Sander’s Coming Crash

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015, to discuss Republican efforts to cut Social Security and Medicare and other programs that have an impact on working families. Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, became the ranking minority member on the Senate Budget Committee when the new GOP-controlled Congress began. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Congratulations, Sanders supporters. Your candidate had a great night. He swept all three state caucuses last night by huge margins, and has won five out of the last six contests. He’s closed the gap between himself and Clinton significantly for the first time. It was probably the single best night of his entire campaign. I’m sure many of you are even now busy typing up op-eds about his sudden momentum and how this changes the whole trajectory of the election.

Now, here comes the cold water.

It was probably also the last great night of Sander’s campaign. Between Tuesday and last night, the stars truly aligned to deliver a glut of big, dominating victories to the Sanders camp. All of the states he won this week, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii, were caucus states as opposed to primaries.

Caucuses are inherently less democratic than primaries. They require much larger time commitments, drive down voter turn out, and generally favor voter enthusiasm over the actual popular will of the general population or even party membership. There’s no doubt that Sanders supporters are more fired up and enthusiastic than Clinton’s, (but then again, so are Trump’s, so maybe don’t be too proud of it) so it shouldn’t come as much surprise that he over-performed in those states.

Further, with the exception of HI, all of the caucus states this week were overwhelmingly white. And with the exception of WA, they all had smaller, more rural populations than the nation as a whole. So far in the campaign, these have been among Sander’s strongest bases of support, (despite making some gains, Sanders continues to underperform among black and Latino voters) just as Clinton dominated in Southern states with larger and more ethnically diverse populations.

As a result, this week was almost tailor made for crushing Sanders victories.

Here’s the problem. That gravy train is over. Of the twenty-two Democratic contests that remain, only four of them are caucuses, including Puerto Rico which will be a very steep climb for Sanders for reasons we’ve already covered, and the much smaller caucuses for the Virgin Islands and Guam. The only caucus state left is Wyoming.

Additionally, he’s also running out of the sort of rural, white-rich states that have given him his biggest wins so far. Wyoming on April 9th is probably a lock for him, as well as the Montana and Dakota primaries later on, but that’s about it. And the trouble with rural states is they just don’t have very big populations, and therefore, not very many delegates to provide.

And even after winning five of the last six contests with some of the largest margins of victory he’s managed throughout the campaign, Sanders has only managed to cut into Clinton’s lead by about 15%. She still leads by around two hundred and seventy pledged delegates. We won’t even begin to talk about the Super Delegates.

Sanders needs delegates, and lots of them. The big prizes that remain, WI on April 5th, NY on the 19th, PA and MD on the 26th, and then CA and NJ on June 7th, are all primary states with much more diverse, urban populations than what he had lined up this week, (with the exception of maybe WA). Further,  Clinton is simply dominating in polling of NY, leading by 45+ points. Demographically and traditionally, NJ can be expected to vote very similarly to their northern neighbor. She’s up in PA by 25 points as well. And in MD, Clinton crushed in neighboring Virginia and is well liked by Dems in the D.C. metro area.

Of all the big ticket states remaining, Sanders has the best chance to nab the smallest, WI, although he trails even here in the most recent polling by 6 points (I know, it surprised me too).

If the demographic trends from the season so far hold, the rest of the schedule is going to be kind to Clinton, allowing her to significantly expand her lead once more and give her breathing room for the occasional unexpected loss or massive defeat in the remaining smaller and rural states.

The only real wildcard left is CA, which has far and away the most delegates at play. Clinton is currently up in CA by single digits, but her lead is far from insurmountable and could easily erode over the next two months and change. However, by the time the campaign reaches June, the odds are likely that Sanders will need the sort of crushing victory there he just had in Alaska or Idaho to close the gap.  Because of the Democrat’s proportional allocation of delegates, barring a complete meltdown of the Clinton campaign, that outcome is exceedingly unlikely. Small margin wins just won’t cut it.

Don’t get me wrong, none of this is intended to disparage Bernie Sanders as a candidate, or his message. Indeed, I think very highly of him and would have been only too glad to vote for him in the general had the situation been reversed. His campaign was historic, and I’m truly glad he ran as he did. I think his presence in the campaign has helped to finally slow, or perhaps even stop the thirty-year long rightward slide of the nation’s political conversation. He was an important counterweight that helped to balance out the dangerous reactionary excess of the GOP.

However, the math is what it is. And it isn’t pretty.

So, enjoy the weekend. You earned it. But the odds are Sanders is a dead man walking. Maybe more like “Weekend at Bernie’s II” when he was reanimated through voodoo magic, but still.

[Edit 2:30pm 3/27/16] It’s come to my attention that, after resolving some conflicting information, North Dakota is also holding a caucus instead of a primary. Still, considering Sanders was already expected to do well there, and the small number of delegates the state has to offer, the potential impact on the nomination is negligible.

Also, after giving some thought to Clinton’s single digit lead in Wisconsin, and the extraordinary efforts over the last several years on behalf of the Scott Walker administration to disenfranchise urban minority voters through Voter ID, reduced early and weekend voting hours, and new restrictions placed on voter registration, I think it’s actually slightly more likely than not that Sanders wins the state despite the polls on April 5th. But again, his margin of victory wouldn’t be large enough to make a meaningful impact on the delegate math in the long run if he does.

Kansas Makes Persecution Profitable

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Yesterday, I tweeted this joke in response to the government of North Carolina passing and signing the completely asinine and unnecessary bill overturning local ordinances in cities like Raleigh extending civil rights protections to the LGTB community and free use of public restrooms to the transgendered:

As I said, this was a JOKE. Not something I was dropping in the internet suggestion box. But, apparently, the brain-dead automatons already blindly driving the state of Kansas over a financial cliff thought that not only was it a great idea, but found a way to crank the stupid up to eleven by offering a $2,500 bounty, yes, a bounty for every transgendered kid caught using the bathroom that lines up with their gender identity. It’s unclear at this point why they didn’t simply offer money in exchange for each bloody scalp slapped onto Governor Sam Brownback’s desk.

The “Student Physical Privacy Act,” will actually pay you for violating the physical privacy of students who don’t fall neatly on one end or the other of our binary gender norms.

Its author joins the writers of other deliberately misleading bill titles, (such as the “Clean Air Act” which actually removed restrictions on certain types of air pollutants, and the “Patriot Act” which stripped away privacy rights) as the human beings most deserving of execution through pressing beneath several tons of copies of George Orwell’s seminal work, 1984.

Apparently, despite a nearly $1 billion budget shortfall and job creation numbers stuck in neutral due entirely to the Reaganesque fantasy that tax cuts to the wealthy and businesses create tax revenue, the most pressing issue facing the great state of Kansas is trans girls trying to avoid getting beaten or sexually assaulted whenever they have to pee.

Maybe this is Governor Brownback’s attempt at a job’s bill?

If you’re a rampant transphobic bigot, a pedophile, or just a complete shit-cannon of a human being, pack your bags and get ready to go pro. Kansas is looking to hire you into an exciting career of peeking into little kids pants before they can go wee-wee. Positions opening soon. But you’ll have to hurry, because this hateful gold rush won’t last forever. Within a few more years of Governor Brownback’s leadership, Kansas won’t have any public schools left open.

My only question is can I get $2500 for reporting one of these walking GOP douche-wagons for using a bathroom intended for human beings?

 

6 Ways to Manage the Post-Con Crash

CeBUpzrUIAIoffdMe by Sunday afternoon at C2E2

It’s Monday, and I just survived an absolutely hellacious weekend split between geeking out and selling books at my first C2E2 in Chicago, and hosting for some great comics at Comedy Café, in Milwaukee. Five shows, forty books, and four-hundred miles of living-the-dream later, I am completely and utterly spent.

ComicCons are magical, transient ecosystems. My cartoonist friend Howard Taylor likens them  to Brigadoon, after the Scottish village that appears for only one day every hundred years.

And while not quite that transient, cons do provide for a fantastical type of escapism for crowds of nerds that seem to grow by leaps and bounds every year. For a long weekend, we get to hang out with old friends, make new ones, gush over our shared passions, and rub elbows with our favorite actors, artists, and authors.

So, after 2-5 days of overstimulation, overindulgence, and sleep-deprivation, it should really come as no surprise that the morning after a convention can lead to an emotional crash.

Not only has the promised land returned to the mist for another year, but in its place is the drudgery of the real world, the monotony of the day job, and endless hours of small talk with the normals. More often than not, the enormous melting pot that is a ComicCon brings out not only an incredible diversity of fandom, but an even more impressive diversity of seemingly weaponized cold and flu viruses unleashed on an unsuspecting population by rouge dictatorships.

And if you’re anything like me, you spent the entire weekend drinking like a Founding Father out of mortal terror that the encroaching hangover would burn you alive from the inside out if you don’t keep ahead of it.

So, here we all are, feet sore from walking and standing for hours, heads pounding like a Slayer concert, noses running like a hydroelectric dam, and once again trapped among coworkers whose basic humanity we wouldn’t be willing to vouch for in front of a war crimes tribunal. Is it any surprise the real-world ends up being a let-down?

Post-Convention Depression is a real thing, and you’re not the only one who deals with it. How do we cope?

Well, I take Monday off and refuse to do a fucking thing more complicated than pouring milk over cereal for 24 hours. But, that’s not an option everyone has, so here’s some other ideas:

1) Go back through your stash and start reading whatever new books, comics, etc you snagged over the weekend.

2) Go back and watch a movie or favorite episode of whatever shows the actors you met stared in.

3) Start planning your own cosplay for the next con if that’s your thing.

4) Follow the twitter hashtag or handle of the con you just attended and look at all the amazing cosplay pics other people took, both to look at the costumes you saw again, and to see what you missed.

5) If they have forums on Facebook or wherever, give feedback, both the positive gushing sort, and constructive ideas of how the organizers can make things even better next year.

6) Or, even better, find out how you can get involved in planning and organizing the next convention. Most cons are labors of love. They spend copious amounts of blood, sweat, and tears to conjure Brigadoon for their attendees. Find out what you can do to help.

Relax, remember that con time will come around again faster than you think. Embrace your routine in the meantime and carve out a space for the hobbies and passions than make these weekends so exciting in the first place.

Oh, and stay hydrated. You didn’t drink enough water over the last few days. Trust me.

Burn Calories and Bullies at the Gym

weights

 

I went to the gym today to run a few miles, as I do a few times a week in the winter. Between miles, I sometimes hop on a row machine for a few minutes just to change muscle groups.

While I was rowing, a lady was on a stairmaster next to me. I don’t know her, but I’ve been seeing her come in since the beginning of the year. So a resolutioner who survived the first three weeks. Good on her. Now, there’s no way to beat around it, this is a large lady, well into obese territory from a medical standpoint. But she’s on this stairmaster just fucking crushing it. Probably 75-80 stairs a minute, for a good 15 minutes by the time I sit down to row, which is more than I can do at the moment.

And wouldn’t you know, some fucking brototype just has to walk by and say something shitty about her weight to me. She’s got earbuds in, but the look on her face tells me she heard.

Now, I’ve been going to the gym regularly for four and a half years, and at my gym, you almost never hear shit like this. And there’s a good reason for that, it’s rude, cruel, and entirely counter-productive.

So I got up from my machine and told him, “Wait right there.” Then I went and grabbed two 60lb dumbells off the free weight rack and handed them to him.

“What are these for?” The brotosaurus asked.

“For you, while you do stairs for…” I glanced at her display, “15 minutes.”

“What? I can’t do stairs with that much extra weight,” he said.

“Really? Because she can. So until you’re as tough as she is, maybe keep your mouth shut,” I said.

Because I’m sorry, but that shit isn’t going to fly around me. I have my issues with the body positivity movement and its tactic acceptance of unhealthy lifestyles, but this is someone who has made a commitment to changing her circumstances and is putting in the REALLY hard work necessary.

The dead last thing anyone in her situation needs, or deserves, is some little brohemian asshole who can’t relate to what she’s going through making snide remarks while she’s actively engaging in making a positive change. She has earned encouragement from other people making the same strides. And if that’s too hard, then the least she deserves is his silence.

End gym rant.

Welcome to Weimar

secret-service-agent-choke-slams-journalist-at-a-donald-trump-rally-1456773469

A Secret Service agent assigned to Donald Trump’s security detail slammed a credentialed Time magazine photographer to the floor by his throat at a rally in Virginia today. Predictably, a flood of internet cockroaches wearing tiny brown shirts rushed to find a way to justify this assault on our free press, or even outright lie about the sequence of events in a transparent attempt to blame the victim.

The odds are very good that Trump is going to effectively lock up the GOP nomination tomorrow. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie accidentally endorsed Trump over the weekend after mistaking his hair for an order of sweet potato fries. Trump is leading in every Super Tuesday state except Texas, and he’s coming in second there. Baring a minor miracle, this is who the Democratic nominee is going to be facing in the general.

A man who openly encourages physical attacks on protestors, the press, and 1st Amendment itself.

A man who has to “research” white supremacists before commenting on them just in case there are some “good people in there,” despite his enthusiasm for condemning all Mexicans and Muslims without knowing a fucking thing about either.

And there are still progressives pretending there’s no difference between him and Clinton? Fucking seriously? We’re waaay past any legitimate internal party struggles here folks. We’re even past any sort of legitimate ideological disagreements between people of good conscience of opposing parties.

Odds are equally good that tomorrow will see Clinton pull far enough ahead of Sanders that his path to the nomination becomes effectively impossible. But whether that happens tomorrow, or a month from now, it’s time to start preparing for the general and defeating Trump by historic margins in a clear repudiation of his toxic xenophobia and nationalism that will serve as a lesson for future generations of demagogues.

It’s not enough to eek out a victory against him, because that will only encourage him to run again in 2020, or someone very much like him.

The defeat has to be so massive, so humiliating, that everyone will know with certainty that these kinds of politics will not be rewarded in today’s America or in its future.

We do that by supporting our candidate today, but quitting the deliberate mud-slinging of their opponent. We do that by NOT SHARING LINKS AND MEMES WRITTEN BY RIGHTWINGERS ATTACKING YOUR OWN PARTY’S CANDIDATES. I seriously can’t believe I have to tell y’all that, but I see it happen constantly.

And we do that by, when the time comes, coalescing around the winner in a united effort to get them elected in a landslide.

Yeah, that means some of you won’t be voting for your favorite candidate in November. Suck it up. Adulthood means making hard decisions, even choosing from the least-worst of bad options.

That’s life. And that’s politics. Welcome to them both. Otherwise, be ready to welcome yourself to Weimar-era Germany.