Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa)

You know when I mentioned that Ted Lieu was NOT the most “foolish, dumb, frightening” member of Congress? Steve King was one of the people I was thinking of.

In case you haven’t heard the widespread mockery, King asked Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai  at this week’s House Judiciary Committee hearing about alleged bias and abuse of power by the tech behemoth,

“I have a 7-year old granddaughter who picked up her phone during the election, and she’s playing a little game, the kind of game a kid would play. And up on there pops a picture of her grandfather. And I’m not going to say into the record what kind of language was used around that picture of her grandfather, but I’d ask you: How does that show up on a 7-year old’s iPhone, who’s playing a kid’s game?”

Pichai responded,  “Congressman, the iPhone is made by a different company.”

Kindly leaving out the obligatory, “You moron.”

To be fair, most of the GOP reps were little better, and raised the question of how Congress could possibly regulate the tech giants when they don’t have the foggiest idea of what they do, with what, and how. This casual, lazy ignorance of technology—which, you recall, is one of the reasons Hillary Clinton got off the hook for her email mistakes <cough>—provides the big technology companies near <cough> irresistible temptation to engage in mischief by giving them immense power and license to abuse it, since nobody is paying attention. Libertarian centers like Reason mock the whole idea of regulating the tech giants, because they are private entities. So what if they effectively hobble the communication and advocacy of one whole side of the political spectrum? Who cares if they slant searches, or censor messages? They don’t have to respect freedom of speech! The market will handle it!

Sure it will.

Meanwhile, the Left’s media and web mouthpieces mock the very idea that Google, where employees raised the option of aggressively changing the search algorithms to block Trump and Republicans, and where a programmer was fired for even raising the issue of biases within the company, would respond to its own culture and work to advance ideological goals rather than provide objective and unbiased service to everyone. The Left does this for the same reason it denies that there is overwhelming mainstream media bias: the Big Tech bias is in their favor. In the same hearing, Rep. Ted Lieu said those accusing Google of bias were wasting everyone’s time, since it’s a private company and can do as it pleases. Right Ted: just like gun companies, energy companies, nuclear power companies and automobile manufacturers.

Nonetheless, incompetent regulation is worse than no regulation at all, and our elected officials show no indication they understand what they are complaining about, or, worse, that they are inclined to learn enough to understand. Technology is the fastest moving, ethically gray, powerful and influential force in modern life, and the average elected official knows less about it than the average 12th grader. Imagine the arrogance and sloth of someone like King, knowing he is going to question a Big Tech CEO and not bothering to become minimally conversant in the subject at hand.

Now imagine that he keeps getting elected, because he does. Incompetent officials depend on incompetent citizens.

21 thoughts on “Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa)

  1. Sorry to say you have this wrong. Google behavioral algorithms deliver ads to smart phone users of every manufacture. IP addresses are treated like persons by these algorithms. Congressman King is not a moron.

    Apps /games sell space to advertisers based on the nature of the game and the IP address behavior. I.e. you and I may play the exact same game in the exact same place at the exact same time and different ads will very likely be delivered to each smart phone based on our past IP address behavior specific to that smart phone, no matter who manufactured it.

    His granddaughter’s phone and the game she was playing should not have displayed an inappropriate ad for her IP address behavior, unless it is being used as a teen or young adult would use it.

    Try it sometime. I do it all the time with students.

    • The point is, King did not know that iPhone was not a Google product. He should have been able to argue what you did. Many of the CEO’s answers were evasive and depended on bluffing or the Rep’s ignorance.

      And King IS a moron. The evidence is overwhelming.

      • Congressman West: “Ok, Rainex representative, I installed your wipers on my truck. How come every time I drive my Toyota in the rain all I hear is their wretched screeching???”

        Rainex rep: “uh…we don’t make Toyota trucks…”

        Opposition: “hahahahahahahahahah! He got you moron!”

        • HAHAHAHA! Except that the analogy would be if you asked, “How come the TRUCK keeps screeching?” Because King didn’t ask about anything but the phone, and the Google exec is not responsible for the phone.

          This is pro-King spin. Dumb GOP Rep spin is as bad as it gets. Like Maxine Waters spin.

          • Jack, you do know that the phone has no control over the algorythms used to push data to the phone except location data. It does not matter whether I use an Iphone or an android. It is the application that controls what pops up. Apple which makes the Iphone relies on whatever the user decides to be its default browser. Apple’s Safari browser may be the factory default very much like Internet Explorer is on my Windows computer. Nonetheless I can choose to run IE, Firefox, Google, Yahoo or Bing on my cell phone or pc.

              • The point is that King wasn’t prepared enough to recover, and let the Google exec make him look foolish. Why didn’t the Reps have tech experts briefed and ready to ask the questions? They’re all incompetent. King just provided a nice example.

                • Jack,

                  I get this point, as King should have been better briefed when hunting bear.

                  However, “How does that show up on a 7-year old’s iPhone, who’s playing a kid’s game?”” asked how it happened. The Google dude dodged the question, which was legitimate. He was also being a wiseass in a way he knew would play to progressives.

                  Let’s look at this another way. Is “How does that show up on a 7-year old’s phone, who’s playing a kid’s game?” a substantially different question? To your tech savvy (not saying you are not, but…) commenters it is not. ‘iPhone’ and ‘phone’ are synonymous to us, because the hardware is irrelevant to the question. If you disagree, we have found the root of the miscommunication.

                  That does not make either side wrong, as understanding the difference between what the hardware of a computer (which a smartphone is) does and the software one uses does is lost upon the general public. This is why the ‘gotcha’ worked in the first place.

                    • If that was the case, they were both ignorant.

                      I was giving the Google guy the benefit of the doubt.

                      As I stated above, if you think that, then I get your stance. You are not wrong from that point of view.

            • I saw some of the hearings, but not that part. I saw the video of King’s question. I thought all of the questioning was embarrassing.

              He tried to recover by saying that maybe the phone was an Android, so he acknowledged his mistake himself.

                    • The question was about an ad delivered to a 7 year old’s phone. Congressman King identified it as an iPhone. The manufacturer of the phone is irrelevant. Google’s CEO misdirected hoping it would work. It did.

                      The point of the question was why did my 7 year old granddaughter get delivered ads to a kids game with nasty language about me.

                      She shouldn’t have, but Google is rigging the game to deliver this type of message as propaganda or indoctrination.

                      Look at the recommended stories you get on Google’s search home page. The top tier are nearly always left leaning. This shouldn’t be true if it is actually looking in an unbiased way at my IP address behavior.

                    • Again: King was blaming the phone, and that’s why the exec’s deflection worked.

                      He also could have said, “That was a coincidence. The game didn’t know it was your granddaughter.”

    • It’s not only based on the IP address of the user. Mobile devices have a unique identifier used to track web activity for the purpose of targeted ads. Both Apple and Android devices allow a user to reset that advertising identifier, but only Apple allows the function to be disabled (Android is a Google product, remember). However, disabling the identifier still allows your web activity to be tracked by IP address, so the only way to truly avoid tracking is through the use of a VPN.

  2. Simplest way to regulate tech companies is to make all platforms and allied products inelligible for patent protections. In short information platforms cannot sue an upstart competitor based on the technology employed.

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