Fish in a barrel
I feel a little bit bad picking on a publication like Teen Vogue. This is a celebrity gossip rag for little girls that, in one of the most hilariously wrong management decisions of all time, has decided that it can arrest its plummeting sales by branching out into politics and current events. So, yes: this is presently a politics and current events gossip rag… aimed at little girls. It’s like it’s scientifically designed to be the least intelligent thing ever created, so I do sort of feel bad making fun of it.
Which is actually a complete lie. I love this stuff.
As expected, I got pushback on last week’s article defending the electoral college by demolishing the convenient lies the pro-electoral college people are spreading, which is just the type of absolutely backwards way of going about things that you all read Bumbling Bees to get. What I didn’t necessarily expect — though I certainly should have — was the utter incoherence of some of the pushback I got. In particular, I was informed that counties don’t matter because counties don’t "defend the country" by fighting wars, so they shouldn’t get any say.
Now that’s just all manner of confused. Had this exchange taken place anywhere but Facebook, I would give my interlocutor the benefit of the doubt and assume he understands what we mean when we say that 83% of all counties voted for Trump; as things are, however, I’m honestly not sure. When we say that a given country voted for Trump, you see, we don’t mean that a wizard magically incarnated the counties and sent them to the polling places, where the proud civil servants allowed them to vote as often as they wanted and using any names they wanted. No, see, what we mean is that the people who live in those counties, in the aggregate, voted for Trump. Do you see? The claim that "counties don’t fight wars" is completely silly. One may as well retort that the popular vote doesn’t fight in the wars either.
There’s a meme going around social media that you’ve probably seen mocking the ninnies who can’t stop crying about the electoral college. Of course it’s the case that this is just a bunch of sore losers complaining that their team only lost because the rules weren’t fair, and mocking them is fine, but that’s not the point. This meme, in attempting to explain the purpose of the electoral college, states that "there are 3141 counties in the United States. Trump won 3084 of them. Clinton won 57." This is an absolutely shocking piece of information, and it very well should be, since it’s completely false. While I’m certainly no fan of the horrors of unbridled democracy, and I certainly believe that the people promoting it need to be refuted at every turn, it’s at least as important to make sure that we’re refuting them with the truth and not with our own comfortable lies.
There are 3112 counties or "county equivalents" in the United States that reported voter data for the 2016 presidential election. Of those counties, 2622 of them went for Trump, and 490 for Clinton. This is a massive majority in favor of Trump, of course, but it’s nowhere near the absurd figure of only 57 counties for Clinton. For pity’s sake, Clinton won 33 counties in California alone. She won enough counties to generate the famous Clinton Archipelago, after all, not the Clinton Invisible Dot Coalition.
Do the Bartman
Somehow — and I don’t profess to know how — the Chicago Cubs won the World Series last week. The game itself was utterly absurd, packed with virtually every insane occurrence that can occur in the game of baseball — but isn’t it always? That’s part of the wonder of baseball. Against all odds, it still manages to be full of surprises, even long after we should have seen everything there is to see. For my part, I’ve never seen a wild pitch score two runs before. I’ve also never seen a bunt call as bizarre as the one Joe Maddon put on in the ninth inning, a call so bad it makes one wonder if the game really is rigged for maximum drama. Unlike elections, however, baseball would be too difficult to gimmick, what with the unknown ball position and all.
One might ask, not unreasonably, why I’m writing about baseball on a site about libertarianism. I might respond, also not unreasonably, that this is a lesson in property rights; specifically, it’s my blog and I’ll write what I please.
Interesting world we find ourselves in, this, what with both major-party presidential candidates claiming that the election is rigged. On the one hand, we have Hillary von Parkinson, Duchess of Slime, beating the war drums by reassuring her supporters that the Soviet Union still exists, and this time it’s hacked into all the elections! Much though I appreciate the incoherent idea that Donald Trump is at once a Nazi and a Soviet, I am still compelled to note that, contra what you may be led to believe, World War II ended a while ago.
On the other hand, Donald Trump has just scandalized the mainstream media — which is to say: the Hillary 4 Eva Super PAC — by refusing to accept the results of an election that hasn’t happened yet. According to the paid Democratic Party interns that pretend to journalism for Politico, this is an unreasonable statement that could destroy democracy and the office of the president, whatever that means. Don’t get me wrong, now: I’m 100% in favor of that outcome, but it’s not going to occur. But just think for a minute: what exactly is Politico so worked up about? Imagine you and I are in a big connect-the-dots tournament, and, three weeks before the tournament is held, I come to you and ask “hey, will you promise to accept that I’m not cheating no matter what happens?” What’s your answer going to be? Are you sufficiently credulous to say yes to that? What if, instead of a plastic "Best Try 2016" trophy, the prize were billions of dollars and world domination? Obviously nobody’s going to agree in advance that the contest necessarily will be fair. Per usual, this is a bunch of nonsensical manufactured outrage.
I’ve always been firmly planted on the "against" side of the big "should libertarians vote" debate, so I was pleased to discover that, in a recent episode of The Tom Woods Show, Jeff Deist made the case for why libertarians shouldn’t vote in a much more lucid and succinct manner than I’ve ever heard it presented. The whole interview’s worth listening to, of course — Woods and Deist are always engaging and insightful — but I’ll quote the relevant portion below for your perusal.
Here’s why I tell people they can’t get emotionally attached to Hillary, or to Trump, or even to Gary Johnson, and that they, in my opinion anyway, shouldn’t vote for any of the three, and it’s very simple: at some point, regardless of who wins, regardless of your take on the "lesser of evils" argument (which applies equally to Gary Johnson, I might add) — regardless of your take on that, at some point, whoever is president is going to order bombs to be dropped somewhere, and at some point the person for whom you pulled the lever is going to be responsible for a young child somewhere, probably in the Islamic world, laying there with his arm blown off or something like this, and I think that no libertarian ought to live with that, or to give that his or her sanction. So that’s why I try very hard to be emotionally detached from this, to view things as they are, and to simply not vote — not as some great, noble gesture on my part, but just as a tiny drip, another drop in the bucket, hopefully, of people who don’t sanction this whole sordid affair.
I’m sorry, but I just can’t bring myself to use the awful word-ish "Brexit." It’s not that I’m opposed to portmanteaux just in general, mind you; it’s just that "Brexit" is positively hideous. It’s neither clever nor funny, it certainly isn’t the least little bit mellifluous, and the two words don’t even join together properly. At least when everybody was saying "Grexit," ugly as it was, the two words actually did have a letter in common — "Brexit" is bits of two utterly dissimilar words artlessly smooshed into each other to no good effect whatsoever. The worst thing about it is that it’s completely soured me on "Texit," which on its own would be sort of clever and cute.
That’s not what I came to talk to you about today, though. I came to talk about prediction markets. Michael Rozeff had been watching the prediction markets on the British secession question for some time, and only a few days ago, they had "leave" at only 36 cents, to 64 cents for "stay" — in other words, the markets had stay nearly 2:1 over leave. This was directly in contrast to the opinion polls, which were reporting an expected leave victory.