Archive

September 13th, 2016

Wells Fargo opened a couple million fake accounts

    Two basic principles of management, and regulation, and life, are:

    - You get what you measure.

    - The thing that you measure will get gamed.

    Really that's just one principle: You get what you measure, but only exactly what you measure. There's no guarantee that you'll get the more general good thing that you thought you were approximately measuring. If you want hard workers and measure hours worked, you'll get a lot of workers surfing the internet until midnight. If you want low banking bonuses and measure bonus-to-base-salary ratios, you'll get high base salaries. Measurement is sort of an evil genie: It grants your wishes, but it takes them just a bit too literally.

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September 12th

How the government could resist President Trump's orders

    If Donald Trump is elected, he's promised to move quickly - with head-spinning alacrity, in fact - to suspend Muslim immigration, or maybe even stop people from entering the United States "from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism." We'll withdraw from NATO unless all other members pay their fair share, either renegotiate or shred NAFTA, and begin "extreme vetting" of immigrants to make sure they aren't sneaking in any "hostile attitudes toward our country or its principles." Before you can say "Geneva Conventions," he'll order the waterboarding of suspected terrorists and approve interrogation techniques "a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding," too, even ordering the killing of the families of terrorism suspects. He might (or might not, or might) deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. But "on Day One," he insists, we will definitely "begin working on an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall."

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Trump, Clinton plan to stick to low road

    This should have been the week when both presidential candidates, the summer behind them, seized a back-to-school opportunity for a fresh start -- No. 2 pencils sharpened, pristine notebooks, a new backpack, a fresh chance to elevate the campaign to a level deserving of the office they aspire to. No such luck.

    All hopes for a new narrative were dashed when Donald Trump violated the vow all presidential candidates must take not to reveal anything about the classified intelligence briefings they get. It's never been dishonored, but at a joint "commander-in-chief forum" in New York on Sept. 7, Trump tried to leverage his access to score some cheap political points.

    His first briefing, he said, left him "shocked," because of the information it contained about an unspecified decision by President Barack Obama and his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, that had led to an unspecified "total disaster." His briefers, he said, were "not happy about" Obama's failure to "follow what our experts" advised.

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The glass ceiling isn't shattered yet

    There are many better reasons to oppose Donald Trump than his rampant sexism. But the brazenness of Trump's recent comments, and the not-so-subtle piling on by the Republican National Committee, demand some attention. The remarks are worth noting not only because of what they tell us about Trump & Co., but also because they illustrate some of the gender-based challenges that Hillary Clinton confronts as she seeks to become the nation's first female president, and that she would continue to face in office.

    At NBC's Commander-in-Chief Forum on Wednesday night, Trump was asked about his 2013 tweet on sexual assaults in the military: "What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?"

    There is only one possible answer when questioned about this tweet: "That was dumb, and I retract it."

    It will not surprise you that this was not Trump's response. "It is a correct tweet," he told Matt Lauer.

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The Conscience of the Contrarian Voter

    I met Gary Johnson, the somewhat-surging Libertarian Party candidate for president, years ago in one of those beautiful Western settings full of mostly awful people at the time — that is, lobbyists and various sycophants who attach themselves to any gathering of power.

    He was then the Republican governor of New Mexico, a rare politician with a glib sense of humor, rolling his eyes as his fellow Western politicians sucked up to bolo-tied suits from the oil industry. We talked mostly about marathons and mountains; he’s run the 26-mile race in less than three hours, and climbed the apex of the planet, Mount Everest, as well.

    I liked him instantly. And as I’ve followed him since then, my regard for Johnson has grown. Now that he’s running for president, and polling at 15 percent or better in at least 15 states, would I ever vote for him?

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Sexism: Let’s Deconstruct Donald

    Are Donald Trump’s attacks on Hillary Clinton sexist? To be fair, Trump is a guy who makes insulting personal remarks about everyone he disagrees with, regardless of gender. Let’s not jump to conclusions. This deserves a serious breakdown.

 

— Yelling

     Trump frequently complains that Clinton yells too much. “That’s why I turned her off last night ... I just couldn’t stand it. I got such a headache,” he told a rally this year. “But I won’t say it, because I’m not allowed to say it, right?” He added that he had “great respect for women, believe me.”

    Rule No. 1: When grading a candidate’s level of sexism, add one point for every time he says that what he just said is not politically correct. Add two if he interjects that he has great respect for women.

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O Say Can You See the First Amendment?

    Before a football game against the Green Bay Packers two weeks ago, Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers quarterback, refused to stand for the pre-game patriotic ceremony that is wound around the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner.”

    Kaepernick later said he was “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” and said his stance, a quiet form of civil disobedience, was to him “bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Several professional athletes had previously protested what they saw as police brutality directed against Blacks; about 70 percent of NFL players are Black. However, Kaepernick’s actions received far more attention because he was the quarterback to a Super Bowl championship team and the 49er–Packers game was televised to a national audience.

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I got arrested for putting my feet up on the subway. I was lucky I was white.

    In a holding cell below New York City's Chinatown one night last year, I spent four hours curled in a ball, balancing on a narrow wooden bench. I was trying to avoid the freezing cinderblock walls and the cold cement floor, splattered with cigarette butts and rotten food. The NYPD had taken my shoes, in case I tried to hang myself with my laces.

    An hour earlier, I was quietly riding the A train home from a folk-music show in Brooklyn. My earbuds were plugged in, my feet propped on the seat in front of me. Sometime around 2:30 in the morning, the train paused at the Canal Street station. A uniformed and armed New York police officer popped her head through the door and beckoned me off the subway car. Within a few minutes, I was handcuffed, ID'd and marched upstairs by two police officers.

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Five myths about smartphones

    Americans are estimated to check their smartphones a collective 8 billion times per day, and Nielsen says we spend an average of one hour and 39 minutes on our smartphones each day - up 60 percent from last year. But while many of us consider our smartphones to be an essential part of our lives, there are many misconceptions about how we use them and how they affect us.

 

    Myth No. 1

    Smartphones give people cancer.

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Can Hillary Clinton count on the Latino turnout she needs?

    One of the big questions about the 2016 campaign is this: Will voter groups in the vaunted Obama coalition turn out at levels this fall that rival their turnout in 2012?

    Key to this question is the enthusiasm level among Latinos. They are increasingly important to Democrats in national elections, because they are growing as a share of the electorate, even as Republicans appear paralyzed from doing anything to strike a more welcoming posture towards them and have nominated someone who insults Mexican immigrants for sport and vows mass deportations and a great wall keeping the hordes out.

    Yet some new polling released this week by Latino Decisions offers some mixed news for Democrats on this front.

    On the one hand, the poll finds that Hillary Clinton is beating Donald Trump by 70-17 among registered Latino voters nationally. That's better than Barack Obama was faring among Latinos at the same point in 2012, when Latino Decisions polling found him beating Mitt Romney by 64-21. In the end Obama beat Romney by 71-27 among Latinos in the election itself, so while Clinton is roughly at the same number among Latinos right now, Trump is doing substantially worse than Romney fared.

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