A seven hour gap

Donald Trump

Coup attempt

Some of you older folks might remember an 18½ minute gap in White House tape recordings of phone calls from the Watergate scandal.[1] It was part of the reason for suspecting the Nixon White House of a cover-up, part of what led to Richard Nixon resigning in the face of almost certain impeachment.

Now, folks, we have an over seven-hour gap in White House call logs including the time the January 6 coup attempt.[2] Pretty sure the reaction will be different this time around, though it’s worth noting the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette remembered the Nixon-era gap as well[3] as they republished the Washington Post story.

Katelyn Polantz, “Judge: ‘More likely than not’ that Trump ‘corruptly attempted’ to block Congress from counting votes on January 6,” CNN, March 28, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/28/politics/john-eastman-memo/index.html

Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, “Jan. 6 White House logs given to House show 7-hour gap in Trump calls,” Washington Post, March 29, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/03/29/trump-white-house-logs/


COVID-19 Pandemic

Doctors and charlatans

As expected,[4] the Food and Drug Administration authorized a second COVID-19 booster shot for folks 50 years of age and older.[5] It’s been over six months since I got the first booster, so I rushed to try to sign up, but it sure looks like everybody I’m used to going to for this sort of thing has been blindsided by it. C’mon folks, you shoulda had the changes ready to go and somebody with their finger on the Enter key, waiting for the word to come down.

Laurie McGinley and Lena H. Sun, “FDA expected to authorize second coronavirus booster for 50 and older,” Washington Post, March 28, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2022/03/26/coronavirus-vaccine-fourth-shot/

Luke Money and Rong-Gong Lin, II, “Infectious Omicron BA.2 now dominant in U.S., with coronavirus spring rise likely,” Los Angeles Times, March 29, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-03-29/spring-omicron-ba-2-wave-is-likely-but-how-big-will-it-be

Carolyn Y. Johnson, “FDA authorizes second coronavirus booster shot for people 50 and older,” Washington Post, March 29, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2022/03/29/fda-authorizes-second-booster-shot/


Ukraine

Yesterday, I mentioned the Russian concept of vranyo,[6] noting that this didn’t fully explain why so many Russians seem to support the invasion of Ukraine.[7] Today, we’ve got a bit more of the explanation for those poll results people keep pointing to that seem to show that the invasion enjoys wide support.[8]

I strongly recommend Joshua Yaffa’s article[9] even if you don’t care about Russia and you don’t care about Ukraine because it is rare to see in mainstream media an exploration of what researchers call “threats to validity.”

Of such “threats,” I usually focus on response rate, which should be at least 90 percent to ensure a representative sample, but has sunk well below a tenth that,[10] in my view, fatally undermining the methodology. Fundamentally, with such abysmal response rates, respondents are a self-selecting group, and there is no reliably valid way to finagle representation for non-respondents from respondents.

In Russia, a lot of people aren’t answering, saying that to do so is against the law. The temptation is to suspect they oppose the invasion, but we don’t actually know. Again, the people who answer cannot speak for those who don’t. It’s the same problem. And so it is with other threats to validity, like how questions are phrased—they can’t call it a “war”—and how people are primed to answer—they’re told this is a “special military operation” against fascists.[11]

The nuances are different in Russia, especially now. But the fundamental threats to validity are the same.

Isaac Chotiner, “The Purges in Putin’s Shrinking Inner Circle,” New Yorker, March 22, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/the-purges-in-putins-shrinking-inner-circle

Julia Ioffe, “Hacking Through Putin’s Media Cult,” Puck News, March 22, 2022, https://puck.news/hacking-through-putins-media-cult/

Richard Kemp, “The Russian army has run out of time,” Telegraph, March 22, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/2022/03/22/russian-army-has-run-time/

Luke McGee and Claire Calzonetti, “Putin spokesman refuses to rule out use of nuclear weapons if Russia faced an ‘existential threat,’” CNN, March 22, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/22/europe/amanpour-peskov-interview-ukraine-intl/index.html

Adela Suliman, David L. Stern, and Steven Mufson, “Forest fires near Russian-held Chernobyl nuclear plant raise radiation fears, Ukraine says,” Washington Post, March 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/22/chernobyl-forest-fire-radiation-ukraine-russia/

Tom Ball, “Ukraine war: Putin ‘at risk of coup’ by Russian security services,” Times, March 23, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ukraine-war-putin-at-risk-of-coup-by-russian-security-services-vm6qgxtnp

Nataliya Vasilyeva, “‘Unwell’ Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu disappears from public view,” Telegraph, March 23, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/03/23/unwell-russian-defence-minister-potential-vladimir-putin-successor/

Alex Gangitano, “Biden has sharp response to reporter: ‘You’re playing a game with me,’ Hill, March 24, 2022, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/599641-biden-has-sharp-response-to-reporter-youre-playing-a-game-with-me

Ashley Parker, Tyler Pager, and Emily Rauhala, “Leaders add sanctions on Russia, warn against chemical weapons,” Washington Post, March 24, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/24/biden-nato-europe-russia-ukraine-war/

Tarini Parti, Robert Wall, and Catherine Lucey, “Biden Calls for Russia to Be Expelled From G-20,” Wall Street Journal, March 24, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/biden-meets-allies-in-brussels-seeking-to-end-war-in-ukraine-and-punish-putin-11648112332

Christoph Hasselbach, “Ukraine: Could neutrality really be an option?” Deutschewelle, March 25, 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/ukraine-could-neutrality-really-be-an-option/a-61261793

Matthew Luxmoore, “Russia Refocuses on Ukraine’s East After Month of Heavy Losses,” Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-refocuses-on-ukraines-east-after-month-of-heavy-losses-11648243627

Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom, “Will Russians Toss Their Leader?” Tyee, March 25, 2022, https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2022/03/25/Will-Russians-Toss-Their-Leader/

Daniel Boffey, “Russia reasserts right to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine,” Guardian, March 26, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/26/russia-reasserts-right-to-use-nuclear-weapons-in-ukraine-putin

William Booth, Robyn Dixon, and David L. Stern, “Russian generals are getting killed at an extraordinary rate,” Washington Post, March 26, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/26/ukraine-russan-generals-dead/

James Kilner, “Russian MP accuses Poland of planning to take Kaliningrad back from Moscow,” Telegraph, March 26, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/03/26/russian-mp-accuses-poland-planning-take-kaliningrad-back-moscow/

Tarini Parti and and Drew Hinshaw, “Biden Says Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘Cannot Remain in Power,’” Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/biden-and-polands-leader-look-to-boost-support-for-ukraine-11648304117

Nebi Qena and Yuras Karmanau, “Russia shifts focus to try to grind Ukraine’s army in east,” Associated Press, March 28, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-putin-kyiv-business-europe-7386a5893a3b43bad7e438cfe45468c2

Robin Wright, “Biden’s Fate Is Now Inextricably Linked to Putin’s War in Ukraine,” New Yorker, March 28, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/bidens-fate-is-now-inextricably-linked-to-putins-war-in-ukraine

Joshua Yaffa, “Why Do So Many Russians Say They Support the War in Ukraine?” New Yorker, March 29, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/why-do-so-many-russians-say-they-support-the-war-in-ukraine


  1. [1]Alison Lynn and Lauren Effron, “The Watergate tapes’ infamous 18.5-minute gap and Nixon’s secretary’s unusual explanation for it,” ABC News, June 14, 2017, https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/watergate-tapes-infamous-185-minute-gap-nixons-secretarys/story?id=47926329
  2. [2]Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, “Jan. 6 White House logs given to House show 7-hour gap in Trump calls,” Washington Post, March 29, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/03/29/trump-white-house-logs/
  3. [3]Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to Feed list, “There are words to describe this weather…,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 29, 2022, http://createsend.com/t/t-8EF2CE97367716472540EF23F30FEDED
  4. [4]Laurie McGinley and Lena H. Sun, “FDA expected to authorize second coronavirus booster for 50 and older,” Washington Post, March 28, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2022/03/26/coronavirus-vaccine-fourth-shot/
  5. [5]Carolyn Y. Johnson, “FDA authorizes second coronavirus booster shot for people 50 and older,” Washington Post, March 29, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2022/03/29/fda-authorizes-second-booster-shot/
  6. [6]Dominic Nicholls, “They don’t like it when we don’t nod along,” in Telegraph Dispatches to Telegraph Dispatches list, “Dispatches,” March 28, 2022, https://m.email3.telegraph.co.uk/nl/jsp/m.jsp?c=%40j2yXyyuZgmmW1VHXjnfEndABmYq86lRVzng8tDjyioE%3D&WT.mc_id=e_DM1554300&WT.tsrc=email&etype=Edi_Dis_New&utmsource=email
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Vladimir Putin is a fool,” Not Housebroken, March 28, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/01/24/vladimir-putin-is-a-fool/
  8. [8]Julia Ioffe, “Hacking Through Putin’s Media Cult,” Puck News, March 22, 2022, https://puck.news/hacking-through-putins-media-cult/; David Remnick, “The Weakness of the Despot,” New Yorker, March 11, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/stephen-kotkin-putin-russia-ukraine-stalin
  9. [9]Joshua Yaffa, “Why Do So Many Russians Say They Support the War in Ukraine?” New Yorker, March 29, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/why-do-so-many-russians-say-they-support-the-war-in-ukraine
  10. [10]Courtney Kennedy and Hannah Hartig, “Response rates in telephone surveys have resumed their decline,” Pew Research Center, February 27, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/02/27/response-rates-in-telephone-surveys-have-resumed-their-decline/; Steven Shepard, “Report: Phone polls aren’t dead yet,” Politico, May 15, 2017, https://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/15/pollsters-phone-polls-238409
  11. [11]Joshua Yaffa, “Why Do So Many Russians Say They Support the War in Ukraine?” New Yorker, March 29, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/why-do-so-many-russians-say-they-support-the-war-in-ukraine

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