Quick hits (part I)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10) Trump and the increasing generational split among Evangelicals.

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

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

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

14) The sugar conspiracy (thanks, DJC)

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

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


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

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

19) James Fallows on the debates:

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

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

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

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

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

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

24) Ezra on Hillary and the debates:

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

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

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

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

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


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.

Quick hits (part I)

1) I’ll be honest, I think Arlie Hochschild gives these Tea Partiers more empathy than they deserve.

2) An algorithm for determining fiction best-sellers.

3) Surprise, surprise, more evidence that drug testing welfare recipients is just dumb public policy.

4) Ummm, Victorian bereavement photography (i.e., photos of dead people, posed to look alive, with their families) is really creepy.

5) So, you are an “intellectual” conservative what do you do?  Make a straight-faced argument that Hillary Clinton (and pretty much all liberals) are a greater threat to America’s Constitutional order than Donald Trump.

6) Samatha Bee takes on those telling Hillary to smile, including David Frum.   Good stuff.  And Frum’s defense.

7) Love Chait on the “pivot” euphemism.

Virtually the entire Republican professional class understands at some level that their presidential candidate is wildly unfit for the presidency. They have all made the professional decision that they cannot say so in public. Instead, their plan is to conceal Trump’s unfitness through the elections and hope for the best, without much regard for what would happen if they succeed in handing control of the Executive branch to an unstable bully. It is one of those moral decisions so awful it can’t be described in plain terms.Pivot is their euphemism of choice.

8) At least in this election, Democrats are killing it with the fundraising thanks to the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon decision.

9) Matt Yglesias with some interesting pushback on Trump/Hitler book review.  Some really good points.  I still love the review.

10) If the rest of the world got a vote, it would be Clinton in the biggest landslide ever.

11) Paul Waldman with a pretty compelling take on why the second debate, with it’s town hall format, may be even more conducive to a Clinton victory.

12) As swing states go, Ohio ain’t what it used to be:

But even some of the state’s proudest boosters acknowledge that Ohio, which is nearly 80 percent white, is decreasingly representative of contemporary America.

“Ohio, like a melting iceberg, has slowly been losing its status as the country’s bellwether,” said Michael F. Curtin, a Democratic state legislator and former Columbus Dispatch editor who is co-author of the state’s authoritative “Ohio Politics Almanac.”

He continued: “It’s a slow melt. But we have not captured any appreciable Hispanic population, and there has been very little influx of an Asian population. When you look at the diversity of America 30 to 40 years ago, Ohio was a pretty close approximation of the country. It no longer is.”

13) I think I forgot to post Ezra Klein’s takedown of Trump on trade.

14) A thorough history of Trump’s corruption.  Be warned, it’s looooong.

15) Really interesting Jordan Weissman take on the long-term impact of trade normalization with China under Bill Clinton.

16) Sure, one could entirely fill up quick hits with Trump’s ignorance on policy, but, hey, it really is important stuff, and this piece from Fred Kaplan on Trump’s foreign policy incompetence is quite good.

17) A Bernie Bro has seen the light and apologizes for “despising” Hillary Clinton.

18) Maybe the police should not always rely on yelling commands as a first option.

19) Among mammals, humans are quite violent within species.  As primates go, however, we’re pretty par for the course.

20) The case for more brevity in your emails.

21) Given all the other post-debate coverage, not much on how Clinton attempted to paint Trump as a Romney-like lover of the rich.

22) You know what, Donald Trump really does not have a good sense of humor:

Granted, a lot has been made of Hillary Clinton’s sense of humor—her laugh is shrill, too many of her jokes have seemed too prepared for far too long. But undoubtedly, at the first presidential debate on Monday, it was confirmed: Her sense of humor exists! And this mattered, because humor showed Clinton to be as self-aware as she was serious, and served to isolate Trump, making him seem like an angry spider caught in a tangled dystopia of his own construction.

This isn’t to say that Trump can’t get laughs. It’s simply that when he gets them, he’s humiliating people—whether “Low Energy” Jeb Bush, “Lyin” Ted Cruz or “Little” Marco Rubio. Humor borne out of cruelty happens to be the easiest and therefore lowest form of comedy: It is cheap stuff and it does not elevate the candidate, nor make him a more fundamentally sympathetic character. And when Trump does manage to grab laughs, his smile is a forced, flat line—a concession to facial spasm more than a natural expression of amusement or mirth.

23) Will Saletan on how the Iraq War created lasting damage to the Republican Party.

24) I basically have no interest in psychedelic drugs (like pretty much all mind-altering drugs except caffeine), but there’s ever more evidence that there are valuable therapeutic benefits.  Alas, our war on drugs is, as always, getting in the way.

25) Nate Cohn on the post-debate movement towards Clinton in the polls:

Usually, a good way to test the durability of a swing in the polls is to ask whether it brings the race closer or farther from the so-called fundamentals, like the president’s approval ratings.

A shift that brings the polls in line with the fundamentals might be a little likelier to last than one that cuts the other way. Mr. Kerry’s recovery, for instance, brought the tighter race implied by Mr. Bush’s approval ratings. Barack Obama’s gains in 2008 gave him the considerable advantage implied by the economy and Mr. Bush’s low approval ratings. The opposite could be said of Mr. Bush’s and Mr. Romney’s surges in 2000 and 2012.

This year, it’s a lot harder to tell. That’s in part because there is no incumbent president on the ballot, which always makes it a little harder to tell where the natural resting point of a race sits. But it’s also because Mr. Trump is such an extraordinary candidate that many analysts believe the fundamentals will be less significant than usual.

In lieu of the traditional fundamentals, here’s something to consider instead: Over the longer term, Mrs. Clinton has led Mr. Trump by around five percentage points nationally.

The debate has bumped her poll standing back closer to her longer-term average, and it seems plausible it could stay in that range. The debate has also reinforced doubts about whether Mr. Trump is prepared for the presidency. No matter how you interpret polls, Mrs. Clinton is in a decent position with less than 40 days to go.

Quick hits (part II)

1) At least temporarily– and hopefully longer– NYT has put an end to awful he said, she said journalism with regards to Trump’s lies.

2) More evidence showing that it’s much better to be a 6th grader not in a middle school.

3) Ross Douthat with a very thought-provoking column on Clinton’s “Samantha Bee” problem.  This provoked a lot of interesting social media discussion among my professor friends.

But the Democratic Party’s problem in the age of Trump isn’t really Jimmy Fallon. Its problem is Samantha Bee.

Not Bee alone, of course, but the entire phenomenon that she embodies: the rapid colonization of new cultural territory by an ascendant social liberalism.

The culture industry has always tilted leftward, but the swing toward social liberalism among younger Americans and the simultaneous surge of activist energy on the left have created a new dynamic, in which areas once considered relatively apolitical now have (or are being pushed to have) an overtly left-wing party line…

At the same time, outside the liberal tent, the feeling of being suffocated by the left’s cultural dominance is turning voting Republican into an act of cultural rebellion — which may be one reason the Obama years, so good for liberalism in the culture, have seen sharp G.O.P. gains at every level of the country’s government.

4) NYT editorial takes on NC’s horribly misguided HB2.

5) Not a single Fortune 100 CEO has given to Trump.  A whole bunch gave to Romney.  And this is despite the fact that Trump assures them large personal tax cuts.

6) And speaking of which, Trump’s tax plans would cause deficits to explode.  But nobody cares because it’s Trump and policy.

7) Drew Magery knows he’s not going to convince any Trump voters, so he just unloads with what he really thinks:

Nothing that Trump says, no damning piece of Trump reportage, and certainly no opinion piece like this one will stop his voters from pulling the lever. Nor will anything stop Trump from being the officious, braindead goon that he is. He will never answer for his crimes, and there’s a frighteningly large portion of the electorate that will always love him for that.

And so I’d just like to say to that portion of the electorate: Fuck you. No, seriously. Go fuck yourselves. I’m not gonna waste any more time trying to convince you that you’re about to do something you’ll regret forever. I’m not gonna show you old clips of Trump saying rotten things. I’m not gonna try to ANNIHILATE Trump by showing you records of his hypocrisy and greed. I’m not gonna link to a John Oliver clip and be like, “THIS. So much this.” Nothing’s gonna take down Trump at this point, so I’m not gonna bother. No no, this post is for ME. I am preaching to the sad little choir in my soul here.

Because while Trump is a miserable bastard, YOU are the people who have handed him the bullhorn. YOU are the people willing to embarrass this nation and put it on the brink of economic ruin all because you wanna throw an electoral hissy fit. YOU are the people who want to revolutionize the way America does business by voting for its worst businessman, a disgusting neon pig who only makes money when he causes problems for other people instead of solving them. YOU are the thin-skinned yokels who clutch your bandoliers whenever someone hurls the mildest of slurs at you (“deplorables”), while cheering Trump on as he leaves a bonfire of truly hateful invective everywhere he goes. YOU are the people willing to overlook the fact that Trump is an unqualified, ignorant sociopath because DURRRR HILLARY IS BAD TOO DURRRR.

8) Does terrorism help Trump?  Saletan says the evidence says no.

9) And Adam Gopnik on New Yorker’s non-terrorized response to terrorism.

10) Kevin Drum on who Republican elites listen to summed up in a single chart:

11) Ed Yong with a really nice piece on the inevitable survival of the fittest of bad science (it’s all about the bad incentives).

12) I’ve never been one to fool myself by thinking getting food off the floor in less than five seconds will render it bacteria free (the latest research suggests decidedly not), yet, I figure I would think nothing of picking up a pencil off the floor than eating some food.  So, I’ll just count on my immune system– it’s worked well so far.

13) Political Scientist and media critic extraordinaire, Thomas Patterson, on the media coverage of Trump and Clinton:

IF Hillary Clinton loses the presidential election in November, we will know the reason. The email controversy did her candidacy in. But it needed a helping hand — and the news media readily supplied that.

My analysis of media coverage in the four weeks surrounding both parties’ national conventions found that her use of a private email server while secretary of State and other alleged scandal references accounted for 11% of Clinton’s news coverage in the top five television networks and six major newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. Excluding neutral reports, 91% of the email-related news reports were negative in tone. Then, there were the references to her character and personal life, which accounted for 4% of the coverage; that was 92% negative. [emphasis mine]

While Trump declared open warfare on the mainstream media — and of late they have cautiously responded in kind — it has been Clinton who has suffered substantially more negative news coverage throughout nearly the whole campaign.

14) Just in case you didn’t hear about the Trump county chair in Ohio who said that racism was over in America until Obama brought it back.

15) It’s from just about a year ago, but this Brendan Nyhan piece on the media’s misguided search for “authenticity” is great.

16) Paul Waldman asks if Trump is running the sleaziest foundation in America?  Hell, yes!  The fact that pretty much only the Post is taking this issue seriously is perhaps the largest media failure of the campaign.

In case you haven’t been following the story of the Trump Foundation, that last part is critical: Trump has given zero dollars to the Trump Foundation since 2009. Instead, he gets other rich people to donate money to the foundation, and he then uses their money for self-aggrandizement and sometimes self-enrichment. As Fahrenthold has documented, Trump has used foundation money for things like buying a six-foot-tall painting of himself, sometimes at charity events held at Mar-a-Lago, where he charges the charity for use of the facility, which means that not only is he not making the donation for which everyone is praising him, he’s actually making money on the deal. And then of course there’s the conveniently timed, illegal $25,000 donation from the foundation to Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, which was followed quickly by her decision not to join a lawsuit charging Trump with fraud over Trump University.

We’ll have to see if the IRS investigates the self-dealing Fahrenthold has identified and what kinds of fines might result. But one of the many striking details in this story is the shock experts in nonprofit and foundation law express when they hear about how Trump uses the Trump Foundation. “I represent 700 nonprofits a year, and I’ve never encountered anything so brazen,” one lawyer told Fahrenthold. “If he’s using other people’s money — run through his foundation — to satisfy his personal obligations, then that’s about as blatant an example of self-dealing [as] I’ve seen in a while.”

17) No, immigrants are not taking jobs from Americans (says the latest study).

18) Dahlia Lithwick on why Hillary should not stoop to Trump’s level in the debate:

But it seems to me the real challenge for Clinton is that she must stand on a stage and debate the single most awful political person in modern American consciousness. Trying to stifle the impulse just to walk across the stage and belt him in the face would seem an insurmountable task. Add to that the fact that Clinton is expected to speak and listen, and it seems beyond human capability.

When considering these obstacles, Clinton should realize that she has one sole job in these debates: Be the grownup. She doesn’t need to be funny. (She isn’t.) She doesn’t need to be emotional—that’s how the deeply unfortunate “basket of deplorables” remark happened. She doesn’t have to bend over backward to be charming or personable. Her job is to ignore the crazy circus monkey with the broken cymbals and do what she does best: Listen carefully, respond reasonably, and speak to the part of America that truly understands what it means to entrust someone with the nuclear codes.

19) Short Term 12 is a sweet little movie you probably never heard of.  It’s streaming on Netflix and it’s really good.

20) Tim Noah on the death of telephone calls.

21) How lobbying for government regulations helped make the EpiPen so expensive.

22) You really should read James Fallows‘ great Atlantic cover story on the debates before the debate.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Birth control for wild horses.

2) Oh, man, I love this formulation on the rules of adjectives in English.

3) Harry Enten with 13 tips for reading election polls like a pro.  Can’t go wrong with the first two:

  1. Beware of polls tagged “bombshells” or “stunners.” Any poll described thusly is likely to be an outlier, and outlier polls are usually wrong. Remember those American Research Group polls that had Republican John Kasich climbing rapidly in primary after primary? They were pretty much all wrong; stunners usually are. That said, sometimes they’re right, such as the Des Moines Register poll that projected a large Joni Ernst victory in the 2014 Iowa Senate race, when other polls showed a tighter race. So don’t dismiss outliers, either.
  2. Instead, take an average. I don’t just say this because it’s what we do at FiveThirtyEight. I say it because aggregating polls, especially in general elections, is the method that leads to the most accurate projection of the eventual result most often. Put simply, it’s the best measure of the state of the race.

4) I so love that 538 has a wedding gift spending guide.  In the future, I’m consulting this and aiming for median.

5) For some reason, Tom Wolfe has decided to take on Charles Darwin and Noam Chomsky.  And, no, he doesn’t actually have any idea of what he’s doing.  I love his novels, but, wow.

6) Hillary Clinton with a wide-ranging proposal to improve mental health treatment in America.  Everybody agrees this is desperately needed.  But nobody actually seems to care.

7) Apparently, I’m far from alone in still loving printed books.  And at that moment, totally loving The Nix.

8) Are there secret Trump voters out there?  Anecdotally, at least, there are.

9) The lawsuit that could destroy North Carolina beaches as we know them.  Even Pat McCrory has the good sense to be on the right side of this one.  But the right-leaning NC thinktank, Civitas, is fighting to ruin them in the name of private property rights.

10) What if Obama had reached out to white voters as Trump has done with Black voters:

11) Hooray for science and appropriate government regulation and the new ban on anti-bacterial soaps.  We’ve been trying to avoid them for years, but it is actually hard if you prefer liquid soap.

12) I was so happy that Hermine did not make any serious effort to strand me in Philadelphia.  That said, meteorologically what’s going on is pretty rare and fascinating.

13) Unconscious racial bias in hiring.

14) Court costs trap poor, non-white, juvenile offenders.  Sadly, not in the least bit surprised.


15) Online polls and live-interview polls have been telling different stories as of late.

16) Andrew Gelman with a nice piece noting that yes, 1964 and 72 were landslides with unpopular candidates, but the state of the economy was also a huge factor in those margins.  We just don’t have a landslide economy in 2016.

17) This LA Times story of a suburban parent vendetta involving planted drugs, affairs, spouses testifying against each other, etc., is utterly fascinating.  I forget what on-line person told me I simply had to read it, but I’m glad they did.  Now I’ll do the same for you.

18) Watched “Last of the Mohicans” with David yesterday.  He enjoyed it, but was surprised that it’s one of my favorites.  I told him, I’m normally not that big on melodrama, but beautifully-shot Chimney Rock, NC, one of my favorite of all movies scores (easily my favorite not from John Williams), and Daniel Day-Lewis with “I will find you” to Madeleine Stowe, and I’m all in.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Ed Kilgore’s headline gets it, “Media False Equivalence Is Trump’s Best Friend in the Debate Over Racism.”

2) Both Drum and ThinkProgress deconstruct a horrible AP story about “conspiracy theories” in both campaigns.  Of course, the reality is that Trump’s campaign is rife with them and Hillary doesn’t need any conspiracy theories– Trump’s reality is plenty.   But, damn, the AP is horrible lately.

3) Philip Bump on the lack of notable Republicans defending Trump on race.

4) Bill Ayers recently reposted a post of his on the false equivalence between racism and being accused of racism.

5) Harry Enten on how Gary Johnson is decidedly not fading in the polls.

Why is Johnson’s support proving more durable than past third-party candidates’? The most obvious answer is that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are extremely unpopular for major party presidential nominees; if third-party voters eventually settled on a major party nominee in past campaigns for fear of “wasting their vote,” they may be less willing to settle this year. (Of course, Johnson’s support may simply fade later than past third-party candidates.)

6) On the inadequacy of criminal law for dealing with bureaucratic malfeasance.

7) Aarron Carroll on how Epipen pricing represents so much of what’s wrong with American health care.

8) Very interesting interview with Uwe Reinhardt on why he thinks the health care exchanges are doomed.  Why?  We’re not really all that serious about the mandate.

9) Aarron Carroll again on simple rules for healthy eating.  Nothing surprising, but nicely laid out.

10) I did not know about “legacy” board games.  Sounds pretty cool.  Going to have to give this a try one of these days.  For now, love playing “Seven Wonders” any chance I get.  Somehow my son, David, is just unstoppable at that game.  Only managed to beat him once.

11) NYT Editorial on the not ransom to Iran.

12) I did enjoy the “moron’s case for Hillary Clinton”

OK, listen up. Nobody cares about emails that show Bono wanted State Department assistance to stream his music from the International Space Station. You should thank Almighty God and Jedi Jebus he failed. So far all we have seen is a public official in extraordinary circumstances who should have known better demonstrate “extreme carelessness” to which I believe she has owned up to sufficiently and which, by the way, no wrongdoing was ever uncovered even after a year-long investigation by the FBI for the love of God. We all know that trustworthiness is important in a President. But if absolutely no slack is given at all, and I mean none, if this is how we treat people who make public service their life and profession, then you will always get “crooks” as politicians because who in their right mind would want the job? It’s like being a firefighter. When there’s a fire everybody runs out. You run in. It’s a maniac’s job but it has to be done so let’s have the best do it and not get wrapped up in what amounts to paperwork. That’s all this really is. Paperwork. You would rather stay at home or vote for someone George Orwell or Edgar Allan Poe couldn’t have dreamed up over emails? Then you’re even dumber than you look…

I know, I know. Damn it all! Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just forget all of that pesky accomplishment stuff of hers and remember that what really matters is the thrill of waiting for indictments which makes for great television? That way we could finally “lock her up” and enough with these stupid women who think they can run a country. Well, enough out of YOU, you moron. This isn’t the lesser of two evils. This is a choice between one great and qualified candidate for the nation’s highest office who you really should be excited about and a dolt with a bad toupee who if you were honest with yourself you wouldn’t trust to manage a Dairy Queen much less the Oval Office.

13) Parents pushing  back against too much homework.  And pretty much any homework more than a few minutes a day in elementary school just isn’t worth it.

14) High school teacher on teaching Donald Trump:

Thus, while I am always careful about how and when to show my biases, I’m not worried about appearing biased if my stance is against bigotry and in defense of moral reason and the scholarly use of evidence, logic, and research. Just as the notions of media neutrality collapse under threats to democracy, so too do notions of teacher neutrality. We can’t be silent. And I’m confident we won’t be.

15) University of Chicago is drawing plenty of attention for it’s letter against intellectual “safe spaces” on campus.  You will be not surprised to know I’m with them on this.

16) Greg Koger on the Clinton Foundation emails:

Washington, DC, is suffering a severe shortage of smelling salts this morning as newsbroke suggesting a correlation between financial contributions and gaining access to a political figure. In this case, the contributions were to the Clinton Foundation and the politician is Hillary Clinton, so this is being cast as a violation of the norms of our nation’s capital.

If only there were prior political science research testing whether contributors were more likely to gain access to political figures…

Actually, there has been a mountain of evidence that this is common practice, as you can see in my all-too-brief list of citations. The most recent of these works is a field experiment in which an interest group solicited meetings with congressional offices and revealed to some of these offices that potential donors would be at the meeting.

The “potential donors” were more likely to be scheduled for meetings and were more likely to meet with members of Congress or top staffers than average citizens making the same request (summaries herehere, and here).

Of course, the link between money and access is no surprise to the seasoned Washingtonian. It plays out over breakfast, lunch, cocktails, and dinner at restaurantsand venues across town, and at sad callcenters where telemarketers wonder why they ever ran for Congress. And the other major presidential candidate is an avowed participant in the pay-to-say-hi game. What’s really shocking is the feigned shock.

17) Washington Post movie critic Ann Hornaday argues that this summer’s hits and misses demonstrate that studios still need to pay attention to good directing, story, etc.  Well, hopefully that’s true.

18) So, actually binged “Stranger Things” in about a week.  Not great, but how would I not like a series with 12-year old protagonists who play D&D set in 1983 and involving supernatural thrills.  Not sure I would have stuck with it, but worked great at 1.4-1.6x speed.  The enjoyment was all plot (not so much dialogue and character), so keeping the plot moving really helped.


Quick hits (part I)

1) This is a terrific piece on the strengths and weaknesses of Hillary Clinton as a politician by Ezra Klein.  I’ve been meaning to write a post about it. Just read it.  Really.

2) As long as I am quick-hitting stuff I meant to give their own post… this Dara Lind piece on sex offender registries is a pretty much perfect case study in how good intentions can lead to bad policy.

3) Biblical literalism and the new Noah’s Ark reconstruction.

4) Trump’s message to NC is increasingly less relevant.

5) The right-wing lies and myths about Hillary’s health are just plain wrong.  And the mainstream media should call them out on this.

6) A liberal professor with his take on why all the liberal professors.

7) A teacher shared her evidence-based policy on homework (that is, there’s little evidence it helps) and it went viral.  There’s actually nothing new here, but presumably good that people are starting to pay attention.

8) I’m so with Drum… if you’ve got something more than one simple thought to say, write a damn blog post!  Enough with the tweetstorms!

9) John McWhorter (by the way, I love how he has gone full-bore on being a public intellectual– I’ve loved pretty much everything I have read by him) on the changing language of race.  I especially like this part:

Notably, black has persisted robustly alongside African-American—note how clumsy “African American Lives Matter” would seem. The reason is that despite the persistence of racism after the early ’70s, few could say that black people since then have lived under the bluntly discriminatory, life-stunting conditions that blighted all black lives then. As such, African-Americandidn’t have as much ugly thought to replace, which is why it always had a slight air of the stunt about it, always felt as a bit in quotation marks. Black never connoted the ugly-newsreel/segregated water-fountain pain of Negro and colored, and African-American was created not because black had become especially freighted with negative associations, but because the hyphenated conception of identity had become so attractive and in vogue at the time. I personally have always found African-American clumsy, confusing, and implying that black history since 1600 was somehow not worthy of founding an identity upon, and I only use it when necessary. Yet I would never have ventured this relatively idiosyncratic position about Negro and colored.

10) Find out how well Facebook knows your politics (and actually very handy advice for modifying the ads you see).

11) Harry Enten on house effects among various pollsters.  As long as you analytically take these into account, the poll can still be useful.

12) I’m pretty good with delay of gratification, but the idea of putting something aside for 72 hours before buying it sounds like a good one.

13) Sensible password rules.  Enough with one special character, one upper-case, etc.

14) Interesting take on how Gawker was done in (shared by pretty much every journalist I know on social media).

15) Jonathan Ladd thinks Trump’s epically bad campaign means he has a lot of potential upside.  Definitely the right idea, but I honestly think, too late:

Yet as you may have noticed, things are different this year. The Trump campaign is so weak that it appears to be affecting the race. Political science models predicting the 2016 election based on various fundamentals (i.e., variables that ignore the two candidates and their campaigns) mostly predict a very close election or a Republican victory. Trump is vastly underperforming these fundamentals. He is currently somewhere between 5 and 10 points behind in pollingaverages.

The reason is that his campaign is weaker than any in the modern media era. There is arguably a bigger mismatch relative to the opposing campaign than in any presidential election in American history. The many errors of messaging by Trump and his campaign staff are too numerous to list here.

The bottom line is that he has presented himself in ways that have little appeal beyond the Republican base, some of whom will vote for him because they like his message and others out of partisan loyalty. But many other Americans who would be willing to vote Republican this year are repelled by Trump.

The strange thing is that this means the details of Trump’s campaign tactics matter a lot. Normally, both campaigns are competent enough that they are deep into the diminishing marginal returns for campaign communication. But this year, the Trump campaign has been so weak, I don’t think diminishing returns have really kicked in yet. Trump could improve his fortunes a lot if he managed to run a weak but essentially normal presidential campaign.

16) Money is all good for college athletes when it comes to gold medals.  Just another example of the NCAA’s epic hypocrisy.

17) Face transplant a year later– impressive progress.

18) Social science approaches to improving voter turnout.

19) Are private prisons highly problematic?  Indeed.  But in terms of what’s wrong with our criminal justice system, they are probably not even in the top 10 problems.  That’s because, they are not nearly as widespread as their critics believe.  

20) Speaking of prisons, it’s pretty shameful Ramen seems to have replaced cigarettes as black market currency because we can’t even seem to feed prisoners enough decent food.

21) Melania Trump’s “diary.”  Good stuff.

22) The hundred best films of the 21st century.  I’ve seen a few.  Not enough.  I would say the Angry Birds movie is one of the 10 worst I’ve seen this century.


23) A new book says ADHD is over-diagnosed and medication is over-prescribed.  I don’t dispute that.  That said, I’ll go on record as saying a correct diagnosis and stimulant medication has made a huge difference for my son:

Influential patient-advocacy groups insist that only now is the true prevalence of A.D.H.D. finally being recognized after being drastically underestimated — akin to the spike in autism diagnoses once the narrowly defined condition was broadened into a spectrum in the 1990s. But Schwarz makes a convincing case that the radical expansion and promotion of A.D.H.D. has resulted in the label being applied in ways that are far beyond the needs of a historically underserved community, while nonpharmaceutical methods of treatment like cognitive behavioral therapy (which have been proved to complement the effectiveness of medication) are overlooked.

24) Toobin on how Ted Cruz is still running for president.

25) Love this xkcd:

Linear Regression


%d bloggers like this: