Kanye West For President?

Yesterday, Kayne West announced that he was running for President in 2020.

A normal person would look at that news and remember that Kanye has a history of erratic and eccentric behavior.  They would realize that it’s next to impossible to join a presidential election at the last minute.  They would consider that it’s already legally impossible for Kanye to get on the ballot in several states.  All of the parties that have 50-state ballot access have already selected their candidates.  Even if some bankrupt, used-to-be-big party like the Reform Party nominated Kanye, that would still only get him on two states.  If Kanye can’t get a party to nominate him, he’ll have to get people on the ground to sign petition to get him on the ballot in the remaining states.  That’s not a small undertaking.  It’s not something that anyone can do just off the top of their head.

Beyond the fact that it’s next to impossible for Kanye to become a serious candidate at this late date, there’s also the fact that Kayne already announced that he was going to run for President in 2015.  Then, he forgot about it.  Now, he’s doing it again.  He’ll forget about it again.  That’s what Kayne does.

Normal people would just shrug Kanye off but this is 2020 and there aren’t many normal people around.  The amount of panic that I’ve seen online over Kanye running and potentially taking votes away from Biden is really something to behold.  (This, despite the fact that Kanye is currently more popular with Trump’s voters than Biden’s.)  People have so bought into the myth that Hillary would have won if just not for those pesky third parties that some of them are in full meltdown mood just because of Kanye acting like Kanye.

Kanye’s not going to run so it really doesn’t matter.  Still, if your candidate is so weak that people would rather vote for Kanye West than for him, the problem isn’t with Kayne.  It’s with your candidate.

Election Predictions

I don’t see Trump winning reelection.  I just don’t.  His main argument for reelection has always been that the economy was doing so well that it didn’t matter that he was an often clueless vulgarian.  But the pandemic has revealed his glaring weaknesses as a leader and I don’t think the economy is going to recover enough by November to convince people to give him another shot.  I see Trump losing in November and I see him losing big.  I see him taking down a lot of Republicans with him.

Joe Biden will be our next president.  He’ll be a terrible president, though I imagine few people will be willing to admit it until after he’s out of office.  Many people in the media seem to be assuming that, at the age of 80, Biden is suddenly going to become some sort of inspiring progressive visionary.  Biden’s been running for President since before I was born.  There’s a reason why he needed a once-in-a-lifetime crisis and a uniquely flawed opponent to win.

As far as the protests go, a lot of Democratic leaders have fooled themselves into thinking that the protests are about Trump as opposed to the system that Joe Biden has spent his entire life protecting and promoting.  Those who assume that Biden’s election will magically bring an end to all the strife are fooling themselves.

Like Obama, I see Biden coming into office with a huge Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate.  I also see him squandering that majority, in much the same way that Obama did.  The Republican Party will be pronounced dead in November just to come back to life in 2022.  Will Biden run for reelection in 2024?  Many are saying that he won’t but I have a hard time seeing someone who has been running for President for as long as he has just voluntarily walking away.

My main election prediction right now is that we’re all screwed until at least 2024.

Moving Forward

I’m still here!

Where have I been for the last two weeks?  Busy.  I’ve been busy with work.  I’ve been busy writing film reviews for Through the Shattered Lens.  I’ve also been busy thinking about what I want to do with this blog.  Even though the name of this blog is “Pop Politics,” I ever meant for it to be anything more than a personal blog.  Even when this blog briefly went viral last year, it was an accident.  The only reason I broke the news about Mad Magazine shutting down was because I thought everyone else in the world already knew.  If I had known no official announcement had been made, I wouldn’t have written a word.

Going viral and suddenly having thousands of people looking at this blog and my twitter account (even if it was for only three days) was not as pleasant an experience as you might expect.  In the first few hours after I posted the news about MAD, I had a lot of strangers accusing me of making stuff up.  Even worse were the people who seemed to blame me for the news.  And then there were the actual journalists who were pissed off that I (“some rando with a blog” as one of them put it) scooped them, even though that was never my intention.  For someone like me, that was a lot to deal with.

So, if this blog isn’t a political blog or a journalism blog, what is it?  It’s just a personal blog.  It’s a place for me to write about my day and record my thoughts.  If people want to read, that’s fine.  If they don’t, that’s fine too.  Not everyone wants or needs to be famous.  Not everyone is trying to build a brand.  Some of us just want a place to express ourselves.

This is my place.


It Gets Worse

I, along with thousands of others, just watched surveliance footage of George Floyd in the moments before he was killed by a police officer kneeling on his throat.  As much as I hate linking to TMZ, I’m going to because it’s an important story.

The footage shows two police officers — neither one of whom is the same officer who put his knee on Floyd’s throat — approaching Floyd’s car.  (The police had been called because Floyd apparently paid for a meal with a counterfeit ten dollar bill and not because he was writing a bad check, as was initially reported.)  Two women get out of the car.  Because of the positioning of the car and the camera, it’s difficult to see what happens when Floyd gets out of the car but it does appear that there was a slight scuffle when he first got out.  However, it doesn’t look like like it was a huge fight (if anything, it looks like the reaction of a man who is shocked that he’s being arrested) and Floyd is quickly hand-cuffed and appears to be cooperating, even if he is understandably upset.  When more police officers arrives, Floyd is taken across the street.  The surveillance footage does not show what happened in the moments that led to Floyd being down on the ground with that cop’s knee on his throat.

Watching the video, I don’t see someone violently resisting.  I see someone who is upset because he’s being arrested, as I think anyone would be.  I would especially be upset if I was being arrested for having a counterfeit bill.  Money gets passed around and that includes bill that may be counterfeit.

None of that matters, though.  Even if Floyd did struggle or knowingly committed a crime, that’s not a reason for keeping your knee on the throat of a man who has been subdued.  They could prove that Floyd was the biggest counterfeiter in Minnesota and it still wouldn’t change the fact that he shouldn’t be dead right now.  In the video of Floyd’s death, the cop in question taunts Floyd by asking him if he still thinks he’s a tough guy.  Floyd’s death was all about power.  The cop wanted to show off his power and as a result George Floyd is now dead.

Charges need to be filed soon.

George Floyd Should Be Alive Today

Today, I’m thinking about George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis as the result of a cop keeping his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck for several minutes and essentially suffocating the man until he was dead.  Floyd was filmed saying that he couldn’t breathe before he died.  Even after Floyd fell silent, the cop kept his knee on Floyd’s neck.  It didn’t appear to occur to any of the cops in the video to investigate why Floyd was no longer speaking.

Floyd was being arrested for a non-violent crime, Forgery.  Apparently, police were called because it was believed that Floyd was writing a bad check.  Bodycam footage of what happened during the arrest has not been released yet so we don’t know the exact details of what happened before Floyd ended up on the ground with the cop’s knee on the back of his neck but it doesn’t really matter.  Even if Floyd resisted arrest or tried to flee, he was subdued, handcuffed, and on the ground by the time he started to say that he couldn’t breathe.

Why was Floyd left on the ground?  Why, after he was handcuffed, was he not put in the back of a police cruiser?  Why was he left on the ground with a cop’s knee on the back of his neck?  Judging from the video, the cops appear to be very calm while Floyd is dying.  They don’t appear to be in fear for their lives or recovering from any sort of chase or struggle.  They appear to be very nonchalantly going about their business while Floyd dies below them.

It’s disturbing to see and it’s the latest example of police brutality.  The job of the police is to keep everyone safe, including the people that they are arresting.  The job of the police is not to act as society’s avenger or to “teach lessons” to criminals.  Until we get serious about changing law enforcement culture, shit like this is going to keep happening.


Jo Jorgensen for President?

On Saturday, the Libertarians held their convention and they nominated Jo Jorgensen for president.  It took four ballots for her to win the nomination, which is pretty typical for a Libertarian presidential nominating convention.  Unlike the Democrats and the Republicans, Libertarians do not turn their conventions into coronations.  If you want the Libertarian nomination, you better be prepared to fight for it at the convention.

Jo Jorgensen is from the pragmatic wing of the Libertarian convention.  It’s doubtful that she’ll get the same amount of attention or votes that Gary Johnson got in 2020 or that Justin Amash would have gotten if he had run.  I’d compare Jorgensen to Michael Badnarik, the activist who came from behind to defeat Aaron Russo and Gary Nolan for the 2004 Libertarian nomination.  She’s a good advocate for the Libertarian philosophy and she can argue for the party’s platform without descending into extremism, which is one thing that set her apart from several of the other candidates for the Libertarian nomination.  But with the national media’s natural antagonism to third parties in general and the Libertarians in specific, it probably won’t matter.

One of the biggest myths of 2016 is that Hillary Clinton’s loss was due to third party candidates like Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.  It’s often accepted as a statement of fact that Hillary would have won states like Wisconsin and Michigan if not for Johnson and Stein.  Of course, in order to believe that, you have to believe that all of those third party voters would have automatically voted for Clinton if not for the presence of Johnson or Stein on the ballot.  (And, of course, that’s also assuming that all of those Johnson and Stein voters would have even bothered to vote if their only options were Trump and Clinton.)  Because people still don’t want to admit that Hillary Clinton was a terrible candidate who lost the electoral college largely due to her own hubris, third parties have taken the brunt of the blame.  Since 2017, the media’s message seems to be that you’re free to vote for whoever you want as long as they’re a member of the two major parties.  For that reason, alone, don’t expect Jorgensen or the Green nominee to be given as much publicity as was given to candidates like Johnson, Stein, and Evan McMullin.

I’ll probably still vote for her.

The Results Are In!

Last night, the GOP did something that many people assumed would never happen.  They flipped a congressional district in California.  Republican Mike Garcia defeated Christy Smith in the special election to fill the seat that was previously occupied by Democrat Katie Hill.

There’s always a tendency to read too much into special elections.  That’s true, regardless of which party wins.  Political observers often try to use a special election victory as a bellwether for the general election to come.  Sometimes, they’re right and sometimes, they definitely aren’t.

A few things to remember about last night’s special election:

  1. Special elections typically get less turn-out than a general election.  They certainly get less turn-out than a presidential election.  Mike Garcia was at the top of the ballot yesterday.  In November, Donald Trump will be at the top of the ballot and Democrats across California are already looking forward to casting their vote against him.  Garcia was elected in a house district that went overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and many of those Clinton voters may not have voted yesterday but they will vote in November.
  2. The Democratic nominee, Christy Smith, ran a notably weak campaign.  This might actually work to Garcia’s advantage in November, as he’ll again be running against Smith for a full term.  It’s a question of whether or not Smith will learn from her mistakes in the general and if Biden has the coattails to help her get across the finish line.  I have my doubts about Smith learning from her mistakes because her campaign was done in by the type of hubris that doesn’t seem like it will lend itself to self-reflection.
  3. The district was red up until the last general election so it can be argued that that this special election indicates a return to normalcy after the wave election of 2018.
  4. The national media’s attempt to transform Katie Hill into a martyr served mostly to remind older voters of what happened the last time that they voted for a Democrat.  I think a lot of people outside of the district (myself included) underestimated just how strange and off-putting the concept of a “throuple” is to most older voters.

With all that in mind, Mike Garcia’s victory is still a huge morale boost to Republicans who have spent the past two years being told that the GOP is dead and that it’s never going to win another competitive election.  The election may or may not be a bellwether but there’s a lot of formerly downcast Republicans smiling today.