The First 2020 Democratic Debate Night 2

Well, here we go again; although today, I’m setting up some of this in advance and trying to get the hang of this live blogging thing. If the format is consistent with last night, the moderators for the first round will be Savannah Guthrie from the Today Show, Lester Holt, anchor of The NBC Nightly News and Telemundo anchor José Díaz-Balart.

Tonight’s line up includes the following candidates: Former Vice-President Joe Biden, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, California Senator Kamala Harris, Mayor of South Bend Indiana Pete Buttigieg, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, Best Selling Author Marianne Williamson, Representative Eric Swalwell, Entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. The qualifying candidates were randomly assigned to the two nights and only one of the five leading candidates appeared last night, namely Elizabeth Warren. Biden, Sanders, Harris and Buttigieg are all in tonight’s debate. It may be as cordial as last night’s gathering, but I’d expect to see more fireworks. We’ll see.

I’ll be back at 9:00 this evening.

8:58 pm. I’m back and here we go.

Lambchop (Chris Hayes) says Trump is president, so anyone could be president. All bets are off.

The first question if for Sanders: will taxes go up for the Middle Class in a Sanders Administration? Sanders: People will be paying less for health care, we have to eliminate student debt. More in taxes and less in health care.

For Biden, you said nothing will fundamentally change. Biden the Middle Class built America. We have to return dignity to the middle class. We need to eliminate the Trump Tax Cuts.

Harris: Where were the questions about paying for proposals when we passed the Trump Tax cuts? It sounds like she’s proposing universal basic income for poorer Americans. That’s news I think.

Hickenlooper: I’ve done big progressive things.

Will nominating a socialist re-elect Trump? Sanders: I’m 10 points ahead of Trump and we need to expose him for the fraud he is.

Gillibrand: We want healthy capitalism, not corrupted capitalism.

Bennett: Against Medicare for all. Add a public option to the ACA.

Buttigieg: I believe in free college for needy Americans but not for the children of millionaires. We need it to be affordable not to go to college.

Swalwell jumped in out of turn.

Yang: A value added tax could pay for Universal Basic Income.

Swalwell: We must be a nation where technology creates more jobs than it destroys. Direct shot at Biden. Pass the torch.

Biden: We need to invest more in education. Free community college. Freeze student debt interest for people making less than $25,000.

Saunders: We need someone willing to take on Wall Street etc.

Harris got a lot of applause for some pretty basic stuff.

Gillibrand: We need to transition to single payer.

Buttigieg: I would start with “Medicare for all who want it.” It will outcompete the Corporate sector. Medicare kept our family out of Bankruptcy.

Biden: Fastest way to universal health care is building on the ACA.

Sanders: Every other major country has figured out Universal Health care. We can too. The insurance companies are focused on profits. He dodged the question here.

  • Williamson: We won’t beat Trump just with plans. We don’t have health care in America, we have sickness care.

    Bennet: The ACA is the quickest way to universal care. A public option would be Medicare for all for those who have it.

    Sanders: Medicare is the most popular medical system.

    Harris and Swalwell are talking over each other.

    9:31 pm

    Would your health care plan cover undocumented people? Every hand up.

    Buttigieg: The country is healthier when everyone is healthier. Then he segued to immigration.

    Biden: Jail insurance executives who lied about opioids.

    Lots more talking over each other and more digs at other candidates tonight. These guys may see the stakes being higher. Does it help Warren that she was able to float above the crowd last night?

    Harris: On day one I will reinstate DACA and their parents. Will release children from cages. She has a boisterous group of supporters in the audience. Trump’s policies are contrary to American values.

    More digs at Trump tonight I think.

    Hickenlooper likens Trump’s family separation policy to kidnapping. ICE has to see their mission differently.

    Williamson uses the term child abuse. These are crimes. Trump is attacking a basic American principle.

    Gillibrand: Trump is tearing apart who we are. Lots of specifics on immigration. Don’t transfer funds to for profit prisons.

    Buttigieg: The GOP cloaked itself in Christianity we must call out hypocrisy. Big applause.

    Biden: the Obama administration lessened the number of refugees; Trump got rid of the policy. Deport illegal immigrants who have committed crimes. Keep refugees safe until they can get a hearing.

    Saunders: Day 1, reverse every damn executive order Trump has made in this region.

    Swalwell: Immigrants can contribute to America.

    Harris: I was tracking deportation as AG of CA and disagreed with the Obama administration.

    How would you stand up to China? Bennet: Mobilize nations to oppose their trade policy. Raging against the wall.

    Yang: Russia has been laughing their asses off for the last two years. The tariffs are not productive.

    Buttigieg: China is using technology to perfect authoritarianism. It’s a big threat we must address.

    After the commercial break, we have MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Meet the Press’s Chuck Todd as moderators. Meanwhile, there’s a Charles Manson movie coming.

    10:00 pm, Round 2:

    The first question to Mayor Pete: We took many steps to prevent the police shooting in South Bend. We must make it work. Everyone should feel the same way when approached by a police officer.

    Williamson: We need slavery reparations.

    Harris: This issue still isn’t being discussed honestly. It was hurtful when Biden said favorable things about segregationists. This cannot just be a philosophical discussion among democrats.

    Biden: I did not praise racists. I was a public defender. As VP we worked with these issues in a major way. I ran because of civil rights and those must include the LGBT community. I didn’t oppose busing, I opposed busing ordered by the Department of Education.

    Sanders: We encourage diversity; that’s what America is about. How come, today, the middle class is making no more than they did 40 years ago? We need someone to stand up to the powerful special interests.

    Bennet: Gridlock will not magically disappear as long as Mitch McConnell is there. The Democrats must win the senate. We also need to oppose gerrymandering.

    Biden: You can’t always have bipartisanship. Sometimes you have to beat them.

    Gillibrand keeps hitting on corruption. The GOP had to pass the tax cuts to pay back their donors.

    What if Roe v Wade is struck down during your presidency?

    Sanders: I will nominate no judges that will overturn Roe.

    Gillibrand: Reproductive rights are under assault. I have been the fiercest advocate for reproductive rights.

    Harris: Trump supports Science Fiction over Science Fact. Not wild about the metaphor.

    Buttigieg: We need to begin adapting to Climate Change and have definitive action to slow it. Climate change is happening everywhere. With soil management, the Midwest can be a part of the solution.

    Hickenlooper: I’m a scientist, I share the sense of urgency. Socialism isn’t the solution.

    Biden: We can control carbon emissions without congress. We should be an exporter of the green economy and build the infrastructure for electric cars.

    Sanders: The POTUS must lead the world away from fossil fuels.
  • Williamson: Evoking JFK, not sure what her point is. What is your first issue?
  • Swalwell: Gun Violence.
  • Bennet: climate change.
  • Gillibrand: family bill of rights.
  • Harris: working families tax cuts.
  • Sanders: political revolution.
  • Biden: Defeat Donald Trump.
  • Buttigieg: fix democracy.
  • Yang: UBI.
  • Hickenlooper; Climate change.
  • Williamson: something about the prime minister of New Zealand.

    Swalwell: Keep you pistols, rifles and shotguns. Forced of buyback all assault weapons.

    Sanders: We have a gun crisis. We need comprehensive gun legislation including standard things.

    Harris: Give Congress 100 days to Bill or executive orders.

    Buttigieg: every part of my life informs my position. If more guns made us safer, we’d be safe. There are weapons with no place on the street. Ever.

    Biden: I’ve passed gun legislation. No guns should be sold except smart guns.

    What are important steps toward reversing the legacy of Trump? Bennet: we have to restore democracy and our relations with other countries.

    None of these guys can give short answers. Okay, Harris did.

    Biden: I was responsible for getting 150,000 combat troops out of Iraq. The use of force resolution should have been aimed at terriorists. That’s exactly what Bob Graham said at the time.

    Sanders: War with Iran would be worse than war with Iraq. I will make sure it doesn’t happen. It might be too late by then.

    Closing statements now.

    Williamson sounds like a self-help book.

    I think Hickenlooper is out of step with the party.

    Yang: Trickle up economy.

    Lots of platitudes.

    Buttigieg is pretty good.

    Saunders is on his greatest hits but strong and combative.

    Biden is aimed straight at Trump.

    Analysis:

    I think this group was stronger on average than last night with the exceptions of Williamson and Swalwell. This was combative. Hickenlooper was fixed on being anti-socialist and a couple of people were focused on the pass the torch message. Harris may have had the moment of the night hitting Biden hard on race. I thought he came back well but the pundits disagree. Strong performance by Buttigieg, but there’s no clear winner tonight the way I think Warren won last night. I think she will benefit from having had less competition last night.

    This primary season will have problems if the number of candidates doesn’t get smaller; if you have 24 candidates someone could theoretically win with 5%. This could get winnowed down 5 or 6 really strong candidates. The rules of the Democratic Party assign votes proportionally . I can easily see this ending in a brokered convention.

    Speaking of Bob Graham, there he was in the audience, saying hello to Biden.

References:

Live Blogging the First Democratic Debate

8:55

This is starting in a few minutes, I’m going to try to live blog here. I’ll add things as soon as I write them. I’ll try to follow comments on the post if anyone makes any.

In no particular order, tonight’s participants are: Cory Booker, Bill deBlasio, Beto O’Rourke, Julián Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Jay Inslee, Tim Ryan and John Delaney. Ten more will debate tomorrow night.

9:03

The first question goes to Elizabeth Warren. The economy isn’t working for those at the bottom. We need structural change.

Klobushar: No on free college, but free community college.

O’Rourke: Calls out Gerrymandering. Won’t commit to a 70% marginal tax rate.

Warren: There’s too much consolidation in industry. That’s bad for the economy and bad for innovation.

9:11

Castro: Calls for passing the ERA and for Equal Pay legislation.

Gabbard is touting her military background.

All of them are about making the economy for everyone.

De Blasio: This is the party of working party; it needs to be strong and progressive.

Delaney: Touts his background as a entrepreneur.

Insley: Proud of standing up for Unions.

I’m missing a lot. This is rapid fire. No time for commentary. Reminds me of taking notes in Complex Analysis.

Ryan: We’re loosing industry in Youngstown, OH. The working class hasn’t gotten a raise since 1980.

Warren: There will be a worldwide need for green technology. We need to develop it in the US and manufacture it here.

Only Warren and DeBlasio in favor of replacing private health insurance.

Klobushar: Trump’s claims about Pharmaceuticals are “All foam and no beer.” That may be the sound bite of the night.

Warren: Health Care is a basic Human Right and I will fight for basic Human Rights. With Sanders on Medicare for all.

O’Rourke: Backing away from Medicare for all. Medicare for folks who don’t have private insurance.

Gabbard: Need to look at the bigger picture. Medicare for all is the way to go and corporations will recognize the savings. Everyone must be covered.

Booker: Health care affects many other things; eg: Education.

Warren: Insurance companies sucked 23 Billion out of the health care system.

9:30

Castro: “I don’t believe in reproductive freedom, I believe in reproductive justice.”

Warren’s getting a lot of attention, but this is unwieldy with even 10 candidates.

Booker and O’Rourke: Hold pharmaceutical companies liable for their role in the opioid crisis.

Castro: We need a Marshall Plan for certain Latin American countries so that they can find safety and employment at home. Many specifics (section 1325). He’s clearly up on this.

DeBlasio: That photo is not America. “The immigrants didn’t do that to you, corporations did that to you.”

9:40

Many ideas on immigration from many participants.

O’Rourke and Castro are talking over each other.

Klobushar: Waxes philosophically on the importance of immigrants.

Ryan: We need to send doctors to care for the immigrant children in detention.

Booker: Stand against for-profit prisons. Again with the “We can’t sacrifice our values.”

Inslee: “We would welcome refugees into Washington state.

Only Booker wouldn’t sign back onto the 2015 Iran Deal. Thinks he could do better.

Klobuchar: Iran Deal was good but imperfect. Trump has given leverage to China and Russia.

Gabbard: Trump and his cabinet have led us to the brink of war. War with Iran would turn into a regional conflict. There would have to be a response to an attack on American troops.

10:00

Now we have Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd as moderators. And technical difficulties. Florida Man fails to stop feedback.

10:05

Again starting with Warren. Is there a role for the federal government for getting guns off the streets?

Warren: Keeping children safe is our responsibility as adults. Universal Background Checks. Actually do research and see what works. Bring data to bare and treat it as a national health emergency. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Ryan: We need trauma care in every school.

O’Rourke: Gun Owners and non gun owners agree the debate should be led by young people.

Klobuchar: These proposals don’t hurt hunters. The Parkland students have moved the debate.

Booker: You should need a license to own a gun. We need bold actions.

If McConnell is still Senate Majority Leader, will he let the next president seat Supreme Court Justices?

Warren: We are a democracy and the will of the people matters. Congress has made things work for the elites. We need to energize people to hold congress accountable.

Inslee: We have to take the filibuster away from Mitch McConnell. I will make climate change the number one priority.

O’Rourke: We need to bring everyone into the decision making on climate change. Lots of specifics.

Castro: As mayor, made SanAntonio’s power plant more green.

Ryan: The Democratic Party has lost all connection to the working class in the mid-west. It must be a working class, blue color party.

Delaney: Put a price on carbon. Carbon pricing works.

Gabbard: Strong statement for LGBTQ rights. There are still those facing discrimination.

Booker: We need a president who will protect LGBTQ Americans.

Klobuchar: We must make sure everyone can vote.

Castro: We also need criminal justice reform. All groups need to be treated the same by law enforcement.

O’Rourke: We need to live our values in Foreign Policy.

DeBlasio: Even in humanitarian crises we should not commit troops without congressional approval.

Ryan: We must remain engaged in places where there are humanitarian crises.

Gabbard: That is not acceptable. We need to have strong reasons to commit troops.

Ryan is not evoking 9/11. The audience didn’t like the exchange.

10:41

O’Rourke: We need to address the potential crimes delineated in the Meuller report. We need to undertake impeachment and indictment after Trump leaves office.

Delaney: No one is above the law and Trump should not be about the law. But this is not the issue the voters care the most about.

10:50 Closing statements now.

Analysis:

This was an interesting debate. I think all the candidates put in pretty strong performances and all of them seemed like credible potential presidents. Nothing really earthshaking; there were lots of policy specifics and the whole thing stayed cordial. And they stayed positive; there were some digs at President Trump, but mostly they presented their policies and solutions.

There was a lot of agreement among the candidates such as that climate change is an existential threat and health care is a human right. There was also a lot of talk about making the economy work for everyone and not just those at the top. That could be a move back toward being the party of FDR rather than the party of Bill Clinton. Then again this is a primary debate; they might be playing to the crowd.

I think Elizabeth Warren may have had the strongest performance, but I like specifics and that’s where she excelled.

Still, there was little to change my mind about most of these candidates. I’m still dubious about some and favorably disposed towards some of the others.

More tomorrow. Same Bat Time. Same Bat Channel.

Photo Credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Who the Hell are the Eternals Anyway?

The Eternals (1976) #1

Eternals Vol 1 1

I’ve been reading comics since 1973, but I really have no idea who the Eternals are. I know they were created by Kirby and I remember Sersi being an Avenger for a while. And I know there’s that one guy who wears the Superman color scheme, whose name I feel like I should know. That’s about it, although I just learned that Eternals #2 is the first appearance of the Celestials, which intrigues me. I’m going to take the plunge and learn about these guys in advance of their movie. To that end, here’s a review of their first issue.

You may wonder how, being a Marvel guy, I missed the Eternals. Blame economics. My limited reading budget in 6th grade was progressively being focused on novels and I quit comics cold turkey (not to worry, I came back) when the cover price went up to 30¢. That gave me two months to notice the Eternals, but I never actually did.

Spoilers follow if one can spoil something published 43 years ago.

928 best Jack Kirby images on Pinterest | Comic art, Comic ...

When I was in college, I tried to read Harlan Ellison’s “For I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream” three times. The first page is both excellent and electrifying. Offbeat and dark, it leaves you dying to know what happens next. I never found out. Each time I lost interest around the third page and I never successfully finished the story. Eternals #1 is a lot like that.

The first four pages are spectacular. The splash page is dominated by a “Kirby machine,” with small characters in the corner teasing some sort of great discovery. This expands to an amazing and intricate two-page spread. The Kirby machine of the first page is the head of the Incas’ “Space God.” The discovery is a huge statue of the Space God in his vehicle with myriad attendants along side and there’s so much interesting detail that you could pour over this page for quite some time. Page 4, another full page shows more of the Gods’ (now plural) equipment.

But then it gets kind of tedious. One of the characters is named Ike Harris and it dawns on me that the guy with the fashion sense of Superman might be called Ikaris. He is. Inwardly, I sigh; my least favorite thing about Kirby-as-writer is his names and these are going to be as cheesy as usual. Ikaris reveals himself to be an Eternal and he is searching for a Cosmic Beacon. He wants to summon the Gods so that they will return to Earth.

We’re also introduced to the Deviants. Monstrous creature’s with names like “Dog,” “Kro” and “Tode.” They’re as determined to prevent the Gods’ return as Ikaris is to bring it about.

Along the way we learn more about the Space Gods. They are aliens who came to Earth ages ago and genetically manipulated the ape creatures they found here. This lead to the creation of three species. The Humans, the Deviants who are genetically unstable with no fixed form and the godlike Eternals who are few in number, powerful and immortal.

Interesting, but still ultimately tedious. One reason, I realized, is that in panel after panel, the captions do nothing but describe what’s clearly happening in the artwork. I had thought that Kirby’s writing had improved a great deal by this point, but this undermines that. If anyone should understand “show, don’t tell,” it’s an Artist/writer.

Like a lot of Kirby’s writing, there’s lots of good ideas but I find the execution kind of flat. I remind myself that this is an introductory issue and those can be dull; the characters have to be introduced, the situations have to be laid and out and the universe needs to be built. That calls for a lot of exposition and that can leave very little room for story.

Unlike a lot of Kirby’s writing, it feels derivative. There is very little that feels new. The premise is essentially the same as 2001: A Space Odyssey which Kirby had just adapted a few months before. This comic falls between the 2001 Treasury Edition and 2001 the ongoing series which, at least so far, I find a lot more interesting. The rest of the story feels a lot like the Inhumans with some of Erich Von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods mixed in.

The cliffhanger at the end of the issue is that the Space Gods have arrived and we’re told they’re called the Celestials. I’m still intrigued. More to come.

Bottom Line:

Quick Take: Dark Phoenix

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When I want to comment on something, but I don’t have a hell of a lot to say, I’m going to label it a “Quick Take.”

So, I just saw the Dark Phoenix movie.  I had to.  The Dark Phoenix Saga is one of the high points of superhero comics.  It’s also one of the things that I was really excited about when I was getting back into comics.  Without the Dark Phoenix saga, we might have an entire other room for something other than comics.

This movie definitely benefited from low expectation. I’d literally heard nothing good about  this film.  And by-and-large, what I’d heard was fair.  But sitting in the theater, it was okay; better than I was expecting.  I didn’t hate it, and on balance, I’m not unhappy I saw it.

But, make no mistake; this is not a good movie.  There’s a death that felt gratuitous and there are plot elements that feel either tacked on or poorly thought out.  The biggest tumblr_m8qincGKz21qfxwtoo4_1280problem for me was that the original Dark Phoenix was all about internal conflict.  It’s a long build up to Jean being corrupted by the power and changing from Phoenix to Dark Phoenix.  Ultimately, Jean is the hero of the story because she sacrifices herself to keep her friends safe.  The movie shares a lot of these elements, but unfolds in what seems to be about 72 hours.  These elements are all eliminated or trivialized.  If you’re looking for this dimension of the story, you’d do better to reread the original.

My favorite thing about the movie is that it was nice to see the old-school Marvel logo with the flipping comic images rather than the movie clip version that they now use in Marvel Studios Films.

Bottom Line:  closed star half staropen staropen staropen star

A Flag of which to be Proud

Hetero flag

It’s Pride Month and so we’re flying a “Straight Ally” flag to show our support. I’m not wild about the flag itself. The stylized “A” for ally with the rainbow motif is both perfect and visually striking. Unfortunately the background lessens the effect somewhat; the

Friz Freleng | Dr. Grob's Animation Review

black and white strips remind me of an old style prison uniform and it has a lot of contrast. Because of this the rainbow A doesn’t stand out as well as I would have liked. I probably wouldn’t have thought about it quite so much but the first version of the Ally flag that I saw had graduated shades of gray in the background and looked better. But the marketplace once again has spoken in order to choose the version I don’t like as well.

Of course, the Ally flag is a derivative of the traditional LGBT Pride Flag which was designed by Gilbert Baker and first flown in San Francisco in 1978. The rainbow may have been inspired by Judy Garland’s “Over The Rainbow.” Interestingly the flag originally consisted of eight stripes representing sexuality, life, healing,

sunlight, nature, magic & art, serenity and spirit. Over time, the number of stripes were reduced to the six we see on the ally flag. We’ve never gotten a complete spectrum on any version of the flag but you have to admit, as a metaphor for inclusiveness, it’s hard to go wrong with a rainbow.

It seems like the Pride Flag is in process of increasing the number of colors again. There’s a new version which adds stripes to support people of color and another which adds a white stripe to represent the full spectrum of gender and sexuality as well as “peace and union among all.”

The Ally flag always puts me in mind of a joke from “Dimitri Martin: Person” which is pretty funny. Interestingly, the first thing I found when I was looking for this clip was a discussion of whether or not the shirt described in the bit would be offensive. I hope not; as a society we currently seem to be actively seeking things to offend us and that isn’t healthy.

Refracted Light

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_flag_(LGBT_movement)#Rainbow_colors_as_symbols_of_LGBT_pride

The Avengers in the Stars

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged anything, although there’s lots of stuff in the works that will hopefully come out soon, when the term is over and I have some time to finish it up.

In the meantime, here’s something quick that falls under “comics” and “the universe” with not so much of the “everything.”

Image result for star walk 2

Many of you may have the App “Star Walk 2” installed on your phone or tablet. It seems that they have added a number of new constellations based on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, probably inspired by some teevee show or movie or something. Who really knows? But now we have some modern mythology among the stars along side its classic siblings.

The new constellations were created by the folks at the Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences and are available for free in the “Additional Content” section of the App.

Here a sampling:

There’s lots more to find, including some of the better ones, but I don’t want to spoil all of the fun. And part of the fun is finding the things that seem Marvel themed, but were there all along, such as the constellation Hercules or this one:

Happy Hunting!

Happy Earth Day

Well, the UFP Flag didn’t end up being flown for very long. We’re now flying the Earth Day flag that was designed by John McConnell, founder of Earth Day in 1969. This version of the flag features the famous photograph of the Earth that was taken from the Apollo 17 spacecraft. The original version was screen printed; but both were official Earth Day promotional items used to advertise the occasion.

The flag I’d originally wanted to fly for Earth Day is the “Flag of the Earth,” (shown below) that was designed by James W. Cadel. It shows a stylized collection of the Earth, Moon and the sun. It flies at Observatories and SETI installations world wide.

References:

The Flag of the Earth