UNH Takes Down Bias-Free Language Guide

As I guessed might happen yesterday, the University Near Here made its "Bias-Free Language Guide" unavailable for web viewing early this morning.

The associate vice president for community, equity and diversity removed the webpage this morning after a meeting with President Huddleston. The president fully supports efforts to encourage inclusivity and diversity on our campuses. He does not believe the guide was in any way helpful in achieving those goals. Speech guides or codes have no place at any American university.

I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall at that meeting. For people who missed what all the fuss was about, the pre-fuss version of the Guide is memorialized at the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.

An article in my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat, quotes the president further:

While Huddleston said he respected the right of individuals on campus to express themselves, he said that the “First Amendment is paramount and key to” the University of New Hampshire.

So, a happy ending? Well, I figured I might point out the obvious in a letter to Foster's:

In the wake of the massive unfavorable publicity and ridicule stirred up by the University of New Hampshire's "Bias-Free Language Guide", it was good to see UNH's President Mark Huddleston take a forthright stand in favor of the First Amendment, and make a commitment to "free and unfettered" speech on campus. The bizarre and arrogant guide is now absent from the UNH web server.

I hope President Huddleston follows through on his First Amendment enthusiasm by taking one more step: The Foundation for Individual Rights in education (FIRE) has long classified UNH as a "red light" school, for having "at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech." (https://www.thefire.org/schools/university-of-new-hampshire/). That's at least as embarrassing as the Bias-Free Language Guide.

This shouldn't be hard to remedy: just in New Hampshire, both Dartmouth and Plymouth State have been granted "green light" ratings by FIRE. UNH should strive for the same.

I'll update here if it gets pubished.

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UNH Language Cops Are Kind of Old News

The University Near Here has its "Bias-Free Language Guide" (BFLG) online, visible to the Whole Wide World, and it has been the subject of much comment and ridicule over the past day or two. (Examples: Jonathan Chait at New York magazine; the (hilarious) "Everything's A Problem" tumblr; Campus Reform; the Daily Caller; the perceptive Steve MacDonald at Granite Grok; Twitchy.)

[Note: UNH President Huddleston is, according to the Portland Press Herald, "troubled and offended" by the BFLG. Can you hear the sound of our local Social Justice Warriors being thrown under the bus? So who knows how long it's going to hang around on our website? Better check it out while you can.]

It's always fun to have one's employer mercilessly mocked, but I'm not sure anyone's taken the trouble to point out: this is not new. The Internet Archive Wayback Machine has versions of the same URL going back to September 2013. And almost all of the stuff that people are (laughing|shaking their heads) at today has been there since then.

Example: The item that many find most amusing is the guide's deeming the use of "American" to refer to United States citizenry to be "Problematic". But that's been in there right along, as near as I can tell. Yes, it's stupid. But UNH is consistently stupid. (Or, I guess I should say: consistently cognitively disabled.)

Not to say there haven't been changes. The 2013 section titled "SEXUAL ORIENTATION" has been broadened; it's now "SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY", wouldn't want to leave that out; there are a couple of new terms in that section's glossary: "gender expression" and "gender identity". (Not the same thing, buddy, and don't you forget it.)

Some changes are mysterious: in 2013, "preferred" ways to address a group of humans were "Folks, Peeps, People, You All, Y’all". All acceptable ways to avoid the dread "Problematic/Outdated" term "Guys".

But here we are in 2015, and "Peeps" has vanished from the "preferred" list. But neither has it appeared in the "problematic" list. It has been consigned to the Memory Hole, no doubt by some editor who had a bad reaction to a marshmallow peep over Easter.

There are some obvious absurdities, probably inevitable when a document is group-edited by peeps who score high on feeling/thinking ratio. For example: if you refer to someone with no disabilities as "healthy", that is considered "problematic". But this is a mere few paragraphs after claiming that following the BFLG will "create a healthy, more productive classroom culture or work environment." [emphasis added]

What is the innocent reader to think? "Healthy" is OK when you use it as a metaphor, but not to refer to objective reality?

There's more. Much more. If your sport is shooting fish in a barrel, have at it.

But to mention one last thing, the proffered justification for the BFLG is especially egregious: "Starting a Conversation about Word Choice". Presented with the usual who-could-be-against-that framing?

But "conversation" here should be taken in the progressive sense: the one where you listen to us lecture on the current enlightened dogma about matters racial, sexual, and political. After which you will adjust your expression accordingly, or risk being labeled a heretic against UNH's official "value" of "diversity".

Last Modified 2015-07-30 5:40 AM EDT
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The Phony Campaign — 2015-07-26 Update

[phony baloney]

The prognosticators at PredictWise have raised Joe Biden's probability of being Our Next President to 2%, so he's back, baby:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Jeb Bush" phony 924,000 -96,000
"Mike Huckabee" phony 697,000 -4,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 468,000 +63,000
"Donald Trump" phony 259,000 +18,000
"Rand Paul" phony 157,000 -11,000
"Joe Biden" phony 136,000 ---
"Scott Walker" phony 112,000 -16,000
"Bernie Sanders" phony 105,000 -15,000
"Marco Rubio" phony 99,300 -13,700

  • MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Slams Jeb Bush for Visiting a ‘Fake Abortion Clinic’? Wow, that's a grabber.

    That turned out to be News from Planet Rachel. On Planet Earth, Jeb was visiting the Carolina Pregnancy Center, which (indeed) does not perform abortions.

    Is the Carolina Pregnancy Center, as Rachel claimed, falsely "designed to look like they provide abortions to patients"? Well, you have to be pretty oblivious to get that impression. In fact, if you can't figure it out from their home page, you have to travel one mere mouseclick from there to learn that they "do not offer, recommend, or refer for abortions."

    Some people out there get their news from Rachel. Pity them.

  • The NYT gives a tonguebath to its favored candidate: Bernie Sanders’s ‘100% Brooklyn’ Roots Are as Unshakable as His Accent.

    “I’m very proud of the fact that he speaks Brooklyn, because he’s not a phony, and that shows,” said Marty Alpert, who used to cheer for Mr. Sanders when he was on the track team at James Madison High School, where she is now on the alumni board.

    Unassailable logic there.

  • At Reason, Nick Gillespie puts forth the question: Agree or Disagree?: Rand Paul Should Go Libertarian or Go Home. Noting that Paul has lowered his score on the Libertarian Purity Test:

    As a matter of fact, on a bunch of recent issues, Paul has been very close to other, more-consciously conservative Republican candidates than to any vision of libertarianism. His response to the murder of a San Francisco woman by an illegal immigrant, for instance, was to denounce "Sanctuary Cities" and support an onerous surveillance program. He's against the Iran deal. While he was quick to call for yanking the Confederate battle flag from public grounds, he was slow-to-never in challenging Donald Trump's moronic view of Mexican immigrants as mostly criminal or to issue a statement about the Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage (he eventually said he wants to privatize marriage). Earlier in the year, he supported more defense spending than a couple of GOP hawks (albeit, Paul wanted to pay for the increases with offsets elsewhere in the budget).

    Big surprise: when you blur your branding enough to blend in with the other candidates, you don't give anyone any special reason to vote for you.

  • Huck went on Fox & Friends and meandered extemporaneously:

    Huckabee said that Trump has “struck a nerve with people,” and “I’ll be honest with you, a lot of the things that he’s saying, those are things that, in many ways, I’ve been saying those for eight years, before he was a Republican. Things like talking about how China has cheated. Talking about how there is this Wall Street-to-Washington axis of power that grinds out jobs against Americans. I mean, these are themes that I’ve been talking about. But, let me say this, if you put as much air in my balloon, not just you, but if all the media, will pump the air in my balloon, as has been pumped into Donald Trump’s balloon, I’ll be leading the pack as well.”

    Thanks be to Huck for reminding us that there's more than one know-nothing demagogic populist on the GOP side.

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The Phony Campaign — 2015-07-19 Update

[phony baloney]

The fickle oddsmakers at PredictWise have dropped Christie and Biden below our 2% threshold, but behold! Mike Huckabee has arisen to take their place. This is Huck's first appearance in the poll, and he's already in a solid second place:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Jeb Bush" phony 1,020,000 -110,000
"Mike Huckabee" phony 701,000 ---
"Hillary Clinton" phony 405,000 -8,000
"Donald Trump" phony 241,000 +14,000
"Rand Paul" phony 168,000 -4,000
"Scott Walker" phony 128,000 +19,000
"Bernie Sanders" phony 120,000 +4,000
"Marco Rubio" phony 113,000 -10,000

In recent phony news:

  • The Donald dragged himself back into the spotlight by saying something stupid and offensive about John McCain. I concur with the sentiments of Matt Welch:

    What has gone underplayed in today's widespread outrage over Donald Trump's dismissal of John McCain's war heroism is that the GOP national-poll front-runner's comments, besides demonstrating an idiocratic lack of basic human judgment and decency, are also dead wrong.

    Because this is Donald Trump, and Donald Trump is a vulgar anti-intellect who cannot string a coherent paragraph together, his full statement contradicts itself several times within 57 short words.

    If you need reminding of just how dead wrong Trump was, check out the whole thing.

    Pun Salad is no fan of McCain as a person or politician. As noted back in March 2008: he's a jerk. And note that Trump's comment was in the wake of McCain's accusation that Trump had "fired up the crazies" in a Phoenix rally. Referring to thousands of McCain's own constituents.

    Pun Salad did not enjoy Star Trek season 3 much, but wishes for a solution to the McCain/Trump brawl similar to the episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield": beam them both down to a desolate planet, let them fight it out, while the rest of us move along at warp speed.

  • The NYT reported on the doin's of man-of-the-people Bernie Sanders last weekend:

    […] Mr. Sanders quietly stepped off the campaign trail this weekend to visit Martha’s Vineyard, a favorite summer destination of the country’s elite, in order to mix with representatives of some of the same interests he inveighs against in his stump speech.

    Mr. Sanders attended the annual Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fund-raiser on the Massachusetts island, a popular gathering that draws some of the most prominent business lobbyists and fund-raisers in the Democratic Party.

    A "prominent attendee" was anonymously quoted as saying that Bernie's presence at the affair (which had a $37K admission fee) "suggested he was more pragmatic than his rhetoric would let on."

    Pragmatic? That's an interesting way to spell "phony". (See the Weekly Standard for a funny poster.)

  • Reuters reports that computer algorithms used by analytics firms to harvest data from social media are flummoxed by "sarcasm and mockery". And—you see where this is going—that's a particular problem for political campaigns using those results to target advertising dollars. Example:

    Haystaq, a predictive analysis firm, examined Tweets containing the expression “classy” and found 72 percent of them used it in a positive way. But when used near the name of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, around three quarters of tweets citing "classy" were negative.

    <sarcasm>I certainly hope that campaigns don't waste money on poorly-targeted ads!</sarcasm>

  • Martin O'Malley hasn't cracked the 2% barrier at PredictWise lately, but we'll blog about him anyway. In just a few hours timespan:

    1. O'Malley made a horrific gaffe at the left-wing Netroots Nation conference by saying: "Black lives matter, white lives matter, all lives matter." The last two phrases departed from the current Progressive Holy Writ enough to get him booed off the stage.

    2. An abject apology was not long in forthcoming.

    3. Which caused this tweet in response:

    Note to analytic software algorithms: the above tweet is mockery. I repeat: mockery.

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The Phony Campaign — 2015-07-12 Update

[phony baloney]

For the first time since May, there are no changes to our phony presidential pol population. According to PredictWise, the following have a 2% or better chance of being the next White House inhabitant:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Jeb Bush" phony 1,130,000 +70,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 413,000 +11,000
"Donald Trump" phony 227,000 -41,000
"Rand Paul" phony 172,000 -10,000
"Chris Christie" phony 149,000 -13,000
"Joe Biden" phony 135,000 -4,000
"Marco Rubio" phony 123,000 +9,000
"Bernie Sanders" phony 116,000 -31,000
"Scott Walker" phony 109,000 +4,000

  • A. Barton Hinkle notes (at Reason) that "Phonies Dominate Presidential Race". (A theme Pun Salad has been singing since, oh, 2007.)

    Hillary comes in for scorn, obviously. Also Jindal, Christie, Walker, Paul, and Cruz. A. Bart concludes:

    Granted, it's a trifle naive to ask for authenticity from most presidential candidates. You might as well ask a school of hungry piranha to show a little self-restraint. Still, if recent history offers any clue of what is to come for the next 18 months, it's a safe bet Holden Caulfield won't be the only one who wants to throw up.

    I always thought Holden's standards were a little too high.

  • Jonathan S. Tobin writes in Commentary about "Scott Walker’s Flip-Flop Problem" and he's not talking about ancient computer circuitry. Note: Tobin relies heavily on a heavily disputed report that claimed that Walker was saying one thing to pro-immigration think-tankers, something else out on the populist hustings. But still:

    With the first GOP debate only a month away, it is no longer possible to excuse Walker’s missteps as the inevitable mistakes of a rookie on the national stage. Walker needs to make up his mind about immigration and stick to it. Walker’s flip flop problem is real. If he continues to need his staff to pressure people to walk back accounts of his flip-flopping, he’s going to find himself outflanked by conviction conservatives on the right who need no such help as well as other Republicans who are prepared to stick to their guns in the same manner that Walker demonstrated back in 2011 when he was besieged by the unions.

    Walker's official entry into the race is, as they say, imminent.

  • I should have blogged this before, but: at Legal Insurrection, Jay Caruso analyzes "Hillary Clinton And Her Phony Spotify Playlist".

    Key takeaway (quoted from the linked CNN article): "None of the 14 songs on the 67-year-old candidate’s playlist was released before 1999."

    Hil's list includes a song ("Break Free") featuring the nefarious donut-licking Ariana Grande; I can't help but wonder if that track will be quietly dropped.

  • Professor Althouse articulates something that has been percolating incoherently in my own brain for a while, springing off Hillary's recent CNN interview where her dismal "trustworthiness" numbers were discussed.

    Yes, she lies constantly. You know that. I know that. She knows that.

    And I suspect that when she talks this over with her advisers, a central idea is: Politicians are dishonest. Everyone knows that and everyone thinks that. It's trifling that it shows up in a poll that people think Hillary is dishonest. It's like a poll showing people think the sky is blue. The important thing is, people are familiar and at home with Hillary's dishonesty. It's a comfortable old friend. We know all about it. It's acquired a transparency of its own. But what is the dishonesty of all those other candidates? That is the mystery. That is what people should worry about — all the strange ways in which Jeb/Marco/Scott/Rand/Ted/etc. are dishonesty. So confusing and disturbing. Who knows how to begin to delve into that swamp? Best to stay with good old dishonest Hillary!

    I don't know if that's accurate. It could be.

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The Phony Campaign — 2015-07-05 Update

[phony baloney]

Chris Christie breaks the (arbitrary) 2% Predictwise threshold today, so he returns to our poll. (His most recent appearance was back in February.)

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Jeb Bush" phony 1,060,000 -180,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 402,000 -29,000
"Donald Trump" phony 268,000 +89,000
"Rand Paul" phony 182,000 +1,000
"Chris Christie" phony 162,000 ---
"Bernie Sanders" phony 147,000 +61,200
"Joe Biden" phony 139,000 +1,000
"Marco Rubio" phony 114,000 -2,000
"Scott Walker" phony 105,000 +8,800

What's new in the world of presidential political phoniness?

  • Chris Christie officially announced his candidacy on Tuesday; the NYT welcomed him with an editorial: "Gov. Chris Christie’s Phony Truth-Telling". As you might expect, they are not fans, and much of it is predictable partisan sniping. Still:

    Sometimes, Mr. Christie wants to make himself a strong, reliable right-winger. He told an anti-gun-control crowd in South Carolina in June, for example, that all of New Jersey’s gun laws preceded his tenure and “no new ones have been made since I’ve been governor.” Actually, he signed three major pieces of gun-control legislation.

    So keep your hand on your wallet when Christie comes to town.

  • Jaime Fuller of New York Magazine writes a brief hit-piece on Jeb: "Jeb Bush and His Friends Have Spent a Lot of Time Explaining His Bad Business Deals". (Although the URL implies the original headline was something like "Jeb Bush Has Apologized a Lot For Helping Crooks".) It is mostly a summary of reporting done by others, including the Washington Post, but still …

    One of Bush's real-estate friends gave the Post the most amusing spin for Bush's nonexistent business bullshit detector, saying that the presidential candidate has a “record for having only a few clients who ultimately turned out to be less than truthful is remarkable, and that record would compare favorably with any firm in this business, either in Miami or another city.” We should be impressed that a presidential candidate didn't get involved in more shady dealings — especially in Florida!

    Jeb appears to be a poor judge of character. Not a quality you really look for in a president.

    By the way, the double standard we can expect from "journalists" is on full display in Fuller's article. An arguably more sleazy association of Hillary Clinton with convicted drug smuggler Jorge Cabrera is briefly described. There's even a picture of Hillary and Jorge in front of a Christmas tree at a White House reception. This is dismissed airily with "that’s what politicians do" and "how would Hillary have known?"

  • Allahpundit considers recent stories about candidate Scott Walker reassuring pro-immigration Stephen Moore that "I’m not going nativist; I’m pro-immigration," allegedly contradicting his current public stance.

    Allahpundit speculates: "Maybe he was BSing Moore."

    Or maybe he’s BSing us. Between his previous agonizing immigration flip-flop-flipping, his well-timed reversal on ethanol in Iowa, and his sudden rediscovery of social conservatism, I don’t really believe anything Walker says anymore. He’s the most conspicuous panderer among the field’s top candidates. If there’s anyone running who might be telling voters one thing in the name of getting elected while telling donors and establishment allies another, it’s him.

  • The NYT unearthed some Deep Thoughts from Bernie Sanders' writings for The Vermont Freeman. Particularly lurid was a column entitled “The Revolution Is Life Versus Death"

    The piece began with an apocalyptically alarmist account of the unbearable horror of having an office job in New York City, of being among “the mass of hot dazed humanity heading uptown for the 9-5,” sentenced to endless days of “moron work, monotonous work.”

    “The years come and go,” Mr. Sanders wrote, in all apparent seriousness. “Suicide, nervous breakdown, cancer, sexual deadness, heart attack, alcoholism, senility at 50. Slow death, fast death. DEATH.”

    So was Bernie about 17 when he wrote that? No, he was thirty. (Or, as the NYT puts it, "barely 30", as if that's an excuse.)

Last Modified 2015-07-07 3:42 PM EDT
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The Phony Campaign — 2015-06-28 Update

[phony baloney]

Joe Biden is back, baby, with PredictWise judging him with a 2% shot of being our next president. And so:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Jeb Bush" phony 1,240,000 -12,460,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 431,000 +20,000
"Rand Paul" phony 181,000 -8,000
"Donald Trump" phony 179,000 +6,000
"Joe Biden" phony 138,000 -
"Marco Rubio" phony 116,000 -4,000
"Scott Walker" phony 96,200 -1,000
"Bernie Sanders" phony 85,800 -400

  • At the Weekly Standard, Andrew Ferguson wends his way through old Hillary biographies written by her admirers. (Why? Because of "the general principle that you can learn more about someone from his friends than from his enemies.") Andrew marvels at the mental acrobatics as Hillary fans gingerly describe her sleazy behavior.

    The Hillary Paradox consists of two perceptions that are irreconcilable. The first is that Hillary Clinton is a person of uncommon decency, compassionate and deeply committed to justice. The second is that many of her actions over many years are the work of a person who couldn’t possibly be uncommonly decent. How could someone with a wonderful reputation so often behave disreputably?

    I, and probably you, have no problem with jettisoning the first perception. But for Hillary devotees, it's unshakeably tied up with their self-perception.

    Anyway, if you've forgotten the days of bimbo eruptions, White House Travel Office firings, Whitewater, cattle futures, Rose Law billing records, and the rest, Andrew provides a refresher course. If PredictWise is to be believed, there's a very good chance we're headed for more of the same.

  • At the WSJ, Ben Zimmer springboards from this observation:

    When Donald Trump gave a speech announcing his candidacy for president last week, he seemed to utter whatever thoughts popped into his uniquely coiffed head.

    As Mark Plotkin, a contributor to the Hill newspaper, put it, “To say he has ‘no filter’ would be a gigantic understatement.”

    … to a lively entomological history of how the "no filter" terminology was coined and popularized over the years.

    I'm all for "no filter" in theory. In practice, however, would we really want a president who was in the habit of saying the first thing that popped into his head? I see downsides.

  • "America's Liberty" PAC submits a fake ad, good for a chuckle:

    There is also a "Bailout Bush" website (where, beware, the video above autoplays).

    America's Liberty PAC "is a Super PAC created for and dedicated to, electing Senator Rand Paul President of the United States in 2016. It is the only Super PAC endorsed by Senator Paul." There's no mention, as near as I can tell of the Paul connection on the "Bailout Bush" page. But due to the wackiness of campaign finance laws, there is the phony declaration: "Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee."

Last Modified 2015-07-05 8:02 AM EDT
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Who's the Bully?

A local activist, Jerry DeLemus, recently announced his desire to run a "draw Muhammad" contest right here in New Hampshire.

This prompted my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat, to run an editorial in opposition: "'Draw Muhammad' contest is just bullying". You can read the whole thing at the link, but in summary: the word "hate" appears 8 times (with "hateful" also making an appearance); "anti-Muslim" thrice.

Their final paragraph:

In our view, freedom of speech is not under attack. Freedom of speech is alive and well in New Hampshire and across America. What’s under attack is the right of our Muslim friends and neighbors to practice their religion in peace without fear that provocative acts by fools like [Pamela] Geller and DeLemus will incite violence in equally foolish extremists.

I wrote a brief letter to the editor in response:

A recent Foster's editorial opined that a local 'Draw Muhammad' contest is "just bullying".

Let's do a quick thought experiment:

Person A proposes to engage in activity that most people agree is fully protected by the First Amendment. He threatens nobody, and nobody is being forced to witness, attend, or publicize the event.

Person B, enraged, attempts to thwart person A's activity via the use of force, threats, coercion, and intimidation.

Who's the bully? If you're a Foster's editorial writer, apparently the answer is "Person A".

To quote a character from a favorite movie: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

I could have made this longer, but I wanted to make it short and pithy. I had had a longer letter on the same subject published last month.

But I'll add here: Contra Foster's, I'd say the vision of an America where people are free to say, within broad limits, pretty much anything seems to be strongly under attack.

Foster's worry that DeLemus's event might "incite violence" strongly implies that Muslims are uniquely prone to such reactions. (But it's not their fault! The poor dears were provoked!)

This strikes me as a weird condescending bigotry toward the Muslim community. Fragile flowers! But dangerous! We can't expect them to follow the same rules the rest of us do!

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The Phony Campaign — 2015-06-21 Update

[phony baloney]

A shakeup at PredictWise results in big changes in our phony poll. In this week: Bernie and The Donald (which would be a pretty good name for a rock band). Out: O'Malley, Biden, and Perry (which would be a pretty good name for a very boring law firm).

And Jeb sees a huge increase in phony hits. Probably one of those illusory Google glitches. Given that our methodology here (as we've said before) proves absolutely nothing, we're not too worried about that.

And I would be OK with a Paul/Sanders ticket. However unlikely that would be in the real world. I would definitely buy a bunch of bumperstickers just to splice out the "ers".

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Jeb Bush" phony 13,700,000 +12,739,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 411,000 -3,000
"Rand Paul" phony 189,000 +2,000
"Donald Trump" phony 173,000 -
"Marco Rubio" phony 120,000 -6,000
"Scott Walker" phony 97,200 -5,800
"Bernie Sanders" phony 86,200 -

  • As always occurs after a bloodbath perpetrated by someone with a nest of spiders living in his brain, politicians could not wait a decent interval to pontificate that the horror perfectly demonstrated what they've been saying all along; and demand that actions be taken that would have had no preventative effect on the crime.

    Sometimes they weave in fundraising requests while waving the bloody shirt; demanding money, in addition to new "gun control" legislation. And fervently hoping that nobody will notice that their 12-point official "Vision" page contains zero references to gun control.

    Yes, this issue became serious when it could be used as campaign fodder. Before that, not so much.

    As I've noted before, here at Pun Salad, we try to adhere to the Elvis Costello rule: "I used to be disgusted, and now I try to be amused." But events sometimes drag me back to disgust.

  • One of our new entries, Donald Trump, is the subject of, not one, but two Kevin D. Williamson articles at NR. Sample:

    Donald Trump, being Donald Trump, announced his candidacy at Trump Plaza, making a weird grand entrance via escalator — going down, of course, the symbolism of which is lost on that witless ape. But who could witness that scene — the self-made man who started with nothing but a modest portfolio of 27,000 New York City properties acquired by his millionaire slumlord father, barely out of his latest bankruptcy and possibly headed for another one as the casino/jiggle-joint bearing his name sinks into the filthy mire of the one U.S. city that makes Las Vegas look respectable, a reality-television grotesque with his plastic-surgery-disaster wife, grunting like a baboon about our country’s “brand” and his own vast wealth — and not see the peerless sign of our times?

    Kevin's not a fan. Both articles worth your while.

  • We were pretty tough on Mitt Romney in the past. He never shook off Jonah Goldberg's 2008 observation that if you pushed the mute button when he was speaking on TV, he seemed to be saying: What do I have to do to put you in this BMW today?.

    So (naturally) my attention was pricked by a CBS News story: "Mitt Romney: Hillary Clinton is a phony." It refers to Mitt's MSNBC appearance, reacting to Hillary's campaign kickoff, where he observed:

    "I thought the text touched the various places she needs to touch to try and keep her base intact," Romney said. "Somehow, though, when you see her on a stage or she comes into a room full of people, she's smiling with her mouth, but her eyes are saying, you know, 'Where's my latte?' It just doesn't' suggest that she believes everything she's saying."

    Some enterprising people should wave homemade signs at Hillary's rallies: "Hillary, I have your latte!"

  • The Daily Sheeple (motto: "Wake the Flock Up!") asks: Want to Know If a Presidential Candidate Is a Phony?" Well, sure we do. Their recommended method:

    Do you wish there was a fast and easy way to tell if one of the front running presidential candidates is a big fat phony? Well fret not, because such a method exists. All you have to do is run the name of their twitter account through twitteraudit.com, and find out how many of their followers are bots and shills. Obviously, if someone is willing to buy a bunch of fake followers, then they’re probably a pretty disingenuous person.

    The various candidates are ranked, and the phoniest will surprise you!

    Well, that's not actually true. The phoniest candidate won't surprise you.

  • Your tweet of the week:

    Apparently only 90 minutes apart! Impressive!

Last Modified 2015-07-05 8:01 AM EDT
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The Phony Campaign — 2015-06-14 Update

[phony baloney]

PredictWise punters have dropped Elizabeth Warren below our (arbitrary) 2% probability threshold for becoming our next president. But Joe Biden's back at 2%. And we welcome Rick Perry to our poll for the first time; he's also at 2%.

So our adjusted lineup:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Jeb Bush" phony 961,000 -599,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 414,000 +13,000
"Martin O'Malley" phony 228,000 -61,000
"Rand Paul" phony 187,000 -3,000
"Joe Biden" phony 146,000 -
"Marco Rubio" phony 126,000 +16,000
"Rick Perry" phony 104,000 -
"Scott Walker" phony 103,000 -5,000

  • Rand Paul's campaign store will sell you a genuine fake Hillary's Hard Drive for a measly $99.95.

    CLEARANCE SALE! You've read about it on the news, now you can get one for yourself. Hillary's Hard Drive. 100% genuine erased clean email server. Buyer beware, this product has had heavy use and it currently is no longer working, but that doesn't mean it's not valuable to someone. Anyone?

    Limited edition. We have 80 of these and when they're gone, they're gone forever.

  • The best twitter-sized summary of Hillary's campaign "relaunch" event:

    As an additional echo of the 1930s, the event was held on Roosevelt Island, named after FDR.

  • Marco Rubio wasted no time in rebuttal:

    As a number of others pointed out: Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, and Bobby Jindal are actually younger than the song "Yesterday", which was first recorded exactly 50 years ago today.

    Did any of the 1964 candidates try to make a point by referring to songs from 1914? Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral, anyone?

  • Did Martin O'Malley tax the rain when he was governor of Maryland? Nay, says Media Matters for America; that's a "bogus conservative media talking point."

    Conservative media responds:

    If you want to be technical about it, it taxed any impervious surfaces on which rain falls. Defenders prefer to call it a ‘stormwater fee’, but that’s another way of saying rain tax.

    I love semantic quibbles, don't you?

  • In phony news, Jeb Bush visited Europe, and seems to have made it back gaffe-free, dashing the hopes of mainstream media.

    Well, except for MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, who claimed to detect an "Awkward stumble for Jeb Bush in Poland". What was it? Well, Jeb met with Radoslaw "Radek" Sikorski, who recently resigned his post, roughly equivalent to the US's Speaker of the House.

    Why did Sikorski resign? Well, he was among the Polish pols secretly recorded at a "fancy Warsaw restaurant" making off the cuff remarks. Including:

    Sikorski called Poland’s alliance with the United States “bull—-” and “worthless” before comparing the relationship to oral sex.

    So Maddow (as near as I can tell, alone among commentators) found Jeb's meeting with Sikorski to be a "flub". [She ignores, of course, that Sikorski was criticizing recent American foreign policy, under the dreadful stewardship of Obama/Clinton. Maddow elides that context, claiming that Sikorski was trashing the US in general.]

    Or at least I think that was her point, because I had to wade through an amazing amount of Maddow's shtick and folderol before she even got around to making this point. And I bailed about halfway through. I don't understand how people have the patience to endure such a low signal-to-noise ratio.

    Not necessarily a partisan issue; I don't listen to Maddow's counterparts on "my" side either. Not even John Stossel, who I like.

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