Kevin Drum Feed | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Charts of the Day: How Hillary Clinton Beat Donald Trump <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here are a couple of interesting data points from <a href="" target="_blank">On the left,</a> you can see where Hillary Clinton is picking up votes compared to Barack Obama in 2012. Not from blue states or swing states, which are polling about the same as they did in the last election, but in red states. She's picked up a whopping 8.4 points from folks in red states who would presumably vote Republican in normal times, but just can't stomach Donald Trump.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">On the right,</a> you can see the cumulative total winning margin in CNN's post-debate instant polls since 1992. Clinton posted the best record of any candidate ever. Alternatively, you could say that Donald Trump posted the worst record of any candidate ever. It's not clear which is the more appropriate description, but even if you think Trump's meltdowns were the decisive turning points, Clinton employed a brilliant strategy for baiting Trump into losing his shit in front of a hundred million viewers. Either way, Hillary Clinton is one of the greatest presidential debaters of recent history.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_538_clinton_swing.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 22px;"><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_538_debate_winning_margin.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 5px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 21 Oct 2016 00:07:27 +0000 Kevin Drum 317156 at Paul Ryan Is In Trouble, But Happier Days May Be Ahead <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_19_days.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">With 19 days until Hillary Clinton is elected president, we can now turn our attention to what happens afterward. In particular, what happens to Paul Ryan?</p> <p>Right now, things look grim for the Speaker. In last week's YouGov poll, only <a href="" target="_blank">37 percent</a> of Republicans thought he was a weak leader. Then he abandoned Donald Trump for good, and now <a href="" target="_blank">51 percent</a> say he's a weak leader. And why do they think he's so feeble? Last week, 26 percent thought he wasn't conservative enough. This week it's 25 percent. This suggests that views about Ryan are almost entirely driven by his estrangement from Trump, not by any problem with his ideology.</p> <p>Then there's a <a href="" target="_blank">new Bloomberg poll</a> suggesting that Ryan's leadership future looks bleak. Republicans say they prefer Mike Pence, Donald Trump, <em>and</em> Ted Cruz over Ryan.</p> <p>What's more, <a href="" target="_blank">as Martin Longman points out,</a> Ryan has never been supported by the tea party faction in the House, and only barely won election as Speaker in the first place. Next year, Republicans will probably have a smaller <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_bloomberg_poll_republican_leader.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">majority, which means that it will take only a dozen or so defectors to deny him reelection.</p> <p>So: the future looks grim for Paul Ryan, no? I'm not so sure. For starters, the YouGov poll doesn't impress me. In the heat of the moment, Trump supporters are turning against Ryan for abandoning their hero. But Trump is going to lose big league, and when that happens a lot of the Trump frenzy will die off. I imagine that once the fog clears, Ryan's standing with Republicans will pretty much return to normal.</p> <p>Second, the Bloomberg poll is based almost entirely on name recognition and, again, the heat of the moment. Mike Pence is not going to lead the Republican Party. Neither is Donald Trump. And Ted Cruz is still just as disliked as ever.</p> <p>In any case, none of this has much to do with whether Ryan can win reelection as Speaker. For him to lose, he either has to drop out or else the tea party caucus has to decide to vote against him. Will that happen? It might. But even tea partiers know that if they block Ryan, they'll be stuck in the same mess they were in last year: who can they agree on to replace him? There are very few plausible candidates around, and there are certainly no plausible candidates who are more conservative than Ryan. So it's hardly a slam dunk that they're going to touch off yet another party crisis by blocking him.</p> <p>My advice: Wait and see. Things are going to cool down after the election, and Ryan may come out looking better than people think. If that happens, Ryan then has to make a choice about how to govern. Will it just be the usual obstruction? Or will he team up with Republican moderates to take the party back from the hostage-happy tea partiers, and even team up with Democrats occasionally to pass a few important bills that might revive the party's fortunes?</p> <p>I'm not sure. But I wouldn't count Ryan out just yet.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 20 Oct 2016 19:28:13 +0000 Kevin Drum 317136 at It's International Lottery Time! <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">It's lottery time!</a></p> <blockquote> <p>This month the State Department opened a five-week window for visa applications from citizens of countries that historically have had low rates of immigration to the United States. The annual Diversity Visa lottery selects 50,000 winners who, along with their spouses and children under 21, can obtain green cards and become permanent U.S. residents.</p> <p>Last year 9.4 million people and 5 million family members from more than 200 countries sought visas under the program. <strong>Those numbers included nearly 500,000 Iranians</strong> and 432,000 spouses and children, among the most of any country, though a slight decrease from 2014. About 5,000 Iranians were selected for visas; only Cameroon and Liberia had more winners.</p> </blockquote> <p>Please please please, no one tell Donald Trump about this.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 20 Oct 2016 18:20:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 317121 at Donald Trump's Top 18 Debate Moments <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Many of you didn't watch the debate, but you still want to get a taste of it. I understand, and I'm here to help. So here are the top 17 moments of Trump from Wednesday's show.</p> <p>Note: There were several passages of Palinesque babble from Trump that were basically incomprehensible. Examples <a href="" target="_blank">here</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>. I'm not including those.</p> <h2>#18</h2> <p>I don't think we should have justices appointed that decide what they want to hear.</p> <p><em>WTF does this even mean? I think Trump was making a point about a strict interpretation of the Constitution, but it's not really clear.</em></p> <h2>#17</h2> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_debate_las_vegas.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.</p> <p><em>Um, no. That's not how it happens, and Hillary Clinton doesn't support it.</em></p> <h2>#16</h2> <p>We have some bad hombres here, and we're going to get them out.</p> <p><em>Bad hombres! I assume t-shirts will be available soon?</em></p> <h2>#15</h2> <p>She shouldn't be allowed to run. It's crooked&nbsp;&mdash; she's&nbsp;&mdash; she's guilty of a very, very serious crime. She should not be allowed to run.</p> <p><em>She shouldn't be allowed to run? Poor Donald, getting beat by a girl.</em></p> <h2>#14</h2> <p>We're bringing [economic growth] from 1 percent up to 4 percent. And I actually think we can go higher than 4 percent. I think you can go to 5 percent or 6 percent. And if we do, you don't have to bother asking your question, because we have a tremendous machine. We will have created a tremendous economic machine once again.</p> <p><em>Well sure! Maybe 10 percent. Or 20 percent. Why the hell not?</em></p> <h2>#13</h2> <p>[Obamacare] premiums are going up 60 percent, 70 percent, 80 percent. Next year they're going to go up over 100 percent. And I'm really glad that the premiums have started&nbsp;&mdash; at least the people see what's happening,</p> <p><em>Trump stopped himself just barely before he said he was glad that premiums are rising. Apparently even he realized that it looked bad to be rooting for people's misfortunes.</em></p> <h2>#12</h2> <p>TRUMP: Look, Putin...from everything I see, has no respect for this person.</p> <p>CLINTON: Well, that's because he'd rather have a puppet as president of the United States.</p> <p>TRUMP: No puppet. No puppet.</p> <p>CLINTON: And it's pretty clear...</p> <p>TRUMP: You're the puppet!</p> <p><em>Trump is supposedly the master of insults, but he frequently resorts to this kind of lame, kindergarten stuff. Here's another one:</em></p> <h2>#11</h2> <p>CLINTON: ... unfit, and he proves it every time he talks.</p> <p>TRUMP: No, you are the one that's unfit.</p> <h2>#10</h2> <p>WALLACE: Mr. Trump, even conservative economists who have looked at your plan say that the numbers don't add up, that your idea, and you've talked about 25 million jobs created, 4 percent...</p> <p>TRUMP: Over a 10-year period.</p> <p><em>I'm including this because it's a first from Trump: he interrupted not to insult anyone, but to add a technical correction that made his plan look a little less awesome. And it was even accurate!</em></p> <p><em>Now let's move on to the lies.</em></p> <h2>#9</h2> <p>CLINTON: I find it ironic that he's raising nuclear weapons. This is a person who has been very cavalier, even casual about the use of nuclear weapons. He's...</p> <p>TRUMP: Wrong.</p> <p><em>Yes, he's been pretty cavalier about nukes. In fact, <a href="" target="_blank">he was cavalier about them with Chris Wallace,</a> the moderator of the debate. "Maybe they would in fact be better off if they defend themselves from North Korea," he said. "With nukes?" Wallace asked. "Including with nukes, yes, including with nukes," Trump said. <a href="" target="_blank">Much more here.</a></em></p> <h2>#8</h2> <p>TRUMP: Look, she's been proven to be a liar on so many different ways. This is just another lie.</p> <p>CLINTON: Well, I'm just quoting you when you were asked...</p> <p>TRUMP: There's no quote. You're not going to find a quote from me.</p> <p>CLINTON: ... about a potential nuclear competition in Asia, you said, you know, go ahead, enjoy yourselves, folks.</p> <p><em>Back in May, Trump told Wolf Blitzer that other countries should pay us more for our protection. Blitzer asked if that meant allowing Japan and South Korea to become nuclear powers. "I am prepared to....all I&rsquo;m saying is this: they have to pay. And you know what? I&rsquo;m prepared to walk....if they don&rsquo;t respect us enough to take care of us properly, then you know what&rsquo;s going to have to happen, Wolf? It&rsquo;s very simple. They&rsquo;re going to have to defend themselves." <a href="" target="_blank">More here.</a></em></p> <h2>#7</h2> <p>You ran the State Department, $6 billion was either stolen. They don't know. It's gone, $6 billion.</p> <p><em>No. The State Department's auditor found that <strong>paperwork </strong>for $6 billion in contracts was <a href="" target="_blank">either incomplete or missing.</a> That's all.</em></p> <h2>#6</h2> <p>CLINTON: He held a number of big rallies where he said that he could not possibly have done those things to those women because they were not attractive enough for them to be assaulted.</p> <p>TRUMP: I did not say that. I did not say that.</p> <p><em>Yes, he said that. Hillary Clinton pointed this out immediately: "He went on to say, 'Look at her. I don't think so.' About another woman, he said, 'That wouldn't be my first choice.' He attacked the woman reporter writing the story, called her 'disgusting,' as he has called a number of women during this campaign."</em></p> <h2>#5</h2> <p>CLINTON: Well, you know, once again, Donald is implying that he didn't support the invasion of Iraq. I said it was a mistake. I've said that years ago. He has consistently denied what is...</p> <p>TRUMP: Wrong.</p> <p>CLINTON: ... a very clear fact that...</p> <p>TRUMP: Wrong.</p> <p><em>Clinton is right. You just have to Google it. Several months before the invasion, <a href="" target="_blank">Howard Stern asked him if he supported the invasion of Iraq:</a> "Yeah, I guess so; I wish the first time it was done correctly."</em></p> <h2>#4</h2> <p>About three months ago, I started reading that they want to get the leaders and they're going to attack Mosul....And the only reason they did it is because she's running for the office of president and they want to look tough. They want to look good.</p> <p><em>This didn't get a lot of attention last night, but Trump is saying here that Obama and the US Army are assisting in a major military engagement solely to make Hillary Clinton look good. At this point it's hardly surprising to hear Trump say something like this, but that's only because our collective bar for outrage has been lowered to gutter level by now. In normal times, this would have been a major bit of news and pundits everywhere would be gabbing about it.</em></p> <h2>#3</h2> <p>TRUMP: She has no idea whether it's Russia, China, or anybody else.</p> <p>CLINTON: I am not quoting myself.</p> <p>TRUMP: She has no idea.</p> <p>CLINTON: I am quoting 17...</p> <p>TRUMP: Hillary, you have no idea.</p> <p>CLINTON: ... 17 intelligence&nbsp;&mdash; do you doubt 17 military and civilian...</p> <p>TRUMP: And our country has no idea.</p> <p>CLINTON: ... agencies.</p> <p>TRUMP (in a heavily sarcastic tone): Yeah, I doubt it. I doubt it.</p> <p><em>This is Trump rather astonishingly suggesting that our intelligence agencies have no idea who's behind the recent of hack of Democratic emails. He's been briefed on this, but he nonetheless refuses to acknowledge that Russia is most likely the culprit.</em></p> <h2>#2</h2> <p>CLINTON: Well, Chris, I am on record as saying that we need to put more money into the Social Security Trust Fund. That's part of my commitment to raise taxes on the wealthy. My Social Security payroll contribution will go up, as will Donald's,<strong> assuming he can't figure out how to get out of it.</strong> But what we want to do is to replenish the Social Security Trust Fund...</p> <p>TRUMP: Such a nasty woman.</p> <p><em>This was obvious bait from Clinton, and Trump dived headfirst into the trap. It was an entirely gratuitous interruption, and it's resonated very, very badly. It has now been co-opted by women, and I'm sure you can already buy t-shirts with "Nasty Woman" logos on them.</em></p> <h2>#1</h2> <p>WALLACE: Your running mate, Governor Pence, pledged on Sunday that he and you&nbsp;&mdash; his words&nbsp;&mdash; "will absolutely accept the result of this election."...Do you make the same commitment that you will absolutely&nbsp;&mdash; sir, that you will absolutely accept the result of this election?</p> <p>TRUMP: I will look at it at the time. I'm not looking at anything now. I'll look at it at the time.</p> <p>....WALLACE: But, sir, there is a tradition in this country...that the loser concedes to the winner and that the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you're not prepared now to commit to that principle?</p> <p>TRUMP: What I'm saying is that I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense. OK?</p> <p><em>This was the single biggest takeaway from the debate, and it drove most of the headlines. And it was a total own goal. Trump could easily have waffled slightly and made the same point: "I'll accept the results unless there's serious evidence of vote fraud." Something like that would have been OK, but he declined to hedge even slightly.</em></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 20 Oct 2016 17:55:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 317101 at Questiongate Will Doom Hillary Clinton's Campaign <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here is Donald Trump this morning:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Why didn't Hillary Clinton announce that she was inappropriately given the debate questions - she secretly used them! Crooked Hillary.</p> &mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="">October 20, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>Whoa! How did that happen? Allow unskewing nutball Bill Mitchell to explain:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Look at the angle of Hillary's gaze. She is NOT looking down at her notes, she is looking AT the lit panel. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) <a href="">October 20, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">During the debate, Hillary was constantly reading "something," yet you can see almost nothing written in her notes. WHAT was she reading? <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) <a href="">October 20, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Watch Hillary reading her teleprompter here folks. I mean, my God, it is OBVIOUS. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) <a href="">October 20, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Every time, as Hillary prepares to answer, she looks down at a 45 degree angle and reads "something". Not her notes.</p> &mdash; Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) <a href="">October 20, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Where is Trump's light? <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) <a href="">October 20, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Hillary was reading throughout the debate.<br> Her notes were almost blank.<br> WHAT was she reading? <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) <a href="">October 20, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>Bill Mitchell is this year's breakout Twitter star, and I am reliably informed that he is a real person who holds the views he expresses in his hundreds of tweets per day, not a parody account. <a href="" target="_blank">You can read a profile of him here.</a> Truly we live in miraculous times.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 20 Oct 2016 15:49:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 317081 at Hillary Clinton Wins 52-39 Percent, Sweeps Debates 3-0 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_clinton_trump_debate_winner_2016_10_19.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">I figured the polling on this debate would be closer than before, but still give Hillary Clinton the win. I was sort of right. It <em>was</em> closer than the other two, but she still won by 13 points.<sup>1</sup> That's a fairly impressive blowout.</p> <p>The CNN folks seemed to think that Trump's late-debate dig at Clinton&mdash;"Such a nasty woman"&mdash;was what ultimately sunk him. I dunno. Maybe. There were plenty of other things that sunk him too, though, and just generally most Americans don't want a president who's ignorant, mendacious, mean, misogynistic, and unable to control his temper. I think that explains most of it.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>As you may recall, she won the first debate by 35 points, 62-27, and the second debate by 23 points, 57-34.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 20 Oct 2016 03:58:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 317071 at We're Live Blogging the Final Debate of the 2016 Presidential Election <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>By normal standards, Trump was once again frenzied and hostile tonight. However, by <em>Trump</em> standards, he was surprisingly subdued. He had his moments, but not nearly as many as usual, and for most of the debate he managed to keep a level tone. I was joking about the Valium below, but I dunno. Maybe he really did get himself tranked before the debate.</p> <p>I'm going to guess that the instant polls will show this one close to a draw. Maybe Clinton will come out a bit ahead. Basically, they both repeated the same attacks as they did in the first two debates, and they've lost some of their zest at this point. At about the 20-minute mark, Clinton started trying to bait Trump into melting down, but he generally resisted the temptation. Every time he started to get a little animated, it was like something blinked in his brain and he dialed himself back. He would have been more dangerous if he could have (a) dialed himself back even more, and (b) done this from the start.</p> <p>Trump claimed, once again, that all the groping accusations are "pure fiction." He never met any of those women. I guess that includes the <em>People</em> reporter, who he pretty clearly met many times. He also lied when he denied <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_clinton_debate_2016_10_19_1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">saying that he was OK with Japan having nuclear weapons. He lied again when he claimed, as usual, that he opposed the Iraq War.</p> <p>In the news department, Trump was very clear that no, he would not necessarily accept the results of the election. "I will look at it at the time.," he said. There's just too much election fraud for him to commit to anything. This was by far the biggest actual news of the debate. On the other side of the aisle, Clinton said the Senate should confirm President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court. Has she said that before? Maybe so, but I don't recall it. In any case, it was a very specific endorsement of Merrick Garland. Does that mean she'd renominate him if she wins?</p> <p>Bottom line: by 2016 standards, this debate was a bit of a bore. It will have no effect on the election at all. However, Trump basically threatened to do&mdash;what? Well, <em>something</em>, anyway, if the election doesn't go his way. This is not a normal threat for a presidential candidate to make, but luckily I doubt the election will be close enough for him to gin anything up. I also doubt that the Republican Party will back him up.</p> <p>A complete transcript is <a href="" target="_blank">here.</a></p> <hr width="30%"><p>God in His infinite wisdom has declared that there should be ten commandments, nine forms of devotion, an eightfold path, seven deadly sins, six remembrances, five pillars of faith, four ages of man, and three presidential debates. Mere mortals can't hope to comprehend why He would do this to us. Unless He's a She and wants us all to get a good long look at Donald Trump and then get our act together. That's probably it.</p> <p>On with the show.</p> <p><strong>10:36 -</strong> And that's a wrap. A <em>real</em> wrap.</p> <p><strong>10:35 -</strong> Clinton delivers standard rah rah. Trump draws picture of America falling into an abyss.</p> <p><strong>10:34 -</strong> Wallace: We all agreed not to have closing statements, but I'm going to ask you for one anyway.</p> <p><strong>10:33 -</strong> Clinton says she will raise Social Security taxes, but won't cut benefits. She wants to expand benefits.</p> <p><strong>10:31 -</strong> Trump: I'm going to grow the economy so much that we'll have no need for entitlement reform. Now he's off on a rant on Obamacare. Trump says he's glad that premiums are going up.</p> <p><strong>10:28 -</strong> Clinton: Donald criticized President Reagan in 1987!</p> <p><strong>10:27 -</strong> Let's talk about the national debt. Why are both candidates ignoring it? Trump: I'll get GDP growth up to 4%. Hell, maybe 5% or 6%. Why not? As soon as we get rid of the political hacks, anything is possible.</p> <p><strong>10:18 -</strong> Clinton: "You are unfit." Trump: "No, <em>you're</em> the one who's unfit." Ooh! What a sick burn. If you're a first-grader, that is.</p> <p><strong>10:16 -</strong> Clinton calls out Trump for lying about his support for Iraq war. Mentions <em>Celebrity Apprentice</em> again.</p> <p><strong>10:14 -</strong> Trump now pretending he knows something about Mosul. Claims that ISIS leaders have already left because we announced attack three months ago. The whole battle is a sham to make Obama and Clinton look tough. The big winner will be Iran.</p> <p><strong>10:09 -</strong> Clinton: "This is very disturbing." Whenever Trump loses something, he claims things have been rigged.</p> <p><strong>10:08 -</strong> Trump on Clinton: "She's guilty of a very, very serious crime....She should never have been allowed to run for the presidency."</p> <p><strong>10:06 -</strong> Will Trump accept the results of the election? Trump: "I will look at it at the time."</p> <p><strong>10:05 -</strong> Trump is back on his schtick about how Hillary should have passed laws to stop him from doing all the sleazy stuff he does.</p> <p><strong>9:59 -</strong> Clinton (paraphrased): Trump is a creep. Trump: It was Clinton's campaign that incited all the violence at his rallies.</p> <p><strong>9:57 -</strong> Trump on the groping accusations: "Those stories have been largely debunked." I'm pretty sure the number that have been debunked is zero.</p> <p><strong>9:55 -</strong> Clinton: "Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger."</p> <p><strong>9:53 -</strong> Trump says he thinks the Clinton campaign got all those women to say he groped them. "It was all fiction."</p> <p><strong>9:51 -</strong> Clinton: On the day I was in the Situation Room watching the raid on Osama bin Laden, Trump was hosting an episode of <em>Celebrity Apprentice.</em></p> <p><strong>9:42 -</strong> Trump looks smug and congratulates Chris Wallace whenever he asks Clinton a tough question.</p> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_clinton_debate_2016_10_19_2.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;"><strong>9:39 -</strong> Trump: "We're going to do a lot of things about college tuition." Like what? No telling, but it'll be way better than Hillary's lame tuition plan.</p> <p><strong>9:36 -</strong> Ah, excellent. The real Donald is back. He just denied saying he wouldn't mind if Japan built its own nuclear weapons, even though he's on tape saying exactly that.</p> <p><strong>9:34 -</strong> Trump interjects his first "Wrong."</p> <p><strong>9:32 -</strong> Trump: No one knows where the WikiLeaks stuff came from. Clinton: Intelligence agencies say it was Russia. Trump, sarcastically: "Yeah yeah, I get it."</p> <p><strong>9:31 -</strong> Trump starting to get a little more red-faced now.</p> <p><strong>9:29 -</strong> Are you in favor of open borders? Clinton: I was only talking about energy. And that all came from WikiLeaks anyway. Trump should denounce Russian espionage.</p> <p><strong>9:26 -</strong> Now Clinton is attacking Trump, hoping to bait him into melting down. It's bound to work eventually, isn't it? Not yet, though. Maybe he took a Valium before coming onstage?</p> <p><strong>9:25 -</strong> Clinton: Trump met with president of Mexico and didn't bring up the wall "He choked and then got into a Twitter war."</p> <p><strong>9:23 -</strong> Trump is against abortion, Clinton is pro-choice. Trump wants a wall, Clinton opposes a deportation force and favors comprehensive immigration reform.</p> <p><strong>9:16 -</strong> My, what a civil discussion so far!</p> <p><strong>9:13 -</strong> Now it's all about protecting toddlers from guns. Clinton is considerably more moderate on gun control than she was during the primaries against Bernie Sanders.</p> <p><strong>9:10 -</strong> Trump: Court needs to uphold the 2nd Amendment. Oh, and all the other amendments too.</p> <p><strong>9:06 -</strong> Clinton: We need a court that respects women's rights, LGBT rights, and opposes Citizens United. Court needs to stand up to the powerful. Senate should confirm Merrick Garland.</p> <p><strong>9:00 -</strong> Chris Wallace: No hootin' and hollerin'!</p> <p><strong>8:55 -</strong> None of the presidential candidates sent me birthday greetings today, so I don't know who I'm going to vote for now. This is a real lost opportunity for Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections Thu, 20 Oct 2016 00:53:27 +0000 Kevin Drum 316876 at The Sexual Revolution May Finally Be (Almost) Complete <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Jonathan Chait writes today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Religious Right Now Judgment-Free, Thanks to Donald Trump</p> </blockquote> <p>Yeah, yeah, I know. They support Trump even though he's obviously not religious. Been there, heard it before.</p> <p>But wait! Chait points to a <a href="" target="_blank">new PRRI survey</a> that's genuinely intriguing. It turns out that over the past five years, pretty much <em>all</em> religious groups have steadily given up on the idea of holding politicians accountable for their personal morality. However, the biggest change by far has come from white evangelicals. In <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_immorality_professional_religion_0.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">2011, they were the least willing to accept personal lapses. Today, they're the most accepting.</p> <p>Is this purely political? In 2011, after all, their touchstone was a liberal Democratic president. In 2016 their touchstone is a conservative Republican presidential candidate. Maybe their willingness to forgive moral lapses is purely transactional: they forgive conservatives but not liberals. There's considerable evidence to back this up if you look at congressional races.</p> <p>Still, Catholics and mainline Protestants have also moved in the same direction. The religiously unaffiliated have stayed about where they were. Are Christians just steadily abandoning the whole idea that personal morality matters in public life?</p> <p>Maybe, but I think there may be an alternative explanation. I suspect that a lot of respondents interpret "personal" to mean "sexual." If that's the case, this survey may show something much narrower: that even conservative Christians are loosening up on the sexual front. If "personal immorality" largely conjures images of divorce and premarital sex and gay marriage and so forth, then this survey result just means they don't care about that stuff so much anymore. Is it possible the culture wars have moved on?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 20 Oct 2016 00:14:56 +0000 Kevin Drum 317031 at What Do Michelle Obama, Mark Cuban, and Warren Buffett Have in Common? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>As we all idly wait for the debate to start, here's an interesting question related to <a href="" target="_blank">my previous post.</a> I noted that "no matter how personally or politically destructive it is, Donald Trump is flatly unable to ignore an attack from anyone of influence." Nobody disputes this as a general proposition, but several people pointed out to me that there <em>have</em> been a few folks who attacked Trump and avoided return fire. Michelle Obama is one. Mark Cuban is <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obama_cuban_buffett_0.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">another. Warren Buffett is a third&mdash;and Trump even publicly acknowledged he planned to leave Buffett alone. "There's no counter-punch," he said.</p> <p>There aren't a lot of examples of this, and I suppose you could say that even Donald Trump doesn't have enough hours in the day to attack everyone who's been nasty to him. But these are all big names, of the kind that he'd normally respond to. So what stopped him? It's not gender: he attacks both men and women. It's not power: he attacks plenty of powerful people. It's not money: he's taken on Michael Bloomberg and Carlos Slim.</p> <p>So what's the deal? How does that feverish brain of his decide who not to attack? Is it popularity? Maybe he's careful to only counterattack people who aren't especially popular. Ideas?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 19 Oct 2016 21:47:36 +0000 Kevin Drum 317016 at Donald Trump is an Unstoppable Revenge-a-Tron 3000 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>There are lots of theories about what truly drives Donald Trump, but with 20 days to go before Election Day, I think my colleague David Corn finally nails <a href="" target="_blank">the single most most important trait that motivates Trump's behavior:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Revenge&mdash;it's a big part of Trump's life.</strong> Following the first presidential debate, he spent days of valuable campaign time (and hours of valuable sleep time) slamming Alicia Machado....Rosie O'Donnell....Judge Gonzalo Curiel....Khizr and Ghazala Khan....Carly Fiorina and Megyn Kelly.....Gov. John Kasich....Lyin&rsquo; Ted, Little Marco.</p> <p>Why all the insults, bullying, and grudge matches? There is a reason. Trump fervently believes in retaliation. How do we know? Because he has said so numerous times that he is driven by revenge <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_20_days.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">and that it is a basic tool to use in business. <strong>He is obsessed with payback.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Pretty much everything else flows from this. The bullying is always in service of revenge. The narcissism is a way of elevating himself above his adversaries. The dominance games are always aimed at real and perceived enemies.</p> <p>But there's a flip side to this: Anyone who is nice to Donald Trump is a great guy. The best. One of the smartest people you'll ever meet. And this can flip in a minute. This explains why he was inexplicably pleasant to so many of his primary opponents for so long: they hadn't attacked him. Once they did, though, the gloves were off. Ditto for Vladimir Putin. As long as Putin is personally nice to him, Trump is almost literally incapable of attacking him. This will change the moment Putin says anything even mildly derogatory about Trump.</p> <p>There are two ways this plays out. The first is obvious: it's aimed at people Trump needs revenge on. The second is less obvious: it's aimed at people and things that are ipso facto enemies of the United States. This includes Mexico, China, ISIS, and so on. It doesn't include the Syrian regime, because apparently Trump doesn't consider them a threat. Ditto for Russia, I suppose.</p> <p>Lots of people are obsessed with scorched-earth retribution against anyone or anything that attacks them. The weird thing about Trump is that it seems to be almost hardwired. No matter how little sense it makes to play nice with, say, Vladimir Putin, Trump simply can't attack until Putin attacks him first. Likewise, no matter how personally or politically destructive it is, Trump is flatly unable to ignore an attack from anyone of influence. It's as if he has a special revenge neuron in his brain, and it flips back and forth and forces him to attack regardless of anything else. It's as automatic for him as jerking your knee is for you when a doctor taps it with a hammer. It's not something that's under Trump's conscious control.</p> <p>Needless to say, this is a big part of his appeal. Lots of people&mdash;and conservatives especially&mdash;are driven by showy displays of in-group loyalty, and that includes lashing out at anyone who criticizes the group. This includes personal attacks, attacks on family, attacks on friends, attacks on religion, attacks on race, attacks on country, or anything else they identify with. And whatever else you can say about him, Donald Trump is definitely not a guy who will turn the other cheek. That's what Trump's base likes most about him.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> Apparently even Newt Gingrich <a href="" target="_blank">agrees:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The former House speaker and top Trump surrogate told the <em>Washington Examiner&rsquo;s</em> David Drucker that the Republican nominee loses his cool in response to &ldquo;anything which attacks his own sense of integrity or his own sense of respectability, and he reacts very intensely, <strong>almost uncontrollably,</strong> to those kinds of situations.&rdquo;</p> <p>....&ldquo;There&rsquo;s also a part of his personality that sometimes gets involved in petty things that make no sense, and I think that that&rsquo;s what I was talking about when I talk about <strong>there&rsquo;s a big Trump and a little Trump,</strong>&rdquo; Gingrich said.</p> </blockquote> <p>Actually, big Trump and little Trump have the same personality. They just express it at different targets. Gingrich doesn't see this because he's basically big Trump himself when it comes to politics.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 19 Oct 2016 17:05:38 +0000 Kevin Drum 316951 at Have You Heard About Creamergate? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Some of you may have heard that James O'Keefe is back with <a href="" target="_blank">yet another hidden camera bombshell.</a> It shows a couple of Democratic operatives&mdash;Robert Creamer and Scott Foval&mdash;allegedly boasting about disrupting Trump rallies and committing voter fraud. O'Keefe's record on this stuff is dicey enough that I'm not willing to waste any time with it myself, but here is Dave Weigel's summary:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_weigel_tweet_creamer.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 90px;"></p> <p>For now, that's my take too. The video is heavily edited, and O'Keefe has refused to release the raw footage. I think we can all guess what that means.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 19 Oct 2016 16:29:00 +0000 Kevin Drum 316941 at Debate Liveblogging Tonight <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Happy birthday to me! I'm 58 today. I plan to celebrate by liveblogging tonight's debate, which begins at 9 pm Eastern. My prediction: Donald Trump will show up to the debate bald as an egg. Like Lex Luthor before him, he will then embark on a life of crime and revenge aimed at Hillary Clinton, who he blames for destroying his hair because she was jealous of his genius.</p> <p>Well, why not? It makes as much sense as anything else he's done.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 19 Oct 2016 15:01:31 +0000 Kevin Drum 316931 at QuidProQuogate Flops to an Early Death After Only One Day <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Yesterday, the "quid pro quo" that totally should have landed Hillary Clinton in a Supermax for life was all the rage in Trumpian circles. <em>J'accuse! She had one of her minions try to pressure the FBI into declassifying an embarrassing email!</em> Today, Matt Zapotosky interviews FBI official <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_quid_pro_quo.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">Brian McCauley to get his take on his conversation with State Department official Patrick Kennedy last year. It started when <a href="" target="_blank">Kennedy called him:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>&ldquo;He said, &lsquo;Brian. Pat Kennedy. I need a favor,&rsquo; &rdquo; McCauley recalled in an interview Tuesday. &ldquo;I said, &lsquo;Good, I need a favor. I need our people back in Baghdad.&rdquo; Then Kennedy, a longtime State Department official, explained what he wanted in return: &ldquo;There&rsquo;s an email. I don&rsquo;t believe it has to be classified.&rdquo;</p> <p>....In an hour-long interview with <em>The Washington Post</em>, his first public comments on the matter, <strong>McCauley acknowledged that he offered to do a favor in exchange for another favor, but before he had any inkling of what Kennedy wanted</strong>....McCauley [] said he asked Kennedy to send him the email in question and then inquired with another bureau official about it....McCauley said that when he learned the missive concerned the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, he told Kennedy he could not help him.</p> <p>&ldquo;I said, &lsquo;Absolutely not, I can&rsquo;t help you,&rsquo; <strong>and he took that, and it was fine,</strong>&rdquo; said McCauley.</p> </blockquote> <p>Is this really how things went down? There's no telling. Obviously McCauley has an incentive to make this conversation sound routine and harmless. That said, McCauley's account is the only one we have, and it sounds perfectly plausible. This is how people talk.</p> <p>What's more, it also sounds as if the FBI took another look at the email, turned down Kennedy's request, and that was that. There was no pressure and no further calls about it. Nor is there any evidence that Hillary Clinton or any of her staffers had anything at all to do with this.</p> <p>This is what passes for a scandal in Trumpland. It's also what passes for a scandal in Republicanland these days. Is it any wonder that the public never took seriously Solyndra or Fast &amp; Furious or IRSgate or Benghazi or any of the other manufactured conservative outrages of the past eight years? You can't keep crying wolf forever. Eventually everyone but the true believers just tunes you out.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 18 Oct 2016 20:36:22 +0000 Kevin Drum 316911 at People Magazine Corroborates Trump Attack Story <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_natasha_stoynoff_small.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Donald Trump's response to the tsunami of women saying he groped or attacked them is to flatly call them liars. The problem with this strategy is that it motivates his victims to defend themselves, thus keeping the stories in the news even longer.</p> <p>Take Natasha Stoynoff, the <em>People</em> writer who accused Trump of <a href="" target="_blank">attacking her</a> after a photo shoot at Mar-a-Lago in 2005. Trump's response? "She lies! Look at her, I don't think so." As a result, this week <em>People</em> is running <a href="" target="_blank">a second story</a> quoting six colleagues and friends who have corroborated Stoynoff's account. That's 3 million readers who will see this story again, plus another gazillion or so who will see it from the inevitable follow-up on every gossip show and website in the country. And this helps Trump how?</p> <p>If you read to the very end, Stoynoff gets in the final dig:</p> <blockquote> <p>Stoynoff admits there&rsquo;s a chance Trump simply pushed her own incident from his mind. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s possible he just doesn&rsquo;t remember it,&rdquo; Stoynoff says. &ldquo;It was over 10 years ago <strong>and I assume I am one of many, many women.</strong>&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>In other news 21 days before we go to the polls, President Obama took on Donald Trump over his repeated remarks about <a href="" target="_blank">the election being rigged:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Obama accused Trump of &ldquo;whining before the game is even over&rdquo; and described Trump&rsquo;s remarks as &ldquo;unprecedented.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;I have never seen in my lifetime or in modern political history any presidential candidate trying to discredit the elections and the election process before votes have even taken place,&rdquo; Obama said....<strong>The <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_21_days.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">president, clearly troubled by Trump&rsquo;s claims of a fixed election, quickly decided not to hold back.</strong> He described Trump&rsquo;s allegations as a threat to American democracy and to the &ldquo;integrity and trust&rdquo; of the country&rsquo;s civic institutions.</p> </blockquote> <p>And it's not just Obama. Even Republicans are <a href="" target="_blank">getting spooked by Trump's talk:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a former Oklahoma secretary of state, said he is worried about the alarm bells that Trump is ringing. &ldquo;I just don&rsquo;t believe there is any risk of massive voter fraud in the elections,&rdquo; Cole said. &ldquo;...<strong>It does concern me, because you&rsquo;ve got a national platform running for president, and you delegitimize the process by which presidents are chosen when you raise doubts.</strong>&rdquo;</p> <p>GOP leaders, who are fighting to preserve a fragile Senate majority and hold their wider advantage in the House, <strong>worry that Trump&rsquo;s attacks could cast doubt on wins by other Republicans.</strong> Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, a Republican, declined through a spokeswoman to be interviewed. In a statement, his office said, &ldquo;Security during elections and encouraging 100% voter participation in Florida&rdquo; are Detzner&rsquo;s &ldquo;top priorities.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>And of course, Mike Pence himself repudiated his own running mate, saying on Sunday, "We will absolutely accept the result of the election." I sure hope so. It would be quite a spectacle if the vice presidential candidate conceded on Election Night but the presidential candidate didn't.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 18 Oct 2016 18:51:26 +0000 Kevin Drum 316886 at "Dumpster Fire" Is 2016's Meme of the Year <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" class="giphy-embed" frameborder="0" height="233" src="//" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;" width="350"></iframe>A friend emails:</p> <blockquote> <p>I'm curious. The term "dumpster fire" has been thrown around a lot throughout this campaign, particularly as an unflattering description of the Trump campaign. Before this year, I have never heard this phrase used about anything or anybody. Am I just getting old and un-cool? Has the term been out there for awhile and I just haven't noticed? Or, maybe it's just a regional thing and dumpster fires are just not as common in Deputy Dawg-land as they are in, say, New York City.</p> <p>Please help me out here. Where did this term come from?</p> </blockquote> <p>I have good news: my friend is undoubtedly getting old and uncool, but that's not why he's confused. It really is a fairly new term of derision. Claire Fallon wrote an immensely long investigation of this topic a few months ago at the <em>Huffington Post</em>. <a href="" target="_blank">There are two takeaways:</a></p> <p>First, the word <em>dumpster</em> was originally trademarked by its inventor, a guy named George Dempster. Who knew? But it's now a generic noun.</p> <p>Second, aside from its use in local news reports to describe actual dumpsters actually catching fire&mdash;a surprisingly frequent occurrence&mdash;Fallon figures that its origins as a put-down come from the sports world:</p> <blockquote> <p>Linguist Mark Liberman, who works at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote in a recent blog post, &ldquo;A few years ago, I noticed hosts and callers on sports talk radio using the phrase &lsquo;dumpster fire&rsquo; as a metaphor for chaotically bad situations.&rdquo;...Another source, Mike Wise&rsquo;s colleague Liz Drabick, agrees. When I spoke to Drabick on the phone, she remembered, <strong>&ldquo;It definitely became a sports talk radio catchall phrase, I want to say around 2010, 2011.&rdquo;</strong>...&ldquo;I&rsquo;m almost loathe to admit this,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;because it&rsquo;s not the same personality that I enjoy now, but it was definitely the Herd. It was Colin Cowherd.&rdquo;</p> <p>....<strong>Some more clues point to Cowherd as the popularizer, if not the coiner:</strong> a 2008 blog post by Joel Anderson, now a Buzzfeed reporter, opined, &ldquo;to borrow a phrase from Colin Cowherd, McCain is turning into a dumpster fire right before our eyes.&rdquo; In September 2008, an SBNation Syracuse blog quoted him slamming the college town like so: &ldquo;That place is a dumpster-fire. It should be noted, one of the least-attractive college campus in the country [sic].&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>It turns out there are a few earlier uses of <em>dumpster fire</em>, but they're scattered and never had any influence. It was, apparently, Colin Cowherd, circa 2008-11, who turned it into a phrase du jour. Then, earlier this year, the now-iconic GIF of a dumpster fire became an internet meme, and that was that. It fit the Trump campaign so perfectly that it made the leap into the mainstream.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 18 Oct 2016 17:44:34 +0000 Kevin Drum 316871 at A Special Post For My Sister <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Today brings bad news, good news, and more good news. On the bad news front, it's the second anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. Boo! On the good news front, it's been two years and I'm still alive and kicking. On the more good news front, <a href="" target="_blank">here are the three latest polls out today:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_new_polls_2016_10_18.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 70px;"></p> <p>This post is dedicated to my sister, who calls every day wanting to know if Donald Trump is <em>really</em> going to lose. Oh yes indeed. He's really going to lose. I hope these poll results are enough to bring peace and serenity to Drum households everywhere.</p> <p>By the way, I attribute Hillary Clinton's strong results to her consistent outreach to women and her newfound outreach to cats. Until recently, our cats didn't care. But now they do&mdash;the female of the species, anyway. Here is Hopper diligently keeping an eye out for ruffians who might be inclined to vandalize a, um, local resident's Hillary yard sign.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hopper_2016_10_18.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 5px 60px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 18 Oct 2016 16:20:27 +0000 Kevin Drum 316851 at McCain Promises Endless Filibusters, But Then Backs Off <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_mccain_reporters.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">In Pennsylvania yesterday, campaigning for fellow Republican Pat Toomey, <a href="" target="_blank">John McCain made a promise:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I promise you that <strong>we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up</strong>, I promise you. This is where we need the majority, and Pat Toomey is probably as articulate and effective on the floor of the Senate as anyone I have encountered.</p> </blockquote> <p>McCain later "clarified" that he didn't actually mean what he plainly said, and by the rules of American politics that means we are now supposed to pretend he never said it.</p> <p>But he did say it. The question is whether he really meant it, or whether it was just campaign blather that went a little too far in the heat of the moment. This is especially salient since McCain was one of the original Gang of 14 who promised to forestall Republican threats to end judicial filibusters back in 2005. If even McCain is on board with endless blind filibusters, we're in trouble.</p> <p>My personal guess is that this was, in fact, just campaign rhetoric. After all, at some point government has to work. The Supreme Court needs nine members. The federal government needs a budget. The country has to pay its debts. Even Republicans get that.</p> <p>Then again, maybe they don't. It's a little hard to tell these days. It might be safer all around to simply make sure Democrats get a majority in the Senate and not take any chances.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 18 Oct 2016 15:37:35 +0000 Kevin Drum 316846 at Here's My Short Guide to the California Initiatives <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Hey there, fellow Californians! Are you confused by the phone-book-sized "guide" we all got for the November election? I've got you covered. My guide to the 17 initiatives on the ballot this year weighs in at a svelte 1,600 words, which comes to a mere 100 words per initiative. I usually post this closer to Election Day, but with everyone doing the early voting thing these days, I figured I should put it up earlier. <a href="" target="_blank">You can read it here.</a></p> <p>I should note that I'm not generally a fan of initiatives, and I'm especially not a fan of a few specific things that are common to a lot of initiatives. I list these at the top of the guide, and I point them out whenever they're relevant. That way you can see what's motivating me, and can decide for yourself whether to take my quirks seriously. Happy voting!</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 18 Oct 2016 10:30:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 316821 at Melania Says Donald's Pussygate Remarks Were All Billy Bush's Fault <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>With only 22 days left in the campaign, Melania Trump did her best today to defend her husband, telling CNN that Donald's "grab 'em by the pussy" remark <a href="" target="_blank">was actually all Billy Bush's fault:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Melania Trump says her husband was "egged on" in the 2005 tape in which he made lewd comments about his own sexually aggressive behavior toward women...."<strong>And as you can see from the tape, the cameras were not on</strong>&nbsp;&mdash; it was only a mic. And I wonder if they even knew that the mic was on," she said, referring to Trump and NBC's "Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush.</p> <p>She said they were engaged in "boy talk, and he was led on&nbsp;&mdash; like, egged on&nbsp;&mdash; from the host to say dirty and bad stuff."</p> </blockquote> <p>The cameras weren't on! So there's no telling what was really happening on that bus. It's funny, isn't it? I always figured Donald for the strong kind of guy who couldn't be pushed around by a muffinhead like Billy Bush, but lately I've begun to wonder if we ever really knew Billy. The man apparently has Svengali-like powers that, um...what was I just saying? It seems to have escaped me.</p> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_22_days_healthy_habit_1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Well, let's move on. Last year, it was conventional wisdom that even if Trump lost the election, his businesses would win big. But that's no longer so certain. <a href="" target="_blank">Here's the <em>New York Times</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>An online travel company, Hipmunk, has found that <strong>bookings for Trump hotels on its site fell 58 percent</strong> during the first half of 2016, compared with the same period a year ago.</p> </blockquote> <p>Here's <em>New York</em> magazine on <a href="" target="_blank">Trump's new hotel in Washington DC:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Even with a prime location near the White House, swanky interiors, and aggressive promotion by the candidate himself, empty rooms have forced the hotel to reduce rates during a peak season....Last weekend bankers and dignitaries from around the world descended on Washington for the annual World Bank-IMF meetings. <strong>But just a few days before the conference, rooms were not only still available at Trump International, they were heavily discounted....All other five-star D.C. downtown hotels were sold out.</strong> By Wednesday, October 5, weekend stays in the deluxe rooms were marked down to $404 per night on Trump International&rsquo;s own website. The more luxurious 500-square-foot executive rooms, with a city view and marble bath, were only $484. By comparison, at the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown, the only available rooms were $1,139 per night, according to</p> </blockquote> <p>And here's the <em>Washington Post</em> <a href="" target="_blank">on data from FourSquare:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The app, which allows its users to &ldquo;check in&rdquo; at locations they visit, shows that foot traffic to Trump-branded casinos, hotels and golf courses continues to be lower than it was before his candidacy, especially in blue states.</p> <p>Foursquare and its sister app, Swarm, have used their data on the foot traffic of more than 50 million users to investigate how businesses are performing in the past for retailers, hedge funds, real estate developers and others....Foursquare data shows that <strong>the visit share to Trump properties in September 2016 was down 19 percent</strong> compared with two years prior.</p> </blockquote> <p>Perhaps there's some justice in the world, after all.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 17 Oct 2016 22:14:46 +0000 Kevin Drum 316811 at Clowns Win Another Round in Southern California <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_clown_mug_shot.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">A guy in Santa Clarita called police Sunday morning after <a href="" target="_blank">firing a warning shot in the air at a knife-wielding clown:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The clown fled the scene on foot, and the homeowner called 911, said Sgt. Cortland Myers of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff&rsquo;s station. Deputies responded to the scene and <strong>could not find a knife-wielding clown,</strong> Myers said.</p> <p>....Was there in fact a knife-wielding clown in the suburbs of Santa Clarita?...Deputies did discover a man with a clown mask hiding in some bushes a few blocks away from where the warning shots were fired &mdash; <strong>a sighting &ldquo;unusual for that time of morning,&rdquo; Myers said.</strong></p> <p>However, <strong>&ldquo;the homeowner didn&rsquo;t identify this clown as the correct clown,&rdquo;</strong> Myers said. &ldquo;His guy had a full clown costume and a mask, and the clown he saw was taller.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>So how did this story end, anyway? Well, the police didn't find a clown, but they did find that the caller was in possession of weapons and narcotics and arrested him. I guess the clowns won this round.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 17 Oct 2016 21:30:32 +0000 Kevin Drum 316806 at Somebody Offered Someone a Sleazy Deal Last Year <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The <em>Wall Street Journal</em> takes a look today at the latest document dump from the FBI's investigation of Hillary Clinton's email server. Unsurprisingly, the State Department disagreed with many of the classification decisions made by the FBI, and a senior State official, Patrick Kennedy, lobbied to have them changed. <a href="" target="_blank">Then there's this:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>When the FBI official refused to accede to the request, according to the summary, <strong>Mr. Kennedy went to a senior FBI official and offered what the official called a quid pro quo:</strong> &ldquo;in exchange for marking the email unclassified, State would reciprocate by allowing the FBI to place more agents in countries where they are presently forbidden,&rsquo;&rsquo; according to a summary of the FBI interview of the unidentified witness.</p> </blockquote> <p>Alternatively, there's this:</p> <blockquote> <p>A senior FBI official told investigators that Mr. Kennedy reached out to him seeking help on the email issue, saying he wanted a different classification that would &ldquo;allow him to archive the document in the basement of the [State Department] never to be seen again.&rsquo;&rsquo; <strong>In response, the FBI official said he would &ldquo;look into the email matter if Kennedy would provide authority concerning the FBI&rsquo;s request to increase its personnel in Iraq.&rsquo;&rsquo;</strong> That arrangement was ultimately rejected by others at the FBI.</p> </blockquote> <p>So either State offered a sleazy deal or else the FBI offered a sleazy deal. I guess we'll never know which.</p> <p>But I have an entirely different question: Why is the FBI involved in classification decisions regarding State documents about foreign affairs? I've been a little fuzzy all along about where the classification decisions came from, and this is the first time that it's seemed absolutely clear. But why? I thought the CIA and other members of the intelligence community did this stuff.</p> <p>Also, no one knows what the hell is classified and what isn't. It's a mess.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 17 Oct 2016 20:42:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 316786 at Raw Data: The Highest Paying College Majors <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">According to Glassdoor,</a> here are the 50 highest-paying majors during the first five years out of college:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_highest_paying_college_majors.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>Bottom line: get into either a technical field or one that's highly unionized. Avoid biology for some reason. Alternatively, major in whatever you want and then adjust your lifestyle to your income.</p> <p>Now some of you oldsters might be thinking that kids have it pretty cushy these days. $70,000 for a computer science major! Hell, even the social worker making $40,000 doesn't sound bad. <em>Why, my first job out of college paid $15,000 and I was happy to get it.</em></p> <p>So as a public service, here's the exact same chart, but adjusted for inflation since 1980:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_highest_paying_college_majors_1980_dollars.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>Using the dollars you remember from 1980, the CS major makes $24,000 and the social worker makes $14,000. It doesn't sound quite so cushy anymore, does it? The lesson here is that most of us underestimate the rate of inflation since our college days: prices haven't gone up 50 percent or a hundred percent since 1980, they've gone up 3x. It's hard to internalize that. Hell, it doesn't seem right to me, and I'm staring at the numbers right now.</p> <p>Jobs that require an engineering degree pay pretty well. But they've always paid pretty well. There's nothing magical about what engineers and coders are making in 2016.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 17 Oct 2016 19:04:30 +0000 Kevin Drum 316766 at The LA Times Blows It On Inflation <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The <em>LA Times</em> copy desk needs to <a href="" target="_blank">cool it on the clickbait headlines:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>The Fed says inflation is low but you don't agree. Here's why you both might be right</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>The motivation for the accompanying article is a recent poll showing that 44 percent of Americans don't trust the government's economic data. This, in turn, is motivated in part by Donald Trump's insistence that the Fed is keeping interest rates low to help Hillary Clinton despite the specter of massive inflation.</p> <p>However, the bulk of the article is about the technical difficulties of calculating inflation, which can produce massive differences like these between the two leading inflation indexes for August:</p> <ul><li>CPI: +1.09 percent</li> <li>PCE: +0.96 percent</li> </ul><p>Obviously <em>somebody</em> is rigging the data here, amirite?</p> <p>Despite the obvious lack of any chicanery in the inflation figures, the article quotes nutbag Peter Schiff, who insists the government is cooking the books, and "contrarian" David Stockman, who believes he's come up with a more accurate inflation measure by rejiggering the government's calculation to give more weight to prices that are going up the fastest. The article also mentions that inflation might be higher in one city than another, and that sometimes inflation seems higher than it is due a rise in a very visible product like gasoline.</p> <p>But nowhere in the article does it say flatly that the conspiracy theorists are wrong, and inflation is what it is. It reads more like a he-said-she-said account of whether the government is playing fair. And the headline just reinforces that. This is not good journalism</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 17 Oct 2016 18:22:37 +0000 Kevin Drum 316751 at Vladimir Putin Holds Kitten In Attempt to Seem Human <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>This is a very slow Monday morning. Donald Trump is blathering about all the usual suspects. Iraq's military says the assault of Mosul is going great. Voters, allegedly, continue to be pissed off. Luckily, the <em>Daily Mirror</em> is digging deep to find us some real news:</p> <p><iframe align="middle" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281px" src="//" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 60px;" width="500px"></iframe></p> <p>The takeaway from this calendar is that even kittens don't seem to like Vladimir Putin much. I always knew cats had good taste.</p> <p>Also, take note of the April Putin. I swear, he looks like he's posing for <em>Tiger Beat</em> or something.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 17 Oct 2016 17:34:10 +0000 Kevin Drum 316741 at Gigabit Internet? Wake Me When We Have Petabit Internet. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="225" src="" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;" width="400"></iframe><a href="" target="_blank">Who needs superfast internet, anyway?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>A few dozen cities in America have next-generation broadband networks that offer speeds of 1 gigabit per second &mdash; about 50 times faster than a typical connection. These super-fast connections were supposed to revolutionize Americans&rsquo; experience of the internet and rev up the country&rsquo;s noncompetitive broadband market.</p> <p>....But six years after the first super-fast connections went live, <strong>even proponents concede no &ldquo;killer&rdquo; gigabit application has emerged.</strong> Most of their potential, critics say, is simply ignored by users. And building gigabit networks nationwide would be a colossally expensive undertaking.</p> </blockquote> <p>I find this amusing because my local cable company is moving toward gigabit internet and has flooded my TV with breathless ads about what we can do with it. So far, the answer is: make 3D sugar concoctions, play some kind of holographic game of tag, and force grandpa to dance by taking control of his artificial digital legs.</p> <p>"That's what I'm going to do with Gigablast," says the 3D food kid at the end of his ad. If that's really the case, it makes me less likely to bother with it, not more.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 17 Oct 2016 15:08:35 +0000 Kevin Drum 316726 at