Saturday, December 28, 2019

GOAT?




Tom Brady is regarded as the GOAT among quarterbacks by many sportswriters, but if this football season has shown us anything it is that Brady is purely a product of the Belichick system put in place 20 years ago that no other team has been able to replicate.  It is a system that has produced 9 Super Bowl appearances and 6 wins.  Brady often gets the credit, being the quarterback, but Belichick probably could have achieved this incredible milestone with any decent quarterback.  After all, who remembers Phil Simms?  He guided the New York Giants to a pair of Super Bowl wins under Bill Parcells' system, which Bill Belichick was an integral part of.

Belichick came to New England with Bill Parcells.  It was Parcells who turned the Patriots around, leading them to only their second Super Bowl appearance in 1997, where they lost to a resurgent Green Bay Packers led by Brett Favre.  Oddly enough, Parcells quit after that year to coach the New York Jets, taking Belichick with him.  Parcells would never again repeat his magic.  The Patriots floundered for three years until Bob Kraft lured Belichick back to New England in 2000, and the rest as they say is history.

The offensive system Belichick imposed is relatively simple - running high percentage pass and run plays that eat up the clock, while relying on a strong defense to shut down the opposition.  Belichick didn't need a great quarterback.  He needed one who would follow the playbook, no questions asked.  He reached deep into the draft in 2000, selecting the 199th player in Tom Brady.  No one thought Brady would amount to a hill of beans, but Bill saw the perfect quarterback in Tom, one he could mold into his image.

Brady defined the prototypical NFL quarterback of the time, and had shown good leadership at Michigan, where he guided the Wolverines to a pair of good years capped off with impressive bowl wins.  He had lead feet and scrambled for -150 yards in two seasons.  His TD to interception ratio wasn't that great, but Bill would work on that in New England.

It didn't take long for Belichick to mold Brady.  Tom sat out his first season and quickly showed his ability in season two, leading the Pats back to the Super Bowl and their first Vince Lombardi trophy.  The Pats stumbled the next year, but regained form for two more Super Bowl victories after the 2003 and 2004 seasons.  Brady was the MVP in two of those Super Bowls.  His "greatness" now firmly established.

Three Super Bowl rings in only five years in the league was very impressive, but what pops out from those years is his rather mediocre statistics.  His QB rating was nothing to brag about. He still threw a lot of interceptions, was sacked at least two times per game, and lost more yards than he gained on his lead feet.  All the SB wins were close and easily could have gone the other way.  What stood out was his ability to lead game-winning drives.

The Patriots cooled off for awhile.  Over the next nine years they posted impressive seasons, but only got back to the Super Bowl twice, losing both times to the New York Giants led by Eli Manning.  Ironically, Brady was posting his best numbers statistically.  He was averaging well over 4000 yards passing per season and put up a whopping 5235 yards in 2011, but the Patriots weren't winning the big one.  The only game that counts for Bill Belichick is the Super Bowl.

He wanted the team passing less and running more.  This is what won him the first three Super Bowls.  Enter LeGarrette Blount, a 250-pound workhorse that gave the Patriots badly needed size and strength in the backfield.  The Pats were back in the Super Bowl in 2014, taking the Lombardi trophy from the defending champs Seattle.  This was the beginning of the Badass Pats, who would win two more Super Bowls in three attempts, cementing Tom Brady's legacy and leading many sportswriters to call him the greatest quarterback of all time.

This year is shaping up to be Brady's swansong.  It hasn't been overly impressive.  Brady's numbers have fallen off considerably.  His fans blame it on the receivers.  Nevertheless, The Pats are 12-3.  However, they were firmly beaten by all the AFC division leading teams, which have highly mobile quarterbacks that the New England defense has a very hard time containing.  It is doubtful the Patriots will get back to the Super Bowl, but you can never count them out.

Anyone who has followed the game can see this has always been Bill Belichick's team.  He rules the Patriots with an iron hand.  Anyone who steps out of line is immediately dismissed.  Bill views all his players as interchangeable, even the quarterback, but Tom hasn't given Bill any reason to dismiss him.  The one brief period of uncertainty was when Belichick drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in 2014, clearly looking to groom him for the position if Tom proved no longer able to deliver.  This seemed to spur Brady on, and eventually Bill traded Garoppolo to relieve the tension on the team.  It would be interesting if New England faced off against San Francisco in Super Bowl LIV.

It doesn't really matter, as Brady has given Belichick everything he could have asked for in a quarterback.  Tom has been the perfect field manager, willing to play the dink and dunk passing game Belichick likes, with much fewer turnovers, and full control of the clock.

It's his defense that worries him.  How do the Pats stop a fleet-footed quarterback like Lamar Jackson?  This freak of nature has passed for more than 3100 yards and rushed for more than 1200 yards, with a staggering 43 touchdowns along the way and only 8 total turnovers.  How does any team stop Jackson?

Tom Brady may very well be the last premier quarterback of his kind.  More and more NFL teams are opting for option quarterbacks, as they give defenses fits.  The only question in the past had been their longevity, but Russell Wilson is proving durability is no longer an issue, and even if it was there are so many of these fleet-footed quarterbacks now available in the draft that it doesn't really matter.  These highly gifted athletes appear to be the quarterbacks of the future.

None of this takes away from Brady's accomplishments, but it serves to highlight that athleticism was never his major calling card.  Brady was never fast nor elusive.  He was steady and consistent, with a quick release that help mitigate his early high number of sacks.  It is doubtful he would have excelled on any other team than Bill Belichick's team.  It is doubtful anyone else would have taken him, but here he is arguably the greatest quarterback of all time thanks to 6 Super Bowl rings.

Well, Tom, it is time to take a bow.  This season has shown that it is all downhill from here.  Bill might sign you again because he has nowhere else to turn.  Jarrett Stidham doesn't appear to excite anyone, but then neither did you in your first year in the league.

Friday, December 27, 2019




Mitch was all ready to get the Senate trial done before the holidays, but in classic Lucy fashion Nancy Pelosi pulled the football out from under him when she chose to delay sending the impeachment articles to the Senate.  McConnell didn't see this coming as it was something he thought only he would do.

Nancy can hold off sending the articles of impeachment indefinitely, leaving Trump's fate in limbo for weeks or even months.  Lindsey Graham proclaimed that the president finds this grossly unfair. This despite Trump shutting down government for nearly a month at the start of the year, holding federal workers' pay checks in limbo.

Trump's been crying from the beginning, so upset that Nancy would have the audacity to launch an impeachment inquiry despite his effort to cop a plea deal when news first broke of his perfect call.  Since then Republican lawmakers have been circling the wagons, hoping to protect their dear president.  Mitch has vowed to work directly with the White House during the trial, which is why Nancy chose to delay it.  The football is in her hands at the moment, and she isn't going to let anyone have it until she gets some assurances that the Republican-led Senate will make an effort to hear witnesses, preferably those closet to the president.

Seems like a pretty shrewd move, but the media has been claiming this tactic may backfire, with Trump playing himself as a martyr.  Well, Trump has been portraying himself as the bereaved from day one of his campaign.  He often babbles incoherently that this is nothing more than a poorly guided attempt to steal his improbable 2016 election victory.  He's called Nancy every name he could think of, but she's been unfazed and will remain so, a testament to her own fortitude.

There's no doubt Trump will add millions to his campaign war chest.  He's been piling up the money hand over fist, but will it really help him come next November?  Americans are already saturated with Trump 24/7.  This is one of the reasons so many people have favored impeachment, and for the first time a majority favor removal.  Most people are sick of seeing him on the news all the time.  Even late-night comics seem to have had their fill of Trump, as their audiences have become so inured to the jokes it is no longer funny.

One of things Trump has recently learned is that you can counter bad press with good press.  He's been heavily pushing his China deal, which his spokesmen claim is the best deal ever, although trade analysts aren't quite so sure.  However, he has recently been preoccupied by having less-than-memorable scene cut from Home Alone 2 on Canadian television, yet another sad indicator that it is hard to hold Trump's attention for very long.

As for Mitch, he is finding criticism from within his own ranks in working too close with the president on the trial.  Lisa Murkowski is none too happy about this co-ordination effort, saying "we have to take that step back from being hand in glove with the defense."  She actually found the impeachment proceedings "rushed," unlike many of her colleagues who felt the House spent too much time on nothing.  Does this mean Lisa will vote in favor of impeachment?  Probably not, but she wants the Senate to at least create the pretense of impartiality.

This is what has been so odd about the whole proceeding.  Trump used a military spending bill that had been overwhelmingly approved by Congress as leverage to get information from Ukraine on his top political opponent.  You would think Congressional Republicans would be furious.  Instead, they let Trump bully them into acquiescence.  Who'd ever think that this once proud political party would let themselves be so easily rolled by a con man?

Nancy did the right thing by making Mitch think a little about his lack of impartiality.   This is about maintaining the semblance of an independent legislative branch of government, not one ready to cede all power to the president.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Of Beards and Santa




I can understand Phillip Wenz's concern about diluting the IBRBS' brand.  It already has to go by its abbreviation after admitting Mrs. Clauses in 2016.  Now, there is pressure to drop the RB all together and allow anyone who wants to be a Santa into its international brotherhood.  It takes years to cultivate a real beard as stout as Santa.  This is a full-time vocation, not something you can just put a yak-hair beard on at Christmastime and call yourself Santa.  Yet, there is a lot of pressure for IBRBS to expand to meet the growing ethnic interest in jolly old St. Nick.

Apparently, the international brotherhood has formed a pretty strong union and can command higher engagement fees, thus resulting in more interest in its organization.  Mrs. Deanna Golden has been pushing the organization to expand its base ever since it admitted her as a Mrs. Claus.  She books a lot of their engagements, and doesn't see why beardless Santas can't join.  What's most important is the man or woman behind the beard, but Mr. Wenz is resistant to any more change.  It was tough enough bringing women into the union given the diversity of opinions among the brotherhood.

Mr. Wenz stresses that being a Santa is more than just a beard.  Anyone who joins the organization must take an oath to understand the mysteries of bringing Christmas cheer, holding the secret dreams of children in confidentiality, providing happiness and spreading love throughout the holiday season.  Sure, it doesn't take a real beard to do these things, but a beard is a sign of commitment, a pledge to keep this oath all year long in the true spirit of St. Nicholas, the gift giver of Myra.

This is what separates the IBRBS from the awful shenanigans witnessed every year at SantaCon -- a pub crawl started in San Francisco 25 years ago and has since spread around the globe.  It has gotten so bad that the original organizers tried to close it down in 2014 but is now bigger than ever with more debauchery than many would witness at Mardi Gras.

In a world that is constantly changing, it's nice to have something that remains constant.  These real-bearded Santas deserve to have an organization all their own that upholds the belief in the mystical power of gift giving, not unlike Miracle on 34th Street.  Edmund Gwenn not only grew a beard, but gained 30 pounds for the prized role of Kris Kringle.  He fully took Santa to heart, which is what made his performance so convincing.  It remains one of the best-loved movies of all time.

Stay true to your oath, Mr. Wenz.


Friday, December 20, 2019




Nancy Pelosi tried to make it a somber occasion by wearing black and urging her Democratic colleagues to not gloat over the impeachment vote, but there was no hiding the glee many felt in seeing His Trumpness reduced to the lowest point in his presidency.  He became only the third president in history to be formally impeached by the House of Representatives.

The historic House vote put a damper on the Christmas theme Trump set for his Michigan rally, and he let Democrats know about, living and dead. Trump's wild rallies have become legend.  In this one a protester had to be escorted away, but not without Trump publicly shaming her on the way out.  He thought security was being too politically correct.  For whatever reason he chose to assail John Dingell, who died this past year after serving six decades in Congress.  Of course, he saved his harshest criticism for Ms. Pelosi, urging Americans to voter her "the hell out of office."

It all played out as expected.  Ms. Pelosi has decided to let the impeachment articles sit a little awhile before passing them along to the Senate, where Mitch McConnell has vowed a swift trial, with Republicans working fully in consort with the President.  The "Turdle" could have been a little less obvious than his Republican colleagues in the House, but I guess didn't want to create any confusion among the conservative electorate, which is out for blood in next year's election cycle.

No Republican representative opted to buck the party line, and only one Democrat crossed over to join them, the previously unknown Jeff Van Drew, who was personally congratulated by Trump. Two other Democrats voted against one or both articles of impeachment, but they chose to remain in their party.  Tulsi Gabbard chose to vote present.  Not much in the way of defections, but the conservative blogosphere is hailing Van Drew as a hero.

The extent of Trump's wrongdoing couldn't have been more clear.  Democrats wisely chose to keep the articles of impeachment focused on his attempted extortion of Ukrainian President Zelensky.  They could have provided a long list of articles, as Trump has been openly defying the Constitution since day one.

Republicans insist in standing with him despite losing the House in 2018 and losing key gubernatorial races in Louisiana and Kentucky this Fall.  Many Republican representatives have opted to retire ahead of the 2020 elections.  Some appear to be angling for administrative positions, like Mark Meadows, but others want to avoid the ignominy of electoral defeat.  Trump's message doesn't carry very far beyond his political base.

However, Republicans still have one key man in their corner - Vladimir Putin - who weighed in on the impeachment vote and his annual holiday press conference, calling the articles "completely made up."  Throughout the inquiry and hearings, Republican representatives were pitching Kremlin conspiracy theories, as if the only online papers they read are Russian propaganda outlets RT and Sputnik.  The GOP has essentially become a bunch of "useful idiots" for the Kremlin, (un)knowingly pitching Russia's positions vis-a-vis Ukraine, which is ironic since this is how this whole thing started.

Earlier this year, the US Congress voted overwhelmingly to continue to supply military aid to Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russian "green men" in Donbass.  This is part of a Support Act that dates back to 2014 when Russian insurgents first crossed the border and eventually took over Crimea.  Republicans were once bold in their assertions against Putin's open acts of hostility.  Senate Leader Mitch McConnell even promised an investigation into the matter.

However, since then they have become decidedly less concerned, and are now trying to pitch Ukraine as the "bad guy" in all this, to the point the Eastern European country meddled in the 2016 election to swing the vote toward Hillary Clinton.  This is a conspiracy theory that has been debunked by every reputable intelligence agency and newspaper, but Republicans promoted this theory throughout the impeachment proceedings, even when it was pointed out to them repeatedly that this was Russian fake news.

For Republicans, maintaining support among their conservative base is much more important than the truth.  For the past two decades these religious conservatives have been weaned on Fox news and other conservative news outlets.  They have lost all touch with reality and accept the positions provided to them by conservative pundits like Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham.  They like to believe they still have an independent mind, but when confronted with any news to the contrary, immediately dismiss it.

The problem for Republicans is that this base is becoming smaller over time.  What seemed like a "silent majority" at one point, now seems like a radical fringe element in politics.  When you can't carry deeply conservative states like Louisiana and Kentucky in gubernatorial elections, something is amiss.  The RNC blames it on bad candidates, yet Kentucky governor Matt Bevin was an incumbent.  He had promoted the conservative line throughout his administration and became the most reviled governor in America.  So much for the silent majority.

At the helm of the GOP is the most reviled President in American History.  No president has been more openly hated than Trump.  Throughout his administration, his weekly approval numbers have never crossed 50 per cent.  This despite an ever-growing economy and a Dow Jones index finally threatening to breach 30,000.  Normally, such a healthy economy would buoy a president, but not Trump.  People despise him.

His crazy antics appeal to religious conservative voters that long felt themselves disenfranchised from the political process, but they don't appeal to Americans in general.  Gaining his support has been the kiss of death for conservative candidates.  Trump personally rallied for both Bevin in Kentucky and Eddie Rispone in Louisiana.  His Bossier City rally came the night before the Louisiana election, calling it a referendum on his presidency.

Now, we have an even bigger referendum on his presidency that the Senate has to consider in the New Year.  One almost wonders if Mitch might want to do away with Trump all together given the "yuge" liability he has become, but most likely the "Turdle" will stick with the conservative base and push through a sham trial with the vote falling along party lines once again.  There might be a handful of Republican defections, but only among those not running for reelection in 2020.  Most likely, disgruntled conservative senators like Mitt Romney will just vote "present," as Tulsi Gabbard did.


Sunday, December 15, 2019

A Thumping Victory




I feel sorry for British voters that their two major parties are represented by the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit.  At least Scots had the SNP as an alternative, which they overwhelming voted into the British Parliament, setting up what very well could be another secession referendum next year.

Boris got what he wanted, a yes vote from the English and Welsh people that Lower Britain should withdraw from the European Union.  The low countries voted Tories in by a yuge percentage.  The largest ever seen since the Thatcher years.  This finally forced Jeremy to step down from his horrible leadership of the Labor Party, which saw his party blow a golden opportunity to regain control of the Parliament.

Look who's gloating!  Given how well the Brexit vote worked for him back in 2016, little wonder Trump (a.k.a Mr. Brexit) sees the snap general election as a referendum on his own administration.  He is not alone in this opinion.  Even Mayor Bloom sees the British vote as an ominous foretelling of next year's general election in the US, calling it a "canary in a coal mine."

You can expect these kinds of reactions these days because politics have become a reality show of the lowest order.  Everyone overreacts to everything, much like the woman yelling at a cat memes.  You can make your own meme out of this situation.

There is quite a bit wrong with all this doom and gloom scenario, at least from the Democratic point of view.  An entirely different scenario set up this special election.  Boris was unable to get the votes he needed to get his Brexit deal through Parliament, especially after he had tossed out nearly two dozen conservative MPs, so he threw a Hail Mary in calling for a new general election. 

Boris was so sure the will of the people was behind him that he took Brexit back to the countryside.  He sheared sheep, chased chickens and paraded around in funny hats.  The Lower Brits ate it up.  Here was their man of the people, their scruffy little urchin made good.  All a dour Jeremy Corbyn could do was look on, as he was no match for the charm offensive put on by Boris.

Why more Brits didn't vote for the Liberal Democrats is beyond me.  The Libs did very well in the EU Parliament elections, winning 16 seats, but all they could muster were 11 seats in the UK General Election.  In the end, the Lib Dems and Labor cancelled each other out, whereas Nigel Farage joined forces with Boris Johnson to mop up in local elections.

Part of the problem is how these seats are divvied out.  As you can see from the results, the Tories won an astounding 365 seats, or 56% of the chamber.  They did this with only 43.6 per cent of the popular vote.  Put another way, the Conservative Party won nearly twice as many seats as the Labor Party (365 - 202) with only a percentage difference of 11.5 between them (the voting share of the Liberal Democrats).  The SNP scored an even better return on their miniscule 3.9 per cent share of the popular vote, given the size of the Scottish voting block in the British Parliament.

This general election victory doesn't in anyway reflect the actual feelings of Brits toward Brexit.  All it shows is that the Tories did their math better than the Labor Party and scored more seats in local elections.  London overwhelmingly voted for Labor, but is just a little island of red in Lower Britain.  The colors are reversed in the UK. You thought our Electoral College was bad!

It doesn't matter, Boris is now cuddling his recently adopted dog and claiming he has a mandate to exit the EU forthwith.  Tally ho Little Britain!  Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Orange Glow of Christmas




Trump is desperate to roll back the last of the Obama energy efficiency regulations.  He offered a rambling discourse on low-flow toilets and showers, claiming that these regulations often led to no water at all and that some poor persons had to flush their toilets 10-15 times just to get their turds down the trapway.  What's a conscientious conservative to do?

This is a continuation of his administration's decision in September to rollback the regulations on energy efficient light bulbs.  Trump claimed "what's saved is not worth it, for the little they save."  Actually, quite a bit is saved.  One LED light bulb alone can save you more than $160 over a conventional incandescent light bulb during a span of 23 years.  Multiply that by the number of light bulbs in your house!
 
It's not like he or any member of his administration has quantified these decisions.  They are rolling back these regulations purely out of spite, akin to Reagan removing the solar panels from the White House roof when he took office in 1981.  However, we have learned a lot since then in regard to energy efficiency, and most industries have retooled accordingly because the average consumer wants to save money on electricity and water bills.  It's only persons like Trump, who have no bills to pay, who don't see the "worth" in it.

Oddly enough, it was the Bush administration that signed onto the Energy Independence and Security Act in 2007.  The Act was carried out during the Obama administration.  Michelle Bachmann fought tooth and nail against these regulations throughout Obama's tenure, offering her notorious Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act that became a running late night joke.  Seems she also liked the warm glow of traditional Christmas tree lights as opposed to the harsh white of LED lights.

Trump claims the new lights make him look orange, which appears to be in direct contradiction to Michelle's earlier complaint.  If anything, LED lights would cast Trump in a better glow.  The old incandescent lights would only serve to highlight his orangeness.  Maybe those "orange bulbs" in the White House are left over from earlier days.

This battle over energy efficiency light bulbs and toilets may seem petty but it serves to underscore the antiquated view of many conservatives that everything was better before environmental regulations came along.  They view these regulations as impediments to a free market society.

The irony is that a free market society is what has made these energy efficient light bulbs and appliances affordable.  Before their widespread use, an LED light bulb would set you back 20 or 30 dollars.  Today you can buy a four-pack for eight bucks.  They come in the same size and shape as the old bulbs but are much more efficient and you might not need to replace them in your lifetime.  The average span of an LED light is 25,000 hours, as opposed to 1200 hours for the "orange bulb."

It is fortunate that we have had 12 years since this Act was first implemented, as now it doesn't really matter what the Donald does.  These light bulbs and toilets have become the industry standard and incandescent light bulbs an expensive novelty.  The thought of saving money far outweighs any nostalgia for such items. 

Nevertheless, there will be those Magaheads and former Teapartiers who will continue to insist on using their old Christmas tree lights, claiming the holiday season just isn't the same without that familiar orange glow.  Ironically, it is incandescent tree lights that now cost more than LED tree lights, and you can get LED lights in any color you like.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Whatever Happened to Jimmy Hoffa?




It's pretty clever to reframe Hoffa's ties to the mob through Frank Sheeran.  Charles Brandt coaxed the "confession" out of The Irishman shortly before his death in 2003, and laid out corroborating evidence in his book, I Heard You Paint Houses, published the following year.  The book has been widely discarded as pulp fiction, and in turn Scorsese has taken some heat for giving weight to Sheeran's account in his epic movie, but then I saw the Netflix original as a geriatric version of Goodfellas.

Scorsese relishes in not just one but several conspiracy theories from the 60s and 70s.  According to the Irishman, it was the mafia in Chicago that carried Illinois for Kennedy in 1960; the Bay of Pigs Invasion was a mafia-coordinated effort that didn't get the aerial support promised by Papa Kennedy; and the mob had Jack Kennedy rubbed out when the president no longer answered to their interests, namely getting rid of Castro and letting them have free access to Havana again.

Hoffa had a separate beef with Kennedy.  The Teamsters and other labor unions were believed to be in bed with the mafia, which this movie amply illustrates.  The Irishman also implies Hoffa threw his support behind Nixon, which you would think would be against his best interests.  I suppose this was to give a reason for young Attorney General Robert Kennedy going after Hoffa, finally getting his conviction in 1964.  It was only after Hoffa exhausted all his appeals that he faced jail time in 1967.

The Teamsters offered their support to Nixon in 1971 in exchange for the President considering a pardon for Hoffa.  The catch was that Hoffa would retire from union activities.  While this made Jimmy none too happy, the Irishman chose to focus more on the old boss' acrimonious relationship with Tony Pro, who became the favorite of the mafia.  This sets up the fallout that occurs between Jimmy and the Bufalino crime family, leaving Sheeran caught in the middle.

As the story goes, the Irishman owed his rise in the labor world as much to Russell Bufalino as he did Jimmy Hoffa.  It was Russell's hope that Frank would keep Jimmy in check, but no one kept the fiery labor leader in check.  With events spiraling out of control Frank found himself thrust into the position of settling the matter once and for all.

This is in sharp contrast to the 1992 movie, which didn't mention Tony Provenzano at all.  Jimmy's anger was largely vented on Fitzsimmons, who had negotiated the deal with Nixon.  This caused a deep rift in the Teamsters.  However, Danny De Vito takes his own artistic liberties in casting himself as an imaginary friend to Hoffa and indulging in his own fantasy as to how Jimmy was ultimately dealt with.

It would have been long forgotten had not Scorsese dragged the story back up again.  Hoffa had faded into history.  Labor for the most part is in shambles, never really able to recover from the infamous 70s and all the Right-to-Work laws that followed.  Even Michigan is now a Right-to-Work state.  Hoffa and the Teamsters invested heavily in Detroit, only to see the auto industry crumble apart and leave Motown an empty shell.

Reagan and succeeding presidents, Republican and Democratic alike, have not been friends of labor, but we are seeing a bit of a resurgence in the labor movement today so maybe this movie will spark some interest.  I'm not sure Hoffa is the best role model.  Mostly, it is a crime movie, which Scorsese has long reveled in, bringing back his cast of favorites and adding Al Pacino as Hoffa.

I'm not sure who did Hoffa better: Al Pacino or Jack Nicholson.  The movies are told from completely different angles so you can enjoy them both on their own terms.  All I would say is that Scorsese's account of Jimmy's death is more convincing.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

So long Kamala

but we still might see you in November




There was a brief moment in this campaign when it seemed Kamala was set to take the Democratic nomination by storm.  She shot down Joe Biden at the second debate with a fiery retort on busing that went viral.  Unfortunately, that magic moment was lost when she was hit by a stealth attack from Tulsi Gabbard at the next debate that she was unable to rebound from.

Kamala held so much potential but failed to reach a Democratic electorate that was torn between multiple candidates.  The voters Kamala probably most appealed to were already supporting Joe Biden.  The more liberal voters were split among Bernie and Liz.  The rest were toying with a multiple number of candidates, casting 2 per cent here, 3 per cent there and 1 per cent anywhere.  With no defining message, Kamala soon found herself relegated to the also-rans.

Still, she should have hung out until the first wave of caucuses and primaries.  She had invested heavily in Iowa and New Hampshire.  California was moved up early in the primary schedule, which suited her.  There was more than a good chance Joe Biden would bottom out in Iowa and his voters would start looking elsewhere.  However, Kamala took a long hard look at her flagging campaign and decided there was no path to victory.

The only prominent woman left in the campaign is Liz Warren, and she has become a target in recent weeks for her wealth tax to fund a greatly expanded Medicare for All.  Her numbers have trickled down as a result, but she still stands a strong second in the polling.  Liz lamented the departure of Kamala, wishing it was the billionaires who had dropped out: Steyer and Bloomberg.

Mostly, it is Kamala's own fault.  She never really seemed to have her heart in this race.  It was a bit presumptuous for a rookie Senator to run so quickly for President, but then Obama had done the same in 2008.  The difference is that Barack had a bottomless well of energy where Kamala seemed tired and dejected she couldn't get her message across.  This was all too apparent at the debate in which she let Tulsi catch her with her guard down, and then feebly tried to counter in the following debate.

We all know Tulsi is just in this race to take out other candidates at the kneecaps.  Kamala should have brushed her aside, but instead got notably upset and the media turned this into a cat fight that did much more harm to her than it did Tulsi.

It's too bad because I really liked Kamala and was hoping to see her candidacy catch fire.  I suppose there is some dim hope she might reenter the race depending on how the early primaries and caucuses shake out, but I think she is just leaving herself open for a number two spot on the November ticket, which is how the political pundits cast her to begin with.