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.

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.

Lockdown Journal: 4-20-20

Today is 4-20.  Because I know my mother occasionally checks this blog, allow me to say that I have no idea why that date would be significant.  Some people were excited about today’s date but not me.  No way.

Another day in lockdown.  Three more bandannas arrived at the house today.  I ordered them off of Ebay a few weeks ago and they finally showed up.  Lisa and I put them on, just to see if they were the right size.  Then we stared at ourselves in the mirror and wondered what it’s going to be like to spend the rest of our lives looking like we’re about to hold up a stagecoach or rob a bank.  For a few minutes, at least, we felt like Bonnie and Clyde.

I heard today that Georgia is scheduled to reopen on Friday.  A lot of people are saying that it’s a huge mistake and others are saying that it’s about time to reopen the economy and loosen some of the lockdown restrictons.  I don’t know what’s going to happen.  Even if COVID-19 hasn’t been the end of the world event that some people thought it would be, it’s still not something to mess around with.  At the same time, there’s something galling about the same people who refuse to close Central Park criticizing another state for wanting to get back to work.  So much of the coverage of this pandemic seems to come from people who almost seem to be rooting for massive red state fatalities.  It’s a sad statement about the current lack of national unity.  My hope is that things will be okay in Georgia.  And, if they’re not, my hope is that we’ll learn a lesson from it.

Lockdown Journal: 4-14-20

I went grocery shopping this morning.  I put on my mask.  I waited outside of the store with a group of other people who were all wearing masks.  When we were allowed to enter the store, everyone who worked there was wearing a mask.  It felt as if I had left the house and stepped into a low budget science fiction movie.

I returned to the house and checked the news.  I saw that Obama finally endorsed Joe Biden.  A lot of people think it’s strange that Obama waited until there was literally no one left to make his endorsement but it didn’t surprise me.  If Obama endorsed Biden and then Biden lost to Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, or any of the other major candidates (as it appeared he might at one point), it would have been a huge embarrassment.  If Obama had endorsed anyone other than Biden, he would have been admitting that he didn’t have faith in the man that he selected for vice president.

Trump announced that he is halting American funding of the WHO while a review is conducted to examine WHO’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic.  It’s about time.

 

Lockdown Journal: 4-13-20

Lisa and I are currently watching something called Tarzan in Manhattan.  It’s a late 80s tv movie where Tarzan goes to New York and teams up with a private investigator played by Tony Curtis.  Jan-Michael Vincent is in it, as well.  It’s pretty bad but at least I know what I’ll be reviewing for the Shattered Lens tomorrow.  As bad as this is, I’m glad that we found it before we forced to resort to binging our way through the Police Academy movies on Netflix.  That day will come eventually but we’re still trying to hold it off for as long as possible.

We watched a little of Trump’s daily press briefing today.  A lot of people are upset because Trump said, incorrectly, that he has absolute authority as President.  It’s amazing to watch the people who celebrated eight years of “I have a pen and a phone” suddenly discovering why checks and balances are actually a good thing.  One would hope that they would continue to remember it even after they return to power but I doubt they will.  They’re not really upset about the potential usurpation of power.  They’re just mad that Trump is the one doing it.  America deserves better than it’s getting from both its leaders and its media.

Other than Trump’s press conference, the big political news is that Bernie formally endorsed Joe Biden today.  They had a live stream conversation, during which Biden appeared to be reading from a teleprompter.  Say what you will about Bernie, and I think I’ve made it clear that I don’t agree with him about much, but Bernie doesn’t need a script to have a conversation.  It may not matter, of course.  Trump is such a divisive figure that the Democrats may not need a good candidate to beat him and there are a lot of people who will happily vote for anyone but Trump.  But I still can’t imagine actually being enthusiastic about Biden on any level other than the fact that he’s not Trump.

In the UK, Boris Johnson is out of the hospital.  That’s some good news to end on.

Lockdown Journal: 4-9-20

The latest news out of the UK is that Boris Johnson is out of the ICU and that he’s recovering.  That’s good news, regardless of whether you voted Tory or Labour in the last general election.

Here in the States, there was briefly a flurry of excitement when it was reported that Colin Kaepernick, who has been a free agent since 2017, had been signed by the New York Jets.  It turned out that the story was based on a tweet that was put out by a parody twitter account.  What was interesting was witnessing the number of media figures — the same people who were told we should listen to in times of crisis — who fell for the tweet.  Those of us who have never particularly cared about whether or not Kaepernick was signed to an NFL team have often wondered who Kaepernick’s fans actually were.  Now, we have our answer.  They’re people who work for the cable news channels.

Myself, I never really cared whether or not Colin Kaepernick wanted to take a knee during the national anthem.  It was his right, as an American, to kneel.  At the same time, I also think the NFL had the right not to sign him.  Many people seemed to feel that an NFL team should have been forced to sign him but, even if that was constitutional, it just would have meant Kaepernick would have been spent the past three seasons sitting on the bench instead of appearing in Nike commercials.

Today has been a good day.  It’s been as close to a normal day as anyone could hope for during a pandemic lock-down.  Everything that has happened has really given me a new appreciation for normal days.

Lockdown Journal: 4-8-20

Allen Garfield died yesterday.  He may not have been a household name but he was one of the best character actors of the 70s.  He rarely had the lead role.  Instead, he was usually the obnoxious foil to the main character.  Invariably, he played people who you would not want to have to sit next to on an airplane.  He played Barnett in Nashville and he was Gene Hackman’s sleazy rival in The Conversation.  He was 80 years old and, because of a stroke that he suffered in 2004, he was retired from acting.

The singer John Prine also died yesterday, again of COVID-19.  We’re losing a lot of voices as a result of this pandemic.

Bernie Sanders ended his presidential campaign today.  Joe Biden’s been running for President since before I was born.  I guess his dream is finally going to come true.  If Biden wins, it will be due to voters rejecting Trump and not due to any great enthusiasm for Joe Biden as a candidate.  The thought that we can’t do any better than Trump and Biden is not a happy one.

Despie my feelings about the presidential race, today is the first day that I’ve felt really confident that, eventually, things will get better.  I just hope that everyone reading this is staying safe.

Chag sameach all.

 

Lockdown Journal: 4-3-20

Right now, Lisa and I are watching Akira Kurosawa’s Drunken Angel.  It’s the first time for her and the first time in a long time for me.  Movies, books, and music are all providing us with a welcome distraction at this time.

After spending the first part of last month telling people that masks were useless, both the government and the media are now saying that wearing a mask when you go out is essential.  On twitter, Vox’s Matthew Yglesias, who was one of those saying that people should not be panicking about masks in March, tweeted out that he ordered his masks back in February.  Around the same time that Vox was telling people not to worry about masks, the surgeon general’s office also sent out a tweet, telling people that they were wasting money on masks.  The more you dig into it, the more it seems that the many of the same people who told everyone not to get a mask were, at the same time, hoarding masks for themselves.  That’s one of the many scandals of the pandemic and it should not be forgotten when (if?) all of this ends.

(Fortunately, because we trust neither the government nor the media, we do have masks down here.)

In sad news, Bill Withers died on March 30th.  In good news, murderer Ira Einhorn died today in prison.  Sometimes, you have to take the bad with the good.

Today, it turned cold.  The temperature plunged from 70 to 48.  It’s supposed to rain for the next few days.  Fortunately, we were already planning on staying inside for the foreseeable future.