Kevin Drum Feed | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en A New Poll Says the Presidential Debates Are Really Important. It's Wrong. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">From the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>One-third of voters say the presidential debates will be very important in helping them decide whom to support for president, with slightly more Republicans than Democrats saying so, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has found.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is one reason not to take polls too seriously. It's not even faintly plausible that a third of the voting public is undecided enough that the debates will make any difference to them. The true number is probably closer to 5 percent. Maybe 10 percent at the outside. And even that small number will probably break about evenly by Election Day. There's an endless body of research showing that the actual effect of debates is minuscule.</p> <p>In most polls,<sup>1</sup> the fact that people say stuff like this is a far, far bigger source of inaccuracy than the margin of error. The biggest problem with polls is human beings, not statistics.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Simple candidate preference polls are an exception. They tend to be fairly accurate.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 25 Sep 2016 21:26:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 314796 at Howard Kurtz Shows Us How Journalism Is Done At Fox News <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Alex Burns of the <em>New York Times</em> thinks that Howard Kurtz of Fox News was soft on Donald Trump in a recent interview. Kurtz isn't buying it:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Sorry to ruin the narrative, <a href="">@alexburnsNYT</a>, but I challenged Trump on Iraq opposition by citing and knocking down each of his explanations</p> &mdash; HowardKurtz (@HowardKurtz) <a href="">September 25, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>Let's go to the tape and <a href="" target="_blank">see who's right:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>KURTZ: Let me move on. You said in many interviews, including with me, that you opposed the Iraq war before it began. Now, I've looked at the forums that you've cited <em>Esquire Magazine</em>, Neil Cavuto's show and don't see any clear evidence of that. And of course, you had the sort of a lukewarm comment to Howard Stern and I guess so to be....</p> <p>TRUMP: Well, that was long before the war started and I can tell you that was long before the war started with Howard that's the first time the word Iraq was ever mentioned to me....</p> <p>KURTZ: <strong>But why not say...</strong></p> <p>[crosstalk]</p> <p>KURTZ: <strong>Why not say you're a private business...</strong></p> <p>[crosstalk]</p> <p>TRUMP: And then I spoke to Neil Cavuto...Sean Hannity...blah blah blah.</p> <p>KURTZ: <strong>Right, but why not say I was a private&nbsp;&mdash; I was a private businessman.</strong> I had no responsibility to take a public position before the war and I criticized the invasion after it began?</p> <p>TRUMP: Sean Hannity...Neil Cavuto...blah blah blah.</p> <p>KURTZ: All right.</p> </blockquote> <p>I guess you can form your own opinion, but it sounds to me like Kurtz asked about Iraq in a decidedly milquetoasty way, Trump delivered his usual lies, and Kurtz then did his best to play campaign manager and suggest that Trump try a whole new way of misleading the public. Journalism!</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 25 Sep 2016 21:16:42 +0000 Kevin Drum 314791 at Everyone Has Suddenly Discovered That Donald Trump Tells the Occasional Lie <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_lat_trump_lies.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">The <em>New York Times</em> kicked things off this weekend with <a href="" target="_blank">"A Week of Whoppers From Donald Trump."</a> The <em>Washington Post</em> followed suit with its own compilation of a <a href="" target="_blank">week of lies.</a> Today, the <em>Los Angeles Times</em> ups the ante with <a href="" target="_blank">"Scope of Trump's Lies Unmatched":</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Donald Trump says that taxes in the United States are higher than almost anywhere else on earth. They&rsquo;re not. He says he opposed the Iraq war from the start. He didn&rsquo;t. Now, after years of spreading the lie that President Obama was born in Africa, Trump says that Hillary Clinton did it first (untrue) and that he&rsquo;s the one who put the controversy to rest (also untrue).</p> <p>Never in modern presidential politics has a major candidate made false statements as routinely as Trump has.</p> </blockquote> <p>Gee I wonder what Lester Holt is going to ask Trump about at tomorrow's debate?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 25 Sep 2016 15:03:05 +0000 Kevin Drum 314786 at The Clinton Foundation Sure Is a Great Charity <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>When it comes to charity, Dylan Matthews is pretty hardnosed. To earn his approval, a charity better focus on truly important problems and be damn good at it. So how about the Clinton Foundation? After starting out as a skeptic, he says, "I've come to the conclusion that the Clinton Foundation is a real charitable enterprise that did enormous good." <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_bill_clinton_chai.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">In particular, he praises the Clinton Health Access Initiative, which helped lower the cost of HIV drugs and saved untold lives. <a href="" target="_blank">But there's a catch:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>And&mdash;perhaps uncomfortably for liberals and conservatives alike &mdash; it is exactly the kind of unsavory-seeming glad-handing and melding of business and politics for which Bill and Hillary Clinton have taken years of criticism that led to its greatest success....The deals made required buy-in from developing governments. The person tasked with getting that buy-in was a former US president with existing relationships with many of those people. <strong>Bill Clinton essentially used his chumminess with foreign politicians and pharmaceutical executives, the kind of thing about the Clinton Global Initiative that earns suspicious news coverage, to enlist their help in a scheme to expand access to HIV/AIDS drugs.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>I don't get it. Why should this make anyone feel uncomfortable? Lots of people have star power, but very few have star power with both rich people <em>and</em> foreign leaders. Bill Clinton is one of those few, so he chose a project that (a) could save a lot of lives, (b) required buy-in from both rich people and foreign leaders, and (c) was right at the cusp where an extra push could really make a difference.</p> <p>I can't even imagine why anyone would consider this unsavory, unless they've lived in a cave all their lives and don't understand that glad-handing and chumminess are essential parts of how human societies operate. Matthews may be right that many people feel uneasy about this, but I can't figure out why. It sounds like Clinton chose to do something that his particular mix of experience and character traits made him uncommonly good at. That's pretty smart.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 24 Sep 2016 21:43:33 +0000 Kevin Drum 314781 at Despite Donald Trump's Massive Tax Bribes, Top CEOs Still Can't Stand the Guy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The <em>Wall Street Journal</em> has checked out every Fortune 100 CEO in the country, <a href="" target="_blank">and not a single one supports Donald Trump:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Most have stayed on the sidelines, with 89 of the 100 top CEOs not supporting either presidential nominee, and 11 backing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton....Hope Hicks, Mr. Trump&rsquo;s spokeswoman, said the candidate has &ldquo;tremendous support from small and large business CEOs and business owners,&rdquo; and added that he &ldquo;is not beholden to supporters with agendas like CEOs of massive, publicly traded companies.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>You betcha, Hope. Trump never wanted the support of those guys anyway, amirite?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 24 Sep 2016 21:16:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 314776 at Seven Days of Donald Trump's Lies <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The <em>New York Times</em> has compiled a list of 31 of Donald Trump's <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;clickSource=story-heading&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">"falsehoods, exaggerations and outright lies"</a> today. "A closer examination," they say, "revealed an unmistakable pattern: Virtually all of Mr. Trump&rsquo;s falsehoods directly bolstered a powerful and self-aggrandizing narrative depicting him as a heroic savior for a nation menaced from every direction."</p> <p>Quite so, and this would seem unremarkable except for one thing: <em>this list covers only the past week.</em> And it doesn't include "untruths that appeared to be mere hyperbole or humor, or delivered purely for effect, or what could generously be called rounding errors."</p> <p>In other words, just lies. For one week. And yet a lot of people still believe Trump is going to build a wall and has a foolproof secret plan to crush ISIS. Apparently we are a nation of patsies these days.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 24 Sep 2016 18:04:29 +0000 Kevin Drum 314771 at Friday Fundraising and Cat Blogging - 23 September 2016 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>About a month ago, I wrote about our latest experiment in how we pay for MoJo's journalism&mdash;our first-ever attempt to ask our regular readers to sign up as sustaining donors with a tax-deductible gift <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_mojo_cover_origins_trump.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">that <a href=";list_source=7H68CK00&amp;extra_don=1&amp;abver=B" target="_blank">automatically renews every month.</a> The day after our pledge drive went live, the Justice Department announced it would phase out private prison contracts in the wake of <a href="" target="_blank">Shane Bauer's first-hand investigation into those facilities.</a> In response to that amazing news 1,061 donors signed up, donating $11,792 in just the first nine days.</p> <p>In the five weeks since then, our results slowed down&mdash;but we expected that. In fact, a big part of the experiment was not just learning <em>if</em> we could raise the money, but figuring out <em>how</em> could we do it. We hoped we could do it without blanketing the site with ads or bombarding your inboxes with panicky emails.</p> <p>So far, so good on that front. You've probably seen a fundraising ad or two over the last few days, but we've managed to avoid the sensational emails. With a week to go, we're currently sitting around $21,500 raised from 1,785 donors&mdash;which is pretty generous when you consider that $21,000 each month turns into more than $250,000 a year from now. Still, our goal remains $30,000, and it's going to be a nail-biter whether we can make that next $8,500 before next Friday's deadline.</p> <p>So here's hoping you'll help us get across the finish line and meet our $30,000 goal&mdash;which will turn into $360,000 by this time next year. You can do it by credit card <a href=";list_source=7H68CK00&amp;extra_don=1&amp;abver=B" target="_blank">here.</a> If you prefer PayPal, you can give monthly <a href=";hosted_button_id=ZUNJXBSLZM3R6" target="_blank">here</a>&mdash;just be sure to check the box next to your gift amount.</p> <p>And now, without further ado, your reward in advance for contributing to <em>Mother Jones</em>: double catblogging. Enjoy!</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_2016_09_23.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 0px 60px;"><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hopper_2016_09_23.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 0px 60px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 23 Sep 2016 19:00:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 314676 at Here's One Look at How Charlotte Police Shot Keith Lamont Scott <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>This video, <a href="" target="_blank">from NBC News,</a> may be one of the most depressing things you're ever likely to see. You have been warned.</p> <blockquote><blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">BREAKING: Exclusive: Video shows fatal encounter between Charlotte Police officers and Keith Scott. <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) <a href="">September 23, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote></blockquote></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 23 Sep 2016 18:40:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 314731 at Can Donald Trump Make It Through an Entire 90-Minute Debate? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The <em>New York Times</em> tells us today how the two candidates are prepping for Monday's debate. You can probably guess how Hillary Clinton is going about it: methodically, studiously, and seriously. Donald Trump, of course, has no use for actual prep, but nonetheless his team is trying to prepare him for the devious curveballs Clinton is <a href="" target="_blank">likely to throw at him:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>His advisers will try to throw him off balance, and measure his response to possible Clinton jabs like &ldquo;You&rsquo;re lying, Donald.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Clever! Who would ever have guessed she might say something like that to a guy who tells about a dozen lies every day? Then there's this:</p> <blockquote> <p>He has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials....Mr. Trump can get bored with both debate preparations and debates themselves....His advisers see it as a waste of time to try to fill his head with facts and figures....Some Trump advisers are concerned that he <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_shrugging.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">underestimates the difficulty of standing still, talking pointedly and listening sharply for 90 minutes.</p> <p><strong>Vulnerabilities</strong></p> <p><em>Tendency to lie on some issues (like his challenge to President Obama&rsquo;s citizenship) or use incorrect information or advance conspiracy theories</em> &mdash; all of which opens him to counterattack from Mrs. Clinton or rebukes from the moderator. Advisers are urging him to focus on big-picture themes rather than risk mangling facts. If Mrs. Clinton says he is lying, his advisers want him to focus on her trustworthiness and issues like her State Department email and accusations of favors for donors.</p> </blockquote> <p>Basically, then, Trump's team is just hoping that he can remain in one place for 90 minutes; not get too obviously bored; tell only a bare minimum of lies; avoid facts and figures since he'll just screw them up; and pay attention to what Clinton says. <a href="" target="_blank">Jonathan Chait comments:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>There are two ways to read today&rsquo;s <em>New York Times</em> report from Donald Trump&rsquo;s debate preparations, or lack thereof. One is that Trump&rsquo;s advisers are deliberately setting expectations at rock bottom, so the media will proclaim him the winner if he can merely remain upright for the entire time. A second possibility is that they have come to the horrifying realization that their candidate is delusional, uninformed, lazy, and utterly unsuited to the presidency, and they&rsquo;re hoping without evidence that these traits can somehow be hidden from the viewing public.</p> </blockquote> <p>Or maybe both!</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 23 Sep 2016 17:40:41 +0000 Kevin Drum 314716 at Hillary Clinton Wants to Raise Taxes on Wealthy Heirs <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Hillary Clinton has proposed an <a href="" target="_blank">increase in the estate tax:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton would levy a 65% tax on the largest estates....<strong>generate $260 billion over the next decade,</strong> enough to pay for her plans to simplify small business taxes and expand the child tax credit....The Clinton campaign changed its previous plan&mdash;which called for a 45% top rate&mdash;by adding three new tax brackets and adopting the structure proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont during the Democratic primaries. She would impose a 50% rate that would apply to estates over $10 million a person, a 55% rate that starts at $50 million a person, <strong>and the top rate of 65%, which would affect only those with assets exceeding $500 million for a single person and $1 billion for married couples.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>But but but, capital formation! Where will the American economy manage to dredge up any capital if we raise taxes on billion-dollar estates? Plus, as the straight shooters at the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> editorial page point out, there's inflation. Using current dollars, a decade from now that top rate of 65 <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_estate_tax_50_million.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">percent will apply to married couples with a mere $900 million in taxable assets. <em>Surely we can't be serious about this?</em></p> <p>And how many people does this affect? Well, in 2014 there were a grand total of <a href="" target="_blank">223 estates worth $50 million or more.</a> Given the power-curve nature of income, this suggests that there were maybe, oh, five estates worth $500 million. That's something on the order of a thousand rich kids who will have to pay 15 percent more than the current top rate and maybe a dozen or so who would pay 25 percent more. Those dozen or so would inherit a mere $350 million instead of $600 million. That's a grim fate, to be sure, but I suppose they'll manage to soldier on.</p> <p>As for all those farmers and family businesses who will be devastated? Forget it. There aren't any&mdash;unless you consider the Trump Organization to be a small family business.</p> <p>As with most policy proposals in this campaign, this is more for show than anything else. A Republican Congress won't take up the estate tax again. Still, it's designed to show whose side Hillary Clinton is on, and it does a pretty good job of that.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 23 Sep 2016 16:15:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 314701 at Hillary Clinton Remains 4 Points Ahead of Trump <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's your end-of-the-week snapshot of the presidential race, courtesy of Pollster. Hillary Clinton remains in the lead by 4.3 percentage points. There really hasn't been much change since the end of August, when the convention bumps wore off.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_pollster_clinton_trump_2016_09_23.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 5px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 23 Sep 2016 15:07:28 +0000 Kevin Drum 314691 at Video Not Quite the Format of the Future We Were Led to Believe <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Video! It's the format of the future. It's the only thing the kids today will bother with. If you want to get any attention on social media, you gotta get on the video bandwagon. <a href="" target="_blank">Right?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Big ad buyers and marketers are upset with Facebook Inc. after learning the tech giant vastly overestimated average viewing time for video ads on its platform for two years, according to people familiar with the situation.</p> <p>....Ad buying agency Publicis Media was told by Facebook that the earlier counting method <strong>likely overestimated average time spent watching videos by between 60% and 80%,</strong> according to a late August letter Publicis Media sent to clients that was reviewed by <em>The Wall Street Journal</em>.</p> <p>....The news is an embarrassment for Facebook, which has been touting the rapid growth of video consumption across its platform in recent years. <strong>Due to the miscalculated data, marketers may have misjudged the performance of video advertising they have purchased from Facebook over the past two years</strong>....Media companies and publishers are affected, too, since they&rsquo;ve been given inaccurate data about the consumption of their video content across the social network. Many use that information to help determine the types of content they post.</p> </blockquote> <p>Oh well. Bygones. I'm sure all that money you spent building a huge video content department will still be well spent. Someday.</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> I should disclose that I'm a sworn enemy of video. It's handy sometimes, but the information-to-time-spent ratio is usually so abysmal I can't stand watching it. A few seconds for a cute animal video is one thing. Ten or fifteen minutes for an interview or a podcast or an explainer with maybe one or two small snippets of useful information is unbearable.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 23 Sep 2016 01:00:43 +0000 Kevin Drum 314661 at Atheists and Agnostics Should Vote More <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_turnout_religiously_unaffiliated_0.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Christopher Ingraham takes a look at a recent survey of atheists and agnostics and asks, <a href="" target="_blank">"Why don't the unaffiliated vote?"</a></p> <blockquote> <p>As Pew Research Center's Greg Smith told me earlier this year, "It could be the 'nones' are not connected, almost by definition, to religious institutions, which can play an important role in spurring turnout and interest in politics." It's also the case that the unaffiliated tend to be younger than the population as a whole. And younger people in general are less likely to vote than their older peers.</p> </blockquote> <p>As President Obama likes to say, "Don't boo, vote." If you're unhappy with the influence that conservative Christians have on American politics, go out and vote for someone who's more likely to favor evidence-based policy than faith-based policy. If you're not willing to do that, then don't gripe the next time some yahoo manages to get evolution expunged from your local textbooks.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 23 Sep 2016 00:38:11 +0000 Kevin Drum 314656 at Enough With All the Racism Talk, OK? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I'm really tired of blogging about whatever idiot thing Donald Trump has said, so I promised myself a little break today. And technically, I'm keeping that promise because this tweet is about Mike Pence:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Pence: "Trump and I believe there's been far too much talk about institutional bias and racism within law enforcement"</p> &mdash; Ines de La Cuetara (@InesdLC) <a href="">September 22, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>This is all part of the Trump campaign's outreach to African-American voters, right?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 22 Sep 2016 19:45:15 +0000 Kevin Drum 314636 at Los Angeles Is Not as High-Minded as Adam Nagourney Thinks <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Adam Nagourney writes a truly remarkable piece today about how Southern California's strong economy is visible in the construction boom <a href="" target="_blank">taking place in Los Angeles:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>But it can also be seen in a battle that has broken out about the fundamental nature of this distinctively low-lying and spread-out city. The conflict has pitted developers and some government officials against neighborhood organizations and preservationists. <strong>It is a debate about height and neighborhood character; the influence of big-money developers on City Hall; and, most of all, what Los Angeles should look like a generation from now.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>No it's not. It's about traffic. It's always about traffic. And about brown people moving into places where they aren't welcome. But traffic is mentioned precisely once, in a throwaway line in the 14th paragraph. Racism isn't mentioned at all. How can you write an entire article taking all the hand-wringing about "character" at face value without ever digging an inch below the surface to understand some of the less salubrious concerns at work here?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 22 Sep 2016 18:53:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 314631 at I May Need a Doctor on Monday Night <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Rich Lowry on Monday's debate:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Trump has a significant built-in advantage in that there is a lower standard for him</strong> &mdash; not because the media isn&rsquo;t tough enough on him, as all the media mavens agree, but because he is the de facto challenger and candidate of change in a change election.</p> <p>....Trump just needs to seem plausible and the very fact that he is on a presidential debate stage, the most rarified forum in American politics, will benefit him. During the Republican primary debates, the intangibles worked in his favor and they presumably will on Monday, too....As long as he&rsquo;s firm and calm, he is implicitly rebutting the case against him on temperament. And then he can look for a big moment or two that will be <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_mccoy_hypo.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">memorable <strong>and drive the post-debate conversation in the media that is arguably as important as the debate itself.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>I'm not going to say that Lowry is wrong. But if you want to truly see me lose my shit, you'll have your chance if this is the way the talking heads respond on Monday night. If Trump is as ignorant and bigoted and evasive and blustery as usual, but the media sages stroke their chins and say ever-so-judiciously that he "looked presidential" or some such, I'm going to need someone to hold me down and give me a good stiff injection of that stuff Dr. McCoy always used on <em>Star Trek</em> to knock people out.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 22 Sep 2016 18:26:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 314626 at Inflation and the Fed: A Follow-Up <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Ryan Cooper suggests that we don't really know if the Fed can significantly raise inflation:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">let's see a central bank actually try and fail first <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; ryan cooper (@ryanlcooper) <a href="">September 22, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="">@ryanlcooper</a> What do you think they should do?</p> &mdash; Kevin Drum (@kdrum) <a href="">September 22, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="">@kdrum</a> say "we're going $100bn in new QE, to double every month until we hit 2% inflation"</p> &mdash; ryan cooper (@ryanlcooper) <a href="">September 22, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>Here's the thing: this is pretty much what the Bank of Japan has been doing for the past few years. The chart on the right shows QE in Japan compared to the US over the past six years (indexed to 100 at the end of the Great Recession). <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_boj_fed_assets.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">The BOJ balance sheet has more than quadrupled since then, and the inflation rate in Japan is....</p> <p>-0.4 percent.</p> <p>Since this hasn't worked&mdash;and since doubling the Fed's balance sheet in 2013 has produced <em>declining</em> inflation&mdash;it seems likely the Fed would have to increase its balance sheet by, say, 8x, to have any chance of producing substantially higher inflation. In dollars, that means $28 trillion in additional asset purchases. They would run out of treasuries to buy long before they hit that mark and would start gobbling up every corporate and MBS bond in sight. That's really not a tenable suggestion.</p> <p>This is all just back-of-the-envelope stuff, not meant to be taken too literally. For one thing, we're starting off with a higher inflation rate than Japan did. Still, this gives you a rough idea of what the Fed is up against. In theory, they can do endless helicopter drops until they get the inflation they want. In practice, it's a lot less clear they truly have a plausible path to 3 or 4 percent inflation.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 22 Sep 2016 17:37:39 +0000 Kevin Drum 314616 at Central Banks Have No Practical Tools to Raise Inflation <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Greg Ip in the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Central banks have shown the will to hit their growth and inflation targets. But do they have the way?</p> <p>That question is more pointed after the Bank of Japan on Wednesday announced two new central bank firsts. It now wants inflation not just to meet its 2% target, but to overshoot it. And it will now target not just short-term interest rates, but long-term government bond yields....<strong>Japan&rsquo;s monetary travails matter to all central banks since so many countries are coming to resemble Japan, with slow growth and too-low inflation</strong>&mdash;factors that make it difficult for an economy to tolerate interest rates much above zero.</p> </blockquote> <p>I suspect we're learning something new: central banks can <em>squash</em> inflation by raising interest rates and causing a recession, but no central bank has ever tried to <em>raise</em> inflation. It's simply been assumed that they have the power to affect inflation in both directions. But they don't&mdash;at least, not in practice. I assume that if a central bank committed to flooding the economy with enough money it could, eventually, raise inflation rates, but no central bank is willing to go that far. And since it's never been done, we don't actually know for sure that it would work anyway. It might have side effects that trash the economy so badly that it wouldn't be worth doing.</p> <p>Pretty much every central bank in the developed world would like inflation to be higher, but not a single one has been successful at doing it. This suggests to me that in practical terms, inflation is a one-way ratchet. Central banks can <em>reduce</em> it, but they can't <em>raise</em> it. I'm not entirely sure what this means, but economists need to come to grips with this apparent fact and figure it out.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 22 Sep 2016 15:39:19 +0000 Kevin Drum 314601 at Donald Trump Is Still a Birther <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Ben Garbarek, a local news reporter in Toledo, asked Donald Trump today what it was that changed his mind about <a href="" target="_blank">President Obama's birthplace:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>BG: This announcement earlier this week with you saying that you believe President Obama was in fact born in the United States, after all the years <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_toledo.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">where you've expressed some doubt, what changed?</p> <p>Trump: <strong>Well I just wanted to get on with, I wanted to get on with the campaign.</strong> A lot of people were asking me questions. We want to talk about jobs. We want to talk about the military. We want to talk about ISIS and get rid of ISIS. We want to talk about bringing jobs back to this area because you've been decimated so we just wanted to get back on the subject of jobs, military, taking care of our vets, etc.</p> </blockquote> <p>He also asked Trump about his foundation:</p> <blockquote> <p>BG: And with the <em>Washington Post</em> report out this week about the Trump Foundation. Could you explain to people why you may have used some charitable donations for personal uses?</p> <p>Trump: The foundation is really rare. <strong>It gives money to vets.</strong> It's really been doing a good job. I think we put that to sleep just by putting out the last report."</p> </blockquote> <p>This is all the usual gibberish, barely worth taking note of. Except for one thing: Trump must know that he's going to have to answer these questions in the debate on Monday. Even if Lester Holt turns out to be a complete doofus, he's going to insist on Trump actually addressing the substance of these issues. <em>When</em> did you change your mind about birtherism? <em>What</em> changed your mind? <em>Why</em> did you use a charitable foundation to pay business expenses? Have you done it more than the two times the <em>Post</em> caught you at?</p> <p>I know Trump never does anything as lame as prepping for a debate, but his staff must at least be mulling over what kind of answer he's going to give to these questions. This kind of huffing and puffing isn't going to cut it on live national television.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 22 Sep 2016 01:26:56 +0000 Kevin Drum 314586 at The Jackie Robinson of Tennis Is.... <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The <em>Washington Post</em> has a list of <a href="" target="_blank">"36 Must-See Items"</a> at the newly-opened Museum of African American History and Culture, and the accompanying picture included a tennis racket. I clicked the link, hoping it was the right tennis racket, and was pleased to see that it was:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" p="" src="/files/blog_althea_gibsons_tennis_racket.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 60px;"></p> <p>I don't want to pretend that Althea Gibson has been lost to history or anything like that, but she unquestionably plays second fiddle to Arthur Ashe when the topic is African-American tennis players. But with all due respect to Ashe, who was a great player and a champion of civil rights, Gibson did it all first. She broke into tennis in 1950, fifteen years before Ashe. She won five grand-slam singles titles to Ashe's three, and almost certainly would have won many more if she'd been wealthy enough to continue playing amateur tennis. She was the Jackie Robinson of tennis, but there's no Althea Gibson Stadium at the National Tennis Center.</p> <p>As I said, Gibson is hardly invisible. Nonetheless, she deserves to be a lot better known than she is.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 21 Sep 2016 22:43:25 +0000 Kevin Drum 314581 at My One Wish For the First Debate <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Don't worry, Lester, this is nothing partisan. Feel free to grill Hillary Clinton about her emails and the Clinton Foundation and so forth. And by all means, grill Trump about the Trump Foundation and his lie about opposing the Iraq War and when he decided Obama was <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_lester_holt.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">born in the US and all the other Trumpisms America wants to hear about.</p> <p>But here's my wish: do it in the second half-hour. Debate hosts have a habit of wanting to come out of the gate with a "tough" question that demonstrates what hard-hitting journalists they are, and that usually means some kind of edgily worded question about either a scandal or a "scandal." Instead, let's show that policy is what's most important. You can still ask tough questions, probing around in the details the candidates would rather not address, but make the first half hour all about the actual, concrete plans they have for their presidency. There's plenty of time for the zinger-fest later.</p> <p>That's it. That's my wish list.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 21 Sep 2016 22:00:39 +0000 Kevin Drum 314571 at Hillary Clinton Now Recovering From Both Pneumonia and Poll Losses <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>This seems like pretty good news for the Clinton camp:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="">#POLLS</a> 9/21<br> &acirc;&#150;&nbsp;NBC/WSJ: Clinton +6<br> &acirc;&#150;&nbsp;ST.L: Clinton +5<br> &acirc;&#150;&nbsp;QUIN: Clint +5<br> &acirc;&#150;&nbsp;MORN: Clint +4<br> &acirc;&#150;&nbsp;POLLY: Clint +6<br> &acirc;&#150;&nbsp;REUT: Clint +4<br> &acirc;&#150;&nbsp;ABC: Clint +8</p> &mdash; Jeff Gauvin (@JeffersonObama) <a href="">September 21, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>These haven't all shown up in the poll aggregates yet, but they will soon.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 21 Sep 2016 21:45:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 314566 at Help Me Solve the Mystery of Question 25 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Ladies and gentlemen, I present question 25 from the <a href="" target="_blank">latest WaPo/ABC News poll:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_wapo_poll_clinton_favors_foundation.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 18px;"></p> <p>Golly, I wonder where people got that idea from? In over a year of investigation, there's been no evidence of a Foundation donor getting anything from Hillary Clinton more important than a better seat at a State Department luncheon. And yet 59 percent of Americans have come away with the impression that both the Foundation and Hillary Clinton personally are corrupt.</p> <p>How could this be? It's a chin scratcher, all right.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 21 Sep 2016 17:26:10 +0000 Kevin Drum 314506 at Who Gets Better Press Coverage, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The Shorenstein Center's Thomas Patterson has analyzed Hillary Clinton's press coverage during the month of the two political conventions. He presents his findings today <a href="" target="_blank">in the <em>LA Times</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>If Clinton loses, blame the email controversy and the media </strong></p> <p>My analysis of media coverage in the four weeks surrounding both parties&rsquo; national conventions found that her use of a private email server while secretary of State and other alleged scandal references accounted for 11% of Clinton&rsquo;s news coverage in the top five television networks and six major newspapers, including the <em>Los Angeles Times</em>. <strong>Excluding neutral reports, 91% of the email-related news reports were negative in tone.</strong> Then, there were the references to her character and personal life, which accounted for 4% of the coverage; that was 92% negative.</p> <p>....How about her foreign, defense, social or economic policies? Don&rsquo;t bother looking. <strong>Not a single one of Clinton&rsquo;s policy proposals accounted for even 1% of her convention-period coverage;</strong> collectively, her policy stands accounted for a mere 4% of it. But she might be thankful for that: News reports about her stances were 71% negative to 29% positive in tone. Trump was quoted more often about her policies than she was. <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_patterson_clinton_trump_news_coverage.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">Trump&rsquo;s claim that Clinton &ldquo;created ISIS,&rdquo; for example, got more news attention than her announcement of how she would handle Islamic State.</p> </blockquote> <p>Luckily, the online version includes a link to <a href="" target="_blank">Patterson's report.</a> It tells a different story. During the period Patterson studied, Trump's news coverage was 75 percent negative, while Clinton's was 56 percent negative. Overall, the media was harsher toward Trump than it was toward Clinton.</p> <p>Now, there are different kinds of negative. Trump got a lot of negative coverage for running a chaotic convention, which is the kind of thing that blows over quickly. Clinton got a lot of negative coverage over Emailgate, which is the kind of thing that sets a permanent tone. And Patterson points out that a full 8 percent of Clinton's coverage was about her emails, by far the biggest category for a single issue.</p> <p>We also don't know the relative placement of all this coverage. Negative coverage on page A12 is a lot different than negative coverage on the front page.</p> <p>Nonetheless, the fact remains that Trump apparently got significantly more negative coverage than Clinton. What's frustrating for a lot of Democrats, I think, is that Trump's voluminous negative coverage doesn't seem to do him any harm. And that's largely because of a disconnect about what counts as "negative." In the normal world inhabited by journalists, lying, cheating, bullying, insulting, and general ignorance are considered bad things. In Trumpworld they're good things. His followers seem to agree that he's a bastard, but by God, he's going to be <em>their</em> bastard.</p> <p>So, oddly enough, the more negative coverage Trump gets, the better his supporters like him. Whether the small number of undecided voters see things the same way as Trump's fans is unknown, but the entire election might hinge on it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 21 Sep 2016 16:00:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 314501 at Kellyanne Conway Is Very Confused About How Free Money Helps Businesses <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Kellyanne Conway sure has taken to the job of idiot Trump apologist with gusto:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Sign of a great reporter. Conway says <a href="">@Fahrenthold</a> is "obsessed with Donald Trump these days." <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) <a href="">September 21, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>Gee, if a for-profit business gets someone else to pay its fine, how on earth does that help the business? It's so confusing. This Fahrenthold guy is just obsessed with Donald Trump. What's his deal, anyway?</p> <p>Oh, and Donald writes secret checks to help people all the time. He's just too shy to let anyone know about it.</p> <p>It's just lie after lie after lie. But maybe I'm being unfair. If you've been the recipient of Trump's secret largesse to ordinary folks, please let me know. It's a little surprising that none of you have come forward over the past year, but bygones. Now's your chance.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 21 Sep 2016 15:11:13 +0000 Kevin Drum 314492 at