So how did Donald Trump respond to today's New York Times story featuring two women who said he groped them? He, um, denied it:

In a phone interview on Tuesday night, a highly agitated Mr. Trump denied every one of the women’s claims. “None of this ever took place,” said Mr. Trump, who began shouting at the Times reporter who was questioning him. He said that The Times was making up the allegations to hurt him and that he would sue the news organization if it reported them. “You are a disgusting human being,” he told the reporter as she questioned him about the women’s claims.

But he didn't just threaten to sue once:

ZOMG! Can you imagine the discovery phase of this suit? Trump's lawyers would lock him inside his own gold-plated bathroom to keep him from going through with it. But wait!

There is not enough popcorn in the world for this movie.

Donald Trump Is a Pig

Is Donald Trump a serial groper? Jessica Leeds says yes:

More than three decades ago, when she was a traveling businesswoman at a paper company, Ms. Leeds said, she sat beside Mr. Trump in the first-class cabin of a flight to New York. They had never met before. About 45 minutes after takeoff, she recalled, Mr. Trump lifted the armrest and began to touch her. According to Ms. Leeds, Mr. Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt. “He was like an octopus,” she said. “His hands were everywhere.”

Rachel Crooks says yes:

Ms. Crooks was a 22-year-old receptionist at Bayrock Group, a real estate investment and development company in Trump Tower in Manhattan, when she encountered Mr. Trump outside an elevator in the building one morning in 2005....They shook hands, but Mr. Trump would not let go, she said. Instead, he began kissing her cheeks. Then, she said, he “kissed me directly on the mouth.”

Several contestants in the 1997 Miss Teen USA contest say yes:

“I remember putting on my dress really quick because I was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a man in here,’” said Mariah Billado, the former Miss Vermont Teen USA....Three other women, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of getting engulfed in a media firestorm, also remembered Trump entering the dressing room while girls were changing. Two of them said the girls rushed to cover their bodies, with one calling it “shocking” and “creepy.”

Kamie Crawford says yes:

Cassandra Searles, Miss Washington 2013, says yes:

In a Facebook post this year, Searles called Trump a "misogynist" who "treated us like cattle" and "lined up so he could get a closer look at his property."...Searles added in a comment on her initial post's thread, "He probably doesn't want me telling the story about that time he continually grabbed my ass and invited me to his hotel room."

Mindy McGillivray says yes:

McGillivray, 36, said she was groped by Trump at Mar-a-Lago 13 years ago. She said she never reported it to authorities. But her companion that day, photographer Ken Davidoff, vividly remembers when McGillivray pulled him aside moments after the alleged incident and told him, "Donald just grabbed my ass!"

Tasha Dixon says yes:

 He just came strolling right in. There was no second to put a robe on or any sort of clothing or anything. Some girls were topless. Others girls were naked....Who do you complain to? He owns the pageant. There’s no one to complain to. Everyone there works for him.

There's more, but you get the idea. The floodgates have opened.

Let's give some thought to a journalistic quandary: How should news organization handle the leak of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's hacked emails?

Under normal circumstances there would be nothing much to think about. Once they're out, they're out. You trawl through them and print anything that seems newsworthy. Neat and simple.

But consider the circumstances here. There's evidence that the hack was directed by a foreign power trying to influence the US election. The leak itself came from an organization that detests one of the candidates. And they're playing a transparently too-clever-by-half game of trying to keep this in the news for weeks by parceling out the emails a few thousand at a time.

Leaks often have a partisan motive, but this one is self-evidently hyper-partisan. So should news organizations allow themselves to be used as pawns in this obvious effort to affect the presidential election? If they do, they can hardly pretend to be neutral channels of information. But if they don't, they risk failing to report genuinely important news.

What to do? I think there's a fairly straightforward way to handle this: just dial up the threshold for "newsworthiness" a notch or two. You'd still ignore the obvious trifles, and you'd still report anything truly newsworthy or scandalous. But for stuff in the gray middle, you'd lean against publication.

Since this is not an abstract question, but an actual, concrete issue that affects an actual, concrete candidate named Hillary Clinton, it's all but impossible to discuss this on its merits. But it's worth trying. After all, does anyone think that this kind of hack is going to get less common as time goes on?1

1Actually, it might. People in high places might (a) start taking more care to never say anything embarrassing in email, and (b) start encrypting their email and other data more routinely. This might start to make hacking less productive, and eventually kill it off.

Tyler Cowen points to the following tidbit in the Financial Times:

The plummeting pound is threatening UK households’ supplies of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Marmite spread, as Tesco, the country’s biggest supermarket, pulled dozens of products from sale online in a row over who should bear the cost of the weakening currency.

Unilever has demanded steep price increases to offset the higher cost of imported commodities, which are priced in euros and dollars, according to executives at multiple supermarket groups. But Tesco signalled it would fight the rises, removing Unilever products from its website and warning that some of the items could disappear from shelves if the dispute dragged on.

Um, what? Tesco thinks that if the pound falls, prices on imported items shouldn't change? How do they figure that? Then again, maybe it's nothing:

An executive at another consumer goods manufacturer said Unilever would probably regard Tesco’s action as a negotiating tactic rather than a serious threat.

Roger that. But in the long run, there's no getting around this. A weak currency means cheaper exports and more expensive imports. You can try to jam a finger in the dike for a little while, but eventually you have to give in.

I don't know what the long-term impact of Brexit will be. I suspect it will be moderately negative on several levels, and in particular, will probably hurt the blue-collar workers who were suckered into voting for it. Rage-based voting rarely does anyone any good. In the short-term, however, the impact will be unambiguously bad. Prices of imports will go up before the benefits of rising exports work their way through the economy, and uncertainty over Britain's final status will paralyze lots of decisions from foreign firms about whether they should continue to invest there. This will all shake out in the end, but there will be some pain in the meantime.

In the LA Times poll, Donald Trump has been consistently in the lead for the past month, even as other polls show Hillary Clinton ahead. Today, 27 days before November 8, doomsday has finally been postponed:

There is a 19-year-old black man in Illinois who has no idea of the role he is playing in this election. He is sure he is going to vote for Donald J. Trump....He’s a panelist on the U.S.C. Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Daybreak poll, which has emerged as the biggest polling outlier of the presidential campaign. Despite falling behind by double digits in some national surveys, Mr. Trump has generally led in the U.S.C./LAT poll.

....Our Trump-supporting friend in Illinois is a surprisingly big part of the reason. In some polls, he’s weighted as much as 30 times more than the average respondent, and as much as 300 times more than the least-weighted respondent. Alone, he has been enough to put Mr. Trump in double digits of support among black voters.

....He is also the reason Mrs. Clinton took the lead in the U.S.C./LAT poll for the first time in a month on Wednesday. The poll includes only the last seven days of respondents, and he hasn’t taken the poll since Oct. 4. Mrs. Clinton surged once he was out of the sample for the first time in several weeks.

In some way, I suppose it was worth experimenting with the unusual, panel-based design of the LA Times poll. However, their decision to weight lots of tiny subgroups separately is harder to defend. It's the reason that one guy in Illinois can have a significant effect on the entire poll.

Nate Cohn's piece on the LA Times poll is worth a read. It's a very good introduction to the whole issue of poll weighting and how it works. There's as much art as science to this stuff sometimes.

Conservatives are thrilled about yesterday's court decision regarding the CFPB. Here's Iain Murray:

In a rare victory for the Constitution and American political tradition, the US Court of Appeals from the DC Circuit today found that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was “structurally unconstitutional.” The offending structure consists of an independent agency with a single, all-powerful executive director. The Court found that structure fell between two stools — an agency with a single head needs to be accountable to the President, while an independent agency needs to have internal checks and balances by having a multi-member commission format like the SEC and others.

This judgment echoes the arguments the Competitive Enterprise Institute and its co-plaintiffs have been making in a separate court case, where my colleague Hans Bader argued, “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s lack of checks and balances violates the Constitution’s separation of powers. Its director is like a czar. He is not accountable to anyone, and can’t be fired even if voters elect a president with different ideas about how to protect consumers.

There's no telling if this ruling will hold up on appeal, but if it does, the CFPB director will now serve at the pleasure of the president. This means that President Trump could fire Jeopardy champion Richard Cordray and instead install Apprentice champion Omarosa to oversee America's financial industry. Luckily, it appears we will be spared that indignity.

I don't expect this ruling to have a big impact in real life. Basically, it means that a new president will be able to install a new CFPB director immediately instead of having to wait a year or two for the old one to finish out her term. In the long run that's likely to have a neutral effect on party control of the bureau. As for being able to fire the director without cause, that's mostly hemmed in by political considerations anyway.

At a practical level, then, I don't have much heartburn over this. On a more abstract level, though, it represents a disturbing trend from conservatives. In this case, their real problem with the CFPB is that they don't want to regulate the financial industry at all. Likewise, their problem with Obamacare is that they don't want to provide poor people with health coverage. Their problem with the EPA's Clean Power Plan is that they hate regulations that offend their business backers.

But conservatives can't go to court on those grounds, and there's nothing obviously illegal or unconstitutional about any of these liberal initiatives. So instead they contrive some other hair-splitting argument. The CFPB is too independent. The individual mandate violates a shiny new constitutional doctrine custom built just for Obamacare. The Clean Power Plan uses the wrong interpretation of the word "system." These arguments vary in their legitimacy, but that hardly matters. Their goal is not legal brilliance. Their goal is to provide conservative justices with a facade they can use to overturn liberal legislation.

And it works, because these days conservative justices treat hot button cases—and, tellingly, only hot button cases—as a way to enforce their political opinions when they can't do so through the ballot box. This is not a healthy trend.

First it was the failure of robot vacuums. Then Tesla's autopilot slammed into a truck in broad daylight. Now boosters of AI have to deal with another fiasco. The Washington Post reports that Facebook's shiny new algorithm for selecting trending topics is severely broken:

As part of a larger audit of Facebook’s Trending topics, the Intersect logged every news story that trended across four accounts during the workdays from Aug. 31 to Sept. 22. During that time, we uncovered five trending stories that were indisputably fake and three that were profoundly inaccurate. On top of that, we found that news releases, blog posts from sites such as Medium and links to online stores such as iTunes regularly trended.

“I’m not at all surprised how many fake stories have trended,” one former member of the team that used to oversee Trending told the Post. “It was beyond predictable by anyone who spent time with the actual functionality of the product, not just the code.”

That's pretty embarrassing. However, I did a little back-of-the-envelope calculation, and at this rate I figure that Facebook's algorithm won't catch up with Donald Trump until 2038. Say what you will about Moore's law and neural nets and all that, but humans are just fundamentally better at bullshit and lies than computers.

I know this is pretty meaningless, but TPC has released its latest—and presumably final—analyses of the Trump and Clinton tax plans. There's nothing surprising in them: Trump's plan features gigantic tax cuts for the wealthy and Clinton's features big tax increases on the wealthy. For the record, here's how they pencil out:

TPC estimates that Clinton's plan would raise $1.4 trillion over ten years and reduce the federal deficit by $1.6 trillion. Trump's plan would cost $6.2 trillion and increase the deficit by $7.2 billion. Needless to say, that's just for the tax plans themselves. Clinton's overall budget proposal would be roughly revenue neutral once you account for her spending proposals. Likewise, Trump's plan might be slightly less of a deficit buster if he cuts spending somewhere—though he's ruled out most areas of the budget for spending cuts and hasn't identified any specific cuts in the few areas left.

Assuming that Trump has no sizeable budget cuts in mind, his plan would increase the national debt from about 90 percent of GDP to 115 percent of GDP by 2026. In other words, it's fiscally conservative, using the modern definition of the term.

How much does Donald Trump earn in a year? During Sunday's debate he said he made $694 million last year, but that's a lie. That figure represents revenue: that is, how much his various enterprises took in. You have to subtract expenses, interest on loans, and so forth to get to net profit, which is what gets passed through to Trump as personal income. Any child running a lemonade stand knows this. Selling $5 worth of lemonade doesn't mean you made any money if you also had $5 in expenses for sugar, lemons, cups, and payoffs to your little brother to go play somewhere else.

So then: how much did Trump's enterprises actually earn? Nobody knows, but MoJo's Russ Choma has uncovered a revealing nugget. Trump's records show that he's highly dependent on revenue from his golf courses: they pulled in 42 percent of his total revenue, or $296 million. But how much did they earn in profit? Nobody knows that either. But we do know how much two of his golf courses earned:

Trump's FEC financial form noted that his two Scottish golf courses earned him a combined $23 million in "golf related revenue" last year....But the public filings the courses submitted in the United Kingdom tell a much different story....When interest, depreciation, and currency exchange losses are factored in, Trump's Turnberry course lost over $2 million in 2015. And the corporate filings in the United Kingdom show that Trump's Aberdeen course lost about $1.6 million.

That means that Trump's reported income on the FEC financial disclosure forms regarding just these two projects is $26 million more than what they actually made. If these courses are representative of Trump's overall finances—$23 million in "golf related revenue" is really a $3 million loss—his declared $296 million in total "golf related revenue" may well be highly overstated.

"Highly overstated" indeed. In fairness, Trump's more established courses are likely to be more profitable than his newer Scottish ones, but even if his golf courses are well run, they'd be lucky to pull in net earnings of 10-15 percent. If Trump paid too much for them and has run them poorly—which seems likely—his golf earnings might be more like 3-4 percent. That's in the neighborhood of $10 million or so. Or maybe zero. Who knows?

There's no question that Trump is a rich man. Even independent observers figure his net worth is around $3 billion. And with that kind of wealth, he almost certainly makes a lot of money even if he manages his businesses poorly. But $694 million? Not a chance. I'd wager that his income is in the range of $50-100 million.

While Donald Trump is doing his best to immolate the Republican Party, Hillary Clinton is...making proposals to assist people in need. Boring! This is, however, the kind of thing we typically expect from presidential candidates, and Clinton's new proposal is on a subject that's been close to her heart for her entire career: helping children.

In particular, she's proposing a two-part change in the child tax credit. First, instead of kicking in at $3,000, it would kick in at $0. This would help people in the deepest poverty. Second, for families with children four and under, it would max out at $2,000 instead of $1,000. The chart below shows what families would get per child compared to the current CTC (in blue):

The mainstream press pretty clearly couldn't care less about this, and I suppose that's hardly surprising given the Hindenburg-like dimensions of the meltdown of one of America's two major parties. Still, surely it deserves a little bit of attention?

UPDATE: My original chart was wrong. The current child tax credit starts at $3,000 and increases by 15 percent of income until it maxes out. The Clinton credit starts at $0 for children of all ages, but increases more steeply for children four and under. Apologies for the error.