Chuck Todd on President Trump’s Problems


Border Wars: Fiscal Conservatism Strikes Back


Reported by

President Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall on the border with Mexico is facing a major problem: A wall of resistance from his own party.

A growing number of congressional Republicans are objecting to the cost and viability of a proposal that was a rallying cry for the billionaire businessman during his insurgent campaign. Interviews with more than a dozen GOP lawmakers across the ideological spectrum suggest Trump could have a difficult time getting funding for his plan approved by Congress.

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Want to Argue about Politics More Effectively? Learn Risk Analysis 101


For those of us who work professionally in risk management, it’s striking how many of the controversies surrounding the Trump administration are essentially controversies about risks. That means that if you want to argue more effectively (and intelligently) about many of these controversies, you need to know some basics from the discipline known as risk analysis. The good news is that the basic concepts are very easy to learn.

Continue reading “Want to Argue about Politics More Effectively? Learn Risk Analysis 101”

Trump’s Temporary Immigration Ban Hurts Three Tech Giants

Normally we hear complaints from Republicans about how government regulations are bad for business. So it is somewhat ironic that Trump’s executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority business is–wait for it–bad for business! Amazon, Expedia, and Microsoft have joined the Washington State Attorney General’s lawsuit against the Trump administration’s executive order.

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Trump’s Protectionism vs. Trump’s Immigration Policies


From the right-wing Washington Examiner:

If Trump wants to reduce illegal immigration (already at an all-time low), the best thing he can do is to encourage our neighbors to the South to continue embracing free trade and commerce that has been empirically proven to raise the standard of living, create jobs, and lift millions out of poverty. To the extent we are able, we should be encouraging increased economic opportunities for Mexicans in Mexico. This will result in even less migration.

If Trump thinks Mexico is bad now, just wait until our neighbors to the South turn their back on the free enterprise system.

LINK (H/T: WinteryKnight)

Did Trump Play Us? The Timing of His Immigration Ban vs. NSC Reorganization


I’m starting to think that Trump’s temporary immigration ban from the 7 Muslim-majority countries was an insincere, calculated act of political and journalistic misdirection. He got everyone focused on that while he did something else, totally unrelated, totally crazy, and arguably far worse.

He removed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence from the “Principals Committee” of the National Security Council.

Let that sink in.

Both our nation’s top general and our nation’s Director of National Intelligence have been told they can’t sit at the adults table on the National Security Council.

Can someone please explain the logic of that to me?

In the long list of things we might classify as “government stupidity,” I can’t think of anything else which compares. Certainly not in the last 40 years. Am I missing something?

Risk = Hazard + Outrage, or Why Risk Stats about Toddlers, Lightning, and Guns vs. Terrorists Don’t Work

Philosopher Massimo Pigliucci recently tweeted a comparison of risk stats.


While these statistics are surely correct, they are equally unlikely to have much impact on the public perception of risk. Peter Sandman is an expert in the field of risk communication. One of his contributions is the quasi-formula, “Risk = Hazard + Outrage.” Pigliucci’s statistics are an example of what Sandman calls data about the “hazard.” But there is another set of considerations, what he calls “outrage,” which play a much bigger role in how most people think about risk.

Sandman defines “outrage” as “how upsetting the risky situation is.” He explains as follows:

When I invented the label “outrage” some 30 years ago I had in mind the sort of righteous anger people feel when they suspect a nearby factory is belching carcinogens into the air. But as I use the concept now, it applies to fear-arousing situations as much as anger-arousing situations. High-outrage risks are the risks that tend to upset people, independent of how much harm they’re actually likely to do.

A risk that is voluntary, for example, provokes less outrage than one that’s coerced. A fair risk is less outrage-provoking than an unfair one. Among the other outrage factors link is to a PDF file:

  • Familiar versus exotic
  • Not memorable versus memorable
  • Not dreaded versus dreaded
  • Individually controlled versus controlled by others
  • Trustworthy sources versus untrustworthy sources
  • Responsive process versus unresponsive process


Not only does Sandman’s hazard vs. outrage distinction explain why appeals to comparative risk statistics don’t work, it is actually constructive because it help guides the conversation. Most of Sandman’s website is, in fact, an extended lesson in how to use an awareness of his “outrage factors” to get people’s outrage to better align with the hazard.

I’m not going to spell out how Sandman’s outrage factors play into the debate over Trump’s Executive Order temporarily banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations. I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader. But I predict that, if you apply his techniques, you can both predict the talking points from Trump’s supporters as well as identify areas where Trump’s critics could do a much better job.