The Phony Campaign

2020-10-25 Update

Our penultimate update for this election! Let's start off with some eye candy from Mr. Ramirez:

[Inartful Dodger]

A good week for Wheezy Joe at the betting markets, as he opened up his lead over Bone Spurs by a net 4.1 percentage points: 62.6% to 35%, compared to last week's 60.5% to 37.0%.

I feel compelled to look back at where we were back in 2016 at this time. I reported Hillary with a 91% probability of winning (via Predictwise). And FiveThirtyEight was only slightly more skeptical: a mere 83.9% shot.

Only problem for Trump: it's not 2016. I'm not making any predictions, but people I respect say that this time, no foolin', the pollsters have learned their lesson and they're going to be on-target.

I'm just smiling, saying "We'll see about that." And wondering if Mrs. Salad would understand if I spent the next couple of weeks or so in bed, with pillows over my ears.

Candidate WinProb Change
Since
10/18
Phony
Results
Change
Since
10/18
Donald Trump 35.0% -2.0% 3,000,000 +1,170,000
Joe Biden 62.6% +2.1% 1,120,000 +360,000
Jo Jorgensen 0.0% unch 23,100 -169,900
Howie Hawkins 0.0% unch 13,200 -79,700

Warning: Google result counts are bogus.

  • I noticed this genre of political advocacy back in 2016: "Try to convince voters by insulting them." An … um … interesting tactic.

    It doesn't surprise me that it's happening in 2020 too. Here's an example I noticed, from David Barrett, who is (apparently) CEO of a company called Expensify. Protect democracy, vote for Biden.

    I know you don’t want to hear this from me.  And I guarantee I don’t want to say it.  But we are facing an unprecedented attack on the foundations of democracy itself.  If you are a US citizen, anything less than a vote for Biden is a vote against democracy.

    That’s right, I’m saying a vote for Trump, a vote for a third-party candidate, or simply not voting at all -- they’re all the same, and they all mean:

    “I care more about my favorite issue than democracy.  I believe Trump winning is more important than democracy.  I am comfortable standing aside and allowing democracy to be methodically dismantled, in plain sight.”

    I am (therefore) slightly amused by this bit later in his screed:

    As a fellow citizen, I fully support and respect your Constitutional right to disagree -- and as an avid supporter of democracy, I value that disagreement.

    David, here's the thing: you just told me that I was a scumbag, a cheerleader for dismantling democracy! Somehow I don't think you can consistently claim you "fully support and respect" my disagreement.

    In any case, the efficacy of this tactic notwithstanding, some customers are kinda pissed. Examples: David Barrett's email promoting Joe Biden violated our corporate policy on political lobbying; Why is the CEO of your company such an ass?; How to unsubscribe from unwanted political spam?


  • James Bovard writes at AIER on our “Choose Your Liar” Democracy.

    The final weeks of a presidential campaign is one of the best opportunities to view political perfidy in spectacular colors. While the media lectures Americans about their civic duty to vote to save the nation, the candidates continue conniving nonstop with no respect for the facts or decency. After the election is settled, the media and the political establishment will announce “the system worked” and Americans must again respect and obey their rulers (unless Trump is re-elected, of course).

    Politicians have mandated warning labels for almost everything except voting booths. Federal agencies require full disclosure of risks for everything from mortgages to volunteering for medical experiments. People are entitled to far more information when testing baldness cures than when casting votes that could lead to war.

    It's an excellent essay, scoring an enthusiastic RTWT.

    Shameless self-plug: back in 2012, I wrote a GOVERNMENT WARNING along the lines suggested by Mr. Bovard, based on the ones you'll find on wine and liquor bottles:

    GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) Government has been shown to be a significant risk to your life, liberty, property, and privacy. (2) Over-reliance on government has been determined to reduce your self-worth and self-responsibility. (3) Expecting equitable, wise, or effective behavior from government has a high probability of leading to disappointment or even depression. (4) Government can, and does, get away with doing stuff that would land you in jail. (5) Over-exposure to government employees can result in a significant loss of intelligence and can cause irrational behavior.

    Still holds up, if I do say so myself.


  • James Freeman at the WSJ notes Wheezy's Whopper: Biden vs. Politifact.

    Americans wondering what a Biden administration would do to their health care cannot be reassured by the former vice president’s comments on the subject at Thursday night’s presidential debate in Nashville. Joe Biden resurrected a claim about the last great government intervention into medical markets that has gone down as one of the most consequential falsehoods by a government official in years.

    In response to President Donald Trump’s argument that Mr. Biden’s creation of a new government health plan would destroy private insurance plans, Mr. Biden said:

    Not one single person with private insurance would lose their insurance under my plan, nor did they under Obamacare. They did not lose their insurance unless they chose they wanted to go to something else.

    It is nothing short of stunning that Mr. Biden is still trying to get away with this claim about the so-called Affordable Care Act, which he championed alongside then-President Barack Obama.

    Well, indeed. The "vs. Politifact" bit is that Politifact deemed Obama's claim to be "Lie of the Year" seven years ago. As near as I can tell, they've keeping quiet about Biden resurrecting the lie.


  • In our "Let's Get Bogged Down In Semantics" Department, Reason's Ronald Bailey wonders about something else mentioned in the debate: Is Biden’s Oil Transition Debate Claim Really a ‘Big Statement’?.

    During the climate change segment of the presidential candidate debate last night, President Donald Trump goaded his opponent former Vice-President Joe Biden with the question,"Would you close down the oil industry?" Biden responded, "I would transition from the oil industry. Yes." Trump immediately interrupted crowing, "That's a big statement." Biden agreed that it was a "big statement," and added, "Well if you let me finish the statement, because it has to be replaced by renewable energy over time, over time, and I'd stopped giving to the oil industry, I'd stop giving them federal subsidies."

    Trump retorted, "In terms of business, it's the biggest statement." Why? "Because basically what he's saying that he's going to destroy the oil industry. Will you remember that Texas? Will you remember that Pennsylvania, Oklahoma. Ohio?," asked the president.

    Bailey notes the estimate that Uncle Stupid's fossil fuel subsidy is about $4.9 billion/year. That's not chump change, but it's pretty small compared to overall fossil fuel revenue.

    On the semantics issue, though: is there really a lot of important difference between (a) destroying the fossil fuel industry via an outright ban and (b) destroying it via "regulations" intended to make sure no company can produce fossil fuels economically?


  • Finally, Megan McArdle has some interesting debate thoughts:

    It’s hard to say whether it was the addition of a mute button that held President Trump back in the first part of Thursday’s debate, or whether his own advisers finally convinced him that “overbearing jerk” was not a winning political persona. Either way, Trump turned in a better, saner, more restful performance than in the first debate. Better late than never, of course, but I’m not sure how much better, given how much ground he has to make up with less than two weeks to go.

    After the humbling experience of 2016, I am loath to proclaim Joseph R. Biden the next president of the United States. What I do feel confident in saying is, first, as Ross Douthat of the New York Times has already pointed out, that Trump acts like someone who is trying to lose the election, haphazardly flitting from message to message without any coherent, overarching theme. And second, that Trump acts like someone who knows he is losing.

    I think that makes a lot of sense. Trump likes some things about the presidency: campaigning, ordering people around, getting them to demonstrate fealty, firing them, having people hang on every tweet. But does he really want to do the stuff he doesn't enjoy for another four years? Hm.