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.

 

Mika Brzezinski’s anti-Trump statement tells us everything that is wrong with journalistic norms

In response to Trump referring to Hillary Clinton as a “bigot” (seriously??!!  Please!), Mika Brzeinski had the following to say:

“You have no idea. You have no idea what your words mean,” Brzezinski said.

“And I can’t pretend and sort of try and cover this fairly and put it in the objectivity. [emphasis mine] You have no idea what your words mean and what you’re doing to this country.”

Got that?  Brzezinski is so clearly wedded to the “both sides” idea of objectivity and fairness in journalism that simply coming out and calling a (by any rational standards whatsoever) completely false and disprovable (if not dangerous) statement for what is is violates “fairness” and “objectivity” to her.  So hard to call out Trump without saying, “but Hillary Clinton says mean things!” or some such.  But in truth, there’s simply nothing nearly equivalent from Hillary Clinton and Brzezinski just has to admit as much.  But, oh my how that burns for a journalist who is so committed to the idea of “both sides” objectivity.

Economists for Trump!

Ummm, keep looking.  From James Fallows:

Today Ben Leubsdorf, Eric Morath, and Josh Zumbrun of the WSJ published theresults of a survey of all living former members of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, with service dating back to the time of Richard Nixon. Not one of them expressed support for Donald Trump. All of the Republicans who expressed a preference opposed him.

The story quoted a post by Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the CEA under George W. Bush:

“I have Republican friends who think that things couldn’t be worse than doubling down on Obama policies under Hillary Clinton. And, like them, I am no fan of the left’s agenda of large government and high taxes,” Mr. Mankiw wrote. “But they are wrong: Things could be worse. And I fear they would be under Mr. Trump.”

I’m not aware of anything like this having happened before. Noted for the record, with 74 days to go until the election, and with no tax returns or plausible health report yet on public offer.

 

 

Hillary and Trump’s racism

So, Hillary had a big speech today on Trump’s racism, etc.  One of the questions is “why?”  What is she hoping to accomplish with this speech.  Other than the obvious, of course, of making the case that Trump is horrible and should not be president.  Lots of ways to look at this, but I think Drum gets it just right:

Why did she do this? The most popular explanation is that she was giving “permission” for moderate Republicans to stay home in November. Donald Trump, she said, isn’t a traditional Republican. He’s a hate-monger who’s hijacked the party as a vehicle for his loathsome brand of racism and xenophobia. Even if you’re a loyal Republican, you don’t have to support that.

But I’ll propose a different explanation: she was giving the press permission to talk about Donald Trump’s racism. So far, they’ve tiptoed around it. But once the candidate herself calls it out, it invites a thousand think pieces about Breitbart, the alt-right, the GOP’s history of tolerating bigotry, Trump’s troubling background, and dozens of other related topics. Surrogates can blather all they want about this, but it doesn’t truly become a mainstream subject until the actual candidate for president makes it one. [emphasis mine]

This is part of the agenda-setting power that presidential candidates have. Donald Trump has used it endlessly, and now Hillary Clinton is using it too. Trump has made his bed, and Hillary is making sure he has to lie in it.

Yes, this is agenda setting, because the media is talking about it– at least for a day or two, but I think a better way to think about it is “indexing,” a topic I was just addressing in my Media and politics class.  This is the idea that newsmedia look to major newsmaking figures to essentially decide what is news and how to cover the news.   More important than just getting on the agenda, by Hillary Clinton making these statements it can powerfully shape news coverage in the ways Drum has described.

Hillary Clinton, email, and media bias

This Yglesias post on the “big” AP story about Hillary Clinton’s email was so good.  I didn’t pay that much attention to this story because the first thing I saw about it was a reference like this:

Ummm, something about that denominator should seem more than a little off for somebody who spent four years serving as secretary of state.  Right there it is telling you that AP is coming into this story with very much of an agenda.  And Yglesias gets into and it’s even worse:

The basic allegation here, that the majority of the people Clinton met with as secretary of state were Clinton Foundation donors, is remarkable. And the implication that the investigation that unearthed this striking fact has also revealed “ethics challenges” is important. The many Americans who already have a negative view of Clinton will see these facts ricocheting through their feeds and appearing on Fox chyrons and will further entrench their negative views.

Only a relatively small handful of people will actually read the story from beginning to end and see that there’s no there there…

the AP’s social media claims are simply false — ignoring well over 1,000 official meetings with foreign leaders and an unknown number of meetings with domestic US officials…

As the AP puts it: “[T]he frequency of the overlaps shows the intermingling of access and donations, and fuels perceptions that giving the foundation money was a price of admission for face time with Clinton.”

With that lead-in, one is naturally primed to read some scandalous material — a case of someone with a legitimately crucial need to sit down with the secretary of state whose meeting is held up until he can produce cash, or a person with no business getting face time with the secretary nevertheless receiving privileged access in exchange for money. Instead, the most extensively discussed case the AP could come up with is this:

Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist who won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering low-interest “microcredit” for poor business owners, met with Clinton three times and talked with her by phone during a period when Bangladeshi government authorities investigated his oversight of a nonprofit bank and ultimately pressured him to resign from the bank’s board. Throughout the process, he pleaded for help in messages routed to Clinton, and she ordered aides to find ways to assist him.

I have no particular knowledge of Yunus, Grameen Bank, or the general prospects of microcredit as a philanthropic venture. I can tell you, however, that Yunus not only won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize but has also been honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Congressional Gold Medal. In 2008 he was No. 2 on Foreign Policy’s list of the “top 100 global thinkers,” and Ted Turner put him on the board of the UN Foundation. He’s received the World Food Prize, the International Simon Bolivar Prize, and thePrince of Asturias Award for Concord

The State Department doing its job seems to clearly be the story of the time [emphases mine] “Clinton also met in June 2011 with Nancy Mahon of the MAC AIDS, the charitable arm of MAC Cosmetics, which is owned by Estee Lauder.” Was the meeting about Mahon trying to swing a plumb internship for a family member? Nope! As the story concedes, “the meeting occurred before an announcement about a State Department partnership to raise money to finance AIDS education and prevention.”

Meeting with the head of a charity as part of an effort to raise charitable money is just the system working properly. Read the meat of the article, and the most shocking revelation is what’s not in it — a genuinely interesting example of influence peddling…

The State Department is a big operation. So is the Clinton Foundation. The AP put a lot of work into this project. And it couldn’t come up with anything that looks worse than helping a Nobel Prize winner, raising money to finance AIDS education, and doing an introduction for the chair of the Kennedy Center. It’s kind of surprising…

Publication bias is the name of a well-known but hard to solve problem in academic research. A paper with a striking new finding is much more likely to be accepted at a top journal than a paper that says, “I investigated an interesting hypothesis, but it turned out to be wrong.” This means that spurious findings — statistical coincidences and such — make it into the published literature, while boring null results don’t. This gives a distorted picture of reality simply because everyone is trying to be interesting.

Similarly, the AP’s basic reporting project here seems like it was worth a shot and probably also fairly time-consuming. But it did not come up with anything. Clinton tried to help a Nobel Prize winner. She went to the Kennedy Center Honors. She had a meeting with the head of the charitable arm of MAC Cosmetics about a State Department charitable initiative.

There’s just nothing here. That’s the story. Braun and Sullivan looked into it, and as best they can tell, she’s clean.

Unfortunately, there’s a financial incentive to lean in the other direction…

The real news here ought to be just the opposite: Donors to the Clinton Foundation may believe they are buying Hillary Clinton’s political allegiance, but the reality is that they are not. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is someone, somewhere whom Clinton met with whom she wouldn’t have met with had that person not been a Clinton donor of some kind. But what we know is that despite very intensive media scrutiny of the Clinton Foundation, we don’t have hard evidence of any kind of corrupt activity. That’s the story.

Yep, yep, yep.  And for the right-wingers, this will just further confirm that opinion of Clinton as an evil, malicious, liar.  And for the rest of America without a particular axe to grind, they are probably not paying all that much attention, in which case all they get is a further sense– completely false, insofar as this story goes– that Hillary Clinton is unethical and cannot be trusted.

Ticket splitting in 2016

There’s a number of very vulnerable Republican Senators in blue/purple states who are hoping to run well ahead of Donald Trump to keep their seats.  That, of course, requires many voters to split their tickets.  My friends from grad school, David Kimball and Barry Burden literally wrote the book on ticket-splitting, so I’m been wondering their take on the matter.  Well, they were both interviewed for this nice Vox piece on the matter, so…

As the parties have gotten more and more polarized, voters have grown less and less likely to vote for both a Democrat and a Republican in the same trip to the polls. In 2012, after years of continual decline, we hit a low point — fewer than 10 percent of voters cast split ballots in the last election, Kimball says.

“The amount of ticket splitting in 2012 was lower than any previous election to the 1920s,” he says.

That was true for both the House and Senate. In 2012, the same party that won a congressional district at the presidential level also lost its House seat in just 6 percent of 435 races — breaking another record going back to the 1920s, according to Kimball.

Over the past few election cycles, in other words, the fates of a party’s presidential candidates and its congressional candidates have become increasingly inseparable. If that holds true in 2016, and if Trump’s polling numbers continue to sink, House and Senate Republicans look to be in terrible shape this November…

“Republicans will need lots of ticket splitting to hold on to the House and Senate — and right now the polling is showing a surprising amount of it,” says Barry Burden, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin.

Republicans have a ton of vulnerable seats to try to defend in 2016, so they’re likely to lose the Senate even if their congressional candidates do significantly better than Trump. But the extent of Republicans’ Senate losses — and, possibly, their control of the House — may depend on the extent to which candidates like Portman and Ayotte can reverse a decades-long decline in ticket splitting.

“This year, the relationship that’s been developing with greater strength over the past decades is getting a direct challenge,” Jacobson says. “In recent elections, ticket splitting has been going away. But in recent elections, we didn’t have Donald Trump.”

Short version: we’ll see in November.  Slightly longer version: Donald Trump has been blowing up lots of recent historical patterns.  We’ll have to see if ticket splitting is another of these.

 

Hillary Clinton’s “weakness” is what Trump anonymous Trump associates say it is

So, pretty ridiculous article in the Post today about how Trump is going to convince voters he’s not actually racist by hanging out with Ben Carson and actually speaking to Black audiences for the first time.  I’m sure that will carry far more weight than when he refused to disavow the Klan.  Anyway, this part of the article struck me as absolutely horrible journalism:

Trump’s team also hopes to exploit what the campaign’s internal poll of black voters nationally shows to be a potential vulnerability for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton once voters are informed of the crime policy record of former president Bill Clinton, according to two Trump associates.

One, this is simply not credible.  Bernie Sanders tried this.  Hillary crushed Bernie among Black voters.  Not to mention, ummm, Trump is, you know, actually racist.  Secondly, since when does anonymous “associates” of a campaign making an assertion get to be treated at face value like this?  Can Clinton aides simply assert they are “confident of victory because internal polls show at least 51% of Americans detest Trump and will never vote for him”?

That said, the article was pretty clear that his appeal is actually to convince whites he’s not actually racist.  That may work on some Republicans who want to believe it.  But actual non-whites, not influenced by partisanship to want to support Trump, sure as hell know better.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 712 other followers

%d bloggers like this: