Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2009/06/power-coal%3Bwww.aollatinoblog.com/tag/beisbol/%3Bwww.aollatinoblog.com/media/auto_blog.jpg%3Bwww.aollatinoblog.com/2008/03/14/authors/asawin-suebsaeng http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Weekly Poll Update http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/10/weekly-poll-update <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I forgot to do my weekly poll update yesterday, so here it is today. There are ups and downs in the numbers, but basically the race remains amazingly stable. Trump still hasn't managed to break through his all-time high of 44 percent, and Clinton is currently leading him by 4.8 percentage points.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_pollster_trump_vs_clinton_2016_10_01.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 0px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 01 Oct 2016 17:20:47 +0000 Kevin Drum 315456 at http://www.motherjones.com Donald Trump is Predictable and Controllable. On the Other Hand, He's Also Predictable and Controllable. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/10/donald-trump-predictable-and-controllable-other-hand-hes-also-predictable-and-con <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Ezra Klein writes about what we've learned for the thousandth time this week <a href="http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/10/1/13130396/trump-machado-clinton" target="_blank">about Donald Trump:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The problem isn&rsquo;t that Trump is cruel, though he is. The problem isn&rsquo;t that Trump is boorish, though he is. The problem isn&rsquo;t that Trump is undisciplined, though he is.</p> <p><strong>The problem is that Trump is predictable and controllable</strong>....His behavior, though unusual, is quite predictable &mdash; a fact the [Clinton] campaign proved by predicting it. His actions, though beyond the control of<iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="225" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/PX9reO3QnUA?start=17" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;" width="400"></iframe>his allies, can be controlled by his enemies &mdash; a fact they proved by controlling them.</p> <p>....Donald Trump can be forgiven for being caught off-guard [at Monday's debate]. His presidency-disqualifying sin came in the hours after the debate. The Clinton campaign released a slickly produced video featuring Machado. The Guardian and Cosmopolitan rushed pre-planned Machado profiles to publication. Hillary Clinton did everything but spraypaint &ldquo;THIS IS A TRAP&rdquo; on the side of Trump Tower.</p> <p>And still Trump fell for it. And fell for it. And fell for it. Six days later, he&rsquo;s still falling for it.</p> </blockquote> <p>All of this is precisely true. As Klein says, what Hillary Clinton did was so obvious, and so ploddingly executed, that it's almost wrong to call it a trap. Any half-witted high school debater could have swatted it away contemptuously. But the Clinton camp knew Trump would fall for it anyway, and he did. His lizard-brain approach to life is that predictable.</p> <p>But the funny thing is that there's a completely different way that Trump's biggest problem is that he's predictable and controllable. In fact, it's what I expected Klein's post to be about when I read that line.</p> <p>For months, liberals have been afraid that Trump might be smarter than he seems. Once the primary was over, he'd be able to remake himself as a normal person for a few consecutive months, and that might be enough to convince fence-sitters that he was presidential material. And for a while, after he brought Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway on board, it looked like that might happen. Trump calmed down and allowed his team to guide him. He started picking up a few points in the polls. Democrats were getting scared.</p> <p>If he had kept that up, this might have turned into a real nailbiter of an election. And <em>that</em> was the real fear. Trump can, in fact, be predictable and controllable in a good way, and if he had managed to keep up that facade from Labor Day to Election Day, he might have fooled a fair number of people into voting for him. Fortunately, he couldn't keep up the act, and within a few weeks he once again became predictable and controllable in a bad way.</p> <p>In the end, Trump's inability to play a role for even a few weeks in a row might be the only thing that saves us from a Trump presidency. That's a little too close for comfort.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 01 Oct 2016 17:06:52 +0000 Kevin Drum 315451 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat, Squirrel, and Fundraising Blogging - 30 September 2016 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/friday-cat-blogging-30-september-2016 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_squirrel_2016_09_30.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Our squirrel made an appearance this morning, hopping from tree to tree and catching the attention of our two furballs&mdash;who were predictably entranced. They both wanted to climb up the nearest tree and go squirrel hunting, but Hilbert could only look up longingly. Hopper, however, could do more than that: she could climb up the tree and look into the neighboring tree longingly. You can see the mighty huntress on the prowl below. For those of you who worry about such things, I can assure you that our squirrel was entirely safe the whole time. I think you'd probably have to break all four of its legs before either of our cats would have a 50-50 chance of catching it.</p> <p><a href="http://www.sciencealert.com/cats-sailed-with-vikings-to-conquer-the-world-genetic-study-reveals" target="_blank">In other cat news,</a> a recently completed study has "sequenced DNA from 209 cats that lived between 15,000 and [300] years ago." Researchers discovered that after being domesticated and exalted by the Egyptians, there was a second big wave of cat expansion a couple thousand years ago, "attributed to ancient sea-faring people&nbsp;&mdash; farmers, sailors, and Vikings &mdash; because the cats were likely encouraged to stay on board to keep their rodent problem in check." Response was immediate: "I didn't even know there were Viking cats," Pontus Skoglund, a population geneticist from Harvard Medical School, told <em>Nature</em>.</p> <p>Finally, in fundraising news, our cats urge you once more to sign up as a <em>Mother Jones</em> sustaining donor. We're close to our $30,000 goal, but not quite there yet. You can do it by credit card <a href="https://secure.motherjones.com/fnp/?action=SUBSCRIPTION&amp;list_source=7H68CK00&amp;extra_don=1&amp;abver=B" target="_blank">here.</a> If you prefer PayPal, you can give monthly <a href="https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&amp;hosted_button_id=ZUNJXBSLZM3R6" target="_blank">here</a>&mdash;just be sure to check the box next to your gift amount.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hopper_2016_09_30.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 5px 30px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 30 Sep 2016 18:53:53 +0000 Kevin Drum 315411 at http://www.motherjones.com Should Hillary Clinton Endorse Legalized Pot? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/should-hillary-clinton-endorse-legalized-pot <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Today's chatter is almost exclusively about Donald Trump's implosion over Alicia Machado, the Miss Universe of 1996, which has dragged his entire team of thrice-married surrogates into embarrassing spasms of hypocrisy and is making Trump into even more of a laughingstock than before&mdash;which is quite a feat. I can't really bring myself to write any more about this at the moment, so instead let's turn our attention to legal pot. <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2009/07/patriots-guide-legalization" target="_blank"><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/Blog_Marijuana_Decriminalization.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;"></a>Christopher Ingraham argues that this is Hillary Clinton's <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/09/30/one-surefire-way-for-hillary-clinton-to-shore-up-support-among-young-voters/" target="_blank">best hope for attracting millennial support:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>There is one thing that younger voters like a lot, and that's legal marijuana....In April, a CBS News survey posed a question that sheds more light on this issue....Most respondents&nbsp;&mdash; 58 percent&nbsp;&mdash; said that a candidate's support for legal marijuana "wouldn't matter" at all. Eighteen percent said they'd be more likely to vote for a pro-weed candidate, while 21 percent said they'd be less likely.</p> <p>But there were some interesting differences by respondents' age. <strong>Among adults ages 18 to 34, 28 percent said support for legal marijuana would make them more likely to vote for a candidate</strong>....These numbers suggest that legal marijuana could give Clinton a boost among younger voters in November.</p> </blockquote> <p>Well...maybe. My guess, however, is that millennials would instantly see this as empty pandering. It might actually make her <em>less</em> popular among young voters, who seem to distrust her more for being calculated than they do for her actual policy positions.</p> <p>Besides, Clinton has already come out in favor of <a href="http://time.com/4449322/hillary-clinton-marijuana-schedule-dea/" target="_blank">reclassifying marijuana</a> from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 and allowing states to continue serving as "laboratories of democracy." That means she's basically endorsed medical marijuana, and it sets her up to endorse recreational marijuana after a suitable period of evolving. Maybe in 2020?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 30 Sep 2016 18:00:28 +0000 Kevin Drum 315396 at http://www.motherjones.com Media Forecast: Trump Wins 2nd Debate, Clinton Delivers Brave Comeback in 3rd http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/media-forecast-trump-wins-2nd-debate-clinton-delivers-brave-comeback-3rd <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://highclearing.com/index.php/archives/2016/09/27/19316" target="_blank">Thoreau delivers his debate forecast:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>My prediction for the narrative, based on every election since 2000, is that <strong>Trump will be deemed to have improved substantially in the second debate, and then Clinton will be seen as pulling off a needed comeback in the third</strong>....In the second debate it is necessary that Trump be seen as redeemed, so if he spends the entire debate ignoring the moderator and yelling about his refusal to pay a bill he&rsquo;ll be called &ldquo;bold and unconventional&rdquo; for doing so. In the third debate, if doesn&rsquo;t matter if Clinton goes into a coma, the narrative demands a comeback, so she&rsquo;ll be seen as &ldquo;incredibly graceful as she soldiered on until medical personnel intervened.&rdquo;</p> <p>I&rsquo;m not drawing an equivalence between the candidates, or arguing that one sort of problem is no worse than another. Rather, I&rsquo;m saying that the media narrative is already decided. This is stage-managed democracy.</p> </blockquote> <p>This sounds so, so plausible. I really want to sign on. But Trump is making it very hard. Can he really deliver even the minimal performance needed to allow the press to rally behind him after the second debate. I just don't know....</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 30 Sep 2016 17:04:24 +0000 Kevin Drum 315391 at http://www.motherjones.com New Trump Video Set For Early Release http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/new-trump-video-set-early-release <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2016/09/trump-deposition-video-release-schedule-228953" target="_blank">This should be fun:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>A video of <strong>Donald Trump testifying under oath about his provocative rhetoric about Mexicans and other Latinos</strong> is set to go public as soon as Friday, drawing new attention to those comments just weeks before voters cast their ballots in the presidential race. Trump gave the testimony in June at a law office in Washington in connection with one of two lawsuits he filed last year after prominent chefs reacted to the controversy over his remarks by pulling out of plans to open restaurants at his new D.C. hotel.</p> <p>"This Court finds that Plaintiff has not demonstrated that any subject video deposition contains scandalous, libelous, or other unduly prejudicial material warranting denial of media access," Holeman wrote. <strong>"The public shall not be held captive by the suggested eventuality of partisan editing in a manner unfavorable to Plaintiff or the deponents."</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>I hope it's released late today so it can dominate the entire weekend news cycle. In the past, late Friday was the time to release information that you hoped would fly under the radar and disappear by Monday. These days, however, everyone is super sensitive to late Friday news dumps, so they automatically get more attention on the theory that someone is obviously trying to hide something. Trump 2016!</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 30 Sep 2016 15:34:57 +0000 Kevin Drum 315381 at http://www.motherjones.com Gennifer Flowers Gets Another 15 Minutes of Fame http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/gennifer-flowers-gets-another-15-minutes-fame <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.vox.com/2016/9/30/13096290/donald-trump-bill-clinton-sex-scandal" target="_blank">Over at Vox,</a> Dylan Matthews wonders why Donald Trump is spending time on Bill Clinton's alleged infidelities of two decades ago. "The '90s scandals are pretty old news," he says. "There are 18-year-olds voting in this election who weren't alive when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke in January 1998, and millions more voters in their 20s and 30s who weren&rsquo;t really old enough to remember."</p> <p>True enough, but it comes as no surprise that Trump is doing this. In January, after Hillary Clinton accused him of sexism, he spent several days going after Bill. The same thing happened a couple of months later, and Trump bragged about <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_gennifer_flowers.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">how he hit back so hard that Hillary never brought it up again. He's basically been warning Hillary away from attacking him as a sexist for many months.</p> <p>So now that she's doing exactly that, he pretty much has to demonstrate that he wasn't bluffing. That's the Trump way. So prepare to be taken on a trip back to the 90s. We've already relitigated welfare reform, the crime bill, super-predators, and more, and now we're going to relitigate Bill's sex life. Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, Gennifer Flowers, and Juanita Broaddrick&mdash;basically the entire cast of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/04/hillary-clinton-arkansas-whitewater-scandal-archives" target="_blank">Larry Nichols'</a> insane Arkansas attack machine&mdash;are about to get yet another 15 minutes of fame. Flowers has come up first, which is no surprise since she was always the most publicity-hungry of the bunch, but the others will all have their turns.</p> <p>Technically, the attacks aren't going to be on Bill per se, but on Hillary for helping Bill to "smear" all these women. The <em>Washington Post</em> gave us a <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/enabler-or-family-defender-how-hillary-clinton-responded-to-husbands-accusers/2016/09/28/58dad5d4-6fb1-11e6-8533-6b0b0ded0253_story.html" target="_blank">preview of this strategy</a> a couple of days ago. Trump's hope is that it will turn off young women who have been brought up to believe that sexual misconduct accusers should be routinely believed, and that attacking them is a sign of anti-feminist bigotry.</p> <p>And who knows? It might work. It certainly worked for a while in the 90s&mdash;and the press long ago showed that they're willing to lap this stuff up. On the other hand, even some of the biggest lappers now feel a little ashamed of what they did back then, so it's not clear they're really up for a second go-around. Stay tuned.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 30 Sep 2016 15:06:56 +0000 Kevin Drum 315376 at http://www.motherjones.com Obama Now Not Tyrannical Enough http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/obama-now-not-tyrannical-enough <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Ladies and gentlemen, your Republican Party:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">R's write bad bill.<br> O criticizes.<br> R's pass bill.<br> O vetoes.<br> R's override.<br> R's blame O for not criticizing enough.<a href="https://t.co/58Calm7x8e">https://t.co/58Calm7x8e</a></p> &mdash; Michael Grunwald (@MikeGrunwald) <a href="https://twitter.com/MikeGrunwald/status/781706673656369152">September 30, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>Do you think Grunwald is exaggerating? Nope. The <em>Wall Street Journal</em>, for example, spent several hundred words acknowledging that Congress's position on the 9/11 bill was embarrassing, "But not nearly as embarrassing as the junior-varsity effort by [the president], who made it easy for Congress to trample him." Somehow, it's always Obama's fault, isn't it?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 30 Sep 2016 05:38:52 +0000 Kevin Drum 315361 at http://www.motherjones.com Hillary Clinton Is Finally Feeling the Bern http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/hillary-clinton-finally-feeling-bern <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I've been a mite hard on Bernie Sanders, and a couple of weeks ago I was eager to put it behind me. Sanders was scheduled to do some weekend campaigning for Hillary Clinton in Ohio, but when I went to the tape on Monday I discovered that his rallies had been poorly attended (possibly not his fault) and that his pitch for Clinton <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_bernie_hillary_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">was not notably enthusiastic. So I just said nothing.</p> <p>Today, however, Ed Kilgore tells me that bygones, apparently, <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/09/just-in-time-bernie-getting-in-tune-with-hillary.html" target="_blank">are finally bygones:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Now Sanders is back on the trail <strong>not just on Clinton&rsquo;s behalf but by her side,</strong> beginning with an appearance in New Hampshire last night. And his message is significantly more focused on her agenda, and not just as an afterthought....They sounded much more like teammates working together than former antagonists forced to combine forces against a common enemy.</p> <p>Aside from targeted campaigning, a sharpening of the Sanders message for Clinton, which seemed to be developing in New Hampshire, would be helpful just about everywhere. <strong>His new rap about the consequences of a Donald Trump victory, which makes sitting out the election a great moral error, is pretty strong.</strong> He might want to add in some reminders of the kind of world Libertarians like Gary Johnson want to build, where, yeah, you can smoke weed, but you&rsquo;re totally on your own in facing life&rsquo;s vicissitudes.</p> <p>In any event, it seems the bad feelings and genuine differences of opinion of the 2016 Democratic primaries are finally fading to the point where <strong>Bernie Sanders is an indispensable asset for Clinton.</strong> If the race stays close, it could matter a lot.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is good news for Team Clinton, which needs all the help it can get. Only 40 days to go!</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 30 Sep 2016 00:52:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 315351 at http://www.motherjones.com New Study Says Rising Inequality Is Killing the Economy http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/new-study-says-rising-inequality-killing-economy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Non-rich people tend to spend 100 percent of their income, or close to it. Rich people don't. They spend, say, 50 percent of their income and save the rest. This difference is called the "marginal propensity to consume," and it seems like it might be a problem if income inequality is rising. The problem is that as rich people get a larger share of total income, total consumption goes down. Here's an example:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_mpcp_example.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 140px;"></p> <p>The question, of course, is how big the MPC effect is. Several years ago I investigated this and concluded that it really wasn't very big. It <em>seems</em> like it should be, but it just wasn't.</p> <p>Today, however, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/09/29/the-decline-of-the-middle-class-is-causing-even-more-economic-damage-than-we-realized/" target="_blank">Larry Summers</a> directs our attention to a new IMF paper that suggests MPC actually does have a big impact. The authors look at two effects. First, as middle-income families fall into lower income groups, they spend less. Second, as a larger share of income goes to the rich, average MPC goes down. Both of these effects reduce total consumption, which in turn acts as a drag on the economy. <a href="http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2016/wp16121.pdf" target="_blank">Here's the relevant chart:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_mpcp_1998_2013.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 90px;"></p> <p>MPC alone reduces consumption by nearly 2 percent, or roughly $200 billion per year. This is still not a gigantic effect, but it's noticeable. And when you add in the direct spending effect of income polarization, it's closer to $400 billion per year. That means we're losing a lot of consumption&mdash;which we need&mdash;and gaining a lot of capital&mdash;which we don't. The world is so awash in capital these days that you can (literally) hardly give it away.</p> <p>Now, the authors use some novel estimating techniques in their paper, which is why they come up with a stronger effect than previous studies. The folks with PhDs will have to fight over whether they've done their sums correctly. But if they have, it means that increasing income inequality is a lot more than just a matter of unfairness. It's also a real drag on economic growth.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 29 Sep 2016 18:56:09 +0000 Kevin Drum 315326 at http://www.motherjones.com Online Polls: Dumb Clickbait or Stupid Timewasters? You Decide. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/online-polls-dumb-clickbait-or-stupid-timewasters-you-decide <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The Trumpian bluster <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/298369-trump-slams-media-for-saying-online-debate-polls-dont" target="_blank">continues apace today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Donald Trump on Wednesday criticized the media for saying online post-debate polls &ldquo;don&rsquo;t mean anything,&rdquo; as he continues to brag about winning the surveys <strong>many</strong> consider unscientific and unrepresentative.</p> <p>At a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, the GOP presidential nominee cited online polls from Time magazine and the conservative Drudge Report that showed him leading Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton following Monday night&rsquo;s presidential debate. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m winning all of these polls, hundred of thousand of votes,&rdquo; Trump said. &ldquo;I have to sit back and you have to sit back and hear these polls don&rsquo;t mean anything.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>I love how reporter Lisa Hagen carefully says that "many" think online polls are unscientific. I think the phrase she's searching for is "everyone with a three-digit IQ." These polls are clickbait, nothing more. But it doesn't matter. Clearly Steve Jobs willed his reality distortion field to Trump after he died.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 29 Sep 2016 16:55:01 +0000 Kevin Drum 315311 at http://www.motherjones.com New Poll Shows Lots of People Having Second Thoughts After Monday's Debate http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/new-poll-shows-lots-people-having-second-thoughts-after-mondays-debate <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_reuters_post_debate_2016_09_29.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;"><strong>[See update below.]</strong></p> <p>The overnight polls all say Hillary Clinton won Monday's debate by a wide margin. Common sense confirms this. But how will this affect the race? <a href="http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/2016-Reuters-Tracking-Debate-Special-9.28.16.pdf" target="_blank">Ipsos/Reuters</a> released its first post-debate polling today, and the results are on the right.</p> <p>Clinton gained ground, which is no surprise. But the truly remarkable thing is that the Undecided vote skyrocketed to 20 percent. After the debate, Trump, Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein all lost huge amounts of support, and only a fraction of it went to Clinton. Most of them are simply no longer sure who to vote for. Apparently a lot of Trump supporters saw his performance and had second thoughts, and lots of Johnson/Stein supporters saw Clinton's performance and had second thoughts.</p> <p>Oddly enough, none of this strangeness showed up in the polling on a two-way race. Nor does Clinton gain any ground in <a href="http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/polls/" target="_blank">today's PPP poll.</a> So I'm not sure what's really going on.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> I'm an idiot. The poll on the right asks people <em>who they think will win</em>, not who they plan to vote for. Sorry about that.</p> <p>In the actual preference poll, Ipsos/Reuters only did a two-way question, and Clinton lost ground. This is odd considering that in the very same poll voters gave Clinton a big win in the debate and said they were now more favorably disposed toward her. Life is strange.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 29 Sep 2016 16:27:53 +0000 Kevin Drum 315301 at http://www.motherjones.com Robots Are Coming to Steal Your Children Away http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/robots-are-coming-steal-your-children-away <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The <em>Guardian</em> reports that robots designed to interact with adults are "out of fashion" lately because&mdash;not to put too fine a point on it&mdash;adults are assholes. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/29/ipal-robot-childcare-robobusiness-san-jose" target="_blank">But what about robots for children?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The 3ft tall iPal has wide eyes, working fingers, pastel trimming, and a touchscreen tablet on its chest. It can sing, dance, and play rock paper scissors. It can talk with children, answer questions like &ldquo;Why is the sun hot?&rdquo;, and <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_ipal.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">provide surveillance/video chat for absent parents.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a robot for children,&rdquo; said Avatar Mind founder Jiping Wang. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s mainly for companion&shy;ship.&rdquo; The iPal, he boasted, could keep children aged three to eight occupied for &ldquo;a couple of hours&rdquo; without adult supervision. It is perfect for the time when children arrive home from school a few hours before their parents get off work, he said.</p> <p>....Noel Sharkey, a professor emeritus of robotics and artificial intelligence at the University of Sheffield, has been raising concerns about robotic nannies since 2008. When I contacted Sharkey and informed him about the iPal, he responded, &ldquo;This is awful.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Now we're talking. Hook 'em while they're young, and they'll love robots for the rest of their lives. And we all know what happens next, right? *cough* Robocop *cough* Skynet *cough*</p> <p>Anyway, I don't see why this is so terrible. It sure sounds better than planting the kids in front of SpongeBob SquarePants to get them to shut up. With the iPal, at least the little rugrats are interacting. And being surveilled too! This gets them accustomed to their likely future, where every movement will be seen by someone, somewhere.</p> <p>In any case, it doesn't really matter whether Noel Sharkey likes this or not. It's going to happen, and before long kids and adults alike will be as comfortable with robots as they are with human being. More comfortable, in fact. I foresee a time when "parents" will be brought up on charges of child endangerment if their kids aren't under the constant supervision of cute, tireless robots that subtly instill left-wing values. Welcome to the future.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 29 Sep 2016 15:34:57 +0000 Kevin Drum 315276 at http://www.motherjones.com Hillary Clinton Demolished Trump on Monday http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/hillary-clinton-demolished-trump-monday <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Donald Trump was on the business end of the most epic butt-kicking in debate history on Monday night:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Hillary's debate win from seven scientific polls:<br> Morning Consult +23<br> YouGov +16<br> CNN +35<br> PPP +11<br> Gravis/Breitbard +5<br> Echelon +26<br> NBC/SM +31</p> &mdash; Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) <a href="https://twitter.com/NumbersMuncher/status/781239264281526272">September 28, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Make it 7 polls for Clinton. The story is pretty consistent, even though they vary slightly in whether it's debate viewers, followers, etc. <a href="https://t.co/0Cpd6rHx69">pic.twitter.com/0Cpd6rHx69</a></p> &mdash; Steve Koczela (@skoczela) <a href="https://twitter.com/skoczela/status/781239276587671552">September 28, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>On the bright side, he crushed Hillary in the Drudge online poll, so there's that.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 28 Sep 2016 21:24:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 315226 at http://www.motherjones.com Gary Johnson Wants to Crush the Bernie Revolution Once and For All http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/gary-johnson-wants-crush-bernie-revolution-good <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/28/opinion/gary-johnson-take-a-deep-breath-voters-there-is-a-third-way.html" target="_blank">Gary Johnson makes his pitch:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>What would government be like in a Johnson administration? First, we would begin the conversation about the size of government by submitting a real balanced budget. Every government program would have to justify its expenditures, every year. <strong>Cuts of up to 20 percent or more would be on the table for all programs, including military spending.</strong> Changes to Social Security and Medicare must also be considered.</p> </blockquote> <p>Cuts of 20 percent <em>or more</em>. Conservatives will hate this because he's including the military. Progressives should hate it because it includes everything else. That means no spending on universal healthcare, climate change, student debt, Wall Street regulation, infrastructure, pre-K, or pretty much anything else. And if you care about helping the poor, you'd better be prepared to care about 20 percent less.</p> <p>Is all of this an acceptable price to pay for having a president who favors marijuana legalization and a little less military intervention? YMMV, but it sure doesn't seem like it to me.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 28 Sep 2016 19:05:03 +0000 Kevin Drum 315201 at http://www.motherjones.com And Now We Have Cocainegate http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/and-now-we-have-cocainegate <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's what Howard Dean tweeted during Monday's debate:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Notice Trump sniffing all the time. Coke user?</p> &mdash; Howard Dean (@GovHowardDean) <a href="https://twitter.com/GovHowardDean/status/780588448470163456">September 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>At the time, I paid no attention to this. I figured it was just standard Twitter snark. But, um, apparently not:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">JUST IN <a href="https://twitter.com/GovHowardDean">@GovHowardDean</a> stands by cocaine tweet &amp; says Trump needs to answer charge, no apology <a href="https://twitter.com/MSNBC">@MSNBC</a><a href="https://t.co/V7HfQtfXTy">https://t.co/V7HfQtfXTy</a></p> &mdash; Kate Snow (@tvkatesnow) <a href="https://twitter.com/tvkatesnow/status/780853198844297216">September 27, </a></blockquote> </blockquote> </blockquote> <p>This is sure a weird campaign, isn't it? I guess Dean has decided to give Trump a taste of his own medicine. The real source of Trump's sniffles, of course, is that he was suffering from allergies or a cold or something like that, but Trump steadfastly refuses to admit this because it would make him look weak. So Dean has leaped into the vacuum to lob a wild accusation at Trump and force him to respond. This is Trump 101, and I can only assume Dean is having himself a good old time with this.</p> <p>Needless to say, I strongly disapprove. Dean should be ashamed of himself. Especially when he's dealing with a high-road kind of guy like Donald Trump. Here is Eric Trump on his father's principled unwillingness to bring up Bill Clinton's affairs at the end of the debate:</p> <blockquote> <p>That was a big moment for me and probably will actually become, my life and this campaign, <strong>and probably will be something I&rsquo;ll always remember.</strong> I mean, he really took the high ground where he had the opportunity to go very, very low. And I&rsquo;m proud of him for doing that. I mean, I&rsquo;m really proud of him for doing that. And I think people recognize that. I mean, there are a lot of people who came up to me, including many in the media, who said listen, he could&rsquo;ve just crushed her on that last question. And he would&rsquo;ve probably hurt a family if he did.</p> </blockquote> <p>Truly, Donald Trump is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 28 Sep 2016 16:47:27 +0000 Kevin Drum 315176 at http://www.motherjones.com Where's the Anger, Dammit?!? We Need More Anger! http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/wheres-anger-dammit-we-need-more-anger <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Over at 538, Tim Mullaney picks up on a topic I've obsessed about in the past: When you remove politics from the equation, most people seem pretty cheery about the state of the economy. <a href="http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/consumers-are-feeling-better-about-the-economy-than-polls-suggest/" target="_blank">Here's the latest:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Bill Fox sells cars....Like other car dealers, Fox is seeing near-record sales: Somehow, he said, consumers don&rsquo;t seem as worried about the economy as the pundits say they are. <strong>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re not seeing [anger] at all,&rdquo;</strong> said Fox, a partner in Auburn-based Fox <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_consumer_confidence_september_2016.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">Dealerships. &ldquo;The way I account for it is, the public sees economic indicators that are OK, their job&rsquo;s not threatened, and they may be afraid of the future, but the monthly [car] payment is good.&rdquo;</p> <p>....Even as Americans tell political pollsters that they are worried about the economy, they tell a different story in a separate set of surveys that are used by economists and investors to forecast consumer spending behavior. <strong>On Tuesday, the Conference Board&rsquo;s Consumer Confidence Index, hit a nine-year high</strong>....Even people with only a high-school education &mdash; whose economic woes are often cited in media reports explaining Trump&rsquo;s rise &mdash; are about as confident today as they were before the recession began, according to the Michigan survey.</p> </blockquote> <p>Consumer confidence is now as high as it was throughout the boom years of the aughts, which was good enough to keep Republicans in power until scandals overtook them in 2006 and the economy collapsed in 2008.</p> <p>No politician&mdash;not even most Democrats&mdash;wants to say publicly that the economy is in pretty good shape. Why? Because they don't want to appear to be out of touch. After all, even in a good economy, there are still plenty of people who are hurting. But practically every bit of evidence suggests not only that the economy is humming along pretty well, but that voters know it. Donald Trump is doing his best to convince everyone that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, but if the September consumer confidence numbers are anything to go by, most of the American public isn't buying it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 28 Sep 2016 16:18:24 +0000 Kevin Drum 315171 at http://www.motherjones.com FBI Now Pretty Sure Russia Is Behind Anti-Clinton Hacking http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/fbi-now-pretty-sure-russia-behind-anti-clinton-hacking <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The <em>Wall Street Journal</em> reports that the FBI is increasingly convinced that the recent hacks of the DNC and other organizations <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-believes-russia-steered-hacked-documents-to-websites-1475058781" target="_blank">are being led by Russia:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>A fuller picture of the operation has come into focus in the past several weeks. U.S. officials believe that at least two hacking groups with ties to the Russian government, known as Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear, are involved <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_putin_chin.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">in the escalating data-theft efforts, according to people briefed on the Federal Bureau of Investigation&rsquo;s probe of the cyberattacks.</p> <p>Following successful breaches, the stolen data are apparently transferred to three different websites for publication, these people say. The websites&mdash;<strong>WikiLeaks, DCLeaks.com and a blog run by Guccifer 2.0</strong>&mdash;have posted batches of stolen data at least 42 times from April to last week.</p> <p>WikiLeaks has published U.S. secrets for years but has recently taken an overtly adversarial tone toward Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Cybersecurity experts believe that DCLeaks.com and Guccifer 2.0 often work together and have direct ties to Russian hackers.</p> </blockquote> <p>Most of these leaks have been designed to hurt Hillary Clinton, who Vladimir Putin apparently hates. Meanwhile, Trump advisor Carter Page has left the Trump campaign over accusations that he's a little too chummy with the folks in Russia responsible for all this hacking. Page says the whole thing is ridiculous, but apparently his erstwhile friends in Trumpland are <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-believes-russia-steered-hacked-documents-to-websites-1475058781" target="_blank">throwing him under the bus anyway:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Trump campaign has been distancing itself from Page. Although Page was one of Trump&rsquo;s originally announced foreign policy advisers, campaign manager KellyAnne Conway told CNN on Sunday that Page is not really involved at with the campaign at this point.</p> <p>&ldquo;<strong>I have not spoken with him at all, in fact, meaning he&rsquo;s not part of our national security or foreign policy briefings that we do now at all,</strong> certainly not since I have become campaign manager,&rdquo; she said....Other Trump campaign sources told me that Page was never really part of Trump&rsquo;s inner circle....Page has never met with Trump one on one and hasn&rsquo;t been deeply involved in Trump foreign policy speeches or events, they said.</p> </blockquote> <p>So...he was just some guy whose name they used so they'd look like they had some advisors. Apparently they'd rather publicly fess up to lying about their campaign announcements than take a chance that Page might become a liability. What nice folks.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 28 Sep 2016 15:45:57 +0000 Kevin Drum 315156 at http://www.motherjones.com Republicans Pretend They Want More Powerful Bank Oversight http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/republicans-pretend-they-want-more-powerful-bank-oversight <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Oh man, this is rich. Here is wingnut Rep. Jeb Hensarling griping about the fact that the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau <a href="http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-wells-fargo-regulators-20160927-snap-story.html" target="_blank">didn't find out about the Well Fargo scandal sooner:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>&ldquo;Why does it take the <em>L.A. Times</em> to break this story, when we&rsquo;re paying federal investigators to investigate?&rdquo; Hensarling recently told Fox Business Network.</p> <p>&ldquo;Where was the CFPB? Why did they come in so late to the game?&rdquo; he continued. &ldquo;They have immense powers and this is their job to enforce these basic consumer laws and it appears they were asleep at the switch.&rdquo; Hensarling also has criticized regulators for the $185-million settlement with the bank, which allowed Wells Fargo to avoid admitting any wrongdoing.</p> </blockquote> <p>If Hensarling had his way, the CFPB would be eliminated and Wells Fargo might well have escaped from the whole affair unscathed. Now he's pretending that he thinks the CFPB is too weak. Sen. Sherrod Brown has it right:</p> <blockquote> <p>&ldquo;Hensarling reminds me of the kid who kills his parents and then wants to collect orphan benefits,&rdquo; said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), one of the CFPB&rsquo;s biggest backers. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s tried to underfund it. He&rsquo;s tried to undercut. He&rsquo;s done all he could to block bank regulations.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Make up your mind, Jeb. Do you want the CFPB to more powerful or less powerful? You can only have it one way.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:49:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 315146 at http://www.motherjones.com Where the Wars Are http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/where-wars-are <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>This is apropos of nothing in particular. It's just some raw data I happened to come across, so I thought I'd share.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_armed_combat_deaths_2015_0.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 0px 30px;"></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_saudi_arabia_bullseye_1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #cccccc; margin: 5px 0px 5px 30px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 28 Sep 2016 05:51:29 +0000 Kevin Drum 315136 at http://www.motherjones.com Stop-and-Frisk Works, But Only If It's the Legal Version http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/stop-and-frisk-works-only-if-its-legal-version <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Stop-and-frisk came up in <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/09/26/the-first-trump-clinton-presidential-debate-transcript-annotated/?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_transcript-905pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory" target="_blank">last night's debate:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>TRUMP: Now, whether or not in a place like Chicago you do stop and frisk, which worked very well, <strong>Mayor Giuliani is here,</strong> worked very well in New York. <strong>It brought the crime rate way down.</strong></p> <p>....HOLT: I do want to follow up. Stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York, because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men.</p> <p>TRUMP: <strong>No, you're wrong.</strong> It went before a judge, who was a very against-police judge. It was taken away from her. And our mayor, our new mayor, refused to go forward with the case. They would have won an appeal. If you look at it, throughout the country, <strong>there are many places where it's allowed.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Trump said four things here, and typically for him, he was effectively wrong about all four.</p> <p>First off, he implied that Rudy Giuliani brought stop-and-frisk to New York City. He didn't. As you can see in the chart on the right, the stop-and-frisk rate didn't start rising until 2002, when Michael Bloomberg was <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_stop_frisk_nyc_0.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">mayor and Ray Kelly was police commissioner.</p> <p>Second, he said it brought the crime rate "way down." Again, the chart on the right doesn't bear this out. Crime rates were already on a steady, long-term downward trend by 2002, and the increase in stop-and-frisk doesn't seem to have changed that much. <a href="http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2614058" target="_blank">A more detailed analysis</a> concluded that stop-and-frisk actually did have a modest effect, "but only the increase in stops made based on probable cause indicators of criminal behaviors were associated with crime reductions." Save that thought, and we'll come back to it later.</p> <p>Third, New York's version of stop-and-frisk <em>was</em> ruled unconstitutional. Would that ruling have survived on appeal? Probably, but nobody knows, certainly not Donald Trump.</p> <p>And fourth, there are, in fact, many places where stop-and-frisk is allowed. In fact, it's allowed everywhere in the country. So why do I count Trump as being wrong about this?</p> <p>Simple: Stop-and-frisk has been a standard police procedure for decades, but the Supreme Court ruled in 1968 that it's only legal if it's based on a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. The problem in New York City is that stop-and-frisk became a routine tool used even when there was essentially no justification at all. This is the stop-and-frisk policy that Trump was talking about, and it's decidedly <em>not</em> used in "many places." It was unique to New York City.</p> <p>This is why the study I linked above is important. It concluded that stop-and-search based on probable cause did help reduce crime. But the New York City version didn't. And it <em>did</em> target blacks and Latinos at much higher rates than whites, even after you account for disparate crime rates. So not only was it unconstitutional, but it didn't work either. On multiple levels, New York City is better off returning to the legal version.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 27 Sep 2016 22:08:50 +0000 Kevin Drum 315116 at http://www.motherjones.com Comey: No Obstruction of Justice in Clinton Email Case http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/comey-no-obstruction-justice-clinton-email-case <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Speaking of Hillary Clinton's emails, we learned something interesting today. But first, here's an excerpt from the <a href="https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3039030/Hillary-Clinton-FBI-Investigation.pdf" target="_blank">FBI report</a> that was released last month. Apologies for the length, but it's important that you see the whole thing so you know I haven't left out any relevant parts:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_fbi_report_email_deletion_prn_0.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 10px;"></p> <p>Here's the full timeline in a nutshell:</p> <blockquote> <p>December 2014: After turning over Clinton's work emails to the State Department, Clinton's staff instructed Platte River Networks to delete her old email files, which included all her private emails. The tech assigned to this task forgot to do it.</p> <p>March 9, 2015: Clinton's staff notifies PRN that Congress has issued a preservation order for Clinton's emails.</p> <p>March 25: Clinton's staff has a conference call with PRN.</p> <p>March 25-31: The tech has a "holy shit" moment and remembers he never deleted the old archives. So he does. Both Clinton and Cheryl Mills say they were unaware of these deletions.</p> </blockquote> <p>This timeline is a bit of a Rorschach test. If you already think Hillary Clinton is a liar and a crook, your reaction is: Give me a break. They just <em>happened</em> to have a conference call on March 25 and the tech just <em>happened</em> to delete the archives a few days later? But the Clinton gang says they never told him to do this? Spare me.</p> <p>However, if you're sympathetic to Clinton, this all seems pretty unremarkable. Her staff had ordered the archives deleted in 2014, long before any subpoenas were issued, and it was only because of the tech's forgetfulness that they were still around in March. The tech was telling the truth when he said that no one told him to delete the archives in March. The conference call just jogged his memory. And Clinton and Mills really didn't have any idea what was going on. After all, it would have been wildly dangerous to explicitly tell PRN <em>on a conference call</em> to delete archives that were under a legal preservation order.</p> <p>So which is it? The answer is that we don't know. You can read this timeline however you want. Today, however, <a href="http://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2016/09/clinton-email-probe-obstruction-fbi-228790" target="_blank">we got this:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>FBI Director James Comey said Tuesday his investigators looked very intently at whether there was obstruction of justice in the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email account, but concluded they could not prove a criminal case against anyone.</p> <p><strong>"We looked at it very hard to see if there was criminal obstruction of justice,"</strong> Comey said at a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing, under questioning by Chairman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)</p> <p>"We looked at it very hard. <strong>We could not make an obstruction case against any of the subjects we looked at,</strong>" Comey said. He did not identify those whose conduct the FBI investigated for potential obstruction.</p> </blockquote> <p>What Comey is saying is that the FBI put a lot of effort into discovering the truth about what happened in March, including grants of immunity to several people so they could tell the truth without fear of prosecution. But they came up empty. Despite their best efforts, it appears that Clinton's staff did nothing wrong. The PRN tech just had a memory lapse about the deletion order and then did a dumb thing when he remembered it.</p> <p>Hillary Clinton made a mistake when she decided to use a single email account on a personal server while she was Secretary of State. But it was just a mistake, not a criminal conspiracy. Once again, there's no there there.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 27 Sep 2016 18:32:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 315046 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's Why Hillary Clinton Emails Didn't Get Much Attention Last Night http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/heres-why-hillary-clinton-emails-didnt-get-much-attention-last-night <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I read quite a few complaints last night about Lester Holt's choice of debate topics. Liberals wanted to know why climate change didn't come up. Conservatives thought there should have been a question about abortion. This is run-of-the-mill stuff, since not everything can possibly get covered in a 90-minute show. But the biggest conservative complaint was that Holt didn't ask Hillary Clinton about her emails or the Clinton Foundation. <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/09/26/the-first-trump-clinton-presidential-debate-transcript-annotated/" target="_blank">Except that he did:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>HOLT: He also raised the issue of your e-mails. Do you want to respond to that?</p> <p>CLINTON: I do. You know, I made a mistake using a private e- mail.</p> <p>TRUMP: That's for sure.</p> <p>CLINTON: And if I had to do it over again, I would, obviously, do it differently. But I'm not going to make any excuses. It was a mistake, and I take responsibility for that.</p> <p>HOLT: Mr. Trump?</p> <p>TRUMP: That was more than a mistake. That was done purposely. OK? That was not a mistake. That was done purposely. When you have your staff taking the Fifth Amendment, taking the Fifth so they're not prosecuted, when you have the man that set up the illegal server taking the Fifth, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hillary_clinton_email.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">I think it's disgraceful. And believe me, this country thinks it's &mdash; really thinks it's disgraceful, also.</p> </blockquote> <p>And that was it. Trump had the opportunity to go after Clinton's emails at length if he wanted to, but he didn't. Why? Because he was steamed about Clinton's suggestion that he might not be as rich as he says. So he ditched the email stuff and instead spend a couple of minutes defending the greatness of his income, his company, his debts, his bankers, his buildings&mdash;and then sort of forgot what he was talking about and wandered off into a riff about how terrible our infrastructure is.</p> <p>In other words, typical Trump. But there's more to this. I think Clinton owes the press some thanks for going so far overboard on the emails and the Clinton Foundation over the past year. Here's what happened earlier this month:</p> <p>First, the FBI <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/14-excerpts-fbis-report-hillary-clintons-email" target="_blank">released its report</a> on Clinton's emails. It exonerated her almost completely, but a few days later Matt Lauer obliviously <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/09/lauers-pathetic-interview-made-me-think-trump-can-win.html" target="_blank">spent a full third</a> of his interview with Clinton on the emails anyway. Lauer was widely pilloried for this. <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/washington-post-admits-hillary-clinton-email-mountain-molehill-after-all" target="_blank">Two days later</a> the <em>Washington Post</em>&mdash;which had reported on the emails as assiduously as anyone&mdash;finally admitted that the email story was "out of control."</p> <p>On the Clinton Foundation front, August and September saw a rash of stories about specific people and programs associated with the foundation. They all "raised questions" or "cast a shadow" over Clinton's campaign, but none of them uncovered anything even close to wrongdoing. By mid-September, this had become almost a running joke.</p> <p>In both cases, the mountain of reporting on these topics finally crumbled under its own weight. They had both been investigated endlessly, and in the end, had uncovered nothing aside from a few minor misdemeanors. It finally became clear that reporters were chasing after a chimera, and the bubble burst. It was time to move on.</p> <p>That's probably one reason that Holt didn't spend any time on either the emails or the foundation. I'm sure they'll come up in one of the future debates, but they've been largely defanged. There's just nothing much there anymore.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 27 Sep 2016 17:19:42 +0000 Kevin Drum 315041 at http://www.motherjones.com Where Did Trump's VAT Nonsense Come From Last Night? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/where-did-trumps-vat-nonsense-come-last-night <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>If there were a contest for weirdest Trumpism last night&mdash;well, I'm not sure I could pick a winner. But on the nerd front, this one just confused me completely:</p> <blockquote> <p>We have to renegotiate our trade deals. And, Lester, they're taking our jobs, they're giving incentives, they're doing things that, frankly, we don't do.</p> <p>Let me give you the example of Mexico. They have a VAT tax. We're on a different system. <strong>When we sell into Mexico, there's a tax. When they sell in&nbsp;&mdash; automatic, 16 percent, approximately. When they sell into us, there's no tax.</strong> It's a defective agreement. It's been defective for a <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_vat_countries.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">long time, many years, but the politicians haven't done anything about it.</p> </blockquote> <p>In real time I wondered what the hell this was all about, but the debate moved on and I didn't have time to ponder it. Aside from being completely wrong, I wondered where it came from. Trump has never mentioned VATs before, has he?</p> <p>Well, it turns out that yesterday an economist at UC Irvine (yay Anteaters!) co-authored a long <a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/wilbur-ross-and-peter-navarro-score-trump-economic-plan-300333772.html" target="_blank">report</a> claiming that Trump's full economic plan would hypercharge growth and make us all rich etc. etc. Jordan Weissmann dismantles the report <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2016/09/26/donald_trump_s_economic_plan_is_still_god_awful.html" target="_blank">here,</a> and mentions that it takes aim at VAT taxes around the world:</p> <blockquote> <p>Here's how it works: When a company in Germany makes goods to sell at home, it has to pay the VAT. But if it makes them to sell in the United States, it doesn't&mdash;the tax gets waived at the border....Meanwhile, if an American company makes widgets to sell in Germany, it does have to pay the VAT.</p> <p>In short, everybody has to pay Germany's VAT when they're selling goods in Germany. Nobody has to pay Germany's VAT when they're selling goods outside of Germany....However, Navarro and Ross say border adjustability turns the VAT into an &ldquo;implicit export subsidy&rdquo; for foreign companies and an &ldquo;implicit tariff&rdquo; on U.S. exporters.</p> <p>....This is just ... wrong. Dead wrong. It's true that American car companies, to take just one example, have to pay a German VAT when they sell sedans to Berlin or D&uuml;sseldorf. But you know who also has to pay that tax? BMW and Volkswagen. Border adjustability just puts everybody on equal footing. Waiving the VAT on exports does the same thing. If German companies had to pay the VAT on cars they were sending to the U.S., they'd be at a huge disadvantage compared to their American rivals, who wouldn't face a domestic VAT. Germany would essentially be suppressing its own exports.</p> </blockquote> <p>So that's where it came from. Somebody at Trump HQ read the report, mentioned the VAT part to Trump, and Trump then burbled about it on stage last night. It's all gibberish, but oddly enough, you can't really blame Trump for this one. After all, a guy with a PhD in economics fed this stuff to him. It's such a mind-boggling misstatement of how VATs work that I now want to know why the guy with the PhD was willing to embarrass himself with this stuff. Trump, of course, just lapped it up.</p> <p>Anyway, that's the story of the VAT. Don't you feel smarter now?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 27 Sep 2016 16:40:17 +0000 Kevin Drum 315036 at http://www.motherjones.com Donald Trump Is a Pig http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/donald-trump-pig <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>So it turns out that Donald Trump's big attack that he delicately held back on last night was...Bill Clinton's affairs. Devastating! That bit of non-news would have turned things around, I'm sure. So why did he change his mind? "I didn't feel comfortable doing it with Chelsea in the room," he said this morning.&nbsp; What a sensitive guy.</p> <p>In related news, Hillary Clinton really got under Trump's skin last night. "He loves beauty contests," she said, "supporting them and hanging around them. And he called this woman 'Miss Piggy.' Then he<iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="242" src="//www.washingtonpost.com/video/c/embed/95568594-84a6-11e6-b57d-dd49277af02f" style="margin: 20px 0px 5px 30px;" width="400"></iframe> called her 'Miss Housekeeping,' because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name."</p> <p>"Where did you find this? Where did you find this?" Trump demanded. Today he couldn't stop himself from <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/09/27/trump-attacks-former-miss-universe-who-gained-a-massive-amount-of-weight-and-had-attitude/" target="_blank">attacking back:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>During an interview on Fox News on Tuesday morning, Trump brought up Machado on his own and launched into an attack on her credibility, saying that she had "attitude" and was a "real problem" for Miss Universe officials. "She was the worst we ever had. The worst. The absolute worst. She was impossible," Trump said. "... She was the winner, and she gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem. We had a real problem."</p> </blockquote> <p>What a pig.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 27 Sep 2016 15:18:38 +0000 Kevin Drum 315021 at http://www.motherjones.com