Tag Archives: g & f

NBC News: Putin Still Trying to Figure Out Trump’s Brain

Mother Jones

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Bill Neely of NBC News reports on Vladimir Putin’s efforts to understand the psyche of America’s reality-show president:

A dossier on Donald Trump’s psychological makeup is being prepared for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Among its preliminary conclusions is that the new American leader is a risk-taker who can be naïve, according to a senior Kremlin adviser.

….Former Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Fedorov told NBC News…”Very serious preparatory work is going on in the Kremlin, including a paper — seven pages — describing a psychological portrait of Trump, especially based on this last two to three months, and the last weeks.”

….Putin’s government is growing increasingly concerned about Trump’s battles in Washington, according to Fedorov and former lawmaker Sergei Markov, who remains well-connected at the Kremlin. Fedorov added that Trump’s “constant battle with the mass media” was “worrying us.” The U.S. president “is dancing on thin ice,” he said. “It’s a risky game.”

A former prime minister under Putin said the Kremlin is taking no pleasure at Trump’s struggles. “Absolutely not — not laughing,” Mikhail Kasyanov said. “The situation is very serious and the whole of Putin’s team, they are nervous.” Many in the Kremlin believe hardliners in America — in Congress and the military — want to sabotage the president and his plans for better ties with Russia.

From Putin’s point of view, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that Trump can’t control himself. Putin could literally publish his dossier on his Facebook page and it wouldn’t matter. Just as he did in the debates, when Hillary Clinton baited him in the most obvious ways, Trump will respond to provocations the way he always responds.

That’s also the bad news, of course: Trump can’t control himself. He lives in a delusionary world where everything is going great and the White House is a finely tuned machine. This divorce from reality is likely to become ever more cavernous as time goes on, and there’s no telling how long it will be until this produces a disaster of some kind. Eventually it’s going to become clear that trying to run the US government the same way he ran his business—Trump acting as the showman/marketing genius, while professional managers keep the gears turning—isn’t producing any results here in consensus reality. And then the whole delusionary edifice will come tumbling down.

But when? Next week? Next year? Whenever the economy turns down? There’s no telling. Putin better keep that dossier constantly updated.

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NBC News: Putin Still Trying to Figure Out Trump’s Brain

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Trump "Considering" Intriguing New Way to Lie With Statistics

Mother Jones

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Oh FFS:

The Trump administration is considering changing the way it calculates U.S. trade deficits, a shift that would make the country’s trade gap appear larger than it had in past years, according to people involved in the discussions.

The leading idea under consideration would exclude from U.S. exports any goods first imported into the country, such as cars, and then transferred to a third country like Canada or Mexico unchanged, these people told The Wall Street Journal.

Economists say that approach would inflate trade deficit numbers because it would typically count goods as imports when they come into the country but not count the same goods when they go back out, known as re-exports.

While we’re at it, let’s change our new jobs report to show all the people who have gained a job but not the ones who have lost a job. That should make the economy look great, just like Trump wants it.

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Trump "Considering" Intriguing New Way to Lie With Statistics

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Trump’s Thin Skin Is Keeping Him From Staffing the Federal Government

Mother Jones

Rex Tillerson’s choice of Elliott Abrams to be his deputy at the State Department was vetoed by the White House. Abrams had once said some bad things about Donald Trump, so he was out. The New York Times reports on what this means:

Mr. Trump remains fixated on the campaign as he applies a loyalty test to some prospective officials….Six of the 15 statutory cabinet secretaries are still awaiting Senate confirmation as Democrats nearly uniformly oppose almost all of the president’s choices.

….It is not just Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson who has no deputy secretary, much less Trump-appointed under secretaries or assistant secretaries. Neither do the heads of the Treasury Department, the Education Department or any of the other cabinet departments. Only three of 15 nominees have been named for deputy secretary positions. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has a deputy only because he kept the one left over from President Barack Obama’s administration.

Yes, Democrats are slow-walking Trump’s cabinet choices. You can decide for yourself if this is justified. But it’s the deputies who often really run things, and Trump has only managed to name three out of 15 candidates. After he interviewed all those cabinet nominees, I guess he got bored.

In other words, it’s not Democrats who are holding up the rest of government. The problem is that Trump has no idea what he’s doing, and his staff is too busy with Trump’s thin skin and chaotic management style to find qualified deputies that are acceptable to him. After the debacle with his National Security Advisor, I imagine this has gotten even harder. You could almost feel qualified conservatives backing away from Trumpland as that shitshow played out.

Trump has always had a pretty small set of people acceptable to him, and now a shrinking number of experienced players are finding Trump acceptable to them. This doesn’t bode well for basic management of government business, let alone the “change for the ages” that he promised last night.

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Trump’s Thin Skin Is Keeping Him From Staffing the Federal Government

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Do Strict Voter ID Laws Suppress Minority Voting?

Mother Jones

Do photo ID laws reduce minority turnout? Previous studies have suggested that the answer is yes, but the effect is fairly small. However, in the Washington Post last week, three scholars wrote about a new study they conducted, which offers “a more definitive assessment” than previous studies. Their conclusion: states with strict photo ID laws produce a far lower turnout among minorities than other states.

It’s taken me a while to comment on this because I had to read the report a few times to make sure I understood everything. In the end, I found several reasons to be skeptical of their conclusion.

First off, they found much stronger effects in primaries than in general elections. Now, maybe this really is the case, and I can certainly invent plausible stories about why it might be so. But it still seems odd.

Second, in a draft version of their study, they say this:

Importantly, we see no effects for Asian Americans, the one minority group that is, by at least some standards, not socioeconomically disadvantaged. The effects of these laws seem to be concentrated toward the bottom end of the racial hierarchy.

In later drafts, their numbers have been updated and it turns out that Asian Americans are affected by voter ID laws—which makes their important finding disappear. But if this was an important verification in one draft, it ought to be an important discrepancy in the final draft. However, it’s not mentioned.

Third, hardly any of their findings are statistically significant. I’m not a big stickler for 95 percent significance always and everywhere, especially for something like this, where there’s one messy set of real-life data and you have to draw conclusions from it one way or another. If the results are significant at 85 or 90 percent, that’s still strongly suggestive. Nonetheless, that’s all it is.

Fourth, the effect size on African Americans is considerably less than it is for Hispanics and Asian Americans. Maybe this is just because blacks are more politically organized, and therefore more likely to overcome the deterrent effects of photo ID laws. Maybe.

So far, none of these are deal breakers. They made me a little tentative about accepting the authors’ results, but that’s all. But then we get this:

Here’s what’s going on. On the left, you see their main results, based on a model they constructed. It shows very large effects: in states with strict photo ID laws, turnout decreases 8 percentage points among Hispanics, 2 percent among African Americans, and 5 percent among Asians.

On the right, you see the results from a second test. It compares turnout in states before and after they enacted strict photo ID laws, and it shows much smaller effects: about 2 percentage points for all minorities. This strikes me as a better test, since it eliminates lots of confounding variables that crop up when you compare one set of states to a different set. But the authors go to considerable lengths to downplay these results, for reasons that I don’t find very persuasive. Yes, their sample size is smaller, and yes, things can change from year to year. But their sample sizes aren’t that small, and the differences in a single state over the course of two years is probably smaller than the differences between states in the same year.

Maybe I’m totally off base here. I don’t have the raw data or the chops to analyze it. Still, if I had to bet money, I’d bet that the second test is more reliable, and the real effect of photo ID laws is a decreased turnout of about 2 percentage points among minorities. That’s plenty to affect a close election, and the motivation for these laws is plainly partisan and racial. They should be done away with everywhere.

That said, I continue to suspect that the effect is fairly modest.

Original source – 

Do Strict Voter ID Laws Suppress Minority Voting?

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Jam the courts, blow the whistles, shut down the kitchen: Here are The Resistance’s latest strategies

In the aftermath of America’s Most Baffling Press Conference, let’s cut to the chase: People are calling out Trump and his administration in meaningful, productive ways all across the land. Here’s what went down:

Despite unprecedented calls from EPA employees for senators to block his confirmation and a judge’s order to release years of emails with fossil fuel industry figures, Scott Pruitt is now EPA administrator. Are you enraged? Will you be in Boston this weekend? That’s something else to be upset about, but bear with us: Thousands of scientists are in town for the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference. On Feb. 19, scientists and their allies will hold a rally in Copley Square to protest the Trump administration’s anti-science rhetoric and policies.

If you’re trying to reach anyone in the Department of Energy, you might have a tough time of it, because their phone directory was taken offline on Thursday morning. Cool! Anyway, California Rep. Ted Lieu and Virginia Rep. Don Beyer have published a guide for whistleblowers as a show of strength against the Trump administration’s “strapp[ing] a muzzle on federal agencies.” The Union of Concerned Scientists also released a guide to help scientists bring important information to the public discreetly and securely. Environmental science and public health shouldn’t be political, and these guides are a means to protect them.

Earthjustice filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux in a new attempt to block construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, which is already underway. A bit of good news for the anti-pipeline movement: The hearing may be expedited.

On Feb. 16, the American food industry may have looked a little … thin. That’s because immigrants across the United States took the day off to show what an America that operates on deportations and immigration bans would look like. (Spoiler: It doesn’t have a lot of food.) In case you were wondering if Washington would notice (via The New York Times): “The Pentagon warned its employees that a number of its food concessions, including Sbarro’s [sic], Starbucks, and Taco Bell, were closed because immigrant employees had stayed home and that they could expect longer lines at restaurants that were open.”

And in response to an ongoing rash of deportations, a coalition of Mexican lawmakers under the name Monarca is aiming to protect Mexican immigrants by exploiting the U.S. legal system’s greatest weakness: It’s a bureaucratic nightmare that’s already heavily backlogged!

And, ICYMI on Grist:

The movement to divest from Dakota Access is growing fast.
Big name Republicans are taking a carbon tax plan to the White House.

Link – 

Jam the courts, blow the whistles, shut down the kitchen: Here are The Resistance’s latest strategies

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