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.

Checking In

After a weekend in Paris, Lisa & I are currently back in London.  One more week in the UK and then it’s back to the United States.

I’ve made it a point not to regularly check for any news about the 2020 Presidential election.  To do so would defeat the purpose of being on vacation.  So, it wasn’t until about an hour ago that I learned that, on Saturday, Joe Biden finally won his first presidential primary when he swept the contest in South Carolina.

I don’t even like Joe Biden but I’m breathing a sigh of relief.  Though there’s still a long way to go, this victory at least suggests that a Sanders nomination is not inevitable.  It also signals that the crazies have not totally taken over the Democratic Party.

As I’ve made clear here, I don’t consider myself to be a Democrat.  For that matter, I haven’t considered myself to be a Republican since 2016.  I think Joe Biden is a moron but the fact of the matter is that the Democrats have a good chance of winning in 2020 and, even if Trump wins reelection, we will still eventually have another Democrat president within my lifetime.  As much as I dislike Biden, I’d rather have an idiot in the White House than someone who, at the age of 79, is still making excuses for Castro and the Soviet Union.  Even if Sanders is nominated and loses, just winning the nomination will normalize an authoritarian outlook that shouldn’t be normalized.

I guess the next big contest is Super Tuesday.  We’ll see if Biden can keep his momentum going or if South Carolina was just a momentary hiccup in Sanders’s march to the nomination.

I also read that Tom Steyer withdrew from the race.  He spent millions and didn’t win a single delegate.  For all the talk about how democracy is for sell, it seems like those who blatantly try to buy it always end up failing.

Bloomberg Was Not Ready For Prime Time

I just finished watching the latest Democratic Debate.  It was broadcast on NBC and it’s the final debate before the Nevada Caucus on Saturday.  It was also the first debate that Michael Bloomberg qualified for.

It was certainly the feistiest debate so far.  Warren’s trying to make a comeback after blowing it in New Hamsphire and Iowa so she was on the offensive tonight.  Biden needs to make a comeback but tonight, he was just rambling Joe, bragging on himself nonstop and coming across as confused whenever anyone disagreed with him.

Everyone focused most of their attention on Mike Bloomberg and, for someone like me who has always found Mike Bloomberg to be insufferably smug, it was glorious to watch him have one of the worst debates that I have ever seen in my life.  Bloomberg’s problem is that, like a lot of 79 year-old billionaires, he’s not used to people disagreeing with or challenging him to his face.  Other than his first campaign, I can’t remember Bloomberg ever having a tough race in New York City.  (And his opponent in that first election was Mark Green, one of the few politicians who comes across as being even more smug than Bloomberg.)  Bloomberg seemed to be lost on stage and, after the endless hype that has surrounded his candidacy, that was not the right impression to make.  After spending weeks bragging about how only he could take on Donald Trump, Bloomberg struggled to even keep up with Amy Klobuchar.  Bloomberg came across as being the boss that everyone hates and, watching him live, it was easy to imagine Trump dismantling him if the two of them ever end up on the same stage.

As much fun as it was to watch Mike get taken down a peg or two, everyone spent so much time going after Bloomberg that hardly anyone lay a finger on Bernie Sanders and Sanders is the one that they should have been trying to take down if they want to stand any shot at winning the Democratic nomination.  I get that the candidates don’t want to get Sanders’s supports angry with them (because they’ll need those so-called Bernie Bros to vote for them in November) but it’s hard not to feel that the 2020 Democrats are making the same mistake that the 2016 Republicans made with Trump.  They’re all assuming that, if they can just get everyone else out of the race, they can beat Sanders in a one-on-one race or they can at least keep Sanders from winning enough delegates to take the nomination on the first ballot.  It’s a foolish plan, though.  It didn’t work for Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich and it probably won’t work for Biden, Klobuchar, and Bloomberg.

Final thought: No one, tonight, came across like someone I would trust in the White House.  I thought the 2016 election provided me with the worst options of my lifetime but it looks like 2020 is going to prove me wrong.

Iowa Predictions

Really?  We’re just three days away from the Iowa Caucus?

I’m shocked that it slipped my mind.  I guess with the Super Bowl this weekend, the Oscars next week, and the news being dominated by the coronavirus, it’s easy to forget that the first Democratic nominating contest is on Monday.

I’m going to go ahead and predict that Sanders will win but probably not by as much as some people are expecting.  Biden will probably be a little bit stronger than the polling indicates. Warren will probably underperform while Buttigieg and Klobuchar will do just well enough to keep their campaigns alive.

If Biden’s campaign underperforms or if Sanders turns out to be stronger than expected, which is always a possibility because Iowa is not always easy to poll, look for a lot of anti-Bernie Democrats to suddenly develop a strange new respect for Michael Bloomberg.

No Front Runner?

On one of the cable news channels, I saw a headline that read: “No Democratic Front Runner?”  Apparently, that’s what Cook Political Report is currently says about the state of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.  With Iowa and New Hampshire rapidly approaching, it’s still anyone’s race.

I don’t know if I agree with that.  I think the race right now is Bernie vs. Biden and none of the other candidates really seem to have a realistic chance at getting the nomination (or, at the very least, winning the nomination through the primaries.  A brokered convention would be another story).  It’s true that the media still loves Elizabeth Warren but her campaign peaked a while ago and has been struggling ever since.  Much like Michele Bachman in 2012 and Ben Carson in 2016, Pete Buttigieg had a moment but that moment seems to have ended.  He’s strong in Iowa and New Hampshire but his campaign seems to be destined to flounder after those two states.  Amy Klobuchar could pick up some momentum if she finishes well in Iowa but it’s again hard to imagine it lasting for too long.  Bloomberg and Steyer have proven the power of money in politics but both seem destined, at best, to play spoiler roles at the convention.

Right now, it’s a Bernie vs. Biden game.  It’s hard to believe that, with Trump as their opponent, the Democrats can’t seem to do better than the grumpy old men but that’s the way it looks.  Maybe it’s not so much that there isn’t a clear front runner as it’s just that nobody wants to believe that, in 2020, we’re going to have to choose between Trump, Biden, and Bernie.  Surely, we can do better than that, can’t we?

Lessons From Last Night

Last night, as Iran launched 15 missiles at two Iraqi military bases, we truly got a chance to the see the American media at its worse.

First, it was announced that hundreds of missiles were being launched.  Then, on MSNBC, a reporter shared that at least 30 American soldiers had been killed.  Where did these numbers come from?  The Iranian government, which had every reason to spread disinformation last night.

Pictures and videos of the bombing started to show up online and on television.  We saw bombs exploding and buildings on fire.  It looked terrifying but, it turned out, that none of it was filmed during last night’s attack.  Instead, these were pictures of previous military attacks.  (One was apparently a picture of a fire at an oil drill.)  These images were released by Iran and then were shared, without any apparent skepticism, by the U.S. media.

After about an hour of panic, the truth finally emerged.  Iran’s attack was a pathetic attempt to save face.  There were no casualties.  Iran even gave Iraq advance warning.  In the end, more Iranians were killed during the funeral for Qasem Soleimani than coalition force members were injured during the bombing.  A Ukraine International Airlines flight may have been accidentally shot down by Iran, killing all 176 of the people aboard.

In other words, last night was not a triumph for Iran but, for at least a few hours, we were led to believe that 1) several Americans had been killed and 2) World War III had begun.  And why?  Because instead of getting confirmation, people ran with unconfirmed rumors and propaganda.  In a world where the media actually held itself accountable, people would be getting fired today.

Give credit where credit is due.  One of the few public figures to actually have the right response to last night’s attacks was Joe Biden.  Here’s what he said on twitter:

That was the correct response and, for once, everyone could learn something from Joe’s example.  Of course, they won’t.