The Adventure of the Unfortunate Juxtapositon

… in my Amazon "Recommendations for you, Paul": Unfortunate

No, Raylan! He's one of the good guys!

Bernie: Liar or Fool?

Or both? Could be both.

I was, of course, happy to see Hillary thoroughly trounced in the New Hampshire Primary. But that's the good news. The bad news is the trouncer was Bernie Sanders.

Here's just one little thing I noticed in Bernie's victory speech:

Now, what the American people understand is that our great country was based on a simple principal [sic], and that principle is fairness.

This assertion is pretty easy to check given the "Find" functionality in your favorite web browser.

Bernie wants to paint his agenda as patriotic, rooted in bedrock all-American fundament. That assertion is based in deception or delusion (or, possibly, both).

I am not sure what valid arguments could be made in support of what I take to be Bernie's overall campaign points:

  • The Federal Government is hopelessly in thrall to the plutocratic wealthy;

  • So we should give the Federal Government vastly more money and power.

I am depressed that so many people see Bernie as a hero and "democratic" socialism as a swell idea.

Just wanted to get that off my chest.

2016 New Hampshire Primary Stuff

What follows is a hodgepodge of random spindle-clearing primary-related crap. I wouldn't blame you if you stopped reading here.

  • I attended a gathering of political junkies at the Manchester NH Radisson last Saturday night sponsored by National Review. I had previously attended in 2008 and 2012. This event is great fun, and recommended to anyone in the area who's interested.

    This year's event was run by publisher Jack Fowler, and scheduled to wrap around the GOP debate being held down the road a bit at St. Anselm's. It led off with a general discussion with Charles C. W. Cooke, Tim Alberta, and "Indispensable" Jim Geraghty. (Mr. Geraghty is not only indispensable, he's also quite funny on his feet.) Those three gave way to an NR/Ricochet-sponsored panel composed of Jonah Goldberg, Rob Long, and John Podhoretz for pre- and post-debate analysis and commentary. (Mr. Podhoretz is editor of Commentary magazine, so he's good at that.)

    I got my fanboy on by speaking briefly with Charles C. W. Cooke (I was able to tell him I liked his book very much), and Jack Fowler (who I hope I was able to impress by telling him I've been an NR reader for nearly 50 years.)

    As in previous years, I did not stay for the whole thing. (My ass flattens easily, I wouldn't have watched the debate had I been home, and the road back to Pun Salad Manor was long and dark.)

    Thanks much to National Review, and also to Skip Murphy and the other Granite Grok denizens I got to meet and sit next to.

  • Speaking of John Podhoretz, I thought his New York Post column on the NH results was insightful. After summarizing the key messaging of the winners, Trump and Sanders:

    Simple, straightforward and catchy — that’s the key. And none of it is your fault. Everything bad that’s happening, everything that makes you nervous and worried and uncertain about the future, is the result of a great wrong that is being done to you.

    JPod sees this election cycle as "the payback election — America at its worst."

    I hope he's wrong, fear he's correct.

  • Also insightful are Nick Gillespie and Joshua Swain writing at Reason, leading with this bit of trivia:

    The winners aren't even real members of the parties for whose nominations they are running.

    Nick and Joshua try to put a nice libertarian ("socially liberal and fiscally conservative") spin on this, but it's not very convincing. (Insightful, but unconvincing, is an unusual combination, but Nick and Joshua hit it.)

  • If you're feeling depressed about the results: here's (my close personal friend) Dave Barry’s 8 funniest lines from the New Hampshire primaries.

  • A little self-deprecation is in order. I took a free online course from the University Near Here on the New Hampshire primary. It was fun. Part of it involved participating on online discussions, one of which requested us to prognosticate.

    My predictions, made on November 27, 2015:

    1. Trump and Clinton will win New Hampshire. Rubio will come in a strong second.
    2. Sanders and O'Malley will win nowhere, and drop out before March 31.
    3. On the strength of his NH showing, Rubio will become the default non-Trump candidate, and other candidates will fade. Since Trump has such high negatives, he won't have a shot at the nomination, and Rubio gets it.
    4. The Rubio/Fiorina ticket ekes out a narrow win in November against Clinton/Castro.

    Practically couldn't have been more wrong! In my (slight) defense, predicting a Hillary win, in late November, was not as stupid as it sounds now. (See the Real Clear Politics polling history.) And who could have guessed that Rubio would self-immolate in the St. Anselm's debate?

    Still, I think the lesson is clear: I am not the guy you want to go to for accurate political predictions.

  • I remain mystified by Kasich's second-place showing. My best guess was in a twitter reply I made to Matt Welch last month:
  • And for another vaguely-primary related UNH connection, we had a famous campus visitor:

The Phony Campaign

2016-02-07 Update

Our PredictWise-based 2% probability criterion demands no lineup changes this week. And (once again) the only change to our ordering is the Bush/Rubio swap of fifth/sixth place. Yawn.

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 108,000 -252,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 98,100 -103,900
"Ted Cruz" phony 66,600 -91,400
"Bernie Sanders" phony 66,500 -31,400
"Marco Rubio" phony 53,300 -5,800
"Jeb Bush" phony 38,800 -28,900

But there's always fresh phony news to report:

  • Rubio might get a phony bump soon based on his debate performance last night; specifically his back-and-forth with Chris Christie (detailed at the NR Corner by David French) was inauthentic in a bizarre way.

    Marco Rubio’s already-famous exchange with Chris Christie was indeed a brutal moment. I still can’t believe that Rubio went back to the same talking point right after Christie called him on it. Watching it real-time, I honestly wondered if Rubio forgot what he just said. When he started to do the same thing a third time, I couldn’t believe my ears. Christie wasn’t masterful — not by any means — Rubio just served him the worst kind of hanging curve.

    Video at link. I swear, Rubio's responses seemed like they were generated by a buggy AI program that mistakenly worked itself into a tight loop.

  • To my ears, Donald Trump had a bad debate. When Mary Katherine Ham challenged him to distinguish his health care reform ideas from single-payer advocate Bernie Sanders … as Peter Suderman notes, "Trump claims he’s for common sense, and the proceeds to not make much sense at all." Trump's answer is quoted in full at the link.

    The obvious takeaway from this response is that Trump not only has no plan to replace Obamacare, he has idea what he’s talking what he’s talking about when it comes to health care policy, and doesn’t care that he’s clueless. It tells us nothing at all about health care, but it does tell us about Donald Trump and his presidential campaign.

  • In the debate, Trump also maintained his advocacy of eminent domain, trying very hard to blur the distinction between (a) Constitution-based takings (with just compensation, for public use), and (b) grabbing an elderly widow's house and land in order to build a casino's limousine parking lot. (Jeb Bush, of all people, was good on this.)

    A RedState contributor quotes Trump's response and begins commentary with

    Here Trump shows that he is either totally unaware of what eminent domain entails or he’s a duplicitous f*** who thinks you are stupid.

    [Frog? Face? Fowl? Fawn? Feeb? Fern? Fink? Fish? Fake? Oh, yeah, I guess it's "fake".]

  • Speaking of AI, some DOD whiz kids should figure out how to program Kevin D. Williamson's writing style into terrorist-hunting drones. When Kevin picks a target, he is deadly accurate and merciless. Today's example keys off this tweet from Terry Shumaker, New Hampshire lawyer, longtime Clinton sycophant:


    Hillary Rodham Clinton is not qualified to be president of the United States of America, because she doesn’t know what the United States of America are.

    Terry Shumaker, former U.S. ambassador to Trinidad (I wonder what that gig cost him) and current abject minion in the service of Mrs. Clinton, quotes Herself telling an audience in New Hampshire: “Service is the rent we pay for living in this great country.”

    There is a very old English word for people who are required to perform service as a rent for their existence, and that word is serf. Serfdom is a form of bondage.

    It gets better from there, so please RTWT.

    I was reluctant to put this in a phony campaign post, because this seems to be one of those rare times when Hillary reveals how she really thinks. But… <voice imitation="Doc Brown"> well, I figured, what the hell? </voice>

  • And I don't want to turn this into an too-National Review-based post, but Jonah Goldberg's G-File this week was pretty perceptive on the "authentic" Bernie Sanders. It's titled "Hillary’s Sincerity Problem", and it's about that too, but that's fish-in-barrel stuff. Jonah notes that in all Bernie's railing against the "rigged system", he's mystifyingly reluctant to make some obvious points:

    Bernie Sanders has to believe Hillary Clinton is part of the problem. But he won’t say so, save to prattle on about Clinton’s super PACs and speaking fees. That’s amateur-hour stuff. It’s academic-seminar-level griping, not revolution-fomenting. He wants to talk about the system, but he won’t do what is minimally required to change it. And right now, the first step on that long road is steamrolling Hillary Clinton. It’s like saying you want to do whatever it takes to fight malaria, but refusing to say much about the huge, sprawling, and fetid marshlands in the middle of downtown. The Clintons are swamp creatures, taking what they need and leaving in their retromingent wake the stench of corruption.

    Definition of "retromingent" here. You're welcome.

  • Does Trump have a couple of things right about the phony Cruz? Find out the shocking answer in Jennifer Rubin's Trump has a couple of things right about the phony Cruz.

    Donald Trump may not know Russian President Vladimir Putin is implicated in a killing or that “paying for everyone’s health care” is essentially single-payer, universal health care. Nevertheless, he does know something about dealing with other people, and in that regard is the perfect combatant to take on Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who knows virtually nothing about that.

    Ms. Rubin doesn't care for Trump, but she flat-out despises Ted Cruz.

The Phony Campaign

2016-01-31 Update

According to PredictWise, the President Bloomberg boomlet is over. At least for this week. So it's a good thing we bashed him last week when we had the chance.

And, for what seems like the 47th week in a row: the first four places are unchanged, while Bush/Rubio swap fifth/sixth place:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 360,000 +163,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 202,000 +105,500
"Ted Cruz" phony 158,000 +80,900
"Bernie Sanders" phony 97,900 +31,100
"Jeb Bush" phony 67,700 +36,200
"Marco Rubio" phony 59,100 +23,000

Note the increase in phoniness across the board. Should have expected that.

  • Intrepid pundits are in Iowa, of course. Roger L. Simon reports from a Des Moines hotel room, apparently unwilling to spring for pay-per-view:

    I was anxious to get back to my hotel because I had an eight a.m. interview with Carly Fiorina, a woman who is alway good for a soundbite. But being on L.A. time, I was unable to sleep and watched television for a couple of hours -- which means I viewed a non-stop orgy of political ads, some 96% of which were of the attack variety with some 96% of those completely phony nonsense. There wasn't even time for one measly Cialis ad. The amount of money spent on this swill -- $30 million against Marco Rubio alone, according to a press release from his campaign (and I tend to believe it) -- is mind-boggling and tests the limits of your belief in free speech. Mine survived, but barely.

    Roger, Roger. I can report that things are about the same here in New Hampshire. I think I would vote for any candidate whose commercials showed the slightest bit of humor, but that hasn't happened yet. TiVo and Netflix are saving my sanity.

  • My close personal friend Dave Barry is also in Iowa, and providing fresh content for the Miami Herald. You should check out his observations on Iowa restaurant cuisine, the curse of low-flow toilets, fringe candidate Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente, and the "Manure Applicator Training Session" at the annual Iowa Pork Congress. (And, yes, Dave does make the obvious "manure" connection to presidential politics.)

    Sample Iowa mythbusting from Dave:

    MYTH: Iowa lacks diversity.

    FACT: According to the 2010 Census, only 143 percent of Iowa’s nearly 8,000 residents are white, down from 156 percent in 2000.

    Dave's not running for President this year, which is a damn shame, because I would totally vote for him before voting for Trump. I may write him in.

  • You probably heard that Trump skipped a recent GOP debate due to his feud with Megyn Kelly. Instead, he held a "veterans event" at the same time. (Dave Barry: "a tribute to veterans, in the same sense that an Elvis concert was a tribute to Elvis’ backup band.")

    Trump also set up a website to solicit donations to help veterans! Yay! But as the Federalist reports: donations made at that site go "directly to Donald Trump’s personal non-profit foundation".

    And Trump's concern with vets seems, at best, newly-minted:

    Between 2009 and 2013, Trump’s non-profit donated between $100,001 and $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Over the same period of time, Trump’s group gave only $57,000 to veterans groups. A 2015 analysis by Forbes noted that barely 1 percent of the Donald J. Trump Foundation’s $5.5 million worth of donations betwen 2009 and 2013 went to organizations that support military veterans[.]

    If voters can't see through this guy, we're in trouble.

  • Did Hillary Clinton send top secret emails on her homebrew server? Find out the shocking answer from Peter Suderman's article, headlined "Despite What Her Campaign Wants You to Believe, Hillary Clinton Did Send Top Secret Emails on Her Homebrew Server". Suderman's well-documented conclusion:

    At virtually every turn, she and her campaign staffers have misled and dissembled, repeatedly making statements that later turn out to be false. In general, her attitude is one of disdain and dismissiveness, as if transparency and truthfulness about her unorthodox decision to conduct her State Department email business exclusively on a homebrew email server was unnecessary, or beneath her. She has displayed both a willful disregard for the truth and as a generalized resistance to public scrutiny and oversight. And that may tell us more about her, and what kind of president she might be, than any email she’s sent.

  • Back to the Republican side: you can't beat those Huckabee fans for phony-spotting:

    Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee put out a new television ad attacking fellow candidate Ted Cruz's Christian faith, accusing him of being a "phony" Christian for giving far less than 10 percent of his income to his church.

    This is the sort of thing that happens when you try to out-God your opponents.

  • I usually <abbr type="stupid">LOL</abbr> at the prank-signage worked up by Obvious Plant. He ventured into politics recently, with a comparison of Hillary vs. Bernie on the issues. Sample:

    [Obvious Plant]

The Phony Campaign

2016-01-24 Update

Well, that's exciting! Sort of. Well not at all: PredictWise has raised the probability of Michael Bloomberg becoming President to our 2% threshold. Welcome to the Phony Campaign, Mike!

He enters at the bottom, however. In other news, as seems to happen every week: Jeb and Marco have switched fifth and sixth place, no changes to the standings otherwise.

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 197,000 +95,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 96,500 +4,000
"Ted Cruz" phony 77,100 +6,500
"Bernie Sanders" phony 66,800 +17,700
"Marco Rubio" phony 36,100 +6,000
"Jeb Bush" phony 31,500 -100
"Michael Bloomberg" phony 8,830 ---

  • At Reason, Jesse Walker reminds us that Bloomberg made the magazine's 45 Enemies of Freedom list back in 2013. In fact, he was enemy number one, with Reason pointing out that he was "a figure who embodies so much that is wrong with public policy and the political conversation in these United States." There's no reason to assume he's undergone a libertarian conversion since then.

    More than anyone else in public life today, Bloomberg embodies the idea of managerial control. He will endorse the pettiest restrictions on human behavior as long as he can convince himself that they're for everyone's own good, and he isn't shy about enforcing his intrusive rules with intrusive policing. On the plus side, I doubt there's more than 50 people in the world who'd actually want him to be president. Then again, that's what I thought about Trump.

    Yes. In a year where the mass of voters seem to be uninterested in limited government and personal liberty, who's to say Bloomberg wouldn't have a shot?

    On the plus side, Bernie Sanders' head would probably explode on live TV.

  • At Breitbart, Michael Patrick Leahy complains:

    Trump campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson says the Sen. Ted Cruz campaign makes a claim, in a 30 second television ad now playing in Iowa, that Donald Trump “colluded with Atlantic City insiders to bulldoze the home of an elderly widow for a limousine parking lot at his casino,” which is an outright lie.

    Outright lie? Well… Here's the ad:

    About the only thing slightly shady is that it might imply that the Atlantic City widow's home was actually bulldozed. It wasn't: she successfully fought off its condemnation.

    Trump has long been a bête noire of the Club for Growth. Here's their video on the topic:

    Aside: I've pretty much given up on Breitbart.

  • If you've ever wondered whether Rubio comes off as phony in matters of faith like Trump does, you can find your answer in this Red State article headlined "Rubio Does Not Come Off as Phony in Matters of Faith Like Trump Does".

    Included is a pointer to a CNN Report where Trump was asked if he had ever asked God for forgiveness for his actions.

    "I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don't think so," he said. "I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't."


    "People are so shocked when they find ... out I am Protestant. I am Presbyterian. And I go to church and I love God and I love my church," he said.

    Um. Possible explanations:

    1. Presbyterians don't say the Lord's Prayer. You know, the one that contains "Forgive us our trespasses."
    2. Trump doesn't pay attention when saying the Lord's Prayer.
    3. Trump is a yuuuge liar about going to church.

    I know which way I'm leaning.

  • Note to AI researchers: efforts to appear authentically human via forced laughter and exaggerated body language can backfire.

The Phony Campaign

2016-01-17 Update

And then there were six: PredictWise judges that Chris Christie has dipped under our arbitrary 2% threshold for inclusion, so we (again) bid him farewell. The ordering of our top four remains unchanged from last week, but Jeb and Marco have swapped fifth and sixth places.

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 102,000 +15,500
"Hillary Clinton" phony 92,500 +14,500
"Ted Cruz" phony 70,600 +27,400
"Bernie Sanders" phony 49,100 +16,600
"Jeb Bush" phony 31,600 +5,200
"Marco Rubio" phony 30,100 +3,000

  • The big phony controversy this week was over Ted Cruz's accusation that Donald Trump had "New York values".

    This was a stupid statement, not least because of "news" stories such as ABC's: "9/11 Widower Invites Ted Cruz to Learn About 'New York Values'". (No surprises if you click through: the story's every bit as bad as the headline.) Ted, my friend, you shoulda seen that coming.

    But there's been a backlash, too. The Daily View's Ben Shapiro offers: "Here's The Video Proof Trump's a Cynical Phony on 'New York Values'".

    And Cruz also issued a phony—I think we can all agree that it's phony, right?—apology. A sample:

    I apologize to all the pro-life and pro-marriage and pro-second amendment New Yorkers who were told by Governor Cuomo that they have no place in New York because that’s not who New Yorkers are.

    (Text and video from the Cruz campaign here.)

  • Jonah Goldberg's Friday G-File touched on the "New York values" controversy, but also hit the other Cruz-Trump imbroglio, the issue of whether Cruz is Constitutionally qualified for the Presidency due to his geographically-Canadian birth.

    Even less plausible than Cruz’s not being a natural-born citizen: that Donald Trump actually cares about this or any of the other attendant constitutional niceties. Personally, I think it is hilarious the way Trump pretends he’s only raising the issue out of “concern” for “Ted” and the GOP.

    I’m honestly curious if anyone, anywhere, actually believes Trump is being sincere. This is a different question from whether there are people who think he’s right. I know those people exist. But does anyone actually think Trump’s explanation for how he’s bringing up Ted’s “problem” to help Ted is genuine?

    Not me. Anyone?

  • NYT columnist Maureen Dowd draws a strained, but funny, parallel between Hillary Clinton and Leonardo DiCaprio's character, Hugh Glass, victim of a near-fatal bear mauling in the Oscar-nominated movie The Revenant.

    And finally, of course, there’s the politician most like Glass in her willingness to crawl through glass, flip her positions and persona, and even bear up under a mauling by a merciless, manic bear to reach that goal most yearned for. In Hillary Clinton’s grimly relentless trudge toward the White House, the part of the bear is played by Donald Trump. (The bear in the movie is also a counterpuncher; when Leo tries to shoot the animal in the face, the grizzly races back to molest him again.)

    I haven't seen the movie yet, but I'm pretty sure I won't be able to shake Dowd's analogy when I do.

    But wait, I haven't got to the funny part yet. Which is: Media Matters for America's analysis of Dowd's column: "Maureen Dowd Starts 2016 With Return To Anti-Clinton Crusade". With the tsk-tsk subtitle: "Dowd's Last 17 Clinton Columns Have Been Negative".

    The crack MMFA team scoured 212 columns where Ms. Dowd "made significant mention of Hillary Clinton". And counted "47 columns (22%) [that] characterized Clinton as a phony".

    The writer offers the "variables" MMFA looks for in their Dowdy analysis.

    Plotting For Power
    • Hillary is inflexible/uncompromising
    • Hillary has a bunker mentality, will not listen to detractors
    • Hillary acts tough
    • Hillary is always scheming for more power
    Betrayed Feminism And Played The Victim
    • Hillary is bad for feminism
    • Hillary traded on slights from men to get ahead
    • Hillary fakes her feminism
    People Don't Like Her, She's Not A Nice Person
    • Hillary is mean
    • Hillary is not likeable
    • Hillary is cold and unemotional
    She's A Phony
    • Hillary doesn't know who she is
    • Hillary has no 'real' identity
    • Hillary doesn't believe what she says
    • Hillary is scripted and prepackaged and poll-driven
    Targeting The Clintons As A Couple
    • The Clintons won't go away, even though everyone wants them to
    • Their marriage is a sham, a trade of power for more power

    Remember, MMFA is a pro-Clinton website.

    I'm a little bemused that (at least according to the MMFA "variables") Dowd has nowhere mentioned either Hillary's serial dishonesty, corruption, or greed. Still, Dowd writes for the NYT, and complaining about that would be unseemly in those pages.

URLs du Jour


  • Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and Bernie Sanders doesn't even come close to that accuracy. But let it be said he was right about this:

    Sen. Bernie Sanders said Monday that campus rape disputes should always be handled by the police, rather than university administrators, departing from conventional left-feminist thinking on student-on-student violence.

    For anyone not enraptured by ideology, this is utterly sensible. Rape is a crime; handling crimes is what we have a justice system for; QED. But poor Bernie is getting pilloried.

  • And if you want to feel further sympathy for Bernie, read Jim "Indispensable" Geraghty's thoughts on "Chelsea Clinton, Shameless and Dishonest Attack Dog".

    The Clinton campaign keeps inventing innovative, groundbreaking new ways to be shameless. Now they’re using Chelsea Clinton as an attack dog, making one of those patented technically-true-but-epically-misleading-out-of-context accusations.

    RTWT, and you'll get bonus links to Jim's comments on Chelsea over the years. For all the Democrat outrage about a "riggged system" or a "stacked deck", they are remarkably complacent about one of their own waltzing into professional opportunities despite minimal qualifications and no demonstrable talent.

  • what3words is very neat. Just go. My home: cosmic.gearbox.gazing. My workplace: latest.nights.myself

  • Yeah, sure, he was Hans Gruber. And Severus Snape. But Alan Rickman's finest role was certainly Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest. RIP, sir. By Grabthar's hammer, by the suns of Worvan, you shall be avenged!

  • I've actually seen two of Oscar's Best Picture nominees. (This one and this one.) There were outrageous snubs, as Stephen Miller points out:

URLs du Jour


  • It's the State of the Union message tonight; I'll be maintaining my (at least) quarter-century tradition of not watching. Kevin D. Williamson had it right two years ago:

    The annual State of the Union pageant is a hideous, dispiriting, ugly, monotonous, un-American, un-republican, anti-democratic, dreary, backward, monarchical, retch-inducing, depressing, shameful, crypto-imperial display of official self-aggrandizement and piteous toadying, a black Mass during which every unholy order of teacup totalitarian and cringing courtier gathers under the towering dome of a faux-Roman temple to listen to a speech with no content given by a man with no content, to rise and to be seated as is called for by the order of worship — it is a wonder they have not started genuflecting — with one wretched representative of their number squirreled away in some well-upholstered Washington hidey-hole in order to preserve the illusion that those gathered constitute a special class of humanity without whom we could not live.

    And that's just the first paragraph. Unless you have some sort of professional obligation: don't watch. And even then, you might consider Peter Suderman's State of the Union Drinking Game.

    [Bonus URL from Charles C. W. Cooke: "The State of the Union Is Inappropriate". I'm pretty sure that refers to the speech, not the actual state of the union.]

  • Andrew Klavan writes on a point I've been fumbling with for a while, and (of course) manages to express it eloquently and convincingly:

    For those of us who love comedy, one of the most delightful ironies of progressivism is how regressive it is, how mired in the past. While conservatives gather to discuss fresh reformist ideas on how to fight poverty and keep a free society afloat, all progressives ever do is reach into their Magic Box of Tomorrow and draw out the same sclerotic socialism that's been poisoning the lives of nations since at least the 19th century.

    Note that the most recent report of the Fraser Institute on the Economic Freedom of the World puts the US in sixteenth place among countries. Similar research, using slightly different methodology, from the Heritage Foundation puts us at number 12. Both are dismal results. Would some/all GOP candidates pledge to move us up in the rankings, with a Klavan-like explanation of why that's important? That would be nice.

  • President Obama isn't above using the specious "if it saves just one life" argument in favor of "gun control":

    We know that we can’t stop every act of violence. But what if we tried to stop even one? What if Congress did something – anything – to protect our kids from gun violence?

    That argument doesn't apply, however, when it comes to

    The Pentagon said Monday that it transferred Muhammed Abd Al Rahman Awn Al-Shamrani from Guantanamo Bay home to Saudi Arabia, bringing the prison’s population down to 103.

    So: Mr. President, if it could protect our kids—even just one of the little tykes—from terrorism, why not just leave these bastards safely locked up?

    But never mind: Obama isn't constrained by logic or principle when it comes to doing what he wants.

  • A reminder of why I put "gun control" in sneer quotes: it goes back to this Thomas Szasz quote:

    The FDA calls certain substances "controlled." But there are no "controlled substances," there are only controlled citizens.

    So it is with "gun control"; the aim is not to control guns, but to control citizens.

The Phony Campaign

2016-01-10 Update

The leader board appears to have congealed into a conventional-wisdom seven candidates, according to PredictWise; no changes since November. Compared to last week, Ted and Bernie swapped third and fourth place; Jeb and Marco swapped fifth and sixth. (This returns to the same ordering, I think, as we had two weeks ago.)

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 86,500 -7,600
"Hillary Clinton" phony 78,000 -500
"Ted Cruz" phony 43,200 +6,900
"Bernie Sanders" phony 32,500 -9,400
"Marco Rubio" phony 27,100 -200
"Jeb Bush" phony 26,400 -3,400
"Chris Christie" phony 17,500 +1,500

  • The CNN headline is bleak: "Donald Trump must be destroyed". (The ever-helpful CNN site classifies it as "opinion", and I assume this is not the same Sean Kennedy who played bass for "I Killed the Prom Queen".) Anyway, key quote:

    If his opponents can show Trump is the emperor with no clothes, they can win over voters. When attacked, Trump seems to grow stronger but to date Trump's phony persona has yet to be unmasked. That's his Achilles' heel with his voters. An inauthentic and craven Trump would have little appeal to those seeking a candidate who would really fight for them.

    The thing is: everyone who's been paying the least attention knows this already. But maybe it's true what they say about voters not paying attention until the last minute; maybe Trump's high poll numbers are based mostly on name recognition, and once voters clue in, his support will collapse like Sue Ann Nivens' soufflé.

    Maybe. Or maybe we're in for another demonstration of what Mencken said about democracy: "the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."

  • The headline on the Reddit post was encouraging: "Hillary Clinton underestimates the intelligence of Millennials". And the opening was at least semi-encouraging:

    I hope this post doesn't become ironic because of my sh*t spelling. Anyway...

    I was watching this --> analysis of Hillary Clinton and it got me thinking:

    Hillary Clinton's main problem is that such a high proportion of millennials are intelligent enough, curious enough, and well-informed enough to see right through her piles of bullshit. She is really really smart, but we happen to be smarter. [...]

    OK, so you're really smart, but you can't spell for shit. Still, points for recognizing piles of Hillarian bullshit. (Also, points for spelling "millennials" correctly. Not easy!)

    But then we take a deep dive (continuing our theme) into the crapper:

    Also, Millennial values intersect with Bernie Sanders' values so well. We care about attention to detail, truth/integrity, curiosity, flexibility, and optimism with a future-oriented focus. That practically defines Bernie to a tee. I also think the vast majority of millennials have certain skills in more abundance than our predecessors. We are capable of deeply understanding nuance/shades of grey. We also seem to be able to hold two conflicting ideas in our minds at one time, and realize that both can be true, even though they seemed at odds on face value.

    … and it goes on for a while in the same vain vein. I should have noticed the "Sanders for President" title on the Reddit before I got my hopes up and clicked in from Google.

  • Although from the Reddit commentators, I was led to this classic Hill-tweet:

    Condescending, while at the same time insulting. Implicit: "We assume your student loans provided you with merely enough education to communicate your feels in pre-literate hieroglyphics."

  • At NR, the tag team of Tim Alberta and Eliana Johnson report on evangelical skullduggery out where the tall corn grows:

    Many supporters of Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, the last two winners of Iowa’s Republican presidential contests, are grappling with a pair of grim realities as the 2016 caucuses approach. Not only have their candidates been stuck in the low single digits for months in Iowa, but they also view Cruz, the new front-runner, as a phony opportunist who has pandered to Evangelicals for political gain, particularly in Iowa. And they fear that if Cruz notches a win in the Hawkeye State — especially if he does so by a wide margin, which many Republicans now view as a distinct possibility — he will emerge as the overwhelming favorite to capture the nomination.

    Stranger things have happened, but (as I type) the Real Clear Politics poll average for Iowa GOP caucuses has Huckabee with 2.6% and Santorum with 0.6%. Adding that to Rubio's 12.6% and you get 15.8%. Which is about half of Cruz's 30.2%.