September 27, 2016

"Clinton won on points.... Clinton won the debate last night. And while she was doing it, Trump won the election."

Opines Scott Adams.
... Trump needed to solve exactly one problem: Look less scary. Trump needed to counter Clinton’s successful branding of him as having a bad temperament to the point of being dangerous to the country. Trump accomplished exactly that…by…losing the debate.

Trump was defensive, and debated poorly at points, but he did not look crazy. And pundits noticed that he intentionally avoided using his strongest attacks regarding Bill Clinton’s scandals. In other words, he showed control. He stayed in the presidential zone under pressure. And in so doing, he solved for his only remaining problem. He looked safer....
By the way, Adams says he perceived Clinton as "unhealthy," even though she seemed strong and alert through the whole 90 minutes: "She had the look of someone whose doctors had engineered 90 minutes of alertness for her just for the event." Hey... that's a bit like Howard Dean detecting cocaine in Trump's sniffling nose. Everybody's a doctor.

And Dean actually is a doctor, a real doctor... doesn't just play one on TV.

For young readers: I'm making a comic reference to something old, but perhaps you will enjoy it:

"On Nov. 11, Columbia Records and Legacy Records will release Bob Dylan: The 1966 Live Recordings, a 36-disc boxed set..."

"... with 'every known recording' from his tours that year..."

"Howard Dean wonders if Donald Trump’s continuous sniffing is coke-related."

"Huh. I’m old enough to remember when the left at least paid lip service to hating McCarthy-esque smear campaigns...." blogs Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.

Well, Dean was only asking. It was pretty hard not to be distracted by the sniffling. I thought Hillary was the one who was supposed to be sick, and here's Trump with — what? — a cold. He was mostly sniffling at the beginning. I was exclaiming "He keeps sniffing!" And he had that new vertical-index-finger gesture — you know, the upper lip windshield wiper move? Since I was on alert to see if Hillary had what it takes physically, I was riveted by Trump's nose.

"That’s called business, by the way."/"That makes me smart."

Remarks inserted by Trump, as Hillary Clinton criticized him in last night's debate. Her emphasis is on Trump as another one of those rich people who amass too much wealth. He stresses the skill to take advantage of whatever the laws happen to be. The real question — I hope people know — is what should the laws be. Change the laws if they if they create the wrong opportunities for advantage, but don't flail people for making their private decisions in a way that serves their own interests.

Here's the context, from the transcript:
CLINTON: We had the worst financial crisis, the Great Recession, the worst since the 1930s. That was in large part because of tax policies that slashed taxes on the wealthy, failed to invest in the middle class, took their eyes off of Wall Street, and created a perfect storm. In fact, Donald was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis. He said, back in 2006, “Gee, I hope it does collapse, because then I can go in and buy some and make some money.” Well, it did collapse.

TRUMP: That’s called business, by the way.


CLINTON: So you've got to ask yourself, why won't he release his tax returns? And I think there may be a couple of reasons. First, maybe he's not as rich as he says he is. Second, maybe he's not as charitable as he claims to be. Third, we don’t know all of his business dealings, but we have been told through investigative reporting that he owes about $650 million to Wall Street and foreign banks. Or maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes, because the only years that anybody’s ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax.

TRUMP: That makes me smart. 
The way I see it is: Hillary Clinton has long been part of the government that is responsible for making the laws what they are. Donald Trump has been on the receiving end, trying to operate successfully within that system of rules. He is offering to transfer that that experience into decision-making about what the law should be. We are asked to trust one of them. There is no option to trust neither.

ADDED: In a debate characterized by interruptions, it's worth that the first interruption was Trump's "That's called business, by the way." Trump interrupted Clinton again in that same turn (to deny that he said "climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese" (which he did once tweet, perhaps as a joke)). Clinton never complained about that interruption. In fact, she took it as freeing her to interrupt, which she did the next time Trump got a turn. And it was quite something, with Trump also not complaining about interruption but reveling in the liberation to go back and forth:

How to equalize the housework.

That's a better title for what the WSJ calls "Four Tips to Save Time on Housework." Or... their title is better if you don't want to make it obvious that the tips are aimed at women who live with men:

The best tip relates to something that I've blogged about here before: The woman may be doing more than the man because she believes that more needs to be done. She can adjust that belief downward — "Lower your standards" — and get to equality by doing less herself.

In the future: Wheelchairs for everybody.

The video is from Nissan. I'd like to assume it's really only a promotion of the technology for self-driving cars. But the linked article — via Drudge — seems to take it seriously... at least as a novelty for restaurants accommodating people waiting in line.

Hillary Clinton's unchallenged, illogical statement about private prisons.

In the middle of the impressionistic and meandering answers to Lester Holt's question "So how do you heal the divide?" — the "very wide and bitter gap" over "race relations" in America — Hillary said one thing that was simply illogical on its face. From the transcript:
I’m glad that we’re ending private prisons in the federal system; I want to see them ended in the state system. You shouldn’t have a profit motivation to fill prison cells with young Americans.
Government prosecutes criminals and obtains convictions and prison sentences. If government uses privately run prisons, it must pay these private businesses to house its prisoners. The entity filling the prison therefore has an economic incentive against putting more people in prison. The private business — the one with the "profit motivation" — has no power to create more prisoners. I can see opposing private prisons for other reasons, but Hillary's justification made no sense to me other than a random expression of disgust for business.

She zipped on to other race-related ideas, and Trump never called attention to this nonsense. So I'm looking for answers on the web today. I found this from last June at The Intercept:
After The Intercept revealed that the Clinton campaign had received campaign donations from private prison lobbyists, a number of activist groups confronted Clinton, leading her to announce that she would no longer accept the money and later declaring that “we should end private prisons and private detention centers.”
Oh! So perhaps Clinton doesn't really believe in ending private prisons at all, and the nonsense I heard was a dog-whistle to her old lobbyist friends in the industry. She premised her objection on the terrible "profit motivation" — thus also dog-whistling to the Democratic Party's anti-corporations base — but anyone who begins with economics and reasons from there will understand that private prisons are a way for government to save money.

And here's Politico, last February, noting that the Clinton campaign made $8,600 contribution to a women's prison charity after she was criticized by ColorofChange for getting contributions from lobbyists for private prisons:
Despite the refunds, Clinton campaign continues to benefit handsomely from the fundraising assistance of some closely connected to the private prison business. In another report filed Sunday night, the campaign disclosed that Richard Sullivan of Capitol Counsel—until recently, a Raleigh, N.C.-based federally registered lobbyist for the for-profit prison operator GEO Group—bundled $69,363 in donations for Clinton in the fourth quarter, bringing his total for the year to a whopping $274,891. That makes Sullivan the second-most prolific lobbyist-bundler for the Clinton campaign, beaten out only by D.C. lobbyist Heather Podesta, who's tallied up $348,581 so far.
Bernie Sanders used this issue against Clinton, as HuffPo reported last February.

Here's the way Hillary Clinton's own website explains her current position:
Hillary believes we should move away from contracting out this core responsibility of the federal government to private corporations. We must not create private industry incentives that may contribute—or have the appearance of contributing—to over-incarceration. The campaign does not accept contributions from federally registered lobbyists or PACs for private prison companies and will donate any such direct contributions to charity.
Ah, so it's really on the "the appearance of contributing" to over-incarceration that matters. Too bad Trump had absolutely no instinct to jump on this issue: She took contributions, Bernie and racial justice groups slammed her on it, she flipped her position for political appearance, and she doesn't see the need to talk straight about the economics of it; she says nothing about anything abusive happening in these private prison; her only reason is an economic point that makes no sense.

And check this out, from The Daily Beast: "Hillary Clinton’s Pitch to End Private Prisons Is the Surprise Hit of the Presidential Debate/A focus group in Pennsylvania loved Clinton’s attack on prisons that profit from inmates. Her position could help win a decisive victory in the state."

I guess that's good news for Trump: It's not about making sense. 

September 26, 2016

The big debate.

I'm not going to try to live-blog. I'm just going to watch straight through and see how the whole thing affects me — me, attempting to experience reality like a normal person, not a blogging machine. But please, do comment. Keep up the conversation. I'll join in eventually.

ADDED: Jaltcoh — my son, John Althouse Cohen — is live-blogging. He's good at this. Check it out.

AND: On watching the debate straight through: That was intense. Those 2 faces on the split screen for 90 minutes was quite the ordeal. How many times did Trump lean into the microphone and say "wrong" while Clinton was speaking? There was plenty of interrupting from both candidates, and it almost turned into the event that Trump had proposed: No moderator. Not that Lester Holt didn't attempt to fact-check Trump a few times.

Trump brought a lot of stress to the event, and Clinton certainly stood up to him. She even managed to flash a smile a number of times — even though there was never a thing to smile about (and really no humor whatsoever). Clinton never coughed, and there was no flagging of energy. It was Trump who needed to drink water and wipe the sweat from his upper lip with his finger a few times. Clinton was a bit artificial, but she never got dead and robotic the way we've seen elsewhere.

Substantively, it's mostly a blur now. Trump seemed strong talking about law and order and, later, blaming Clinton for the rise of ISIS. Clinton got very severe accusing Trump of racism early on (over the issue of whether Barack Obama was born in the U.S.A.) and, at the end, sexism (letting fly with a prepared list of misogynistic things Trump supposedly did or said).

Overall, I'll just say that was very unpleasant and I'm glad it's over. I switched it off without stopping to listen to any of the spin.

Who do you think won? free polls

An Althouse blog first — since I don't see anyone else doing it right — a drinking game for the presidential debate.

Trump says "And by the way." 1 sip.

Clinton coughs. 1 sip for each second beyond 1 second.

Lester Holt corrects something Trump says. 1 sip.

Lester Holt corrects something Hillary says. 1 large gulp.

Clinton claims to have been a champion of women and children all her life. 1 sip.

Anyone mentions "the glass ceiling." 1 sip.

Somebody says "basket of deplorables." 1 sip.

Trump says "We have to do it" or "We have no choice." 1 sip.

Anyone says "Still dicking bimbos at home." 1 large glass.

Either candidate refers to the other as a big liar. 1 sip.

Clinton uses her long career in government as a positive factor/Trump disrespects a long career in government. 1 sip.

Trump portrays himself as a newcomer to politics in a positive light/Clinton disrespects newcomer status. 1 sip.

Clinton refers to the times Trump has insulted a woman. 1 sip.

Trump brings up Clinton's efforts to discredit Bill Clinton's women. 1 sip.

Clinton is referred to as "The Bitch America Needs." 1 large gulp.

Anyone gets caught up in the meaning of the concept of being "qualified" to be President. 1 sip.

Any reference to Trump steaks. 1 sip.

Any reference to Skittles. 1 sip.

Any reference to anyone's hair. 1 sip.

Any reference to how much sleep either candidate needs. 1 sip.

An answer begins with "Well" and then a pause. 1 sip.

Trump says his father told him not to attempt to build in Manhattan. 1 sip.

Hillary says her mother worked as a maid. 1 sip.

Either candidate refers to the other's supporters as under-/over-educated. 1 sip.

Hillary calls Trump "Donald." 1 sip.

Trump calls Clinton anything other than "Hillary Clinton" or "Secretary Clinton." 1 sip.

Anyone says "What have you got to lose?" 1 sip.

Hillary delivers a laugh line that you are 100% sure is scripted. 1 sip.

Hillary delivers a laugh line that you are at least 90% sure is spontaneous. 1 gulp.

Someone mentions Arnold Palmer. 1 sip.

Someone mentions the new Museum of African American History and Culture. 1 sip.

Anyone says "Citizens United." 1 sip.

Any reference to Americans as "hard-working." 1 sip.

Any comprehensible explanation of how Hillary will or will not repeal the Second Amendment. 1 sip.

Any mention of dogs or cats. 1 sip.

Any reference to something that will be done on the first day. 1 sip.

Hillary uses one of Trump's characteristic hand gestures (such as the index finger poised on the thumb). 1 sip.

Either candidate — except at the very beginning or end — leaves his/her place behind the lectern and moves into the other person's territory. 2 large gulps.

3 theories on why lower-educated men have so much more leisure time than higher-educated men.

By Derek Thompson, writing in The Atlantic. (The title is so bad: "The Free-Time Paradox in America/The rich were meant to have the most leisure time. The working poor were meant to have the least. The opposite is happening. Why?" I hate the use of the word "meant," and the article is mostly about men who don't work, so "working poor" is bad.)

Theory #1: "The availability of attractive work for poor men (especially black men) is falling, as the availability of cheap entertainment is rising."

Theory #2: "Social forces cultivate a conspicuous industriousness (even workaholism) among affluent college graduates."

Theory #3: "Leisure is getting 'leaky.'" (That is, work leaks into leisure time through our wonderful gadgets.)

Overheard at Meadhouse.

"I see there's a libertarian theme in your blog today."

"Maybe that's what happens if I sleep until 8. I wake up libertarian."

The right to refuse to make a racist cake...

... and to form your own opinion about what constitutes racism....

... and to apologize if commercial interests indicate you made the wrong call.

"I think it's fine to have a free market where the debate is on many channels and one of them has on-screen fact-checking."

"I'd like one of them to be like 'Mystery Science Theater' or 'Beavis and Butthead.' Another could be 'Bad Lip Reading.' Let the people decide what they'd like to watch."

"Weed marketers have managed to corrupt the language and sell this as 'recreational' use, as if getting high was akin to hiking, tennis or soccer."

"You sip booze, you’re a social drinker or — if a gulper — a drunk. Puff on cigarettes, you’re a smoker. You’re never a recreationist."

Writes George Skelton in an L.A. Times piece with the headline "The problems with rushing to legalize marijuana for stoner use in California." He's trying to shape opinion against Proposition 64, which would "legalize marijuana use for anyone 21 and older." Skelton is being pedantic about language, but he doesn't notice the problem with saying "legalize" when marijuana trade and possession remain a crime under federal law.

Skelton thinks the word "stoner" should be used to refer to all marijuana use that is not "medical." He seems to think that "stoner" corresponds to drinker (for alcohol) and smoker (for tobacco smoking) and that "recreational" is an inappropriate euphemism. But "recreational" was only needed to distinguish "medical," and "medical marijuana" is the real scam — politically useful to get nice people to go along with halfway legalization and politically perverse in that it invites people who halfway care about law to cheat their way into access. Only the completely honest sticklers for truth and law are left on the outside.

Skelton wants the more negative word — "stoner" — but I think that "recreational" is too negative. It suggests that an individual's use of a mind-altering drug is — if not to treat a physiological ailment — just for fun. But drugs like marijuana can be used — non-medically — to heighten aesthetic awareness (to appreciate music and art), to open up a religious experience, to improve sexual relationships, and to alter routine thinking patterns — perhaps enhancing one's ability to see the repression inherent in laws that bar us from choosing what we do with our minds and bodies.

You need some human flesh on those bones, Skelton.

AND: If you didn't laugh at that last line, maybe you would if you had used some marijuana.

"That I am totally devoid of sympathy for, or interest in, the world of groups is directly attributable to the fact that my two greatest needs and desires — smoking cigarettes and plotting revenge — are basically solitary pursuits."

"Oh, sure, sometimes a friend or two drops by and we light up together and occasionally I bounce a few vengeance ideas around with a willing companion, but actual meetings are really unnecessary."

One of 25 quotes from famous women about being alone. There are a lot of interesting quotes over there. I just picked the one that jumped out at me and needily insisted on being my friend. It's from Fran Lebowitz.

"Facts are simple and facts are straight/Facts are lazy and facts are late/Facts all come with points of view/Facts don't do what I want them to..."

"... Facts just twist the truth around/Facts are living turned inside out/Facts are getting the best of them/Facts are nothing on the face of things."

Lyrics from "Crosseyed and Painless" by Talking Heads, presented as a comment at New York Magazine on a long, tendentious piece titled "How Will Voters Separate Fact From Fiction at the Debates?"

"Facts don't stain the furniture/Facts go out and slam the door/Facts are written all over your face/Facts continue to change their shape/I'm still waiting...I'm still waiting...I'm still waiting...I'm still waiting...I'm still waiting...I'm still waiting... I'm still waiting...I'm still waiting..."

"The Great Wall has been rebuilt as a small road which is too horrible to look at."

"Its cultural value has been seriously sabotaged. This is not a restoration, it has been seriously ruined."

Have you seen the photographs of how China is preserving the Great Wall by pouring concrete all over the top of it, obliterating its distinctive features?

"Everyone (at least in certain high-profile or professional circles) is doing it, and very few are confessing..."

"... a fact that in some ways is more disturbing than the surge in the surgeries themselves. Because not only are we nipping, suctioning and using hormones, but we’re also feeling embarrassed about it, and lying. Neither of which was really the point of women’s liberation."

From a NYT op-ed titled "Aging and My Beauty Dilemma," by Debora L. Spar, who is the president of Barnard College. The essay is adapted from one of the essays in a new book, "The Bitch Is Back: Older, Wiser, and (Getting) Happier," which says, on its back cover, "Having aged into their forties, fifties, and sixties, these 'bitches'—bestselling authors, renowned journalists, and other extraordinary yet also ordinary women — have brilliant and bold things to say."

Is "too risky" a good argument against Trump?

Consider this colloquy from yesterday's "Face the Nation":
JOHN DICKERSON: In advance of the debates, the Clinton team is pushing the idea that Donald Trump is too risky to be president. You had some interesting finding there about this idea of risk and Donald Trump. Explain that.

ANTHONY SALVANTO, CBS NEWS ELECTIONS DIRECTOR: Right. Well, both candidates, to some extent, are described as risky among a number of other descriptions that voters use. Trump, in particular, but you notice even his voters say that he is risky. Well, that’s not necessarily a bad thing for them. And the reason is, they want change. They want change -- political change and cultural change and economic change, so they’re willing to tolerate some risk in order to get the change that they want.

But The Washington Post is saying — on the day of the debate — "It's beyond debate that Donald Trump is unfit to be president."

At FiveThirtyEight:

At Real Clear Politics:

The Washington Post and The New York Times just came out with their big editorials, but did anyone who's for Trump or seriously considering Trump even read that material? It was already understood that elite media regard Trump as not just way worse than Hillary but not even in the same category. Trump — they've told us for over a year —isn't qualified. He's not even normal.

But after media's drumming all of that into our head, Trump is still around, and he's practically even with Hillary. He's inching up day by day. Jumping up today. And that's before Trump does the kind of ad spending that Hillary has been doing all along.
Donald Trump's campaign is planning for what it says will amount to $140 million worth of advertising from now until Election Day....
The plan represents a new approach for the billionaire businessman, who has repeatedly bragged in recent weeks about how much less he's spent than Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and seemed to rely heavily on free media coverage of his large rallies.
And the Trump rallies continue — tomorrow in Florida, the next day in Wisconsin — with all the attendant word of mouth. But Hillary is doing rallies too. Her campaign schedule has her in North Carolina tomorrow, New Hampshire (with Bernie Sanders) on Wednesday, and Florida on Thursday. Her campaign must know that elite media cannot carry her, no matter how hard they try — and that trying so hard has been destructive to the power of elite media.

But there's always the debate. We've been told to believe that Trump doesn't even deserve to stand on the stage alongside her and that she can somehow simply talk and look like the only real candidate and he'll somehow be revealed as the devil he is. But look at those polls. How did that man get where you can clearly see he is? She's the one who's supposed to be so well-grounded in reality, and it's undeniable real that he's right up there next to her.