The latest email impact

Forgot to mention earlier tonight, that I’ve seen plenty of liberals worried on twitter that today’s news is actually worse than no news, because all it means it headlines that have the words “Clinton” and “emails” in them, which can’t be good for her.  That said, I don’t think remaining low-information voters are quite that low information, and should at least clearly pick up the signal that whatever the FBI said last week, HRC has been cleared of any wrongdoing or malfeasance with the latest emails.  For those thinking, “hmmm, Crooked Hillary”? just maybe they’ll think, “oh, wait, maybe not?”  Again, 95%+ of voters already have their mind made up on the candidates and the emails.  But for anybody still wavering, I do believe that the message of “Hillary cleared” is probably more helpful at the margins than no further message at all.

Photo of the day

Donald Trump’s America.  Ugh.  Via Reuters and this tweet.


As was completely obvious to anyone familiar with 1) the actual facts of Hillary Clinton’s email “scandal,” 2) how email actually works, and 3) the laws involved, the emails on Weiner’s laptop turned up nothing.

This Yglesias tweet captures it well:

And, this is a good excuse to post Yglesias‘ email story from a few days ago (already on my to-do list) which is, honestly, the best explainer of the whole email situation that I’ve read.  A few key bits:

In total, network newscasts have, remarkably, dedicated more airtime to coverage of Clinton’s emails than to all policy issues combined.

This is unfortunate because emailgate, like so many Clinton pseudo-scandals before it, is bullshit. The real scandal here is the way a story that was at best of modest significance came to dominate the US presidential election — overwhelming stories of much more importance, giving the American people a completely skewed impression of one of the two nominees, and creating space for the FBI to intervene in the election in favor of its apparently preferred candidate in a dangerous way…
And, indeed, it turns out Colin Powell also used a private email address for routine work. Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright didn’t use email, and back before Albright only weird nerds even knew what email was. So at the time Clinton took office, only one previous secretary of state had ever faced the question of what email account to use, and he reached the exact same conclusion Clinton did — just use your personal email address…
There are two possible interpretations here. One is that Clinton hatched the private email account plan as an elaborate dodge of federal record-keeping laws, but then months before the public became aware of the server’s existence complied with requests to turn them over. The other is that the federal records rule on the book was antiquated and a bit absurd, requiring officials to turn over paper copies of emails for no good reason, and simply got ignored out of sloppiness….

Suspicion at this point is then supposed to focus on the fact that she had her lawyers delete more than 30,000 emails from her server.

After Hillary left office, the State Department told her she had to turn all her work-related emails over to them, so she tasked a legal team with determining which emails were work emails and which were not. She turned the work emails over because that’s what she was legally required to do. She deleted the others, presumably because she did not want Trey Gowdy and Jason Chaffetz to rummage through her inbox leaking whatever they happened to find amusing to area journalists.

Now, is it possible that Clinton’s legal team simply decided to entirely disregard the law and delete work-related emails?

In some sense, sure. But there’s no evidence that this happened. Generally speaking, in life we assume it would be moderately difficult to hire a well-known law firm to destroy evidence for you without someone deciding to do the right thing and squeal.

Besides which, it would be almost comically easy to catch Clinton in the act of systematically destroying relevant emails. The vast majority of the work-related email correspondence of an incumbent secretary of state, after all, is going to be correspondence with other government employees…

As FBI Director James Comey concluded, “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring a case against Clinton over this matter. Almost all of the relevant statutes require an intent to mishandle classified information in order to bring a prosecution, a standard that Clinton’s conduct clearly does not meet. Critics have thus chosen to focus on 18 USC § 793, a statute that sets a lower “gross negligence” standard.

However, as Jack Goldsmith, one of the top lawyers in George W. Bush’s administration explains, such a prosecution “would be entirely novel, and would turn in part on very tricky questions about how email exchanges fit into language written with physical removal of classified information in mind.”

Well, then, a whole lot of sound and fury…

And, finally, I really liked this series of Jon Bernstein tweets (click on the first to read them all) that point out, with all these emails uncovered, HRC and her organization actually look remarkably good:



A tale of two polls

Final ABC/Washington Post poll out today has HRC up 5.  Seems about right to me.  Of course, only one poll, but, sometimes that one poll makes sense and sometimes it doesn’t.  For example, check out the vote by race/ethnicity:


Based on what we know about Hispanic voters and Donald Trump, that seems eminently reasonable.  Maybe 18% is a little low for Trump, but I doubt by much.  In contrast, the infamous LA Times poll shows why it’s infamous.  Here’s their latest estimate for the Hispanic vote.


HRC +=3.4%.  That’s just laughable.  They really need to rethink how they are doing their poll.

Or, how about age groups.  Young people have been a very Democratic group.  ABC’s latest:


13 point gap among 18-39.  Seems about right.  LA Times gives Trump +2.4 among 18-34.  Again, seriously??!


So, one answer is just average the polls, right?  But I would argue that averaging in the LA Times poll is ultimately averaging in garbage with other polls that are actually telling us something.

On a side note, Pollyvote argues that the “who do you think will win” question is actually a very valuable and under-used measure.  Here, HRC is killing it in the LA times poll.

Quick hits (part II)


1) Sarah Kliff with a nice summary of how more women in government makes government better (onto the Gender  & Politics syllabus for next time).

2) How about that, Art Pope and Pat McCrory get a pretty good Funny or Die treatment.

3) Chait on the Republic at the brink:

However low my opinion of the Republican Party, it was not low enough. Mostly they have shuffled along or beavered away on Trump’s behalf as though everything is normal. The political apparatus of the Republican Party will not stop him. The response has been chilling in its ordinariness. Trump is an authoritarian but not a fascist, and a racist but not a genocidal one. With that important caveat, read this passage (from a Politico report on the Trump transition team) without thinking of Hannah Arendt and the banality of evil:

Several said they set aside initial alarm over the 2005 video released in early October that featured Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women, as well as the subsequent accusations of sexual assault from a number of women.

The initial shock led some team members to contemplate quitting, but sources said there have been no defections. Several transition staffers said that although they have privately held reservations about their nominee, they felt a duty to help prepare for the possibility that he could be elected.

“We may not like what he said — we may think it was childish or juvenile,” one transition official said. “But then we say, ‘Look, you know, he’s kind of our boss.’ In this town, if you were to bail on every politician who had a scandal, you would not have a long-term relationship with very many people.”

“People have mostly kept their heads down and continued working,” another transition official added…

His capacity to suppress his own moral qualms is chilling. Pence is perfectly representative of the conservative movement and the normal, non-Trump Republican Party, which is why Trump selected him over his personal preference for the more instinctively slavish footman Chris Christie. And Pence’s response to the revelatory Billy Bush audio is a synecdoche for the behavioral response that has allowed Trump to mostly consolidate his party and come within missed-short-field-goal odds of becoming president.

This is not a joke. This is one of the moments in history when the republic is at the brink.

4) Headline, “For Melinda Gates, Birth Control Is Women’s Way Out of Poverty.”  I would argue it should be more like, “for people who understand root causes of poverty, Birth Control…”

5) Interesting explanation of how the exit polls are actually conducted.

6) The case that all the talk of declining Black turnout is alarmist.

First, setting the bar for black turnout at Obama levels was always unrealistic for Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama is a once-in-a-generation political leader. He brought out millions of previously disengaged and uninterested voters in addition to inspiring historic African-American turnout. Nobody, outside of a magical Michelle Obama-Cory Booker ticket, could reach that level of excitement and turnout. 

Despite Obama being a tough act to follow, historically, the black vote is on Hillary Clinton’s side. African-American turnout in presidential election years has gone up every cycle since 1984. In fact, the largest single year increase in African-American voter turnout in the last 20 years wasn’t for Barack Obama in 2008. Black turnout increased a full 8.5 percentage points (from 52.9 percent to 61.4 percent) from the 2000 to the 2004 presidential election, and just continued to rise with a certain former senator from Illinois (69.1 percent in 2008, with a slight dip to 67.4 percent in 2012).

This isn’t to suggest that President Barack Obama didn’t galvanize black voters in a unique way, but history suggests that even with Obama not on the ballot, and in the face of horrendous voter suppression, black turnout may drop slightly, but not catastrophically, for Hillary Clinton. If Hillary Clinton’s African-American turnout numbers settle somewhere between peak Obama (69.1 percent) and John Kerry (61.4 percent) then she will likely win the White House.

7) Adam Gopnik’s anti-Trump takes are as good as anybody’s.

Donald Trump is not normal in any of these ways, and yet we continue to treat him as though he were. Those of us who warned last spring that he was being underestimated and “normalized” by a sinister process of gradual acceptance of the unacceptable turned out, tragically, to be right. Trump is not normal. Nothing about him is. One need only look at his rallies, track the rhetoric they offer and the vengeful orgy of hatred and misogyny and racism they induce, to see just how different he is. His followers are not, shall we say, there to root on their favored libertarian in his pursuit of free-market solutions to vexing social problems; they are there to scream insults and cry havoc on their (mostly imaginary) enemies, to revel in the riot of misogyny and racism that Trump has finally given them license to retrieve from the darkest chapters of our past. (“Not politically correct” means openly brutal to minorities and women.) A ten-year-old screams, “Take that bitch down!” to laughter. One need only track the past month’s series of outrages, each quickly receding into the distance, to recall that he has done not one but almost innumerable things that in any previous election would have been, quaint word, “disqualifying.” His Twitter assault on the former Miss Universe was followed by his confession and boasts of being a sexual predator, which were followed by the confirmation of numerable women that, yes, indeed, he is a sexual predator—met only by his snarling denials, none of them the least bit convincing, and the familiar big-lie technique of insisting that their stories have been “debunked” when they have not even been effectively denied.


The truth is that Trump’s “positions” on specific issues are more or less a matter of chance and whim and impulse (Of course women should be punished for having abortions! Ten minutes later: no, they shouldn’t) while his actual ideology, the song he sings every day, the one those listeners and followers gleefully vibrate to, is one anthem, and it is the sound of the authoritarian and anti-democratic impulses

8) Paul Waldman piece on the escalating Republican war on democratic norms is important.  Read it.

9) Some people say, Trump can’t read.  Brilliant Samantha Bee.

10) Well, you don’t fire a Catholic priest, but whoever runs this parish in San Diego needs to be removed from his pastoral role.

11) The artificial pancreas is coming (honestly, I’ve been surprised it’s not here yet).  I’ve got some good friends who will hopefully get huge benefit from this technology before too long.

12) Former head of the CIA endorsing Clinton (like most everybody who actually takes national security seriously):

In sharp contrast to Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump has no experience on national security. Even more important, the character traits he has exhibited during the primary season suggest he would be a poor, even dangerous, commander in chief.

These traits include his obvious need for self-aggrandizement, his overreaction to perceived slights, his tendency to make decisions based on intuition, his refusal to change his views based on new information, his routine carelessness with the facts, his unwillingness to listen to others and his lack of respect for the rule of law.

The dangers that flow from Mr. Trump’s character are not just risks that would emerge if he became president. It is already damaging our national security.

13) I think the coming Republican Civil War may well be the most intersting and important feature of American politics in the near future (here’s hoping the white ethnocentrists lose).

14) David Frum makes the powerful case for why true conservatives need to vote for Clinton:

One of only two people on earth will win the American presidency on November 8. Hillary Clinton is one of those two possibilities. Donald Trump is the only other.

Yes, I fear Clinton’s grudge-holding. Should I fear it so much that I rally to a candidate who has already explicitly promised to deploy antitrust and libel law against his critics and opponents? Who incited violence at his rallies? Who ejects reporters from his events if he objects to their coverage? Who told a huge audience in Australia that his top life advice was: “Get even with people. If they screw you, screw them back 10 times as hard. I really believe it”? Who idealizes Vladimir Putin, Saddam Hussein, and the butchers of Tiananmen as strong leaders to be admired and emulated?

Should I be so appalled by the Clinton family’s access-selling that I prefer instead a president who boasts of a lifetime of bribing politicians to further his business career? Who defaults on debts and contracts as an ordinary business method, and who avoids taxes by deducting the losses he inflicted on others as if he had suffered them himself? Who cheated the illegal laborers he employed at Trump Tower out of their humble hourly wage? Who owes hundreds of millions of dollars to the Bank of China?  Who refuses to disclose his tax returns, perhaps to conceal his business dealings with Vladimir Putin’s inner circle?

To demonstrate my distaste for people whose bodies contain mean bones, it’s proposed that I give my franchise to a man who boasts of his delight in sexual assault? Who mocks the disabled, who denounces immigrant parents whose son laid down his life for this country, who endorses religious bigotry, and who denies the Americanism of everyone from the judge hearing the fraud case against Trump University to the 44th president of the United States?

I’m invited to recoil from supposedly fawning media (media, in fact, which have devoted more minutes of network television airtime to Clinton’s email misjudgment than to all policy topics combined) and instead empower a bizarre new online coalition of antisemites, misogyists, cranks, and conspiracists with allegedly ominous connections to Russian state spy agencies?

Is this real life?

To vote for Trump as a protest against Clinton’s faults would be like amputating a leg because of a sliver in the toe; cutting one’s throat to lower one’s blood pressure. [emphasis mine]

15) Orin Kerr has never voted for a Democrat for president.  Until now.

16) Anne Applebaum on Trump as a threat to the West.

17) Interesting analysis clearly suggests “shy Trump voters” will not be deciding the election.

18) Should male college soccer players be crudely rating and commenting about female soccer players amongst themselves?  Nope. But, honestly, this does strike me as pretty typical “locker room talk” that does not rise to the level of canceling the remainder of a season.  Also, I do think it is a meaningful gulf from crude objectifications to “rape culture.”  Suffice it to say I’ve heard lots of female sexual objectification in my male heterosexual life.  And, yet, I’ve truly never heard another man suggest that female consent doesn’t matter.

19) Are there massive policy differences at stake in this election?  Hell, yes.  As Yglesias points out, you’d hardly know from most media coverage.

These stakes are critically important to the future of the country. But they’ve been nearly invisible from coverage of the campaign.

A recent study showed that network television news has dedicated more minutes to Hillary Clinton’s email server than to all policy issues combined. The day after the FBI revealed that it had found some emails that might be copies of emails it had already read but that if they weren’t simply duplicates might be relevant to an investigation of Clinton’s email server, all three above-the-fold New York Times stories were about the new emails, even though there was no information about them.

This dynamic is, currently, hurting Clinton in the polls, though earlier in the year she helped establish it by centering Trump’s temperamental unfitness rather than any policy agenda at the core of her argument.

But regardless of which candidate the policy-light tone of coverage helps at any given moment, it represents a fundamental abdication of responsibility to explain to people what is going on. The two candidates are running on very different policy agendas, agendas that in some ways contradict the media narratives about downscale “populists” versus cosmopolitan elites. And because House Republicans are both unified on policy and entrenched in safely drawn districts, there is a sharp asymmetry in terms of the direction of change.

Trump is nobody’s idea of a policy wonk, but he has signed on to a real agenda, and if he wins he’ll probably implement it. The public should hear about its contents before they decide whether to make him president.

20) Nice YouGov analysis on the few voters actually switching from R-D/D-R from 2012-2016.  Not many switchers at all.  Among those who are, education is very much at the center of what’s going on.

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