You've heard folks say "Donald Trump says the things other people wish they could?" Well, Lindy West, writing at the New York Times, surveys the xenophobia and homophobia rampant not just in Mr. Trump's utterings but among attendees of Mr. Trump's rallies, and wonders "What Are Trump Fans Really 'Afraid' to Say?" Conclusion: "They’re not 'afraid'; they’re leading Mr. Trump as much as following him. They called him into being, not the other way around." And he in turn calls them into being, and they call him into being, and so on, and so on -- until, God forbid, some Trump blueshirt just ups and kills someone at a rally. Or maybe not even then.
ProPublica continues to offer its (recently updated) "Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Voter ID Laws." It's pretty good, but it's not everything -- it doesn't mention the seniors born outside hospitals who don't have birth certificates or the massive DMV closures in Wisconsin after the Voter ID bill passed there (though it does refer to the mass DMV closures in Alabama). I think this is all going to be a bigger deal than most folks think -- Wisconsin, for example, won't be a slam dunk for Democrats in 2016 if turnout turns out to be a problem.
Suraj Sazawal, at the BORDC blog, writes about "predictive policing," where software "predicts" where crimes will occur and possibly even who will commit them. It sure is a good thing that past crimes occur in a vacuum mercifully free of contexts like poverty, population density, and police treatment. It's also a good thing that "predictive policing" could never result in a self-fulfilling prophecy where police arrest the same kinds of folks for the same kinds of crimes over and over again -- or, perhaps, arrest people wrongly to prove the software "works." Please, good readers, let me know if I'm not being sarcastic enough.
In a peripherally-related note, Bloomberg BusinessWeek's Robert Koller wonders what will happen when prohibitively-expensive surveillance equipment becomes cheap enough for anyone to buy. From text-message phishing in China to opposition party surveillance in India, we're already seeing some of the effects. And in America, "(l)ocating a Kardashian...is something any self-respecting TMZ intern would love to be able to do," and "there are lots of people who want to spy on their neighbors or their spouses or their girlfriends." Yeah, dystopia sure is going to be a lot of fun -- and I'm not sure it'll be better if everyone has the ability to spy on everyone else.
Finally, John Perkins has updated his 2006 book, The Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, because "because things have changed so much during this past decade. The cancer has spread throughout the United States as well as the rest of the world. The rich have gotten richer and everyone else has gotten poorer in real terms." You'll likely nod in recognition at much of what he says -- that "we go deeply into debt" as "the World Bank and its sister institutions coerce other countries to go deeply into debt," that the "death economy" depends on "wars or the threat of war, debt, and the rape of the earth's resources," that this "death economy" is "driven by concepts that have become accepted as gospel." He has hope, though, as do we all, because how can we live otherwise?