Oral arguments here. Liveblogging at the New York Times suggests that at least two of the three judges on the panel lean toward keeping the ban suspended for now. Whatever happens, the court will consider the ban’s merits later.
February 7th, 2017, 7:04pm by Sam Wang
February 5th, 2017, 11:48am by Sam Wang
Here is an idea that, if done well, subverts the use of Twitter as a political tool by making the content into a joke.
“No Trump Tower against me blacks from @SarahPalinUSA look forward to it. He should go down. Make America Great Again!
— No Puppet v 0.1 (@Turing_Trump) January 31, 2017
We hear about technology as a destroyer of jobs: automated factories, and maybe someday self-driving cars. These trends hit a whole sector of Trump’s supporters. But could the need for Trump himself be eliminated?
Above is an example of a Trump tweet simulator. The idea is fairly simple. [Read more →]
February 3rd, 2017, 7:34am by Sam Wang
Are we seeing the birth cries of an authoritarian regime? Or is it the gang that couldn’t shoot straight? Julian Zelizer and I debate this and more in episode #29 of Politics & Polls.
January 28th, 2017, 5:00am by Sam Wang
Reports from LA that US Marshals are refusing to enforce fed court orders against CBP. They’ve been instructed to take orders from US Atty.
— Charlotte Silver (@CharESilver) January 31, 2017
I’ve written before on what features are shared by fascist movements, and a ten-point warning checklist for how 2017 America may becoming like 1934 Germany. After
7 8 10 13 28 days of the new Administration, how are things going?
I score them doing or attempting
three four five (six?) out of ten so far: #1, #3, #4, (#5?), #7, and #8. Note that some of these are not yes/no issues, especially while a story is unfolding.
- Taking sides with a foreign power against domestic opposition.
- Detention of journalists.
- Loss of press access to the White House.
- Made-up charges against those who disagree with the government.
- Use of governmental power to target individual citizens for retribution.
- Use of a terrorist incident or an international incident to take away civil liberties.
- Persecution of an ethnic or religious minority, either by the Administration or its supporters.
- Removal of civil service employees for insufficient loyalty or membership in a suspect group (e.g. LGBT, Muslim, and other groups). (2/16: also the intelligence community)
- Use of the Presidency to incite popular violence against individuals or organizations.
- Defying the orders of courts, including the Supreme Court.
#2: On the day of the inauguration, journalists were arrested. Does that count? It might be an isolated instance. I’m not counting it.
#3: Trump’s only calling on right-wing outlets at press conferences. A borderline situation, but it seems like a major disconnect with the press. (Update 2/17: he called on some regular reporters, such as CNN’s Jim Acosta…though he did abuse them a fair bit.)
#4: Trump makes false claims of massive voter fraud. These claims have no basis in reality.
#5: Feb. 17: In his meandering, uncomfortable press conference yesterday, Trump said he was directing the Justice Department to investigate criminal leaks. Usually, Presidents do not direct criminal investigations because of the concern of politicizing law enforcement. Does this meet criteria? I’m not counting it yet…but it’s developing.
#8: This is in flux. Acting Attorney General Yates was a career civil servant, but also an appointee of the previous Administration. However, in light of the multiple lower-court orders regarding the executive order, her firing raises questions about whether the rule of law is being eroded. Also, Press Secretary Sean Spicer has made threats against career diplomats in the State Department that if they don’t agree with the President’s executive order, they should leave. After feedback from pechmerle (see comments), I am downgrading this for now.
#10 is looking a lot like it’s happening. As of February 2nd, Customs and Border Patrol appears to be purposely finding ways to misinterpret court orders that are clearly worded. Update: maybe they’re backing down for now.
Overall, what is probably needed is a graded scale: (a) none, (b) one or two isolated instances; (c) a pattern of conduct or purposeful effort; and (d) establishment of a standing policy. As conditions deteriorate, I can formalize this approach.
Also, unfortunately I left out things like making obvious false statements, for instance the recent falsehoods about voting fraud, or invocation of an event that never happened like the “Bowling Green Massacre”; and curtailment of free speech of government employees. Maybe that can be a separate list. I am interested in what other indicators have been left out.
January 26th, 2017, 7:17pm by Sam Wang
Hailed as one of the largest protests in American history, the Women’s March on Washington gathered hundreds of thousands of people in the District and millions in sister marches around the world. In episode #28 of Politics & Polls, Julian Zelizer and I discuss the march and reproductive rights with Katha Pollitt, a columnist for The Nation.
Link to P&P #28: http://bit.ly/PoliticsAndPolls28
January 25th, 2017, 8:19am by Sam Wang
Federal agencies have come under pressure to stop communicating about the science of climate change. The National Park Service has recently deleted social-media communications about carbon dioxide, which is the main cause of global warming.
However, it turns out that there are First Amendment issues. A public employee is allowed to speak publicly or share information with the media, if that information is not secret or classified, and if that person speaks as a citizen and not as a representative of the government. Amanda Marcotte reports.
Update: commenter Pechmerle, a lawyer, points out that the Supreme Court has, in a series of leading cases, laid out a balancing test between the government’s legitimate interests in confidentiality vs. the employee’s right to speak out. It’s a three-part test:
(1) The speech is a matter of “public concern,”
(2) The employee spoke as a private citizen and not a public employee (i.e., speech is not pursuant to “official duties”), and
(3) The employee’s speech interest outweighs the agency’s interest in efficiency and effectiveness.
Note particularly the word “outweighs” in factor (3). Such balancing tests get fleshed out, over time, slowly and painfully, as lower court cases face specific fact situations. The good news is that the ACLU has already announced that it stands ready to assist any federal employee faced with improper suppression of his/her speech.
You can donate to the American Civil Liberties Union here.
Dec 2016's avg global temp was 3rd highest on record. Global avg atmospheric CO2 concentration was ~405 ppm. https://t.co/Q7xdVFTBf5
— NASA Climate (@NASAClimate) January 24, 2017
January 19th, 2017, 10:40pm by Sam Wang
Dissent is a patriotic act, when you are trying to make a nation better, or prevent it from becoming worse. For why protest matters, see Eugene Robinson and Sarah Jaffe. Practically speaking, protest by itself does not achieve a goal, but as Jaffe argues, protest is a vital part of democracy, and is way for those who feel strongly to discover that they are not alone. It is a first step before later, practical actions (see Indivisible, the ACLU, the Brennan Center, Evan McMullin, and other links in the right sidebar).
Needless to say, the best outcome would be if the worst fears expressed about the new Administration never came to pass. It could happen if the press faces up to the threat they face (see Josh Marshall), if progressives rise to the occasion (see Indivisible), and if conservatives of conscience make it clear that many issues, such as equal justice for all and freedom of expression, transcend party (see Evan McMullin). If these three groups succeed, it would be a testament to Churchill’s statement that Americans can be relied upon to do the right thing, after trying all the alternatives.
In the meantime, here are some of the fears: essays by Masha Gessen, Timothy Snyder, Aleksandar Hemon, and Sarah Kendzior. Krugman points out that the incoming administration isn’t ready, which may slow things a bit and suggests a different, perhaps less threatening, kind of failure. My analysis of President Trump’s record-low approval ratings suggests a surprisingly weak presidency.
January 19th, 2017, 2:37pm by Sam Wang
In episode #27 of Politics & Polls, Julian Zelizer and I interview leading political scientist Theda Skocpol about her recent article in Vox: “A Guide to Rebuilding the Democratic Party from the Ground Up.” In the piece, Skocpol outlines how the Democratic Party can be rebuilt from the ground up, beginning at the state and local levels.
Link to P&P #27: http://bit.ly/PoliticsAndPolls27
January 17th, 2017, 6:52pm by Sam Wang
I’m pleased to announce that I have agreed to join The American Prospect as a contributing editor. As many of you may know, the Prospect has a history of taking on political writers at the start of their careers: Ezra Klein, Matt Yglesias, Josh Marshall, Jamelle Bouie, and others. It is an honor to join the latest generation of contributors, especially at a pivotal time in history. By the way, you should support the Prospect by subscribing or donating.
I will continue to write here. I’ll use the Princeton Election Consortium to post more technical analyses, kick around data-in-the-public-interest ideas for my new class, and go into depth on matters of statistics, law, and elections.
January 17th, 2017, 9:09am by Sam Wang
This is a big year for partisan gerrymandering. Recently, star litigator Paul M. Smith has cleared the decks for voting-rights cases in the courts. That’s just one move of many that assures that voting rights will be in the spotlight in the coming Supreme Court term.
The effects of partisan gerrymandering are plain in the graph above. Up until and including the election of 2010, seats the U.S. House were related to the national vote as indicated by the shaded gray zone. The redistricting of 2010 led to a jump of about a dozen seats away from recent historical trends. The suddenness of this change, along with my statistical analysis (Stanford Law Review) reveals how this jump arose from partisan redistricting efforts in a handful of states. The jump comes from the fact that more advantage was gained by one side (NC, PA, OH, MI, VA) than the other (IL, MD). This net change can vary by decade, and depends on who controls the legislative process.