The Phony Campaign

2012-10-07 Update

[phony baloney]

According to the Google, Mitt Romney increased his phony hits by over 30% in just one week. With 30 days before the election, could he actually make this a horse race?

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Barack Obama" phony 6,450,000 -20,000
"Mitt Romney" phony 2,110,000 +490,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 552,000 +36,000

(I should mention once again: don't take this seriously.)

  • But, Beelzebub help me, I'm actually starting to like Mitt Romney. The latest nudge in that direction comes from this WaPo letter to the editor from Ms. Cynde Sears of Oak Hill, Virginia. Cynde wrote in reaction to a WaPo article, which described an occasion of sinful behavior:

    Mitt Romney asked a contractor (perhaps a small business) for an estimate to construct a walkway. When he learned what it would cost, he decided to build it himself with his sons' help. In this one action, Mr. Romney unwittingly displayed who he really is.

    And, according to Cynde, who Mitt "really is", is a horrible, horrible person. Cynde goes on to detail what the morally superior person (herself, specifically) might do to handle a comparable home improvement: go ahead and hire contractors. (And perhaps watch them toil under a blazing sun, while sipping lemonade on the veranda.) But with his do-it-himselfishness, Cynde says, Mitt was "cheating people out of jobs."

    The link is from David Boaz from Cato@Liberty, who (correctly) chastises Cynde for her woeful economic ignorance. But I what I took away from the letter was her even more irritating judgmentalism.

    It used to be that moralizers, pecksniffs, and bluenoses were a right-wing phenomenon; at least that was the stereotype. Cynde reminds us that this unctuous tide has shifted leftward.

    And that's why I'm liking Mitt more: he's pissing off the correct people.

  • And, as another data point, this column from Andrew C. McCarthy has the aside:

    Whatever you may think of the former Massachusetts governor's politics, there should never have been any hesitation about Romney the man. This is a bright, self-made man, one whose public and private philanthropy, which puts most of us to shame, should be legendary. It is not. That's because his good works weren't done to burnish his political credentials and his decency discourages their exploitation toward that end. You don't have to agree with Romney on everything to see that he is a mensch. He obviously loves the America that is -- the land of opportunity that has rewarded his work ethic. Like most of us, he wants that America preserved, not "fundamentally transformed."

    Um, good point. I've said a lot of mean stuff about Mitt over the past few years. If Mitt wins, I'll probably continue. But Andy's right: as a person, Mitt puts me to shame.

  • Which made me think: if we did elect presidents on "character issues", is there any doubt that Bill Clinton would never have made it out of Arkansas? How about JFK? LBJ? Nixon?

  • And now, back to our regularly scheduled program, already in progress: At Investors Business Daily, John Merline details "Obama's Re-Election Case Rests On 5 Phony Claims." Which is no news to anyone who's been paying attention, but comes with a nice chart, which I, erm, borrowed:

    ibd chart

  • At the Washington Examiner, Brian Hughes notes that "After taking debate lumps, Obama calls Romney a phony"

    "When I got on the stage, I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney," Obama told Denver supporters. "The real Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy."

    Only problem: Romney hasn't been running around the country promising that. The $5T number was made up by pro-Obama sources. Romney's actual proposals are discussed here. (Warning: you need to have a longer attention span than President Obama has to get through it.)

  • At Reason, Brian Doherty opines: "Libertarian Gary Johnson Should Win the Election". In the sense (I think) that "winning" means: take enough votes away from one candidate or the other in key states in order to swing the election to the other guy.

    But as far as phoniness goes:

    Money is so important that Johnson's campaign did something liable to piss off many hardcore libertarians who don't believe in publicly financed elections. He sued the FEC, trying to get $750,000 out of them before the election that he claims he is legally entitled to and has not received, as the Miami Herald reported last week.

    Note that Doherty, bless his libertarian heart, fails to avoid the statist euphemism when he says that Johnson is trying to get $750K out of the Federal Election Commission. A truer libertarian would note that Johnson is trying to get $750K from taxpayers, merely using the FEC as a temporary piggy bank.

  • Non-presidential phoniness: New Hampshire is a "swing state", so the Pun Salad household is under steady assault by presidential-race TV commercials. Thank goodness for TiVo and Netflix!

    As a "bonus", we also get ads out of Boston TV stations for the Senate race between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren. In the Weekly Standard, Michael Warren looks at that race with the irresistible headline: "The Natural Versus the Phony". You already know which is which. But here's an amusing bit from a Warren rally, where Mike Monahan, a union official, delivers a speech riffing off the Carhartt jacket Scott Brown wears while driving his pick-up truck in his ads:

    "Pick-up truck? Carhartt?" Monahan says, pronouncing it Cah-haht. "Don't let him insult your intelligence. Where's the cutting oil stains on that Carhartt? Where's the chalk stains on that Carhartt? Where's the rip from the rebar tie wire? There's none, because that jacket or truck has never seen a day's work."

    Geez, maybe Brown could help Mitt Romney with some home improvements or something.

Last Modified 2014-12-01 2:59 PM EST


[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

This movie was directed by Johnnie To, who (news to me) is a famous moviemaker in Hong Kong. For a crime thriller, it's quite arty. The primary protagonist is played by Johnny Hallyday, who's a famous French actor (also news to me).

Right from the get-go, an entire Hong Kong family, husband, wife and kids, is shot up by a team of hit men. (The kids too? Yes. Although that's mercifully not explicit.)

Unfortunately for the bad guys, the wife was the daughter of Costello, a French chef with a restaurant on the Champs-Élysées, but with a darker history. And he sets out on a crusade for… well, you see the title up there.

His method relies on hyper-Dickensian coincidence: he just happens upon a different team of hit men who are in the process of taking out the unfaithful mistress of a local mob boss and her lover (in flagrante delicto if you know what I mean). He hires them for their skills and local connections. What follows is (of course) a lot of shooting. But there is also a major ironic plot twist based in Costello's violent past. There's a reason he keeps taking pictures of people: he needs to.

I said it was arty: there are a lot of imaginative eye-catching visuals layered over the (admittedly pretty standard) plot. And there's an undertheme of loyalty; I couldn't help but think that this is a movie the late Robert B. Parker would have loved.