Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Last Call For The Grim Darkness Of The Middle Of Next Week

Just to cheer you up, Greg Sargent reminds us that Trump still hasn't said he's going to accept the results of the election next week, and should things actually be close, well...

I feel like America is gonna have a bad time.

The new Washington Post/ABC News national tracking pollfinds Donald Trump leading Clinton by one point in the four-way match-up, 46-45, while Clinton leads in the head-to-head by 48-47. You shouldn’t overreact to individual polls — instead, keep focused on the national and state polling averages. 
But plainly, the race is tightening, and it’s increasingly possible we’ll see a very close finish. Which means that it’s time to start pondering an Election Day nightmare scenario that is made up of two parts. First, the tight finish produces an outcome that is contested well beyond Election Day, with Trump (should he lose) claiming the results are rigged. Second, Trump supplements his claim about the rigged outcome by continuing to point to the FBI’s latest discovery of emails as proof of an ongoing cover-up of Hillary Clinton’s criminality. 
This morning, election rules expert Michael McDonald arguesthat if the outcome is close, the election could very well “go into overtime,” adding that “in this environment,” this could “rip this country apart.” McDonald posits that in a very close finish, Trump could be favored on election night, but over subsequent days, as the vote counting continues afterwards, Clinton might then edge into the lead:

A Democratic shift from election night to the final tally of votes is predictable. All states count some ballots late, and those tend to break towards Democrats. Nothing nefarious occurs: the casting and counting follow procedures laid out in state law. Some of the states that count more late ballots are key battlegrounds, magnifying the suspense on Election Night. 
Mail ballots are one of two types that can shift election results. Many states require mail ballots to be receivedby election officials on Election Day. Others continue to accept ballots postmarked on Election Day, up to two weeks following the election. Among these states are Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin. 
These late ballots may break towards the Democrats. My analysis shows more Democrats than Republicans in Iowa and North Carolina have yet to return their mail ballots. Why? These voters tend to be younger people who tend to return their ballots later. If Trump is slightly ahead in a late mail-ballot return state, he could fall behind after all the mail ballots are counted. 
Then there are provisional ballots. States are required under federal law to provide them to anyone with a problem at the polls — a voter who doesn’t have the required form of ID, for instance, or whose name is missing from the voter registration rolls. Election officials review provisional ballots and allow voters to clarify their eligibility after Election Day. In the four states that report separate results for provisional ballots, the voters who cast them broke strongly for the Democrats. So if the presidential race is particularly close, provisional ballots could tilt it. 

There’s still more in the link, but you get the idea. Meanwhile, Bloomberg Politics reports that both sides are now gearing up in a serious way for the possibility of a legally contested outcome.

In other words, if you think this election will finally be over next week, well, I have some bad news.

That's the nightmare scenario, yes.  The good news is that I still believe we'll be looking at an Obama 2012-level win, if not an Obama 2008-level win for Clinton next week, an election that Trump will be forced to accept as a loss.

The bad news is the GOP is probably going for total scorched earth staring November 9th no matter what Clinton's winning margin is.  Hopefully we can wrest control of the Senate away from them and get something done, but until that happens, the Republicans plan to punish as much of the country as possible for daring to vote for the Democrats.

Hopefully we'll punish them back.

The Clinton Prime Directive

Matthew Yglesias has a thoughtful piece on Clinton Derangement Syndrome over the last 25 years, and where we are a week from the election.

The latest Hillary Clinton email revelations arose out of an unrelated investigation into Anthony Weiner’s sexting. 
The best way to understand this odd hopscotch is through the Prime Directive of Clinton investigations: We know the Clintons are guilty, the only question is what are they guilty of and when will we find the evidence
So somehow an investigation that once upon a time was about a terrorist attack on an American consulate becomes an inquiry into FOIA compliance which shifts into a question about handling of classified material. A probe of sexting by the husband of a woman who works for Clinton morphs into a quest for new emails, and if the emails turn out not to be new at all (which seems likely) it will morph into some new questions about Huma Abedin’s choice of which computers to use to check her email. 
Clinton has been very thoroughly investigated, and none of the earlier investigations came up with any crimes. So now the Prime Directive compels her adversaries to look under a new rock and likewise compels cable television and many major newspapers to treat the barest hint of the possibility of new evidence that might be damning as a major development. 
It’s the same drive that led to Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial on the grounds that he had perjured himself to try to cover up an affair that was uncovered in an investigation that was originally supposed to be looking into a years-old Arkansas land deal on which the Clintons had lost money. The Whitewater investigation did not reveal any crimes. So rather than wrap things up and consider the Clintons exonerated, the investigators went looking under other rocks and came up with Monica Lewinsky. 
There are several rules that govern media coverage of the Clintons, but this year the Prime Directive has dominated them all. Network news has devoted more minutes of coverage to Clinton’s emails than to all policy issues combined even as email investigations have not uncovered any wrongdoing. It’s inexplicable news judgment, unless you simply assume there’s a crime out there.

And Yggy does a great job of nailing the how, who, what and where, but not so much the why.

In Prime Directive terms, the Weiner laptop is a major break. After all, the evidence of guilt must be out there somewhere. So why not Anthony Weiner’s laptop? 
It’s only when you step outside the circle of madness that you can see how ridiculous this is. If nobody had ever seen a Hillary Clinton email before, uncovering a trove of them on the laptop of the estranged husband of one of her key aides might be a big deal. But Hillary’s email has already been exhaustively investigated from multiple different angles and it shows no wrongdoing whatsoever. If you assume there is wrongdoing then, yes, maybe all evidence of the wrongdoing was suppressed from what was turned over and Weiner’s computer contains secret new damning emails. 
But what if all previous investigations have shown no wrongdoing because there was no wrongdoing? And what if the client-side copies of emails on Weiner’s computer are just client-side copies of emails, just like the emails in the inbox of everyone else who downloads email to a computer? What if Benghazi was just a tragedy and an example of how bad things happen in war zones? What if Whitewater was just a land deal on which some people lost money because real estate speculation is risky? What if Clinton has been getting away with it for all these years because she hasn’t done anything wrong?

The answer is actually pretty simple: it means that the last quarter-century of cable news's holy grail, the Story That Brings Down The Clintons, never existed.  It's Melville's tale of the white whale written across an entire industry, from Chris Matthews to Rush Limbaugh to Andrea Mitchell to Matt Drudge.  Being the ones to destroy the Clintons would instantly make you as mythical as Bob Woodward overnight, and everyone in the news industry since 1993 has been looking to nail Bill and Hillary on something.

Imagine that being your entire career goal and never finding it.  What reason did you go into the news business if you can't pin the story of the century on the Clintons?

They simply have to be guilty.  It's a madness that has infected the media and the country like a virus for more than two decades now.  And if they're not, what it means is that the Clintons have played the game better than anyone in Washington since the start and beat them all.

Including all the Village.

And that is the "why" to this story.

Getting Taken For A Ride

The problem with the "gig economy" where we all magically get to choose our own customers and work schedules and then use the power of technology to leverage that is that 1) bad choices are still made by people and 2) the tech has no ability to fix those bad choices.  Take ride-sharing apps, for example.

The National Bureau of Economic Research, a respected non-profit and non-partisan research organization, has released the findings of a two-year study that tracked discrimination of riders using Uber, Lyft, and Flywheel in Seattle and Boston. The study was done by researchers at MIT, Stanford and the University of Washington.

The study involved nearly 1,500 rides across the two cities, with work beginning in Seattle late last year to this March. Undergrads from the University of Washington were given identical phones with the three ride-sharing apps pre-loaded, instructed to take a handful of prescribed routes, and then noting when the ride was requested, when it was accepted by the driver, when they were picked up, and finally when they got to their destination.

In the Seattle experiment, trip requests from black riders took between 16 to 28 percent longer to be accepted by both UberX and Lyft, and breaking UberX out showed a wait time of 29 to 35 percent longer than their white counterparts
Those figures are based on UberX usage, primarily because of the different ways a new ride is displayed to the driver through the Uber or Lyft app. 
For Uber, drivers don’t see the name of the person they’re picking up until they accept the fare, at which point they can cancel. But for Lyft, which displays the rider’s name and picture (if they included it) before they accept the fare, means trying to quantize discriminatory practices through Lyft is largely impossible—a model Uber could conceivably adopt. 
For the Boston experiment, the team turned to a previous study by NBER that sent identical resumes to potential employers, with one set having what’s described as an “African America-sounding” first name and another with a “white-sounding” first name. The results showed that callbacks for the former happened about one-third less.
The researchers for the ride-sharing study took a similar tack, using names from the 2003 survey to set up two different Uber and Lyft accounts for each rider—one with an “African American-sounding” name and another with a “white-sounding” name. The team also made another change from its Seattle methodology; rather than picking an equal number of black and white and male and female riders, they recruited students with a range of ethnicities “whose appearance allowed them to plausibly travel as a passenger of either race,” the study states.

For the men involved in the study, those that used the profile and appeared to be black riders had a cancellation rate more than twice as high as a profile of a rider who appeared to be white (11.2 percent vs. 4.5 percent). 
Women didn’t fare much better, with a cancellation rate of 8.4 percent when using the African American-sounding name and 5.4 percent when using the white-sounding first name. 
Worse, in low population density areas where getting a ride can be challenging, users with African American-sounding names were cancelled at a rate of 15.7 percent—triple that of white males.

And frankly, until Uber gets the bejesus sued out of it, they're not going to do a damn thing.  Yes, I know I pick on Uber a lot and that systemic racism in America was a problem long before Silicon Valley ever got the idea to let people turn their cars into cabs for cash, but the problem with Uber and a lot of other social tech is that the "freedom to choose your customers" and the "selectivity aspect" of who you want to deal with in a business relationship starts to look a whole lot like a pattern of systemic racism and sexism when put out in the real world.

Worse, it's looking more and more like that setup is one of the main selling points as working as a contractor for the gig economy.  It's not a bug, kids,

It's a feature.  And they don't want to "fix" it.


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