Donald Trump Roundup For Monday Evening

Donald Trump has been falling in the polls since last Friday. How has he responded to this pressure? Let us count the ways:

Have I missed anything? Keep in mind that this is just over the past couple of days. Is it any wonder that Republicans are starting to wonder if Trump is suffering from some kind of genuine mental derangement?

Hillary Clinton Pulls Away From Donald Trump

I know, I know. I said we should wait until the middle of the week for more reliable post-convention polls. But you know you want them, and you want them now. Fine. Here's the latest from Pollster:

I don't want to make a big point about this, but I want to write it down in order to get comments. Here is my understanding of the results of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's 33,000 emails:

  • 3 were marked classified. Two of these were classified in error. The third was classified correctly but was marked improperly (and was pretty trivial anyway).
  • 110 contained information that wasn't marked classified, but which Hillary and her aides "should have known" was sensitive. That's according to FBI Director James Comey. Based on previous reporting, virtually all of these probably related to the drone program in Pakistan, which was classified but had been extensively reported in the press.
  • About 2,000 emails were retroactively classified as part of the FOIA process.

Is this correct? Or is there some part of this that I continue not to understand?

Jim Geraghty says that Hillary Clinton is a serial liar:

We know she lies when she’s cornered. Running from snipers in the Balkans, being “dead broke” upon leaving the White House, “all my grandparents” immigrated to America, her tale of trying to join the Marines, her claim she never received or sent any material that was classified on her private e-mail system, her claim to have started criticizing the Iraq War before Barack Obama did… she lies, and she lies, and she lies.

Seriously, Jim? I'll give you the Balkans thing. That was a lie. But the others aren't. The Clintons were in debt when they left the White House. Hillary's great-grandparents were immigrants—she was off by a generation. Nobody knows if she ever tried to join the Marines, but there's no evidence she didn't. She didn't knowingly send classified material on her private email system, and it's hardly fair to judge her by the fact that some of her emails were retroactively classified. And her statement about the Iraq War was strained (she was talking about criticism after Obama joined the Senate), but it's typical political exaggeration, not a lie.

Look: all politicians lie sometimes. That includes Hillary Clinton. But as the chart on the right shows, Hillary is one of the most honest politicians on the national stage. Here's a similar conclusion from the New York Times.

I know it's in their partisan self interest for conservatives to insist that Hillary is the world's biggest liar. But she isn't. Not by a long, long way. Republicans need to get the beam out of their own eye before they keep banging on about the mote in Hillary's.

I don't have any special news hook for this chart, but it's been in the back of my mind for a while. Roughly speaking, it's an answer to why white men are so angry about the economy even though they generally earn more than any other gender or ethnic group.

It's all about progress. Women may earn 79 percent of what men earn, but over the past 40 years their incomes have increased rapidly. Black and Hispanic men haven't done quite as well, but they've still made progress—and most people are relatively happy as long as things are getting better over time. The only group that has stagnated for four straight decades is white men. That's plenty all by itself to make them angry, but it's even worse when they watch literally everyone else doing better at the same time.

Don't get me wrong: the "angry white guy" syndrome has plenty of sexist and racist overtones too. After all, white men used to be at the top of the gender/race heap, and now they aren't. They don't get to feel superior to women or blacks or Hispanics anymore, and their incomes have gone nowhere for four decades. Rightly or wrongly, you'd be mad too if this described you.

POSTSCRIPT: One reason I haven't posted this before is because the data is hard to get. It's easy for most groups—the Census data works fine—but for Hispanics the Census data is heavily skewed by the very low incomes of illegal immigrants, who have increased over time. As a proxy for income gains among Hispanic men who were born in America (to match the demographics of the other groups) I've used Pew's estimate of the income difference between 1st and 2nd generation Hispanics. Obviously this is far from ideal, but I'm not aware of a clean source of comparable data for all this.

ALSO: Asian men and women have also seen substantial income gains over the past 40 years, but the Census figures for Asians don't go back that far. That's why they aren't included in the chart.

It's been a while since I posted a chart showing the latest global temperatures, so let's do one today. This is based on NOAA data for the first half of the year. As you can see, average global temperatures have risen about 1.3°C over the past century.

For years, climate denialists published charts starting in 1998 to show that warming had "paused" and might never increase again. Needless to say, an anomaly of +0.7°C looks kind of quaint these days as we blew right past +1.0°C during this year's El Nino. Those old charts have, of course, now disappeared. But no worries. They'll be replaced by something else, I'm sure.

I wrote my post yesterday about the North Carolina voting law before I had a chance to read the 4th Circuit Court opinion that struck it down. It turns out to be even more amazing than I thought. The court wrote that various provisions of North Carolina's law "target African Americans with almost surgical precision," and they weren't kidding:

The [original] version of SL 2013-381 provided that all government-issued IDs, even many that had been expired, would satisfy the requirement as an alternative to DMV-issued photo IDs....With race data in hand, the legislature amended the bill to exclude many of the alternative photo IDs used by African Americans. As amended, the bill retained only the kinds of IDs that white North Carolinians were more likely to possess.

....Legislators also requested data as to the racial breakdown of early voting usage....The racial data provided to the legislators revealed that African Americans disproportionately used early voting in both 2008 and 2012....After receipt of this racial data, the General Assembly amended the bill to eliminate the first week of early voting.

....Legislators similarly requested data as to the racial makeup of same-day registrants....SL 2013-381 eliminated same-day registration....Legislators additionally requested a racial breakdown of provisional voting....With SL 2013-381, the General Assembly altogether eliminated out-of-precinct voting....African Americans also disproportionately used preregistration.... Although preregistration increased turnout among young adult voters, SL 2013-381 eliminated it.

....As “evidence of justifications” for the changes to early voting, the State offered purported inconsistencies in voting hours across counties, including the fact that only some counties had decided to offer Sunday voting. The State then elaborated on its justification, explaining that “[c]ounties with Sunday voting in 2014 were disproportionately black” and “disproportionately Democratic.

It's not just that every provision coincidentally happens to affect blacks disproportionately. In at least a couple of cases, provisions were added only after the legislature had racial breakdowns in hand so they could make sure they weren't accidentally targeting whites too.

Remarkably, even with this evidence before it, the district court upheld the law. This prompts a longtime question of mine: how far do courts have to go in believing the justification that a legislature provides for its actions? Obviously you want to be careful with this, but there's a point at which, literally, everyone knows what's really going on. And yet courts have to pretend to believe something else. This sure seems like a destruction test of this concept.

Donald Trump Is a Pathological Creep

This was in Politico yesterday:

Top Donald Trump donors tried to set up a meeting between the GOP presidential nominee and Charles Koch in Colorado Springs on Friday, but Koch aides rejected the entreaties, according to two Republicans with knowledge of the outreach.

....“It is not going to happen,” said one of the Republicans, adding that the Kochs appear unlikely to back away from their repeated declarations that they don’t plan to spend any money in the presidential race, and will instead refocus their spending down ballot.

And this was Donald Trump's response today:

Have you noticed this about Trump? Nobody ever turns down a meeting with him. He turns down meetings with other people. Likewise, he never calls anyone. They call him. It doesn't matter who it is. President, pope, CEO, whatever. According to Trump, they're the ones who called first. His ego just can't stand the thought of anyone thinking that he's the guy who ever goes begging.

And speaking of his ego, Trump also couldn't stand to ignore Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim soldier killed in Iraq. Khan delivered a blistering attack on Trump at the Democratic convention, saying, among other things, that Trump had never made a sacrifice in his life. George Stephanopoulos asked him about this:

“If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.” Pressed by Stephanopoulos to name the sacrifices he’d made for his country, Trump said: “I think I've made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I've created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I've had tremendous success. I think I've done a lot.”

And this: "When asked what he would say to the grieving father, Mr. Trump replied, 'I'd say we’ve had a lot of problem with radical Islamic terrorism.' "

This is shockingly callous, but there's a sense in which you can sympathize with Trump. Khan isn't just some guy. He was speaking at a party convention on prime time national television. And he went after Trump in a very deliberate way. Surely Trump should be allowed to respond?

Maybe. But sometimes life just isn't fair, and you have to suck it up. Republicans have used 9/11 survivors and Benghazi moms at their conventions, and there's really nothing you can do about it except let them take their shots. That's life.

Unless you're Trump. He's just congenitally unable to take a hit without hitting back. It could have been a 7-year old on that stage talking about how a Muslim fireman rescued her kitten from a tree, and Trump would have figured out a way to insult her back. He seems to literally have no control over his own actions. What a pathological creep.

A Different Way of Looking at the Minimum Wage

A couple of days ago I wrote about the minimum wage, and how it's gone down over the years. How much has it gone down? Well, that depends on what measure of inflation you use.

But there's another way of looking at it that doesn't rely on a computed inflation rate at all: just compare it to the median wage. Via the OECD, here's how we compare to other rich countries:

In countries like France, Australia, and Britain, the minimum wage is equivalent to about half or more of the median wage. In the US, it's equivalent to only 37 percent of the median wage. That's the lowest in the OECD dataset.

But it hasn't always been this way. Here's what the minimum wage in the US looks like over the past half century:

I had to massage the data a bit to get a wage series back to 1960, so this might be off slightly. But not by more than a couple of percentage points or so. The basic story is simple: Up until the Reagan era, the federal minimum wage was around 50 percent of the median full-time wage—or higher. Then it dropped for eight years running and has never recovered.

So what does this say about where the minimum wage ought to be? If we raised it to $10.50, we'd be back to 50 percent of the median wage. That would put us in the middle of the international pack, which seems perfectly reasonable. If we raised it to $15, we'd be at 72 percent of the median wage, far higher than any of our peer countries.

Obviously you can decide for yourself where we ought to be. But looked at this way, I'd be pretty happy with a minimum wage of $10-11, but pretty skeptical of $15. There's really not much precedent for a minimum wage that high, and I'm not thrilled with experimenting that far away from international norms.1 What's more, although I think the minimum wage serves a purpose, my preference is to combine a moderate but reasonable minimum wage with, say, a moderate but reasonable increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit.2 They serve different purposes and benefit different groups of people, and the combination would almost certainly benefit the working poor more than just one or the other.

1As we liberals point out endlessly, the bulk of the evidence suggests that moderate increases in the minimum wage don't have much effect on employment. And that's true. But the flip side is also true: large increases in the minimum wage probably do have an effect on employment. My guess is that a $15 minimum wage would have fairly significant disemployment effects.

2And an expansion of Medicaid. One thing that makes it hard to compare our minimum wage with other countries is that other countries have safety net features that we don't have. For example, universal health care, which reduces medical costs for the working poor to nearly zero. I would much rather have a $10-11 minimum wage + EITC increase + Medicaid expansion than a $15 minimum wage.

Here's the latest Pollster aggregate for the presidential race. Following the Democratic convention, Hillary Clinton now leads Donald Trump by nine points, 43-34 percent.

I'm putting this up because, hey, we deserve a little cheerful news for the weekend, don't we? But the usual warning applies, even if you like this chart better than last week's: It's something of an outlier due to a single poll conducted on Friday that shows Hillary 15 points ahead. So don't take it seriously. At the very least, the middle of next week is the earliest we'll have real data. And as usual, I recommend waiting until mid-August to see how things settle down before taking any poll seriously.

In the meantime, enjoy!