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Doc Sportello

Doc Sportello's Journal
Doc Sportello's Journal
September 6, 2023

The antidote to "Democratic panic syndrome": Putting Joe Biden's poll numbers in perspective

Includes many examples from past "dire warning" polls and hot takes that proved in the end to be totally wrong.


I'm reminded of Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, who wrote in September of 1995, "There is little unity among Democrats or on the center-left on the desirability of reelecting President Clinton." He was right. At the time there were pitched battles going on among the centrists and the progressives which made the prospect of solidarity in the party a distant dream. The huge Republican win in the midterm election of 1994 as well as the non-stop scandal-mongering and investigations by the congressional Republicans had Democrats everywhere wondering how Clinton could possibly win re-election. The only thing that seemed to unite the party at the time was a mutual loathing of Newt Gingrich. 14 months later, Clinton won a decisive victory.

Similarly, at the same point in the 2012 election, there were rumblings from certain quarters that it might be wise to run a primary challenge against President Barack Obama after his approval numbers fell to the 30s in some polls. It had been a very rough three years trying to recover from the financial crisis, not to mention the rise of the Tea Party and a political massacre in the 2010 midterms. The New York Times reported in September of 2011, "Democrats Fret Aloud Over Obama's Chances": In a campaign cycle in which Democrats had entertained hopes of reversing losses from last year's midterm elections, some in the party fear that Mr. Obama's troubles could reverberate down the ballot into Congressional, state and local races. "In my district, the enthusiasm for him has mostly evaporated," said Representative Peter A. DeFazio, Democrat of Oregon. "There is tremendous discontent with his direction."

The media was full of stories of unhappy centrists, moderates and progressives alike, all of whom were sure that Obama was in trouble. 14 months later, Obama beat Mitt Romney in a romp.

Just two years ago there were endless stories about Democratic hand-wringing in advance of the 2022 midterms, mostly due to the off-year win by Glenn Youngkin in the Virginia gubernatorial race that supposedly portended a red wave like no other. In December of 2021, Thomas Edsall of the New York Times wrote a story headlined, "Democrats Shouldn't Panic. They Should Go Into Shock."


August 2, 2023

Reservation Dogs series finale season begins tonight

One of the best shows ever on television in my mind. Funny, poignant and an insight into Natve American culture never before seen on tv. A critic's take on the show, which runs on subscription service Hulu but does come on later on FX:


I’ve described it as one of a kind, and as a show that’s pushing the entire medium of TV forward on several fronts. There’s its groundbreaking representation in front of and behind the camera, as the rare show led by an all-Native main cast, writers and directors. And shot on location on Muscogee Nation land in Oklahoma, it’s infused with a sense of place, authenticity and specificity.

Visually and stylistically too, each episode feels like a uniquely transformative experience, wryly funny one minute and beautifully poignant the next. The show seamlessly moves between tones and genres, defying classification and expectations. Giving a pithy little description of it — the adventures and misadventures of four teens growing up on a Native reservation in Oklahoma — doesn’t quite do the show justice or fully capture the care and detail that has so clearly gone into every single episode. (TV and film writers and actors, including those who worked on “Reservation Dogs,” are currently on strike over more equitable pay and working conditions in the streaming era.)

In its third season, which begins Wednesday on Hulu, “Reservation Dogs” continues to soar and bring out the very best of what has made it great. Creator Sterlin Harjo recently announced his decision to end the show this season. While it’s crushing to say goodbye, the sadness is lessened by the fact that it’s nice when a show gets to end on its own terms, rather than getting unceremoniously canceled. The chance to go out on a high note is even rarer for shows created by people of color and other people from historically underrepresented communities.


July 18, 2023

Robert Reich: The larger meaning of the Hollywood strike


In fact, what’s happening now in Hollywood is a microcosm of what’s happening across America in the emerging digital economy — which is rapidly replacing the production of things with the production of digitized ideas.

The workers in this emerging economy are some of the worst paid and worst treated anywhere, while the top owners and managers are among the fattest cats outside Wall Street.


Consider: Stock gains this year have been concentrated among five giant digital firms: Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Amazon, and Meta. Their combined market capitalization is now over $8 trillion, a figure that exceeds the GDP of every country but the United States and China. They are cash rich. All but Amazon have a combined $200 billion net cash-to-debt balance.


The biggest variable in all this is the law — in particular, what limits it places on digital monopolies, and whether it facilitates or limits the power of creators.

In both these respects, the Biden administration has been terrific. It has been more aggressive against monopolists and in favor of unions than any administration since that of Franklin D. Roosevelt. But much of the law is still in the 20th century, and the federal courts have tended to be on the side of the corporate giants.


July 12, 2023

It's almost like there is a climate crisis

Here is a list of climate-related posts from just the past two days. More than I ever remember. I think maybe something is going on with the climate, no matter how much repubs want to bury their heads in the sand.

"A Climate-Changed World": Vermont Confronts Historic Flooding Again, 12 Years After Hurricane Irene - Democratic Underground

FL Ocean Temperatures In Mid-90s, And Peak Heat Stress On Remaining Corals Still Months Away - Democratic Underground

Deforestation in the Amazon in June returns to pre-Bolsonaro levels while fires are a concern - Democratic Underground

More than 100 rescues due to Vermont flooding - NBC News - Democratic Underground

Extreme US weather live: Vermont flooding 'nowhere near over', says governor - Democratic Underground

Record Florida ocean temperatures may be 'death knell' for coral reefs, expert fears - Democratic Underground

Number of wildfires surges in British Columbia after weekend of lightning strikes - Democratic Underground

Vermont flooding: Dangerous flash floods across the state - Democratic Underground

Florida ocean temperatures at 'downright shocking' levels - Democratic Underground

Phoenix Heatwave Threatens, May Surpass 120F Through Sunday 7/16 - 122F All-Time High

Seriously it is unbelievably hot - it will be 96F tomorrow in Kingston - Democratic Underground

US swelters as south-west braces for record-breaking heatwave up to 120F - Democratic Underground

Antarctic ice levels see "massive decrease" in June. - Democratic Underground

July 12 8PM ET - LIVE Climate Change Roundtable (Sanders, McKibben, AOC) - Democratic Underground

Live In An Area usually Not Prone to Natural Disasters - Democratic Underground

Microplastics Are In The Air, Drinking Water, Dust, Food: How To Reduce Your Exposure - Democratic Underground

July 7, 2023

Joe Biden's quiet success goes much further than Bidenomics

The best commentary I've seen touting Biden's accomplishments and refuting the ageist attacks on him. Many more good reads in the whole article.


But if he's so over the hill that he's unable to function, how come he's done such a good job in his first term under very trying circumstances? It's not that these worries aren't legitimate but it feels as though any positive news is required to be followed by something designed to keep people from feeling too optimistic about the future. So it's been difficult to make the case that Biden's presidency has brought material improvement to most people's lives even though it manifestly has done so.


I was like many progressive types who didn't expect much from Joe Biden but I reconciled myself to the idea that it would be enough to have a caretaker president who would allow the country to calm down a little bit after the tumultuous Trump years. I was wrong. Biden has been one of the most active presidents in recent memory, making changes that are abrupt departures not only from Republicans but Democrats as well, including his old boss Barack Obama.


There were reports a couple of weeks ago that Hollywood producer and big Democratic donor Jeffrey Katzenberg was advising the Biden campaign to lean into the age thing pointing out that people aren't as ageist as we may think. After all, the biggest box office draw this past weekend was 80-year-old Harrison Ford reprising his role as Indiana Jones. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, both 79, are about to go on tour again and can be expected to sell out. Paul McCartney at 81 is producing AI Beatles records.

Some people just have a strong life force no matter what their age and if they're lucky they have wisdom, confidence and judgment too. Joe Biden seems to be among that group and his bucket list is to leave a legacy of major improvements in the way government works. For an old guy, he sure is getting a whole lot done and he wants to do more. The country will be much better off if we let him.


June 19, 2023

RFK Jr. has a big primary problem: Democrats like Joe Biden

One big takeaway from this polling: RFK's support among Democrats comes not from "the left" as is already being thrown out here by some, but is strongest among conservatives and moderates who vote in Democratic primaries (and no they are not all disrupters):

"Per the CNN poll, Kennedy garnered 35% among Democratic primary voters who identified as non-liberal (i.e., moderate or conservative) independents. He got 10% among liberal Democrats. Kennedy’s averaging about 15% support among self-identified Democrats of any ideology."


The president is averaging in the mid-60s nationally, and there is zero sign his support is weakening. For Biden to start dropping, Democrats would have to stop thinking he’s doing a good job as president. Biden’s approval rating among Democrats in a Quinnipiac University poll released last week was 84%. Just 16% either disapproved (13%) or didn’t hold a view (3%).There is no precedent – at least since World War II – of an incumbent president losing a contested state primary while polling above 70% nationally within his party.

Biden also scores high on a slightly different intraparty metric: His favorability rating is at 85% on average. That is, most Democrats think he’s doing a good job as president and are fans of him personally.

Kennedy’s other big problem goes beyond Biden. While the vast majority of Democrats like the president, the same cannot be said for Kennedy. A mere 25% of Democratic voters had a favorable view of him in the Quinnipiac poll – 39% had an unfavorable view. Among self-identified “strong Democrats” in a May Marquette law school poll, the split was 27% favorable to 50% unfavorable for Kennedy.


June 9, 2023

Oklahoma Sooners win third straight NCAA softball title

Sooners set numerous records in winning their third straight title:
only second team to accomplish the feat
set a record for winning percentage in a season
set a record with a 58 game winning streak

A dynasty in a rapidly growing sport

GREAT DAY!!! dump indicted and Sooners do it again!


June 7, 2023

CNN Chairman and CEO Chris Licht is out



Chris Licht, the embattled chief executive and chairman of CNN, whose brief one-year tenure at the network was stained by a series of severe missteps, will depart the company.

“I met with Chris and he will be leaving CNN,” David Zaslav, the chief executive of parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, told CNN employees at the start of the network’s daily editorial call Wednesday.

Licht’s departure, which came days after a devastating 15,000-word profile in The Atlantic, capped a tumultuous year for CNN, marked by layoffs, historically low ratings, and rock-bottom employee morale.

May 12, 2023

Wow Nicolle is going after Anderson Cooper and CNN

RN. Heilman and the rest are joining in on the criticism, mocking Cooper's silo defense and the format, lack of fact-checking, and pro-dump audience.

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