From the archives. This week's contestant is Kristen Zoetewey from Grand Rapids, Michigan. I had an odd result from the contest. When it finished, I had no clue. And yet I should have guessed the composer style because I like the composer a lot. But no. As for the hidden song, I also had no clue -- though about the 3-minute mark there was a passage that sounded familiar, but I just couldn't place it. And even pianist Bruce Adolphe acknowledged that this was a difficult one, well-hidden. As he was talking though, it clicked in -- and before he even got to playing the piece again, I guessed it.
This is just too, too good. Because of how Twitter works, though, I don't want to post it the way I would normally do so, since the pointed-joke wouldn't come across as properly as it should. Just know that the "Tweet of the Day" is not this first one below from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). It's the two together, but mainly the response. However, I can't embed that without also repeating the Rubio tweet. Instead, I'll do a bit of jury-rigging, and make a couple of separate screen shots and then two cut-and-pastes.
Yes, I know that full explanation was not totally necessary, but part of it was, and ultimately I do like to be accurate. Anyway, the tweet in response is from a fellow named Benjamin Dreyer, author of the New York Times best-seller, Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style.
On this week’s Al Franken podcast, he has another that has nothing to do with politics but back to the world o’ entertainment. He calls it, “John Mayer on Playing Guitar and Singing at the Same Time.” As he describes the interview, “John Mayer talks about how he transitioned from pop star/tabloid fodder (recurrent Sexiest Man Alive) to the impossible challenge of filling Jerry Garcia’s gigantic shoes with Dead and Company, the current iteration of the Grateful Dead. (If you guessed I’m a big Dead Head, you might be right).”
I always like heading back into the kitchen for the fun videos from Epicurious on "50 People Try to...". Today, what their 50 people try to do is poach an egg. And then when they finish, an expert chef will come along and explain the proper way.
After my two articles on Bernie Sanders, I thought this was an interesting coda.
In 2011, Sanders gave an interview to The Guardian. You can read the whole thing here, if you're interested, but I mention all this because one passage stands out --
But, he explains, he is not interested in the White House. '" would likely end up causing a right-wing extremist to be president of the United States. That is not something I would be happy to do," he said.
Clearly he feels differently today, and that's fine. We're all entitled to change our mind. But I do think it would be appropriate for him to at least be asked about this quote, perhaps even during a debate, and let him explain what did change in his thinking.
I wanted to post this a few days ago, but -- as always happens during this administration -- other things came up. And though other things still keep coming up, I wanted to get this already while it's still within the week it happened.
Earlier in the week, there was an event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the 1980 U.S. Men's "Miracle on Ice" Olympic Hockey Team. This is considered one of the great moment is U.S. sport history. The men's amateur hockey team had been crushed by the lead-up to the Olympics by the dominant powerhouse Soviet Red Army team of virtual professional. Russia won 10-3. The young American team was given no chance against the mature, long-standing Russian team. So, when U.S. players won, it brought about announcer Al Michaels' famous call at the very end of the game with time running out, "Do you believe in miracles??? YES!!!" And coming as it did when the United States was feeling down on itself from the Iran hostage crisis, it was a time of overwhelming patriot joy.
Which brings us to early this week. At the anniversary event, 14 members of the team showed up, and it was hosted by Trump. What got so much attention was a photo that the team sent out from their "@1980MiracleTeam" Facebook account -- most of the players, not just standing with Trump, which is understandable and their fair choice, but wearing MAGA hats. It as ghastly, and I have chosen not to embed the photo here.
(To be accurate, these particular hats said "Keep America Great," since this is, after all, a re-election year. They were handed to the players as they joined Trump on the podium, and 10 of the 14 chose to wear them."
Making things worse were a couple of comments made by whoever handles the account, blithely dismissive of any meaning about what they'd done.
As you might imagine, the account was flooded with outraged comments. I wrote a couple in reply.
The first official posting by the team spokesman was "The name on the front is more important than the name on the back." (Referencing the name on "the front" being the words "Keep America Great" and the "back" of the jerseys having a player's personal name.)
To that I wrote -- "What so moved Americans in 1980 was the spirit of a team of outmanned amateurs beating a powerful professional team of Russians when the nation was down. That so many of you now support a fascist administration that is supplicant to Russia demeans all your efforts. It is shameful."
The subsequent Miracle Team comment was "To us, this is not about politics or choosing sides. This is about proudly representing the United States of America. Whether your beliefs are Democratic, Republican, Independent, etc. we support that and are proud to represent the USA. It is an honor and privilege!
What I responded was -- "This is shamefully disingenuous. Wearing 'Keep America Great' hats is entirely political & does NOT even remotely "represent the USA." It very specifically supports a fascist candidate, and you have 100% 'chosen a side.' Please know: a majority of Americans voted against this literal fascist.
"P.S. If you truly believed this is 'not about politics or choosing sides,' you would show American unity & attend campaign events for whoever the Democratic nominee is & wear hats that support them, too -- 'whether your beliefs are Democratic or Republican.' That seems unlikely."
I'm sure there were other online statements from the team spokesman, but that's all I could handle. Please know that as reasonable as the team comments might seem in black-and-white words only, remember that they were written against the backdrop of photos of the team all wearing red "Keep America Great" hats standing with Trump.
Afterwards, amid all the significant outrage, team captain Mike Eruzione did an interview with the Washington Post and said, "I just put (the hat) on. I wasn’t thinking. Maybe this shows I’m naive, shows I’m stupid. I don’t know. I don’t follow politics. I know he’s had some issues and said a lot of things people don’t like."
Yes, it shows he's naive. And stupid. Most likely even disingenuous. Because it's near-impossible for me to believe that someone as bright as Eruzione, who's a public speaker and a "special outreach" representative for Boston University, his alma mater, didn't know about "MAGA" hats and that it was an election year and that it was an election event for Trump and that Trump has had more than "some issues" and merely "said" things people don't like, but was impeached. And that all 10 of these grown adults who put on the hats were just as apparently naive and stupid.
The article quoted Matthew A. Sear, a professor at the University of New Brunswick in Canada who has written about the Trump hats. "It's hard to believe there are still people who don't get that it means, 'Keep America White,' and 'Keep America free of Mexican immigrants." But, he added, "...that's how symbols work. It's basically like a uniform, It's a way to signal in shorthand something.that stands for a whole reason of policies or positions."
How disingenuous were Eurizione's words that it was all just naivety? He went on in his interview to say, "If we knew we were going to piss off this many people, we probably would not have put the hats on."
Probably? Even knowing the reaction of outrage, even knowing that putting on the hats made this totally political, an action that stood for "Keep America White," they -- all 10 -- only "probably" wouldn't have worn the hats. That's not naivety. That's making a clear, aware choice.
“That’s the big question here," Eruzion added. "A lot of the stuff I got was, ‘You guys said it’s not political, but when you put the hats on, you made it political.'
"I told my wife, 'People think we are a disgrace.'"
I don't know if it was a disgrace. It's their own political beliefs which they're entitled to. It was their choice to wear the hats or not as a very blatant, well-aware symbol. If that's what they believe in, so be it. I think it's an awful belief, but it's their individual lives, their individual choices. But the thing is, they weren't just there on stage as individuals, expressing their personal beliefs -- they were there, very specifically, as members of the 1980 Men's Olympic Hockey Team, who together as a unit had represented the United States. They knew well what they were doing, they may not have expected the outrage, but they are not a group of ignorant people. And further, this wasn't their first rodeo -- they've all (individually and together for occasions) been representing the U.S. as members of that team for 40 years. They, more than anyone, know what being a member of that team means. And that's what makes this shameful.
When ESPN ran a feature about that historic game later in the evening, the memory of the game and emotion was wonderful. The perspective of what those players did to it was heart-sickening.
Let's head out and about once again with Jiminy Glick, and what with Edie Falco having a new TV series on the air -- Tommy, playing the first female police chief of Los Angeles -- I thought it appropriate to have her appearance with Jimiiny. From her hand, she handles the interview fairly straightforward, trying to answer his questions as politely as possible, but what stands out from the piece is how blunt and almost brutal he is in his questioning, yet she takes it all in stride. Unless you count the times she can't keep from laughing.
Yesterday, I mentioned that there were two notable issues in the Democratic Party concerning Bernie Sanders. Today, we look at the second. If he does get the nomination, can he win against Trump?
The most honest answer is -- I don't know. And anyone who says they do know is fooling you and themselves. That said, several months back I wrote an article about how I felt that any candidate who can make it through the long, arduous Democratic campaign to get the nomination should be able to beat Trump and win the presidency. I gave numerous reasons, and those reasons for "any candidate" all hold, of course, for Bernie Sanders.
This doesn't mean I absolutely think he will win, let alone am sure that he will win. Just that I think he should. For those earlier reasons, and others.
This is part of my reasoning. It’s not just a gut reaction. And it’s good that so many in the Democratic Party are wary (the polite term for "having their heads explode") because that’s what keeps people from not taking anything for granted. So, if one is not convinced, that’s fine. But as I said, I do have actual reasons why I not only think Sanders, but any Democratic nominee can and will beat Trump. I don’t know if it’s so. But I’m not just pure-guessing, and have reasons. And so if Sanders is the nominee –-
Every Democrat who votes will vote for Bernie Sanders. He won’t lose any, none will stay home, and he’ll likely draw in young voters who usually don’t vote.
He’s not going to lose the entire middle of Independents. Simply based on history, he’ll probably get at least 40% of them who lean Democratic and hate Trump -- and who are smack in the middle, but hate Trump -- or lean Republican but hate Trump. He may get much more than 40%, maybe even a majority, but I’m being conservative here. But if you add those independents on to all the registered Democratic votes (which traditionally outnumber registered Republicans), that alone could put Sanders over the top.
In New Hampshire, 14.5% of Republicans went out in the freezing weather and snow to vote against Trump, despite him being easily guaranteed to win in a massive landslide. Let’s say the number is other states is far less, again let's be conservative and say Trump loses only 5%. And let’s even say that none of those Republicans don’t vote for Sanders – but they also don’t vote for Trump. Losing 5% of your own party simply not voting for you is disastrous. (And if they stay home, that’s disastrous for the down ticket.).
If just a paltry 1-2% of Republicans who hate Trump (and they do exist, as we saw in New Hampshire) vote for Sanders for any reason – they don’t want to see Trump re-elected, they know Sanders is not A Commie, they’re middle class or lower and like what he says about income equality, they like that he rails against the Establishment, whatever the reason – that’s disastrous for Republicans, too.
Further, for all the very real and reasonable concern of people for how the public will respond to Sanders pushing his "Medicare for All" health plan – it ignores how Sanders will reply. As I wrote yesterday, 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, it is, just that you can’t ignore the full argument and the other side being worse.
And maybe even most critically, Democrats have been building a get-out-the-vote operation for three years, with all their rallies and marches. The process is already in place and very well-established. Democrats are profoundly motivated to vote. The Republican base is, as well, but that’s just the base – not all Republicans. (As I said, 14.5% of Republicans voted against Trump in the snow.) All Democrats, however, have been chomping at the bit for three years to vote against Trump, just waiting for the opportunity. Waiting to be let loose for the voting booth.
And that’s where we are now. And we’ve seen how crazed Trump has gotten in just one week after his supposed “best week of his presidency.” Imagine now what other out-of-control problems he’s going to cause for himself. Because we know he will – because he keeps doing it, for the past three years. Just look at yesterday: Trump has been caught so woefully and disastrously unprepared over the coronavirus pandemic (most especially after shutting down the Pandemic Response unit in 2018 and cutting $15 billion from the CDC budget where they had to slash their efforts to prevent global disease outbreak by 80%.") that he had to call his first press conference in perhaps three years -- and it was a ridiculed mess of utter ignorance and lies. This included Trump saying he had no idea that the number of people who die from the flu each year was as high as it was (something that pretty much every doctor in the country knows) and blaming the Democratic debate on Wednesday for the 1,800-point drop in the stock market that occurred two days before the debate, on Monday and Tuesday!
And then add in that will there be a focused, massive political campaign against him, barraged with ads (funded in part by Mike Bloomberg) attacking Trump in return – it won’t all be just one way attacking Sanders – will all the horrific things Trump has been doing throughout his presidency.
And in a debate, he’ll be challenged on it all. And in a debate, Sanders has been answering the “He’s a socialist” charge his whole career. So, he's probably incredibly prepared for that.
Finally, we know -- as a starting point -- almost all polls today show that in a head-to-head match-up against Trump, Bernie Sanders is actually ahead. Now, yes, as I wrote yesterday, we don’t elect a president by popular vote (let alone by poll), but two things – 1) the polls aren't based on supposition, but factual, based on actual numbers, and 2) for everyone who understandably says that such polls are meaningless, I am near-certain that if the exact same “meaningless” polls said the very opposite, that Trump was instead ahead of Sanders, their heads would be exploding in a mass of horror. So, while the polls are indeed without elective meaning, they are not without value. And serve as a foundational starting point.
I’m not suggesting it will be easy. It won’t be. And I don’t know if any of these things will happen. But they’re all very specific reasons why I think they will. And I think they’re all low-key, fair-minded, and not pie-in-the-sky unreasonable hopes. I’m not suggesting that Sanders should be the Democratic nominee. But IF he is, for all these specific reasons and more, I think Bernie Sanders can beat Trump. And that the down tickets in most states (not all) will do fine, as well.
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.
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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