Friday, May 03, 2019

Ruthlessness in American Politics: A Vice or A Virtue? The Kamala Harris Case. has a new piece on Kamala Harris, one of the women among the contenders for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential elections. 

The title of the piece:

'Ruthless.'  How Kamala Harris Won Her First Race

My summary of the whole piece:  

Yes, Harris was clearly very competent, but she slept her way to the top*.  Yes, Harris was clearly very competent, but she re-interpreted her prosecutorial history to look more lefty than it really was (something no other politician has ever done).  Yes, Harris was clearly very competent, but her campaigning was extremely ruthless.

And then there are the detailed quotes from one person, about the ruthlessness of Kamala Harris:

Gary Delagnes, a former president of the city’s police union who would later have a falling-out with Harris over her refusal to seek the death penalty in the case of a young police officer who was shot to death while on patrol, recalled a party where Harris approached him to ask for his support. “I was standing in the corner,” he said. “I didn’t know who she was … and she came up to me and she put her finger in my chest and she said, ‘You better endorse me, you better endorse me. You get it?’
“I took it as almost half-kidding, but also very serious, that, ‘Hey, I’m going to win, and you better endorse me,'” he said, the implication: “I’m a player and I’m going to be a player and you better get on board or get out of the way.”
“I never forgot it,” Delagnes added. “She’s an intelligent person. She is a—let’s see, I better pick this world carefully: Ruthless.”

So.  The sample size here is one, and that one person had had a falling-out with Harris before he made these comments.  Yet they seemed worth publishing in Politico!

Now, you might think that being ruthless in politics is a good thing.  Biden has been accused of not being ruthless enough, for example.  Politicians tend to be ruthless, right?  It's not a bad thing, right?

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Senators Kamala Harris and Mazie Hirono Speak

She was quite wonderful in slicing and dicing Barr's arguments for our main course.  Senator Mazie Hirono gives us a delectable not-too-sweet dessert.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

First Fundraising Post in 2019

Yes, my sweetings, it's that time of the year again!  I need your moneys so that I can afford to go on writing on this here site.

My plans were initially to quit after fifteen years.  That's long enough for anyone's financial and emotional sacrifice, right? 

But I had too much fun in the gaps that were left between the financial and emotional sacrifices, and, besides, having this site makes me feel as if someone hears my squeaky little voice (which is, in reality, quite mellow and sorta like coffee with too much milk).

So I'm going to continue until November, at least.

The instructions how to contribute are on the left.  One-time payments per year give me a larger net amount than small monthly contributions.  So if it makes no difference to you I prefer the former.  But the latter are also gratefully accepted.

Thank you all for reading and discussing and existing.

Where Echidne Grumbles About Algorithms

I use the Google US news page as a quick glance-through about the day's events when I start writing.  Some months ago it added a section on that page which is intended to match the interests of the user. 

That would be me, in this case.  I copied my "For You, Based on Your Interests Section" today, even though it's a bit more relevant for my actual interests than it has been in the past:

I have never watched a single episode of the Game of Thrones (I get enough of that by watching real-life politics), and I have no idea who Ariel Winter is.  I have not searched for anything related to the Game of Thrones or Ariel Winter ever.

So how does that list reflect my interests?  What is the algorithm Google uses there?

This is a trivial topic.  But note that such choices can involve steering, of making people keep on reading what they may have read in the past (or, more likely, what the algorithm thinks people in their demographic group want to read). 

That's dangerous in the field of politics, because we are already getting different news and believing in different "facts," depending on which party we more closely align with. 

The algorithms Twitter, Instagram and Facebook use to "increase engagement" seem to be designed to increase angry bickering between total strangers.   That is a less trivial topic.