Many people are saying Donald Trump suggested shooting Hillary Clinton at a rally today.

Elizabeth Warren just summed up the reaction many people are having:

The election is 90 days from today. We're going to need more bourbon.

As you surely know by now, Donald Trump likes to brag about his many "beautiful," "great," "magnificent" golf courses, as if owning a golf course somehow qualified you to be president.

Today, balding Trump BFF Rudy Giuliani (R—9/11) took the line a little further:

So that quote is obviously hilarious on its face and if you want to take a few minutes to LOL about it, please feel free. And, it's, you know, true enough! Obama has technically never built any golf courses! But if we're in the land of technically true meaningless nonsense, this too is technically true: Obama, as president, is in charge of almost 200 golf courses, far more than Trump could ever imagine getting his smaller than average hands on:

Mother Jones has found that the Pentagon currently operates at least 194 golf courses and 2,874 holes of golf worldwide.
[...]
The military's Morale, Warfare, and Recreation and Marine Corps Community Services programs, which run the courses (as well as library programs, youth programs, fitness centers, and bowling alleys), say they are designed to maintain troop morale and combat readiness during stressful situations or down time.

Sad!

Hmmm:

This has now become the hottest meme in my Twitter feed. Some have taken it a wee bit too seriously:

Others just want to mock it:

This lasted about five minutes. Nonetheless, it highlights what Twitter is really for.

Here is the Tax Foundation's estimate of how far a dollar goes in each state:

The law of supply and demand works! Highly desirable places to live cost more.

(I could only squeeze in the top and bottom 15. Sorry. Click the link if your state is missing and you want to know how you measure up.)

So which state provides the best bang for the buck? California is a great place to live, but your dollar doesn't go very far. Mississippi is a great place to stretch your dollar, but not such a great place to put down roots. Maybe Ohio? It's reasonably nice, decent weather, etc., but your dollar goes pretty far. It's also chock full of Drum ancestors. Who gets your vote?

Labor productivity is in the dumps:

The longest stretch of productivity declines since the end of the 1970s is threatening to restrain U.S. worker pay and broader economic growth in the years ahead. Nonfarm business productivity, measured as the output of goods and services produced by American workers per hour worked, decreased at a 0.5% seasonally adjusted annual rate in the second quarter as hours increased faster than output, the Labor Department said Tuesday.

How big a deal is this? Just as a point of reference, here is labor productivity since the Great Recession:

Productivity increased considerably in 2009-10 as businesses shed workers but kept producing the same amount of stuff. In 2011 that stopped, and ever since productivity has increased at a modest rate.

Now, this is a bumpy series, as most series are, and you can see that there have already been two periods just since 2011 in which productivity stalled for a full year or more: 4Q10 through 4Q11 and 2Q12 through 3Q13. We're now in our third: 3Q14 through 2Q16. The recent nature of this series is that it goes up, then plateaus for a while, and then goes up again. So in that sense, it's too early to get too panicked about the current plateau.

On the other hand, it has lasted seven quarters now, so we ought to be a little nervous about it. Productivity growth is probably the single most important component of national economic activity, and it doesn't inspire a lot of confidence to see it dog paddling along like this. So don't panic yet, but definitely stay tuned.

Noam Levey reports on some new research about Medicaid expansion:

“The effects of expanding coverage will be an unfolding story over time,” said Dr. Benjamin Sommers, lead author of the study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine....Sommers and other researchers at Harvard University have been tracking the effect of Medicaid expansion by surveying some 9,000 poor residents in Arkansas and Kentucky, both of which expanded Medicaid eligibility, and in Texas, which has rejected the expansion.

In Arkansas and Kentucky, the share of poor adults without health insurance plummeted between 2013 and 2015, from more than 40% in both states to 14% in Arkansas and less than 9% in Kentucky.

In Texas, by contrast, the uninsured rate dropped only from 39% to 32%. Although Texas has not expanded Medicaid, state residents have been able to buy health insurance on the new insurance marketplaces that were also created by the law.

The new coverage in Arkansas and Kentucky dramatically improved poor patients’ access to care and relieved financial strains, the surveys show.

This, of course, is no surprise. If you expand Medicaid, more poor people will get medical care. If you don't, they won't.

Skeptics will suggest that more coverage is not necessarily better. However, I have yet to meet a single one of these skeptics who actually believes this enough to give up their own medical coverage. I'll take them more seriously when that happens.

From my inbox this morning, here is the entire message:

Please I want to sell one of my kidney o+

I don't think I need a kidney at the moment, but maybe later. And anyway, I need one in A-negative. If you're going to spam me with this stuff, the least you can do is have the decency to hack into my medical records and offer me one of the right blood type. Lazy, lazy, lazy.

So is this the latest internet scam? Or has it been going on for a while and I only found out about it today? How does it work? Maybe if I reply, I'll then get a long sob story about why this poor guy needs to sell his kidney and I'll be so heartbroken I'll PayPal him $10,000 to put his life back together. That's the best I can figure out. Anyone have a better idea?

Michael Kinsley Has a Bone to Pick With Vox

Today's worst person of the first 15 minutes of the morning is Michael Kinsley, who has some bones to pick with modern internet journalism, pioneered by people he calls "Ezras," after Ezra Klein, founder of Vox. Here's a sample:

An Ezra also will shuffle the deck and summarize ruthlessly. This seems to be an inherent tendency of the Web: the search for ways to put the news, and analysis of the news, in some kind of new order—something more satisfying than the random cacophony and confusion you must plow through today if you want to pass yourself off as well informed. But there are so many Web sites summarizing and shuffling that in fact you feel you are falling ever farther behind. This process of summarizing and shuffling is called “aggregation.”

....The fancier term is “curation.”...Some folks have yet another word for aggregation and related activities on the Web. They call it “plagiarism.”

Et cetera. You may rest assured that the internet is not letting this pass unnoticed. And truthfully, the whole thing does seem kind of silly. Kinsley admits that garden variety journalism has some problems (faux objectivity, fear of math, and so forth), but then criticizes Vox-style journalism for—what? Trying to make sense of complex subjects? That's what all journalism does. Doing research as well as reporting? That's what all good journalism does. Sometimes writing trivial pieces? If that were a firing offense, there wouldn't be any journalism at all.

So I guess I don't know what Kinsley's real problem is. Vox-style journalism does rely more on research than traditional journalism, and it does illustrate its stories with more charts than traditional journalism. And I'll confess that even as a chart addict myself, I think this can go too far. I usually scroll quickly by when I see a headline like "23 charts that explain the rise of ISIS." Even chart addicts have their limits, and sometimes charts can impose a simplicity on a subject that doesn't actually exist. Still, this is a minor complaint.

Personally, I think that if Vox has any problems, it's with their favorite headlines. For example:

  • 7 winners and losers from....
  • ....explained
  • ....in 3 charts

However, even the Voxers seem to have realized that this stuff was getting out of hand, and they've cut back on these and other overused headlines. So, really, there's hardly anything left to complain about aside from the lack of cats.

But here's what I think might have been bothering Kinsley, which he either didn't quite know or wasn't quite willing to say out loud: Vox and similar sites appeal to people with a different esthetic than, say, readers of the New York Times. It appeals to people who aren't afraid of numbers. It appeals to people who think reporting is just one tool of journalism, and maybe not even the most important one. It appeals to people who don't mind journalism with a point of view (though I'll concede that I don't think Vox has found quite the right balance here). In other words, it's built on top of the nerdy, wonky esthetic that built the internet. That esthetic doesn't appeal to everyone, especially those who aren't especially nerdy or wonky themselves. I suspect it doesn't appeal to Kinsley.

But then again, the esthetic of Car & Driver might not appeal to him either. That's because it's aimed at a particular subset of the reading world. No one thinks that's a problem, so what's wrong with a more general-purpose news site that also appeals to a particular subset of the reading world? Beats me.

Oh Yes, It's *Still* World Cat Day

World Cat Day is drawing to a close, and so is my supply of bathtubs. But it's all working out: we have one more cat and one more bathtub in the house. This one is Hilbert's favorite, and it usually sports a purple mouse for him to play with. Occasionally it also features a bug that he can chase around until he gets bored.

And with that, I wish a happy World Cat Day to all, and to all a good night.

Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy is tired of people diagnosing Donald Trump:

What I do know is that we ought to stop casually throwing around terms like “crazy” in this campaign and our daily lives....When that language is commonplace, it becomes that much harder for those experiencing mental illness to openly seek treatment that works. It discriminates, in subtle and overt ways, and extends its reach into schools, workplaces and the health-care system, where we still don’t provide routine mental health exams. When we use that word the way we have, we perpetuate the dangerous, “separate and unequal” treatment of these illnesses, and continue to pretend that the brain isn’t part of the body.

No. Just no. There are lots of words that have both ordinary meanings as well as technical medical meanings. When I say that Donald Trump is a cancer on our society, it's not an insult to people with leukemia. When I say that Donald Trump is stupid, it's not an insult to the mentally retarded. And when I say that Donald Trump is crazy, it's not an insult to people with mental illnesses.

This is the kind of thing that helps power people like Trump in the first place. Sure, a lot of people who gripe about political correctness are just upset that people get on their case these days if they call blacks lazy or Asians inscrutable or women hysterical. There's not much we can do about this except keep fighting the good fight and wait for them to all die off.

But there are also people who aren't especially racist or sexist, but nonetheless feel like they have to walk on eggshells around us liberals. Call someone crazy and you're insulting the mentally ill. Talk about someone "suffering" from an illness and you get a stern lecture about not making assumptions. Ask any number of possibly dumb but innocent questions and you're committing a microaggression. Wear a sari in a music video and you're engaging in cultural appropriation.

This kind of hypersensitivity does little good and plenty of harm. We should focus on the big stuff and settle down about the rest of it. It won't help us win over the racists or sexists—who we don't need or want anyway—but it will help a lot of other people to feel like it's not such an emotional trial to hang around liberals, watching their every word in case something new has popped up since the last time they visited. Most people, after all, are neither as plugged in to lefty culture or as hyperverbal as your average university student. Hell, even I sometimes have trouble remembering the approved language to use about things, and I get to sit at the keyboard until I figure it out. Your average schmoe talking in real time hardly has a chance.