Richard Reeves Has Died

I just read that the American political writer, Richard Reeves, died on Wednesday.  He was 83 and I hate to admit it but, when I first heard he had died, my initial assumption was that he had died due to COVID-19.  According to the New York Times, the cause of death was cardiac arrest and Reeves was also in the process of recovering from a battle with cancer at the time of his death.  (So, in other words, my initial assumption was incorrect.)

Reeves was a predictably liberal columnist and, during the twilight of his career, he made the same mistake that a lot of veteran political writers did by refusing to hold Barack Obama to the same standard to which he held previous presidents.  However, Reeves’s political books from the 70s are among the best ever written.  A Ford, Not A Lincoln and Old Faces of 1976 provide an acidic look at American politics in the years immediately after Watergate.

Convention, which Reeves wrote about the 1976 Democratic convention, is one of my favorite political books of all time.  By following several different people, including Ohio’s Lt. Gov. Richard Celeste and 17 year-old delegate Clare Smith, over the course of the convention, Reeves paints a portrait of democracy at both its worse and its best.  While Celeste plots his future presidential campaign and Clare tries to track down Hunter S. Thompson, candidates like Jimmy Carter, Mo Udall, and Jerry Brown shape the future of the nation.

With Reeves’s passing, I may just have to find my copy of Convention and give it another read.

Late Night Lockdown Thoughts

I think the scariest thing about Coronavirus is how unpredictable it is.  Some people get exposed without getting sick.  Some people get exposed and become sick immediately while others can walk around for weeks without feeling the least bit ill while spreading the virus to others.  For some people, it’s a death sentence and, for others, it’s just a shitty couple of weeks.  We can’t easily predict what the virus is going to do and that’s a scary thing.

It also means that we don’t know when our lockdowns are going to end.  We don’t know what type of world we will be entering after the virus has run its course.  Worst of all, we don’t know who is still going to be in that world.  When you see the statistics and the projections, it’s easy to imagine that, whenever this does end, every survivor will have lost someone to the virus.  I’m not ashamed that I find that to be a scary thought.

It’s got me thinking about the way I talk to people.  It’s got me thinking about all the times that I’ve wanted to say something but I haven’t because I always figured there would be a better time in the future.  This pandemic is making me think about not just the way that we make assumptions about other people but also the way that we speak to each other.  At times like this, we should be aware that anything we say to another human being could potentially be the last thing that we ever say to that person.  It’s a terrible thought but that’s the world that we’re living in right now.

I wish my thoughts were happier right now but they’re not.  I’m happy to be isolated with people who I love but I’m also missing my family up north and across the ocean.  I can’t wait to see everyone again, in person.  Take care of yourselves.

 

Shelter In Place

As of 11:59 tonight, Dallas County is under a “shelter-in-place” order.  It sounds more ominous than it is.  You can still go for a walk.  You can still go to the grocery store.  You can still do “essential” things but otherwise, we’ve all been asked to stay inside for the next two weeks.

Don’t worry.  I’m healthy.  Lisa’s healthy.  We’re all doing okay.  And don’t worry about me getting bored.  I’ve got some light reading to keep me occupied for the next couple of days:

Everyone stay safe out there.  As soon as this is all over, I’m going to head up to West Virginia, Baltimore, and Rochester and hopefully get to see everyone.  It’s scary now but we’ll make it.

Call It The Communist Virus

To be honest, I do kind of wish Trump would stop calling the coronavirus the “Chinese Virus” because that does make it sound like we’re blaming the Chinese people instead of the Chinese government.

I’d call it the Communist Virus.  Or maybe the ChiCom Virus, if you really want to make clear which set of communist overlords we’re blaming.

But, as angry as we have every right to be at the Chinese government, we should always make it clear that we stand with the Chinese people.

Bernie Loses Again

Most of today’s primaries were delayed and move back because of the Coronavirus.  Votes were cast in Florida, Arizona, and Illinois and Joe Biden wiped Bernie Sanders out.  By all normal logic, Bernie should suspend his campaign and acknowledge the obvious.  Continuing to contest the nomination is not only futile but it will also potentially cause voters to put their health at risk just to cast their vote in a meaningless primary.

Biden is a pompous moron and I’m not looking forward to him being president for four years.  Still, Sanders has never met a dictator that he disliked and, even with the country on lockdown because of the coronavirus, he refused to criticize forcefully criticize China in the last debate.  I’m happy to see Bernie not only lose but also lose decisively.

Thoughts On The Latest Democratic Debate

It was just Sanders vs Biden tonight.  There were three moderators, none of whom were particularly tough on either candidate.  Because of the coronavirus, there was no studio audience and that was a nice change.  There were no distracting cheers or boos.  As well, there was no audience for the candidates to play up to so both Biden and Bernie felt less scripted than usual.  This was a format that probably would have helped out also-rans like Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, and the majority of the candidates who didn’t even make it to the Iowa caucuses.  Beto O’Rourke’s campaign would have ended even quicker than it did if he had been forced to debate without an audience to cheer him on.

Biden won the debate easily, largely because Bernie’s shtick has gotten predictable and annoying.  Biden did alright, though he started to babble towards the end.  Biden does best when he knows that he’s the front runner.  When he knew he wasn’t going to win Iowa and New Hampshire, he seemed lost on the debate stage.  Now that he’s the front runner, he’s got his confidence back.  It undoubtedly also helped that Bernie doesn’t ever really have much of an argument to make beyond blaming everything on the billionaires.  There’s nothing unpredictable about Bernie and that helped Biden stay relatively on focus.

Biden promised to name a woman as his running mate.  A lot of people are speculating it will be either Stacy Abrams or Elizabeth Warren.  Kyrsten Sinema would be a better pick.

Biden looks unstoppable in the primary.  If the coronavirus situation doesn’t get better, he might be unstoppable in the general.  It’s hard to believe the Democrats couldn’t find someone younger and less confused to stop Bernie but they decided to rally around old Joe and here we are.

Rediscovering The Simpsons

Up until a few days ago, I always dreaded coming across reruns of The Simpsons in syndication.  That was usually because most of the reruns were from the more recent seasons and the drop-off in quality between The Simpsons of the 90s and the Simpsons of the modern era was so dramatic and sudden that it can often be depressing to even think about.  At first, it was just a case of the show depending too much on celebrity cameos and occasionally trying too hard to be topical.  Then, after season 20, The Simpsons suddenly seemed as if it was trying to keep up The Family Guy’s notoriously mean-spirited and lazy aesthetic.  As I said, it was just depressing to think about.

But, since I didn’t have to work today and the world is shut down for the Coronavirus, I stayed home and I actually watched a few episodes on FXX.  I was shocked to discover that some of the post-2000 episodes weren’t as bad as I originally remembered.  Perhaps it helped that I was watching them with absolutely no expectations but some of the episodes — in particular the Angry Dad episode with Stan Lee –actually did make me laugh out loud. It undoubtedly helped that I knew that none of the episodes that I was going to see were going to live up to the classic 90s episodes that I loved in high school.  Since I knew not to expect to see anything like Marge Be Not Proud or The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show, I could actually judge each episode on their own merits as opposed to comparing them to what had come before.

Of course, once FXX started showing episodes that were made at 2010, I promptly stopped laughing because those episodes still suck.  But who knows?  Maybe in 2030, I’ll actually be laughing at some of those episodes as well.  Hell, maybe even that episode with Moe judging American Idol will somehow become funny.  Strangers things have happened.