The Phony Campaign

2016-09-19 Update

PredictWise (as I type) has Hillary with a mere 72% win probability, down another couple of percentage points from last week. I thought she would be lower than that. I note that the FiveThirtyEight site run by Nate Silver has her at 61.1% this morning, well down from her near-90% probability a month ago.

I'm reminded of Woody Allen's 1979 "Speech to the Graduates" (back when he was funny, and we could imagine he wasn't a perv):

More than at any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.

And now on to the Phony Poll. You'll note that Jill Stein has seized the lead once again:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Jill Stein" phony 2,860,000 +2,350,000
"Donald Trump" phony 1,080,000 +217,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 1,020,000 +55,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 89,900 -36,100

  • Ms. Sasha Stone proclaims: "If You are Voting for Jill Stein, Here is What I know About You". She knows five things, none of them flattering. Here's number one:

    1. I know you are selfish. It’s easy to pretend to care about other people and that somehow protesting the two-party system means you are doing the moral and ethical thing. You think that “what you believe in” matters more than what might happen to other people. Don’t pretend like you care about anyone other than yourself and your image and your brand. Selfishness is the only trait you display in this silly, pointless vote. Just stay home. Don’t bother revealing this ugly trait to the world.

    Might be just me, but I'd guess petulant name-calling and childish insults would be a counterproductive persuasion tactic. Could work on weak-minded leftists, though.

  • At (of all places) the Washington Post, Carlos Lozada earns his paycheck (plus, in a decent world, a hefty hazardous duty bonus) by reading and reviewing Stronger Together: A Blueprint for America's Future, the campaign book authored by Clinton/Kaine. His one-word review: "deplorable" (Ha!). But he goes into detail, for example:

    If you want one more recitation of the fact sheets on how a Clinton administration would ease student debt, fight the Islamic State and reform criminal justice, you’ll get your fill of bullet points here. You’ll also find little argumentation, because in this book whatever state of affairs Clinton and Kaine don’t like is self-evidently “outrageous,” while things they do like are just “common sense.” In a “Stronger Together” world, everything is empowering, everyone is public-private-partnering, and everything, Bill Clinton-style, is aimed at the 21st century. And we know their reforms are right because they’re all deemed “smart” — smart investments and smart federal standards and smart defense budgets and smart solutions. The rich must pay their “fair share” in taxes, with fairness less defined than obviously understood among friends. It’s the adjectival school of policymaking.

    Yay, Carlos! I'm a pretty libertarian guy, and believe that even politicians have the right of free speech. But if I were two clicks more to the authoritarian side, I'd support banning the words Carlos mentions from campaign advertisements, speeches, and websites.

  • I think Megan McArdle had an excellent take on Hillary's attempted health coverup: "Clinton Never Learns That the World Sees Every Stumble". Sample:

    Perhaps less obvious, but also true: this whole cycle was straight out of the playbook that worked for Bill Clinton for many years. Hide, deny, lie, and when that lie breaks down, spin another while surrogates and supporters attack. That playbook lost its mojo on Jan. 19, 1998, when the Drudge Report broke the story of Monica Lewinsky's presidential trysts. It has been steadily getting less effective since that day. Unfortunately, the only person who doesn’t seem to realize that is Hillary Clinton.

    As must be obvious to even the most devoted Hillary supporter (Rich Lowry, last week): "If there were any doubt before, the episode shows a Clinton White House would be habitually secretive and deceptive."

    But those Hillary supporters are much like Tommy Lee Jones:

  • And we don't dump on the Libertarians here as much as we should, sorry. One reason: they get the (un)coveted Pun Salad vote. But Kevin D. Williamson is honest and tough on William Weld's Wishful Thinking on fiscal reform.

    In an absurd interview with MarketWatch, Weld insists that he and Johnson would submit a balanced federal budget within 100 days of taking office. How? Part of the Johnson-Weld program is Libertarian party wish-fulfillment, heavy on closing military bases, domestically and, presumably, abroad. We might close as many as 20 percent of them, he conjectures, without doing very much damage to our military capacity. He is probably right about that, but that would not have much of an effect on the federal budget. That is because growth in military spending, like most of the rest of growth in government spending, is driven by personnel, not by infrastructure, mainly by paychecks, health-care benefits, and pensions. Never mind the number of military personnel we have, compensation spending per capita in the armed services has risen more than 40 percent since 2001, from an average cost of $88,000 per military employee in 2001 to $125,000 and climbing by 2012, according to a Bipartisan Policy Center study. With all the money we spend on aircraft carriers, bombs, and bases, more than a third of all military spending is personnel compensation, and the majority of that is cash compensation rather than medical benefits and the like. Military medical benefits and pensions alone account for more spending than does the discretionary budget for any federal department save the Department of Defense itself and the Department of Health and Human Services.

    Williamson notes: If the Libertarian candidates can't tell the truth about balancing the federal budget, then no one can. And the Libertarian candidates aren't telling the truth about balancing the federal budget. Therefore…

    Oh well. Where's a good place to buy gold and silver these days?