Draw your own conclusions

Or read more from Waldman.


The most under-reported story of this election? Republican disunity

Good take from Jon Bernstein:

No one can accuse the press of failing to expose Donald Trump’s weaknesses in the 2016 campaign. The sexual-assault accusations, the lewd and cruel comments, the bullying, the bigotry, the tax dodges, the Trump University shenanigans, the failure to pay contractors, the bankruptcies, the ignorance of government and issues, the kowtowing to Vladimir Putin, the serial falsehoods — all those things and more have been reported on, extensively.

The question is why the sum of all these parts has seemed to fail to make a cumulative impact on many voters. Maybe it was because he hasn’t been judged by the standards for normal presidential candidates, since he is so far from being a normal presidential candidate.

But among all the explanations, could it be that something was lost in the waves of evidence on how unfit he is to be president of the United States? Maybe those stories kept swamping one central story: The sheer depth and extent of the opposition to him in the Republican Party.

This opposition begins at the top with two former Republican presidents and the most recent Republican presidential nominee — George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Mitt Romney. Then there are the dozens of Republican former office-holders and officials who are supporting Hillary Clinton. Another set of dissidents includes several sitting senators and governors who won’t back Clinton, but won’t vote for Trump either. Here are three examples among many. Ohio Governor John Kasich wrote in John McCain’s name on his early ballot. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said he will write in another Republican’s name. And in Arizona, Senator Jeff Flake said he may write in Evan McMullin, the independent candidate who isn’t on the ballot there.

Republican disunity is present at every level of the party. A perfect example is in Idaho, where a newspaper surveyed state legislative candidates. Only 15 of the 45 Republicans asked said they would vote for Trump, and not a single one gave a strong positive answer.

That’s typical of the nationwide picture. Political scientist Boris Shor reports that only 5 percent — 5 percent! — of Republican state legislators have endorsed Trump, while Hillary Clinton is backed by 73 percent of Democratic state legislators across the country…

Cable news networks, in particular, have minimized the extent of the elite Republican split. [emphases mine] CNN, for example, hired several Trump surrogates, rather than depending on its usual cadre of Republican pundits, many of whom are skeptical of Trump or are opposed to him. Even as these networks revel in the unique spectacle that is Trump, they maintain an illusion by sticking to their regular format, which presents the race through the standard Democrats-vs.-Republicans lens. What they in fact showed was a Democrats-vs.-Trump story that left out the considerable conflict within the Republican Party.

At most, the Republican defections have been reported episodically, and indeed they are less likely to grab the interest of most voters than the more salacious or shocking items about the candidate.

This imbalance has meant that the signal sent by the GOP opposition has been muffled, not amplified. Even if Republican politicians and other party actors are practically doing back flips to tell voters not to support so seriously flawed a candidate, these actors are marginalized and rarely appear on center stage.

Tea Party economics in action

It’s called Kansas.  This is what the Republican Party economic plan looks like when given free reign.  The nice map version:

And from Michael Hiltzik’s column:

We’ve been chronicling the tea party ruination of Brownback’s Kansas for more than two years, since soon after he enacted a slew of dramatic tax cuts in the conviction that they would unleash stupendous economic growth…

Kansas ranked rock-bottom in the three-month change in these metrics from July through September, with a decline of 1.18%. Indeed, it was one of only eight states that showed any decline. The U.S. average gained 0.64%. Most of the other states with negative changes were oil-and-gas producers. Kansas is too, but that industry has been a tiny factor in its economy for years.

How bad is the situation in Kansas? So bad that in August 2015, the Brownback administration stopped publishing a semi-annual report of the state’s economy online; henceforth, members of the public have to make a special request for the document…

The Kansas experience is important because the notion that dramatic tax cuts pay for themselves by spurring economic growth still unaccountably has an allure for conservative policymakers, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. [emphasis mine] Brownback, who took office in 2010, promised that “our new pro-growth tax policy will be like a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy.” He was seconded by his tax advisor, the notorious Arthur Laffer, who forecast “enormous prosperity” for the state

Who’s to blame for this? The state’s voters are. While they already were feeling the pain, they reelected Brownback to a second term in 2014, at which point things got worse. Why? Maybe the electorate revels in the state’s role as a “laboratory for supply side nostrums,” as economist Menzie Chinn of the University of Wisconsin called it recently. Some of those who voted for Brownback deserve what they’re getting. But they’re imposing the disaster on a lot of innocent people.

Just more evidence that the Republican utopia of low taxes and low regulation is not exactly a utopia.

Hillary is guilty!

This Yglesias post was terrific:

The latest Hillary Clinton email revelations arose out of an unrelated investigation into Anthony Weiner’s sexting.

The best way to understand this odd hopscotch is through the Prime Directive of Clinton investigations: We know the Clintons are guilty; the only question is what are they guilty of and when will we find the evidence?

So somehow an investigation that once upon a time was about a terrorist attack on an American consulate becomes an inquiry into Freedom of Information Act compliance, which shifts into a question about handling of classified material. A probe of sexting by the husband of a woman who works for Clinton morphs into a quest for new emails, and if the emails turn out not to be new at all (which seems likely), it will morph into some new questions about Huma Abedin’s choice of which computers to use to check her email.

Clinton has been very thoroughly investigated, and none of the earlier investigations came up with any crimes. So now the Prime Directive compels her adversaries to look under a new rock and likewise compels cable television and many major newspapers to treat the barest hint of the possibility of new evidence that might be damning as a major development.

It’s the same drive that led to Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial on the grounds that he had perjured himself to try to cover up an affair that was uncovered in an investigation that was originally supposed to be looking into a years-old Arkansas land deal on which the Clintons had lost money. The Whitewater investigation did not reveal any crimes. So rather than wrap things up and consider the Clintons exonerated, the investigators went looking under other rocks and came up with Monica Lewinsky…
There are several rules that govern media coverage of the Clintons, but this year the Prime Directive has dominated them all. Network news has devoted more minutes of coverage to Clinton’s emails than to all policy issues combined, even as email investigations have not uncovered any wrongdoing. It’s inexplicable news judgment, unless you simply assume there’s a crime out there… [emphasis mine]
But what if all previous investigations have shown no wrongdoing because there was no wrongdoing? And what if the client-side copies of emails on Weiner’s computer are just client-side copies of emails, just like the emails in the inbox of everyone else who downloads email to a computer? What if Benghazi was just a tragedy and an example of how bad things happen in war zones? What if Whitewater was just a land deal on which some people lost money because real estate speculation is risky? What if Clinton has been getting away with it for all these years because she hasn’t done anything wrong?
Now, the Clintons are now saints, but they are pretty ordinary politicians.  Give the FBI subpoena power to pour over every aspect of your life for decades and they just might come up with some stuff, too.  I
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