The Phony Campaign

2019-05-19 Update

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Another busy week in the presidential race! Did you hear that Bill de Blasio is running? Probably you did, but the Betfair betters were unimpressed (probability: sub-1%, comparable to Jay Inslee, Steve Bullock, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Julian Castro, Oprah, Eric Swalwell, Cory Booker, and a pile of others.)

So: again, no changes to our phony lineup. According to Betfair, Elizabeth Warren is showing surprising signs of life; Beto! is flirting with elimination; Bernie's fading.

And Donald Trump is coming close to even odds for re-election. But continues to be walloped by Mayor Pete in phony hits. C'mon, Big Orange, you can do it!

Candidate WinProb Change
Pete Buttigieg 4.0% -0.2% 8,750,000 +610,000
Donald Trump 45.7% +2.0% 1,780,000 +300,000
Bernie Sanders 9.3% -1.7% 390,000 +11,000
Joe Biden 15.9% -0.5% 270,000 -5,000
Elizabeth Warren 4.3% +0.3% 216,000 +19,000
Kamala Harris 6.7% +0.8% 97,200 +600
Beto O'Rourke 2.5% -0.8% 76,000 +6,800
Andrew Yang 3.6% unch 22,600 -700

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

  • The p-word featured prominently in a recent Dana Perino interview with Gov. Sununu on Fox News. They concentrate on the horse race:

    Dana: So Joe Biden is up by a point in this poll. But what is it really?

    Sununu: Um well I gotta tell ya. That's very telling. I mean Bernie is from Vermont, so naturally Bernie should do very well in New Hampshire.

    Dana: Elizabeth Warren is from Massachusetts. Shouldn't she do better in New Hampshire?

    Sununu: No. Because whether you… policy aside, our first litmus test is being genuine, do we buy into you as a person. Right? Do we connect with you at a gut level. And that goes with Republicans and Democrats. Bernie, I mean his policies are just insane, but at least he is what he is and he doesn't apologize for it. Warren is more of a phony, right, and people don't buy into any sense of genuineness there.

    Notes: I take responsibility for any transcription errors. And in more recent polls, Joe Biden is up by double digits, not "a point".

    And I'm not sure how Warren's bad polling reflects here perceived phoniness, as opposed to her strident unlikeability.

  • And not everyone's as convinced of Bernie's authenticity. For example, At least one smart guy down in Cambridge: Harvard's Laurence Tribe calls Bernie Sanders a 'phony'.

    Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe on Monday took a swipe at 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), calling him a “phony.”

    Tribe tweeted that he was making his assertion “based on watching [Sanders] for decades,” while also saying he did not think the Independent senator is “a monster” like he believes President Trump to be.

    “I’d prefer him massively over Trump. But I’d prefer a cardboard box over Trump,” Tribe added.

    I, for one, might vote for a cardboard box over just about anyone.

    [Note: Tribe's tweet may have been deleted, I can't find it. Perhaps he sobered up at some point since.]

  • Luke "Grr" Savage writes to (I guess) his fellow Jacobins at Jacobin magazine: We Can Do Way Better Than These Guys.

    […] there’s good reason to believe that the upcoming primary contest will end up resembling the GOP’s chaotic and disorienting 2016 race, in which Republican elites scrambled to find the secret formula that could arrest Donald Trump’s momentum, cycling awkwardly through donor-friendly suits like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich before finally settling on the widely loathed (and spectacularly unsuccessful) Ted Cruz. (Most of those Republican elites then swiftly turned on a dime, becoming die-hard Trump loyalists.)

    In similar fashion, Democratic power brokers and consultants have already auditioned several Anything But Bernie vehicles and are likely to test-drive a few more before the race is through. Even at this early stage, the primaries have become a kind of phony war in which an array of functionally indistinguishable establishment candidates compete to make the contest about something, anything, other than a decisive break with the political and economic status quo.

    Interesting point of view. By which I mean: completely delusional and mistaken. The non-Sanders candidates are "indistinguishable" only if you view them from the far left wing, and you still have to scrunch up your eyes to intentionally view your vision.

    Still, it's kinda what you expect to see from a publication named after a movement primarily known for beheading its opponents.

  • In our occasional "Of Course She Does" Department, we have the report from Elizabeth Nolan Brown at Reason: Kamala Harris Lies. At issue: Kamala's on-again, off-again support for the California truancy laws that criminalized parents if their kids skipped school. You might find this squirming to be hilarious:

    In any event, Harris explicitly defended her truancy crime lawsand lied about themin an interview with Jake Tapper that aired Sunday on CNN. Harris told Tapper, falsely, that "not one parent was sent to jail" because of her initiative:

    TAPPER: Well, you pushed for a statewide law, right, a statewide truancy law.

    HARRIS: And the state…

    TAPPER: And people were thrown into jail under that law.

    HARRIS: Not by me.

    TAPPER: Not by you, but you supported the law.

    Of course they weren't literally put in jail by Harris, who was attorney general of California when the truancy law was enacted and not an arresting officer. Yet no common understanding of "no one was sent to jail" means People were sent to jail, but they weren't personally put there by the attorney general. Again, we see Harris trying to rewrite her record and history.

    I have to say, President Kamala might be entertaining, in an Orwellian sense.

  • Roger L. Simon also has news on the phony front: Blowhard Democrats Are Green Phonies.

    Listening to politicians expound on the imminent dangers of that neologism "climate change" you wonder if any of these people could even pass a high school physics test. Maybe Rand Paul — he's an ophthalmologist. He had to take some chemistry. But most of them?

    Nevertheless, the Democratic Party at the moment seems to be in a knockdown, drag-out fight for who can be the greenest of the green and push us forward to a brave new world propelled exclusively by solar and wind energy. Only the strongest (i. e. most slavishly devoted to renewable energy at all costs) will survive.

    Read on for the sad story of Germany, dropping the equivalent of $36 Billion per year on renewable energy sources, only to announce… nope, not gonna make their 2020 greenhouse gas reduction commitments.

    Bonus: Germany also "announced plans to bulldoze an ancient church and forest in order to get at the coal underneath it."

    And I'm on record favoring testing candidates on a range of subjects, making the results publicly available: not just physics, but civics, current events, math, general intelligence, logic…

  • And we haven't had much to say about Andrew Yang, even though his Betfair odds have consistently stayed well above our credible-candidate cutoff. But Nick Gillespie pays him some attention and concludes… Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang Is Wrong About the Future of Work. Yang's big thing is a claim that we need a Universal Basic Income (UBI) program paid for by, well, you, assuming you're a taxpayer. Because automation and AI will gobble up all the jobs!

    Yang's animating concern is ultimately misguided in two profound ways. One concerns the pace of change. At least since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, critics have always worried that technological revolutions will wipe out whole industries overnight, causing a huge amount of human suffering and social dislocation. But that is essentially never the case. Consider manufacturing jobs. The share of factory workers as a percentage of the labor force peaked in 1943, at around 40 percent. Since then, it's been a steady decline for decades. When it comes to contemporary fears about things such as autonomous vehicles and trucks, self-interested hucksters such as Elon Musk can easily gull reporters and others with predictions that we're just a couple of years away from never having to touch a steering wheel again. But as Reason Foundation's transportation guru, Robert W. Poole will tell you, we are in fact multiple decades away from such technological marvels becoming commonplace. Even disruptive economic change unfolds at a pace to which we can generally adapt.

    Second? People have been making predictions like Yang's for centuries, so far with a perfect record of failure.