Schlock Mercenary: April 29, 2017
2 hours ago
Comments, observations and thoughts from two left coast bloggers on applied statistics, higher education and epidemiology. Joseph is a new assistant professor. Mark is a marketing statistician and former math teacher.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) predicted on Tuesday that Republicans will split with President Trump within months unless the administration changes course.0
"My prediction is he keeps up on this path...within three, four months you're going to see a whole lot of Republicans breaking with him," Schumer said during an interview with ABC's "The View."
Schumer argued while most GOP lawmakers aren't yet willing to break publicly from the White House, they are privately having "real problems" with Trump's policies in his first month.
"A lot of the Republicans, they're mainstream people. ... They will feel they have no choice but to break with him," he said.
GOP leadership are largely dismissing any early signs of discord between Congress and the White House as they slowly try to make progress on an ambitious agenda.
So while it is hard to deny that Trump is amazingly unpopular for a new president, unless his approval ratings trend farther down the way even those of popular presidents typically do, his party may not suffer the kind of humiliation Democrats experienced in 2010. For all the shock Trump has consistently inspired with his behavior as president, there’s not much objective reason for Republican politicians to panic and begin abandoning him based on his current public standing. But in this as in so many other respects, we are talking about an unprecedented chief executive, so the collapse some in the media and the Democratic Party perceive as already underway could yet arrive.
Publicly canceling a scheduled town-hall event because you “didn’t want to meet until all the president’s nominees were confirmed,” then showing up anyway, to talk solely to your conservative supporters, who somehow still seemed to know you would be there (Mo Brooks, R-Ala.)
Posting a photo from your “great town hall this morning with concerned citizens about the need for tax reform” on Facebook, despite never actually putting said event on your calendar or otherwise telling your constituents that it was happening (Jim Renacci, R-Ohio)
Removing all mention of your upcoming “town hall” from the host city’s municipal website and refusing to call it a town hall when questioned, insisting instead that it is a “low-key” “community meeting” with other elected officials (Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.) [Not to be confused with the previously mentioned town hall avoidance of Rep. Jimmy Duncan Jr. (R-TN) -- MP]
Refusing to denounce your “friend” when he announces that he needs “all patriots in attendance” at your next town hall “to protect” you “from any potential disruption of [your] speech,” adding that “concealed carry permit holders [are] most welcome” and shouldn’t “forget [their] ammo” (Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.)
Insisting that you are too “busy, busy, busy” to meet with your own constituents during the “first 100 days,” while at the same time scheduling a “special guest” appearance at another congressman’s town hall meeting 2,130 miles away (David Brat, R-Va.)
Here's what he said ...
Wikileaks also shows how John Podesta rigged the polls by oversampling democrats, a voter suppression technique. That's happening to me all the time. When the polls are even, when they leave them alone and do them properly, I'm leading. But you see these polls where they're polling democrats. How is Trump doing? Oh, he's down. They're polling democrats. The system is corrupt, rigged and broken. And we're going to change it. [ Cheers and applause ]Now this immediately this grabbed my attention because over the weekend I was flabbergasted to see this tweet being shared around the Trumposphere on Twitter.
Thank you, thank you. In an e-mail podesta says he wants oversamples for our polling in order to maximize what we get out of our media polling. It's called voter suppression because people will say, oh, gee, Trump's down. Folks, we're winning. We're winning. We're winning. These thieves and crook, the immediate, yeah not all of it, not all of it, but much of it -- they're the most crooked -- they're almost as crooked as Hillary. They may even be more crooked than Hillary because without the media, she would be nothing.
I don't know who Taylor Egly is. But he has 250,000 followers - so he has a big megaphone on Twitter. This tweet and this new meme is a bracing example of just how many of the "scoops" from the Podesta emails are based on people simply not knowing what words mean.Todays Wikileaks dump revealed the DNC works w/ pollsters to skew polls in their favor by over-polling Democrats & under-polling Republicans pic.twitter.com/tVA8K6n79T— Taylor Egly (@TaylorEgly) October 24, 2016
Trump had already mentioned 'over-sampling' earlier. But here he's tying it specifically to the Podesta emails released by Wikileaks. This tweet above is unquestionably what he's referring to.
There are several levels of nonsense here. Let me try to run through them.
More importantly, what Tom Matzzie is talking about is the campaign/DNC's own polls. Campaigns do extensive, very high quality polling to understand the state of the race and devise strategies for winning. These are not public polls. So they can't affect media polls and they can't have anything to do with voter suppression.
Now you may be asking, why would the Democrats skew their own internal polls? Well, they're not.
The biggest thing here is what the word 'oversampling' means. Both public and private pollsters will often over-sample a particular demographic group to get statistically significant data on that group.
... You need to get an 'over-sample' to get solid numbers.
Whether it's public or private pollsters, the 'over-sample' is never included in the 'topline' number. So if you get 4 times the number of African-American voters as you got in a regular sample, those numbers don't all go into the mix for the total poll. They're segmented out. The whole thing basically amounts to zooming in on one group to find out more about them. To do so, to zoom in, you need to 'over-sample' their group as what amounts to a break-out portion of the poll.
What it all comes down to is that you're talking about a polling concept the Trumpers don't seem to understand (or are relying on supporters not understanding), about polls that are by definition secret (campaign polls aren't shared) and about an election eight years ago.
On top of people making stuff up online (whether intentionally or accidentally,) political and corporate figures often muddy the news waters with accusations. In an attempt to promote “neutrality,” many news outlets are hesitant to claim a statement made by a public figure is outright false, even if it’s demonstrably so. Professor of Journalism at New York University Jay Rosen calls this accusation-based reporting.
Accusation-based reporting follows a basic structure:
Rosen says this runs counter to evidence-based reporting. In evidence-based reporting, a story should lead with information about the veracity of the accusation. If there is no evidence to support the accusation, a story should say so. If there is evidence to disprove an accusation, the piece should say that as well. The evidence should be given top billing, instead of the accusation.
- Person A makes an accusation against Person B.
- Person B denies the accusation.
- A news outlet reports that the accusation has been made and denied, but doesn’t offer any information to support or disprove the accusation.
- The accusation itself, not the accuracy of the claim, is treated as the newsworthy story.
For example, President-Elect Donald Trump claimed that millions of votes were cast illegally, costing him the popular vote. As Rosen points out, accusation-based reporting would present this accusation as valid until disproven merely because it was stated by the president-elect. In an evidence-based report, there must be evidence before a story is treated as true. In this particular case, The Washington Post explained that there has been no hard evidence of mass voter fraud on the scale the president-elect mentioned. Recount efforts are underway in several states, but until the recounts are finished or data is released, there’s no evidence to rely on, only accusations.
While most news outlets at least reported this information, many legitimate organizations feature headlines that simply quote the president-elect’s assertion, giving the impression that the accusation is more credible than it is. This practice presents the claim in a bombastic way to draw in readers, but it sets a misleading tone from the outset.
Conservatives say if you don’t give the rich more money, they will lose their incentive to invest. As for the poor, they tell us they’ve lost all incentive because we’ve given them too much money.Now it is true that the mechanisms of subsidy are different, but there is no reason that the investment activities of the poor could not have similar approaches to that of the wealthy. I think that it is a very important flag that incentives are very complex to apply, and it is not always straightforward to figure out the net effect that they will have.
I like the way Skift puts it: airlines are selling you pain. They make your experience as uncomfortable as possible so you’ll pay more.
by increasing the density of the Economy cabin, airlines “can boost capacity without adding to the fleet. Of course, as they shrink the coach section they force many to pay more to be able to have an ounce of comfort.” This is a key element of the up-selling strategy employed by airlines today to boost revenues, shored up by unbundled pricing strategies which offer to sell the pain away.And with some of the carriers, you can’t even buy relief. Spirit is the worst airline for on-time arrivals, for example; only 73.8% of its flights arrive on time. You can’t pay extra to ensure they’re prompt. And when my friend and I were yelled at by WOW gate agents, we were afraid to even approach the desk to ask what our options were. We laughed about it later, but there wasn’t a fee we could pay to not get reprimanded like children. In other words, you can’t buy your way to better overall service.
As PolitiFact, the Daily Beast, and other outlets have noted, Phillips, a former executive deputy commissioner at Texas’s Health and Human Services Commission who was embroiled in corruption allegations there, has not provided any evidence to back up his assertion. Two and a half months later, we know nothing about his methods, and there is no sign of True the Vote having initated legal action. Moreover, Phillips launched his claims well before some states had even certified their results. That didn’t stop those claims from getting picked up by Alex Jones’s conspiracy-theory cauldron Infowars, where an article by Paul Joseph Watson — “Report: Three Million Votes in Presidential Election Cast by Illegal Aliens” — helped amplify them greatly, especially after the piece got picked up by the Drudge Report.A bit of background, for years now the Republicans have been trying to counter demographic tides with increasingly blatant voter suppression measures. They have justified these measures by raising concerns about voter fraud. These claims have been thoroughly debunked, but most journalists have been reluctant to come out with a straight declaration of the fact.
Since Trump first floated his “3 million” number, several journalists have pointed out the very high likelihood that it came from Phillips, given that Trump is a known gonzo-news connoisseur and a fan of Jones and his site (though the White House has denied Jones’s claim he was offered press credentials there). In public, though, Trump and his staff have generally instead referenced two studies from mainstream sources, one from Pew and one from Old Dominion University researchers, to support the claim, despite the fact that neither study does so. As of two days ago, the Daily Beast said that Phillips was the “apparent source” of Trump’s belief — there was still a bit of uncertainty.
In the third paragraph, we have two conflicting claims that go to the foundation of the whole debate. If election fraud is a significant problem, you can make a case for voter ID laws. If not, it's difficult to see this as anything other than voter suppression. This paragraph pretty much demands some additional information to help the reader weigh the claims and the article provides it...
Stricter Rules for Voter IDs Reshape Races
By MICHAEL WINES and MANNY FERNANDEZ MAY 1, 2016
SAN ANTONIO — In a state where everything is big, the 23rd Congressional District that hugs the border with Mexico is a monster: eight and a half hours by car across a stretch of land bigger than any state east of the Mississippi. In 2014, Representative Pete Gallego logged more than 70,000 miles there in his white Chevy Tahoe, campaigning for re-election to the House — and lost by a bare 2,422 votes.
So in his bid this year to retake the seat, Mr. Gallego, a Democrat, has made a crucial adjustment to his strategy. “We’re asking people if they have a driver’s license,” he said. “We’re having those basic conversations about IDs at the front end, right at our first meeting with voters.”
Since their inception a decade ago, voter identification laws have been the focus of fierce political and social debate. Proponents, largely Republican, argue that the regulations are essential tools to combat election fraud, while critics contend that they are mainly intended to suppress turnout of Democratic-leaning constituencies like minorities and students.
Mr. Abbott, perhaps the law’s most ardent backer, has said that voter fraud “abounds” in Texas. A review of some 120 fraud charges in Texas between 2000 and 2015, about eight cases a year, turned up instances of buying votes and setting up fake residences to vote. Critics of the law note that no more than three or four infractions would have been prevented by the voter ID law.
Nationally, fraud that could be stopped by IDs is almost nonexistent, said Lorraine C. Minnite, author of the 2010 book “The Myth of Voter Fraud.” To sway an election, she said, it would require persuading perhaps thousands of people to commit felonies by misrepresenting themselves — and do it undetected.
“It’s ludicrous,” she said. “It’s not an effective way to try to corrupt an election.”
But only three or four hours before Flynn resigned, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee (House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence), Devin Nunes, said there was no problem and it was just the President's enemies ("the swamp" in his words) making trouble. "It just seems like there's a lot of nothing here," Nunes told Bloomberg's Steven Dennis.
This is only a particularly embarrassing illustration of a larger problem. The Republican Congress has no interest in any oversight of the Trump administration. None. Sure, opposing parties usually scrutinize administrations more aggressively. But it's rare to have this level of complete refusal.
3. Leave Trump alooooone. Republicans insist they do not support any probe of Flynn’s actions or what Trump may have known. “It’s taking care of itself,” insists House Oversight Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz.What about House Speaker Paul Ryan? Ryan is known for his fanatical belief in informational security. The Speaker once held such strong views on classified information that he demanded Hillary Clinton be denied access to classified briefings during the campaign because she had shown, by using a private email server, she could not be trusted with the nation’s secrets. “The consequences for the safety of our nation are grave,” he wrote solemnly. “Clinton’s actions may have allowed our enemies to access intelligence vital to our national security.” Ryan has learned from that episode to be far less judgmental. And now today, even the prospect that Trump allowed intelligence to be exposed to a staffer whom he knew to be potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail strikes him as unworthy of investigation.Today, Ryan said, “I’m not going to prejudge the circumstances surrounding this.” And since Ryan is not forcing an investigation, he won’t post-judge, either. No prejudging, no post-judging, no judging of any kind, just moving on.
In a letter to the Senate, philanthropist Eli Broad, a student of Detroit Public Schools and a longtime charter advocate, voiced his “serious concerns” over DeVos’ “support for unregulated charter schools and vouchers.” That the Michigan native, who was unavailable for comment, would have come out so vocally against DeVos signals just how spooked the education community is by her new perch in Trump’s cabinet.
Kellyanne Conway has taken “alternative facts” to a new level.
During a Thursday interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, the counselor to the president defended President Trump’s travel ban related to seven majority-Muslim countries. At one point, Conway made a reference to two Iraqi refugees whom she described as the masterminds behind “the Bowling Green massacre.”
“Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered,” Conway said.
The Bowling Green massacre didn’t get covered because it didn’t happen. There has never been a terrorist attack in Bowling Green, Ky., carried out by Iraqi refugees or anyone else.Now, there was a story underneath this one, but it rather defied the term "massacre", where one presumes at least one person would need to actually be killed (as opposed to a couple of arrests). If we can trust Talking Points Memo, this was not a singular lapse.
It is not universally agreed that universal health care is so easily attained or that it works so well; Canada’s is tempered by the proximity of US clinics which can relieve much of the waiting times, as an obvious example. But this is hardly the place to debate that.This is much more tricky to debate. The first sentence is obviously true (Mr. Pournelle claims it, making it clear that it is not universal). The second point is overly broad, and it isn't clear to what extent it is occurring. But it could be true, at least for some diseases or procedures (and is a real point in regards to Canada)
Constituents requesting that Rep. Jimmy Duncan Jr. (R-TN) hold a town hall on repealing the Affordable Care Act aren't being met with a polite brushoff from staffers anymore. Instead, Duncan's office has started sending out a form letter telling them point-blank that he has no intention to hold any town hall meetings.Admittedly, it is a long time until midterms, but possibly not long enough to repair this kind of damage.
“I am not going to hold town hall meetings in this atmosphere, because they would very quickly turn into shouting opportunities for extremists, kooks and radicals,” the letter read, according to a copy obtained by the Maryville Daily Times. “Also, I do not intend to give more publicity to those on the far left who have so much hatred, anger and frustration in them.”
In the first weeks of the 115th Congress, elected officials dropping by their home districts were surprised to find town halls packed to the rafters with concerned constituents. Caught off guard and on camera, lawmakers were asked to defend President Donald Trump’s immigration policies and provide a timeline on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.
Now, many of them are skipping out on these events entirely. Some have said large meetings are an ineffective format for addressing individual concerns. Many others have, like the President himself, dismissed those questioning their agenda as “paid protesters” or radical activists who could pose a physical threat.
Voters turning out to town halls are pushing back hard on this characterization, arguing that they represent varied ideological backgrounds and have diverse issues to raise. Constituents unable to meet with their elected officials over the weekend told TPM that they’re not attending town hall events to make trouble. Instead, they say they want accountability from the people they pay to represent them.
Kim Mattoch, a mother of three and event planner, told TPM that she tried to go to a Saturday town hall in Roseville, California with GOP Rep. Tom McClintock but couldn’t make it in. The 200-seat theater hosting the event was quickly filled to capacity, leaving hundreds waiting outside.
“I’m a constituent of McClintock and a registered Republican in a very Republican district—though I don’t really align very well these days with the Republican Party,” Mattoch said in a Monday phone call. “So I wanted to go to the town hall because I legitimately had questions for the congressman.”
Mattoch said the protesters waiting outside had a wide range of “legitimate concerns.” She personally hoped to ask her representative about how the GOP was progressing on repealing and replacing the ACA and why House Republicans last week voted to kill a ruling aimed at preventing coal mining debris from ending up in waterways.
Yet McClintock told the Los Angeles Times that he thought an “anarchist element” was present in the crowd outside his event, and said he was escorted to his car by police because he’d been told the atmosphere was “deteriorating.”
Ramon Fliek, who attended the McClintock event with his wife, told TPM on Monday that police “were kind enough to block the whole road” to make space for the overflow crowd, and that he overheard protesters thanking law enforcement for “doing their jobs.”
“If you look at the videos from the event, you can’t get any notion that it was aggressive,” he said. “There was an older woman with a poodle that ran after him and it’s like, okay, the older lady with the poodle is not going to threaten you. I understand that he might want to give that impression, but it was very pleasant.”
On issues, Trump and Ryan are on different sides of some core issues: trade, entitlement spending, and immigration. Trump demonized free trade deals during the campaign. Ryan has been a big advocate for free trade. Trump has vowed not to change Medicare or Social Security. Ryan has long described those programs as driving the national debt, and wants to overhaul them.
Trump has disparaged immigrants, instituted travel restrictions from seven predominantly Muslim countries via an executive order last week, and slammed a federal judge last summer for bias because he was of “Mexican heritage.” Ryan rebuked Trump for the latter comment, saying it was “the textbook definition of a racist comment.” Ryan has tried to work toward a solution to the nation’s problem with illegal immigration, unlike Trump, who has merely denounced the government for not fixing the problem. As president, Trump will find that solving problems is far more difficult than complaining about them.
The two men also have a fundamental different approaches to the role of government and guidance of the U.S. Constitution. Ryan comes from a political and deeply conservative background, and so he believes in the Constitution’s prescriptions for how the government should work. Among other things, the Constitution clearly limits the president’s authority and hems in the office. Trump comes from a nonpolitical background, is not known for reading much of anything, and it’s not clear whether he’s ever actually read the Constitution. He made many statements throughout the presidential campaign that promised unconstitutional actions, and often issued vague threats to people who criticized him. If he were to continue this kind of behavior in office, it would be more fitting for a third world dictator than for a U.S. president, and at some point, Congress would need to step in. Ryan is the leader of one half of Congress. He believes in the American system. It is far from clear that the new president does.
It is widely known that very few Republican elites share this Trumpist vision. What’s grown clear since the election is how little this matters. Traditional Republicans would prefer to build a coalition for their small-government policies that would attract immigrant communities, but they will take any coalition that presents itself. Paul Ryan’s professions of love for tolerance and openness before the election reflected the calculations of a politician who expected his nominee to lose and was planning to repair the anticipated damage to his party’s brand. The ideas that deeply troubled Ryan when articulated by a losing presidential candidate sound far more acceptable when articulated by a sitting president who promises to sign his fiscal bills. “People close to Ryan and the White House say the Speaker shares an easy rapport with Steve Bannon,” reports Politico.
“We respect an independent judiciary. This is a separate branch of government,” Ryan said. “He’s not the first President to get frustrated with a ruling from a court.
“I think what’s most important are the actions,” he continued. “This administration is honoring the ruling, and this administration is going through the proper procedures to deal with the ruling to try and get the ruling overturned. They’re going through the appeals process, they’re respecting the separation of powers in the process. Look, I know he’s an unconventional President. He gets frustrated with judges, we get frustrated with judges. But he’s respecting the process, and that’s what counts at the end of the day.”
Trump lobbed multiple attacks on his Twitter account at U.S. District Judge James Robart after the judge blocked Trump’s immigration order. And White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that Robart had gone “rogue” in stopping the order.
Yes, anarcho-capitalists, I know about medieval Iceland. I do not think that the U.S. can be run on the same basis as a tiny, culturally homogenous island nation.Whether or not I agree with the article, this point is actually the most important one. The ability to make a diverse nation work depends on the rules of conduct.
Uber was under attack — unfairly, many staff members believed — after people accused the company of seeking to profit from giving rides to airport customers in New York during weekend protests against President Trump’s immigration order.
But there was another matter disturbing the employees: Mr. Kalanick himself. He had joined Mr. Trump’s economic advisory council in December. After the immigration order against refugees and seven Muslim-majority countries, many staff members wondered why Mr. Kalanick was still willing to advise the president.
#deleteuber was born Friday while demonstrators at JFK airport protested Trump’s executive order on immigration. While the New York Taxi Worker’s Alliance was striking in protest of the ban, Uber sent a tweet saying it had dropped surge pricing. This, in combination with Kalanick’s participation on the business advisory council, started a wave of deletions so huge that Uber had to build a new system to handle them all.
#DeleteUber is trending on Twitter after the notoriously scummy ride-hailing app broke a strike and undercut taxi drivers’ protest of President Trump’s refugee-detaining executive order.
By applying a dual citizenship provision, in effect we are making Iranian law American law. It is Iran who determines who is banned, not Trump. You even could imagine a foreign government using this to punish or blackmail people who have scant current connection to their nation. What should I do if Yemen offers me honorary national citizenship, in return for the service of promoting their cuisine and restaurants in the fine state of Virginia? Can I turn it down? Prove I don’t really hold it? What exactly is to count as such proof?This is a rather good point about the complexities of immigration law. Dual citizenship is always going to be a complex things. But it is a fair point that this puts control over border crossing with governments that are not always close friends and allies of the US government.