Virtue Signaling, Or … Why Hillary Clinton Is In Trouble by Ben Hunt


Hillary Clinton would make a sober, smart and pragmatic president.

Donald Trump would be a catastrophe.

? LA Times Editorial Board endorsement, September 23, 2016

Yep, gotta get me some of that pragmatism! It’s code for “typical lying politician”, and of course the LA Times knows it.

After opposing driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants during the 2008 campaign, she now vows to push for comprehensive immigration legislation as president and to use executive power to protect law-abiding undocumented people from deportation and cruel detention. Some may dismiss her shift as opportunistic, but we credit her for arriving at the right position.

Virtue Signaling, Or ... Why Hillary Clinton Is In Trouble
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Hillary Clinton

She helped promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an important trade counterweight to China and a key component of the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia. Her election-year reversal on that pact has confused some of her supporters, but her underlying commitment to bolstering trade along with workers’ rights is not in doubt.

? New York Times Editorial Board endorsement, September 25, 2016. Italics mine.

With passive-aggressive friends like these …

As a result I am arguing for modest, gradual tightening now, out of concern that not doing so today will put the recovery’s duration and sustainability at greater risk, by generating the sorts of significant imbalances that historically have led to a recession.

? Statement of Eric S. Rosengren, Commenting on Dissenting Vote at the Meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, September 23, 2016

It’s not just the number of dissents on last week’s FOMC vote, it’s the argument. Rosengren says the Fed is causing the next recession.


Roger Mudd: Why do you want to be president?
Ted Kennedy: The reasons I would run are because I have great belief in this country, that is — there’s more natural resources than any nation in the world, there’s the greatest educated population in the world. It just seems to me that this nation can cope and deal with the problems in a way it has done in the past … and I would basically feel that it’s imperative for the country to either move forward, that it can’t stand still or otherwise it moves backwards.
? CBS interview with Ted Kennedy, October 1979

And just like that, Kennedy was finished. My question for Yellen: why do you want to be Fed chair?


? David Malki, “In which War is waged”, September 13, 2016

I was in Los Angeles last week, and the Clinton anti-Trump TV ads were in heavy rotation. It’s not because the Clinton campaign is worried about the California vote, because if they were then the election would already be irredeemably lost. No, the ads are being run in the metro LA area so that Clinton supporters (and donors!) can feel good about themselves. It’s like throwing a massively expensive dinner party to congratulate yourself for all the money you’ve raised to feed the poor.

Isaac: Has anybody read that Nazis are gonna march in New Jersey? Ya know? I read it in the newspaper. We should go down there, get some guys together, ya know, get some bricks and baseball bats, and really explain things to ’em.
Party Guest: There was this devastating satirical piece on that on the op-ed page of the Times, just devastating.
Isaac: Whoa, whoa. A satirical piece in the Times is one thing, but bricks and baseball bats really gets right to the point of it.
Helen: Oh, but really biting satire is always better than physical force.
Isaac: No, physical force is always better with Nazis.
? Woody Allen, “Manhattan” (1979)

Epsilon Theory readers know where I stand on this. It’s just another instantiation of the Common Knowledge game, where everyone knows that everyone knows that John Oliver is funny, but no one actually thinks that he’s funny. Want to see effective (that is, subversive) political humor? Watch anything by Groucho Marx. Want to see ineffective (that is, status quo) political humor? Watch anything by these supercilious scolds. At least Samantha Bee gets the joke.

We do not place especial value on the possession of a virtue until we notice its total absence in our opponent.
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900)

PolitiFact, a Tampa Bay Times site that won a Pulitzer for its coverage of the 2008 election, has rated 70% of the Trump statements it has checked as mostly false, false or “pants on fire,” its lowest score. By contrast, 28% of Clinton’s statements earned those ratings.

? Michael Finnegan, LA Times “Scope of Trump’s falsehoods unprecedented for a modern presidential candidate”, September 25, 2016

The fact-checker’s inspirational battle cry: “Lying only 28 percent of the time!”

The people complaining about “false balance” usually seem confident in having discovered the truth of things for themselves, despite the media’s supposed incompetence. They’re quite sure of whom to vote for and why. Their complaints are really about the impact that “false balance” coverage might have on other, lesser humans, with weaker minds than theirs. Which is not just snobbish, but laughably snobbish.

So, shut up.

? Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone “Stop Whining About ‘False Balance’”, September 16, 2016

Wait … Clinton apparatchiks are snobbish?

As a lifelong Democratic voter, I’m dismayed by the radical left’s ever-growing list of dos and don’ts — by its impulse to control, to instill self-censorship as well as to promote real censorship, and to deploy sensitivity as an excuse to be brutally insensitive to any perceived enemy. There are many people who see these frenzies about cultural appropriation, trigger warnings, micro-aggressions and safe spaces as overtly crazy. The shrill tyranny of the left helps to push them toward Donald Trump.

? Lionel Shriver, The New York Times “Will the Left Survive the Millennials?”, September 23, 2016

There are real bigots out there. Real misogynists. Real anti-Semites. Real alt-right “deplorables”. None of them are university professors. None of them are novelists. But if you want to see what the real thing looks like, just keep doing this sort of insanely misplaced virtue signaling.

I did not break up the Beatles. You can’t have it both ways. If you’re going to blame me for breaking the Beatles up, you should be thankful that I made them into myth rather than a crumbling group.

? Yoko Ono (b. 1933)

Common Knowledge today: Donald Trump is the Yoko Ono of the Republican Party.

Common Knowledge tomorrow: Hillary Clinton is the Yoko Ono of the Democratic Party.

If you’ve ever played a team sport, you’ve experienced a game that was a mismatch on paper. Now usually that game goes according to form. The better team scores early and often, and the inferior team doesn’t sniff a win. But sometimes the game gets tight. Sometimes the better team makes a few unforced errors, and the inferior team capitalizes. Sometimes there’s a lucky bounce of the ball for the inferior team. And then another. And another.

There’s a moment in every game of this unexpected type — the upset in the making — when

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