The Phony Campaign

2019-07-14 Update

[Amazon Link]

The Betfair bettors sobered up slightly this week, and brought the probability of Queen Kamala I down significantly. She's still their favorite Democrat, though.

On the phony side, President Trump expanded his commanding lead. It's tough to catch a guy who inspires headlines like "Trump shares fake Reagan quote from phony Twitter user".

Candidate WinProb Change
Donald Trump 46.5% -0.4% 2,120,000 +330,000
Bernie Sanders 4.2% -0.8% 1,120,000 -350,000
Pete Buttigieg 3.9% -0.6% 1,090,000 -50,000
Joe Biden 8.0% +1.2% 894,000 -146,000
Elizabeth Warren 8.5% +0.2% 201,000 -4,000
Kamala Harris 15.9% -9.1% 129,000 -15,000
Andrew Yang 2.4% +0.1% 29,200 +500

"WinProb" calculation described here. Google result counts are bogus.

  • The estimable Victor Davis Hanson notes at National Review: Democratic Candidates Are Running a Race of Inauthenticity. After running down the list (faux Native American Liz; faux Hispanic Beto; Warren Wilhelm Jr.; millionaire Bernie; etc.), Professor Hanson compares and contrasts:

    Trump may be many things, and he may exaggerate data and fudge facts. But he at least seems authentically Trump. He does not claim to be a poor victim, but instead brags on, or even exaggerates, his billions.

    Trump does not downplay his politically incorrect Scottish and German background. Instead, he often emphasizes both to the point of overstatement.

    He always appears with his customary comb-over hair, orange tan, long tie, and suit, and he speaks in the same Queens accent whether he is talking to Alabama farmers, West Virginia miners, or Michigan auto workers.

    In contrast, Trump’s Democratic rivals do not seem especially forthcoming about who they are. When convenient, they play down their advanced degrees, the success of their parents, their own advantaged upbringings, successful assimilation, and stereotypically bourgeois lives. And based on their attacks on front-runner Biden, they seem to want to distance themselves from anyone upper-middle-class, white, male, heterosexual, Christian, or old.

    Damn. I am in every one of those pigeonholes.

  • At Reason, Christian Britschgi finds that Kamala Harris’ Plan To End the Racial Homeownership Gap Doubles Down on the Worst Aspects of U.S. Housing Policy. Probably a bad thing, then.

    Harris's plan is to provide "free" down-payment money to lower-income people buying houses in historically-redlined neighborhoods. Among the problems:

    Research suggests that homeownership is a particularly bad wealth creation tool for low-income buyers. They are more likely to buy at the top of the market—when prices are high but credit standards are looser—and are more easily pushed into default as a result of other financial shocks like job losses or sudden large medical bills.

    If Harris wants to decrease the racial gap in homeownership rates, there's a lot of other policies, from getting rid of single-family zoning to abolishing urban growth boundaries, she should endorse that could make that a reality without costing taxpayers a dime.

    But "everyone knows" that you can only measure compassion and caring by the amount of Other People's Money you are willing to spend, no matter how ineffectively or even counterproductively.

  • The WaPo's Megan McArdle notes, amusingingly: The media is starting to tune Trump out, and it’s helping him in the polls.

    I’m not the first to observe that if the president wants better approval ratings, all he needs to do is shut up. Every time he stops tweeting, his numbers improve. Besides, the economy is good, and the public grows fond of presidents who preside over strong economies. Barring a recession, if Trump would just let the economic news speak for itself, he could probably sail to reelection.

    Luckily for Democrats, Trump seems constitutionally incapable of learning from experience. Unluckily for the Democrats, their primaries are mimicking the effect of Trump holstering his Twitter finger. The media is now too busy analyzing the Democratic race to provide wall-to-wall coverage of Trump’s every tweet.

    Even if you don't listen to Jonah Goldberg's podcast, The Remnant, you might make an exception for his latest one with Megan. It's pretty good.

  • Another anecdote in the annals of Senate civility is related by the Washington Free Beacon: Biden Exploded at Dem Colleague Over Busing, Called Him 'Dirty Bastard'.

    Former vice president Joe Biden exploded at a Democratic Senate colleague for blocking anti-busing legislation in the Judiciary Committee, calling him a "dirty bastard" and a "son of a bitch" during the hearing.

    Former South Dakota senator James Abourezk relates the 1977 incident in his book, Advise & Dissent: Memoirs of South Dakota and the U.S. Senate (1989). Abourezk had been approached by the chief lobbyist for the NAACP to fight an upcoming bill Biden coauthored with Delaware's other U.S. senator, Republican William Roth, to block a federal court from ordering the state to desegregate schools through busing.

    As Abourezk told it, Biden eventually came around, because his efforts gave him great press back in Delaware.

  • At City Journal, John S. Rosenberg looks at the back-from-the-dead Kamala/Joe busing issue from another angle: Biden’s Busing Backtrack: The Democrats have abandoned traditional definitions of civil rights..

    Just as Harris’s reasons for supporting busing are unclear—except for her stated belief that it helped her—Biden has muddled his own stance on the issue. He has insisted that he never opposed busing in principle, only Department of Education- or court-ordered busing, in the absence of proven prior discrimination. But his remarks from 1975 are more straightforward: “I am philosophically opposed to quota-systems. . . . It is one thing to say that you cannot keep a black man from using this bathroom, and something quite different to say that one out of every five people who use this bathroom must be black. [Busing] has now been turned into an affirmative program to insure integration, and that brings us right back to quota systems.”

    Biden went on: “It is wrong to penalize someone who has committed no wrong, based simply on the generalization of his race’s violation of the civil rights of another race. . . . We’ve lost our bearings since the 1954 Brown v. School Board desegregation case. To ‘desegregate’ is different than to ‘integrate.’” Biden’s anti-quota arguments and belief in individual rights and responsibilities were consistent with the positions of many liberals at the time. His statements about the meaning of desegregation are aligned with Thurgood Marshall’s own arguments during the Brown case. “Racial distinctions in and of themselves are invidious,” Marshall said, rejecting the notion that overturning the “separate but equal” doctrine would guarantee every child the right to go to an integrated school. Justice Frankfurter asked him during oral argument, “You mean, if we reverse, it will not entitle every mother to have her child go to a non-segregated school in Clarendon County?” Marshall replied, “No.”

    Times change. As Rosenberg points out, modern Democrats now "endorse a view that echoes the arguments of both the Brown defendants and the Civil Rights Act’s segregationist opponents". He calls it "ironic". I call it phony.

  • And even though Andrew Yang has consistently appeared in our phony poll for months, we haven't had much to say about him. Let's change that. Bruce Schneier notices that Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang Has Quantum Encryption Policy. But he's not that impressed:

    At least one presidential candidate has a policy about quantum computing and encryption.

    It has two basic planks. One: fund quantum-resistant encryption standards. (Note: NIST is already doing this.) Two, fund quantum computing. (Unlike many far more pressing computer security problems, the market seems to be doing this on its own quite nicely.)

    Okay, so not the greatest policy -- but at least one candidate has a policy. Do any of the other candidates have anything else in this area?

    Yang has also talked about blockchain: "

    "I believe that blockchain needs to be a big part of our future," Yang told a crowded room at the Consensus conference in New York, where he gave a keynote address Wednesday. "If I'm in the White House, oh boy are we going to have some fun in terms of the crypto currency community."

    Okay, so that's not so great, either. But again, I don't think anyone else talks about this.

    I would wager that no other candidate could even discuss the issues intelligently. But it might be entertaining to see them try.