Quick hits (part I)

1) Larry Lessig’s awesome reaction to being insulted in hacked emails.

2) Big Pharma to America: More pills.  Always more pills.

3) Great response from the editor of the Arizona Republic for the deplorable backlash they received in response for endorsing Clinton.

4) My daughter is generally loving kindergarten, but it is undoubtedly too focused on academics without enough time for fun.  Pretty jealous of they do it in Finland.

5) Josh Barro on why he left the Republican party (and I highly recommend following him on twitter).

6) Former grad school friend David Kimball on actually effective election reforms (as opposed to Voter ID).

7) Aziz Ansari with a great video on why you should vote (it’s short, just watch):

8) Jamelle Bouie on how this election could make the Latino vote as Democratic as the Black vote.

For Trump, Latino immigrants join Muslims and Syrian refugees as potential threats, fundamentally incompatible with American life. If they’re here, they have to be removed, and if they’re not here, they need to be kept out. In turn, for Latino Americans and their families, this makes Trump an existential threat to their lives and livelihoods. Only 21 percent of Latinos say the GOP cares about their community, and 70 percent say that Trump has made the Republican Party more hostile to them. In another survey, polling and research firm Latino Decisions asked Latino registered voters to gauge two statements: “Donald Trump’s campaign talk and policy views make me fear for the future of my family and our country” and “Donald Trump truly has the best interest of my family and our country in mind.” Eighty-two percent of respondents agreed with the first statement, that Trump makes them fear for their families and their country. Eighteen percent agreed with the latter…

In the wake of Obama’s election, the national Republican Party was already on this path. But Trump has been an accelerant, driving Latino Americans away from the GOP with xenophobia and unyielding hostility. And in fact, this has had an unintended side effect: Asian Americans are leaving the Republican Party, too, in record numbers, and for similar reasons. A GOP that nominates Trump—and embraces nativism—is one that lacks room for all immigrant and nonwhite groups.

9) Trump has called for term limits.  Fortunately, the terrible idea of term limits has really dropped off.  But not surprising for Trump to embrace a terrible idea.  Lee Drutman explains why term limits are a bad idea.

Term limits also strengthen the power of lobbyists and interest groups for the same reason. In term-limited states, lawmakers and their staff have less time to build up expertise, since they are there for a limited time. But like the executive agencies of the state government, lobbyists and interest groups are also there year after year. They are the true repeat players building long-term relationships and the true keepers of the institutional knowledge. This gives them power.

It’s a nice fantasy that what Washington needs is a bunch of good old-fashioned common sense — common sense that can only come from people who aren’t “career politicians.” But the machinery of government is now incredibly complex. And the more we cling to the fantasy of electing uncorrupted political neophytes as saviors, the more we empower the lobbyists and bureaucrats who can accumulate a lifetime of experience and knowledge.

10) Trump and the increasing generational split among Evangelicals.

11) Republican election lawyer on the impossibility of actually rigging American elections.

12) NYT Editorial on “shameful silence” of Republicans on Trump’s vote-rigging claims.

13) I like Harry Enten’s formulation for the analysis of the gender gap this year, “Men Are Treating 2016 As A ‘Normal’ Election; Women Aren’t.”

14) The sugar conspiracy (thanks, DJC)

15) I really like the idea behind this piece– how to make a psychological exit ramp for Trump supporters to leave his odious campaign behind.

16) John Oliver clearly speaking directly to the Millennials who might think it a good idea to vote for Johnson or Stein.


17) Want to know what’s up with Trump always saying “the Blacks” and “the Hispanics”?  Read this.

18) David French on what happens when a conservative prominently opposed Donald Trump.  It’s ugly.

19) James Fallows on the debates:

From the opening moments of the first debate, she sent out a a nonstop stream of provocations, subtle or obvious, all tailored to wounding Trump’s vanities. The topics ranged from his not really being rich, to being a man of the beauty-pageant world, to not paying taxes, to being a chronic liar, to generally being preposterous. Sooner or later in each debate, usually sooner, it worked! Trump simply could not resist the bait. He would go off on exactly the tirades the Clinton campaign was hoping to evoke from him. You saw it again last night: for the first 30 minutes or so, he was so stately as to seem semi-sedated. Then she began teasing him, and she got him to snap and interrupt.

So from an unprecedented and potentially unpredictable confrontation, we saw the behavior many people anticipated from each candidate. Very carefully prepped Belichick-type execution of a precise plan from one side. On the other side, wild slugging by someone who might as well have had a bucket over his head. [emphasis mine]

20) With all the recent talk of Al Gore (who acted entirely appropriately regarding conceding the election) here’s a look back on how we was so robbed (it’s all about the overvotes).

21) Really interesting piece from Daniel Engber on the role of frame rate in film.

22) In case you missed Colbert’s R-rated “Venn diagram.”

23) I must say, one of the more enjoyable features of twitter this election season is the fact that Bill Mitchell is a real person posting non-ironically.

24) Ezra on Hillary and the debates:

Two things have been true throughout the debates. One is that Trump has been, at every turn, underprepared, undisciplined, and operating completely without a strategy. In one of the third debate’s most unintentionally revealing moments, Trump said, “I sat in my apartment today … watching ad after false ad, all paid for by your friends on Wall Street,” an inadvertent admission that he was inhaling cable news when he should have been prepping for the debate.

But the other reality is that Clinton has been, at every turn, prepared, disciplined, and coldly strategic. She triggered Trump’s epic meltdown purposely, and kept Trump off balance over multiple weeks that probably represented his last chance to turn the election around. She was ready for every question, prepared for every attack, and managed to goad Trump into making mistakes that became the main story the day after every single debate.

It is easy, now, to assume her victory was assured, to read Trump’s collapse as inevitable. But remember that he triumphed over a talented, 17-person Republican field in debate after debate to win the primary — one-on-one contests are unique, it’s true, but there was no particular reason to think Trump couldn’t use his bullying, blustering showmanship to take over the stage and expose Clinton as inauthentic and out of touch. The reason he didn’t is because she never let him.

We aren’t used to this kind of victory. We aren’t used to candidates winning not so much because of how they performed but because of how they pushed their opponent into performing. But the fact that we aren’t used to this kind of victory doesn’t make it any less impressive. Hillary Clinton has humbled Donald Trump, and she did it her way.

25) Dark Mirror season 3 came out yesterday on Netflix.  So loved the first two seasons.  Especially, the Christmas episode with John Hamm.  Brilliant.


How polling firms are like mutual funds

Ever research a mutual fund to buy?  Just maybe, you’ve seen “past performance is not an indicator of future results.”  Yes, some mutual funds really are better than others, but there’s a hell of a lot of randomness going on in mutual fund performance.  I read John Bogle’s (guru of index fund investing) book on the matter way back in graduate school and he explains nicely how when you have literally thousands of funds, just by sheer statistical chance, a certain number of funds are going to beat the market for a 5 or 10 year run.  Now, maybe some of those funds have great stock pickers, but it is just as likely that they were basically on a lucky run.  Buy a fund because it’s got a good record over 5 years, it is far more likely to regress to the mean than to keep over-performing.

Why a long paragraph on mutual funds?  Because IBD/TIPP has just released a poll that has Trump up by 1 (here it is in the Pollster average).  And, apparently, they were among the most accurate pollsters in 2012.  Now, some pollsters really do use more careful and effective methods than others (i.e., cell phones and landlines with multiple callbacks, etc.), but even those using state of the art procedures are going to get some pretty different results.  And, statistically-speaking, that’s just going to happen.  More likely that IBD is just somehow better than Selzter and Monmouth (to name a couple of 538 A+ pollsters), or that they quasi-randomly had a final election sample that was right on the nose in 2012?  I think you know the answer.  Short version: never get too excited (or worried) over a single poll!  Shorter version: stick with the aggregate.  Oh, yeah, and index funds.

Photo of the day

Just discovered this photo from my 5th grade visit a few weeks ago:


I’m not the only one who’s been wondering just what the polls would like like right now if Rubio were the nominee.  I think he’s probably be ahead– not by a lot, but ahead.  Interesting post from Chait today, looking forward to 2020 and Rubio’s possible run:

The official reason [for national Democratic money pulling out of the Florida Senate race] for the choice is that Florida is an expensive state for advertisements, and Missouri and North Carolina offer pickup opportunities for much less investment. But this misses an important additional reason Florida matters: Rubio is the best hope for the future of the Republican Party’s donor class. Rubio is almost surely going to run for president in 2020, and he gives his party the cheapest possible concessions to the center — an appeal to moderates with affective moderation and well-honed performative qualities, rather than concessions on policy…[emphasis mine]

Yes, Rubio was steamrolled in the primaries. But not every candidate who loses is a bad politician. If Rubio holds his Senate seat by a few points or less, and then wins his party’s nomination in four years, Democrats will be kicking themselves they didn’t pull out every stop to end his political career, in the short term, when they had the chance.

There’s plenty of debate about just how good a politician Rubio is, but for my money, he’s a pretty good one.  I was quite impressed by the headline that Rubio says politicians should not using any information from the Wikileaks dumps:

Sen. Marco Rubio tells ABC News that Republicans are making a mistake by jumping on allegedly hacked emails released by WikiLeaks to criticize Hillary Clinton. In fact, he says he won’t talk about the hacked emails at all.

“As our intelligence agencies have said, these leaks are an effort by a foreign government to interfere with our electoral process, and I will not indulge it,” Rubio tells ABC News. “Further, I want to warn my fellow Republicans who may want to capitalize politically on these leaks: Today it is the Democrats. Tomorrow it could be us.”

Yeah, Marco!  How about that, winning over a liberal like me.  He’s good (and, right, of course, in this case).  But then I kept reading and we get the Obama-want-to-ruin-America-Rubio:

“WikiLeaks has provided things that are unbelievable,” he said at a rally in Colorado on Tuesday, accusing the media of ignoring the leaks. “The media, you have to remember, is an extension of the Hillary Clinton campaign. It’s an extension. And without that, she would be nowhere.”

Ugh.  Classic Rubio, nice, moderate appeal, but then dig deeper, and he’s pure right-wing talking points.  That’s why he scares me and I think Chait is right.

Debate #3

Look, to reiterate an earlier point, Donald Trump could have “won” this debate handily and nothing’s changing.  So long as Hillary Clinton did not commit any heinous errors on that debate stage, she’s going to win this election.  Suffice it to say, she did not.  That said, Trump definitely did.  Leaving aside for the moment Trump’s threat to “undermine a pillar of American democracy” as the AP lede put it, that’s also just horrible politics.  Trump’s only hope is a huge win (and even then, not much of one).  Yet, post-debate coverage is absolutely dominated (and quite rightly so) by this statement of his.  If not for that, there would like have been plenty on his refusal to disavow Putin and Russian hacking.  Or his stream-of-consciousness ignorance on Syria.  Or his muddled and tenuous grasp on abortion.  Okay, so onto some of my favorites…

1) CNN’s insta-fact check.  Pretty much Trump is full of lies and HRC is mostly truthful.  Shocking, I know.

2) As usual, Clinton won the “scientific” (insofar as they can be under the circumstances), post-debate polls.  Not that she needs it, but I’ve long believed these insta-polls drive the narrative more than they should.

3) Zack Beauchamp on Trump’s Syria stream of consciousness:

Here is Trump’s answer in its entirety. I have omitted nothing:

Well, Aleppo is a disaster. It’s a humanitarian nightmare. But it has fallen from any standpoint. I mean, what do you need, a signed document? Take a look at Aleppo. It is so sad when you see what’s happened. And a lot of this is because of Hillary Clinton. Because what has happened is by fighting Assad, who turned out to be a lot tougher than she thought, and now she is going to say, “Oh, he loves Assad.” He’s just much tougher and much smarter than her and Obama. And everyone thought he was gone two years ago, three years ago. He aligned with Russia. He now also aligned with Iran, who we made very powerful. We gave them $150 billion back. We give them $1.7 billion in cash. I mean cash, bundles of cash as big as this stage. We gave them $1.7 billion.

Now they have aligned, he has aligned with Russia and with Iran. They don’t want ISIS. But they have other things because we’re backing, we’re backing rebels. We don’t know who the rebels are. We’re giving them lots of money, lots of everything. We don’t know who the rebels are. And when and if, and it’s not going to happen because you have Russia and you have Iran now. But if they ever did overthrow Assad, you might end up as bad as Assad is, and he is a bad guy.

But you may very well end up with worse than Assad. If she did nothing, we’d be in much better shape. And this is what has caused the great migration where she has taken in tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who probably in many cases, not probably, who are definitely in many cases ISIS-aligned. And we now have them in our country and wait until you see this is going to be the great Trojan horse.

And wait until you see what happens in the coming years. Lots of luck, Hillary. Thanks a lot for doing a great job.

This answer contained a number of blatant falsehoods…

 But the most fundamental issue here isn’t specific statements. It’s that Trump’s answer to a deeply important policy questions is stream-of-consciousness blather, a nearly indecipherable string of nonsense that jumps from a brief discussion of Aleppo to Russia to ISIS to the refugee crisis. He never once says anything of substance about Aleppo, anything at all to indicate that he actually understands what’s happening in the city and has an iota of an idea of what to do about it.

When you read it, it becomes clear just how ignorant about policy Donald Trump is. [emphasis mine]

4) Kevin Baker on puppetry:

But Hillary Clinton obviously had a plan and used it to goad Trump on the undocumented aliens he used “to build Trump Tower” and then to shackle him to the Russian computer hacks by calling him Putin’s “puppet.” It was an amazing, almost unprecedented moment in American history, to have one candidate openly accuse the other of being the stooge of a foreign potentate — and with the accused having no real rebuttal beyond, “I don’t know him.”

5) Trump: “No, you’re the puppet!”

6) Krugman on the false premise of Wallace’s  and stimulus questions:

Over all, Chris Wallace was better than I expected. But he was pretty bad on fiscal issues.

First of all, still obsessing over the debt? Still taking leads from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget? Federal debt simply isn’t a pressing issue; there is no possible reason to make a big deal about it while neglecting climate change, where every year that action is delayed makes the problem harder to solve.

Then there was the discussion of economic policy. It was really bad – and inappropriate – when Wallace talked about the Obama stimulus, and simply asserted that it “led” to slow growth. That was editorializing, and bad economics.

The past eight years have actually been a huge experiment in macroeconomics. Saying that the Obama stimulus was followed by slow growth is a terrible argument: When you spend money to fight a terrible slump, weren’t any disappointments in performance arguably caused by whatever caused the slump, not by the rescue operation? But we have a lot of other evidence, all of which says that spending money in a slump helps the economy, and that the Obama stimulus was therefore the right thing to do.

Some of that evidence comes from the details of the stimulus itself, which had different effects in different regions – and that tells you a lot about how it worked, and the answer is that it was positive. Even more compelling is the anti-stimulus that came from austerity policies in Europe: Countries that slashed spending and raised taxes had much deeper slumps than those that didn’t.

Basically, events have strongly confirmed the Keynesian thinking that lay behind the Obama stimulus. The impression that it failed comes mainly from the fact that it wasn’t big enough to produce a rapid turnaround – and no, that’s not after-the-fact rationalization. I and others were practically screaming at the time that it wasn’t sufficiently large.

7) Anna North on Trump and abortion:

Donald Trump is generally only too willing to opine on topics about which he knows nothing. But there’s one topic on which he is uncharacteristically muckle-mouthed: abortion.

When Chris Wallace asked if he wanted the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, he said, “If that would happen because I am pro-life, and I will be appointing pro-life judges, I would think that that will go back to the individual states.”

This made little sense, so Mr. Wallace asked again. This time, Mr. Trump said, “If we put another two or perhaps three justices on that’s really what’s going to be — that will happen. It’ll happen automatically in my opinion because I am putting pro-life justices on the court.”

This is hardly an answer, and it’s an odd evasion of responsibility. Usually Mr. Trump likes to take credit for making things happen — why would he want to pretend Roe v. Wade could be overturned “automatically”?

Mr. Trump’s uncharacteristic equivocation on abortion may be emblematic of something else: For his base, reproductive rights aren’t a core issue. He knows he can stir people up with talk of the wall, trade and locking up Hillary Clinton. But banning abortion has never been a big applause line for him, so he’s never had to develop a position on it. Amid all the horrors of this election season, the fact that the candidate hasn’t figured out a way to use the abortion issue to stir up hate is, I suppose, a small blessing.

8) Seth Masket:

It’s pretty much a cliché at this point, but Clinton’s style is clearly to prepare and Trump’s is clearly to go with his gut. She was able to convert every comment he made into an attack on an area of weakness for him. I don’t know that Trump would be doing better in this election if he’d prepped more for the debates or if he was even prep-able. But like many other aspects of this campaign — including ground game, fundraising and advertising — Clinton took it seriously and Trump didn’t.

9) Personally, I loved her obviously prepared “you say it’s rigged” riff.  That was really good.

10) Does Trump actually understand how our government works?  I really don’t know.  Mark Schmitt:

Donald Trump “denigrates democracy,” as Hillary Clinton said, when he suggests that the election is rigged, or will be rigged, or that his opponent “shouldn’t have been allowed to run.” But he also shows a bizarre disregard for the idea that democracy is a collaborative enterprise, that it’s not a system in which a single individual exercises total power. That’s evident in his repeated claims that Clinton, as a senator, could have “changed the law” on, for example, the tax breaks he’s taken. It’s evident on his own side as well, with the idea that he can build a wall or single-handedly impose tariffs or taxes on companies that move jobs abroad.

Trump doesn’t understand the basics about how American government works, but beyond all the technicalities, he also shows a staggering lack of regard — or even acknowledgment of — democracy as a joint enterprise rather than a sole proprietorship.

11) Love this response via tweet from a friend:

12) Alas, nobody even cares about Trump’s absurd economic plan:

Economic projections and economic history do not support Donald Trump’s assertion that big tax cuts at the center of his economic plan – his proposed tax cut would be the biggest ever – would promote growth for the middle class. High-end tax cuts during the George W. Bush administration, for example, only led to inequality and lopsided growth.

The economy under Mrs. Clinton’s plan would be flat at first and stronger later. Under Mr. Trump’s plan, the economy would get a boost at first from the cash unleashed by the tax cuts, but become much weaker later, as the huge deficits from the tax cuts reduced the plan’s initial positive effect on economic output.

13) Forgot Chait, so just had to add it in here:

Whatever reason Trump has, his stance is fitting. Putin is waging a global campaign to discredit the very idea of democracy. Trump has joined his cause. The debate culminated in Trump refusing to pledge that he would accept the outcome of the election – a statement of disloyalty to the American system of government without precedent since 1860, when Southern Democrats vowed to leave the union if the Republican party prevailed.

Clinton framed his answer as a pattern of habitual sore loserdom, which he displayed in calling several Republican primaries rigged, and making the same complaint about losing a television award. (She did not mention that he did this on election night 2012, too.) Perhaps she put it this way because undecided voters can relate to the familiar archetype of a bully who happens to be a sore loser. The truth is much darker and more dangerous. Trump is a domestic insurrectionist against the stability of American government.

14) My son David enjoyed the 2nd debate so much (I let him stay up because he didn’t have school the next day) that he even chose to be tired for school tomorrow and watch all of this one.  Warms the heart of a political-scientist dad.

15) Thanks for caring what I think about all of this.  Really.

16) Okay, that’s enough for one night.  Time to read Underground Airlines for a few minutes and go to bed.

If Hillary loses this debate I’m voting for Trump

Said no Hillary supporter today.  Yes, this will surely be a fun spectacle tonight.  And I’ll surely have all sorts of insightful, cogent, and life-changing observations tomorrow afternoon when I give an on-campus talk about it, but the polls being what the are, its really hard to see how this debate makes a difference.  What can Trump possibly say or do at this point to win over people convinced he’s a misogynistic buffoon?  And what mistake would ever-cautious Hillary Clinton make that would blow it for her?  So, yeah, I’m about to watch, I’ll surely have more thoughts later, but lets not pretend the stakes are what they were on the eve of the first debate.

Suprising chart of the day

Now, this is from only NBC/Survey Monkey and I’d like to see what others say, but this is a solid tracking poll run by smart people.  Amazing to see how committed Republicans have remained to Trump.  I would never have guessed recent changes in the polls were from strengthening among Democrats rather than more Republicans finally abandoning the walking horror-show that is Trump.  That PID is strong stuff.  More interesting thoughts and charts at the link.



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