Quick hits (part II)

1) Andrew Prokop on why the failure of populist Democratic Senate candidates should makes us skeptical of Democratic populism.

2) Nice interview with Brendan Nyhan on Trump and the erosion of Democratic norms.

3) I was initially concerned when a person I don’t know all that well posted, “5 reasons not to vaccinate your kids.”  But then I read it and all was well.

4) Interesting Forbes feature on how Jared Kushner helped Trump win.

By June the GOP nomination secured, Kushner took over all data-driven efforts. Within three weeks, in a nondescript building outside San Antonio, he had built what would become a 100-person data hub designed to unify fundraising, messaging and targeting. Run by Brad Parscale, who had previously built small websites for the Trump Organization, this secret back office would drive every strategic decision during the final months of the campaign. “Our best people were mostly the ones who volunteered for me pro bono,” Kushner says. “People from the business world, people from nontraditional backgrounds.”

Kushner structured the operation with a focus on maximizing the return for every dollar spent. “We played Moneyball, asking ourselves which states will get the best ROI for the electoral vote,” Kushner says. “I asked, How can we get Trump’s message to that consumer for the least amount of cost?” FEC filings through mid-October indicate the Trump campaign spent roughly half as much as the Clinton campaign did.

5) Dana Goldstein on Trump’s threat to public education.

6) Democracies— including our own– maybe not as stable as we thought.

7) The man running  for school board on a platform of ending high school  football:

Davis doesn’t think that football should be outlawed, any more than boxing or mixed martial arts are illegal. If a parent wants to send their child to a private gym, or enroll that child in a private football program, well, it’s a free country. Only don’t ask schools to sponsor a concussion delivery system, and don’t ask taxpayers to pick up the tab. Beyond abolishing high school football, Davis’s platform calls for banning heading in soccer, instituting concussion protocol training for coaches in every sport, and forbidding Clark County teams from playing against outside schools that don’t follow the same standards. “Schools have a mission of educating kids and protecting their welfare,” he says.

8) Trevor Noah on Trump’s lies.

9) James Fallows on Trump’s lies:

  • Unlike other public figures we’ve encountered, Donald Trump appears not even to register the difference between truth and lies. He lies when it’s not “necessary” or even useful. He lies when disproof is immediately at hand. He shows no flicker in the eye, or “tell” of any kind, when he is caught in a flat-out lie. Richard Nixon looked tense and sweaty when saying “I am not a crook.” Bill Clinton went into his tortured “it depends what the meaning of is is” answer precisely because he was trying to avoid a direct lie.
    Trump doesn’t care. Watching his face for discomfort or “tells” is like looking at an alligator for signs of remorse.
  • Thus the media have to start out with the assumption that anything Trump says is at least as likely to be false as true. He has forfeited any right to an “accurate until proven to be inaccurate” presumption of honesty. Thus a headline or framing that says “Trump claims, without evidence, [his latest fantasy]” does more violence to the truth than “Trump falsely claims…”

10) Raise your hand if you are the least bit surprised that Texas wants to use an unrealistic definition of “intellectually disabled” so that they can execute more people.

11) Big federal court decision requires NC Republicans to re-draw state legislative districts and hold a new election next year.  Typically classy response (to a unanimous decision):

“What the Fourth Circuit court put forward (Tuesday) would be the single largest disenfranchisement of the voters in North Carolina history,” asserted the Executive Director of the NC GOP, Dallas Woodhouse. “We would go from somewhere around 5 million people voting on legislative elections to probably 300,000. And we’re going to overthrow one full year of a General Assembly. And we’re going to throw out the legally cast votes of 4.5 million people in North Carolina. What the Fourth Circuit court has suggested is nothing but a banana republic kangaroo court that would disenfranchise 4.5 million people from districts that were precleared by the U.S. Justice Department and have had now three elections in them.”

“All of a sudden you have one circuit court,” Rucho joined in, “the most liberal, that has decided that they don’t believe in following legal precedent; that they don’t believe in following the constitution; and they use their own, let’s just say, their own fabricated law and interpretation of the constitution. This will be handled by the United States Supreme Court,” Rucho promised. “I think we have a rogue court there right now, and it needs to be addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

12) Adam Gopnik’s take on Democrats and identity politics.  A rare time I do not agree entirely with Gopnik (I just don’t think you can ignore the economic angle).

13) Ivanka Trump has written a few books.  Apparently, she is as self-delusional as her father:

Ivanka Trump’s 2009 self-help book, “The Trump Card,” opens with an unlikely sentence: “In business, as in life, nothing is ever handed to you.” Ivanka quickly adds caveats. “Yes, I’ve had the great good fortune to be born into a life of wealth and privilege, with a name to match,” she writes. “Yes, I’ve had every opportunity, every advantage. And yes, I’ve chosen to build my career on a foundation built by my father and grandfather.” Still, she insists, she and her brothers didn’t attain their positions in their father’s company “by any kind of birthright or foregone conclusion.”

The cognitive dissonance on display here might prompt a reader who wishes to preserve her sanity to close the book immediately…

This messy argument comes with correspondingly messy metaphors. “We’ve all got our own baggage,” Ivanka writes, before explaining what she means by baggage: “Whatever we do, whatever our backgrounds, we’ve all had some kind of advantage on the way.” Ivanka compares herself to a runner positioned on the outside track, whose head start at the beginning is just an illusion. “In truth, the only advantage is psychological; each runner ends up covering the same ground by the end of the race.” Soon, though—by page nine—she has grown tired of pretending to be her reader’s equal. “Did I have an edge, getting started in business?” she asks. “No question. But get over it. And read on.”

14) Steve Saideman on Trump’s over-reliance on generals.

15) Speaking of generals, I don’t know all that much about James Mattis, but the stuff I hear is good.  Makes me wonder why he wants to work for Trump.  Here’s Mattis‘ take on being “too busy to read” (of course, Trump never reads anything):

The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men.

Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.

16) Perhaps the House “Science” Committee (which re-tweets climate change denying articles) needs to re-name itself under present Republican leadership.  Just depressing.

17) Art Pope-funded NC conservative Civitas Institute is suing to throw-out votes based on Same-day registration.  Still would not let McCrory win, but mostly, just so wrong:

Civitas wants the more than 90,000 SDR ballots removed from the statewide count in the governor’s race until all counties have verified the voters’ addresses. The group estimates that 3,000 of these ballots will be thrown out. But even if that estimate is correct and all of those ballots were cast for Cooper, McCrory would still trail by roughly 7,000 votes…

Hall said the McCrory team, Civitas and Woodhouse have “an elitist perspective on elections” that hearkens back to the pre-Civil War era.

“If they can no longer require property ownership as a prerequisite, then they’d like to require documentation that favors voters with long-term residency, plus identification attached to property, such as a Department of Motor Vehicles license,” he told Facing South.

18) John Cassidy on the victims of an Obamacare repeal:

Of course, there’s no guarantee that Price’s plan, or anything close to it, will end up being enacted. Indeed, despite his selection for a Cabinet position, there is still a great deal of uncertainty about what sort of health-care legislation Trump and the Republican Congress will actually pass. Repealing Obamacare might appear straightforward as a general principle, but the details are immensely complicated. At this stage, about the only thing we can say for certain, or near certain, is that the big losers in whatever legislation might emerge will be the poor and the sick. [emphasis mine]

 

Quick hits (part I)

1) Why didn’t Clinton’s campaign do things differently?  Because they thought they were winning:

Sure, in hindsight, Clinton and her team should have guarded themselves from that outcome. They should have had a good response to attacks that Clinton was an elite outsider taking money from Goldman Sachs. They should have done more in Michigan and Wisconsin — especially in light of establishing field offices in reach states like Arizona and Texas. And looking back, even with their already 200-person-strong staff in Michigan, and millions of dollars spent in advertising, if they could go back and do more for those 10,000 votes that went to Trump instead, of course they would, a senior Clinton campaign aide tells me. (Although Iowa looked simply impossible to win.)

But then again, it didn’t look like they needed to.

You don’t need to answer for your weaknesses if they don’t seem to be hurting you

There was every indication that a Clinton victory was near certain. Early voting turnout — although not an indicator of Election Day results — was confirming polling that had Clinton consistently in the lead.

On ground game, Clinton was ahead. She had a bigger, more organized staff. According to an exit poll of early voters, Clinton’s campaign contacted twice as many American voters as Trump’s did.

Clinton’s campaign strategy was tested; Clinton would never be the agent of change Trump could claim to be (she has had a career in Washington after all), but she could easily proclaim Trump’s case for change too risky. And polls suggested that it was a line of attack that was working.

But as my colleague Jeff Stein explained, the polls “badly underestimated” the strength of the Republican coalition — lowballing both the number of white voters without a college education who would turn out at the polls on Election Day and the number of anti-Trump Republicans who ended up supporting the GOP nominees.

“So it was a very different electorate than we expected,” Matt Grossmann, a political scientist at Michigan State University, told Stein. “And Republican-leaning women and conservatives who hadn’t made up their minds almost all ended up voting for Trump.”

2) A handy flowchart for dealing with holiday greetings.

3) I’d read a little about Milo Yiannopoulos before, but never all that much.  That said, I found this Bloomberg profile to be absolutely fascinating of what it is like to be a truly horrible human being.

4) James Surowiecki on how private prisons will benefit from Trump.  Oh, and, yes, they are horrible:

When you consider that the government still spends money monitoring private prisons, and that it’s stuck running the parts of the system that private companies thought were money losers, the case that private prisons save money looks shaky.

Even if they did, the ethical cost would be too high. Imprisoning people is one of the weightiest things that government does, yet outsourcing imprisonment means that treatment of inmates is shaped by bottom-line considerations. This has led to understaffing, inadequate mental-health care, and, in some cases, inadequate meals. Worse, private prisons have an obvious incentive to keep people inside as long as possible. Last year, Anita Mukherjee, an assistant professor of actuarial science at the University of Wisconsin, studied Mississippi’s prison system, and found that people in private prisons received many more “prison conduct violations” than those in government-run ones. This made it harder for them to get parole, and, on average, they served two to three more months of prison time.

The perversities of profit-driven prison policy don’t end there. The need for inmates leads companies, in effect, to lobby state and federal governments to maintain the current system of mass incarceration. Government-run prisons aren’t blameless here—prison-guard unions lobby for longer sentences and tougher laws—but the private companies know how to throw their weight around, and they benefit from strong local support, as they are often in rural towns without many other sources of jobs or tax revenue.

5) A look at the future demographic diversity of America with lots of cool charts.

6) Yglesias with the case for nomalizing Trump:

But several students of authoritarian populist movements abroad have a different message. To beat Trump, what his opponents need to do is practice ordinary humdrum politics. Populists in office thrive on a circus-like atmosphere that casts the populist leader as persecuted by media and political elites who are obsessed with his uncouth behavior while he is busy doing the people’s work. To beat Trump, progressives will need to do as much as they can to get American politics out of reality show mode.

Trump genuinely does pose threats to the integrity of American institutions and political norms. But he does so largely because his nascent administration is sustained by support from the institutional Republican Party and its standard business and interest group supporters. Alongside the wacky tweets and personal feuds, Trump is pursuing a policy agenda whose implications are overwhelmingly favorable to rich people and business owners. His opponents need to talk about this policy agenda, and they need to develop their own alternative agenda and make the case that it will better serve the needs of average people. And to do that, they need to get out of the habit of being reflexively baited into tweet-based arguments that happen on the terrain of Trump’s choosing and serve to endlessly reinscribe the narrative of a champion of the working class surrounded by media vipers.

7) Political science research on race and Donald Trump’s priming of race-based politics.

8) The older generation of evangelical “leaders” have shown their true colors with their embrace of Trump.  I like this call for a return to what Jesus had to say (given the emphasis on helping the poor, oppressed, imprisoned, etc., I suspect it will fall on largely deaf ears among Republican evangelicals):

The words of Jesus — which are printed in red in many Bibles — could not be more relevant today. Despite the terrible things done in the name of Jesus, a Christianity that stays true to his words has survived for 2,000 years. Maybe this is a moment in our history for evangelicals to repent and be “born again” again as Red Letter Christians.

9) Pretty impressive tweetstorm on why Trump won– but please write a blog post or article already!

10) Jamelle Bouie on 1980’s Jesse Jackson as offering a roadmap for the Democrats’ future.

11) I’m with Drum on the over-use of “white supremacy” (you’ll not be surprised given my favoring of “racial resentment”):

I was listening in on a listserv conversation the other day, and someone asked how and when it became fashionable to use the term “white supremacy” as a substitute for ordinary racism. Good question. I don’t know the answer, but my guess is that it started with Ta-Nehisi Coates, who began using it frequently a little while ago. Anyone have a better idea?

For what it’s worth, this is a terrible fad. With the exception of actual neo-Nazis and a few others, there isn’t anyone in America who’s trying to promote the idea that whites are inherently superior to blacks or Latinos. Conversely, there are loads of Americans who display signs of overt racism—or unconscious bias or racial insensitivity or resentment over loss of status—in varying degrees.

This isn’t just pedantic. It matters. It’s bad enough that liberals toss around charges of racism with more abandon than we should, but it’s far worse if we start calling every sign of racial animus—big or small, accidental or deliberate—white supremacy. I can hardly imagine a better way of proving to the non-liberal community that we’re all a bunch of out-of-touch nutbars who are going to label everyone and everything we don’t like as racist.

Petty theft is not the same as robbing a bank. A lewd comment is not the same as rape. A possible lack of sensitivity is not a sign of latent support for apartheid. Bernie Sanders is not a white male supremacist.

Likewise, using a faddish term is not a sign of wokeness, no matter who started it. Let’s keep calling out real racism whenever we need to, but let’s save “white supremacy” for the people and institutions that really deserve it.1

12) A FB friend who I think is exactly the type of person that gives liberals a bad name posted this attacking Drum, and other white men like me:

Here’s what the world needs less of right now: “liberal” white dudes deriding the marginalized for having the audacity to fight for equal rights.

In the past week alone, I’ve rolled my eyes at Mark Lilla, who wrote “The End Of Identity Liberalism” for The New York Times; Kevin Drum, who wrote “Let’s Be Careful With the ‘White Supremacy’ Label” for Mother Jones; and Cal Newport, who wrote “Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It,” also for The New York Times.

That the conservative movement has embraced an anti-diversity party line is nothing new (though the egregiousness of its current stance is startling). That many Democrats have decided to embrace this platform as well, in an apparent effort to expand their power, is deeply troubling.

Indeed, the parallels between the conservative and liberal movements right now are chilling: On both sides, white men are controlling the narrative. And on both sides, these narratives are relying on the scapegoating of minority groups, and the repudiation of a fight for civil rights (because, to be clear, “identity politics” is code for civil rights).

Well, damnit, Minda Honey got me.  I guess I’ll come out and just admit I hate Black, gay people, etc., and think they should stop fighting for their rights.  This isn’t a straw man argument, it’s more like a whole straw village. Every white male liberal embraces feminism, anti-racism, gay rights, etc.  Yet somehow thinking this should not encompass the totality of liberal politics makes me no better than Trump.  Ugh.

13) Turns out there may be great therapeutic properties from “magic mushrooms.”  Good God it is so past time we get past our ignorance-based fear of all illegal drugs and get benefits where we can.  And the evidence for psychedelic drugs just keeps growing.

14) How well do American kids do in math?  Not so bad.

15) Justin Wolfers with one of the best pieces I’ve read on Trump and Carrier:

But the Carrier case also illustrates a larger point about how the economy works. In Mr. Trump’s telling, the economy is a fixed set of jobs getting shifted around a global chess board. Mexico’s loss is our gain and vice versa.

But you should think of the economy as being in a state of constant churn. The economist Joseph Schumpeter used the now-famous phrase “creative destruction” to describe this process by which new firms push out the old. The result can be cruel, but an extraordinarily fluid labor market, many economists argue, is the secret of American dynamism.

Think of the American economy as a 10-level parking structure or garage, where each car represents an active firm, and the seats in the car are the jobs available. A well-managed business like this is usually pretty full. But it’s also in a state of constant flux, with new cars entering as some people arrive, and previously parked cars leaving as others head home. Every hour, around a tenth of the cars leave the lot, just as a tenth of existing business establishments close each year and leave the labor market.

The deal at Carrier is akin to Mr. Trump’s intercepting a driver on his way to his car, and trying to persuade him to stay parked a little longer — perhaps by pointing to the enticing Christmas specials at the nearby stores.

It’s an approach that no parking business bothers trying.

Rather, the long-term strategy of such businesses is to try to attract a larger clientele by offering a more convenient experience. They understand that there are many more potential customers outside than inside the garage. In this analogy, the government’s best hope for creating jobs is to create a positive business climate.

Mr. Trump is focusing his resources on existing firms — the cars already parked there — rather than on the millions of potential entrepreneurs who might open the next generation of businesses.

Mr. Trump has also suggested that in the future he might use an alternative strategy: using sticks rather than carrots to keep jobs parked within the United States. But this also seems problematic — after all, would you choose to park in a location where parking attendants harass you when it’s time to leave?

The economics of parking contain a big lesson for the Trump administration: A parking garage stays full, and an economy stays healthy, only if it’s constantly refreshed.

16) Yglesias on how we need to take Trump both literally and seriously.  As I will not tire of saying until January 20– President-elect Trump = Candidate Trump.

17) Sarah Kliff on why American prescription drug prices are so high.  As I’ve been telling my classes for years– because we subsidize the whole rest of the world on drug development.

18) Drum on how Obamacare’s requirement that persons with pre-existing conditions be guaranteed coverage and at the same rates as everybody else makes it very hard for Republicans to truly eliminate key aspects of the legislation.  That is, unless Republicans entirely ditch the filibuster.

19) Way back this summer I read Robert Frank’s Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of the Meritocracy.  Short version: conservatives are sure they actually deserved/earned all their success and good fortune; liberals know better.  Of course, I was already well aware of that.  What I didn’t know about was Frank’s idea for a progressive consumption tax.  This Slate piece nicely lays out the logic for how it would reduce income inequality through it’s understanding of human psychology (it’s not about being rich in an absolute sense so much, as being richer than your neighbor)  It’s pretty cool:

If top marginal income tax rates are set too high, they discourage productive economic activity. In the limit, a top marginal income tax rate of 100 percent would mean that taxpayers would gain nothing from working harder or investing more. In contrast, a higher top marginal rate on consumption would actually encourage savings and investment. A top marginal consumption tax rate of 100 percent, for example, would simply mean that if a wealthy family spent an extra dollar, it would also owe an additional dollar of tax.

That feature of the tax gives rise to what it would be no exaggeration to describe as fiscal alchemy. Consider, for example, how the tax would affect a wealthy family that had been planning a $2 million addition to its mansion. If it faced a marginal consumption tax rate of 100 percent, that addition would now cost $4 million—$2 million for the job itself, and another $2 million for the tax on it. Even the wealthy respond to price incentives. (That’s why they live in smaller houses in New York than in Seattle.) So the tax would be a powerful incentive for this family to scale back its plans. It could build an addition half as big, for example, without spending more than it originally planned.

The fiscal magic occurs because other wealthy families who’d also planned additions to their mansions would respond in a similar way. And since no one denies that, beyond some point, it’s relative, not absolute, mansion size that really matters, the smaller additions would serve just as well as if all had built larger ones.

Current possibility– zero.  But I love this idea and would love to see liberals champion it.

20) We know what works to treat opioid addiction-– substitution therapy.  How many more people will have to needlessly die from overdoses before we finally get some sane policy on the matter?  (Sadly, I expect the answer is hundreds of thousands).

21) Another good take on Trump and the Carrier jobs (and the utter stupidity of our policies regarding “economic incentives”)

Still, what happened in Indiana represents exactly the problem, not the solution, in America’s approach to corporate negotiation. There is literally another factory across town from Carrier waiting for the same kind of attention. It’s not good that the geography of large offices and factories is a function of public money doled out by cities, states and in Washington. It’s been a great boon to companies with the size and flexibility to uproot or locate their operations at will, or at least make a convincing threat they’ll do so. And a big loss for the rest of us.

In hundreds of cases, state and local governments have offered more in subsidy than the $65 million Carrier hoped to save in Mexico.

According to a review by Good Jobs First, a resource center for accountability in economic development, there have been more than 240 such deals, worth a collective $64 billion, in the last 35 years. Manufacturing facilities are the most common recipient. The average cost per job is $465,000.

In some cases, those handouts go to companies moving across county lines.

What makes all those deals possible, and what they have in common, is a regulatory framework that is highly favorable to companies relocating both between states and abroad, regardless of the subsidies they’ve received or the government contracts they depend on. Like Carrier, the average American corporation is trained to get treats for barking. And why not? It’s always worked. Donald Trump didn’t train corporate America. But he seems happy to keep feeding it.

22) In many ways, the GOP Congress is the only meaningful check on Trump’s malfeasance.  Alas, they seem to have no more interest in that whole checks and balances thing.  Chait.

23) A 538 piece says Trump “probably” cannot overturn Roe v. Wade.  That’s because the law professor interviewed doesn’t think John Roberts is a vote to overturn.  I do.  Or, lets put it this way, I can totally see Roberts not “overturning” Roe v. Wade, but writing an opinion that completely undermines while pretending not to do so.

24) I re-watched “Top Gun” over Thanksgiving (just before it disappeared from Netflix streaming).  Say what you will, but I love that movie.  Fighter jets are just awesome.  And I love the way Tony Scott uses light.  Of all the unreality in it, though, it really bugged me that the Top Gun commander, Mike “Viper” Metcalf (Tom Skerrit) was only a Commander (O5).  Seemed to me that for somebody as old as the character and somebody in charge of the base would surely be at least a Captain.  I messaged my former student, currently a Naval Officer, and he agreed that Viper should probably have been an Admiral.  Then I decided to go to the base website for the current Top Gun (no longer at Miramar).  The current commander is actually a Captain.  Yes, these are the things I spend my time on.

Quick hits (part I)

1) I’m quite disturbed by the verdict in Oregon.  Looking forward to reading more about it.  Hard not to see a race angle.  German Lopez:

The defense argued there was no intent to keep federal employees off the refuge. But come on. An armed group occupied a federal building. Your imagination doesn’t have to stretch very far to realize what was happening.

Yet a jury found them not guilty.

It is impossible to ignore race here. This was a group of armed white people, mostly men, taking over a facility. Just imagine: What would happen if a group of armed black men, protesting police brutality, tried to take over a police facility and hold it hostage for more than a month? Would they even come out alive and get to trial? Would a jury find them and their cause relatable, making it easier to send them back home with no prison time?

One doesn’t have to do much imagining here, either. The social science is pretty clear: People are much more likely to look at black people and see criminals and wrongdoers. They don’t get the privilege of innocence in the same way that white people — including these militants in Oregon — do.

2) On how kids can drink too much milk (my slightly underweight 16-year old would be an unhealthily underweight kid without his half gallon or so of whole milk per day).

3) Of course kids should eat healthy, varied diets, but I disagree with the suggestion that we shouldn’t sneak healthy foods into more kid-friendly foods because it will send the wrong messages.  It’s not always so easy to get kids to eat healthy, varied diets.

4) Key Clinton adviser Neera Tanden is no sycophant.  Donald Trump is literally unwilling to employ anybody that is not a sycophant.  That so does not bode well for somebody who wants to be president.

5) Fred Hiatt argues that Hillary Clinton is not just lucky to have Trump as her opponent, but a good candidate.

6) Dana Goldstein with a thoughtful Marshall Project piece on how to decide at what age we treat criminals as adults:

If people in their twenties are a lot like adolescents socially and biologically, should they really be considered full adults under the law? Many advocates who work directly with this population say no. “For many years, the idea of how to achieve public safety with this group was you want to lock them up, protect the community by not having them around,” said Yotam Zeira, director of external affairs for Roca, a Massachusetts organization that provides counseling, education, and job training to 17 to 24-year old male offenders. “The sad reality is that after you lock them up, nothing gets better. Public safety is not really improved. Prosecutors know they are prosecuting, again and again, the same people.”

7) No, Brexit polling does not mean Trump will pull this out.

8) Molly Ball on Trump’s graying army:

The crowd at the Donald Trump rally was a sea of gray and white. They hobbled on walkers and canes into the massive amphitheater, searching for a place to sit on the lawn.

They were old enough to remember a different America—an America that was great. A place of strength and confidence, where men were men and women were women, where people respected the flag and their elders and prayed to God. That was not the America they saw today.

“I am 72 years old, and I have seen our country absolutely fall apart,” Jim Smith, a gray-haired grandfather with an eagle on his T-shirt, told me. Smith retired to the beach after a career in the Army that took him all over the world; at one point, he worked for NATO running logistics in Bosnia. But today, he did not like what he saw all around him.

“Our economy is depleted, our military forces are depleted. We’re a country that’s in trouble,” he said, ticking off the issues: Spanish language everywhere, babies slaughtered by abortion. Muslims invading America, abetted by Democrats. “What culture do we have anymore?” he asked…

At Trump’s rallies across the country—not just in Florida, where the effect may be especially pronounced—it is common to find an abundance of the superannuated. In fact, senior citizens are his strongest demographic. In polls, voters over 65 tend to be the only age group he wins: In surveys conducted for The Atlantic by the Public Religion Research Institute, for example, Hillary Clinton led Trump in every age group under 65, but he beat her by a slight margin with those 65 or older.

In the primaries, too, Trump supporters were older, on average, than those of other Republican candidates. Despite the stereotype of the Trump supporter as a prime-aged working man, Trump’s campaign has actually been fueled primarily by support from the elderly.

This makes sense, doesn’t it? Trump’s whole candidacy is predicated on nostalgia—not just making America great, but making it great again, returning it to an imagined, prelapsarian state of greatness. (Appropriately, Trump stole the slogan from Ronald Reagan.) More so even than most Republican candidates, Trump has run a campaign aimed squarely and frankly at old people’s nostalgia, fear of danger, and anxiety about social change.

9) This local Texas election ad is indeed worthy of going viral, as it has.

10) It would not be hard to fix the problems with Obamacare.  The problem is that Republicans are entirely unwilling to.  Waldman:

Nothing demonstrates how unserious Republicans are about health care policy more clearly than this does. Their preferred reform ideas — such as letting insurers sell across state lines — are positively miniscule in comparison to the challenges the health care system presents. If they were being honest, they’d admit that their real goal is to get the government out of the business of offering or even guaranteeing coverage, and that they don’t really care how many people are uninsured. That’s not to mention the fact that they refuse to grapple with the massive destruction that repealing the ACA would cause. In fact, at this point, repealing the ACA could be more disruptive than it was to implement it in the first place, because so many changes have been made throughout the health care system and so many new people are now insured.

So let’s not forget that when news of some problem with the ACA emerges, as it did yesterday, the Republican position is always the same: This is a terrible thing, and we will fight to our last breath to stop Democrats from fixing it. Which means that the only way that the shortcomings in the ACA can be addressed — just as every major law has been tweaked in the years after it passed, including Social Security and Medicare — is to get a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress who are willing to do it.

11) Jon Bernstein on how Clinton as a transactional politician and Clinton’s “scandals”

Here’s a better theory of what’s going on, from Kevin Drum:

  1. Make a list of the entire chain of command that had some oversight over the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server. That’s going to be at least half a dozen people.

  2. Make a list of all their close family and friends. Now you’re up to a hundred people.

  3. Look for a connection between any of those people and the Clintons. Since FBI headquarters is located in Washington DC and the Clintons famously have thousands and thousands of friends, you will find a connection. I guarantee it.

  4. Write a story about it.

Something like this template has been used for 24 years, since the first Bill Clinton presidential campaign. Eventually, most people get the sense something is wrong with Hillary Clinton. After all, with so many of these stories, there must be something behind them.

And this sense makes it easier to run nonsense stories like the Wall Street Journal’s article. And so on and so on.

Both Clintons, especially Bill, are transaction-style politicians, rather than ideologues. Both of them have been willing to cut deals, to temporarily embrace positions they might not like very much, and to champion the best-available option and hope to win. I like these kinds of politicians, the Bob Doles and John Boehners and Nancy Pelosis. I’d much rather have them govern than any ideological warriors, including those ideologues I agree with on the issues.

I suspect that many people’s dislike of Hillary Clinton has to do with their discomfort with the complicated ethics of transactional politics as opposed to strict ideology-based politics…

So the woman who looks to be the next president is capable of saying one thing and doing another, and of crass political calculations. In that way, at least, she is not unlike a lot of successful U.S. presidents.

That’s no coincidence. The sorts of things presidents need to do — form coalitions and keep them together, bargain for marginal gains, and put a good face on all of it to convince both elites and voters that everything is going as planned — are the skills of transactional, hypocritical politicians. This doesn’t guarantee that Hillary Clinton, if elected, will be a good president, of course. But it’s a start.

12) SNL’s “Black Jeopardy” sketch was great and Dan Zak’s take on it was the best I’ve read.

13) Paul Waldman on how the GOP’s “politics is inherently evil” rhetoric helped give them Trump:

For the moment, let’s set aside the question of whether Republicans would really be winning with a different nominee (I think the race would be closer, but Democrats would still have the advantage). What this hypothetical alternative would bring is the skills, experience, and knowledge you gain by being active in politics, exactly what Trump lacks. He’d know how to run a proper campaign. He’d have a grasp of substantive policy issues, and know how to communicate Republican positions to voters in a persuasive way. He’d understand how not to alienate key groups of voters. He’d be in control of his emotions, able to give a speech or participate in a debate without damaging outbursts.

In other words, he’d be a politician. You may notice that no Republicans are saying this election would be a lock if only Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina had been their nominee.

Yet for years, Republicans have been running against “Washington,” an irredeemable Sodom of corruption and malfeasance. Anyone who wants to actually make government work is immediately suspect, an “insider” whose motives can only be nefarious. They look for “outsiders” who can tell voters, “Elect me because I’m not a politician, I’m a businessman.” Granted, there have been a few Democrats who have made that claim too, but Republicans are particularly attracted to it, despite the fact that it’s ludicrous on its face. If you hired a carpenter to build you a deck and you didn’t like the way it turned out, you wouldn’t say, “What we need to fix this deck is someone who’ll think outside the box. Like a computer programmer, or a librarian. Just as long as it’s not another carpenter.” No, if you were a rational person, you’d decide to get yourself a better carpenter.

14) On a related note, if Republicans really want a sane party in the future, they really need to drain the fever-swamp that is right-wing media:

Perhaps more important, however, the conservative media industrial complex successfully managed over the years to lock the Republican Party away from access to its own base. Those who consumed conservative media were taught not to trust politicians or, even worse, the mainstream media.

As a result, party leaders were beholden to a handful of individuals who controlled the conservative media and, thus, held the keys to their voters. Elected officials and candidates seeking office dared not criticize the conservative media’s most powerful members, for fear of the wrath that would ensue if they did.

The power the conservative press held allowed its members to decide who was accepted by the base and who wasn’t. True conservatives could be painted as unprincipled moderates, and, as in the case of Trump, unprincipled moderates could be painted as exactly what the base wanted.

The GOP “has appeased it, they’ve sucked up to it, they’ve been afraid of going up against it,” said Charlie Sykes, an influential conservative radio host in Wisconsin. “I think that you have seen that played out this year. Has there been any willingness on the part of any mainstream conservative to call out this alt-right media? I’m not seeing it.”

Republicans instead allowed their base to be held captive by a conservative press that moved their base further right, pushed conspiracy theories about Obama, and set unrealistic exceptions for them while in office.

15) In case you missed this NYT story based on lots of interviews with Trump.  As if you needed more evidence of what a pathetic, small, little man he is:

The intense ambitions and undisciplined behaviors of Mr. Trump have confounded even those close to him, especially as his presidential campaign comes to a tumultuous end, and he confronts the possibility of the most stinging defeat of his life. But in the more than five hours of conversations — the last extensive biographical interviews Mr. Trump granted before running for president — a powerful driving force emerges: his deep-seated fear of public embarrassment.

The recordings reveal a man who is fixated on his own celebrity, anxious about losing his status and contemptuous of those who fall from grace. They capture the visceral pleasure he derives from fighting, his willful lack of interest in history, his reluctance to reflect on his life and his belief that most people do not deserve his respect.

16) Dahlia Lithwick calls on John Roberts to speak out about the Republican calls to keep the court at eight members.

17) How bad soccer analytics made soccer a much worse game for a long time.

18) Gerald Seib with a nice essay in WSJ on Republican populism.

19) Why Russia wants to undermine confidence in US elections:

To understand Russia’s recent attacks on American democracy, one simply needs to look back to the country’s Cold War tactics.

Outpaced by American military spending and military innovation—and challenged by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)—the Soviet Union sought an alternative approach to counter the U.S. Rather than match America on the battlefield, the U.S.S.R. sought to erode the U.S. from the inside out—using the “force of politics” rather than the “politics of force” to break democracy, fracturing the unity of the American populace and degrading trust in U.S. institutions. In a program known as “Active Measures,” the Soviet Union would deploy agents and provocateurs to spread propaganda amongst American dissident groups and communist causes throughout the Western world.

Cold War efforts to use propaganda to shatter the U.S. democratic system largely failed, but the internet and particularly social media have provided Russia’s “Active Measures” a renewed opportunity to foment American dissent. In contrast to the Soviet era, social media and the wealth of information available through the internet provides Russia the ability to access and disrupt American political figures and democratic institutions without setting foot in the U.S. Plus, the costs associated with hacking and social media manipulation are far lower for Russia—both in terms of money and risk—than deploying actual humans to influence U.S. elections.

20) On how Pat McCrory lost support with moderates.  I’ve been saying some version of the following quote a long time– glad to finally see it in print:

Unaffiliated voters and moderate Democrats helped propel McCrory to office in 2012, and he needed their help. There are at least 644,334 more registered Democrats than Republicans in North Carolina, and roughly a third of all voters—more than two million people—are unaffiliated. CNN exit polls show McCrory won 62 percent of independents and a whopping 15 percent of Democrats four years ago. He even won the Democratic strongholds of Mecklenburg and Wake counties. But as Steven Greene, political science professor at N.C. State University, notes, “That Pat McCrory doesn’t exist anymore.”

21) Former Wikileaks insider on the craziness that Julian Assange.

22) David Wong with a nice piece on the urban/rural divides that divide our politics.

23) I found this Vox headline unintentionally hilarious, “Why women are still voting for Trump, despite his misogyny?”  You probably also knew the answer without clicking the link.  It’s called, Party Identification.  I actually went to the article, searched on part* and decided that with no hits for partisanship or party identification, it was not worth reading.

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).

mehta-asian-am-trump

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.

Everybody but old people wants legal marijuana

Nice Fact Tank piece from Pew, looking at the latest public opinion data on marijuana.  It’s moving not quite as fast as gay marriage did, but in 2008, we were still a 50-50 country on the issue, but the latest polling has support for legalization up to 57% and opposition only 37%.  That’s a pretty dramatic shift.

Also, note, this is not just generational replacement, but every generation is getting more pro-legalization.  And it should also be noted, that we have reached the point where only old people actually oppose legalization.

So, why aren’t politicians catching up?  Well, in some states they are.  Among other things, it speaks to the hugely disproportionate influence of old people (who always have and always will turn out to vote in disproportionate numbers).

We’re surely not going to have sensible laws on all drugs any time soon.  But damn it, the time is certainly here for sensible laws on marijuana.

Quick hits (part II)

Sorry for the delay.  Loss of power due to Hurricane Matthew.  Fortunately, most of it was while we were sleeping and we got it back before too long.  My FB feed is filled with photos of trees on roads and powerlines all over the area.  Anyway…

1) Chait on reasons to stop freaking out about Obamacare.

2) An English professor says we are teaching composition wrong.

3) Chris Cilizza (before last Friday) refers to Trump’s lack of debate preparation as “the single most remarkable thing I have read about Donald Trump in a very long time.”  Seriously?  Is he in a coma?  Good take on it, nonetheless:

The problem for Trump is that a presidential general election campaign isn’t analogous to anything else he’s done in his life. You can’t wing it in a debate in front of 80 million people against someone who has spent virtually her entire life preparing for this one moment. You can’t ignore the advice of people brought in to give you advice because you are convinced you know better. In short, you have to pay attention.

That Trump couldn’t bring himself to do that in a moment of such critical import as the debate on Monday night is the only evidence you need of something I have been saying for a while now: There is no other Donald Trump. No new leaf. No pivot. No 2.0. This is it — take it or leave it. Trump is absolutely convinced that who he is — before he reads a single policy paper or briefing book or participates in a single mock debate — is good enough to win. That’s the most risky bet he’s ever made.

4) A cognitive bias cheat sheet.  Handy.

5) Chait on the myth of the change election.

6) Did not know how far the literary establishment was taking this “cultural appropriation” stuff.  Apparently, for some, if you are a white middle-aged man, that’s all you can write about in your fiction.  Ugh.

7) This Nate Cohn piece is from a bit ago, but it’s a nice explanation of key differences between public and private polls.

8) How Howard Stern owned Trump:

This much-craved publicity, of course, came at price: Stern has long had a devilish talent for lulling guests into a false sense of security—and then luring them into rhetorical traps. He casts his guests in a burlesque he scripts for them, and cattle-prods them into playing their parts, first fawning over them until they feel like celebrities, then bringing down the hammer of humiliation. He’s a diabolically domineering scene partner. No interviewer has ever been as adroit with treacherous leading questions in the vein of “When did you stop beating your wife?” Stern, in other words, gets people to publicly embrace their worst selves—and say things they live to regret.

That’s exactly what happened with Trump. Today, as the Republican nominee, he may fashion himself as a boss and a master of the universe. But what comes across in old tapes of the show, resurfaced recently by BuzzFeed and other outlets, is that Trump, like many of Stern’s guests, was often the one being played. By nailing him as a buffoon and then—unkindest cut—forcing him to kiss the Howard Stern ring, Stern and his co-anchor, Robin Quivers, created a series of broadcasts that today showcase not just Trump’s misogyny but his ready submission to sharper minds.

9) Atlas Obscura asks if there’s such a thing as too many blueberries.  They say “yes.”  I say, “no” until I can buy them fresh for <$3 pint year round.

10) It seems quaint now to talk about how Trump got rich in Atlantic City by ripping off people who invested with him.  But, it should not be forgotten.

11) Interesting interview with editor of NYT about the challenges of covering Trump and more good stuff.

12) Harsh take: Colombia’s referendum rejecting peace deal is proof democracy does not work.

13) Rob Christensen is back in the Sunday N&O writing about the NC Republicans’ massive miscalculation on HB2.

14) Somehow missed this from the summer.  Andrew Gelman on why political betting markets are not as reliable as they used to be.

15) It’s obviously been eclipsed by other news, but Trump digging in on the Central Park Five really is disgusting (but not at all surprising).

16) Frum argues that the GOP should learn from what Trump got right:

Trump saw that Republican voters are much less religious in behavior than they profess to pollsters. He saw that the social-insurance state has arrived to stay. He saw that Americans regard healthcare as a right, not a privilege. He saw that Republican voters had lost their optimism about their personal futures—and the future of their country. He saw that millions of ordinary people who do not deserve to be dismissed as bigots were sick of the happy talk and reality-denial that goes by the too generous label of “political correctness.” He saw that the immigration polices that might have worked for the mass-production economy of the 1910s don’t make sense in the 2010s. He saw that rank-and-file Republicans had become nearly as disgusted with the power of money in politics as rank-and-file Democrats long have been. He saw that Republican presidents are elected, when they are elected, by employees as well as entrepreneurs. He saw these things, and he was right to see them.

The wiser response to the impending Republican electoral defeat is to learn from Trump’s insights—separate them from Trump’s volatile personality and noxious attitudes—and use them to develop better, more workable, and more broadly acceptable policies for a 21st-century center-right. That doesn’t mean inscribing Trumpism as the party’s new orthodoxy. The GOP needs less orthodoxy, not more! What a wiser response to the defeat does mean is joining what can usefully be extracted from Trumpism to the core beliefs of the Republican Party: individual initiative, a free enterprise economy, limited government, lower taxes, and a proud defense of America’s global role.

Okay, finally post-Friday open tabs…

17) We’ll start with Yglesias‘ defense of Hillary Clinton’s speeches, etc., in the email hack:

Clinton, precisely because of her vast experience in government, is completely non-credible as a bringer of drastic change and systemic reform. She is, quite clearly, a creature of the system who is comfortable with it and intends to work within it. That is the “secret” revealed by every hacked email and every leaked speech, and it is also the completely obvious fact of the matter that is readily apparent to anyone who takes an even cursory look at her biography. It’s exactly what her allies are bragging about when they talk about how qualified she is.

Amidst all the other remarkable aspects of the 2016 campaign, this is a thread that tends to get lost but Clinton is asking the American people to do something they almost never do — admit that the American political system fundamentally is what it is, and so you might as well elect someone who’s good at operating it in rather dream of someone who’s going to show up and clean up the mess in Washington. Fundamentally, the only message of the secret speeches is that Clinton is exactly who we thought she was — someone who’s been around a long time, someone who knows a lot of stuff, someone who’s cozy with the established players, and someone who doesn’t really embrace good government pieties.

18) I think he’s basically right.  We didn’t really learn anything new about Clinton more than we learned anything new about Trump with the latest revelations.  That said, Jordan Weissman with a fair take on why Clinton surely did not want this stuff getting out.

19) I find Scott Adams‘ (The Dilbert guy) ongoing defense of Trump’s powers just amusing.

13. My prediction of a 98% chance of Trump winning stays the same. Clinton just took the fight to Trump’s home field. None of this was a case of clever strategy or persuasion on Trump’s part. But if the new battleground is spousal fidelity, you have to like Trump’s chances.

20) Jonah Goldberg just unloads:

Character is destiny. The man in the video is Donald Trump. Sure, it’s bawdy Trump. It’s “locker room Trump.” And I’m no prude about dirty talk in private. But that isn’t all that’s going on. This isn’t just bad language or objectifying women with your buddies. It’s a married man who is bragging about trying to bed a married woman. It’s an insecure, morally ugly man-child who thinks boasting about how he can get away with groping women “because you’re a star” impresses people. He’s a grotesque — as a businessman and a man, full stop.

21) Libby Nelson’s headline says it all, “Mike Pence enabled Donald Trump. Stop saying he’d make a good president.”

22) This whole “as a father of daughters,” etc., is just stupid.  Satire:

Listen, as a father of daughters, I’m really against this kind of behavior, this kind of treatment of women. The kind where they get hurt or they can’t vote or we don’t give any money to them. You know the kind I’m talking about. The kind I don’t want my daughters to experience, and then I just sort of extrapolate out from there.

It didn’t always used to be this way. I used to only have sons. Things sure were different then. How merrily I used to drive down country lanes in my old Ford, periodically dodging off-road to mow down female pedestrians (you must remember I had no daughters then). Was what I did wrong? How was I to know? I had no daughters to think of.

Before I had daughters — Stimothy and Atalanta are truly the apples of my eye — I would follow women into voting booths and knock their hands away from the lever whenever they tried to engage in the democratic process. Who knew having daughters would change all that? Not I.

And Dara Lind, “You shouldn’t need a daughter to know Trump’s behavior is disgusting and wrong.”

23) Great Molly Ball article on Trump and women:

It is tempting to see the maleness Trump represents as a relic of an earlier time. But Trump is not really that, as David Brooks observed a few months ago: “It’s not quite right to say that Trump is a throwback to midcentury sexism,” the New York Times columnist wrote. “At least in those days negative behavior toward women and family members was restrained by the chivalry code.” Trump represents a more brutal, primal, animal version of the male id, one that mates and slays and subdues unrestrained. One that dominates. One that refuses to be humiliated, that always lashes back against the forces trying to subdue it.

24) Not surprisingly, Yglesias‘ take is great (read it in full!):

But what Republican Party leaders — from formal party leaders like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to lesser elected officials and quasi-party people like the Chamber of Commerce — should be learning this weekend is that they were wrong.

Not that Trump made a mistake and he needs to apologize, but that they made a mistake and need to apologize. The evidence was there, in spades, all along for anyone who wanted to see. But partisan and ideological incentives made them not want to see. The audio is vivid and stark and cuts through that fog of wishful thinking and self-deception. The people whose eyes its opened shouldn’t be demanding apologies from Trump, they should be offering apologies for their role in letting him get much closer to the White House than he ever should have.

25) And Jamelle Bouie with a great take:

The same Republican leaders who rushed to condemn Trump for his remarks on a hot mic were silent about his continued attacks on these men [central park five], which stretch back to the original event in 1989, when he placed an incendiary ad in New York City newspapers against the then-teenagers. “Bring back the death penalty. Bring back our police!” said Trump. “[M]uggers and murderers … should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes. They must serve as examples so that others will think long and hard before committing a crime or an act of violence.”

Republicans didn’t say anything because Trump wasn’t attacking Republicans. The ground didn’t shift for the GOP nominee until he did. His “grab them by the pussy” comments don’t just threaten his own bid at the White House; they threaten the whole Republican political apparatus. They undermine party enthusiasm. They give millions of Republican-voting women a reason to stay home. And what happens if they do? Suddenly, the House and Senate are at risk. Suddenly, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are leaders of a minority party…

But of course the GOP could tolerate his place at the top of the ticket so long as he restricted his threats to groups outside the party. President Trump, after all, would nominate their judges, sign their tax cuts, and affirm their plans to gut the social safety net. Ryan, the House speaker, said as much in his endorsement. “For me, it’s a question of how to move ahead on the ideas that I—and my House colleagues—have invested so much in through the years,” he wrote in June. “It’s not just a choice of two people, but of two visions for America. And House Republicans are helping shape that Republican vision by offering a bold policy agenda, by offering a better way ahead. Donald Trump can help us make it a reality.” For him and many Republicans, Trump’s frank advocacy of racial repression is a small price to pay for their expansive reversal of liberal social policy. It’s hardly even a price…

In fact, we now have a list of all the things the Republican Party will tolerate solely for the sake of the White House and a continued congressional majority. It’s a long list.

The Republican Party will tolerate racist condemnation of Mexican immigrants and Latino Americans at large. It will tolerate the same racist condemnation of Muslims, even as both attacks feed an atmosphere of paranoia, distrust, and violence.

It will tolerate a policy platform that treats these groups—and Syrian refugees to the United States—as a dangerous fifth column. In Trump’s vision of America, Latino immigrants, when they aren’t “stealing jobs,” are the vector for crime and disorder, plunging towns and cities into lawlessness. It’s why Trump wants to root them out with a new “deportation force,” home by home, person by person. And it’s why he wants a wall on the Mexican border—a concrete prophylactic to keep those dark-skinned migrants from reaching our borders. [emphasis mine]

 

Quick hits (part I)

[Note: this was all written compiled before the latest Trump news]

1) Just in case you missed SNL’s debate parody.  Damn is Alec Baldwin a great Trump.

2) Vox on Trump’s money-losing casinos:

Ultimately, the story of Trump in Atlantic City looks a lot like a large-scale version of the story of Trump University.

In both cases, rather than offering actual education or hospitality management, what Trump offered was a name vaguely associated in the public eye with money and opulence. The casinos were not, in fact, well-run, and the “education” offered was entirely useless. But Trump managed to construct business models for himself where personal enrichment did not depend on the underlying soundness of the enterprise. As long as the music was playing and cash was flowing in and out the door, Trump managed to grab some.

Eventually, it came to an end. So after casinos came the university, the steaks, the water, the television show, the suits, and now a presidential campaign.

3) The four traits that put kids at risk for addiction. At least none of my kids seem to have more than two of the four: “sensation-seeking, impulsiveness, anxiety sensitivity and hopelessness.”

4) The debate on whether wild blueberries are more healthy than farm-raised.  I love the (always frozen) wild blueberries and have them with my cereal 8-9 months a year when fresh farm-raised blueberries are too expensive.

5) Your tax dollars at work in the war on drugs, headline captures it all, “Cop Spends 2 Months Working Undercover At Burger King, Nets 5 Grams Of Weed.”

5) Great news for my wife (seriously), “A Happy Spouse May Be Good for Your Health.”

But a new study, published in Health Psychology, suggests that physical health may also be linked to the happiness of one’s husband or wife.

Researchers used data from a survey of 1,981 heterosexual couples, a nationwide sample of Americans older than 50 whose happiness had been assessed periodically since 1992 using well-validated scales. They also completed regular questionnaires on physical health.

A person’s good health was independently associated with the happiness of his or her spouse. Consistently, people with an unhappy partner had more physical impairments, engaged in less exercise and rated their overall health worse than those who had a happy partner.

6) Chris Cilizza on Trump’s PA meltdown:

The Trump in that video is the exact opposite of presidential. The word that kept coming to my mind when I watched it was “nasty.” He seems mean, angry, vindictive. None of those words tend to be what people use to describe presidents.

Simply put: If you had questions before Saturday night about whether Trump had the proper temperament to hold the job he is seeking, it’s hard to imagine that you don’t have serious doubts today…

True character tends to be revealed when times are tough. Anyone can be magnanimous, happy and generous after a win. It’s a hell of a lot harder to maintain that dignity and charitableness after a defeat.

Trump has shown throughout this campaign that he runs well while ahead. His chiding of his opponents, his dismissiveness of the political press — it all plays great when he is on top of the political world.

But, last night in Manheim, he showed what we got glimpses of almost a year ago in Iowa: When he’s down, Trump is like a cornered animal. He lashes out — at everyone. That is when he’s at his most dangerous — to his own prospects and those of the party he is leading.

7) Fear leads to more support for Voter ID laws.

8) And nice piece from the Upshot on the social science reality of implicit bias.

9) Alex Wagner on the racism of Bill O’Reilly’s show.  (The Chinatown segment must be seen to be believed).  And the wonderfully profane Daily Show take.

10) So this is about how Washington bureaucrats are disdainful of typical Americans.  A key piece of evidence is this chart:

Ummm, but who would deny that “some” is generous for most of these policy areas.  That said, interesting reading.

11) Trump doing worse than Romney among white voters.  That spells doom.  Also, Harry Enten on how the declining level of undecided and third-party voters in recent polling is making Clinton’s lead safer.

12) How Donald Trump is creating conflict in NFL locker rooms.

13) Vox on the amazing rise of the Honeycrisp apple.  Yes, it is a good apple, but no way good enough to justify it’s super-premium price.  I prefer a good Braeburn, a good Cameo, (or the wondrous Suncrisps that I can only find at one vendor at the NC Farmer’s market).

14) No matter what the issue is, you know Trump will be “strong!”

15) 538 on the myth that Perot cost George HW Bush re-election in 1992 (I still have to semi-regularly swat down this myth).

16) I’m pretty sure I’ve written that I don’t actually object to “everybody gets a trophy” because the meaning of trophy has changed (liked the meaning of “marriage.”).  But, I still enjoyed this NYT debate on the matter.  Here’s the case against my take:

Trophies for all convey an inaccurate and potentially dangerous life message to children: We are all winners. This message is repeated at the end of each sports season, year after year, and is only reinforced by the collection of trophies that continues to pile up. We begin to expect awards and praise for just showing up — to class, practice, after-school jobs — leaving us woefully unprepared for reality. Outside the protected bubble of childhood, not everyone is a winner. Showing up to work, attending class, completing homework and trying my best at sports practice are expected of me, not worthy of an award. These are the foundations of a long path to potential success, a success that is not guaranteed no matter how much effort I put in.

I believe that we should change how we reward children. Trophies should be given out for first, second and third; participation should be recognized, but celebrated with words and a pat on the back rather than a trophy. As in sports as well as life, it is fact that there’s room for only a select few on the winners’ podium.

17) The economic challenges in widespread LED light bulb adoption.

18) Seth Masket on the stupidity of letting undecided voters decide debate questions:

We have a notion in our political discourse that the ideal citizen is one who is well informed about the issues of the day, approaches the candidates without any real preconceptions, and then makes a rational, informed decision about which candidate would best advance her interests and the nation’s. We also know from a great deal of public opinion and election research that this notion describes almost zero people.

Most voters are partisans, to one extent or another. They grow up with loyalty to one of the major parties, even if they never formally register as party members, and they perceive new information in ways that are generally favorable to their chosen party. Their knowledge of the political world may not be perfect, but it’s far better than that of independent voters.

 Actual independents just don’t follow politics very closely at all, for the most part. If they’re undecided between the presidential candidates, it’s in large part because they’ve tuned out and stopped receiving new information about them. And that’s fine. Undecided voters lead busy lives, like the rest of us, and unless they have reason to believe that their own individual vote will be pivotal (which is pretty unlikely), there’s little reason for them to be following the campaign that closely until right before the election. But there’s no reason for this indecision to give them an outsize voice in picking presidents.

19) The “Central Park 5” have been irrefutably vindicated.  Donald Trump is still sure they are guilty.  Because Donald Trump is never wrong.

20) In an interesting– but not the least bit surprising– finding, people who end up living in/near their hometown are much more likely to be Trump supporters:

So Trump has found a following among people who stayed home. One theory would suggest his supporters are sheltered: They haven’t encountered the world beyond what they knew growing up, and their support for Trump is potentially rooted in prejudice. You could also say these people are more in touch with their communities and are willing to dismiss Trump’s more incendiary remarks because he speaks to their news and those of their neighbors. Or both could be true. Either way, it’s a telling correlation. Hillary Clinton may have the hearts of the people who moved away. But way back home, they’re voting for Trump.

21) Among the Republicans endorsing Clinton, Homeland Security Secretary under GWB and former prosecutor of Hillary Clinton, Michael Chertoff.

22) Love Kevin Drum’s take on having learned nothing from having cancer.  Sometimes you just have a horrible disease, and it sucks, and that’s that.

23) Excellent Jack Shafer take on Mike Pence and “the year of disinformation”

Pence’s personal disinformation campaign is part of something much bigger this year. Political campaigns have always peddled bogus rumors and told lies in hopes that their mendacity will take root and hobble their opponents. These efforts don’t usually go very far because most reporters—even those of the pliant, gullible sort—resist being used by sources who traffic in lies.

But in campaign 2016 these disinformation efforts have become rampant, and they are gaining currency as never before thanks to the pick-up they’re getting from traditional media. Traditional media once shied from repeating stories they hadn’t confirmed, or that hadn’t been confirmed by their peers. But as so much of cable television has devolved from news to discussion about what people read in the news, that’s changed. It’s not that the old news gatekeepers aren’t doing their jobs. Most are. It’s just that the fences have been breached.

24) Why don’t we hear more from the Christian left?  Because it’s smaller and far more diverse than the Christian right.

 

25) Watched the “Wiener” documentary this week.  Riveting.  Couldn’t take my eyes off of it– like a car wreck happening right in front of you.

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