The Trumpian bluster continues apace today:

Donald Trump on Wednesday criticized the media for saying online post-debate polls “don’t mean anything,” as he continues to brag about winning the surveys many consider unscientific and unrepresentative.

At a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, the GOP presidential nominee cited online polls from Time magazine and the conservative Drudge Report that showed him leading Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton following Monday night’s presidential debate. “I’m winning all of these polls, hundred of thousand of votes,” Trump said. “I have to sit back and you have to sit back and hear these polls don’t mean anything.”

I love how reporter Lisa Hagen carefully says that "many" think online polls are unscientific. I think the phrase she's searching for is "everyone with a three-digit IQ." These polls are clickbait, nothing more. But it doesn't matter. Clearly Steve Jobs willed his reality distortion field to Trump after he died.

[See update below.]

The overnight polls all say Hillary Clinton won Monday's debate by a wide margin. Common sense confirms this. But how will this affect the race? Ipsos/Reuters released its first post-debate polling today, and the results are on the right.

Clinton gained ground, which is no surprise. But the truly remarkable thing is that the Undecided vote skyrocketed to 20 percent. After the debate, Trump, Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein all lost huge amounts of support, and only a fraction of it went to Clinton. Most of them are simply no longer sure who to vote for. Apparently a lot of Trump supporters saw his performance and had second thoughts, and lots of Johnson/Stein supporters saw Clinton's performance and had second thoughts.

Oddly enough, none of this strangeness showed up in the polling on a two-way race. Nor does Clinton gain any ground in today's PPP poll. So I'm not sure what's really going on.

UPDATE: I'm an idiot. The poll on the right asks people who they think will win, not who they plan to vote for. Sorry about that.

In the actual preference poll, Ipsos/Reuters only did a two-way question, and Clinton lost ground. This is odd considering that in the very same poll voters gave Clinton a big win in the debate and said they were now more favorably disposed toward her. Life is strange.

The Guardian reports that robots designed to interact with adults are "out of fashion" lately because—not to put too fine a point on it—adults are assholes. But what about robots for children?

The 3ft tall iPal has wide eyes, working fingers, pastel trimming, and a touchscreen tablet on its chest. It can sing, dance, and play rock paper scissors. It can talk with children, answer questions like “Why is the sun hot?”, and provide surveillance/video chat for absent parents.

“It’s a robot for children,” said Avatar Mind founder Jiping Wang. “It’s mainly for companion­ship.” The iPal, he boasted, could keep children aged three to eight occupied for “a couple of hours” without adult supervision. It is perfect for the time when children arrive home from school a few hours before their parents get off work, he said.

....Noel Sharkey, a professor emeritus of robotics and artificial intelligence at the University of Sheffield, has been raising concerns about robotic nannies since 2008. When I contacted Sharkey and informed him about the iPal, he responded, “This is awful.”

Now we're talking. Hook 'em while they're young, and they'll love robots for the rest of their lives. And we all know what happens next, right? *cough* Robocop *cough* Skynet *cough*

Anyway, I don't see why this is so terrible. It sure sounds better than planting the kids in front of SpongeBob SquarePants to get them to shut up. With the iPal, at least the little rugrats are interacting. And being surveilled too! This gets them accustomed to their likely future, where every movement will be seen by someone, somewhere.

In any case, it doesn't really matter whether Noel Sharkey likes this or not. It's going to happen, and before long kids and adults alike will be as comfortable with robots as they are with human being. More comfortable, in fact. I foresee a time when "parents" will be brought up on charges of child endangerment if their kids aren't under the constant supervision of cute, tireless robots that subtly instill left-wing values. Welcome to the future.

Donald Trump was on the business end of the most epic butt-kicking in debate history on Monday night:

On the bright side, he crushed Hillary in the Drudge online poll, so there's that.

Gary Johnson makes his pitch:

What would government be like in a Johnson administration? First, we would begin the conversation about the size of government by submitting a real balanced budget. Every government program would have to justify its expenditures, every year. Cuts of up to 20 percent or more would be on the table for all programs, including military spending. Changes to Social Security and Medicare must also be considered.

Cuts of 20 percent or more. Conservatives will hate this because he's including the military. Progressives should hate it because it includes everything else. That means no spending on universal healthcare, climate change, student debt, Wall Street regulation, infrastructure, pre-K, or pretty much anything else. And if you care about helping the poor, you'd better be prepared to care about 20 percent less.

Is all of this an acceptable price to pay for having a president who favors marijuana legalization and a little less military intervention? YMMV, but it sure doesn't seem like it to me.

Here's what Howard Dean tweeted during Monday's debate:

At the time, I paid no attention to this. I figured it was just standard Twitter snark. But, um, apparently not:

This is sure a weird campaign, isn't it? I guess Dean has decided to give Trump a taste of his own medicine. The real source of Trump's sniffles, of course, is that he was suffering from allergies or a cold or something like that, but Trump steadfastly refuses to admit this because it would make him look weak. So Dean has leaped into the vacuum to lob a wild accusation at Trump and force him to respond. This is Trump 101, and I can only assume Dean is having himself a good old time with this.

Needless to say, I strongly disapprove. Dean should be ashamed of himself. Especially when he's dealing with a high-road kind of guy like Donald Trump. Here is Eric Trump on his father's principled unwillingness to bring up Bill Clinton's affairs at the end of the debate:

That was a big moment for me and probably will actually become, my life and this campaign, and probably will be something I’ll always remember. I mean, he really took the high ground where he had the opportunity to go very, very low. And I’m proud of him for doing that. I mean, I’m really proud of him for doing that. And I think people recognize that. I mean, there are a lot of people who came up to me, including many in the media, who said listen, he could’ve just crushed her on that last question. And he would’ve probably hurt a family if he did.

Truly, Donald Trump is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life.

Over at 538, Tim Mullaney picks up on a topic I've obsessed about in the past: When you remove politics from the equation, most people seem pretty cheery about the state of the economy. Here's the latest:

Bill Fox sells cars....Like other car dealers, Fox is seeing near-record sales: Somehow, he said, consumers don’t seem as worried about the economy as the pundits say they are. “We’re not seeing [anger] at all,” said Fox, a partner in Auburn-based Fox Dealerships. “The way I account for it is, the public sees economic indicators that are OK, their job’s not threatened, and they may be afraid of the future, but the monthly [car] payment is good.”

....Even as Americans tell political pollsters that they are worried about the economy, they tell a different story in a separate set of surveys that are used by economists and investors to forecast consumer spending behavior. On Tuesday, the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, hit a nine-year high....Even people with only a high-school education — whose economic woes are often cited in media reports explaining Trump’s rise — are about as confident today as they were before the recession began, according to the Michigan survey.

Consumer confidence is now as high as it was throughout the boom years of the aughts, which was good enough to keep Republicans in power until scandals overtook them in 2006 and the economy collapsed in 2008.

No politician—not even most Democrats—wants to say publicly that the economy is in pretty good shape. Why? Because they don't want to appear to be out of touch. After all, even in a good economy, there are still plenty of people who are hurting. But practically every bit of evidence suggests not only that the economy is humming along pretty well, but that voters know it. Donald Trump is doing his best to convince everyone that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, but if the September consumer confidence numbers are anything to go by, most of the American public isn't buying it.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the FBI is increasingly convinced that the recent hacks of the DNC and other organizations are being led by Russia:

A fuller picture of the operation has come into focus in the past several weeks. U.S. officials believe that at least two hacking groups with ties to the Russian government, known as Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear, are involved in the escalating data-theft efforts, according to people briefed on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe of the cyberattacks.

Following successful breaches, the stolen data are apparently transferred to three different websites for publication, these people say. The websites—WikiLeaks, and a blog run by Guccifer 2.0—have posted batches of stolen data at least 42 times from April to last week.

WikiLeaks has published U.S. secrets for years but has recently taken an overtly adversarial tone toward Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Cybersecurity experts believe that and Guccifer 2.0 often work together and have direct ties to Russian hackers.

Most of these leaks have been designed to hurt Hillary Clinton, who Vladimir Putin apparently hates. Meanwhile, Trump advisor Carter Page has left the Trump campaign over accusations that he's a little too chummy with the folks in Russia responsible for all this hacking. Page says the whole thing is ridiculous, but apparently his erstwhile friends in Trumpland are throwing him under the bus anyway:

The Trump campaign has been distancing itself from Page. Although Page was one of Trump’s originally announced foreign policy advisers, campaign manager KellyAnne Conway told CNN on Sunday that Page is not really involved at with the campaign at this point.

I have not spoken with him at all, in fact, meaning he’s not part of our national security or foreign policy briefings that we do now at all, certainly not since I have become campaign manager,” she said....Other Trump campaign sources told me that Page was never really part of Trump’s inner circle....Page has never met with Trump one on one and hasn’t been deeply involved in Trump foreign policy speeches or events, they said.

So...he was just some guy whose name they used so they'd look like they had some advisors. Apparently they'd rather publicly fess up to lying about their campaign announcements than take a chance that Page might become a liability. What nice folks.

Oh man, this is rich. Here is wingnut Rep. Jeb Hensarling griping about the fact that the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau didn't find out about the Well Fargo scandal sooner:

“Why does it take the L.A. Times to break this story, when we’re paying federal investigators to investigate?” Hensarling recently told Fox Business Network.

“Where was the CFPB? Why did they come in so late to the game?” he continued. “They have immense powers and this is their job to enforce these basic consumer laws and it appears they were asleep at the switch.” Hensarling also has criticized regulators for the $185-million settlement with the bank, which allowed Wells Fargo to avoid admitting any wrongdoing.

If Hensarling had his way, the CFPB would be eliminated and Wells Fargo might well have escaped from the whole affair unscathed. Now he's pretending that he thinks the CFPB is too weak. Sen. Sherrod Brown has it right:

“Hensarling reminds me of the kid who kills his parents and then wants to collect orphan benefits,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), one of the CFPB’s biggest backers. “He’s tried to underfund it. He’s tried to undercut. He’s done all he could to block bank regulations.”

Make up your mind, Jeb. Do you want the CFPB to more powerful or less powerful? You can only have it one way.

Where the Wars Are

This is apropos of nothing in particular. It's just some raw data I happened to come across, so I thought I'd share.