Sign Voters Are Not So Stupid: Supporting Slipping for Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton

Public Policy Polling (PPP), a group associated with the Democratic Party, has released a new national poll that unintentionally may show the wisdom of the crowd. The big takeaway from talking to 800-plus likely voters between April 26 and April 28th is comforting to those of us interested in more rather than fewer choices in our lives. From Dean Debnam, PPP’s muckety-muck:

“The only place we’re seeing any growth in support is actually for the third party candidates. More voters are turning to them as Clinton and Trump see their favorability numbers go back in the wrong direction.”

To put some meat on those bones:

Hillary Clinton leads with 42% to 37% for Donald Trump, 6% for Gary Johnson, 4% for Jill Stein, and 1% for Evan McMullin, with 10% of voters still undecided. A month ago Clinton actually led 46/41 but both she and Trump’s support has dropped by 4 points, with support for third party candidates increasing from 8% to 11% and the level of undecideds increasing from 5% to 10%.

Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson has been steady at 6 percent over the last couple of PPP polls, though Matt Welch notes that it consistently has his lowest numbers among national surveys.

Given that the poll appears to have oversampled Democrats—42 percent of respondents said they were Democrats, 33 percent said they were Republican, and 26 percent as independent or other—the results may portend even more trouble for Clinton. In 2012, Gallup found that 36 percent of voters indentified as Republican, 35 percent as Democratic, and 29 percent as independent. In none of the past three presidential races did Democrats crack 40 percent of likely voters in terms of party identification.

PPP finds that the slumping numbers for Trump and Clinton are due to increased dislike for each of them. Which sounds about right.

Full results here.

from Hit & Run

Maybe 2016 Will Be the Year Voters Elect an Openly Gay Republican to Congress

Paul BabeuIn 2014 America came so close to electing an openly gay Republican to Congress. Two candidates on opposite sides of the country, Carl DeMaio in California and Richard Tisei in Massachusetts, landed their party’s nominations, but lost in the general election.

It’s a trend worth noting because a success here serves as an indicator of Republicans and conservatives further turning away from an attitude that there’s something bad or wrong about being gay and a push away from government policies that are influenced by sexual orientation. Also, Tisei and DeMaio both had some libertarian-friendly positions in their platforms (DeMaio had previously worked with the Reason Foundation as an independent contractor on pension reform).

As of Tuesday night’s Arizona primary, we now have Paul Babeu, the Republican sheriff of Pinal County in Arizona. He won last night’s primary and will be facing Tom O’Halleran, a Democrat and a former Chicago police officer, to replace Ann Kirkpatrick as the representative for Arizona’s 1st District. Kirkpatrick, a Democrat, is challenging Sen. John McCain for his seat in November.

If elected, Babeu would not be the first gay Republican to serve in Congress. Steve Gunderson of Wisconsin and Jim Kolbe, also of Arizona, both came out of the closet while serving. Babeu would be the first to actually be elected as an openly gay man. Kolbe, incidentally, has endorsed Babeu.

As a candidate, Babeu is a bit of a mixed bag for libertarians. He is a hardcore border security and control advocate and is very vocal about saying America has “complete lawlessness” on immigration enforcement. He holds President Barack Obama responsible for any crimes committed by illegal immigrants within the United States.

He’s also a hardcore drug warrior and promotes on his campaign site the fact that his sheriff’s office was responsible for the largest drug bust in Arizona history. These two positions appear intertwined. In May he warned hikers and campers to be wary of “Mexican drug assassins” operating his county. When Vice News investigated, they couldn’t find much evidence that there was a serious problem.

On the other hand, much of his economic platforms are pro-innovation and pro-freedom. He’s against the Enivornmental Protection Agency’s and the Obama administration’s meddling in coal power operations, but also supports the development of renewable energy. He’s very critical of EPA regulatory overreach, which is a hot-button issue in a state like Arizona with a lot of federal land. He’s pro-gun rights, and anti-Common Core.

Babeu’s public coming out story is also tied to his strong immigration positions due to an odd scandal from 2012, the first time he attempted to run for Congress. He came out of the closet publicly following accusations from an ex-lover who also happened to be an illegal immigrant from Mexico, claiming he was threatened with deportation after the relationship turned sour. An investigation by Arizona’s Attorney General’s office cleared Babeu of any wrongdoing, but he nevertheless dropped out of the race for Congress. This will be his second attempt, and it appears as though he’s going to be heavily focused on getting out votes on the basis of immigration, energy, and local control issues.

from Hit & Run

Trust in Authority Is Declining—Thank Goodness

Faith in authority has been declining for decades, and not just in the United States. The political scientist Ronald Inglehart, drawing on survey data from dozens of countries, has identified a “downward trend in trust in government” across the industrialized world. Nor is the state the only institution losing support: Inglehart found a broad, cross-cultural movement toward challenging “all kinds of authority, whether religious or secular” and toward exalting “individual autonomy in the pursuit of individual subjective well-being.” This, he suggested, was a frequent, foreseeable development when a society modernizes. Having eroded traditional authority, modernity goes on to erode the dominant institutions of modernity itself.

This is not a linear, predictable process, and it inevitably has bizarre side effects. When large numbers of people are freed from old certainties, dozens if not hundreds of cults and other substitute certainties will emerge (and, in most cases, quickly dissolve). As G.K. Chesterton is supposed to have said (but didn’t), “The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything.” The careful skeptic will question not just authority but all the alternatives that hope to feed on that authority’s carrion.

This is not in itself a good argument against the trend that Inglehart chronicled. The decay of authority has produced enormous social gains, even if it has also opened a space for ideas that are silly at best and lethal at worst. For example: While the revolt against medical authority has made more room for quack remedies and anti-vaccine cranks, it has also given us benefits ranging from the women’s health movement to new standards of informed consent. We’d be better off if the revolt went even further, moving us toward a more consumer-driven, human-scale model of care—to borrow Inglehart’s words, toward “individual autonomy in the pursuit of individual subjective well-being.”

With all this in mind, I direct you to Damon Linker’s latest column in The Week, headlined “The rise of the American conspiracy theory.” Despite the title, the article isn’t ultimately about conspiracy theories. (Those have thrived for centuries, and there is no strong evidence that they’re on “the rise” relative to earlier eras.) He’s writing about the collapse of faith in institutions. Here’s an excerpt:

We know that greenhouse gases are producing destabilizing changes in the Earth’s climate. And that human beings evolved from other species over millions of years. And that Barack Obama is a Christian. And that Hillary Clinton had nothing to do with the death of Vince Foster.

Large numbers of Americans deny those and many other assertions. Why? Because the trustworthiness of the authorities that make the claims has been under direct and continuous attack for the past several decades—and because the internet has given a voice to every kook who makes a contrary assertion. What we’re left with is a chaos of competing claims, none of which has the authority to dispel the others as untrue.

That sounds like a recipe for relativism—and it is, but only (metaphorically speaking) for a moment, as a preparatory stage toward a new form of absolutism. Confronted by the destabilizing swirl of contradictory assertions, many people end up latching onto whichever source of information confirms the beliefs they held before opening their web browser. Instead of relativistic skepticism they’re left with some of the most impenetrable dogmas ever affirmed.

What was once confined to UFO and Big Foot obsessives has now metastasized into the political mainstream and captured one of the nation’s two major parties—with the encouragement of some of its most prominent members. Who’s to say that Hillary Clinton isn’t suffering from a debilitating illness? Just “go online” and you’ll find all the evidence you need. What, you say she’s denying it? Of course she is: That’s exactly what we’d expect her to say!

Linker acknowledges that those “authorities that make the claims” also have a history of getting things wrong, though he doesn’t dwell on the role that this may have played in reducing the public’s trust. (Expert claims about the Gulf of Tonkin and Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs have surely led to more deaths than any cranky notions about creationism or Obama’s religion.) But let’s set that aside and look at what else is going on in this passage. While Linker speaks confidently here about what “many people” do, he doesn’t offer any data on how many people do it. Yet surely that’s important if you’re trying to identify a trend. He’s describing a form of confirmation bias, and confirmation bias is older than civilization. The internet offers new ways to fuel it, but it also offers new ways to undermine it; if it’s easy now to build a bubble for yourself, it’s also easier than ever before to consume news from different sources.

It is particularly odd for Linker to point to the Trump campaign here. (That’s what he means when he says an “impenetrable dogma” has “captured one of the nation’s two major parties.”) Linker has been a journalist for a long time, so surely he knows that in every election each candidate’s hardcore supporters can find ways to believe or disbelieve whatever rumors they want. If it isn’t a Hillary Clinton health cover-up, it’s a Michael Dukakis health cover-up; if it’s not Michelle Obama denouncing “whitey,” it’s Kitty Dukakis burning the American flag. So it’s hardly unusual that this year we’re seeing such stories circulate again. What’s unusual is the number of people who are rejecting their old partisan loyalties and the sense of certainty that those loyalties often inspire. Both the rise of Trump and the reaction against Trump suggest we’re in a time when dogmas are not hardening so much as they’re colliding, spinning in new directions, and breaking down. Hence all the talk of a party realignment; hence also the surprisingly high number of people thinking of voting for a third party. Basically, we’re watching yet another revolt against entrenched institutions—in this case, the Republican Party and the old conservative movement. As always, the change sparks new interest in strange belief-systems, but that doesn’t mean that interest will be the most important effect in the long term.

Granted: This time one of those strange alternatives—the Trump movement—might capture the White House. Probably won’t, but might. If it does, one thing will be certain: President Trump will have to contend with the same distrust in authority that helped him rise to power.

from Hit & Run

Saudi Arabia Fires 10,000 Substitute Imams To Save Money, As Banking Crisis Looms

In the latest confirmation of Saudi Arabia’s rapidly deteriorating financial situation, having recently sacked 16,000 foreign workers, earlier today the Ministry of Islamic Affairs announced it has terminated the services of 10,000 substitute imams to save 360 million Saudi Riyals, or less than $100 million, the Saudi Gazette reported. The ministry gave the substitute imams the option to either transfer to the position of a full-time imam leading five prayers a day at a mosque or to leave their job all together.

“Many criticized the role of substitute imams claiming they do not do anything useful. Substitute imams receive a salary of SR3,000 a month. The ministry is changing the job title and description of substitute imams to cooperative preacher. Cooperative preachers are responsible for giving sermons when needed,” said the source. The Gazette’s source also said cooperative preachers must have a bachelor’s degree in Islamic Studies.

“The cooperative preacher will receive monetary compensation and reward for his services. He will follow the rules and regulations of a full-time and official preacher. Substitute imams, imams and preachers have the option to also become full-time imams and part-time preachers,” said the source, adding that those who do not wish to be imams will be cooperative preachers assigned to a mosque.

Qassim Ministry of Islamic Affairs Public Relations Director Badr Al-Batty said the ministry has already terminated the service of Friday sermons in Qassim.

“Many have complained about the termination of the service of substitute imams claiming there will be a shortage of imams. People raised the question of what will happen when full-time imams are on their annual leave,” said Al-Batty. He also said people pointed out that the number of mosques is growing and the need for more imams is rising.

“The ministry’s changes in the title and job of its employees is applied to all areas of the Kingdom. The ministry has a strict criteria to assign imams to different mosques. The imams must be qualified for their positions and must also be likable by the worshipers of the mosques,” said Al-Batty.

* * *

However, the most important, and most troubling, indicator of the precarious Saudi financial situation, and one which continues to be largely ignored by the media, remains the interbank rates charged by banks in Saudi Arabia. As shown in the chart below, 3M interbank lending rates have soared in the past year, and are now at levels not seen since the financial crisis. As noted previously, should this indicator of increasingly tighter financial conditions continue to rise relentlessly, it suggests that a banking crisis – absent some external bailout – appears increasingly inevitable, and if anything may be the best indicator whether and when Saudi Arabia will finally fold, and do something unexpected vis-a-vis oil supply to push the price of crude sharply higher.

via Tyler Durden

Is Homeland Security Preparing To Take Control Of The US Election?

What do you do when you're the dictatorial leader of an oppressive government regime looking to maintain power while simultaneously preserving the facade of free and open elections?  Well, if you're the Obama administration then you look for avenues to nationalize state-run election infrastructure.

But you can't just seize control of infrastructure that has been successfully run at the state level for a couple hundred years…that kind of stuff only happens in Venezuela and we're better than that.  No, you need a catalyst for this kind of blatant power grab.  "Coincidentally", a catalyst just like the FBI's warning a couple of days ago about "foreign hackers [read Putin] penetrating state election systems."  Then, once you've defined the super villain, all you need is a couple of political cronies to go on a fear mongering tour to whip the electorate into a frenzy.  And wouldn't you know it…Harry Reid recently did just that by sending a letter to the FBI voicing his "concerns" that the "Russian government" may be looking to tamper with the upcoming presidential election.  Per the New York Times, Harry Reid's letter to the FBI included the following:

"I have recently become concerned that the threat of the Russian government tampering in our presidential election is more extensive than widely known and may include the intent to falsify official election results.

The combination of all these things might be just enough to scare the American electorate into forfeiting another chunk of their individual sovereignty to the elite political class in Washington DC while plunging us one step closer to the inevitable end game of "fundamentally transforming" our constitutional democracy into a police state.

Per the Washington Examiner, this sort of scenario is precisely what Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson, discussed at an event hosted by The Christian Science Monitor earlier this month.  

"We should carefully consider whether our election system, our election process, is critical infrastructure like the financial sector, like the power grid."


"There's a vital national interest in our election process, so I do think we need to consider whether it should be considered by my department and others critical infrastructure."


"There's no one federal election system. There are some 9,000 jurisdictions involved in the election process."

Jeh Johnson's comments related to election infrastructure can be viewed below.  His full comments can be viewed here.


As an added little benefit, seizing control of state election infrastructure makes it so much easier to move toward the ultimate end game of standardized federal voting laws.  Fighting intense legal battles in multiple states on voter ID laws and the rights of convicted felons to vote is just too tedious and the costs of expensive lawyers keeps adding up for Soros (see "Soros Emerges As Mastermind Behind Plan To "Enlarge Electorate By At Least 10 Million Voters").

So how is "critical infrastructure" defined and exactly how is it managed?  Well the Department of Homeland Security has a whole website dedicated to that topic. 

The nation's critical infrastructure provides the essential services that underpin American society and serve as the backbone of our nation's economy, security, and health. We know it as the power we use in our homes, the water we drink, the transportation that moves us, the stores we shop in, and the communication systems we rely on to stay in touch with friends and family.


Overall, there are 16 critical infrastructure sectors that compose the assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof. The National Protection and Programs Directorate's Office of Infrastructure Protection (IP) leads the coordinated national effort to manage risks to the nation's critical infrastructure and enhance the security and resilience of America's physical and cyber infrastructure. Read more about how IP leads this national effort.

And why shouldn't we trust political appointees to run federal elections?  They've proven themselves time and again to be impartial, disinterested parties, right?  Well there is that one time when the IRS targeted Tea Party groups but that was just one time.  We're sure that would never happen again…

via Tyler Durden

“Dear Fed, Please STFU!”

Submitted by Michael Gayed via,

Dear Fed,

We have come to a point in time where you are causing more harm than good.  For decades, your role as not only the central bank to the US, but to the entire financial world helped ensure confidence in a fiat economy.  Central control of a nation’s monetary system is undoubtedly an incredibly important role.  You know this.  After all, you were created in 1913 in response to systemic banking crises and failures in the years prior.  You were created to prevent crises from happening.

Damage control was always key to your central mission from the very start, achieved through the “dual mandate” of maximizing employment and stabilizing prices.  However, in time you became much more than the organization which was tasked with controlling monetary policy.  Rather than respond to shocks, you actually became the reason for shocks by believing you had so much power that you could control boom and bust cycles.  More importantly, you believed you could predict the future by creating it.

It doesn’t take much analysis to prove that you have no control over the future. While your former Chairman, Bernanke, claimed to have the “courage to act,” somehow all of the tomes of economic research and analysis, and all of that belief that you had control caused you to completely miss the housing bubble and conditions that led up to one of the greatest economic crises since your very founding.  While you can deny this all you want, video interviews by Ben Bernanke clearly prove otherwise (click here to jog your memory).  Words matter.

The very fact that you, as an institution, come across so definitive in your omnipotence is wildly damaging to long term wealth creation and the stability you are supposed to create.  How many of the herd blindly believed Bernanke’s words?  Kept taking risk?  Kept believing that if things went awry that the Fed would be able to swoop in and save the day?  How much wealth was lost not because of the crisis, but because of the complacency your words created by human beings who crave the illusion of certainty and simply want to believe?  The mantra of “don’t fight the Fed” has lost more money for investors than realized despite the selective application of that saying to bull markets.

It does not matter than the S&P 500 has come right back since the Tech wreck and housing bubble.  A significant portion of the investment public has not seen their wealth recover because of classic “buy high, sell low” actions.  Buy and hold is a fantasy when it comes to extraordinary volatility and when fear is at its maximum.  Yes, you deserve credit for “saving the system” but you did not save wealth.  On the contrary, since the crisis the wealth gap has only widened as zero interest rate policy and Quantitative Easing benefited those who probably needed it the least.

Now of course, I am not saying you have ill intentions. But last week is a classic example of the ridiculousness of your communications.  It seems like every time one of your representatives comes out with a statement that sounds dovish, another comes out barely 30 minutes after sounding hawkish.  You create such absurd confusion and do so with such a strong tone that you harm long term investment formation.  You harm long-term confidence because the more you forecast, the more obvious it is that you just can’t get the future right (no one can!).  Stocks manically rise one minute, then manically fall the next.  You create the noise that causes investors to not trust markets.

No different than Bernanke over-communicating that there were no signs of a housing crisis, you continue to over-communicate now about when you will raise rates.  You have created so much conversation around your own conversations that it results in not only an enormous waste of time, but also invalidates nearly all security analysis.  Who cares about earnings, revenue, or company growth when the only thing that matters is what you say next.

You are once again creating complacency with your words.  You are creating one of the greatest misallocations of capital in history as performance chasing investors plow into passive market-cap weighted indices because of your policies which have destroyed the normal functioning of markets through volatility suppression.  The more you talk, the more you create one class of investors who take extra risk, and another which sees the market’s response to your words and then themselves decide to not even participate.  This is damaging to our society.  This is damaging to our culture.  This is damaging to our psyche.

Rather than constantly seeking the attention of the media, and continuously commenting on a future that you can not control, please just stop.  Your greatest weapon always has been the element of surprise.  The more transparency you attempt to have, the more confusion and complacency you will create.  You are once again laying the groundwork for a crisis – one which we will only realize after it is underway.  Stop with the constant dot plots about the unknown.  Stop providing a false anchor for investors who hang on every word you say.

Please, just shut up.

via Tyler Durden

Trump & Nieto Have “Open, Constructive Conversation” – Live Press Conference

Two of the most disliked people in Mexico are speaking…


Live Feed:

via Tyler Durden

Record Number of Americans Don’t Like Hillary Clinton, U.S. Opens Flight Routes to Havana, UFO in Yellowstone: P.M. Links

  • A record number of Americans dislike Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump arrives in Mexico. Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson appears to be pulling more voters inclined to support Clinton than Trump.
  • The U.S. granted direct routes to Havana for eight airlines.
  • The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by North Carolina of a ruling against its new voting law.
  • Protesters in Gabon who allege the presidential election was stolen burned the parliament building.
  • Dilma Rousseff was removed as president of Brazil.
  • Tim Tebow tries out for major league baseball.
  • An unidentified flying object was spotted over the Yellowstone supervolcano.

from Hit & Run

Critics of U. Chicago Say Trigger Warnings Aren’t Mandatory. Here’s Proof They’re Wrong.

ChicagoThe University of Chicago’s statement to incoming students decrying trigger warnings, safe spaces, and speaker dis-invitations generated much praise from supporters of free expression on campus—but also significant criticism from those who say trigger warnings just aren’t that big of a deal.

Central to the pro-trigger warning argument is an assertion—made by The New Republic‘s Jeet Heer and CUNY professor Angus Johnson—that their use isn’t mandatory: administrators don’t force academics to warn their students about potentially triggering course content. It’s up to the educators themselves to decide what level of protection works for their classrooms and their students.

“There’s no college in the country where profs are required to give trigger warnings,” observed Johnson.

But is that true? The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s Samantha Harris has discovered a policy at several colleges—Drexel University, most notably—that appears to obligate teachers to use trigger warnings.

Drexel’s sexual misconduct policy defines gender-based harassment in incredibly broad terms: it includes “unwanted or inappropriate” remarks, “humor and jokes about sex,” “suggestive comments,” and “pictures” that degrade a person or gender group. From a free expression standpoint, this is worrisome enough on its own. But the policy also includes this note: “It is expected that instructors will offer appropriate warning and accommodation regarding the introduction of explicit and triggering materials used.”

It is expected. Not requested, or preferred. Expected. On its face, this policy certainly seems to require professors to warn students about forthcoming “triggering” content in class. The policy does not make clear what kind of potentially traumatic material it has in mind, although its expansive definition of sexual harassment suggests to me that just about anything having to do with sex might qualify.

It’s not just Drexel.

“Identical language can be found in sexual misconduct policies at Bay Path University, Colby-Sawyer College, North Iowa Area Community College, and St. Vincent’s College,” wrote Harris. “And these are just the schools that phrase their requirement in the same terms; there may be others out there, as well.”

On Twitter, Johnson told me that Harris’s finding was interesting. “I’m not sure I’d call it a mandate, but interesting,” he wrote.

In any case, does this revelation not strengthen the case for Chicago’s letter? Chicago wants its incoming students to know that they should not expect professors to offer protection from touchy subjects. As it turns out, there are other educational institutions that obligate academics to tread very carefully when addressing a wide variety of sex-related subjects—that prioritize the emotional comfort of students.

Chicago’s letter, then, was its way of saying we’re not one of them.

from Hit & Run

Stocks Suffer Worst Monthly Loss Since January, Bonds Worst In 14 Months

The streak is over…


Small Caps (Russell 2000) was the best performing major US equity market on the month as The Dow and S&P ended red – breaking a 6-month winning streak


VIX was crushed to try and get back to 2173.6….BUT FAILED


Another v-shaped recovery ramp today to VWAP…


On the day stocks ended red – despite the best efforts to get Nasdaq green…


Ramped S&P/Dow into green for the week… (Nasdaq still red)


Financials were the best performers in August (best month since March) despite a collapse in the yield curve… (note Financials jumped on payrolls and on Jackson Hole)


While the S&P had its worst month since January, the broad Bloomberg US Treasury Index suffered its biggest monthly total return loss since June 2015…


Treasury yields were higher across the entire complex (but the long-end outperformed)…


Notably the Treasury curve has now fallen for 4 straight months…to Dec 2007 lows


Rates trod water for the second day (despite the stock slump)…


The USD Index rose on the month (best month since May)… up 3 of the last 4 months… the USD rallied into payrolls, then sold off to The Fed, then rallied through Jackson Hole…


The USD Index fell very modestly today after rising Monday and Tuesday, despite the ongoing collapse in the yen…


Crude was the only major commodity to stay green on the month with silver and copper (2nd worst month in 2016) getting clubbed, and gold down…


But on the day Crude was clubbed even further (back to a $44 handle…)


Crude has retraced around half of its short-squeeze ramp gains…


Finally, one thing that is notable is that the last month has seen correlation across asset classes remains high… but this time it's rolling over – as Global Central Bank balance sheets actually fall modestly in USD terms…


Charts: Bloomberg

Bonus Chart: Meanwhile this is probably nothing – Saudi interbank rates up for the 18th day in a row…

via Tyler Durden