Unlikely Voter

Conservative views on polls, science, technology, and policy

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Three polls, three races, all close results. We’re starting to see what the 2018 Senate Battleground looks like, as Democrats try to beat the odds and take the Senate.

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Google has an ability to track your every move, especially if you’re using a phone with Google functionality inside. Should the FTC investigate?

Democrats Ed Markey (Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) are pressing the FTC to look into it. Google has many means of tracking your movements. GPS is only one of them.

It’s not just theoretical, either. Google sells geotargeting information as part of its core businesses, advertising:

You can choose locations such as entire countries, areas within a country like cities or territories, and even a radius around a location, or your Google My Business locations, for your ads to show. AdWords may also suggest related locations that you can choose to target based on your current settings.

The letter by Markey and Blumenthal is exactly right. They say that “Most consumers do not understand the level, granularity, and reach of Google’s data collection,” which is true. Google’s made it their mission to learn everything they can about you by any means necessary.

Should they even be allowed to do that surreptitiously?

Today some well-funded special interests are celebrating, but have no fear: Internet price controls are not coming back.

They didn’t tell you that during the Net Neutrality Red Alert, did they? Net Neutrality is all about content and price controls, not freedom. So it’s a shame that the Senate today attempted to bring it back by invoking the Congressional Review Act to vote to repeal the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order.

It’s a meaningless vote though. Even though the 51-49 Senate was easy enough for the Democrats to flip with the more left-leaning members of the Republican caucus, the House of Representatives is a different matter.

House votes are far more likely to be party-line votes, and the Republican majority there is far less likely to challenge the Donald Trump administration in an election year. The House will not join the Senate in this vote, and nothing will happen.

I’m not worried. The FCC voted to do the right thing. It’s the law of the land. Internet regulation is being rolled back to the sensible levels of the past, only with greater transparency than ever before. The Restoring Internet Freedom Order was a good idea, and we should keep it.

Mr. Carlson’s Lab is a great little Youtube channel I wanted to share today. His latest video is a restoration of an oscilloscope from the 1930s. Fascinating look at old technology.

Mr. Carlson’s Lab is a fascinating Youtube channel starting a hobbyist from British Columbia. He has an extensive collection of antique electronics and radio broadcasting tools. His videos are in-depth explorations of these tools, restoring them to good working order.

I would encourage people to give him a subscription on Youtube.

This is going to be a bad year for Republicans, but the Senate race this year is so stacked in their favor, it’s practically impossible for them to lose control of the body this year.

Even after the Republicans choked away the Alabama seat, they have a 51-49 edge in the body. In the event of a 50-50 tie, votes by the Vice President Mike Pence will tilt the body to the Republicans, so Democrats must net a two seat gain in order to take control of the body.

Yes, technically two members of the Democrat caucus claim to be independent, but they both submit to the party whip and fully participate in the party caucus. One of them, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, even ran for the party’s nomination for President in 2016. So I will dispense with any pretense that Sanders and Angus King of Maine aren’t full members of the Senate Party.

Up this year is Class 1 of the Senate, along with two special elections from Class 2. the amount that this split favors Republicans is overwhelming.

Consider that Republicans not up this year number 42, while the Democrats not up this year are only 23. That means Republicans only need to win 8 seats out of 35 to hold the Senate. How easy is that?

Widely-accounted safe seats in Mississippi (Roger Wicker), Nebraska (Deb Fischer), Utah (Orrin Hatch retiring), and Wyoming (John Barrasso) account for half of it right there. That’s a virtual lock for Wicker, Fischer, Barrasso, and (probably) Mitt Romney to be Republicans 43, 44, 45, and 46.

That leaves four. Republicans have two more seats that are widely rated as “Likely”: Mississippi (Thad Cochran retired, Cindy Hyde-Smith appointed) and Texas (Ted Cruz). It’s conceivable for either of these seats to swing the other way, but when Cook in particular moves a seat to Likely as he has for Cruz and Hyde-Smith, it would be most unexpected for those seats to go the other way.

Beyond that, there are eight more seats widely rated as toss-ups: Arizona (Jeff Flake retiring), Florida (Bill Nelson), Indiana (Joe Donnelly), Missouri (Claire McCaskill), Nevada (Dean Heller), North Dakota (Heidi Heitkamp), Tennessee (Bob Corker retiring), and West Virginia (Joe Manchin). Between the eight toss-ups and the two “likely” seats, Republicans just have to win half, plus their safe seats, to get to 51 seats.

Winning half of the toss-ups may sound hard in a wave year, but look at the states. Seven of the eight toss-up states went for Donald Trump. Further, Democrats like McCaskill and Donnelly faced remarkably weak Republicans last time, and are unlikely to get so lucky this time.

On top of that, Democrats have their own Leaners in Trump states they have to defend: Montana (Jon Tester), Ohio (Sherrod Brown), Wisconsin (Tammy Baldwin). If Ted Cruz isn’t safe, then we can’t count them as safe, either.

Analysts often point out how lucky Donald Trump was in 2016. It’s true. But Democrats were also lucky in the 2012 Senate elections. They have to get more lucky than that if they want to net two seats and win the Senate this year.

Marco Rubio took to Twitter this morning to call the President’s statements on ZTE “crazy,” but the situation is actually worse than he lets on.

Rubio directly quoted Donald Trump’s statement and didn’t hold back:

Yes, it is “crazy” to allow ZTE free access to our technology. But it understates the case to say that ZTE “can be forced to act as a tool Chinese espionage”. The company is rigged to be a tool of espionage.

Take a look at the ZTE Board of Directors. Vice Chairman Jianheng Zhang is tied to CASIC, a state-run military contractor. Vice Chairman Jubao Luan, same. While Chairman Yimin Yin is allowed to have his title, the state military-political apparatus is there to watch him, and make sure ZTE is there to service the state whenever necessary.

Other board members are tied to the government in other ways, such as the People’s Political Consultative Congresses, which are organs for the Communist Party of China to direct policy.

This is the corporation Donald Trump is directing the Commerce Department to support. It really is crazy.

For over 25 years, people have relied on cryptography to protect themselves from more powerful snoops, such as governments. Some panicked tweets have gone out, that have done more to mislead than aid people. Here are the facts.

According to Sebastian Schnitzel, every major means of encrypting email is broken. Pretty Good Privacy (PGP, a cryptography core), GNU Privacy Guard (GPG, an open source clone of PGP), and S/MIME (a protocol for encrypting email) are implicated. He recommends that people stop using encrypted emails.

But there’s more to it than that. The GNU Privacy Guard team was not even notified. That is a clear indicator that PGP and GPG have nothing to do with the security hole in question. So we’re left with S/MIME. And guess what: the real problem is that email clients are loading external websites linked in emails, such as images.

The key line, buried way down in “EFAIL” website:

The EFAIL attacks abuse active content, mostly in the form of HTML images, styles, etc.

So stop using HTML email, and you’re fine. Relax, folks. It’s just bad clients doing bad things. Cryptography is secure. Just stop loading HTML.

The United States withdrew from the Paris agreement, but did you know we were still acting as the global police for the agreement? The Trump administration has ended that.

The United States was going around snooping on what other countries were doing, with respect to Carbon Dioxide emissions, even though we haven’t been a party to the major agreements in that area. We never ratified either treaty, neither Kyoto nor Paris. They were never binding on us, and the Presidents who ‘agreed’ to them never followed process to get there.

Constitutionally we were not participating, and yet NASA was active in them anyway. NASA had set up the Carbon Monitoring System in 2010, and had been operating this entire time as a global carbon cop. They were apparently relying on this too, which is odd:

The move jeopardizes plans to verify the national emission cuts agreed to in the Paris climate accords, says Kelly Sims Gallagher, director of Tufts University’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy in Medford, Massachusetts. “If you cannot measure emissions reductions, you cannot be confident that countries are adhering to the agreement,” she says. Canceling the CMS “is a grave mistake,” she adds.

But the Donald Trump administration has killed off the Carbon Monitoring System project. We’re going to let the Europeans do it themselves, instead of participating in them crippling their own economies.

No politics, just awe. Alexander Graham Bell recorded his voice for the ages at the Volta Laboratory, and after all these years, we can now hear it again.

At the Volta Laboratory in Washington, D.C., Bell as an inventor decided to compete directly with Thomas Edison’s invention of the phonograph. He wanted to make it better. What he came up with was the graphophone, and protecting that from a patent lawsuit meant gathering evidence.

What we have here is one of the recordings he made as evidence. This is the man’s actual voice, speaking to the ages.

I love this. This is living history in a way we rarely get to experience. This is a recording that is over 130 years old, of a time long ago.

What blows me away is the location as well. Based on the address, 1221 Connecticut Avenue, I believe that’s near Dupont Circle, across the street from the Shake Shack where I get lunch regularly. And this video connects me with what happened there over a century ago.

Challenging an incumbent Senator is hard, even for an incumbent Governor. But after months of bad polling, Rick Scott could win this.

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On Wednesday, many websites are going to host a mailing list building form from a little known advocacy group. Here’s what you need to know about their Net Neutrality campaign.

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Chinese manufacturer ZTE got caught violating Iran sanctions, and was slapped with a severe export ban as a result. China is lobbying the Trump team to ease up.

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We all expect Donald Trump to get good poll results from Rasmussen Reports. They’ve been giving him good results even when everyone else was showing him far behind. But what if they’re not the only ones now?

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