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I will miss the perfectly imperfect epic series ‘Game of Thrones’


A still from HBO’s final episode of “Game of Thrones.”

This had to happen, and while the final season of “Game of Thrones” did unfurl too quickly, methinks that critics of the final season are more upset over the fact that the series is over than over anything else.

I believe that I have yet to post a word about the now-concluded long-running HBO series “Game of Thrones,” but I’ve been watching it for years now. I was a holdout for the first four seasons, but then, because of all of the buzz, I caught those seasons on DVD, and then started watching each subsequent season as it aired (via HBO streaming).

I’m not sure why so many fans say they hate season eight.

Yes, the eighth and final season does have a pacing problem. That is, the first several seasons unfold gradually and leisurely, perhaps even too slowly for some, but they solidly establish the characters and fairly carefully chronicle the events.

Things start to pick up the pace in season seven, and then season eight, it’s true, could give you whiplash. Season eight is a bit of (OK, maybe a lot of) Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am!

I would love more of it to have been fleshed out, such as Dany’s (Daenerys Targaryen’s) turn to the dark side. There were signs of that possibility pretty much all along, but in season eight, she careens toward the dark side to the point that almost overnight she essentially resembles a medieval she-Hitler.

And, of course, there are logical inconsistencies in season eight. The second felled dragon is shot down by Team Lannister with ease, not with one ginormous arrow, or two, but (if memory serves) with three, yet the third and last surviving dragon, Dany’s favorite, Drogon, apparently can’t be shot down when Dany makes her assault on King’s Landing, and this isn’t explained.

And when Drogon climactically melts the Iron Throne in a fit of sorrow and rage in the final episode, it’s as though Drogon knows that it was her quest for this throne that ultimately killed his “mother” Dany. Have we really anthropomorphized a giant reptile? (True, once we accept the existence of fire-breathing dragons, then we can’t be too picky with logic, but still…)

On another note, I don’t know that illegitimate Queen Cersei Lannister’s death (in episode seven of season eight) is satisfying enough — it seems undeservedly quick for her, given all of the pain and suffering that she has caused others — but the fate of the other characters by the end of season eight seem more or less logical and fair.

I’m fine with Dany’s death. The way that she was going, she had to be eliminated, and she was so deluded that it’s not too inconsistent with her character that she apparently didn’t think that Jon Snow might skewer her. (On that note, it’s interesting that even raging fire couldn’t harm Dany, but a rather simple dagger could…)

Yes, Jon got screwed out of his monarchical birthright (and exiled [although exile seems to suit him]), but because the whole concept of monarchical birthright is eliminated by the (surviving…) heads of the houses of Westeros by the end of the final episode of the show, that takes at least some of the sting out of Snow’s screwing. (And we can acknowledge that “the wheel” finally has been “broken,” albeit not at all in the way that Dany had envisioned it would be.)

It had occurred to me that Bran Stark (the too-repeated moniker “Bran the Broken” makes me cringe; have the disability-rights folks said anything about this?) might end up as the king, and I’m fine with that choice, perhaps especially because that choice was made, more or less, democratically. (That is, it was made by the heads of the houses, not by the common people, which Sam Tarly suggests should be the case but then is promptly ridiculed by his aristocratic peers, even our heroine Sansa Stark.)

I only wish that Bran had been more developed before he was named king. He was fairly developed for several seasons (as much as you can develop a mystic with magical powers, anyway), but then he just faded into the background, and in season eight he returns, but he’s pretty much all cipher, which can wear on the nerves.

The problems with seasons seven and eight — mostly, their fast, let’s-get-this-over-with-and-wrapped-up-already pace — apparently stem from the fact that the showrunners probably should have waited until “Game of Thrones” creator George R. R. Martin had finished all of his books before they began the television series at all.

I mean, Martin doesn’t appear to me to be the picture of great health; all along there has been no guarantee that he’d even live to finish writing and releasing the full series of books, so, it seems to me, starting the television series before the book series was finished was quite risky.

But for all of its flaws, big and nitpicky, what a ride “Game of Thrones” has been! I don’t think that there has been anything on television before it, and I don’t think that we’re likely to see its equal anytime soon. (And spin-offs usually don’t equal their original material, do they?)

“Thrones” not only was a television show, but it became intertwined with American culture. (In my personal vernacular I even use “Game of Thrones” as a verb, meaning to work behind the scenes to try to influence an outcome, usually when you can’t operate in the open, for political reasons.)

An example of how “Thrones” intertwined with American culture is how the objectification and sexual mistreatment of women in the first few seasons was roundly criticized, and in later seasons was curtailed. (Coincidence? I think not; over the years there definitely was a synergy between the show’s creators and the show’s audience.)

For another example, you know that had Jon Snow been made king after Dany had been offed (by Jon!), feminists would have screamed to high heaven. I mean, that would have been too soon after Billary Clinton didn’t become president, no? Why can’t a woman ever run the show? (And if she does run the show, why does she have to be evil, like Cersei, who got to where she did by lying and cheating [including murdering her rivals]?)

On that note (feminism), it seemed to me that both Brienne of Tarth and Arya Stark were displaying some lesbian* (or at least asexual) tendencies, so it disappointed me a bit that both of them ended up with heterosexual love interests, if even only briefly. Must everyone be heterosexual? (There are at least two other bona fide lesbians in the series, though, Yara Greyjoy and Ellaria Sand [OK, the later is bisexual, but still…].**)

It also seems to me that feminists might have been up in arms also had Sansa not been made queen of the North, newly made an independent kingdom, as it had been in the past. I was OK with that choice, but, sociopolitically (in real life), after Dany’s death, didn’t Sansa kind of have to get something? Feminists would have been outraged had she not.

And it was fitting, of course, for Arya to go off exploring at the end. Perhaps there will be a spin-off about her adventures. (In the final episode of the show, if memory serves, Tyrion Lannister pontificates that Bran’s journey is the most interesting of everyone’s, but Arya’s, I think, probably is the most interesting of them all.)

Finally, my favorite character of “Thrones,” I think, was Tyrion. Not only did actor Peter Dinklage do a great job with the character, a basically good guy from a really rotten family, but the character was well developed, even though the character was neglected in much of season eight (until toward the end of the season). And Tyrion has no magical powers or magical beasts at his disposal; indeed, he has had to overcome having been born an “imp” (again, activists, why haven’t I heard you on this?).

After Tyrion, I think, my favorites were sorceress Melisandre and “Master of Whisperers” Varys, who, like Tyrion, are string-pullers. All three of them make mistakes, but overall I find their behind-the-scenes intrigue to be more interesting than the in-your-face heroism and big acts of the likes of Jon Snow and Dany. (Again, though, Arya is interesting, too; she has some in-your-face heroism [she kills the Night King, after all!] and plenty of behind-the-scenes intrigue. [Ask Walder Frey.])

If Bran had been fleshed out a lot more, as I had hoped that he would be, I’d have liked him more, but his statement in the final episode indicating that he had known all along that he would be made king made him seem kind of like a dick. (It does, however, perhaps explain why the Night King specifically was after Bran.)

Alas, “Game of Thrones,” with all of its hits and misses, is over. Yes, as I hinted, there are to be spin-offs. No, season eight does not need to be re-done. I mean, yes, it could have been done better, but it won’t be re-done, so one’s energy is better spent elsewhere (perhaps as by trying to lose one’s virginity and/or moving out of Mom’s basement [Kidding! (Not really…)]).

“Thrones,” like its characters, is imperfect, but like so many of its characters, is unforgettable. It has been a grand achievement of art and culture, the likes of which we aren’t likely to see again for a long time.

While I was glad to have the fates of the ever-dwindling cast of characters*** finally determined, at the same time I’m sad to see the series end — as are, no doubt, even its most vocal critics.

*The Advocate had pegged Brienne and Arya as lesbians, too, so shut up.

**As a gay man I wasn’t thrilled that “Thrones'” two biggest gay male characters, Renly Baratheon and Loras Tyrell, are killed off, but in the end, it’s a television series… And sometimes when a member of a historically oppressed group is portrayed as being victimized, it draws attention to the fact that that group needs to stop being victimized in the real world.

***Shout-out to actor Jack Gleeson, whose Caligula-like villain Joffrey Baratheon (actually 100 percent a Lannister, of course) probably was the show’s most delightfully despicable.

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Keep up your irrational exuberance, Bidenbots!

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden speaks to guests during a campaign event at The River Center, May 1, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Getty Images photo

Nothing says “I give up even trying to figure all of this out!” quite like supporting Joe Biden for president for 2020.

Shitty polls can make for great headlines.

For example, The Hill recently ran this headline: “Biden Takes 32-point Lead Over Sanders in New 2020 Poll.” Dramatic!

The “news” story begins:

Former Vice President Joe Biden has a 32-point lead in the Democratic presidential race in a Hill-HarrisX poll released Monday. [The poll was conducted May 3 and May 4.]

Biden won 46 percent in the poll compared to 14 percent for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who came in a distant second place.

South Bend, Ind. mayor Pete Buttigieg was in third place with 8 percent, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) with 7 percent. …

What doesn’t this “news” story tell you? It doesn’t tell you that this poll is an outlier — that no other recent reputable nationwide poll of Democrats and Dem leaners gives Biden more than 40 percent. It doesn’t tell you that fivethirtyeight.com rates the polling outfit (HarrisX) with an unimpressive C+.

And I’ll keep saying it: Give me a huge sample size and a small margin of error!

This HarrisX poll that is a clear outlier from the other polls has a sample size of only 440 people and thus has what to me is a useless margin of error — plus or minus 5 percent. (I can work with around 3 percent, but 5 percent is too much.)

Luckily, there is one polling outfit that gives a shit about a huge sample size and a small margin of error: Morning Consult, which fivethirtyeight.com gives a B- (I’m not sure why it’s not higher than that).

Morning Consult’s latest poll, taken April 29 through May 5, with a sample size approaching 16,000 and thus a margin of error of only plus or minus 1 percent, gives Biden 40 percent and Bernie 19 percent, a difference of 21 percentage points, not 32. (In that poll, Elizabeth Warren comes in at a distant third place, with 8 percent, and Kamala Harris is just behind Warren, with 7 percent.)

Biden had hit 35 percent in previous Morning Consult polls taken this year, so 40 percent isn’t what I’d call phenomenal. It’s a boost of only 5 percentage points from where he had been polling recently. It is, as far as I can discern, a normal boost in the polls to receive after you’ve officially announced your candidacy (especially if you were vice president in the past).

Morning Consult at several points had Bernie polling in the low 20s (or even lower) this year, so 19 percent doesn’t mean that all of his support has evaporated overnight. It hasn’t; he’s still in solid second place in the polling, and his (non-Biden) competitors would love be able to hit even 9 percent.

The question is: How long will the Biden bounce last?

Not long, I believe.

Biden offers nothing new. The two biggest policy wonks thus far, in my book, are Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who churn out policy ideas like amazon.com churns out packages, but what, exactly, is Biden’s pitch? It’s something along the lines of, “I was Barack Obama’s vice president — and I promise not to manhandle women anymore!”

Ooooo — exciting! Not!

There are reasons why Biden failed to win the Democratic Party presidential nomination when he went for it in 1988 and 20 years later in 2008; the voters actually aren’t all that into him.

Now that he’s older but not wiser, and offers not a vision for the future but only wishes us to believe that we must seek to go back to the past (this is much the fuzzy, magical thinking that was “hope” and “change”), I see Biden imploding again — especially once we get to the debates (which begin late next month) — as he has imploded in the past.

The fact of the matter is that the establishment, including our corporately owned and controlled “news” media, much prefer that Joe Biden rather than Bernie Sanders be our next president because they know fully well that Biden (like Obama before him) would be the keep-the-status-quo president.

Who knows what success a President Sanders might actually have in making things less cushy for the corporations and better for the people?

Therefore, I fully expect the corporately owned and controlled news media to continue to push the narrative that Biden already has won and Bernie already has lost even before the first voter has been able to cast a vote. (That would be in the Iowa caucuses on February 3, 2020.)

But if the Bidenbots believe that Biden already has this thing in the bag, then that’s probably good for Bernie.

Billary and the Billarybots smugly thought that they had in the bag in 2008 — and that worked out pretty well for Barack Obama.

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There is not, and there should not be, affirmative action for elections

Kamala Harris
Getty Images photo

Your race and your biological sex aren’t qualifications for elected office, whether you were born a white male or a non-white female (or non-white male).

The identity politicians are apoplectic that white men are the front-runners for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination.

Indeed, most nationwide polls of Democratic presidential preference taken over the past two weeks or so show Joe Biden at No. 1, Bernie Sanders at No. 2 and Pete Buttigieg at No. 3.

Kamala Harris, a two-fer for the identity politicians, had been in third place for a long time before she was bumped (perhaps only temporarily — who knows?) by Buttigieg.

Politico reported a few days ago:

Houston — The women of color who packed into a university auditorium here Wednesday for a first-of-its-kind presidential forum delighted in the rhetoric of candidates who vowed to make Donald Trump a one-term president.

But their frustration was just as palpable — over the heavy media attention being paid to white male candidates in the early days of the Democratic primary, and over polling they contended is feeding a misleading narrative that only a white man can defeat Trump.

“With all due respect to the vice president, he hasn’t even announced yet but he’s the front-runner?” Leah Daughtry, a political operative and former Democratic National Committee official who helped organize the “She the People” event, said of Joe Biden [who would go on to officially announce the next day].

“Racism and sexism are part of the fabric and the fiber and the founding of our country,” she added, “and the way that the [Democratic] candidates are being treated, it just reminds you of that. We’re not past it.” …

Thing is, it seems that the identity politicians’ belief is that we, the people (on the Democratic side, anyway), must support, preferably, a non-white female candidate for president (if it must be a male, he must be non-white).

But electoral politics don’t work that way. The people support and vote for whomever they support and vote for (even when they support and vote for appallingly awful candidates such as George W. Bush and Pussygrabber).

There isn’t, and there cannot be, affirmative action in democratic politics, because democratic politics is all about choice — not about having candidates of certain demographics rammed down the throats of the populace.

I understand the frustration and disappointment over the fact that female and non-white candidates are campaigning but aren’t gaining traction. Kamala Harris as of late can’t make it to even 10 percent in most nationwide polls, and Elizabeth Warren can’t do as well as even Harris, and Cory Booker is behind both Harris and Warren.

Beto O’Rourke is polling right around where Warren is — proof, methinks, that merely being a white man isn’t enough.

Harris, Warren, Booker and O’Rourke all, in my book, lack substance and/or charisma. Harris doesn’t have much of either, Warren has a lot of substance but not a lot of charisma, Booker has neither and ditto for O’Rourke, whose laughably contrived “charisma” isn’t charisma at all, because you can’t fake charisma; you have it or you don’t.

Obviously, because every U.S. president except for Barack Obama has been a white male (and Obama is half-white), within the collective American psyche, apparently, is the belief, if even subconscious, that the president should be a white man. Many, many women even hold this belief, even consciously (most of them are Repugnicans, but still…).

Obama overcame this challenge because of his charisma — and also because, as he acknowledged himself, “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.” (Indeed, upon that blank screen I projected — because of his campaign’s relentless, ubiquitous promises of “hope” and “change” — that Obama would be a progressive president. Boy, was I punk’d!)

Obama, an astute political opportunist, struck while the iron was hot; his window of political opportunity was rare and unique and it was brief. For Harris or Booker to believe that she or he easily could replicate Obama’s success simply because of his or her race not only is cynical and shallow and superficial, but quite obviously dead wrong.

I support Bernie Sanders not because he’s an old white guy — I loathe “President” Pussygrabber, but not because he’s an old white guy, but because he’s a fascist, treasonous criminal who wasn’t even actually elected — but I support Bernie because of those candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination in the top three tiers (which I define as consistently polling at 3 percent or more in nationwide polls), he has the most experience in D.C. and is the most progressive, entirely unlike Creepy Uncle Joe, who is an obsolete Clintonian sellout.

I easily could argue that Bernie is the only true Democrat in the race, which is ironic, given how often he is criticized for not actually being a Democrat.

My second choice probably would be Warren, even though her campaigning has been tone deaf and even though it does bother me at least a bit that as recently as the 1990s she was a Repugnican.

The reason I’m not giving Warren money or otherwise actively supporting her is because the polls of those within her own party clearly show that she isn’t exciting them, and I don’t and won’t squander my money, time, energy and emotional investment on a candidate who can’t excite even his or her own base.

My third choice probably would be Buttigieg, but I’m still gun shy from Obama. Even though Obama was an unknown, I put my support behind him, hoping for that change, and I was bitterly disappointed to see that we didn’t get change, but for the most part got only more of the same. Obama was a caretaker president at best.

So I can’t dive in and blindly support Buttigieg, as I did Obama.

Plus, Buttigieg isn’t ready to be president. He’s precocious and ambitious, to be sure, but I don’t think that it’s time to turn over the Oval Office to him. I’d love him to run for governor or for the U.S. Senate — and win (and then do a good job in the office) — first.

And, unlike how the craven identity politicians would support (probably exclusively) only someone who shares their own demographics, I’m not going to support Buttigieg primarily or even solely because he’s a gay white man like I am. It’s not enough that he and I both happen to white, male, and not heterosexual. This isn’t junior fucking high school.

Again, if it’s indeed the case that most American voters believe that the president should or even must be a white man, that’s sad, but, in a democracy, in which the voters are free to elect whomever they wish to elect, whether you or I agree with their choices or not, what, exactly, can be done about that?

That was a rhetorical question, but I’ll answer it anyway: qualified candidates who aren’t male and who aren’t white should continue to run for office, from local office to the presidency. Over time, their candidacies, successful or not, will change the national psyche. I know of no other democratic way.

Finally, it also should be pointed out that Biden and Bernie have run for president before, which is a huge reason that they are at No 1 and No. 2. On the national political stage they are fairly known quantities, unlike the likes of Harris and O’Rourke and Buttigieg. (Sadly, the problem with candidates such as Booker and Warren apparently is that they are known quantities…)

Ironically, at least for now, anyway, it seems to be Buttigieg who is filling the “hope” and “change” spot — that is, he is the bright and shiny newcomer on whom many voters seem willing to take the chance. (It had looked like that spot would be filled be O’Rourke, but he has turned out to be the flash in the pan that it was pretty clear he was going to be.)

And I’m sure that many black Americans, who tend to be homophobic, are pretty incensed that a gay white man apparently has displaced Kamala Harris, who “deserves” the presidential nomination because she’s a black woman, you see; the way that she was born are her “qualifications,” which is ironic, given that we’ve established that merely having been born a white male aren’t qualifications.

What I’m hoping is that young progressive politicians now, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Katie Porter and Rashida Tlaib (and Buttigieg!), get more and more electoral and governance experience under their belts and give us the diverse bench of qualified presidential candidates that we don’t really have now.

That, to me, seems to be the best solution — not to piss and moan ad infinitum that the American people apparently still prefer presidential candidates who are white men.

Whining incessantly about “sexism” and “misogyny” — while ignoring her glaring flaws and shortcomings as a president candidate — didn’t help Billary Clinton the last go-around.

Further such whining isn’t ever going to work in the future.

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Is Biden dropping just as he’s about to enter and is Pete now in the top three?

Biden Sanders Buttigieg

The latest nationwide polls of Democratic Party presidential preference indicate that the top three are Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg (in some order).

The Atlantic reports:

Joe Biden is running. The former vice president will make his candidacy official with a video announcement next Wednesday, according to people familiar with the discussions who have been told about them by top aides.

Seriously, he’s actually made a decision. It’s taken two years of back-and-forth, it’ll be his third (or, depending on how you count, seventh) try for the White House, and many people thought he wouldn’t do it, but the biggest factor reshaping the 2020 Democratic-primary field is locking into place. …

Good for Creepy Uncle Joe (not really; I don’t like him at all), but perhaps he has waited a bit too long.

An Emerson College poll taken April 11 through April 14 is the first nationwide poll of Democratic Party presidential preference that has Bernie Sanders beating Biden — 29 percent to 24 percent.

I’m cautious, though, because even though fivethirtyeight.com rates Emerson College polls highly, with a B+, the poll had only 356 respondents and thus a margin of error of plus or minus 5.2 percent.

Another recent nationwide poll, however, also indicates that it has tightened between Bernie and Biden. A Change Research poll (Change Research is rated with a C+ by fivethirtyeight.com) taken April 12 through April 15, and which had 2,519 respondents and thus a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percent, put Biden at 21 percent and Bernie at 20 percent.

We’ll see over the coming week or two if these two polls are outliers or if they indicate a new trend. Up to now, Biden has kept a clear lead over Bernie in the nationwide polls, which for a long, long time have had Biden at No. 1 and Bernie at No. 2.

We’ll also see if, as the aforementioned two polls indicate, Pete Buttigieg truly has now made it into the top three, displacing Kamala Harris, who has/had been in third place in the nationwide polling for quite a while.

In the aforementioned Emerson College poll, Buttigieg came in at third place with 9 percent, just 1 percent ahead of Harris, and in the aforementioned Change Research poll, Buttigieg came in at third place with a whopping 17 percent (and Beto O’Rourke came in at fourth place with 9 percent, and Harris came in at sixth place with only 7 percent).

If Biden actually decides to shit instead of to get off of the pot, we’ll see how (and if) the numbers shift. I don’t expect Biden to have a huge surge in the polling simply if he finally makes it official, because all along he has been included in most of the nationwide polling and because most poll respondents, I believe, have believed that indeed he’s going to run.

If indeed the new top three are Biden, Bernie and Buttigieg (in any order), that would lay waste, methinks, to the “conventional wisdom” that we have heard for a long time now that Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters are starving for a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate who isn’t a white man.

I’m not saying that it’s good or bad that the top three candidates all might be white men; I’m just pointing out how actual polling can show that the echo chamber can have it quite wrong.

I don’t believe, however, that, say, Kamala Harris is being penalized because she is a woman of color. I think she hasn’t caught fire because she’s just another uninspiring Democratic Party hack. She is low-charisma, and laughably as of late has taken to calling herself a “joyful warrior.”

I’ve lived in California since 1998, and when she was the state’s attorney general for six years (before she became a U.S. senator in November 2016), she struck me as neither joyful nor as a warrior. She’s as warm and fuzzy as a wet blanket, and she has taken no political position that wasn’t calculatedly quite safe.

Ditto for Cory Booker; he’s not being punished for being a black man. It’s that he’s an ultra-cheap knock-off of Barack Obama, such a bad imitation of Obama that he struggles to get even 5 percent in most nationwide polls. (That and those of us who realize that Obama royally punk’d us — promised us “hope” and “change” but mostly delivered only more of the same — aren’t exactly hungry to be punk’d again.)

And I don’t believe that Elizabeth Warren is being penalized because she is a woman. I think she hasn’t caught fire because in a nationwide sociopolitical environment of MAGA-cap-wearing, mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging fucktards, she has chosen The Doomed Path of The Egghead, rolling out a professorial new policy proposal every other day.

This tack hasn’t caught on, yet nevertheless, she has persisted. (Ha ha…)

Pete Buttigieg is an egghead, but he has mastered the political art of not coming off as an egghead, or not too much of one, anyway. He doesn’t make people of average or below-average intelligence feel insecure about their intellectual deficiency.

The fact that Beto O’Rourke is a white man but struggles in the polling points to, I surmise, the fact that most Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters aren’t voting solely out of identity politics, but do expect you to have charisma, integrity and substance, regardless of what’s between your legs and regardless of what color is your skin.

In other words, O’Rourke is, methinks, being punished fairly for his lack of at least substance. (And since his “charisma” comes off as incredibly contrived — and hokey, to put it mildly — it’s not true charisma.)

All of that said, we can’t know for sure if Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters are concerned that “President” Pussygrabber, in today’s sociopolitical environment, can be defeated in November 2020 only by another white man.

That is a possibility that I can’t rule out, unfortunately.

However, if that is the “conventional wisdom,” and if this “conventional wisdom,” as it sometimes does, proves to be correct, I, for one, would much rather that a white-male Democratic presidential candidate beat Pussygrabber in November 2020 than the likes of, say, Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren or Cory Booker lose to Pussygrabber in November 2020.

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Bernie is kicking ass

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., takes part in a Fox News town-hall style event with Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, Monday April 15, 2019 in Bethlehem, Pa.
Associated Press news photo

Bernie Sanders schools Faux “News” hosts during a town hall last night in Pennsylvania, one of the states that Billary Clinton lost in 2016 (and that Democratic presidential candidates had won since 1992) that Bernie probably will win in 2020 if the Billarybots can’t take him down again this time (and they probably can’t).

Bernie Sanders was a hit with the audience at a Faux “News” town hall last night — demonstrating that yes, with his socioeconomic populist message he can — and would — get many of the blue-collar voters that “President” Pussygrabber has appealed to — and he’s polling well, as well as raking in the campaign cash (more so than any other competitor for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination).

In the Morning Consult nationwide poll of 2020 Democratic presidential preference taken from April 8 through April 14, Bernie was at 23 percent, putting him at No. 2, to Joe Biden’s 31 percent, with Kamala Harris coming in at third place, with 9 percent. (In that poll, Pete Buttigieg was up to 7 percent, which is good for an upstart like he; if he keeps climbing, he’ll eclipse Harris and make it into the top three.)

Morning Consult also asked respondents to choose only from those candidates who formally have announced their campaigns, which wouldn’t include Biden, and in that poll (also taken April 8-14), Bernie was No. 1, with 35 percent, with Kamala Harris at a distant second place with 12 percent (and Mayor Pete with 9 percent).

If Biden doesn’t run after all, or if he implodes early on (a distinct possibility), the nomination is Bernie’s, I think it’s safe to say.

Therefore, of course Bernie has come under attack from those who call themselves Democrats but who feed freely at the corporate trough, such as those of the so-called Center for American Progress, a Billary Clinton-aligned “think” tank that uses the term “progress” in its name while it takes big money from the likes of Wal-Mart and has self-interested slimebags like David Brock doing its bidding.

There are plenty of “Democrats” who personally benefit from claiming to be for the common American while carrying water for corporations, sure that they indefinitely can have it both ways and keep the gravy train on track.

Billary Clinton probably was the last of these “Democrats” who could get away with it at the level of presidential politics, anyway. (But, then again, she didn’t really get away with it, did she? I mean, she doesn’t sit in the Oval Office, does she?)

Bernie’s being, ironically, an actual Democrat threatens these “Democrats'” privilege, and so of course they savage him in order to try to preserve their privilege.

As Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi notes:

The satirist Ambrose Bierce, author of the Devil’s Dictionary, once defined radicalism as “the conservatism of tomorrow injected into the affairs of today.”

What Bierce wittily captured — that today’s radicals are tomorrow’s normies — means that at any given moment, the current political establishment will be fighting off the inevitable.

The Brahmins of today don’t battle with ideas, because as Bierce pointed out, their belief systems are usually regressive and unpopular, only they don’t know it yet. The battle is almost always waged instead over personality, because while certain “radical” ideas may be unstoppable, individual politicians are easily villainized, delaying change — a little. …

The practice of painting dissident challenges as selfish, hypocritical acts — as opposed to the selfless altruism of corporate-funded candidates — has been going on forever. Long before [Bernie] Sanders was framed as a thin-skinned, cranky narcissist who’s “all about himself,” Dennis Kucinich went through the same thing. …

Back when Sanders didn’t seem like a threat to win anything, he got much of the same. He was dismissed as a geek and a wallflower who’d be defined by whether he chose to be a help or a hindrance to the real candidate, [Billary] Clinton. …

It wasn’t until Sanders started piling up delegates that he began to take on the villainous characteristics for which he is now infamous. After he won primaries in 2016, suddenly reporters ripped him as a divisive narcissist with three houses who was the ideological mirror of Donald Trump, boasting racist, sexist and violent followers.

This was all part of the age-old technique of focusing on the person instead of the ideas or the movement behind them. Sanders wasn’t winning in 2016 because Bernie Sanders is some great stump act — he isn’t. A fair portion of his support was coming from people who were fed up with both parties even before he decided to run.

The easiest way to avoid dealing with uncomfortable truths is to create an ick factor around the politician benefiting from them. That was Sanders in 2016 and it’s still him, mainly. …

Covering personalities instead of political movements only delays things for a while. Sooner or later, the conservatism of tomorrow arrives. You can only delay the inevitable for so long.

Indeed, the Clintonian “Democratic” Party is a relic; the people are on to “Democrats” who pretend to care about them yet who live high on the hog at the people’s expense by selling them — us — out to our corporate overlords.

The jig is up — again, Billary was the last (as in the previous and the final) “Democrat” who could milk anything out of the Clintonian game of bait and switch (I mean, she at least “won” the party’s presidential nomination) — which is why I’ve wondered if the Clintonian “Democrat” Joe Biden hasn’t jumped into the race yet because even he knows this.

(Or, like how a smug and cocky Billary had thought that Barack Obama was no threat to Her Majesty’s Inevitability in 2008, perhaps Biden cockily sees himself as inevitably winning the 2020 nomination, which I don’t see him doing, as he’s a political fossil while Bernie, despite his age, represents the future.)

Bernie Sanders probably would have defeated Pussygrabber in November 2016, but now that so many of those who voted for Pussygrabber know that his populism is bullshit (as was Billary’s), Bernie probably has an even better shot at defeating Pussygrabber now.

Not only does Bernie have his 2016 experience under his belt, but the irrelevant, obsolete Billarybots are politically weaker now than they’ve ever been before, and their self-serving smear tactics are being called out publicly, something that didn’t much happen in 2016.

It’s over for the Billarybots, but sleazebags don’t part with their undue power quietly. They throw tantrums, which we can expect to see all the way through President Sanders’ inauguration and even beyond.

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Bernie now No. 1 in WaPo’s ranking

The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake’s quasi-quarterly ranking of the 2020 Democratic Party presidential candidates has Bernie Sanders topping the list of 15.

(Blake notes that “this list is in order of likeliness to be the Democratic nominee” and also notes that “The field is also largely set now, with just a few big question marks outstanding,” with which I pretty much agree.

The Post notes that Bernie returns to No. 1, but I don’t remember that he ever made No. 1 before — that spot usually was reserved for establishmentarian candidates who weren’t actually No. 1, like Kamala Harris.)

In ranking him at No. 1, Blake too-briefly notes of Sanders: “Sanders’s $18.2 million raised in the first quarter tops in the field. Now we’ll see if he can rekindle some of the magic of 2016, which I’m not sure we’ve really seen just yet. It would sure help if he can get past this tax-return unforced error.”

Even while calling him No. 1, the establishmentarian, corporately owned and controlled media can’t resist taking a shot at Bernie.

Bernie’s “tax-return unforced error,” I guess, is that although he’s been railing against millionaires and billionaires (or millionayahhhs and billionayahhhs) for years now, he has become a millionaire himself from book sales. (Bernie has promised to release 10 years of his tax returns no later than tomorrow.)

If you’re already a Bernie hater, then you ignorantly, smugly, disingenuously scoff at his financial success — a millionaire democratic socialist! — but how you earn your money fucking matters.

Bernie wrote books that people chose to buy, including his best-selling Our Revolution; he didn’t obtain his money by paying a bunch of overworked employees a non-living wage and/or by outrageously overcharging someone for a live-saving pharmaceutical and/or by contributing to the destruction of the planet in order to get his million. He earned it fairly and squarely. Therefore, I have no problem with his financial success — which, compared to the income of the titans of capitalism, is a fucking pittance anyway.

And why would it be a shock that someone with Bernie’s national renown — he did quite well against Billary Clinton in 2016, and because of his 2016 run he starts out in a much stronger position this election cycle — should have some money?

And as fucked up as it is, we do still live in a capitalist system — in which anyone, if he or she writes a best-selling book, for example, can get some moolah.

But I digress.

In his current ranking of 15, Blake drops Joe Biden all the way down to No. 6, noting:

Whatever you think about the complaints women made against Biden alleging inappropriate physical contact, Biden’s handling of it — deciding to turn it into a joke — was a reminder how quickly things can go awry with the freewheeling Biden.

I’ve been arguing for a while that his stock is too high, and this episode has helped affirm it. He’s got a front-runner’s poll numbers but needs to actually show he’s a much better candidate than he was in 1988 and 2008.

I agree wholeheartedly that Biden’s “stock is too high” and that he “needs to actually show he’s a much better candidate than he was in 1988 and 2008,” and not only do I very much not want the uninspiring, centrist, corporate-friendly Biden as the nominee (again, to me he is Billary 2.0), but I don’t think that he’ll emerge as the nominee, not in the current political climate, in which the party’s nominee won’t be decided by the national electorate (which for the sake of argument we’ll say is centrist), but will be decided mostly by party animals, who these days lean to the left.

But as much as I’m not a fan of Biden, I think that putting him at No. 6 is too low; I think that he still probably still belongs in the top three, as we never should underestimate the power of Democrats to pick (or just sit back and allow…) a shitty candidate to become the presidential nominee. I mean, they just did that in 2016 with Billary.

Blake ranks Kamala Harris as No. 2 (still too high, probably, given her single-digit nationwide polling numbers), Elizabeth Warren as No. 3 (probably too high, given that her polling numbers are even lower than Harris’), Cory Booker at No. 4 (way too high, as he can’t even get 5 percent in most polls), Beto O’Rourke at No. 5 (I believe that the ideas-free O’Rourke stands almost no chance, although he polls closely to Harris), and Pete Buttigieg at No. 7, behind Biden.

Buttigieg actually has a better chance than many if not most might believe, I think.

He has polled in the top three in at least two polls of Iowa voters taken over the past month, and polled in the top three in at least one poll of New Hampshire voters taken this month.

We shouldn’t forget the case of John Kerry, whose presidential campaign was on life support until he came back, Lazarus style, when he won the Iowa caucuses (which Howard Dean was “supposed” to win [he came in third]) and then won the New Hampshire primary — and then went on to win five of the seven states in the next contest, dubbed “Mini Tuesday.”

After that, the nomination was all Kerry’s.

Thus far I’ve focused on the nationwide presidential preference polls and have neglected to talk about the slingshot effect that winning Iowa and/or New Hampshire usually has on a presidential race. (The Iowa caucuses are the first contest of the presidential primary season, followed quickly by the New Hampshire primary.) Win one or both of those two states, and you are in good shape.

(The only Democratic presidential nominee who hadn’t won Iowa or New Hampshire in my lifetime was Bill Clinton, who came in at second place in New Hampshire but still eked out a win of the nomination.

In case you were wondering, in 2016 Billary “won” Iowa by 49.8 percent to Bernie’s 49.6 percent — yes, it was that close in the midst of talk about cheating by Team Billary — and Bernie blew Billary out of the water in New Hampshire, 60.1 percent to 37.7 percent.)

I think it’s unlikely that Pete Buttigieg will pull a surprise win like John Kerry did in 2004 — I mean, Kerry had been a U.S. senator at that time, whereas Buttigieg has been only the mayor of a not-huge city — but it’s not impossible.

As the voters on the Repugnican side chose outsider Pussygrabber in 2016, it’s not impossible that the Democratic voters in 2020 will want a fresh, young face, and that would be Buttigieg’s.

Still, though, if I had to put my money on it, I’d say that Bernie Sanders is going to be the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nominee — not just because he’s the candidate I want to become the nominee, but because he came surprisingly close to Billary in 2016 and because the party today is more Bernie’s than it is the Billarybots’, as evidenced by how most of the contenders for the 2020 nomination have adopted Bernie’s key positions.

You don’t mimic a loser. You mimic a winner.

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The state of the Dem race for prez

This is worse than “The Brady Bunch”…

As I’ve noted before, I’m a size queen where it comes to a poll’s sample size, and polling outfit Morning Consult’s sample sizes are huge — so much so that their margins of error are only plus or minus 1 percent, a margin of error that no other polling outfit bothers to achieve (margins of error of around 4 percent to even 6 percent are the usual, making these polls fairly worthless, in my book).

So, the only current poll of nationwide 2020 Democratic Party presidential preference that I’m going to talk about here is Morning Consult’s poll taken from April 1 through April 7. Its sample size was more than 13,600. (Most polling outfits don’t obtain even 500 respondents for one of their polls.)

In the aforementioned Morning Consult poll, Joe Biden garnered 32 percent. The poll was taken after Biden was taken to task in the national conversation about his handsiness.

I’m thinking that Biden has lost a bit of his support, but not much; the Morning Consult poll taken from March 25 to March 31 had him at 33 percent, and the Morning Consult polls taken from March 18-24 and from March 11-17 had him at 35 percent.

Most Biden supporters are, I think, like “President” Pussygrabber’s supporters: They are die-hard partisans who put their partisanship, their political party identity, their tribalism, above such “trifles” as whether or not their chosen candidate put his hands (and mouth) on women whether they welcome that or not.

It’s sick and twisted that Biden supporters apparently believe that you only can fight fire with fire — that you must counter one old white lech with another old white lech — but that is what it is.

Also, of course, Biden supporters — those who aren’t old and wealthy and who want to preserve the status quo because it always has benefited them and they know that as president Biden would do very little to change things — are unimaginative and uninformed. They’re only going for party label and for perceived electoral strength, which they apparently gauge primarily by how long you have been around. Biden is Billary 2.0.

All of that said, there remains plenty of time for Biden to implode. Look at how he quasi-“apologized” for Bodyspacegate, for example, and then immediately went on to make jokes about touching people only with their permission. (Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!)

Biden’s advisers and staffers probably wear adult diapers — because they know that Biden could make them shit themselves at any time.

In second place in Morning Consult’s April 1-7 poll was Bernie Sanders, at 23 percent.

Bernie apparently has lost a little bit of support, too; in Morning Consult’s February and March polling, Bernie had hit 27 percent several times.

I posit that Bernie, at least for the time being, has had more of his supporters peeled off by young upstart Pete Buttigieg than has any other candidate. Why? Because both Bernie and Buttigieg appeal to younger voters.

Buttigieg intrigues me, but you don’t go from being mayor of a mid-sized city to president of the United States, and I don’t know how I feel about Buttigieg’s claim to be a left-wing Christian and his apparent claim that left-wing Christianity will beat right-wing Christianity at the ballot box in November 2020.

I much, much prefer Bernie Sanders’ secularism, at least in terms of how he campaigns. (I suspect that Bernie is an atheist or agnostic, but of course I don’t know what he does or doesn’t believe where any grand deity is concerned. I do know that he is a moral person, that his sense of right and wrong is strong, which is my No. 1 concern, not petty religious tribal affiliation.)

Promoting any one religion, even left-wing Christianity, by nature excludes and alienates those of other beliefs, and if Buttigieg is so damned smart — he was a Rhodes Scholar, has degrees from both Harvard and Oxford, reportedly speaks several languages, etc. — then how can he believe in God, who (which?) basically is a Santa Claus on crack?

Also, of course, I have to wonder how much of Buttigieg’s professed Christianity comes out of political necessity — I mean, he is mayor of South Bend, Indiana, for fuck’s sake — and how much of it is sincere. Has he done the political calculus that in South Bend, Indiana, as mayor he can get away with being a gay man but not with being an agnostic or an atheist?

Those in the United States and in the world increasingly aren’t identifying with any one religion — and I wholly agree with a Scientific American writer’s assertion that “This shift away from the dominance of any one religion is good for a secular society whose government is structured to discourage catch basins of power from building up and spilling over into people’s private lives” — so I don’t know if smarty pants Buttigieg’s strategy of pushing for a left-wing Christianity remotely is even a good idea politically.

Nor will I engage in tribalism and support Buttigieg primarily or even only because he’s a white gay man like I am.

But all of that said, I surmise that Buttigieg is one to watch. He is ambitious and talented, to be sure.

Buttigieg went from 1 percent or less in several Morning Consult polls in a row to 5 percent in Morning Consult’s April 1-7 poll — which put him 1 percent ahead of Cory Booker, only 2 percent behind Elizabeth Warren, only 3 percent behind Beto O’Rourke and only 4 percent behind Kamala Harris.*

Do I think that Buttigieg will keep climbing and climbing in the polls? No. I agree with Slate.com’s Josh Vorhees’ conclusion that

… [Buttigieg’s] national profile really is on the rise, but he has a long way to go before he’s in the same ballpark as Warren, O’Rourke, or Harris — let alone Biden and Sanders, who currently enjoy near-universal name recognition.

For now, then, Buttigieg’s standing is largely a matter of perspective: His current position looks remarkable given where he started, but it’s also a long way from where he’ll need to finish.

Don’t get me wrong; I have given Buttigieg a little bit of money (I want to see him in the Democratic presidential debates, and fund-raising and polling success are required to participate in them) and I find him intriguing and likable enough to have purchased his book.

But do I believe that in November 2020 we’ll have our first openly gay presidential candidate? Um, no.

And I remain a strong supporter of Bernie, who not only who is secular, but who has been functioning in Washington, D.C., since the 1990s (first as a U.S. representative and then as a U.S. senator) and who thus knows the game — and who proudly, unabashedly calls himself a democratic socialist.

(Capitalism cannot be reformed. Even just a little bit of evil always wants to grow into greater evil, which those “Democrats” who espouse capitalism or capitalism lite should know if they don’t already.)

Finally, a discussion of the tiers:

At this point it seems clear to me that Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders comprise the first tier, which I’ll define generously as garnering at least double digits (even low double digits) in the nationwide polls of Democratic presidential preference.

Kamala Harris apparently still remains in third place, behind Biden and Bernie, but she doesn’t garner even low double digits in most nationwide polls these days, so I think it’s fair to put her in the second tier, along with the others who garner from, say, 3 percent to 9 percent. (That would include also O’Rourke, Warren, Booker and now, Buttigieg.)

The third tier would be those who can’t reach even 3 percent in the nationwide polls.

If you can’t get even 3 percent, come on — why are you even in this? I mean, it’s past time for Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro and Tulsi Gabbard (and several others) to exit — and it’s fucking bizarre that we still have newcomers who don’t have a fucking chance (like U.S. representatives Eric Swalwell and Tim Ryan) entering the race.**

But the winnowing should begin soon enough. The first Democratic presidential debate is scheduled for June 26.***

*Indeed, on March 24 I wrote:

… Methinks that the 2020 Democratic field is pretty set. It’s not impossible for a third-tier candidate to break into the second tier (Pete Buttigieg, for example, strikes me as quite capable of that), but I don’t see the top tier changing; Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have been at No. 1 and No. 2 for a long time now (and Harris has been at No. 3 for a long time now, if we also want to include her in the top tier, even though she has no more than half of the support that either Biden or Bernie does). …

Again, I no longer consider Harris to be in the top tier, but to be in the second tier, and speaking of the second tier, at this point I’ll also point out that O’Rourke, predictably, never caught fire like so many had expected him to. That’s because with O’Rourke there is no there there.

**I am OK enough with Swalwell, but the next Democratic presidential candidate will not have been only a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (or a mayor or a presidential cabinet member).

***Because the field is so large, the Democratic National Committee plans to break the first debate into two dates, June 26 and June 27. The DNC has said that which candidates debate on which of the two dates will be determined randomly.

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