Fake President just invented his own “New Math”

On a drizzly day in January 2018, Jeff Alson, an engineer at the Environmental Protection Agency’s motor-vehicles office, gathered with his colleagues to make a video call to Washington, D.C….They had made the same call dozens of times before.

Speaking from Washington, James Tamm, the NHTSA fuel-economy chief, greeted the EPA team, then put a spreadsheet on-screen. It showed an analysis of the tailpipe rules’ estimated costs and benefits. Alson had worked on this kind of study so many times that he could recall some of the key numbers “by heart,” he later told me.

Yet as Alson looked closer, he realized that this study was like none he had seen before. For years, both NHTSA and the EPA had found that the tailpipe rules saved lives during car accidents because they reduced the weight—and, with it, the lethality—of the heaviest SUVs. In 2015, an outside panel of experts concurred with them….But this new study asserted the opposite: The Obama-era rules, it claimed, killed almost 1,000 people a year.

“Oh my God,” Alson said upon seeing the numbers. The other EPA engineers in the room gasped and started to point out other shocking claims on Tamm’s slide. (Their line was muted.) It seemed as if every estimated cost had ballooned, while every estimated benefit had shrunk. Something in the study had gone deeply wrong.

As you may expect, should expect, it wasn’t an accident. Trump’s flunkies produced a report filled with lies designed to improve the profit structure for companies selling cars into the US market. And screwing the rest of the nation firmly to the wall of carbon pollution. Another Trump trophy for deceit and greed.

White evangelicals believe Trump is their savior


Jim Watson/AFPTrump puts on his pious face

Before the end of 2016 there was little in Donald Trump’s life, or frequently offensive political campaign, to suggest that as president he would be hailed as God’s appointee on Earth, be beloved by born-again Christians, or compared to a biblical king.

Yet that is exactly what has happened in the three years since Trump took office, as he has surrounded himself with a God-fearing cabinet and struck up an unlikely but extremely beneficial relationship with white evangelical supporters.

It’s a relationship that, for the president, has ensured unwavering support from a key voter base and for his religious supporters, seen a conservative takeover of the courts and an assault on reproductive and LGBTQ+ rights.

“It’s incredibly troubling,” said Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to the separation of church and state.

“Trump is conferring unparalleled privilege on one narrow slice of religion,” Laser said. “He confers privilege in exchange for constant loyalty at the ballot box, no matter what he does.”

If you share your bed with garbage, the stink wears off on you. While that can be a two-way problem, the worst end of the brush is painting these religious folk to be as corrupt as Trump, his allies, his whole platform of bigotry and theft.

US in group of nations calling for encryption back doors

The privacy of Internet users “is not absolute,” according to a statement from a five-country coalition that includes the United States following a meeting about security, with the overall theme demanding technology companies to make social networks and messaging services safer and to offer more support to government agencies to break encryption and access potentially sensitive data…

“Privacy laws must prevent arbitrary or unlawful interference, but privacy is not absolute,” the statement reads. “It is an established principle that appropriate government authorities should be able to seek access to otherwise private information when a court or independent authority has authorized such access based on established legal standards. The same principles have long permitted government authorities to search homes, vehicles, and personal effects with valid legal authority.”

Lockstep unity between these five English-speaking nations and they all sound like they’d have no problem with the divine right of kings, either.

OTOH, There is this letter to Washington politicians from lots of organizations concerned with our human rights – including privacy.

Barry Ritholtz says, “Don’t let the trolls get you down!”

❝ I began sharing my work online two decades ago as one of the early financial bloggers. I started on Yahoo Geocities in the 1990s, Typepad in 2003, and finally on WordPress at my own domain in 2008. That is where the Big Picture still resides…

Alas, a classic case of the tragedy of the commons struck, rendering comments mostly worthless as they were overrun with spam advertising and trolls. Managing them was a giant time suck, with no effective technology solution. It was with some reluctance that I finally decided to close down my blog comments. For the same reasons, you will not find a comment section below my Bloomberg View columns.

❝ Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive officer, seems to be making some progress in the company’s response as it begins cleaning up its act and banning some of the most egregious offenders. It has also given users more tools to help them avoid the worst of the trolls. This is good news for those of us in the financial community, as Twitter is a tremendous resource.

Reading discussions between a few law professors about their Twitter usage (see this and this) reminded me of this. Because I find Twitter to be enormously helpful, I want you to also take advantage of its resources. Here are a few ideas that can help you, too…

RTFA. We can always use more suggestions about dealing with the ego-smitten or simply corrupt folk who take up otherwise useful space online.