Wednesday, November 27, 2019
Milwaukee, home of the next Democratic convention, could be a very interesting place to be next July. And by interesting, I mean ugly. That's because it might be the first brokered convention since 1952, but significantly less genteel than the days of Adlai Stevenson.
Hardly anyone seems to talking about it.
The obvious reason for this is that no particular Democrat seems to sustain any momentum. First, there was Biden, but ethical troubles and questions about his senescence brought him back to the pack. Then Warren surged to a 52% probability in the betting markets, but has since fallen precipitously as her universal healthcare plan landed with a thud. More recently, Pete Buttigieg has made a run, but now past comments have landed him in hot water with the identity politics crowd (ironic, given he's gay). At one point, Kamala Harris was also the favorite in betting markets.
But there's a less obvious reason rooted in how and when Democrats award their delegates.
Here's the how. Unlike Republicans, Democrats award their delegates proportionately, which means it's much harder for anyone to land an early knockout blow, particularly in such a fragmented field.
Here's the when. With California moving up to join the pack on Super Tuesday, the primary schedule is historically front loaded. Almost a third of the delegates will be awarded by March 3rd. It hardly leaves time for any candidate to establish clear momentum from the handful of early contests.
To win the nomination on the first ballot, a candidate must clear the 50% bar. Things could certainly change, but right now this doesn't look probable. That's when the fun starts, after the first ballot, because then it's a brokered convention. Let the horse trading begin. And who knows how many players there could be in this game. Perhaps an also ran like a Buttigieg, Bloomberg, or Harris plays king maker with their delegates. Anyone with even a handful of delegates will have serious leverage.
Also, on the second ballot, the so-called super delegates get a vote. This is the fun part, from the perspective of a Republican on the sidelines. You remember them: they're the ones who carried water for Hillary in '16. Super delegates consist of party insiders and they really, really pissed off the Bernie Brigade last time around.
Add to this the general mood of Democrats and liberals these days, which is to say, spitting mad. Sure, they're mad at Trump, but really they're just mad. Outrage is the lingua franca of the left these days. They will march and shout at the drop of a hat and are just as happy with circular firing squads.
Just imagine, in particular, if the progressive Bernie and Warren mobs get a whiff that the fix is in by party insiders to shove Biden over the finish line.
Here we come, Chicago 1968. Pass the popcorn.
Monday, November 25, 2019
Yale, the school that I love, just can’t seem to get out of its own way lately. At Saturday’s football game against Harvard, something like a thousand students occupied the field for almost an hour. Where “The Game” once had a grand tradition of student pranks, one senses it will now just be another opportunity to showcase protest culture.
To be fair, Harvard students were involved as well, but where PC outrage culture is concerned, Yale always seems to be front and center. There have been many times in recent years when I have felt acute embarrassment over the latest developments from campus. There was, of course, the “screaming girl” incident where students harassed, hectored, and threatened a prominent professor over the issue of Halloween costumes (look it up on YouTube - it’s shocking). Rather than being expelled, at least two of those students were given awards at graduation for promoting racial comity.
There was the covering of a stone carving because it depicted a pilgrim with a musket. There was the free speech conference that two hundred students tried to shut down. I was at that one. On a more personal level, there was the undergraduate woman who accused me of patriarchy for holding a door for her at my last reunion.
Incidents like those prompted me to write the satirical novel Campusland, but Saturday’s events remind me that it wasn’t satire at all.
Don’t get me wrong, the students have every right to protest, but this was the wrong place and the wrong time. By holding up the game almost an hour, they placed Yale in a position where they might have had to forfeit. Imagine being one of the seniors who’d worked so hard for this moment - a Harvard Yale game with the Ivy League championship on the line - only to forfeit? How is that fair to them, their families, and the legion of fans who paid to see the game? As it was, the delay pushed the game into darkness, finally ending fifteen minutes after sunset. It was almost impossible to see, and the refs would have pulled the plug if it had gone even a few minutes longer.
Did the seemingly jubilant, chanting protesters think about any of this? No. It was a supremely selfish act, a grand display of virtue signaling. Self-admiration practically emanated in waves from the field, along with a puerile need to be the center of attention.
What were they protesting? Climate change, but it hardly matters. It’s political theater. Next week it will be something else. Yale is in the full throes of outrage culture where protests are ends unto themselves. This is something Yale has brought upon itself. For one, there are never any consequences for bad behavior. Saturday’s children knew they could have a temper tantrum on national television and fully expect campus kudos, maybe even awards at graduation.
For another, those students got into Yale precisely because they did things like disrupt football games with protests. The admissions office prizes social justice applicants above all. (Note to the development office: good luck getting them to give back after they graduate. They have been trained to hate the very school they attend, and feel no gratitude over the scholarships you gave them.)
The culture has to change. Yale needs new leadership and a new admissions staff. It needs to cut way back on its bloated bureaucracy. Unfortunately, none of this will happen as long as faithful alums keep writing checks. Alumni need to start asking hard questions because the school they think they’re giving money to is not the one they knew.
It’s very sad, indeed.
Wednesday, October 9, 2019
In 2015, Anthony Weiner used drones to spy on Jeb Bush's presidential campaign.
I have known about this for some time, but my source only agreed to let me tell the story just now.
Here's what happened. In the summer of 2015, Jeb Bush had a fundraiser in the Hamptons at someone's personal residence. At the time, he was widely viewed as the frontrunner for the Republican nomination. One hundred and fifty or so guests gathered on the lawn for the event. As Bush began to make his remarks, a drone appeared about twenty feet over the crowd's heads. It was a substantial one with four propellers and a camera, and it made a fair bit of noise.
Jeb made a crack that it was probably "Hillary spying on us," and the crowd laughed. The host and his family debated getting a shotgun to deal with the problem but decided they weren't sure of the legality. After a few minutes, the drone exited. Two of Bush's staffers followed out the driveway and down the road a bit. There, they saw two men load the drone into a station wagon.
One of them was unmistakably Anthony Weiner.
If you are fuzzy on the grand timeline of Anthony Weiner's personal descent, 2015 was after he'd been caught on at least two different occasions sexting with women on Twitter - Carlos Danger, remember? - and also after he had his mayoral campaign implode. It was prior to the underage sexting that got him sent to the big house. Basically, he was in the wilderness, both socially and politically, with little to occupy his days, although he was still married to Huma Abedin.
He needed a way to find redemption, a purpose. Was it by doing black bag ops for Hillary?
One can imagine how the video footage might have been used by the Clinton campaign. "See Jeb Bush Hanging Out with His Billionaire Buddies in the Hamptons!" (Never mind that Hillary raised money there as well, and probably knew more billionaires than Jeb.)
The idea that Weiner might have run this operation without the express approval of both Hillary and Huma Abedin seems implausible. They probably tasked him with this because he literally had nothing else to do and was eager to win back any sort of role for himself. (We've all seen how self-deluded Weiner could be.)
That Weiner and the Clinton machine would pull a stunt like this isn't in the least bit surprising. What is surprising is that the Bush campaign knew exactly what happened and did nothing with the information. Use of a drone to spy on a political rival is scandalous, and would have been so at the time, and yet Jeb sat on it.
Low energy, indeed.
Anyone think the Trump campaign might have dealt with the situation differently? Republicans nominated Trump precisely because he was the counter-puncher they craved after decades of Republicans who always knew their place.
If this had happened at a Trump campaign event, "Dronegate" would today be part of the national lexicon.
Does this story have current relevance? Certainly not for Weiner; he is a man of irrelevance and will be for the rest of his life. But Hillary Clinton still inserts herself into the national conversation and some think she might run again. Of course, she would deny any of this, but maybe Weiner himself is just desperate enough for public attention (of any kind) that he might just own up to his dirty tricks.
Thursday, September 19, 2019
I had an interesting experience this week. I attended a Trump fundraiser in Silicon Valley where I had the opportunity to promote Campusland. Here are some random things to relate...
Did you know that the president's microphone goes with him everywhere? He only uses one. I assume it's to guard against hidden recording devices or maybe even poison or small explosives.
No one knew where the event was. They had to report to a parking lot in Palo Alto and get on buses and weren't told where they were going until they got there. The media and the left wing crazies on Twitter were frantic to figure it out so they could "out" the host...When guests arrived, they had to place their cell phones into sleeves which were then locked for the duration. Seemed like a smart move to protect everyone's privacy, but it also allowed the President to wander a bit more off piste, not that he doesn't do that otherwise!
I would describe the atmosphere as utterly joyous. This might sound like a strange thing to say, but the reason, I believe, is that Republicans in California are a bit like conservatives on college campuses - they have learned to keep their mouths shut and opinions guarded to avoid having their businesses attacked and as well as being personably attacked. They have to grin and bear it when others say things they find offensive, living closeted lives, philosophically speaking. Yet here, they were among 400 fellow travelers, and they could speak openly. The happiness was palpable, and the support for the President powerfully enthusiastic.
As for Trump himself, I was struck by how funny he was. He spoke without notes for about an hour and a quarter, and it was almost like a standup comedy routine, but one that covered serious policy at the same time. The crowd ate it up, and bear in mind this was a really expensive ticket, so this wasn't the bunch of hillbilly yahoos that the left thinks makes up most of Trump's support.....Anyway, that's the report. Oh, and Campusland got promoted in front of POTUS!
Thursday, February 7, 2019
Sometimes I fear Yale has jumped the shark. As an alum who still wants to love the place (and will always love the experience he had), it makes me profoundly sad.
Today, the Yale Daily News printed a column of breathtaking excrescence. Vile and racist. You can read it yourself here. Written by a senior named Isis Davis-Marks, it starts off, "Everyone knows a white boy with shiny brown hair and a saccharine smile that conceals his great ambitions." It goes on to suppose that the "white boy" grows up and one day Isis will see him at something like a Senate confirmation hearing.
And then. "I'll remember a racist remark that he said, an unintentional utterance that he made when he had one drink too many at a frat party his sophomore year. I'll recall the message that accidentally left open on a computer when he forgot to log out, where he likened a woman's body to a particularly large animal. And, when I'm watching him smile that smile, I'll kick myself thinking I could have stopped it."
She (I'm assuming gender here - probably a microaggression) goes on to concede that not everyone at Yale is evil. At least not those from oppressed, non-privileged classes, anyway. She is still very upset ("indelibly") by the Kavanaugh hearings. She wants all accusations of sexual misconduct at Yale made public.
Then Isis decides the real problem lies with Yale's values:
To be honest, I’m not sure what the solution is. This expands beyond vocalizing problems about sexual assault: The core of this problem has to do with our values. The problem isn’t just the Yale administration; it’s Yale students. We allow things to skate by. We forget. We say, “No, he couldn’t have done that,” or, “But he’s so nice.” No questions are asked when our friends accept job offers from companies that manufacture weapons or contribute to gentrification in cities. We merely smile at them and wave as we walk across our residential college courtyards and do nothing. Thirty years later, we kick ourselves when it’s too late.
Is this where I point out that Yale is probably the most progressive place on the planet? And do many Yalies go into defense contracting? Never met one, myself.
She ends with this haymaker:
But I can’t do that anymore — I can’t let things slip by. I’m watching you, white boy. And this time, I’m taking the screenshot.
Wow. Could you imagine if someone said, "I'm watching you, black boy. I know you're going to (fill in crime here)?" Oh my God, what a shit storm. Without a doubt, people would by tossed out. But as long as racsim/sexism is aimed at non-oppressed classes (read: white males), no biggie. Nothing to see here.
But here's what really gets me going. The Yale Daily News has refused to publish any online comments on the article. Not one. I myself have submitted two, and both were apparently rejected. An article this incendiary, and we are expected to believe there are no comments? My guess is they are surprised, because Yale is an ideological echo chamber, and Isis's piece, within the bubble, is fairly conventional thinking.
That's the way it is in Campusland.
Thursday, January 17, 2019
Monday, October 22, 2018
With all the talk of a "blue wave," there's a much more likely scenario that no one's talking about, and God help us if it happens. That is, the House is won by one party or the other by one or two seats.
Why do I say this? I went through every House poll I could find for any district that is even remotely competitive, and I just added them up. If candidate A is up by even a point, I give the race to him or her. (Obviously, that is within the margin of error but it cuts both ways.)
Here's what I got:
Republican seats flipping to Dems: 26
Dem seats flipping to Republicans: 3
Net Dem pickup: 23
Dem pickups required to take control: 24
Yes, that's right. Democrats fall one short. I realize there's a lot of potential error in this, but the possibility is real. The signs point towards a rather average gain for the out-of-power party in a midterm election (which is 25, by the way). No blue wave, just average-ness.
I checked the history books, by the way. There's never been a one-vote margin in the House.
Think about the craziness we'll have to endure if this happens. Neither party will take losing by one or two seats well, but I think it's safe to say the Democrats will take it less well. They fully expect to win this and if they don't, they will take to the streets. They will also send thousands of lawyers out to every district that was within a couple of points. There will be endless recounts. Cries of fraud and voter suppression will be heard across the land (even if they never seem to find someone whose vote was actually suppressed). Next year's House will be called "invalid." (Sound familiar?)
Scorched earth, like the Kavanaugh hearings. I, for one, hope it doesn't happen, but the alternative would be even worse.
Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Has anyone else noticed the rapidity with which this bit of rhetoric - speak your truth - has crept into the cultural firmament? I first took note of it a few months ago, and now, like the proverbial buzzing of a light fixture, I can't stop hearing it.
Apparently, it was Oprah who first popularized it, saying it is the "most powerful tool we have." By we, I am quite certain she did not mean me, as I do not fit the demographic profile of those allowed to have their own proprietary version of the truth.
Let me explain. What is meant by the phrase, by those who wield it, is that if you have been abused in some way (presumably by a white male), or you have been generally oppressed (again, by white males and the patriarchy), "speaking your truth" is having the courage to give testimony to your experience.
Most recently, we heard the odious Cory Booker use the phrase to describe Christine Blasey Ford's Senate appearance. Her truth was most definitely that Brett Kavanaugh tried to rape her.
I have two problems with all this. One somewhat minor, the other not. Using Blasey Ford as an example, let's say, for the sake of argument, she's telling the whole truth. That would mean it was the truth, would it not? Not her truth. Calling it her truth implies there could be other truths. Isn't there only one truth? That's what I was taught. I am bothered on a lexical level - it undermines our language. Words have meaning.
Aly Raisman, the gymnast (pictured at the top), was in fact abused by the abominable Larry Nassar. We know this to be the literal truth. Why undermine it by calling it "her" truth?
Back to Blasey Ford. Let's now say she's not telling the truth about what happened, or more to the point, is telling a story that, while not being exactly truthful, speaks to her broader life experiences. Not truth, but truthiness. This is where I have a big problem. Perhaps she was abused by someone at some point, someone who wasn't Kavanaugh. She certainly seems troubled by something. Projecting on to Kavanaugh could be an outlet for her anguish or maybe a bogus recovered memory - who knows? In that case what she is doing is making Kavanaugh guilty by association. The left has gleefully accepted this approach, basically because Kavanaugh's a man and they don't like his politics. (His being Catholic doesn't help, either.)
The concept of white privilege ties closely into this. It basically says that all white people harbor subtle forms of racism no matter how enlightened they think they are. It's weaponized political correctness, and it is a growing trend. It means anyone can be made guilty of anything if you run afoul of the left's agenda.
What did Beria say? Show me the man and I will show you the crime.
So please, don't speak your truth.
Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Pleased to share that someone besides me thinks Campusland is funny. St. Martins Press has bought the book, and will publish it in September of 2019. Bummer it takes so long (publishing is definitely not like the tech industry), but that's the way of it.