Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016: The worst year ever?


People have been upset at the headlines: terrorist attacks, police shootings, Zika, Brexit, Syria, etc. People have been upset at those lost this year: Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, George Michael, etc. then Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds one day after the other. If that wasn't enough, the United States goes through the craziest election campaign ever and Donald Trump wins the electoral vote to becomes the next president of the United States. I've read several articles from the major news outlets reporting on people calling 2016 the worst year ever. Is it? Is it really? Everything in perspective.


On January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. What's going to happen? Nobody knows. We can speculate. We can guess. We can prognosticate based on past performance, but we really have no idea of what will happen. Good? Bad? Nerve-racking, isn't it?

According to the scholars (Wikipedia), George W. Bush may not be the worst president, but he's down the list. During his administration (2001-2009), I make note of the following: (We can dicker about the exact numbers, but what I say is a fair estimate.)
  • 9/11 (supposedly knew about this in advance and did nothing).
  • War in Afghanistan (cost $2 trillion - Washington Post).
  • Muslim registry (NSEERS: 93,000 cases, not one terrorist conviction).
  • War in Iraq (cost $3 trillion - Washington Post). Do I need to bring up how Bush lied about WMDs? He lied!
  • use of torture.
  • email scandal (22 million emails "lost").
  • NSA domestic spying.
  • Katrina failed response.
  • the 2008 Financial Crisis, the worst crisis since the 1929 Stock Market crash.
Is Trump really going to top that?


Let's go out on a humorous note. Yes, it's been tumultuous. Yes, it's been crazy. But ya gotta laugh. After all, it beats sobbing uncontrollably.

2016: The Movie (Trailer) - Friend Dog Studios - Dec 28, 2016



References

web site: Friend Dog Studios
When we screw around, we don't screw around.

Twitter: @FriendDogStudio

YouTube channel: Friend Dog Studios

Slate - July 22/2016
Is 2016 the Worst Year in History? by Rebecca Onion
The question of how to determine a “worst year” in history piqued my interest. So I decided to ask a group of historians to nominate their own “worst years” and to reflect on what constitutes a “really bad year.” Ten brave souls agreed to play this parlor game with me. Here are their picks.

NY Times - Dec 282016
2016: Worst. Year. Ever? by Charles Nevin
The best of times, worst of times thing also depends heavily on which side you’re on: Consider, again, 1776, and 1066, 1815, 1865, 1918, 1945 and, of course, 1492... You know, on the whole, I think we’re probably better off with 2016. At least, there’s not much of it left. What could possibly go wrong?


2016-12-31

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Friday, 30 December 2016

Bruno Mars: 24K Magic

Instead of the official music video, I'm showing the live version from the 44th Annual American Music Awards held on November 20, 2016, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. This is hot. This is a spirited performance: good choreography, nice back-up vocals, and the band is really tight. This must have been quite the show to witness.


Tonight
I just want to take you higher
Throw your hands up in the sky
Let's set this party off right

Players, put yo' pinky rings up to the moon
Girls, what y'all trying to do?
Twenty four karat magic in the air
Head to toe soul player
Look out uh

Pop pop, it's show time (show time)
Show time (show time)
Guess who's back again?
Oh they don't know? (go on tell 'em)
Oh they don't know? (go on tell 'em)
I bet they know soon as we walk in (showin' up)
Wearing Cuban links (ya)
Designer minks (ya)
Inglewood's finest shoes (whoop, whoop)
Don't look too hard might hurt ya'self
Known to give the color red the blues

Oh shit, I'm a dangerous man with some money in my pocket (keep up)
So many pretty girls around me and they waking up the rocket (keep up)
Why you mad, fix ya face ain't my fault y'all be jocking (keep up)

Players only, come on
Put your pinky rings up to the moon
Girls, what y'all trying to do?
Twenty four karat magic in the air
Head to toe soul player
Uh, look out!

Second verse for the hustlas (hustlas) gangstas (gangstas)
Bad bitches and ya ugly ass friends (haha)
Can I preach (uh oh) can I preach (uh oh)
I gotta show 'em how a pimp get it in
First, take your sip (sip), do your dip (dip)
Spend your money like money ain't shit (whoop, whoop)
We too fresh
Got to blame in on Jesus
Hashtag blessed they ain't ready for me

I'm a dangerous man with some money in my pocket (keep up)
So many pretty girls around me and they waking up the rocket (keep up)
Why you mad fix ya face ain't my fault y'all be jocking (keep up)

Players only, come on
Put your pinky rings up to the moon
Hey girls
What y'all trying to do?
Twenty four karat magic in the air
Head to toe soul player
Uh, look out!

everywhere I go they be like
Oh, soul player
Everywhere I go they be like (oh, soul player oh)
Oh everywhere I go they be like (oh, soul player oh)

Now, now, now watch me break it down like (uh)
Twenty four karat, twenty four karat magic
What's that sound (twenty four karat, twenty four karat magic)
Come on now
Twenty four karat, twenty four karat magic
Don't fight the feeling invite the feeling

Just put your pinky rings up to the moon
Girls, what y'all trying to do? (Tell me what y'all trying to do)
Twenty four karat magic in the air
Head to toe soul player (Hands up!)
Put your pinky rings up to the moon
Girls, what y'all trying to do? (do)
Twenty four karat magic in the air
Head to toe soul player (twenty four karat) uh, look out

References

Published on Nov 27, 2016 by Bruno Mars

Wikipedia: 24K Magic (song)
"24K Magic" (pronounced "twenty-four karat magic") is a song by American singer and songwriter Bruno Mars. It serves as the lead single from his third studio album of the same name, and was released on October 7, 2016 for digital download and streaming by Atlantic Records... "24K Magic" is a "synth-heavy" funk, disco and contemporary R&B song.

Wikipedia: Bruno Mars
Peter Gene Hernandez (born October 8, 1985), known professionally as Bruno Mars, is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and choreographer. ... In 2014, Mars lent his vocals to Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk". In 2016, he released his third studio album 24K Magic with the lead single of the same title released on October 7, 2016. To date, he has sold over 100 million singles and albums worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. Mars has landed six number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 since his career launched in 2010, attaining his first five faster than any male artist since Elvis Presley.

official web site: Bruno Mars

YouTube: Bruno Mars - 24K Magic [Official Video]

2016-12-30

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Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Move Review: La La Land

My last movie review was May 2015. Did I stop going to the movies? No, I didn't. But I hadn't really seen anything worth commenting on. Until now.

Musicals can be an acquired taste. There's nothing more realistic than somebody walking down the street and spontaneously bursting into song mixed with a dance number in which passersby join in with synchronised precision. Ha, ha. If life were only that way.

Musicals have, as a central goal - it may be their raison d'ĂȘtre - to tug at our heart strings spawning unbridled bouts of emotions accompanied by a welling of tears. We're choked up. We're verklempt.

Writer and director Damien Chazelle, with the help on-screen lovers Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, has succeeded. It started slow, but the emotional finale had me wiping away tears: I'm actually a sentimental old fool. Aren't we all a sucker for love? Aren't we all overcome by nostalgia when our lovers don't get together, but all of us, including the principals, have a vision of what life would have been like if chance had seen fit to bring them together?

As of this writing, Rotten Tomatoes rates it at 92%. Not everybody goes to Rotten Tomatoes, but it is usually my first stop in assessing whether or not to see a film. I hate walking out of the movie theatre saying, "I want two hours of my life back!" And I'm certain musical is not at the top of your list of entertainment to go see, however in this case, it did succeed.

In a nutshell: Emma Stone plays Mia Dolan, aspiring actress. Ryan Gosling plays Sebastian Wilder, a jazz pianist with principals. A starving jazz pianist I should add. Our star-crossed lovers keep not meeting, then meet, fall in love, and are eventually forced by fate to go their separate ways to fulfill their individual destinies. In all this, there's song and dance, just like in real life, no? Okay, a musical like any superhero movie requires a suspension of belief, the acceptance of a premise no matter how outlandish. Once you get over that hurdle, anything goes. And like Superman, Mia and Sebastian fly. Just go see the movie.

Miscellaneous facts about the film

* This is the third movie featuring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone:
Wikipedia Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)
Wikipedia: Gangster Squad (2013)

* La la land has a double meaning.
Los Angeles is known as La La Land, obviously where aspiring entertainers go to (try to) fulfill their dreams.
Merriam-Webster: a euphoric dreamlike mental state detached from the harsher realities of life




Final Word
Recommended. Bring a tissue or two. Oddly enough, I enjoyed this much more than Christmas's big blockbuster Rogue One. That's sacrelege I know, but sentimentality won out over CGI.


References

Rotten Tomatoes: La La Land (2016): 92%
La La Land breathes new life into a bygone genre with thrillingly assured direction, powerful performances, and an irresistible excess of heart.

Wikipedia: La La Land (film)
La La Land is a 2016 American romantic musical comedy-drama film written and directed by Damien Chazelle and starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, and Rosemarie DeWitt. The plot follows a musician and an aspiring actress who meet and fall in love in Los Angeles. It is the third film to feature Gosling and Stone as lovers, following Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad.

YouTube: La La Land (2016 Movie) Official Behind-The-Scenes Featurette

YouTube: La La Land (2016 Movie) Official Featurette – The Music

YouTube: La La Land - "Lovely Night Dance" Film Clip

YouTube: La La Land (2016 Movie) Official TV Spot – “Take Your Breath Away”

YouTube: ‘Mia & Sebastian’s Theme (Late For The Date)’ - La La Land Original Motion Picture Score (partial)

YouTube: LaLa Land OST - Mia & Sebastian’s Theme (partial) - solo piano by JayM

MsMojo - Dec 9/2016
YouTube: Top 5 Must-Know La La Land Facts





2016-12-28

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Sunday, 25 December 2016

Justin Timberlake: Can't Stop the Feeling



I got this feeling inside my bones
It goes electric, wavey when I turn it on
All through my city, all through my home
We're flying up, no ceiling, when we in our zone

I got that sunshine in my pocket
Got that good soul in my feet
I feel that hot blood in my body when it drops
I can't take my eyes up off it, moving so phenomenally
Room on lock, the way we rock it, so don't stop

And under the lights when everything goes
Nowhere to hide when I'm getting you close
When we move, well, you already know
So just imagine, just imagine, just imagine

Nothing I can see but you when you dance, dance, dance
A feeling good, good, creeping up on you
So just dance, dance, dance, come on
All those things I shouldn't do
But you dance, dance, dance
And ain't nobody leaving soon, so keep dancing
I can't stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance
I can't stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance, come on

Ooh, it's something magical
It's in the air, it's in my blood, it's rushing on
I don't need no reason, don't need control
I fly so high, no ceiling, when I'm in my zone

'Cause I got that sunshine in my pocket
Got that good soul in my feet
I feel that hot blood in my body when it drops
I can't take my eyes up off it, moving so phenomenally
Room on lock, the way we rock it, so don't stop

Under the lights when everything goes
Nowhere to hide when I'm getting you close
When we move, well, you already know
So just imagine, just imagine, just imagine

Nothing I can see but you when you dance, dance, dance
Feeling good, good, creeping up on you
So just dance, dance, dance, come on
All those things I shouldn't do
But you dance, dance, dance
And ain't nobody leaving soon, so keep dancing
I can't stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance
I can't stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance
I can't stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance
I can't stop the feeling
So keep dancing, come on

I can't stop the, I can't stop the
I can't stop the, I can't stop the
I can't stop the feeling

Nothing I can see but you when you dance, dance, dance (I can't stop the feeling)
Feeling good, good, creeping up on you
So just dance, dance, dance, come on (I can't stop the feeling)
All those things I shouldn't do
But you dance, dance, dance (I can't stop the feeling)
And ain't nobody leaving soon, so keep dancing

Everybody sing (I can't stop the feeling)
Got this feeling in my body (I can't stop the feeling)
Got this feeling in my body (I can't stop the feeling)
Wanna see you move your body (I can't stop the feeling)
Got this feeling in my body
Break it down
Got this feeling in my body
Can't stop the feeling
Got this feeling in my body, come on


References

Published on May 16, 2016 by justintimberlakeVEVO

Wikipedia: Can't Stop the Feeling!
"Can't Stop the Feeling!" is a song recorded by American singer and songwriter Justin Timberlake for the soundtrack to the film Trolls, for which he serves as the executive music producer.

Wikipedia: Justin Timberlake
Justin Randall Timberlake (born January 31, 1981) is an American singer, songwriter, actor and record producer. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, he appeared on the television shows Star Search and The All-New Mickey Mouse Club as a child. In the late 1990s, Timberlake rose to prominence as one of the two lead vocalists and youngest member of NSYNC, which eventually became one of the best-selling boy bands of all time.

official web site: Justin Timberlake

2016-12-25

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Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Funny Stuff - December 13, 2016




















See? Donald isn't the only one who can be politically incorrect. Grab 'em by the funny bone.

2016-12-13

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Sunday, 20 November 2016

Trump’s Election And The Power Of Fear



Published on Nov 18, 2016
YouTube: Trump’s Election And The Power Of Fear
Years of fear mongering, paranoia, and conspiracy theories on Fox News and talk radio paved the way for a Trump presidency. It’s up to journalists to stop that fear from continuing to hijack American politics.


References

Wikipedia: Media Matters for America
Media Matters for America (MMfA) is a politically progressive media watchdog in the United States. The organization has a stated mission of "comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media". Set up as a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization, MMfA was founded in 2004 by journalist and political activist David Brock as a counterweight to the conservative Media Research Center. It is known for its aggressive criticism of conservative journalists and media outlets, including its "War on Fox News."

YouTube channel: mediamatters4america

Twitter: Media Matters @mmfa
Media Matters for America is the nation's premier progressive media watchdog, research and information center.

web site: Media Matters for America

2016-11-20

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Sunday, 13 November 2016

The 2016 American Election






I have no idea who in the world first posted this little gem on social media, but I absolutely howl every time I see it. I thought it was so funny, I posted it in the lunchroom at work, however I've discovered not everyone gets the humour. To explain: "Hold my drink". Think of the Jackass movies. Think of reckless twenty-year-old males doing really dumb stunts. Think of the teenage boy who watches another attempt something foolhardy, then, in an inspired moment of one-upmanship, asks a friend to hold his drink while he attempts to outdo the daredevil. Of course, like so many of the Fails Compilations on YouTube, the brazen idiot shows to the world how close one can come to injury or death through a total lack of planning or safety measures. Don't try this at home, folks. We're professionals.

Good luck, America. You're going to need it.

2016-11-13

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Wednesday, 26 October 2016

John Green: Will the U.S. Presidential Election Be Rigged?

Donald Trump keeps saying it. Does repeating make it true?



Published on Oct 11, 2016 by vlogbrothers
YouTube: Will the U.S. Presidential Election Be Rigged?
In which John discusses the rigging of U.S. Presidential elections, a bit of recent electoral history, the electoral college, and considers the fundamental soundness of the political institutions of the United States.

Still don't believe it? Well, how about reading all of John Green's sources? Don't blindly repeat what Donald says. Find out for yourself.

CGP Grey's video on the electoral college:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUS9mM8Xbbw

The 2004 U.S. Presidential election between George W. Bush and John Kerry was not stolen by Bush in Ohio. Here is Farhad Manjoo's complete analysis of the vote rigging claims:
http://www.salon.com/2006/06/03/kennedy_39/

More about how the U.S. House of Representatives has occasionally selected the President:
http://history.house.gov/Institution/Origins-Development/Electoral-College/

George Soros does not have (and has never had) any investment in the voting machine company Smartmatic, and also Smartmatic machines will not be used in the 2016 election:
http://www.smartmatic.com/case-studies/article/facts-about-smartmatic/

The study purporting to show that a high percentage of non-citizen U.S. residents vote has been thoroughly debunked by peer-reviewed research:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/10/19/trump-thinks-non-citizens-are-deciding-elections-we-debunked-the-research-hes-citing/

Election law expert Chris Ashby explains the many reasons why the U.S. Presidential vote will not be rigged, why voting machines cannot be secretly adjusted, and why the highly decentralized U.S. election system makes widespread fraud extremely unlikely:
https://extranewsfeed.com/the-election-is-not-rigged-23917d9b0534#.e08aw2hr2

Five Reasons Not to Worry about a Rigged Election:
http://www.npr.org/2016/10/18/498297287/5-reasons-and-then-some-not-to-worry-about-a-rigged-election

Republican and Democrat elected officials agree that our system of elections is "more secure than it’s ever been in our nation’s history."
http://time.com/4535364/donald-trump-rigged-election-fact-check/

A comprehensive investigation of voter impersonation in American elections found 31 incidents out of a billion votes cast:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/08/06/a-comprehensive-investigation-of-voter-impersonation-finds-31-credible-incidents-out-of-one-billion-ballots-cast/

Absentee voter fraud is somewhat more common than in-person voter fraud, but still very rare:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2014/10/13/the-disconnect-between-voter-id-laws-and-voter-fraud/

Voting law experts agree that official election fraud is becoming " increasingly rare" in the United States, NOT more common.
http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37682947

Factcheck.org heroically tackles each of Donald Trump's assertions about voter fraud in turn:
http://www.factcheck.org/2016/10/trumps-bogus-voter-fraud-claims/


Final Word
Sorry, Donald. Alex Jones may believe you, I don't. You're making this up. But more importantly, as Green says, you're undermining the trust in the democratic system. And you look like a sore loser.


References

Wikipedia: John Green (author)
John Michael Green (born August 24, 1977) is an American writer of young adult fiction and a YouTube vlogger and educator. He won the 2006 Printz Award for his debut novel, Looking for Alaska, and reached number one on a New York Times Best Seller list with The Fault in Our Stars in January 2012.

Wikipedia: VlogBrothers
VlogBrothers is a video blog style channel on YouTube. The Internet-based show is created and hosted by brothers, John Green and Hank Green. The first incarnation of the brothers' online broadcasting was the "Brotherhood 2.0" project, preceding the establishment of the pair's regular vlogging activity through the VlogBrothers channel.

Wikipedia: Hank Green
William Henry "Hank" Green ll (born 5 May 1980) is an American entrepreneur, musician, and vlogger. He is best known for his YouTube channel Vlogbrothers where he regularly uploads videos along with his brother, John Green. He is also the creator of the online environmental technology blog EcoGeek, and the developer of Subbable. He is involved with several other channels on YouTube, including Crash Course, SciShow, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries,The Brain Scoop, and Sexplanations.

YouTube channel: vlogbrothers

Twitter: John Green @johngreen
I write books, including Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars. (Books are like tweets, except longer.) I also make videos with my brother.

web site: John Green Books

web site: Hank Green Internet Guy

2016-10-26

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Sunday, 23 October 2016

Pew Research Center: How Republican and Democratic voters have changed since 1992


Published on Oct 19, 2016 by Pew Research Center
YouTube: How Republican and Democratic voters have changed since 1992
The two parties look less alike today than at any point over the last quarter-century.



Pew Research Center - Sep 13/2016
The Parties on the Eve of the 2016 Election: Two Coalitions, Moving Further Apart
Ahead of the presidential election, the demographic profiles of the Republican and Democratic parties are strikingly different. On key characteristics – especially race and ethnicity and religious affiliation – the two parties look less alike today than at any point over the last quarter-century.

The fundamental demographic changes taking place in the country – an aging population, growing racial and ethnic diversity and rising levels of education – have reshaped both party coalitions. But these changes, coupled with patterns of partisan affiliation among demographic groups, have influenced the composition of the two parties in different ways. The Democratic Party is becoming less white, less religious and better-educated at a faster rate than the country as a whole, while aging at a slower rate. Within the GOP the pattern is the reverse: Republican voters are becoming more diverse, better-educated and less religious at a slower rate than the country generally, while the age profile of the GOP is growing older more quickly than that of the country.






Final Word
Republicans are older, less educated, and more religious than Democrats. Who's the main driving force behind Donald Trump? White males.

In a recent editorial "Clinton for president: Why we need a landslide", The New Jersey Star Ledger quoted polling information from the New York Times stating that roughly four in ten Americans will stand with Trump. Despite all the negativity surrounding the Republican candidate, there is a surprising number of people who believe in the good ol' days. Unfortunately, the good ol' days are over and the future is here. I could say "get used to it," but nostalgia is alluring: a filtered view of history, removing all the bad things and leaving sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. Life was good. Now it sucks.

Racism. Sexism. Patriarchy. Xenophobia. Intolerance. Hatred. White supremacy. Double standard. Rape culture. White males have been the top dog holding a position of privilege. Will they learn to be an equal?

The Republican Party has lost its right to govern, because it is driven by white nationalism rather than a true commitment to equality for all Americans. -Vox: A Republican intellectual explains why the Republican Party is going to die

It is my fervent hope the Democrats crush the Republicans. (see why below) Trump is the result of a dramatic slide of the GOP over the past few years to the extreme right - and I mean extreme. The GOP and their policies and their ideology have contributed and continue to contribute to the growing economic inequality of the United States. They must be stopped.

Dear America: Make history. Elect a woman. But more importantly, elect the best "person" for the job.


References

Wikipedia: Pew Research Center
The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan American "fact tank" which is based in Washington, D.C. It provides information on social issues, public opinion, and demographic trends shaping the United States and the world. It also conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis, and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take explicit policy positions, and is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The Guardian - Apr 26/2012
Democrats condemn GOP's plot to obstruct Obama as 'appalling and sad' by Ewen MacAskill
Democrats have rounded on revelations about a private dinner of House Republicans on inauguration day in 2009 in which they plotted a campaign of obstruction against newly installed president Barack Obama. During a lengthy discussion, the senior GOP members worked out a plan to repeatedly block Obama over the coming four years to try to ensure he would not be re-elected. The disclosures – described as "appalling and sad" by Obama's chief strategist David Axelrod – undermine Republican claims that the president alone is to blame for the partisan deadlock in Washington.

People criticize Obama for being ineffective? The GOP deliberately set out to make him look bad. They don't care about the people; they only care about power. They should be ashamed of themselves.

The New Jersey Star Ledger - Oct 23/2016
Clinton for president: Why we need a landslide by the Editorial Board
That brings us back to the need for a landslide win. Republicans will be split into factions after this election, and a decisive win for Clinton could prompt a needed soul-searching.

It is hard believe now, but in 2008 the Republican platform endorsed a cap-and-trade program to fight climate change, and immigration reform with a path to citizenship. After the September 11 attacks, President George W. Bush made a point of defending Muslim Americans against precisely the sort of slander Trump peddles today.

The party veered seriously off course in 2010, with the ascent of the Tea Party faction. Compromise is now considered a sign of weakness. The rejection of science and expert opinion has become a reflex. The wink-and-nod bigotry that helped the party win the South is now explicit, and has expanded to include demonization of Latinos and Muslims.

If the nation is to make progress, the Republican Party needs to spend its 40 days in the desert. And that's more likely to happen if Clinton's victory is crushing.

Those who would cast their votes for third party candidates need to think again. If they want their votes to have political impact, they need to strengthen the prospects of a landslide by voting for Clinton. They need to vote strategically, given the enormous stakes.

So yes, this endorsement of Clinton is full-throated and without reservation. Trump's popularity has revealed a sickness in our body politic that is flat-out dangerous. A crushing win by Clinton offers the best hope for a cure.


Vox - Jul 25/2016
A Republican intellectual explains why the Republican Party is going to die by Zack Beauchamp
The Republican Party has lost its right to govern, because it is driven by white nationalism rather than a true commitment to equality for all Americans.

2016-10-23

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