Help Me Solve the Mystery of Question 25

Ladies and gentlemen, I present question 25 from the latest WaPo/ABC News poll:

Golly, I wonder where people got that idea from? In over a year of investigation, there's been no evidence of a Foundation donor getting anything from Hillary Clinton more important than a better seat at a State Department luncheon. And yet 59 percent of Americans have come away with the impression that both the Foundation and Hillary Clinton personally are corrupt.

How could this be? It's a chin scratcher, all right.

The Shorenstein Center's Thomas Patterson has analyzed Hillary Clinton's press coverage during the month of the two political conventions. He presents his findings today in the LA Times:

If Clinton loses, blame the email controversy and the media

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.

....How about her foreign, defense, social or economic policies? Don’t bother looking. Not a single one of Clinton’s policy proposals accounted for even 1% of her convention-period coverage; collectively, her policy stands accounted for a mere 4% of it. But she might be thankful for that: News reports about her stances were 71% negative to 29% positive in tone. Trump was quoted more often about her policies than she was. Trump’s claim that Clinton “created ISIS,” for example, got more news attention than her announcement of how she would handle Islamic State.

Luckily, the online version includes a link to Patterson's report. It tells a different story. During the period Patterson studied, Trump's news coverage was 75 percent negative, while Clinton's was 56 percent negative. Overall, the media was harsher toward Trump than it was toward Clinton.

Now, there are different kinds of negative. Trump got a lot of negative coverage for running a chaotic convention, which is the kind of thing that blows over quickly. Clinton got a lot of negative coverage over Emailgate, which is the kind of thing that sets a permanent tone. And Patterson points out that a full 8 percent of Clinton's coverage was about her emails, by far the biggest category for a single issue.

We also don't know the relative placement of all this coverage. Negative coverage on page A12 is a lot different than negative coverage on the front page.

Nonetheless, the fact remains that Trump apparently got significantly more negative coverage than Clinton. What's frustrating for a lot of Democrats, I think, is that Trump's voluminous negative coverage doesn't seem to do him any harm. And that's largely because of a disconnect about what counts as "negative." In the normal world inhabited by journalists, lying, cheating, bullying, insulting, and general ignorance are considered bad things. In Trumpworld they're good things. His followers seem to agree that he's a bastard, but by God, he's going to be their bastard.

So, oddly enough, the more negative coverage Trump gets, the better his supporters like him. Whether the small number of undecided voters see things the same way as Trump's fans is unknown, but the entire election might hinge on it.

Kellyanne Conway sure has taken to the job of idiot Trump apologist with gusto:

Gee, if a for-profit business gets someone else to pay its fine, how on earth does that help the business? It's so confusing. This Fahrenthold guy is just obsessed with Donald Trump. What's his deal, anyway?

Oh, and Donald writes secret checks to help people all the time. He's just too shy to let anyone know about it.

It's just lie after lie after lie. But maybe I'm being unfair. If you've been the recipient of Trump's secret largesse to ordinary folks, please let me know. It's a little surprising that none of you have come forward over the past year, but bygones. Now's your chance.

Who Do Republicans Listen To?

The lovely folks at the Princeton University Press sent me a copy of the 2nd edition of Larry Bartels' Unequal Democracy today. "Completely revised and updated," they promise. I haven't read it yet, of course, but I figured I'd browse through all the charts and find something interesting to post. Here's one:

When Democrats took control of Congress in 2007, one of their first initiatives was a bill to raise the minimum wage, which had been eroding downward for more than a decade. Republicans refused to support an increase unless it was paired with a tax break for small businesses, and they made this stick by filibustering the bill.

This is despite the fact that literally everyone supported raising the minimum wage except for one tiny group: well-off Republicans, who were slightly opposed. Nevertheless, this tiny group controlled the entire process, with Republicans doing their bidding even though 70 percent of their own party wanted the minimum wage to go up. In the end, small businesses got their tax break and the bill passed. It was the only way to get Republican legislators to pay attention to the will of literally the entire country except for rich Republicans.

Bill Clinton at Center of Limegate Scandal

A couple of years ago Bill Clinton gave a one-hour speech to the perfume industry's trade association. Afterward he stuck around to take a few questions:

In an answer to a question after the speech, Mr. Clinton said he didn’t wear cologne, prompting audible gasps in the room, according to Women’s Wear Daily.

Now that's some fine investigative reporting. It comes in the middle of a story about how Bill Clinton made money from the speech, and then, a while later, cunningly allowed a fragrance supplier to contribute a bunch of money to the Clinton Foundation in Haiti to set up a project that helps Haitian farmers plant lime trees (apparently limes are a key ingredient for perfumes). It's honestly not clear what the problem is with this, and author James Grimaldi admits that Clinton "has given so many speeches to companies and groups in recent years, and the Clinton Foundation has collected donations from so many corporations and organizations, that this kind of overlap seems almost inevitable." Nevertheless, he concludes that this incident "represents the kind of overlapping of private and charitable interests that has become a political liability for his wife as she runs for office."

Okey doke.

You can buy left-handed scissors, left-handed pens, and left-handed can openers. Life is good these days for left-handed civilians. But what about left-handed soldiers? Enter the ET-MP:

Unlike traditional grenades, the Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose (ET-MP) hand grenade is designed to be thrown with either the right or left hand. "Current grenades require a different arming procedure for left-handed users," said a statement by the US Army.

It's about damn time. And speaking of lefties, I was chatting with a left-handed friend the other day and he said that the final frontier for southpaws was cameras. Everything is on the right, and needless to say, nobody makes left-handed cameras. Even after decades of using cameras, he says it's still a pain. Do other lefties concur? And how expensive would it be for Nikon or Canon to gear up the injection molding for a lefty version of a few of their cameras? Maybe they could corner the market.

Here's the latest from Pew:

The U.S. unauthorized immigrant population — 11.1 million in 2014 — has stabilized since the end of the Great Recession, as the number from Mexico declined but the total from other regions of the world increased, according to new Pew Research Center estimates based on government data. ...Mexicans remain the majority of the nation’s unauthorized immigrant population, but their estimated number — 5.8 million in 2014 – has declined by about half a million people since 2009.

The immigration hawks claim that this all changed in 2015, and once we get that data we'll see that the ravaging hordes are back. You betcha. But until we get that data, the actual facts remain about the same as always: the population of unauthorized immigrants in the US has been stable for nearly a decade, and it's well below its 2007 peak. As crises go, illegal immigration is a pretty poor one.

Hillary Clinton vs. the Press, Part 5,348

Hillary Clinton has an icy relationship with much of the press. Here's why:

Clinton's icy relationship with the press corps is really no surprise. What's surprising is that she's managed to refrain from smacking them silly. Isn't it long, long past time for national reporters to cut the crap and stop enabling Donald Trump's idiot tweets? I know he's entertaining. But this is a presidential campaign, not Access Hollywood.

Trump Foundation Involved in Yet More Corruption

Donald Trump's foundation is in the news again:

Donald Trump spent more than a quarter-million dollars from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits that involved the billionaire’s for-profit businesses, according to interviews and a review of legal documents.

In one case, from 2007, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club faced $120,000 in unpaid fines from the town of Palm Beach, Fla., resulting from a dispute over the size of a flagpole. In a settlement, Palm Beach agreed to waive those fines — if Trump’s club made a $100,000 donation to a specific charity for veterans. Instead, Trump sent a check from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, a charity funded almost entirely by other people’s money, according to tax records.

Sorry Donald. You're not allowed to use your charity to pay off your business obligations:

“I represent 700 nonprofits a year, and I’ve never encountered anything so brazen,” said Jeffrey Tenenbaum, who advises charities at the Venable law firm in Washington. After The Post described the details of these Trump Foundation gifts, Tenenbaum described them as “really shocking.”

“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,” Tenenbaum said.

I don't think I can count the number of reporters who have investigated the Clinton Foundation or the number of pieces they've written. The net result has been (a) no actual serious misconduct uncovered, but (b) a steady drumbeat of stories implying that something improper was going on.

Now then: how many reporters have been investigating the Trump Foundation? I might be missing someone, but basically the answer is one: David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post. The net result has been (a) plenty of actual misconduct uncovered, but (b) very little in the way of public attention to it.

This is why so many people can somehow believe that Hillary Clinton is less trustworthy than Donald Trump. In truth, it's not even close. Trump is probably the world champion in the sport of lying; he cares about nothing but enriching himself and getting even with his enemies; and his political positions change with the wind. He's just about the least trustworthy person on the planet.

But he's entertaining. Gotta give him that. And really, isn't that what matters?

Atrios:

The savvy thing for liberal pundits to do is to write think pieces that millennials will never read about how stupid millennials are for considering voting for 3rd parties, even though millennials (according to polls) are voting for Team D in a higher proportion than any other age group. Amazingly they figured that out without the sage wisdom from their elders, who are voting for Trump. Stupid Kids Today!

I've been ignoring the sudden popularity of this meme, but enough's enough. As it happens, millennial support for Hillary Clinton isn't higher than any other age group when you poll a 4-person race—which is, after all, the actual race being contested. But even if it were, the issue isn't raw support. Young voters are far more liberal than older voters and have voted heavily for Democrats for years. The issue is relative support compared to previous years.

The chart on the right compares exit polls from 2012 with a recent Quinnipiac poll. It's not a perfect match with the exit polls, but it's close. And what it shows is that millennial voters prefer Hillary Clinton at far lower levels than they preferred Barack Obama four years ago. Other age groups are down too, but just a few points. Only among young voters has support plummeted, and it's plummeted by enough to put the election in genuine doubt.

So yes, Hillary Clinton really does have a big problem with millennials. As for third parties, I'll say only this: in 1980, when I was 22, I voted for John Anderson. That sure was stupid. Eight years of Ronald Reagan because Jimmy Carter didn't quite meet my idealistic standards of excellence for presidents. I've never made that mistake again.