PowerLine -> This Week in the Annals of Social Science – Ouch! “Twin Cities Police Easily Startled”

PowerLine -> This Week in the Annals of Social Science – Ouch! “Twin Cities Police Easily Startled”

Daily Digest

  • This Week in the Annals of Social Science
  • Environmentalists Go Off on a Bender
  • Ouch! “Twin Cities Police Easily Startled”
  • Pompeo vs. Tillerson on Syria
  • A Pompeo postscript
This Week in the Annals of Social Science

Posted: 24 Jul 2017 12:59 PM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

The Washington Post reports the following:

A host of research suggests that as it gets hotter, people tend to make worse decisions: Not only do we get more ornery and cranky — we can also make unwise long-term decisions whose effects we’ll feel well after the temperature has dropped.

This may explain a lot about Congress. As good a reason as I can think of for simply shutting down Washington DC completely for the summer months. Now, we can start the search for scientific reasons to shut it down the other nine months of the year.

Meanwhile, the Progressive mind can never seem to decide whether they want more democracy—because of democracy—or less democracy because voters are irrational rubes who deserve to be ruled by their betters. Especially after they vote for Trump.

Want more reasons to suggest voting might not be the best form of government? Columbia Business School has the paper for you!

How Wind Speed Affects Voting Decisions

Jon M. Jachimowicz, Jochen I. Menges, Adam D. Galinsky


Many theories of democracy propose that individuals make voting decisions after deliberately considering electoral options. The current research, however, finds that an incidental factor — wind speed on Election Day — affects voting decisions. We present a causal model for how wind speed affects voting decisions: higher wind speed increases a psychological prevention focus that makes voters more inclined to select prevention-focused options (e.g., reflecting safety) over promotion-focused options (e.g., reflecting risk and change). Archival analyses of four elections (the “Brexit” vote, the Scotland independence referendum, 10 years of Swiss referendums, and 100 years of US presidential elections), one field study, and one lab experiment found that individuals exposed to higher wind speed become more prevention-focused and more likely to support prevention-focused electoral options. Notably, analyses also revealed that wind speed only affected elections involving clear prevention versus promotion options. The findings highlight the importance of incidental environmental factors for voting decisions.

So let’s see if I can connect these two stories into a policy: if it’s hot on election day, turning on fans to cool people off will only compound the problem of bad election decisions? And did they test for a mere light breeze? I look forward to the “further research” on resolving these connected but contradictory problems.


Environmentalists Go Off on a Bender

Posted: 24 Jul 2017 10:59 AM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

I’ve observed recently that the election of Trump has driven environmentalists out of their minds. But that happens to mentalists of every kind, not just the enviro-version of mentalists. For years people have asked me, “Why are environmentalists always harping about the end of the earth?” Basic answer: Because it makes them happy.

Think I exaggerate? Nothing used to send environmentalists into a rage faster than when I started pointing out, more than 20 years ago now, that most (not all) environmental trends in the U.S. had gotten dramatically better, and would continue to get better in the future. You’d think environmentalists would take Yes for an answer, but when you are an eschatological cult, a decline in sin and the reduction in the need for authoritarian priestly salvation ruins your reason for existence.

Now and then environmentalists, in a chastened mood, try to shed their Malthusian gloom, recognizing that it is debilitating. They go through the green version of a 12-step program. But like an AA dropout who succumbs when walking by a well-lit tavern, orthodox environmentalism repeatedly stumbles and goes on a bender.

This week’s bender can be seen from this splendid Tweet from Vox:

The only thing they are forgetting is the subhead: “Al Gore and Leo De Caprio Hardest Hit.”

From the dismal story itself:

If you want to reduce your personal carbon emissions, godspeed. It’s not that big a mystery how to do it: Fly less, drive less, and eat less meat. . .

Also, don’t have children. I’d say they have the core of a winning message here! Memo to Democrats: please, please run on this!

But here’s the punchline:

The obvious and most direct approach to addressing the role of individual choices in climate change is to tax the consumptive choices of the wealthy. For now, and for the foreseeable future, carbon emissions rise with wealth. Redistributing wealth down the income scale, ceteris paribus, reduces lifestyle emissions.

As with nearly every other leftist enthusiasm, it always gets around to what they really want: appropriating the wealth and income of others. Thomas Piketty, meet Thomas Malthus.

Shame I didn’t get the memo before dinner last night:


Ouch! “Twin Cities Police Easily Startled”

Posted: 24 Jul 2017 10:20 AM PDT

(John Hinderaker)

The latest development in the Mohamed Noor/Justine Damond story, following a report that a loud noise preceded Noor’s shooting of Damond: fake street signs have cropped up around the Twin Cities:

Someone–no idea who–has gone to a lot of trouble to make a point.


Pompeo vs. Tillerson on Syria

Posted: 24 Jul 2017 08:21 AM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

At the Aspen Security Forum, the same conference Scott discussed here, CIA Director Mike Pompeo discussed with clarity the situation the U.S. confronts in Syria. As Josh Rogin reports, Pompeo stated that we have two main enemies in Syria: ISIS and Iran. Our goals, in addition to finishing off ISIS in Syria, should be to stop Iran from establishing a zone of control that spans the region and “providing the conditions to have a more stable Middle East to keep America safe.”

Noting the obvious, Pompeo added that “we don’t have the same set of interests” in Syria as Russia does. What are Russia’s interests? “They love a warm water naval port and they love to stick it to America.”

Compare Pompeo’s analysis to that of the Secretary of State. According to Rex Tillerson, “Russia has the same interests that we do in having Syria become a stable, unified place.”

This may be true as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far. Russia wants a stable, unified Syria that it dominates to the exclusion of the U.S. Curbing the influence of Iran, with whom Russia has worked closely in Syria, is not an objective. Nor are regional stability and American safety. Iran and Hezbollah, Russia’s allies in Syria, are committed to destabilizing the Middle East.

Tillerson’s top Middle East official, acting assistant secretary Stuart Jones, also spoke at Aspen. He served as ambassador to Jordan and then Iraq under President Obama.

According to Rogin, Jones conceded that the U.S. has effectively outsourced security in Syria to the Russians by having them police the cease fire President Trump and Vladimir Putin agreed to. He explained:

This is a real test of the Russians ability to lead this process. The solution is to put this on the Russians and, if that fails, it’s a problem.

He’s joking, right? Sadly, he isn’t.

Rogin notes that this almost exactly what John Kerry said when he negotiated Syrian cease fires with Russia in 2015 and 2016. Repeatedly, he insisted that Russia’s willingness to be a constructive partner must be tested. Repeatedly, Russia refused to be a constructive partner, instead electing (big shock) to promote its interests by helping the Assad regime expand its control and massacre civilians.

Russia already has its grade in Syria — an A from its perspective; an E from ours. There is no need for further tests.

It’s the Trump administration that is now under examination. Will it repeat the same mistakes committed by the Obama administration? So far, the answer appears to be Yes.

Will it commit a mistake that even Obama never made — abandoning non-jihadist rebels in exchange for nothing more than the promise of a cease fire? The answer is Yes.

Even if the cease fire in southwest Syria holds, it serves the interests of Russia and Iran, not those of America. As Rogin explains, the regime and its partners are using the cease fire to free up resources to advance in eastern Syria. This is where the key fight for control of the strategic region around Deir al-Zour is underway. That fight is central to Iran’s effort to establish the “zone of control” Pompeo said is antithetical to U.S. interests.

At the Aspen event, Jones acknowledged that the regime and its partners are using the cease fire for this purpose. Apparently, he’s fine with it.

I’d like to know how the Trump administration squares this apparent indifference over what happens in eastern Syria with its much-heralded alliance with Sunni powers in the region. Sunni fighters from this part of Syria are off fighting ISIS. What, asks Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, will they do upon returning home under fire from Iranian militias?

Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, where he seemed to forge an alliance of Sunni states, has been billed as the major foreign policy success of his administration. Arguably, it is the only one, to date.

Trump’s Syria policy risks undermining that good work.

Mike Pompeo has the right line on Syria and Russia. Unfortunately, President Trump has adopted the contrary line of Rex Tillerson and the Obama holdovers.


A Pompeo postscript

Posted: 24 Jul 2017 05:40 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)

In June 2 story by Matthew Rosenberg and Adam Goldman, the New York Times blew the identity of the new CIA chief of operations against Iran. The Times’s decision to do so was deliberate, willful and deeply dishonorable.

It may have been illegal as well. The special counsel investigation of the Bush administration was predicated on possible criminal violations in the unauthorized disclosure of Valerie Plame. Possible criminal violations might have been predicated on the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, on section 793 of the Espionage Act and on the statutes that impose liability on accomplices and conspirators.

When it comes to the damaging disclosure of highly classified national security information, the New York Times is a hard core recidivist. I took a look at the Times’s potential criminal liability in one such case in the 2006 Weekly Standard column “Exposure.”

CIA Director Pompeo brought up the Times’s June 2 story in his interview with New York Times columnist Bret Stephens at the Aspen Security Forum last week. I recounted their exchange in a nearby post. “We had a publication — you work for it, Bret — that published the name of an undercover officer at the Central Intelligence Agency,” Pompeo noted. “I find that unconscionable,” he added.

Pompeo looked Stephens in the eye. Stephens shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “You’re talking about Phil Agee,” Stephens inquired (twice).

Pompeo wasn’t talking about Philip Agee. Agee was, of course, the traitorous former CIA agent whose misdeeds gave rise to the Intelligence Identities Protection Act in the first place. He never worked for the New York Times. The Times didn’t blow Agee’s cover. He had nothing to do with the Times. He is ancient history. He died in Havana in 2008. I don’t know how Stephens associated Agee with Pompeo’s comment.

Presidential assistant and social media maven Dan Scavino seems to have thought that Stephens correctly identified the undercover CIA officer to whom Pompeo was referring. In the tweet below he accused Stephens of repeating the name twice and asked rhetorically whether that was “just as disgraceful.”

CIA Dir Pompeo calls out @NYTimes for publishing name of an UNDERCOVER CIA agent.

Just as disgraceful?@BretStephensNYT REPEATS name 2x’s! pic.twitter.com/wp9dUDmu1S

— Dan Scavino Jr. (@Scavino45) July 21, 2017

This is stupid twice over. First, Scavino has no idea what he is talking about. Second, Stephens would have done no harm by correctly identifying the undercover officer to whom Pompeo was referring. The damage — the disgrace — was committed by the New York Times on June 2 in the story that it featured on page one of its June 3 edition.

Stephens took offense at Scavino’s accusation. He demanded that Scavino retracts his accusation and apologize (tweet below).

This is categorically false. I did not mention name. I made a reference to Phil Agee. Retract and apologize. https://t.co/YIX2kggcYT

— Bret Stephens (@BretStephensNYT) July 21, 2017

Scavino owes Stephens an apology. But consider Stephens’s response to Scavino. It implies, if not concedes, that the disclosure of the CIA undercover officer to which Pompeo referred was in fact disgraceful.

So Scavino wrongly attributed the disgraceful disclosure of the CIA undercover officer to Stephens. Rather, the disgrace was solely attributable to Stephens’s colleagues at the Times. You know, the ones who wrote the June 2 story. They committed the disgrace.

Will Stephens acknowledge the wrong committed by his colleagues at the Times? Will he express regret for it? Will he apologize for it? Or is Scavino’s error the only point worthy of note?

Question @BretStephensNYT and @joshrogin: So was the Times’s page-one June 2story identifying the undercover CIA officer disgraceful? https://t.co/XyUDPUpzaO

— Scott Johnson (@scottwjohnson) July 24, 2017


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