The Phony Campaign

2016-08-22 Update

The PredictWise "choose your doom" punters assign a 79% probability of a Hillary win, down from last week's 80%. And in the phony poll, one candidate has made a dramatic come-from-behind showing:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
2016-08-14
"Jill Stein" phony 1,020,000 +180,000
"Donald Trump" phony 896,000 +23,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 756,000 -115,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 44,100 -3,200

  • What is behind Jill Stein's remarkable phony showing? Who knows? But a recent article by Caitlin Johnstone has encouraging news for Jill Stein supporters who have begun to doubt their own sanity: "No, Jill Stein Supporters, You Are Not Crazy".

    What is the definition of insane? According to Einstein, insane is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Trying to vote for the “lesser evil” in the desperate hope that this will somehow move us away from evil. Trying to vote for a woman who has shown us time and time again that she will push for military aggression at every opportunity in the desperate hope that this will somehow lead to less needless destruction and chaos. Trying to vote for a party that has already clearly demonstrated hostility to the progressive agenda in the desperate hope that this will facilitate a progressive agenda.

    That’s what’s crazy. You are healthy, wise, and right. Keep fighting the good fight, my bright-eyed brothers and sisters. You’re the only thing keeping things sane.

    Well, first: that "Einstein" saying is both (a) apocryphal and (b) one of the tiredest clichés in the lazy writer's toolbox.

    But in other news: if you're encouraged in the slightest bit by some dippy true-believing leftist telling you that "you are healthy, wise, and right" … well, maybe you should seek professional help. That's only one step up from the voices in your head telling you things.

  • In related news, the New York Daily News reported recent Texas polling:

    The Green Party doctor's support in the Lone Star State, 2%, is the same as support for Harambe the gorilla and less than that for joke candidate Deez Nuts, according to a new poll.

    "Deez Nuts", the article explains, is "the fictional politician sprung from the brain of Iowa teenager Brady Olson." Harambe is the gorilla Cincinnati Zoo officials shot dead earlier this year. No word as yet from Caitlin Johnstone on the sanity of Nuts/Harambe supporters.

  • Buried in this Buzzfeed article, "Juanita Broderick Wants To Be Believed" was the mutation of Hillary's web page on the topic of "campus sexual assault". As I type, there's a "Hillary" quote:

    "I want to send a message to every survivor of sexual assault: Don't let anyone silence your voice. You have the right to be heard."

    Buzzfeed points out the unsubtle change from the previous version:

    “I want to send a message to every survivor of sexual assault: Don’t let anyone silence your voice. You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed, and we’re with you.

    The change was made after Juanita Broderick pointed out that Hillary doesn't believe in any of that, if the perpetrator of the assault is named "Clinton".

  • There's been some back and forth among the contributors at the linguistic blog Language Log about the verbal stylings of Donald Trump. But my favorite analysis (so far) is Mark Lieberman's: "The em-dash candidate". Trump's words don't come across well in standard sentence/paragraph form, but "it works pretty well if printed as free verse." I'll reproduce Mark's transcription of a passage in full:

    I'll tell you in particular lately
    we have a newspaper
    that's failing badly
    it's losing a lot of money
    it's gonna be out of business very soon
    the New York Times OK?
    I love it!
    And
    they wrote a story today
    "anonymous sources have said"
    three anonymous sources, anonymous this, anonymous that
    they don't use names, I don't really think they have any names OK?
    but "anonymous sources have said"
    there are no anonymous s- you know with my campaign, I'll be honest with you
    it's me
    it's me
    they never call me
    they don't call me
    but these are the most dishonest people
    The good news is- I love- you know I put down
    "failing @ New York Times"
    the newspaper's going to hell
    they got a couple of reporters in that newspaper who are so bad
    with- I mean lack of talent
    but it's going to hell
    so I think maybe what we'll do
    maybe we'll start thinking about taking their press credentials away from them
    maybe we'll do that
    I think so
    I think so
    you know
    when they write dishonest stories
    you can't read em it's so much
    you can't read em there's so much I'd be reading all day long.
    When they write dishonest stories
    we should be a little bit tough, don't we agree, you know?
    Real garbage they're garbage it's a garbage paper OK
    So here's the story folks, talking about garbage
    talking about garbage
    talking about garbage
    you have a governor in this state who's done a very poor job.

    I did some of this myself during the 2008 election cycle. My victim was Elizabeth Kucinich, Dennis's lovely wife.

  • Our state's current governor, Maggie Hassan, is running for the US Senate seat currently occupied by Kelly Ayotte. Apparently a CNN interviewer decided to get in Maggie's face a bit, and… "Hassan Can’t Say If Clinton Is Honest, Even After She’s Asked Three Times"

    The Hillary-related questions asked by the CNN interviewer were:

    1. “Do you think that she’s honest and trustworthy?”
    2. “Do you think she’s honest?”
    3. “But do you think that she’s trustworthy?”

    You can read Maggie's non-responses at the link. But to be fair, it's difficult to know how to answer such questions if you have political reasons for not being honest yourself.

    A few days later, a local radio station tried again, and confidently reported: "Gov. Maggie Hassan now says 'Yes,' Hillary Clinton is trustworthy". Whew!


Last Modified 2016-08-22 8:50 AM EDT

The Phony Campaign

2016-08-14 Update

PredictWise (as I type) puts Hillary's election probability at 80%, up 5% from last week. Congratulations to the GOP for putting forth such a strong candidate.

To quote Homer Simpson and Donald Trump: "Oh by the way, I was being sarcastic."

But, dear readers, there's a near three-way tie in our phony poll:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
2016-08-07
"Donald Trump" phony 873,000 -217,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 871,000 +27,000
"Jill Stein" phony 840,000 +212,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 47,300 -61,700

  • What's behind Jill Stein's dramatic rise in phony hit counts? Drudge quotes Julian Assange speaking via video link to the Green Party convention, in a response to a softball "what can we do" question:

    JULIAN ASSANGE: All right, great question. Well, first of all, have coherency in your own movement. I mean, you have to have coherency to be able to understand your own view of the world and the attacks that are occurring, which -- let me tell you that I've just seen that the attacks have started to ramp up on Jill Stein. They are going to go through the roof. I've had attacks from what is effectively the Clinton threat machine. They're now post-convention. You guys are going to be post-convention. Those attacks are going to be ferocious. But you'll see from that and learn lessons from that about how the media works and how one can defend your principles and ideas in the face of that kind of media corruption. ...

    As if on cue, one Chris Sosa wrote at the Huffington Post about "Jill Stein’s Dangerous Anti-Science Campaign".

    Stein’s plan to court left-wing voters disillusioned with the Democrats worked better than political watchers had anticipated. Her media stock rose as she engaged in pointed anti-Clinton rhetoric. In Stein’s world, Hillary Clinton is irredeemably corrupt with an appetite for war and loathing for the environment. Never mind that Clinton’s actual voting record doesn’t support the caricature. Stein’s barbs aren’t meant to reveal truth, rather provoke. Her style is remarkably similar to Donald Trump in its vapidity. One of her nastiest tweets attacked Clinton as a mother.

    Basically, it's a plea to Sanders supporters to forget all the nasty (but true) things Bernie said about Hillary and get in line like good little Democrats. (The "Anti-Science" bit refers to Green Party positions on vaccinations and homeopathy, etc.)

  • For an even less reality-tethered alternate take, check out one Bruce E. Levine at Counterpunch: "Naked Cynicism—Can I Be Bribed to Vote for a Phony, Hedge-Fund Loving Warmonger?"

    Short answer: yes, if and only if Hillary, the Clinton Foundation, and "the entire Democratic Party establishment" creates a “Student-Loan Debtor Foundation", and funds it to the tune of $10 billion.

    More than 43 million Americans have student-loan debt, many with monthly payments that are so crippling that I am ashamed to be part of a Baby Boomer generation that allowed this to happen. So, Democratic Party, prior to Election Day—because I don’t trust you will keep your commitment afterward—start getting those checks in the mail to the most desperate student-loan debtors. That’s the bribe I need—and of course will never get—in order to vote for a phony, hedge-fund whore warmonger.

    In addition to his accurate characterization of Hillary, Bruce deserves some additional credit for proposing a non-government program to help out all those women's studies majors who can't afford both their student loan payments and a hefty supply of decent Chardonnay.

  • Kevin D. Williamson writes at National Review "Thank Goodness Trump Is a Compulsive Liar".

    Wha…? Oh, the subtitle: "Otherwise, he’d just be bonkers."

    At issue is Trump's position(s) on entitlement reform, mostly Social Security and Medicare. Kevin notes the dismal math ("the shortfall of our total future government obligations — not the obligations themselves, just how short we are of paying them — almost equals the entire stock of wealth accumulated by the entire human race over the course of its history"), and Trump's utter inability to offer anything approaching a coherent policy to deal with the issue. But:

    Console yourselves with this: Donald Trump is a habitual, incorrigible liar. He lies about almost every subject he mentions: He lies about his real-estate holdings, lies about his bankruptcies, lies to his business partners, lies to his family, and he lies constantly to the rubes who have bought into his snake-oil presidential campaign.

    Read the whole thing, as you should do with all things Williamson.

  • Also at NR, Ben Shapiro looks at Trump's economic-policy speech in Detroit, and concludes that, as far as principled conservatism goes, Trump is a "Stranger in a Strange Land". His political pretensions are based in ignorance, taken "in order to get where he wants to be."

    Because conservatism is a foreign land to Trump, he regularly and unintentionally demeans conservative positions and philosophies. He allows the media to caricature conservatism as everything leftists have always believed conservatism to be: nasty, parochial, violent, and stupid. And thus conservatives have to spend more time re-explaining their positions than Trump spends defending them and promoting them to the American people.

    Ben also makes a lot of sense.

  • And not to turn this into an NR-fest, but David French asks: "Does Donald Trump Lie Under Oath?" And the conclusion is: well, of course. With examples.

    Trump seems to lie as easily as he breathes. Yes, he inflates his own accomplishments, but that’s not the only reason he lies. He lies to cover ignorance, to win debates, and to make news. He’ll like just because he wants to. In short, much like his Democratic competitor, he says and does whatever advances his perceived self-interest in the moment — often without regard to foreseeable, relatively immediate blowback.

    It's a tough call on whether Trump or Hillary is the worse liar, since their styles are so dissimilar. (French: "They’re the Steph Curry and LeBron James of lies")

  • I'm not sure of the best word to describe this Trump tweet:

    Delusional? As in, "those idiots cannot comprehend my genius"?

  • Betsy Newmark pens a ruthless takedown of a New York Times article, which purports (sympathetically, of course) to explain why Hillary is such a money-grubber.

    It's all because of the scare she got when Bill lost reelection for governor in 1980. There they were - a young couple with a baby and she had to worry about working and providing for them because Bill was, apparently, useless. He was only earning $55,000 a year which is about $160,800 today. What poverty! She was forced, forced mind you, to go work for the Rose Law Firm and become a corporate lawyer instead of working in public service. And then when Bill won back the governorship in 1982, she was forced, forced to keep on working there because she was so scarred. And that whole turning $1000 into 100,000 based on a a tip and the help from a rich friend for cattle futures was so very nerve-wracking.

    They had to move out of the governor's mansion and buy a house that was one of the smaller ones in the neighborhood. And, horrors of horrors, they had to buy furniture from thrift stores that DIDN'T MATCH. And, get this! The poor woman had to raise their 9-month baby without the free help they had used when he was governor. She had to be a working mother while there were people in Arkansas at that time who were making fortunes because they actually, you know, produced things that people wanted like Walmart or Tyson Foods. Yet she was able to buy a home that was worth $112,000 in 1980 which is about $327, 600 today. Not too shabby, but it wasn't like the other mansions that richer people had.

    Betsy's pretty good when she's mad.


It's OK When She Does It

For the record, I loathe Trump. But just a couple things I noticed:

  • It has been a couple weeks since Hillary gave her acceptance speech. On Trump, she said:

    He wants us to fear the future and fear each other.

    Appealing to people's fears: that's bad!

    But later:

    Imagine [Trump] in the Oval Office facing a real crisis. A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.

    Aieee! He's gonna kill us all! Kaboom!

  • Just a couple days ago, Trump dubbed President Obama the "founder of ISIS", and added "crooked" Hillary as its "co-founder". Outrage ensued. From Hillary, no less:

    But back in December, …

    “He is becoming ISIS's best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists," Clinton said during Saturday's Democratic debate, hosted by ABC News.

    Nowhere near the same outcry. In fact, all the analysis seemed to be typified by the cooly rational Politifact, who rated Hillary's video claim "False".

    [At the time. Apparently Trump now appears in ISIS propaganda videos.]

Shocker: It appears that Hillary's one of those people who fails to live up to the standards she demands other people comply with. There should be a word for people like that.

Oh, right. There is.

[Addendum: you should read Jim "Indispensable" Geraghty on Trump's "‘Never Mind, I Was Being Sarcastic’ Candidacy". Demonstrating Trump's actual disqualification for the presidency: he doesn't know the difference between hyperbole and sarcasm.]


Last Modified 2016-08-12 10:39 AM EDT

The Phony Campaign

2016-08-07 Update

PredictWise can be so … predictable at times. Hillary's election probability goes up to 75% this week (from 70% last week), as Trump's manifest unfitness for the Presidency overshadows, for now, Hillary's manifest unfitness for the Presidency.

But Trump fans can at least take heart that his lead in the phony poll continues to widen:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
2016-07-31
"Donald Trump" phony 1,090,000 +261,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 844,000 +64,000
"Jill Stein" phony 628,000 +139,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 109,000 +73,100

  • Some of Trump's phony lead seems to be self-generated:

    • In Arizona, Trump referred to Hillary's "phony lies and disgusting habits". We all know about the phony lies, but I was left wondering what the disgusting habits are. This week's Getty image is one possibility.

    • In Virginia, he griped about polling numbers showing him losing badly:

      "I think these polls, I don't know, there's something about these polls, there's something phony."

    • And in a Colorado radio interview, he railed against the recent good performance of the stock market:

      You know, one of the things, there are so many problems in our country that you can speak for two hours and you don’t cover the subject. The other thing that just came out, is home ownership. It’s the lowest in 58 years. Did they say 58? The lowest home ownership we’ve had, percentage-wise that we’ve had in this country in 58 years. The only thing we have is a phony, artificial stock market. So people think—But I’ll tell you what, nothing relates to the stock. Even in New York, on Wall Street and stuff, people think Wall Street. It’s a whole different world. The stock market is a phony number and it’s gotten there because nobody is paying any interest. When interest rates go up a little bit, you’ll see some very bad and very interesting things happen.

      [It's 51 years, but I won't quibble.]

    Why, it almost seems that he wants to push up his phony hit counts!

  • Jonah Goldberg's G-File this week concerns the dreadful idea pushed far and wide that Donald Trump will "pivot" from his thin-skinned know-nothing loose-cannon image into a "more presidential" version. Ain't gonna happen, says Jonah. Convincingly.

    In the days ahead, Trump will stay on message for a day or two and the reaction from many will be “The Prophecies Are True!” and “Watch out Hillary!” and “Behold! The Cat Who Pees!” Never mind that serious presidential candidates are expected to be disciplined for months on end. We’ve so downgraded our expectations of Trump that even minimal or sub-minimal professionalism from him is greeted like unprecedented statesmanship. But it won’t last. It won’t last because it can’t. The “Days Since an Unpresidential Screw-Up” Clock will never hit double digits.

    Note: Jonah is vacationing just down the street in Kittery, Maine, and the G-File contains graphic descriptions of local canine-on-rodent violence.

  • Hillary gave her first press conference in 260 days to a group of "journalists of color". Applause was ample, by most accounts, giving credence (if any was needed) to Instapundit's description of mainstream journalists as "Democrat operatives with bylines".

    One of the softball queries: “What is the most meaningful conversation you’ve had with an African-American friend?”

    She rambles on and on… but the only specific she manages to mention is that they've "tried to expand my musical tastes".

    "And they have great rhythm, and sure can dance! You ever notice that?"

  • Your tweet of the week from the gifted and insightful Michael Ramirez captures my own mood perfectly:


Last Modified 2016-08-07 9:20 AM EDT

The Phony Campaign

2016-07-31 Update

PredictWise odds on Hillary are unchanged from last week, a 70% chance of winning. But Trump's lead is widening in the Phony Standings:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
2016-07-24
"Donald Trump" phony 829,000 +7,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 780,000 -33,000
"Jill Stein" phony 489,000 +79,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 35,900 -1,700

You might have thought that the Democratic National Convention this past week would have given Hillary more of a bump in phony hit counts. But we report, you decide.

  • Mickey Kaus called the convention "Hillary’s Pantsuit Uniparty", and the opening minutes of her acceptance speech a "festival of phoniness". Glad I missed it.

    Mickey quotes from her speech:

    I believe that our economy isn’t working the way it should because our democracy isn’t working the way it should. That’s why we need to appoint Supreme Court justices who will get money out of politics and expand voting rights, not restrict them. And we’ll pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United!

    Others have mentioned the obvious point: the Citizens United case was all about trying to suppress an Hillary-critical movie. It's more than a little depressing to realize that the official position of a major political party and its presidential candidate is to (at best) partially repeal the First Amendment, because it successfully protected speech critical of said party and candidate.

    Mickey points out that the imaginary process that translates First Amendment repeal into economic improvements flowing to the "middle class" is the political equivalent of one of those elaborate Rube Goldberg mechanisms. You have to be a dedicated ideologue to believe that causal chain would work.

    Or, as the Underpants Gnomes might put it:

    Phase 1: Overturn Citizens United!
    Phase 2: ???
    Phase 3: A thriving middle class!

    The amendment process is (fortunately) cumbersome, and I'd wager (also fortunately) there's zero chance that a First Amendment repeal could get through all the necessary hoops. No doubt Hillary and other equally cynical Democratic pols know this.

    Additionally, there's the pedantic point I've made before (about Mitt Romney's advocacy of a "Balanced Budget Amendment): the Presidential role in the process of amending the United States Constitution is: none whatsoever.

    Which makes the proposal … that's correct, phony.

    Painting the Citizens United decision as an all-purpose bogeyman must focus-group extremely well. Which is also depressing.

  • And another thing: you want "big money" out of politics? Here are a couple of ideas that would work far better than First Amendment repeal:

    1. If you're a politician, don't accept "big money".
    2. If you're a voter, don't vote for politicians who take big money.

    If you can't manage that, maybe you really don't believe the problem is "big money": maybe you just want to force people you disagree with to shut up.

  • Phoniness also appears in the second spot on the ticket. At Reason, Steve Chapman describes "Mike Pence's Towering Hypocrisy". Chapman attended a 2010 Federalist Society speech given by Pence, and describes it as "an exercise in pomposity and sanctimony so insufferable that I walked out before he was done."

    But pompous and sanctimonious as it was, it was an argument for Presidential restraint, dignity, and humility. And a mere six years later:

    But when Pence accepted the second spot on a ticket with Donald Trump, he made clear that he didn't believe a word he said. The address is full of lines that would disqualify Trump from a moment's consideration.

    Trump has not the slightest trace of the humility and dignity Pence once deemed essential, and it's hard to imagine his being constrained by the limits of presidential authority. As for the Constitution, Trump thinks it contains an "Article 12" and wants to censor the internet without regard for the First Amendment. "Somebody will say, 'Oh, freedom of speech, freedom of speech,'" he snorted. "These are foolish people."

    I can't begin to comprehend why any respectable pol would chain himself to the Trump dumpster fire.

  • It's unusual for me to quote an entire blog post, but here's Patterico, short and sweet and reality-based: "Your Vote Does Not Matter".

    So you really don’t have to be a jerk to your friends because they’re not voting the way you would like.

    No individual vote ever matters in a presidential election. We learned this in Florida 2000. If it’s close enough that your vote could theoretically matter — which is far less likely than your winning the lottery — a swarm of Democrats will swoop in and start reinterpreting the votes of people who could not vote competently to begin with. The brief moment when your vote seemed to matter will pass, and your vote will be swallowed up in all the phony reinterpreted votes.

    So your vote simply doesn’t matter. To use the language of the beloved alt-right: you are “virtue-signaling” by announcing for whom you will vote. Some of you are signaling the virtue of being on the team or part of the tribe. Some of you are signaling the virtue of adherence to abstract principle rather than group membership.

    But none of it really matters. So just relax.

    Also see: United States Senate election in New Hampshire, 1974. Literally too close to call, so they had a do-over.

  • Which leads me to your tweet of the week:

    "Indeed."


UNH Wants to Assure You That Race Still Matters at UNH

Although I've retired from the University Near Here, I prowl their website now and again. Unfortunately (for our purposes) UNH has gotten much more careful about avoiding hard-left lunacy on its public site. Nobody wants a repeat of last year's widely mocked "Bias-Free Language Guide".

But one thing about Social Justice Warriors is their fervent belief that attention must be paid. To their issues, of course. But also, to them. Because what good is it to own a superior moral sense and a host of tendentious opinions, if you can't make them widely known? Beyond the small group of students you've managed to wangle into your classroom each semester, that is?

So last week, UNH published "Talking About The Hard Issues" on the web. Subtitle: "Courses on race, class and culture have students digging deep". (Which reminds me of a joke, the punchline being "there must be a pony in here somewhere!")

If the warning bells aren't going off for you yet, Sentence One, Paragraph One might do the trick:

This isn’t about the shooting of black men by police officers, or about Dallas and Baton Rouge. […]

Note the faulty parallelism. It serves as a little signal flag indicating where the Modern University Brain allows itself to go, and what it avoids.

"Dallas", of course, refers to the July 7 murder of five police officers, with nine other cops and two civilians wounded. "Baton Rouge" is the July 17 murder of three police officers, with three others wounded.

A fair opening sentence, then, might have been:

This isn’t about the shooting of black men by police officers, or about the shooting of police officers by black men. […]

… but I'm pretty sure the Modern University Brain doesn't even consider typing that.

In any case, the article claims not to be about that. (Why bring it up then?) Instead the article's purpose is to describe three courses offered at UNH:

  • "Race Matters" (offered through the Women's Studies department of the College of Liberal Arts). It's instructed by Jennifer Jaime Nolan, who's also the University's "Associate Vice President for Community, Equity and Diversity". Sample word salad from the course description:

    Specific attention focuses on how diverse women have made history in their own lives and in the lives of others by resisting the interlocking systems of oppression.

    Ayn Rand? Ayaan Hirsi Ali? Phyllis Schlafly? I'm betting that they would make things a little too diverse for Professor Nolan.

  • "Implications of Race, Culture and Oppression for Social Work Practice" (offered through the Social Work department of the College of Health and Human Services). Taught by Professor Vernon Carter, it is "designed to increase awareness related to the insidious nature of oppression."

    It's insidious, I tells ya! Much like Senator Joe McCarthy worked to reveal the insidious Commies back in the fifties, Professor Carter works to wake up his students to his reality, which is Perpetual and Permanent (albeit Unconscious) Racism:

    Carter adds, “My goal is to get them to see who they are, how they are. I want them to look at themselves and acknowledge the differences. Racism in particular is rooted in our national way of being. Members of the dominant race are advantaged whether they want to be or not. Others are disadvantaged. Racism and all of the other isms are systemic. We are socialized from birth to believe we are superior and the other is inferior. Often we are unconscious of our unearned privileges related to race, gender, sexual orientation … but they’re there.”

    Wait a minute. Didn't our rooted-in-racism nation elect, and re-elect, an African-American President? Relatively recently? I think I saw something about that on the news.

  • "Race, Class, Gender and Families" (offered through the Human Development and Family Studies department of the College of Health and Human Services). Tyler Jamison is the instructor. She says (oh joy): "police violence will be part of the conversation this semester in conjuncture with a component she teaches on incarceration."

    “Students tend to be really surprised by the disproportionate number of black men who are incarcerated compared to white and Latino men,” Jamison says. An infographic she uses in class reveals that one in 106 white males over age 18 are incarcerated, compared to one in 36 Latinos and one in 15 black men “The effect of that on a family is profound. If your provider is in jail, what happens to your family? There is a disproportional effect on families of color, families with low income.”

    What do you want to bet that Professor Jamison provides no equivalent infographic showing crime rates classified by the race/ethnicity of the offender? Is the incarceration rate out of whack with the underlying crime rate?

    Or does Professor Jamison simply cherry-pick the factoids she needs to "prove" the underlying story of Oppression?

Thomas Sowell recently observed the perverse incentives facing politicians:

Black votes matter to many politicians — more so than black lives. That is why such politicians must try to keep black voters fearful, angry, and resentful. Racial harmony would be a political disaster for such politicians.

Racial polarization makes both the black population and the white population worse off, but it makes politicians who depend on black votes better off.

A similar dynamic works at UNH: a sizeable chunk of the professoriate and their administrative allies depend on advancing what's been called a culture of victimhood. As long as they can keep everyone thinking on the oppressor-oppressed axis, they'll be seen as important and relevant. Inconvenient facts won't matter much.

After all, as Governor William J. Lepetomane once observed:


Last Modified 2016-07-28 9:36 AM EDT

The Phony Campaign

2016-07-24 Update

The PredictWise punters give Hillary a 70% probability of being Our Next President, Trump 30%. (No longshot bets reported on Johnson/Stein yet.) Hillary was at 78% about a month ago, but that was apparently Irrational Exuberance.

In the phony poll, however, the race is much closer:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
2016-07-17
"Donald Trump" phony 822,000 -133,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 813,000 +92,000
"Jill Stein" phony 410,000 +141,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 37,600 +12,700

  • At the Daily Beast, the cheerful Olivia Nuzzi reports: "Trump's Newest Ad Is So F---ing Weird". (No bowdlerization at the link; and for some reason the URL spells it "frickin".)

    No foolin'. Through the magic of Twitter-embedding:

    And if you can't bear to watch it, it's in reference to Trump's convention speech, and (other than bombastic, obnoxious music and images of said speech) the content is "75 MINUTES TOTAL SPEECH TIME,” “24 MINUTES TOTAL APPLAUSE,” “33% TIME SPENT APPLAUDING.” Really. That's it.

    That could be true, Nuzzi notes, other than the last number, which should be 32%. And I think she really nails it here:

    Trump has no values, no internal world, no sincere desire to make concrete changes to this country to fix what supposedly ails us, he has only a primal need to know how long people cheered for him and how big of a deal that length of time is, given the total time of the event in question.

    I'm sure all successful politicians have (let me be as charitable and non-judgmental as possible) unusual psychological profiles, putting them well outside the mainstream.

    But I can't think of any mainstream-party Presidential candidate with Trump's obvious psychological kinks, ever.

    And, as Nuzzi notes, it's frickin' weird that the Trump campaign makes those kinks so blatantly obvious.

  • Other big GOP convention news was (you've probably heard) that Mrs. Trump's speech was blatantly plagiarized. Does that matter? Well, according to Mr. Matthew Yglesias, "Melania Trump's plagiarism matters because it exposes Donald Trump's profound laziness".

    Plagiarism offers a window into a different aspect of Trump, one that isn’t integral to his appeal. Trump is a phony. And a lazy one at that. He refuses to put in the work, and if he becomes president the consequences are likely to be disastrous and unpredictable.

    Just ask his wife who stood up on a nationally broadcast primetime telecast to vouch for his integrity and decency, and turns out to have been set up for humiliation because Trump couldn’t be bothered to build the kind of professional presidential campaign that would equip Melania Trump with a decent speech.

    The Yglesiasian argument seems to be: if Trump weren't such a lazy phony … well, Mrs. Trump would still be using someone else's words. But at least her hubby would be paying someone for them.

    (Applying the Yglesiasian plagiarism standards to college students is left as an exercise for the reader.)

  • The headline on Jeff Jacoby's Boston Globe excellent column is inaccurate: "Trump and Clinton: A guide for haters". Among the numerous points made:

    The former first lady and secretary of state is at least as unprincipled as Trump, willing to say or do virtually anything in the pursuit of power and wealth. Like other politicians, Clinton’s stands on controversial public issues have flipped and flopped, invariably putting her on whichever side has grown more popular: She’s been for expanding free trade and against it, for same-sex marriage and against it, for the Iraq war and against it, for more gun control and against it, for a crackdown on illegal immigrants and against it, for the trade embargo on Cuba and against it, for the ethanol mandate and against it — the list goes on and on.

    But really, Read The Whole Thing. Other than the headline, which I assume some dimwit Globe editor wrote. Because note the final paragraph:

    To be clear, I don’t hate Hillary Clinton. I don’t hate Donald Trump. But I do find them both to be indecent and unworthy, graspers of low character whose rise to political eminence is a terrible reflection on the Republican and Democratic parties. Neither deserves a vote for president. They certainly won’t get mine.

    Good on you, Mr. Jacoby. Mine neither.


UNH: On the Edge of Poseurable

Gosh, I see the University Near Here has adopted a new motto for its website:

Welcome to UNH, a flagship public research university on the edge of possible.

I think more standard usage would suggest a "the" before "possible": on the edge of the possible.

But even then, it's eye-rolling. What could that conceivably mean?

UNH goes right up to the edge… why would it do that? Stop! Come back!

Any chance it could trip over the edge of the possible into … the impossible? Probably not. By definition.

My suggestion:

Welcome to UNH, a flagship public research university where people are paid good money to come up with meaningless, intelligence-insulting slogans for our web page.

OK, so it's not the best marketing, but it has the advantage of truth.


Last Modified 2016-07-23 11:33 AM EDT

The Phony Campaign

2016-07-17 Update

Another week, another atrocity, another storm of platitudes. (One difference: the preaching of the usual suspects about "gun violence" is muted.) As discussed last week, we'll continue to do our thing here.

PredictWise (unsurprisingly) claims that Trump and Clinton are the only candidates with any chance at the Oval Office. Depressing!

So we'll shake things up a bit on this end. We included Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson last month; today we'll add in the Green Party nominee, Jill Stein. I was shocked at her initial strong showing:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
2016-07-10
"Donald Trump" phony 955,000 +370,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 721,000 +203,000
"Jill Stein" phony 269,000 --
"Gary Johnson" phony 24,900 0

  • Jill (I call her Jill) is not a huge Israel fan:

    She's a few meters more to the left than Bernie. So why the high phony score?

    One example: Despite her background in medicine (it's Dr. Stein, thankyouverymuch) Mike Stone at Patheos noted her answer to the straightforward question: “What is your campaign’s official stance on vaccines and homeopathic medicine?”.

    Instead of Stone's (and my) preferred answer ("Vaccines work; homeopathy is bullshit."), Jill provided (in Stone's words) "a long winded and evasive answer", and "a confused and muddled hash invoking big pharma conspiracy theory buzz: a convoluted political double-speak that would make the most jaded and cynical politician proud."

    In this, Jill is merely following the Green Party platform. Generally speaking, the Greens combine the economic ignorance you would expect from socialists with the scientific ignorance you might not.

  • And there's also: Jill Stein Pledges To Pardon Snowden and Appoint Him To Her Cabinet. My suggestion would be: Secretary of State, where odds are he's be less negligent on matters of national security than Hillary was.

  • On CNN… "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg calls Trump a 'faker,' he says she should resign."

    As it turns out, they were both right.

    Unfortunately, she chose to "apologize" instead. ("I regret that I revealed my complete lack of judicial temperament," or words to that effect.)

  • I call your attention to the posting Phony Bernie Sanders Endorses Hillary Clinton" because I am impressed by the translated-to-French-and-back prose. Sample:

    On Tuesday, Sanders formally took off his masks to expose the phony beneath while he formally counseled Hillary to grow to be president of america. All appreciate one will have had for Bernie’s philosophical consistency has evaporated. Instead of complete-blown, card-wearing communists, the left has now not had a unmarried philosophically constant candidate of their space of playing cards. All their communicate of loose school, loose healthcare, and top source of revenue taxes has been a lie to realize and wield energy over the ignorant plenty that believed them.

    I agree! I think.

    Well, just kidding. My guess is the original version is here.

    On Tuesday, Sanders officially took off his mask to reveal the phony underneath when he officially endorsed Hillary to become president of the United States. All respect one may have had for Bernie's philosophical consistency has evaporated. Other than full-blown, card-carrying communists, the left has not had a single philosophically consistent candidate in their house of cards. All their talk of free college, free healthcare, and high income taxes has been a lie to gain and wield power over the ignorant masses that believed them.

    Yeah, well, what are you gonna do?

  • Finally, a sobering report from Kevin D. Williamson from FreedomFest in Vegas, baby: "I Told You So". Kevin was skeptical about the claim America was about to have a "libertarian moment", and one bit of confirming evidence was the flameout of Rand Paul's presidential campaign (before I even got a chance to vote for him in the New Hampshire Primary). And so…

    In the event, the two presidential candidates Americans got most excited about were Donald Trump, a nationalist, and Bernie Sanders, a socialist. Between the two of them, they make a pretty good national socialist. Trump won his party’s nomination and Sanders ceded his to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is (arguably) a little bit more of a nationalist and (arguably) a little bit less of a socialist but in many ways a much better distillation of the partnership between big government and big business that characterizes our current political moment.

    RTWT, friends. Depressing but insightful.


A Dishonest and Stupid Change

Judd Gregg, one of our state's former Senators, recently took to the op-ed page of my local newspaper, Foster's Daily Democrat, to advocate a Big Idea, that will… well, let him tell you:

In the parlance of Congressional budgeting, if you have an idea that scores positively — in other words, if it raises money without raising taxes — you have struck gold.

In the words of Kenny Bania: "That's gold, Jerry! Gold!".

Such an item allows you, should your colleagues accept it, to either reduce the deficit or spend money on some program that has general support but no funds to pay for it.

Expressed another way, if something scores positively, it creates opportunities for action by the Congress. And this is particularly appealing because Congress is generally wedged into a straitjacket of inaction when it comes to new initiatives or reducing the deficit because it has no way to pay for either effort.

The subtext: Judd's ex-colleagues are demonstrably inept at making difficult fiscal choices, and would much prefer to discover a gaggle of gold-egg-laying geese, or maybe lay claim to whatever loose change they can find in the US Capitol seat cushions.

So what's Judd's Big Idea? Sell the Post Office? Terminate the Small Business Administration? Well, sorry. None of that for Judd. Instead, the loose-change thing turns out to be close.

Here is an idea that involves small change but translates into budgeting gold.

It is currency modernization.

Warning to the reader: "Modernization" will turn out to be a marketing euphemism.

Our present currency system is illogical. We produce coins that cost more than they are worth. Yet, at the same time, we rely far more excessively than other industrialized nations on paper currency. We simply have not modernized our approach to managing our currency to catch up with a 21st century market society.

Judd's argument contains a smidgen of fact: it's probably true that pennies and nickels cost more to make than they're worth. (He elides the "to make" part.)

[It's also worth pointing out that penny and nickel face values are still greater their melt-value. When that stops being true, they will immediately vanish from general circulation.]

But in absolute terms, the amounts involved are capital-T Trivial. The GAO estimated (for FY2014) a yearly loss of $91 million for making pennies and nickels. But making dimes and quarters more than made up for that; the US Mint realized a total profit ("seignorage") of $315 million from its overall coin production.

So "we" (actually: the Mint) could at best save about $91 million a year by not producing pennies and nickels. With Your Federal Government spending $3.8 trillion per year, this represents about 13 minutes of spending.

We'll look at the paper currency argument later. Back to Judd:

It is a bit embarrassing to have the world’s largest and most important economy but yet be so far behind our competition in the simple act of managing our physical money.

What can Judd possibly mean here? There's close to zero "competition" for US currency in the domestic economy. (Although that could change.) In recent years, the US dollar has been the most commonly used currency worldwide, the Euro coming in a distant second. It's the most widely held currency, period. It's hard to find any symptoms whatsoever of a "competition" problem.

So there's no need for Judd to be embarrassed. But let him ramble for a while, he'll eventually get around to what he's actually talking about:

On the bright side, some moves are being made toward addressing this problem. If those moves translate into real action, we stand to realize benefits both from making day-to-day economic activity more efficient and rational, and from saving the taxpayers considerable sums.

The Treasury has announced sweeping changes to our paper currency. The Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Congressional audit group, has supported major modernization 10 times in the last 25 years. Most importantly, a group of thoughtful and respected legislators led by Sens. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and John McCain, R-Ariz., and Reps. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., have made fixing our currency system a priority.

They are pushing for a dollar coin to be included in a package of GAO-recommended savings measures with their bill, the United Savings and Accountability Act (USA Act).

Enzi, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, has also pushed to make sure that savings generated from this modernization will be able to be scored in the budget process.

Ah, there it is: the dollar coin.

A majority of the American people likes this reasonable approach. Sixty-one percent of Americans support going to a more coin-dominated system when they are told of the savings it would generate.

But in actual fact, US dollar coins have proven to be dreadfully unpopular. "The American people" have had the option to use them, on and off, for decades, and the lack of acceptance has been spectacular. Simply, when given a choice, "the American people" prefer the paper dollar. This strongly suggests that there are hidden costs to dollar coin usage (primarily convenience, I would suspect), and those unremunerated costs would be borne by the citizenry.

Gregg's Big Idea: remove the choice. "We tried to be nice, but you didn't behave as you were supposed to. So now we're going to do this for your own good."

How much would this currency reform save us?

Yeah, how much would it save "us"?

It is estimated that switching from the one-dollar note to a one-dollar coin could save the country up to $13.5 billion. Additional savings could be made from suspending the production of the penny and redesigning the nickel. This is a lot of money that could go to reducing the deficit or to funding programs that have broad bipartisan support.

Note the bullshit signifiers here: "could" and "up to". And (most important) no mention of the timeframe for those savings.

And, in any relevant context, despite Judd's dishonest claims otherwise, it turns out to be not a "lot of money". The recent GAO study is easy to find. They have a more conservative estimate of the savings to the federal government: not $13.5 billion, but ("potentially") $4.4 billion. (I don't know where the $13.5 billion number comes from. I suspect it's fantasy.)

And how long would it take for those "potential" savings to be realized? 30 years.

That averages to about $147 million per year. In the same ballpark as the savings from penny/nickel abolition. And in terms of a $3.8 trillion yearly budget, that works out to about 20 minutes worth of spending.

Also note: it's not as if the government loses money printing dollar bills. That would be hard to do; they take at best a few cents worth of paper, ink, and labor and turn it into something "worth" a dollar by fiat. It's just that they could make more money with coins instead, due to their longer lifespan. (Again: "seignorage", a word worth knowing.)

Canada, our neighbor to the north and a good place to try out ideas like this, has successfully made this switch. Canadians experienced cost savings 10 times higher then their initial estimates.

Judd demonstrates, again, his telling aversion to meaningful numbers. According to the GAO, the Canadian government saved $450 million over 5 years in its switchover. So an average of $90 million/year, about 0.028% of their current yearly spending. Given Canada's smaller budget, that's a slightly bigger deal than we'd see in the US: A whole 2.5 hours out of the year!

In an election year like this, big things are not going to happen in Congress. But positive, incremental initiatives that can help pave the way for broader reforms of budget and governance should be doable.

Actually, big things will never happen in Congress as long as they are distracted by time-wasting penny (heh!)-ante schemes like this.

Currency modernization is an opportunity to get real savings that can be used by this Congress as it wrestles with paying for government and reducing the debt.

As shown above, the savings are at best trivial and the debt will continue growing.

It is a small change, in small change. But it does score positively, so it is actually a fairly big deal for a Congress that urgently needs some change.

Change, change, change. Get it? This clever play on words will no doubt convince dozens.

Now, in the grand scheme of things, this is probably not a huge deal. I could learn to live without pennies, nickels, and dollar bills. I am simply tired of pols like Judd Gregg making stupid and dishonest arguments for decreasing Americans' currency choices.


Last Modified 2016-08-07 6:26 AM EDT