Are you crazy? No, I'm not in New Hampshire! Why would I leave this marvelous SoCal weather to freeze my tuchas off watching the same jokers I can see on TV while dressed in Bermuda shorts?
Back in 1992, I spent 25 years in the New Hampshire snows one weekend at the end of that year's primary. Between following around the Buchanan Brigades and watching Bill Clinton declare himself the Comeback Kid after coming in second with 25% and feeling the whole time like I was in a meat locker in a Speedo, I put Manchester way down at the bottom of the list of places I yearn to revisit.
Yet, we begin this edition by talking all about New Hampshire. So it's New Hampshire In My Mind.
Marco Rubio Gets Dunked
The great philosopher George Carlin once argued that God created the human race strictly so it would destroy itself and leave behind piles of plastic that The Big Guy really wanted. I am now thinking that God might have created Chris Christie for a similar purpose. He was put on earth strictly to blow up Marco Rubio, as he did last night, and now the New Jersey Governor will recede quickly back into obscurity. Mission Accomplished.
Under a Perry Mason-like interrogation by former prosecutor Christie at the televised New Hampshire Debate, Lil Marco's motherboard went on tilt and he repeated the same memorized speech passage four times...almost word for word. Three times within five minutes. In case you were doing something more useful last night (like combing eggs or waxing pickles) here's a link to the Five Minutes That Killed Rubio.
Who am I to predict what happens next in the GOP circus? But here goes. I suppose this is the end of Rubio's 3-2-1- strategy. You know, third in Iowa, strong second in NH and first in South Carolina, emerging as the consensus "Establishment Candidate" all the way to victory. I don't think so. If Rubio manages a second place showing on Tuesday, it will be literally a half pace ahead of a climbing John Kasich and I just don't see Lil Marco catching any real tailwinds. Kasich already won the Media Primary but methinks he also has a pretty low ceiling of future support.
The really wonderful part of all this, is that the Rubio implosion tosses the GOP race even higher back into the air and...like it or not—a dumb as a fox Donald Trump is still the front runner and in spite of all the media blabbering about his post-Iowa bleeding, it is still his nomination to lose. Short term advice: I'd short any Rubio shares as soon as possible.
What was really striking about Rubio's performance was not just that he repeated himself so many times. It's WHAT he said that should get more attention. Four times, this little pup asserted that President Obama is "deliberately" undermining America, that he is deliberately weakening our military power and that he is deliberately betraying Israel.
Isn't that a charge of treason? I don't care how much you dislike Obama, but why would a president want to destroy his own nation? I mean, you can't even accuse Hitler of that, except maybe when 3 million Red Army soldiers were over running The Fatherland and he opted for a scorched earth policy.
Rubio also accused Obama of "deliberately" wanting to "redefine America and make it like the rest of the world."
Holy shit! (to quote Lewis Black). I rushed right to the john to see if it would now flush in the other direction like in France or, God, Denmark! No dice. Just to double-check, I drove down to the corner to see if the homeless living under the freeway bridge had disappeared. Negative. And my Plan D medication plan was STILL a rip-off. Thank heavens. We are still exceptional! USA! USA!
The rest of Rubio's rap was classic right-wing neoncon bluster, promising more war, a splash or two of torture, outlawing of almost all abortions, and privatizing the VA. And of course he insisted he was only joking a few years back when he briefly supported an immigration reform bill. I am curious just how somebody who sounds like a sawed-off Dick Cheney can be baptized as the palatable, establishment choice. Oh, wait... Dick Cheney IS a pillar of what is now laughingly called The Republican Establishment. My bad.
Prediction: Trump wins NH by a healthy margin. Cruz and Rubio dip. Kasich up. Bush? Who's he?
Recommended Reading on the Rubio Rub Out: My buddy David Corn writing for MoJo,
And this fine piece by Brian Beutler in The New Republic.
Playing in Bernie's Backyard
Duh. Hillary Clinton has been frenetically lowering expectations for New Hampshire casting herself as the lowly underdog in New Hampshire....clearly a Finlandized satellite to neighboring Superpower Vermont and expansionist strong man Bernard Sanders.
If you look at all of the most recent polls as compiled by Real Clear Politics, Sanders might win New Hampshire by as much as 25 or 30 points or as few as nine points. I think all these polls are wrong. While I am a strong Sanders supporter and an even stronger anti-Clinton partisan, I am expecting Clinton to finish much closer, within 3-5 points. Not because she is "surging" in NH. Rather, all races except a very few always tighten on election day and a 5 point margin is a political blowout.
Losing NH will still be a big hit on Clinton, no matter how much she lowers expectations (she is itching to declare a 5 point loss as a "victory"). People tend to forget that while Sanders does, indeed, have a regional advantage, for the last 20 years NH has been a Clinton stronghold. Bill and Hill have that place totally wired in terms of the Democratic Party and current Senator and former Governor Jean Shaheen is one of the most hard-working Clinton hacks on the entire plantation.
In the upside down world of Hillaryland, if you oppose her you are anti-feminist; by logical extension if you oppose Sanders you are clearly an anti-semite. If you support either one, you must be a White Supremacist!
Now. none other Slick Willie Clinton is out on the stump accusing Bernie supporters of being "sexist." Well, he is an expert on the subject!
Not to worry, with Clinton losing the majority of ALL women, young and old, in Iowa and set to at least get trounced by younger women in NH, Hillary is rolling out a couple of spry ladies to lecture the younggins on how fucked up they are. Madeleine Albright, 78, (who brought us the Clinton-era Operation Desert Fox bombing of Iraq), and former Mort Zuckerman moll, 81 year old Gloria Steinem, are coming to Hillary's rescue. (Insider sources tell me Clinton also wanted Eleanor Roosevelt to stump for her but she was still too busy decomposing).
This should really energize young feminists! That is, any of those who know who these nice ladies are. Reminds me of another anecdote from my life as a reporter. Sometime back in the 1990's I was doing some reporting on farm workers in California's Central Valley. By then, most of the pickers were very poor recent arrivals from southern Mexico, like Oaxaca (they still are). When I asked about Cesar Chavez they all claimed to know who he was and only had good words for him. Sure, except they thought I was talking about Julio Cesar Chavez the boxer.
Natch, it's not just older women who are all in for Hillary. Now we have the rather disgusting spectacle of former "progressive candidate" Howard Dean fronting for Clinton and making the absurd claim that Sanders, in effect, has his own PAC in the form of labor unions. A sad coda for the political career of Doctor Dean, bashing unions for Hillary.
Whatever financial support there is for Sanders from labor can't be very much because with only a few exceptions, the leadership of America's major unions have endorsed Hillary. That means she will get the dough that unions serve up from their deep pocket political action committees, When it's all counted up, I guarantee you that the pro-Clinton forces will have more union money than Sanders PLUS the tens of millions flowing into her Super PACS from the financial and investment houses. Shame on Dean.
I found that Qunnipiac poll giving Hillary only a 44-42 lead nationally over Sanders to be quite intriguing. I have no idea yet if it is an outlier. And much to my chagrin, Hillary continues as the favorite, but she has surely acquired an unanticipated knife fight of indeterminate length. It's one that she never expected and was ill-prepared for.
Good for Bernie. He has forced Clinton to at least try to impersonate a "progressive" -- a stupid, meaningless term, now rendered by this primary even more idiotic and empty. Look, Clinton is simply the liberal face of America's elite de facto Power Establishment (Wall Street did not donate $26 million on her behalf out of any moral compunction). And Sanders is a classic social democrat of which there are tens of millions in Europe and very few in America.
Socialismo o Muerte!
I must say, nothing, absolutely nothing, puts the general shallowness, blind nationalism and gross ignorance of the media on such garish display as their coverage of any presidential cycle. All any ding a ling reporter needs to know is how to pronounce the words "lane," "ground game" and "turn out" to impersonate someone genuinely knowledgeable.
The real litmus test for political reporters is how they understand, if at all, what it means when Sanders calls himself a socialist.
The other night I was masochistically listening to the very worst politics and journalism show on the air, the insufferable XMSirius Press Pool on Potus anchored by the insufferable third tier former reporter Jule Mason as anchor. Her guest was Carol E. Lee, not only White House Correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, but also president of the White House Correspondents Association.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph Stalin! Ms. Lee was speculating that America's youngest voters are not put off by the word socialism "because they are too young to remember the Soviet Union."
Wow. History 101. I am not going to insult YOUR intelligence by going very deep into detail about how wrong, wrong, wrong this is. Just gonna say that the "lane" (ugh) of socialism that Sanders runs in has zip to do with Stalinist Communism and, rather, mirrors the very pro-capitalist socialist parties that thrive today in much of Europe and elsewhere in The World outside of Washington D.C. Most, if not all of those parties, survived because they were outright anti-Communist. Ms. Lee, please note that being in favor of municipal transportation is not the same as advocating a Gulag for dissenters.
Here's the same argument from long-time neoliberal/neocon Joel Kotkin, the former "L.A. expert" favored for years by the Los Angeles Times and now holding an academic chair at Chapman University. Hold your nose and read this except:
I don't expect every reporter to be an expert on the First and Second International nor on Bernstein versus Kautsky, but it would be nice if top tier correspondents (and supposed learned academics) spent, oh maybe, ten minutes on Wikipedia researching the political labels folks attach to themselves.
Expect a lengthier analysis of the Democratic primary in our next edition after the count is in from New Hampshire. Probably toward the end of the week as I will be in the desert Tuesday and Wednesday trying to shoot the Milky Way under very dark conditions (Newish Moon).
New Feature! Poker Question of the Week
I play poker and so do a lot of readers of this newsletter. So we're gonna do a sporadic poker quiz feature. Our question today: In a full ring game of No Limit Texas Hold 'Em what do you do if you are dealt a small pocket pair in early to middle position and the two or three players in front of you have limped in? Answer found at the end of this edition.
What I Am Reading
Just started a new book yesterday. The Maisky Diaries: Red Ambassador to the Court of Saint James, 1932-1943 edited by Gabriel Gorodetsky.
What a great read so far! Thanks to Soviet terror, Russian officials generally kept no recorded documentation that could later be used against them. But Ivan Maisky who spent eleven critical years as the Soviet envoy to the U.K. kept a meticulous, frank, candid daily account of his thoughts and activities. He remained a Stalin loyalist even when thrown in jail at age 70 right about the time of the dictator's death in what was a wave of anti-Jewish repression.
When he got out two and a half years later in the mid-50's he stayed a reliable servant of the regime and became one of its official historians. His memoirs aren't worth much as they are filed down and censored. But these diaries speak clearly of a complex time as seen from the POV of an open-minded Russian diplomat who had a great flair for writing. He got two now five different British PM's and two monarchs and just everybody who was somebody in those war torn years. Check it out!
Since the beginning of the year, my daughter Natasha ( @natashavc) has been working as an editor for Broadly, the women's site run by VICE. So, in an act of blatant nepotism, I am linking to three excellent pieces she commissioned and edited this week and that objectively deserve your attention.
This week I continued experimenting with more High Dynamic Range processing, using multiple captures and heavy color saturation to produce single images. They do not purport to look "realistic" but rather to evoke beauty and drama.
As I mentioned above, I am going to be shooting the night sky this mid week from the desert. I am interested in any of your opinions on the three pix posted below from moi. And any tips or suggestions about the night shooting. I intend to use a full frame Nikon D810... some 1.8 and 2.8 lenses....about 15-20 seconds long exposure and 2000 or so ISO. What think??
Meanwhile, check these out. From the Salton Sea, to La Quinta to Death Valley.
Again, let me know what you HONESTLY think. You can see more than 5k pics of mine on Flickr.
Poker Quiz Answer: You can look up the full, nuanced answer here. My personal advice: PRAY!