The Phony Campaign

2023-08-06 Update

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The first thought when perusing the latest election odds: Holy cow, what a clown car. Inspiring our Amazon Product du Jour.

Candidate EBO Win
Joe Biden 35.2% +0.5%
Donald Trump 29.2% +0.8%
Robert Kennedy Jr 5.5% -0.7%
Ron DeSantis 5.0% -0.3%
Vivek Ramaswamy 4.9% +0.8%
Gavin Newsom 4.9% -0.8%
Michelle Obama 3.0% +0.2%
Kamala Harris 2.2% -0.1%
Other 10.1% -0.4%

Your mileage may differ, but I count six pretty obvious clown noses, and that is generously extending the benefit of the doubt to DeSantis and Newsom.

In recent phony news:

  • This is Kamala's brain on … whatever.

    I think it's obvious that was an unscripted remark. Not even speechwriters in their first week of employment would have written that. That's Kamala's brain talking right there.

    And to remind you: she's our actual one-heartbeat-away Vice President.

  • Why indeed? Jim Geraghty answers a question you didn't know you had: Why Vivek Ramaswamy Says These Things.

    Earlier this week, Ramaswamy appeared on Alex Stein’s program on The Blaze, and had this exchange:

    Stein: Was 9/11 an inside job or exactly how the government tells us?

    Ramaswamy:  I don’t believe the government has told us the truth. Again, I’m driven by evidence and data. What I’ve seen in the last several years is we have to be skeptical of what the government does tell us. I haven’t seen evidence to the contrary, Do I believe everything the government told us about it? Absolutely not—


    Ramaswamy:  The 9/11 commission, absolutely not.

    (Note that Stein’s previous question was whether the moon landing was real or faked; Ramaswamy said, “I have no evidence to suggest it was faked, so I’m going to submit that it was real.”)

    Ramaswamy backtracked and clarified a bit later on, elaborating, “Do I believe our government has been completely forthright about 9/11? No. Al-Qaeda clearly planned and executed the attacks, but we have never fully addressed who knew what in the Saudi government about it. We *can* handle the TRUTH.”

    Well, thank goodness for the backtracking, I suppose. Geraghty provides actual information about Saudi involvement, as revealed over the years. His analysis:

    Now, we know darn well what Ramaswamy did in that Blaze interview. He didn’t fully embrace 9/11 Truther theories . . . but he didn’t explicitly reject or denounce them either. His initial statements, “I don’t believe the government has told us the truth” and “we have to be skeptical of what the government does tell us” are what a 9/11 Truther wants to hear. It was only later on, on Twitter, that Ramaswamy declared, “Al-Qaeda clearly planned and executed the attacks.”

    I suppose you could look at this two-step and conclude it was clever. Or you could conclude that the stink of 9/11 Truther-ism will repel more voters than it will ever attract and wonder why an allegedly serious and smart presidential candidate would touch that perspective with a ten-foot pole.

    Yeah, I'm still voting for Nikki, unless she drops out first.

  • Is this part of man's evolution, to be torn between truth and illusion? Jacob Sullum may be playing that old album by The Band: Trump Prosecution Could Be Stymied by Blurry Line Between Deceit and Delusion. (Subhed: "His state of mind when he tried to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election remains a mystery, perhaps even to him.")

    In a CNN interview on Wednesday, former Attorney General Bill Barr weighed in on the legally crucial question of what Donald Trump was thinking when he engaged in conduct that Special Counsel Jack Smith describes as part of a criminal plot to reverse the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. "At first I wasn't sure," Barr said, "but I have come to believe he knew well he had lost the election."

    Michael Wolff, a journalist who wrote a trilogy of books about Trump, is much less sure about that. He argues that the main source of evidence regarding Trump's state of mind—things he has publicly and privately said about the election—is such a confusing jumble that it may be impossible to prove criminal intent. "Does Mr. Trump mean what he says?" Wolff asks in a New York Times essay. "And what exactly does he mean when he says what he says?"

    That puzzle is at the center of the case outlined in the federal indictment unsealed this week, which charges Trump with conspiring to defraud the United States, conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiring to deprive Americans of their voting rights. Those charges hinge on the assumption that Trump's claims about the massive fraud that supposedly had deprived him of his rightful victory were "knowingly false." But what Trump knew is a persistent mystery, perhaps even to him.

    I think Reason should gin up a Rod Serling AI to audibilize Sullum's column. Can't you just heare Rod on that last phrase? "… a persistent mystery, even to him, as he navigates… the Twilight Zone."

    (Don't recognize the allusion in the headline? Check it out.)

  • None dare call it racketeering. Andrew C. McCarthy puts forth the case on the ‘Biden Brand’ Racket: President's Family Influence-Pedding Business.

    In one of American cinema’s most riveting scenes, Vito Corleone, the Godfather, rebukes a distraught undertaker whose once-beautiful daughter has been beaten to a pulp by two young men — one of them the son of a powerful politician. Though the case was a slam dunk, a corrupt judge had let the brutes off with no jail time. That the system is rigged against those who play by the rules suddenly dawns on the law-abiding undertaker, whom the film’s co-writer, novelist Mario Puzo, named Amerigo Bonasera — as in Goodnight, America, where threats lurk around every corner, and the rules turn out to be strings pulled by puppeteers.

    Bonasera needs a godfather. So he goes to Corleone, sobbing about the good intentions that were behind his good citizenship, his reliance on police and the courts. The Don cuts him off, scoffing that while he’d opted for the faux protection of the law, true security — the godfather’s friendship — had been there all along if only Bonasera had asked. “And if by chance an honest man like yourself should make enemies, then they would become my enemies,” Corleone says, pausing and pointing at his supplicant, “and then, they would fear you.”

    Nowadays, such Yale-educated professional glibsters as Devon Archer would call this Don Corleone’s “brand.” Such a nice word, brand. Not what we federal prosecutors in the Organized Crime Unit called it back in the Eighties. We were more inclined to say extortion. Or racketeering — say, running a protection racket, as in, “Nice business you have here, be a shame if anyone shut it down.”

    Put succinctly: if Joe Biden weren't what was really for sale, there would have been no incentive to even pretend to buy Hunter Biden.

Last Modified 2024-01-11 2:55 PM EDT