Vivek Fever! Catch It!

Just a reminder that the probabilities in our weekly table are derived from people who are (I think) actually risking their own money on being correct.

Or maybe they just get a thrill from throwing their money away. That would explain a lot of gambling behavior, I guess. From what I observe from standing behind people buying scratch tickets at the local convenience store.

How else to explain why those punters judge that Vivek Ramaswamy is the third most likely person to become Our Next President?

Candidate EBO Win
Joe Biden 36.0% +0.8%
Donald Trump 27.7% -1.5%
Vivek Ramaswamy 7.1% +2.2%
Robert Kennedy Jr 5.2% -0.3%
Ron DeSantis 5.1% +0.1%
Gavin Newsom 4.6% -0.3%
Michelle Obama 3.1% +0.1%
Kamala Harris 2.0% -0.2%
Other 9.2% -0.9%

  • Hey, maybe this explains it. Glenn Reynolds (at his substack) notes the latest wacky proposal: Vivek Ramaswamy Channels Robert Heinlein, and Me

    So Vivek Ramaswamy is channeling a weird mix of me and Robert Heinlein with his new voting age proposal. (Hey, he could do worse).

    The proposal is that the voting age should be raised to 25 by constitutional amendment (necessary to overcome the 26th Amendment, passed in 1971, which set the voting age at 18). Younger people could vote, but only if they had served in the military or as first responders, or if they could pass the same test given to foreigners applying for U.S. citizenship.

    Click through for Glenn's comparison with his own proposal, and the scheme Heinlein described in Starship Troopers.

    I will make my usual observation: the US President has absolutely no Constitutional role in the amendment process. If Ramaswamy wants to dink the Constitution, he should run for some legislative office.

    [Amazon Link]
    (paid link)
    I will also repeat my occasional book recommendation: Against Democracy by Jason Brennan. In a nutshell: you wouldn't ask random people to fix your plumbing or perform your heart surgery; but we think it's a great idea for random people to make important decisions about liberty, peace, and prosperity.

    So gimmicks like Rarmaswamy's/Reynolds'/Heinlein's might improve things marginally; but what we really need is to make it much more difficult for political whims to impose their on the rest of us. As long as you're tinkering with the Constitution, throw that in there too.

  • Maybe he should switch to 'tar-and-feather' rhetoric. George Will doesn't care for murder advocacy: DeSantis’s ‘slitting throats’ rhetoric repels moderates he might need

    Ron DeSantis is eager to become president — to sit, as it were, in Lincoln’s chair — so he can start “slitting throats.” Washington, formerly The Swamp, will be The Abattoir.

    Perhaps the folks at the New Hampshire barbecue had a delicious frisson of danger — the thrill of proximity to a roughneck — when DeSantis said that in taking on “these deep state people” he will “start slitting throats on Day One.” But try to name a president who talked that way. Maybe Richard Nixon on the tapes he assumed would never become public — a discouraging precedent.

    Florida’s Republican governor has a penchant for advertising his toughness — something truly tough people need not, and do not, do. There are, for example, his startlingly many references to kneecapping. In a tweet, he boasted that “we have kneecapped ESG” — environmental, social and corporate governance investment criteria — “in the state of Florida.” President Biden “is deliberately trying to kneecap our domestic energy production.” “We kneecap [local police departments] with our clemency power.” Florida Democrats seeking a special legislative session devoted to gun violence would “kneecap” law-abiding citizens. He said that whoever leaked the draft of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision was trying “to kneecap a potential majority” of the justices.

    Exercise for the reader: what's your favorite violent metaphor to use in political speech? Declaring a "war on X"? Looking for a "smoking gun"?

  • When he's not fantasizing about murdering and crippling people… Ron DeSantis has a credibility problem, as described by Eric Boehm: Ron DeSantis' Unconvincing Economic Reset

    In an attempt to kick-start his sputtering presidential bid, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has shifted his focus toward economic issues and away from the culture war obsession that defined the early stages of his campaign.

    The pivot is a welcome—and probably necessary—change that gives DeSantis an opportunity to talk about actual conservative policies rather than seeking new ways to threaten to use state power against private entities the governor dislikes. In recent campaign speeches, an op-ed published Monday in USA Today, and the "Declaration of Economic Independence" published on his campaign website, DeSantis has pivoted toward talking about the worrying size of the national debt, the growth of regulatory burdens, and how both are crushing growth.

    But even as he switches gears, DeSantis still seems stuck in that frame of mind that defined his culture war antics—a mentality that could stall the candidate's attempted reboot.

    Both Boehm and Will think that DeSantis could appeal to "moderates" by moderating his rhetoric. I'm skeptical, but as the saying goes: "It's crazy but it just might work."

  • Among the many things Kamala won't be asked about… Matt Welch describes why Kamala Harris Won't Be Asked About Suicide of Backpage Founder She Persecuted.

    The sitting vice president, shortly before moving to Washington, D.C., successfully scapegoated through heavily publicized if legally unsuccessful pimping prosecutions a career newspaperman who last week shot himself to death at age 74 rather than sit through yet another prostitution-facilitation trial that he insisted to his dying days was an attack on free speech.

    Yet the chances of Kamala Harris being asked this week—or any week—about the late James Larkin, or her starring role in the demonization of his and Michael Lacey's online classified advertising company Backpage as "the world's top online brothel," are vanishingly small. That's because people have a natural revulsion toward anything associated—however falsely—with child prostitution or sex trafficking, true. But it also stems from something far less excusable: When it comes to conflicts between the feds and those from the professionally unpopular corners of the free speech industry, journalists have been increasingly taking the side of The Man.

    Many journalists think that whole "afflicting the comfortable" guidance doesn't apply to comfortable leftists.

  • And one more Kamala lie… this one described by Jeff Jacoby:

    During an appearance at Drake University in Des Moines on July 28, Vice President Kamala Harris repeated one of her favorite talking points, inadvertently undermining the administration's recent boast that "Bidenomics" has been a great success.

    "Most Americans," Harris told her audience, "are a $400 unexpected expense away from bankruptcy."

    In Chicago four days earlier, she had said the same thing virtually word for word: "The average American is a $400 unexpected expense away from bankruptcy."

    It's a line Harris has used a lot over the years. In 2019, as a candidate for president, then-Senator Harris told an interviewer that "in our country right now, almost half of American families are a $400 unexpected expense away from complete upheaval. Four hundred dollars! That could be — the car breaks down. That could be a hospital bill you didn't see coming."

    If true, that is an alarming statistic. In a nation as wealthy as the United States, it is stupefying to think that scores of millions of Americans would be thrown into "complete upheaval" or reduced to bankruptcy by a $400 expense they didn't see coming. There could hardly be a more devastating indictment of America's economic system or a grimmer indication of how badly inequality and social insecurity have corroded the stability of American society.

    But it isn't true.

    And it's bullshit, even after you note Kamala shifting from "almost half of American families" to "the average American" to "most Americans".

  • Nikki's still my choice. Because her team says the quiet part out loud. That's a good thing, right? Karen Townsend: Team Haley says the quiet part out loud about the first GOP debate

    An adviser to GOP presidential primary candidate Nikki Haley said what her strategy will be during the first Republican debate later this month. Haley, and likely the other candidates, too, will focus their fire on Ron DeSantis. It is not expected that the other candidates will take shots at Trump. Except, Chris Christie. He’ll be on the stage to aggressively go after Trump.

    Well, we'll see about that. Or maybe we won't. I can't stand watching debates.

  • More pundits need to add "but with jokes" to their commentary. Jeff Maurer is an early adopter of what I hope will be a trend: The Trump Indictment, But With Jokes. Excerpt:

    Trump allegedly worked to get fake electors to cast votes in place of the real electors. The plan was Three Stooges-esque; the hope seems to have been that the fake electors — literal stooges — would show up at the right time and place, and someone would say “You must be those electors I was looking for,” and usher them in. At that point, the Trump electors would cast ballots contravening the votes of the actual electors, and chaos would ensue. It didn’t happen like that, but fake electors did meet in the seven targeted states. Unfortunately, I can’t find good information about precisely where these fake electors met…was it a Denny’s? An 8x5 storage shed? Shame on special prosecutor Jack Smith for denying us the details of these sad little meetings.

    The fake elector plan didn’t get much traction, possibly because it was — in the words of one Trump advisor — “crazy” and “illegal”. But Trump wasn’t done: He allegedly tried to get the Justice Department to back his scheme. At one point, Trump is said to have brought DOJ leadership into the Oval Office and hinted that he would fire them if they didn’t do what he wanted. This pressure campaign led let to a somewhat-hilarious scene in which “Co-Conspirator 4” — almost certainly DOJ official Jeffrey Clark — informed Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen that Trump had decided to replace him. Rosen — having heard nothing from Trump — simply replied that he couldn’t be fired by a subordinate. Which, of course, is true; mid-level DOJ officials can’t fire the Attorney General. Though I sort of admire Clark’s (possible) chutzpah; when I was a low-level EPA staffer, it never occurred to me to walk into the Administrator’s office and say: “Hit the bricks — you’re fired.” And perhaps that lack of initiative is why my EPA career was so middling.

    And Jeff provides an unprecedented, but credible, defense strategy:

    The indictment repeatedly argues that Trump knew what he was doing. The DOJ uses the word “knowingly” 36 times, because proving intent is key to proving fraud. Of course, that’s tricky with Trump, because: Does Trump really know anything? I mean: Does a salmon know to swim back to its place of birth to spawn? Or does it just have an urge that can’t be explained in terms of human cognition? Just as normal modes of human thought might not be applicable to anadromous fish, so, too, they might not be applicable to the 45th president.

    Works for me! Acquitted!

Last Modified 2024-01-11 2:57 PM EDT