Trump Surprises Tech Leaders on H-1B (?)

In a post here more than a year ago, I lauded Donald Trump’s posted platform policy on the H-1B work visa and related issues. But two days later, Trump clarified his position, ruining the effect of his earlier policy completely, so I posted a followup, ending with the statement, “Trump’s a chump.” What did I object to so strongly? Trump now said, in essence, that he wanted to clamp down on the “Infosyses” — the firms that hire H-1Bs and rent them out to other companies — but thought the “Intels” — the firms that hire H-1Bs directly — use the program responsibly. As I have explained many times, this Intels Good, Infosyses Bad view is inaccurate, and will lead to disastrous results, notably a Staple a Green Card to Their Diplomas policy, giving automatic green cards to all STEM foreign students earning degrees in the U.S.

Contrary to what you read in the press (and even to what Trump himself has sometimes said), Trump has been quite consistent on that issue ever since. In particular, he has endorsed Staple, implicitly and explicitly, many times.

So, in advance of Trump’s meeting yesterday with Silicon Valley CEOs, I was expecting him to endorse Staple again. But I certainly wasn’t expecting this account from Recode:

At the top of the gathering (I may not have the order of all the topics exactly right), Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella brought up perhaps the most thorny issue: Immigration and how the government can help tech with things like H-1B visas to keep and bring in more talent. Nadella pointed out that much of the company’s spending on research and development was in the U.S., even if 50 percent of the sales were elsewhere, so that immigration would benefit those here.

Surprisingly to the group, Trump apparently responded favorably, “Let’s fix that,” he said, without a specific promise, and then asked, “What can I do to make it better?”

This is rather bizarre wording, almost sounding like Trump had never even heard of the H-1B visa, and even more industry-friendly than proposing Staple.

If the above account is accurate, it is troubling in ways that go beyond H-1B. Does Trump get confused that easily? Frankly, I in fact doubt that the account is entirely accurate, but it certainly has me scratching my head.

 

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Political Reality 102

I’ve received a number of reader responses, public and private, to my posting yesterday, in which I pointed out that Congress responds to pressure, pure and simple, and does generally NOT respond to well-reasoned arguments offered without pressure. But these readers point out the obvious: If they speak out publicly, they are subject to blacklisting by potential employers. I myself have mentioned this in the past.

In one case, the applicant had a great phone interview and was flown across the country at the employer’s expense for the on-site interview. On-site, he was asked no technical questions to speak of, just friendly chatting. But one of the people who talked to him brought up the fact that the applicant had made a crtiical statement on H-1B to the press. Guess what! He didn’t get the job.

By the way, another piece of political reality that concerned tech workers must keep in mind: If you simply write a letter to your members of Congress, it will only be tallied, For or Against; no one will read it in detail. And the tallier will likely be an intern, even a high school student, and may not have enough background to even get your For/Against status correct. This can especially be likely if your letter is buried in a mountain of letters from the other side, e.g. H-1Bs, immigration lawyers and so on.

My advice — speaking as someone with no personal stake in H-1B — is to do what the lobbyists do. Call, better yet meet with, your members of Congress or their staffs; meet with newspaper editorial boards (did you think those pro-H-1B editorials come from nowhere?); educate journalists and talk show hosts; go to town hall meetings held by politicians; write op-eds and above all, organize, starting with revitalizing the Programmers Guild. And when you do things, know your stuff, the fine details of H-1B issues; otherwise you will be dismissed as not worth talking to.

And yes, there is some risk, but the alternative is possible legislation and regulations coming from the new administration that will make matters even worse than before, even though they sound like an improvement. I’ve been predicting for years that the eventual “reform” would make the problems worse, not better. And my forecasting track record has been pretty good, as Computerworld‘s Pat Thibodeau once pointed out. 🙂

Political Reality 101

Usually I receive countless proposals from people to demonstrate why the H-1B work visa, OPT and so on are bad things. In the last couple of weeks, the number of such contacts has become even larger. The arguments are, for instance, that he workers’ quality is low, their cheap labor reduces tax revenues, the OPTs are not subject to payroll tax so they have an advantage over Americans in seeking work, often the H-1B program is used to facilitate offshoring, a number of immigrants convicted of industrial espionage for a foreign nation (typically China) are former H-1Bs, the privacy of our medical records is in jeopardy and so on.  ALL TRUE — but useless politically.

Congress doesn’t listen to reason. They respond to pressure. So all those people making these good arguments as above, they must become ACTIVIST if they want anything to change, Trump or no Trump. Most people I hear from have never even contacted their congressperson and senators, much less engage in serious, unrelenting activism.

Isn’t this obvious?

Reforming H-1B and Related Visas: What Needs to be Done

Last night’s blog post was titled, “You Can’t Fix It If You Don’t Understand It,” in which I showed that the industry lobbyists are so deft at presenting a misleading view of the H-1B work visa, and policymakers and worker advocates are so uninformed, that effective reform is impossible. In response, one reader suggested that I write a blog post showing, in one convenient document, what needs to be done. Good idea.

Before I begin, please note carefully the centrally important terms. I will use the term “H-1B” to include not only that visa program, but also L-1, OPT, employer-sponsored green cards, and so on. Also, the term “American/U.S.” refers to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The “Infosyses” are firms that hire H-1Bs and rent them out to other companies, while the “Intels” means firms that hire H-1Bs directly, especially foreign students at U.S. universities, which is a very wide range, including such firms as the Bay Area chain, Bank of the West.

Here we go:

Understanding the problem:

Again, understanding the problem is crucial to developing an effective solution. President-Elect Trump has stated that he will direct AG Sessions to investigate the situation, but again, unless Sessions understands what to look for — and knows how to keep the industry lobbyists at bay — his efforts will be wasted. These points in particular are absolutely key:

  • Hiring H-1Bs instead of Americans is just as harmful as hiring H-1Bs to replace Americans. Isn’t that obvious?
  • The Intels (who hire “instead of”) are thus just as culpable as the Infosyses (who replace).
  • Age plays a CENTRAL role in the hiring of H-1Bs. Younger workers are cheaper (and young H-1Bs are even cheaper than young Americans), so employers hire young H-1Bs in lieu of older Americans.
  • What percentage of hires of H-1Bs, OPTs and so on are genuinely due to a lack of qualified Americans? I believe it is no more than 20%, probably less, even among the Intels.
  • What occupations — IF ANY — have a labor shortage? What does “shortage” even mean? It should NOT mean, “After we automatically filter out all applicants over age 35, we didn’t have enough applicants.”

Suggested executive actions regarding understanding the problem:

The Labor Condition Application (LCA), which employers submit for permission to hire an H-1B, should be extended with some survey questions, such as “State the mean age among STEM workers at your firm,” “State the percentage of new and recent graduates among your STEM hires this year,” “State the percentage of American applicants for STEM positions who were interviewed, and the percentage of those who were extended offers,” “State the percentage increase, if any, in the wage you are paying today in this occupation relative to that of one, two and three years ago,” and so on. The LCA should also have the employer state whether a graduate degree (MS/PhD) is really necessary for the job in question, and if so, why. These answers would not be used as grounds for denying the LCA (but should be subject to perjury laws), just used as data collection relevant to the H-1B program.

In his investigation as directed by Trump, the AG should be especially wary of taking the industry at their word in terms of claiming labor shortages. For instance, the industry lobbyists cite a “shortage” of new computer science graduates, a highly misleading claim, since about 80% of, for example, software engineers do not have a CS degree. And again, often when they say “shortage,” they mean “shortage of young applicants.” The investigators should also be wary of artificial job requirements, such as listing an alphabet soup of computer acronyms that may not really be required. The investigators should make big use of two very valuable resources, the OES data (DOL) and the NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) data, both of which show flat wages, counter to shortage claims.

As part of the investigation, the AG should have teams do site visits to HR Departments at a few firms that use a substantial number of H-1Bs, say over 10% of their STEM labor force, in various locales and industry sectors, to determine how/why American job applicants are rejected, especially those over 35. Again, this is for information gathering rather than grounds for denial of visas.

Many H-1Bs, especially those at the Intels, are hired as foreign students from college and university campuses. Currently many U.S. graduate programs have well over half their enrollment as foreign students, in some cases even 90%. This presumably is an unhealthy situation, and the investigation team should particularly note the issues here.

The investigation should consult with the foreign worker advocacy group, Immigration Voice, especially concerning exploitation of foreign workers who are immobile due to waiting for a green card. This  immobility makes foreign workers enormously attractive to employers; a prominent immigration attorney (and former chief architect of Texas Instruments’ immigration policy) even pitches this point to employers on his Web page, urging employers to hire foreign students instead of Americans.

The President should require that every academic institution that offers Master’s/PhD degrees and receives federal research funds submit a yearly report stating the percentages of American students in each STEM graduate program. Those with low percentages should be required to describe what efforts, if any, the institution has made to recruit more American students. These programs should include “professional Master’s degrees,” which seem to be aimed at attracting foreign students as “cash cows.”

The President should direct the Government Accountability Office to study the negative impact on STEM wages due to the large numbers of foreign students who enter the U.S. labor market. The GAO should also quantify the negative impact on older American workers due to this YOUNG foreign influx. A 1989 NSF report forecast that this suppression of wage growth would make graduate study far less attractive to American students; the GAO should quantify this. Note that the foreign influx also keeps down wages of graduate assistants, thus further making graduate study unappealing to American students.

All of this should be carefully taken into account before proposing a Staple a Green Card to Their Diplomas program (i.e. automatic green cards for STEM foreign students), a proprosal that, unfortunately, both Trump and IEEE-USA have endorsed. The GAO should also estimate the further erosion in STEM wage growth due to Staple. While it is true that Staple would remove or ameliorate the immobility problem, it would have a terrible impact on Americans.

The AG’s report must clearly delineate the role of age in the entire H-1B issue. Consider discussions of prevailing wage, for instance. On the one hand, even strong supporters of bringing large numbers of foreign workers to the U.S. (via whatever route), such as Rep. Zoe Lofgren and IEEE-USA lobbyist Bruce Morrison, admit that often H-1B workers are making only half the wage of Americans. True, but what they are not disclosing is that gap is due not only to a lax general definition of prevailing wage but also due to a comparison of young H-1Bs to older Americans.

DHS should make every effort to allow a worker who is waiting for a green card to receive raises and promotions without jeopardizing the green card application.

As I have stated many times, the U.S. should make strong efforts to facilitate the immigration of the genuine “best and brightest.” The criteria for the O-1 work visa, and EB-1 and National Interest Waiver green cards, should be liberalized somewhat.

In conducting the investigation, the AG should watch for undue influence from industry lobbyists, and should make sure that advocates for American workers be closely consulted. (Note that I would count IEEE-USA as industry advocates, not worker advocates.) Similarly, the AG team should discount the work of any academic who has received money from the industry and its allies.

Executive actions for policy change:

As I have shown before, e.g. with Facebook and Intel, often the big tech companies have job ads earmarked for new/recent graduates. This is likely illegal under federal law, and thus arguably grounds for denying the application. A section in the LCA should have the employer attest to not having any so-earmarked jobs, as a requirement for granting permission for the hire.

H-1B using firms with low mean STEM worker age (regardless of American or foreign) should be subject to an automatic investigation by the Dept. of Justice

A number of people, including myself, have suggested over the years that the visas be doled out in order of wage offered, highest first, then second-highest and so on until the cap is reached. I’m pleased to see that IEEE-USA now has endorsed the idea. Nice, but again the age issue is crucial. Currently the DOL method for determining legally-required prevailing wage for an H-1B worker is broken down into four experience levels, proxies for age. My guess is that the industry lobbyists (and, I suspect, IEEE-USA as well) would push for doing the wage ranking within each experience level, rather than overall without regard to experience. Indeed, Rep. Lofgren’s proposal would take that approach. Needless to say, this would largely defeat the purpose of awarding visas by wage ranking. This is a perfect example of how a good proposal can be ruined by plausible but misleading arguments made by lobbyists.

The Optional Practical Training portion of the F-1 student visa should be abolished, or at the very least rolled back to its original 12-month duration. As Ron Hira has pointed out, the notion that a foreign worker with a Master’s or higher needs a 3-year internship is patently absurd. DHS has openly stated that it isn’t using the program for that purpose, but rather as a holding pattern for foreign students waiting for an H-1B visa. The fact is that if the H-1B system were properly reformed, there would be zero wait for the visa, as the demand would never even come close to reaching the cap.

Congressional actions for policy change:

The top priority here should be fixing the badly broken prevailing wage system. I’ve noted above that the four-tier wage system is tantamount to the federal government bestowing its blessing on age discrimination, but the problems go even deeper than that.

Currently prevailing wage is defined to be the average wage (for the given occupation, region and experience level). The use of the average is fundamentally at odds with the industry’s claim that that it is hiring H-1Bs either because they are “the best and the brightest” and/or because they possess rare skill sets. On the open market, both of these qualities command a hefty wage premium; such workers are decidedly NOT paid average wages. So why is the prevailing wage defined in terms of averages? I agree with DPE President Paul Almeida that Congress should revise the definition of prevailing wage to be the 75th percentile for the given occupation and region (and NOT bringing experience level into consideration).

The L-1 intracompany transfer visa needs to have a prevailing wage requirement (and reformed as above), and the current 1-year requirement for time in the company should be increased to 5 years.

Those in line for green cards should be allowed freedom of movement in the labor market as soon as the employer’s petition is filed. Of course, if the petition is eventually denied, the worker would lose her access to the market.

General remarks on reform:

As noted, both the executive and legislative branches must resist the entreaties of lobbyists in the reform process. These lobbyists are the best in the business, highly skilled at making plausible arguments for what actually is very bad policy.

The importance of a coordinated, integrated solution cannot be overemphasized. As with health care policy, we have what I call the “pillow theorem”: Pounding down on one side of a fluffy pillow causes the other side to fluff up. For instance, I say to those who sincerely want to help American workers, “Ignore the age issue at your own peril!”, as it enters into almost any policy proposal made so far. The same comment holds for the Intels Good, Infosyses Bad fallacy. A proposal, such as that made by Rep. Lofgren a years ago, to institute a wage ranking system for H-1B but ALSO adding a Staple program, should raise alarm bells.

We the concerned public should be vigilant too. We should insist that the investigation be fully public, including all the data, and that there are people whom the Ordinary Joe can contact to give input. We must make sure we are fully informed of the structural problems in H-1B (see above!). And if Jeff Sessions, in presenting the results of his investigation to a press conference, uses the word “replace” within the first 30 seconds, we should collectively groan.

 

You Can’t Fix It If You Don’t Understand It

Donald Trump named his Labor Secretary today, causing considerable consternation among those who hope that Trump will tighten up the H-1B work visa program. It would appear that nominee Puzder may be a big fan of H-1B and similar programs. I’ll come back to Puzder below, but even if he has the best of intentions to help American workers — which I will believe unless I see otherwise — the key point is that you can’t fix H-1B if you don’t understand it. And it IS a complex issue.

A case in point is Alexia Fernandez Campbell’s second piece on H-1B in less than a week, titled “There’s a Clear Way to Fix the H-1B Visa Program,” with subheadline “Closing a 1998 loophole would prevent companies from replacing American IT workers with foreign guest workers. Why hasn’t that been done yet?” Sadly, the entire premise of her piece is wrong.

Though I dismissed her earlier article as being paid for by a pro-immigration group, I must say that there her errors this week, though certainly egregious, are not her fault. She appears to have been fooled by a fast-talking lobbyist who took liberties in explaining this complex topic to her. Indeed, I learned today that another journalist, one whom I respect quite highly, was also taken in.

Many, I suppose most, readers of this blog have a specific interest in H-1B. Some are programmers and engineers, some are journalists, some are government policy people, some are immigration economists. If indeed you have a keen interest in H-1B, please pay close attention below. The vulnerability of the above two journalists to lobbyist obfuscation shows how easy it is to go wrong.  And going wrong leads to wrong policy!, even with good intentions.

Here is what Ms. Campbell says:

Ultimately, nothing happened with these investigations [of Disney and SCE, who replaced their American workers by H-1Bs supplied by H-1B-dependent employers such as HCL] because replacing American workers with H-1B workers is perfectly legal in many cases. That’s due to a loophole in the law that exempts certain companies from complying with the requirement not to displace an American worker when they petition for one of the 85,000 H-1B visas available each year…

[the 1998 revision of H-1B] allows those same H-1B reliant companies to ignore the requirements about protecting American jobs as long as they pay the foreign workers at least $60,000 a year, or hire a foreign worker with a master’s degree. …Considering the average IT worker in the United States makes far more than $60,000, that exemption makes it lucrative—and legal—for companies to displace American workers with cheaper H-1B workers.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. ALL employers of H-1Bs, whether they are H-1B-dependent or not, are required to pay the legally-defined prevailing wage. That wage is typically below what a free agent would command in the market, but as Campbell points out, even that lowball figure is typically well above $60,000. So the $60K figure is irrelevant.

Say the legal prevailing wage for a given occupation, region and experience level is $75K. Then ALL employers, including those designated as H-1B-dependent, MUST PAY AT LEAST $75K, not $60K. The H-1B-dependent employers do NOT have special permission to pay only $60K.

The author is also confused as to which employers are currently allowed to replace American workers with H-1Bs:

While some lawmakers have proposed raising the $60,000 threshold to $100,000 or more, this would still allow companies to replace American workers. Instead, some have suggested eradicating the salary exemption altogether, which would require H-1B employers to show that they are not replacing American workers, regardless of how much money they are paying the foreign workers. Eliminating this exemption would have bipartisan support…

The author seems to think that the non-H-1B-dependent employers are currently banned from replacing Americans by H-1Bs. That is totally false; no such statute.

The lobbyist who she quotes, and on whose statements she is clearly basing her entire article, is Bruce Morrison, who was involved in the original 1990 H-1B legislation. He has disseminated misleading information of the above nature before, e.g. in a letter to the editor in the New York Times.

Which brings me back to Trump and Puzder. Those who are upset about the latter being tapped for Labor are missing the point, which again is that even if Puzder tries to do right by American workers, he can be bamboozled by the slick lobbyists, who will offer deceptive “solutions” that in the end will INCREASE the number of foreign STEM workers added to our labor markets each year.

How can the lobbyists do this? It is quite easy. They simply blame the problem on the “Infosyses,” saying that the “Intels” use the H-1B program responsibly. This article does this, and indeed we have had an almost daily diet of such articles in the last few years. I’m told that Trump did so in his speech today, saying,

We will buy American and hire American…During the campaign, I also spent time with American workers who were laid off and forced to train the foreign workers brought in to replace them. We won’t let this happen anymore. Can you believe that? You get laid off, and then they won’t give you your severance pay unless you train the people that are replacing you. I mean that’s, that’s actually demeaning, maybe more than anything else.

Very nice, but the key word here is replace. Trump said “hire” but in the details it is clear that he really means “replace.” As I have explained before, the Infosyses use H-1Bs to REPLACE Americans but the Intels hire H-1Bs INSTEAD OF Americans.

Parsed carefully and with proper background, Morrison’s letter to the Times is consistent, though with a false premise. The background here is that Morrison is assuming Intels Good, Infosyses Bad. The $60K figure only was intended to apply only to the Infosyses, and due to inflation it no longer applies even to them. So, Morrison is saying we need to simply clamp down effectively on the Infosyses, and all is good.

And though I appreciate the author’s brief mention of the age aspect of H-1B, she misses the point that the four-tier experience structure in the rules for prevailing wage is the driving force behind that age issue. The law allows ALL employers of H-1Bs, not just the Infosyses, to hire young H-1Bs in lieu of older (35+) Americans.

So, unless there are people who have Trump’s ear and can explain that the Intels are just as culpable, what we will get in the end is legislation that punishes the Infosyses but REWARDS the Intels. The reward would be in the form of increasing the H-1B cap (for non-Infosyses) and/or implementing a Staple a Green Card program. Either way, we will get an INCREASE in the number of foreign workers added to STEM labor markets every year.

All because of a lack of understanding of the complexities of the H-1B issue, even by critics of the H-1B program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Atlantic Explains H-1B

I actually am a subscriber to The Atlantic, and might even say it is one of my many sources of enjoyment in life. But good grief, it would be hard to find a bunch of journalists who are more disconnected from the way ordinary people live. So, for the second day in a row, I must cite an example of the shoddy work they sometimes do, and their disturbing bias. In turn, the article cites research that itself is demonstrably shoddy and biased.

Specifically, there is the November 30 article, “Not All Immigrant Labor Is Cheap Labor,” by Alexia Hernandez Campbell. Right off the bat, note that this is a funded article, essentially an infomercial. Can it be that such an august, 159-year-old publication such as The Atlantic runs infomercials? Sad but true. And the sponsor, the Emerson Collective, was founded by Steve Jobs’ widow, which might play some role here.

But that pales in comparison to the problems with the main research on which Ms. Campbell bases her piece, an NBER report by Gordon Hanson of UCSD and Matthew Slaughter of Dartmouth. This pair has produced similar research in the past, explicitly funded by the industry lobbying group CompeteAmerica. Needless to say in view of such bias, that old study was very badly flawed. But let’s take a look at this new one.

Best to start out with a laugher. As anyone who reads this blog or my other work knows, I believe there is far too much emphasis in the national discussion on H-1B on the “Infosyses,” and I contend that the “Intels” are just as culpable. Yet Hanson and Slaughter say that my 2013 EPI paper was about the Infosyses! It of course was not on that topic, and on the contrary, was an analysis of the fact that the H-1Bs who are former foreign students are generally of poorer quality than their American peers. They also misquote the findings of the 2010 paper by Kerr and Lincoln, overlook the NBER version of the 2011 Hunt paper and so on.

The authors’ current paper seems to have been put together hastily. There are typos, the bibliography is a mess, etc.

Most of their paper consists of umpteen graphs and tables showing that there are a lot of immigrants in STEM, which is hardly news. But their implication that this means that those immigrants were needed is of course illogical. The only justification they seem to offer is the only-moderate international test scores for U.S. 15-year-olds. I think most 15-year-olds could see through that argument too.

Hanson and Slaughter also seem to be making the “Johnny doesn’t want to go to grad school” argument, ignoring the fact that the H-1B program has made grad school unattractive to Americans. This effect was correctly forecast by the National Science Foundation, something the authors would know if they had actually read my EPI paper rather than misquoting it.

The authors do make a pretty good attempt to answer the question as to whether immigrants in STEM are paid less than Americans. In their regression analyses, they do adjust for a number of important covariates, but unfortunately not the most important of all, occupation. So, they are lumping together well-paid software engineers with poorly-paid life science lab workers, and given the prevalence of the immigrants in the software area, we clearly have a real statistical problem here. Another problem is that they are mixing together immigrants with green card or citizenship status with those who are H-1Bs, L-1s and so, who are exploitable. Nevertheless, they do find that the immigrants earn less. They also find that the immigrants do catch up, which the authors attribute to assimilation while I would attribute to the mobility the immigrants attain once they get their green cards.

The most salient problem in that analysis, though, is the authors’ failure (and that of many others) to account for AGE in the cheap-labor issue. As I have emphasized over the years, the biggest wage savings in hiring foreigners is that the latter are young. Young people are cheaper than older ones, and H-1B is largely about hiring young H-1Bs in lieu of older (35+) Americans.

Though the authors don’t make this connection, they do have a number of graphs showing that the immigrant STEM workers do tend to be young. And they define “young” to be age 25-34, just like I do. Maybe they read my EPI paper after all. 🙂

Carrier, Trump and Fallows

I can’t remember ever seeing a President-Elect take steps toward fulfilling a campaign promise before he even takes office. Yet that is exactly what Donald Trump has done in convincing Carrier Corp. to roll back part of its plan to move jobs from Indiana to Mexico. One may take issue with the details, but even some of Trump’s detractors in the press seem to be giving the action some grudging praise.

Carrier is an ironic example, because in the past it was a favorite poster firm of New York Times columnist Tom Friedman regarding the glories of globalization. Yes, Friedman has conceded, Carrier’s IT jobs might be offshored to India, but wait! — those offices in Indian where the IT work will be done will use Carrier air conditioners! A net win for U.S. workers, Friedman explained.

“Well, not so fast,” I countered. Sales of a few more air conditioners in India isn’t going to lead to Carrier hiring more engineers; the design work has already been done, more or less a fixed cost. What about factory jobs? Well, no, no such effect there either, since it will make sense for Carrier to manufacture locally there in India. Yes, Carrier’s profits will go up, but for U.S. workers the offshoring to India is probably a net loss.

Trump’s action with Carrier is arguably Democratic Party-ish. Indeed, it is something that — dare I make the comparison? — Bernie Sanders might have done. It is certainly NOT the kind of thing President Obama has done.

Meanwhile many Trump-ophobes can’t bear to give him any credit. James Fallows of The Atlantic magazine was on one of the SF NPR stations this morning, as a guest on Michael Krasny’s highbrow talk show, KQED Forum. Fallows and the two other journalists on the panel were complaining that Trump is telling his followers not to believe the mainstream press. To be sure, the guests and Krasny made a number of good points, but they also unwittingly showed why the media should indeed be viewed with a skeptical eye.

Fallows is a good case in point. The Atlantic urged its readers not to vote for Trump, only the third presidential election endorsement in its 159-year history, calling Trump a “huckster” and worse. The magazine even ran a major article psychoanalyzing The Donald, and as Fallows pointed out this morning, “We” (the magazine, via the article) concluded that Trump is a narcissist. And the article makes a good case for that claim.

But what did Fallows NOT quote from that article this morning? He said nothing, for instance, on this passage:

In a 2013 Psychological Science research article, behavioral scientists ranked U.S. presidents on characteristics of what the authors called “grandiose narcissism.” Lyndon Johnson scored the highest, followed closely by Teddy Roosevelt and Andrew Jackson. Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Nixon, and Clinton were next. Millard Fillmore ranked the lowest. Correlating these ranks with objective indices of presidential performance, the researchers found that narcissism in presidents is something of a double-edged sword. On the positive side, grandiose narcissism is associated with initiating legislation, public persuasiveness, agenda setting, and historians’ ratings of “greatness.” On the negative side, it is also associated with unethical behavior and congressional impeachment resolutions.

But no, all KQED listeners heard from Fallows this morning was that the article found that, Oh my god, we’re doomed, Trump is a narcissist! If one actually reads the article, one finds that the situation is far more nuanced than that.

It remains to be seen whether Trump, once he settles into the Oval Office, will “dance with the one what brung ‘im.” Other than Sessions and maybe Nikki Haley, Trump’s cabinet picks so far raise concerns that Trump will be talked out of loyalty to the ones who put him into office. Yet another Goldman Sachs alum in Treasury? Really? But his action with Carrier, with whatever flaws, is a heck of a good start.