Best columns: The U.S.
The dangers posed by Clinton
The New York Times
Hillary Clinton presents herself as the safer choice in this election, said Ross Douthat. Her main argument—choose “steady competence over boastful recklessness”—is working because Trump sounds so unhinged and erratic. But a Clinton presidency, too, poses a real threat: “the dangers of elite groupthink.” Almost every crisis that has befallen the West since 2000 began with the blindness of government “experts” to their own fallibility. The Iraq War was pushed hard by the Bush administration, but was embraced by center-left pillars such as Tony Blair, Hillary, and more than half of Senate Democrats. Well-meaning interventions also gave us “our splendid little war in Libya” and the resulting chaos. Both parties’ elites helped produce the 2008 financial crisis by combining financial deregulation with a housing policy that encouraged every American to finance a home. Across the Atlantic, experts gave Europe the now unraveling folly of a common currency for 19 separate nations and economies, and a “reckless open-borders policy” that’s led to “polarization and violence.” By temperament, the pragmatic Clinton is averse to anything “obviously radical or dangerous.” But she “shows every sign of being just as ready to march into folly as her peers.”
McMullin’s big surprise in Utah
For a ray of hope in this dispiritingly dark presidential campaign, look to majority-Mormon Utah, said Noah Feldman. A new Emerson College poll found that with 31 percent of the vote, independent Evan McMullin— a Mormon ex–CIA officer with traditional conservative views—leads both Republican Donald Trump (27 percent) and Democrat Hillary Clinton (24 percent) in this reddest of states. Why? Utah’s Mormons, who have supported every Republican nominee since Richard Nixon in 1968, “are genuinely repulsed” by Trump. It’s not just Trump’s crude language and the litany of sexual assault allegations against him. After he proposed banning Muslims from entering the U.S., the Church—itself once a persecuted minority faith—“issued a pointed statement on the importance of religious liberty.” While many evangelicals have gone through embarrassing contortions to ignore proof that Trump “doesn’t share their ethical or religious values,” Mormons have displayed admirable moral consistency. Their refusal to give their votes to the crass New Yorker is a heartening sign “that somewhere in this land there are people who actually act on what they believe. For Trump to lose Utah would be a tiny sliver of moral redemption for the rest of us.”
Ivanka’s tarnished brand
Ivanka Trump is now watching her most valuable asset being destroyed, said Joy-Ann Reid. The former model, 34, has spent years leveraging her surname into a fashion business aimed at aspirational young working women, as well as helping her dad and her brothers market the Trump name through swanky golf courses, hotels, and condos. But his presidential campaign has become a “runaway dumpster fire that’s burning the Trump brand to cinders.” Ivanka’s adoring dad has been transformed from “a reality-show bon vivant to a racist, woman-groping business failure and tax cheat.” His approval rating among women has fallen off a cliff, and there’s a growing boycott of Ivanka’s line of foreign-made clothes, shoes, and handbags—and the retailers who carry them. Despite her polished charm, Ivanka will also find it much harder to persuade developers to pay a premium fee “to slap the Trump name on the side of their buildings.” The Trump brand no longer stands for “opulence and wealth,” but for bigotry, sexism, and rage. Ivanka deserves no pity; she elected to tout her father’s candidacy at the Republican convention and to campaign for him with women and young voters. But what Daddy gave her, he is now taking away.
“The strongest bias in American politics is not a liberal bias or a conservative bias; it is a confirmation bias, or the urge to believe only things that confirm what you already believe to be true. Not only do we tend to seek out and remember information that reaffirms what we already believe, but there is also a ‘backfire effect,’ which sees people doubling down on their beliefs after being presented with evidence that contradicts them. So, where do we go from here? The only way people will start rejecting falsehoods being fed to them is by confronting uncomfortable truths.”
Emma Roller in NYTimes.com
It must be true...
I read it in the tabloids
■A Sacramento, Calif., woman called police for help after she mistakenly locked herself in handcuffs, but was cuffed again when officers realized she was wanted for burglary. Cana Greer, 29, put on a friend’s cuffs as a joke—only to discover that the key was missing. Panicked, she called the cops, who soon found out Greer had an outstanding arrest warrant. Officers say they cut off the old cuffs, slapped new cuffs on, and “thanked the woman for arresting herself.”
■A California couple ended up with a unique set of engagement photos after running into a death metal band at their romantic nighttime shoot in the woods. John Awesome and Nydia Hernandez were being photographed when they spotted members of the metal band Coldvoid wearing corpse makeup and posing for a promo shoot. The couple asked the musicians if they’d appear in their engagement photos. “They were more than happy to accept,” said Awesome. “Super nice people.”
■A San Francisco startup has invented a bicycle lock that sprays thieves with gas so smelly they vomit. Daniel Idzkowski came up with the SkunkLock after he and his friends had multiple bikes stolen. His new U-shaped steel lock is filled with a high-pressure, super-stinky gas that escapes if anyone cuts through it. Idzkowski said he had extensively tested the foul-smelling gas. “It was absolutely vomitinducing in 99 percent of people,” he said.