Did Bush Lie About Iraq?" and "What is the University Diversity Scam?"

--One on politics: "Who NOT to Vote For."

--And one on men and women: "He Wants You" (a video I present about men and women).

Think of these topics, and consider the list of presenters. Do you see any violent content or sexual content? Do you see anything you wouldn't want your minor child to view? The only possible "yes" might be to the video titled "He Wants You." Though void of any explicit content, it deals with the subject of men looking at other women yet most still wanting their own wives. It has almost 4 million views and has helped a lot of couples.

Obviously, then, the explanation is not that "algorithms" catch violence and sex. Rather, YouTube doesn't want effective conservative videos to be posted (each video has at least 1 million views). Does that mean that it has left-wing censors looking for every widely viewed conservative video? If so, it doesn't have to. Left-wing viewers simply flag our videos and others' as inappropriate, and YouTube does the rest.

I have never devoted a column to PragerU. But I have done so today because if YouTube gets away with censoring as big a website as PragerU -- after a major editorial is published in The Wall Street Journal, after coverage in the New York Post, The Boston Globe, Fortune, National Review and many other places, and after a petition signed by over 70,000 people (which is on the PragerU website) -- what will happen to other conservative institutions?

For the probable answer, see your local university.

The question, then, is this: Will YouTube do to the internet what the left has done to the university?

Denis Rodoni on Homeless Parking in Marin County

Denis Rodoni, Candidate for District Four in Marin County promotes the idea of a permanent KOA style RV park for homeless people.  We assume, he is not advocating it to be located outside his home in Olema in West Marin.  Where does he want to locate this "innovative, creative" idea?  We assume it will be in one of the unincorporated sections of Marin like Marinwood, where the Supervisors put all of the undesirable development.  Rodoni speaks at the  Marin Coalition lunch in Oct 2016

The Dark Art of Political Intimidation

Intimidation, harassment, and blackmail have become the norm in American politics. Why? Because it works. Kimberley Strassel, author of The Intimidation Game, explains.

YouTube has placed this video in Restricted Mode.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Why Middle-Class Americans Can't Afford to Live in Liberal Cities

Why Middle-Class Americans Can't Afford to Live in Liberal Cities

Blue America has a problem: Even after adjusting for income, left-leaning metros tend to have worse income inequality and less affordable housing.

Wikimedia Commons
On April 2, 2014, a protester in Oakland, California, mounted a Yahoo bus, climbed to the front of the roof, and vomited onto the top of the windshield.

If not the year's most persuasive act of dissent, it was certainly one of the most memorable demonstrations in the Bay Area, where residents have marched, blockaded, and retched in protest of San Francisco's economic inequality and unaffordable housing. The city's gaps—between rich and poor, between housing need and housing supply—have been duly catalogued. Even among American tech hubs, San Francisco stands alone with both the most expensive real estate and the fewest new construction permits per unit since 1990.

But San Francisco's problem is bigger than San Francisco. Across the country, rich, dense cities are struggling with affordable housing, to the considerable anguish of their middle class families.
Among the 100 largest U.S. metros, 63 percent of homes are "within reach" for a middle-class family, according to Trulia. But among the 20 richest U.S. metros, just 47 percent of homes are affordable, including a national low of 14 percent in San Francisco. The firm defined "within reach" as a for-sale home with a total monthly payment (including mortgage and taxes) less than 31 percent of the metro's median household income.

If you line up the country's 100 richest metros from 1 to 100, household affordability falls as household income rises, even after you consider that middle class families in richer cities have more income. [The graph below considers only the 25 richest US metros to keep city names moderately legible within the computer screen.]

Rich Households = Unaffordable Houses?


The line isn't smooth—and there are exceptions—but the relationship is clear: In general, richer cities have less affordable housing.
But there's a second reason why San Francisco's problem is emblematic of a national story. Liberal cities seem to have the worst affordability crises, according to Trulia chief economist Jed Kolko.
In a recent article, Kolko divided the largest cities into 32 “red" metros where Romney got more votes than Obama in 2012 (e.g. Houston), 40 “light-blue” markets where Obama won by fewer than 20 points (e.g. Austin), and 28 “dark-blue” metros where Obama won by more than 20 points (e.g. L.A., SF, NYC). Although all three housing groups faced similar declines in the recession and similar bounce-backs in the recovery, affordability remains a bigger problem in the bluest cities.

Super-Liberal Cities, Super-Unaffordable Houses


"Even after adjusting for differences of income, liberal markets tend to have higher income inequality and worse affordability,” Kolko said.

Kolko's theory isn't an outlier. There is a deep literature tying liberal residents to illiberal housing policies that create affordability crunches for the middle class. In 2010, UCLA economist Matthew Kahn published a study of California cities, which found that liberal metros issued fewer new housing permits. The correlation held over time: As California cities became more liberal, he said, they built fewer homes.

"All homeowners have an incentive to stop new housing," Kahn told me, "because if developers build too many homes, prices fall, and housing is many families' main asset. But in cities with many Democrats and Green Party members, environmental concerns might also be a factor. The movement might be too eager to preserve the past."

The deeper you look, the more complex the relationship between blue cities and unaffordable housing becomes. In 2008, economist Albert Saiz used satellite-generated maps to show that the most regulated housing markets tend to have geographical constraints—that is, they are built along sloping mountains, in narrow peninsulas, and against nature's least developable real estate: the ocean. (By comparison, many conservative cities, particularly in Texas, are surrounded by flatter land.) "Democratic, high-tax metropolitan areas... tend to constrain new development more," Saiz concluded, and "historic areas seem to be more regulated." He also found that cities with high home values tend to have more restrictive development policies.

One could attempt tying this together into a pat story—Rich liberals prefer to cluster near historic coastal communities with high home values, where they support high taxes, rent control, and a maze of housing regulations to protect both their investment and the region's "character", altogether discouraging new housing development that’s already naturally constrained by geography...—but even that interpretation elides the colorful local history that often shapes housing politics.
I asked Kahn if he had a pet theory for why liberals, who tend to be vocal about income inequality, would be more averse to new housing development, which would help lower-income families. He suggested that it could be the result of good intentions gone bad.
"Developers pursue their own self-interest," Kahn said. "If a developer has an acre, and he thinks it should be a shopping mall, he won't think about neighborhood charm, or historic continuity. Liberals might say that the developer acting in his own self-interest ignores certain externalities, and they'll apply restrictions. But these restrictions [e.g. historic preservation, environmental preservation, and height ceilings] add up, across a city, even if they’re well-intentioned. The affordability issue will rear its head."

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Marin County Homeless Programs Update.

Marin County (specifically San Rafael) has become a regional magnet for homeless people.  It is not surprising that our homeless population has increased by 40% and the county is expanding services. Ritter Center was recently proposing relocation to North San Rafael that would TRIPLE its size and build a 24-7 shelter for the most difficult population of drug and alcohol abusers, mentally ill and ex offenders.  It is not surprising therefore that out population will continue increase as service capacity is improved.  Other counties throughout California are known to provide bus tickets to Marin county to rid themselves of their own homeless.

Obama hopes to change America through upzoning

Obama hopes to change America through upzoning

Administration calls on local governments to increase development
September 26, 2016 12:57PM
Midtown East and Barack Obama
Midtown East and Barack Obama
It’s not every day that real estate developers find themselves in agreement with the Obama administration. On Monday, the White House released a “toolkit” of economic facts and talking points encouraging local and county governments to overhaul their zoning laws and housing policies. The takeaway? The president wants more development — and higher densities — to combat a nationwide housing shortage that’s dragging down the economy.
The report calls out local resistance to development and suggests ways for city and county governments to combat community opposition and NIMBYism.
“Over the past three decades, local barriers to housing development have intensified,” the report notes, particularly in areas of high job growth like New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. “The intensity and impact of such barriers are most evident in the vibrant job-generating regions where fervent demand far outstrips supply.”
The inability for workers to find housing in areas where the jobs are is exacerbating income inequality and stifling economic growth, the report says. According to one estimate, barriers to development in major cities cost the U.S. economy about $1.95 trillion a year, Politico reports.
The “toolkit” prescribes more density, faster permitting, and fewer restrictions for developers in regards to parking and accessory dwelling.
The federal government has no jurisdiction over county or municipal zoning laws.
In New York City, debates over zoning are a constant. A Midtown East rezoning proposal, released by the city in August, would upzone the area around Grand Central Terminal and allow for a 30 percent increase in maximum density. The Real Deal looked at which property owners would benefit the most if the rezoning goes through.
In June, the city pushed for changes to a state law that currently limits the size the city’s residential buildings. The proposed laws would allow more residential development in high-density commercial areas, but opponents worry it would invite more supertall towers and lead to even more congestion.  [Politico] — Chava Gourarie