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There’s ignorance; and then there’s wilful ignorance

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The Telegraph today reports that “Chris Grayling has no credible plan for ‘no-deal’ Brexit, road hauliers warn”.

In a series of tweets commenting on this, the article’s author James Rothwell (the Telegraph‘s Brexit & Europe correspondent) brings some more detail:

I understand that senior members of Britain’s road haulage industry came out of a recent meeting with Grayling where they were astonished by his lack of grasp of the key detail on Brexit

One of them, Kevin Hopper, who runs a major firm up in Yorkshire, said that he tried to explain to Grayling that if there is no Brexit deal then UK haulage drivers won’t be able to drive in EU as their papers will be invalid

Grayling, he says, “looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language.”

Kevin says Grayling appeared to have never heard of this document but he insisted that “everything would be fine”

There’s more: go and read the whole thread if you want the full gruesomeness.

(And this is coming, remember, from the most Brexit/Europe-informed correspondent at a committedly pro-Brexit newspaper.)

So what’s going on here?

The problem with this government — rather, one of the problems — is that ministers don’t know anything about the areas they are supposedly responsible for. In itself that’s unsurprising: how can you learn about anything in any depth during 12-24 months or so as minister?

But competent ministers have always outsourced domain-specific knowledge, leaning on the expertise of civil servants, industry leaders, academics, etc. Grayling not only is ignorant, but seems to actively want to remain ignorant, so he ignores or even opposes all informed advice.

And in this he is not alone: for example, Sir Mark Ivan Rogers, the civil servant’s Permanent Representative of the UK to the EU — the person in the country who knew most about the UK/EU relationship — was so comprehensively ignored and undermined by May and other that he was forced to resign rather than appear complicit in a Brexit strategy that he knew would fail.

In the past, when we’ve had ignorant people in government, they have at least had the basic intelligence to surround themselves with expertise. And that’s OK: ministers are there to make policy, but based on facts; and civil servants and others are there to provide the facts that those policies can be based on. Now, though, Grayling and his like proudly build on their ignorance by rejecting information. They are wilfully ignorant. No wonder there are no real post-Brexit plans.

In this respect, the present UK government is a hideous echo of Trump on the other side of the Atlantic: not just ignorant, but totally uninterested in remedying that deficit. The combination of arrogance with lack of understanding is a fatal one.

If only they could find a little bit of humility: to learn from, and be influenced by, acknowledged and respected experts in their fields. But the brutal fact is that Michael Gove summed it all up, with admirable concision with his soundbite: “The people of this country have had enough of experts.”

I was horrified enough by “had enough of experts” when it started to dawn on me that it really was true of ordinary voters. Now that I realise it’s also true of actual government ministers, I just don’t see a way forward for this country. They are children with guns.

 


[Note: adapted from a series of tweets.]

 



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acdha
16 hours ago
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It’s interesting how conservative has become in the modern era synonymous with actual contempt for expertise in multiple countries.
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mareino
3 hours ago
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The Tears of a Billionaire

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Elon Musk is having a no-good, horrible, terrible year says The New York Times, which devoted a massive amount of space to an article with four bylines and an additional reporting credit at the end to the litany of Musk’s complaints.

Spoiler: Musk works long hours, says he has spent “days” within his own factories and that he spent his last birthday working friendlessly and that he has missed time with his children.  Musk is 47 years old and worth between $20-$25 billion (Bloomberg estimate) and is, best I can tell, nobody’s slave.

If Elon Musk is missing family functions or socially isolating himself because of work, it’s not because he’s been forced or coerced.  This is all on Musk. Though we know, though none of the army of people the Times assigned to the story mentioned, that Musk has an active social life.  He and his musician girlfriend even partied with Azealia Banks, though it seems to have ended badly.

So, Musk works a lot, seemingly because he wants to.  Musk doesn’t see friends and family as much as he’d like.  Though Musk does party with and hang out with celebrities, which would seem to suggest some downtime.  He also does recreational drugs, which is mentioned in both the Times and Vox pieces, and this also suggests a reasonable amount of down time.

Musk can also take a vacation any time he wants. Nobody can stop him. He says at the end of the Times piece that anybody can have his job at Tesla, if they can do as well at it as he can.  Tesla board — call me or comment below. I could do better by Tesla and will not complain about the hours, because I’d properly delegate to knowledgeable people, would concentrate on building electric vehicles rather than launching rockets or feuding with rescue workers and would not let me ego prevent me from seeking partnerships with more established auto manufacturers in order to scale.

As for the Times — I’m sure there are harder workers out there who have had tougher years and have more legitimate complains about life, but don’t have billions in the bank.  Maybe send four of the five you assigned to this story to go find them.

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mareino
6 hours ago
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wreichard
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The Backup QB Who Gets Paid A Lot To Never Play

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Quarterback Chase Daniel is guaranteed to make at least $7 million over the next two years playing football for the Chicago Bears. But Daniel is unlike most of the NFL signal callers who lock in that type of money: There’s a very good chance he won’t actually be playing football.

Teams usually deal with the backup quarterback position in one of two ways: Invest in young talent to push the incumbent starter to a higher level of play — and potentially usurp the starter down the road — or hire a veteran with a dad bod to effectively be another coach with a clipboard, providing mentorship and game-management advice. Daniel is certainly the latter. And yet, after a season in which a backup quarterback hoisted the Lombardi Trophy and another brought his team to the NFC Championship Game, the position is unquestionably important.

It also might be the best gig in the NFL. The backup QB is the player who sees the least amount of time on the field — and has an infinitesimal chance of injury — while still cashing a hefty paycheck. In nine seasons as a professional, Daniel has started two games and attempted 78 passes. To put that in perspective, Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger attempted 66 passes in a single game last season.

But what the 31-year-old Daniel lacks in experience, he makes up for in income. Perhaps no player in the history of the sport has monetized the position of backup quarterback to the degree the Missouri graduate has. This offseason, Chicago signed Daniel to back up its franchise quarterback of the future, Mitch Trubisky. If Daniel plays a significant amount this year, something has gone very wrong for the Bears. But the team still rewarded him with a two-year, $10 million deal with $7 million guaranteed. Only 18 quarterbacks currently have a higher percentage of guaranteed money, and that list is largely made up of marquee players, like Matt Ryan and Kirk Cousins, and novice quarterbacks who were taken early in the NFL draft — players whose contracts are locked in by the rookie wage scale.24

Daniel has generated $24.3 million over his career. That equates to $311,594 per pass thrown or $261,337 per yard ran. Daniel is No. 72 on the all-time earnings list among quarterbacks. Should he receive all $10 million of his deal, his career earnings would stretch to $34.3 million; only 51 quarterbacks have ever netted that much over a career.25

Consider that, among the top 100 quarterbacks all time in career earnings, the average gunslinger started 93 games, threw for 21,817 yards and amassed 134 touchdowns through the air. Daniel’s figures scarcely compare. In his first four seasons carrying a clipboard in New Orleans, Daniel attempted just nine passes. Then came two productive seasons in Kansas City in 2013 and 2014 in which he started a game each. But over the past three seasons, Daniel has heaved precisely three passes. By comparison, Johnny Hekker has attempted three times as many passes over that stretch. Johnny Hekker, by the way, is a punter.

All this isn’t to say that Daniel can’t sling the ball around. When he was a Heisman Trophy finalist at the University of Missouri, Daniel threw for at least 400 yards four separate times. But since he made it to the NFL, he has as many interceptions as he does touchdowns.26

We can use Approximate Value27 to evaluate a player’s on-field impact more comprehensively. Offensive standouts like Aaron Rodgers, Todd Gurley II and Antonio Brown might produce a single-season AV of 15. League-average offensive players might produce a single-season AV of around 5. Daniel has produced a career AV of 2. The last time Daniel brought measurable on-field value to his team was 2014, when he played for the Chiefs. In fact, the only quarterback since the 1970 merger who accumulated less approximate value over the first eight years in which he accumulated any statistics was Doug Pederson, now the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.28 In the same time frame, only 24 players across all positions accumulated less approximate value than Daniel over their first eight years in the league.

To get a better understanding of suitable player compensation, we can divide a player’s career earnings by his AV to roughly distill how much the player was paid to perform. Daniel has earned $12,152,158.50 per AV point. No other active player ranked in the top 250 in career earnings has netted more than $3.4 million per AV point, with the average player on the list earning less than $900,000 per AV point.

A sizeable portion of this has to do with opportunity. Daniel has barely seen the field in the past three seasons, appearing in only four total games. It’s no wonder he hasn’t been getting the reps, though. Upon entering the league, Daniel served as a backup to Drew Brees from 2009 to 2012, Alex Smith from 2013 to 2015, Carson Wentz in 2016 and Brees again last season. Playing second fiddle (or, in some cases, third) to an all-time great, an above-average talent and a recent MVP candidate is nothing to sneer at. And given that understanding, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Daniel has thrown fewer passes over his first eight NFL seasons than any quarterback in league history.

The average NFL career is short — about 3.3 years. That’s what happens when you play a sport where each play feels like a car crash. Quarterbacks fare longer, with an average career span of 4.4 years. Daniel has more than doubled that. It can’t hurt that he’s only been sacked seven times in his career; no quarterback has been dropped less over his first full eight seasons. For comparison, at this point in his career, Steve Young had already been tackled behind the line of scrimmage 146 times. As Daniel told The Athletic, “I don’t have any mileage on my body.”

Despite hardly playing, Daniel is a success story in many respects. Only 21 undrafted quarterbacks since the 1970 merger saw in-game action in at least nine seasons. Daniel will likely be the 22nd. And while his career has been a far cry from the Warren Moons and Tony Romos of the world, he at least has a Super Bowl ring.

Right now, even Daniel’s own teammates don’t always recognize him (for real). One injury could change that and thrust Daniel into a role of utmost importance. This would be the opportunity that has eluded him his entire career — even if his bank account suggests otherwise.

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mareino
2 days ago
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I have a new hero
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A historian explains how mainstream conservatives made Trump

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President Trump on August 1, 2018.

“The embryo of Trumpism [was] lurking within ’90s conservatism.”

Is President Donald Trump a perversion of the American conservative movement — or simply an honest reflection of what it’s been for decades?

Ever since Trump’s victory in the Republican primary, this has been one of the big questions hanging over American politics. If Trump’s anti-intellectual and race-baiting brand of politics is a parasite on the American right, then it’s possible the Republican Party can be cleaned up after him. That’s the premise of the so-called Never Trump movement, a small group of Republican elites and conservative intellectuals who have denounced the president and his allies in no uncertain terms.

But it’s possible the Never Trumpers are wrong. It could be that they’re the ones who have been deluding themselves into thinking that the conservative movement is a higher intellectual calling, when in fact it’s been a cover for a shallow and vicious brand of white identity politics for decades. If that’s true, then there’s no coming back from Trumpism. The conservative movement and its core institutions need to be radically reformed, if not outright abolished and rebuilt.

One of the most prominent Never Trumpers, former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum, posed precisely this question at the end of an Atlantic essay on conservative polemicist and convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza. “Did they really change so much?” Frum muses about his Trump supporting allies, “Or did I?” Seth Cotlar, a professor of American history at Willamette University, set out to answer Frum’s question in a lengthy and extremely worthwhile Twitter thread — and suggested an answer the Never Trumper won’t like.

Cotlar, who grew up in a right-leaning community and teaches a course on the history of American conservatism, suggests that Frum is, in fact, the one who changed. He claims that for at least two decades, back when Frum was a mainstream conservative in good standing, the Republican Party and the conservative movement were already in the grips of a kind of proto-Trumpism. Here’s Cotlar’s argument, which I encourage you to read in full:

Perhaps Frum and his fellow travelers in the Never Trump movement have compelling answers to Cotlar’s critique. But it’s one they need to grapple with if they hope to pull the Republican Party back from the abyss.

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mareino
4 days ago
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"Without a scary, phantom "left" to bash, conservatives wouldn't have much to talk about."
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Hiring a Black Woman – Mother Jones

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Michael Reynolds/ZUMA

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I know I keep telling everyone to ignore Donald Trump’s tweets except as messages to his base, this morning’s tweet about Omarosa Manigault Newman is really unique:

Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will. She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok. People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart. I would rarely see her but heard….really bad things. Nasty to people & would constantly miss meetings & work. When Gen. Kelly came on board he told me she was a loser & nothing but problems. I told him to try working it out, if possible, because she only said GREAT things about me – until she got fired!

While I know it’s “not presidential” to take on a lowlife like Omarosa, and while I would rather not be doing so, this is a modern day form of communication and I know the Fake News Media will be working overtime to make even Wacky Omarosa look legitimate as possible. Sorry!

Two things here. First, there’s an outright acknowledgment that she was a terrible person and bad at her job, but Trump wanted to keep her on because she said great things about him.

Second, he apologized for this. Screwing up the hiring of a black woman who turned out to be an incompetent sycophant is, for now, the only thing I can remember Donald Trump apologizing for since at least the start of his presidential run. Quite a coincidence, no?

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mareino
5 days ago
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The Election of Donald Trump Was a Crushing Blow to the Neoliberal Order

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Support the troops!

The Trump administration is planning to suspend routine examinations of lenders for violations of the Military Lending Act, which was devised to protect military service members and their families from financial fraud, predatory loans and credit card gouging, according to internal agency documents.

Mick Mulvaney, the interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, intends to scrap the use of so-called supervisory examinations of lenders, arguing that such proactive oversight is not explicitly laid out in the legislation, the main consumer measure protecting active-duty service members, according to a two-page draft of the change.

The agency’s move comes as a Senate committee prepares to vote on the nomination of Kathleen Kraninger to succeed Mr. Mulvaney as chief of the consumer watchdog, which is responsible for protecting consumers from financial abuse.

The proposal surprised advocates for military families, who have urged the government to use its powers to crack down harder on unscrupulous lenders. The consumer bureau conducted dozens of investigations into payday and other lenders during the Obama administration without any significant legal opposition, and no lenders are currently challenging its oversight based on the law, according to administration officials.

Look, many people have fought for the sacred liberty to be ripped off by usurious lenders.

Betsy De Vos is also involved in the swamp-clearing:

The U.S. Department of Education has officially proposed repealing the gainful-employment rule, a policy that punished higher-education programs whose graduates accumulated excessive student-loan debt, according to a notice of proposed rulemaking released Friday.

The rule, first proposed by the Obama administration in 2011, would have penalized programs if their graduates had student-loan payments that exceeded a specific percentage of their incomes. It was controversial from Day 1, especially among for-profit colleges, who pointed to analyses arguing that the sector would be disproportionately affected.

The rule has had a checkered history. In 2012, part of the rule was scrapped by a federal judge. The rule was later revised and took effect in 2014, but that change was put on hold last year by the Trump administration’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos.

Last month, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reported that DeVos, who has led the department’s rollbacks of other Obama-era regulations that aimed to protect consumers who felt defrauded by for-profit colleges, would scrap the rule. (Experts had speculated that she would merely weaken it.)

No wonder America’s elites stand united against Donald Trump!

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wreichard
7 days ago
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Scum.
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mareino
6 days ago
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