Thursday, June 16, 2016

And for those of you who like sport . . .

There's politics.

My goodness and by Great Hastur, it's been a busy week on the political front since Clinton became the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party after winning the California primary back on June 7th.

First, though:

With the District of Columbia primary last night, the 2016 Presidential primary cycle is now over! 

Bernie Sanders and his wife called on Hillary Clinton at a DC hotel last night, and many people have speculated that the terms of his surrender were being negotiated. Nothing's been revealed yet, but here's a few speculations:

1. Sanders promised that he would see this thing through to the convention, so he might do it in a pro forma fashion, so that he can tell his supporters that he kept his promise.

2. He wants a seat at the table when it comes to writing the platform. I think that's doable, and a tribute to Sanders' forcing a shift in the conversation.

3. He needs time to steer his supporters toward the Clinton campaign (and pay no attention to the Trumpanzees who masquerade as BernieBros).

4. One of the things that gained Obama much respect from Clinton in 2008 was that yes, she did concede to him, but a roll call vote was allowed in the convention to showcase how well she had done. Something similar may be in the offing.

And now we turn to the Republican candidate. First, here's the GOP Party Anthem in all its glory:

There was much quiet wailing and gnashing of teeth in the back rooms at the GOP, because their presumptive nominee continues to see how well he can imitate the Worm Ouroboros by swallowing his own feet down to the knees, backwards. Trump's been jumping up and down, ranting about this and that.

Let's see how that's been working for him, shall we? To be fair, I will leave out his responses to the Orlando Massacre - I'll save those for later.

The most interesting thing to come out of the week vis-a-vis Trump was some early polling out of Utah. The Beehive State hasn't flipped blue since Johnson crushed Goldwater back in 1964. However, the poll shows Clinton tied with Trump at 35%, with the Libertarian Gary Johnson a strong second at 15%.

Yeah, a serious "WTF?!" moment.

Now, this is an early poll, with no previous polling to show trend lines. We can still infer a thing from this.

Utah is predominantly Mormon, a religious minority that was driven out of the United States because of their beliefs. Hmm. Which religious minority has been threatened with expulsion lately in this political contest? Hmm.

Yes, that's right. Islam.

Now, Mormons, along with very fundamentalist Christians and radical Islam, have a few things in common - they're all anti-gay, they're wanting to impose religious law over a secular society, and they're generally intolerant of others. Despite that, the Mormons are probably feeling a bit of empathy for the fact that the GOP nominee has been yelling about deporting Muslims from the USA and barring Muslims from entering the country.

Or, as one analyst tweeted, "Donald Trump is doing the impossible - he's converting Mormons!"

Which reminds me - National Public Radio's Marketplace program decided to sort out the economic impact of a Muslim ban on the United States, and it ain't pretty. Just blocking Muslims from abroad coming here on vacation will cost the US about $20 Billion a year. Toss in students, doctors, professionals, etc., and now you're talking actual money.

But all of that paled when compared to the aftermath of what happened early Sunday morning in Orlando, of which more later. 

Fun, Fun, Fun, in the Sun, Sun, Sun

(Posted before the June 4th California primary.)

This past weekend saw Democratic primary contests in the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Let's leave aside the sorry fact that these voters, who are American citizens, can vote for a political candidate for President but cannot vote for their party's nominee for the highest public office. Just like American Samoa and Guam.

Clinton came into the weekend needing about 67 delegates to sew up the nomination, and started out well by garnering a fat, swollen bounty of six delegates from the US Virgin Islands. It's a tropical paradise immortalized in this dialogue from the movie The Cheap Detective:

Marcel: Gentlemen, may I present Miss Betty DeBoop from the Islands?
Colonel Schlissel: Caribbean or Virgin?
Betty DeBoop: Well, let's just say I came back a Caribbean.

Delightfully gauche.

That was on Saturday; on Sunday Puerto Ricans went to the polls for a rousing hustings. Puerto Rico is, like the Virgin Islands, a beautiful piece of America, as shown (and mocked) in this MST3K short:

However, the Commonwealth has a lot of economic troubles (admittedly, some appear to have been self-inflicted), as seen in this bit from John Oliver's Last Week Tonight:

Honestly, isn't it sad that comedians are better journalists than everyone in the Fourth Estate?

Well, anyway, once the fur stopped flying, Clinton had carried the territory, 61-39 and netting 40 delegates. It puts her close to sewing things up.

Sanders' camp, on the other paw, is screeching blue murder that the polling was rigged in Puerto Rico, claiming that there were a lower number of polling places available. The Sanders camp asked for that, so I can only assume that their current caterwauling is due to rum hangovers.

But we still have one more Big Day of this madness to contend with. Tuesday sees the following states voting: California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North and South Dakota. While California is the biggest prize of all, New Jersey may put Clinton over the top before polling ever ends in the Golden State. Polling indicates her having only a slim, margin-of-error lead over Sanders.

Speaking of Sanders, he's getting more strident every day and his followers are stooping to violent language and activity. Not on, Bernie my lad, not on at all. Most of the 'wrongdoing' you carp about is either your own doing or because you don't have the organizational skills Clinton brought with her from participating in three Presidential campaigns. Yes, you may make a lot of noise in the Convention, but the upshot of all the Sturm und Drang will be that Clinton will still get the Great Green Weenie of Nomination.

Notice I've left out the Elephant in the Room, Donald Trump. Alphabetical order, peeps.

Faced with a lawsuit over the scam that was Trump University, Trump did what he does best - attack people personally, by stating flat-out that since the judge is "Mexican," there's no way he can be unbiased in the case because of Trump's immigration policy. True fact, Judge Gonzalo Curiel was born in Indiana to American citizens, and bonus true fact, his mother came to this country years before Trump's mother. But we must remind ourselves that Trump, and many of his followers, do not believe in facts or the truth.

Instead of walking it back, Trump doubled down on his stance, and implied that he didn't think a Muslim judge would be unbiased either. He based this on his stance toward Islam.

The Republican establishment prefer their racism of the quiet, dog whistle variety, so you heard Speaker Paul Ryan (the latest high-ranking pol to lick Trump's taint) merely say that the remarks were "out of left field," a sentiment echoed by Senate Majority Leader McConnell.

Since Trump is the presumptive nominee right now, the final flurry of voting tomorrow will matter, just not as much as it would have if The Mule hadn't disrupted the GOP's Plan.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016


Yes, Republicans.  Bend over; it won't hurt . . . much.

Hi-ho, everyone! It's the first day of June, the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season. If you don't have a disaster plan or supplies in place yet, what the hell are you waiting for?

Public service announcement over. Onward! Allons-y!

There was much movement on the political front since the last time - gosh and gee whillikers, was it only seventeen days ago? - so it's time for a bit of catching up.

Over on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton was told that she was a Very Naughty Person for using her private email server to handle State Department business. The fact that the previous ones, Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice, did the same goddamned thing apparently escaped the notice of the Chattering Class. Fun fact, people - the current Secretary, John Kerry, is the only one who is actually following the rules and using the State Department email servers, so you can expect leaks from "highly placed sources within the State Department."

Will this result in criminal charges? No, so stop creaming your jeans about it.

Bernie Sanders is still soldiering on, but has tarnished himself a bit by trying to oust members of the DNC Platform Committee. Save it for the Convention, Bernie, and you're not going to get the nomination anyway. His rhetoric's ratcheting up to near Trumpian levels, which doesn't make him look good.

There are four more primary election dates this month (the District of Columbia Democratic primary on the 14th wraps things up), and Clinton could conceivably lock things up. Today's Quinnipiac poll (skeptical of Clinton; the only polling house more anti-Hillary is Rasmussen, which is a GOP shill) shows her leading Sanders nationally 53 to 39 percent, with rising percentages across gender, education and other lines. Other polls show her numbers rising as well, leaving not much for Sanders to be happy about; the worst poll for Clinton, CBS/NYT, show Clinton at +7.

So now we turn, with heavy heart and growling spleen, to Donald Trump.

The glow that Trump enjoyed after Cruz and Kasich left the campaign has faded. People have started listening to him more as he's started to actually take policy positions, and he's been caught in obvious lies. Sure, he lambastes the media for daring to actually ask him questions rather than fawning over him, and I think that if he does get elected we'll see the first-ever lese majeste laws in this country.

(Don't know what those are? Those are laws where you pay fines, go to jail or prison, or even be shot for criticizing the government or the head of state. Yeah, think about that.)

Back to polling. The GOP-oriented Rasmussen poll indicated, post-Indiana, that Trump was leading Clinton by 5%. That was May 19th. That same pollster now has Clinton leading by 1%, a six-point swing in two weeks. That worries the RNC nabobs, as does the fact that Trump's campaign has already abandoned the "I'm self-funding my campaign so I won't be beholden to no one" idea and has told the Politbureau that it needs money to buy ads for June and July. Not a good sign.

An even worse sign for Trump is that his last set of financial disclosures show that he's in hock to Deutsche Bank for somewhere upwards of $50 million dollars or so. It could be higher, but 50's the threshold on the forms. Deutsche Bank's already been fingered in the past for trying to cover up shenanigans, including trying to influence other national governments. How much pull do you think they - remember, a foreign bank - will have if Trump gets in?

We'll wind up with the Trump University trial. It looks like the classic bait and switch, like Scientology, time-share condos, or used-car sales. Trump, true to his nature, is attacking the judge in the case because he has nothing else; apart from the truth, which would destroy his credibility. Overlooking the fact that Judge Curiel was born in Indiana, Trump and the Trumpanzees are screeching that he's Mexican, and therefore has a conflict of interest.

Still, not to worry!

Bill Kristol, senior editor of the National Review and famed for being Wrong about nearly everything for the past 20 years or so, has been casting about to find a "true conservative" substitute for Trump. This has been rather difficult, as most of the Usual Suspects and rejects from the Bum of the Month Club realize that they don't stand a chance in hell. Still, Kristol persevered.

And picked . . . David French.


Wasn't he Jody and Buffy's looker-after on Family Affair? No, it wasn't, you sillies; that was Giles French, played by the late Sebastian Cabot.

David French is one of the writer-editors of National Review. He's married with a family, served as an officer in Afghanistan (lawyer in a staff unit) and was awarded the Bronze Star. He's never served in a public office, nor been elected to anything. No organization, no money, no public manifesto as to his policies.

Good job, Billy, You picked another winner.