1/Politics thread time.

To me, the most important aspect of the 2018 midterms wasn't even about partisan control, but about democracy and voting rights. That's the real battle.

2/The good news: It's now an issue that everyone's talking about, and that everyone cares about.

3/More good news: Florida's proposition to give felons voting rights won. But it didn't just win - it won with substantial support from Republican voters.

That suggests there is still SOME grassroots support for democracy that transcends partisanship.

4/Yet more good news: Michigan made it easier to vote. Again, by plebiscite, showing broad support for voting rights as an issue.

5/OK, now the bad news.

We seem to have accepted electoral dysfunction in Florida as a permanent thing. The 2000 election has never really ended.

6/Even worse news: What Brian Kemp did in Georgia was REALLY bad.

7/Kemp's success at engineering a victory for himself, through voter roll purges and other techniques of vote suppression, bodes ill for future elections, especially presidential elections.

The big worry is that it functioned as a trial balloon.
8/The worst news, of course, is Trump's continued lies about illegal votes - basically de-legitimizing democracy itself in the eyes of his base.

9/The struggle over voting rights is important not just because democracy itself is important, but also because it tells us something about the future of race and partisanship in America.
10/After the 2012 election, the GOP had a big debate about whether to reach out to Hispanic voters or take a hard anti-immigration line - which would effectively represent a strategy of using xenophobia to try to win a bigger share of the white vote.
11/That debate was resolved when Trump won the 2015 primary.

The GOP abandoned hope of winning over nonwhite voters, and went with the "Sailer Strategy": https://t.co/jBH0K4JUv4
12/But since whites are a shrinking % of the electorate, the Sailer Strategy implicitly requires increasing vote suppression, gerrymandering, etc. to reduce the electoral power of nonwhite voters.
13/It was clear from the moment Trump beat Rubio and Jeb that electioneering would be increasingly important for the GOP electoral strategy going forward.

Which is why voting rights have become such a central issue.
14/Therefore, the voting rights issue isn't just about democracy.

It's about breaking the Sailer Strategy, and putting to bed the idea that electioneering can make nonwhite voters disappear.
15/Of course, the Sailer Strategy will probably be broken in time anyway by the desertion of Millennial and Gen Z white voters, simply because Trumpism is so horrible.

16/But ensuring voting rights for all is the most important thing we can do to prevent our country from degenerating into a faux-democratic hell of ethnic bloc voting, racial division, spiraling distrust, and dirty electoral tricks.


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Time for panel #3: Big Tech and regulation!

I will be live-tweeting again, and you can also watch video at either the Twitter or Facebook links below!

Kaissar: Every industry gets regulated when it gets big. The question is what kind of regulation Big Tech will get,and whether the companies will be proactive in shaping it.

Kaissar: More profitable companies have higher returns. Why? Maybe it's a risk factor, because more profit = higher risk of getting regulated.

Bershidskyis showing a diagram of GDPR complaince pop-ups. What a massive ill-conceived bureaucratic mess.

Ritholtz: It's 2018 and we're still talking about Facebook privacy settings?! If you're still giving your personal data to Facebook, you just don't care about privacy!
1/I'm thinking about the end of Apu in the context of the national debates on immigration and diversity.

2/Apu's presence in Springfield represented a basic reality of America in the late 20th and early 21st century: the presence of nonwhite immigrants.

3/As Tomas Jimenez writes in "The Other Side of Assimilation", for my generation, immigrants from India, China, Mexico, and many other countries aren't strange or foreign. On the contrary, they're a

4/But that America I grew up with is fundamentally ephemeral. The kids of immigrants don't retain their parents' culture. They merge into the local culture (and, as Jimenez documents, the local culture changes to reflect their influence).

5/Simpsons character don't change. But real people, and real communities, do. So a character who once represented the diversity that immigrants brought to American towns now represents a stereotype of Indian-Americans as "permanent foreigners".

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My piece in the NY Times today: "the Trump administration is denying applications submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services at a rate 37 percent higher than the Obama administration did in 2016."

Based on this analysis: "Denials for immigration benefits—travel documents, work permits, green cards, worker petitions, etc.—increased 37 percent since FY 2016. On an absolute basis, FY 2018 will see more than about 155,000 more denials than FY 2016."

"This increase in denials cannot be credited to an overall rise in applications. In fact, the total number of applications so far this year is 2 percent lower than in 2016. It could be that the higher denial rate is also discouraging some people from applying at all.."

Thanks to @gsiskind for his insightful comments. The increase in denials, he said, is “significant enough to make one think that Congress must have passed legislation changing the requirements. But we know they have not.”

My conclusion: