This video, from NBC News, may be one of the most depressing things you're ever likely to see. You have been warned.

The New York Times tells us today how the two candidates are prepping for Monday's debate. You can probably guess how Hillary Clinton is going about it: methodically, studiously, and seriously. Donald Trump, of course, has no use for actual prep, but nonetheless his team is trying to prepare him for the devious curveballs Clinton is likely to throw at him:

His advisers will try to throw him off balance, and measure his response to possible Clinton jabs like “You’re lying, Donald.”

Clever! Who would ever have guessed she might say something like that to a guy who tells about a dozen lies every day? Then there's this:

He has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials....Mr. Trump can get bored with both debate preparations and debates themselves....His advisers see it as a waste of time to try to fill his head with facts and figures....Some Trump advisers are concerned that he underestimates the difficulty of standing still, talking pointedly and listening sharply for 90 minutes.

Vulnerabilities

Tendency to lie on some issues (like his challenge to President Obama’s citizenship) or use incorrect information or advance conspiracy theories — all of which opens him to counterattack from Mrs. Clinton or rebukes from the moderator. Advisers are urging him to focus on big-picture themes rather than risk mangling facts. If Mrs. Clinton says he is lying, his advisers want him to focus on her trustworthiness and issues like her State Department email and accusations of favors for donors.

Basically, then, Trump's team is just hoping that he can remain in one place for 90 minutes; not get too obviously bored; tell only a bare minimum of lies; avoid facts and figures since he'll just screw them up; and pay attention to what Clinton says. Jonathan Chait comments:

There are two ways to read today’s New York Times report from Donald Trump’s debate preparations, or lack thereof. One is that Trump’s advisers are deliberately setting expectations at rock bottom, so the media will proclaim him the winner if he can merely remain upright for the entire time. A second possibility is that they have come to the horrifying realization that their candidate is delusional, uninformed, lazy, and utterly unsuited to the presidency, and they’re hoping without evidence that these traits can somehow be hidden from the viewing public.

Or maybe both!

Hillary Clinton has proposed an increase in the estate tax:

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton would levy a 65% tax on the largest estates....generate $260 billion over the next decade, enough to pay for her plans to simplify small business taxes and expand the child tax credit....The Clinton campaign changed its previous plan—which called for a 45% top rate—by adding three new tax brackets and adopting the structure proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont during the Democratic primaries. She would impose a 50% rate that would apply to estates over $10 million a person, a 55% rate that starts at $50 million a person, and the top rate of 65%, which would affect only those with assets exceeding $500 million for a single person and $1 billion for married couples.

But but but, capital formation! Where will the American economy manage to dredge up any capital if we raise taxes on billion-dollar estates? Plus, as the straight shooters at the Wall Street Journal editorial page point out, there's inflation. Using current dollars, a decade from now that top rate of 65 percent will apply to married couples with a mere $900 million in taxable assets. Surely we can't be serious about this?

And how many people does this affect? Well, in 2014 there were a grand total of 223 estates worth $50 million or more. Given the power-curve nature of income, this suggests that there were maybe, oh, five estates worth $500 million. That's something on the order of a thousand rich kids who will have to pay 15 percent more than the current top rate and maybe a dozen or so who would pay 25 percent more. Those dozen or so would inherit a mere $350 million instead of $600 million. That's a grim fate, to be sure, but I suppose they'll manage to soldier on.

As for all those farmers and family businesses who will be devastated? Forget it. There aren't any—unless you consider the Trump Organization to be a small family business.

As with most policy proposals in this campaign, this is more for show than anything else. A Republican Congress won't take up the estate tax again. Still, it's designed to show whose side Hillary Clinton is on, and it does a pretty good job of that.

Hillary Clinton Remains 4 Points Ahead of Trump

Here's your end-of-the-week snapshot of the presidential race, courtesy of Pollster. Hillary Clinton remains in the lead by 4.3 percentage points. There really hasn't been much change since the end of August, when the convention bumps wore off.

Video! It's the format of the future. It's the only thing the kids today will bother with. If you want to get any attention on social media, you gotta get on the video bandwagon. Right?

Big ad buyers and marketers are upset with Facebook Inc. after learning the tech giant vastly overestimated average viewing time for video ads on its platform for two years, according to people familiar with the situation.

....Ad buying agency Publicis Media was told by Facebook that the earlier counting method likely overestimated average time spent watching videos by between 60% and 80%, according to a late August letter Publicis Media sent to clients that was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

....The news is an embarrassment for Facebook, which has been touting the rapid growth of video consumption across its platform in recent years. Due to the miscalculated data, marketers may have misjudged the performance of video advertising they have purchased from Facebook over the past two years....Media companies and publishers are affected, too, since they’ve been given inaccurate data about the consumption of their video content across the social network. Many use that information to help determine the types of content they post.

Oh well. Bygones. I'm sure all that money you spent building a huge video content department will still be well spent. Someday.

POSTSCRIPT: I should disclose that I'm a sworn enemy of video. It's handy sometimes, but the information-to-time-spent ratio is usually so abysmal I can't stand watching it. A few seconds for a cute animal video is one thing. Ten or fifteen minutes for an interview or a podcast or an explainer with maybe one or two small snippets of useful information is unbearable.

Atheists and Agnostics Should Vote More

Christopher Ingraham takes a look at a recent survey of atheists and agnostics and asks, "Why don't the unaffiliated vote?"

As Pew Research Center's Greg Smith told me earlier this year, "It could be the 'nones' are not connected, almost by definition, to religious institutions, which can play an important role in spurring turnout and interest in politics." It's also the case that the unaffiliated tend to be younger than the population as a whole. And younger people in general are less likely to vote than their older peers.

As President Obama likes to say, "Don't boo, vote." If you're unhappy with the influence that conservative Christians have on American politics, go out and vote for someone who's more likely to favor evidence-based policy than faith-based policy. If you're not willing to do that, then don't gripe the next time some yahoo manages to get evolution expunged from your local textbooks.

Enough With All the Racism Talk, OK?

I'm really tired of blogging about whatever idiot thing Donald Trump has said, so I promised myself a little break today. And technically, I'm keeping that promise because this tweet is about Mike Pence:

This is all part of the Trump campaign's outreach to African-American voters, right?

Adam Nagourney writes a truly remarkable piece today about how Southern California's strong economy is visible in the construction boom taking place in Los Angeles:

But it can also be seen in a battle that has broken out about the fundamental nature of this distinctively low-lying and spread-out city. The conflict has pitted developers and some government officials against neighborhood organizations and preservationists. It is a debate about height and neighborhood character; the influence of big-money developers on City Hall; and, most of all, what Los Angeles should look like a generation from now.

No it's not. It's about traffic. It's always about traffic. And about brown people moving into places where they aren't welcome. But traffic is mentioned precisely once, in a throwaway line in the 14th paragraph. Racism isn't mentioned at all. How can you write an entire article taking all the hand-wringing about "character" at face value without ever digging an inch below the surface to understand some of the less salubrious concerns at work here?

I May Need a Doctor on Monday Night

Rich Lowry on Monday's debate:

Trump has a significant built-in advantage in that there is a lower standard for him — not because the media isn’t tough enough on him, as all the media mavens agree, but because he is the de facto challenger and candidate of change in a change election.

....Trump just needs to seem plausible and the very fact that he is on a presidential debate stage, the most rarified forum in American politics, will benefit him. During the Republican primary debates, the intangibles worked in his favor and they presumably will on Monday, too....As long as he’s firm and calm, he is implicitly rebutting the case against him on temperament. And then he can look for a big moment or two that will be memorable and drive the post-debate conversation in the media that is arguably as important as the debate itself.

I'm not going to say that Lowry is wrong. But if you want to truly see me lose my shit, you'll have your chance if this is the way the talking heads respond on Monday night. If Trump is as ignorant and bigoted and evasive and blustery as usual, but the media sages stroke their chins and say ever-so-judiciously that he "looked presidential" or some such, I'm going to need someone to hold me down and give me a good stiff injection of that stuff Dr. McCoy always used on Star Trek to knock people out.

Inflation and the Fed: A Follow-Up

Ryan Cooper suggests that we don't really know if the Fed can significantly raise inflation:

Here's the thing: this is pretty much what the Bank of Japan has been doing for the past few years. The chart on the right shows QE in Japan compared to the US over the past six years (indexed to 100 at the end of the Great Recession). The BOJ balance sheet has more than quadrupled since then, and the inflation rate in Japan is....

-0.4 percent.

Since this hasn't worked—and since doubling the Fed's balance sheet in 2013 has produced declining inflation—it seems likely the Fed would have to increase its balance sheet by, say, 8x, to have any chance of producing substantially higher inflation. In dollars, that means $28 trillion in additional asset purchases. They would run out of treasuries to buy long before they hit that mark and would start gobbling up every corporate and MBS bond in sight. That's really not a tenable suggestion.

This is all just back-of-the-envelope stuff, not meant to be taken too literally. For one thing, we're starting off with a higher inflation rate than Japan did. Still, this gives you a rough idea of what the Fed is up against. In theory, they can do endless helicopter drops until they get the inflation they want. In practice, it's a lot less clear they truly have a plausible path to 3 or 4 percent inflation.