Could Trump’s Bizarre Cabinet Meeting Be Part of His Overall Obstruction of Justice Pattern

Bizarre cabinet meeting, in which all members effusively praise Trump.

Brilliant satire from Chuck Schummer.

 

And, the 25th Amendment says that certification by a majority of the Cabinet is a step in the process of removal for inability to perform duties.

The Cabinet command performance has surely just made it harder for the Cabinet to make sure certification, and the question is whether this was done with intent.  If so, yet another part of an abusive pattern of hanging on to office.  To continue an obstruction pattern, you have to stay in power.

I would note that the Amendment provides Congress with the power to name an alternative body to play this role.

 

 

Lobbying and Campaigning Rights for Nonprofits

So, if religious groups can have a tax exemption, but are not resticted in their campaign and lobbying activities, surely it must be unconstitutional to deny the same rights to nonprofit organizations.  That would both be content based discrimination and establishment of religion.

That might lead to more than Trump bargained for today.

Be careful what you wish for.

NBER Report Suggests We Should Not Blame Polarization on the Internet.

The National Bureau of Economic Research has long been a highly respected and independent source of analysis on economic and statistical matters.  So it is well worth paying attention when they focus on the impact of the Internet on polarization.

A recent Report concludes:

We find that the increase in polarization is largest among the groups least likely to use the internet and social media.  .  .  .  Across intermediate age groups, the growth in polarization is consistently higher among older respondents. Polarization increases more for the old than the young in eight of the nine individual measures. A similar pattern emerges for groups of respondents divided by our broader index of predicted internet use.

The paper admits that there may be ways of explaining the phenomenon to dissolve the inconsistency, but, given its breadth of measures, that seems unlikely.

Indeed un-linking Internet access statistics from polarization does not exclude the possibility that the existence of the Internet incentivizes the taking of extreme positions, and that those incentives work on populations regardless of their internet access.  It may be, or example, that what the Internet did was make it possible for marginal voices to be amplified much more by mainstream media who reach lower information people.  In other words, we would be worse off without the Internet.

However, when you think about it, the “beauty” of the “Internet did it” meme is that no one needs to take responsibility.  Not the commentators, not the politicians, not the newsfolks, not the religious leaders.  Not the increase in inequality, not the massive insecurity, not the reduction of need for those with traditional blue collar jobs.  Not the increasing costs of housing and education and the impossibility of getting both.

Holding people responsible for what they say and advocate — and what they said yesterday, and weeks, months and years ago is easier than ever before.  Understanding economic change should also be easier than ever.

So, while the Internet alone may have some second order effects, its much more important to look at the big picture of ideas and leadership.

 

 

What Would Martin Luther King Have Done on that United Flight

I would like to think that he would have led the way in blocking  the aisle by just lying down and linking arms with others.

I would also like to think the would have sought to engage the security cops (who were obviously utterly untrained for this situation) and the other airline employees.

I also suspect that he would have acknowledged to them that they, the employees, were under huge pressure to get things done to unreasonably tight timelines.  Indeed, maybe he might have suggested that the cabin crew and passengers were both victims, and that to see each other as adversaries is the wrong way to go.

Maybe the video would not have been so dramatic, but maybe it would have helped foster a much more powerful dialog about avoiding being divided, but rather uniting (so to speak.)

In any event, I hope many who fly are asking themselves what they would have done if they had been on the flight.  I suspect that next time round, things will play out very differently.

 

Google Enhances Consumer Power Over Airlines By Making It Easier For Users to Boycott Specific Airlines (Or Rather Alliances) — Like You Know Who. This could Become Much More General.

So we all get want to make a statement about the airline that is planning on issuing cattle prods to their staff (not really, at least so far.) (Great branding ideas in the link.)

It turns out that Google’s travel engine already makes that somewhat easier.  It let yous limit searches to one of the three major alliances, and all you have to do is do two searches, limiting the ones other than you target.

One thing is for sure.  Google already knows for example whether there have been any changes in the choices of alliances in the last few days.

One of the beauties of this approach is that the alliance partners pay a price — guilt by association — and they are likely to be a force for changes in behavior.

Of course, Google could and should enhance this, so that you can label one, or more, airlines as “on boycott.”

Indeed, more generally, this consumer power aggregator could be expanded to any kind of online product selection system, and would be particularly powerful in those areas in which people make multiple individual purchases such as groceries, music, etc — typical for online transactions.

Actually, some of us might still be boycotting Florida Orange Juice if we had had a tool like this 30 years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump’s Leaker Threat Contains Big Loophole!

Trump threat tweeted today that “the spotlight has finally been put on the low-life leakers! They will be caught!”

That leaves a big loophole, since the vast majority are probably not”low-life” at all, but patriots.  They should be safe.

But then, grammar was never a strong point for the Donald.

Seriously, time to dust off our jury nullification research.  And, surely the necessity defense would be strengthened by Trumps prior expressions of support for hacking.

Do you really think that today you could get a conviction out of a DC area jury on these leaks?  Good luck on that one.

 

Washington Post Article Reports Survey Showing High Levels of Stress Nationally About Politics and Quotes Expert Urging “Disengage[ment]”

The Washington Post Reports:

Because so many of its members were reporting election-related stress, the APA [American Psychological Association] added questions about politics to its annual survey in August. When the negative feelings didn’t ease up, APA did another survey in January to capture stress levels post-election. In August, 71 percent of Americans reported feeling a physical or emotional symptom of stress at least one day that month. In January, 80 percent had symptoms such as tension headaches or feeling overwhelmed or depressed.

The survey, conducted by Harris Poll, found 66 percent of Americans reported stress about the future of the country, 57 percent about the current political climate and 49 percent about the election outcome. Minority groups, millennials, those living in urban areas, and those with a college education had higher levels of stress about the election, which is unsurprising since those demographics tend to lean left politically.

The remedy, according to Vaile Wright, a licensed psychologist and member of APA’s Stress in America team, quoted in the article (which I encourage should be read as a whole).

Maintaining such high levels of constant stress puts a strain on your relationships, work and health, which only increases the stress. It’s a vicious cycle that people need to actively remove themselves from by making a conscious choice to disengage and focus on friends, family and activities that bring them joy, she said. 

“Know your limits — really prioritize taking care of yourself,” Wright said. “People think, if I choose to cope or do something for myself, I’m saying what’s happening isn’t a big deal. But the reality is burnout isn’t going to help anybody.”

What is stunning and disappointing is the absence of any real affirmative suggestion that stress might actually be reduce by engaging in activism to deal with the challenges we are being forced to face.  Taking care of yourself is one thing.  Using advice to do as an excuse for debilitating passivity is another.  Such advice needs to be more carefully thought out.