What Does It Mean That the Doctor Who Wrote the Trump Medical Letter “thought about it all day”?

Well, maybe he’s just careful.  Or maybe he was deeply torn, because he knew, for whatever reason, that he could not tell the truth, so put it off and off, swinging back and forth between refusing to do it, telling the truth, or writing obvious soviet dissident “confession” style hyperbole.

I have wonderful doctors, but I really doubt that when they write something about me, they have to “think about it all day.”  Or at least, if and when they do, whether it comes out like this letter did.  Maybe I should check!

Maybe MSNBC Is Moving to Instant Fact Checking

Eric Wemple of the Washington Post points out today in his blog that MSNBC is using chron to fact check and rebut Trump live.  This is sort of like what I suggested a while back.


In a speech this afternoon in New Hampshire, Donald Trump said of his opponent: “As all of these revelations have been discovered, some this week, many this month, Hillary Clinton has been hiding. She’s been hiding. Where is she?”

Moments later, the writers of chyrons at MSNBC came up with the formulation above. In so doing, they provided an answer to a problem that has bedeviled the media since Trump’s campaign launch in June 2015: How to fact-check a .guy who lies and tells falsehoods at breakneck pace? Via parentheses, it turns out.

Back when I blogged, I suggested:

TASS (Trump Assertion Scoring System).  .  .  .   would be deployed on one or more news source networks, in the form of maybe a visual Pinocchio, or other graphic, maybe in the bottom letft of the screen, showing the accuracy or not of the current assertion. One could also use an icon system to note the percentage of lies in the speech. Indeed, the Washington Post Fact Checker already uses a Four Pinocchio scoring system.  But it is not in real time. Polifact does some livechecking, but it seems to be text driven, and in any event not on the major network news feeds.

One real key — and one thing that can only be done for an endlessly repeating liar, is to have the documentation ready, but lots of that is there.

Lets hope that  this is the beginning of real accountability.

Why Business People Fail in Politics — Except the Very Smartest

There is a wonderful chat in the Post today about the difference between Trump’s “analog,” 1980’s national TV strategy, and the Dems “digital,” 21st century, targeted one.  Read it, I have not done it justice.

I want, however, to draw a much more general conclusion.  The reason business people fail in politics is that to make a lot of money you need to provide a product or service that enough people want to pay a lot of money for.  But you do not have to sell to 51% of the market.  In politics, unless you have the help of the Supreme Court, you do have to get to 50% plus one.  So the business skills are about exploiting a niche, hopefully a large niche, but not about necessarily expanding that niche to half – and then running the risk of anti-trust attention.

Surely, that niche strategy is exactly what Trump followed in the primary, winning decisively, but with less than 50% even within his Rep niche, and failing miserably to get to 50% in the market as a whole, and showing no ability at all to get there.

Think similarly about Carly Fiorina, who tried an expansion strategy at HP aimed at very high volume and failed there and in politics.

The exception would be the really smart people who do not simply apply current skills and techniques to the new situation of politics, as Trump surely has done, but rather step back and figure out what the new environment needs and how to do that.  Of course, its clear that Trump is not really that good at business, and so its no surprise that he is also not much good at making the switch.  Indeed, you have to ask what it is about big real estate that makes it so easy to succeed in, and what the success of a manifest loser like Trump in real estate says about other moguls who appear successful in that field.

Finally, Trump’s likely ability to continue to dominate his niche after the election is surely the worst possible news for the Republican party, no matter what strategy they try to adopt to deal with it, assuming indeed, that they are even capable of adopting one such strategy.


Getting Clinton’s Negatives Up May Be a Big Mistake for the GOP Down ballot

Its a campaign truism.  The way out for Republicans at risk because of Trump is to change the subject and attack Clinton.

That helps minimize, they hop the downside of Trump, and riles up the base into voting.  Maybe, although its not clear that the base needs any more riling up.

The unrecognized problem — and I think it may be a big problem strategically — is that the less generally Republican leaners can imagine voting for Clinton, the less they will consider voting and ticket splitting, and the more they will prefer to just stay home.

If your plan is to rely even in part on ticket-splitting, and its hard to imagine any even slightly endangered Republican not having a strategy that relies at least on ticket-splitting, then you are doing exactly the wrong thing.

If down ballot Democrats do better than expected this year, this may be one of the reasons.

Of course, the other strategy is to endorse Clinton, but that has its downsides too.  Its tough this year!

The Urging to Down Ballot Candidtes to Abandon Trump Is Not Quite 1996 All Over Again

There has been a lot of justification for the “abandon Trump” strategy comparing it to the GOPs tactics in 1996.  Is that fair?  Yes and No.

Here is a quote from a NYT 1996 campaign article:

Republican campaign operatives are urging their party’s Congressional candidates to cut loose from Bob Dole and press voters to maintain a Republican majority and deny a re-elected President Clinton a ”blank check.”

The advice, being passed on by field workers from the National Republican Congressional Committee, dovetails with some major findings of the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll, which shows Democrats holding a 47-to-39-percent advantage when people were asked which party they would support.

.  .  .The advice to candidates to stress the ”blank check” argument is being offered to Republican candidates who are running below 50 percent in their own polling. They are being assured, the aide said, that the national Republican headquarters will not be angry with them or cut off their campaign funds if they concede that Mr. Dole will lose and they tried to save themselves.

Sounds very similar, till you look at the date — October 23, 1996, 12 days out from the election.

Its pretty different when the party signals thin the middle of August, 7 or so times further out.  Its a measure of just how much the Presidential race is already set in concrete.

Note also that this advice was limited to those polling under 50%.  We know of no such qualification now.


How to Penalize Campaigns that Hide Tax Returns and Deny Press Credentials

Presidential campaigns derive substantial subsidies from Federal law.  For example TV stations are required to offer lowest rates to campaigns under certain conditions.

Surely the law, maybe by regulation, could be changed so that to obtain those benefits the campaign would have to certify that it has released the candidates tax returns, and also given press credentials to all legitimate outlets.

While there might be a First Amendment right to refuse to release tax returns, it would surely be hard to construct an argument that the First Amendment so protects to right to exclude the press from the greater access they need at public events that violators should have their TV ads subsidized.



We Will Know That Trump Is a Democrat Trying to Destroy the Republicans When . . .

If I had written this a couple of days ago, I would like to think that I would have been imaginative enough that the the list of Trump-trying-to-lose ideas would have included Trump saying that Obama had founded ISIS.  If a few days ago, that Second Amendment supporters should shoot Hilary after her election. If a few weeks ago, that he would attack Gold Star parents.

So, there is not much left, but here goes.

Saying that he will share the nuclear codes with his 12 step group.

Saying that Hitler was great because he unified the German people.

Saying of Mother Theresa that “I like people who make money.”

Saying of the Pope that “he has lovers, maybe, I don’t know, I have heard that he is good in bed.”

Saying of Mike Pence, “Not too smart, that’s why I picked him.”

Referring to Paul Ryan as “that wimp.”

And, finally:

Trump actually agrees to debate Clinton.

Trump refuses to debate Clinton.