The Las Vegas Democratic Debate

I don’t have a lot of time for detailed analysis — but here is my hot take. Keep in mind as you read, Greenbean has no dog in this hunt, no horse in the race, no lettuce in this salad. I don’t trust any politicians but I enjoy observing the process. This makes me perfectly impartial.

Let me take them in order as they come to mind.

Exactly how many nondisclosure agreements have you signed with
former employees, Mr Weinstein, I mean, Mayor Bloomberg?

Elizabeth Warren crushed it. Desperation seems to bring out the best in her. Her performance last night made me yearn to see her and President Trump on the same stage together. We could erase the national debt selling tickets to that event. I really liked how she called out Bloomberg right out of the gate. That was priceless, and her line about ‘substituting one arrogant billionaire for another’ was brilliant. Great rhetoric.

Why is Joe Biden screaming? He seems to have no middle tone. Uncle Joe is either down home folksy or angry yelling. I don’t think that is a strategy for long term endearment. He should go eat some ice cream and chill. I know his main asset is the association with President Obama, but he needs to stop talking about that. President Obama won the last election he’ll ever have. If Biden wants to be President, he needs to tell us about him.

Bloomberg was not prepared. Surely someone on his staff briefed him on how they would come at him? Surely? If not, Mayor Bloomberg, for a couple of billion of your dollars, I’ll help you get ready for the next one. If – you – make – it – that- far.

Bernie Sanders would get crushed by Donald Trump. The class envy which fuels his platform is only working for a third of Democrats, but the United States would choose mean tweets and Apprentice: White House (who will get fired this week?) over someone coming to take their hard earned livelihood. Capitalism is not perfect, but Bernie Sanders has a real disdain for it.

Amy Klobuchar didn’t have a strong night like she did in New Hampshire, but she recovered from the cheap shot Pete Buttigieg and had the best closing statement. Klobuchar needs to smile more — Like President Obama had, her smile is a powerful tool at her disposal. It would also behoove her to get specific. When the Univision Reporter scolded her for not knowing the President of Mexico’s name, she should have turned that around and said, “You’re right. It was a bad moment, I forgot his name, but what I will never ever forget is children in cages on the border, and here is the policy I will implement immediately . . .”

Pete Buttigieg had moments where he came across as human and reasonable. He also had moments where he was petulant and, I must say, cringeworthy. His attacks on Klobuchar were forced and unnatural in the context. I also think he missed the memo that Bloomberg and Bernie were the targets. But then, he kind of likes his billionaires. Also, and this is completely aesthetic, but it looked like Buttigieg forgot to pack his razor. I mean, if he is growing a beard that would be awesome, but the day old stubble didn’t look good at all.

Two more observations real fast before I get to work. First, the moderators for this event were not very good. I don’t know what their plan was, but they kept talking over the candidates, one another, and trying to orchestrate ‘gotcha’ moments. That is not what voters want from moderators. Ask policy or issue questions and them step back, please. Second, Anyone besides me notice foreign policy and the gun debate were missing from this debate? In other words, this debate was served up perfectly for Bernie Sanders.

Predictions for 2020

Each New Year I engage in a futile effort to predict things for the coming year. I am averaging about 30% correct, which I take as pretty good. Last year’s predictions were a little off, especially my financial predictions, but I was correct in the general feel of the predictions — trade uncertainty, volatility in the markets, and Brexit being a major destabilizing factor.

So, what do I think 2020 has in store . . .

10. I am betting the field against Joe Biden. I do not think he will get the nomination for the Democratic Party. Neither will Bernie Sanders.

9. The Seahawks and Forty-Niners will meet again in the playoffs, and the Seahawks will win 35 to 21, Russell Wilson will throw four touchdown passes.

8. Tom Hanks will win best actor for his portrayal of Mr. Rogers.

7. The sugar-stick policy by the Fed of lowering interest rates will have to end eventually, and it will be this year. The result will be a reality-check in the markets and something that looks like, but not as severe as, the 2008 recession will occur. I suspect it will involve tech companies.

6. The political polarization in the nation will manifest itself in an electoral college tie in November.

5. Netflix will be bought or merged. I can really only see two possible candidates to buy it: Apple or AT&T. The Trump DOJ will fight AT&T and could stop it because they hate AT&T, so that might keep them out. Apple is flush with cash and just looking for a place to spend it. Plus, Apple TV has been and always will be a dud, so they will use buy one.

4. The Houston Astros will again win the American League pennant, and will again lose to a National League team and it feels like it is time for The San Francisco Giants to rise again.

3. The Senate will cast sixty-one votes to impeach President Trump, which is not enough to remove him from office but will expose a growing divide in the Republican Party.

2. Under growing pressure from a disaffected public, Iran will either collapse or it will create a diversion by turning the quiet war with Saudi Arabia into open warfare killing thousands, if not millions.

1. Julian Castro will be the Vice Presidential nominee for whoever wins the nomination. For a while I was thinking it would Kamala Harris, but I’ve got even money the nominee is Elizabeth Warren, and if the Dems go centrist, their candidate is Klobuchar (if she can stay in long enough). A woman at the top will seek to pick a man, and Castro is more feisty than Booker or Beto.



I just finished watching the first presidential debate in Denver, Colorado between President Obama and Mitt Romney. I didn’t get to watch it in real time because they scheduled it during my small group meeting. I told both candidates that Wednesday night was a church night and not very good for me. They were both willing to change it but the networks wouldn’t budget. Sigh.

So, I DVR’d it and as soon as I got home I popped some popcorn and watched it straight through. My family even watched it with me. Kim swiped my popcorn and finished it off but I didn’t care. I was in a political geek mojo.

Let me disclaim two things. One–I endorse no political candidate. I have reservations about Mr. Romney and the President supports some public policies which I find untenable. Two–I have not fact checked anything. My opinion here is based solely on the performance of the debate as a speaking art.

Here is what I noticed and what interested me.

1. Mitt Romney won the debate, hands down. In fact, he commanded the stage over the President. This surprised me quite a bit, to be honest. Mr. Romney was focused and on message. He succeeded in presenting the President as a ‘big government’ man contrasted with his ‘small business’ model.

2. The President looked very uncomfortable defending the home field. Four years ago he was the one fighting for change and that fit him well. Now, he has to defend the status quo and that does not come as natural for him. Several times he talked about bad things like corporations and loopholes for moving companies. That is usually something the challenger should say, not the incumbent.

3. Jim Lehrer was awful. I’ve seen him moderate other debates much better than this one. Tonight he seemed to have no control. His questions were okay enough, but they were not as specific as one would like. However he failed miserably to keep the candidates on target and on time. It felt like there were so many other topics that needed to be addressed that were never gotten to.

4. The President needs to smile more. He has a great affable smile that makes me want to like him. However, tonight he was in full “Professor Obama” mode and kept his likeable nature bottled up. I do not know if this was a calculated decision or just how he felt tonight, but it was not a positive for him.

5. Mr. Romney could have played one of the robots from the Terminator movies.

6. What was that noise about three quarters through the debate backstage? Both Romney and the President jumped and turned to look. I bet they were both thinking the same thing: Duck!

7. Neither one wore very nice ties. Romney’s tie had a funky knot I didn’t like and the Presidents tie screamed NERD.


Okay, those are the things I noticed. I’m going to bed now. I am looking forward to the Paul Ryan VS Joe Biden debate. Joe Biden scares me, which is why I pray for the Presidents health often.


Tonight I popped me a bowl of popcorn and turned on the television to watch the State of the Union address by President Obama.  I’m no political pundit, but I am someone who speaks publicly often (well, actually, weekly) and so I watch these things with the eye for the effect and style as much as substance.  What I noticed about the flow of the speech is that it started very slow and very wonkish but constantly and steadily increased in rhetorical flare as the monologue progressed.  I’ve broken my evaluation down simply into what I liked about it and what I didn’t.

What I liked:

  • I liked Obama’s tie.  It was rockin’ awesome.  He looked great.  However, I did notice that the three years in office have taken its toll on him.  He looks like he’s aged 10 years.
  • I liked that Joe Biden couldn’t seem to sit still.  Watching him squirm back there reminded me of an eight year old boy sitting through a concert he hates.  At one point it looked like he actually put a mint or candy in his mouth.  Joe Biden is a major motivating factor why I pray for Obama’s health and safety regularly.  On a side note, John Boehner didn’t look as orange this year.
  • I liked that Obama rattled off initiative ideas that sounded great without giving any kind of specifics at all.  It was brilliant.  That way people feel he is on the job, but in reality, it was just paper.
  • I liked his conclusion.  It was a real tear jerker to go to the Navy Seal team that took out Bin Laden and speak about it in such patriotic tones.  Nice touch and well done.

What I Didn’t Like

  • I didn’t like that he did the whole thing where he referenced people sitting up in the box by the First Lady.  Bill Clinton was the master at it and for Clinton it had the effect of being novel and innovative.  When Obama does it, it feels forced and is not very effective.
  • I didn’t like all the references to fairness in taxes.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge believer in fairness in taxes; but we will never have fairness in taxes in our nation until there is a major overhaul of the tax system and it is replaced with either a flat tax or a nationwide consumption tax.  In my personal opinion, income taxes are, by nature, unjust and unfair.  I like the consumption tax, but I would settle for anything that is sane and simple.
  • I didn’t like how many unilateral decisions Obama seemed to be making.  I know it is political posturing.  He is attempting to couch the congress as a “do nothing” group while he is out there doing stuff to make things better.  However, as a historian I realize that the arguments for “effectiveness” and “efficiency” are often the mask for power grabs.  I am not really accusing Obama of doing that because I do think it is just election year politics, but it does make me nervous.

The best moment of the evening, for me, was before the speech ever began.  When Gabrielle Giffords came into the room, and then Obama hugging her, was special.  That tugged at me at a level that goes beyond politics, beyond patriotism, and into the human and spiritual realm.  That actually is an image I will retain for a long time.  It reminds me of when Bush (43) in one of his State of the Unions announced a massive AIDS spending initiative for Africa.  Obama and Giffords will last longer in my memory than any of the particulars of the speech.