The Phony Campaign

2020-10-18 Update

Mr. Ramirez, if you please…

[Old Lefty]

Meanwhile, Biden promises that he'll take a deep dive into his own principles, fasting for forty days and forty nights in the desert, where he'll tempted by the ghost of Robert Bork, and then return with his decision on court packing.

Today's betting odds show an impressive improvement for President Bone Spurs, closing the probability gap with Sleepy Veep by a net 9.6 percentage points. Hey, I calculate if his odds continue to improve at this rate, he'll be back to 50-50 in 2.4 weeks!

Unfortunately, the election is 2.3 weeks away. And a lot of people have already voted. Never mind, I regret having done the calculation, let alone typed about it.

Trump (of course) has a strong advantage over Biden in phony hits currently leading by a 2.4-to-1 ratio:

Candidate WinProb Change
Donald Trump 37.0% +4.7% 1,830,000 -630,000
Joe Biden 60.5% -4.9% 760,000 -69,000
Jo Jorgensen 0.0% unch 193,000 +141,600
Howie Hawkins 0.0% unch 92,900 +71,700

Warning: Google result counts are bogus.

  • As of last Thursday, Eric Boehm was still permitted to write at Reason: Joe Biden Still Doesn’t Have a Coherent Answer About Court Packing. After detailing Joe's squirmy answer to George Stephanopoulos at his "town hall" appearance…

    As Reason's Jacob Sullum noted earlier this week, Biden's sudden reticence to criticize court packing is an alarming development. The former vice president has a long track record of shunning the idea—and for good reason, since it remains pretty unpopular with voters more than eight decades after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt last pushed it. If Biden has changed his opinion on this topic, voters deserve to know. If he hasn't, why can't he just say so?

    It's pretty obvious that Biden is making a calculated political maneuver here. If he comes out in favor of court packing, he risks handing Republicans a new campaign issue at a time when he's just trying to run out the clock with a significant lead in the polls. If he says he's against court packing, he trades away leverage that he could use after he's elected. But refusing to commit one way or the other is disrespectful to the people whose support Biden is seeking.

    Eric notes, as do I, that people are already voting. Absent a clear answer on this issue. I suppose that's on them.

  • So Obama had his "if you like your insurance plan, you can keep it" whopper. But let's be proactive and look (with the WSJ editorialists) at Biden’s Tax Whopper.

    Joe Biden got a pass from the media for the myriad whoppers he told about his policies in Thursday night’s town hall. But one that we can’t let slide was his claim that he only intends to make people earning more than $400,000 “pay what they did in the Bush Administration—39.6%.”

    Where to begin? The Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 cut the top individual tax rate to 35% from 39.6%. A 2012 deal between the Obama Administration and House Republicans extended the Bush tax cuts for the middle class while returning the top rate to 39.6% for those earning more than $400,000, plus the 0.9% Medicare surtax imposed by ObamaCare.

    The Tax Foundation provides a detailed list of Biden's current tax proposals.

  • I'm not sure if P. J. O'Rourke means to reassure us with his current American Consequences essay: It Doesn't Matter Who Wins.

    Our ship of state is an old-fashioned square-rigged treasure galleon, but with a crew of 16 million. That’s the number of people employed by America’s federal, state, and local governments. This makes for a vessel three times the size of Norway (population 5,375,000). We the people put the wind in the sails, or at least we blow a lot of hot air at them. But the ship itself remains as hard to launch, maneuver, turn around, or dock as Scandinavia… especially since there’s no one steering.

    Of course, in theory, there’s a captain – the president. But that’s just one of the helmsmen. There are also 435 congressmen, 100 senators, and nine Supreme Court justices with their hands on the wheel.

    Let’s assume that this gang of jack-tars trying to steer all agree on which direction the boat should go. (That has never happened but, for fun, let’s say it does.) Trump gets reelected, holds the Senate, and retakes the House – “Right full rudder!” Or Biden wins, keeps the House, takes the Senate, and the ghost of Ruth Bader Ginsburg comes to Amy Coney Barrett and Clarence Thomas in their dreams and convinces them to join People For the American Way – “Left full rudder!”

    But somebody still has to go around convincing the ship of state’s 16 million crew members – busy battening hatches, furling mainsails, weighing anchors, shivering timbers, and whatever else it is that sailors do on sailboats – to get with the program and make sure something happens with the steering gear. Trump hasn’t had much luck in the past four years. And Biden strikes me as being about as effective as The Skipper, captain of the S.S. Minnow on Gilligan’s Island.

    Let me check… no, not reassured.

  • Well someone had to try, I suppose. At NH Journal, D. Dowd Muska attempts to make The Libertarian Case for Donald Trump.

    Fair warning: A man is about to be damned with faint praise.

    But these are extraordinary times, and perhaps “all things considered, the other guy’s worse” is a profound compliment. That’s why this libertarian is voting for Donald J. Trump, and recommending that my fellow opponents of the welfare-warfare state do the same.

    Stay with me on this. We’re going to focus on three areas of vital importance to the limited-government cause where the president is unquestionably preferable to Joe Biden: foreign policy, regulation and judges. Taken together, they make a convincing case for reelection.

    Muska aims his argument specifically at swing-state residents, because … well, I'm not sure why that makes a difference.

    Back in 2016, the Clinton/Trump race was a squeaker in New Hampshire. Ignoring write-ins:

    Candidate Votes Percent
    Hillary Clinton 348,526 46.8263%
    Donald Trump 345,790 46.4587%
    Gary Johnson 30,777 4.1350%
    Jill Stein 6,496 0.8728%

    Total votes cast (including write-ins): 744,296

    I "wasted" my vote on Gary Johnson. Had I voted for Trump instead, his percentage would have skyrocketed from 46.4587% to … 46.4588%. And he still would have lost.

    So: sorry. Mr. Muska. A real "wasted" vote is one for a candidate you only despise slightly less than the other.

  • That's not to say that Jo Jorgensen is flawless, as reported by Reason's Matt Welch.

    As the Libertarian Party has established itself as the most electorally successful third party in the United States, voters have grown accustomed to the group's radical messaging against taxation, prohibition and war. One of the party's top 10 presidential primary finishers in 2020, after all, had his name legally changed to "Taxation Is Theft."

    Less broadly known, though on full display in a streamed interview I conducted last night with presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen, is the party's antipathy toward international institutions, pandemic restrictions, and vaccine mandates.

    Jorgensen last night volunteered the latter as an example of the type of "personal decision" best left to individuals, rather than determined via the political process. So I asked her whether, philosophically, she considered it wise for public schools to require children be vaccinated as a condition for enrollment.

    "I think it is immoral," she responded. Then, after noting that she personally has chosen to vaccinate her family, Jorgensen contrasted vaccination policy with the types of prohibitions Libertarians have long opposed—on drugs, gambling, vaping, consensual sex transactions, and so on.

    Whoa, she went there.

    I'm actually sympathetic. And she didn't dodge the question. For example she could have (accurately) pointed out that states decide their vaccination requirements; the President has no authority over that issue.

    But, yeah, the real culprit here is compulsory attendance laws. Let schools decide what their vaccination requirements are, and if you don't like 'em, don't send your kid there.