People Are Filtering Political Noise Out


Maybe we should be afraid of the growing level of political incivility. The Hill quotes president Trump as suggesting that what comes around goes around. “And I tell you what, someday there will be a Democrat president and there will be a Republican House, and I suspect they’re going to remember it,” Trump said. Rep. Will Hurd put it more prosaically. Politico says “the Texas Republican is concerned impeachment will be used as a weapon against future presidents, just like voting on new Supreme Court justices.” Call it the Harry Reid effect, after the former Democratic Senator majority leader who devised a way of ramming measures through only to see his own invention turned against his party when control of the chamber changed.


The nuclear option is a parliamentary procedure that allows the United States Senate to override the 60-vote rule to close debate, by a simple majority of 51 votes, rather than the two-thirds supermajority normally required to amend the rules. …

In November 2013, Senate Democrats led by Harry Reid used the nuclear option to eliminate the 60-vote rule on executive branch nominations and federal judicial appointments, but not for the Supreme Court. In April 2017, Senate Republicans led by Mitch McConnell extended the nuclear option to Supreme Court nominations in order to end debate on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch.

“You’ll regret this, and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think,” McConnell told Reid prophetically. So will everyone trapped in a cycle of retribution. If history teaches anything it is that weapons once invented are rarely uninvented; that taboos once broken are often shattered for centuries. The political system is devolving into a more savage place. The same process is taking place in Britain. The New York Times wrote in August of 2019 that Britain’s “Unwritten Constitution Suddenly Looks Fragile” because people were ignoring unwritten rules: “Once someone starts kicking aside the conventions and customs that shape British democracy, there are surprisingly few hard and fast checks on executive authority.”

The implacable hostility that fuels the mutual resentment is incubated in the culture wars and percolates up into politics from there. In an article titled “The Cost of America’s Cultural Revolution,” Heather Mac Donald describes the wellsprings of despicion.


Social-justice ideology is turning higherg education into an engine of progressive political advocacy, according to a new report by the National Association of Scholars. Left-wing activists, masquerading as professors, are infiltrating traditional academic departments or creating new ones—departments such as “Solidarity and Social Justice”—to advance their cause. They are entering the highest rung of college administration, from which perch they require students to take social-justice courses, such as “Native Sexualities and Queer Discourse” or “Hip-hop Workshop,” and attend social-justice events—such as a Reparations, Repatriation, and Redress Symposium or a Power and Privilege Symposium—in order to graduate.

A growing homeschooling movement ensures the loathing will be mutual. Yet despite the populist revolution sweeping the world, the sky has not fallen. Despite the dire headlines outside the window, the scene is much as it was. “The global economy is regaining some of its footing, with recent economic and trade developments in the U.S. and abroad offering some comfort that the slowdown is easing.”

The economic measurements came as the U.S. reached a limited trade deal with China and put the finishing touches on a new trade pact with Mexico and Canada. Lawmakers in Washington also reached a deal to keep the government operating through September, avoiding a repeat of the government shutdown in early 2019. The result of the U.K.’s election also eased some uncertainty about how and when the country would leave the European Union. Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would pause interest-rate cuts, suggesting the economy has found stability.

“We’re looking at moderate economic growth in 2020,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at investment firm Raymond James. “The downside risks look much less severe than they did back in August.”


What could account for this strange functionality? It may partly be due to an increased ability of subsidiary systems to screen out political noise. People keep going to work, inventing new things and going about their business despite the apocalyptic political talk. “Noise reduction is the process of removing noise from a signal.” They’ve ignored the talking heads, tuned them out. While the workaday world continues to regard the political system as important, it no longer treats it as supremely important. This effect can be observed in unrest-wracked Hong Kong.

Some leading Wall Street and European banks are avoiding mentions of Hong Kong’s anti-government protests in the research they supply to clients, out of fears they will upset Beijing and risk an increasingly important source of revenue. …

An executive at one European bank — which wants to boost its business in mainland China — said its analysts had been told not to write about the protests in research distributed to clients such as institutional investors. Another executive at a separate Europe-based bank said: “No one wants to stick their necks out by saying something about the [Hong Kong] situation.

The same thing may be happening in America. CNBC reports that the markets have become desensitized to impeachment talk. Reuters noticed the same thing.

Market participants appeared to shrug off the drama unfolding in Washington as the U.S. House of Representatives prepared to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. “The market has become desensitized a bit to the partisanship that’s been going on,” said Keator, while adding that “uncertainty is not something the market enjoys.”


But it’s something it can cope with. The networked world has fitted its estimation of political effects to the data and adjusted the stature of events to their true probable significance. The world is bigger than ever. It’s the leaders that got small.

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The Triumph Of Numbers: How Counting Shaped Modern Life, by I. Bernard Cohen. From the pyramids to mortality tables, Galileo to Florence Nightingale, this book explores how numbers have come to assume a leading role in science, government, business and in many other aspects of life. a vibrant history of numbers and the birth of statistics. Cohen shines a new light on familiar figures such as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Charles Dickens, and reveals Florence Nightingale to be a passionate statistician. This is a vibrant history of numbers and the birth of statistics.

Grant and Sherman: The Friendship That Won the Civil War, by Charles Bracelen Flood. The first book about the victorious partnership between William Tecumseh Sherman and Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War and the deep friendship that made it possible.

The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium, by Martin Gurri. This book tells the story of how insurgencies, enabled by digital devices and a vast information sphere, have mobilized millions of ordinary people around the world. It also ponders whether the current elite class can bring about a reformation of the democratic process, and whether new organizing principles, adapted to a digital world, can emerge from the present political turbulence.


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Open Curtains by George Spix and Richard Fernandez. Technology represents both unlimited promise and menace. Which transpires depends on whether people can claim ownership over their knowledge or whether human informational capital continues to suffer the Tragedy of the Commons.

The War of the Words, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres

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