raise your hand

And now the inimitable comedy styling of Donald J. Trump.

Raise your hand if you’re not a Christian Conservative, I wanna see this, right? …. oh, there’s a couple people, that’s all right.

I think we’ll keep them, right?

Should we keep them in the room? Yes?

 

this one ain’t too shabby

This one is from “Priorities USA Action“, which I take to be some kind of PAC  (founded in 2011, apparently), and not the HRC campaign.

Real simple, real short, real rapid response, and not half bad.

What a fucking assrocket.

still crazy, and still afloat v5.0

Hooo boy, things sure aren’t any better.

Before we get to the numbers, let’s relish once again the happenings over the last week or so, though I’m quite sure nobody will read any of this given that everyone’s attention must surely be riveted to the Guardian’s spellbinding series called “The Vagina Dispatches”.

This is where we can learn that a vagina can be built from a penis and a scrotum, that orgasms can make a person desire something called “a wee”, and that since a female orgasm cannot, apparently, be measured in any “standard” and reliable way, researchers are now beginning to question if there actually is such a thing.

I kid you not.

Onward:

  • Trump continued his hostility to “freedom of expression” by suggesting that it’s an obstacle in the fight against terrorism™ because magazines which explain how to craft explosive devices can’t be banned. “Now people will go crazy, they’ll say, ‘Oh Trump is against freedom of the press.’ I’m not against. I’m totally in favor of freedom of the press. But how do you allow magazines to be sold?” he said.
  • In a reversal of a years-long conspiracy campaign suggesting that Barack Obama was born in a mud hut in Kenya like most black people outside the US, Trump announced that he now believes him to be a natural born citizen, only to reply, mere hours later,  to a question about what changed his mind with the suggestion that, well, he really hadn’t, if you know what I mean. Wink wink, nudge nudge;hair-furer

    “Well I just wanted to get on with … I wanted to get on with the campaign. A lot of people were asking me questions. We want to talk about jobs. We want to talk about the military. We want to talk about ISIS and get rid of ISIS. We want to talk about bringing jobs back to this area because you’ve been decimated so we just wanted to get back on the subject of jobs, military, taking care of our vets, etc.”

  • At the same time that Charlotte was breaking out in mass protests at yet another unarmed black man being killed by yet another cop, and in response to a question from the audience about how to stop “black on black” crime, Trump proposed the widespread adoption of the show me your papers laws stop-and-frisk policies previously deployed by Guliani in New York and since ruled unconstitutional.
  • Then it was announced that the Clinton campaign had invited someone called Mark Cuban, a person commonly described as “the anti-Trump billionaire”, to attend the first debate. This so upset Trump that he immediately tweeted his intent to invite Gennifer Flowers to the debate and sit her prominently in the front row. Ms Flowers tweeted back with a big wet kiss, expressing her delight and promising to attend.

    “Hi Donald. You know I’m in your corner and will definitely be at the debate!…💋”

    A Trump surrogate and campaign “advisor”, serious weirdo General Michael Flynn, wondered aloud why anyone would invite Cuban anyway, given that he’s “not a legitimate person”.

  • And finally, in what is clearly a piece of madness induced by the Trump campaign, and a clear sign of the death of the news media (although it must be said that the campaign of Pat “bongo drums on every corner” Buchanan some years ago produced some smaller-scale similar lunacy), CNN ran a panel discussion in response to the bombs which detonated in NYC injuring more than a score of people,  wondering “does the bombing suspect deserve due process?”.  You just can’t make this shit up.

OK, straight to the mighty Professor Hubbard’s sphincter-tightening EV graph;

screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-8-04-30-pm

The only “toss-up” in Hubbard’s model right now is Florida, which most other sites have “leaning Trump”.  Clinton still wins even if Trump prevails in Florida in this model, of course, but that’s hardly comforting.

Sam Wang has the EV count as a tad less bleak than Hubbard right now, with Wang showing Clinton at 294 and Trump at 244.  Silver has the EV count almost as bleak as Hubbard, with Clinton at 279.

Tomorrow night is the first debate, which is being hyped as possibly the “most watched” something-or-other cage-match in the history of the galaxy.  To actually watch it I’d have to drive 30 miles downvalley and another 30 back, in the dark, on a highway which has the 2nd highest wildlife collision frequency rate in the whole state of Colorado (at this time of year it’s basically 30 miles of skidmarks and blood), and then try to persuade some beer joint to switch to that channel.

Obviously that ain’t gonna happen.

So if any resident wordwhirler here at 9thousandfeet has a) a television, and b) the fortitude to actually watch the damn thing, and c) the willingness to compose an eyewitness account and post it here, that would be lovely.

I’ll have to be content commenting on media’s response later in the week, after pulling in another load of firewood from up near Buck Creek.

sunday services

In response to references in the previous comment thread of the dearth (or maybe the death, or is it too soon to say?) of rationality, here’s a nice little fireside sermon about the evils of the intellect.

I’ll try to find time this evening to pull together the weekly thing about the latest in the goat rodeo polling, including some bookmarked stuff which caught my eye during the last week.

But first, it’s a glorious, cloudless, windless fall day and the colors are at a spectacular peak of a kind we haven’t seen around here in quite a few years. And there are outside chores beckoning.

A felicitous combination.

still crazy and still afloat v4.0

As usual a brief overview of Trump & Co’s lunacy over the last week, in no particular order.

  • He decided that the “Obama is a Kenyan” thing was something he “no longer talks about”, then he decided that he might talk about it at “the right time”, then he said he would make an announcement about it at a particular time and place.  That particular time and place ended up being a kind of hybrid event somewhere between a campaign rally and an infomercial for his new hotel. The press dutifully covered it as a news event,  thus providing him with another several hundred thousand dollars worth of publicity for free, before they realized how badly they’d been played.If this isn't enough to stop this fucking clown, maybe we should discuss what would be?
  • As a sign of increasing panic in certain quarters at the prospect of Trump actually, you know, being elected, all kinds of people began coming out of the woodwork to sound the alarm. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates declared him to be “totally unsuited” for the presidency and “beyond repair” in his determination to remain uninformed about the world. Trump responded by calling Gates “a clown” who “probably has something wrong with him that we’re not hearing about.”
  • Not to be outdone, none other than Jane Goodall came out swinging with an observational piece about primate behavior;

“In order to impress rivals, males seeking to rise in the dominance hierarchy perform spectacular displays: stamping, slapping the ground, dragging branches, throwing rocks,” she explained. “In many ways the performances of Donald Trump remind me of male chimpanzees and their dominance rituals….

  • Trump appeared on a Doctor Oz special teevee show to talk about his health and who the fuck knows what happened. I don’t and can’t be bothered to look it up. I don’t even know if the show has aired yet, but there’s been no real talk about Trump’s medical reports since, so I assume as a diversionary strategy it worked perfectly.
  • Pence (whose odious theocratic characteristics are not getting nearly enough exposure – in many ways he’s crazier than Trump) declares that his model for an effective (and very active) vice-presidency is, godhelpus, Dick Cheney.

OK, so let’s jump to the numbers this week.

Oh dear.

The mighty Professor Hubbard has gone from talking about Trump getting an “ass-kicking” to him being “within striking distance” in just two short weeks. Here’s what it looks like, and it’s ugly;

evcount0918

I’m not going to plaster this post with graphs which you can perfectly easily go see where they originate, except this next one is worth the misery. As things stand now the comforting notion that the Dems would very likely re-take control of the Senate has evaporated, with the most likely outcome now showing 51 GOP Senators;

senate0917

Just a week ago the most likely outcome was 50, and not so long ago it was 49.  A month or so ago there was even giddy speculation that the House may even be up for grabs, but that didn’t last too long.

All the polling analysis sites are in fairly close agreement that the race is now close, certainly within the margin of error, and both Sam Wang at Princeton and Nate Silver at 538 have authored articles about the current trend. Both agree, each in their own way, that if the situation is unchanged in a week it will not be unreasonable for Democrats to panic.

I suspect there’s no shortage of Dems unwilling to wait that long.

My entirely unscientific instinct is that the more Trump closes the gap, the more those republican voters who have held back from supporting him are likely to just say “the hell with it” and jump on board. Chairman of the RNC, Rinse Peenbers, is now openly threatening GOP candidate holdouts with being left hanging out to dry in any future GOP ticket candidacies if they don’t get their act together and fly in formation behind Trump between now and November.

In other words, a few weeks ago there was an enormous lack of confidence that Trump stood a prayer of being elected, and this was suppressing usually reliable support for the GOP candidate. That lack of confidence is rapidly dissipating, and it’s reasonable to think there’s a bit of a feedback loop there. The better his poll numbers, the more supporters will climb back on the GOP bus, especially if it looks like they’ll continue to hold the Senate if Trump wins.

The media is, finally (quick learners they ain’t), beginning to show signs of realizing how badly they’ve been played over the last year or so, but are not as yet showing any signs that they have a clue what they might be able to do about it.

Trump totally understands how the media game is played.  Say something outrageous that absolutely must be a headline, then before anyone can do the research to discover that it’s bullshit, say something different but equally outrageous within 48 hours. Rinse and repeat. Thus the media continues to play whack-a-mole forever and provide millions of dollars worth of publicity for absolutely free.

This puts the Clinton camp in permanent reaction mode too, of course, so even when Hillary Clinton is making a speech, she’s talking about Donald Trump more often than she is about any narrative her campaign might prefer to push. And Clinton has a track record of saying stupid shit when she’s panicky, which cannot be far off now.  Trump has a habit of saying stupid shit all the goddamn time of course, but he continues to get away with it, whereas she cannot.  That’s absolutely scandalous, but it seems to be the pattern.

There’s still time, and plenty of it, for this to turn around of course, but it’s becoming less and less easy to construct reasonable arguments about what might actually cause that to happen. Certainly the argument that was the gold standard for the entire summer until just a few short weeks ago—that once the primaries were over Trump was so obviously nuts and toxic that he simply could not possibly stay afloat in the more diverse and demanding waters of the general election—is now clearly just plain wrong. Ditto the argument that he’s so toxic that GOP downballot candidates would decline to support him, even attack him, in their desperation to keep their own campaigns on track.

What’s left, besides the debates, and might they have a big effect?

Maybe, but I think Clinton will have to be really impressive.

It’s true that Obama had a lousy debate performance in the 1st inning against Romney, and it hurt his polling badly, but he was able to recover for the 2nd and 3rd innings, but I’m not at all sure Clinton can afford anything but an unambiguously splendid performance in the first debate, goading Trump into massive mistakes and boorishness. This is especially the case, I think, if by the time of the 1st debate (a week from tomorrow, on the 27th) the polls have continued their trend toward Trump.

Both candidates will need to “exceed expectations” in the debates to clinch the election.  Unhappily, expectations for Trump are fairly low (“speak up, and don’t trip over the furniture” was Laurence Olivier’s general advice for any thespian pursuits), whereas Clinton continues to be promoted as a “superb debater”, so expectations of her are much higher. That’s not fair in the least, but there it is.

High stakes indeed.

Edward

Caught an article on the Graun this morning about Edward Burtynsky, one of my favorite contemporary photographers out there, and i wanted to call attention to his work for any that haven’t heard of it before – i actually thought of him briefly the other day when Bluth mentioned tailings. He’s a Canadian photographer who shoots seductively gorgeous large format landscapes of the environmental destruction that results from capitalism. Can’t post an image here because of copyright issues, but if you’re not familiar with his work, please have a look.

http://www.edwardburtynsky.com/site_contents/Photographs/introPhotographs.html

too little too late?

OK, so Newsweek, which almost nobody reads since the print copy quit appearing in their dentist’s waiting room (or anywhere else for that matter), has unleashed a deep dive journo piece about Trump’s global business connections and the conflicts of interest they will undoubtedly present should he be elected president.

It’s way, way more than a couple hundred words, so 90% of the electorate isn’t going to read it, that’s for starters.  It’s also months too late. The media is only now piling on with negative coverage of Trump, and while such coverage could very easily have taken the wind out of his political sails back in the early primary going, the media went for the clicks by treating him as a comedic novelty candidate instead.

Now it could very well be too late.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Hillary Clinton’s campaign, demonstrating yet again their resolute determination to lose this election, responded to the Newsweek piece with a Tweetstorm of policy wonkery demanding that Trump answer 20 questions (Yes, I kid you not; 20 Tweets, demanding 20 answers, to 20 questions!), thus continuing to obsessively pin their hopes on facts and policy positions in their battle with a rival campaign which proudly eschews both and is relentlessly gaining in the polls.

Just look at this random sample. They’re even numbered 1 through 20.

In light of @kurteichenwald’s report on the Trump Organization’s dangerous ties, here are 20 questions that Trump needs to answer—now.

2. How will you handle non-cancelable contractual obligations with parties whose interests conflict with those of the United States?

5. How can you be tough on Iran, given your business partnership with someone connected to Iranian money laundering?

7. To what extent would your foreign policy be dictated by potential financial benefits for your business partners?

What the hell are these people thinking? That this blizzard of words (on Twitter for heaven’s sake!!) is going to back the Trump campaign into a corner where they’ll be forced to address even a tiny bit of it?

This is the guy who doubled down on the assertion that Obama is the “literal” founder of ISIS and didn’t take a hit in the polls for crissakes, so he can sure as hell safely ignore this and  just have his surrogate talking heads nimbly pivot to some simple messaging that actually will be effective.

An example of such might be this gift of today’s leak of a Colin Powell email which says;

“I would rather not have to vote for her, although she is a friend I respect,” Powell writes to Democratic megadonor Jeffrey Leeds. “A 70-year-old person with a long track record, unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational, with a husband still dicking bimbos at home (according to the NYP).”

Now that’s something that everyone sure as hell will read. It’s concise, pithy, and not only confirms the fundamental reasons for Clinton’s unpopularity, but clearly emphasizes them.

Introduced with skill into the Trump campaign narrative (and they have the people who know how to do that), that email is worth a half percentage point right there.

So is that blizzard of wonkery from Clinton on Twitter, but for Trump, not for her.

The Trump people and the GOP generally are just flat wrong about damn near everything concerning a viable path forward for modernity, and many of them are deeply unpleasant and bellicose people to boot, but they sure as hell have a better understanding of the kind of marketing that works and the kind that doesn’t in this increasingly polarized political climate.

Every prediction that the denizens of Punditstan made about how Trump’s candidacy would not survive the transition from the primaries to the general unless he could successfully “pivot” and assume calmer and more “presidential” characteristics has turned out to be wrong.

It would seem that increasing numbers of people don’t want “calm and presidential” and that they do indeed want to just shake shit up to see what happens. There’s definitely an “anything is gonna be better than the same old crap” gale blowing across the entire political prairie.

We can debate till the cows come home if that’s actually a rational response in the context of an utterly irrational political/economic reality, but in terms of outcome that won’t matter at all.

Right now I don’t see a clear path for the Clinton camp to rescue their campaign. That’s not to say they might not just hang on by their fingernails, they just might.

And the debates might help but that’s a high-stakes game, and as I discussed back in January somewhere around here, there are all kinds of ways that Clinton could get badly mauled in that setting, especially if panic has set in.

We’ve talked plenty about the dangers of a Trump v2.0, assuming that Trump v1.0 would sink. But Trump v1.0 is still afloat, and looks to be taking on less water than Clinton v2.0

And just how good is the new Trump campaign team?

It used to be cars were made in Flint and you couldn’t drink the water in Mexico. Now cars are made in Mexico and you can’t drink the water in Flint!

That’s how good!

Kagemusha!

According to the G. just about the same percentage of Americans who might vote for Trump also think the plot of Kagemusaha is happening here and now. Apparently an actress called Teresa Barnwell is now impersonating the terminally ill Hillary.  Will Hillary have to be seen in the same public place with Ms Barnwell in order to dispell those rumours, or are they not possible to dispell?  I for one am waiting for an announcement that we are under attack from bloodthirsty aliens, which only can be repelled by the power of Orange Hair.

 

 

still crazy, and still afloat v3.0

OK so here we go again.

Political polling.

Anyone still waiting for Donald Trump’s candidacy to collapse by reason of having reached some kind of critical mass of sinister obnoxiousness is, well, still waiting.

Anyone awaiting empirical confirmation of the existence of that often referenced “Trump ceiling”, apparently some magical amount of support which cannot be exceeded because there exists an upper limit on the proportion of the electorate willing to countenance Trump’s kind of sinister obnoxiousness, is also still waiting.

Anyone waiting for Hillary Clinton to break out of the reaction mode she’s been trapped in since forever, and begin to assert an narrative of her own which can effectively compete for media coverage with Trump’s blizzard of lies and bellicosity is, well, you get the picture.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, U.S., July 25, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of resurrecting this one from Nixon’s campaigning days; Would you buy a used car from this man? photo; REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Just to stay somewhat current, let’s observe what DT has been up to, thus continuing to expand the list of things he’s done which, by any traditional political calculus,  would have have ended any other presidential candidacy in my memory.

This is by no means a comprehensive list from over the last week or so, and as usual is in no particular order;

  • He suggested that US military leadership has been “reduced to rubble” by the scourge of Obama’s presidency, that they have been “reduced to a point where it’s embarrassing for our country.”
  • Further suggested that he’d likely replace that leadership anyway, once president, saying “They’d be probably be different Generals.” in a response to a question about accepting advice from such “rubble”.
  • Declared Vladimir Putin to have been a “stronger” and “better” leader than US president Barack Obama, even though he’s presided over a “different system”.
  • Declared, after attending an intelligence briefing, that he could discern from the “body language” of the officials giving the briefing that they were “unhappy” with President Obama’s policies.  “I’m pretty good with the body language” he said, “and I could tell they were not happy.”
  • Repeatedly claimed that the US should have simply confiscated Libya’s and Iraq’s oil.  “It used to be that to the victor belong the spoils”, he said.  Regular media surrogate and bizarre Trump turd polisher Rudy Guliani reaffirmed this approach as both sound and legal strategy by saying, laughingly, “Sure it’s legal, it’s a war, and until a war is over, anything’s legal”.
  • Said, at a Pensacola rally, and to thunderous applause; “When Iran, when they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats, and they make gestures at our people that they shouldn’t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water”  Whether this is a serious recommendation to make suggestive hand gestures a capital offense is currently unclear.
  • Declared Hillary Clinton to be “an unstable person ” who is now so thoroughly “protected” by the Obama administration that she could “shoot someone through the heart in front of 20,000 people and still not be prosecuted.”

This fire-hose deluge of  Trump lies and Trump constantly talking about Trump has continued to trap the Clinton campaign into almost permanent reaction mode, which means that when she does speak publicly she’s talking about Trump too,  so the entire presidential race is in “all Trump all the time” mode.

Clinton did respond by demonizing “about half” of Trump’s supporters as a “basket of deplorables”, an odd and clumsy phrase which quickly became the stupid own goal it really was by being in complete misalignment with her campaign narrative about the need for a president to “represent all Americans” and opening the door for Pence to chide her about being an elitist twat for disrespecting ordinary Americans.

Within hours she had expressed “regret” for the remarks. (Hillarybots will want to parse all this to point out that it’s only the “half” part that she was regretful about, and it may be, but that doesn’t matter because only Hillarybots drill down into that kind of exculpatory detail. What most people will remember is her attacking ordinary people and then backing up when challenged.) That’s all too recent for its effects to be reflected in current polling, but I’d bet it’s more likely to lose her a half-point than to gain her one.

 

So how has Trump’s disastrous week (in the media, if nowhere else) played out in the polling?

Let’s just cut straight to our hero Professor Hubbard, whose rhetoric now lacks any reference to an “ass kicking”, and who today put up this chart;

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-2-47-03-pm

There we see a pretty steep decline in Clinton’s projected Electoral Vote count—a loss of 30 in fact—with just a very modest uptick in Trump’s. Those Clinton losses have not yet translated to “leaning Trump” but are now perched in the “toss-up” category, but this is no trivial movement nevertheless.

The trends suggested in Hubbard’s graph are aligned pretty closely with those illustrated at other polling analysis sites. RealClear is showing a drop in Clinton’s popular vote lead from 3.9 percentage points to 2.7 over the last week. Huffpollster shows a very similar trend.

Sam Wang’s Electoral Vote histograms from over at the Princeton Election Consortium tell the same tale. Here’s just a few days ago, on the 8th;

ev_histogram_today-copy-14

And now today.

ev_histogram_today-copy-18

 

The scenery is no better when we peek at the downballot trends. Here, from Hubbard,  we see the probability of continued GOP  control of the Senate increasing from the chart below as of 8/27, which shows an 11% probability for 51 GOP senators;

 

senate0827

To this one below which now (as of 9/10) shows a shift to 31% for that outcome and a halving of the probability for 49 Senators.

senate0910-2

Gone are all those articles from a month ago, expressing giddy notions of not only the Senate changing hands, but of the House also being in play. My mailbox is filling up with fundraising emails which say things like this one from ActBlue;

We’ll cut to the terrifying chase: Nate Silver warns that margins in swing states are really tightening up.
That’s not just bad news. It’s catastrophic.

Meanwhile, driven by what are unmistakable and rather consistent polling trends, articles are now starting to appear in places like 538 and the Princeton Consortium with headlines like “Worried?” and “The Swing States are Tightening too!”

Nobody’s talking about Clinton being behind in the presidential race as yet, but if the trends we’ve been talking about here for the last month are not at the very least arrested, or better yet reversed,  then before long that’s exactly what we’ll be talking about.

Soon enough the “debates” will begin, which is something Democrats have been expressing optimism about (she’s prepared!, she’s knowledgeable!, she’s experienced! Trump has no substance!), but the playing field there is far from level, and the outcomes from those debates are not at all easy to see.

The bar is so low for Trump that if he can manage to avoid anything but the most spectacularly egregious mistakes he’ll exceed expectations and his performance reviews will effectively be positive.

For Clinton it’s the reverse, where if she fails to eviscerate Trump completely, leaving him as a trembling mess on the floor, she will be declared to have underperformed and the reviews will be negative.

Place your bets, folks.

Me?  Do I think Trump is going to win?

No, I don’t. Not today, I don’t.

Am I incrementally moving closer to thinking that really, no fucking kidding, he just might?  

You bet.

 

Update #1;

Hillary Clinton has now, according to a report, been diagnosed with pneumonia, which sucks under any circumstances, but given that she’s been the target of some pretty sophisticated agitprop for many weeks suggesting she’s ill and has been hiding it; this will feed into that narrative in a big way, and it’s going to be difficult for her campaign to get even rudimentary control of campaign narrative for at least a week.

Here’s the official statement;

“Secretary Clinton has been experiencing a cough related to allergies. On Friday, during follow up evaluation of her prolonged cough, she was diagnosed with pneumonia. She was put on antibiotics, and advised to rest and modify her schedule. While at this morning’s event, she became overheated and dehydrated. I have just examined her and she is now re-hydrated and recovering nicely.”

Typical Clinton characteristic of keeping uncongenial details under wraps unless or until forced by circumstances to acknowledge them, which in this case is playing right into the Breitbart/Drudge/Fox game plan.