Uber under federal investigation over ‘Greyball’ program: Daily Bullshit, May 5-6, 2017

Others may celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but it was nine years ago on May 5, 2008, that I went vegan. Though I continue vegan practices, these days I prefer the label ‘vegetarian ecofeminist‘ because I think vegetarian ecofeminism is more philosophically coherent than what I see among many vegans.[1]


Updates

  1. May 5, 8:50 am:
    • The Senate will take its time ‘fixing’ the Obamacare “repeal and replace” bill that the House just passed.[2]
  2. May 6, 2:26 am:
    • Tories did very well in British local elections considered a harbinger for the upcoming national election.[3] (Brexit)
  3. May 6, 12:52 pm:
    • Sunil Rajaraman sees the “on-demand” economy, which includes the likes of Uber and Lyft, as a bubble about to burst.[4]
    • Nate Silver believes that the late-breaking FBI investigation probably is the largest quantifiable factor leading to Hillary Clinton’s defeat.[5] (Democrats)

Uber

It just never quits with Uber.

Sunil Rajaraman, “The on-demand economy is a bubble—and it’s about to burst,” Quartz, April 28, 2017, https://qz.com/967474/the-on-demand-economy-is-a-bubble-and-its-about-to-burst/

Del Quentin Wilber and Greg Bensinger, “Uber Faces Federal Criminal Probe Over ‘Greyball’ Software,” Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-faces-federal-criminal-probe-over-greyball-software-1493948944


Obamacare

Alexander Bolton, “Senate GOP vows big changes for ObamaCare bill,” Hill, May 5, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/332025-senate-gop-vows-big-changes-for-obamacare-bill


Brexit

Francis Elliott and Sam Coates, “May on course for landslide,” Times, May 6, 2017, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/may-on-course-for-landslide-f7pqgwwfp


Democrats

Nate Silver lends some support to Hillary Clinton’s thesis that she lost in large part due to James Comey’s late letter to Congress [6] that “the FBI had ‘learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation” into the private email server that Clinton used as secretary of state.’”[7] But what’s missing from the headline is that he also writes

the effect of [other] factors — say, Clinton’s decision to give paid speeches to investment banks, or her messaging on pocket-book issues, or the role that her gender played in the campaign — is hard to measure. The impact of Comey’s letter is comparatively easy to quantify, by contrast. At a maximum, it might have shifted the race by 3 or 4 percentage points toward Donald Trump, swinging Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida to him, perhaps along with North Carolina and Arizona. At a minimum, its impact might have been only a percentage point or so. Still, because Clinton lost Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by less than 1 point, the letter was probably enough to change the outcome of the Electoral College.[8]

In Silver’s light, a large issue for Clinton was, whether she admits it or not, was overconfidence:

Clinton woke up on the morning of Oct. 28 as the likely — by no means certain — next president. Trump had come off a period of five weeks in which he’d had three erratic debates and numerous women accuse him of sexual assault after the “Access Hollywood” tape became public. Clinton led by approximately 6 percentage points in national polls and by 6 to 7 points in polls of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Her leads in Florida and North Carolina were narrow, and she was only tied with Trump in Ohio and Iowa.1 But it was a pretty good overall position.

Her standing was not quite as safe as it might have appeared from a surface analysis, however. For one thing, there were still lots of undecided voters, especially in the Midwest. Although Trump had a paltry 37 percent to 38 percent of the vote in polls of Michigan, for instance, Clinton had only 43 percent to 44 percent. That left the door open for Trump to leapfrog her if late developments caused undecideds to break toward him. Furthermore, in the event that the race tightened, Clinton’s vote was inefficiently distributed in the Electoral College, concentrated in coastal states rather than swing states. While she had only an 11 percent chance of losing the popular vote according to FiveThirtyEight’s forecast that morning, her chances of losing the Electoral College were a fair bit higher: 18 percent.

Another danger to Clinton was complacency. Several days earlier, the Times had written that she was on the verge of having an “unbreakable lead.” And there was a risk that people looking at statistical forecasts were misreading them and “rounding up” a probable Clinton win to a sure thing. (We’ll take up that topic up at more length in a future article in this series.) But Clinton had actually slipped by a percentage point or so in polls since the final debate on Oct. 19. And the news cycle had become somewhat listless; the most prevalent story that morning was about the trial in the Oregon wildlife refuge standoff. Clinton was in a danger zone: Her lead wasn’t quite large enough to be truly safe, but it was large enough to make people mistakenly think it was.[9]

In the end, Clinton lost to a catastrophically bad candidate in a race that was hers to lose and that, had the Democrats nominated an electable candidate, shouldn’t even have been close. Trump was so awful even in the closing phase of the campaign that even though I had forecast his victory in my dissertation defense, I had come to think this prospect a lot less likely.[10] And that makes other analyses, such as those pointing to folks who had voted for Barack Obama, become disillusioned by his (and the Democratic Party’s) capture by wealthy interests, and voted for Donald Trump,[11] a lot more meaningful.

Nate Silver, “The Comey Letter Probably Cost Clinton The Election,” FiveThirtyEight, May 3, 2017, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-comey-letter-probably-cost-clinton-the-election/


  1. [1]David Benfell, “The Inevitability of Speciesism,” December 7, 2012, https://parts-unknown.org/drupal7/journal/2012/12/07/inevitability-speciesism
  2. [2]Alexander Bolton, “Senate GOP vows big changes for ObamaCare bill,” Hill, May 5, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/332025-senate-gop-vows-big-changes-for-obamacare-bill
  3. [3]Francis Elliott and Sam Coates, “May on course for landslide,” Times, May 6, 2017, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/may-on-course-for-landslide-f7pqgwwfp
  4. [4]Sunil Rajaraman, “The on-demand economy is a bubble—and it’s about to burst,” Quartz, April 28, 2017, https://qz.com/967474/the-on-demand-economy-is-a-bubble-and-its-about-to-burst/
  5. [5]Nate Silver, “The Comey Letter Probably Cost Clinton The Election,” FiveThirtyEight, May 3, 2017, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-comey-letter-probably-cost-clinton-the-election/
  6. [6]Mark Hensch, “WikiLeaks’ Assange to Clinton: ‘Blame yourself’ for election loss,” Hill, May 3, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/news/331781-wikileaks-assange-to-clinton-blame-yourself; Aidan Quigley, “Axelrod: Comey ‘didn’t tell Hillary Clinton not to campaign in Wisconsin,'” Politico, May 3, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/03/david-axelrod-reacts-hillary-clinton-james-comey-237924
  7. [7]Nate Silver, “The Comey Letter Probably Cost Clinton The Election,” FiveThirtyEight, May 3, 2017, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-comey-letter-probably-cost-clinton-the-election/
  8. [8]Nate Silver, “The Comey Letter Probably Cost Clinton The Election,” FiveThirtyEight, May 3, 2017, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-comey-letter-probably-cost-clinton-the-election/
  9. [9]Nate Silver, “The Comey Letter Probably Cost Clinton The Election,” FiveThirtyEight, May 3, 2017, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-comey-letter-probably-cost-clinton-the-election/
  10. [10]David Benfell, “Donald Trump wins,” (Supposedly) Daily Bullshit, November 9, 2017, https://parts-unknown.org/reading/2016/11/09/donald-trump-wins-daily-bullshit-november-8-9-2016-early/
  11. [11]Alex Roarty, “Democrats say they now know exactly why Clinton lost,” McClatchy, May 1, 2017, http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article147475484.html?rh=1; Greg Sargent, “Why did Trump win? New research by Democrats offers a worrisome answer,” Washington Post, May 1, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2017/05/01/why-did-trump-win-new-research-by-democrats-offers-a-worrisome-answer/

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