The Ninth Circuit ruled that vote-swapping is legal. Let’s use it to stop Trump.

Updates: Commenter JT informs me that there’s already a vote-swapping site available:  (I particularly like their motto: “Everybody wins.  Except Trump.”)  I still think there’s a need for more sites, particularly ones that would interface with Facebook, but this is a great beginning.  I’ve signed up for it myself.

Also, Toby Ord, a philosopher I know at Oxford, points me to a neat academic paper he wrote that analyzes vote-swapping as an example of “moral trade,” and that mentions the Porter v. Bowen decision holding vote-swapping to be legal in the US.

Also, if we find two Gary Johnson supporters in swing states willing to trade, I’ve been contacted by a fellow Austinite who’d be happy to accept the second trade.

As regular readers might know, my first appearance in the public eye (for a loose definition of “public eye”) had nothing to do with D-Wave, Gödel’s Theorem, the computational complexity of quantum gravity, Australian printer ads, or—god forbid—social justice shaming campaigns.  Instead it centered on NaderTrading: the valiant but doomed effort, in the weeks leading up to the 2000 US Presidential election, to stop George W. Bush’s rise to power by encouraging Ralph Nader supporters in swing states (such as Florida) to vote for Al Gore, while pairing themselves off over the Internet with Gore supporters in safe states (such as Texas or California) who would vote for Nader on their behalf.  That way, Nader’s vote share (and his chance of reaching 5% of the popular vote, which would’ve qualified him for federal funds in 2004) wouldn’t be jeopardized, but neither would Gore’s chance of winning the election.

Here’s what I thought at the time:

  1. The election would be razor-close (though I never could’ve guessed how close).
  2. Bush was a malignant doofus who would be a disaster for the US and the world (though I certainly didn’t know how—recall that, at the time, Bush was running as an isolationist).
  3. Many Nader supporters, including the ones who I met at Berkeley, prioritized personal virtue so completely over real-world consequences that they might actually throw the election to Bush.

NaderTrading, as proposed by law professor Jamin Raskin and others, seemed like one of the clearest ways for nerds who knew these points, but who lacked political skills, to throw themselves onto the gears of history and do something good for the world.

So, as a 19-year-old grad student, I created a website called “In Defense of NaderTrading” (archived version), which didn’t arrange vote swaps themselves—other sites did that—but which explored some of the game theory behind the concept and answered some common objections to it.  (See also here.)  Within days of creating the site, I’d somehow become an “expert” on the topic, and was fielding hundreds of emails as well as requests for print, radio, and TV interviews.

Alas, the one question everyone wanted to ask me was the one that I, as a CS nerd, was the least qualified to answer: is NaderTrading legal? isn’t it kind of like … buying and selling votes?

I could only reply that, to my mind, NaderTrading obviously ought to be legal, because:

  1. Members of Congress and state legislatures trade votes all the time.
  2. A private agreement between two friends to each vote for the other’s preferred candidate seems self-evidently legal, so why should it be any different if a website is involved?
  3. The whole point of NaderTrading is to exercise your voting power more fully—pretty much the opposite of bartering it away for private gain.
  4. While the election laws vary by state, the ones I read very specifically banned trading votes for tangible goods—they never even mentioned trading votes for other votes, even though they easily could’ve done so had legislators intended to ban that.

But—and here was the fatal problem—I could only address principles and arguments, rather than politics and power.  I couldn’t honestly assure the people who wanted to vote-swap, or to set up vote-swapping sites, that they wouldn’t be prosecuted for it.

As it happened, the main vote-swapping site,, was shut down by California’s Republican attorney general, Bill Jones, only four days after it opened.  A second vote-swapping site,, was never directly threatened but also ceased operations because of what happened to voteswap2000.  Many legal scholars felt confident that these shutdowns wouldn’t hold up in court, but with just a few weeks until the election, there was no time to fight it.

Before it was shut down, voteswap2000 had brokered 5,041 vote-swaps, including hundreds in Florida.  Had that and similar sites been allowed to continue operating, it’s entirely plausible that they would’ve changed the outcome of the election.  No Iraq war, no 2008 financial meltdown: we would’ve been living in a different world.  Note that, of the 100,000 Floridians who ultimately voted for Nader, we would’ve needed to convince fewer than 1% of them.

Today, we face something I didn’t expect to face in my lifetime: namely, a serious prospect of a takeover of the United States by a nativist demagogue with open contempt for democratic norms and legendarily poor impulse control. Meanwhile, there are two third-party candidates—Gary Johnson and Jill Stein—who together command 10% of the vote.  A couple months ago, I’d expressed hopes that Johnson might help Hillary, by splitting the Republican vote. But it now looks clear that, on balance, not only Stein but also Johnson are helping Trump, by splitting up that part of the American vote that’s not driven by racial resentment.

So recently a friend—the philanthropist and rationalist Holden Karnofsky—posed a question to me: should we revive the vote-swapping idea from 2000? And presumably this time around, enhance the idea with 21st-century bells and whistles like mobile apps and Facebook, to make it all the easier for Johnson/Stein supporters in swing states and Hillary supporters in safe states to find each other and trade votes?

Just like so many well-meaning people back in 2000, Holden was worried about one thing: is vote-swapping against the law? If someone created a mobile vote-swapping app, could that person be thrown in jail?

At first, I had no idea: I assumed that vote-swapping simply remained in the legal Twilight Zone where it was last spotted in 2000.  But then I did something radical: I looked it up.  And when I did, I discovered a decade-old piece of news that changes everything.

On August 6, 2007, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals finally ruled on a case, Porter v. Bowen, stemming from the California attorney general’s shutdown of  Their ruling, which is worth reading in full, was unequivocal.

Vote-swapping, it said, is protected by the First Amendment, which state election laws can’t supersede.  It is fundamentally different from buying or selling votes.

Yes, the decision also granted the California attorney general immunity from prosecution, on the ground that vote-swapping’s legality hadn’t yet been established in 2000—indeed it wouldn’t be, until the Ninth Circuit’s decision itself!  Nevertheless, the ruling made clear that the appellants (the creators of voteswap2000 and some others) were granted the relief they sought: namely, an assurance that vote-swapping websites would be protected from state interference in the future.

Admittedly, if vote-swapping takes off again, it’s possible that the question will be re-litigated and will end up in the Supreme Court, where the Ninth Circuit’s ruling could be reversed.  For now, though, let the message be shouted from the rooftops: a court has ruled. You cannot be punished for cooperating with your fellow citizens to vote strategically, or for helping others do the same.

For those of you who oppose Donald Trump and who are good at web and app development: with just two months until the election, I think the time to set up some serious vote-swapping infrastructure is right now.  Let your name be etched in history, alongside those who stood up to all the vicious demagogues of the past.  And let that happen without your even needing to get up from your computer chair.

I’m not, I confess, a huge fan of either Gary Johnson or Jill Stein (especially not Stein).  Nevertheless, here’s my promise: on November 8, I will cast my vote in the State of Texas for Gary Johnson, if I can find at least one Johnson supporter who lives in a swing state, who I feel I can trust, and who agrees to vote for Hillary Clinton on my behalf.

If you think you’ve got what it takes to be my vote-mate, send me an email, tell me about yourself, and let’s talk!  I’m not averse to some electoral polyamory—i.e., lots of Johnson supporters in swing states casting their votes for Clinton, in exchange for the world’s most famous quantum complexity blogger voting for Johnson—but I’m willing to settle for a monogamous relationship if need be.

And as for Stein? I’d probably rather subsist on tofu than vote for her, because of her support for seemingly every pseudoscience she comes across, and especially because of her endorsement of the vile campaign to boycott Israel.  Even so: if Stein supporters in swing states whose sincerity I trusted offered to trade votes with me, and Johnson supporters didn’t, I would bury my scruples and vote for Stein.  Right now, the need to stop the madman takes precedence over everything else.

One last thing to get out of the way.  When they learn of my history with NaderTrading, people keep pointing me a website called, and exclaiming “look! isn’t this exactly that vote-trading thing you were talking about?”

On examination, Balanced Rebellion turns out to be the following proposal:

  1. A Trump supporter in a swing state pairs off with a Hillary supporter in a swing state.
  2. Both of them vote for Gary Johnson, thereby helping Johnson without giving an advantage to either Hillary or Trump.

So, exercise for the reader: see if you can spot the difference between this idea and the kind of vote-swapping I’m talking about.  (Here’s a hint: my version helps prevent a racist lunatic from taking command of the most powerful military on earth, rather than being neutral about that outcome.)

Not surprisingly, the “balanced rebellion” is advocated by Johnson fans.

191 Responses to “The Ninth Circuit ruled that vote-swapping is legal. Let’s use it to stop Trump.”

  1. a Says:

    Instead of 2008 crisis there might have been a 2016 one. Remember the crisis was ‘accelerated by the war’ but the cause was the fall of the Soviet Union (refer to Greenspan’s report).

  2. Dan Richardson Says:

    Look, Scott, I like your blog and identifies with a lot of your ideas (though not all). But I still think Trump is better, in the long run, than Hillary, or for that matter than anyone from the left/democratic party. The left ideology left ruins (and bodies) in all of West Europe (France, Germany, Belgium etc.), and of course the legacy of Obama will be remembered as a legacy of total destruction to the middle east. Trump is a demagogue and seems less responsible than we would all wish for, but his policies, which will not lean on far left delusional ideals, will probably be better in many aspects than continuing the legacy of Obama and the left.

  3. a Says:

    Also this sounds like it will suffer from similar problems as oil cartels. This will not work.

  4. Peter Woit Says:

    Hi Scott,

    Anyone living in a swing state who thinks it’s a sensible idea to vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson to show their self-righteous disapproval of Hillary Clinton has a serious problem with the reality principle. Encouraging this kind of craziness in any way seems to me a bad idea. Better to devote energy to figuring out how to help such people and others out of their pathological attachment to moral posturing, which would have wide benefits.

  5. oddchecker Says:

    I think an important issue with vote-swapping is trust. To solve this, maybe the software could offer people close on Facebook. And of course, just for the fun of it, you could also swipe them left or right, and go on a date if Hillary wins.

    ps. By now Trump’s chances have almost reached 30% according to betting sites.

  6. blk Says:

    Protocol question: How can each of you mutually verify, that the other party has indeed voted as promised? How can you remove the need to trust a stranger with – by construction -strongly opposing views? Is there an incentive to the other party such that his most rational choice would indeed be to vote along your views as promised?

  7. jd Says:

    I live in MA and my vote is surplus to requirements. I’ll take a swap for a Johnson/Stein or even Trump

  8. Scott Says:

    Peter Woit #4: There’s like a third of me that agrees with you. But then there’s two-thirds that says: the entire essence of politics is finding mutually beneficial coalitions that you can form even with people whose worldviews make zero sense to you. Yes, I’d love for Johnson and Stein voters in swing states to come around to your and my way of thinking, as I’d love for my daughter Lily to stay with me on the sidewalk because it’s a smart thing to do. But better that she stay with me because she’s been promised an ice cream sandwich if she behaves than that she run into the street.

    Also, and crucially: of all the Johnson/Stein voters in swing states, only a minuscule fraction have to be on board with vote swapping for it to translate into thousands of new Hillary votes. Remember that in 2000, just getting 1-2% of Floridian Nader voters on board—i.e., maybe a factor of 2 or 3 more than we in fact got—would’ve been enough to change the outcome.

  9. John Sidles Says:

    The Onion: foresighted then … (2001)

    The Onion: foresighted now … (2016)

    The Onion: foresighted forever (?) … (2017)

  10. Moshe Says:

    Maybe we can extend that beyond vote swapping: I’m in Canada so cannot vote for the more exotic candidates, but I promise that in exchange for a vote for the sane candidate I will write a paper arguing that spacetime is discrete at the Planck scale, or engage in a passionate argument (making up the rules as needed) on whether we live in a simulation, or even whether reality is really real (that last one will really have to be for a close swing state).

  11. Scott Says:

    Moshe #10: See, but that gets into the exchange of votes for material goods and services, which is definitely illegal (at the least, illegal for your counterparty in the US).

    [Though is the writing of a publicly available paper about spacetime discreteness really a “material good or service”? I’m guessing the courts would say yes.]

  12. Scott Says:

    oddchecker #5: I love the idea (which someone else, I forget who, also suggested to me) of piggybacking on Facebook to find people trusted friends for them to swap votes with!

    Of course, there would be a thin market problem: in 2000, vote-swapping sites typically had a few hundred or a few thousand registrants, in which case it’s pretty unlikely that any of them would also happen to be your Facebook friend. So the way you’d want to do it is to have the app send out messages to your Facebook friends who live in the appropriate states, inviting them to vote-swap with you.

  13. Martin Says:

    I love this idea. Unfortunately, all the talk of swing-state voting strategies has already convinced me that voting for Johnson here in Massachusetts isn’t throwing my vote away. So I really did throw my vote away, since now I have nothing to trade!

  14. Moshe Says:

    No loophole if the goods or services are of negative value? that’s a shame.

    On the vote swapping, good luck. I’m afraid Peter is right though: it is one thing to look at Bush at 2000 and think it is an acceptable loss (he was then “moderate” and the word compassionate was thrown around a lot), it’s another to look at Trump now and not be really afraid.

  15. Martin Says:

    Actually wait, I can switch my vote to Stein!

  16. Scott Says:

    Moshe #14:

      it’s another to look at Trump now and not be really afraid.

    Indeed, that’s the whole point of vote-swapping! If you’re really, actually afraid that your daughter is going to run into traffic, you’ll do anything that works to make not running into traffic align with what she perceives to be her incentives, rather than lecture her about her wrong incentives as she bolts onto the interstate. 🙂

  17. Scott Says:

    blk #6:

      How can each of you mutually verify, that the other party has indeed voted as promised?

    You can’t, by the very nature of secret ballots. So with vote-swapping, there’s a strong need to get to know your vote partner well enough to trust them, perhaps as well as you’d trust someone in your wide circle of friends. Better yet is to find someone to swap with who’s already your friend or family member.

    However—and this is important—for realistic choices of utility function, even if you suspect there’s (say) a 50% chance that the other person is going to cheat, vote-swapping can still be to your advantage. For more about this see my original site.

  18. Shecky R Says:

    Call me skeptical (…or paranoid) but I’d have trouble trusting anyone at long distance to do what they say they will do when it comes to politics, so vote-swapping makes me nervous.
    Put that energy instead into getting the vote out (the vote of rational people, that is 😉

  19. Moshe Says:

    Yes, you have my encouragement and support, and just because I am in Canada does not make me less afraid. I am just wondering about the psychology of voting for the exotica when something like that is at issue (bush was just garden variety bad, not the end of western civilization bad…).

  20. Mitchell Porter Says:

    Is it really the end of western civilization, if the United States controls its borders, does bilateral trade deals, and ends NATO expansion?

  21. Raoul Ohio Says:

    Dan Richardson, you can’t be serious.

    I share your feelings for the Left, but what does that have to do with Obama or Clinton? Obama is a charismatic centrist, a bit dingy at times. Hillary is an uncharismatic centrist. Bush was a mid range right winger. Trump is not really a right winger, but an egotistical buffoon who has managed to scrounge up a few million bucks by suspect means. No one has any idea what he would do if he were elected, although turning it into as much money as a Latin American president steals us a likely priority. And hand over the world to his pal Putin.

  22. Raoul Ohio Says:

    Mitchell Porter #20: Heck YES!

    The current state of modern civilization is NOT an attractor in the dynamics of geopolitics. It is an unstable quasi equilibrium maintained by some major participants, largely the former British Empire, with the US and UK up front. The UK is kind of self destructing right now due to Trump-types taking over. Germany in the 1930’s is obviously not a good analogy, but it is kind of analogy.

  23. Job Says:

    Does vote-swapping actually work to favor one of the candidates? Wouldn’t the other side also mobilize in the same way?

    The idea of providing a vote-swapping platform exclusively in favor of one of the candidates is questionable, in my opinion. Otherwise i think it’s a legitimate way to make your vote count.

    Plus, imagine the ad revenue you’d get by opening this service to all candidates.

  24. C Says:

    [sarcasm on]
    Gary Johnson would be a fine choice:
    [sarcasm off]

  25. wolfgang Says:

    @blk #6

    >> How can each of you mutually verify, that the other party has indeed voted as promised?

    This is why smart phones with cameras were invented.
    Of course this breaks the secrecy of ballots – but the whole vote-swapping does this already …

  26. JollyJoker Says:

    How do you verify that the other party is eligible to vote in the state he/she claims and trades only once? Buying the use of n million fake Facebook accounts is probably cheap. A hostile party could easily make fake trades outnumber real ones significantly. Attempting to find friend or friend-of-friend links could help with this.

    Peter Woit #4: People who ignore the consequences of their actions are crazy, therefore we should ignore the consequences of our actions?

  27. James Cross Says:

    The biggest issue I have with this is about how we define a swing state. The polls have been all over the place and from past history it seems even polls close to the election are often off by several percentage points so what looks like a sure Trump or sure Clinton state at the point the deal to swap is made may be a swing state by election day.

    Texas itself was rated a toss up recently in one poll. So Scott you could be swapping a possible additional vote for Clinton in a close race in Texas for a vote in another state that might not even be close by election day.

  28. James Cross Says:

    Dan Richardson

    “Obama will be remembered as a legacy of total destruction to the middle east”

    Wouldn’t that legacy belong to ISIS and the other extremists rather than Obama?

    Or, if you want to go back to who opened the can of worms to start with, you might look to Bush. But, with or without the Iraq War (which was a terrible idea) the destruction was coming in one form or another. The Iraq War just created the chaos to advance the timeline ahead for what was going to be an inevitable clash anyway.

  29. Jeffo Says:

    A voting system in which many voters feel that they can’t vote for their most preferred candidate is badly flawed. In fact, it is questionable whether it can even be called “democratic” in any meaningful sense. Scolding voters as “self-righteous” who merely wish to vote their preference doesn’t generate much good will; it’s not a convincing argument for one’s candidate either.

    Systematic vote-swapping is like placing a band-aid on a gaping wound. I encourage those involved with this to put effort into reforming our voting system once the election is over. No voting system is perfect (Arrow’s Theorem!) but surely some form of ranked ballot, like instant runoff, is preferable.

  30. Dan Richardson Says:

    Raoul, actually, Obama is on the far left with respect to foreign affairs (see the Iran deal). And his policies are responsible in parts to the blood shed in the Middle East (e.g., supporting the so called “Arab spring”). Overall, the idea to appease the enemy (in those two cases, and in other cases), and to be tough or adverserial to allies in the name of post-colonial ideology is considered far-left, not centrist.

    As for Trump, he has articulated a very consistent approach, as you say yourself, for most problems: an egotistical approach. This is the precise opposite of far-left post-colonial ideology, and this is the reason I believe we are much better with him or any other Republican leader, than with Clinton or god forbid radicals like Sanders or Stein (with whom Clinton’s expected policies must share some common grounds due to them being in the same political camp and party).

  31. Scott Says:

    Jeffo #29: Yes, let’s work toward reform of our messed-up electoral system. I personally favor: replacement of the Electoral College by a national popular vote; approval voting (where you simply give one vote to each candidate you “approve” of); requirement for optical scan ballots or other system producing a paper trail; Election Day made a national holiday; uniform national standards for early voting, number of precincts, voter identification, etc. so that states can no longer manipulate those things to suppress minority and college student turnout. An omnibus Constitutional amendment with all these things would be one of the best gifts the US could give itself.

    In the meantime, though, for crying out loud, let’s ALSO put some Band-Aids on the gaping wounds! 🙂

  32. Scott Says:

    James Cross #27: One nice property of vote-swapping is that either party could back out of the agreement right up until Election Day (notifying their partner about it!!), for a variety of reasons, but in particular, if the polls show that their state is no longer a swing state or no longer a safe state after all. So for example: I think it will be at least a couple more election cycles until Texas turns purple, but if polls show I’m wrong about that, I will certainly vote for Hillary. (Though the world where that happens is probably a world where Hillary wins in a blowout anyway.)

    Like most people, Nate Silver failed to foresee the rise of Trump, but his record at predicting the state-by-state general election results to within 1-2 percentage points or so, shortly before Election Day, is impeccable.

  33. Scott Says:

    wolfgang #25:

      This is why smart phones with cameras were invented.

    Be careful. While I know someone who once videoed his own vote to make a point, it’s illegal in many states, because it would facilitate the buying and selling of votes as well as voter intimidation.

  34. Scott Says:

    JollyJoker #26:

      How do you verify that the other party is eligible to vote in the state he/she claims and trades only once?

    Eligibility to vote could in principle be determined by checking the voter rolls (which are public records in most states), but monogamy can’t be verified. These are additional reasons to do this only with someone you trust.

  35. Daniel Seita Says:

    There’s been a lot of concern about voter trust here in this “voter swapping” but I’m assuming that over his career Scott has gotten a few contacts along the way who are Stein/Johnson supporters. It might be better to search for those rather than finding someone random on the Internet. I know his colleagues and (current/former) students probably aren’t the greatest Trump supporters, but I think in Massachusetts, Scott might be able to find a Johnson/Stein supporter among them. And MA is, I hope, still a safe state.

  36. Daniel Seita Says:

    Whoops, had a pretty dumb comment, you don’t want someone from MA, sorry. Do you have any former students or colleagues from Florida or Pennsylvania? (Maybe UPenn?)

  37. Douglas Knight Says:

    Scott 33, do you have a source for the claim that Silver correctly predicted each state’s results to within 1 point? It looks to me that he went 5/7 on competitive states. I can’t even find his predictions in a table.

  38. Ari Says:

    Great blog.

    I think emotional argument works the best, what if you could do a great video detailing your points (your last blog about Trump was great and balanced). It will buy you more influence than any amount of written text will. Maybe ask some acquaintances with video-editing skills to make it sell. Just an idea.

  39. pku Says:

    What if we combined this with balanced revolution by doing balanced revolution, but prioritizing pairing democrats in safe states with republicans in swing states?
    (Though I guess this would be somewhat dishonest)

  40. jonas Says:

    Scott: re #31 on a better election system. I’m not familiar enough with your elections. What does “number of precincts” mean?

  41. c0rw1n Says:

    even in 2000, if it had been made fully p2p, it wouldn’t have been stoppable even in principle.

    – peer-to-peer : the anarchist’s solution to everything –

  42. JT Says:

    looks like there’s already a contender:

  43. mark elliott Says:

    Your idea, as usual, makes perfect sense EXCEPT for the assumption that the three swing states will stay swing states and the others will stay the way they arem(blue or red). This is a perfectly logical inductive reductionist asssumption (ie-the future with be like the past, the unseen is like the seen, and the small is like the large). But what if there is an earthquake?

  44. Scott Says:

    Daniel #36: I do know lots of people who live in swing states (especially Pennsylvania, where I grew up), but at the moment, I can’t think of any who I know to be Johnson or Stein supporters.

  45. James Cross Says:

    #32 Scott

    So we have to trust the polls or at least make a judgment about how accurate they might be and we can’t early vote either.

    I know Texas and Georgia (where I live) have been a sort of Democratic Fool’s Gold because it seems the Democratic candidate ought to have a chance based on demographics. One of these years there may be a surprise.

    #37 Douglas

    Good point but even if Silver was that correct in the last election, past performance is not predictive of future results.

    Polling has become much more problematic I think with a much more diverse electorate and so many who are off the radar or just refuse to participate in the any poll.

  46. Scott Says:

    Douglas #37: Edited to “1-2 points.” Wikipedia has some basic information about Silver’s election accuracy, and this CFAR post has more. In particular, CFAR says that Silver’s root mean squared error at forecasting margins of victory has been about 1.86.

  47. Jordan Says:

    Hi Scott, what about an argument *for* Hillary? All I’ve found here is a ‘Hillary by default’ argument. Where is the case that she will fix your broken country and our dying world?

  48. Scott Says:

    jonas #40: A precinct is a tiny region within a town or county, all of whose residents go to the same place to vote (such as the gym of a local elementary school). In the states and counties that they control, one of Republicans’ favorite tactics has been to reduce the number of precincts in black, Hispanic, or poor areas, thereby creating huge lines at the polling places and causing would-be voters to give up and go home. (They have many other tactics as well.)

    And yes, I feel embarrassed even explaining this to someone from outside the US. 🙂

  49. Scott Says:

    JT #42: Thanks so much for the link! I just registered with that site, and will also add a note about it to the OP.

  50. Chris Says:

    I was under the impression that the main problem with Nader Trading was that it was unenforceable. If I vote for Johnson, with you promising to vote for Clinton, but in fact vote for Trump, there’s nothing illegal about that either.

    Which means the systems like NaderTrading are susceptible to large scale trolling and voter manipulation.

  51. Scott Says:

    Chris #50: Back in 2000, the biggest thing prompting me to create my “Defense of NaderTrading” website was the wrong but weirdly ubiquitous argument that you just made.

    In fact, Trump supporters have essentially nothing to gain from manipulating this. Think about it. All they could do is cause more Hillary votes in swing states (!), or else cause more Johnson/Stein votes and fewer Hillary votes in states that weren’t contested anyway. So the only way the scheming Trump supporters could gain, would be if so many people signed up for vote-swapping that the swappers themselves caused a safe state for Hillary to become unsafe. But even in that hypothetical, almost science-fictional case, the swapping sites (which keep track of the number of swaps in each state) would become aware of the fact, so Hillary supporters in New York or California or whatever who’d signed up for a swap could back out until that state had become safe for Hillary again.

  52. Scott Says:

    Jordan #47:

      what about an argument *for* Hillary? All I’ve found here is a ‘Hillary by default’ argument. Where is the case that she will fix your broken country and our dying world?

    I fail to see what’s invalid about the “argument by default.” Suppose there’s a button that will launch nuclear missiles at all the major cities on earth. And we have two choices: press the button or don’t press it.

    Someone says, “all I’ve heard for not pressing the button is the fear-mongering ‘argument by default.’ Where’s the positive case that, if we don’t press the button, we’ll then be able to fix global warming, doping at the Olympics, and all the other problems facing the world?”

    Look, Hillary is a flawed politician and person, as is her husband. But unlike Trump, she’s “flawed only within well-understood parameters.” Her husband presided over eight years of relative peace, prosperity, technological innovation, and falling crime. And Hillary will pursue similar policies. She’ll give our civilization another 4-8 years to more-or-less function.

    She won’t demonize minorities, or walk away from the US’s trade agreements or defense alliances. She won’t cozy up to Vladimir Putin. She won’t renege on debt. She’ll ask for evidence and statistics before making decisions. She’ll appoint smart and qualified people to judgeships and to her Cabinet. None of that can be said of her opponent. The fact that she’d break the gender barrier of the Presidency is just a small additional bonus.

    My top choice would’ve been a third (and fourth) term of Barack Obama. But Hillary is a fine alternative.

  53. Douglas Knight Says:

    Scott 46, thanks for the CFAR link! I wouldn’t call a standard error equal to the standard an “impeccable” performance. Assuming iid normal errors, he got 14 states wrong by more than 2 points.

  54. Scott Says:

    Douglas #53: Something’s wrong with your assumption of iid normality, because he correctly called 49/50 states in 2008 and 50/50 in 2012.

  55. Douglas Knight Says:

    Let me try that again, without the link…

    Scott, if you don’t like the iid normal assumption, don’t cite RMSE as evidence. Who do you think you are, Donald Trump?

    So I looked at Gwern’s data and Silver actually got 15 states more than 2 points off. So I was right to use the assumption. He got 6 states 3 points off, of them 2 were 4 points off (HI, WV).

    Of course the errors aren’t identically distributed. Silver predicts his errors, based on how much the state is polled, I think. Swing states (as determined by other people) are polled more often. It would probably be better to normalize by his prediction before computing RMSE, although this would be a measure of his calibration of his error, only applicable to predictions where he specifies his error. But I didn’t do that because Gwern didn’t scrape the predicted errors.

  56. Daniel Seita Says:

    Scott #52, when you mention your top choices, I’m actually wondering how you view MA governor Charlie Baker. Given that you had some experience with him from being in Massachusetts for many years, you must have formed some opinion on him.

  57. Scott Says:

    Daniel #56: Sorry, I don’t know much of anything about Baker, and nothing as a result of having lived in Massachusetts. Should, but don’t.

  58. Scott Says:

    mark elliott #43:

      Your idea, as usual, makes perfect sense EXCEPT for the assumption that the three swing states will stay swing states and the others will stay the way they arem(blue or red). This is a perfectly logical inductive reductionist asssumption (ie-the future with be like the past, the unseen is like the seen, and the small is like the large). But what if there is an earthquake?

    As long as this political earthquake shows up in polls conducted at any point before the election (up to and including the day before)—or even, potentially, in exit polls on election day itself—there will be time for the pairs of people that agreed to vote-swap to discuss and adapt based on the new situation.

    Or does giving an argument that answers you just make me an even worse logical inductive reductionist? 😉

  59. jonas Says:

    Scott: re #48, don’t be ashamed. Our leading politicians might currently have fewer power to cause global trouble than Trump does, but when it comes to interesting dishonest practices to skew the result of parlimentary elections, they can compete with the U. S. any time.

  60. Sniffnoy Says:

    Scott #58: Huh, I figured you were going to say something along the lines of “Unless there’s some reason to think that this earthquake (or, more generally, similar unexpected events considered as a whole) would have a nonzero net expected effect on the election, what is the point of discussing them?”

  61. Daniel Reeves Says:

    I just grabbed “” and “” which I’d like to donate to the cause. I pointed them at for now (which I’ve also signed up for).

    Thanks so much for doing this, Scott!

    PS: Another scary thing about Trump is his climate science denying. Not that a US president can just institute a worldwide carbon tax but the chances of making progress on that beast of a coordination problem go up if Clinton wins and the stakes are high enough for that to be important.

  62. Jordan Says:

    Re #52, I make 3 arguments against Hill.

    1, At age 28 her going to the moon to get off her first client (served ~2 months), a child rapist with physical evidence against him. The counterargument is that she was doing her legal duty as defense, which is true. But the extremes of that case, her slander of the victim, her laughter afterward about his passing of a polygraph… They show poor moral fibre.


    3, Her neurological health is clearly below satisfactory. She has what seem like hypoxia-related symptoms. A woman in need of some serious R&R firstly, and probably some stem cell/cannabinoid/meditation therapies. Wasn’t 8 years in the white house and secretary of state enough — does she just have to be president to be happy?

    In a sense, I share the ‘preferred winner by default’ argument as you, except it’s Trump by default. I was a Bernie guy all the way, but the kibosh was quite obviously put on that from above (as proven by the wiki dump which lead to Wasserman Schultz stepping down and Clinton subsequently hiring her next day).

    Of those in the race, Johnson is disqualified for not knowing Aleppo. Stein is optimal.

  63. Scott Says:

    Jordan #62: You’re someone who’s been sending me P=PSPACE proofs for almost a decade—and I now see that your instincts about world affairs are fully a match for your instincts about complexity theory. I grant you the following: in a world where P=PSPACE, Donald Trump and Jill Stein are both safer choices to command America’s armed forces than Hillary Clinton. 😉

  64. Jordan Says:

    #63, in any world that’s the case (see Libya).


  65. Somewonk Says:

    I find it disheartening that few have responded to Dan Richardson’s comment. I’m not a Trump supporter, but it’s disheartening that we’ve gotten to a place where people will go to such lengths to help their candidate, up to and including exotic vote-trading schemes, but are unwilling to engage in polite debate with those who disagree. It’s sad to see so many have apparently lost faith in the power of reason.

    Stats show that many Trump supporters have college degrees. I would really like to see an honest, thoughtful debate between a degreed Trump supporter (presumably behind a veil of anonymity) and a Hillary supporter. My impression is that Trump supporters are keeping their reasoning to themselves because they know that talking about their politics carries a huge personal and professional risk. If Hillary is so obviously the best candidate, then an open, honest, friendly debate will shine light on the faulty reasoning Trump supporters operate under, and I’ll bet at least a few would change their minds. (Contrast with the strategy of shaming Trump supporters, which psychological research suggests is counterproductive. I agree with Rational Conspiracy that arguments based on reason, rather than emotion, are much more effective for convincing people to abandon highly charged beliefs.)

    I hate to be so Robin Hanson-ish, but as someone who’s more neutral than most, it sure looks to me like a lot of anti-Trump efforts are more about signaling than actually defeating him. Take the Trump/Hitler analogies… all the allusions have been pretty vague, and to my knowledge no one has sat down and done a careful writeup of the parallels. If Trump really is the next Hitler, it should be worth someone’s time to make this argument in a rigorous way, doncha think? (In fact, a quick Googling suggests that a lot of intelligent writers think the comparison is inaccurate. I’m a fan of Berlusconi comparisons myself.)

  66. Elliott Says:

    Everything is set up for Trump to win in a landslide. It’s even possible that California might vote for Trump after the debates. Unlikely, but possible.

    The problem with the Anti-Trump side is that they’ve been crying wolf this entire time. And as the election gets closer, they cry louder and louder. Now you might say “if so many people are crying wolf, that should mean something”. But calm people look at them and notice that these are the same people who cry “rape culture” and “racism” and “misogyny”. And they’re the same people who fell for Obama’s manipulation when he said “hope”, “change”, and “yes we can”. These are the people who get caught lying about rape. These are the people who get caught trying to physically assault people with differing opinions. These are the people who repeatedly bite the hand that feeds them.

    Then the clam people look at the Trump supporters and find that these people actually care about doing something about racism. These people actually try to prevent rapes. These people actually help everyone around them regardless of background or upbringing. These people are constantly hoping that that the Anti-Trump side will calm down so that they can start communicating about issues and policies and work to actually fix problems.

    Anyway “racist” doesn’t work anymore. You’ve lessened the value of that word when you said that the person who’s going to reduce the abuse of mexican immigrants (Trump with the wall) is more racist than the person who caused the downfall of black communities by throwing so many black fathers in jail (Hillary with “tough on crime” legislation).

  67. John Sidles Says:

    Demonizing Hillary’s support-base is ludicrous in view of Trump’s literally demonic support-base, isn’t it?

    No Shtetl Optimized reader who is familiar with the history surveyed in (((Sanford Segal’s))) (§) Mathematicians under the Nazis (Princeton University Press, 2014) can contemplate Trumpish rhetoric with equanimity. Hence the near-unanimous rejection of Trumpism among professional mathematicians.

    In science-fiction circles too, it has long been appreciated that Trumpish social dynamics presents comedic aspects:

    Let Adolf Hitler transport you to a far-future Earth, where only [far-right authority figures] stand between the remnants of true humanity and annihilation at the hands of totally evil Dominators and the mindless human hordes they completely control.

    The ugly iron dreams of Trumpism require serious opposition … both ratiocination and comedy serve well.

    — — — — —
    § Triple-bracket notation — (((<name>))) — is a Trumpish social-media innovation that serves to flag progressive ideals as originating in inferior races, religions, genders (etc.).

    Have we seen Trumpish rhetoric before? Yes.

    Do we want to embrace it again? No.

  68. James Cross Says:


    I don’t know what you are looking at but most are showing Hillary winning. So if Trump does manage a win, he would likely win by a hair, not a landslide.

    Of course, that is what makes any decision about swapping votes critical since even a relatively small a number of votes swapped in one key state that looked to be a sure thing could lead to the opposite outcome from what is desired.

    If the desired outcome is that Trump does not become President, I see three possible outcomes.

    Most likely the swapping does not affect the election one way or the other no matter who wins.

    Equally likely, however, is that it helps or hurts Trump.

    The reason would be is that the scenario of the swapping helping or hurting Trump occurs only in a very tight and close race. That is would be exactly the type of race that predictions would likely be wrong in one or more states.

  69. James Cross Says:

    25 logical reasons to vote for Trump:

  70. Scott Says:

    James #68: It seems crazy to argue that vote-swapping is equally likely to help Trump or hurt him. Sure, polls could be wrong, and Trump could systematically outperform them—but just like in 2000, there’s vastly more probability mass on a few thousand Hillary votes in Florida proving decisive, than on the same number of Hillary votes in California doing the same. Trump eking out a narrow victory including Florida is a p=0.25 event (if you believe the betting markets); while his winning California is more like p=0.01 (and in the world where he does, he presumably has such a landslide that it doesn’t matter what a few vote-swappers do or don’t do).

  71. adamt Says:

    Thanks Scott, I signed up at and waiting for a match.

  72. James Cross Says:


    You know what. I think you’re right. It was a crazy argument.

    However, there are some combinations that I think could be risky.

    Let’s say several thousand people swap Hillary votes in Georgia for Gary Johnson in Ohio. It is certainly conceivable that Hillary would win in Ohio anyway without the additional votes but lose Georgia because of swapped votes and that could impact the outcome of election.

    There are some combinations – Oklahoma and almost any swing state – where the odds are overwhelming that gained votes in the swing state would be a net benefit for Clinton even though the number of gained votes might not be sufficient to change the outcome (particularly since finding Hillary supporters in these red-red states is difficult).

    Part of my reservation about this is concern about the accuracy of polling and Black Swan events that can sway things in an unpredictable fashion even on the day of the election.

  73. D Says:

    Likely an obvious idea, but once the websites to use are decided, I’d suggest contacting back the reporters who originally covered the Nader Trading story, if some of them are still in business they might want to run a sequel story.

  74. jonas Says:

    Somewonk: for arguments against Trump, maybe try to look at Scott’s post from 2016-06-07:

    James Cross: yes, some particular strategies for vote trading are a bad idea. But there are enough safe states that people can find good vote trading strategies, and the vote trading sites would help them in this. And, like Scott said, we have fast communication these days, so the strategies can be changed quickly as new information arrives.

  75. adamt Says:

    Somewonk #65,

    Arguing with reason and rationality requires good faith on both sides which is sorely lacking in this run up to the election even amongst family members and friends let alone two anonymous people commenting over the internet.

    It also requires at least some agreement on shared premise: what at least some of the facts are. Dan’s “argument” above really was lacking in specifying what he views the facts to be other than Obama has ruined the Middle East for “supporting” the Arab Spring. This is not a premise for a good faith reasoned discussion and not terribly promising to my eyes of developing into one.

    To anyone who is paying attention I find it difficult to contemplate a good faith reasoned argument from anyone who would support Trump. Consider Dan’s apparent concern for the state of the Middle East and its peoples. He apparently supports a candidate who has advocated literal targeted killing of innocent civilians in the Middle East and advocates torture. Either Dan is ignorant of this, which would indicate a frightening lack of homework on his part, or finds it acceptable that a potential POTUS advocates literal war crimes. How can this be argued with reason other than to say I do not in share his values?

    So that is where I am at: I find it hard to contemplate any Trump supporters arguing in good faith with me on a set of mutually acceptable shared premise and values about who should become one of the most powerful people in the world with the fates of millions riding on it. I have friends and family that support Trump and doubt my ability to have any kind of constructive discussion with them let alone argue with an anonymous avowed Trump supporter on the internet.

  76. Michael P Says:

    blk #6, Scott #17:

    Assuming that nobody wants to throw away his own vote, it is possible to mutually ensure vote swapping: both voters would register to vote by mail, fill the form as promised, take snapshots, email snapshots to each other, and mail out forms upon receiving the other’s snapshot.

    However, a protocol like that would likely be a participation deterrent to people who value privacy. A protocol like that may make sense for a balancedrebellion style vote swapping, which matches people with heated opposing views, but for a friendly vote swapping being proposed here the participation deterrent factor may outweigh the benefit of ensuring the agreed-upon vote. Getting 3 votes for Hillary in Florida in exchange for 4 votes for Gary Johnson in CA is better than getting 2 votes for 2 because the other potential participants valued their privacy. These are just my uninformed 2 cents though, I have absolutely no data to tell whether the existence of a protocol would lead to more or to less participation.

  77. Daniel Seita Says:

    #68 James Cross

    You bring up some good points, but the people who are engaging in this voting swap should not be doing it from a state like Georgia where the polls show a tight race. I’m in California and that’s almost as safely Democratic as you can get (other than Hawaii, and DC if you count that?).

  78. Dan Richardson Says:

    Surely, it is not too difficult to understand that the *legacy* of Obama will be remembered, for most part, as the physical destruction of the middle east which resulted (partially) from the vacuum led by his administration. This vacuum, and sometimes even actual support of destructive forces in the region, is exemplified by his encouragement to the Arab Spring: his destabilizing Cairo speech in front of the Egyptian parliament at the start of his first term, his betrayal of Hosni Mubarak, his support of the Muslim Brothers rule in Egypt (i.e., the support of Mohamed Morsi as a “legitimate democratic elected president”). Fortunately for the Egyptians, in this case, El-Sisi took over Egypt eventually, and overthrew Obama’s preferred ruler. Other support of destructive forces in the middle east by Obama’s admin are his aggressive push to appease in all cost the Iranian leadership, giving them de facto near nuclear capabilities. His broken promise to intervene in case Syria’s Assad uses chemical weapon. His destabilizing and sometimes hostile policies towards Israel, and several other examples in which US allies have become rivals, and traditional enemies have suddenly became the bearer of peace, in his views. The emergence of ISIS was facilitated by the withdraw of the American forces from Iraq, which was one of Obama’s strong campaign promises (though the withdraw formally started in 2007).

    In any case, the argument is not about Obama per se, who fortunately is finishing now his term, but about the ideology behind his policies, which, as I contended above, is a part of a bigger post-colonial world view, shared by the left and rejected by the conservatives.

    For your allegations of war crimes against Trump, indeed I believe I reject your concerns and “values”. I value security and actual minimization of death more than artificial and rigid obedient to the “international law”, which is a rather vague and obsolete concept, certainly with respect to its effectiveness in fighting terrorism. It seems that you are more concerned to be perceived as strict adherent to the “international law” than to actual be fighting the root forces of violence in the middle east (ah, and I’m not talking about the forces of “Western Imperialism” 🙂

    Dan R.

  79. James Cross Says:


    I am in Georgia and am not swapping even though I think it unlikely Clinton will win in this state.


    I really don’t see your understanding of reality.

    If you look at the Arab Spring, the results were very mixed with some countries coming out more or less better, some worse, and some the same. At any rate, wasn’t this post hoc explanation for why we invaded Iraq?

    Libya, in particular, was an effort supported by allies and the UN, I think, to avert thousands of deaths and it succeeded. The Benghazi episode afterward is an entirely different issue that is also misunderstood but I won’t go into more except to say the Ambassador was visiting a CIA listening post, not an embassy or consulate, so where were the CIA in protecting it?

    Let’s give credit where credit is due. The chaos isn’t the result of Obama . We can’t control everything. The blame for the chaos falls on the Muslim extremists and maybe a a hundred years or more history mostly not involving the United States.

  80. Scott Says:

    Michael #76: Again, showing people photos of your absentee ballot is illegal in most states, since it would facilitate vote-selling (though it seems like many people have done it, and no one has actually been charged).

  81. Job Says:

    I value security and actual minimization of death more than artificial and rigid obedient to the “international law”.

    Does this extend to U.S. constitutional law or is your pick-and-choose amendment only applicable to international law?

  82. adamt Says:

    Dan #78,

    Sigh, this will fail spectacularly, but ok, let’s try for a bit at least:

    Facts you (seem to) put forth that I will agree to:

    1) President Obama made a widely reported speech in Cairo towards the beginning of his first term.
    2) It is possible, maybe even likely, that many in the Middle East heard this speech and were moved.
    3) President Obama did not rush to rhetorically support Hosni Mubark over the protests of the people in the square.
    4) President Obama supported the wishes of the people of Egypt to peacefully build their own democracy.
    5) The Egyptian military overthrew whatever democracy was forming.
    6) Obama struck a deal with Iran regarding the latter’s dismantling of its nuclear ambitions.
    7) Obama did not follow through on his red line for Syria regarding its chemical weapons.
    8) ISIS grew, though did not emerge, during his Presidency.

    What I will not agree to:

    1) There is any good evidence that Obama’s speech was irresponsible or that it caused the bad outcomes of the Arab Spring.
    2) That Hosni Mubarak was ‘betrayed.’
    3) That Obama supported the Muslim Brotherhood in anything but acquiescing to the apparent will of the people of Egypt.
    4) That Obama preferred Morsi in any fashion other than the sense above.
    5) That the Iran deal was an act of ‘appeasement’ or such characterization.
    6) That the Iran deal gives them ‘defacto nuclear capabilities.’
    7) That Obama deserves particular blame for the rise of ISIS over the preceding administration and its policies.
    8) That any of this is necessarily reflective of Hillary Clinton or how she would govern.
    9) That any of this has anything whatsoever to do or gives any justification whatsoever for the election of Donald Trump as our POTUS.

    Regarding war crimes and “international law” I would say that this is indeed telling that we probably don’t share the same values. Those international laws were put into place following World War II and are meant as a check on the atrocities committed during wars such as the bright red line that Assad crossed and you apparently criticize Obama for failing to respond to.

    More pointedly you apparently believe that a two year old toddler *intentionally* killed by us to serve as a deterrent is morally acceptable and not utterly reprehensible and anathema to very core American values. In this, I fail to see the difference between the moral reasoning you use to justify your ends as compared to the “moral reasoning” of Assad or Bin Laden.

    In short, if you are ok with intentionally killing innocent two year olds as a policy of this country I question your moral reasoning, your values, and your intelligence in believing there is any security to be had by doing so. International law or not.

    But go ahead, tell me how Donald Trump is going to help spread your values and the other facts you think I need to accept to reach that conclusion.

  83. Michael P Says:

    Scott #80, I wasn’t aware of that. IMO people should work on repealing laws like that. By “like that” I mean laws that criminalize acts that are themselves harmless but may be deemed “facilitating” other acts. “Fences around fences around the law” shouldn’t be laws in civilized society.

  84. Cain Jewett Says:

    Scott, these posts cannot reach Bernie supporters like myself until you preface them by admitting that Hilary is by any sensible measure an extremely conservative candidate who only cares about rich people and celebrities, somebody who has a long history of supporting war and wall street to the detriment of nearly all Americans, and who, at best, may slow the ever growing gap between rich and poor. People are at least as emotional as they are rational when voting.

    p.s. would you be willing to take on the leaders of the Alt-Right movement, Jared Taylor, Richard Spencer, Peter Brimelow in a debate? They keep shooting their mouths off about race and IQ and to be honest I don’t have hard data to refute them but figured you might.

  85. Bill Christie Says:

    Scott, what are you thinking? The latest polls show that Texas has become a swing state! Are you serious about wasting your vote?

  86. adamt Says:

    Bill #85, Try again. Silver’s model has Texas at 93.7% to 6.2% in favor of Trump:

  87. raoul ohio Says:

    Cain Jewett:

    You say Hilary is “extremely conservative”. Donald Trump supporters says Hilary is “extremely liberal”.

    Does this suggest that you are as far off base as Trump supporters?

  88. Scott Says:

    Bill #85: As I said above, on November 7, if FiveThirtyEight and the other sites are counting Texas as a swing state, then I won’t go through with a swap. My participation is conditional on living in a non-swing state.

  89. Scott Says:

    Cain #84: This post was about stopping an unstable racist madman from taking over the US. Nothing in it depended on the claim that Hillary is in any way preferable to Bernie Sanders.

    I did support Hillary over Bernie in the primaries (without any enormous enthusiasm), but that’s a separate discussion we could have. Basically, by the standards of academia or many European countries, I’d probably be considered a centrist (or in Berkeley, a right-winger 🙂 )—it’s only in the context of the US that my politics are liberal. But even that’s an oversimplification, since on some issues (e.g. stopping climate change, legalizing drugs) I’m well to the left of the Democratic Party, while on other issues (Israel, SJW shaming campaigns…) I sharply dissent from what liberals nowadays are supposed to think.

    To take some of Bernie’s issues: on student debt, I think a huge part of the problem is that too many vocations now require college degrees when they really shouldn’t, when there’s no real reason for them to. In such cases, what the college degree certifies might have nothing to do with anything the student learned in college, but simply that the student was smart and conscientious enough to get in. But if the latter is all you care about, there are much faster ways to certify it, which would let millions of people join the workforce earlier and not saddle them with crippling debt.

    On wealth inequality, I agree with Paul Graham that “inequality” is the wrong way to describe the problem. The real problem is poverty. So for example, if we could lift millions out of poverty, but only at the cost of making a few hundred obscenely rich people so much more obscenely rich that we’d increase the total inequality by some metric, I’d consider that to be a good trade. And this is relevant, because very broadly speaking it’s what capitalism tends to do.

    Having said that, I think the experience of other countries clearly shows that the US could do more wealth redistribution than it does now, and also have a single payer healthcare system that would work better than our current Byzantine and broken one. And rich people should also bear the brunt of the cost of fighting climate change and of modernizing our transportation system, electrical grid, etc to be smarter and more sustainable (an enormous, necessary undertaking on which we’ve barely even started). From what I understand, the theoretically best way to raise funds for such things would be a massive tax on consumption, especially luxury consumption and environmentally damaging consumption (like beef). But in the world as it is, higher corporate taxes, estate taxes, and capital gains taxes would do.

    On your last question: given how viciously I was attacked for discussing what one might have considered an orders of magnitude less incendiary topic (nerds and dating), and how much of my limited social capital I used up on that, there are various things I’d rather do right now than host a discussion about race and IQ on this blog. For example, remove my own fingernails with a dull knife. 😉

  90. John Sidles Says:

    Alas, Scott’s views on Trump so thoroughly accord with mine, that considerable zest has gone from life. Can’t Shtetl Optimized talk about tensor network geometries and/or Lindbladian quantum dynamics for awhile? At least until after the debates? There’s plenty of great preprints coming out!

    On the other hand, if the polls are close after the debates, that will light a fire under lots of folks (my entire family for one).

  91. Dan Richardson Says:

    #82, let me just very quickly comment on what I think is one of your main fallacies. Put in a simplistic form: leadership is not a morality contest. There are other aspects to consider in leadership, i.e., the interest of the country you lead.
    As far as I’m aware of, Obama was elected to be the president of the US, not of the UN. He needs, and must, prefer the lives of Americans over the possibly tragic collateral damage caused by fighting aggressively against its enemies.

    I also do not see how Obama advanced the interests of the US within the middle east. You seem to be claiming that he has done many things with good intentions. Since we seem to agree that the middle east is in a complete chaos we now know that all his actions failed. You claim that this failure is not on Obamas’ shoulders, because the chaos was inevitable, if I understand correctly. So my question: why did Obama even make all these actions, if the fate of the middle east was doomed from the start? He certainly seemed to believe otherwise in 2008. Showing his weakness in understanding international politics. I claim this is an outcome of his post colonial world view, shared to a certain degree by the upcoming Clinton admin, if she wins.

  92. Emmy Noether Says:


    I’m very disappointed in this hyperbolic, apocalyptic rhetoric coming from liberals establishment, the press, etc.

    Recall “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”.
    You all really do yourself no favors when you use the same rhetoric to describe Nazi’s and Republicans. Before Trump, Joe Biden declared Mitt Romney was going to put Blacks back in chains. Eventually people will become desensitized and numb, and risk missing veridical evils.

    Donald Trump has been a reasonably competent, and well-liked executive and celebrity for almost half a century. He has built a real estate empire. In his personal and business life, he seems to have shown some reasonable level of discipline and self-control. For someone born rich, he could have easily idled and partied his money away. From all appearances, he’s raised decent kids. He’s worked with all sorts of people, from all walks of life, with no persuasive claims of animus. He’s promoted women and minorities in his organization for decades.

    Yet very little of this lengthy and deep history seems to inform your priors. Instead you seem content to engage in wild, dramatic language about the likely end of the world should Donald assume the presidency.

    It’s just not even remotely likely.
    Unlike Hillary, I’m reasonably confident Donald will be held accountable. Donald will have motivated, fierce opposition from the Left and the Right. The media, the academy, and the deep state and Fed bureaucracy will be set against him. And in the very worst case, there are means of removing him.

    As Jon Haidt has made pains to communicate, liberals consistently have an extremely poor theory of the conservative mind. They’re awful at passing an ideological Turing Test. In calling Trump a racist, lunatic, etc. etc. you seem to evidence the same problem.

    Why don’t you stop taking the easy way out? Why don’t you stop straw-manning Donald Trump, his supports, and his policies? Instead, why don’t you take some of your formidable brain power and really contribute a few cycles to steel-manning Trumpism? Why don’t try hard to generate cogent even novel arguments for why he might be right?

    Like myself, there are many reasonably well-informed, sane, and benign Americans who will be voting for him. Enthusiastically.

    I think you live in live in an ideological ghetto. I think you have your own unexamined, dogmatic pseudoreligion of Equality. And I don’t think you understand us–where, say, us is defined notionally as those who hold the best, most intelligent, good-faith reasons, i.e., your intellectual and moral peers who are supporting Trump–at all.

  93. Emmy Noether Says:

    Cain Jewett,

    The information you seek can be found in the ground breaking 2015 paper by David Piffer:

  94. quax Says:

    Let’s hope the 2000 debacle doesn’t repeat. I sincerely believed Bush the 2nd was the worst possible candidate I’d ever see in my lifetime … boy was I wrong.

  95. quax Says:

    “Emmy Noether”, you are a disgrace to the name you are using to post here.

    The real Emmy Noether suffered at the hands of fascism, and she would have known what minority scapegoating looks like.

    It is deeply unsettling that you would use her name to espouse your rhetoric here.

  96. Scott Says:

    Emmy #92: Did you read Daddy Why Didn’t You Blog About Trump? Roughly half the post was

    (1) explaining why Trump DOESN’T strike me as a Hitler figure, but “merely” as a Putin, Pinochet, or Berlusconi on the long continuum of awfulness with Hitler at its end, and

    (2) urging my fellow Democrats to better understand the Trump supporters’ legitimate grievances—and as an example, to disavow our own militant social-justice wing, which has become obsessed with moral preening and with persecuting people over verboten ideas and thoughts rather than with solving real problems, and which has thereby generated the predictable backlash that we now see.

    Indeed, what’s ironic to me is precisely that the SJWs have wasted so much vitriol on invisible molecules of racist, sexist, and xenophobic bias in otherwise decent people that require an electron microscope to detect, when this past year has proven that the US still has robust “macro” versions of all these things.

  97. Another Trump Democrat Says:

    There are a number of ironies here. While this vote-swapping may or may not literally be vote buying, the biggest issue in this election is indeed a gigantic vote buying scheme. The Democrats would like to give citizenship and voting rights to more than ten million illegal immigrants, with the expectation that they will be rewarded with most of those votes. The financial benefit to each illegal immigrant could be hundreds of thousands of dollars each, and so a total cost of trillions of dollars taken from American citizens and given to illegal immigrants so that the Democrats can try to steal elections for decades to come.

    Trump and the Right keep being labelled racists and bigots, but the reality is that most of them form their views with little or no reference to racial issues. Instead it is the Leftists who are obsessed with ideologies dominated by issues of race, groups and identities. It is the Leftists who are the racist bigots, yet they hurl such accusations against sensible reasonable people merely because they have formed different beliefs.

    Trump is labelled “dangerous”. Yet Leftists who blame antisocial behavior on society, direct their sympathies towards criminals, terrorists and illegal immigrants, and make society a more dangerous place. Leftists are seeking to undermine free speech, meritocracy and opportunity, tearing down earned success and rewarding deserved failure. Obviously not all on the Left hold such hardcore beliefs, but there is definitely a powerful “progressive” movement with these really scary, crazy, dangerous ideas.

    If the Democrats succeed in buying millions of votes from illegal immigrants (and felons too), then democracy may be gone for generations. Their main fear is that Trump could win and thwart their plans. That’s what this election is really about.

  98. John Sidles Says:

    Oh what an ignorant gaffe, that a Putin-loving Donald Trump supporter should post as “Emmy Noether” (#92), given the brutal murder of Emmy’s brother Fritz at Russian hands.

    “Emmy Noether” (#92), do you know anything about the real-life Emmy Noether?

    Shtetl Optimized readers who are interested to learn more about the historical predecessors of today’s alt-right Trump base will find a good on-line starting-point in (((Sanford L. Segal’s))) Preface to Mathematicians Under the Nazis (2014).

  99. James Cross Says:

    “Donald Trump has been a reasonably competent, and well-liked executive and celebrity for almost half a century. He has built a real estate empire. In his personal and business life, he seems to have shown some reasonable level of discipline and self-control. ”

    Apparently not so much in recent years. He has mainly devoted himself to licensing his name all over the world with financial ties in Russia, Turkey, South Korea, India, China, Brazil, and other countries. These connections and links will be a direct conflict of interest for foreign policy decisions he would make as President.

    Will he give up his connections to the Trump organization? I am guessing he will not. In fact, he is probably planning exactly how he can use the Presidency to further his financial interests while he lets Mike Pence take care of the policy stuff.

    “If Donald Trump is elected president, will he and his family permanently sever all connections to the Trump Organization, a sprawling business empire that has spread a secretive financial web across the world? Or will Trump instead choose to be the most conflicted president in American history, one whose business interests will constantly jeopardize the security of the United States?”

  100. adamt Says:

    Emmy #92,

    Claim: “Donald Trump has been a reasonably competent, and well-liked executive and celebrity for almost half a century.”

    Fact: Donald Trump is the most unfavored major party Presidential candidate ever as measured by polls:

    Fact: Donald Trump has bankrupted multiple companies:

    Fact: Trump is rich not because he is particularly competent businessman, he is rich because his daddy was rich:

    Fact: Trump is a serial litigant and is right now embroiled in a massive class action suit that has all the hallmarks of a tremendous fraud on his fellow Americans:

    Claim: “He has built a real estate empire.”

    Fact: Actually, he inherited one, but I’ll concede that he has expanded this into an empire, but with multiple bankruptcies as well.

    Claim: “In his personal and business life, he seems to have shown some reasonable level of discipline and self-control.”

    Fact: Donald Trump went on national TV and felt the need to reassure about his penis size:

    Fact: Donald’s ex-wife has claimed that he raped her after getting enraged over a scalp procedure she had recommended:

    Fact: Trump is widely viewed as one of the most undisciplined candidates in Presidential history:

    Claim: “From all appearances, he’s raised decent kids.”

    Fact: Donald’s Trumps son is – like his father – now actively courting the neo-nazi alt-right:

    Claim: “He’s worked with all sorts of people, from all walks of life, with no persuasive claims of animus.”

    Fact: Trump has nothing but animus – taken and given – by numbers of people who he has met and worked with:,

    Claim: “He’s promoted women and minorities in his organization for decades.”

    Fact: Mostly true, but my how you damn with faint praise.

    Fact: Donald Trump has a lengthy history of rank racism and misogynistic behavior:,

    In short, you are either:

    1) full of shit and arguing in bad faith
    2) *deplorably* ignorant of basic facts
    3) completely at odds with basic human values and #1


  101. adamt Says:

    Dan #91,

    You failed to respond to any of my claimed facts, failed to put forward any of your own, failed to make any real qualms with the values I presented and did nothing to advance the argument in any way that I can detect.

    Somewonk #65, I tried in good faith, but I just don’t see that effort being returned or how this is beneficial at all.

  102. anonymous Says:

    adamt #82: “What I will not agree to:
    1) There is any good evidence that Obama’s speech was irresponsible or that it caused the bad outcomes of the Arab Spring.”

    There is a book by an italian award winning journalist Alfredo Macchi “Rivoluzioni s.p.a. Chi c’è dietro la Primavera Araba” (he worked for a TV channel owned by Berlusconi so he hardly can be suspected to be a “communist”). For a review see (one can google translate it). In it, he sustains that not only US “supported” the arab spring, but was an important factor for making it happen (US was using tactics similar to the ones used in Yugoslavia).
    Unlike others he actually have been there when the arab spring happened.

    So US was involved much more than just “supporting” the arab spring. It was another of its dirty “geopolitical” games.

    You of course can continue to believe that your country is exceptional, it wishes to respect human rights and the freedom of speech etc etc. But this ignores historical and political realities. It ignores the existence of people such as Henry Kissinger and Milton Friedman (see Pinochet), for example.

    @Scott #52
    “She won’t demonize minorities, or walk away from the US’s trade agreements or defense alliances. She won’t cozy up to Vladimir Putin”

    Instead of demonizing minorities, Clinton demonizes Russia. A country about which you, as it appears to me, understand almost nothing – but you probably know that some 150000000 people live in Russia, and most of them don’t like US very much lately. They are worried that US wants to tear Russia to pieces in the best traditions of “divide et impera”. They are worried about the possible collapse of the MAD doctrine following the installation of “anti missile” defenses on Russia borders (it appears that in a short time these can be converted into nuclear weapons launchers), and suspect that US intends either to “preventively strike” Russia (actually this is also what Paul Craig Roberts thinks, and not only him), or otherwise “change” Russia’s government into something of a Yelstin type government. And they don’t like the idea of returning again to US sponsored banditism of the Yeltsin state, see around US sponsored chechen terrorists, and seeing their state being taken away by foreign corporations. This is why they elect Putin.

    What strikes me is that it looks that you couldn’t care less about these people, though they are human beings just like you and the minorities you so much wish to protect.

    Now, I am a jew of Russian origin, and you are an American one, and this probably causes the difference in the attitude, but also you understand that if something goes wrong – the “regime change” will not work as US plans, or some Russian or US missile unit commander makes an error (there were precedents), there might be an enormous human and other toll.

    This is quite a reason for doing whatever one can to kick Clinton with her present attitude, or any other candidate of US military complex, as far from any office as one only can.

    And if one cannot do this, then the only thing which is left is to act according to one’s conscience, though some people here, including you, would prefer to play silly games instead.

  103. Dan Richardson Says:


    I have addressed very shortly some of the main issues you have raised.
    I.e., you made a recurring mistake in thinking that the value of a good leader is measured by his/her being fair or moral. I have exposed this fallacy.
    Secondly, I exposed a hole in your pro-Obama argument, showing that in contrast to what you’ve insinuated, Obama was under the false impression that the Arab Spring is going to pan out positively, though in reality we now already have something like half a million bodies, and still counting.

    Lastly, I cannot answer in detail each of your points, because, believe it or not, besides arguing politics on the web I have other responsibilities in my life, though I still hold the task of convincing you very high in my life priorities. I hope you could find the strength within yourself to understand and forgive me.

    Dan R.

  104. NotATrumpSupporter Says:

    @ adamt #92

    Let’s look at your claim:

    Fact: Donald’s Trumps son is – like his father – now actively courting the neo-nazi alt-right:

    The complaint in the linked-to article seems to be that Trump’s son and David Duke separately tweeted a similar (but different) image entitled “The Deplorables” in response to a recent attack by Clinton.

    Before I can accept your above claim as fact, I’d like to know: What support do you have for the claim of neo-nazism?

    Are those individuals highlighted by the article –Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Pepe the Frog — neo-nazis? On this issue, the article makes no strong claim, instead using squishy insinuations:

    (a) Milo is accused of inciting “hateful rhetoric”, which is a stretch if this refers to the Ghostbusters debacle. Regardless, it’s certainly not neo-nazism.

    (b) I don’t about Alex Jones, but a scan of his wikipedia page reveals no controversy involving neo-nazism. Do you have anything concrete that supports the claim he’s a neo-nazi?

    (c) So maybe it’s Pepe the Frog? But David Duke’s version of the image does *not* contain Pepe. Via google images, I find:

    So if Pepe was such a white-supremacist/anti-semitic symbol, why doesn’t Duke use him?

    Finally, I see that it’s Clinton herself who is promoting this connection (again, very tenuously) at:

    In reality, Pepe seems like another stupid meme that had its funny non-PC moments (perhaps why Trump Jr used it), but some have taken too far trying to one-up each other. Indeed, the article uses more weasel wording here, stating that Pepe “has been appropriated by Trump’s “alt-right” followers, some of whom use the image to peddle racism, anti-Semitism, and white nationalism.”

    Emphasis on the term “some”, which is just another way of saying that the ugly online mob made use of it that way at some point. We could condemn every political leader/group if this counted.

  105. Rathramnus Says:

    I say this with respect for Scott, whose intelligence and brilliance is not in question, but also with some sadness, because it illustrates to me that even the highest intelligence is no protection from political failure modes:
    I genuinely fail to see why anyone would wish to decrease Trump’s chances of success considering the enormity of the risk entailed in the alternative.
    I genuinely see no evidence of Trump being either a “lunatic” or a “racist”, while his opponent openly supports openly racist organisations and policies — to the cheers of what at this point can only be described as an Orwellian establishment; and while she may not be a “lunatic”, her utter lack of empathy or morality and her penchant for rage tantrums imho make her rather more dangerous than a mere lunatic would be.
    I seriously hope this scheme will not end up getting you what you wished for, because it would mean part of the blame for what would follow would fall on you.

  106. Dan Richardson Says:

    Another pro-Trump argument, is that in contrast to Obama, with the assumed support of Hillary, Trump does not want to get 10000 Syrian supposed refugees into the US!

    It is amazing that such a careless move with respect to national security is being considered by the Democrats. The odds that some of these refugees will take part in terror activities (ISIS inspired) as happened in Europe, is very high. It is unclear what measures the Democrats are planning to take to stop such terrorism on US soil.

  107. Scott Says:

    Rathramnus #105: As it happens, we already have an extremely clear idea of the risks of a Hillary Clinton presidency, because her husband was president for 8 years, and Obama (who she served under and who’s campaigning for her) was president for another 8. And if the world of 1992-2000 and 2008-2016 was “Orwellian,” then I guess Orwellianism isn’t so bad!

    Without immersing yourself in history, it’s easy to lose a sense for just how much worse things could get than they are now, or how fragile and not-to-be-taken-for-granted democratic norms really are, and how vulnerable to being destroyed by charismatic strongmen.

    You write that my “intelligence and brilliance is not in question” (thx dude!! 😀 ). So I’m curious: how many people would you say the same thing about, who support Trump, or think Hillary presents the far greater danger? (Peter Thiel and who else?) My Aumannian life philosophy tends to be: if one intelligent person tells me I’m wrong, shame on them. If 99% of all the intelligent people on earth tell me I’m wrong, shame on me (unless we’re talking about quantum query complexity, or some other topic where there are clear reasons to expect me to know more than almost all intelligent people).

    When I test this Aumannian philosophy against the great political questions in human history, it appears to do quite well. Perhaps the closest it comes to a spectacular failure is the question of Communism—but even Communism, at its zenith, seems to have captured a mere half or so of the world’s extremely intelligent people, which is a far cry from the >95% of extremely intelligent people who seem to me to oppose Trump.

  108. fred Says:

    “How can each of you mutually verify, that the other party has indeed voted as promised?”

    To verify that the other party “has voted as promised” is doable – they could use their cell phone to record their own voting process on video, and exchange the files after the fact.

  109. fred Says:

    Raoul #21

    “Trump is not really a right winger, but an egotistical buffoon who has managed to scrounge up a few million bucks by suspect means. No one has any idea what he would do if he were elected, although turning it into as much money as a Latin American president steals us a likely priority. And hand over the world to his pal Putin.”

    Hopefully this would all make him “impeachable”?

  110. Daniel Seita Says:

    # 106 Dan Richardson:

    I understand your concern, but the people who are doing the mass shootings and committing other news-shattering “lone-wolf” events in our country (e.g., Omar Mateen) have usually been led by American citizens (I don’t have the exact numbers on hand). The vetting process for refugees takes 1.5 to 2 years and as shown by the San Bernardino shooters, there are far faster ways for a Syrian refugee to get in this country. And we have taken a lot fewer refugees than Germany.

  111. Takanari Nakayama Says:

    How about split my vote and trade?
    For example my half vote goes to Hilary and my half vote goes to Johnson like that.
    Of course this cannot be allowed in the present legal system.
    But this may help the distribution of power more.
    Somebody should prove it! (I’m not a math genius.)

  112. Emmy Noether Says:


    i must confess, I was behind in my blog reading, and only read your earlier post subsequent to writing my own.

    indeed, i’m sorry. i was wrong. and i think i underestimated the lengths you went to get inside the Trumpian mind.

    this is not to say, however, that i think you were successful and you grok us. or that you’ve steel-manned Trumpian beliefs and arguments.

    but thank you for what cognitive charity you have demonstrated and for sparing a few neurocycles on this sad, lowly and wretched lot 🙂

  113. Emmy Noether Says:

    adamT #100

    Fact 1: Clearly when I say “…for half a century”, I’m talking about looking at a broader context. Your point “refutation”, such as it, is not even wrong.

    You are, of course, correct to note that there is a large degree of dislike for Donald — a lot from establishment elites of both parties and privileged minority/victim spokespersons with The Megaphone. Do you think I was asserting he is currently universally loved?

    Of course, he also has a lot of enthusiastic support. *Packed*, — much better attended and enthusiastic than Hillary–rallies all across the country. He beat handily a very large and competitive Republican field. And he has a nontrivial and increasing! chance of winning the whole megilah. All while spending a tiny-fraction of his opposition.

    In any event, what should have been clear is that I was bracketing Donald’s very recent entrance into politics, and making a weighted-judgement based on his pre-political life

    I think if you examine the totality of Donald’s life, my statement will stand as obviously true.

    For crying out loud, the Donald had a cameo in Home Alone! He has been world-famous and well-liked by all manner of celebrities and sports stars–Don King, Shaq, Mike Tyson. He was fabulously popular on The Apprentice–surely one of the most successful televisions shows of all time.

    So yes, prior to partisan politics, Donald was both well known and universally well-liked.

    Fact 2: No. The existence of bankrupt companies alone, doesn’t serve to falsify my point. It is a truism that what sets the successful businessman apart from the unsuccessful guy is not the non-existence of failure or even many failures, but the persistence and drive to ultimate success in the face of repeat setbacks.

    I’m not even going to go into the weeds of all the ways bankruptcy law can be a smart, strategic tactic in business.
    Especially complex real estate holdings.

    Donald Trump may very well not be as rich or successful as he claims. He may also not be as personally responsible for the success he claims.

    But that’s not the point.

    In a very commonsense way, by any reasonable understanding, Don is obviously an adept businessman, and has had a very lucrative and successful career, matched by precious few people on this planet. And he did it in an especially cutthroat competitive environment.

    Fact 3. You state something true: Trump’s daddy was indeed rich.

    But look at Trump’s sister: a judge with a modest income. And Trump’s brother: a drunk, not early as rich, and now dead.

    Donald is enormously more wealthy than his father.
    Clearly, Donald has done something to take a modest estate and grow it into a dynastic fortune

    His siblings did not. So it would seem the existence of common parentage–a rich daddy– is not sufficient to explain his wealth.

    Fact 4: Yes. Trump is a serial litigant involved in a class action lawsuit. I’m completely ignorant as to the Donald’s responsibility in this dispute, all the relevant details, or the implications of this case. I must confess, however, I can’t fathom how its outcome, whatever it is, could change my vote.

    Though, since Hillary is civilly and criminally scandal-free, maybe it should?

    Fact 5: Yes, regrettably he went on television and did that. Shameful. He’s vulgar. I don’t like that one whit. Given a choice, I’d love to have a wholesome and virtuous candidate.
    Or even one who looked and comported himself like Mitt Romney.

    This instance of vulgarity, does not however contradict my point about him demonstrating the requisite level of self-control and discipline, and intelligence to run a very large and complex business empire. He appears to be driven and ambitious, for example. And has avoided a number of vices that would have imperiled his success.

    Fact 6: Haha. I’m sorry, but you’re just falling for trolling and media hysteria with this Don Jr alt-right thing. Unless you’re 15-25ish, and have a deep, inside-baseball like knowledge of internet trolling, hacking, esoteric memes, and arcane imageboards, I can promise you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about–or how deep this rabbit hole goes.

    Don’t believe me?

    The internet has done something very interesting: it’s fracturing big communities and forming small, self-selected insular ones. Unless you wish to take a good month off to dive into and live in this uncanny corner of the web, and really understand what’s going on–its slang, ethos, mythos, norms, etc– best to just pass over it in silence. This is like angry, old parents making irritated half-attempts to understand Punk Rock from the inside.

    As just released yesterday, the credulous press was trolled into believing this–many pranksters just intentionally made up outrageous claims to see if they would lap it all up:

    But suffice to say, Donald has many (other) children, and they’ve lived suitably long adult lives in the public eye. They appear to be decent, well-adjusted, well-spoken, intelligent people, who love and respect their father.

    Given reasonable priors, and the totality of evidence, I’m going to safely say that claims that Don Jr. is some neo-nazi are prima facie incredible.

    Fact 7: Wow. I was shocked when I read this. I’d never heard it before. In fact, I had always thought Donald’s seemingly amicable relationship with his exec’s counted towards my probablistic estimation of his agreeableness.

    After reading, however, I must thank you twice. Because 1) it’s a wonderful example of typical liberal duplicity and gullibility; and 2) a wonderful example of how some women turn “regret” into “rape”, and then take it to court:

    I quote from the article you cited:

    “Ivana stated she “felt violated” and that her husband had raped her. Later, Ivana Trump released a statement saying: “During a deposition given by me in connection with my matrimonial case, I stated that my husband had raped me. [O]n one occasion during 1989, Mr. Trump and I had marital relations in which he behaved very differently toward me than he had during our marriage. As a woman, I felt violated, as the love and tenderness, which he normally exhibited towards me, was absent. I referred to this as a ‘rape,’ but I do not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.”

    I’m sure that you’re arguing in good faith, so you didn’t read this in full and just copied the url.

    Otherwise, I think you’d agree with me that citing this article in defense of the grave claim that Donald “raped his wife” is wicked and libelous .

    Really, you could not ask for a better insight into the bizarre rationalization of the female mind. I say this as a young women myself. Just one who bemoans that feminism is less the belief that men and women are morally equal, and increasingly the dictum that women are innocent.

    After so many public rape hoaxes that have been sensationally exploded — Tawana Bawley, Duke Lacrosse and the UVA rape disasters, come to mind– you’d think libs would stop their desperate search for the great evil white male defendant. Still rather surprising that in a population of 200 million or so, they can’t find a legit one on the regular.

    In fact, the rape claims against Bill Clinton by Juanita Broderick appear vastly more credible!!

    Are you aware that Juanita’s, a young Democratic, nursing home executive, her claims are corroborated by a nurse who attended to her injuries after Bill Clinton allegedly violently rape:

    Read up on this story. And read up on Hillary’s behavior in response. We know she has repeated gone on the warpath, and attacked all of the women who have come forward with grievances against Bill–grievances which have largely proven creditable, I believe.

    Fact 8. Yes, I’m aware that Donald and his ghost writer have an acrimonious relationship. But once again, these point refutations, even if true, are missing the reality.

    Donald has lived a long life, and met and worked with a mind-boggling number of people. My contention is not that Donald Trump is a saint, or that he has made no mistakes.

    Neither is my contention anything so fragile and silly as ‘Donald Trump has no enemies’. I’m sure Donald made plenty.

    Rather my point is that the objective, overall impression–the substantial testimony of Donald Trump’s nigh 70 years of life– is that he is rather well-liked and respected by his peers and colleagues the Trump organization, and numerous other folks from all walks of life. Or, at the very least, he did not overnight transmogrify into the most foul fascist-racist-tyrannical Nazi madman we’ve ever seen.

    For years across NYC, Donald has been famously friendly and with all sorts of the prole, blue collar types.Not just the rich!

    Donald has promoted many blacks and hispanics in his org.
    His path breaking hires of women in the construction and real estate biz were written-up a lot during the 80s. And he did this when it was a lot less popular.

    There is, in short, no conspicuous pattern or abundance of animus, esp from those he is close to.

    Your claim that “he has nothing but animus–given and taken” is really just another textbook example of the unhelpful hyperbole of the election. I think your judgment has been distorted by your passionate partisanship.

    Ditto your assertions that I’m arguing “in bad faith”, “deplorable” or –most radical of all–“at odds with basic human values”.

  114. adamt Says:

    NotATrumpSupporter #94, I wasn’t being particularly pedantic in my usage of the term neo-nazi. To me it means engaging or supporting, for an extended period, knowingly or not, overt displays of racist hate filled actions/speech. Feel free to substitute that and see if it doesn’t comport better with the article above and the individuals involved.

    Rathramnus #105, why don’t you scroll up and click through some of the links in #100 for the evidence you seek that Trump and is ilk engaging in lunacy and racism. Or maybe you think BLM is a racist movement in which case, care on, bye.

  115. Rafael Says:

    The thing that you (Americans) are not going to change is that the next president is going to be a bad president. Period.

    But I wonder how can a bad president take so much wrong decisions to threaten the American so called democracy. How is that so? You have the Congress, the Senate, the Supreme Court and other democracy instruments, I guess. And if the things get really bad, there should be a way to put the president out of the way (like it was done this year in Brazil).

    So, how is the chance that Trump, if elected, could really start the Third World War? I guess he won’t be able to toy around with nuclear weapons, terrorism assaulting and conflicts in the Middle East no more than the past presidents did.

  116. YKYKYK Says:

    “And if the world of 1992-2000 and 2008-2016 was “Orwellian,” then I guess Orwellianism isn’t so bad!” FOR YOU.

    The problem is that you are not a representative sample, you belong to the 99th percentile.

  117. adamt Says:

    Emmy #113,

    You support a candidate who wished a to kill the innocent family members of suspected terrorists. You support someone who willingly and intentionally is ok with killing an innocent two year old toddler. So yes, you support someone at odds with very basic human values and therefore I think at the vet least calls into question your own.

    Bye, I am well aware of how deep the cesspool of hate is in your rabbit holes. Your comments about women are deplorable. Bye.

  118. Scott Says:

    Sorry, I had to leave some comments from both sides (Trump and anti-Trump) in the moderation queue that were full of personal insults. Let’s keep it civil, OK?

  119. Scott Says:

    YKYKYK #116:

      The problem is that you are not a representative sample, you belong to the 99th percentile.

    I’m well aware that I’m unrepresentative in various ways, but I also know the statistics, which say that actual standards of living, rates of violent crime, variety of beverages available in the supermarket, whatever you want measure, are all pretty close to the best they’ve ever been in human history for most Americans. Of course, it might not seem that way—not if other people are doing even better than you, or if other people’s fortunes are improving while yours are staying the same or declining a bit (while still remaining sky-high in historical terms). And actual prosperity and safety might not translate into subjective happiness or feeling of security—especially not if there are huge media organizations that stay in business by amplifying scary-but-unrepresentative events (terrorist attacks, murders by illegal immigrants, etc.) a thousandfold in importance.

  120. nony Says:

    Kill yourself kike.

  121. nshepperd Says:

    Here’s a crazy idea.

    A fully general strategic vote trading website, open for anyone to use (not just trump opposers). You input your state/district and preferences over candidates. Could be an ordinal ranking, or approval vote, or even some arbitrarily complex preference. Then the system automatically derives a match up between two users where the trade benefits both, and presents a page to each explaining the trade and *how* it benefits both users.

    I think this may be preferable, since it would prevent splitting the vote trading “community” (as with makeminecount vs balancedrebellion). However, more complex.

  122. Emmy Noether Says:

    lol, i think you missed my sarcasm. i was mock insulting myself and calling *myself* “deplorable”, having “empathic deficiencies”, etc. not anyone else, haha

  123. Scott Says:

    nony #120: Thanks for the thought! I find your straightforwardness refreshing.

  124. quax Says:

    EN, Comment #122, it is indeed rather ironic that you think your mock self-insults qualify as sarcasm, as you continue to denigrate Emmy Noether’s name.

    Says all one has to know about you.

  125. quax Says:

    The sophisticate and the thug. Two perfect prototypes of fascist followers on display in this thread.

    A media already corporate controlled – yep, it can’t happen here …

  126. ooflogstarn Says:

    @quax Comment #124 How can you complain about using the name Emmy Noether while using the name of a famous nazi movie yourself?

  127. wolfgang Says:

    I would only like to add this observation to this sad debate:

    There can be no doubt that the Clintons are much better at business than The Donald could ever be.
    When they left the White House they were “flat out broke” but within a few years were able to accumulate hundreds of millions in personal wealth.
    And this while they almost exclusively dedicated their lives to helping the poor, underprivileged and minorities.

    But we already knew that Hillary was a business genius after her amazing but brief career trading futures.

  128. KoranBurningFagget Says:

    There is going to be a TRUMPSLIDE. No wars for HilLIARy’s (((masters))). Unlike in Bosnia this time the US won’t attack indigenous Europeans trying to kick 3rd world illegal alien moslems out of their homelands, we will be helping them.

    The home mosque of every moslem that kills an American will be destroyed, not just burned like the Orlando one this week. TRUMP will fund a live game show “Don’t Garrote Fewer Felons Than a FA Got” to clear out moslem, illegal alien criminals and death row.

  129. Michael P Says:

    Scott #119:

    Yes, we objectively as a whole society live much better than our ancestors. But I’m not so sure that the objective state of affairs is what really counts for an average human being.

    The problem is that too many people see life as being graded on a curve. After the basic needs are satisfied the question “do I have enough to eat” (the need which can be satisfied for everybody) gets replaced by “am I better off than all my neighbors” (the want that by its very nature can be satisfied for a small percentage).

    Therefore, quite paradoxically, improvements in the objective quality of life that saturate the demand for the basic needs shift perception of the quality of life to the curve-graded area of want and therefore decrease the perceived quality of life.

  130. quax Says:

    ooflogstarn, are you upset that I disgrace Nazi propaganda? That’s a new one. At any rate brownie points for Web research into the name.

  131. Scott Says:

    KBF #128: Again, thanks for the comment—contributions like yours really encourage me and my readers to rethink our stereotypes about Trump supporters!


  132. Mark Srednicki Says:

    NYT article today:
    #NeverTrump app:

  133. Steven Buss Says:

    I’m glad to see, but I don’t think the ninth circuit ruling was clear enough on whether or not the swap platform can advocate for a particular candidate. Also, without social pressure to follow through on your swaps people won’t act like they pledge.

  134. Steven Buss Says:

    I’m working on, which will integrate with Facebook to pair people up with friends or friends of friends. Knowing who you’re swapping with will lead to social pressure to vote like you promise to. I’d love help getting it launched:

  135. Another Trump Democrat Says:

    Michael P #129 (reiterating and agreeing with Scott #119). Your analysis has a serious flaw. Unequal outcomes is not what bothers people. People appreciate the opportunity to better their conditions, and therefore they accept that some people may have better circumstances than others through hard work, talent, contributions to society, or even some good luck, as long as the situation is fair, just and deserved. People do not like unfairness, injustice and undeserved outcomes, whether good or bad. People do not like some gaining at the expense of others via cheating, unfair bias, dishonesty, crime, corruption (and of course these activities can be purely destructive with no gainers). The perpetrators of these antisocial actions include influential elites who in the name of egalitarianism designate winners and losers (or sometimes just losers) in order to impose a pretense at equal outcomes (at the expense of equal opportunity). These elites are politically on the left, they are explicitly racist and biased in other ways, yet they accuse their opponents of such bias. The targets of these attacks are usually powerless (not privileged) to stop them and often the intended beneficiaries suffer too. In the end these egalitarianist attacks by influential elites, undermine equal opportunity, and fail at creating equal outcomes, while making society more unfair and injust. People can see favoritism aimed at criminals and illegal immigrants. People can see hardworking honest people struggling to escape crime, and get access to safe challenging education.

    People can see the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of political correctness and social justice warriors, and can see the many ways they undermine society.

    People can see the refusal to acknowledge the true nature of terrorism, and the effect it has on society.

    Anyone who is not criminally insane can see the difference between legality and illegality. So people can easily see through the ploy of talking about “immigration” without clearly distinguishing between LEGAL immigration and ILLEGAL immigration. People can see the motives of the illegal immigrants (economic self-interest, obviously, with no regard for rules), and people can see the motives of their supporters (1) Anarchists who want to see no rules and no borders, (2) criminals involved in drugs, human transport, recruiting to armed criminal gangs, (3) crooked businesses who evade employment law and tax law, (4) racists who support illegal immigrants for racist reasons and (5) the Democrats who see in illegal immigrants a huge vote-mining opportunity.

    There really is such a thing as the “loony left” and the “wacky right”, but at this time the “wacky right” is very diminished, while the “loony left” is on the verge of taking over completely.

    People can see all this. (Except, according to Scott #107, >95% of extremely intelligent people cannot see this.) That’s why millions of Democrats will vote for Trump.

  136. echo Says:

    I hope you look back on this post in a decade and realize how mindkilled you sounded.

  137. Scott Says:

    echo #136: Sixteen years later, I can look back on what I wrote about George W. Bush in 2000, and what’s obvious with hindsight is that I didn’t do enough to prevent the disaster that I correctly foresaw.

  138. B Says:

    Regarding the calls in #65 to engage in more discussion with the Trump supporters…After watching videos like, or having some of my loved ones (who happen to be immigrants in the US or not be white) feel threatened and get harassed, my reaction is towards action to stop the evil behind all this from getting control of the US nuclear arsenal, not towards contemplation. And arguing with a few people on the Internet is not a particularly useful course of action, as far as I can see.

  139. Sniffnoy Says:

    Scott #137: To add to what you’re saying, I think it’s worth noting here — because of Trump, there seems to be this tendency now to act like Bush II wasn’t a disaster. But it’s worth remembering that, by ordinary presidential standards, he was a disaster>. It’s just that Trump would be a mega-disaster, a disaster on a larger scale; it’s only by comparison that one can say, “Oh, Bush wasn’t so bad, he was an ordinary president”.

  140. Max Says:

    It’s not going to work, Clinton is disliked too much. From your perspective it is just a fair trade off votes, from Johnson’s supporter’s perspective it will increase the chance of a disliked candidate being elected. If Democrats lose the election they deserve it. Maybe next time they would listen to people and not select a candidate with such unfavorable ratings.

    A Trump presidency will be a disaster but we will survive (not sure other countries will, he might bomb a few) and may thr political elite learn their lesson.

  141. wolfgang Says:

    @Scott #107

    >> Peter Thiel and who else?

    Carl Icahn and Scott Adams.
    In the science blogosphere Stephen Hsu and of course your best friend Lubos.

    Btw I agree with Scott A. that most people vote based on emotions and what he calls “word thinking” . They do not make rational decisions based on facts.
    I think Trump is the 1st US politician who fully exploits this.

  142. Bernie Sanders Says:

    hahahahaha, god i cannot WAIT to gas you fucking kikes

    enjoy the oven you godforsaken nation-wrecking parasites

  143. Scott Says:

    I’m leaving up the comment of BS #142, as well as similar comments, because they prosecute the case about the scariness of what Trump has unleashed better than anything I could write. In ten years of blogging, I’ve received almost every type of abuse imaginable from anonymous commenters, but this is the first time I’ve ever gotten this stuff.

  144. James Cross Says:


    Maybe going forward you could just give us an occasional digest of these types of comments.

    BTW, did you see this:

    I am not sure people realize how serious this stuff still is yet. And Trump plays the media and his interviewers like a violin.

    He says he won’t release his medical records then pulls them out of his pocket for Dr. Oz. Everybody bypasses the fact that the medical report could be bogus or omit numerous facts.

    He says he has an announcement about Obama’s birthplace then promotes his hotel and delivers a one liner that he will probably take back in about a week. His followers knows he doesn’t believe that Obama was born in America. He just said it to get elected. It doesn’t matter what he says now.

    Somehow Hillary is the one to distrust but he won’t release his taxes, he’s ripped off his contractors and the Trump university suckers, and his foundation is a complete scam.

    It’s all good game to his followers.

  145. Dan Richardson Says:

    The remarks by BS (#142) are indeed sickening. However, I’m not convinced that they are authentic (though I have no proof otherwise. There is a good chance of a democrat provocation here). There are many highly intelligent and respectful Republicans supporters, and even many Jews, like myself, who support Trump.

    Watching many street debates recently on Youtube you actually get to see the barbarity and level of cluelessness and violence of too many of Hillary’s supporters. And let us not forget that it were Bernie Sanders supporters who actually burned US and Israeli flags outside the DNC.

    As for #128, it is indeed written in bad taste, but I partially concur with the message of fighting back against radical Islam, including the completely reasonable and responsible declaration of Mr. Trump of a temporary halt on Muslim entering the US.

    Re Daniel #110 comment, I don’t see how the fact that in recent past it were American Muslims who committed terror acts on US soil, leads to the conclusion that we should raise the stakes even higher by bringing potential terrorists from enemy states (Syria) to the US. Obama’s suggestion to bring 10000 refugees is thus irrational.

  146. Dan Richardson Says:

    P.S. Indeed, I believe that we are now in a time in history, though not completely unique, where Jews are hated, bullied, and discriminated against by *both* the far right and the far left. However, I view the far left’s new kind of “pro-Islamic” antisemitism, as practiced in many US colleges today in the form of “Anti-Zionism” and BDS bullying, similar to the kind Jill Stein (and to a very limited extent Bernie Sanders) practice, much more dangerous. Since the latter form of antisemitism comes from the establishment, intellectuals, the media, and university seniors, in contrast to the ordinary street bullies of the extreme right.

  147. John Sidles Says:

    The alt-Trumpers have been struggling to explain why notable mathematicians and scientists — like Terry Tao, Lennie Susskind, Stephen Hawking, Scott Aaronson, and many more — favor progressive platforms overwhelmingly.

    Why is this? The alt-Trump answer is incredibly obvious!

    The alt-Trump blanket explanation covers myriad topics, including fundamentalist terrorism, anthropogenic global warming, market failures, literary deconstruction, ecological conservation, ozone layer physics, social shaming, healthcare systems, and pesticide regulation … isn’t that amazing?

  148. quax Says:

    DR: #146, there is no doubt that antizionsim on the left mixes with antisemitism to varying degrees. But I am not aware of any eliminationist antisemitism from the left.

    Failing to distinguish between the two is a deadly mistake.

  149. Another Trump Democrat Says:

    @Scott #143
    My reaction is similar to Dan Richardson #145, #146 (except I’d never heard of BDS bullying – I had to google it – more viscious sociopathy from the left.) Clearly someone is posting hateful remarks, e.g. #120, #142, but it could be anybody – a far-right bigot, a cunning social justice warrior, or a teenage internet troll. Unless you believe Donald Trump himself posted this stuff on your blog, I don’t see why you should be blaming him. The idea that Trump is “unleashing” any kind of far-right stuff, or that he’s racist, bigoted, crazy, dangerous, extreme is just politics-as-usual negative campaigning. In reality he’s centrist and moderate, and his policy to enforce the laws against illegal immigration is sensible and reasonable and is supported by honest, decent, respectable, non-deplorable people for perfectly good reasons.

  150. Michael P Says:

    JS #147: notable mathematicians and scientists have been known to make serious mistakes on social issues, most notably socialism, and more recently Israel. I think a part of it due to failure to detect the outright lies in the facts presented to them. If one presents fudged data along with a theory that explains the completely bogus trends in said fudged data it’s likely that a mathematician would confirm that the theory is sound. This is one of the reasons why one shouldn’t accept an argument by authority.

    This elections doesn’t seem to be one of those cases though. One can tell that Trump would be a disaster based on the things he himself publicly said. There is no data democrats could fudge: one doesn’t even have to listen to their commentary, Trump himself explains his views very well. And, frankly, one doesn’t need much math to see that his presidency would be a disaster, based on his own testimony.

    It would help, though, to convince more people if one would outline the consequences of his intended actions to an average voter. Something like this:

    Trump calls for tariffs on imports from China. Therefore your T-shirt will cost twice as much.

    Trump calls for deportation of all illegal aliens. Therefore your food will cost trice as much.

    Trump calls for strong anti-muslim polices. Therefore the price of your gas will quarduple and the price of everything that needs to be moved around will increase too.

    Trump said that US shouldn’t pay national debt in full. That would plummet the value of US dollar overseas, and therefore at least quintuple the prices of all imported goods, not to mention making international travel impossible for most Americans.

    So far one can see that Trump, if elected and if willing and able to implement the policies he now promote, would make Americans poor. The disaster doesn’t end with economics though:

    Trump repeatedly hurled insults on various kinds of minorities. If such attitudes permeat US government they ought to cause severe racial tensions and likely violence across the US. Think LA riots of 1992 in most major cities across the nation.

    Trump said repeatedly to his advisors that he doesn’t understand why he shouldn’t use the nukes when he gets his hand on them. Therefore one cannot ignore the possibility that he actually will.

    It looks like we don’t have to refer to mathematicians and scientists to tell that americans shouldn’t vote for trump. Unless, of course, they want to live in a poor hundry isolated nation ravaged by racial violence.

    Come to think of it, Trump may be right about one thing: Mexico may indeed pay for that wall. One has to stop destitute americans from crossing the border somehow.

  151. John Sidles Says:

    The “never Trump” faction at our family get-togethers encompasses 100% of the (in alphabetical order) Buddhists, Catholics, conservationists, construction workers, dancers, deist philosophers, defense analysts, engineers, family farmers, feminists, Friends, gays, healthcare providers, historians, immigrants, Irish, Jews, lawyers, mathematicians, Methodists, Mexicans, musicians, painters, Reaganites, scientists, Seventh Day Adventists, small business owners, social activists, Swedes, teachers, Unitarians, veterans, and writers (these subsets overlap considerably).

    Trump is the first candidate, from either party, ever to unite our diverse family! 🙂

    As for alt-Trumpers, there are none. Because what self-respecting alt-Trumper would care to embrace, or help to sustain, families as heterogeneous as ours?

    Already our family-members are casting our ballots (by mail) and donating to anti-Trump candidates up and down the ballot. And if after the debates, Trump polls anywhere near to winning, then more donations — very substantial donations — and boots-on-the-ground volunteers too, will flow to swing-state campaigns.

    When you step on the toes of one Sackett, they all come running” (as Louis L’Amour puts it). The way we see it, American families like ours can no more disentangle our mutual respect and love, than Donald Trump can remediate his fundamental incomprehension of our diverse affections, or unwind his Putin-contaminated global business interests.

  152. Dr. Common Sense Says:

    Professional mathematicians and famous academics support the mass immigration candidate for basically the same reason as strawberry farm owners – they benefit from cheap (graduate student) labor. Sure, some strawberry farmers might think they have high minded principled reasons for their political beliefs and campaign contributions, but as Upton Sinclair said “it’s difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

  153. John Sidles Says:

    Dr. Common Sense (of #152),
    what do you want to be when you grow up? §
    — — — —
    §  Q & A from the ever-illuminating Existential Comics. 🙂

  154. Scott Says:

    Dr. Common Sense #152: How does your theory explain the disproportionate support among academics for Bernie Sanders, who was considerably more of an immigration restrictionist than Hillary?

    Having said that, I’ll grant your theory this much: as an academic, I value the creation and dissemination of knowledge extremely highly, probably more highly than anything else after bare survival. So yes, I’m likely to support policies that my experience as an academic tells me are conducive to the creation and dissemination of knowledge. And all else equal, the free flow of people and goods between countries is such a policy.

  155. Another Trump Democrat Says:

    I cannot fathom how people can talk about “immigration” without clearly distinguishing between LEGAL immigration and ILLEGAL immigration.

  156. JebEllisBush Says:


    Hi! I’m a grad student at CMU SCS, which may mean that I am uniquely positioned to help in some way. My personal web/iOS skills are nonexistent, but maybe I can perform some sort of ground-game function to organize or recruit people who can do this. My connections are currently pretty sparse, since I am a first-year, but perhaps I can still be of use. Let me know how I can help most effectively.

  157. Scott Says:

    ATD #155: Out of curiosity, is there anyone who favors amnesty for illegal immigrants but also a severe tightening of legal immigration, or conversely, the deportation of illegal immigrants but also an expansion of legal immigration? I.e., do we have examples showing that the two issues are less than perfectly correlated?

  158. John Sidles Says:

    In his (non-partisan) official capacity as Secretary of Defense under both Republican and Democratic administrations, Robert Gates fostered significantly expanded immigration and citizenship for military service members.

    Extending Dr. Gates’ military immigration model (and also Gates’ LGBT model) to the entire nation, would compose the concrete rule-of-law yet immigration-friendly middle path for which Scott requested the names of advocates.

    Now retired, Dr. Gates deplores the inability of Washington leaders to synthesize effective compromises. In regard to the Presidential election, Dr. Gates assesses Donald Trump as candidate who is “flawed beyond repair.”

    Unsurprisingly, Dr. Gate’s compromises are excoriated by the far-left for being too limited and too slow, and by the far-right for being too radical and too fast. That’s why I like him! 🙂

  159. BLANDCorporatio Says:

    irt. Scott 157:

    Counter-examples seem rare, and the one I can give is rather stretching it.

    Not from the US, but rather from Europe– Slavoj Žižek. With the caveat that it’s tricky to pin down exactly what he thinks, it appears he would have preferred there to be tighter border controls as a means to cope with the Syrian refugee crisis, while cautioning that the upswing in racism and xenophobia in Europe is the real danger to western civilization and its Enlightenment legacy.

    Similar sentiments among some ordinary folk in Germany– a mix of acknowledging that the refugee situation needs European countries to lend a humanitarian hand, mixed with fears about the dangers of failed integration, crime and so on. There has to be a middle-ground between the ever more present alle fremde raus and the shrill refugees welcome/open-the-borders-no-matter-whats.

  160. Douglas Knight Says:

    Scott 157, if you collapse it to a binary, there may be few examples, but there are many people who have quantitatively different opinions on the two subjects. In particular, a lot of people are opposed to unskilled immigration. Thus they don’t like illegal immigrants, and they would like to reform legal immigration, but they have diverse and usually weak opinions on the quantity of legal immigration. Maybe people praise the Canadian system of immigration for allowing in more per capita than America, being picky about whom it lets in, and enforcing its laws. (Although most people who praise it are only praising one of those because they don’t know about the others.)

  161. quax Says:

    Douglas Knight, I think it should also be pointed out that after the Conservatives were booted out of power, Canada stepped up its commitment to accept Syrian refugees. As a policy this is pretty uncontroversial, since there is not much of a juxtaposition made between terror and immigration. Something I mostly attribute to the differences in news reporting.

  162. Another Trump Democrat Says:

    @Scott#157 Quick answer. Consider any type of activity X which comes in legal and illegal versions. Generally people will approve of legal X and disapprove of illegal X, for very good reasons. It doesn’t matter what X is. It’s the contrast between legal and illegal that is the crux of the matter.

  163. mouse Says:

    Quax # 161

    Do you know where to find the poll results that your link refers to?

    I went looking and (1) most of the news articles simply copied-and-pasted the same statements from each other, and (2) I could not find a link to the actual poll.

    (I really hate it when journalists do this — why not link to the damn poll?!)

    Anyway, I ask because the statement “However, 35 per cent of respondents didn’t support the plan were concerned…” which suggests things are far from a consensus.

  164. Michael P Says:

    Scott #157:
    I favor expansion of legal immigration and simultaneous efforts to reduce illegal immigration. Could you point me to a contradiction in my views please?

  165. Michael P Says:

    Scott #157:
    Perhaps I should expand a bit on why unchecked illegal immigration is detrimental to legal visitors of this country.
    It became very difficult for US government to deport illegal immigrants. Therefore US is now much tighter than before in issuing temporary visas. There is a certain presumption of guilt in the way the process seems to be handled: US evaluates somehow the likelihood that the applicant would overstay his visa and in case of any suspicion that the applicant may be an illegal immigrant in the making the visa is denied. I personally know of two people who were denied a visa, one of them couldn’t visit her cousin recovering from a severe head injury; I’ve heard from acquaintances of parent who weren’t able to come to their daughter’s wedding; the company I used to work for reconsidered making an offer to a talented engineer, etc.
    The inability to deal with illegal immigrants combined with a possibility that a temporary visa would create an illegal immigrant caused US to deny entrance to people who shouldn’t be denied.
    Therefore I don’t believe that the interests of legal visitors and immigrants are aligned with interests of illegal immigrants.

  166. Vitruvius Says:

    Mr. Trump may be a Schmuck, but Mrs. Clinton is a Shyster.

  167. Scott Says:

    Michael #164: I don’t claim there’s any contradiction in your views. In fact, I share the view that legal immigration should be easier and illegal immigration should be harder. But that’s not Trump’s view—his “plan” calls for decreasing legal immigration as well as deporting the illegals.

    More broadly, this isn’t an issue I’m emotional about. What I was missing examples of, were people who are emotional about cracking down on illegal immigration, who don’t also want to further restrict legal immigration. You might be the first I’ve met, in which case thanks.

  168. Michael P Says:

    Scott #167:

    If strong emotions are a part of what you are looking for I’m only 1/2 of the example: emotional about increase of legal immigration and visitor visas, but merely logical in the opinion that illegal immigration should be reduced. I don’t hold xenophobic views on illegal immigrants; for me the reason illegal immigration should be prevented is because it negatively affects legal immigration and visitation. Besides prior examples of denied visitation visas, I personally know a person who has been waited for 10 years in his home country for a decision on his legal immigration application, which was postponed year after year because resolving the status of illegal immigrants already in USA took priority.

    I find it curious that, as you pointed out, most people seem to assume that the interests of legal and illegal immigrants are aligned, which is not always so.

  169. quax Says:

    mouse, #163 wouldn’t call it a broad consensus either, just a majority leaning towards support. E.g. the former conservative government was not keen on Syrian refugees, and almost Trumpish in their approach of fast-tracking Christian Syrians.

    What is fortunately missing is a media outlet for the right wing fear of Syrian refugees.

  170. quax Says:

    mouse, #163 forgot to add, don’t know the original poll either.

  171. Another Trump Democrat Says:

    @Scott #157, I made the point in #162 that the major dichotomy (for a wide range of X) is between legal X and illegal X. But then the details of legal X can involve countless qualitative and quantitative issues. Your (Scott’s) question/curiosity in #157 and #167 is akin to wondering if people who oppose illegal driving want to increase speed limits. I find it an odd question to pose. Opposing illegal X (as a general philosophy, most of the time, for most X) just makes sense for many reasons. But for any quantity Q, being permanently pro-increasing Q or being permanently pro-decreasing Q, generally doesn’t makes sense. It make much more sense to want change in a direction and magnitude that causes improvement. Mindlessly always pushing in one direction is a terrible strategy for making the world a better place. Unfortunately, it is a very common strategy.

  172. John Sidles Says:

    Michael P assertsm [#168, with 50% correctness] “I personally know a person who:
    (1) has been waited for 10 years in his home country for a decision on his legal immigration application,
    (2) which was postponed year after year because resolving the status of illegal immigrants already in USA took priority.”

    Anecdote (1) is typical, but reason (2) is specious, as follows.

    Per VisaNow’s useful website U.S. visa wait times: Who’s waiting and for how long?, there were in categories F1,F3, and F4 — sons, daughters, and siblings of US citizens — a total of 3,592,725 pending visas for immediate blood relatives of US citizens. Consonant with the anecdote (of #168), the waiting times for these categories indeed date back as far as 1990 … twenty-five years!

    This generation-long train wreck has been created by two long-standing Republican policies that originate in the House of Representatives: (a) privatise the processing of visa applications, then (b) underfund the processing itself. Anyone who is forced to deal with Immigration Services — as have 3.5M American families — has experienced the disastrous delays and hugely incompetent decisions that result from these Republican policies.

    Political calculus explains the GOP’s policies of institutionalized incompetence and injustice. Slow-rolling immigration applications plays well in the gerrymandered “red” districts that sustain Republican control of the House. The Senate however, can’t be gerrymandered; here Republican control is tenuous. The Presidency most directly reflects the overall will of the electorate; here the Republican Party’s sole path to victory is through Trumpish demagoguery.

    Is it any wonder, that illegal immigration has grown to be so great a problem in the USA, when the laws governing legal immigration have been so egregiously obstructed, generation-after-generation, by the GOP?

    Is there any realistic prospect, that the GOP will reverse its institutionalized immigration practices, sufficient to implement the existing law-of-the-land? The GOP’s own political calculus supplies the plain answer: “no”.

    Yet on the other hand, these 3.5M pending visa applicants are blood-kin to tens of millions of American citizens: under no circumstances will these citizens ever vote for Donald Trump or any other GOP candidate up-and-down the ticket. The GOP seeks to suppress their voting; the Democrats to maximize it.

    These institutionalized practices of law-suborning and vote-suppression — practices that are enthusiastically endorsed by the alt-right, alt-white, and alt-lite — are so entirely inconsistent with the best traditions of American conservatism, as to gravely harm the GOP’s reputation as any kind of conservative political party, isn’t that correct?

  173. Michael P Says:

    @John Slides #172: the delays in visa processing are quite insane indeed.

    I’m not sure, however, that this is all due to GOP conspiracy to prevent immigrants from voting. If that was so then one would see much longer delays in the naturalization process than in visa issuing process. In this sequence:

    you are overseas -> you get a visa and come to US -> you get a permanent resident status -> you are naturalized as US citizen and vote against GOP

    the longest delay seems to be in the 1st arrow, not the last one.

    Moreover, the delay in the same last arrow would also apply to this process:

    you sneak across the border -> you get amnesty -> you are naturalized as US citizens and vote against GOP

    but the delay in visa issuing only affects the legal immigration path, not illegal one.

    Yes, naturalization also takes years, but “only” 5-ish according to the people I know, not 10+ as the visa issuing process.

    It’s quite possible that the delays in visa issuing are caused by general messiness and inefficiency of US bureaucracy, not necessarily a GOP conspiracy to obstruct it.

  174. John Sidles Says:

    Recommended if your family has a stake in any of the 3.6M pending blood-relative visa applications:

    • before submitting any paperwork at all,
       hire a top-quality immigration lawyer, and
    • prepare all paperwork scrupulously
       (there will be a LOT of it), and
    • ensure that you and the lawyer BOTH
       understand ALL the paperwork, and
    • keep scrupulous copies of all paperwork
       and communications
    • at the first sign of obstruction or incompetence,
       immediately request assistance from your
       Democratic Party senator or representative

    What’s that? Your family’s representative is Republican?

    Then your family is *SO* out of luck. Resign yourself to a hellish multiyear privatized bureaucratic ordeal that will make Franz Kafka’s The Castle seem like Anne of Green Gables.

  175. My “Get in the Vote” Campaign Says:

    […] Alexander linked to this very clever proposal by Scott Aaronson: In order to stop Trump, people in “safe” states coordinate with […]

  176. tomepats Says:

    I read the article and a large portion of the comments before they started to devolve and repeat themselves. I say that because I don’t think this has been addressed but if it has I apologize.

    What is the incentive for a Gary Johnson supporter?

    Obviously a Hillary supporter would get their vote moved to a swing state but if someone is already voting for Gary Johnson then why would they want to help Hillary? If they think Trump is so bad that Hillary needs to win then they would just change their vote altogether.

    It seems that you could potentially create an incentive by promising 2 Johnson votes in exchange for one Clinton vote or something along those lines but I haven’t seen any discussion of this.

  177. Sniffnoy Says:

    tommepats #176: I think your comment is making a fundamental mistake, in that it’s asking “What candidate do you support?” rather than “What’s your preference ordering?” Any decent account of voting has to take account of the latter.

    What’s the incentive if you’re a Johnson supporter? Well, what’s your preference ordering? If it’s Johnson > Clinton > Trump — which, basically, are the Johnson supporters this is appealing to, otherwise you’re just not in the target audience — and you live in a swing state, then the strategically correct thing to do is to vote for Clinton.

    (At least in the short term, but — take a look at Trump. The short term matters here. In any case, if you want to really take down the two-party system in the long term, you’re not going to accomplish it purely by voting for third-party candidates; you’re going to need to change the voting system. Which we absolutely should do, but I’m going to avoid going on about that for now.)

    So the incentive is that you get to have your cake and eat it too. You get to cast the short-term strategically correct vote for Clinton, so that you help elect, out the two candidates that actually have a chance, the one your prefermore; while still getting the medium-term effect of a vote for Johnson, so that the Libertarian party can gain publicity and hopefully qualify for federal funding for the next election.

  178. GASARCH Says:

    Libertarians have often said they would not take federal matching funds if it was offered so getting up to 5% might not be there goal. That might make nader-trading less appearling to them. Also, they are the only ones here who could be double-crossed.

  179. DB Says:

    Michael P #76, Scott #80: The WSJ 9/29/16 (p A2) reports that the First US Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a New Hampshire law banning posts of photos of ballots (“voting-booth selfies”). I wonder if that will translate to a boost in verified vote-swapping?

  180. jonas Says:

    May I link Slate Star Codex’s two recent posts about Clinton vs Trump for president: “He Kept Us Out Of War?”, “SSC Endorses Clinton, Johnson, Or Stein”. (I’d like to keep saying “the other Scott A.” but that is ambiguous now when Scott Adams is also posting about the presidential election.)

  181. David Sanders Says:

    #142: If comments like these don’t clearly illustrate the immediate danger of Trump, I don’t know what does. I honestly can’t believe I am seeing this happening. What is driving this surge in hatred in this country? I simply can’t comprehend it. This political season has forced me to re-evaluate some basic things I thought were true about the world and about the society in which I am a citizen. I’m not sure I can handle the burden of this.

  182. Brian Says:


    big fan of all you do. I just wanted to defend Jill Stein a little in regards to your ‘pseudoscience’ comment. I think she has been badly badly misrepresented in the mainstream media. This article is a fine summary of the reality of Jill Stein.

    “You’d think Jill Stein was a card-carrying member of the Flat Earth Society. Stein graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, graduated from Harvard Medical School, practiced internal medicine at Beth Israel Hospital for 25 years and taught medicine at Harvard Medical School.”

  183. Steven Buss Says:

    Re #134: I’ve just launched another vote-swapping website:

    It only matches you with friends and friends-of-friends in your Facebook network. I believe this will keep most people honest due to the social pressure of not lying to your friends.

  184. Shtetl-Optimized » Blog Archive » May reason trump the Trump in all of us Says:

    […] Trump stands for, and I’ve been far from silent about it: I’ve blogged, donated money, advocated vote swapping, endured anonymous comments like “kill yourself kike”—whatever seemed like it […]

  185. MJ Tidwell Says:

    My biggest question about these vote trading apps/websites is how to balance technological advances with human nature. Yes, vote trading is now an option open to anyone with a smartphone or access to the internet- (do we consider that disruptive technology)? But the fundamental question is will the person you’ve partnered with actually go through with the trade? There is no way to tell how someone actually votes, so it seems a big part of this discussion is how much do you trust a friend or a stranger or an acquaintance or a slew of Johnson supporters from Ohio? Will the success or failure of vote swapping apps show us something deeper about the state of trust in the country during this election season?

  186. Shtetl-Optimized » Blog Archive » Time to vote-swap Says:

    […] blogged about anti-Trump vote-swapping before (and did an interview at Huffington Post with Linchuan Zhang), but now, for my most in-depth look […]

  187. you guessed it Says:

    The elites: it’s us or armaggedon
    The people: let’s have armageddon

  188. Scott Says:

    you guessed it #187: The trouble is, it’s only 40% of the people, who are willing to call down Armageddon on the remaining 60%.

  189. you guessed it Says:

    Scott #188: So, what are you worried about? Let the 60% vote for Clinton. Would be a sounding victory, wouldn’t it?

  190. Will vote trading make a difference? – Bosphorus Says:

    […] ago. Prominent blog posts from anthropologist Michael Oman-Reagan and quantum computing theorist Scott Aaronson spawned a new fervor for launching the vote swapping experiment on the modern […]

  191. Democrats Swapping Votes in Swing States to Help Hillary Could Tip Election – USSA News | The Tea Party's Front Page Says:

    […] science professor Scott Aronson argues that since members of Congress and state legislatures trade votes all the time, presidential vote […]