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Trump bans EPA employees from giving social media updates (thehill.com)
335 points by europa on Jan 25, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 292 comments



We went through this sort of censorship of government scientists and departments in Canada with the conservative Harper government: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/faq-the-issues-around-muzz...

The US should not put up with any, even a temporary form of such censorship of the parts of the government that are doing scientific research and environmental stewardship. There should be another march in a week or two to support scientific freedom. Trump does not determine scientific truth, peer review and the scientific method does.


Yes it's amazing we put up with it for so long and then voted for Harper again!! My guess is it was apathetic young voters and frightened Boomers who lost 1/3 or half of their retirement savings in 2008 just as they were going to retire.

Harper even changed Government of Canada to the Harper Government too bizarre at the time even more bizarre looking back.

There was supposedly a secret portrait library of all portraits of Harper viewing by appointment only.


The Liberal party being in shambles for... 8 years probably had more to do with a Harper victory then his accomplishments did.


There's a plan for that apparently: https://twitter.com/ScienceMarchDC


Fwiw at the march in Boston there were chants for science...honestly something I thought I'd never hear.


At the protest in NYC people were shouting "CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL"

Very sad that's something we need to be screaming in the streets.


Peer review most certainly does not determine scientific truth.


This is a vacuous statement. Science is an inductive exercise and suffers from the problem of induction. It's difficult to make the case that real truth can come from it at all. In lieu of this, peer review is a very good heuristic for sifting out bunk science.


I don't think it's fair to call a correct statement vacuous. More nuanced than it appears, and easily misinterpreted maybe.

I think it's fair to point out that peer review doesn't determine scientific truth, because that would get the causal relation in reverse.

Consensus has little to do with objective truth, but it is a useful heuristic as you say.


Yeah, let's put peer review into perspective. In a topic about Trump, censoring scientists. I can see the "give science back to the people" anti-intellectual slogans coming up.


Those "anti-intellectual slogans" I think you mean can also be seen as arguments for a return to enlightenment values instead of an entrenched, elitist dogmatism.

Behind those slogans is the idea that intellectual life doesn't belong to a chosen few, but to everyone who's interested and willing to engage their capacity for independent thought and critical thinking, and those who are willing and eager to engage with other people with different opinions.


A lot of arguments can be seen as sensible until one realizes they were pushed by people with a hidden agenda. It's often just the motte part of motte-and-bailey arguments.

That's why there are people (eg. in Europe) who aggressively promote secularism, and many agree with that, until you find out they belong to some hateful anti-islam organization. And that's why some people put science into question, like, how can we be sure of anything, which is defensible from an epistemological standpoint, until you discover they are creationists.

So you want to be careful before giving random people the benefit of the doubt.


does 'being pushed by people with a hidden agenda' automatically invalidate something? I'd say that that the American (and presumably European) political establishment (both the right and the left) have a 'hidden agenda' of pushing science because it creates a higher authority that they can appeal to justify questionable policy choices. That doesn't mean I think all science is wrong.


It does not invalidate anything, but that's beside the point; it's not about valid or invalid arguments (their first one is almost always valid or defensible), it's about getting into what you might think is a honest discussion whose purpose is to find out the truth, whereas your interlocutor's purpose is to unroll their rhetoric and influence you or the audience, according to their hidden agenda. While you're only paying attention to logic and validity, they win points and convince people around.


>And that's why some people put science into question, like, how can we be sure of anything, which is defensible from an epistemological standpoint, until you discover they are creationists.

Honestly, if skeptical arguments in epistemology can be used to strengthen Creationism, I think that's a major point against taking them seriously in epistemology. Good epistemology ought to have a low enough false-positive rate (disbelieving things when they're true) to throw out "all the evidence is wrong, because I got this book someone wrote a while ago".


It's not a useful heuristic any more. I'd say about 40% of the 'reputable' scientific literature in chemistry and biology is flawed to the point of uselessness.


i think it's perfectly appropriate to call a true statement vacuous. for instance, a counterfactual conditional is always true; that fact makes the particular truth of a particular counterfactual conditional completely uninteresting, or vacuous. it's true, but in a hollow, empty, vacuous way. what use would there be calling a false statement vacuous?


Okay sure, I made a bad generalisation. Some true statements can be uninteresting. The point I was trying to make was more that the parent commenter was making a true statement about epistemology that is relevant and useful to the discussion.

Maybe it could have been better elaborated, but I don't think it deserves being down-voted and replies of what seems like moral disgust.


"you're not wrong you're just an asshole"


Arguable, but lack of peer review certainly should inspire a lack of confidence in results.


Do you not believe grigori Perelman's proof of the poincare conjecture? Do you believe in arsenic life? The first is still not peer reviewed, and the second very much was so.

These are some more well known cases. Having been there I'd say probably about 40% of peer reviewed material in chemistry and biology is seriously flawed.

We really have this problem where peer review is held up as a scientific standard. It shouldn't be. The scientific standards are independent replication and confirmation through prediction of a derivative result.

That is not to say all scientific peer review is flawed. If it appears in the journal organic syntheses I'll believe it, every time. (In order to get published an editor has to repeat the experiment in their lab, there are often liner notes)


>Do you not believe grigori Perelman's proof of the poincare conjecture?

Yes, because his peers spent serious time checking it and found no flaws. Peer reviewed doesn't need publication in a journal.

>Do you believe in arsenic life?

No, because peers found it flawed.

You're conflating peer review with simply getting past initial peer reviews. The more peers that review a claim, the more likely it is correct. The flawed ones are almost always not reviewed much at all.

And I'd bet there is a significant gap in correctness between things that are barely peer reviewed over things that are not.


It does a better job than anything else you can come up with.


What?


I am looking for reasonable explanations for this, but keep coming up blank. I grew up in a country where this sort of censorship and fact hiding was the norm, and hated it.

I now live in a country that is much freer, but for the first time since 1938, no longer has an active US ambassador, with no replacement in sight, since President Trump fired all US ambassadors to foreign countries on the afternoon of his inauguration... [0]

[0] - http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trum...


Meta: people say they keep looking for explanations. Explanations are offered. Then the explanations are downvoted and an argument ensues.

It may be fine that you don't understand or like the explanations, but saying "I really don't understand X" and then punishing anybody who tries to explain it isn't much of a way to have a reasonable public discourse. (This wasn't directed at you, just at the community at large. I've seen several of these comment questions and they never end well. Might be time for a politics pause for a day or two)


Maybe I'm reading it wrong but the article does not offer any explanation.


Agreed. Anything remotely neutral about the new administration is met with a mob and pitch forks.

Discussion is good. Saying you don't understand because you don't agree with answers is like saying you don't understand why a homosexaul is homosexual.

Last time I checked, that's called "bigotry"


> Saying you don't understand because you don't agree

You can't make an assessment about whether you agree if you don't understand - the latter must must happen before the former can come to pass. It would either be the case that you don't understand because the explanation is complex or it contains logical fallacies...the latter applies to your statement above.

> is like saying you don't understand why a homosexaul is homosexual.

It's fine to say you don't understand why a homosexual is homosexual - however it's not fine to impose restrictions, punishment, violence or torment for what goes on between consenting adults. You're allowed to find it odd or not to your taste, but you're expected to live and let live.

> Last time I checked, that's called "bigotry"

Bigotry is intolerance stemming from a preconceived opinion that isn't based on reason or experience. And I'd agree that the liberal/progressive side can exhibit such intolerance - I've been on the receiving end despite considering myself progressive. But if we're going talk about the old classics like racism, homophobia, and sexism -- the conservative side knows the art better than any.


> But if we're going talk about the old classics like racism, homophobia, and sexism -- the conservative side knows the art better than any.

Lincoln, a Republican, abolished slavery. And Roosevelt, a Democrat, interned Japanese Americans.


He said "conservative". You think Lincoln was a conservative? The Democrat's decision to support civil rights and the Republican southern strategy shift to appeal to voters who opposed civil rights radically altered both parties. The Republican party shares a name with the Party of Lincoln, but that's about it.


If you look at the vote totals you'll see that far more Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 than Democrats and that far more Democrats voted against it than Republicans. The Democrats did not suddenly decide to support civil rights since the majority of the opponents of such policies were Democrats. Much of the violence against blacks you see from that era were committed by Democrats. I seriously doubt there were Democrats out beating blacks for demanding civil rights one day and literally the next day they were voting for civil rights.

That situation was far more nuanced than the idea that millions of people with opposing viewpoints across the entirety of the country suddenly agreed with each other to switch parties.

As for the southern strategy, there is the viewpoint that getting people to vote for you doesn't automatically mean you accept and enforce their ideologies. They just become "useful idiots" for your cause. Although, I disagree with the premise of the strategy because it would have the side effect of fostering racial divide. But I have the advantage of hindsight in that matter.


He literally just explained this. Democrats then are not the same Democrats now.

The people (southern whites) that committed violence against blacks who were democrats back then, are very, very likely to be Republican these days.


So, the rest of the Republicans across the country outside of the South that voted for Civil Rights just went along with this change and accepted the role of being the "racist" party? Because that's the claim.


Except it's not.


Hmm, I must have been reading the wrong news for the past twenty years because I would swear that it is very common rhetoric from the left that the Republican party is the party of the racists. I also thought that very claim was made during the last Presidential campaigns by the Democrat candidate.

My bad.


Yes, racists tend to be in the Republican party. That is not saying that all Republicans are racist. Or that there is some intrinsic quality about republican and racist. Although it should make you question why you're apart of the same party given certain platform agendas recently.

I am not going to explain this further, as you are borderline trolling.


Who claimed I was Republican? You are assuming.


And where did I say you were? There you go again. Stop trying to waste people's time and be constructive about something.


I'm referring to this; "why you're apart of the same party".


At the time, region predicted support more than party: northern Democrats and Republicans voted for the civil rights act, while southern Democrats and Republicans voted against it. With a handful of exceptions on both sides.


That is likely true, but the common claim is that the entirety of the Republicans are the "racist" party. This requires that all Republicans suddenly decided to reverse themselves within a short time period. Your statement is probably the closest to what was going on at the time instead of the usual blanket generalizations that skip over the facts of the era.


giving some alternative facts again are we?


Because political labels from 150 and 80 years ago are clearly relevant.


On HN, you cannot downvote a direct reply to your comment, so you can't punish an explanation provided to you.


How does one downvote a comment on HN? I thought maybe there was some reputation or age requirement, but I've been here a while now & I still don't see any option to downvote comments.


How many Karma points do you have? (top right). I don't think I could downvote until I got to about 1000 or 1500 points, I believe.


I feel that it should actually be raised to over 9000.


I'd downvote this if I could


I think you need over 500 karma to downvote. I couldn't downvote for my first few years here (and I probably only downvoted posts once or twice since I could)


The threshold is at 500 karma points.


I actually upvoted @DanielBMarkham, because I thought his comment added value, and he did explain very well that it wasn't aimed directly at my post! :)


My point was more that if you're being 'punished' for a comment, it's not the person you're replying to that is doing it - that is, it's not the person asking for the explanation that's punishing it.

I think that the GP is being unfair, though. Complaining about arguments specifically on the topic of politics? That's the essence of politics - conflict and how to deal with it. If people didn't disagree on a topic, it wouldn't be political. Outside of political topics, I'd say the bulk of explanations offered on HN are upvoted or at lest left neutral.


they probably disagree


The explanation is basically the Trump administration wants to control all media messaging (as most administrations do), but is so far behind on staffing the posts at EPA and others that the secretary level people who should be in place to handle this haven't been nominated in most cases, let alone confirmed.

The fact that their solution to their own failure to get people in place is to make things worse by releasing a blanket gag order is another self-inflicted PR wound. If the "gag order" is in place after they have media people in place, or if it lasts more than a month or so, then I'd be worried.


Except it's not just social media. It keeps getting repeated as "social media ban" but there is more to it.

It's also freezing the distribution of grants and any new business of EPA for a week, if not longer. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/20...

This is while Trump attempts to appoint Scott Pruitt to the head of the EPA. He's a noted opponent of the EPA who frequently litigates against it on behalf of the fossil fuel lobby, denies man-made climate change, and would like to dismantle the agency's power altogether. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/07/us/politics/scott-pruitt-...


That's what makes me think this may mean mass defunding/shutting down of departments. Pruitt is a clear offense to the institution of the EPA. You'd put someone like that over a department and tell that department to "shut up" if it were about to get the axe.


I hope that's "all" that's going on here. That's horrible, but it smells a lot more like signalling complete shutdowns.


Well that's the thing the administration doesn't seem to get: you shouldn't try and micromanage things if you don't know how it works. And they're so paranoid about their media "image" that they leave the chance for FUD to creep in without encouragement. And not everything in their agenda is acceptable to most Americans, so it's hard to tell what's FUD and what's just their usual policy.


Who needs PR people and gag order when every day we get Spicer who barfs everything about what Trump believes is true or not?


That is his job. Spicer is very explicitly a PR person.


Well thought and explained. The sausage making of a (particularly dramatic) presidential transition is on display.


  but is so far behind on staffing the posts at EPA 
He's been in office five days. How rushed of a hiring process are you seeking?


For reference, the vast majority of Obama's first cabinet had been nominated (and largely confirmed) January 21st (the day after his inauguration). While certainly not always the case, given the pageantry associated with The First 100 Days, most American Presidents have been similarly prompt with their cabinet nominations.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmations_of_Barack_Obam...


In a parliamentary system, the opposition party already has a shadow government that should be ready to take over in 5 days or less. Since they don't have that in the U.S., they have a transition period to build up the "shadow government" and get it ready to take over. A competent candidate would have it all up and running right now, though with some variance depending on how long the party has been out of power.


He's had the job for 72 + 5 days already.


Exactly. Transition team.


Even if he has been there for only five days, I do not think that he should put a gag order on the employees.


Gag orders are placed on employees all the time, in or out of government. This is nothing new, just something for people to nitpick and go negative before they even know what's going on.


The existing social media managers are openly hostile to the new boss, with irrelevant-to-their-organization tweets going out about the inauguration crowd-size?

To your latter point regarding the fired ambassadors, it's the most scandalous thing since 2008, when Obama did the exact same thing - http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2008/12/obama-gives-poli...


Point taken, but I believe when Obama did it, there was already someone appointed to take the outgoing ambassadors place immediately (at least, here, it was the case).

A changing of the guard in these roles is (as the article I posted pointed out) the norm.

However, In the current case, no one knows who the replacement is, or when he/she will be taking on the role, thus leaving us officially without an ambassador for the foreseeable future, and also resulting in the longest gap in 70 odd years that we have not had an official ambassador.


It's pro forma for the ambassadors from the outgoing administration to proffer their resignation effective noon on Inauguration Day. The incoming president then says, no, no, please stay on until we have your replacement set up.

A transition team who knows these things would have done that - the Trump team, though, since he was not actually expecting a transition, had no idea how to run one. And accepted all the resignations.

This is the same reason the commander of the D.C. National Guard was dismissed at noon on the same day.

Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.


  The incoming president then says, no, no, please stay on until we have your replacement set up.
... which constitutes a rejection of the resignation. Later, when a replacement is confirmed, what happens if the offer to resign is not repeated? Do ambassadors get normal Civil Service protections?


Amassadors serve at the pleasure of the president, he can fire them at will.


"Which is more culpable: stupidity or malice?"


I wish current events didn't leave us needing to answer that question. I don't have a ready answer.


I don't think it actually matters in the short run. Career FSOs do the actual work in embassies, which is why you see big campaign donors and mid-level party hacks appointed as ambassadors to all but the most powerful countries.


> Point taken, but I believe when Obama did it, there was already someone appointed to take the outgoing ambassadors place immediately (at least, here, it was the case).

Unless I'm misremembering, that wasn't the case. Obama was appointing ambassadors regularly for a few months.


Not an appointee, but it's worth noting that there is a deputy chief of mission at every diplomatic post. This person is always a career diplomat with extensive experience, and is in place for precisely this reason. To take over and run the mission until a politically appointed ambassador is present.


> The existing social media managers are openly hostile to the new boss, with irrelevant-to-their-organization tweets going out about the inauguration crowd-size?

But wasn't it the Parks agency that tweeted about the crowd size, not the EPA?

And is the current administration simply going to shut down or fire everyone who shows any form of push back towards the regime? Isn't that what they do in places like, oh say, North Korea?


If you're an employee of the government, working to publicly undermine the policies of the person elected to lead your branch of government doesn't seem like a good way to keep your job.

I can't think of many instances where Executive Branch employees used official outlets to undermine a sitting President's policies in the past. Can you?


I guess in North Korea they would not get away with just getting fired.


"To your latter point regarding the fired ambassadors, it's the most scandalous thing since 2008, when Obama did the exact same thing"

Don't all new presidents appoint a fresh new batch of ambassadors ? I assumed it was always done that way ...

Are there cases of cross-presidency ambassadors ?


Yes. Where a new admin hasnt lined up a new ambassador, normal practice is to have the old one continue until the replacement is worked out. This admin, for whatever reasons, is months behind the normal schedual. A list of names should have already have been circulated on the hill so that they could be vetted and agreed upon asap. To leave such a post unfilled breaks diplomatic protocols and can be taken as a slight.


   This admin, for whatever reasons, is months behind the normal schedual.
This admin must really suck to be "months behind" after 5 days.

Please describe your process for properly vetting, nominating, debating, and confirming all (or most) ambassadorships in 4+ days, since you see that as "normal practice". Extra credit: name any three administrations that have done so.

I would hope that the Secretary of State would have some say in ambassadorships, in which case the process would also be constrained until the SecState nominee is confirmed.


The administration shouldn't have had every post already filled. What is unusual here is that an incoming administration usually asks the current ambassador to stay until a replacement is appointed.

The Trump team immediately accepted all the ambassadors resignations, which is what is unusual.


He was elected months ago. Even so, responsible campaigns start working this stuff out even before the election. Teambuilding should not be left until the last minute.


Who gives a shit? Do ambassadors actually DO anything?


1. The National Park Service hosted the event. Seems like it would make sense to post public information about the crowd size when there was a lot of public debate and misinformation about it. I understand your frustration thinking they would always look out for the president's best interest, but this was a pretty clear fact they were posting, not some kind of political opinion.

2. December 3, 2008. That's when that article was published about giving notice and starting to find replacements. Same as every other president does.

3. Serious question. Are you paid to do what you are doing right now? I have a really hard time understanding why you would post that link which is specifically framed to spread misinformation as it is about a completely different point in the presidency. Seriously, this is your country. Why would you intentionally attempt to misinform your fellow citizens?

EDIT: I expect a response. You said Obama did the "exact same thing". Which is an outright falsehood and posted an link that is from a different period to intentionally misinform people. In some countries what you just did would be considered a crime.


(Non-US citizen. Very Anti-Trump. Unpaid poster. Unhappy I need to state all this.)

To my surprise, jquery is pretty much correct about it being the same thing as Obama did. This[1] is the best summary of the situation I can find:

1) Obama (and all new incoming presidents before him) did ask for the resignations of all non-career, politically appointed ambassadors.

2) Obama (and Bush) did grant extensions to some ambassadors. However, this was a (very) small number. Exactly how many it applied to is unclear, but to quote the the article I linked above:

in the past two inter-party transitions (Clinton-Bush, Bush-Obama) only about 10 political ambassadors have gotten extensions.

Basically, I'd judge that the reporting of The Independent article linked above is misleadingly critical of Trump.

I also think that jquery's point below about Obama literally auctioned off the posts is incomplete. Most ambassadorships are given as rewards (by both US parties). Most countries do the same: ambassadorships to friendly countries are political rewards and the countries actually want someone who is close to the leader of the country they represent. I don't think the moral case against that is entirely clear, but I can see arguments both ways.

[1] https://diplopundit.net/2017/01/06/foreign-service-tradition...


You're right, Obama didn't do the "exact same thing." He literally auctioned off the posts, giving the ambassadorships to campaign contributors and bundlers ( https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-ambassador-nom... ). It's easy to find replacements if you don't care about qualifications and just reward your donor list, I guess. One of the ambassadors was so bad, staffers working for her requested transfers to Iraq and Afghanistan - http://www.politico.com/story/2011/02/report-rips-us-envoy-w...

So, yes, some posts may be left without an immediate replacement, but it's not cause for panic if the alternative is immediately filling the posts with unqualified campaign donors.

EDIT: These are undisputed facts in response to a hostile question accusing me of being a paid actor (ridiculous, my account is 8 years old) posting things that would be a "crime" in other countries. People down-voting this should check the irony considering they're upset at the President for censorship.


You were incorrect and you admitted it, which is good, but then you immediately move the goalposts and then use that to pretend that you were justified in your original assertation.

That's a shady rhetorical technique, and I suspect you're arguing in bad faith. That's worth some downvotes.


Wait, were they incorrect?

My interpretation was that GP meant that Obama did the same thing (firing existing politically appointed ambassadors) and then in addition filled the positions with people who had donated to his campaign (hence not the "exact same thing", but worse).

I really don't know the facts here, but my cursory reading of the Wapo article does seem to suggest that Obama did essentially the same thing in 2008. Or am I missing something?


> You were incorrect and you admitted it, which is good

Ironically, you are incorrect and have strangely doubled down on it in some sort of pyrrhic victory dance of failure.


badsock has posted exactly once in this entire thread.

Give your fellow HNers the benefit of the doubt.


It surprised me too. I thought he was the original poster, but the original commenter was 'jquery'.


My understanding was that the problem wasn't their termination, which every president does, but the fact that he denied them any sorts of extensions. Am I incorrect? See this article: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/05/us/politics/trump-ambassa...


Ambassadorships for campaign contributors! Goodness, the base corruption of such a President!

Good thing Mr. Trump would never do that kind of thing, like with the Department of Education or something.


It is corruption if a president lets campaign contributions influence their choice of appointees to political positions. Whether or not Obama did that is another discussion, but just because Trump will do the same, we should not hold any other president to a lesser standard.


Then you agree that Donald Trump is corrupt?


I actually edited out a long addendum to my comment above shortly after posting it. I guess I should have kept it because it addressed what I felt was the implicit assumption of the comment I replied to, and the less subtle assumption of your comment -- that because someone is criticizing a Democrat that they must be a Republican or Trump supporter. While statistically that may even be likely, you should withhold judgment at least until that person says something false or frames the discussion in a biased way.

I can't tell you how many times both online and in real life that people have made that assumption about me when I've criticized Obama, Clinton or other Democrats, or vice-versa when I've criticized Trump. I can assure you that I detest Donald Trump too.


Ah. Point taken, then (I did apparently need this addendum, ha). I did make this sloppy assumption.

I do have a significant D bias. Obama was by no means a perfect president - I mean, my God, I have a long list - but Trump, as far as I can see, doesn't even know what "President" means. There are loads of Republicans who I think would have done a fine job. I liked Romney, I think Kasich would have done OK, etc.

That said, an ambassadorship is normally given as a sop, isn't it? It doesn't alarm me in the slightest that Obama may have "literally auctioned off" ambassadorships - because I don't see the harm done and, as I say, I was under the impression that this was business as usual.

But you have to see that calling out possible corruption in the Obama administration (which, as I said, doesn't appear to have harmed us in any way that I know of) in the present context is ... well, it looks like carrying water for what appears to be shaping up to be quite literally the most corrupt administration America has ever suffered.


You did not answer my question. I expect an answer.

Why would you intentionally attempt to misinform your fellow citizens?


Honestly as a bystander to this conversation it seems like an easy enough mistake to make. The presidents did the same thing but at different times... Doesn't seem like a big deal. Doesn't nearly seem like enough evidence for "intentional attempt to misinform."

As someone who may be influenced by this discussion I am way more interested in why you think his point about nominating donors is not significant enough to discuss. Isn't that a sort of misinformation by non-acknowledgment?


Making negative assumptions about the intentions of the poster is not conducive to civil discourse.


Your expectations aren't compelling on anyone else.


Except that they stopped giving estimates over 20 years ago:

"For decades, the National Park Service provided official crowd estimates for gatherings on the National Mall but no longer does.

The policy changed after the Million Man March in 1995, a gathering of black men meant to show renewed commitment to family and solidarity. The park service estimated 400,000 people attended the march, making it one of the largest demonstrations in history in Washington.

But organizers believed they reached their goal of 1 million participants and threatened legal action. No lawsuit was filed, but the dispute was enough to get the park service out of the head-counting business."

Ref: http://www.denverpost.com/2017/01/21/national-park-service-t...


Except they didn't give an estimate. They posted a comparison photo.


I wonder if we've had mobile phone saturation long enough that they could measure attendance just by looking at cellular data.


At the Boston march, networks couldn't handle load - it was the first time I haven't had network access for hours in years. Maybe this wouldn't preclude the network registering my phone's requests (and our phones were reporting signal bars) but it's to be considered that our cellular infrastructure isn't built to handle massive protests at this scale.


> At the Boston march, networks couldn't handle load

Sounds like the Boston police department needs to order more Stingrays!

:(


>In some countries what you just did would be considered a crime.

I, for one, am happy that I live in a country where I don't have to worry about being prosecuted for making HN comments.


I bet those EPA employees are feeling very differently right now.


>3. Serious question. Are you paid to do what you are doing right now?

Can we please not do this here?


It is absolutely reasonable to question good faith on the internet. SPAM, bots, and paid shills have been here almost from day 1. The entirety of web2.0 was jumpstarted by services creating fake accounts to create the illusion of an already existing community.

It is a very interesting question how to fight this fact, and we need to discuss it, not silence any discussion of it.


  Are you paid to do what you are doing right now?
This is beyond the pale. Next comes Godwin?


Unless you have evidence of jquery's having been paid to post this, please don't make the accusation.

The number of true believers in various viewpoints, willing to lie in order to sway the audience vastly overwhelms the amount any organization's payroll could handle.

jquery, as many conservative and liberal commenters before him, believes that a lie to persuade someone for his noble cause is justified by its outcome. I disagree with this tactic vehemently, but it is used by many earnest believers.


Parent asked a question; it's not really an accusation.

I used to be on board and would have defended the mindset that asking the question is an accusation in and of itself. But now, over in /r/france, we have this stuff going on:

https://www.reddit.com/r/france/comments/5pv83r/inside_the_p...

At this point, I think it's sometimes fair to ask that question. There is no doubt that HN does have paid shills; if you turn showdead on, you'll often see some of the more egregious ones. The question is about the subtle ones.

Of course, that's what the current administration wants: For nobody to be certain of anything. Nerdwriter made an excellent video about it a couple of weeks ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geEVwslL-YY

Hm. When was the last time a government wanted its citizens not to be sure of what's true, what's false and each others' affiliations...


Your post is in gray. Even though I believe the last two sentences in your post justify a downvote, I gave you an upvote because the first two sentences are absolutely true and provide important perspective in this discussion.


I actually think the fact that many people in the US coming from less free/developed countries is a problem (not the fact that they are here). They might come here thinking..wow this is great..this must be how it's supposed to be (together with the existing citizens who constantly hear they live in the greatest/free-est country on the planet). While when e.g. a Northern European comes here they are amazed by what kind of shit-show it sometimes is in this country.

I think it prevents real change from happening. Questioning why things are they way they are. Should some of the fundamental just be changed/replaced? What country do we want to live in? Do we want people worrying about going bankrupt because they got sick or went to school? Do we want to worry about drinking lead poisoned water? etc etc.

Sorry, I went way off topic. Trump apparently also want to defund PBS/NPR. I see a clear pattern here. None of these ideas will save substantial money and will erode democracy. Who else is going to educate the busy citizen about world events? CNN/Fox?


NPR is one of the worst propaganda outlets. It insulates it's listeners from opposing viewpoints to a degree that I think is unhealthy, I'm often in awe of the sophistication of it. When they have a opposition expert on, it's very rarely someone I consider credible. They misrepresent the viewpoint of the opposition, and it's hard to believe it's not deliberate. I watched them (along with the rest of the MSM to be fair) lead their flocks to war many times now. Like FOX, xNBC, CNN (worse than even NPR) they represent the global government faction. Each plays it's part, but it's not really different. Government should not be funding the media at all.

http://fair.org/extra/psyops-in-the-newsroom/


I disagree. Government can fund media, without you immediately thinking of Russia. Being Dutch originally, I would refer you to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_public_broadcasting_syst...

Note that this is not a closed system where there is no private news/tv.

Also, look at DW (Deutsche Welle) and BBC. Whatever your opinion, these still provide much better information than whatever you can get in the US (well, you can actually get BBC/DW).

I would love to hear a better approach.


Money _is_ influence.

How about letting the media stand on it's own legs? Why should NPR be special? Even their name is a dishonest appeal to authority. It's not random that they have show titles like "Talk of the Nation".

As far as I know, NYT does not receive public funding, but I think this window is instructive on how the "elite" media views themselves:

http://i.imgur.com/VUdcIou.jpg

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CIMxvS-WEAER49I.png

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CINJUoqUwAEkSip.jpg

Fortunately most of them are going down in flames and it's only going to get better as people have access to more unfiltered information.


That's exactly why you need public media. Not everybody can afford NYT


But PBS/NPR are "public" only in the sense they are publicly funded. They aren't balanced in any way, nor do they invite public participation.

What would you consider to be the "conservative" equivalent of the following?:

- To The Contrary

- Latino USA

- Frontline (political topics)

- Democracy Now!

- Charlie Rose

- Tavis Smiley

- John Lewis - Get in the Way


We should fund NYT too by your logic.


No


Who gets to decide NPR should get funding and not NYT? I'll tell you, it's whoever is in power. I'm guessing you dont like Trump and the conservative wing of the Republican party, do you want him/them making that decision?

Amazons best seller list has a book about the truth deciders at the top right now.


Some context for the latter two photos would be helpful.


Here's an explanation--the new management of the agencies want to review the social media policies.


In my line of business, I get to inherit web and mobile apps from other developers all the time.

One thing I never do is to completely shut down the app and take it offline while I scour through the code to ensure everything is ok. Not unless there is a glaring problem or security hole that is already evident.

It is ironic that the person giving the orders to restrict his subordinates from tweeting can still continue tweeting his stream of consciousness stuff carte blanche...


> It is ironic that the person giving the orders to restrict his subordinates from tweeting can still continue tweeting his stream of consciousness stuff carte blanche...

Kind've, kind've not. If you're a government agency and you employ a new staffer outside of PR, you're not expecting them to tweet stream-of-consciousness. Trump, on the other hand, was largely elected because he did do this and it's expected of him.


What evidence is there of this? From this vantage point, it looks like he was elected despite his Twitter falsehoods (read: lies) and stream-of-(un)consciousness, not because of it. He lost the popular vote by three million votes. He is historically unpopular.


He did lose the popular vote, and I'm definitely not a Trump apologist. But however you want to carve it, over 60 million people got out there on election day(-ish) and spent effort to vote for him in a non-compulsory election.

I'm first in line to criticise the primitive Electoral College, the cancerous state of US gerrymandering, and the vapidity of the two-party tribal system, but voter turnout was high. Bush and Gore each got 50M votes in the 2000 election. Obama/McCain was 70M/60M (also: McCain's loss was much greater than Trump's). Clinton/Trump was 65M/62M. Unless Trump's numbers were rapaciously Russian-ified, he still put in a solid showing with voluntary voters.

Trump's appeal was his unorthodox, un-polished dog-whistle politics, and his faithful lapped up his 'tell-it-like-it-is' approach, even if the 'like-it-is' part was fabricated out of whole cloth.


Fair enough, but the EPA twitter account isn't exactly mission-critical for anyone, it can afford to not tweet for a little while.

Also I don't think it's particularly ironic that the President of the United States gets certain privileges which his subordinates don't.


Except, in the general case, that isn't true. Many of the Park Service social media accounts that were shut down do disseminate emergency information.

That part of the "shutdown" was rolled back once the issues were understood, but in the interim those kinds of Twitter feeds were pointing people to their Facebook page for up-to-date information. I guess we're lucky that no one included Facebook in the shutdown order and even luckier that there was no relevant emergency while the social media policy was being clarified.


I've worked in government (thankfully not US federal) and when departments review their specific operations/policies, they rarely grind to a halt, it's business as usual while things get evaluated/decided and policies built behind the scenes.

The only reason that you'd do something this public is to make it a spectacle and give people the impression that you're doing important busy work at all levels; or to try to assert/show dominance.


The new management of the agencies want to review the social media policies.

With the aim of installing Orwellian-style thought control practices† at every level, affecting every last publicity statement, blog post, and tweet. You forgot that part.

† Based on what his press secretary (and other lackeys) attempted to have us believe about the size of the inaugural day crowds (and the millions of people who voted fraudulently in the past election) -- in addition to things Trump himself has said about climate change, and a whole bunch of other issues -- that's not hyperbole; that's quite literally what's happening.


This is different than every Presidential transition of power, how? I don't see what's Orwellian about it. Presidents have always controlled the official department media their agencies put out.


This is different than every Presidential transition of power, how?

It's the aims of the control, and the utter brazenness with which the new administration attempts to manipulate facts and reality in general that are different.

There's never been an administration (well, maybe in the 19th century; but I mean, not since the dawn of modern journalistic reporting) that blatantly and transparently lied about such publicly known and immediately fact-checkable things as crowd sizes on inaugural day.

I don't see what's Orwellian about it.

This morning the press secretary asked you -- yes, you -- to not see anything wrong with the fact that President still believes that "millions of people voted illegally" in the last election. And that he has "studies and evidence" on which he bases that belief.

You don't see anything Orwellian about that?


Don't forget that he's press secretary for the one guy who actually made accurate polling assessments prior to the election.

If your source on disproving the "millions of illegal votes" is one of the same sources that thought Hillary was going to win in a landslide, then you have nothing to say.

I'm not going to say I agree there were illegal votes, but I am holding out for better evidence.


Predicting election outcomes based on polling (including exit polls) is very different than alleging massive voter fraud.

In the case of Clinton losing the election, the predictions which were based on statistical evidence did not match the actual outcome. Even so, an unlikely outcome is understood as a possibility within the domain of predictive statistical modeling and the wholesale dismissal of the utility of statistical modeling is anti-science at best.

On the other hand, asserting voter fraud without providing a single shred of evidence (regardless of claims to have said evidence) is quite different from evidence-based statistical modeling. So people who "thought Hillary was going to win in a landslide" could actually have quite a bit to say about alleging voter fraud without producing evidence. For example, such people could say that Clinton won the popular vote by a margin of nearly 3 million votes.

To turn your statement on its head, it is in fact the people who allege voter fraud without evidence who have nothing to say.

EDIT: spelling, reduce number of single-sentence paragraphs


  predictions which were based on statistical evidence

Polls aren't evidence. In this case, they were barely data.

There are polls which are designed to gauge opinion, and there are polls which are designed to steer opinion.

  evidence-based statistical modeling
Given that the model failed, it apparently wasn't evidence-based.


Don't forget that he's press secretary for the one guy who actually made accurate polling assessments prior to the election.

So if you met someone on a street corner who pointed at the sky, and told you "Hey look, it's orange with pink polka-dots" -- would you think to yourself, "Hmm, I'm tempted to be skeptical -- but then again, when I asked this guy for the time the other day, he gave a correct enough answer. So maybe he's right this time, too."

If your source on disproving the "millions of illegal votes"...

So are you suggesting that the "millions" claim stands until disproven? Is that really how you see things?


If yesterday I thought the sky was going to be blue, everyone else swore the sky would be blue, and this lone fellow told me it'd be a blood red sky---and he was correct right down to the particular shade of crimson it would be, then yes I would take him a little more seriously.

No one thought Trump would win. Even in the states he lost in, he lost be lesser margins than was predicted. Hiliary seemed to be inevitable---after all she is an actual politiclan, with real experience. The democractic machine is behind her, isn't it? She has the force of history behind her driving her to be the first female president. How can she lose?

Then she lost rather dramatically. I looked at the election results and saw a sea of red from coast to coast, with Hilary doing well in high population areas but losing majority everywhere else.


There is a rather huge expanse of land where that "sea of red" is very, very few people compared to the rest of the country. The color maps are silly and deceptive.


Perhaps, but if a geographical area of your country produces most of your food, and contains nearly all of your natural resources, you can't look at the citizens who choose to live there and say "sorry guys, there's too few of you so we're going to ignore your wants and desires".

Such is the path to resentment, secession and violent revolution.


>Perhaps, but if a geographical area of your country produces most of your food,

As a matter of fact, much to most of our food comes from California.

>Such is the path to resentment, secession and violent revolution.

Why is ignoring the majority of the people, who produce 2/3 of the GDP, not considered a path to resentment, secession, and violent revolution?

That is, why should we in the sane, tolerant, productive, non-fascist majority not just declare independence from a government which plainly has no intention of listening to our voices or interests, which rigs elections against us year after year, and which considers itself the only legitimate Americans?

Why should only the loser minority get to revolt?


> As a matter of fact, much to most of our food comes from California.

Nope. It's 11% by value.[1]

The breadbasket of America is still keeping its namesake, then Texas produces the most beef.

[1]http://beef2live.com/story-states-produce-food-value-0-10725...


Does the red or the blue half of California grow the food? I suspect the red does.


You have completely missed the point of the comment to which you are responding. In kafkaesq's analogy, knowing the time does not really indicate good understanding of the color of the sky, and should not be considered as evidence of credibility about sky color claims. Similarly, being able to read polls well does not really indicate ability to predict voter fraud. They both have to do with voting. That's about it, as far as similarities go.


I looked at the election results and saw a sea of red from coast to coast, with Hilary doing well in high population areas but losing majority everywhere else.

But you understand the part about the "sea of red" mostly reflecting the (much) lower population density (and hence, greater land area per voter) in pro-Trump states, right? And that if you actually looked at map that expanded or contract each precinct according to population size -- that that map would be nearly evenly split between red and blue, right? Such that'd you'd hardly be able to tell which side (red or blue) had the greater share.

Right?

Then she lost rather dramatically.

Actually in historical terms, she lost the electoral vote rather narrowly (specifically in the bottom quartile of loss margins, throughout U.S. history).

Yet somehow you settled on the belief that she lost "dramatically." How so, exactly?


The Trump team's "polling prescience" has been vastly overstated. Trump himself has admitted that, reading the polls, he thought that he was going to lose the election as late as election night itself [0]. In fact, he says, this is why he rented a smaller ballroom for his end-of-night speech than he would've rented had he thought he was going to win. (Leave it to Mr. Trump to feel the need to defend the size of his ballroom.)

The idea that no outlet which was incorrect in predicting election results can be used as a credible source for post-election reporting is preposterous. Where do you get your news, if you abandon sources the instant that they make an incorrect prediction? Do you ignore meteorologists because they were wrong about that big thunderstorm that one time?

[0] https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-12-14/trump...


So you exclude any pollster that's been wrong once? Doesn't that strike you as very un-statisticianlike?


Flip a coin 4 times, all 4 times the coin lands on heads.

You: "Statistics is bullshit."


Flip a coin 10,000 times, 8200 times it lands on heads.

You: "The coin is not imbalanced nor is the process gamed in any way."


Not a very reasonable analogy at all. Of course you and your ilk need to resort to such nonsense to waste everyone's time.


Ok, wow. That blew up. Let me see if I can respond to the main points. Seems like I went for shock value more than clarity in how I said things.

The point with the election polling wasn't statistics. I don't have a source, but I read on HN and Hillary's emails that much of the mistake was a misassessment of the voter base due to bias. I'm questioning the likelihood that the news sources that were biased then will be unbiased now.

> So are you suggesting that the "millions" claim stands until disproven? Is that really how you see things? Check my last statement...I'm agnostic until better information shows itself.


Fact-check: There is at least one study that support the President's beliefs on millions of people voting illegally. - http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261379414...

There is a Harvard rebuttal to that study, but that doesn't change the fact there is a study supporting the President's position.

The inauguration was the most-watched in history (person + tv + live-streaming), yet the "reality" I'm seeing in California is that Obama's was far more popular. Who is bending reality? It depends on the reality you're already pre-disposed to believe.


There is at least one study that support the President's beliefs on millions of people voting illegally. ... There is a Harvard rebuttal to that study...

This rebuttal, you mean?

"This paper documents how low-level measurement error for survey questions generally agreed to be highly reliable can lead to large prediction errors in large sample surveys, such as the CCES. The example for this analysis is Richman, Chattha, and Earnest (2014), which presents a biased estimate of the rate at which non-citizens voted in recent elections. The results, we show, are completely accounted for by very low frequency measurement error; further, the likely percent of non-citizen voters in recent US elections is zero."

...but that doesn't change the fact there is a study supporting the President's position.

Do you realize what you're saying, here? "The study has since been revealed to have been basically bullshit. But that doesn't change the fact it supports the President's position."

It depends on the reality you're already pre-disposed to believe.

If you're already that relativist about about basic events in recent history that were attended by hundreds of thousands in person -- and witnessed on television many many hundreds of millions, worldwide -- as to basically say, "How can ya really know? It all depends on what you're pre-disposed to believe" -- then I'm afraid there's not much I can do for you, pal.


I'm not an expert enough on the math to decide which study is accurate, the original or the rebuttal (nor did I read the original because it's behind a paywall). Nor, I doubt, is Trump. It's not an official government position that millions of illegal immigrants voted, it's Trump's personal opinion. Much like it was Obama's opinion that Trump would never be President (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FkIJEmOyoA). Or that pulling out of Iraq and leaving a power vacuum wouldn't lead to the horrifying rise of ISIS and genocide (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/17/world/middleeast/isis-gen...). I think Trump's opinion is on the more banal side of things and won't have any severe consequences if he's wrong. That's just my opinion.


There's also a difference between being wrong about opinions (like statements about the future) and being wrong about things that are factual while making a claim that presents itself as a factual assertion. While the nature of what he's wrong about is banal, it represents an extremely dangerous disregard for facts. That he would make up facts out of whole cloth (or fully believe such a poorly done study because it suits his ego) should be extremely worrying to everyone. You knock Obama for his miscalculations, but if Trump's belief formation process is so defective when it comes to the banal, false beliefs are guaranteed to plague his decision making when it really counts.


[On the one hand, maybe Trump's false claim of illegal voters is wrong. But on the other hand, maybe he's right that ISIS and genocide are Obama's fault. So does it really matter if Trump is wrong?]


It's not an official government position that millions of illegal immigrants voted, it's Trump's personal opinion. Much like it was Obama's opinion that Trump would never be President.

Do you see a difference between someone having...

(1) an "opinion" about something that happened in the recent, knowable past -- but which flies in the face of all available evidence; and which, when challenged, you're unable to offer any evidence for -- like for example claiming that "The Kansas City Royals won the World Series last year", or "The Russians were the first to land on the moon", when everyone knows they didn't); and

(2) an "opinion" (i.e. a hunch) about what might happen in some future event -- who might win a football game, or an election, say?

Or do you think these are basically equivalent?


If you want Orwellian you should start at corporations doing the same with private accounts, not with government departments.

Hell, twitter and facebook themselves have become quite orwelian lately, banning wrongthought.


Corporations aren't democracies.


Neither are government departments.


But they aren't supposed to be unflinching propaganda machines in the style of Stalin, Goebbels, or the Kim Il Sung either.

And yet, based on the blatant counterfactuals the President's lieutenants have offered in regard to crowd sizes and fraudulent voters -- and various things that Trump himself has said, since the start of his campaign -- that's precisely what we're up against.


> But they aren't supposed to be propaganda machines in the style of Stalin, Goebbels, or the Kim Il Sung either.

If this was the goal then banning them from social media would be counter productive.


The departments weren't told to withdraw from social media permanently. They were just told to hold off for a few days until suitable Inner Party operatives could be installed.


> social media policies

social media policies is sci-fi way of saying "people saying things" though.


True, but this isn't a case of people speaking from their own point of view. The social media account represent the Departments in an official capacity.


Except that there is no management, because they haven't staffed the administration as fast as usual, so they just put out a gag order instead of risking someone going "off message". It's incompetence coupled with ineptitude.


Except it's not just social media: It's freezing the grants and business of the EPA. [1] It's stopping the publication of federal ag research [2]

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/20...

[2] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-usda-idUSKBN1582...


The firing of ambassadors is not very surprising. WikiLeaks revealed that many of Obama's ambassador appointments were basically sold to the biggest donors as a form of fundraising for the DNC. This became a hot campaign topic.

http://observer.com/2016/09/wikileaks-guccifer-2-0-obama-sol...


Meh. This is pretty common in the private sector in various forms, either explicit or implicit. I wouldn't call this censorship. They can still, I presume, communicate their concerns with oversight groups.


Maybe the government ought to be held to higher standards than the private sector?


If tweets are the def of high standards, then we're fucked. Seriously, this is idiotic.


I don't know how saying governemnt officials should speak through a specific medium is 'censorship'.

Any organisation will want to control its message, and having your officials use a channel that's 140 characters maximum leads to only being able to talk about issues in the most flimsy of ways.

Personally, I think there should be less Twitter and more published in-depth reports.


Why does trump get to use twitter, but the EPA can't?


Because Trump is the boss. It's the same way that most companies don't allow random department heads to speak directly to investors, but force everything to be filtered through the board meeting notes, and SEC filings.

What the EPA reports may be factual, but the presentation of facts, when they are spoken of, and how often, are all political practices.

Is it important for the EPA to tweet daily "hey guys, you know climate change is caused by humans?". No, we know it is and don't deny it is. What's controversial is: how do we reign in the problem, what are we willing to give up to do so, and how do we coordinate with our allies and competitors ?

The EPA's tweets may not be helpful in getting Chinese support, or encouraging a positive practical debate on how 3rd world nations can both improve their economies with limited technology and still be part of the climate change solution----or even if such a thing is necessary in the short term.


>Because Trump is the boss.

Democratic countries have representatives, not bosses. This includes for the civil service.


I think you must be taking boss to mean something differently from me.

Your direct report, is your boss regardless of if you are in civil service or not---often your 'boss' is not an elected official, but part of the bureaucracy.

Your bosses direct report is also your boss (transitive law), and so on till you hit the pinnacle of the executive branch---Trump.

I'm not saying he's some kind of mob-leader boss.


Everyone these days is ostensibly "pro-science," just as many anti-vaxxers claim to be "pro-vaccine." The administration merely wants to review the scientific integrity of the EPA's work, and prevent the likelihood of any erroneous, possibly non-scientific data from being spread.


Who has the administration added to the candidate pool that has the necessary skill and qualifications to verify the scientific integrity of the EPA's work? This is really reaching for a rationalization.


Title appears to be clickbait. The original AP story [1] says this restriction applies to the agency's social media accounts. It does not say this restriction applies to employee's personal social media accounts, as thehill.com implies. This is the relevant section from the AP article:

> Emails sent to EPA staff and reviewed by The Associated Press also detailed specific prohibitions banning press releases, blog updates or posts to the agency's social media accounts.

[1] https://www.apnews.com/5ada25fc57b44a0989e681d6dc2a3daf/Trum...


I read the headline in the same manner as the AP section.


Judging from other comments, a lot of people did not interpret it as you did. People are asking if this is a 1st amendment violation and if this is censorship.


Agreed, but those same people are also likely to mistake an employer's banning of employees tweeting under the company name as also an infringement of the 1st amendment.


This is surprisly reasonable compared to what I thought it was going to say when I heard about it first from others. The first I heard it was "A total media blackout" on the EPA and other departments.

This article just says, that buzzfeed says, that goverment employees can't post on Twitter and Facebook claiming their personal opinion is policy. Unless I misread something, let me know if I did, or if this article is just wrong.

Edit: Other sources indicate other kinds of communications are stopped also, it seems that it could be totally nefarious or just part of some kind of re-organization. Are scientific papers block or not? Everything seems confused, but the general tone seems to be hugely negative, what do know for certain?


From what I can tell, there was a notice that public-facing communication be put on hold. Then EPA employees started howling that since peer reviewed articles are public, the administration had just ordered a gagging of all scientific endeavors. The administration put out a clarification that of course scientific articles weren't banned, upon which the media jumped on this as evidence that "aha! So you did ban science and now we made you back down!"

I'm no fan of Trump but this behavior by the left is absolutely idiotic.


Who is "the left"? Be specific.


[flagged]


I can't tell if this comment is brilliant sarcasm or if it has completely missed the point.


I'm really sad that comment ended up being flagged; it illustrated our current slide toward mindless partisanship and collective punishment perfectly.


It's become increasingly clear in part several weeks that flagging posts and comments is just another way of downvoting them. Accordingly, I've personally started downvoting and flagging any comment I strongly disagree with just to balance things out. I realize perfectly well that this makes me part of the problem, but if you can't beat 'em...


It's more than a social media blackout, it's getting spun to exclude they're holding up EPA operations and grants, and restricting the publishing of Department of Ag research.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13477258


As far as private accounts go, there are already social media policies in place just as in most other large organisations. They already have policies that govern scientific papers as well and those haven't been overridden. The administration just doesn't know how to communicate what it wants (which is for no one to talk to the media without "their people" in place), and to make it worse they don't have a timetable on when their media people are in place because they don't have people who know what they are doing running the transition. This gives government employees who have their own agenda (and not necessarily left-vs-right wing either) the ability to control the message by leaking to the press.


It's downright impressive how comic-book-evil this administration is. Next up, the white house will presumably be moved to a volcano base with overly large ventilation shafts.


They're not evil, they're "alternate good."


They're not wrong, they're alt right.


It would be hard for Trump to get such an ambitious project done given his reputation for not paying contractors.


The nearby native inhabitants are going to pay for it.


I don't really see evil. I see a combination of incompetence and hard right-wing policy.

I really don't like the latter, but at least you can argue it (e.g. pulling out of TPP is a perfectly reasonable position to take).

The former is just... ugh. Huge numbers of unfilled positions, firing all the ambassadors with no replacements, completely unqualified cabinet nominees (DeVos, Carson, Perry).


Trump is not hard right-wing. I'm not sure what he is, time will tell, but he's not that.


He appears to be exceptional at one thing, manipulating people. The right wing have been manipulated by Trump for his own agenda, which I suspect is just a lust for power. People seem to miss that Trump is trying to set up a dynasty, he plans after he ends as President to ensure his daughter/son/son-in-law are all succeeding him, like the Bush's or the Kennedy's but much greater.


I think it's much worse and much dumber.

Trump saw an opportunity and went for it with everything he had. He used modern tools and knew how to apply it to the modern public. He knew his audience and his audience also knew how to navigate the new medium.

I doubt he expected to do so well when he started but apparently the old world institutions and cultural protections of pre 1990 are well and truly dead.

Tomorrow someone else is going to navigate this path, and they are going to do it better.


The problem here is that there are two different typical definitions of "far-right", possibly even three.

* Minarcho-capitalist, "Snow Crash"-style. Absolutely minimal government, only contracts and property titles being enforced. On everything else, you're free-to-starve.

* Religious dominionism, Mike Pence style. "Electrocute the gay away". Scary and weird. Kinda like a Middle Eastern country.

* So-called "right-wing populism", aka fascism. Trump's typical style. Very nationalistic, often claiming to adopt left-wing economic policies like industrial management and regional equalization while actually installing policies more similar to the minarcho-capitalists, but with more corruption. Dog-whistles to religion but no real religiosity. Military parades in the streets, Orwellian blatant lies, etc. Cult of leadership.


The last two are essentially the same, differing only in window dressing, and the first isn't far right (while the Republican Party has made some selective rhetorical mods in the direction of minarchism -- particularly at the federal level over issues where they want states to be free to pursue policies more right-wing than there is federal support for at the time of the argument -- minarchism isn't particularly right-wing at all.)


I'm guessing mental illness at this point. The unsubstantiated voter fraud accusation is moving me to that conclusion.

We should expect to see more of this, there is no one to moderate his behavior that I can see at this point.


(forced to use a side account to comment on this)

You have to look at it from the Trump teams point of view. They honestly don't see that the 'free speech' argument holds water. They see it as abuse of a public position to spread falsehoods.

Basically EPA employees in the Trump Team's view are perpetuating climate alarmism ( again in the TT view ).

So they are stopping that.

Just flip it around just for a second. I'll choose an equivalent that would cause liberals to shut down the twitter of an official.

Imagine a Department of Health official was tweeting photos of aborted foetuses and keeping a tally "350 aborted this month. #whatawaste".

There would be calls to stop that official speaking out.


Yes, but there's a difference. Abortion is in many ways an issue of personal conscience, rather than a simple scientific determination.

Climate change on the other hand, isn't controversial in reality. It's been made controversial because some people have an interesting way of deciding what is true or false.

There seems to be a certain mindset that treats wishful thinking as equivalent in power to empirical evidence. So they start with what they want to be true, and work backwards from there. For example: "It's inconvenient for my business interests if climate change is true. Therefore it must be false."

Some people even work themselves all the way to: "... and therefore climate change is a conspiracy invented by jealous scientists to screw over successful capitalists like me".


thats why my dreamt up example included just factual statements "350 this month".

doesnt make it better though, does it ?


That argument holds for everything. It is the full relativism: there is not good or bad, there is not true or falsehood, there are just opinions.

That reasoning is flawed, as true facts exists and there are ways to get to that facts like the scientific method. And morality exists, not every action is just relative.

The last part is that oil industry has paid big to silence science about climate change. "Conflict of interest" is another big point against Trump teams "point of view".


This is so terrifying. Fixing environment that was destroyed takes a very long time. Public land and parks that were given to companies can probably never be taken back. Not to talk about mountains that were mined. All this might be gone forever for some silly, antiquated mining or similar.


Lol. By your logic, we should revert all farmland west of the Appalachians back to native prairie because it used to be public land before people moved there.


No, OP's logic is that we can't revert farmland west of the Appalachians back to native prairie because it's practically impossible to "undevelop" land back to its natural state. Thus we should focus on protecting currently undeveloped land.


OK, I just watched for at least the 20th time some republican tell a TV audience that EPA regulations have gotten "way out of control" and no one will ask "EXACTLY WHICH REGULATIONS?"


To be fair, the audience for that comment isn't aware of _any_ EPA regulations and has no curiosity about it. They see the EPA not as a complex organization with multiple goals and many tools to help them achieve those goals, but as a part of something fundamentally wrong-headed.


Yep. But the only way to fight bad propaganda is with good questions.


look man. these are job creators. if they want to dump solvents in an estuary (god, who uses words like estuary really), and bootstrap our way to a brighter future including pastel tinted vinyl siding, who are we going to side with? some pinhead whining about some cranes and shit or a red blooded american businessman just trying to help his community?


Who asks non vetted questions anymore?


Do you guys seriously have no self awareness? You seem to view trumps supporters not as a complex group of people with multiple goals but as part of something fundamentally wrong-headed.

The hypocrisy is dumbfounding


The comment in question was "EPA regulations are way out of control." That's not a Trump thing, the sentiment has been around for decades in mainstream American politics. And the entire EPA has a decent handle on the regulations, so they are obviously in control, even if they're extremely bad. So I'm not sure it's meant as a statement of fact. It's meant as a statement of principle. That's what I meant when I said the audience for the statement isn't saying "I'm personally disappointed in EPA regulation #N", they're saying "The EPA is doing it totally wrong".


Just to add a reality check, the epa isnt some noble organization , they are highly political and often incompentent.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/08/10/431223703/...


Regardless, the EPA has done vastly more good than harm[1] and the remedy for bad speech is always more speech--not censorship.

1:https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-epa-first-40-...


That chemical spill was a disaster caused by an accident when the EPA was trying to manage the wastewater from a gold mine. The wastewater was created by unregulated gold mining in the 20s. Trump wants to return us to those days when industry was unregulated and created the pollution that has taken decades to clean.


That mine spill was a major cock-up by the EPA. They even admitted it was. They were warned it could happen.

It's not helpful to try and explain that away.


Can you explain to me the thinking that leads from the EPA made a major mistake to the EPA should be dismantled because it seems irrational to me.


It is irrational, but no one in your parent chain said EPA should be dismantled. You introduced that claim to move the goalposts of the argument.


Actually, prior to the EPA property rights were the method of pollution control. However, under property rights there was 0 pollution allowed. Courts began to consider that some pollution must be allowed to allow the economy to thrive.

So the EPA came into formation not exactly for the purpose to stop pollution, but to decide just how much is allowable.


Can you prove that. It sounds like he's doing exacting what obama did before.

Im pro environment but Im not naive to think you can separate corrupt politics from this.


Hardly. The man he has installed as the transitional leader of the EPA is a firm climate change denier, but is also strongly opposed to the Endangered Species Act as a violation of property rights. The nominee to head the EPA is not much better. This administration represents a clear and present danger to the environment and every species on the planet. I think Obama was just a tad better.


From https://www.whitehouse.gov/america-first-energy:

>For too long, we’ve been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry. President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.


As opposed to every other government organisation in Washington which are all totally apolitical, and totally competent.

The focus isn't on what the EPA does or doesn't do, but on what the administration is trying to do, whether that actually matches up with how business is usually done in the organisation, and how this looks to the rest of America.


Also happening with the National Parks Service [0].

[0] http://gizmodo.com/national-park-service-banned-from-tweetin...


Not sure I disagree with that order. The NPS intentionally retweeted a political statement. (Showing the crowds for Obama's inauguration and Trumps) It was a very stupid thing to do.


How in the world is a picture of actual reality a "political statement"? How on Earth can an unedited photo of something that really happened be construed in this way?


It's a photo that was taken hours before inauguration, which made it look like the grounds were sparsely populated. Also known as "fake news".

Here's the Gigapixel during Trump's inauguration speech: http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2017/01/politics/trump-inaugu...


Reuters went on record with an (apparently) EXIF-derived timestamp of 12:01:18 EST, and PBS has a seven-hour time lapse substantiating the image. It is not fake.

Here is the time lapse: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdantUf5tXg.


There have been side-by-side comparisons provided many times over by the same parties at the same vantage points, taken at roughly similar times (tens of minutes at most). The Trump pics, during much warmer weather with a bit of a drizzle, are sparsely populated compared to the Obama pics of roughly the same moment in inaugural event time, and a far colder 28 degrees outside, are far more packed. There's nothing fake happening here. There's even an awesome time lapse covering, I believe, a roughly 7-hour period. There's video and photo evidence of the Pres & VP walking along with empty stands behind and beside them. None of the photographic proof has been doctored—which would make it fake. The only thing fake here are the claims of the proof being fake.


Was the CNN Gigapixel "doctored" then?


That's a pretty silly question. But I dealt with that in another response to you below. I've not suggested anything of the sort. The Gigapixel is taken from a terrible vantage point for providing an accurate ... hell, not even a rough estimate of the total crowd size. That wasn't the purpose of the picture and it's chosen perspective. That makes it pointless and obvious defensive grandstanding to use it as indicative of anything other than the panoramic view near the main stage. It's the equivalent of choosing the profile photo that makes you look thin when it isn't indicative of all the weight you've gained since that photo was taken. Misleading for the purposes it's being offered.


Here is a seven-hour time lapse from the same vantage point: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdantUf5tXg.

IMO this is irrefutable evidence of a smaller crowd – which is a non issue... unless the President of the United States spreads falsehoods (formerly known as "lies") in contradiction of reality.


From that photographic viewpoint I can't compare. We really need a picture from the birds eye view.


It's pretty clear there are a lot more people than the aforementioned picture shows, though.


No, it's really not. Because you can't see the distance. And from this vantage point, tricks of perspective make the immediately close crowd the only thing one focuses on. I can see empty ground coverings way off in the distance of the pic. It's not an outlandish claim to make that based on their distance from the camera, seeing the empty space as visibly as one can must mean it's a very large empty space. That's what the pictures and video timelapse from the Washington monument provide—the total viewpoint. This gigapixel from the sidelines is in now way informative as an indicator of total crowd size.


I see. "I refuse your reality and substitute my own". If you can't see that Gigapixel shows radically more people, then I'm afraid I can't help you. :-)


I haven't refused any reality here, friend. Nor am I substituting my own. The Gigapixel shows exactly as many people up front, where it was taken as other photographs do from the same vantage point. And it also concurs with the view on the crowd up front at the stage that is provided from other vantage points where the front of the crowd is visible. It doesn't show radically more. Whatever that means. Radically more than what?

Nobody is disputing that there were a lot of people who were at the front. But it doesn't provide the slightest bit of helpful view on the total crowd size. Because the total crowd isn't in its view. The rows and rows of people in the back are impossible to judge from the Gigapixel's perspective. This is just basic photography. Angle, lens, perspective, all that shit. It matters. The Gigapixel's subject was the main stage and immediate area. It provides no help to the discussion of the total audience.

Ever been to a concert, especially on stage? The throng at the front always feels massive and overwhelming. But you can't fully judge the total attendance from that perspective, especially in a setting like the Mall.


I'm not anti-Trump. In fact, I don't think less people showing up to inauguration means anything significant or negative.

It's just about comparing two photographs. Everything the other person said I agree with. One is about distance, and distance isn't visible in one of the photographs.


It's only a "political statement" because the President continually repeats the most obvious lies, to the extent that he appears to be mentally ill.

Paul Ryan said today that there was no evidence of wide-spread voter fraud. Since the President still keeps telling obvious lies about the subject, was that a "political statement" on Ryan's part?


Came here to make the same point:

It's not appropriate for the official social media account of a government agency to tweet political content that criticizes the current President. That's going too far, and I'm not surprised at all that they were told to shut it.


NPS is in charge of the National Mall. They are heavily invested in the truth of statements about their work. Just as it was appropriate for intelligence officials to state they believed Russia hacked DNC servers, it is appropriate for the agency in charge to correct, lets be generous, misstatements about how many people attended an event they helped coordinate.


It is incredibly appropriate for the security services to state suspicion/evidence of foreign maleficence. (If it's true.. if it's a political suggestion.. they should be punished for propaganda) Although, Wikileaks has been nothing but consistent in stating it wasn't rush that gave them the leaks.

It is fine for NPS to report occurrences. However, it was not fine for them to make a comparison of inaugurations.

The offices of the government should and always should remain neutral. They should be judged on doing their job properly. Should the EPA pretend to be Milo on how they think that Trump's/Rep party's ignorance on Global Warming is bad? No they should be advising us on upcoming, and current threads, showing superfund cleanup efforts, creating effective change, etc.

It's hard to judge an organization correctly when it's trying to play politics. When you're wrestling with a pig, you're going to both get dirty, but in the end the politican likes it.


Comparing objective reality between two points in time is not partisan. It is factual. It is the truth. If the crowd had been larger than previous years, would you still object?


It would suggest trying to win favor. Still poor taste. They stand to gain nothing and loose a lot by making comparisons.


They were correcting a factually inaccurate statement made by the President of the United States, using evidence they were in possession of. One must hold truth above abstract concepts like "favor" and "taste".


Showing the number of people who attended the inauguration is a criticism, all of a sudden? That's some seriously thin skin.


Compare to the former president? Are you even serious?


Fewer people attended the inauguration. I'm sorry that bothers you so much, but it's the truth. If your solution to someone sharing the truth is to make them shut up, then you got some serious issues.


The point is you can't use an office account to do this. Unbelievable.


The former President who never lost his temper over six years of claims that he wasn't an American? Are you paid to be here too?


You must be crazy. Do you even know what I was talking about? Do you seriously think an official office account should involve in this?


Voice of America factchecked the claim that Trump's inauguration was bigger: http://www.voanews.com/a/factcheck-size-of-trump-inaugural-c...

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