The Phony Campaign — 2015-11-22 Update

PredictWise has dropped Ben Carson's presidential probability under our arbitrary threshold (2%), so our leaderboard shrinks accordingly. The Donald shows an impressive increase in hit counts to lead Hillary:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 82,200 +9,900
"Hillary Clinton" phony 72,100 -800
"Ted Cruz" phony 40,400 +2,700
"Jeb Bush" phony 34,400 -4,800
"Marco Rubio" phony 33,600 -8,100
"Bernie Sanders" phony 33,100 +1,600

  • At Breitbart, John Nolte notes "Yet Another Phony Anti-Trump Fact Check from The Washington Post".

    The serial-fraud that is the Washington Post fact-checker just keeps rolling along, this time with yet another phony attack on a Republican presidential candidate. WaPo’s dishonest left-wing partisans awarded Donald Trump three Pinocchios for saying, “The current state of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is absolutely unacceptable. Over 300,000 veterans died waiting for care.”

    One problem (as Nolte admits) 300K is, at best, a worst-case upper bound on the actual number of vets who died awaiting care. The actual number is far lower, and the VA datakeeping is shoddy enough that nobody can tell how much lower. So Trump is wrong to throw out 300K as actual fact.

    Although his outrage is (as normal for Breitbart writers) over the top, Nolte does have a point about disparate treatment fact-checkers exhibit between Democrat and Republican lies.

  • Example: The Associated Press is relatively dispassionate in its fact check of last Saturday's Democrat debate. The AP quotes Hillary:

    CLINTON: "Since we last debated in Las Vegas, nearly 3,000 people have been killed by guns. Two hundred children have been killed. This is an emergency." She said that in the same period there have been 21 mass shootings, "including one last weekend in Des Moines where three were murdered."

    And rebuts:

    THE FACTS: The claim appears to be unsupported on all counts.

    Seems straightforward enough. Like Trump, Hillary spouts specific and dramatic, yet bogus, statistics designed to spur fear and loathing among listeners. How did the Washington Post treat this "unsupported" claim? Three Pinocchios, like Trump?

    No. Even though the paper unleashed its fact-checkers on the debate, they failed to notice, let alone award Pinocchios to, Hillary's numbers.

    Politifact: not much better. They generously rated Hillary's bogosities as "half true"

    Bottom line: don't rely on fact-checkers. Check on your own.

  • Could the "democratic socialism" espoused this time around by Bernie Sanders be … shudder … phony? At PowerLine, Scott Johnson finds it to be weak tea. Also not to mention way past its sell-by date.

    Sanders’s democratic socialism isn’t socialism. He disclaims public ownership of the means of production. Sanders’s socialism is Franklin Roosevelt’s Second Bill of Rights, only more so. It’s the welfare state above all, in which income and wealth are confiscated from some and redistributed to others in the interest of “equality” and “security” and all things good.

    At National Review, Brendan Bordelon collects semi-exasperated reactions from Democrats who don't call themselves socialists. Hey, we're for all that tired soak-the-rich crap too!

    But as a true believer who’s spent his decades-long political career running as a socialist, it was probably inevitable that Sanders would keep the label in his presidential campaign. Dropping it would call his ideological integrity into question, and fundamentally undermine what is perhaps the central facet of his persona.

    Right. Couldn't have that.

  • Finally, a generally relevant Facebook post from Robert Higgs:

    The day-to-day practice of politics consists largely of pushing the envelope to see how big a lie -- and how many of...

    Posted by Robert Higgs on Sunday, November 8, 2015

Last Modified 2015-11-23 5:09 AM EST
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The Phony Campaign — 2015-11-15 Update

PredictWise oddsmakers have increased Ben Carson's odds of gaining the Presidency just enough to return him to our phony poll after a week's absence. Yay, Ben!

I also should probably report a change in methodology for the "Hit Count" numbers in the table below. Previously, I ran the Google query from my Chrome browser and copied the result manually from the web page. I've switched over to the Google Web Search API to do all that programmatically.

Bad news: Google has deprecated this API. For over five years, as I type. If Google ever decides to kill it dead, I may have to do something else.

Good news: I now generate my phony table completely non-tediously. I have a Perl script that:

  1. Scrapes the previous week's table for the old hit counts;
  2. Scrapes Predictwise for an updated list of candidates with a 2% or greater probability;
  3. Queries Google for each candidate's phony hit counts;
  4. Generates the updated table, sorted into descending order by current hit count.

For some reason, the Google API gives much smaller hit counts than I obtain with a search via Chrome. I can live with that.

This is probably way too much effort to implement a methodology that is essentially meaning-impaired (as Carl Bialik noted ten years ago in the WSJ: "Estimates for Web Search Results Are Often Wildly Off the Mark". Nevertheless:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Hillary Clinton" phony 72,900 -412,100
"Donald Trump" phony 72,300 -304,700
"Ben Carson" phony 52,300 ---
"Marco Rubio" phony 41,700 -102,300
"Jeb Bush" phony 39,200 -137,800
"Ted Cruz" phony 37,700 -133,300
"Bernie Sanders" phony 31,500 -175,500

  • Our phony leader, Hillary, took yet another unprincipled stand this week, as noted by the NYPost: "Hillary Clinton’s bought-and-paid-for betrayal of charter schools".

    Whoosh! There goes Hillary Clinton, hurt­ling leftward after another 180-degree cartwheel on a critical issue — this time, a flip-flop on charter schools.

    Charters once had no greater fan. Back in 1996, Clinton hailed them as being “freed from regulations that stifle innovation, so they can focus on getting results.”

    But the two national teachers unions — the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers — were first to endorse her latest presidential run.

    And so charters go under the bus.

    How many Hillary fans are shocked by this new demonstration of (hat tip: Jennifer Rubin) "ethical vacuity and policy hypocrisy"? At last count, zero.

  • You (on the other hand) will not be shocked to learn that (as reported by the Washington Examiner): Clinton has highest percentage of fake followers. On Twitter, that is.

    An audit of Hillary Clinton's main Twitter feed, @HillaryClinton, shows that 41 percent of her followers are not real people, a far higher percentage of fake followers than all other Republican or Democratic candidates.

    In contrast, Bernie has only 10% phony followers. GOP candidates range from 36% phony (Chris Christie) to 21% (Rand Paul).

  • But surely someone else was phony this week? Sure. Media Matters reports: "On Good Morning America, Donald Trump Gets Away With Promoting Right-Wing Media's Phony Unemployment Figures"

    On the November 10 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, host George Stephanopoulos allowed GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump to greatly exaggerate the nation's unemployment rate when he falsely claimed that "unemployment is probably close to 20 percent." Trump has a history of trumpeting debunked right-wing media myths as campaign talking points. He previously claimed that the unemployment rate "might very well be" 40 percent or more, echoing Rush Limbaugh. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, October's unemployment rate stood at just five percent, the lowest rate since April 2008.

    Well. Media Matters is… not wrong. My guess is that Trump pulled the 20% number out of his nether regions. The media reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) U-3 rate, most recently 5.0%, as "the" unemployment rate. But even the BLS's broader U-6 number ("Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force") is "only" 9.8%. Unless you buy into dark insinuations of politically-driven statistics, there's no way to push that up to 20%.

    Some folks looking for bad news cite the Employment-Population Ratio (EPR) instead of the BLS unemployment numbers. And (check the link) that ratio plummeted starting in 2008, and has not come close to its pre-recession value since.

    These people have a point. More people working would be good for them, and good for the overall economy. But note that the current EPR is 59.3%; compare to the historic peak EPR back in 2000, just shy of 65%. Even bringing things back to that number is only about a 5-6% difference.

    Bottom line: if you want to make the case that the economy is lousy, do so without making up numbers.

  • Prepare for more of this sort of headline: "Rubio slams Bush’s ‘phony attacks’".

    Sen. Marco Rubio's campaign is slamming Jeb Bush for making "phony attacks" on the Florida senator.

    In a new online advertisement released on Tuesday, the GOP presidential candidate notes Bush's past praise for Rubio, including his statement that he could be a good president.

    Shorter: Jeb liked Rubio before he despised him.

    The article claims that the Bush-affiliated Super PAC "Right to Rise" is "willing to spend $20 million on criticism of Rubio’s 2016 Oval Office bid." Because they previously tried to make the case for Bush, that didn't work, so they're looking to destroy Rubio instead. Hey, they gotta do something with all that money.

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Veterans Day 2015

Veterans Day 2015

… thank a vet near you.

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The Phony Campaign — 2015-11-08 Update

Aieee, the carnage! PredictWise has dropped both Ben Carson and Chris Christie below our (arbitrary) 2% threshold for inclusion in the phony poll. (Disagree? Put your money where your brain is, chump.)

To the standings! Who's the phoniest of them all?

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Hillary Clinton" phony 485,000 -595,000
"Donald Trump" phony 377,000 -733,000
"Bernie Sanders" phony 207,000 -50,000
"Jeb Bush" phony 177,000 -48,000
"Ted Cruz" phony 171,000 -99,000
"Marco Rubio" phony 144,000 -51,000

  • At the Washington Examiner, Byron York details Jeb!'s "this time for sure" campaign midcourse correction: "In restart, Jeb blames advisers, promises authentic, can-do candidacy"

    In Tampa, seeking to re-boot a deeply troubled campaign, Bush pledged to be himself. "I can't be something I'm not," Bush told the crowd, saying it was a lesson he had learned during his years as Florida's governor.

    Using (once again) Jonah Goldberg's memorable metaphor: Jeb continues to read his stage directions.

  • Bernie Sanders claims to have "serious problems" with Uber because it is "unregulated".

    This did not stop his campaign from using Uber for (honest!) 100% of its claimed transportation costs.

    So, hypocrisy. Especially notable when Bernie claims to be standing up for the "little guy". The solons of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, are cracking down on "little guy" Uber drivers, whose "crime" is mostly providing a service that people want.

    "Live free or die", my fanny. Could we explore giving the city of Portsmouth to Maine?

  • At Cato, Gene Healy notes the passing of Fred Thompson, who was famously unenthusiastic about the grind of his short-lived 2008 presidential campaign. (I cast one of the 2,890 votes he received in the New Hampshire Primary that year. Good for sixth place! Only missed fifth place by 16,000 votes or so!)

    Healy notes that the citizenry used to expect "dignity, reserve and self-denial" from people aspiring to the presidency. Things are different now:

    […] Thompson’s inability to feign enthusiasm for the process spoke well of him. It suggested that he was psychologically healthy and normal. Those qualities are ruthlessly winnowed out by the modern presidential race, which rewards those with an unhealthy appetite for presidential power and glory. You’ve got to want it to win it, and they want it more.

    Fred was elected twice as a US Senator from Tennessee, so he was no stranger to normal campaigning. But a presidential campaign is a different kettle of fish in these modern times.

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John Kasich@UNH

Seen two presidential candidates in less than a week, so I'm a little concerned about my mental health. If you find me drooling and naked in some alley, could you please call my wife?

Anyway, Ohio Governor John Kasich visited the University Near Here on Thursday afternoon. His venue was the "Great Room" of the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics; he filled it up pretty easily:


And, once again, I can prove I was there: that's me in the yellow sweater by the windows. (This pic shamelessly ripped off from the story in Foster's Daily Democrat. I'm living on the copyright-infringement edge here.)

Up-front disclaimer: Kasich is not my first choice. In fact, he's probably in the third tier of my preferences, in the "probably slightly better than Hillary" group. (Also there: Jeb and Christie.)

We kicked off with the Pledge of Allegiance (something Rand Paul did not do). I went along, but just for the record: the Pledge is creepy and socialistic.

Kasich's issue was the budget deficit. He was against it. (I enthusiastically agree.) He claimed that he had eliminated the deficit when he was in Congress. (Arguably true, even given the propensity of politicians to exaggerate: he was chair of the House Budget Committee 1995-2001, and the budget was in surplus for fiscal years 1999-2001.) And he also pointed to his success in turning around Ohio's budgetary woes. (But when viewed from a libertarian perspective his record there is disappointing.)

My subjective impression was that Kasich came off more than a little condescending. And also vague. (He has been less vague elsewhere: this AP story describes some of his concrete proposals both on the spending side and the tax side. I have no idea what the pixie-dust content of the plan is.

He did manage to trot out the old warhorse: a Balanced Budged Amendment to the Constitution. This irritates me. Let me trot out a rant I've made in the past:

  • First, what is the President's legal role in amending the Constitution? None, nada, zip. At best, he could be a cheerleader.

  • Second: amending the Constitution is (fortunately) difficult: two-thirds votes in the House and Senate, and then ratification by three-quarters of the states.

  • It is far easier just to balance the budget. All you need is 50%+1 votes in the House and Senate.

  • Politicians—especially incumbent Congresscritters—who say we need a Balanced Budget Amendment, and follow that up by voting for unbalanced budgets are hypocrites evading their responsibilities. (I'm especially looking at you, Kelly Ayotte.)

Whew. I feel better. Back to Kasich.

Another rough point was his denigration of "outsiders". He refused to mention their names (Trump and Carson, of course), but he analogized the situation to a poorly-performing football team. The fans are understandably frustrated, and come up with a solution: let's go up into the stands and bring down some likely-looking spectators to play on the team instead!

Governor Kasich, did you just imply that Trump/Carson supporters are the kind of idiots who would follow such an ill-advised strategy? OK, so you might be correct. But you need their votes should they ever come to their senses. Maybe insulting them is not the best strategy.

Another thing I noticed was a lot of local pols in the room: ex-Senator Gordon Humphrey (Gordo has a beard!), Ed Dupont, Tom Rath, a couple others I vaguely recognized but not enough to put names to.

Quibbles aside, Kasich did a decent job presenting his ideas to a mostly sympathetic crowd. One young lady tried to filibuster him on Planned Parenthood, but he just said he didn't like 'em and deftly moved ahead. As things wound up, a student group made an inept attempt at disruption. They stood up and started chanting something about oil; they were sitting together a couple rows in front of me, even I couldn't figure out what they were saying, so I doubt anyone else could at the time. But "fortunately" they self-videoed and posted to Facebook. In all their glory, ladies and gentlemen, the vocal stylings of "Divest UNH":

Today we told John Kasich about climate change

Posted by Divest UNH on Thursday, November 5, 2015

To quote P.J. O'Rourke:: "Earnestness is stupidity sent to college."

Last Modified 2015-11-23 5:17 AM EST
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Rand Paul came to the University Near Here today, and I figured it was my Civic Duty™ as a registered New Hampshire Republican and a more-or-less libertarian blogger to go see him. And I can prove I was there! That first picture, all the way over on the left, that's the top of my bald head in the middle of the right-facing front row:

Awww, the youth vote. That's me!

He was impressive. I had seen him before, at the New Hampshire Freedom Summit back in April 2014, but I'd forgotten how appealing his no-nonsense libertarianism can be. I will probably vote for him in the primary. Although the bettors driving the PredictWise site round the probability of him becoming our next President off to a very disappointing zero percent, I don't feel that I'm in the voting booth to vote for the winner.

As usual, I am not a reporter, I'm just typing some stuff I noticed, and my impressions.

The crowd filled the Strafford Room at UNH's Memorial Union Building. That's not the biggest venue on campus, but it's the same one Hillary appeared in back in September. (Contrary to some reports, she filled the room, and there was an overflow room available.) In contrast, Bernie Sanders filled up the UNH Field House, a much larger space, a couple days later.

But back to Rand Paul: introduced by his regional coordinator and the local leader of "Students for Rand Paul", he launched into an extemporarous-sounding speech hitting the points I'm sure he felt were of interest to college kids.

First up: pot. He ripped Jeb Bush a little for his acknowledged marijuana use back in prep school, using him as an example "rich kid" who didn't have to worry that much that his use might land him in jail. Compare and contrast with poor kids from the streets who might get in a considerable amount of legal woe.

From there, he hit his other main themes: a return to federalism, the trashing of privacy rights post-9/11, a non-interventionist foreign policy, a 14.5% flat income tax (while doing away with the employee part of the payroll tax), efforts to cut spending.

Issues on which Paul's position might clash with current student zeitgeist, e.g., abortion, went unmentioned.

After the speech, a few questions were allowed. One guy asked about "Empire", alleging that the US had one. Paul reiterated his non-interventionist foreign/defense policy without going into whackadoodle land.

A student wanted to nail him down on climate change; he kind of handwaved about his uncertainty about whether warming was caused by human action or natural processes, and the benefits of electrification. I wish he had given the sort of answer you might hear from Bjørn Lomborg, Ronald Bailey, or Matt Ridley: "climate change" alarmism is mostly poor excuse for sneaking in totalitarian social engineering.

Also weak was his response to a questioner about his flat tax, about whether it would blow up the deficit. It was part: (1) yeah it would, so what, we want to shrink government too and (2) the government spends a lot of money on silly crap (like a $43 Million Afghanistan Gas Station or a study of how cocaine affects the sex habits of the Japanese quail). Problem being: nobody who's done the math thinks that eliminating all possible silly crap-spending will do much of anything about long-term deficit trends.

I managed to get in a question. Roughly: what would newly-inaugurated President Paul do on January 20, 2017 in terms of executive orders, directions to cabinet departments, actions as Commander-in-Chief? His answer was OK, springing off the "executive order" bit: he would undo a lot of executive orders of past Oval Office inhabitants, especially those imposing burdensome business regulations. I wish he'd given a fuller, more specific answer, but that's OK.

Last Modified 2015-11-03 5:02 AM EST
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The Phony Campaign — 2015-11-01 Update

The bettors that drive the PredictWise numbers thought better of Mike Huckabee's appearance in last week's list, and drove his Presidential Probability back under our arbitrary 2% threshold.

Jeb Bush's phony hit counts dropped him back into the pack this week, and, lo, we have a new front-runner. And (if I may be allowed a bit of editorial comment) one who actually deserves the position:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 1,110,000 +703,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 1,080,000 +544,000
"Ted Cruz" phony 270,000 +116,000
"Bernie Sanders" phony 257,000 +22,000
"Jeb Bush" phony 225,000 -865,000
"Marco Rubio" phony 195,000 +71,000
"Ben Carson" phony 144,000 -7,000
"Chris Christie" phony 118,000 +8,000

  • Our two phony leaders managed to utter more-obvious-than-usual falsehoods over recent days, which inspired Scott Shackford at Reason to fit three rhetorical questions into his headline: "Does Clinton’s DOMA Lie Matter? Does Trump’s Immigration Lie Matter? Do Any Lies Matter?"

    Shackford patiently outlines the deceptions and the ho-hum, it's-business-as-usual response. Bottom line:

    Politicians lie, obviously, of course, especially during elections. Even when they don't lie, they make promises they don't know whether they can keep, they mislead, they deflect criticism rather than address it. There's a significant voter undercurrent that seems to be embracing it, because the important thing is that those terrible other people—whose lies are so much worse—don't win the election.

    We've come a long way since Jimmy Carter famously promised: "I'll never tell a lie. I'll never knowingly make a misstatement of fact. I'll never betray your trust. If I do any of these things, I don't want you to support me."

    In contrast, I can imagine Hillary or Trump saying: "Yeah, I'll lie. About anything. And my dimwit supporters will love it."

  • Shackford could well have added Dr. Ben Carson into his list, as Carson veered into outright falsehood during the debate when questioned about his relationship with Mannatech, a purveyor of "glyconutrient" dietary supplements to the gullible. The indispensable Jim Geraghty describes "What Ben Carson’s Mannatech Answer Tells Us".

    Carson’s lack of due diligence before working with the company is forgivable. His blatant lying about it now is much harder to forgive.

  • James Fallows is a pretty doctrinaire liberal, but his observations on the GOP debate are kind of interesting, and he has this to say about Ted Cruz:

    What usually rings phony about Cruz’s manner, in my “according to me” personal view, is that he is so transparently talking down. He is posturing about things he obviously knows aren’t really true: that Chuck Hagel might be an agent of the North Koreans, that it makes sense to shut down the government, whatever else he is saying now. In this latest debate, he came out for the gold standard! The chance that a Princeton/Harvard graduate in his 40s, whose spouse is a managing partner at Goldman Sachs (on leave), actually believes in a (ruinous) return to the gold standard, is zero.

    On the gold standard, I'm more in tune with Milton Friedman than I am with Fallows: it's a good idea in theory, but in the modern world it's probably impractical. But I would wager that Cruz has probably thought about it more than Fallows has.

    The funny thing is that Fallows criticized Cruz for the above only to praise him for "twenty seconds of greatness". Unfortunately the YouTube video link Fallows provided has gone stale, but it must be this:

  • They warned us! Specifically, they warned us Hillary would be displaying more "humor and heart" on the campaign trail. The inevitable result? Vines like this:

    (Turn the sound on. Then—aieee!—immediately turn it off.)

  • And the tweet of the week is…

Last Modified 2015-11-02 5:26 AM EST
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Your Cranky Sysadmin Speaks

I am occasionally still in the "user support" game. When a user is experiencing a problem, it helps to get details. Specifically, instead of "it doesn't work", an accurate transcription of an error message is nearly always more helpful in figuring out the problem.

You will probably not be too surprised to learn that such detail can be tough to get.

I was a little put out when, instead of just typing in the error message, people started sending me screenshots. What, you can't just type in what it says, perhaps 50 characters or so? Instead you have to send me a hundreds-of-kilobytes graphics file?

But I learned to deal with it. At least it avoids transcription errors.

But today I got a three megabyte file; instead of using screenshot software, our user took a picture of his screen. Sigh.

I suppose the day is coming when users start mailing me narrated videos of their woes. Can't wait!

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The Phony Campaign — 2015-10-25 Update

Yet another shakeup in our phony lineup this week. Joe Biden took himself out of the running, and this allowed Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee to sneak above our arbitrary 2% probability threshold, according to PredictWise. This is Huckabee's first appearance since August 9.

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Jeb Bush" phony 1,090,000 -2,100,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 536,000 -1,924,000
"Donald Trump" phony 407,000 -1,563,000
"Bernie Sanders" phony 235,000 -63,000
"Ted Cruz" phony 154,000 -36,000
"Ben Carson" phony 151,000 -17,000
"Marco Rubio" phony 124,000 -10,000
"Chris Christie" phony 110,000 ---
"Mike Huckabee" phony 76,100 ---

The week in phoniness.

  • Did the Benghazi hearings confirm yet again what a brazen liar Hillary is? Find out the answer to that question in Jonah Goldberg's G-File, headlined "The Benghazi Hearings Confirm Yet Again What a Brazen Liar Hillary Is".

    Not shocking news. (Jonah: "Of course, this wasn’t actually a revelation any more than testimony from the Secretary of the Interior that, after extensive study, he can confirm that bears do, in fact s*** in the woods.")

    Also non-shocking (but depressing): the mainstream media's unwillingness to make Hillary's serial mendacity clear to their readers/viewers. Jonah's summary: "Protect the Hive Queen!". He links to Noah Rothman's summary of media coverage at Commentary. His conclusion:

    The Benghazi Committee is owed a public debt if only because it has exposed the decay in Washington’s culture of wagon-circling. Pundits who forever lament America’s sense of alienation from the political class and their growing cynicism towards elected elites appear not to notice when they are exacerbating that condition. While news media and Democrats are praising Clinton’s performance, Americans are waking up to the notion that they might have been deliberately misled about the deaths of their fellow citizens in a terror attack and likely for petty political gain. There is something rotten here.


  • Ryan Lizza in the New Yorker mulls on Jeb's campaign woes:

    Jeb has presented himself as the most electable Republican candidate: willing to break with Republican orthodoxy on domestic issues such as immigration and education, and committed to breaking, if vaguely, with his brother’s legacy on foreign policy and to being, as he has said, his “own man.” Before Bush officially entered the 2016 campaign, he remarked to a group of C.E.O.s at a conference in Washington, D.C., that a successful candidate had to be willing to “lose the primary to win the general,” and should campaign “without violating your principles.” He meant that one must avoid the perennial trap of party primaries, in which “base voters,” the hard-core conservatives, force politicians to take extreme positions that will prove unpopular in a general election and, when later disavowed, expose the candidate as a phony. “It’s not an easy task, to be honest with you,” he noted. (Hillary Clinton faces a similar problem in her race for the Democratic nomination.)

    Interesting strategy, Jeb: don't be exposed as a phony. How's that working out for you?

  • Politico's Seung Min Kim notes the tightrope walk by Marco Rubio on immigration: he once favored the infamous "Gang of Eight" immigration approach, now not so much.

    “He’s saying to donors and to Latinos that I’m still for a path to citizenship, I’m still for immigration reform. But I’ve learned the hard way” regarding a comprehensive bill, Sharry said. “It’s very clever. It sounds reasonable. But for people who actually know what it takes to pass legislation, especially immigration reform legislation, it’s so hollow. It has all the substance of Cheetos.”

    Snarky comment: those people "who actually know what it takes to pass legislation" didn't actually pass legislation.

    Once you discount the article's obvious bias, it appears that Rubio has actually shifted his position, but doesn't want to pay the price with pro-"comprehensive" reformers. And the hunk of the electorate that might agree with his current enforcement-first-then-we'll-talk stance don't really view his conversion as genuine. It's tough out there for a phony.

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The Phony Campaign — 2015-10-18 Update

Our leader board gets shaken up a bit this week. Both Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie have dropped below our 2% PredictWise inclusion threshold, and Ted Cruz has moved his five-foot-eight frame in to take their place. This is the first time Ted has broken 2% since we've been paying attention. So:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Jeb Bush" phony 3,190,000 +2,080,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 2,460,000 +1,926,000
"Donald Trump" phony 1,970,000 +1,525,000
"Bernie Sanders" phony 298,000 +120,000
"Joe Biden" phony 203,000 -3,000
"Ted Cruz" phony 190,000 ---
"Ben Carson" phony 168,000 -61,000
"Marco Rubio" phony 134,000 +1,000

  • Let's welcome Ted by pointing out that—whoa—a lot of web-writers out there really, really, really despise him. Just click his link up there and peruse the first few Googled results. For example, Lynn Stuart Parramore of Alternet writing (a couple of years ago): "Ted Cruz Is a Big Phony and A Giant Narcissist".

    And a huge poopyhead too, amirite Lynn?

    Ted Cruz, the Tea Party darling, fake-filibustered his way into headlines recently with a 21-hour anti-Obamacare verbal rampage that simultaneously made his party look stupid and accomplished nothing. It did, however, spread images of his smarmy mug across televisions and newspapers around the country, which is the outcome Cruz most ardently hoped for.

    Lynn gets high marks for invective, insult, and innuendo. Matt K. Lewis (as you might expect) offers a more balanced picture: The Obama-like rhetoric, record, and divisiveness of Ted Cruz:

    Lots of people think Ted Cruz is a phony. Others are just as sure that he's among the most genuine politicians in America. He's not all that different from President Obama that way.

    Lewis argues that Cruz sees himself as (in Obama's words) "fundamentally transforming the United States of America." Except in a good way.

    Personally, I would prefer a candidate who would make the same pledge as Rick Perry made four years back: "I’ll work every day to try to make Washington, DC, as inconsequential in your life as I can."

  • At Reason, Nick Gillespie asks and answers the query troubling everyone many some maybe two or three people: "Just How Bad Would Joe Biden Be as President? Really F*cking Bad." (Asterisk in original.) Sample:

    For virtually his entire career, Biden has been a joke and a punchline, known not simply for dada-esque gaffes but also for cheating while in law school and, inexplicably, plagiarizing biographical details from a British politician during a disastrous White House run in 1988. Then there's the weird stuff during swearing-in ceremonies.

    But would Joe be be worse than Hillary? That's a tough call, right?

  • Hillary tried hard this week to disguise the motives for her recent flip-flop on the TPP trade deal as somehow something different than sheer political expediency. This involved her claiming she had perused the current state of the deal when she almost certainly had not. Fallout: an amusing exchange with White House Pressdroid, Josh Earnest:

    Q Josh, thanks. I want to ask you about Secretary Clinton and TPP. It’s interesting to me, because I remember back when we were talking earlier this year about GOP lawmakers who hadn’t seen the Iran deal, for example, and you were understandably very critical of them for being against something before they’d actually even seen it, they hadn’t even read it. And now we have Secretary Clinton who presumably also has not seen the final draft of the TPP and yet she’s against it, too. And I’m just curious if you feel like criticism is warranted because she is essentially doing what a lot of GOP lawmakers were doing earlier this year. You haven’t seen it, you haven’t read it, and you’re coming out against it. Seems phony, doesn’t it?

    MR. EARNEST: Well, I don’t think that I’ve minced any words in noting that we have a disagreement on this issue. But for the reasons that she has arrived at this position, I’d refer you to her campaign.

    In other words (actually in one other word): "Yes".

  • Actor Frank Ridley has a gig with, one of the seemingly endless groups looking to "end corruption". Ridley plays the role of "Honest Gil Fulbright", a straightforward pol who will tell you to your face that he's looking to screw ordinary people over to cater to "special interests." Honest Gil showed up at the Republican Liberty Caucus meeting in Nashua NH last weekend; here's his speech:

    Did you stay through the whole thing? Yeah, I didn't either. A bit obvious and heavy-handed.

    But here's the funny thing: phony candidate Honest Gil beat actual candidate Jeb Bush in the RLC straw poll, getting 1.5% to Jeb's 1.2%.

Last Modified 2015-10-18 10:52 AM EDT
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