The Phony Campaign

2016-11-06 (and Final) Update

This is the 97th "Phony Campaign" installment for the current political season, which we've been doing mostly weekly since late December 2014. (Interestingly, Donald Trump did not make the initial cut; he didn't show up in our standings until June 21, 2015.)

It's probably time for me to admit that the voters show absolutely no sign of breaking hard for the Johnson/Weld Libertarian ticket. Even ignoring the massive character flaws of the major party candidates, it's the only one that offers any respect for the Constitution, fiscal sanity, and individual liberty. So the horse race is between two old nags whose campaigns are nearly entirely based on pointing out how dreadful the other one is. And, for that, the campaigns deserve some points for accuracy: they really are both dreadful.

In said horse race, PredictWise gives the filly an 87% chance of winning, unchanged from last week. FiveThirtyEight pins a 65.5% tail on the Donkey, down about 13 points from last week.

It's worth pointing out that 65.5% is considerably less than certainty.

It's safe to declare Trump the winner in our Phony polling:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 1,490,000 -50,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 951,000 -89,000
"Jill Stein" phony 498,000 +70,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 75,800 -9,100

So what's behind all those phony hit counts this week?

  • In the WaPo, reliable Democrat flack E. J. Dionne claims "Donald Trump is a phony outsider". Dionne's evidence on this point is thin; he mainly concentrates on reporting Missouri polling results. But here's the assertion repeated, with some weak evidence:

    Trump has bragged about his influence peddling and his closing argument was reinforced with help from anti-Clinton Republican congressional insiders and the FBI as well. How in the world has he been allowed, almost unchallenged, to paint himself as an anti-establishment rebel?

    I seem to remember a time when Dionne was less superficial than this. I could be wrong, though.

  • In HillaryLand, the Americans for Tax Reform note "Hillary’s Phony $250,000 Tax Pledge".

    Hillary Clinton has endorsed several tax increases on middle income Americans, despite her pledge not to raise taxes on any American making less than $250,000. She has said she would be fine with a payroll tax hike on all Americans, she has endorsed a steep soda tax, endorsed a 25% national gun tax, and most recently, her campaign manager John Podesta said she would be open to a carbon tax.

    Why it's almost as if she were a congenital liar (as William Safire noted over 20 years ago).

  • Ah, Jill Stein, we will miss you. Because of headlines like: "Jill Stein Wants National Conversation On Oppressive Comedians". Jill was put out at HBO's John Oliver for his Stein-negative comments on his show. A sample from her rant:

    This country was built on oppressing The Other (Blacks and indigenous people) and I’m not going to stand for more of this while we deal with major crises in this country that could determine whether we’ll even survive as a species.

    What's missing from Jill's analysis? Only that (1) the mainstream media, including HBO/Time-Warner, are nearly entirely boring shills for the Democratic Party; (2) that means that Jill Stein must either be ignored or ridiculed, lest she cut into Hillary's vote totals; and the only surprising thing is (3) that Jill seems to be surprised by this. She should know better.

  • You can click the link to discover "Why Gary Johnson Won Over Some Voters After Faking Heart Attack At Debate".

    Unfortunately, the debate wasn't against Trump and Hillary. It wasn't even this year. But:

    Back in February 2015, Johnson - formerly Governor of New Mexico - appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference to debate marijuana legalization. Onstage with him was for U.S. Rep. Anne Marie Buerkle (R - New York), who began making an exaggerated claim about marijuana before correcting herself and reining in the prohibitionist rhetoric.

    "You have a one-in-five - a higher chance of having a heart attack within the first hour after you smoke marijuana. There are legitimate side effects of this drug," she said.

    Rather than argue the point, Johnson mocked Buerkle by clutching his chest and falling over on the stage.

    Good one, Gary.

UNH's Carsey School is Wikileaked

Thanks to the Washington Free Beacon sifting through the Wikileaks mail dump to find yet another embarrassment for the University Near Here:

A senior faculty member at a public university in New Hampshire proposed using his position to “be helpful” to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, hacked emails show.

The faculty member is Michael Ettinger; his primary position is director of the Carsey School of Public Policy, a UNH department funded by alumna Marcy Carsey. Marcy recovered from her UNH English Lit degree to make bazillions of dollars producing TV fare, such as The Cosby Show and Roseanne.

Prof Ettinger's leaked mail was sent to John Podesta (currently chairman of the Hillary campaign) and Ann O'Leary (currently a Hillary senior policy advisor) back in March 2015. It begins:

This note arises from a conversation I had with Ann about how I can be helpful from my perch in New Hampshire. I’m open-minded on that, and I’ve helped out on some small matters in my private capacity, but the best place to start is with what I can do formally from heading the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.

What's wrong with this? Well, it skates right up to, and maybe over, the red line set out in the University System Policy Manual:

Organizations exempt from tax under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) (such as the University System of NH and its component units) may have their exempt status revoked if they are involved in any political activity.

Note that Prof Ettinger seems to be offering UNH-based services explicitly to the benefit of a single political candidate. I doubt UNH's tax exemption status is in jeopardy as a result. The IRS doesn't care about 501(c)(3) violations when they're committed by Democrats. But to normal folks, it looks bad.

UNH's official response to this is posted at the end of the Free Beacon story, and it claims that "The Carsey School of Public Policy extended invitations to all the major candidates in early 2015." Probably technically factual!

But I'm relatively certain those invitations weren't as cozy and chummy as Prof Ettinger's missive to "John and Ann". I doubt whether other candidates were offered hosting services "at venues in nearby Portsmouth which has a large population of influential and well-off progressives who [Ettinger is] getting to know."

Prof Ettinger also offers the Carsey Institute's "NH Listens" forum to the campaign, and offers to make it a safe space for Hillary, free of anyone who might ask inconvenient questions, or record any embarrasing gaffes:

People understand that with trackers, cameras on everything, provocateurs, etc the risks can outweigh the benefits for the candidates. Thus, the idea has arisen that NH Listens could convene groups of people to meet with candidates in a less dangerous environment. NH Listens would make and enforce the ground rules thus taking the onus off the candidates for keeping the discussion civil and constructive. NH Listens is experienced at this. I don’t know if that’s an attractive idea or not, but we’d be glad to do it for Senator Clinton if it would fit with her plans.

"Keeping the discussion civil and constructive" is a euphemism for disallowing anything that might have thrown Hillary off her talking points.

One final amusing thing in the mail: Prof Ettinger gets in a sideswipe at folks who have (accurately) found "NH Listens" to be a progressive sham:

[NH Listens is] well regarded in the state with the exception of a small tea party group that has accused it of exercising mind control.

Ah, I know at least some of the folks he's talking about there! I'm sure they'll be happy to learn they're still living rent-free in Ettinger's head.