Sanford’s Out and Bloomberg’s A Little More In

That was quick.

Mark Sanford has suspended his presidential campaign.

Sanford was a presidential candidate for 65 days and never got any traction. Sanford tried to run on the issues, overlooking that politics today is all about personality and resentment.

Sanford, of course, was once taken very seriously as a presidential candidate.  That was before he “hiked the Appalachian Trail” and all the rest of that.  His career never recovered from the scandal and he really doesn’t have anyone to blame but himself.  Infidelity is one thing.  Abandoning your job so you can sneak down to South America to visit your mistress is something else all together.

While Mark Sanford’s campaign comes to an end, Mike Bloomberg’s now includes Arkansas.  He has filed for the Arkansas Democratic Presidential Primary but he still says he’s undecided on whether or not he’s actually running.  Bloomberg does this every four years.  I get the feeling that Bloomberg doesn’t want to run for president as much as he wants there to be some sort of national movement that will declare, “Only Bloomberg can save us!”

Bloomberg has said that, if he does run for President, he’ll ignore Iowa and New Hampshire and concentrate on the later contests.  I guess he’s assuming that none of their current candidates will come out of Iowa or New Hampshire with a convincing mandate.  That may be true.  Warren’s momentum seems to have momentarily stalled and Biden is Biden.  Buttigieg seems like he could do very well in Iowa but there’s doubts about how he’ll do in the rest of the country.  Still, it’s hard to imagine desperate Democrats turning to a 77 year-old billionaire who most people associate with soda bans and stop and frisk.

It’s hard to say what will happen for sure.  For now, all we know is that we won’t have Mark Sanford to kick around anymore.

Deval Patrick For President?

Just in case you thought the U.S. presidential election couldn’t get any stranger, now Deval Patrick is considering getting back into the race.  The former governor of Massachusetts previously announced that he would not be running.

Mike Bloomberg’s late entry (assuming that he actually goes through with it) is understandable.  He’s old, he’s arrogant, and he’s rich.  This might be his last chance to run for president.  It’s less obvious what Deval Patrick has to gain or prove from a last minute presidential campaign but it doesn’t say much about the Biden, Warren, and Sanders campaigns that, even this late in the game, there are Democrats that are still looking for other candidates.  I get the feeling that Democrats have faith that Biden could beat Trump but they don’t necessarily feel that he’s going to get the nomination.  At the same time, Warren and Sanders both seem like they could win the nomination and then go on to lose the general election.

Patrick is usually described as being a moderate.  He’s also “only” 63 years old, which is young compared to the Democratic front runners.  And in a race that has so far been dominated by elderly white people, he would be a black candidate with a more impressive record as an executive than either Kamala Harris or Cory Booker.  On paper, Patrick seems like he would have been a strong candidate if he had entered the race a few months ago.  I get the feeling that it’s probably too late now, though.



Smart Politics In The UK

From Sky News:

General election: Boris Johnson welcomes Nigel Farage’s decision not to stand in seats won by Tories in 2017

Tl;dr version: Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party will not be running candidates for any of the seats that were previously won by the Tories in 2017.  Instead, the party will focus on contesting seats held by Labour and the Lib Dems.  Now, if Johnson is smart, he will have the Conservative candidates stand down in any seat where it appears that the Brexit Party has the better chance to win.

This is good news for everyone who has been worried that the Tories and the Brexit Party would split their votes and the end result would be Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn, who is nothing if not predictable, has labeled this the “Trump Coalition.”

Actually, it’s just smart politics.


The Hard Way (1991, directed by John Badham)

Lt. John Moss (James Woods) is a cop with a problem.  A serial killer who calls himself the Party Crasher (Stephen Lang) is killing people all across New York and he has decided that he will be coming for Moss next.  However, Moss’s captain (Delroy Lindo) says that Moss is off of the Party Crasher case and, instead, he’s supposed to babysit a big time movie star named Nick Lang (Michael J. Fox)!

Nick is famous for playing “Smoking” Joe Gunn in a series of Indiana Jones-style action films.  However, Nick wants to be taken seriously.  He wants to play Hamlet, just like his rival Mel Gibson!  (That Hard Way came out a year after Mel Gibson played the melancholy Dame in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1990 adaptation of Shakespeare’s play.)  Nick thinks that if he can land the lead role in a hard-boiled detective film, it will give him a chance to show that he actually can act.  To prepare for his audition, he’s asked to spend some time following Moss on the job.  Mayor David Dinkins, always eager to improve New York’s reputation, agrees.  (David Dinkins does not actually appear in The Hard Way, though his name is often mentioned with a derision that will be familiar to anyone who spent any time in New York in the 90s.)  Of course, Moss isn’t going to stop investigating the Party Crasher murders and, of course, Nick isn’t going to follow Moss’s orders to just stay in his apartment and not get in his way.

The Hard Way is a predictable mix of action and comedy but it’s also entertaining in its own sloppy way.  Director John Badham brings the same grit that he brought to his other action films but he also proves himself to have a deft comedic touch.  Most of the laughs come from the contrast between James Woods playing one of his typically hyperactive, edgy roles and Michael J. Fox doing an extended and surprisingly convincing impersonation of Tom Cruise.  Woods and Fox prove to be an unexpectedly effective comedic team.  One of the best running jokes in the film is Woods’s exasperation as he discovers that everyone, from his girlfriend (Annabella Sciorra) to his no-nonsense boss, are huge fans of Nick Lang.  Even with a serial killer running loose in the city, Moss’s captain is more concerned with getting Nick’s autograph.

Woods and Fox are the main attractions here but Stephen Lang is a good, unhinged villain and Annabella Sciorra brings some verve to her underwritten role as Moss’s girlfriend.  Viewers will also want to keep an eye out for familiar faces like Penny Marshall as Nick’s agent, a very young Christina Ricci as Sciorra’s daughter, and Luis Guzman as Moss’s partner.

With its references to David Dinkins, Mel Gibson’s superstardom, and Premiere Magazine, its LL Cool J-filled soundtrack, and a plot that was obviously influenced by Lethal Weapon, The Hard Way is very much a period piece but it’s an entertaining one.


Viva Knievel! (1977, directed by Gordon Douglas)

Last night, I watched one of the greatest movies of all time, Viva Knievel!

Viva Knievel! starts with the real-life, motorcycle-riding daredevil Evel Knievel breaking into an orphanage in the middle of the night, waking up all the children, and giving each of them their own Evel Knievel action figure.  When one of the kids says, “You actually came!,” Evel replies that he always keeps his word.  Another one of the orphans then throws away his crutches as he announced that he can walk again!

From there, Viva Knievel! only gets better as Evel preaches against drug use, helps his alcoholic mechanic (Gene Kelly) bond with his son, and flirts with a glamorous photojournalist (Lauren Hutton).  Evel was married at the time that Viva Knievel! was produced but his wife and family go unmentioned as Evel, Kelly, and Hutton travel through Mexico, jumping over fire pits, and battling drug dealers.

Evel’s former protegee, Jessie (former child evangelist Marjoe Gortner), has fallen in with a bad crowd and gotten messed up on the same drugs that Evel spends the entire movie preaching against.  An evil drug trafficker (Leslie Nielsen, a few years before Airplane! and The Naked Gun) pressures Jessie to convince Evel to do a dangerous stunt.  The plot is to replace Evel’s trusted mechanic with a crooked mechanic (Cameron Mitchell) who will sabotage the jump.  When Evel dies, he will be shipped back to the U.S. in a coffin and, hidden within the walls of the coffin, will be several kilos of cocaine.  Oh, the irony!  Evel Knievel, America’s number one spokesman against drugs, will be responsible for bringing them into the United States!  Can Evel thwart the nefarious plans of Leslie Nielsen while still finding time to fall in love with Lauren Hutton and break Gene Kelly out of a psychiatric ward?  If anyone can do it, Evel can.

Even Dabney Coleman is in this movie!

From the start, Viva Knievel! is a vanity project but in the best, most loony and entertaining way possible.  There are many well-known actors in this film and all of them take a backseat to Evel Knievel, whom they all speak of as if he’s a cross between Gary Cooper and Jesus Christ.  Watching this movie, you learn three things: 1) Evel Knievel was high on life but not dope, 2) Evel Knievel always kept his word, and 3) Evel Knievel always wore his helmet.  He even makes sure that Lauren Hutton is wearing one before he takes her for a spin on his motorcycle.  You also learn that Evel Knievel liked to get paid.  He nearly beats up his manager (Red Buttons) when he thinks that he’s been cheated but they’re still friends afterwards because how could anyone turn down a chance to be in Evel’s presence?

There are plenty of stunts and jumps to be seen in Viva Knievel!, though watching Leslie Nielsen play a villain is almost as fun as watching Evel jump over a fire pit.  Judging from his performance here, Evel Knievel probably could have had a film career.  He had a natural screen presence and delivered even the worst dialogue with sincerity.   Unfortunately, three months after Viva Knievel! opened in the United States, Evel attacked a promoter with an aluminum baseball bat and ended up doing 6 months in jail.  Evel said it was because the promoter was spreading lies about him but, regardless, Evel lost most of his sponsorships and his toyline was discontinued.  Viva Knievel! sunk into an obscurity from which it has only recently reemerged.  Viva Knievel! is cheesy fun, a relic of a bygone era.  Watch it, think about whatever problems you may be dealing with in your own life, and then ask yourself, “What would Evel do?”

Bloomberg’s In (Maybe)

After previously saying that he would not run for President in 2020 and would instead devote his efforts and money to supporting whoever the Democrats did nominate to run against Trump, Michael Bloomberg has filed for the Alabama Democratic Presidential Primary.

Alabama has an early filing deadline so it’s possible that Bloomberg only filed to keep his options open.  He may not have yet officially decided to run for president but, by filing, he can make sure that he appears on the ballot just in case he does decide to make it official.  When you’ve got as much money as Mike Bloomberg, a wasted filing fee or two is not going to set you back.

According to the New York Times, Bloomberg’s reconsidering his decision not to run because he doesn’t think any of the current Democrat contenders would be strong candidates in the general.  He may be right but I don’t know that Michael Bloomberg would be much better.  Joe Biden may be too old but he’s actually a year younger than Bloomberg.  Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg might be out-of-touch elitists but Michael Bloomberg hardly speaks the language of blue collar populism.  Bernie Sanders might be preaching the politics of authoritarianism but Michael Bloomberg is best known for banning large sodas in New York City.  It may be that Michael Bloomberg took a look in the mirror and realized that, at his age, this is probably his last chance to run.

Could Bloomberg, if he somehow won the Democratic nomination, beat Trump?  At this point, I feel like only Trump can beat Trump and that often seems to be exactly what Trump seems to be intent on doing.  Bloomberg could very well could be our next president but first he’d have to win the nomination and that would mean convincing the increasingly pro-Socialist Democratic grassroots to support a  billionaire.  (That’s not even taking into consideration the disturbing strain of antisemitism that has been growing on the Left like a cancer.)

Bloomberg is not the only one rethinking an earlier decision.  Apparently, Eric Holder is thinking about jumping into the race as well.  Just when you thought the field was getting winnowed down, it’s starting to fill up again.

Dangerous Curves (1988, directed by David Lewis)

Last night, I watched Dangerous Curves.

This was a dumb, dumb film from the late 80s.  Tate Donovan and Grant Heslov star as two college students who lose a Porsche in San Diego and then have to get it back.  Fortunately, the Porsche is the grand prize in a beauty contest so Donovan and Heslov just have to hope that their friend Michelle (Danielle van Zernick) wins.  This should have been fun because it featured a hot car and several hot girls in bikinis but it also featured Tate Donovan and Grant Heslov as our “heroes.”  Donovan plays the uptight college student and comes across like one of the flunkies who helped Ted Kennedy cover-up Chappaquiddick.  Grant Heslov plays the carefree college student who constantly ruins everyone else’s life.  Neither one has the screen presence necessary to make us overlook how stupid their characters are.  On the basis of Dangerous Curves, it’s easy to see why Heslov went into producing and Tate Donovan went into doing character roles in films produced by Grant Heslov.

On the plus side, Robert Stack and Leslie Nielsen are funny in small roles.  And the car is hot and the film features as many bikinis as a typical episode of Miami Vice.  Watching the movie might remind you of the fun you had playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City back in the day.

There’s nothing wrong with that.