The Phony Campaign

2016-05-22 Update

PredictWise provides us with the same lineup as last week and Trump widens his phony lead somewhat:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 635,000 +57,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 507,000 -53,000
"Bernie Sanders" phony 369,000 +22,000

  • Eric Boehlert opines at Salon: "Donald Trump is a phony and a liar: The press doesn’t get to call him “authentic” ever again"

    For a candidate who’s often touted in the press as an authentic straight shooter, Donald Trump did a lot last week to puncture that reputation. From insisting that his promise of a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” was really “only a suggestion,” to flip-flopping on whether voters had a right to see his tax returns, Trump seemed to cast aside promises on a daily basis.

    Now, Donald Trump is a phony and a liar. No argument here.

    But even if you didn't know anything else, wouldn't you detect a tad of totalitarianism in asserting what the press "doesn't get" to do?

    However, it gets worse: Eric Boehlert is employed by "Media Matters for America", an organization effectively a subsidiary of the Clinton campaign. What you won't see: Boehlert demanding that the press apply the same standard to judging authenticity and honesty to both Trump and Clinton. Such a demand would get him fired from Media Matters for America before it hit the Interwebs.

  • At the somewhat less partisan Fortune, Michael D'Antonio details "Donald Trump's Long, Strange History of Using Fake Names"

    All political candidates use some spin to advance their cause. It is now so common that voters come to expect it. As a businessman, Donald Trump long practiced an extreme version of self-promotion he called “truthful hyperbole” to get what he wanted. Now, as he is the presumptive GOP nominee for president, this past is coming back to haunt him.

    Summary: Trump's sock-puppetry has been going on a long time. It was also practiced by Daddy Trump, Fred, who inquired about real estate properties as "Mr. Green", to avoid possible aggressive bargaining.

  • If you follow the news, you probably "know" that unruly Bernie Sanders supporters threw chairs at the Democratic National Committee convention in Nevada this week. Implication: Sanders supporters are a bunch of violent hotheads, prone to misbehave unacceptably when they don't get their way.

    Problem is, as this Snopes article shows rather convincingly: there's no direct evidence the chair-throwing actually happened. The NYT, NPR, AP, … based their stories on the account of a single reporter who didn't witness it himself.

    Or did it happen? Check this story:

    Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas: It isn’t just the title of the classic Hunter S. Thompson book. It quite accurately describes the atmosphere of the Nevada State Democratic Party (NSDP) Convention this past weekend. A sitting US Senator & long-time progressive icon [Barbara Boxer] was booed off the stage. Mere credentials updates were being filibustered to death. And the whole shebang ended with punches & chairs taking flight.

    Given the partisan tempers involved, the truth may be known… never.

  • Hillary made note of the fact that Donald Trump is refusing to release his tax returns.

    For those of us who aren't Trumpkins, the reason is pretty obvious: he would be deeply embarrassed if they were made public. No doubt.

    But for Hillary to make this complaint is beyond ludicrous. Here's our tweet of the week:

The Phony Campaign

2016-05-15 Update

Bernie's still hanging in there at PredictWise, with the underlying bettors wagering that he still has a 2% shot at becoming your next President.

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 578,000 +22,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 560,000 +11,000
"Bernie Sanders" phony 347,000 -20,000

Meanwhile, I'm wondering: where's Gary Johnson?

Maybe I'm optimistic, but over the next 176 days or so, we're going to hear a lot of stories about how both Trump and Clinton are lying, power-hungry, unprincipled dangers to liberty, prosperity, and peace. These stories will be persuasive, because true.

So I think Gary Johnson has a shot, if he's on the ballot in enough states. Heck, I think Mister Mxyzptlk would have a shot against these two.

Back to the real phony news:

  • In New York Magazine, Ed Kilgore looks at the advice Hillary is receiving to shift her positions to appeal more to either Sanders/Warren leftists or to more moderate folk. He says nay: "Hillary Clinton Shouldn’t Be ‘Pivoting’ to the Left — or to the Center"

    If all this hypothetical "pivoting" and "moving" makes you a little dizzy, how must it seem to voters whose main concern about Hillary Clinton is that she seems a tad too calculating and inauthentic — in a word, phony? Not so good. And since it's these personal characteristics, and not her positioning on an ideological spectrum, that are arguably the biggest source of her relative unpopularity among general-election participants, perhaps she should keep that pivot foot un-planted.

    Here's the problem with Ed's argument: let's posit there's a bloc of voters that somehow aren't currently convinced of Hillary's phoniness. Isn't it obvious that these voters are either willfully blind or ignorant enough so that they wouldn't care if she "pivoted" left, center, or right, or toward new dimensions beyond that which is known to man?

  • In this week's "well, of course he did" department: "Donald Trump masqueraded as publicist to brag about himself".

    The voice is instantly familiar; the tone, confident, even cocky; the cadence, distinctly Trumpian. The man on the phone vigorously defending Donald Trump says he’s a media spokesman named John Miller, but then he says, “I’m sort of new here,” and “I’m somebody that he knows and I think somebody that he trusts and likes” and even “I’m going to do this a little, part time, and then, yeah, go on with my life.”

    Do Trump supporters care about stuff like this? Recent history says: not so much.

  • Even though (or maybe because) they tap into the same rich vein of voter attitude, there's no love lost between Bernie and Trump:

    In an interview on MSNBC on Wednesday, Mr. Sanders didn’t leap to defend Mrs. Clinton, who has come under heated attacks from Mr. Trump. But when asked about whether many votes for him were essentially votes against Mrs. Clinton and for Mr. Trump, he showed how little affection he has for the billionaire businessman: “I think the people of America, the more they see Mr. Trump, understand that he’s a total phony, that what he said yesterday is not what he’s going to say tomorrow. That he is a pathological liar and that he gets a lot of media attention for attacking people but that is going to wear thin.”

    In response:

    For his part, Mr. Trump, in a Fox News interview earlier in the day, said he now plans to call Mr. Sanders “Crazy Bernie” — not typically a term of endearment.

    Reminds me of grade-school playground feuds, albeit at a lower intellectual level.

  • And…

The Phony Campaign

2016-05-08 Update

After Ted Cruz's ignominious defeat in Indiana and subsequent campaign suspension, PredictWise has predictably dropped him below our 2% probability threshold. But, unexpectedly, Bernie Sanders has popped (barely) back into the running.

Leaving candidates who happen to be utterly contemptible or completely foolish (guess which are which):

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 556,000 +307,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 549,000 +447,000
"Bernie Sanders" phony 367,000 ---

If those hit counts look a little huge compared to recent values, it's because Google totally turned off its long-deprecated Google Web Search API at some point in the past week, which I'd been using to automatically grab its data. Well, it was fun while it lasted. Your blogger has gone back to the old method of generating the search link, bringing it up in a browser, then copy-and-pasting from the browser window. To quote Dr. McCoy: "What is this, the Dark Ages?"

"Good" news: our remaining lineup has more than enough phoniness to last us until November. And maybe Gary Johnson will show up at some point. Frankly, I think that anyone appearing on the ballot not named "Clinton" or "Trump" would have a good shot at a plurality of the popular vote.

  • Back in those happy days before Indiana Republicans voted, Jim Treacher requested: "Watch Trump Lie About Mike Tyson’s Rape Conviction". Ted Cruz had pointed out, accurately, that the Trump-endorsing Tyson was a past rapist. It came up during an interview with Chris Wallace. Treacher summarizes:

    Trump tells an enormous, outrageous lie — that Mike Tyson isn’t a rapist — and then says it’s just more evidence that Cruz is the liar.

    Chris Wallace could have followed up, pointing out Trump's lie. He didn't.

    Other media, with more readership than Treacher, could have pointed out Trump's lie. Ho hum.

    And the GOP voters of Indiana either didn't bother to find out or didn't care that they were voting for such a slimeball. May they all go pee on a substation transformer.

  • The NY Post editorial writer observed: "Even Hillary Clinton’s pals can’t pretend to believe her lies". Verdict: true! But what was it this time?

    In West Virginia, she was confronted with her March comment: "We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business."

    Clinton’s eye-rolling answer: “What I was saying is that the way things are going now, we will continue to lose jobs.”

    Riiight. Except that's not what she was saying.

    In any case, her excuse is: She Has A Plan that will seamlessly transform all those coal miners into well-paid solar panel installers.

  • At the WaPo, Glenn Kessler details "The Sanders campaign’s phony math on superdelegates". At issue is the Sanders campaign manager's assertion that Democrat superdelegates (who can vote for whoever they want at the convention) are a historically wishy-washy bunch:

    "During the course of 2008, over 120 superdelegates switched their quote-unquote allegiance in that process. In fact, there is a lot of movement of superdelegates in these contests.”

    Kessler will tell you more than you want to know about the electoral history of superdelegates. But the bottom line is: Four Pinocchios. The Sanders campaign is as unrealistic (or dishonest) about superdelegates as it is about economics, foreign policy, national defense….

The Phony Campaign

2016-05-01 Update

And then there were three… PredictWise has sent poor Bernie's probability of being President a-glimmering below our 2% threshold. So it's down to:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 249,000 -7,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 102,000 -96,000
"Ted Cruz" phony 90,700 -6,900

I guess the conventional wisdom is that Hillary won't be indicted for her classified-material carelessness, or that people won't care if she is.

  • When you have nothing better to say… "Trump repeats phony pig's blood story at rally."

    At an Orange County rally Thursday, Donald Trump repeated a bogus yarn about executing Muslim prisoners with bullets dipped in pigs' blood.

    How many ways does this make Trump look bad?

    1. He loves this story, even though it's a (false) tale of American atrocity;
    2. He either:
      • knows it's false, which makes him a demagogic bigoted liar; or
      • doesn't know it's false, which makes him an ignorant fool.

  • Michael Kinsley pens a Miami Herald op-ed: "Trump’s a phony — but he’s for real."

    How can that be, Mike?

    The explanation [of Trump's voter appeal] is not so difficult. In the opening paragraph of his novel Ravelstein, Saul Bellow writes, “Anyone who wants to govern the country has to entertain it.” [Hillary] Clinton has been called many things, but “entertaining” is not one of them. This is not the case with Trump, who is an authentic American character like something out of Mark Twain. All the other candidates except Sanders had the character squeezed out of them when they decided they wanted to be president. Trump’s a phony of course (not to mention a racist), but his phoniness is authentic. He’s self-made — not in the financial sense, but characterologically.

    OK. Maybe.

    Caveat Lector: you can read the whole thing if you like, but beware, it contains a later sentence which you should not read while drinking a beverage:

    When President Obama proposes something, you know it’s been analyzed and balanced and weighed against the alternatives, tested in the laboratory and found to be a reasonable solution given the limitations and under the circumstances.

    Kinsley's ideology sometimes limits his insightfulness.

  • At Reason, Jacob Sullum noted some phoniness in Hillary's endorsement of a proposed Pennsylvania soda tax

    When Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders argued about soda taxes last week, neither of them mentioned obesity. That striking omission reflects a shift in tactics by advocates of a special levy on sugar-sweetened drinks, who have started emphasizing the good that can be done with the resulting revenue instead of the evil that can be prevented by encouraging people to consume fewer calories.

    A very old saying, attributed to Kin Hubbard: "When a fellow says, 'It hain't the money, but th' principle o' the thing,' it's th' money."

  • Belated addition:

Last Modified 2016-05-01 10:05 AM EDT

The Phony Campaign

2016-04-24 Update

PredictWise has dropped John Kasich below our arbitrary 2% inclusion threshold.

Nevertheless, his campaign lumbers on. Maybe someone has made this observation already, but: I see him someday as having an Alec-Guinness-in-The-Bridge-on-the-River-Kwai moment. Suddenly thunderstruck by the enormity of his own actions, saying "What have I done?"

Ditto, for Trump/Clinton voters.

[Update: Almost certainly, I was semi-remembering above what Jonah Goldberg observed last month.]

Anyway, Hillary leaps into Kasich's vacated number two position this week:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 256,000 -116,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 198,000 +8,000
"Ted Cruz" phony 97,600 -155,400
"Bernie Sanders" phony 78,200 -3,600

  • The story that seems to have made the biggest phony splash recently: ‘Hot sauce truther’ Trump calls Clinton ‘phony’.

    Donald Trump ripped into Hillary Clinton on Tuesday morning during an appearance on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” show, calling the Democratic presidential candidate “phony” for claiming she carries hot sauce with her at all times.

    Context: Trump claimed Hillary was pandering, since she made this claim on an NYC "urban" radio station. But it appears that this might be a rare instance in which she's actually telling the truth.

  • To be fair, Trump was almost certainly making what he thought was a safe bet. At the Washington Free Beacon, Matthew Continetti reviews Hillary's long, tired history of dishonesty and poorly-hidden naked power hunger. Why has her primary campaign failed to sew up the nomination so far?

    A lot of the reason is Clinton: her tin ear, her aloofness, her phony eagerness to please, her suspicion of the press and of outsiders, her let us say complicated relationship with the truth, the blithe way in which she dissembles and deceives.

    Continetti repeats something we've noted in the past: when caught off-guard, Hillary's first instinct is to lie.

  • Also, to assume the rules don't apply to her. At Reason, Scott Shackford notes another example: "SuperPAC to Spend $1 Million to Target Hillary Haters on Social Media" At issue is the "Correct the Record" SuperPAC run by Hillary flack David Brock, and how it's doing something that's supposed to be illegal: coordinating with Hillary's campaign organization. It's a convoluted tale, but:

    The reason this is worth noting and worth mocking is how much it implicates Clinton's attacks on Citizens United as hypocritical and self-serving. Sanders has attacked Clinton for all the money her campaign has received from corporate donors and her corporate speeches, and she has insisted that this money has not corrupted her positions—which is actually a defense of the Citizens United decision.

    She's special, once again exempt from the rules she wants to make everyone else follow.

  • Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times opines on "Ted Cruz’s Phony Concern for ‘The People’".

    How can you tell when a politician like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is lying? When he talks about the need to let “the people” decide. What he really means is “the game is rigged and the insiders get to decide.”

    Yeah, yeah. Please note Andrew Rosenthal was the guy who wrote the dishonest yarn about George H. W. Bush and the supermarket scanner back in 1992. ("Bush Encounters the Supermarket, Amazed")

    So how can you tell when a "journalist" like Andrew Rosenthal is lying? When he's writing about Republicans.

Last Modified 2016-04-26 12:50 PM EDT

The Phony Campaign

2016-04-17 Update

It's the same old lineup, according to our 2%-or-better PredictWise criterion. Cruz's big hit-count lead from last week was one of those ephemeral Google glitches, and he drops back into third today:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 372,000 +102,000
"John Kasich" phony 254,000 +140,000
"Ted Cruz" phony 253,000 -88,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 190,000 +79,000
"Bernie Sanders" phony 81,800 +15,000

  • On Al Sharpton's 8AM Sunday MSNBC show last week, ex-Congresscritter Anthony Weiner (pictured) deemed Donald Trump a "phony". You have to sit through six minutes of video to dig it out, but Weiner's main evidence for this allegation was that Trump made donations to his past political campaign.

    Sharpton and Weiner also criticize Ted Cruz's disdain for "New York values". Left unspoken, I'm pretty sure: "Hey, here we are, two disgraceful people on a national TV show. There's your New York values."

    Back in August, Trump called Weiner a "perv". So there's no love lost there.

    (Note, however, the CNN headline back then: "Donald Trump defiant after calling Anthony Weiner a 'perv'". Like there's some reason for Trump to be apologetic about that? Yes, Trump's often an obnoxious blowhard, free with reckless insults. But not in that particular instance.)

  • The Donald had his own phony charge this week, a result of getting skunked by Cruz in the race for Colorado delegates:

    Debunked in a number of places, for example National Review:

    Donald Trump is right: The system is rigged. It’s rigged in favor of front-runners. That’s why Trump, who is leading the Republican nominating contest, has a larger percentage of delegates (46 percent) than of votes (37 percent). Unsurprisingly, Trump never mentions when the rules have helped him. He much prefers to whine and peddle conspiracy theories when they don’t.

  • Also at NR, Dennis Prager is peeved at a perennial campaign trope about "unity":

    In their current campaigns for president, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican John Kasich regularly proclaim their intention to bring Americans together. He, one suspects, because he is naïve, and she because she will say pretzels come from Neptune if it will garner votes.

    Why the universality of this nonsensical "unity" theme? Easy, Prager notes: "Because Americans fall for it every four years." For the low-info voter, it's easy to hear calls for "unity" as containing a soothing implication: "At last, people will stop disagreeing with me."

  • In this week's Demo Debate, Bernie made mention of Hillary's "super PACs and 501(c)(4)s, money which is completely undisclosed." Hill was prepared:

    CLINTON: Well, make -- make no mistake about it, this is not just an attack on me, it's an attack on President Obama. President Obama...


    CLINTON: You know, let me tell you why. You may not like the answer, but I'll tell you why. President Obama had a super PAC when he ran. President Obama took tens of millions of dollars from contributors. And President Obama was not at all influenced when he made the decision to pass and sign Dodd-Frank, the toughest regulations...


    CLINTON: -- on Wall Street in many a year.

    CLINTON: So this is -- this is a phony -- this is a phony attack that is designed to raise questions when there is no evidence or support, to undergird the continuation that he is putting forward in these attacks.

    Or, shorter: Obama and I can take contributions from anyone, in any amount, because we're incorruptible.

    And what happened after the debate? Maureen Dowd of the New York Times (never a fan of Hillary's brand) observes:

    Sanders flew to the Vatican that night to underscore his vision of himself as the moral candidate. And Hillary headed to California, underscoring Bernie’s portrayal of her as the mercenary candidate. She attended fund-raisers headlined by George and Amal Clooney in San Francisco and at the Clooneys’ L.A. mansion that cost $33,400 per person and $353,400 for two seats at the head table in San Francisco — an “Ocean’s Eleven” safecracking that Sanders labeled “obscene.”

    Agreeing with Bernie about George Clooney's money-raising obscenity : George Clooney:

    To go with the "obscenity" theme, it looks like Clooney is working on a 70's porn-star mustache.

  • If you've been wondering what Bernie Sanders' tax return and private plane menu prove, look no further than PJMedia's Michael Van Der Galien: "Bernie Sanders' Tax Returns and Private Plane Menu Prove: He's a Hypocritical Phony Extraordinaire."

    The menu (pictured at the link) is pretty fancy. But what might be a dealbreaker for a significant fraction of Bernie fans: no vegan main course offerings. The horror!

The Phony Campaign

2016-04-10 Update

Our 2% PredictWise criterion gives us the same old lineup, but (in a shocking development) Ted Cruz has leapt from fourth place to a solid first:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Ted Cruz" phony 341,000 +271,000
"Donald Trump" phony 270,000 +2,000
"John Kasich" phony 114,000 -100,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 111,000 +12,400
"Bernie Sanders" phony 66,800 +6,800

Okay, it's probably just a Google Glitch, but we'll take our excitement where and when we can get it.

In this week's phony news:

  • One possible driver of Cruz's hit counts is the widely-reported remarks of one Peter King, US Congresscritter from the great state of New York. As reported in the New York Daily News, on the Thursday "Joe Piscopo" show (AM 970), the Rep inveighed:

    “New York keeps going forward,” King continued, citing the city’s response to 9/11. “We’re tough, and to have some guy like Ted Cruz with cowboy boots walk around criticizing us. Listen, I hope he gets the cold shoulder and other things from every New Yorker. Send him back where he belongs. He’s a phony.”

    Trivia: Rep King may have been the first candidate to drop out of the 2016 Presidential race, back in July 2015. But the real shocking news here is: Joe Piscopo has a radio show. Good for him. I always liked Joe.

  • The Daily News despises Cruz, but they're also kind of rough on the Dowager Empress of Chappaqua:

    The complaint from the left is that Hillary has been insufficiently supportive of the $15/hour minimum wage.

    "She has in this instance, as others, tried to pose as someone who is sympathetic to the idea of a $15 (national) minimum wage without actually being sympathetic to it," Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said.

    It's an idiotic idea, but apparently it's an important item on the Democrat purity test, and Hillary is trying to copy the answers from the guy next to her.

  • I once subscribed to the Boston Globe. Came to my senses long ago. But had I somehow persisted, I would have been presented with a fake front page this morning, dated April 9, 2017, with fake stories imagining the worst horrors of a Trump Administration.

    OK, some of it's funny, at least to the easily amused:

    Education Secretary Omarosa  Manigault summoned PBS officials to Capitol Hill to discuss remaking “Celebrity Apprentice” using hand puppets. T8

    It's all accompanied by an editorial: The GOP must stop Trump.

    I'm far from a Trump fan, but why should anyone believe that the Globe is a good source of advice for the GOP?

  • Jonah Goldberg wonders: "Why Won’t John Kasich Go Away?"

    The man is famously irascible, pugnacious, and sanctimonious. He’s prone to defending his policies, such as his expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare in Ohio, by insinuating that he cares more about his eternal soul than his critics. A lot of people talk about how unlikeable Cruz is. Well, I’ve met both men, and I’d much rather have a beer with Cruz.

    Me too. Although I'm pretty much open to having a beer with anyone. I like beer.

The Phony Campaign

2016-04-03 Update

For yet another week, PredictWise dictates no changes to our leader board, and there are no changes in our rankings:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 268,000 -33,000
"John Kasich" phony 214,000 +25,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 98,600 -6,400
"Ted Cruz" phony 70,000 -11,300
"Bernie Sanders" phony 60,000 -800

True fact: divide Trump's hit count by Hillary's and you get nearly exactly the value of e, base of the natural logarithms. I'm sure that indicates something.

The phony news this week:

  • You can't read much about Ted Cruz without reading about the people who dislike him. Nearly everyone, it seems. You owe it to yourself to get the other side. Readers, Jay Nordlinger knows Cruz and likes him. Jay has a three part series at NRO: here, here, and here. It is personal, and a welcome antidote to the Ross Douthats of the world. Sample:

    You may have heard that he is not well liked by the people around him. Well, I liked him — loved him. But it’s true: Some people found him too cocky, too brash, and too ambitious for their taste.

    I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the more patient I am with ambition — certainly if that ambition is directed to positive ends. I think of William Herndon on his onetime law partner, Lincoln: “His ambition was a little engine that knew no rest.”

    I've been reading Jay for a number of years, and he's struck me as the straightest of straight shooters. If he likes Cruz, that's good enough for me.

  • In the "who knew you could make a decent living doing that" category, we have Mr. Kevin Long whose gig is to search out and destroy fake social media accounts posing as his celebrity clients. For example:

    While Kevin Long and his haven’t yet been hired by the part-time Palm Beacher, Long says a little bit of work on his part uncovered more than 230 fake Trump pages. And more than 200 for Hillary Clinton.

    The obvious question: what algorithm can possibly detect the phoniness of a fake page, when the actual candidates are so phony themselves? I might have been able to figure this out if I had taken that AI course back in college.

  • We've been trying to ignore John Kasich, but he just won't go away. Also impatiently waiting is Steven "Louder With" Crowder, who posted an open letter to Governor Kasich this week.

    You are one giant, dishonest, poorly coiffed, insufferably smug phony. You unabashedly fancy yourself as the “friendly guy.” The “reasonable guy.” The likeable bloke. Or perhaps you prefer being called  “The Prince of Light and Hope” as you so humbly referred to yourself. Several times. On record. May I remind you that you did so unironically, while also naming your competition “Disciples of Darkness.” Sure, you give out free hugs. But behind that self-satisfied, tight-lipped smile of yours…? You’re a pompous ass who cares more about your own faulty ideals than the will of the people. Also, fire your barber. The “baby bird hatchling” look is flattering to precisely zero percent of population earth. Yourself included.

    Not just a phony, but a poorly coiffed phony. That's gotta sting.

  • Betsy McCaughey brings a reality check to "Hillary Clinton’s Phony Health Care Fixes. (Her words, not mine.) (OK, mine too.)

    The Clinton campaign is finally owning up to what most Americans learned the hard way. The Affordable Care Act is anything but affordable. In fact, its costs are crushing people who have to buy health insurance. Hillary Clinton vows to fix the problem, but don’t count on it. Clinton’s remedies are bad medicine. Some are so preposterous she can’t possibly believe they’d work. She could use a dose of truth serum.

    Although the reliability of so-called truth serums is nebulous at best, that doesn't stop Pun Salad from advocating that there be a number of debates where all participants would be dosed. Including the moderators. That would be a hoot. I would watch that.

  • It seems to be conventional wisdom that Bernie's the least phony of the current candidates. And in recent weeks he's been consistently at the bottom of our poll.

    Folks who want to support him on that basis should check out Matt Welch's "Bernie's Bad Ideas" from the current issue of Reason. Some of Bernie's positions fit well within a libertarian perspective, but (bad news) there's nothing to like in his economic worldview and (worse news) his supporters tend to like his economics best of all.

    A decade ago, left-of-center commentators prided themselves for being members of the "reality-based community," in reference to an old Karl Rove quote that dismissed adherents of such to be naive. Now, after seven years of economic realities smacking Democratic promises in the face, Bernie Sanders has arrived to say that the problem with all the spending, the centralizing, and the stimulusing, is that it did not go nearly far enough.

    I cheer for Sanders because I like to see Hillary lose. But President Sanders would be pretty bad news.

The Phony Campaign

2016-03-27 Update

As last week, PredictWise says the following folks have a 2% or better shot of being Our Next President. Enjoy:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 301,000 -162,000
"John Kasich" phony 189,000 -66,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 105,000 -62,000
"Ted Cruz" phony 81,300 +1,900
"Bernie Sanders" phony 60,800 -10,100

The ordering remains the same as last week. Why, it's almost as if nothing is happening!

  • At the New York Times, Ross Douthat asks the question: "Who is Ted Cruz?" The answer is one that a lot of NYT readers will find comforting: he's a big phony-face. Unlike other politicos (Douthat specifically names Rand Paul, Rubio, Sanders, Obama, and Goldwater) …

    With Cruz, though, even the most fervent peroration always feels like a debater’s patter, an advocate’s brief — compelling enough on the merits, but more of a command performance than a window into deep conviction.

    This doesn’t mean that Cruz’s conservatism isn’t sincere. But the fact that he seems so much like an actor hitting his marks fits with the story of how he became Mr. True Conservative Outsider in the first place. Basically, he spent years trying to make it in Washington on the insider’s track, and hit a wall because too many of the insiders didn’t like him — because his ambition was too naked, his climber’s zeal too palpable. So he deliberately switched factions, turning the establishment’s personal disdain into a political asset, and taking his Ivy League talents to the Tea Party instead.

    Cruz critiques often seem to boil down to "Hey, the guy just rubs me the wrong way." Since Cruz is the only major-party candidate left that I can stand, that's disappointing.

  • At the NR Corner, Mona Charen provides a brief retelling of this week's Trump/Cruz imbroglio over their wives. Her sympathies: "Defend Heidi Cruz":

    Is Trump the political genius that some have been hinting? Who else, without staff or experience, could rocket to the top of the polls and remain in that perch month after month despite everything? Maybe it’s genius, or maybe its shamelessness. The latter can be mistaken for the former. This week’s new slog in the mud demonstrates one of Trump’s techniques to perfection — he flings filth at an opponent and then invites the docile press to conclude that “both sides” are engaged in unseemly brawling. (This is usually John Kasich’s moment to shake his head sadly and remind voters that, golly gee,  he would never do such things.)

    If you're not a Trumpkin, Ms. Charen will convince you further that you are correct.

    If you are a Trumpkin… well, I'd suggest you read it, but all evidence says you're pretty immune to such appeals to reason and decency.

  • Campus kerfuffles continued among the fragile flowers of some student populations.

    • At Emory, various surfaces were chalked with pro-Trump messages. Even while reading the most student-sympathetic report I could find (Newsweek), I got the distinct impression that the author tried hard to keep a straight face while writing.

      The draft [of a complaint letter being written by "several student organizations"] says that those who wrote the chalk messages “attacked minority and marginalized communities at Emory, creating an environment in which many students no longer feel safe and welcome…. For some students, simply seeing the word ‘Trump’ plastered across campus brings to mind his many offensive quotes and hateful actions.”

      “I legitimately feared for my life,” a freshman who identifies as Latino told The Daily Beast. Another student told the publication, “Some of us were expecting shootings. We feared walking alone.”

      Scared. By chalk.

    • And out in sunny Pomona:

      Scripps College’s student president says she alerted campus police after “#trump2016” was found scrawled on a dorm room door, calling it “racist … violence,” according to an email she sent to the campus community, a copy of which was circulated Saturday on social media.

      A disproportionate response, to be sure. Also, I think I would take an even-money bet that, if the perpetrator is revealed, it will turn out to be yet another campus fake "hate crime".

  • But to Emory's credit, they do employ at least one sane professor, Paul H. Rubin, who wrote in the WSJ early last week on a too-neglected topic: The Zero-Sum Worlds of Trump and Sanders:

    Mr. Trump’s anti-immigration and anti-trade positions make him essentially a disciple of mercantilism—a protectionist economic theory refuted by Adam Smith in 1776. Bernie Sanders proudly calls himself a socialist and advocates vast increases in taxes and government power. The history of the past century, from the Soviet Union’s fall to the impending collapse of Venezuela, amply shows that a socialist economy isn’t only “rigged”—to borrow one of Mr. Sanders’s favorite words—it doesn’t work.

    Trump and Sanders are also alike in that their followers seem to be (sorry to repeat myself here) True Believers, in the Eric Hoffer sense.

  • Rolling Stone (in the person of 70-year-old publisher Jann Wenner) endorsed 68-year-old Hillary Clinton for President. To its credit, sort of, RS also published a rebuttal by 46-year-old Matt Taibbi headlined "Why Young People Are Right About Hillary Clinton". Taibbi is pro-Bernie, so being "right about Hillary" also implies being "a total left-wing idiot". But you can't help but agree with his naked-empress prose:

    Young people don't see the Sanders-Clinton race as a choice between idealism and incremental progress. The choice they see is between an honest politician, and one who is so profoundly a part of the problem that she can't even see it anymore.

    I'm old enough to remember the endless sappy "listen to the wisdom of the young people" mantras of the late-sixties. I was a young person then, and I thought it was stupid at the time. It hasn't gotten any better.

The Phony Campaign

2016-03-20 Update

PredictWise dictates no lineup changes this week. All candidates see declining hit counts, and their rank remains unchanged. And America is still doomed as doomed can be.

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 463,000 -84,000
"John Kasich" phony 255,000 -117,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 167,000 -67,000
"Ted Cruz" phony 79,400 -96,600
"Bernie Sanders" phony 70,900 -93,100

  • Have you ever wished someone would compile a list of some—let's say twenty—of the meanest things said about Donald Trump this election season? You may want to check out a site I am pretty sure I've never linked to before: Cosmopolitan and the article "The 20 Meanest Things Said About Donald Trump This Election Season". Example:

    "Donald Trump, a carnivorous plant watered with irradiated bat urine, has a slight polling problem with about half of the female voting public, who have a 'very unfavorable' view of him." —Anna Merlan Jezebel, March 2016

    What I learned from the list: Seth Meyers (number 13) no longer seems clever. Without good writers, he seems about as witty as Cher (number 19).

  • Leon Wolf at RedState is not a John Kasich fan, and brings evidence of phoniness to the table: "Fake Nice Guy John Kasich is a Jerk to a Cop for No Reason"

    One of the most nauseating and transparently fake things to come down the pike in a long time is John Kasich’s nice guy act. Kasich is one of the most notorious jerks in the history of Washington, DC, which is a town full of jerks. To paraphrase the Big Lebowski, that places him high on the list of jerks worldwide.

    Wolf provides 2008 police dashcam video of a stop of Kasich's car, together with Kasich misrepresenting the facts about the stop a few days later.

  • The Washington Free Beacon conveniently summarizes "Hillary Clinton's Four Days of Gaffes", complete with sad trombones:

    I forget: wasn't she once smart enough to think before speaking? Didn't she used to make an effort to maintain superficial credibility? In any case, any skills she may have had in that area seem to be gone.