Senate Post-Zuckerberg: Unqualified. Plus: Scalise, Mulvaney Post-Ryan
Scott McKay
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Your user agreement sucks,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg during the latter’s testimony in front of a Senate hearing this week. “I don’t want to vote to regulate Facebook, but by God I will.”

Two days later Kennedy had teamed up with leftist Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) to offer a bill to do just that. The Kennedy-Klobuchar bill purports to “protect the privacy of consumers’ online data by improving transparency, strengthening consumers’ recourse options when a breach of data occurs, and ensuring companies are compliant with privacy policies that protect consumers,” according to a press release.

“The data breach at Facebook showed the world that the digital promised land is not all milk and honey. We’ve discovered some impurities in the punch bowl,” Senator Kennedy said. “I don’t want to regulate Facebook half to death, but there are things that need to be changed. Our bill will help protect Americans’ online data fingerprint.”

“Social media and other online companies are profiting off the data of Americans — their online behavior, personal messages, contact and personal information, and more — all while leaving consumers in the dark,” Senator Klobuchar said. “Consumers have the right to know if their personal information is being sold and they have the right to easily see what data has already been sold or distributed. And most importantly, consumers should have the right to keep their information private, be alerted when a data breach has occurred, and be informed of the remedies available to them when their personal information is compromised. The digital space can’t keep operating like the Wild Wild West at the expense of our privacy.”

Anybody who sat through the questioning of Zuckerberg by the Senate had to conclude the last people on Earth who should be sticking their noses into regulating social media are the members of that body.

The U.S. Senate is populated by people who still have VCR’s in their bedrooms which blink “12:00” continuously. That hearing proved it. More than that, it’s populated by people with the intellectual capacity of burnt toast.

Cory Booker is in the U.S. Senate. So is Patty Murray. And Ed Markey. And Lindsey Graham. Do you want these people shaping your social media experience? Graham, in what was probably the most steak-knife-through-your-own-eyeball-inducing part of the hearing, actually asked Zuckerberg to supply him with lawyers and lobbyists who would “help us” to write the very regulations the Senate would impose on Facebook.

We know how that’s going to go, don’t we? When the geniuses in Washington decide to lay their paws on an industry through regulation it’s always the market incumbent who writes those regulations — and it’s always the same result. That incumbent will use the opportunity to ensure their incumbency for as long as they can — usually until their industry collapses under the weight of the inefficiency and incompetence the regulatory scheme they’ve written insures as the market moves on.

Zuckerberg knew that going in, and he certainly knows it now. He welcomed the idea they might throw him into that briar patch.

As for Kennedy, who made a pest of himself seeking out reporters to whom he could babble about the “Swahili” Facebook’s user agreement is supposedly written in, he’s a member of the U.S. Senate. Does he purport to tout the clear and easily understandable language of the hundreds-of-pages-long legislation he votes on daily? Forgive your author for a prompt reference to pots and kettles made of cast irony.

Apparently no one in the Senate, other than a few lone intellectuals like Ted Cruz and Dan Sullivan, understands that the problem with Facebook isn’t what it does with data its users voluntarily offer to it. Facebook isn’t violating your privacy. You’re doing a pretty good enough job of that without Mark Zuckerberg’s help. The problem with Facebook is that Zuckerberg, who went to Washington with a smiling promise that he’d do his level best to increase his “policing” of the content appearing on his platform to placate the social justice warrior censors with D’s next to their names, doesn’t understand what he’s the CEO of.

Facebook is either a tech company offering a neutral forum, or it’s the world’s largest publisher. Zuckerberg, when he gibbers on about how Facebook is “responsible” for the content appearing on it, is signaling that it’s the latter when being the former is what made Facebook what it is. As the latter, Facebook is a stock you’re going to want to unload — and fast — because it’s only a matter of time before the trial bar sees Zuckerberg as the proverbial deep pocket to sue for things like libel and copyright violation when users post whatever they like.

As it stands, he does a poor job of denying his platform’s bias against conservatives like the Trump-loving Diamond and Silk, who spent thousands pumping up a Facebook following of some 1.2 million only to see it all vanish when some nose-ring-wearing Mafiosi in skinny jeans in a Facebook content curation office decided to ban them as “unsafe for the community.” Facebook has the First Amendment right as a publisher to reject content on its site — except when it takes advertising dollars from content creators on the basis of an ROI it promises them, and then bans them for arbitrary reasons, there’s a massive lawsuit and Federal Trade Commission controversy sure to follow.

We don’t need the clown-show luminaries of what used to be seriously described as The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body protecting us from Facebook. What we need is the emergence of a rival social media platform not dominated by sexually confused cultural Marxists with a knowledge of programming code out to silence speech with which they disagree. All that’s required is a Facebook knockoff run by someone committed to having an open and neutral platform customizable by users so as to filter out objectionable content on their own terms, and we’re off to the races.

Will we get that before Kennedy, Klobuchar, and the rest of our camera-hog political betters destroy the whole industry with a 1000-page regulatory debauch? I call it 6-to-5 and pick’em.

……

On Thursday Steve Scalise said he wouldn’t run against Kevin McCarthy or the Speaker of the House job coming open with Paul Ryan’s announced retirement at the end of the current Congress. That was hailed as the end of Scalise’s bid for the job, but it isn’t.

McCarthy is the man in line to replace Ryan. But he was in line to replace John Boehner and he didn’t, for the same reason he’s not going to ultimately be the Speaker this time — namely, the rumors about an extramarital affair he had with former North Carolina cCongresswomanRenee Ellmers when the latter was a member of the House. Maybe things will have blown over enough by December that McCarthy can get the Republicans to relent and make him Speaker, but the guess here is they won’t.

And assuming the GOP holds the House majority, which despite the cheerleading by the Washington media is still likely to happen (red districts might be dissatisfied with the Republicans in the House, but it’s a dubious proposition that voters in them will suddenly embrace transgenderism, slavery reparations, tax hikes, and a presidential impeachment — which is the Democrats’ stated agenda), that would still make Scalise the most likely Speaker to replace Ryan.

Being from Louisiana and knowing Steve as a friend, I’m going to say this is a potentially good development. He is without question more conservative than Ryan and more mindful of the agenda our side wants pushed. That said, this is Washington we’re talking about. Let’s stay realistic about our expectations.

……

Did you see Mick Mulvaney’s tour de force in front of the Senate Thursday? If you missed it, you missed an opportunity to have your faith in the conservative movement restored. Hot Air had a good writeup

When Mick Mulvaney served in the House, he tried to warn colleagues that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was too independent of Congress. Now that he’s running the CFPB, Mulvaney wants to demonstrate just how correct he was. For the second straight day, the acting director has told a congressional panel that he can just sit in front of them all day and ignore their questions, and there’s nothing they can do about it:

Here’s our Quote Of The Year…

“While I have to be here by statute, I don’t think I have to answer your questions,” Mulvaney told the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. “If you take a look at the actual statute that requires me to be here, it says that I ‘shall appear’ before the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs of the Senate. And I’m here and I’m happy to do it.”

Mulvaney did the same thing at the House Financial Services Committee Wednesday, and that committee’s chairman Jeb Hensarling thought it was delicious. The Democrats on both committees did not.

Which didn’t bother Mulvaney one bit, since when he was a House member before taking the job as Trump’s OMB director and doubling up as the head of CFPB he frequently howled about the opaque and unaccountable monster the Democrats were building.

Liz Warren, the cultural appropriator and Soul Man-style affirmative action cheater who helped create the CFPB as part of the terrible Dodd-Frank bill the Dems rammed down America’s throat in the Obama early days, is apoplectic about Mulvaney’s conduct — not least because of a letter he wrote her in response to a bunch of written questions she demanded he answer.

“I encourage you to consider the possibility that the frustration you are experiencing now, and that which I had a few years back, are both inevitable consequences of the fact that the Dodd-Frank… Act insulates the Bureau from virtually any accountability to the American people through their elected representatives,” Mulvaney wrote.

In a world where it’s damned rare that the Left is hoisted on its own petard, our kudos to Mulvaney for hoisting with such gusto. As Ace of Spades noted, “I’m not a gay, but looking at Mick Mulvaney’s Bad Boy motorcycle-leather appeal, I have to say: I get it, Gay Dudes. I get it.”

 

Scott McKay
Scott McKay
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Scott McKay is publisher of the Hayride, which offers news and commentary on Louisiana and national politics. He’s also a novelist — check out his first book “Animus: A Tale of Ardenia,” available in Kindle and paperback.
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