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The Movies: A Dwindling Joy of Summertime

 

Remember back in childhood when summer was the best time of the year?  I remember anyway, by contrast with the painful, numbing sensation the hottest months now provide me.  I should start this way: I do not like the heat.  Often I sit inside the house, these days, avoiding the wretched crush of the blaring sunlight.  Of course I don’t care for the cold either, age creeping up and allowing the forces of nature to sink deeper and deeper into my soon-to-be arthritic bones.  But this is neither what I want to talk about, nor the agonizing home repair projects these few weeks allow my wife and I, as neither of us is currently burdened with much responsibility–at least for the first half of summer.  My wife is a teacher and gets four full weeks before returning to teach summer school and I have the freedom to set my own hours.  Both of our children are away at overnight camp.  It is quiet, tranquil, and while we miss them, there is of course also a subversive pleasure in avoiding the demands, complaints and fighting of two hormonal teenagers.  And yet something once looked forward to seems to have disappeared from our lives.

 

Of course I am talking about summer movies.  I, like many of you, used to love this time of year in the theater.  Remember that?  Big budget monster movies and action flicks that burned adrenaline and helped you not just escape your humdrum life, but were so exciting you could leave after the show was over–even late at night–and wonder what to do next, racing around with joy until daybreak.

 

Today very little inspires us, although this is at least partially the result of growing older and having children.  I mean, look at the line-up of big movies slated just for this month of July:

 

Of course there is Spider-Man: Far From Home, the first post Avengers: Endgame Marvel super-hero movie, and it honestly looks pretty good.  The trouble here, at least for me, is the fact that these Marvel movies are, for my son’s generation, what Star Wars and Indiana Jones flicks were for me and my peers (although the explosion of so many titles all taking place within the same universe not only waters the series down, but gives you, like with the comic books I used to read [and kids today hardly bother with], the narrowing decision of picking your favorite.  But nevertheless, these gigantic budget, massively successful movies serve the same purpose, every few months, that we used to wait three years for).  The other problem, at least for me, is the fact that with my children away, I can’t even think of seeing this until they get home.  This is made for them, and for me to take them.  It makes the second biggest movie of the mid-summer out of reach.

 

Speaking of mid-summer, one film I will be seeing without them is Midsommer, a scary-looking horror flick that appeals to my inner nerd.  Growing up I was a horror buff, literature and film, and even to this day I get excited over the idea of that rare high quality creepshow.  Sure, this movie is more directed towards guys like me (or at least at those younger than I am with similar tastes), and it gives me something to look forward to as an escape.  And yet it will be drowned out by the glare of the web-slinger and the other family or teen-oriented releases overwhelming the screens (Toy Story 4, Aladdin, and the forthcoming Lion King, certainly the biggest movie left to this summer–all movies I have an interest in seeing which no one else in my family cares for.  I cannot picture myself, in my middle-forties, going by myself into a theater filled with screaming or even excited children, watching these stories by myself, the wretched glares of nervous and overwhelmed parents side-eying the creepy old guy sitting there anachronistically, presumably staring at their children).

 

Indifferent films like Crawl (a terrible-looking giant alligator movie; a superfluous addition to the already overwhelmed genre of ancient things eating people), and Stuber, quite possibly an entertaining piece about mismatched guys involved in some overly intricate crime story, played mostly for laughs (a tired genre)–these movies I will likely never wind up seeing, something that has increased as I’ve aged, the passing interests that the following year I will have forgotten enough about to not even bother on some sleepless night to put on for thirty-seven minutes before having had enough (that’s what Netflix is now for, right?)

 

There is–and it is what I most look forward to on screen this summer–Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, opening July 26, and I expect to love this.  Although, and of course, at my age very few things fulfill the highest expectations, and pure enjoyment or being moved profoundly is no longer really a reaction in this broiling, burned out, cynical climate that overwhelms nearly everything else outside of the movies (and there are even movies being released today that reflect this trend, in the most atrocious ways possible; I think of the endless sequels to tired franchises, pure money-grabs to a dwindling audience, and the constant remakes, now of truly mediocre films that had a boom back in the VHS and early DVD days, redone with bigger budgets and far more sex or gore.  None of these films are necessary, even if they wind up being pretty good.)

 

And so summer movie season has declined precipitously.  Even the kids realize this, more interested in the same/similar Youtube video, or watching vague new shows on Netflix.  And while some movies are definitely successful–those event films like Spider-Man and The Lion King will certainly make a fortune–there comes a time when we’ll get burned out completely on super-heroes and live action remakes of stories that still linger in our memories with affection.  This is what has happened to our biggest international entertainment industry.  And we can go back in time to every generation and watch them trash what movies have become (or even at the dawn of moving pictures about how they will corrupt society), but the interests of business, always relevant to which film gets made and when it will be released, has so overwhelmed the concept of story-telling in this greedy, selfish age, that the reflections of the real world seen through the remade fantasies from yesteryear merely wind up depressing the bulk of us, wishing the world away back inside our air-conditioned homes, blindly staring at whichever thing becomes available, briefly, on some streaming service, mostly another memory of a different time in your life.

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An Evaluation of the Democratic Presidential Debate (Part Two)

 

So night number two just ended and it was definitely interesting.  I intend to write this rapidly for two reasons.  One, I have some other work I must do in less than an hour from the time I compose this, and two, I would like these comments to be fresh.  It was a significant event, I believe, and supports some of my expectations while undermining many others.  Let’s do a simple winners and losers:

 

Kamala Harris, I believe, absolutely destroyed everyone.  Not only was she strong, decisive, and did not come across as a radical, but a competent mostly liberal politician, but she was funny, she laughed more than everybody else and seemed most comfortable engaging with the other candidates.  It seems like everybody else respected her and no one would dare go after her on anything.  She came across wonderfully.  She might really become President.  I am not a Democrat and thus cannot vote in the primary, but she would be my choice, at least at this particular moment (lot of time to come).  She managed to shame the other candidates when they were going after each other (“America doesn’t want a food fight, they want food on their tables,”) and she crushed the nervous white liberals on stage when the issue came to race, being the only partially black candidate on the stage tonight.  She will repeatedly be praised for her performance tonight and her top of the second tier status will now rise to the first tier.  Great job all around, and the winner of the two night debate.

 

As should have been expected Pete Buttigieg was terrific.  He seemed prepared for anything, had just enough sass to keep him sounding less academic and more modern, and every answer he offered did not sound pre-planned (even though most of them likely were), which only goes to prove just how great of a candidate he will be sometime in the near future.  He proved his worth and mayor of a small town is in the rear-view mirror.  This is a man we will hear about for a very long time.  I repeat, sometime down the line, Pete Buttigieg will be President of the United States.

 

Eric Swalwell, after a slow start, really came around during the debate.  A generally charming man, with regular and growing television credentials, he is not easily flustered.  His passion about gun issues separated him, at least momentarily, and his ability to invoke personal tragedy to support the reasons behind his issues was very effective.  He will be a force in American Government for a very long time, although likely never from the White House.

 

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders performed about as expected.  Biden occasionally stammered, but his passion and sincerity were obvious.  Sanders rang an angry bell and even came to the edge of calling for outright revolution in the nation.  Sanders repeated called for the masses to rise up in protest to numerous issues, mostly dealing with health insurance and a living wage.  There was a certain nervous violence underlining these calls to justice and I have no doubt this is very appealing to the youngest of his supporters.  Biden, for his part, was every bit the professional political creature, knowing how far to go, understanding (unlike everybody else) the time limits the press places upon the answers of candidates and more than willing to accommodate the norms.  He said nothing wrong, barely stumbled, was passionate at the right moments and sounded like a well-performed scripted politician.  He will be neither hurt nor helped by this, while Sanders will gain enthusiasm among his followers while going onto a watch list as a potentially dangerous leader by his opposition.

 

As for tonight’s losers, I do not wish to bother saying much about John Hickenlooper, who rarely spoke and said nothing really different than anyone else no matter how hard he tried, or Michael Bennet, who came across almost too angry to speak (at one moment, while he wavered and stammered and seemed to lose his train of thought I feared he was about to have a stroke).  Who I do want to discuss, in some detail, is Kirstin Gillibrand, who I believe made the worst showing of anyone in these debates.

 

Gillibrand was rude, she was a bully, she was most interested in interrupting and even said, in a greedy tone at one point when Bennet was trying to say something, “No!–My turn!”  And then she angrily babbled on with a limited perspective or understanding, blaming everything on everybody else and offering no solutions.  Everything she said was a negative, trashing Trump, trashing Biden, dismissing anything anybody else had to say even when other candidates agreed with her (Biden, clearly annoyed at one point, mentioned that what she was then promoting was actually one of his ideas going way back in time).  She was awful.  She came across like a horrible person.  She did so poorly I wonder if she will even be re-elected to the Senate the next time this comes around.

 

Poor Andrew Yang.  No one seemed to care what he had to say.  Neither did they care about the cloudy pronouncements of Marianne Williamson.  Yang was asked I believe three questions the whole night and spent most of his time with his hand raised, clearly annoyed.  And when he did speak it was in a bubble, not truly on target to whatever was asked, and he had nothing worthwhile to say in response to anyone.  Hopefully he got enough press for his forthcoming technological breakthrough that will make him another billion dollars because it would be painful to see him on stage again.  As for Williamson, her lofty declaration about love conquering fear and hate does not really exist in the modern world of political violence.  She can remain in her fairy tale world, with her fairy tale visions and her proposals about nothing on the material plane, and still be branded a kook by half of the people listening to her.

 

Going forward the names should be significantly narrowed down.  I will continue to cover this chaotic event, with the same derisive passion given to these last four pieces.  And by the way, since it is less than thirty minutes before it is about to premiere as I post this, please check out the Recording Editorial History podcast at http://player.live365.com/a38406.

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Previewing the Democratic Presidential Debates (Part Two)

 

After yesterday the field should already be narrowed, although the ego of most politicians will not allow them to act against their personal ambitions until the final data is in.  And even then, for some with more messianic inclinations, they will continue onward, believing that they can somehow sway public opinion to their side.  This brings us to night #2, a battle of heavyweights alongside a few X-factors we will likely get to know much better.

 

Before this preview (and this is essential for me, all things considered), I would like to invite all of you, once again, to listen in to the Recording Editorial History podcast on demospinradio.com, broadcast weekly, Thursday nights at 9PM Western Standard Time (USA), which is 12 midnight here on the East Coast USA.  Tonight (6/27/2019) the discussion is on drastic change to weather patterns, climate change, and hopefully some interesting enough comments that it does not come across like a bland conversation you have with people whom you have nothing else to say–“Howzabout that weather?”  Anyway, enough of that for now.

 

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We all know Joe Biden, currently the presumptive nominee of the party.  If your criterion for the job of President of the United States is experience, no one can touch the man.  36 years in the Senate and the 47th Vice-President of the nation, Joe Biden has a long and sometimes checkered career that corresponds with the rise of our blistering tabloid media culture.  A man known for stumbling over his words, for his genuinely decent personality and waffling support of both sides of an issue, the other side of his vast experience, of course, comes in the reality that he has been responsible for numerous shameful incidents (both politically and personally) from the past.  And now, in this Trump-era firing line, he cannot even consider apologizing if he wishes to siphon any of the on-the-fence and disillusioned Trump supporters into his camp.  And that’s just it–it’s not as if Biden is the nominee the Democrats wouldn’t vote for him, regardless of their current preference.  He is seeking the moderate Republicans that have quietly gone underground.  After all, regardless of the highest office losses scattered throughout his resume, nobody really hates Joe Biden.  Expect him to be at the center of the most obvious and replayed (if not the most compelling) news of the night, his arguments with Sanders especially.  There we will see how ineffective Biden would be in a debate as he stumbles and huffs and puffs his inarticulate responses of suppressed rage.  Sanders . . . well, let’s get to Bernie Sanders . . .

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Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is certainly charismatic.  The leader of what essentially became a cult-like movement in the 2016 election, the far left supporters of the man were so resentful over the legitimately shady machinations behind his primary loss that they avoided and even publicly attacked Hillary Clinton in the lead up to Donald Trump’s victory.  And his followers, while smaller today than they were last election, are no less fanatical, seeing, as did many of the Trump diehards, a sort of messiah whom they believe will fix all of the ills imposed by the previous administrations.  And yet Sanders has remained remarkably consistent politically over his career, spanning more than four decades (three in Congress and the Senate).  He is, in fact, the longest serving Independent in Congressional history, and the only reason he is running as a Democrat is for the traction and publicity that it offers.  Does Sanders have a chance to win?  Sure.  But the chief problem that might erupt from his followers will be the civil war between his people and the followers of the other left-wing populist, Elizabeth Warren.  And this becomes between them little more than a close high school student council election, vicious children building up their friend and tearing down the opposition, who would ultimately amount to the same thing aside from small tweaks.  At the debate tonight, to steal the headlines, expect Sanders to mercilessly go after Biden.  Bernie’s stammering nastiness will also point out a deficiency in debating Trump.  Trump is shameless and cannot be embarrassed.  He cares nothing for personal dignity.  Sanders gets overwrought and makes himself easily interrupted in his rants.  Watch for that tonight with some of the up-and-comers, and see them rise in the polls.

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Senator Kamala Harris from California is a very impressive woman.  Certainly a dedicated worker, she is someone I expect to stay in the race until it is decided either for or against her.  She has a sharp wit and she knows her issues.  Of all the candidates she might be the one most capable of making Trump look terrible in a debate.  She is clearly smarter than most people she engages with (check out her frequent Senate questioning of Trump administration wannabes and cabinet members).  She can be brutal, merciless, and she takes shit from no one, all of which would translate well into the office of President.  Imagine her debating Trump, this biracial woman with a harder edge than the snowflake Trump when he is offended (always, always).  Trump will look weak next to her and he’ll know it, which will only fluster his irrational rage to the next level.  And if Trump were to attempt any of his condescending, racist-sexist jabs, I see her first laughing them off, and then slugging back hard.  Even Trump came close to acknowledging this about Senator Harris, declaring that she has “a little bit of a nasty wit.”  For Trump, regardless of his dismissive follow up to this remark, these words bleed terror on his part.  Of course on the left the main problem some people seem to have is that fact that she is the former Attorney General of California, something that some of them people wish to paint as a negative.  And while they can crow all they like about the potential issues working for the man might offer, for most of America this will seem like a plus.  Look for Harris to kill tonight–absolutely run the stage.  That “nasty wit” will seem good-natured compared to what Trump may have to endure.  She is a rising star, and is quite possibly the next President, or at least Vice-President, of the United States of America.

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South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg has easily replaced Beto O’Rourke as the “It Boy” of the Democratic Party.  A smart, handsome, very eloquent man, with some great ideas, a military background, and the benefit of being a homosexual as the millennial generation rises to the forefront of the political hierarchy, I honestly believe that Buttigieg will someday be President.  Just not this time.  Is he too young?  Well, he seems more qualified than many of the older and more seasoned politicians.  He really appears to have everything going for him and strikes me as far too sharp to take cheap shots at (anti-gay “Butt” jokes, or pointing out the handful of issues he has faced in South Bend).  I expect Buttigieg to solidly hold his own, although he will likely be drowned out in the second hour by Biden and Sanders, and the outside sniping of the others desperate to have a say.  He will stand there politely, smiling, looking far more professional than most of them, and simply wait his turn.  He might be Vice President, or he will easily be a Senator.

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Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado.  Yes, I had no idea who he was either.  The first big question mark is the fact that he was born in India, although with American citizenship.  It would draw into question whether he was eligible to even be President.  Fortunately for him he won’t have to worry about that.  He has absolutely no chance and might be gone after tonight.  A man strongly in favor of increasing education and welfare benefits, he seems genuinely concerned about the future (and being from Colorado he is possibly in the pocket of the emerging Big Hemp corporations).  He has recently declared himself “furious.”  He is “Furious because we spent more than $10 trillion on tax cuts and wars in the Middle East. We might as well have lit that money on fire.”  As a successful businessman, Bennet can convincingly make himself sound like he knows about economics, and maybe he does.  Maybe his vision is the best thing for America.  Maybe he might potentially be our savior.  But we’ll never know, will we?  We will never, ever know.  He will barely be heard from and his chief issues will be covered by everyone.  He will not stand out.

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Something about New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand bothers me and I can’t quite pinpoint what it is.  It certainly isn’t her gender (re-read, if you will, my takes on Amy Klobucher, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris), and it is not that she is from New York or any nonsense like that.  I don’t know.  Her voice?  Maybe.  She seems insincere, or at least more ambitious than caring.  She seeps a noxious stink of power hunger and of all the candidates strikes me as the one most willing to take advantage of the changes to the office imposed by Trump and his minions.  She will do just fine in the debate tonight, neither gaining nor losing support.  And she will remain Senator from New York for a very long time.  I believe her career has peeked.  Whomever she eventually offers her support to will gladly take it.

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One time Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper seems like a great guy.  If you watch him interviewed on TV he has a calm demeanor and a surprisingly sharp sense of humor.  No doubt he knows he doesn’t have a chance, and he might be done after the first debate.  He will get his words in, garner some applause, and then quietly leave the stage at the end with no one in the press except those also on the outside seeking him for a comment.  He will, however, I believe, get one of those talking head pundit jobs on TV, possibly even on Fox.

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Twenty years ago California Representative Eric Swalwell would have been a great losing candidate for Vice President.  You can see him beside Al Gore, or someone else from that era.  He might even have had a temporarily rising Presidential campaign himself.  As it is, the engaging, mostly decent Swalwell will never get out of Congress.  Oh, this does not mean that his influence will not continue to grow, his power continuing to rise until he may someday in his dotage ascend to Speaker-of-the-House.  And I am sure he will do just fine in the debate, a man who knows his stuff and can handle a stage.  He will always be a regular guest on television, across the networks, able to handle opposition one-on-one far better than the chaotic mess he has to look forward to tonight.

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Marianne Williamson.  Why is she running for President?  We can see the signs behind the above picture: “Poor People’s campaign.”  “Revival.”  Does any of this trouble you?  Does it mean anything?  An author of odd, frequently strange spiritualistic self-help books, more than any candidate she comes across like a cult leader.  The titles of some of her books are

  • Imagine What America Could Be in the 21st Century: Visions of a Better Future from Leading American Thinkers
  • Emma & Mommy Talk to God
  • Healing the Soul of America: Reclaiming Our Voices as Spiritual Citizens
  • Enchanted Love: The Mystical Power of Intimate Relationships
  • Illuminata: A Return to Prayer
  • A Course in Weight Loss: 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever

and numerous others more or less on the same themes, covering the gamut of the most popular self-help topics.  Some of these books have been best-sellers.  Imagine the boost in her sales as a result of her presidential run.  (Here: https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?an=Williamson%2C%20Marianne&cm_sp=det-_-bdp-_-author.  They are pretty cheap right now, mostly).  I have no idea, nor frankly much interest, in what Williamson stands for.  Her only other political experience was losing a Congressional race in California.  She will disappear from public consciousness shortly after leaving the election, get a few spots on the nightly news to promote her forthcoming memoir, and then sink back into whatever new religion she long ago founded.  She will say nothing of substance in the debate.

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Andrew Yang is a very wealthy man.  A liberal with ideas on the future of technology, he will surprise people in the debate and get a momentary bump.  This man knows what he is aiming for and no one else on the stage will really understand what he’s talking about.  He will promote the future to the young, offer them hope in their brain-drained technological haze, and interest them for a second while they await a response to their last text.  Of course Yang will not win, but the profits he will make promoting his new technology will be enormous, ultimately succeeding in what Trump intended to do when he expected to lose the election.  This is a smart guy.  Let him have his moment.

 

So these are the ten on stage tonight and it should be interesting.  Last night was far more exciting than I believe anyone expected, and we watched some lesser candidates emerge while others crashed and burned.  Tonight’s cast seems to be set with ratings in mind, a promoted battle royal of political exchange that will likely convince no one to change their already made up minds until whomever they support drops out.  Happy viewing, and I will return to sum up the debate after it is over, after my 9PM western standard time (USA) and 12 midnight eastern standard time (USA) podcast on demospinradio.com.  Please tune in.

 

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An Evaluation of the Democratic Debate (Part One)

 

Yesterday I wrote a preview of this debate I am shortly going to comment on, and here I would like to offer my perspective on the results.  And remember, please thank me if you didn’t have enough interest to bother (and yet are still reading this piece about it), because I sat through the whole fucking thing and took notes.  I do not wish to offer a personal partisan agenda, but mostly a review of what happened tonight.  I sat through the whole two hours, plus I spent another hour watching the numerous cable news networks debate and reframe whichever issues they prioritize to present whichever candidate, for whichever reason, they choose to celebrate or denounce.  I want to be honest, reviewing this like a critic commenting on an actor’s performance, or the literary merit of some work of non-fiction.  And yet before I do this, for just this one moment (and tomorrow’s preview of day two will have this even harder), I need to promote my podcast, airing tonight, 6/27/2019 at 9PM Western Standard Time (USA), which is 12 midnight here on the eastcoast USA.  You can find me at demospinradio.com.  Please tune in.  I am discussing the weather in a non we-have-nothing-to-say-to-each-other-so-let’s-talk-about-the-weather perspective.

 

Anyway, tonight.  Here are the winners of the debate as I see them:

 

Amy Klobucher dominated this event, in every possible way.  She came across far more charming than I expected and she seemed to understand everything.  I had previously stated that she would “probably make a wonderful president because she (seems like) such a bitch,” and I still (and even more) believe this today.  Nothing she said works against her.  No one was even thinking about challenging her on anything and she managed to undermine a few close competitors simply because she was a woman and was able to point out that while the men might believe in women’s rights and women’s health care, no one other than “the three women on the stage” could truly understand the issues.  Additionally, Klobucher had valid (and wisely political) approaches to just about everything.  She understood gun rights as a public safety issue and not an anti-2nd Amendment crusade, pointing out that she comes from a “family of hunters.”  Her ideas on international policy were in no way submissive, meek, or too willing to compromise.  She had a strong voice, a blistering intelligence, and a very strong understanding of the political world that exists today.  She spoke of how she is able to listen to the people and how she can get things done.  Regardless of her second tier status, people should watch her.  She will be around for a while.

 

Julian Castro did a great job.  I’ll bet he is a terrific person, someone I would love to meet and who would provide not just a great interview, but would be a joy to speak with.  And while his stance on immigration is at the forefront of his agenda, he came across as more than a partisan based upon age old ethnic identity, but as a  genuinely compassionate man.  He certainly understands the present political climate and focuses on the divisions on the left, attempting to bring them all together.  He praises women and women’s rights (a slightly nervous Klobucher responded to his applause for promoting the Equal Rights Amendment), he appeals to the young Social Justice Warriors by pinpointing in a less radical manner (much to the relief of moderates like myself), promoting their ideals with a question mark.  Castro supports trans issues as a part of increased health care, declared a “new Marshall Plan” for Central American immigrants, proving that his thought process on the issue is far beyond anybody else.  He even went after Beto O’Rourke (also from Texas, so this might be merely a turf war), calling him out as the only hypocrite on the stage.  O’Rourke could merely bluster and stammer, clearly not prepared for this.  Castro even kept interrupting O’Rourke’s responses, not just showing a Trumpesque rudeness, but perhaps displaying a philosophical strength that can put the rest behind him.  Castro did great.

 

Elizabeth Warren, as expected, did terrific.  She was, at least at the outset, asked the most questions and was clearly held to be the favorite by the questioners.  She was actually asked three different things before several of the others were even offered a chance to speak.  But Warren remains on message, knowing what she stands for and to whom she is speaking.  In many ways, like Trump, she is appealing only to her base, certainly a strong crowd that will eventually suck the froth from Bernie Sanders’ gang.  She knows what she is talking about and is very loyal to her causes.  Warren has somehow succeeded in rephrasing the general hatred of “the elites,” and has transformed that class into the hard pro-Trump millionaires.  She understands finance so well that it is difficult to argue with anything she has to say on the topic (no one on stage was willing to do this).  In fact, Elizabeth Warren seemed to be taken with such respect and deference by the other candidates that she was the only person able to interrupt the others (as she did numerous times), without earning the frustrated ire of their ambition.  This sort of respect works against most of the other candidates.  It might show Trump how he can dominate them in later debates.  But Warren . . . Warren is a fighter.  Watch out for her.

 

I honestly believe that Bill de Blasio did very well in the debate.  Let me get this out of the way: I do not like Bill de Blasio.  I do not think he will last in this campaign.  But this does not change the fact that he surprised many people, his hard-edged New Yawker personality being employed only in the bullying moments when it was necessary to have his say.  De Blasio came across like a very smart man, someone with genuine concern for the people of America (or those from New York City, anyway).  He understood the issues, understood the questions and was able to answer them prolifically.  Since De Blasio does not really have a chance to win, his eloquent moderation struck me as his running for something entirely different.  His glad-handing partisan comments came across like he was running to be the next chair of the DNC.  He will not last much longer in this election, although his fine performance will probably get him to round two.

 

Cory Booker did okay.  He remains by far the most sincere candidate, less a politician than a social activist risen to the next level.  There are few who could, in good conscience, go after Booker on a personal level.  Of course he should be easy to crush by any opposition–particularly on the right–as, regardless of his intensely more liberal perspectives–a “clone of Obama,” will suffice, or whatever other monstrosity those people wish to paint him as to their terrified followers who did not listen to a word the man had to say.  Of course Booker also managed to somehow make everything about race (or at least he sounded that way, even when trying to draw every person together in an issue that transcends such superficial divisions).  Booker answered questions in the right way and his enthusiasm was clearly on display, but I believe that he again highlighted his political weaknesses–particularly next to the others–while praising his “friend” Julian Castro as though he were already giving up and asking his supporters to change sides.  He looked good and continues to have no chance whatsoever.

 

Jay Inslee certainly sounded great.  I said in the earlier piece that I would love to support the man if I believed he actually had a chance, and nothing he had to say changes this.  But it also does not change the fact that he really doesn’t have a chance.  He came across like a tough, smart, serious guy, capable of laughing at himself when it does not embarrass him, and the issues he seems fixated on–I don’t know–they just seem more important than the up-and-down blather about health care alternatives and budgetary considerations that most of the other more mainstream candidates are proposing.  Jay Inslee was among the most prepared individuals on the stage and he did not allow the fact that he was asked far fewer questions than most of the others to deter him.  He got his voice in, shoved his ideas upon the stage at moments he was not asked, and honestly should have a much larger following than he does.  Give him another debate or two before he finally calls it a day.

 

As for the losers in the debate:

 

Beto O’Rourke absolutely bombed.  The worst of the worst on stage, he seemed to be overwhelmed every moment he was forced off script.  Other candidates clearly picked up on this (most notably Julian Castro), and they would hammer and interrupt him until he looked not just annoyed, but completely lost.  He attempted to turn around his lagging by speaking repeatedly in Spanish (even more so than Castro), pretending that somehow this should make him seem smarter than he actually is.  He spoke in a tame party-line and really exposed nothing of value about either his qualifications or his uniqueness as a candidate.  All he was able to do was find the worst and most tragic possible exploitative anecdote to explain whichever issue he was questioned upon to try and prove that he really cares.

 

Tulsi Gabbard had one single thing to say and she incorporated it into every answer she offered: “I was a soldier.  I understand these things.  Trump is wrong.”  And while these might be accurate statements in literally every single diversion she made into this realm, it struck one as not only bald repetition, but as a fact that she otherwise had nothing worthwhile to say.  She lamely repeated party line blather on the few issues she clearly either knows nothing about or simply does not care, and kept reverting back to a gung-ho sort of yah yah yah America commentary that in the end means absolutely nothing.  She should be done after tonight.

 

Tim Ryan was positively shell-shocked.  He had this nervous look on his face, would generally only speak when asked a question (and sometimes even allowed himself to be interrupted without a response), and looked to be the most thoroughly unprepared and unqualified person on the stage.  He stammered through a few answers on issues he clearly did not prioritize (“What kind of a country are we if . . .” and “With all the fear, hatred” et cetera, the sort of shit that people rant about online).  He was by far asked the fewest questions and had the fewest responses.  Not ready for prime time, I suppose.  Give the man another ten years to see if he can make something of himself nationally.

 

Poor John Delany actually did not look bad.  But he was the candidate farthest to the right on stage and that shit simply could not stand.  Most of his responses–serious, well-thought out policy ideas–were smirked at or outright laughed at by those surrounding him.  He was clearly growing increasingly frustrated with both his competitors and the questions being asked as they continually avoided him, repeatedly claiming “We’ll get to you shortly, Representative Delany.”  This is a guy who does not need this bullshit in his life and I am sure he will be much happier once he drops out of the election.  As I stated in the previous piece, this is a guy who is primed for a television expert post, and I will look forward to hearing from him.

 

Later today I will discuss tonight’s round two.  As for now I wish to condemn MSNBC for their terrible broadcast, what with the technical difficulties and the repeated second long broken feeds.  Maddow and Todd were awful (Chuck Todd far worse), and the other three were merely annoying, slight partisan preference clearly on display.  But, nevertheless, this was a worthwhile event to watch.  We watched several candidates emerge as future powers as time goes by (we already knew that Warren was, but Klobucher and Castro truly rose in this moment).  It will continue to be interesting as we narrow this field down to the essentials.

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Previewing the Democratic Presidential Debates (Part One)

 

There are too many people vying for the nomination to face Donald Trump in the upcoming election.  There are so many Democrats frothing at the mouth, dreaming that they might momentarily rise to the top at just the right moment to take on the monster in the White House.  Of course they all think they can beat him (and maybe they can, although the divisions between radicalism and indifference grow wider every day).  It comes across like a near-revolutionary moment, one that could define a change from which America may never return.

 

Of course the election of Trump itself was probably more substantial in this regard, the face and power of the office modified to such an extent, and with such petty legal maneuvering (remember, Trump was well known for suing everyone and everything prior to holding office in order to at least partially have his way), that what we have to look forward to, no matter how divergent the political philosophies might be, is some growing form of totalitarianism, no doubt increasing as the years go by and desperation becomes the manner of the day.  None of this changes the fact that this election, in this 24-hour news cycle of attacks and opinions, will be one of the most covered stories in the history of the world.

 

As the title of this site states (and as I have repeated far too often), this is “editorial history,” meaning that I define history herein through the divisions in belief on numerous, various, and every other issue that people value, at least temporarily.  And so, prior to the first Democratic debate tonight on MSNBC, I would like to offer a rundown of who will be arguing, and some snide commentary about what I believe may happen (of course tomorrow, in Part Two, I can discuss how wrong I was and what other people from different sides have to say).

 

I have said before that election season is my second favorite sport–a true blood sport–behind boxing.  Boxing, however, has declined substantially as a public spectacle, and the number of fighters you might be able to name today is at a minimum, if any.  There are various reasons for this, the rise of UFC being one of them (on a personal level, watching a UFC fight is either a terrible mismatch that lasts a few seconds, or amounts to a bell to buzzer hold, kind of like a boxing match with 12 rounds of clenching, an exhausting contest of submission where someone tries to hold on and break free for the duration).  One time top notch boxers also turn to other sports–football mostly–as a way to secure a more profitable career.

 

So this leaves politics, something far more vicious and definitely way more rigged and corrupt, even than in the days when gangsters ran the gymnasium.  And the current number of candidates is so vast that the debate has been divided into two nights, there not being enough room for all the candidates to fit on the stage.  And public interest, ultimately, is far more minimal than most of the candidates wish, regardless of the paparazzi-like cameras and microphones constantly being shoved into their faces, which makes them believe they are truly in demand.

 

But remember: these are Democrats.  Say what you will about their sincerity or morality, in this tabloid culture, they simply aren’t that interesting.  We live in a distracted, entertainment oriented society (how else can we explain Donald Trump if we wish to avoid the crippling response of prejudice that has clouded the entire world today?)  Democrats are boring.  Many of them have flat personalities and come across like the teacher you most despised in school, or self-righteous corporate CEOs of non-profit conglomerates.  This is not everyone of course; such generalizations merely reflect the ease with which we write every person off who is of a slightly different shade or mindset from ourselves.  But let us get a rundown, somewhat briefly, on the people meant to be arguing with each other are tonight:

 

First, let us mention those not significant enough to make it onto the unwieldy stage:

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Montana governor Steve Bullock.  Outside of Montana, most of us are asking “Who?”  Bullock likes to boast, accurately, that he won his high office in a state that otherwise dominatingly voted for Donald Trump.  Quite an accomplishment, sure.  Although–and this is perhaps more important when running for the highest office in the land–his state comprises just over one million people.  The land itself is huge, in fact the fourth largest state in the nation behind Alaska, California and Texas.  It is a place of empty spaces, perhaps further highlighting the futility of the candidacy of this man there is no reason to believe is unqualified.

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Seth Moulton is only 40 years old.  He is a Congressman from Massachuesetts, in fact comprising a rather large and populous area.  He is a former Marine who has made it a point to call President Trump “unpatriotic,” and has come as close as anyone in government to calling him “a traitor.”  Harvard educated with a degree in Physics, I suspect we will be hearing more from Rep. Moulton in the future.  His time has yet to come.

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This is Wayne Messam, mayor of Miramar, Florida.  A first generation American (his parents were both from Jamaica, where his father cut sugarcane for a living), Messam has a pretty interesting personal resume.  For example, he was a star wide receiver at Florida State University, a member of the 1993 National Championship team.  He is currently the President of the National Black Caucus for elected officials.  He is clearly a smart, very capable man.  He will never be president, although a future in the Senate with a powerful voice seems to be something he has to look forward to.

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Mike Gravel.  Former Senator from Alaska from 1969-1981.  He is 89 years old.  He has certainly had an impressive career, increasingly long ago.  What else can I say about him and his chances?

 

So that brings us to the individuals who scraped their way onto the stage, some of them questionably.  What should we look forward to tonight?

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Bill de Blasio, current mayor of New York City.  He is mostly despised in his home town, more unpopular, even, than President Trump in this massive liberal bastion.  A gross, giant of a man, his snide New Yorker style will fulfill every negative stereotype people elsewhere in the nation have about the city (and embarrass many of his people looking merely for someone to support against the President).  De Blasio even engaged in a bleak, pathetic exchange with his 21-year old son for “debate preparation.”  And while his son is certainly not at fault, and may very well be an intelligent young man, who can see this as anything other than a cheap attempt to get the youth vote?  No chance.  He will probably be done running for President after tonight.

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Tim Ryan, Congressman from northeastern Ohio for the past fifteen years.  Here is another person who makes me feel badly about myself and is therefore all the more impressive.  He is younger than me and has been in Congress since he was 30.  At 30 I was a bartender.  Ryan supports a number of traditional Democratic positions, from healthcare and education, through different international policies and protection of the environment.  Apparently a decent guy, someone very likable in his interviews, he remains outside the upper echelon of candidates and reminds me of the sort of successful politician who might someday become Vice President.  He’ll probably last to the second round.

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Julian Castro, once the secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration, is yet another man younger than I am today.  The former mayor of San Antonio, Castro is a pretty impressive guy.  He is the first serious Hispanic candidate for President of the United States.  I like Castro, although most of the nation will not.  A sincere man, focusing, predictably, on immigration and police brutality as chief issues in need of change, this talented young man will probably look really good and sound excellent during the debate, and yet will still drop out shortly thereafter.  He will lend his minimal support to one of the other second tier candidates, and then look forward to a successful future as either a Senator from or actually the governor of Texas.  He has a great future to look forward to.

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Cory Booker, Senator from New Jersey, strikes me as perhaps the nicest person currently running for President, something that will easily write him off as ‘weak’ in some people’s minds.  A serious politician, one of the few that appears to actually believe in truth and justice, Booker is also very easy for, particularly, Republicans to publicly destroy.  This is for no reasons of his own, but simply because he can be, with wholly racist intent, painted as an Obama clone.  A vegan (no one really likes vegans), and dating a celebrity, Booker will likely spend a long time in the Senate throughout his life, perhaps lose an election with someone else as their VP candidate, and then continue on as before, a regular television presence with worthwhile issues to discuss.  No chance whatsoever.  He would lose to Trump.

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Do not count Elizabeth Warren out because I believe she could genuinely win.  Presently an influential Senator from Massachusetts and a former law school professor specializing in bankruptcy law, Warren is unapologetically liberal, and there is certain purity to her stances on many issues.  Unlike most of her competitors, she does not shy away from expressing what she believes, and she rarely falls into the trap of mindlessly repeating the party line.  Clearly brilliant, her only real problem seems to come within the divided young, social justice warrior crowd who (for some reason) resent her supplanting Bernie Sanders as the left-wing favorite.  Not a socialist by any means, the increased comparisons to Sanders can prove ultimately damaging for Warren.  Expect her to kill on the stage tonight.  She is much smarter than all of them.

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Beto O’Rourke, former Texas Congressman and early on the “It” boy of the Democratic Party.  He has lost a lot of steam and often comes across like he’s not particularly bright.  Certainly good-looking, charming, and with an appealing personality (particularly to the less serious young), Beto has absolutely no chance, ever.  I see him, eventually, getting a job and maybe even a show with MSNBC, or someplace like that, living a much better life than he could if he continued with politics.  Whomever he throws his dwindling support towards will thank him for it.

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Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota would probably make a wonderful President.  She looks like (and rumors are that she is) a real bitch.  An engagingly competent and serious individual, Klobuchar does not appear to have the charm to maintain her campaign, especially when there are so many other qualified women running against her (and yes, regardless of how you might take this, those other women are who she is truly running against).  I would personally much prefer Klobuchar to remain in the Senate.  Should the Democrats ever re-win that stronghold, couldn’t you see her being every bit as cruel and unbending as Mitch McConnell?  She needs to stay put.  She will likely do very well in the debate, thus wasting more time away from the serious work she should be undertaking.

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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii is an interesting and unique person.  She is a first many times over: first Samoan-American in Congress as well as first Hindu (Hindu!) that we know of, in US Representative government.  Vehemently anti-war, Gabbard promises to divert trillions of dollars away from the military and into such homebound issues as health care and improved education.  It might be difficult to not support this, but the panic and paranoia on display in this increasingly closed-border land will make her stance on the military come across as traitorous to many.  No chance.  Tonight is it for her.

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If he had a chance, I would personally support Washington State Governor Jay Inslee.  The only candidate putting the environment first (and thus the person who cares the most about human life), there is a lot to admire about the man.  Very smart, very dedicated, but with an easy sense of humor, Inslee is the sort of liberal that would be taken apart by the other wolves on the prowl, and his bones would not even be spit out, just chewed up for marrow until he is little more than husk.  He will stay in Washington, perhaps become a Senator (Vice President might be a possibility too, because he really does not offend anyone), and continue being a voice in favor of planet earth.

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The last person on stage tonight is former Maryland Congressman John Delany.  Probably number 19 or 20 to make it through the initial phase to get on stage, Delany is a pretty good politician.  A serious foreign policy wonk, this is the sort of person we would want in the White House during wartime (and by that I mean world wartime).  But since even the idea of war has been blurred in the partisan media, a relatively honest, mostly upstanding citizen like Delany has no chance whatsoever and will likely drop out after the debates tonight.  He is, however, the sort of unknown who could also drastically rise with an impressive performance, needing to correct a few of the top tier candidates without calling them stupid, and logically bringing them around to his way of thinking.  I see a future as one of the expert commentators on CNN, articulating certain realities that only a portion of Americans believe.

 

And so this is day one, a full card that I will certainly be watching with great interest.  An analysis of this debate tomorrow will follow, along with a preview of the next one, featuring the far better known candidates (other than Warren) barking out their answers at one another.  Following that Part Three of this discussion will evaluate what comes next.