The Phony Campaign

2015-12-13 Update

No changes to our phony lineup this week, according to our 2%-at-PredictWise criterion. Jeb edges out Bernie for fourth place in the standings:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
2015-12-06
"Donald Trump" phony 102,000 +24,700
"Hillary Clinton" phony 66,800 +500
"Ted Cruz" phony 37,700 +1,900
"Jeb Bush" phony 30,100 +6,000
"Bernie Sanders" phony 29,300 +3,900
"Marco Rubio" phony 24,500 +1,300
"Chris Christie" phony 17,100 -1,200

And the latest PhonyTown low-down:

  • You might think a Reason article headlined "The Phony Mystery of Why 'They' Hate Us" would be right up our alley.

    What do Barack Obama and Donald Trump have in common? Among other things, they have—or pretend to have—no clue why some Muslims hate us. Trump says (I almost typed believes, but I'm not sure anyone, including Trump, knows what he believes) Muslims should be barred from the United States until "until the country's representatives can figure out what's going on."

    That's an auspicious beginning from author Sheldon Richman. In a libertarian mag, you might expect him to point out that the phrase "until the country's representatives can figure out what's going on" is roughly equivalent to "until Mars is fully terraformed."

    Alas, from there Richman instead outputs the same old blame-America-first boilerplate. Drones, of course. But it really all goes back to 2006. Or 1953. Or 1096. It's rare when a Reason article makes me roll my eyes in fundamental disagreement, but this is one of those times.

    Sheldon, we dropped atomic bombs on Japan. Do we have major problems with radical Shintoist terrorists today? There just might be other explanations for Islamist misbehavior than "we made them do it."

  • If you have ever wondered why Hillary Clinton should thank God for Donald Trump, then you should get on over to the Daily Beast and read the article from Reason editor Nick Gillespie: "Why Hillary Clinton Should Thank God for Donald Trump".

    But you might be able to guess the (heh) reason:

    Forget the fake facts, the Mexicans-are-rapists racism, the stupefying ignorance of international trade, and the unambiguous and unapologetic anti-Muslim bigotry. Forget even the fact that he’s just a gold-plated Billy Mays who has pitched every goddamned crap product from frozen steaks to a failed namesake university to mattresses.

    Perhaps the very worst thing about Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy is that it’s keeping us all—Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike—from examining just what a god-awful and terrible president Hillary Clinton will be. Less than a year out from the 2016 election, that’s the horror we all need to be confronting.

    "Indeed." If you need a brush-up on Hillary's fundamental awfulness, Nick has you covered.

  • New Hampshire's Union Leader newspaper has endorsed Chris Christie, so it's fun to watch 'em slag the other guys: "Cruz bombs: Tough talk to cover up weak record".

    Ted Cruz is taking his Texas Tough Guy act on the road in Iowa.

    It’s because tough talk is all he has to offer. Facing mounting criticism from fellow freshman Sen. Marco Rubio over his vote to suspend the NSA’s controversial bulk data collection program, Cruz is ratcheting up his already overheated rhetoric. He told potential caucus-goers he would “carpet bomb” ISIS and that anyone who joins is “signing your own death warrant.”

    I dare say that it's logically possible to support both (a) undoing massive NSA spying on Americans and (b) bombing the crap out of ISIS. But the UL isn't really interested in figuring that out.

    The UL editorial did manage to get an approving nod from Salon:

    Ted Cruz is a phony, pandering as a tough guy in the wake of the Paris and San Bernardino terror attacks to win votes, according to a blistering new editorial in the New Hampshire Union Leader — New Hampshire’s largest paper.

    Perhaps the first and last time a UL editorial position draws praise from Salon.

  • But if the UL won't slag Christie, the New Jersey Star-Ledger will, even sending a columnist up here to cover his campaign. One Tom Moran shadowed his state's governor to a Manchester "recovery center" for heroin addicts. And came away mostly unimpressed: "Christie on heroin: A prophet and a phony".

    Christie tells moving stories of his mom's tobacco addiction, and makes compassionate noises about the similarity to heroin. For Moran, this is good.

    But, oh no:

    The number of people admitted to drug treatment in New Jersey has dropped on his watch, and so has state spending on treatment.

    Because, for Moran, the only possible measure of "compassion" is how much of other people's money you spend.

    Don't get me wrong: the government stats on heroin deaths (and those from other drugs) are sobering. But what they say to me is: the "solution" is not more of the same, not to double down on clearly failing policies.

    If you want to hear a true prophet, try listening to Jacob Sullum instead of Chris Christie.