Christopher Ingraham takes a look at a recent survey of atheists and agnostics and asks, "Why don't the unaffiliated vote?"

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.

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.

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:

This is all part of the Trump campaign's outreach to African-American voters, right?

Adam Nagourney writes a truly remarkable piece today about how Southern California's strong economy is visible in the construction boom taking place in Los Angeles:

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. 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.

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?

Rich Lowry on Monday's debate:

Trump has a significant built-in advantage in that there is a lower standard for him — not because the media isn’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.

....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’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 memorable and drive the post-debate conversation in the media that is arguably as important as the debate itself.

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 Star Trek to knock people out.

Ryan Cooper suggests that we don't really know if the Fed can significantly raise inflation:

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). The BOJ balance sheet has more than quadrupled since then, and the inflation rate in Japan is....

-0.4 percent.

Since this hasn't worked—and since doubling the Fed's balance sheet in 2013 has produced declining inflation—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.

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.

Greg Ip in the Wall Street Journal today:

Central banks have shown the will to hit their growth and inflation targets. But do they have the way?

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....Japan’s monetary travails matter to all central banks since so many countries are coming to resemble Japan, with slow growth and too-low inflation—factors that make it difficult for an economy to tolerate interest rates much above zero.

I suspect we're learning something new: central banks can squash inflation by raising interest rates and causing a recession, but no central bank has ever tried to raise inflation. It's simply been assumed that they have the power to affect inflation in both directions. But they don't—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.

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 reduce it, but they can't raise it. I'm not entirely sure what this means, but economists need to come to grips with this apparent fact and figure it out.

Ben Garbarek, a local news reporter in Toledo, asked Donald Trump today what it was that changed his mind about President Obama's birthplace:

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 where you've expressed some doubt, what changed?

Trump: Well I just wanted to get on with, I wanted to get on with the campaign. 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.

He also asked Trump about his foundation:

BG: And with the Washington Post report out this week about the Trump Foundation. Could you explain to people why you may have used some charitable donations for personal uses?

Trump: The foundation is really rare. It gives money to vets. It's really been doing a good job. I think we put that to sleep just by putting out the last report."

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. When did you change your mind about birtherism? What changed your mind? Why did you use a charitable foundation to pay business expenses? Have you done it more than the two times the Post caught you at?

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.

The Washington Post has a list of "36 Must-See Items" 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:

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.

As I said, Gibson is hardly invisible. Nonetheless, she deserves to be a lot better known than she is.

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 born in the US and all the other Trumpisms America wants to hear about.

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.

That's it. That's my wish list.

This seems like pretty good news for the Clinton camp:

These haven't all shown up in the poll aggregates yet, but they will soon.