Last month I wrote that pollsters must have learned something from their humiliating failure in 2016. At this moment, it seems like the only indication of a win for Biden is media polling -- which shows a landslide in his favor. Can an incumbent president really lose when 56% of people say they're better off than four years ago?

It is an odd election season. Pretty much everyone thinks the Democrats are on their way to a crushing victory, yet it is hard to see why. A whopping 56% of Americans say they are better off now than they were four years ago, and President Trump draws large, enthusiastic crowds wherever he goes. Meanwhile, Joe Biden is a pale shell of his formerly buffoonish self. When Joe is able to get out of bed, his campaign schedules intimate invitation-only events. Supposedly this is because of COVID, but everyone knows it is really because he doesn't want to be embarrassed by his inability to draw a crowd. Probably no one outside of Biden's immediate family particularly wants him to be president.

So what is going on?

Kevin McCullough writes that the polls are wrong because Trump voters are reluctant to admit who they're voting for.

Now the "smart people" will tell you [that a Trump win is] not possible and that he lags Joe Biden in the polls by margins too big to overcome. If you only look at the selective polls listed in the Real Clear Politics average one might come to that conclusion (Just like they did in 2016).

One thing they won't tell you though is that the hesitancy to tell pollsters what they think is a real phenomenon. A little more than a month ago Bloomberg published a survey that demonstrated Republicans and Independents are more than twice as likely as Democrats to not reveal to pollsters their true thoughts.

Maybe. I think it's more likely that any significant errors stem from inaccurate demographic mixes -- that they're underweighting Trump's support among Blacks, Hispanics, gays, and others.

Mollie Hemingway points out that Trump is polling better now than he did in 2016.

So you see that Biden is averaging a 7-point lead in Pennsylvania, but Clinton was averaging a nearly identical lead there four years ago -- before Trump won it narrowly on election day. Likewise, Biden's Florida lead is very similar to Clinton's lead four years ago. Trump won Florida.

Biden is not performing as well in Wisconsin as Clinton was four years ago. Trump won that state. Biden is doing less well in Michigan, according to the polls, than Clinton did four years ago. Trump won Michigan. Biden's doing a bit better in North Carolina than Clinton did but Trump won that state by a 4-point margin.

There are a lot of people who don't put much confidence in polling, but this table shows that even according to the polls themselves, Trump's performance at this point in the election process is on track with where he was in 2016.

I'm not good at predicting elections, but I will: Trump will win re-election.


Politicians of all stripes agree: We The People shouldn't be allowed to have strong encryption. I'm generally pleased with Bill Barr as Attorney General, but his (and Trump's) demand for "backdoors" into encryption is morally wrong and politically foolish.

The US Department of Justice, in conjunction with the "Five Eyes" nations, has issued a statement asking Apple and other tech companies to effectively create backdoors that will weaken encryption strength overall to provide law enforcement access to data.

In a statement released on Sunday by the US Department of Justice, the "International Statement: End-to-End Encryption and Public Safety" is a continuation of the long-running encryption debate. In the latest salvo in the ongoing war, representatives of governments from multiple countries are demanding access to encrypted data for the sake of sexually exploited children.

The lengthy statement demands tech companies "embed the safety of the public in system designs" relating to encryption, to enable companies to "act against illegal content and activity effectively with no reduction to safety," while enabling law enforcement to do its job. This includes enabling law enforcement officials "access to content in a readable and usable format where an authorization is lawfully issued, is necessary and proportionate, and is subject to strong safeguards and oversight."

This demand is built on two falsehoods.

First, there's no such thing as a "safe" backdoor. Once encryption is weakened, it's weakened for all attackers, not just "good guys". Backdoors can be found. Additionally, the government has been generally terrible and protecting sensitive data, and it would only take one breach, leak, or whistle-blower to release all the backdoor keys.

Second, everyone hates the sexual exploitation of children and wants it prosecuted, but the government already has plenty of tools available. By the time law enforcement has caught a perpetrator and are in possession of his phone, they're sure to have plenty of evidence for a conviction even without decrypting the phone.

Finally, it doesn't seem to me that the government has demonstrated that it is worthy of our trust. We The People should keep our guns and our encryption.


I don't have much to say about Trump's illness and recovery, but this video cracked me up.


Well that was weird and unpleasant.

Wallace's questions were stacked against Trump overall. Wallace did ask Biden a couple of tough questions, but then let him get away without answering.

Oddly, Biden was much ruder to Trump than vice versa, calling the President a "clown" and "the worse president ever", and even telling him to "shut up". Trump interrupted a lot, which is also rude, but not in the same way. I think most viewers would have expected Trump to be ruder than Biden.

Biden didn't seem senile. He's leading in the polls without much effort. That seems likely to continue.

Trump was combative and aggressive, which I assume is what he was going for. Unfortunately for him, he wasn't as funny or effective as he often is.

I think Michael Brendan Dougherty is right about Trump's biggest tactical weakness:

By far Trump's most self-defeating habit in these debates is to refer to stories rather than tell them. He speaks as if he's talking to people who, like himself, spend hours a day watching Fox News and have a shared folklore of scandal stories that can be referred to in shorthand. He refers to events, like ballots found in a wastepaper basket, but doesn't tell the story of where they happened, or why they matter.

Most people won't get these references and may think Trump is just blustering.

Both sides are spinning this as a win, but surprisingly to me 2/3 of Telemundo Spanish-language viewers gave Trump the victory. I presume all the crosstalk couldn't be translated in real-time, so maybe that helped Trump come off stronger?


Said Judge Amy Coney Barrett in 2019. Erika Bachiochi writes about as a new feminist icon.

In recounting how she decided to go through with their second adoption, Barrett said: "What greater thing can you do than raise children? That's where you have your greatest impact on the world." And when a justice of the Supreme Court showcases this truth by her very life, this long-abandoned insight can finally begin to reemerge across our culture.

When greater numbers of us understand the cultural priority of caregiving, a movement will grow strong enough to challenge the dominant market mentality that disfavors family obligation for both women and men. Ginsburg's brand of feminism will give way to something new, a society in which we will no longer fight over abortion because it will have become irrelevant.

Barrett's feminism is inspiring to me as the primary earner of my family and as the father of four daughters.


Every time a Supreme Court seat opens up the ensuing political fight reminds us that the Supreme Court shouldn't be so important.

The point isn't whether the Court got the questions right. The point is that it decided these important [political] issues and, having done so, took them off the table for democratic politics. When Congress decides an issue by passing a law, democratic politics can change that decision by electing a new Congress. When the Court decides an issue by making a constitutional ruling, there's no real democratic remedy.

That makes the Supreme Court, a source of final and largely irrevocable authority that is immune to the ordinary winds of democratic change, an extremely important prize. And when extremely important prizes are at stake, people fight. And get hysterical. ...

So to break it down: All the hysteria about a Ginsburg replacement stems from the fact that our political system is dominated by an allegedly nonpolitical Court that actually decides many political issues. And that Court is small (enough so that a single retirement can throw things into disarray) and unrepresentative of America at large.

I'm actually not against "packing" the Supreme Court. There's no reason it needs to have exactly nine justices. Pack it out to 100 and we might gain two advantages: first, higher throughput for our court system; second, less political fighting over SCOTUS nominations. Reynolds suggests that each state governor nominate a justice:

In an earlier article, responding to Democrats' plans to "pack" the Court with several additional justices whenever they get control back, I suggested going a step further, and add fifty new justices, one each to be appointed by every states' governor. My proposal wasn't entirely serious, being meant to point up the consequences of opening the door on this topic. But on reflection, maybe it was a better idea than I realized.

Sounds like a fine plan to me. Put some power back in the hands of the states.


The headline writer says, "Unconscious learning fosters belief in God, study finds", but that's wrong in a very significant way. The study only demonstrates a correlation between a belief in God and an ability to predict complex patterns.

People who unconsciously predict complex patterns are more likely to hold a strong belief in God -- a god who creates order in an otherwise chaotic universe -- according to research published Wednesday.

"Belief in a god or gods who intervene in the world to create order is a core element of global religions," Adam Green, an associate professor of psychology at Georgetown University, said in a news release.

"This is not a study about whether God exists, this is a study about why and how brains come to believe in gods," said Green, who also serves as the director of the Georgetown Laboratory for Relational Cognition. "Our hypothesis is that people whose brains are good at subconsciously discerning patterns in their environment may ascribe those patterns to the hand of a higher power."

From what I can see, the fault lies with the writer of the headline, not the study authors. Any of these four possibilities could be true:

  1. Belief in God leads to the ability to make better predictions
  2. The ability to make better predictions leads to believe in God
  3. Both belief in God and the ability to make better predictions are caused by some third unidentified factor
  4. The correlation discovered by the study is anomalous

The first three possibilities are all interesting.


I'm interested in political polls but don't know much about their inner workings. My assumption is that pollsters must have learned something from their failures in 2016, and that 2020 polls showing Biden leading Trump are more accurate than the polls in 2016 that showed Hillary easily defeating Trump. I have no real basis for this assumption, except that people don't like to look foolish twice in a row.

But this voter registration data from Pennsylvania is more concrete than a poll, and hard to dismiss.

The GOP has added almost 198,000 registered voters to the books compared to this time four years ago, whereas Democrats have gained an extra 29,000. Though Democrats still outnumber Republicans by about 750,000 voters in the state, the GOP has seized on their uptick in party members as a sign that Trump is on track to win this critical Rust Belt swing state a second time. ...

Overall, registered Democrats now make up 47 percent of the state's electorate, down from 49 percent in September 2016. Republicans comprise 39 percent, up from 38 percent four years ago. Many party officials credit Trump himself for narrowing the gap.

Obviously Republicans claim this trend in registration is significant, and Democrats claim it isn't.

"It's one of the reasons why I am very bullish on Donald Trump's prospects in Pennsylvania. I think he will win again, and I think he will win by more votes than he did in 2016," said Charlie Gerow, a Harrisburg-based Republican strategist who has worked on presidential campaigns in the state. "Trump is doing what Ronald Reagan did 40 years ago, which is moving a lot of traditional Democrats into the Republican column." ...

"It probably means less than meets the eye," said J.J. Balaban, a Democratic consultant in Pennsylvania. "There's reason to believe the shift is mostly 'Democrats' who haven't been voting for Democrats for a long time, choosing to re-register as Republican."

Republicans and Democrats agree that former Democrats are registering as Republicans, but disagree about the significance of this fact. I guess we'll find out in a couple of months.


According to Rasmussen, Trump has the support of 27% of Black Pennsylvanians.

Worrisome for the former vice president is his 67% black support, low for a Democrat, with the incumbent earning 27% of the black vote in Pennsylvania. Trump leads among whites and other minority voters.

That's a tremendous showing for Trump. If he is able to attract more than ~15% Black support nationally his re-election is almost assured.


This is surprising. At least hundreds of Trump supporters parading on the freeway in Portland.


Democrats are floating another trial balloon to test which way the winds are blowing: would voters let Biden get away with not debating Trump?

She explained she did not think "the president of the United States has comported himself in a way that anybody should, and has any association with truth, evidence, data, and facts," and as a result, any debate with him would just be an "exercise in skullduggery" by Trump.

"I wouldn't legitimize a conversation with him, nor a debate in terms of the presidency of the United States," she said, though she acknowledged that the Biden campaign had a different view on the debates. Pelosi called Trumps's conduct during his 2016 debates with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton "disgraceful."

So far Biden is staying committed to debating the President.

Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said Biden would continue to take part in the debates. The campaign would "certainly agree with Speaker Pelosi on her view of the President's behavior. But just as she has powerfully confronted that behavior in the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room, Joe Biden looks forward to doing the same on the debate stage."

Asked later Thursday on MSNBC about Pelosi's comments, Biden said "as long as the (Commission on Presidential Debates) continues down the straight and narrow as they have, I'm going to debate him."

"I'm gonna be a fact-checker on the floor when I'm debating him," he said.

Biden has to appear 100% committed until and unless he decides he can get away without debating, in which case he'd have to flip immediately and give a good explanation for his decision. Any wavering on a decision like this would be devastating.

Personally, I don't think a candidate could win without debating in this day and age. It's certainly fair to wonder whether or not debate performance is a useful indicator for governing ability, but that's beside the point. Presidential debates are more like trial-by-combat, and there's something very primal about the ritual. Something deep inside us knows that you don't get to lead the tribe if you won't even fight for it.


Former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith pled guilty to altering an official document in the Trump-Russia investigation by inserting the word "not". It's likely that this plea deal paves the way for Clinesmith's testimony against other malefactors.

Other, more senior FBI officials must have been involved in these FISA abuses, though Durham hasn't said so yet. Some committed abuse themselves. Others knew about it or should have known. Still others must have discovered the misrepresentations, but failed to report them to the FISA court, as they were required to do. Those failures are felonies.

Clinesmith has said he gave other FBI members the true document, not just the altered one. The 23rd paragraph of the charging information says Clinesmith "provided the unchanged C.I.A. email to Crossfire Hurricane agents and the Justice Department lawyer drafting the original wiretap application." That's a smoking bazooka.

Clinesmith actually worked on Robert Mueller's team. He was tasked from the bureau to work with that team, which then submitted his falsified document to the FISA court. That's crucially important. If attorneys on the special counsel team knew about his crime and did nothing to inform the court, if they continued to use a document they knew was fraudulent, they will face charges. That would implicate Mueller's team for the first time in illegal activity to undermine the Trump presidency. That's a much bigger matter than writing a biased report.

Did Clinesmith act alone or did anyone tell him to alter the document? That's a critical question, and Durham has not answered it yet. Nor has he said who knew what Clinesmith had done. Again, the key to proving that is either a paper trail or multiple cooperating witnesses. We should get Durham's answers when he issues more indictments.

This is exactly how an air-tight prosecution should be built. Stay tuned.


Andrew C. McCarthy provides pretty convincing evidence that the Obama Administration (and holdovers) wrongly use its law enforcement and counterintelligence powers to cripple Donald Trump, both as a candidate and later as president. I'll just quote the conclusion -- follow the link for a summary of the evidence.

The Obama administration and the FBI knew that it was they who were meddling in a presidential campaign -- using executive intelligence powers to monitor the president's political opposition. This, they also knew, would rightly be regarded as a scandalous abuse of power if it ever became public. There was no rational or good-faith evidentiary basis to believe that Trump was in a criminal conspiracy with the Kremlin or that he'd had any role in Russian intelligence's suspected hacking of Democratic Party email accounts.

You didn't have to believe Trump was a savory man to know that. His top advisers were Flynn, a decorated combat veteran; Christie, a former U.S. attorney who vigorously investigated national-security cases; Rudy Giuliani, a legendary former U.S. attorney and New York City mayor who'd rallied the country against anti-American terrorism; and Jeff Sessions, a longtime U.S. senator with a strong national-defense track record. To believe Trump was unfit for the presidency on temperamental or policy grounds was a perfectly reasonable position for Obama officials to take -- though an irrelevant one, since it's up to the voters to decide who is suitable. But to claim to suspect that Trump was in a cyberespionage conspiracy with the Kremlin was inane . . . except as a subterfuge to conduct political spying, which Obama officials well knew was an abuse of power.

So they concealed it. They structured the investigation on the fiction that there was a principled distinction between Trump himself and the Trump campaign. In truth, the animating assumption of the probe was that Trump himself was acting on Russia's behalf, either willfully or under the duress of blackmail. By purporting to focus on the campaign, investigators had the fig leaf of deniability they needed to monitor the candidate.

You don't have to like or support Trump to be outraged by this illegal and immoral activity.


In the aftermath of the explosion in Beirut (video) we must send material aid, but we also must pray for the people and the city. Pray that the wounded would receive the medical care they need, and that the families of the dead will find comfort. Pray that the leaders of the country and city will have wisdom and humility. Pray that the city will have peace and security. Pray that God's love will shine brightly through people even in this tragedy.


Kanye West explains why he's pro-life.

West said he was still living the "rapper's lifestyle" when Kardashian found out she was pregnant with baby North, the couple's eldest child. The musical talent-turned-politico admitted that he did not want the baby, but Kardashian stood up and said she was going to have the child, for which West offered his wife immense praise.

"She brought North into the world, even when I didn't want to," he said. "She stood up and she protected that child."

West likened Kardashian saving baby North to his late mother saving his life from abortion some 43 years ago.

"And she said I'm pregnant," West recalled Kardashian finding out she was with child, adding that she was crying when she left the doctor's office.

"I was living the rapper's lifestyle," West disclosed.

"For one month, and two months, and three months, we talked about her not having this child," he said. "She had the (abortion) pills in her hand. You know those pills, where you take the pills and it's a wrap, the baby's gone."

"I'm in the apartment in Paris," West continued, "and I have my laptop up, and I have all my creative ideas ... and the screen went black and white. And God said, if you f*** with my vision, I'm gonna f*** with yours." ...

"You know who else protected a child?" he asked the crowd. "Forty-three years ago, who do you think protected a child?"

"My mom," he said. "My mom saved my life."

Earlier this month, West told Forbes that he is "pro-life because I'm following the word of the Bible."


Are primordial black holes common in the universe? It doesn't seem like it.

What would a universe flooded with primordial black holes look like? That's the million-dollar question, which we need to answer if we want to test this hypothesis.

For one thing, the black holes may randomly crash into other things, gravitationally attract other things, and just generally cause mayhem. Kilogram-mass black holes hitting the Earth could trigger earthquakes. A silent black hole may pull apart binary pairs of stars or disrupt entire dwarf galaxies. A black hole ramming into a neutron star could ignite a terrible explosion. Even the hypothetical Planet Nine could be a black hole no bigger than a tennis ball. ...

Alas, despite all our attempts, we cannot reconcile the existence of primordial black holes with the universe that we see. For every possible observational avenue, the primordial black holes cause so much mayhem that it would be noticeable to us.

In other words, as difficult as it is to explain the masses of the merging black holes that LIGO witnessed, if you want a universe with those black holes to be primordial, it would be detectable in other ways.

Ok, may as well quote from the "Planet nine black hole" story also, even though Pluto is already planet #9. I guess the Space.com folks got confused and meant planet ten.

Over the past few years, researchers have noticed an odd clustering in the orbits of multiple trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs), which dwell in the dark depths of the far outer solar system. Some scientists have hypothesized that the TNOs' paths have been sculpted by the gravitational pull of a big object way out there, something five to 10 times more massive than Earth (though others think the TNOs may just be tugging on each other).

This big "perturber," if it exists, may be a planet -- the so-called "Planet Nine," or "Planet X" or "Planet Next" for those who will always regard Pluto as the ninth planet. But there's another possibility as well: The shepherding object may be a black hole, one that crams all that mass into a sphere the size of a grapefruit.

I sure hope there's a tiny black hole in our solar system -- that's practically the only way we humans would ever have a chance to examine one up close.


Thomas L. Friedman suggests that Joe Biden should put conditions on the Presidential debates in an attempt to constrain Trump.

First, Biden should declare that he will take part in a debate only if Trump releases his tax returns for 2016 through 2018. Biden has already done so, and they are on his website. Trump must, too. No more gifting Trump something he can attack while hiding his own questionable finances.

And second, Biden should insist that a real-time fact-checking team approved by both candidates be hired by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates -- and that 10 minutes before the scheduled conclusion of the debate this team report on any misleading statements, phony numbers or outright lies either candidate had uttered. That way no one in that massive television audience can go away easily misled. ...

He should not go into such a high-stakes moment ceding any advantages to Trump. Trump is badly trailing in the polls, and he needs these debates much more than Biden does to win over undecided voters. So Biden needs to make Trump pay for them in the currency of transparency and fact-checking -- universal principles that will level the playing field for him and illuminate and enrich the debates for all citizens.

But what prevents Trump from pushing for similar conditions? Would Biden be willing to publicly undergo a test of his mental competence?

It's not obvious to me that refusing to debate would turn out to Biden's advantage.


I'm not on Twitter much, and from what I see most social media seems to be pretty toxic for its users. Still, social media is ubiquitous, so you'd be forgiven for thinking that Twitter is essential for any media personality... but apparently not. Tucker Carlson is dominating cable news despite his meager use of Twitter (or because of it?).

As was the case in total viewership, Fox News led by Carlson, dwarfed the competition in the 25-54 demo.
  1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (791,000), Fox News
  2. Hannity (754,000), Fox News
  3. Special Report (668,00), Fox News
  4. The Five (655,000), Fox News
  5. The Ingraham Angle (655,000), Fox News
  6. The Story (603,000), Fox News
  7. Cuomo Prime Time (587,000), CNN
  8. Anderson Cooper 360 (568,000), CNN
  9. CNN Tonight (524,000), CNN
  10. Erin Burnett OutFront (502,00), CNN

For some context, Carlson's average is more than what sports shows, which tend to have a younger audience, draw in total viewership. ...

Executives are led to believe that the two demographics are highly influenced by Twitter and other social media platforms. Carlson, the media's biggest star, provided a brutal counterpunch to that belief.

Carlson tweets once or twice a week. He sent just one tweet in the entire month of April, a month he dominated the competition in. He excels absent of the microphone his competition views as a necessity to capture the demographics he just won.

What's more, when advertisers succumb to demands to boycott Carlson they're leaving money on the table.

Carlson is the antithesis of what the vast majority of media is today. He's the threat they warn you about. He's recently been under more fire for his stance on Black Lives Matter and the nationwide riots. Hopefully, by this point in the column, you'll know you can guess the results.

You guessed it, decision-makers, again, listened like cowards. Executives at Disney, T-Mobile, Papa Johns, and SmileDirectClub took the demands and pulled their advertisements from his show. The viewers, who the companies advertise for, did the opposite. Viewers of all ages flocked to him in record-setting numbers.


Many states have majorities of conservative citizens and legislatures who are getting tired of funding public universities who often seem to despise conservative people and values. In an ideal world universities would be responsible enough to avoid ideological possession, but we don't live in an ideal world and legislatures are moving to oversee their state university systems more closely.

[Patrick Garry, University of South Dakota law professor] concludes that "political indoctrination is not a legitimate academic function and hence is undeserving of special constitutional protection. ... [Campuses] have, in a way, become like the southern states under the Voting Rights Act. Those states were put under judicial supervision to make sure that voting rights were respected in those states," Garry concludes. "Perhaps, as the South Dakota Legislature has recognized, universities may now have to be put under a kind of formalized public review process regarding their actions concerning free speech and academic freedom." ...

Sue Peterson, one of the state representatives who sponsored the bill, told RealClearInvestigations the Board of Regents' lack of progress over such a long period of time left the legislature no choice but to act. "They did make some policy changes between 2018 and 2019 that were positive," she said. "We still felt certain changes needed to be in statute because policies can change." South Dakota Rep. Tina Mulally was even blunter. "I don't believe the Board of Regents has been responsive to the taxpayers for decades," she told the Chronicle of Higher Education. "I tried to have conversations with them when I became a representative, and I got the impression that they didn't want to talk to me."

The motivations for reining in campus radicalism aren't just ideological. Legislators say radicalism is making their schools less attractive to prospective students. The University of Missouri, in one of the states currently considering intellectual diversity legislation, was rocked by violent protests in 2015 that caused such a steep enrollment drop that the university closed four dormitories, saw its credit rating downgraded, and created a budget shortfall of $32 million.

Political oversight of public universities is an unfortunate necessity, but I encourage legislatures to use a light touch.


I like Charles Lipson's idea: "Defund the thought police".

Dissent from their approved views is not just considered an error, much less an innocent one. It is considered immoral, illegitimate, and unworthy of a public hearing. Although both left and right have moved steadily toward this abyss, the worst excesses today come from the left, just as they came from the right in the 1950s. Opponents are seen in religious terms, as dangerous apostates who deserve to be burned at the stake, at least symbolically. You never expect the Spanish Inquisition. Yet here it is. That is the powerful iconography behind torching police cars and neighborhood stores.

Anyone who doesn't support free speech is probably just afraid they'll lose the debate.

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