Tuesday, August 23, 2016


It is remarkable how often the media portrays virtually anything related to the Clintons as a scandalSee also.

Unfortunately only Scott and Nancy seemed to have read the story underneath the WaPo headline.

ADDING: A similar take from Paul Waldman.

There is no political cost to selling out Yemen to improve Saudi ties

It's surprising how little attention the Saudi's brutal bombing campaign in Yemen is getting. It only makes the paper whenever a hospital is bombed, or a market, or a wedding, and unfortunately those things have happened on a fairly regular basis. Still, those stories have generated little interest in the conflict. The U.S.'s support of the bombing campaign is getting almost no scrutiny in the U.S. The support is inexplicable other than a sop to the Saudis to try to assuage their concerns about the Iran nuclear deal.

I'm glad that Ted Lieu is fighting the good fight on this issue, but I'm pretty pessimistic that the American public will care about a middle east conflict that is not about terrorism directed at the West or Israel.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Maybe Russia blew it, or maybe not.

Well so much for that. Iran now says that Russia is no longer using its territory to launch air strikes against targets in Syria because Russian officials had spoken openly about the arrangement. Iran's defense minister characterized the Russians' comments as "kind of show off an ungentlemanly."

So  either Russia lost access to Iranian bases, or Russia continues to use Iranian bases, but both countries will pretend they aren't and will keep quiet about it going forward. For the Iranians the main point is not whether they can use Iranian territory, it is that Iran not be seen as allowing a foreign power to use its air bases.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The supreme argument

I wonder if more people are voting for Clinton just because of the Supreme Court than the number of people voting for Trump just because of the Supreme Court. The Court is the argument of last recourse for reluctant voters in both parties. Do those reluctant voters cancel each other out, or does the argument give one side a clear advantage?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Where are the House polls?

It's common wisdom that the Democrats have very little chance of retaking the house this year, even with the Republicans facing a potential electoral disaster with Trump that will probably cost them the Senate. But while there are a ton of presidential polls and some polls of the Senate races, I can barely find any for any of the house races. Real Clear Politics, which is normally the main aggregator of polls, has only two polls of House races, both are for the Ryan-Nehlen GOP primary over WI-1, which is already over. There is not a single poll for the 2016 general election in the House on RCP.

In the last few years, data-driven (i.e. poll-driven) analysis has really taken off, with its proponents bashing the traditional wisdom and gut instinct analysis that has governed political commentary in the past. But if there are no real polls for the 435 House races this year, do we have anything but a gut instinct? Why aren't these races being polled? (Or if they are being polled, why aren't sites like RCP posting the poll results?)

I killed TBogg

I'm not saying I actually did. This is not a confession. But I have noticed that he hasn't posted since I met him several weeks ago.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Trump and intelligence

If Trump is serious about not using American intelligence agencies if he becomes president, then maybe he will be willing to forgo the intelligence briefings he receives as a presidential candidate.

Aetna's pullout does raise a real problem

About Aetna pulling out of the ACA exchanges:
To Obamacare critics, Aetna’s retreat is proof the law is failing. To supporters, it shows the company was using its participation in Obama’s signature domestic policy initiative as a bargaining chip in order to secure approval of a controversial business deal.
Actually, either way it shows a pretty serious flaw in Obamacare. If the system lets health insurance companies use access to coverage as a bargaining chip to convince the federal government to look the other way on an anti-trust issue, that is a problem. Our health care system should not be subject to that kind of manipulation.

ADDING: The fact that Aetna is pulling out of PA, where it has made a nice profit which conventional wisdom (wrongly) characterizes as a swing state in the presidential election, really supports the theory that Aetna is trying to use the ACA to squeeze the Obama administration into approving its merger. As I said above, that is not an argument in support of Obamacare. While the pullout does not necessarily show that the law is failing as conservatives insist, it does show that with so few players in each exchange, the law gives insurance companies extra leverage to get the fed to bend the rules in their favor. That would be a major flaw with the health care law. The flaw could probably be fixed through legislative action. But the current Congress is not interested in any constructive fixes to this law. They want it to be flawed.

Iran and Russia are on the same side of a war and yet they are able to work together

The focus of this article is about how unprecedented it is for Iran to let Russia, or anyone else, base military forces in their territory. But I think just as interesting is the fact that when Russian and Iranian interests converge, the two countries are able to find ways to cooperate with each other to achieve their common goals. U.S. and Iranian interests have converged several times in the past two decades (most notably just after 9/11, and when the U.S. was propping up the Shiite government of Iraq), but the two countries just can't get past their contentious history to work constructively together even in situations when Iran and the U.S. are on the exact same side.

Russia and Iran have had a contentious history too! But that was a lot further in the past. So I guess there's hope that some day, a century or two from now, Iran and the U.S. will be able to cooperate when their interests coincide.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

There won't be another season of "The Apprentice"

I doubt this is true, but if Moore is right, then Trump is even dumber than I thought. Trump is not going to get a better deal on "The Apprentice" because of this presidential campaign. The campaign has changed the Trump brand. He is now an even more racially charged controversial figure than he was before and after this, he can never go back to how he was before last year.

Before when people thought of Donald Trump, they thought of a successful businessman. I'm sure some people still think of him like that, but now a majority see him as a racist con-artist liar who mocks the disabled, is possibly an unwitting Russian agent, and calls for the assassination and prosecution of his political opponents. I'm sure when this is over, Fox News and Breitbart will be knocking on his door. But outside of the wingnutosphere, Donald Trump's career is done.

Ideological test

This isn't close to the dumbest idea that Trump has floated, but requiring an "ideological test" for immigrants assuming that it will screen out terrorists is pretty stupid. The only way to test for ideology is to ask applicants what they believe. Any terrorist who isn't mentally handicapped will easily give the "right" answers regardless of what he or she really thinks.