Posts tagged with "Tipping point"

Dems draw up an emergency plan to protect Mueller

August 24, 2018

Following a week during which the Russia investigation raised the level of rage and resistance at the White House, Congressional Democrats have drafted a wide-ranging contingency plan, should Special Counsel Robert Mueller be fired—or should President Donald Trump take other steps to quash the inquiry, such as firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or pardoning key witnesses, NBC News reported on August 22.

It would start within minutes of Special Counsel Robert Mueller being axed—a cascade of activity emanating through the halls of Congress and over television airwaves, as well as citizen protests being prepped from the Virgin Islands to Alaska, the news outlet said.

Of top concern within the first 24 hours after such a move would be preventing Mueller’s documents from being destroyed and his team disbanded, according to the network’s interviews with nearly a dozen lawmakers, congressional aides, Democratic operatives, and attorneys involved in the planning.

Almost immediately, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer would consult with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, while Democrats would demand a floor vote on a bill retroactively protecting Mueller and protecting his materials.

In both the Senate and House, rank-and-file Democrats would contact a list of sympathetic Republicans who have signaled privately that they’d be willing to act, should Trump pull the trigger, NBC said.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations about how exactly and who and when and where,” Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat who sits on the Judiciary Committee, told NBC News. “There have been several moments when it seemed imminent.”

And in cities across the country, rallies would be hastily scheduled for 5 p.m., if Mueller is fired before 2 p.m. on any given day. If he’s fired in the late afternoon or evening, the protests would be set for noon the following day.

The Democratic group MoveOn.org has been organizing 933 such rallies, NBC reported, with locations picked out and sponsors enlisted to handle logistics. The list includes rallies in big cities like Los Angeles, along with protests in more remote areas, such as the federal buildings in Bismarck, North Dakota, and Hilo, Hawaii.

Any success in protecting Mueller would depend heavily on a sudden change of heart by Republicans and their leaders, who have largely defended Trump and, to date, have clapped back, refusing to allow a full Senate vote on legislation to protect the investigation.

Still, Democrats are hoping that a Mueller firing would be considered so egregious that even Trump’s fellow Republicans would be pushed past a tipping point.

To speed up the response, congressional aides said language has been drafted for letters that House Democratic leaders would send to committee chairmen demanding hearings; to inspectors general demanding investigations; and to White House Counsel Don McGahn and the Justice Department demanding information about their communications before the firing.

Different Democrats have laid out different red lines for what actions by Trump would trigger a full-blown crisis response, NBC detailed. In December, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Trump would be breaching a red line if he removed Mueller from his job, pardoned key witnesses or shut down the investigation. MoveOn has added replacing Rosenstein or repealing the special counsel regulations to the list, but notes that firing Sessions—who remains recused from the Russia probe—would “be one step short of the break glass moment.”

The most likely legislative vehicle for trying to protect Mueller after the fact would be a compromise bill co-sponsored by Senators Chris Coons and Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), along with GOP Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Thom Tillis of North Carolina. That bill would put in statute that the special counsel could challenge his firing in U.S. District Court, and would require his “personnel, documents and materials” to be preserved in the meantime.

The bill specifically states that it’s retroactive — meaning that it could be passed after Mueller was fired and still protect him.

A poll of registered voters released by Fox News on August 23 shows approval of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian intervention in the 2016 U.S. presidential election is at 59%, up 11 points from July.What’s more, 40% expect the probe will find President Donald Trump committed criminal or impeachable offenses.

Research contact: @foxnewspoll 

Creating change: If 25% believe, the rest will go along

June 12, 2018

When the size of a minority committed to social change—such as the Me Too movement or Black Lives Matter or March for Our Lives—reaches 25%, that’s a tipping point for transition and transformation in the large public, based on findings of a study conducted by Annenberg School for Communication researcher Damon Centola and released on June 7.

The study, just published in the journal, Science, answers the question, “When organizations turn a blind eye to sexual harassment in the workplace, how many people need to take a stand before the behavior is no longer seen as normal ?”

“The classical model,” Centola says, “would dictate that 51% or more is needed to initiate real social change. We found, both theoretically and experimentally, that a much smaller fraction of the population can effectively do this.”

This idea of a social tipping point applies to standards in the workplace, and any type of movement or initiative, Centola believes.

Online, people develop norms about everything from what type of content is acceptable to post on social media to how civil or uncivil to be in their language. We have recently seen how public attitudes can and do shift on issues like gay marriage, gun laws, or race and gender  equality, as well as what beliefs are or aren’t publicly acceptable to voice.

During the past 50 years, many studies of organizations and community change have attempted to identify the critical size needed for a tipping point, purely based on observation. These studies have speculated such tipping points can range anywhere between 10% to 40%.

Drawing on more than a decade of experimental work, Centola and his three research associates developed 10 groups of 20 participant—each of whom was given a financial incentive to agree on a linguistic norm. Once a norm had been established, a group of confederates—a coalition of activists that varied in size—then pushed for a change to the norm.

When a minority group pushing change was below 25% of the total group, its efforts failed. But when the committed minority reached 25%, there was an abrupt change in the group dynamic, and quickly a majority of the population adopted the new norm. In one trial, a single person accounted for the difference between success and failure.

The researchers also tested the strength of their results by increasing the payments people received for adhering to the prevailing norm. Despite Centola and his colleagues doubling and tripling the amount of money for sticking with an established behavior, a minority group could still overturn the group norm, the researchers found.

“When a community is close to a tipping point to cause large-scale social change, there’s no way they would know this,” says Centola, who also directs Annenberg’s Network Dynamics Group. “And if they’re just below a tipping point, their efforts will fail. But remarkably, just by adding one more person, and getting above the 25% tipping point, their efforts can have rapid success in changing the entire population’s opinion.

The implications for large-scale behavior change are the subject of Centola’s new book, How Behavior Spreads, published this month by Princeton University Press.

Research contact: dcentola@asc.upenn.edu