Life’s getting too complicated

This FT story caught my eye:

There has also been a surge of early voting, with almost 53m Americans having already cast their ballot either by mail or in-person, according to the US Elections Project.

In Texas, almost 6.4m voters have cast their ballots, equivalent to more than 70 per cent of the total number of votes cast in 2016.

And there’s still 10 days until the election! So can we assume that 80% or 90% of Texans will have already voted before November 3rd? What does that mean?

I used to focus on the polls released the day before the election. Do we now need to take the integral of the poll gap for the entire month preceding an election?

Even that’s not enough, as the undecided voters might be more inclined to wait to the last minute. Or maybe not. The debates are all over; why not just decide now, and get it over with? I already voted.

And we need to figure out which party is helped by mail-in votes. It seems that more Dems vote by mail, but who does that help? Does it help the Dems because it boosts turnout? Or hurt them because a few percent of ballots are declared void due to some problem? (Such as not being signed.) I have no idea.

Usually, when people say, “Be realistic, it’s over”, they mean it figuratively but not literally. I.e., it’s not literally over, but we know who will win. In Texas you might say, “It’s over” and mean it literally but not figuratively. The votes have been cast, but we don’t know who has already won.

Maybe I’m getting old, but I have trouble wrapping my mind around this new reality. I can’t shake the notion that “Election day” on November 3rd is an important day, even though apparently it is not. It’s a day when we’ll discover something important that happened weeks ago.

PS. Two months ago, we knew with 100% certainty that the Trump people would release a sketchy Biden “scandal” a week or two before the election. When it actually happens, Bayesians will not update their view of Biden at all, as it’s not “new information.” It’s not that Bayesians ignore the information—they already knew about it.

Bayesians knew that if Trump supporters actually had something, they’d release it two months early and hammer Biden relentless over the two months before Election day. If it were a phony story, they’d release it two weeks early and hope there wasn’t enough time to discredit the story before Election day.



39 Responses to “Life’s getting too complicated”

  1. Gravatar of Jason Jason
    24. October 2020 at 14:34

    Actually, Nov 3 is even less significant than you say, since we may not even know won until several days later. Nov 3 is simply the day on which officials are allowed to start counting votes, not necessarily the day on which voting happened, nor necessarily the day on which we know the results of the vote.

  2. Gravatar of Laura Laura
    24. October 2020 at 15:08

    Nov4 marks the day the Biden scandal is allowed to explode.

  3. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    24. October 2020 at 15:56

    The Trump campaign may have made the same “mistake” that Scott Sumner made. They still think the election is on November 3rd. By all accounts, Trump campaigns are chaotic.

    The authenticity of the emails on the Hunter Biden laptops has not been challenged, even by the Biden camp. Joe Biden either lies about, or refuses to discuss the topic.

    The Hunter Biden story has everything a reporter could want: color, sex, substance, topicality and currency.

    In another time and place, any news organization would have come close to murder to be the first ones to break such a story.

    But everything is politicized today. Now, a story is a story depending on your politics, just as anti-viral drugs do, or do not, work depending upon your politics. News organizations unabashedly wear their politics on their sleeves.

    A virus leaked from the Wuhan labs, unless you are against Trump, in which case the virus did not leak from the Wuhan labs.

    Biden looks like he will prevail.

  4. Gravatar of gt gt
    24. October 2020 at 15:57

    Adding on to what Jason said, in my state they’re accepting mailed in ballots until November 8th, as long as they are post marked on November 3rd or earlier. My state isn’t a swing state, so it’s not important for the presidential election, but the concept carries over to other states. Some states have already been counting mail-in ballots (such as Florida) while other states (such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan) can’t start counting mail-in ballots until November 3rd or the day before. Pennsylvania took almost three weeks[1] to count their mail-in ballots during the primaries, and while they’ve ramped up their processes since then, it will certainly take days to count them, in a swing state that might determine the election, plus they will also accept ballots until the Friday after election day as long as they are postmarked by the 3rd.[2] I’m not counting on knowing accurate vote counts for the whole country until two weeks after the 3rd, and then you have to add in possibilities of recounts and lawsuits. Unless Biden wins in a clear landslide, this is almost certainly going to drag out into December.


  5. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    24. October 2020 at 16:06

    Add on: just imagine the play the Hunter Biden story would have received had it been leaked by a Democratic rival in primary season.

    Remember, back then, Biden was being portrayed as a serial groper who stuck his nose into the hair of women he didn’t even know, a plagiarist, and someone who weaseled around with racist Senators.

    But he has been rehabilitated.

  6. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    24. October 2020 at 16:11

    gt above makes many good points. It seems every four years everybody agrees the national election machinery is far too creaky and clunky, and inevitably leads to post-election conflicts and confusion.

    The existence of the Electoral College means that the national election could be gamed by a few thousand votes in any key state.

    Having invited both political parties to engage in vote fraud….

  7. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    24. October 2020 at 16:15

    From Askblog:

    In July, the Democratic National Committee engaged some 600 lawyers to litigate the outcome, possibly in every state. No particular outcome of such litigations is needed to set off a systemic crisis. The existence of the litigations themselves is enough for one or more blue state governors to refuse to certify that state’s electors to the Electoral College, so as to prevent the college from recording a majority of votes for the winner. In case no winner could be confirmed by January’s Inauguration Day, the 20th Amendment provides that Congress would elect the next president. Who doubts that, were Donald Trump the apparent winner, and were Congress in Democratic hands, that this would be likelier than not to happen?

  8. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    24. October 2020 at 16:50

    Jason, Good point.

    Ben and Laura, Wishing to believe something is true doesn’t make it true, otherwise there would be a Santa Claus.

    If there was evidence of Biden corruption, it would have been released by now.

  9. Gravatar of janice janice
    24. October 2020 at 17:56

    “If there was evidence of Biden corruption, it would have been released by now.”

    No, it wouldn’t be released. This is another instance of Sumner discussing things he knows nothing about. The FBI goes through a process of collecting, verifying, and building. They already have the emails, and now they are verifying the statements and phone records of his business associate, and reviewing whether that also ties into an open money laundering investigation. There is a reason why the FBI doesn’t comment on cases.

    Here is another example: there was a psychiatrist in Connecticut who the FBI NEW was engaging in Medicare fraud up to the tune of 2.2M dollars. They spent two years tracking her, and her business associates because they wanted to build a case against her partners, which they felt were also involved. OBVIOUSLY, anyone with ANY intelligence would NOT want the other party to know about the investigation. It doesn’t take a high IQ to realize that documents and evidence disappear when people realize they are under investigation!


  10. Gravatar of harry harry
    24. October 2020 at 18:03

    Yes, that is true. The FBI would not make any arrest until their case is 100% complete. That means determining which members of Biden’s family were involved, which foreign actors were involved, and the extent of that involvement.

  11. Gravatar of DeservingPorcupine DeservingPorcupine
    24. October 2020 at 18:31

    Only a fool would believe those emails aren’t legit and that Joe wasn’t involved in his son’s dealings. I’m not saying one can’t reasonably choose to vote for him regardless, but don’t pretend he’s clean.

  12. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    24. October 2020 at 18:38

    Two months ago, we knew with 100% certainty that the Trump people would release a sketchy Biden “scandal” a week or two before the election.


    I find your framing extremely strange, my impression in the last years was that this is a typical method of the mainstream camp against GOP candidates.

    But you can give me an example where it was the other way around in the last elections.

    It is of course possible that I live in a filter bubble or in a make-believe world or in a parallel universe. So please, give some examples from the last elections.

    The Hunter Biden scandal didn’t interest me very much so far, but since you are writing something on the subject now, I dug deeper and read what the “serious” media writes about it.

    To my surprise (or not), I have so far only read pages and pages of eulogies in these media about why the Biden scandal is supposedly not a scandal.

    A guy from the WP writes, that Hunter Biden is actually the victim here, because Burisma wanted to get to his father through him, that Hunter Biden’s judgment was erratic, and that he had a drug problem, so Burisma force-fed him $50,000 a month down a tube. Hunter Biden, that poor guy. According to this WP guy he told a friend: “I have to make money for the family”, and who wouldn’t understand.

    The guy from the Atlantic wrote, it’s not a scandal, because it is “perfectly legal, socially acceptable corruption.”

    Another line of defense seems to be to insinuate that the Trump children are supposedly doing exactly the same thing, which is possible, maybe even plausible, I just can’t think of a story about the Trump children right now, where a Ukrainian gas company is force-feeding them $600,000 a year, but of course it’s possible that this story was missed by me. It’s weird though that the media is just insinuating what the Trump kids do, instead of pleasurably unfolding all the dirty details as the media usually does. I’m 100% sure the details will follow, yes?

    Must it be mentioned that it is the defense of an infant to insinuate that although beloved person X is a wrongdoer, there are other hated wrongdoers in the world who might do similar things?

    Must it be mentioned that is not the function of the media to defend beloved person X and that it is not their task to defend children of politicians who collect large sums of money for nothing just because their father is a politician?

    Another line of defense seems to be simply not publishing the story at all, passive platforms and distributors such as Facebook and Twitter seem to go so far that they even block the distribution of the story so that you can’t even read it anymore.

    A guy from the WP writes that it is unpatriotic for a “normal, patriotic American” to think differntly about the Hunter Biden case or to criticize the actions of Facebook and Twitter. Moreover, it is once again a secret Russian operation.

    Benjamin Cole, has already observed it correctly, it is interesting how the framing was changed again, it was said in the months before that Biden had no knowledge of his son’s Ukrainian ventures, they never talked about it, he said, the conversations probably went like this: “Hey Hunter, what are you doing in Ukraine? — “Daddy, you know, I’m going on vacation.” — Vacation? Yes then, obvious choice. Thanks Hunter, for the conversation”.

    And now this shift: Hunter, the victim, the drug addict, the erratic. Other children do it, too. Hunter was used, they wanted to get to his father. So Biden is actually the victim here as well. No denial anymore, but the victim card. And besides, the information is scattered by the “wrong” informant: Look at the sender. Hackers, illegaly obtained, maybe the Russians.

    I don’t want to dismiss out of hand the thesis that if Hunter Biden were Trump’s son, the media would pull the same page-long elogies out of their asses, because they are so independent, so impartial, and so fair. But honestly, I find that a bit hard to believe.

  13. Gravatar of Skeptical Skeptical
    24. October 2020 at 18:39

    A Bayesian would say the emails are real since no one is bothering to even pretend to deny their authenticity.

    A Bayesian would also say it will have no effect on the election. Why would it? There’s no concrete evidence linking it to Joe Biden rather than his son and brother. Even if he were, is this even at the 50th percentile of corruption in Washington? 30th? 15th?

    Tl;dr a Bayesian would say ‘yes the emails are real, also who cares’

  14. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    24. October 2020 at 18:47

    Scott Sumner:

    You misrepresent me.

    I did not say the Bidens are guilty of legal corruption.

    I said the e-mails on the Biden laptops are authentic, and that the Hunter Biden story, in another time and place, would have been treated as a “hot story” due to its topicality, currency, color, sex and substance.

    The forgotten-laptop event is one honking story—forsaken laptops spill the beans? You can’t make this stuff up.

    Unfortunately, institutionalized corruption is usually legal.

    Money flows in and out various nations (think of various islands), private and limited partnerships, foundations, even the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.

    If entities in China pour money into the Penn Biden Center, and the university pays Biden several hundred thousand dollars for doing nothing…it is all legal.

    There is no corruption.

    Money, as you know, is a fungible commodity.


    Richard Goodwin’s son is Michael Goodwin. He wrote an op-ed for the NY Post. One can disagree or agree with the op-ed, and that is fine.

    What worries me is that Goodwin’s point of view has been all but obliterated in mainstream US media.

    The Biden laptop-story is suffocated due to its content, while people pretend otherwise.

    But hey, Biden looks to win. The tariffs on China will come off, or will be sandbagged, and the enabling the CCP is back on track as de facto foreign policy.

    The only (if unspoken) issue that matters, in some circles.

  15. Gravatar of Cartesian Theatrics Cartesian Theatrics
    24. October 2020 at 18:55

    Interesting article.

    My dark wish is that the Hunter story is true and Trump loses. What a great parting gift to walk off the stage having completely and totally exposed the establishment left for the humorless f***ers that they are. The future is wide open and we’re done with our current institutions. It’s time for a generational rotation, I just hope it’s for the better.

  16. Gravatar of Gene Frenkle Gene Frenkle
    24. October 2020 at 20:10

    Ben Cole, the Hunter Biden story isn’t that different than this story from 2003:

    HOUSTON, Texas (Reuters) — Neil Bush, younger brother of President Bush, detailed lucrative business deals and admitted to engaging in sex romps with women in Asia in a deposition taken in March as part of his divorce from now ex-wife Sharon Bush.

  17. Gravatar of Laura Laura
    24. October 2020 at 21:29


    Consider the recent news about Robert Brockman, who was hiding two billion in overseas accounts, evading US taxes. Particularly covering the period from 2005-2014. One read on that story would be, these kind of financial frauds are detectable.

    Yet another read would be the pretty incredible power that the Treasury/IRS needs to deploy to fish out these villains. No casual reporter is going to dredge it up. What we’ve heard so far about Biden from the NYP is pretty compelling evidence. The lack of the account numbers is sure a ding but not a very big one.

  18. Gravatar of sty.silver sty.silver
    25. October 2020 at 01:46

    You’re saying that you’re confused about this, but what you said in this post is very similar to what I’ve heard from Nate Silver, whose job it is to understand this stuff. To summarize

    – Early voting is certainly good for Biden since he has a lead
    – However, it probably doesn’t make a *large* difference because people who vote early are predominantly not undecideds
    – It’s unclear whether the larger share of vote-by-mail helps Biden or Trump since there are arguments either way
    – There is very likely no big ammunition left for either campaign since the latest plausible date to use it was right before the last Debate

    Election day is still plenty important, although (as others have said) the results may not be known for a while. Depends on how close it is. They probably won’t be ‘officially’ known for a bit even if it’s a blowout.

  19. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    25. October 2020 at 08:17

    Everyone, Some of you have very short memories. Let’s review 2016:

    Right before the 2016 election there’s a huge Hillary “scandal” involving emails from an unsecured computer. All the liberal papers put it on the front page, day after day. They ignore Trump scandals. Hillary starts falling in the polls. She loses by less than 1%.

    After the election it’s clear that there’s almost nothing there. The Trump administration does the same thing—inappropriately using private emails for government business. No one cares.

    The NYT, WaPo, etc. all feel very guilty about 2016. They say “We’re not going to play up an ambiguous “scandal” right before the election a second time around.”

    I have to laugh when people say “If Trump did something like this”. There are 100 similar Trump scandals since he took office and no one pays any attention.

    Yes, Hunter’s a sleazy character, but Hunter’s not running for president. There’s no evidence against Joe. You people are desperate.

  20. Gravatar of Susan Woodward Susan Woodward
    25. October 2020 at 09:04

    Andy Hall has studied vote-by-mail and says it benefits democrats, a little.

  21. Gravatar of LB LB
    25. October 2020 at 09:13

    Scott in his best imitation of Elmer Fudd is willing to destroy his home (and the country) to get the rascally rabbit Trump.

    Pack the courts, add new states, get rid of electoral college, end filibusters, let the tyranny of the majority rule regardless of how carefully the Founding Fathers tried to protect against it.

    End capitalism because it doesn’t give you the equality of results some think is the only fair outcome. Mandate re-education camps in the schools and most major employers to get rid of subconscious racism. Even as the Hispanic population is living the American Dream and advancing in the soon to be former land of opportunity.

    Increase the regulatory state and watch the concentration of commerce in fewer and fewer firms. Watch as the joint partnership of Big Business and Big Government grows.

    Tax corporations because they are evil. If it reduces incomes for the workers, the investors, slows growth, and funds government money pits who cares.

    Biden wants to go in the real estate business and pay his workers $50-60 an hour. So why doesn’t he get his billionaire friends to do this? Why does he need tax dollars?

    He blames Trump for shortages of PPE but who was in power when the manufacturing of these vital goods was shifted overseas.

    The Biden myth on masks. The President can’t order the wearing of masks. In Biden’s America the President can be a king and the police can be sent forward to enforce his whims. Do we want an America where people are handcuffed and arrested for not wearing masks? Do you want them fined? What happens if people just refuse to pay the fine? Do you jail them, confiscate property etc? What criminal or civil violation are people committing when they don’t wear a mask wearing? What do the police charge them with? Pissing off the President. What law is on the books? Why didn’t Pelosi pass a law? Private firms can demand that customers wear masks. Local governments can try to lawfully enforce health laws on the books. But you want to live in a country where the whims of President Biden become law if CNN agrees?

    The Hillary scandal was that she was using her office to funnel money to the Clinton Foundation. She used a private server to hide the conduct of her “official” acts. Then she lied about it. Covered it up with the aide of Federal Law enforcement. Then created a fake story about Trump collusion with Russia to divert the public.

    And Scott claims that Trump is more corrupt. The Trump presidency that has been hounded by American Intelligence agencies and Federal law enforcement since before he took office. A President with the vast majority of the press attacking and investigating him daily has been getting away with criminal attacks right below their noses. Imagne that.

    Scott “Elmer Fudd” Sumner would be funny to watch except he is helping to destroy a country we share. I know he would be happy to go live in his cherished China -after the Social Democrats and Biden are done but not everyone thinks that is a great option.

  22. Gravatar of Alan Goldhammer Alan Goldhammer
    25. October 2020 at 09:33

    Scott’s response is correct. Do any of you who believe the Giuliani ‘treasure find’ think that Bill Barr would not have found away to bring this to light? I guarantee that if there was a scintilla of evidence, he would have found a way to do so. There are still a lot of FBI folks who are sympathetic to Trump and remember it was the NY office that forced the emails out in 2016.

    Giuliani’s forays into digging up dirt have all been laughable except in eyes of the Fox news empire and even there the WSJ newsroom is in revolt against the editorial staff on all this. It’s all delusional and more in keeping with an acid-laced character from a Pynchon novel.

  23. Gravatar of larry larry
    25. October 2020 at 09:54

    November 3 IS an important date!

    I am having a partial knee replacement done that day.

    Is there an election going on that day, too?

  24. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    25. October 2020 at 11:43

    My biggest concern with mail in voting is it has to increase the odds of confusion and error. Maybe errors are randomly distributed in which case it may not matter much. I think there were 136 million votes last election. 538 says 48 million have voted so far. Other sites say 40-56 million (maybe Nate just averaged the printed hi/Lo ). I assume we will have maybe 5-10% more votes so maybe 150 mil. So we still have 100 mil to go. It is not at all surprising we have so much early voting. Even me, who am against early voting will vote this week. Maybe my paranoia has lessoned.

    I assume we are currently even for electoral votes. I will vote for Trump. But I have a problem that we have hidden Trump voters. That makes no sense. Maybe in big Dem states—-I live in NJ and frankly even here it’s not so hidden. No, I do not feel free to speak openly all the time-but why bother? Dems will win. But when 30k show up for Trump in PA an 20 people for Joe, who is hidden? Polls. I would never answer polls but not because I am afraid but because who wants to. One exception on hidden Trumpers is in business. But that may go both ways.

    My “emotional” belief (not facts, not even heuristic, not intuition, just “feeling”) in Trump winning increased substantially after last debate. Not right away, but by the next day. One of the more fascinating essays was by Peggy Noonan who hates Trump more than Scott. Watching Biden and Harris over the last week, who she did not particularly like, led her to write almost a kill shot essay. She said nothing positive about Trump but suddenly let it all hang out against the Dems. It was an expression of deep disgust. It reminded me of the Moore/Adams 2016 predictions—although she did not make a call.

    And Luntz is a bit comical but he does try. 7 of 8 undecided will vote for Trump. The 8th is still deciding. (How is one undecided?). Me? I have it a coin flip. It’s still the close states that matter. 538 will likely move from 15 (same as 10 days out last time) to 37-40(where he was day before election last time. Which is a punt. Also, I assume we will have a winner election night. It won’t be called however. Because there will be too many count challenges. But the public will likely know.

  25. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    25. October 2020 at 11:53

    On polls, I realize I did not comment on them being biased. I have no idea if they are biased. But it’s swing states that matter and they are all margin of error. But if biased Trump is ahead

  26. Gravatar of sty.silver sty.silver
    25. October 2020 at 12:40

    The polls in swing states are not in the margin of error. Biden is ahead by 5.7 points in Pennsylvania according to 538’s average, which is the hardest state Biden needs to win. It’s not 9 points, but it’s not the margin of error.

  27. Gravatar of Todd Kreider Todd Kreider
    25. October 2020 at 17:18

    “Biden is ahead by 5.7 points in Pennsylvania according to 538’s average, which is the hardest state Biden needs to win.”

    Two or three days before the 2016 election, Clinton was up 6% in Wisconsin and lost by about 30,000 votes.

  28. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    25. October 2020 at 17:50


    Of course, it is always the political opposition—in the media and in parties—that reveal lurid but true stories.

    Even at the rarified levels of presidential impeachment, it was the Donks who went after Nixon, then the ‘Phants who went after Clinton, then the Donks who went after Trump. In each iteration, with less cause, but let that go.

    If Russians hack and then release e-mails, that does not stop the e-mails from being true and authentic. The opposition may even time the release of damaging information–but if the information is true, then it is true.

    When some of Paul Manafort’s buddies, who were blackguards themselves, turned on Manafort, that did not mean that “turning state’s evidence” produced untrue evidence.

    You know who believes the laptop e-mails are authentic? The Biden Camp. What does that tell you?

    Read that again: “The Biden believes the e-mails are authentic.”

    Anyway, it looks like Biden has it in the bag.

    Below I took from John Cochrane’s blog:

    “Consider the economic agenda proposed by the Democratic presidential candidates:

    A government takeover of health care.

    Taxpayer bailout of student loans. Necessarily, after that, government funded and administered college.

    An immense industrial-planning and regulation effort in the name of climate.

    Government jobs for all. “Basic income” transfers on top of social programs.

    Confiscatory wealth, income, estate and corporate taxation.

    Government and “stakeholder” control of corporate boards.

    Rent controls and subsidies.

    Expanded, politically-allocated “affordable” housing.

    Expanded regulation of wages, hiring and firing (ed. note: $15 hour minimum wage)

    Extensive speech and content regulation on the internet.”


    I added in the $15-an-hour minimum wage.

    Don’t get angry at me, this is what Cochrane says.

    I like the part of government control of corporate boards. Hey, it works in China. Let’s give it a go!

  29. Gravatar of Mark Z Mark Z
    25. October 2020 at 20:56

    “Bayesians knew that if Trump supporters actually had something, they’d release it two months early and hammer Biden relentless over the two months before Election day.”

    That doesn’t follow at all. The optimal time to release even a true story is likely close to the election; nowadays two months is enough time to stop caring about the latest scandal. Drawing an analogy with Clinton’s emails is also puzzling because that issue emerged many months before the election, and the ‘October surprise’ was James Comey’s completely coincidental (Comey was obviously not trying to help Trump) announcement that they were still investigating it. And her impropriety was factually true, even if you don’t think it was significant. Maybe the NYPost story will turn out to be nothing, but dismissing it out of hand is only Bayesian if your prior is a Dirac delta at 0.

  30. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    26. October 2020 at 08:30

    Laura, You said:

    “What we’ve heard so far about Biden from the NYP is pretty compelling evidence.”

    Actually, it’s not compelling at all. Even the head of the RNC admitted there was no hard evidence against Joe, just that the story needed to be “investigated.” The conservative WSJ looked at it and found nothing persuasive. This is also my view:

    I’d never say that it’s impossible Biden did something corrupt, but even if he’s guilty of one example of corruption, the corruption issue would strongly favor him over Trump, who’s enmeshed in dozens of scandals.

    Susan, Yes, and this is going to be a weird election night. Polls show Trump is likely to win the election day vote by a landslide, and Biden is expected to win the mail vote by an even bigger landslide. At a minimum, the US needs to adopt the Florida system where mail-in votes are counted on election night.

    LB, You said:

    “tyranny of the majority rule regardless of how carefully the Founding Fathers tried to protect against it.”

    What a nightmare! Have the majority pick the President, like in every other democracy! Imagine letting a California vote count equally with a Wyoming vote.

    “End capitalism because it doesn’t give you the equality of results some think is the only fair outcome.”

    Wait, I thought Obama already ended capitalism. How can it end again?

    Todd, For once we agree. It’s close right now.

    Mark, They at least need enough time to establish the story is true, if it’s true. Right now there’s nowhere near enough time to establish anything–just accusations. Biden’s had a 40 year career, people aren’t going to suddenly view him as corrupt based on a NY Post story right before the election, which even the WSJ can’t corroborate.

  31. Gravatar of LB LB
    26. October 2020 at 10:39

    Since Scott is so proud of his ignorance on basic political philosophy perhaps he might read the following

    “The essence of democracy is majority rule, the making of binding decisions by a vote of more than one-half of all persons who participate in an election. However, constitutional democracy in our time requires majority rule with minority rights. Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States, expressed this concept of democracy in 1801 in his First Inaugural Address. He said,

    All . . . will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect and to violate would be oppression.
    In every genuine democracy today, majority rule is both endorsed and limited by the supreme law of the constitution, which protects the rights of individuals. Tyranny by minority over the majority is barred, but so is tyranny of the majority against minorities.”

    On Capitailsm, perhaps you should also read the desires of the Social Democrats like AOC or the views of groups like BLM.

    Perhaps Obama is wrong when he said that the views of Sanders and Biden “are not that different.”

    Biden wants to expand Obamacare. That will collapse the private insurance market. We have already seen premiums, co-pays, and deductibles for private insurance go up because of Obamacare. Obamacare’s low reimbursement rates has shifted costs to private insurers. The current system will not long survive as more and more costs get shifted to fewer and fewer privately insured people.

    Perhaps you have never read the views of Kamala Harris our soon to be President if Biden is elected
    She cosponsored the Green New Deal with AOC.

    She wants a single payer system and proposes regulations that would force private insurers out of business.

    She supports free health care, housing, and schooling for illegal immigrants. She also supports open borders. Why stop at illegal immigrants?

    Ms. Harris will fine companies that are not “equal pay certified”.

    She wants to raise the corporate tax by 14%, raise the capital gains taxes, a tax on stock transactions, and an increase in inheritance taxes. To start

    Of course she is the most amoral person to be on the ticket for a major party ever. So who knows what she might do. She has shown a willingness to fight for big tech donors.

    What will Biden do? If he still knows who he is, he will check in with Hunter and see if any deals have been cut.

    So Joe might prefer crony capitalism for his friends and socialism for the masses. Sort of like Scott’s ideal Chinese mixed economy.

  32. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    26. October 2020 at 14:36

    O/T thought:

    If Trump loses, he’s not going away quietly for the good of the Republican party. He’s going to have to loudly and perpetually blame other people for his failures. Blaming the Democrats is awkward because that just acknowledges that they beat him. So he’s going to blame two things:

    1. The media

    2. The Republicans

    It’s that second one that should be entertaining. He’s going to trash Republicans for being disloyal, lazy, uncommitted, RINOs, GOPe, incompetent and all around worthless Trump-hating traitorous scum.

    GOP company men like Hugh Hewett are going to wish he’d shut up and they’re going to say so. On the other hand, Trump’s butthole lickers such as Hannity, Dobbs and the Trump fans in your comments section and going to be in more of a quandary, at least for a time. But I believe most of them will come around to the company man position of Hewett and start trashing Trump for dragging them down. But Trump isn’t going to shut up and he’s not going away and he doesn’t give even the tinniest shit about the good of the Republican party.

    Should be fun! I hope we get to see that. I hope he runs 3rd party in 2024 out of pure spite and malice.

  33. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    26. October 2020 at 15:22

    Right before the 2016 election there’s a huge Hillary “scandal” involving emails from an unsecured computer. All the liberal papers put it on the front page, day after day. They ignore Trump scandals. Hillary starts falling in the polls. She loses by less than 1%.


    Your framing of the story is absurd. You are retelling Hillary’s absurd narrative that she supposedly lost because of Comey. But Comey was just doing his job and wasn’t known as a Trump fan. The media were just doing their job as well.

    It is also a lie that Hillary’s scandal was on the front page of the liberal papers day after day. That may have been so in a single day, if at all.

    Trump had a hundred scandals and Hillary had one little scandal, and now claims that she lost because of this tiny scandal. And you and the media are going along with this absurd narrative.

    The truth is that Hillary was a super-weak candidate, who only needed one mini-scandal to fall over the cliff, even though her opponent was also very weak and gave her one scandal after another.

    The NYT, WaPo, etc. all feel very guilty about 2016. They say “We’re not going to play up an ambiguous “scandal” right before the election a second time around.”

    It is shocking that the media thinks that way, and that you support this. The media shouldn’t make considerations like this and favor candidates.

    And even if they are partisan they should conclude that Biden can win with a tiny scandal, and that he, like Hillary, is not suited to the task, if just one scandal would make him fall behind Trump. Oh, please. You guys must be really afraid.

    It is also telling that you don’t say anything about the censorship by Facebook and Twitter, which is only the logical conclusion of your censorship thoughts.

  34. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    26. October 2020 at 15:38


    otherwise I found your original post very good.

    I like mail voting, but some details in the US seem questionable.

    In some states you can already vote in September, up to 45 days before the actual elections. And what is similarly extreme, in some states, some mail-in-votes are now also supposed to be valid which arrive even after November 3rd.

    So now we have the situation that the election starts 45 days before November 3rd, and isn’t even over then, so maybe the 3rd is only the beginning of a great cacophony.

    These problems exist to a large extent probably because of the winner-takes-it-all systems. The US basically has 50 elections, and not just one, so considerably more can go wrong.

  35. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    26. October 2020 at 17:51

    “If Trump did something like this”

    The actual *tiny* difference is that in the case of Trump media like the WP and The Atlantic stick pretty close to the truth and tell things how they are. Sometimes in a partisan, hysterical, exaggerated tone, but one still cannot deny that there is a foundation.

    In the case of Biden, they lie to your face and claim in page-long eulogies how all of this is supposed to be normal, and why blue shit doesn’t smell. Huge difference. This will be a worrying next four years when the media switches back to ass-kissing mode.

  36. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    27. October 2020 at 10:35

    LB, You are confusing two totally unrelated issues, whether minority rights should be respected in a democracy (yes) and whether the majority vote should pick our political leaders (yes).

    Tom, I don’t know what will happen, and I’m by no means convinced he will lose.

    Christian, You said:

    “But Comey was just doing his job and wasn’t known as a Trump fan.”

    Once again, you don’t know how to read. I never criticized Comey, who decided it was too minor an offense to recommend prosecution.

    You said:

    “It is also a lie that Hillary’s scandal was on the front page of the liberal papers day after day. That may have been so in a single day, if at all.”

    If you are totally ignorant, why even comment:

    A typical Christian comment thread—a mixture of misreading and ignorance.

  37. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    27. October 2020 at 15:09

    Once again, you don’t know how to read. I never criticized Comey, who decided it was too minor an offense to recommend prosecution.


    every time someone adds a point that doesn’t seem to fit 100% into your thought process, you assume the other person is unable to read, instead of thinking about what the other person might have meant.

    Does one really have to elaborate everything down to the last detail for you? You are such smart man. I used Comey as an example, because the Comey scandal was not a timed media fabrication, unlike other events in 2020, 2016 and 2012, which were more or less fabricated and specificially timed by certain media. Media should not run timed election campaigns, they should report.

    The Comey scandal on the other hand was real. It was not planned by certain media. Every medium that claims to report “news” had to write about it, otherwise they are just fake news with an agenda.

    And to the argument that at the end of the scandal and at the end of the investigation the results might not have been what some people expected: This is the whole point of reports, scandals and investigations, that they are news, that they are new, and that therefore the end result is in the open. The scandal can become larger and larger with every day, or it can get smaller again, if one knew the final result in advance, one would not have to report on it.

    It is also a lie that Hillary’s scandal was on the front page of the liberal papers day after day. That may have been so in a single day, if at all.


    My mistake, let’s take the NYT out, but I’m not buying this study one second. So these fringe articles on 6 days in the investigation period are said to have cost Hillary the election?

    The premise is already absurd, they compare it to “policy”, but why should the NYT discuss Hillary’s policy on the frontpage? These researchers seem to want Hillary’s political program to be printed on the frontpage. This is not a how a newspaper should be run. Not to mention that it is not news.

    And then what happened? The thousands upon thousands of NYT readers from Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, who *typically* can’t decide between Democrats and Republicans, chose Trump? Very plausible theory.

    Hillary reminds me of a student I knew who came to the professor after an important exam and made a big fuss because she allegedly failed the exam because of “just one point”. She needed at least 50 out of 100 points to pass but only had 49.

    He explained to her that she did not fail the exam because of “one missing point”, but because of 51 missing points.

    Hillary missed her exam by a thousand points, the NYT frontpage is responsible for maybe 1/4 point of that, if any, but nevertheless the NYT is the scapegoat now.

    If it makes her sleep better, whatever, let her lie herself to sleep. But if the media reports differently because of this incident, so that politicians of the “good camp” do not miss any points, then this is a really bad development.

  38. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    28. October 2020 at 10:07

    Christian, You said:

    “I used Comey as an example”

    You used it as an example to criticize my claim, even though it has zero bearing on my claim.

    And you obviously know little about the US media, if you don’t think the Hillary story was a big deal in the week before the election. As soon as it broke she started slipping in the polls. Lots of people who switched to Trump at the last minute (and there were millions of them) said they just didn’t trust Hillary. You can debate how much it hurt her, but it clearly hurt her in a razor close election.

  39. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    28. October 2020 at 16:01

    You can debate how much it hurt her, but it clearly hurt her in a razor close election.


    Let’s conclude with this point, here we seem to agree. We interpret this fact only contrary.

    I think that somebody who is such a weak candidate that she can’t even endure a single mini-scandal, and that against an extreme scandal magnet such as Trump, doesn’t really deserve to win.

    How the narrative of the opposite side should go is not quite clear to me. Does the NYT want to claim that they ran a campaign against Hillary? Or do they want to claim that they are not providing honest reporting? Keep in mind that every single NYT article about the email scandal was considered necessary and important by the NYT at the time it was written and published.

    This assessment has only changed after (!) the election results. But why in the world would they even use hindsight 20/20? What is the point of the NYT? That they only publish scandals when they know that they are not doing any relevant harm to their favorite candidate? Apparently they are now putting this into practice. How biased and sad and ridiculous is such a world? This is a nightmare.

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