In which I make an unexpected recommendation

I think I need y’all to take a little bit of time and go listen to Joe Biden’s podcast.

Yeah, I know. I’m surprised too. But I just took an hour while my wife and son watched a movie to sit and listen to podcasts. I don’t drive anywhere any longer, because quarantine, so I’m way behind on everything, and I had added Biden’s podcast to my list several weeks ago and more or less forgotten it existed. Now, I only listened to the most recent episode, where he’s talking with historian Jon Meacham, and … well, I’m not gonna pretend it was the best forty minute interview I’ve ever heard before– Biden’s not a professional interviewer, and I think the podcast at least comes off as more of an unplanned conversation than something heavily prewritten– but it was damned interesting, honestly, and reminded me of a time when we had a president who could string two goddamn sentences together and express a thought in words of more than two syllables. In particular, I think those of you concerned about Biden’s so-called cognitive decline should give this a listen. Yes, I know, editing, but it would be literally impossible to stitch together a podcast like this from anything the shitgibbon’s ever said.

Previous guests include Rev. William Barber– Biden actually mentions an interest in systematic theology in the episode I listened to, which, what?— and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. I’m definitely going to give the Barber episode a listen, as I find him fascinating on his own, and I’ll probably try to blow through the three I haven’t listened to this weekend if I can carve out the time. There are two shorter episodes at about 20 minutes, and the two recent ones are 40, so they’re not hugely lengthy episodes.

I’m not going to claim that these are going to change your mind on the guy’s positions– I’m not necessarily more excited about voting for him than I was an hour ago, but I’m … calmer about it, if that makes any sense? Anyway, pick a podcasting app and give an episode a listen.

(Oh, and one interesting thing? Virtually no mention of his campaign other than acknowledging that the podcast itself is an attempt to replace some of the traditional campaign events that we can’t do right now. If anything, it’s a missed opportunity– he doesn’t mention donations or anything and doesn’t even refer you to his website. Really surprising.)


7:41 PM, Friday April 17, not yet six hours past the last time I posted: 699,105 confirmed infections and 36,727 American deaths. That is a terrifying increase for six fucking hours.

Ain’t it the truth

Sat down at the computer 20 minutes or so ago all like OKAY WORDZ TIEM MOTHERFUCKERS and … yeah, apparently that’s at least slightly easier said than done? I dunno, maybe the seventeen hundred words I gave y’all on Nioh 2 yesterday was all I have in me at the moment.

So, politics, I guess.

I am having an interesting reaction to the news about the primary ending. I was not actually expecting rage to be among the emotions I felt once that happened, but as it turns out that one’s kind of leading the pack; it pisses me the hell off that we are two months away from anyone in Indiana getting to cast a ballot in a primary that started off with half a dozen candidates I’d have been perfectly happy to vote for and two I’d have been deliriously happy to get, and we’ve somehow ended with an eight thousand year old white man who I used to refer to as “the Senator from MBNA” winning the nomination before Indiana even got to vote. And I’m not happy about it. This motherfucker has been close to the bottom of my choices for the entire Goddamned primary, and while the math has been clear for quite a damn while that my choices are not everyone else’s choices– none of my candidates managed to get anywhere with black voters, which is critical to winning the Democratic nomination– the fact that I literally didn’t get to cast a ballot before the choice was made pisses me off anyway. I’d have been fine with voting for someone who lost. I’ve done that a whole bunch of times. I’m not fine with this.

The Democratic party’s primary structure is fucked, the way we choose presidential candidates is fucked, and I want this shit fixed. Now, God damn it.

(There is– and I will make this point more than once more before November– absolutely nothing short of the election being cancelled or my own death that will prevent me from voting for Biden this fall. Nothing.(*) But that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it, and right now I choose not to be. A good VP choice would go a long ways toward restoring some enthusiasm, but I don’t need to be enthusiastic to vote. I’m grown. I’m gonna fucking vote like it’s my job, because it is.)

(*) Well, okay, Biden’s death would probably also cause me to not vote for him, but this election’s already going to be fucked up enough and I don’t want to even think about what the shit would occur if that happened.

(**) Since I actually know, image credit: @adequateashell


8:03 PM, Wednesday April 8th: 429,052 confirmed cases and 14,695 Americans dead.

In which I STILL don’t know anything

I got asked in comments earlier if I thought Bernie Sanders should drop out yet. The interesting thing is I was already thinking about writing this post when the question came through, and as I’ve thought about it a bit more I’ve decided that the answer is that I think Bernie should drop out, but there is an as-yet somewhat reasonable case to be made that Bernie should not yet decide that he should drop out.

Allow me to explain.

Biden is ahead in the delegate count by 154 delegates, with another 94 pledged to candidates who have endorsed him. Democratic rules mandating proportional allocation of delegates make coming from behind more difficult than it is in the Republican primary, because you can eke out close wins in three states and then have those gains wiped out by losing badly in another state. You might remember a lot of talk about Bernie’s surprise win in Michigan in 2016, which was interesting in a “here is how polls can be wrong sometimes” sort of way but ultimately irrelevant because Hillary blew Bernie out of the water in Mississippi on the same day and her gains from Mississippi were a lot bigger than his in Michigan. He ended the day farther behind than he had when he started.

I’m not going to crunch numbers right now on what states are left and what might go for Bernie and what might go for Biden, except to note that the polls for this Tuesday’s contests look very, very bad:

What I have crunched the numbers on– I did it just now, as a matter of fact, because I was curious and I am exactly that kind of nerd– is that Bernie has gotten a lower percentage of the vote in literally every single contest than he did in 2016. Every single one. The average drop is just a hair over nineteen points, with a median just over 16, and there are five states where his vote total was less than half of what he got in 2016:

This is the clearest evidence that we’re going to get, I think: Sanders’ support has cratered since 2016, and there is no evidence at all that this will get any better. None. And he lost badly in 2016 once all the shouting was over. This will be worse. Stick a fork in him, he’s done. Time to quit. He has literally persuaded no one who he didn’t already have to come over to his campaign.

But.

You may have heard of this Rona shit we got going around, I dunno. They’re starting to talk about it on the news a lot.

Who are Biden’s people, broadly speaking? Voters of color and older voters. Who are Bernie’s people, again broadly speaking? White folk, especially younger ones.

One group is more likely to have fewer polling places, meaning longer lines and longer waits (how long did that one dude in Texas wait on Super Tuesday? Seven hours?) and one group is also a lot more vulnerable to the novel coronavirus, meaning that they really ought to be spending as little time in possible doing things like waiting for hours in lines around shittons of other people.

One group is more likely to consider themselves basically invincible and not be as concerned about waiting in those same long lines, and that group is also (again, broadly speaking; college students have been screwed in this respect in some places) going to have easier access to a quick ballot casting than the other.

It is, in other words, entirely possible that the coronavirus is going to work out in Bernie’s favor. Will it be enough to make a difference, given the fairly large margins currently showing in the polling? I have not the slightest idea. Especially since, again, he needs blowouts right now, and shaving a 44-point ass-beating in Florida down to 20 or even a narrow victory is not really going to do him a whole lot of good. But it might provide a slim thread of hope to hang onto, and a reason to stay in the election.

Do I want him to do that? No; in fact, I think the more responsible thing to do would be to drop out precisely to drive down the number of people who want to go out and vote, because I don’t think he can win at this point. Which seems odd to say, but it’s true. And I should make something clear: I’m not mad at Bernie about this, and I don’t think he’s off in Vermont cackling and gleefully rubbing his hands together at the idea that Biden’s supporters might be proportionally less likely to vote because of a global pandemic than his are or anything like that. But I think it’s a real difference between the two populations.

Again: do I think it’ll make a difference?

No fucking idea. Like I said, I don’t know anything about politics.

In which everybody calm down

Okay, one thing is worth throwing a party over: Mike Bloomberg’s ass is out of the race, which is an unalloyed good thing that we should all be celebrating. But it’s been fascinating to me to watch the exact same people who thought Biden was over and done with after Nevada pivot on a Goddamn dime to declare him the invincible frontrunner after last night. Now, don’t misunderstand: last night was great for Biden, and bad for Sanders. But it’s far from a knockout blow, especially since we don’t know yet what the numbers from California are going to look like and Sanders is going to win California. By how much, and how much of a delegate lead that gets him from the state, we won’t know for a bit. But I suspect Biden’s already-slim lead of less than fifty delegates is going to get cut into a bit, and 45 delegates is not a great cushion, all told.

Warren– and it both pains me and makes me deeply angry to say this– is probably out. She’ll take her time and make the decision on her own, but I don’t think there’s much of a path left for her if she’s not even able to win her own home state. It’s fucked up that America is ignoring this good of a candidate, but I felt the same way about Harris. It’s a primary; I’m used to being disappointed.

The worst news for Bernie, to my mind, is that in all fifteen contests held yesterday he didn’t hit his 2016 level of support in any of them, including his home state of Vermont, and in several of them his support was down by half or more. He lost two states, Oklahoma and Minnesota, that he won in 2016. For someone whose entire rationale for being elected is that he will Motivate The Masses To Take To The Streets … well, not so much, apparently? Bernie lost in 2016 and was getting a lot more votes. I haven’t taken a close look at what states are left, but there was a pretty ironclad rule in 2016 that any state that was less than 85% white was going to go to Clinton. Now, that rule is being broken pretty handily by California right now, and his Hispanic support seems to be up from 2016, so it might not hold as well, but he only won four states yesterday. That’s … not great. But there’s a lot of primary left, and there’s no reason to count anyone out yet. Once California’s delegates come in the count is going to be very close. I don’t see anyone outside of Biden or Bernie having a chance, but those two are effectively tied at the moment.


It is at this point where I remind you that I don’t know shit about politics.

There are lots of people yammering about something called electability, and all of them, including me, are wrong. Electability is not a thing. I took a very close look at the Republican field in both 2012 and 2016 and came to the conclusion that it was rationally impossible for any of them to get the nomination, both times, and somehow both times the Republicans managed to nominate someone anyway.

Either of these people are “electable” if we vote for them. So, as it turns out, is Warren. Bernie and Biden have both been clobbering the Current Occupant by wide margins in head-to-head polls for months, if not for years in Sanders’ case, and I need to remind myself of that every time I look at either of them and my brain tries to tell me that there’s no way that guy gets elected President. I still think Sanders’ path to the White House is the more difficult one, if only because the Democrats have been unwilling to paint him as the baby-eating tax-crazed Communist that the Republicans will, and we all know he doesn’t react to criticism very well, but they’re going to call Biden a socialist too; saying insane bullshit about how insanely leftist our candidates are is kind of their thing regardless of its actual relationship to reality. There aren’t going to be any debates so any talk about who will do better against the shitgibbon in one is pointless. We need to quit worrying about this “electability” nonsense and show up to vote. Everything else will take care of itself.

Mental health update

The portion of my brain that is able to view the rest of me dispassionately would like to report that it is fascinated at how much legit fucking emotional stress I am experiencing at the idea that Bernie Sanders might be the Democratic nominee for President, an experience that I’m pretty certain I’ve never had during a Democratic primary before, and I’ve been paying attention to these things for a minute now.

The rest of me … well, it’s glad that that one part is fascinated, I suppose. It would also appreciate it if it could motivate me to grade something or take a shower, now that it’s 4:30 in the God damn afternoon.