Quick hits (part II)

1) This whole Donald Trump book report thing is what the internet was made for.  So good.

2) Really good Zack Beauchamp piece on how Russia has been able to so successfully manipulate our media through Wikileaks:

When you hand over stolen information that’s damaging to Hillary Clinton to a radical transparency group that detests Hillary Clinton (because of her relatively hawkish foreign policy), the result is eminently predictable: That information will be published online for the entire world to see.

At that point, journalists really don’t have any option but to cover the disclosures.

Journalists can’t just ignore information that’s in the public interest because the source might be shady. If it’s important, true, and valuable for the public to know, then journalists really should be covering it. That’s why the New York Times, which resisted publishing information from hacked Sony emails in 2014, ended up covering them once they were made public.

“Is it possible to dismiss the fact that these emails have such tremendous news value? Absolutely not,” Lonnie Isabel, a senior lecturer at Columbia University’s School of Journalism, says of the recent Clinton disclosure. “A lot of the decisions that are made for us in the digital age are made simply by disclosure.”

3) How John Podesta (and Colin Powell were hacked).  Never, never, never click a link in an email unless you are 100% sure it is legit.

4) That was really, really dumb (on many levels) for Hillary Clinton to promise not to add a dime to the debt.

5) Dahlia Lithwick on McCain and the Supreme Court:

It seems to me that what’s causing all the melting messages here is the unforeseen consequence of a decades-long campaign by the GOP to make the composition of the court the only important issue for voters. Whether it was a way to rally opposition to Roe v. Wade, or a means of mobilizing gun rights voters, it’s useful to push the idea that the only thing that matters in a presidential contest is the court. The problem with that argument is that in its purest form it leads precisely to where we are today: Trump’s repeated claims that no matter how odious he may be as a candidate, you’ll vote for him anyhow because otherwise Hillary judges will destroy America.

For some people, that’s a convincing enough argument. Unfortunately for Trump, though, it’s been roundly rejected by anyone who believes that the rule of law is more important than the composition of the court. On the same day Grassley and McCain were ripping the mask off Garland obstruction as blood sport, a list of the most respected constitutional originalist scholars published a devastating attack on Donald Trump, regardless of whom he may name to the court.

6) Evan Osnos on what a Trump loss does to the Republican Party.

7) Frustrating political battle with the Carbon Tax in Washington State.

8) The actual reality of late-term abortion.  Shockingly, it’s not at all what Donald Trump describes.

9) How Republicans have made very fertile ground for Trump’s claim of election “rigging.”

Over the past few years, Republicans in many states took an opportunity — enabled by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling — to pass a series of new restrictions on voting. Critics said the restrictions disproportionately hurt minority voters. But Republican backers, at least in public, have pointed to a single issue to defend the measures: voter fraud.

A previous report by the US Department of Justice captured the sentiment among many Republicans: Rep. Sue Burmeister, a lead sponsor of Georgia’s voter restriction law, told the Justice Department that “if there are fewer black voters because of this bill, it will only be because there is less opportunity for fraud. [Burmeister] said that when black voters in her black precincts are not paid to vote, they do not go to the polls.” Other Republicans, such as North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and Iowa Rep. Steve King, have similarly warned about the dangers of voter fraud.

Trump isn’t even the first Republican presidential candidate to raise concerns about voter fraud. Back in 2008, many Republicans, with the support of conservative media outlets like Fox News, pushed concerns that ACORN — a community organization that focused in part on registering African-American voters — was engaging in mass-scale election fraud. At the time, Republican nominee John McCain warned that ACORN “is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”

10) And, speaking of which, voter fraud reality– with skittles!

11) Chait on the 2000 Florida recount and Trump.

12) County-by-county maps of 2012 and what they can tell us about 2016.

13) Yglesias on the “silent majority” for Hillary Clinton.

14) It’s more than fine to be an “anti-helicopter” parent.  But that doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk about it.

15) Maria Konnikova on how practice doesn’t make perfect.  Honestly, I find it amazing that there are still serious people out there arguing that genetics doesn’t matter in these things.  Time to plug The Sports Gene again.

16) NYT on how the Trump and Clinton Foundations are different (mostly, the Clinton Foundation money mostly goes to helping needy people).

17) Really enjoyed Ron Brownstein on the changing electoral college map:

That new geographic pattern is rooted in the race’s defining demographic trends. In the six major national polls released just before last week’s first presidential debate, Trump led among white voters without a college education by resounding margins of 20 to 32 percentage points. But he confronted deficits of 40-50 points among non-white voters, and was facing more resistance than any previous Republican nominee in the history of modern polling among college-educated whites: five of the six surveys showed him trailing among them by margins of two-to-eleven percentage points (while he managed only to run even in the sixth.) The race is on track to produce the widest gap ever between the preferences of college-and non-college whites, while Trump may reach record lows among voters of color…

While the Sunbelt states are growing steadily more diverse, the Rustbelt states are remaining predominantly white, and aging at that: as I wrote earlier this year, the non-partisan States of Change project has projected that from 2008 to 2016 the minority share of eligible voters will rise by more in each of the Sunbelt swing states than in any of the Rustbelt battlegrounds. And data from both the Census Bureau and the exit polls show that whites without a college-education represent a larger share of the vote in almost all of the Rustbelt states than any of the Sunbelt states. Indeed, one key reason Pennsylvania is stronger for Clinton than Ohio is that college-educated whites represent a larger share of the vote there, especially in the exit poll data.

18) And, speaking of demographic trends, not at all surprising that Asian-Americans of all kinds are pretty united against Trump (as the Republican Party is ever more the White People’s Party).


19) I have little doubt that blinding prosecutors to the race of the person charged would lead to more fair outcomes.

20) Great Krugman column on Hillary Clinton:

When political commentators praise political talent, what they seem to have in mind is the ability of a candidate to match one of a very limited set of archetypes: the heroic leader, the back-slapping regular guy you’d like to have a beer with, the soaring orator. Mrs. Clinton is none of these things: too wonky, not to mention too female, to be a regular guy, a fairly mediocre speechifier; her prepared zingers tend to fall flat.

Yet the person tens of millions of viewers saw in this fall’s debates was hugely impressive all the same: self-possessed, almost preternaturally calm under pressure, deeply prepared, clearly in command of policy issues. And she was also working to a strategic plan: Each debate victory looked much bigger after a couple of days, once the implications had time to sink in, than it may have seemed on the night.

Oh, and the strengths she showed in the debates are also strengths that would serve her well as president. Just thought I should mention that. And maybe ordinary citizens noticed the same thing; maybe obvious competence and poise in stressful situations can add up to a kind of star quality, even if it doesn’t fit conventional notions of charisma.

Furthermore, there’s one thing Mrs. Clinton brought to this campaign that no establishment Republican could have matched: She truly cares about her signature issues, and believes in the solutions she’s pushing.

I know, we’re supposed to see her as coldly ambitious and calculating, and on some issues — like macroeconomics — she does sound a bit bloodless, even when she clearly understands the subject and is talking good sense. But when she’s talking about women’s rights, or racial injustice, or support for families, her commitment, even passion, are obvious. She’s genuine, in a way nobody in the other party can be.

So let’s dispel with this fiction that Hillary Clinton is only where she is through a random stroke of good luck. She’s a formidable figure, and has been all along.

21) And last, read this terrific Alec MacGillis piece on how people are increasingly sorting themselves out geographically and politically.  It makes it really hard for Democrats:

More recently, a confluence of several trends has conspired to make the sorting disadvantageous for Democrats on an even broader scale — increasing the party’s difficulties in House races while also affecting Senate elections and, potentially, future races for the presidency.

First, geographic mobility in the United States has become very class-dependent. Once upon a time, lower-income people were willing to pull up stakes and move to places with greater opportunity — think of the people who fled the Dust Bowl for California in the 1930s, or those who took the “Hillbilly Highway” out of Appalachia to work in Midwestern factories, or Southern blacks on the Great Migration. In recent decades, though, internal migration has slowed sharply, and the people who are most likely to move for better opportunities are the highly educated.

Second, higher levels of education are increasingly correlated with voting Democratic. This has been most starkly on display in the 2016 election, as polls suggest that Donald J. Trump may be the first Republican in 60 years to not win a majority of white voters with college degrees, even as he holds his own among white voters without degrees. But the trend of increasing Democratic identification among college graduates, and increasing Republican identification among non-graduates, was underway before Mr. Trump arrived on the scene. Today, Democrats hold a 12-point edge in party identification among those with a college degree or more. In 2004, the parties were even on that score.

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.



The Republican base as Frankenstein’s monster

Not only does John Scalzi write first-rate science fiction, he can sure bring the politics on his blog.  This post about how Trump is the natural consequence of the Republican Party’s actions in the past decade is so good.  Read all of it.  If you don’t, here’s a lot:

But note well: Donald Trump is not a black swan, an unforeseen event erupting upon an unsuspecting Republican Party. He is the end result of conscious and deliberate choices by the GOP, going back decades, to demonize its opponents, to polarize and obstruct, to pursue policies that enfeeble the political weal and to yoke the bigot and the ignorant to their wagon and to drive them by dangling carrots that they only ever intended to feed to the rich.[italics are Scalzi; bold is mine] Trump’s road to the candidacy was laid down and paved by the Southern Strategy, by Lee Atwater and Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove, by Fox News and the Tea Party, and by the smirking cynicism of three generations of GOP operatives, who have been fracking the white middle and working classes for years, crushing their fortunes with their social and economic policies, never imagining it would cause an earthquake.

Well, surprise! Here’s Donald Trump. He is the actual and physical embodiment of every single thing the GOP has trained its base to want and to be over the last forty years — ignorant, bigoted and money-grubbing, disdainful of facts and frightened of everything because of it, an angry drunk buzzed off of wood-grain patriotism, threatening brown people and leering at women. He was planned. He was intended. He was expected. He was wanted.

But not, I think, in the exact form of Donald Trump. The GOP were busily genetically engineering the perfect host for their message, someone smooth and telegenic and possibly just ethnic enough to make people hesitant to point out the latent but real racism inherent in its social policies, while making the GOP’s white base feel like they were making a progressive choice, and with that person installed, further pursuing its agenda of slouching toward oligarchy, with just enough anti-abortion and pro-gun glitter tossed into the sky to distract the religious and the paranoid. Someone the GOP made. Someone they could control.

But they don’t control Trump, which they are currently learning to their great misery. And the reason the GOP doesn’t control Trump is that they no longer control their base. The GOP trained their base election cycle after election cycle to be disdainful of government and to mistrust authority, which ultimately is an odd thing for a political party whose very rationale for existence is rooted in the concept of governmental authority to do. The GOP created a monster, but the monster isn’t Trump. The monster is the GOP’s base. Trump is the guy who stole their monster from them, for his own purposes…

I feel sorry for many of my individual friends who are Republicans and/or conservatives, who have to deal with the damage Trump is doing to their party and to their movement, even if I belong to neither. But I don’t feel sorry for the GOP at all. It deserves Trump. It fostered an environment of ignorance and fear and bigotry, assumed it could control the mob those elements created, and was utterly stunned when a huckster from outside claimed the mob as his own and forced the party along for the ride. It was hubris, plain and simple, and Trump is the GOP’s vulgar, orange nemesis.

Um, yeah, that.  Good stuff.

Photo of the day

So Kal Penn and John Cho were at NC State today campaigning for Hillary Clinton.  And the local news station wanted to interview a professor about the Millennial vote just before interviewing these two, so…



Even Trump’s best polls are bad for Trump

Poor Donald Trump.  It’s gotten to the point where he’s tweeting about polls where he down “only” 4 points.  And, of course, that’s easily his best national poll.

So, the Post took a deeper dive into this poll and found that even in this, the least unfavorable recent poll for Trump, things do not look good at all:

With the help of our in-house pollster Scott Clement, I studied the 14 percent of registered voters who support neither Clinton nor Trump in the four-way poll test. [emphases in original] This includes the 6 percent for Gary Johnson and the 3 percent for Jill Stein but also the 3 percent who volunteered to our callers that they are supporting none of the four and the 2 percent who said they have not decided yet.

Among this sub-group, 71 percent are “strongly unfavorable” to Trump versus 46 percent who say the same of Clinton. He comes fairly close to her on honesty (83 percent say Trump is not honest and trustworthy, compared to 78 percent who say the same for Clinton) and on who is best for the economy (35 percent say Trump and 32 percent say Clinton). But there is a big chasm on two questions that tend to be better predictors of vote choice: 77 percent say Trump is not qualified to be president, compared to 44 percent who say Clinton is not. And 86 percent say Trump lacks the temperament to be president, compared to 42 percent who say the same of Clinton…

This 14 percent is crucial because nearly everyone else can no longer be persuaded: 88 percent of Trump supporters and 89 percent of Clinton backers said they will “definitely” support their current preference. More than 1.4 million ballots have already been cast, and a superior Democratic ground game is locking in her advantage.

And again, the polling average is more like 7 points behind for Trump.  It really is a question now of just how much he loses by.  As for Wikileaks, if they actually had anything decent, they surely would have used it by now.  I’m sure we’ll be getting plenty more weak tea from them before the election.

Trump’s declining favorables

Via Charles Franklin:

Note, that in this election where all we hear about is how unpopular and hated the candidates are, Hillary Clinton is +55 among Democrats and Trump is still +29 among Republicans.

Also, it’s amazing to see the long arc of this and how many Republicans basically got on board once it was clear that Trump was the nominee.  Partisanship is strong.

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