The additional fun here is watching the reaction of the trainer go from bemused to accepting the calamitous effort with total enjoyment.
As one person responded online, "We are NOT all meant to be “service dogs.” But if people let us.. we will, all, figure out what we are good at."
The additional fun here is watching the reaction of the trainer go from bemused to accepting the calamitous effort with total enjoyment.
Once again, I only watched about 30 minutes of last night's debate and saw enough of the free-for-all. The sense I got was that this was Bernie Sanders' turn to be the focus of everyone else. And I didn't think he was especially as strong in response as he usually is just making his own points.
That brings up two issues: is Sanders a runaway front-runner candidate to get the nomination, and if he does, can he win against Trump?
The first issue is centered around the head-exploding fear of many Democrats that it would be an absolute disaster if Bernie Sanders is the party's nominee. And I completely understand that reaction. The thing is, my perception is that the cries of “We’ve lost” if he’s the nominee, while understandable, are based purely on understandable fear, but not reality. For example, just as a starting point, all polls today show that in a head-to-head match-up against Trump, Sanders is actually ahead. Now, yes, I know we don’t elect a president by popular vote (let alone by poll), but two things – 1) while it’s just a starting point in the discussion it is however a factual one, based on actual numbers not fear, and 2) for all the people who understandably say that such a poll is totally meaningless, I suspect their heads would be exploding if the exact same “meaningless” polls said the very opposite, that Trump was instead ahead of Sanders. So, people don't find the polls as totally meaningless as they profess.
Also left out of the equation of people’s fear of Sanders against Trump, in which they point out all of Sanders’ very real and very high negatives and all the damning things the Trump campaign will say about him – is that they ignore all of very real negatives Trump himself has and what the Democratic campaign will, in return, say about him. Elections aren't all just one way, of course.
Just one example: a couple days ago, a friend said that his fear of Sanders as the candidate is that so much of the public will hate his "Medicare for All" health plan because they want to keep their private doctors. I said that’s a totally valid concern – but it ignores how Sanders will reply. And I’m sure it would be something like, “I know that many of you don’t like everything about my health plan, but don’t forget – whether you like all the details or not, I have a health plan to expand your coverage…but Trump wants to take your current health plan away! He wants your health plan gone. NO health care plan. None. And he also wants to cut back your Social Security! And Medicare. On top of getting rid of your health care plan. So, yes, some of you may not like everything about my health care plan. But I’m absolutely sure that you hate having no health care plan. Which is what you’ll get from Trump.” This isn’t to say that Sanders’ health plan isn’t a potential problem, just that you can’t ignore the full argument and the other side being worse.
Keep in mind, as well, with Sanders winning the Nevada caucus by a large margin, which the press has pointed to as a major factor in him being the front-runner but something about that which has also gone unmentioned by the press – caucuses are a truly terrible way to judge support. It’s a massive time commitment, and candidates with the most passionate support are likely to do the best. As such, only 22% of people who voted Democratic in 2016 voted in the Nevada caucus. By contrast, 80% of New Hampshire Democrats voted in their primary. Winning in Nevada was important, but it doesn’t have the substantive meaning that it appears.
Indeed, with all the attention on Sanders being the frontrunner... we've only had three elections, two of them in tiny states, two of them in caucuses. Even South Carolina upcoming isn't a Big Deal, The only real Big Deal is that everyone should wait until after Super Tuesday. I wouldn’t be shocked if Michael Bloomberg vaulted to #2 in the delegate count at that point – and I wouldn’t take a bet that he won’t be in the lead. I’m not saying that’s good or bad, just that so much will change after Super Tuesday. Joe Biden could have some wins. Bloomberg is campaigning with wallpapering ads in every states. Warren could build on momentum. I don’t think Buttigieg will win anywhere and could hit a speed bump, though he might have some good states. Same with Klobuchar, who should at least win in Minnesota. And I’m sure Sanders will continue to do well, though the question will be how well against the broader field.
Without question Sanders is the leading candidate. But the impact of Super Tuesday – hurtful to him or helpful – is too massive to overlook. And what I most suspect it will show is that no candidate will have enough delegates to win before the convention. And I have no idea what will happen there. The only thing I know is that whoever is in the lead by the time of the convention will make the case that that means they should be the nominee – and that it doesn’t mean that at all, whoever it is. To be the nominee, you rightly MUST have a majority of delegates. That’s how every political convention in U.S. history has properly been decided. Otherwise, for example, in a multi-candidate race, you could have a conservative leading with 30% of the vote against all the moderates with 70%, yet giving your party leadership to the vast-minority position.
As for whether Bernie Sanders can win if he's the nominee -- well, I've typed far too much here, so we'll take a look at that tomorrow. Unless something especially noteworthy comes up.
I don't know if this is pure coincidence, or training, or totally unrelated to what the subject heading is, or the real thing. But it sure is funny, whatever.
Timing suggests the former or latter. But again, it almost doesn't matter. It's just fun.
There is something really wonderful about a caucus. Very homespun with a great sense of tradition about how they're run, people getting together from their communities to spend a lot of time participating in the small-d democratic process. And when there is a caucus, the results are all that we can go by. The numbers are final and that's that. (Unless we're talking about Iowa, in which case they may never be final. But I digress...)
However, although the results of a caucus are definitive, we still must recognize they are a caucus, which is a totally different process from standard voting. And the most substantive difference, beyond even how the process works, is the time required to participate. Nevada tried to help with that by allowing for early voting where you list favorites in order, but then it's not really a caucus, but rather a combination of one and how they vote for the Oscars.
And the results you get are colored by this. Take a look at the presidential election 2016. That year, 539,260 people voted in Nevada for Hillary Clinton. By comparison, turnout in the Nevada caucus is expected to be only about 120,000. That's just 22% of people who voted in the presidential election.
While it's true that fewer people vote in a primary than in the general election, the numbers are much closer for a presidential race than one that's just between local candidates. I took a look at the recent race in New Hampshire (which is a primary, not a caucus), and about 80% of Democrats who voted for Clinton in 2016 voted in the recent primary. That's a significantly higher percentage than in the Nevada caucus.
The thing is, what I wish is that when analysts look at the results of the Nevada caucus and proclaim whoever to be the definitive leader among Democrats (now, of course Bernie Sanders, but whoever the person will be in subsequent years), or look at who didn't do well, it would be wonderful if they kept this perspective in mind and actually at least mention that only 22% of Democrats who voted in the 2016 general election voted in the caucus. And that it favors candidates who can get people willing to attend the long hours required to caucus. That enthusiasm to vote is a great thing and important. But it's only part of the story. Just 22% of it.
The reality is that it's just harder to participate and vote in a caucus than a primary. So, while we have to accept the results for what they are, they are nonetheless skewed, which isn't the ideal way to try to pick a presidential nominee.
I'm not the only one who feels this way, of course. But one name who agrees stands out. And that would be Harry Reid, the former Democratic Senate Minority Leader and former senator of Nevada -- who was instrumental in pushing to make the Nevada caucus the third race in the primary season. He told the New York Times about his own state --
“All caucuses should be a thing of the past. They don’t work for a multitude of reasons.”
If a state wants to hold a caucus, that's fine. It's their state, their option. But a political party shouldn't reward that and allow them to schedule their caucus early in the process that they, the party, should control. And if the state chooses to do so -- fine, their choice. But the party should then declare that zero of the delegates will be included in a candidates total as unauthorized.
All caucuses, as Harry Reid -- who helped push caucuses for his own state -- says, should be a thing of the past. They don't work. And they not only don't work, they don't work for a multitude of reasons.
On last night's episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the main story was particularly timely given Trump's visit today to India. It's a story on India and their very popular, but extremely controversial (notably for how harshly his administration deals with the country's Muslim minority) Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, with whom Trump just announced a $3 billion arms deal. Making the details of the story all the more noteworthy -- yet entertaining and able to be very funny, as well
The inveterate Chris Dunn sent me the link to an article in the New York Times about the botched quarantine for the coronavirus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. It was a terrific, detailed, fascinating article, which you can find here, but that's not the reason he sent it. It was because it turns out that someone we both know from a long while back is mentioned several times in the piece, and she and her husband even have several photo credits. It's a lovely lady named Gay Courter, who is a successful novelist and non-fiction writer and also has served as an advocate ad litum for kids in children's court. We haven't been in touch very often in the intervening years -- she lives in Florida -- though we did exchange emails a few years back.
I just sent her off a note -- and though I'm sure when you're written up in the New York Times you get inundated by emails, I heard back from her fairly quickly. I guess I shouldn't be surprised by that -- it turns out that she and her husband are still isolated, so I guess there isn't a whole lot to do after a while, and answering emails is high on the list of activities. She says that so far they haven't tested positive for the disease, and wake up every day to reveille, making her think that she's Private Benjamin. She added that they spend time thinking of sick jokes, and asked if I had any new quarantine quips for her...
(I didn't have any quips, though a couple of Fun Facts she could pass along. Several years back, I finally made it through the entire Will and Ariel Durant Story of Civilization, reading one volume a year over the holidays. In one of them, they wrote about a major outbreak of some virus (I forget exactly when this was or for what) between France and Italy. As a result, people had to be isolated on an island for 40 days. The French word for “40” is – quarante. Hence, quarantine! (Also, the word in Italian for island is “isola.” Which brings us – isolation.)
By the way, Gay has a well-regarded book (4.5 stars on Amazon out of 5) about her experience as a child advocate, I Speak for This Child. If you're interested, you can find it here.)
All that aside, there was one weird thing in the New York Times article, part of a chart with a Q&A on the virus. At one point it says, “Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.” Now, as far as I can tell, the way it is with human beings, “somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people” can only be 2 or 3 people. I mean, I’ve scratched my brain as hard as I can and am not yet aware of any other figure it could be. As such, saying “…could spread it to 2 or 3 people” is a shorter and far more clear way of expressing that.
Today's guest contestant on the 'Not My Job' segment of the NPR game quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! is actress Isabella Rossellini. Her conversation with host Peter Sagal is very entertaining, starting with talking about her famous parents, but then shifts to a series of 40 short films on animal behavior she made later in her career after going back to school and getting a Masters degree in biology. She also laughs more here than I think in all of her feature films combined.
The guest on this episode of 3rd & Fairfax, the official podcast of the Writers Guild of America is screenwriter Susannah Grant, who wrote the screenplays for such films as Erin Brockovich (for which she received an Oscar nomination), 28 Days and Pochahontas, as well as four episodes of the Netflix mini-series Unbelievable, who talks about her career.
From the archives. Today's contestant is William White from Portland, Oregon. I got the hidden song pretty quickly, though it may not be terribly familiar to everyone, but it's not an unknown song. As for the composer style, it's one of those I just toss coins in the air and guess -- though as the contestant was analyzing how he came to his guess, his words suggested another composer to me, so I switched moments before he made his guess...and that was it.
Robert J. Elisberg is a two-time recipient of the Lucille Ball Award for comedy screenwriting. He's written for film, TV, the stage, and two best-selling novels, is a regular columnist for the Writers Guild of America and was for the Huffington Post. Among his other writing, he has a long-time column on technology (which he sometimes understands), and co-wrote a book on world travel. As a lyricist, he is a member of ASCAP, and has contributed to numerous publications.
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