On Monday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced in a Washington Post op-ed that she would not be voting for her party's nominee, Donald Trump.

I will not be voting for Donald Trump for president. This is not a decision I make lightly, for I am a lifelong Republican. But Donald Trump does not reflect historical Republican values nor the inclusive approach to governing that is critical to healing the divisions in our country.

...

Some will say that as a Republican I have an obligation to support my party’s nominee. I have thought long and hard about that, for being a Republican is part of what defines me as a person. I revere the history of my party, most particularly the value it has always placed on the worth and dignity of the individual, and I will continue to work across the country for Republican candidates. It is because of Mr. Trump’s inability and unwillingness to honor that legacy that I am unable to support his candidacy.

Collins is one of the famed yet elusive GOP "moderates," so it's not like this will change the minds of a lot of Trump die-hards, but it's still a big deal if only because Trump is making a play to win her state.

Collins will not, however, be going the next logical step and endorsing Clinton. She says in the piece that she doesn't support either of the parties' nominees.

 

Donald Trump Has No Jobs Plan At All

Will cutting taxes on the rich, combined with reducing regulation on Wall Street and big corporations, create millions of jobs, as Donald Trump claims? As you may recall, we tried that tonic fairly recently during the presidency of George W. Bush. It didn't really turn out so well:

Jobs started to recover sooner on Obama's watch than Bush's, probably thanks to his stimulus package. Bush just cut taxes on the rich and left it at that. Still, maybe you think this chart isn't fair. We really ought to measure from the trough of the recession. Here you go:

Based on his speech this morning, there's no real difference between Bush and Trump on economic policy except for Trump's claim that he'll get tough on trade. I doubt that, myself, but it hardly matters. Renegotiating a couple of trade treaties just wouldn't generate very many jobs. Done badly, in fact—a pretty likely scenario in a Trump presidency—it would hurt job growth. Trade wars have a habit of doing that.

Note that I'm not really making a case for the brilliance of Obama's economic policies here. I'm just pointing out that Trump's policies are little more than the same tedious stuff we've heard from Republicans for years. If he thinks this tired old rehash is going to supercharge the economy, he ought to at least make some kind of case for it.1 It didn't work for Bush. Why should it work for Trump?

1And don't even think of pretending that 9/11 ruined the economy under Bush. It had only a minor, short-term effect. If anything, spending on Bush's wars acted as a stimuls.

It's Still World Cat Day

I'm heading out to lunch, but before I do let's continue with our bathtub theme for World Cat Day. Whenever Marian or I get up in the night to use the bathroom, Hopper zips in a few seconds later and immediately jumps into the bathtub. I've never figured out why. There's nothing in the bathtub for her to play with, but that's where she likes to be. However, she only likes it when one of us is in there doing our business. The rest of the time she shows no interest at all.

Apparently China is upset with Australia over some Olympic-related stuff, so they hit back with an op-ed in China’s Global Times tabloid:

It's not a big deal to us. In many serious essays written by Westerners, Australia is mentioned as a country at the fringes of civilization. In some cases, they refer to the country's early history as Britain's offshore prison. This suggests that no one should be surprised at uncivilized acts emanating from the country.

Take that, Australia! Apparently China has been taking lessons from the master of insults. This sure sounds like something from an unusually dimwitted protege of Donald Trump, doesn't it?

Donald Trump and nukes. Nukes and Donald Trump. They don't really go together, unless you are having a nightmare. Over the past few weeks a fair number of people have been understandably freaking out over the idea that if Donald Trump wins in November, he will have virtually unfettered power to fire off nuclear weapons. In June, Politico ran a frankly horrifying piece outlining exactly how presidents go about facing the nuclear question. (If the military ever detected—accurately or inaccurately—a nuclear attack against the United States, the president could have as little as 30 seconds to decide how to respond.) 

Esquire has a Q&A today with John Noonan, a retired Air Force officer and former adviser to Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush. Noonan doesn't mince words about Trump being unprepared. You should read the whole thing because (1) it's fascinating, (2) it's terrifying, and (3) this issue really can't be talked about enough. It's too important. 

Here's one bit that really caught my eye:

Think of the world as a playground. Does the bully—the five-foot-tall third grader with a pituitary disorder—pick on the star athlete or the 60-pound weakling? They're not going to punch the athlete in the nose because they'll get socked right back, so they go for the weakling every time. In America's case, we don't just stand up to the nuclear-armed bullies—we also stick up for the weaker kids. Russia, to wit, could impose its will on the small Baltic democracies because Russia is big and they are small. It's American resolve, backed by nuclear weapons, that keeps Russia in check. That's what you call deterrence.

This is what I hear from Trump: that he wants to flip that equation and make the United States the bully. That is, We're big and we have nukes and we can use them to kill terrorists in Raqqa and Mosul. Stop us if you dare. It's how he's run his businesses for decades: I can do whatever I want. In the business world, it was shady and unethical. In the national-security world, it's downright dangerous.

I don't think it's empty talk either. His spokesperson said a few months ago, "what good is a nuclear triad if you can't use it?" That could the [sic] stupidest thing ever said in the history of presidential campaigns, which puts it in the running for stupid thing ever said in the history of humanity. (Emphasis mine) Nuclear weapons are like an understanding between the athlete and the bully: You don't screw with me and I won't screw with you. It's a way for the two biggest kids on the block to communicate with each other in no uncertain terms. That Trump allegedly believes that nukes are solutions to low-intensity problems like ISIS and Al-Qaeda is raw, unfiltered insanity.

Go read the whole thing.

Donald Trump just finished reading his big economic policy speech from a teleprompter. He's really bad at reading from a teleprompter, looking alternately bored and outraged. Here are the pieces that caught my eye:

  • Huge tax cut for the rich.
  • But no spending cuts that he's willing to admit to.
  • End of estate taxes.
  • Cut corporate tax rate to 15 percent.
  • Allow corporations to repatriate foreign earnings at a special 10 percent rate.
  • Declare China a currency manipulator, even though their currency is currently overvalued, not undervalued. A market rate for the renminbi would make Chinese imports even cheaper.
  • Slash regulations on corporations.
  • Pretend global warming doesn't exist.
  • Ban all new financial regulation.
  • Repeal Obamacare.
  • Implement a childcare tax deduction instead of a tax credit.
  • He will work with Ivanka on a childcare plan. Because, I guess, Ivanka has kids, so she's an expert on the problems that low-income workers have with childcare.

This is not exhaustive, and most of the speech was just the usual tired Republican orthodoxy. Mitt Romney could have given 90 percent of it. There was also a lot of random guff about how disastrous the economy is; how the unemployment rate is a hoax; and how American energy, planes, cars, steel, and so forth will employ way more American workers once Trump becomes president.

You bet. As near as I can tell, literally every single one of his proposals above would benefit the rich and do virtually nothing for the working and middle classes. But he sure knows how to put a populist spin on giveaways to the rich, doesn't he?

Today Is World Cat Day

Behold Wikipedia: "World Cat Day, August 8th, was created in 2002 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare. World Cat Day is celebrated on 17 February in much of Europe and on 1 March in Russia."

Why is it celebrated on February 17th and March 1st in other countries if World Cat Day is August 8th? This is a mystery. But it does prompt the occasional email. Here's one I got a few minutes ago from a disgruntled reader:

Why are newspapers even mentioning cats instead of hard news? I might blame Mondays but this blog is in every edition. Guess what, cats are not important. They should not be wasting space in a news organization. I understand that you are pandering to the ‘madding crowd’ but for heavens sake, stop it and replace it with ‘REAL’ news.

Cats are not important? Hmmph. I think we all know what I have to say about that:

Isn't she adorable? Who's not important now, huh? Not this incredibly cute calico kitten, that's for sure. She is now officially named Cinnamon, by the way, and she's either peering into a bathtub or else her tiny size is making a sink look ginormous.1

1It's a bathtub.

For the time being, Hillary Clinton has settled into a lead of about 8 points over Donald Trump. The Senate looks tight: most forecasters figure it's going to end up very close to 50-50. And the House will, of course, stay safely in Republican hands. Here is Sam Wang's latest snapshot:

Wait a second. Except for a brief blip during the Republican convention, Democrats have been over the threshold necessary to take back control of the House ever since June? How 'bout them apples?

Now, Sam says generic congressional poll questions are "highly predictive of the actual popular vote," which I'm skeptical of. I've watched liberals get excited about strong generic congressional polls for many years, and they usually don't last past summer. At least, that's my sense. But I'll bet Sam has real numbers and stuff to back up his claim. So we'll see.

One reason to be extra cautious here is that this is simply not a normal election year. If Republicans start to back away from Trump, and if presidential money dries up in favor of down-ballot races, we could see Republicans spending a historic amount on congressional seats. There's a limit to how much good this can do, but we probably haven't quite reached that limit yet.

Still, interesting stuff. It would be cosmic justice if embracing Trump not only cost Republicans the presidency, but also both houses of Congress. I'm not sure what lesson they'd learn from that—probably that next time they need to run a real conservative—but it would be justice nonetheless.

Donald Trump is giving a big economic policy speech this morning. So what is he proposing?

Who benefits most from this? Answer: the upper middle class. If you're poor, a tax deduction helps very little because your child-related expenses are low (thanks to being poor) and your tax rate is 10 percent or less, so you get to write off a pittance at most. If you're rich it doesn't help much because it's chump change. But if you're in the upper middle class, it's great. Your tax rate is probably around 20-30 percent, so you can write off a fair amount, and it's a meaningful sum of money. So it's great for all the lawyers and doctors out there.

By contrast, a tax credit is the same for everyone. The poor get $2,000. The middle class gets $2,000. The rich get $2,000. The rich still don't care much, but both the poor and the middle class benefit. But that's not what Trump is proposing. Like Republicans everywhere, he and his economic team just don't care much about the poor or the working class.

More importantly, though, neither a child tax deduction nor a child tax credit mean anything to me. I don't have kids. So where's the blogger tax deduction? Or the write-off for cat-related expenses? What is Donald Trump doing to try to buy my vote?

Health Care Journalists Love Homeopathy

From Alex Tabarrok:

This isn't even the worst of it. I once got randomly assigned to a doctor who listened to my complaints and suggested some exercises. I went back two weeks later for a follow-up, and told her that nothing had changed. She was perplexed, and suggested a couple of other things I might try. Also this: "Or you might want to try homeopathic remedies. You can find them at most health food stores."

I got out of there as fast as I could and never saw her again.1

Also, it turned out the exercises she assigned me were making things worse. When my regular doctor came back from vacation, he ordered me to stop immediately.

1One friend, who obviously tries to see the bright side in people, suggested that she didn't really believe in homeopathy, but just wanted to prescribe some kind of placebo. Since lots of people seem to believe in homeopathy, she tossed it out in case I was one of them.

Maybe. But I didn't feel like staying around to find out.