MLK@UNH 2017: Slam!

'Tis a Pun Salad nearly-annual tradition to look at how the University Near Here will be celebrating Martin Luther King Day. As I type, UNH's announcement of the 2017 festivities is here. It's pretty sketchy, no mention of the traditional church service, candlelight vigil, or other activities. As usual UNH's MLK Celebration is held nowhere near the actual MLK day (January 16 in 2017) or MLK's actual birthday (January 15); the campus is pretty dead in mid-January.

What we have is this year's theme: "Art as Resistance and Remembrance", and the guests: "Spoken Word artists Janae Johnson and Porsha O." Janae and Porsha seem to have been picked out of the artist lineup at Strength of Doves Productions ("a management company representing social justice minded spoken word artists, teaching artists, community organizers, and activists").

At this point, I'm already wondering if the MLK Celebration had a budget cut this year.

Here's UNH's description of Janae:

Janae Johnson is a spoken work [sic] poet, teaching artists [sic], educator, and organizer residing in Berkeley, California. She is a 2015 National Poetry Slam Champion as as [sic] the 2015 Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion. Her work, which is mostly focused on black queerness and/or black masculinity, has appeared on PBS News Hour and in Kinfolks: a journal of Black expression. 

They'll probably get around to fixing those typos at some point.

This description appears to have been taken (and mangled) from the Strength of Doves site. There we get the additional info that Janae "is committed to creating safer artistic spaces and has little tolerance for people trying to kill her vibe."

I can sympathize. I hate it when people even try to touch my vibe.

In addition:

When she is not writing poems, Janae is probably making a pineapple based smoothie, eating a breakfast burrito and/or listening to a Stevie Wonder song. She also appreciates black musicals. A lot.

She also likes that "and/or" construction. A lot.

How about Porsha?

Porsha Olayiwola is the 2014 Individual World Poetry Slam Champion. Porsha separates herself from the field of issue-based performance poets by applying advanced political analysis to examine injustice while providing perspective on concrete solutions with exciting and accessible language. A native of Chicago, Porsha now resides in Boston where she writes and teaches.

Does Porsha really apply "advanced political analysis" in her poetry? I would like to see an example of that. But, you know: "advanced" is compared to what?

UNH leaves out a snippet from Porsha's Strength of Doves page description: "Black, poet, dyke-goddess, hip-hop feminist, womanist, friend".

I don't believe that "dyke-goddess" is a slightly misspelled reference to Dike, the Greek goddess of justice.

That aside, you might ask (at least I did): What's the difference between a feminist and a "womanist"? As it turns out, there's a well-known answer:

“Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender” – Alice Walker.

Ah, that explains it. Sort of. The material at the link goes on to describe it as feminism that "inclusive especially of Black American Culture", conscious of the traditional feminist "middle class white women" roots. (Not to mention “many early so-called feminists supported racist eugenics initiatives, including sterilization of minority women”.)

Bottom line: "womanism" is a branch-off feminism into which middle-class tube-tying white women are not invited.

So UNH's 2017 MLK celebration sounds as if it will be mildly entertaining, but mostly tedious. As usual, I'm not invited; it's a safe space, and my mere presence might kill vibes.

[Past Pun Salad MLK@UNH coverage: 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. We skipped reporting the 2008 and 2016 events, because they were boring.]

Cognitive Dissonance, NIH Version

I saw the following articles one after another:

  • "NIH Doesn’t Know Which Federal Facilities It’s Sending Taxpayer Dollars To" (Washington Free Beacon).

    The National Institutes of Health has no system in place to track which federal facilities are receiving taxpayer dollars.

    A Freedom of Information Act request obtained by the Washington Free Beacon revealed that the health agency, which has a budget of over $30 billion, does not keep track of government agencies that receive funding.

    And then…

  • "Social Science is Busted. But the NIH has a Plan That Could Fix It" (Wired).

    Today, a tiny office in the sprawling edifice of the National Institutes of Health released a strategic plan. The 58-page document, complete with bullet points and clip art, spells out a direction for behavioral and social science research—including psychology, economics, and sociology—for the next four years. And while it doesn’t directly shunt funding around, the plan is a bat signal for social scientists across the nation: It shows what the NIH is interested in and (likely) where grants will follow. And that could ultimately shape the direction of behavioral and social science itself.

So, yes: an agency that can't keep track of where taxpayer money is being directed also has a plan to not only (a) direct the money hose onto various fields of social science, but also (b) "fix" things in those fields, something the would-be recipients have been woefully inept at doing themselves.

I'm currently reading Illiberal Reformers by Thomas Leonard, which does a masterful job of relating the Progressive Movement's mindset around the dawn of the 20th century: full of unwarranted hubris, and an overweening desire to "fix" their own era's share of woes. Oddly—by which I mean "totally as expected"—many of the intellectual leaders of the initial wave of Progressivism deemed themselves Economists.

And now a new wave of today's state-based Progressives are on the march to fix their broken field. And others. The hubris hasn't changed, it's just moved.

Disclaimer: Decades ago, I did a stint at NIH, involved in research for my doctorate. I never got my doctorate, and the experience caused me to run at full speed away from anything involving research. I was lousy at it.

Also note: cognoscenti always refer to it as "the NIH", because it's "the National Institutes of Health". For some reason, this doesn't work for NASA: you never see "the NASA". Who could explain, or at least discuss this stylistic weirdness? Oh, right: Language Log.

Last Modified 2016-11-26 8:23 AM EST

Veterans Day 2016

Veterans Day 2016

… thank a vet near you.

Wrong About Everything (Election Thoughts)

Whoa. Did not see that coming.

  • I admit that nearly every prediction I made about this election season was wrong, wrong, wrong. Sometimes spectacularly so. I'm not ashamed, much. I never claimed to be a master prognosticator. But still.

  • I'm not alone though. I've just finished up reading through the November 7 issue of National Review, and the back page article by Daniel Foster begins:

    Some of you won't read this column until after Hillary Clinton is elected 45th president of the United States. But I'm writing it before she is [Obviously — pas], and so it feels like I should offer some summation of these, the longest 83 years of my life, or perhaps a few weighty portents of things to come.

    So how seriously or insightful should I take the rest of the column?

  • Also with a large amount of egg-on-face this morning: the University Near Here Survey Center, whose last New Hampshire polling had:

    • Hillary Clinton beating Donald Trump by 11 points (51%-40%). As I type in the early 11/9 AM, the race is pretty much tied at 47% each, The Donald slightly ahead.

    • Maggie Hassan beating Kelly Ayotte for the US Senate by 5 points (52%-47%). As I type, the results are another squeaker, with both Kelly and Maggie at 48%, Kelly slightly ahead.

    • Colin Van Ostern beating Chris Sununu for NH Governor by 11 points (55%-44%). Sununu has been declared the winner by (currently) 49.1% to 46.6%.

    • Carol Shea-Porter beating Frank Guinta and Shawn O'Connor for US Congress NH District 1, 44%-38%-18% respectively. Current results: 44.3%-42.8%-9.4%.

    • Annie Kuster beating Jim Lawrence for US Congress NH District 2, 59%-40%. Current results: 49.5%-45.7%

    I like those guys at the Survey Center just fine, but it's clear they should probably take a long hard look at their methodology.

  • Even worse, although much funnier, from Sam Wang, Princeton prognosticator:

    Bon appetit, Prof Sam!

  • Although I didn't vote for Trump, and didn't think he'd win, I found myself fantasizing in recent weeks that it would be fun to watch lefty heads explode if he did.

    So far, it's not as much fun as I thought it would be. Schadenfreude is overrated as a pleasure.

  • It appears I will have a couple more years of toothache Carol Shea-Porter representing me in Congress, as she did previously (2007-2011 and 2013-2015). Here's hoping she resumes writing her insipid op-eds for local newspapers; they were a blast to make fun of.

  • I'm slightly gratified by the Libertarian candidates' showing in most local races; they appear to have gotten more votes than the vote difference between the major party candidates. Perhaps this will cause the losers to reflect: Gee, if I'd only made a slight nod in favor of free markets and individual liberty!

    Well, I can dream.

The Phony Campaign

2016-11-06 (and Final) Update

This is the 97th "Phony Campaign" installment for the current political season, which we've been doing mostly weekly since late December 2014. (Interestingly, Donald Trump did not make the initial cut; he didn't show up in our standings until June 21, 2015.)

It's probably time for me to admit that the voters show absolutely no sign of breaking hard for the Johnson/Weld Libertarian ticket. Even ignoring the massive character flaws of the major party candidates, it's the only one that offers any respect for the Constitution, fiscal sanity, and individual liberty. So the horse race is between two old nags whose campaigns are nearly entirely based on pointing out how dreadful the other one is. And, for that, the campaigns deserve some points for accuracy: they really are both dreadful.

In said horse race, PredictWise gives the filly an 87% chance of winning, unchanged from last week. FiveThirtyEight pins a 65.5% tail on the Donkey, down about 13 points from last week.

It's worth pointing out that 65.5% is considerably less than certainty.

It's safe to declare Trump the winner in our Phony polling:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 1,490,000 -50,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 951,000 -89,000
"Jill Stein" phony 498,000 +70,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 75,800 -9,100

So what's behind all those phony hit counts this week?

  • In the WaPo, reliable Democrat flack E. J. Dionne claims "Donald Trump is a phony outsider". Dionne's evidence on this point is thin; he mainly concentrates on reporting Missouri polling results. But here's the assertion repeated, with some weak evidence:

    Trump has bragged about his influence peddling and his closing argument was reinforced with help from anti-Clinton Republican congressional insiders and the FBI as well. How in the world has he been allowed, almost unchallenged, to paint himself as an anti-establishment rebel?

    I seem to remember a time when Dionne was less superficial than this. I could be wrong, though.

  • In HillaryLand, the Americans for Tax Reform note "Hillary’s Phony $250,000 Tax Pledge".

    Hillary Clinton has endorsed several tax increases on middle income Americans, despite her pledge not to raise taxes on any American making less than $250,000. She has said she would be fine with a payroll tax hike on all Americans, she has endorsed a steep soda tax, endorsed a 25% national gun tax, and most recently, her campaign manager John Podesta said she would be open to a carbon tax.

    Why it's almost as if she were a congenital liar (as William Safire noted over 20 years ago).

  • Ah, Jill Stein, we will miss you. Because of headlines like: "Jill Stein Wants National Conversation On Oppressive Comedians". Jill was put out at HBO's John Oliver for his Stein-negative comments on his show. A sample from her rant:

    This country was built on oppressing The Other (Blacks and indigenous people) and I’m not going to stand for more of this while we deal with major crises in this country that could determine whether we’ll even survive as a species.

    What's missing from Jill's analysis? Only that (1) the mainstream media, including HBO/Time-Warner, are nearly entirely boring shills for the Democratic Party; (2) that means that Jill Stein must either be ignored or ridiculed, lest she cut into Hillary's vote totals; and the only surprising thing is (3) that Jill seems to be surprised by this. She should know better.

  • You can click the link to discover "Why Gary Johnson Won Over Some Voters After Faking Heart Attack At Debate".

    Unfortunately, the debate wasn't against Trump and Hillary. It wasn't even this year. But:

    Back in February 2015, Johnson - formerly Governor of New Mexico - appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference to debate marijuana legalization. Onstage with him was for U.S. Rep. Anne Marie Buerkle (R - New York), who began making an exaggerated claim about marijuana before correcting herself and reining in the prohibitionist rhetoric.

    "You have a one-in-five - a higher chance of having a heart attack within the first hour after you smoke marijuana. There are legitimate side effects of this drug," she said.

    Rather than argue the point, Johnson mocked Buerkle by clutching his chest and falling over on the stage.

    Good one, Gary.

UNH's Carsey School is Wikileaked

Thanks to the Washington Free Beacon sifting through the Wikileaks mail dump to find yet another embarrassment for the University Near Here:

A senior faculty member at a public university in New Hampshire proposed using his position to “be helpful” to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, hacked emails show.

The faculty member is Michael Ettinger; his primary position is director of the Carsey School of Public Policy, a UNH department funded by alumna Marcy Carsey. Marcy recovered from her UNH English Lit degree to make bazillions of dollars producing TV fare, such as The Cosby Show and Roseanne.

Prof Ettinger's leaked mail was sent to John Podesta (currently chairman of the Hillary campaign) and Ann O'Leary (currently a Hillary senior policy advisor) back in March 2015. It begins:

This note arises from a conversation I had with Ann about how I can be helpful from my perch in New Hampshire. I’m open-minded on that, and I’ve helped out on some small matters in my private capacity, but the best place to start is with what I can do formally from heading the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.

What's wrong with this? Well, it skates right up to, and maybe over, the red line set out in the University System Policy Manual:

Organizations exempt from tax under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) (such as the University System of NH and its component units) may have their exempt status revoked if they are involved in any political activity.

Note that Prof Ettinger seems to be offering UNH-based services explicitly to the benefit of a single political candidate. I doubt UNH's tax exemption status is in jeopardy as a result. The IRS doesn't care about 501(c)(3) violations when they're committed by Democrats. But to normal folks, it looks bad.

UNH's official response to this is posted at the end of the Free Beacon story, and it claims that "The Carsey School of Public Policy extended invitations to all the major candidates in early 2015." Probably technically factual!

But I'm relatively certain those invitations weren't as cozy and chummy as Prof Ettinger's missive to "John and Ann". I doubt whether other candidates were offered hosting services "at venues in nearby Portsmouth which has a large population of influential and well-off progressives who [Ettinger is] getting to know."

Prof Ettinger also offers the Carsey Institute's "NH Listens" forum to the campaign, and offers to make it a safe space for Hillary, free of anyone who might ask inconvenient questions, or record any embarrasing gaffes:

People understand that with trackers, cameras on everything, provocateurs, etc the risks can outweigh the benefits for the candidates. Thus, the idea has arisen that NH Listens could convene groups of people to meet with candidates in a less dangerous environment. NH Listens would make and enforce the ground rules thus taking the onus off the candidates for keeping the discussion civil and constructive. NH Listens is experienced at this. I don’t know if that’s an attractive idea or not, but we’d be glad to do it for Senator Clinton if it would fit with her plans.

"Keeping the discussion civil and constructive" is a euphemism for disallowing anything that might have thrown Hillary off her talking points.

One final amusing thing in the mail: Prof Ettinger gets in a sideswipe at folks who have (accurately) found "NH Listens" to be a progressive sham:

[NH Listens is] well regarded in the state with the exception of a small tea party group that has accused it of exercising mind control.

Ah, I know at least some of the folks he's talking about there! I'm sure they'll be happy to learn they're still living rent-free in Ettinger's head.

The Scary Campaign, 2016. Boo!

It's Halloween! While Pun Salad usually concentrates on how phony our presidential candidates are, 'tis the season that reminds us that they are also quite scary. But how scary? Let's ask the Google:

Query String Hit Count
"Donald Trump" scary 16,300,000
"Hillary Clinton" scary 13,800,000
"Jill Stein" scary 611,000
"Gary Johnson" scary 326,000

Unsurprising. When we did this in the past, we observed:

  1. Our "phony" hit counts are dwarfed by the "scary" hit counts. For Hillary and Trump, it's an order of magnitude difference! What that means, in terms of the country's mood is obvious: months of negative ads predicting the dire results of the Other Person winning has turned us into a nation of quivering sheep huddled in a dark corner.

  2. I tend to favor the "Wizard of Oz" hypothesis myself: people find these guys scary, but they're actually just phony.

But I could be wrong. So let's dip into the Google results to see what people are saying:

  • At the Independent, Kirsty Major warns "If you think Donald Trump is scary, take a look at his kids". As a bonus, there's a Halloween allusion:

    They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and so it is with Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr. The son of the Republican presidential hopeful and his first wife Ivana Trump has got himself into a spot of trouble by using a bizarre Halloween-urban-legend-esque allegory to compare Syrian refugees to a bowl of Skittles. “If I had a bowl of Skittles and I told you three would kill you, would you take a handful?” read an image he tweeted, with a picture of a big bowl of the popular sweets for emphasis. “That’s our Syrian refugee problem.”

    OK. What else? Well, the WaPo's David Ignatius advises us: Don’t be fooled — Donald Trump’s foreign policy is as scary as ever". And the gay-themed Advocate will run down "Donald Trump's Scary Supreme Court Picks". (Not LGBT-friendly at all.)

    And then there's the NYT, doing its bit for linguistic analysis last year, finding "95,000 Words, Many of Them Ominous, From Donald Trump’s Tongue". Sample:

    While many candidates appeal to the passions and patriotism of their crowds, Mr. Trump appears unrivaled in his ability to forge bonds with a sizable segment of Americans over anxieties about a changing nation, economic insecurities, ferocious enemies and emboldened minorities (like the first black president, whose heritage and intelligence he has all but encouraged supporters to malign).

    Scary! Democrats prefer more dialog more appealing to rationality, like "He is going to put y'all back in chains" or resurrecting the 1964 he's-gonna-nuke-us "Daisy" ad.

    From that last link: "Daisy", now 52 years older, says, predictably "And to see that coming forward in this election is really scary."

  • So what about Hillary, our second-place finisher? Quite frankly, the stuff that Google turns up is pretty mild in comparison. Theory: people opposed to Hillary tend to subscribe to the Bene Gesserit litany against fear: "Fear is the mind-killer". And we don't like our minds killed.

    But it's out there. Example: Josh Barro, writing at the ad blocker-hostile Business Insider reals "This is what scares me most about a Hillary Clinton presidency". It's relatively staid, given the massive decades-long record of Clinton-based corruption:

    If anything goes badly wrong in the world over the next four years — not terribly unlikely under any president, given all the upheaval in Europe and China — I'm worried that voters will look at the webs of influence surrounding Clinton and be more inclined to be suspicious that problems affecting their livelihoods have arisen because of self-dealing by elites.

    Suggestion: replace "be more inclined to be suspicious" with "correctly conclude".

    Even back in 2014, Mr. Leonard Benton of the Havok Journal described "What Scares Me About President Hillary Clinton".

    Hillary Clinton is 66 [now 69] years old, but age doesn’t scare me. What scares me is that she reminds me of Doloris Umbridge in the Harry Potter books; she knows what is best for you and she will make you understand it. I can see her now forcing parents to carve her name into their own children–figuratively, if not in practice. What also scares me about Hillary is that she has been a sideline member of the political machine from 1979 until 2013 and she is so far out of touch that she believes her own hype and thinks she is the gift we deserve and need. 22 years as the wife of a Governor then President, a Senator for 8 years, and finally Secretary of State for 4 years. She has ridden the coat tails of her husband through all these events and the Clinton machine is a powerful political machine. Is it enough to get her into the White House? I dearly hope not.

    But for the real clincher, see Steve Chapman at Reason: "Clinton Is a Threat to the 2nd Amendment—and the 1st"

    Donald Trump is a clear menace to our democratic form of government, the rule of law and my James Madison bobblehead. The teenage Ted Cruz could recite the entire Constitution from memory. Trump wouldn't know it from Two Corinthians.

    But it's not exactly safe to entrust your copy of the Constitution to Hillary Clinton, either. You might get it back with some parts missing or mutilated—like the First Amendment and the Second.

    I sometimes think she'd look for a way to quarter soldiers in houses without the owner's consent, just to have another Amendment to traduce.

  • Things are even milder for Jill Stein. Why, one "J Clifford" tells us at Irregular Times that "No, Jill Stein Is Not The Scary Leftist Wacko Democrats Say She Is". But there are many, many links revealing who Jill thinks is scary:

    Presumptive Green Party nominee Jill Stein believes Hillary Clinton would be a more dangerous president than Donald Trump, because while Mr. Trump says “scary things,” the former secretary of state actually does them.

    Give Jill some stopped-clock points for correctness here.

  • Last but not least, my candidate, Gary Johnson. "Judy M" at the dreadfully earnest Care2 site details: 7 Scary Facts About Gary Johnson (And One Awesome Fact).

    Spoiler: not a single one of the "scary" facts is actually scary. ("He Supports the Keystone XL Pipeline." Eek!? "A President Johnson Would Get Rid Of Obamacare." Aieee!?).

    The awesome fact:

    Johnson has run 17 marathons, four Ironman Triathlons, is an active rock climber, and has climbed the seven highest summits on every continent, including Mount Everest (just after breaking a leg!). His doctor writes that Johnson, who weighs 172 pounds and has normal blood pressure and pulse, exercises about an hour a day.”

    When I think about exercising, I often say: "Nah; Gary's doing enough for both of us."

Wishing you a non-scary Halloween. Or at least one that's less scary than Election Day.

Last Modified 2016-11-04 10:04 AM EDT

The Phony Campaign

2016-10-30 Update

FBI Director James Covey announced that he's (let us not quibble) re-opening the criminal investigation into Hillary's shoddy e-mail practices, the Republicans cheer, the Democrats jeer, but what about the PredictWise bettors? Her win probability has plummeted to … 87%, four points down from last Monday. They seem to be taking things in stride.

Over at FiveThirtyEight, their polls-only forecast gives her a 78.6% shot, down about 5 points from last Monday. (But maybe when more polls come in over the next few days…)

This week's Getty illustration: Hillary, when the indictment comes in.

And the phony poll standings show a general decrease in phoniness hits for everyone. Which is inexplicable, unless those Google hit counts are meaningless! (Which, oh yeah, they are.)

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 1,540,000 -370,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 1,040,000 -580,000
"Jill Stein" phony 428,000 -21,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 84,900 -4,800

  • Trump made hits this week by griping about "rigged" polls, who he claims are oversampling Democrats at the command of John Podesta:

    Here's how all of this affects you: When the people who control the political power in our society can rig investigations like her investigation was rigged, can rig polls -- you see these phoney [sic] polls, and rig the media, they can wield absolute power over your life, your economy and your country. And benefit big time by it.

    The argument: polls that show a decisive Hillary win demoralize Trump voters, who assume a position at their nearest dive bar instead of going to vote.

    Ah, but what about the scads of lazy Hillary voters who see her lead and say: "Ah, she's gonna win without me," and stay home?

    I have little love for left-leaning Politifact, but they rate Trump's claim "Pants on Fire", and their explanation seems credible even to this skeptic.

  • Gil "O" Tanenbaum wonders, at Jewish Business News: "Is Jill Stein A Political Hypocrite?". Spoiler: Gil thinks maybe yes.

    Is Jill Stein a phony when it comes to her attacks on big business? Well according to a report in The Daily Beast the Green Party candidate for President sure seems to be.

    I find it somewhat suprising that Jill's worth may be "as much as" $8.5 million. That's some cabbage right there. And apparently she hasn't made it by investing in exclusively socially conscious companies. Her mutual funds invest in nasty companies like Exxon, Chevron, Goldman Sachs, etc. Who do you think you are, Jill? Hillary?

  • My candidate, Gary Johnson, seems distinctly unmellow these days. He had an interview with a Guardian reporter, and …

    But then Johnson was asked about his tax policy. The reporter said he hasn’t found a single economist who agrees with him.

    Johnson lost it and shouted at him about marijuana legalization and how people told him it couldn’t be done. When asked about what this has to do with taxation, he said, “It’s leadership. It is leadership.”

    Video at the link, your own call on whether Gary should go back on his legal-in-some-states meds. I'm still voting for him.

  • Your quote du jour is Mencken wisdom, via Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution:

    I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing. Does it exalt dunderheads, cowards, trimmers, frauds, cads? Then the pain of seeing them go up is balanced and obliterated by the joy of seeing them come down. Is it inordinately wasteful, extravagant, dishonest? Then so is every other form of government: all alike are enemies to laborious and virtuous men. Is rascality at the very heart of it? Well, we have borne that rascality since 1776, and continue to survive. In the long run, it may turn out that rascality is necessary to human government, and even to civilization itself – that civilization, at bottom, is nothing but a colossal swindle. I do not know: I report only that when the suckers are running well the spectacle is infinitely exhilarating. But I am, it may be, a somewhat malicious man: my sympathies, when it comes to suckers, tend to be coy. What I can’t make out is how any man can believe in democracy who feels for and with them, and is pained when they are debauched and made a show of.

    Related is the well-known poker aphorism: "If you don’t see a sucker at the table, you’re it."

  • And more tweet-sized wisdom from Iowahawk:


Last Modified 2016-10-30 3:27 PM EDT

The Phony Campaign

2016-10-24 Update

Another week closer to the election! I'm getting pretty good at using TiVo to dodge brain-rotting political ads.

PredictWise gives Hillary a 91% probability of winning, unchanged since last week. While FiveThirtyEight gives her a mere 83.9% shot.

At right, my second-choice candidate gives its acceptance speech.

In the phony standings this week, the Donald continues to dominate, but Hillary cuts into his lead some:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 1,910,000 +420,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 1,620,000 +625,000
"Jill Stein" phony 449,000 +39,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 89,700 -32,300

  • We need more Hayekian insight in this election, sure, but this? "Salma Hayek shot down Trump for a date so he planted a phony story in the National Enquirer" And that phony story was…

    The actress said that her rejecting Trump then led to a story in the National Enquirer, which instead claimed Trump said he wouldn’t date the actress because she was “too short.”

    Ms. Hayek is, indeed, short; 5 foot 2, according to IMDB. Is that s a credible excuse for not dating her? We're only hearing her side of the story, sure, but Trump sounds like a high school petulant loser.

    Oh, right: he always sounds like a high school petulant loser.

  • At the WSJ, Greg Ip does a reality check on Hillary's tax claims:

    “We are going to ask the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share,” she said at Wednesday’s debate. “And there is no evidence whatsoever that that will slow down or diminish our growth.”

    Aside: to repeat a point I've made in the past, I despise the intelligence-insulting lie embedded in that small word "ask". If/when a tax increase is passed, nobody will be "asked" to cough up more money to the US Treasury. That money will be demanded. By implying otherwise, Hillary might as well add: "I'm wording things that way because I think anyone listening is stupid enough to believe me."

    That lie is nearly always accompanied by the bullshit phrase "fair share", which I've also loathed for a long time. Exactly how much is that fair share? Why, my friends, it always really means "more than they're paying now".

    The Tax Foundation's most recent analysis of income tax data:

    In 2013, the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers (those with AGIs below $36,841) earned 11.49 percent of total AGI. This group of taxpayers paid approximately $34 billion in taxes, or 2.78 percent of all income taxes in 2013.

    In contrast, the top 1 percent of all taxpayers (taxpayers with AGIs of $428,713 and above), earned 19.04 percent of all AGI in 2013, but paid 37.80 percent of all federal income taxes.

    In 2013, the top 1 percent of taxpayers accounted for more income taxes paid than the bottom 90 percent combined. The top 1 percent of taxpayers paid $465 billion, or 37.80 percent of all income taxes, while the bottom 90 percent paid $372 billion, or 30.20 percent of all income taxes.

    It's my devout wish that someone would corner Hillary, or anyone else braying about "fair share", show these numbers, and ask: Is that "fair"? What would the numbers have to look like to make them "fair"?

    But I've been wishing that for a long time, and I don't think I'll see it in my lifetime.

  • Er, where was I? Oh, yeah. Continuing with Hillary's claim that there's "no evidence whatsoever" enacting her proposals "will slow down or diminish our growth": that turns out to be a lie as well:

    Two independent analyses conclude that by raising taxes so dramatically on the wealthy, her program will crimp investment and economic growth, though they disagree on how much.

    Details at the link.

  • Is Gary Johnson happy that Hillary Clinton's geography gaffe didn't get the "Aleppo Moment" treatment? Find out the shocking answer in Anthony L. Fisher's Reason article, titled "Gary Johnson's Not Happy That Hillary Clinton's Geography Gaffe Didn't Get the 'Aleppo Moment' Treatment".

    Clinton, whose candidacy is largely built on her foreign policy experience, described the Iraqi city of Mosul as a "border city," when it is in fact, 75 miles from the nearest border in one direction, and 100 miles from the border of Syria in another direction. As U.S. News and World Report's Steven Nelson noted, "Ireland is closer to Wales. Montreal is nearer to New York state and Damascus, Syria's capital, is closer to Israel – either its de facto or internationally recognized borders."

    Speaking of "fair", shouldn't all candidates get asked the same set of "gotcha" questions? Again, not holding my breath.

The Phony Campaign

2016-10-17 Update

PredictWise has Hillary with an astonishing lock on the Presidency (91% probability, up from 86% last week). FiveThirtyEight is slightly more dubious: 83.9-89.1%, depending on your choice of methodology. At right: the Trump campaign.

He's doing pretty well in the phony poll, however:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 1,490,000 +200,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 995,000 +106,000
"Jill Stein" phony 410,000 -65,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 122,000 -7,000

  • Professor Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek pens Another Open Letter to Hillary Clinton, caused by her boobish agreement with Donald Trump on prosecuting Chinese steelmakers. This is nothing new; Boudreaux quotes a 112-year-old speech from Winston Churchill debunking the trade know-nothingism of his time. Nothing much has changed.

    I don’t for a moment expect Churchill’s words to cause you to rethink your hostility to free trade; you crave power, not truth. But I do want you to know that you and Mr. Trump are merely the latest drum majors in a long, shameful parade of charlatans and scammers who absurdly promise the masses that greater prosperity is to be had if only they’ll agree to pay higher prices for the goods and services they consume.

    At this point our best hope is that Hillary's merely a shameless liar on this issue, that she really knows better.

  • Ever wondered why we're stressed? Jim Geraghty, indispensable as usual, has the answer: "We’re Stressed Because We Feel Obligated to Act in Contradiction to Our Values"

    Geraghty obseves that partisan Democrats (containing a good chunk of Bernie Sanders supporters) now find themselves having to "swallow their pride, put aside their concerns and worries, and pretend [Hillary] is noble and trustworthy." Despite daily revelations to the contrary.

    Diehard Republicans probably have it worse, having to support a lecherous blowhard, a floater of delusional conspiracy theories, etc.

    Of course everybody’s stressed. One of two bad options – a man and a woman who do not reflect the values and sense of ethics of most decent Americans — is all but certain to be president, and lots of people feel the need to pretend that they want these bad options, lest the worse one win. What’s more, people are realizing that they’re going to have to validate one of these people by giving her or him their vote.

    Not me, Jim.

  • David Boaz is roughly on the same wavelength as Geraghty in his diagnosis of "Trump Derangement Syndrome", a coinflip counterpart to the well-known Bush Derangement Syndrome of years past.

    What do we say about conservatives – people who believe, variously, in limited government, free markets, Judeo-Christian values, and the importance of character in public life – who have been forced to utter absurdities in defense of Donald Trump? It’s one thing to say that Hillary Clinton and her Supreme Court justices and her 4,000 bureaucrats are on net worse than Trump and whatever menagerie he brings to the White House. But when free-market conservatives find themselves enthusiastically defending the most protectionist presidential candidate since Pat Buchanan, or Christian conservatives are forced to say that personal character isn’t really a big issue for them, I fear that derangement has set in.

    Examples follow. But the bottom line, friends, is: Politics corrupts us. I'm reading a book that convincingly makes that point, should have a brief description up in a few days.

  • [Amazon Link] Which reminds me: Jon Ronson is a journalist who keeps finding himself in bizarre situations. One of those, years back, found him infiltrating the infamous Bohemian Grove retreat, where megamoguls and famous celebrities gather to engage in bizarre rituals. His unreliable ally back then was Alex Jones, radio-show nutbar behind the Infowars conspiracy site.

    Today, of course, Jones is one of the drivers behind the Trump candidacy. Ronson was able to reconnect with Jones, also meet the nearly-as-wacky political consultant Roger Stone, and explore the crazy sordidness that's actually influencing the Trump campaign. (The recent talk about the election being "rigged" is pure Jones.)

    Ronson has released a short e-book, The Elephant in the Room, telling the tale, and—whoa—it's free to Amazon Prime users. Recommended; Ronson's clearly on the left, but that doesn't obscure his powers of observation. (If you use the link at right, I'll get a small percentage of your $0.00! Thanks in advance!)

  • And there are a lot of things to dislike about PETA, but this is not one of them:

    Seriously, folks: no matter how you feel about PETA, if you have the time and inclination to give one of our furry friends a safe and loving home, I recommend it.