Happy Thanksgiving From Pop Politics

Happy Thanksgiving, not from the Pinedale Shopping Mall in Cincinnati, Ohio but instead from Baltimore, Maryland, where I’ve been visiting my family since Monday.

Of course, it doesn’t matter what city you’re watching from, WKRP In Cincinnati is an American classic that transcends both time and geography.  41 years ago, WKRP defined Thanksgiving with the now-classic Turkeys Away episode.

Here’s that moment:

When I was a kid, I used to watch reruns of WKRP on a daily basis.  Of course, I was a kid so I didn’t realize that the episodes were reruns and that I was just watching a canceled network show in syndication.  All I knew is that I wanted to grow up and work at a radio station with a sexy receptionist, a clueless boss, a sleazy advertising director, and a bunch of stoned DJs.  And I definitely wanted to win a Buckeye Newshawk Award!

Things may not have worked out like that but, on this day, I have much to be thankful for.  Life is good, the future is bright, and, thanks to WKRP, I know that turkeys can’t fly.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

What If A Candidate Drops Out And No One Notices

Well, this is embarrassing.

I think I may have been the only person seriously following Wayne Messam’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination but I still somehow managed to miss the fact that he suspended his campaign last week.

“Who’s Wayne Messam?” you may be asking.

He’s a former college football star and currently the mayor of Miramar, Florida.  His campaign never got much traction, largely because he was a total unknown and most people outside of Florida have never heard of Miramar.  Yet Miramar is a bigger city than South Bend, Indiana and a nicer one as well.  If Pete Buttigieg could run for president, why not Wayne Messam?

Unlike Buttigieg, Messam’s campaign never got any favorable press.  In fact, the only time it did get any national attention was when a bunch of former staffers claimed that that they were never paid and Messam’s campaign was basically a vanity effort and a way for Messam and his wife to pad their bank account.  Over at Politics1, Ron Gunzberger, who is something of an expert when it comes to Florida politics, speculated that Messam was running to get publicity for a future congressional campaign.  Mirmar is in Florida’s 20th Congressional District, which is currently represented by the embattled Alcee Hastings.

Would Messam’s campaign have caught on if he had appeared in any of the debates?  It’s hard to say.  The DNC fashioned the debates to favor the front runners and the media seems to be in the bag for Elizabeth Warren.  Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard have managed to pick up some support as a result of their debate performances but otherwise, the debates are pretty much designed to just be the Joe, Bernie, and Liz Show.

It’s always tempting to play “what if” but for now, Wayne Messam’s out.


I’m not watching.

I’m not watching the Democratic Debate right now.

Perhaps I should be, considering how much I go on about politics on this site.  But I just can’t summon up any enthusiasm for spending two hours watching those ten clowns answer softball questions from MSNBC.  Anything important that’s said will be available on either YouTube or Twitter, mere seconds after it’s said.  Despite the best efforts of the media to convince us otherwise, it’s been a while since a debate has really been a must-see event.

Unless, of course, it’s last Tuesday’s debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn.  I’ve both watched and rewatched that, quite a few times.  Each time I do, I’m struck by two things.  Number one, Boris Johnson has his weaknesses.  Number two, Jeremy Corbyn is uniquely incapable of taking advantage of them.  Despite his weaknesses, I have no doubt that Johnson will still be PM after December’s election.  Boris Johnson may be an erratic blowhard but at least he’s not Jeremy Corbyn.

As for the Democrats, the expectation tonight seems to be that Pete Buttigieg will be everyone’s number one target because Mayor Pete has surged in recent polls.  I don’t think Mayor Pete is going to be the Democratic nominee but I do think his success is going to keep Biden, Warren, and Sanders from sealing the deal.  To be honest, I don’t think any of the current front runners is going to win the nomination.  Despite the fact that she’s not getting much attention right now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Amy Klobuchar accepting the Democratic nomination next July.

“America! Beer!”: A Review Of The Delta Force (1986, directed by Menahem Golan)

I know that I previously declared that Viva Knieval was the greatest film ever made but, after giving it some thought, I’m going to have to move it down to the second greatest movie ever made.  Viva Knieval may be great but Delta Force is even better!

Produced by Cannon Films, The Delta Force starts in 1980, with a helicopter exploding in the desert.  America’s elite special missions force has been sent to Iran to rescue the men and women being held hostage in the embassy.  The mission is a disaster with the members of Delta Force barely escaping with their lives.  Captain Chuck Norris tells his commanding officer, Col. Lee Marvin, that he’s finished with letting cowardly politicians control their missions.  Chuck heads to Montana while Lee spends the next few years hitting on the bartender at his local watering hole.

In 1985, terrorists led by Robert Forster hijack an airplane and divert it to Beirut.  Among those being held hostage: Martin Balsam, Shelley Winters, Lainie Kazan, Susan Strasberg, Kim Delaney, and Bo Svenson.  The great George Kennedy plays a priest named O’Malley who, when the Jewish passengers are moved to a separate location, declares himself to be Jewish and demands to be taken too.  Jerry Lazarus is a hostage who spends the movie holding a Cabbage Patch doll that his daughter gave him for luck.  Former rat packer Joey Bishop plays a passenger who says, “Beirut was beautiful then.  Beautiful.”  Fassbinder favorite Hanna Schygulla is the stewardess who refuses to help the terrorists because, “I am German!”

In America, General Robert Vaughn activates The Delta Force to rescue the hostages and take out the terrorists.  As Lee Marvin prepares everyone (including Cannon favorite, Steve James and, in a nonspeaking role, Liam Neeson) to leave, the big question is whether Chuck Norris will come out of retirement for the mission.  Of course, he does.  Even better, he brings his motorcycle with him.

Anyone who has ever seen The Delta Force remembers Chuck’s motorcycle.  Not only did it look incredibly cool but it was also mounted with machine guns and it could fire missiles at cowardly terrorists.  It didn’t matter whether you agreed with the film’s politics were or whether you even liked the movie, everyone who watched The Delta Force wanted Chuck’s motorcycle.  As the old saying goes, “You may be cool but you’ll never be Chuck Norris firing a missile from a motorcycle cool.”

The Delta Force is really three different films.  One film, shot in the style of a disaster film, is about the hostages on the plane and their evil captors.  The second film is Lee Marvin (in his final movie role) preparing his men to storm the airplane.  The third movie is Chuck Norris chasing Robert Forster on his motorcycle.  Put those three movies together and you have the ultimate Cannon movie.  The Delta Force was even directed by Cannon’s head honcho, Menahem Golan.  (Years earlier, Golan also directed Operation Thunderbolt, an Israeli film about the raid on Entebbe, which features more than a few similarities to The Delta Force.  Golan received his first and only Oscar nomination when Operation Thunderbolt was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film.)

The Delta Force is also the ultimate 80s movie.  It opens with the Carter administration fucking everything up and it ends with the Reagan administration giving Lee Marvin and Chuck Norris the greenlight to blow up some terrorists.  There is not much nuance to be found in The Delta Force but it still feels good to watch Chuck beat the bad guys.  Top that off with a shameless score from Alan Silvestri and you have one of the greatest movies of all time.

At the end of The Delta Force, as cans of Budweiser are being passed out to rescued hostages, an extra is clearly heard to shout, “Beer!  America!”  Then everyone sings America The Beautiful.

That says it all.

Deval Patrick Is Actually Doing It

It’s official.

Deval Patrick is running for President.  While Mike Bloomberg continues to dither around, filing for primaries while claiming that he hasn’t decided whether he’s actually running yet, Patrick has jumped right in.  Personally, I have to admire Patrick’s direct approach.  No Hillary Clinton-style listening tour bullshit.  No Mike Bloomgberg-style begging people to “spontaneously” draft him.  Deval Patrick thinks that he sees an opening and he’s going for it.

Of course, he probably won’t succeed.  Most people in this country don’t have the slightest idea who Deval Patrick is and the fact that he was, until yesterday, an executive at Bain will probably disqualify him in the eyes of many Democrat primary voters.  Former President Obama has reportedly encouraged Patrick to run in the past and there’s been some speculation that he may have encouraged Patrick to jump in this year.  If Obama endorses Patrick, that’ll change things but Obama seems to be pretty intent on sitting out the primaries.

There are currently 6 living Massachusetts governors, including the current one.  With Patrick’s announcement, four of them have run for President.  Mike Dukakis was the Democratic nominee in 1988.  Mitt Romney was the Republican nominee in 2012.  Bill Weld is currently challenging Trump.  All we need now is for Jane Swift and Charlie Baker to jump on in and it’ll be a complete set.  For all the talk about every politician from Texas eventually trying to run for president, they’ve got nothing on Massachusetts.

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.