Monday, May 30, 2016

Five Reasons #NeverHillary Won't Succeed

1) You know all those Sanders supporters vowing to stay home if Hillary wins the nomination? Plenty won't make good on their promise. With all the "Trump's a fascist" hysteria being ginned up, a significant number will be guilt-tripped into hitting the polls. "Social Justice" being today's religious fundamentalism, these folks will line up so they can proudly tell Facebook they "stopped fascism."

Clinton did extremely well in critical states like PA and OH. There is no scenario where Trump takes California, so even if Sanders wins there, it means nothing. Sanders' leaving might tip West Virginia to Trump, but that's about it.

Bernie's fans will not vote Green or Libertarian or any other spoiler parties. The Nader in 2000 narrative will be sprayed around like mace at a Trump rally. Any third-party protest vote will more likely come from aggrieved Republicans, denting Trump (albeit only slightly).

But what about:

Among self-declared Sanders supporters, 20 percent said they would support Trump over Clinton in a general election match-up, up from 10 percent who said so in a March poll. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, Clinton barely led Trump, by 45 to 42 percent, compared with a 64 to 25 percent lead in March.
Bernie fans won't flock to Trump in large numbers. Wait until Bernie is gone and it's just Trump vs. Clinton without any distractions. Wait until Trump starts launching daily zingers about the Webster Hubbell rumors, Whitewater, Lewinski, Bill's alleged lovechild, you name it. Bernie supporters will have nothing to focus on but Trump's antics. Their dislike of Trump will cancel their disdain for Hillary's anointment.

2) The rise of hard right parties in Europe will be used to heighten the "Trump is Hitler" panic and sway fence-straddlers to vote Hillary. The supposed rise of European fascism will embolden voters unable to even name the Heads of State of the countries where this alleged fascism is returning, because those voters JUST KNOW something they aren't supposed to like is happening someplace they've never even vacationed. Take that, party/politician/country I've never heard of!

Any gaffe, skirmish, scandal (sounds like a decent board game) from Front National, AfD, etc. will get manifestly more coverage stateside than would occur outside of Trump season, and the subtext to the coverage will be: "Don't let it happen here by electing The Donald."

3) When the Brexit vote fails, the West's "anti-establishment" wave will receive its first mortal blow. I think Brexit will fail by no fewer than five percentage points, pricking some of the air from the "We're taking back our country!" wave broiling in Western nations. You can be sure there will be a massive intellectual and legal crackdown following this failed vote to ensure nothing similar happens again.

When Scotland was supposedly going to vote out, suddenly you were hearing about breakaway movements in spots like Northern Italy and Catalonia. Once "Free Scotland" failed, you stopped hearing about "the fracturing of Europe." Brexit's flopping will have a similar cooling effect on American rages against the machine.

4) President Obama is leaving on a high note.

Unlike the 2014 elections, the President will be an asset - a major asset - this time around. Don't take my word for it:

But amid what has become a vicious 2016 campaign, the public is growing fonder of Obama. His approval ratings have been 50 percent or higher for 11 of the past 12 weeks, a level he hadn’t hit in more than three years. His current rating -- 51 percent for the week ended May 22 -- is two points higher than Ronald Reagan’s was at this phase of his presidency, according to Gallup data.
Going back to 1952, the incumbent party won the largest share of the popular vote in nine out of 10 elections in which the sitting president had an average job approval rating of at least 48 percent

Hillary is closely tied to the once again popular president, and he will almost certainly do a first-rate job of selling her. He will speak at the convention, and being the first black president, there will be an explicit narrative of: "In 2008 we made history, let's be sure we don't elect someone on the wrong side of history."

When he says those exact words at the convention, tell your friends you read them here first.

And a bonus...

5) Republican organization will remain spotty. Bill Kristol's "resistance" will be far less influential than his addled mind believes, but there will be enough disunity and sabotage within the party to disrupt Trump's "ground game." Ryan finally came around to "endorsing" Trump: it means nothing. Not only did it take forever, but Trump's buzz rests upon running against Washington hacks like Ryan.

Think about the convention. How many high-profile Republicans will risk their careers by speaking? Picture those who would accept such a socially incriminating invite, how much broad appeal will they likely possess? Carl Icahn won't do it, and if he did, imagine how poorly someone like him would go over in swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. Then there's Newt Gingrich...will that neutralize all the "Trump hates women" rumblings?

What kind of new all-time shocking quotes will emerge from Trumps's acceptance monologue? When the convention becomes a circus, the WHAT THE HELL WILL TRUMP's ADMINISTRATION LOOK LIKE question will be everywhere.

When faced with mayhem or mediocrity, eventually more than enough voters will choose mediocrity. Even without mayhem, the makeup of the electoral college now makes Democratic presidents all but inevitable. Just ask Tofu in a Tie.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Second Place is the First Loser

"Perhaps the cruelest thing ever said of Hubert Humphrey was that he had the soul of a vice president." - Susan Estrich

The VP choice has higher stakes for Trump than for Hillary. Ross Perot, the last outsider with a significant campaign, was seriously damaged by his choosing Stockdale. When running as an outsider without a political track record, your first political selection matters more than someone who has been in the system, particularly when you’re someone like Trump who is trying to convince lots of people he is serious.

That said, the presumption of electoral college gains from VP selections isn’t supported by much evidence; even in relatively close elections.

Ryan didn’t deliver Wisconsin for Romney.

Edwards didn’t deliver NC for Kerry.
Bentsen didn’t deliver TX for Dukakis.

Agnew didn’t deliver MD for Nixon.

Warren didn’t deliver CA for Dewey.

Kemp didn’t deliver NY for Dole.

The list goes on.

Shriver didn’t deliver MD for McGovern (which traditionally goes Democrat), and Ferraro couldn’t even deliver NY for a Democrat, which demonstrates the broader point: In terms of a VP choice having the power to buck the predominant voting trend, VPs aren’t that relevant.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Black and White Television in HD

Have you heard about that cool new show where the lead character isn't a sociopath indulging all of man's darkest compulsions? How about that hot new sitcom where the characters' social skills don't resemble the Elephant Man on a speed date? If you hear of such shows, please bring them to my attention.

Before "Seinfeld" and "The Sopranos", TV was saccharine in the extreme. Every episode of every sitcom ended with sensitive piano music, followed by someone learning a corny lesson. What flaws TV characters did possess were mostly goofy, and most storylines stayed in ultra benign territory. TV was so sanitized that when a storyline involved something nominally "serious," they advertised it as a "very special" episode. This week on a very special "Blossom", Joey discovers that muscle cars get poor gas mileage. Closeup of Joey saying; "From here to the gas station in is 9.4 seconds? Whoa!"

Now television is a race to the bottom of the ethics barrel. We have moved to the other extreme, where nearly every show is populated with neurotic, amoral losers. Today it wouldn't be "Who shot J.R.?" It'd be "Who sodomized J.R.'s corpse with the murder weapon?" It is fashionable to insist you don't like "black and white" characters. That's fine, except that now all characters are black. The storylines are also uniformly black. Television is as monochrome as ever.

A quick check of the 2015 Emmy Nominees:

Outstanding Drama Series

“Better Call Saul” - Shyster lawyer spin-off of "Breaking Bad", that show about America's favorite murdering, meth-cooking chemistry teacher (the one who became a criminal mastermind in very short order despite no criminal experience)

“Homeland” - "Political" "thriller" where everyone is such a haunted mess they shower by waterboarding themselves

“House of Cards” - Political show focused on nothing but how the political (blood) sausage is made

“Mad Men” - Cynical dispomania soap opera that recreates the Bad Old Days as imagined by someone who finds Bernie Sanders too capitalist. Justifies red meat sex scenes by pretending they are comments on old school infidelity

“Orange is the New Black” - Women's prison drama with episode titles like Tit Punch

“Game of Thrones” - The show most connected to reality on this list is the one with dragons. Still manages to work in rape

Five years from now, these will be the nominees:

"Cunt is the New Bitch"
"Scar Trek"
"The Real Housewives of Auschwitz"
"Coat Hanger, M.D."
"The Guy who Skins 12 People Alive Each Day and Uses Their Flesh for a Slip'N Slide but it's Cool 'Cause He's Gay-friendly"

Contemporary dramas may bulge with cartoon seediness, but at least some are entertaining. Not so with today's comedies. Ivy Leaguers have long dominated TV comedy writing, but they didn't always display a Revenge of the Nerds mentality. Big Nerd has seen to it that even when characters aren't jailbirds or kingpins they have the conversational skills of Robinson Crusoe. The awkward elite are presenting Social Anxiety Disorder as the whole of human discourse. You might say they're bullying us into adopting their worldview.

You know what would be refreshing? A sitcom full of people who don't see a Radiohead song in every aspect of work and dating. Diversity in entertainment is always in the news now; how about some shows written by and about people who can actually speak? Who am I kidding: America isn't ready for a sitcom with complete sentences. Compared to that electing the first black president was a baby step.

One might argue that television is bound to feature exaggerated, uncommon circumstances. The same argument could be made in defense of the exaggerated wholesomeness of yesterday's much scorned tube-tainment.

I expect the next Netflix show to take place in someone's colon. And when the producer is questioned, he'll put on his best Serious Face and declare: "Hey man, everyone has colons, I'm just holding up a mirror."