Always on the record

Axios is getting fed a line of bull:

The White House chief strategist has told associates he never intended to do an “interview” with an editor at the American Prospect, a left-wing publication.
Bannon has told associates that he admired the author’s stance on China, and so called the journalist, Robert Kuttner, on Tuesday, to discuss his piece. Apparently Bannon never thought that the journalist might take his (very newsworthy) comments and turn them into a story. It’s Anthony Scaramucci all over again (minus the curse words.)

Bull.

I’m a health policy analyst with some press contacts but I am a virtual no one in the grand scheme of things.

I know that everything I say starting with “Hello” is on the record unless both parties specifically agree that a conversation or part of a conversation is either off the record, for background or not for attribution. Yes, I know that some of my comments will never be printed. Those are often comments regarding how freaking adorable the puppy pictures on Twitter are but everything can be printed.

Several months ago, I was in DC for work. I try to get my work down and I also try to meet with people I talk to on Twitter so I can put names and voices to Twitter accounts. I arranged a coffee with a reporter. We met and as soon as I finished stirring my coffee, the reporter had a tape recorder out just in case we discussed anything super interesting. Did that shape how I expressed some ideas? Yes, but we still had a great conversation and we both came out of it with a better understanding of the other. That’s life when talking with a reporter.



Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Suggestive?

What’s on the agenda as we gear up for another day?

Results are in from the Virginia special primaries…

Per the Washington Post,

Republican Ed Gillespie held off a surprising challenge from Donald Trump acolyte Corey A. Stewart for that party’s nomination.

… Stewart refus[ed] to concede and [said] he wouldn’t support Gillespie, a man he derided throughout the campaign as “Establishment Ed.”…

Stewart’s strength on the Republican ballot was the biggest surprise of the evening. He had been running as more Trump than Trump, making provocative statements and campaigning on the issue of preserving Confederate monuments. Polls had shown him with a fraction of Gillespie’s support, but a low turnout among Republican voters gave Stewart’s committed base an outsize influence, and Wagner drew significant votes in Hampton Roads that might otherwise have gone to Gillespie.

Overall, Democrats turned out in far greater numbers than Republicans. About 540,000 voters cast ballots in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, while just over 360,000 voters cast ballots on the Republican side, with nearly all precincts reporting…

Gillespie’s narrow win, coming from a small and apparently unenthusiastic electorate, suggests that he faces a major challenge as he tries to both woo Stewart voters and attract moderates and independents while he fights a highly motivated Democratic opposition…



Managing the information fire hose

How do we manage the information fire hose when critical public news breaks in an area with significant technical jargon, precedents and folk ways breaks through the barrier of interesting to vital. How do we, people who want to be reasonably well informed, differentiate between the spectrum between expertise to bullshit to active noisemaking to drown out the signal?

For health insurance and health finance, I have an advantage. At this point, I can filter information streams where some people say very little but are extremely information and value dense, to daily reads with something interesting to say where I can trust that I am not going to chase references to people with interesting things to say but have to be approached with care to active bullshit artists. Those categories are independent of political affiliation. I have liberal and conservative high density information providers, I have liberal and conservative bullshit artists that I just don’t read. This filtering was developed over years of participation in the conversation.

National security law, money laundering, counter-intelligence are all areas that I know exist and I know some people are worth tracking. David Ignatius at the Washington Post is a pipeline to the three letter agency world. Bradly Moss is an acknowledged expert on clearances. The Brookings Lawfare blog is a collection of experts who are trying very hard to write for both a professional audience and an informed lay audience. There are others, but I don’t know who they folks are.

As this issue increases in salience people emerge from the woodwork. Some of them know what they are talking about (much like some anonymous guy at an almost top-10,000 blog proved that he knew what he was talking about on health insurance) and some don’t. Yet they offer nuggets that could be very tempting to chase for confirmation bias reasons.

How do we manage the information fire hose to at least flag the actively negative contributors to net knowledge and hopefully filter out or at least minimize the noise from the occasionally interesting but often non-contributory voices.

We’re lucky here at Balloon Juice. We have two domain area experts, Adam and Cheryl, sharing with us. But as issues outside of our normal experiences dominate the political discussion, how do we find people who know what the hell they are talking about without wading through a river of nonsense?



You know what to do

The Trump Administration in an attempt to otherize non-white people and scare the living bejesus out of the Republican marks base has set up a hotline to gather reports of crimes committed by aliens.

NASA has recently been finding planets that might be in the Goldilocks zones and evidently those inhabitants are causing a lot of trouble on earth. So if you see any strange people near Roswell jaywalking, give the hotline a call.



Competency and conscience

I want to highlight two events from yesterday.  First James Joyner’s response to the mass resignation of the membership of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders:

 

And secondly, the decision by Admiral Harward to turn down the National Security Advisor position because he could not bring in his own staff:

Both of these moves in isolation make perfect sense. One is because the admiral thought he would not be able to do a job to his personal perception of acceptable competence without his ability to choose his own staff and the other is because clear moral lines were passed.

And the downside is exactly what James outlines. Acts of either professional competence or personal competence where integrity requires disassociation and resignation means the replacement will be far worse. Personal integrity of the competent and well meaning leads to governance by the Brietbart comment section, third raters and grifters.  We are getting the Provisional Coalition Authority on the Potomac where Heritage interns are overqualified compared to the other applicants who actively want the job.

For the career civil service folks as well as political appointees who are more conservative than my preference but are fundamentally competent, this is a nasty acid test of their personal beliefs.  Are their beliefs better served by remaining for fear of who replaces them, or to leave once a red line is crossed.  I don’t know what the right answer is for anyone, I just know that it is an acid test for integrity.



Emoluments question

I am not a lawyer. But I have a legal question regarding the emoluments clause that could be the start of a constitutional confrontation. Lawyers in the audience, please tell me where I am going wrong in the following scenario?

Let us assume a foreign government official without diplomatic immunity from Fredonia stays at the Trump Hotel in Washington D.C. tonight. The Trump Hotel is still owned by the President. He had not given a credit card to hold the room. The foreign official is conscientious and checks out tomorrow morning. He receives a charge for the room. He refuses to pay for the room as it would be an emolument. He offers to place the money into escrow until the dispute can be resolved.

At that point the hotel management has two choices. Eat the loss to not embarrass the boss or initiate civil or criminal action to get the room fee? If they choose the second option, the entire question of what is an emolument has to be answered. Is that correct?

What am I missing here? And if I am not missing anything big, how do we recruit a good test case?



Monday Evening Open Thread: Show of Hands

A generic silhouette of Holiday Cheer, made vulgar by the limitless imagination of American consumers. Because what use are mittens, without hands? [NSFW]
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