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 flock 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.


The Phony Campaign

2016-07-10 Update

Note: I've been choosing to concentrate on Presidential politics over the past months. That can seem inappropriate when the latest murderous horror sweeps over the country. Still, I don't have much to say that hasn't already been said better by others.

So I'll continue with the normal shtick until further notice.

PredictWise has (again) judged that Bernie has approximately zero chance of becoming our next President, almost certainly due to the FBI's determination that some people are just too important to prosecute. So we are back to the big three, and Trump has pulled out to a solid phony lead against Hillary:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
2016-07-03
"Donald Trump" phony 585,000 +69,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 518,000 -52,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 24,900 +700

  • A major component of wisdom is the ability to make distinctions, and so i recommend this NR article: "Liars and Bull**** Artists" by Fred Schwarz.

    People say Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are both liars, and that’s correct in the sense that they both make a general principle of avoiding the truth. To be precise, though, Hillary is a liar, while Trump is something a bit different: a bull**** artist. (I’ll use the abbreviation BSA to save on asterisks; we’ll need them later on.) One of the many ways you can tell: When Hillary is caught in a lie, she doubles down on it, but when Trump is caught in a lie, he casually switches to a different one.

    Verdict: on target.

  • The Trump campaign tweeted something controversial.

    The six-pointed star caused some to accuse Trump of anti-Semitism. That, by itself, doesn't make a lot of sense; sometimes a star is just a star. But it was taken from a genuinely vile website. I found a guest article by a Power Line commenter to be persuasive:

    Is Donald Trump himself a misogynist, racist, Jew-hating troglodyte? Heavens no. I would surmise, in complete seriousness, that there is not enough substance to that shallow, self-absorbed cartoon of a man even to BE a misogynist, racist, or an anti-Semite. Perversely, for Trump to be a misogynist, a racist or an anti-Semite would actually require him a measure of introspection (albeit, in a warped form) that he rather obviously lacks. Rather, the world begins and ends with Donald Trump. Nothing, and no one else, even exists.

    That should not detract from the fact that Hillary Clinton is, indeed, the "most corrupt candidate ever." Well, maybe not ever. Within living memory, Lyndon Baines Johnson is a real contender. But in the past half-century? Sure. Put that in a star, oval, hexagon, whatever.

  • One of the more tedious tropes of the 21st-century American Progressive is to dismiss any dissent from orthodoxy as "hate". While discussing Hillary's documented dishonesty and gross negligence in handling classified material, John Kass makes an important distinction.

    I'm certain that many will clench their fists and denounce me as a Clinton-Hater. But hate by definition is irrational, and so I reject the hater diagnosis.

    Instead, I'm probably something of a Clinton-Loather. Hate is about the loss of control, like the barking of a dog or someone who shrieks into the wind or at a crowd. Loathing takes time and consideration. And I've had years of watching the Clintons lie and dissemble and tell partial truths and get away with it, and take advantage of the principles of honorable men such as James Comey.

    Loathe. Good word.

  • Heat Street is an irreverent clickbait site owned by the otherwise staid Dow Jones. I think it's aimed at folks who (like me) got turned off from the abomination that Breitbart has become.

    Example headline: "Imbiber-In-Chief: Hillary Clinton Plans to Drink Heavily as President"

    My immediate reaction: not as heavily as I will.


The Phony Campaign

2016-07-03 Update

Bernie Sanders continues to hang in at PredictWise. (But why does the word "dingleberry" come into my mind as I type that?) While Hillary continues to hold onto her phony lead, Donald Trump is making a strong charge:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
2016-06-26
"Hillary Clinton" phony 570,000 -1,000
"Donald Trump" phony 516,000 +61,000
"Bernie Sanders" phony 335,000 -22,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 24,200 -48,200

  • Jeff Greenfield is a good liberal Democrat, but also honest enough to write a column headlined "Is This Why Hillary Clinton Is Trusted By So Few Americans?"

    Greenfield's theory:

    It really does appear that both Clintons regard themselves as so removed from the grubby motives that tempt lesser mortals that they are to be judged by a wholly different set of standards.

    If that's the theory, you can surely find the facts to fit, starting with Bill's secretive meeting on a private jet with Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Greenfield also recalls (a) Hillary's comment that she and Bill were "dead broke" as they left the White House; (b) her justification for he $675K Goldman Sachs speeches; (c) her claim that “every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported”—well, except for those who were victimized by Bill; (d) their behavior during the Lewinsky affair; (e) her 180° reversals on trade policy, gay marriage, and Iraq.

    Greenfield obviously had size constraints on his column; like anyone else paying attention, he could have rattled off many more examples off the top of his head.

    The problem with his theory that the Clinton's believe they should "be judged by a wholly different set of standards": there's zero evidence that the Clintons view themselves as bound under any ethical standards whatsoever. They have appetites—yuuge appetites—for power, money and (in Bill's case) sex—and the only constraint they feel is can we get away with it?

    And they mostly do. Thanks to fools like Greenfield, who keep making excuses and looking for complex justifications for despicable behavior.

  • A lefty named Conor Lynch attempts to explain: "Why Millions of GOP Voters Bought Into Trump's Phony Populist Act".

    Donald Trump does not come across as a typical plutocrat — and if he did, it is doubtful whether he would be the leader of a new right-wing populist movement in America. Though the billionaire was born into great wealth and privilege, and started running his father’s $200 million real estate firm in the 1970s (a lucky break?), he has a very down-to-earth and unsophisticated way of communicating; as crude as the stereotypical drunk uncle and as slick and self-assured as a used-car salesman from New Jersey.

    All true! Yet not delivering on the headline's promise: why did millons of GOP voters buy into Trump's phony populist act?

    Lynch's analysis turns out to be (let's be kind) flawed by his Manichean view of the world: "the people" versus plutocrats. So, after much anti-capitalist babble:

    […] Trump’s diatribes against the liberal and technocratic elites are not completely unfounded. Right-wing populists like Trump have been able to succeed because Democrats have become less egalitarian and more elitist over the years.

    That's where his logic takes him.

    I have an alternative explanation of why "millons of GOP voters bought into Trump's phony populist act". They were stupid.

    That theory probably won't win me a paid columnist gig at Salon, but it's simple and fits the facts.

  • The populism thing was on a tear this past week, with even President Obama adding his two cents: "Obama takes shot at Trump as a phony populist".

    In an international summit dominated by the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency, President Obama criticized the presumptive Republican nominee as a phony populist and told Mexicans and Canadians that Mr. Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric doesn’t represent the views of most Americans.

    Whatever, Barry.

    Populism is dressed-up demagoguery, whether it's employed by Democrats or Republicans. (Although it's cute to see Democrats miffed when Republicans are politically successful at it.)


The Phony Campaign

2016-06-26 Update

PredictWise says Bernie is back, baby, once again meeting our 2% criterion for inclusion in our poll. In other news, Hillary has retaken the phony lead in Google hit counts:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
2016-06-19
"Hillary Clinton" phony 571,000 +41,000
"Donald Trump" phony 455,000 -176,000
"Bernie Sanders" phony 357,000 ---
"Gary Johnson" phony 72,400 +2,500

  • Donald Trump made a speech about Hillary where … guess what?

    "Most people know she's a world class liar," Trump said. "Just look at her pathetic email server statements or her phony landing—or her phony landing in Bosnia where she said she was under attack, and the attack turned out to be young girls handing her flowers."

    Amusingly, even the left-leaning Politifact had little choice than to rate this claim true.

    The only flaw in Trump’s speech is he said Clinton was handed flowers. It was a poem, which seems like a trivial difference.

    I will embed this classic YouTube video on this topic from 2008, because it's funny:

    Politifact's analysis of 27 claims made in Trump's speech is here. Even discounting for its usual bias, it's not pretty. Donald, if you're gonna give a speech about someone else being a "world-class liar", you'd better be scrupulous about your own facts.

  • The NYPost reports: "Trump has been giving out fake diamond cuff links for years".

    Donald Trump has been doling out diamond cuff links to unsuspecting pals as presents — but they’re actually fabulous fakes, sources say.

    One of the people claiming that Trump attempted to pass off "cheap pewter and bad zirconias" as platinum and diamonds from Harry Winston is … Charlie Sheen, so who knows?

    Still, under a Trump presidency, the nightly news could well resemble four or eight bonus seasons of Two and a Half Men. Except being even less funny, and accompanied by real-world catastrophes.

  • Factcheck revealed "Gary Johnson’s False Marijuana Claim".

    Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson claimed that “no politicians outside of Bernie Sanders and myself support legalizing marijuana” at the “congressional, gubernatorial, senatorial level.” He’s wrong.

    When asked for a comment on the refutation, Johnson reportedly said: "Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man."

    Well, no. And I'm still voting for him.

  • And your tweet of the week:

    Sigh.


In Edutopia, We Don't Overthink

I almost certainly would not have noticed this tweet:

… were it not for approximately three dozen conservative commenters, all asking more or less "Yeah, so where's the diversity in that picture?"

A cheap shot, of course. (On Twitter, given the character limit, it's a very rare shot that isn't cheap.)

But I clicked over to the Edutopia article anyway. It's by Jinnie Spiegler, credited as "Director of Curriculum, Anti-Defamation League". The article is loaded with earnest smugness and self-congratulation, all designed to make right-wing troglodytes (like me) roll their eyes and bemoan the indoctrination of kids with progressive claptrap.

Paragraph One sets the tone, with an example so hoary I remember a gag about it on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 70's:

When my daughter was three years old, I taught her the word "stereotype." She was just beginning to string words together into sentences, had determined that pink was definitely not her favorite color, and asked (demanded, actually) why all the "girl stuff" was pink and the "boy stuff" was blue. Because there's no three-year-old version for a word describing why colors are gendered in our society, I figured that planting the seed might yield fruit soon enough. And somewhat surprisingly, I was correct.

She was correct! And she claims to have been surprised by that, but I bet she wasn't.

Nevertheless, stereotyping is thoughtcrime in the Spiegler curriculum. Got that?

So I kept reading… all the way to Paragraph Three:

However, young children have a keen awareness of and passion for fairness. They demand right over wrong, just over unjust. And they notice differences without apology or discomfort.

You may notice that Mother Spiegler isn't really consistent on that whole stereotyping thing. Heck, even her three-year-old daughter might notice.


The Phony Campaign

2016-06-19 Update

PredictWise has finally dropped Bernie Sanders (look out below) under our 2% threshold. And although he doesn't yet appear on Predictwise's radar, I'm putting Gary Johnson into the mix, dammit:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
2016-06-12
"Donald Trump" phony 631,000 +47,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 530,000 -91,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 69,900 ---

Well, what do you know? D. Trump is on top once again.

  • So about Gary Johnson? Well, he has his detractors. For example, earlier this year one Jeb Lund wrote at theguardian: "Presidential hopeful Gary Johnson is no Libertarian. He's a pro-pot Trump"

    In an exclusive interview with Reason on Wednesday, former New Mexico governor and former Republican Gary Johnson announced that he will again seek the Libertarian party presidential nomination in order to, among other things, ban Muslim women from wearing burqas.

    As it turns out, it took about 24 hours for Johnson to realize that banning burqas would be a bad idea. The Reason link makes that 180 clear.

    One might wish that an ideal candidate would be able to articulate a well-developed position and supporting arguments on the pressing burqa issue on the spur of the moment. That would make embarrassing day-later reversals unnecessary.

    Nevertheless, burqa-banning is not on Johnson's to-do list. That, of course, makes much of Lund's article misguided and silly.

  • Tho Bishop at a site called "The Liberty Conservative", in a pre-LP convention article, noted: "Gary Johnson Selects “Phony Libertarian” As VP". Bishop, I fear, is a little more on-target than was Lund:

    Gary Johnson, perceived front-runner for the Libertarian Party, announced today that he would choose former Massachusetts’s Governor Bill Weld as his Vice Presidential candidate. On paper, the move seems to make a lot of sense. Weld, like Johnson, is a former Republican who has long had a reputation for being a “libertarian,” having been a long standing supporter of abortion, gay marriage, and the legalization of marijuana. Unfortunately, also like Johnson, his grasp of libertarian principles is questionable outside these few social issues.

    I was never enthusiastic about Weld when he was governor of Massachusetts; his subsequent political behavior struck me as erratic at best. Still, he's respectable. And my guess is he'll be better than whatever veep picks the major parties emit.

  • Okay, what about the Donald?

    To be fair, the WaPo briefly had an online screaming headline: “Donald Trump suggests President Obama was involved with Orlando shooting.” This was later downgraded to “Donald Trump seems to connect President Obama to Orlando shooting.”

    To be double-fair, trying to extract coherent thoughts out of Trump's stream-of-consciousness babbling would be challenging for even the fairest news organization.

  • Also this week

    Donald Trump is not a man of ideological principles, conservative or otherwise. He's a reflexive authoritarian who thinks the answer to virtually every problem is more government involvement, at least and especially if "winners" like himself are in charge. Case in point: Trump is backing a gun control measure fervently supported by Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration.

    Specifically, Trump is backing the use of the no-fly list ("a poorly curated list of predominantly Muslim names") to prohibit gun sales. A measure that would have prevented precisely zero recent mass-murders, but would deliver far more power to the government.


Last Modified 2016-06-27 8:40 AM EDT

The Phony Campaign

2016-06-12 Update

PredictWise stubbornly continues to hold Bernie Sanders with just enough regard to mandate his inclusion in our phony survey. (Gary Johnson still missing, though.)

And Hillary has surged to a lead over Donald Trump. How exciting!

Query String Hit Count Change Since
2016-06-05
"Hillary Clinton" phony 621,000 +96,000
"Donald Trump" phony 584,000 -45,000
"Bernie Sanders" phony 442,000 -40,000

  • Our Googling often takes us into LeftWorld, where Deep Thinkers (in this case, someone named Alexander Reed Kelly) posit questions like "Is Elizabeth Warren a Phony Progressive for Failing to Endorse Bernie Sanders?"

    Now, if you're like me, you could have answered that question after its first five words.

    Is Elizabeth Warren a phony?

    Yes.

    Could you expand on that?

    Um,… OK. Hell, yes.

    But as it turns out, Alexander Reed Kelly doesn't seem to have any thoughts of his own on the issue. Instead he quotes another Deep Thinker, Cenk Uygur, who makes the Really Important Distinction:

    I believe that she genuinely thought that the best way to keep progressive ideals alive was to make sure there was a voice for progressives in the very likely event that Hillary Clinton won. That is a calculation that she made. Now, you could say hey, I’m being overly generous to her or I’m being naive about it, and that is possible, but that’s my sincere belief.

    Uygur knows that failing to endorse Bernie is a big red X on the 2016 American Progressive Purity Test, so how can we get Fauxcahontas at least partial credit? By imagining (without evidence) the Senator's inner motivations as those of "practical calculation" instead of those of (Kelly's words) "a self-interested traitor".

  • In related YouTubeness, it's lefty talking to lefty about how corruptible Hillary is:

  • In Trump news, pundits fell all over themselves to (a) be outraged about Trump's claims about the Hispanic ethnicity of the judge overseeing the Trump University case while (b) maintaining that Sonia Sotomayor's 2001 musings on the same theme ("Whether born from experience or inherent physiological [!] or cultural differences, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.") are perfectly OK.

    [My view, in case you were wondering: both reprehensible.]

  • Your tweet of the week:

  • And your bonus tweet of the week is one of my own. (Default embedding of a GoComics cartoon, you may need to click for the whole thing.)