The Phony Campaign

2016-05-29 Update

PredictWise saith: Bernie Sanders still has a shot. In fact, the prediction markets are giving him a 3% probability, a whole percentage point higher than our cutoff. I assume this is due to bettors thinking (reasonably enough): "If Hillary is indicted, I could make a lot of money here." I can see that scenario playing out myself.

Query String Hit Count Change Since
2016-05-22
"Donald Trump" phony 617,000 -18,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 584,000 +77,000
"Bernie Sanders" phony 476,000 +107,000

  • At Cato, David Boaz gets a chuckle out of some MSM angels-dancing-on-pinhead rhetorical acrobatics:

    Earlier this week Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post published a column titled (in the print edition) “Stonewaller, shape-shifter, liar.” I won’t keep you in suspense: it was about Donald Trump. But apparently I wasn’t the only reader to have the reaction, Wouldn’t that title apply to more than one candidate this year? And some of the readers made their view known to Marcus. So today she tries valiantly to explain why Hillary Clinton isn’t – really, quite, so much – guilty of the same offenses.

    Boaz would like journalists to hold politicians to the same phony standards. Really, is that too much to ask? Apparently, it is. Neither Boaz nor I will be holding our breaths waiting for it to happen.

  • Have you ever wondered why both Clintons are such unapologetic liars? Jonah Goldberg offers up his theory: "Why Both Clintons Are Such Unapologetic Liars".

    It all boils down to one of the more weaselly words in the political vocabulary: "pragmatism".

    Pragmatism bills itself as being beyond ideology and “labels.” Well, if you don’t feel bound to any objective ideological or even ontological criteria — labels, after all, are the words we use to describe reality — why not lie? Why not wax philosophic about the meaning of “is”? If attaining and wielding power is your only benchmark, the ethical imperative of telling the truth is no imperative at all. It’s just another false ideological construct.

    Jonah proposes that we neologize "Clinton" as a verb: "to Clinton" meaning “to say whatever the moment requires, with an eye to being able to defend the statement under oath.”

    And (I would add) knowing that some syncophatic saps will defend you no matter what outrageous lies you tell.

  • And have you been wondering what Donald Trump’s past comments about Bill Clinton prove? Look no further than Sean Colarossi's article at PoliticsUSA: "Donald Trump’s Past Comments About Bill Clinton Prove He’s An Opportunistic Phony". (I bet you saw that coming.)

    Hoping to resuscitate discredited attacks of the 1990s and energize his supporters, Donald Trump has gone hard after Bill Clinton in recent weeks. Whether it’s slamming the 41st president’s economic policies or his personal baggage involving women, there is no boundary Trump has been afraid to cross.

    His supporters likely look at these attacks as another example of Trump not being afraid to “go there,” but an increasing amount of old Trump video clips show that the self-obsessed billionaire’s recent comments are just as phony as his tan.

    (Note that "discredited attacks" is the term-of-art Clinton fans use to refer to stuff the Clintons did that they'd rather not talk about.)

  • At Front Page, Jack Kerwick points out: "Bernie Sanders: Not a Good Guy"

    Even among far too many Republicans, a popular misconception persists that Bernie Sanders, while fundamentally wrong-headed politically, is nevertheless a decent person that means well for the country.

    In the meantime, it is Donald Trump and his supporters who have gotten branded as “haters” who encourage violence.

    This is bizarro world or, what amounts to the same thing, an ideologically-useful fiction of the left’s.

    Socialism, even "democratic" socialism, is all about centralizing ever-more coercive power in the political sphere. So not too surprising that its fans tend to be bullies. [Downside: Kerwick repeats the chair-hurling allegations that we looked at last week.]

  • The great Mickey Kaus sums up a NYT article: "Trump Not Fake Enough!"

    The NYT says “Donald Trump’s Campaign Stumbles As it Tries to Go Big.” Evidence of the stumbling? 1) Trump met with “dozens of female chief executives and entrepreneurs” last week but “never publicized” it! Instead of putting out this staged campaign news, Trump put out real news (that he’d fired political director RIck Wiley, the man who crash-landed Scott Walker’s campaign.) 2) Trump only has one communications aide. One! Why, Hillary has “a press team of more than a dozen, including people devoted solely to the news media for black and Hispanic audiences”! 3) Trump hasn’t yet violated the spirit of the campaign finance laws by “unofficially” anointing a particular super Pac (a campaign organization he’s technically supposed to be independent of).

  • And finally, your Tweet of the week:

Bridge of Spies

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

After a long hiatus, we finally start work again on the Netflix DVD stack. (Netflix keeps charging you monthly even when you don't get any new DVDs, so… sigh.)

Bridge of Spies was directed by Steven Spielberg. It's got your Tom Hanks. It was nominated for Best Movie and Best Original Screenplay Oscars, and the guy playing the Commie spy, Mark Rylance, won for Best Supporting Actor. So, yes, it's not bad. But it's "not bad" in a respectable, take-no-chances way.

It is "based on true events", which in this case means "we can make stuff up to keep the viewer interested". The true events here center around the swap of Soviet spy "Rudolf Abel" for U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers and minor league prospect grad student Frederic Pryor. And maybe a third-round pick in the 1961 NFL Draft? The unifying character played by Mr. Hanks is James B. Donovan, a boring insurance lawyer "volunteered" to defend Abel after his apprehension in 1957.

Donovan is a straight-shooter, believing that Abel is entitled to a full 21st-century understanding of his rights, even though it's 1957. Arguably, those rights were violated, and Donovan did so argue all the way to the Supreme Court, who ruled against him 5-4 in 1960.

At the height of the Cold War, this didn't make Donovan a popular figure. (Although the film chooses to illustrate this by having Donovan's house shot up from a car passing by, which didn't happen.) Nevertheless, Donovan finds himself back in the thick of it when he's asked to unofficially negotiate the swap in 1962.

So: not bad for a movie that's basically people talking to each other. (One exception: the U-2 shootdown scene, which is fantastic.)