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.

The Phony Campaign

2016-10-10 Update

At right: the Trump campaign. Sorry, Trumpkins.

PredictWise has Hillary Clinton with an 86% shot at being President, which means Donald Trump is still technically alive at 14%, because math. As I type, he's doing better than the Boston Red Sox, who are judged to have a mere 5% probability of winning the World Series.

Over at FiveThirtyEight, Hillary's at 77.6-86.1% (depending on methodology). The Red Sox are at 5% there as well.

And in the Phony Poll, Jill Stein comes crashing back to earth, as the Google Gods realize the true phonies this year are…

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 1,290,000 -30,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 889,000 -171,000
"Jill Stein" phony 475,000 -3,445,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 129,000 -13,000

  • For our purposes, coverage of Trump's 2005 "extremely lewd conversation" demonstrated the interesting rules various news outlets have for obscuring bad words. For example, the WaPo goes PG-13 in this paragraph:

    “I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married,” Trump says. “Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.”

    … but elsewhere in the article, it's "s---", "f---", and "p---y".

    The bazongas in question belong to Ms. Nancy O'Dell, host of Entertainment Tonight, a show I'm pretty sure I haven't watched in decades. Her official statement makes no mention of the phoniness allegation (although she's apparently denied it in the past, and Googling does not reveal anything on this important issue other than rumor and tawdry speculation):

    "Politics aside, I’m saddened that these comments still exist in our society at all. When I heard the comments yesterday, it was disappointing to hear such objectification of women. The conversation needs to change because no female, no person, should be the subject of such crass comments, whether or not cameras are rolling. Everyone deserves respect no matter the setting or gender. As a woman who has worked very hard to establish her career, and as a mom, I feel I must speak out with the hope that as a society we will always strive to be better."

    It's probably ungentlemanly to observe that the former beauty queen has "established her career" on her extraordinary good looks, so her whole "objectification" complaint rings a little hollow.

    When will we know that "society" has successfully striven "to be better" on this score? When Rachel Dratch becomes an Entertainment Tonight co-host.

  • Speaking of beauty queens: Steve Harvey, well known for botching his gig as host of a recent Miss Universe pageant, interviewed Hillary back in February, during the heat of the primary campaign. You wouldn't expect him to ask hardball questions. But, as recently revealed in a leaked memo, Hillary was guaranteed an even more comfy ride:

    Talk show host Steve Harvey provided Hillary Clinton’s campaign with the exact questions he would ask of Clinton during a February interview, according to an internal campaign memo sent a week before the interview and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

    An impressively phony moment:

    “During this segment Steve will take a trip down memory lane with YOU to talk about the different moments of YOUR life displayed in the photographs below,” the memo explained photos of Clinton that Harvey pulled up on screen as she discussed her childhood, education, relationship with her husband, and election to the U.S. Senate.

    Clinton feigned surprise throughout the interview. “Oh boy. Oh my goodness,” she exclaimed as Harvey displayed a photo of her at 12 years old.

    That's show biz. Also, consistently rendering YOU and YOUR in uppercase is apparently a thing.

  • Was Hillary caught using a child actor at a Pennsylvania town hall campaign event? Find out the shocking answer at Zero Hedge: "Hillary Caught Using Child Actor At Pennsylvania Town Hall".

    At a Hillary Clinton town hall yesterday in Haverford, Pennsylvania, a 15 year old girl was supposedly "chosen at random" to ask a question of the former Secretary of State.  But, the well-scripted performance raised some suspicion with a YouTuber named Spanglevision who decided to dig a little deeper.  And, wouldn't you know it, the "random" participant was none other than child actor, Brennan Leach, whose father just happens to be Pennsylvania democratic State Senator Daylin Leach.  Oh, and in case it wasn't obvious, Daylin supports Hillary for president...shocking.

    Yeah, I think that's credible. Could do without all the bold and underlines.

    Note that Snopes attempts to debunk this, but the best they can do is "unproven". I also found their wording of the "claim" to be a little dishonest:

    Claim: Hillary Clinton "hired" a child actor to be "planted" in the audience during a Town Hall campaign event.

    I'm bothered by Snopes putting "hired" in quotes, as if someone was making the specific charge of money changing hands for little Brennan's performance. I may be missing something, but I don't see that word at Zero Hedge. Is Snopes attempting to rebut an allegation that nobody's actually made?

  • Jacob Sullum watched last evening's debate, and solves the mystery: "Clinton Shows How She Manages to Be Less Trusted Than Trump". Casting her e-mail negligence as a "mistake" is well-known. The new inconvenience that she needed to explain away last night: her two-faced speech confession, kept secret until Wikileaked, was "So you need both a public and a private position." Her focus-grouped response: hey, it's exactly the same thing Lincoln did in that Spielberg movie to get the Thirteenth Amendment passed!

    Sullum rebuts:

    Assuming the Wikileaks excerpts are accurate (and Clinton is not claiming they're not), that is a serious distortion of what Clinton actually said in her speech. She was not talking about tailoring your arguments to your audience; she was talking about bribing legislators with promises of lucrative jobs, which she argued was justified by the importance of getting Congress to approve the 13th Amendment. More generally, she said such tactics, although "unsavory," are both necessary and appropriate, although it is best to conceal them from the public, since otherwise people might "get a little nervous."

    It is understandable that Clinton would prefer not to admit endorsing this Machiavellian view, especially given the broader implications of saying one thing publicly and another privately. But by pretending she did not say what she said, she only compounds the impression that she is slippery, two-faced, and untrustworthy.

    Had I been Jacob's editor, I might have suggested replacing "only compounds the impression" with "demonstrates yet again".

The Phony Campaign

2016-10-02 Update

As I type, PredictWise gives Hillary a 79% chance of winning (up a whopping 9 points from last week) and FiveThirtyEight calculates her probability at 67.3-74.4% (up … erm … also a lot from last week).

This week's Getty picture: the Trump campaign.

In phony news: Jill Stein maintains her firm lead, Trump continues to edge Hillary for the coveted second place spot, with hapless Gary Johnson far behind in fourth:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Jill Stein" phony 3,920,000 +170,000
"Donald Trump" phony 1,320,000 +220,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 1,060,000 +241,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 142,000 +32,000

  • Most honest people would admit that both Major Party candidates display serious character flaws. But, as a bonus, their positions on major issues are also odious, dishonest, and/or ignorant.

    It's important, therefore, for Major Party sycophants to warn people away from those Other Party candidates. We've seen examples before; this week's hit job is from Michael Tomasky, writing in the Daily Beast: "Why No One Should Vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein".

    But here’s the catch. The libertarian live-and-let-live credo doesn’t apply just to young people who’d like to blow a doob in a public park (that’s how we put it back in my day, sonny, and I’m not going to make any phony attempt to be hip). It applies to polluting corporations. It applies to corporations and individuals who want to make unlimited dark money contributions to political campaigns. It applies to the forces pushing free trade. It applies to employers who don’t want to be nickel-and-dimed over paying their workers a minimum wage. It applies to gun manufacturers, and to the National Rifle Association.

    Discounting Tomasky's overheated, dishonest rhetoric, his shocking truth is that the Libertarian Party candidate holds (some) libertarian positions. Film at 11.

    And those stoners in the park couldn't possibly buy into that crap about personal liberty, limited government, and free markets! That's not cool, man.

  • Mad belabors the screamingly obvious (click for full size):

    My Little Phony

  • And Rudy Giuliani apparently agrees with Mad:

    AOL has some excerpts from Rudy's rude remarks:

    While Giuliani applauded the Republican nominee for showing "admirable restraint regarding Hillary Clinton's phony attempt at feminism," he revealed Trump was ready to attack Clinton for taking money from "countries that stone women."

    "You take money from countries that imprison women. You take money from countries where women can't drive," Giuliani continued as he laid into the former secretary of state. "You take millions and hundreds of millions of dollars from countries that treat women as chattel."

  • Amusingly: "Donald Trump Whines About ‘Phony’ Attack Ads That Feature Him Speaking His Own Words".

    “She said very bad things about me,” he said on Fox News. “Worse than what she said, she’s taking these phony ads, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on phony ads, and I think it’s a disgrace that she’s allowed [to do that].”

    Yeah, that whole First Amendment thing, it's a disgrace.

Last Modified 2016-10-02 6:56 AM EDT

The Phony Campaign

2016-09-25 Update

As I type, PredictWise puts Hillary at a 70% chance of winning in November, down 2 (two) percentage points from last week. Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight puts her probability significantly lower (58.1%, 57.5%, or 56.0%, depending on which methodology you like); that's down a few percentage points from last week.

Nearly everyone seems desperate to make this election interesting, as opposed to…

Our Phony Polling shows Jill Stein expanding her phony lead, with Trump solidifying his grasp on second place over Hillary in third. Gary Johnson continues to be in the cellar:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Jill Stein" phony 3,750,000 +890,000
"Donald Trump" phony 1,100,000 +20,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 819,000 -201,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 110,000 +20,100

  • Is your vote for Jill Stein a wasted vote? Find out the unexpected answer to that question from Joshua Holland, writing in The Nation: "Your Vote for Jill Stein Is a Wasted Vote".

    If the last three presidential elections are any guide, 75 to 90 percent of those who say that they’re planning to vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein in November won’t follow through. Yes, there are some dedicated Green voters, but much of the party’s support is an expression of contempt for the Democrats that evaporates in the voting booth. I’m a registered independent and a supporter of the Working Families Party, and my disdain for the Greens springs from my own experience with the party. I agree with much of the Greens’ platform, but when I went to Green Party meetings, I found a wildly disorganized, mostly white group that was riven with infighting, strategically inept, and organized around a factually flawed analysis of American politics. There are effective Green parties in Europe, but ours is a hot mess. And while the Greens’ bold ideas are attractive, what’s the point of wasting one’s time and energy on such a dysfunctional enterprise?

    Mostly white? Well, there you go.

    Honestly, I don't understand the concept of "wasted vote". Given the zero probability of your vote changing the election outcome, I don't see any benefit to not voting for the candidate you think is most in alignment with your own views. Where's the "waste" in voting for someone destined to come in third or fourth, as opposed to someone who'll be in the top two?

    Holland's essay doesn't clear things up on that score.

  • On a related note, Ms. Adele M. Stan, writes at Alternet with a list of 12 Ways Gary Johnson Is a Hardcore Right-Wing Radical.

    Ms. Stan, of course, has a clear fear: that "Johnson’s candidacy could pull more voters from Hillary Clinton than from her Republican rival, Donald Trump". Can't have that!

    For Ms. Stan, a "hardcore right-wing radical" is anyone who believes that the Federal Government should shed significant amounts of power (and associated dollars), returning such powers to the private sphere, or to the states. Here are some of "Johnson’s alarming stances and ties" according to Ms. Stan:

    1. Opposes federal guarantees for student loans.
    2. Opposes virtually all forms of gun control.
    3. Opposes the [Federal] minimum wage.
    4. Opposes equal-pay laws.
    5. Opposes collective bargaining for public employees.
    6. Proposes cuts to Social Security and removing Medicare and Medicaid from federal control.
    7. Supports private prisons.
    8. [ … You can read the remaining items at the link if you would like … ]

    For those who don't assume the Federal Government is entitled to ever-increasing power and money, all those stances are fine ideas. Thanks to Ms. Stan for clarifying.

  • Sometimes I think I should just auto-blog anything Kevin D. Williamson types. For example, "What Conservatives Can Learn from Gary Johnson". Kevin (I call him Kevin) has a deep sense of history, and will remind you (if necessary) of the 1980 candidacy of John Anderson, and its similarity to the Johnson/Weld effort.

    Gary Johnson and William Weld are both decent, honorable men with fine records in public service and no particular reason to be elected president and vice president. But the strength of this year’s Libertarian-party candidacy is a reminder that there is a substantial number of Americans who are looking for something that the Republican party is not offering, neither in its pre-Trump configuration nor after its disfiguration by Trump and Trumpism. Johnson is not offering them exactly what they want (still less what they need), but he is thriving for a reason, and conservatives should take note.

    What he said.

  • A reminder from Ronald Bailey, writing at Reason: "Burn-It-All-Down Political Antinomianism Is Not Libertarian". After quoting former Democratic presidential hopeful Jim Webb and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel and (some) Reason commenters, Bailey notes the significant meme: "burn it all down". Where "it" is the current political establishment.

    The burn-it-all-down Trump supporter (or potential supporter, in Webb's case) is engaged in what I call political antinomianism. In Christian theology, an antinomian is a person who believes the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation. In the current electoral context, voters disgusted with how corrupted our political system has become are attracted to the lawlessness at the heart of Trump's personalized theory of governance. "Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it," declared Trump at the Republican National Convention. Supporters have faith in Trump the Great Man and therefore are political antinomians.

    I see that tendency myself in some of the blogs I read. I'm persuaded by Bailey's argument that it's (at best) a dead end.

The Phony Campaign

2016-09-19 Update

PredictWise (as I type) has Hillary with a mere 72% win probability, down another couple of percentage points from last week. I thought she would be lower than that. I note that the FiveThirtyEight site run by Nate Silver has her at 61.1% this morning, well down from her near-90% probability a month ago.

I'm reminded of Woody Allen's 1979 "Speech to the Graduates" (back when he was funny, and we could imagine he wasn't a perv):

More than at any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.

And now on to the Phony Poll. You'll note that Jill Stein has seized the lead once again:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Jill Stein" phony 2,860,000 +2,350,000
"Donald Trump" phony 1,080,000 +217,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 1,020,000 +55,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 89,900 -36,100

  • Ms. Sasha Stone proclaims: "If You are Voting for Jill Stein, Here is What I know About You". She knows five things, none of them flattering. Here's number one:

    1. I know you are selfish. It’s easy to pretend to care about other people and that somehow protesting the two-party system means you are doing the moral and ethical thing. You think that “what you believe in” matters more than what might happen to other people. Don’t pretend like you care about anyone other than yourself and your image and your brand. Selfishness is the only trait you display in this silly, pointless vote. Just stay home. Don’t bother revealing this ugly trait to the world.

    Might be just me, but I'd guess petulant name-calling and childish insults would be a counterproductive persuasion tactic. Could work on weak-minded leftists, though.

  • At (of all places) the Washington Post, Carlos Lozada earns his paycheck (plus, in a decent world, a hefty hazardous duty bonus) by reading and reviewing Stronger Together: A Blueprint for America's Future, the campaign book authored by Clinton/Kaine. His one-word review: "deplorable" (Ha!). But he goes into detail, for example:

    If you want one more recitation of the fact sheets on how a Clinton administration would ease student debt, fight the Islamic State and reform criminal justice, you’ll get your fill of bullet points here. You’ll also find little argumentation, because in this book whatever state of affairs Clinton and Kaine don’t like is self-evidently “outrageous,” while things they do like are just “common sense.” In a “Stronger Together” world, everything is empowering, everyone is public-private-partnering, and everything, Bill Clinton-style, is aimed at the 21st century. And we know their reforms are right because they’re all deemed “smart” — smart investments and smart federal standards and smart defense budgets and smart solutions. The rich must pay their “fair share” in taxes, with fairness less defined than obviously understood among friends. It’s the adjectival school of policymaking.

    Yay, Carlos! I'm a pretty libertarian guy, and believe that even politicians have the right of free speech. But if I were two clicks more to the authoritarian side, I'd support banning the words Carlos mentions from campaign advertisements, speeches, and websites.

  • I think Megan McArdle had an excellent take on Hillary's attempted health coverup: "Clinton Never Learns That the World Sees Every Stumble". Sample:

    Perhaps less obvious, but also true: this whole cycle was straight out of the playbook that worked for Bill Clinton for many years. Hide, deny, lie, and when that lie breaks down, spin another while surrogates and supporters attack. That playbook lost its mojo on Jan. 19, 1998, when the Drudge Report broke the story of Monica Lewinsky's presidential trysts. It has been steadily getting less effective since that day. Unfortunately, the only person who doesn’t seem to realize that is Hillary Clinton.

    As must be obvious to even the most devoted Hillary supporter (Rich Lowry, last week): "If there were any doubt before, the episode shows a Clinton White House would be habitually secretive and deceptive."

    But those Hillary supporters are much like Tommy Lee Jones:

  • And we don't dump on the Libertarians here as much as we should, sorry. One reason: they get the (un)coveted Pun Salad vote. But Kevin D. Williamson is honest and tough on William Weld's Wishful Thinking on fiscal reform.

    In an absurd interview with MarketWatch, Weld insists that he and Johnson would submit a balanced federal budget within 100 days of taking office. How? Part of the Johnson-Weld program is Libertarian party wish-fulfillment, heavy on closing military bases, domestically and, presumably, abroad. We might close as many as 20 percent of them, he conjectures, without doing very much damage to our military capacity. He is probably right about that, but that would not have much of an effect on the federal budget. That is because growth in military spending, like most of the rest of growth in government spending, is driven by personnel, not by infrastructure, mainly by paychecks, health-care benefits, and pensions. Never mind the number of military personnel we have, compensation spending per capita in the armed services has risen more than 40 percent since 2001, from an average cost of $88,000 per military employee in 2001 to $125,000 and climbing by 2012, according to a Bipartisan Policy Center study. With all the money we spend on aircraft carriers, bombs, and bases, more than a third of all military spending is personnel compensation, and the majority of that is cash compensation rather than medical benefits and the like. Military medical benefits and pensions alone account for more spending than does the discretionary budget for any federal department save the Department of Defense itself and the Department of Health and Human Services.

    Williamson notes: If the Libertarian candidates can't tell the truth about balancing the federal budget, then no one can. And the Libertarian candidates aren't telling the truth about balancing the federal budget. Therefore…

    Oh well. Where's a good place to buy gold and silver these days?

The Phony Campaign

2016-09-12 Update

Pictured at right (no, your right): a basket of deplorables, according to my dog.

PredictWise has Hillary this morning with a mere 74% win-probability, down 2% from last week. Frankly, I thought she'd be lower, but the prediction markets might want to see a few post-weekend polls before they panic.

But what really matters is that's she's also recovered her rightful standing in the Phony Poll:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Hillary Clinton" phony 965,000 +169,000
"Donald Trump" phony 863,000 -147,000
"Jill Stein" phony 510,000 -1,050,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 126,000 +49,600

Before we take the usual cheap shots, the 9/11 anniversary has me recalling Hillary's post-WTC remarks, recounted at the time by Nicholas Lehman in The New Yorker. (Unfortunately the article is not online, but I'm pretty sure my quoting is accurate.) Lehman asked Hillary how she thought people would react to knowing that they are on the receiving end of a murderous anger. Her response:

Oh, I am well aware that it is out there... One of the most difficult experiences that I personally had in the White House was during the health-care debate, being the object of extraordinary rage. I remember being in Seattle. I was there to make a speech about health care. This was probably August of '94. Radio talk-show hosts had urged their listeners to come out and yell and scream and carry on and prevent people from hearing me speak. There were threats that were coming in, and certain people didn't want me to speak, and they started taking weapons off people, and arresting people. I've had firsthand looks at this unreasoning anger and hatred that is focussed on an individual you don't know, a cause that you despise--whatever motivates people.

I originally posted this to Usenet back in October 2001. At the time, I thought it demonstrated Hillary's "wacky narcissistic self-martyrdom". What's the first thing that leaps into her mind when asked about the mindset that caused the deaths of thousands of Americans? Why, yes, this is just exactly like her getting booed in Seattle seven years previous.

In addition to painting her poltical opponents with the same brush as mass murderers, she quite clearly needs to view herself as under constant physical threat. Coming from the person who claimed to have landed under sniper fire in Bosnia, it's not a particularly credible claim.

Just wanted to get that off my chest.

  • Does phony populism feed the family? Fortunately, E. J. Dionne has the answer: "Help Wanted: Phony Populism Doesn't Feed the Family". Now, E. J. is a doctrinaire liberal, so we don't expect much more than Hillary-good, Trump-bad. And we are not disappointed:

    The truth is that Clinton has offered many more serious policy proposals for raising workers' incomes than Trump has. Her website is full of ideas on expanding profit-sharing, a "Make it in America" initiative to promote manufacturing, plans on family leave, child care, cutting student debt and much more.

    Gosh, aren't "proposals" and "ideas" great? When will Democrats go for broke and start selling the whole package as a Five-Year Plan? Surely that will work!

  • Since I'm writing on Monday, who knows where this will go, but it's clear that Hillary's health is just one more issue on which she's decided to admit only as much as she is absolutely forced to. Rich Lowry sums up the obvious:

    If there were any doubt before, the episode shows a Clinton White House would be habitually secretive and deceptive.

    And (as with the her e-mail issue), the only near-certainty is that this week's statements will be revealed next week to have been lies, carefully-worded prevarications, or irrelevant fakery.

  • Hillary, of course, was caught saying what she really thought:

    Hillary Clinton, speaking Friday at a big-ticket fundraiser in New York City, said half of Donald Trump’s supporters could be categorized into a “basket of deplorables,” implying that his backers hold “irredeemable” views on issues of race, gender and religion.

    To just be grossly generalist, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call ‘the basket of deplorables,’” Clinton told donors gathered at a Manhattan restaurant. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that, and he has lifted them up.”

    Eh, so she doesn't like 'em. She later "apologized" by saying that she shouldn't have said "half", which is just quibbling over numbers.

    It's no secret that I despise Trump, but… gee, I kinda wish she'd go into more detail on who she puts in the "basket of deplorables". Would I make the cut?

    Almost needless to say: Hillary's deepest contempt, deep down, must be for her own supporters. The people who have bought every one of her lies for decades. The people who have nothing to look forward to except more of the same.

  • Recommended: An insightful article from William Voegeli, "Hillary’s Empty Moralism Is a Reflection of the Greater Progressive Movement". Voegeli observes that people wonder if "Clintonism" is a coherent body of thought, or is there a big difference between the Bill-version and the Hillary-version.

    So, is Clintonism one body of thought, or two? The Clintons’ rhetorical oeuvre makes clear that the best answer is zero. Again and again, for a quarter century, their every attempt to connect and rationalize individual policy proposals culminates in sour nothings, windy declarations as solemn as they are vacuous.

    There's a quote from a Hillary speech earlier this year that almost proves the point by itself: “I believe in an America always moving toward the future.”

    Gosh, me too. Heck, as a physics major, I believe the entire frickin' universe is always moving toward the future. I shudder when I consider the alternatives.

  • Let's not let Trump go unzinged this week. Peruse Kevin D. Williamson on "What the Perpetually Aggrieved Mean by ‘Winning’". He notes the uncanny parallel…

    Bill Clinton was, so far as I can tell, the first American president who was actively admired for his dishonesty. Democrats — and not only they — loved to bask in Slick Willie’s cleverness, to watch him get himself into jams and get himself out again, making his opponents look like fools. Of course he betrayed his family, his supporters, and the country that entrusted him with the highest office in the land — but he won! This is what is going on in the mind of Donald Trump when he praises Vladimir Putin: Sure, he’s a brute, but look at those poll numbers. That is why in the minds of his admirers, anything Trump does can be spun into gold. “Winning!”

    Mr. Williamson reveals an ugly truth that (in his case) hits very close to home. RTWT.


Announcing the latest addition to the Salad household:

He's a real sweetheart. One feature is that he often looks at me expectantly, seemingly saying: "You know what you're supposed to do now, right?" No, sorry, I don't. Maybe I'll figure it out.

Last Modified 2016-09-08 8:22 AM EDT

The Phony Campaign

2016-09-04 Update

PredictWise has Hillary at a 76% win probability, down from 80% last week. Why, at this rate, the race could be an even matchup by late October!

Sorry. We need something to get excited about at Pun Salad.

In the phony polling, Jill Stein continues to pull away from the crowd:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Jill Stein" phony 1,560,000 +400,000
"Donald Trump" phony 1,010,000 +196,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 796,000 +27,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 76,400 -13,200

  • If you're looking forward to attending a Jill Stein campaign rally, you might want to leave a lot of time in your schedule for it: "Jill Stein delays rally after landing in wrong Ohio city".

    The presidential long shot accidentally flew to Cincinnati instead of Columbus, where she had been scheduled to speak at Capital University.

    I've long noticed that Ohio has a lot of localities beginning with "C". Very confusing!

    The article is from The Hill, and the comments are an amusing mirror image to the ones I usually see. ("A vote for Jill Stein is a vote for Donald Trump").

    Dr. Jill notes (probably correctly) the Democrats-with-bylines press coverage:

  • There are gonna be Trump/Clinton debates, probably, at some point. Barring a polling miracle, no Johnson or Stein participation. I was going to say "you couldn't pay me to watch" but as a theoretical matter, you probably could pay me to watch.

    In any case, the NYT reports that "Hillary Clinton Piles Up Research in Bid to Needle Donald Trump at First Debate". Sounds like a laff riot! Trump, on the other hand, is disdaining "laborious and theatrical practice sessions":

    “I believe you can prep too much for those things,” Mr. Trump said in an interview last week. “It can be dangerous. You can sound scripted or phony — like you’re trying to be someone you’re not.”

    Given high unfavorability ratings, being someone you're not might be a decent debate strategy for both Trump and Hillary. Who can be the more convincing phony?

  • Donald Trump went to Detroit, speaking at a mostly African-American church about economic issues. Meanwhile, Hillary's been fundraising among what the NYT describes as the "ultrarich": Jimmy Buffett, Jon Bon Jovi, Paul McCartney, etc.

    Naturally, the mayor of Detroit noticed the difference here and … "Duggan blasts Trump as phony candidate without solutions".

    "This is the most phony major party nominee that I’ve seen in my lifetime, and that’s why we’re skeptical," Mayor Mike Duggan said at a news conference with Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield "I feel like I'm watching the next season of The Apprentice."

    I hear you, Mike. When I watch Hillary, it's like I'm listening to the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" for the five thousandth time.

  • Jonah Goldberg's G-File is always worth reading. This week is devoted to defending himself against prominent conservative Trump fans who are put out that Jonah won't get in line. RTWT of course, but as a one-liner, I snorted at this Trump observation:

    Every time you hear him talk about the Constitution, it’s like he’s trying to remember his high-school French.

  • The New York Daily News reports: "Phony ‘Dinner with Trump’ contest raised $1 million, donated $0 to Republican’s campaign".

    If you donated for a chance to win dinner with Donald Trump, your check may not have gone to the Republican’s campaign — and you certainly won’t be sharing an intimate meal at a table for two.

    Darn it! Also:

    I've been known to sign up for "Dinner with Hillary" contests, if and only if I can find the "enter without contributing" page.

The Phony Campaign

2016-08-28 Update

PredictWise again ignores the yuge crowds at Trump rallies and continues to express 80% confidence that Hillary's gonna beat the tar out of him in November. To a pulp. Like a rented mule. Like a drum. Like swords into plowshares.

And in the phony standings, Jill Stein continues to impress:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Jill Stein" phony 1,160,000 +140,000
"Donald Trump" phony 814,000 -82,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 769,000 +13,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 89,600 +45,500

  • The Democrats-with-bylines media continues to trash Jill Stein, of course. Example this week is the ultra-dependable Dana Milbank of the WaPo, who detects "From Jill Stein, disturbing echoes of Ralph Nader" The allusion being to Nader's role in the 2000 election; dejected liberals credit him with swinging the election to Dubya over Gore.

    In ordinary times, a voice such as Stein’s contributes to the national debate. But these are not ordinary times. Trump’s narrow path to the presidency requires Stein to do well in November, and polls indicate Trump does better with her in the race. But, 16 years after Ralph Nader helped swing the presidency to George W. Bush from Al Gore, liberals (including Bernie Sanders supporters) who otherwise agree with Stein are more inclined to recognize that she makes more likely the singular threat of a President Trump.

    Or: "You're cute, honey, but I've got my money on the other babe."

    At Reason, Anthony L. Fisher debunks the Nader-beat-Gore mythologizing, and notes the reason why Hillary sycophants like Milbank push it nonetheless.

  • More to my liking is Kevin D. Williamson, who's in nobody's pocket. His contribution this week is pointing out "Trump’s Unlikely Story". But what really caught my attention was the subheadline:

    This isn’t a campaign — it’s psychotherapy.

    Normally, I'd scoff. But (remember) just last week we linked to an article that was headlined "No, Jill Stein Supporters, You Are Not Crazy". Apparently that's a thing now: either (a) figuring out just what type of mental dysfunction is going on with candidates and their supporters, or (b) reassuring assertions that you're not crazy; it's those other guys.

    Kevin's in the former category:

    We should consider the possibility that Donald Trump is not really running a presidential campaign at all — that this is not politics, but psychotherapy. Trump has always been a figure of fun among those whose respect he most craves — the New York business community and the editors of the New York Times – and he obviously desires to be something more than a reality-television grotesque: a figure of significance. His presidential campaign is his bid for self-actualization, and it has taken along a great many gullible and credulous people — and a major political party — for the ride.

    That sounds unfortunately plausible.

  • Also firmly in National Review plague-on-both-houses camp is Jim I. Geraghty: "The Post-Reality Election". Many examples of candidates "insisting that the obvious truth wasn’t true". Here's one:

    Hillary Clinton [sought] to assure CNN’s Anderson Cooper that the complicated and shady financial dealings of her family foundation were on the up and up. “I know there’s a lot of smoke, and there’s no fire,” she said. This was perverse to say the least: The adage is, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” and that’s what common sense and experience tells us. But in Clinton’s telling, smoke should not be taken as evidence of fire. It’s like she’s citing an ancient proverb from her own personal alternate reality.

    One could only wish that Anderson Cooper were quick enough to follow up on the metaphor: "Wait a minute. If there's no fire, where the bleep is all the smoke coming from?"

  • I should point out the Facebook group "Libertarians Against Gary Johnson & Bill Weld". Its raison d'être:

    Gary Johnson & Bill Weld are fakes. They are big government, big spending moderates and have the record to prove it. They are as libertarian as Hillary!

    It's Facebook, so there's a lot of crap. I came away saying… "Yeah, maybe, but still better than Trump or Hillary."

  • And in the Twitter:

    A number of these signs were posted in LA to coincide with a Hillary's fundraiser (minimum admittance $33K) hosted by Justin Timberlake and that nice Jessica Biel. (The underlined "ill" in "Hillary" indicating that the perps were probably not Hillary supporters.)

Last Modified 2016-08-29 8:06 AM EDT