Patterico's Pontifications


Georgia Runoff Election Today

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:37 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Today is the big day in Georgia as voters choose either Democrat Raphael Warnock or Republican Herschel Walker in the runoff election.

Reports estimate that more than a million Georgians are expected to vote today.

According to FiveThirtyEight, Warnock has a slight lead over Walker, yet it’s possible that Walker could still win:

However, five surveys from more established pollsters (Emerson College, InsiderAdvantage, SSRS, SurveyUSA and the University of Massachusetts Lowell) all consistently put Warnock a few points ahead of Walker. That said, it wouldn’t be shocking to see an unexpectedly strong performance from either of the candidates. Other factors agree with the polling that this race is tight, and Warnock’s polling lead is still smaller than the average polling error in U.S. Senate races since 1998.3 While Warnock may be better positioned than Walker, either candidate could still win.

Meanwhile, according to a recent report, Warnock has remained strong in several areas, including raising money. Consider:

His campaign and outside Democratic groups have spent more than double that of their Republican counterparts, according to the latest spending report from AdImpact. In just the final week, Warnock’s campaign has spent $7.6 million on advertising compared to the Walker campaign’s $3.65 million in ad buys.

Not quite the case for the Walker camp, which has been struggling to raise funds in the last week of the campaign:

“Simply put, we’re being outspent 3 to 1 by Warnock, and we’re being outspent nearly 2 to 1 by outside groups. We need help,” Walker campaign manager Scott Paradise wrote in the memo sent to donors Thursday…

The memo calculates that Warnock and the Democratic groups backing him have spent and committed a combined $92 million since the November election, compared with $45 million that Walker and his Republican allies have ponied up.

While urgent last-minute fundraising appeals are a staple of any campaign in the closing days, the sense of concern underlying Paradise’s plea is underpinned by data and concerns from fellow Republicans that suggest the election is trending in Warnock’s favor.

President Obama also showed up for Warnock at a campaign event a few days ago. The former president took the opportunity to mock Walker, which the crowd loved:

And in a cringe moment, Walker attempted to push back on the whole werewolves v. vampires on Fox News:

“Well, what’s sad is they’re always trying to mislead people,” Walker told Fox host Maria Bartiromo on Sunday after Obama poked fun at his comments. “That’s the same as you listening to… Obama talking about I’m talking about vampires and werewolves… Why don’t they tell the whole story?”

Walker discussed his internal would-you-rather werewolf vs. vampire debate in the context of recalling a movie he said he had watched about a vampire. He concluded his story by talking about the importance of faith because in the movie, he said, a person who did not believe in God tried to kill a vampire with a cross and failed because they didn’t have faith. On Fox, Walker said, “The whole story is the story involved people having faith, having faith and continuing to go out and do your job, having faith to get things done. So they don’t tell you the whole story.”

I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: Herschel Walker is not a good candidate. In fact, he is a terrible candidate. He is often confused, and unable to speak in-depth about policy issues, and as seen above, he is simply not the best and brightest of possible candidates. I’ve also said before that I wouldn’t be surprised if he had suffered a traumatic brain injury during his football years or was diagnosed with CTE, contributing to his inability to clearly communicate and his lack of basic comprehension. And although never thoroughly vetted as a candidate, he is a famous football star and Heisman Trophy winner, and Donald Trump endorsed him. All of which counts for a lot to Georgians. The whole thing seems to be an unvarnished look at the underbelly of politics: A famous person is flattered when approached by a powerful group of deep-pocketed individuals who in turn flatter the politically inexperienced individual and make him an offer he can’t refuse. Said individual then goes on to ignore the advice of those closest to him, accepts their offer, and finds himself in the eye of the storm. It’s been obvious that Walker’s enablers, such as the far-right media, walk him through interviews by feeding him hints and even filling in the blanks for him. And along with his supporters, including fellow Republican lawmakers, these enablers easily ignore the word salad coming out of his mouth. The man clearly requires assistance. And that’s why I cringed when I saw Obama mock him. Talk about shooting a damaged fish in a barrel. But Walker gives his opponents a lot to work with and he willingly signed up for this gig. However, I still believe there is something ugly about the Republican Party putting him up as a candidate in the first place. But what was anyone to do about it?

“McConnell has suggested to allies that former Georgia senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler should take another look at running again, according to three sources familiar with the matter, after their narrow losses in January flipped the Senate to Democratic control.”

Ultimately those efforts went for naught. And by around this time last year, McConnell had given up – endorsing Walker’s bid. “Herschel is the only one who can unite the party, defeat Senator Warnock, and help us take back the Senate,” McConnell said at the time.

And then there is this:

In a brief interview with POLITICO on Saturday, Walker seemed to mistake which chamber of Congress he was running for and also appeared to think the outcome of his race would determine control of the Senate.

“They’re not [less motivated] because they know right now that the House will be even so they don’t want to understand what is happening right now,” he said of voters. “You get the House, you get the committees. You get all the committees even, they just stall things within there. So if we keep a check on Joe Biden, we just going to keep a check on him.”

Republicans have won the House, and Democrats will control the Senate no matter what happens in Georgia. A win by Warnock would pad their majority by one seat, to 51-49.

When we look at which candidate is the most informed about politics and policy, has a decent grasp of basic history, can articulate his position and clearly communicate it to the American public, it isn’t Walker. And yet, the right will vote for him not only because he is the Republican candidate but because they know that there will be plenty of handlers and aids directing his every move, and instructing him on what to say and how to advance the Republican agenda. And that seems to be all that matters in the end.

Note: It’s interesting to me – and telling, I think – that Republicans continue to attack President Biden over his mental fitness (or lack thereof) and senator-elect John Fetterman’s auditory processing issues, and yet don’t have any problem with similar manifestations by Herschel Walker.


Grieving for China

Filed under: General — JVW @ 9:36 am

[guest post by JVW]

As usual, I am the laggard here who is failing to carry his (ample) weight where blogging is concerned. That said, I did read a piece at the end of last week which I found very moving and wanted to share with you. If you have suffered through my musings in the past, you may know that I am a fan of geopolitical essays written by people who have at least some familiarity with the country upon which they opine, which I find far more elucidating than the usual pompous pronouncements from fatuous media or academic types. So I very much appreciated this first-person account of Cindy Yu at The Spectator where she serves as the host of their China podcast. This piece may be behind a paywall so I’ll quote liberally from it, but as I have mentioned earlier I have really come to enjoy reading The Spectator and think that the subscription has been well worth the price, given their outstanding coverage of world events. Here is what Ms. Yu, who was raised in Nanjing, has to say about her homeland:

I’ve always loved the Chinese national anthem. I used to think I was the loudest Communist Youth League pioneer as my class belted it out, dressed in our little red neckerchiefs, during our school’s weekly flag-raising ceremony. “The March of the Volunteers” was composed in the 1930s during the Japanese invasion of Manchuria; it starts with “Stand up, those who refuse to be slaves” and only gets more rousing. I could see, even at a young age in the early 2000s, that China wouldn’t be facing those days again — it was getting wealthier and more powerful. Standing in a Nanjing schoolyard, I was proud of China’s return to greatness.

During those years of reform, it felt like people could achieve anything they wanted. A middling English teacher became the head of a multi-billion dollar e-commerce company called Alibaba; an engineer who almost starved in childhood founded the world’s largest telecoms manufacturer, Huawei.[. . .]

There seemed to be an unspoken social contract: the Chinese Communist Party would ensure that people’s lives became materially better; in return, they would have sole and unchallengeable power. Literacy went up, as did lifespans. People started having money to buy what they wanted, rather than simply what they needed. Not everyone agreed with this arrangement, but it was easy for the majority to overlook the costs: the crackdowns on ethnic and religious minorities, the imprisoning of democracy activists, the poor left behind by urbanization. China seemed to be on track to become the world’s largest economy without the division and turbulence of other wealthy nations.

Now I see that it was never a fair contract. The Chinese people have no recourse when the CCP reneges on its side of the bargain. [. . .]

She goes on to cover the recent protests which appear to have shaken the Chinese leadership (i.e., Xi Jinping), and traces the arc from Tiananmen Square to Hong Kong to the draconian COVID lockdowns imposed upon the Chinese people. She recognizes — indeed, acknowledges — that her own family like so many other citizens of China accepted all of this in return for the ability to move into the middle and upper classes, and now realizes that it was a deal with the devil all along:

The hand of the state now reaches into every part of people’s lives — the Communist Party dictates where they can go and who they can see. Add to that the Covid shocks to the Chinese economy, record youth unemployment and a teetering property market, and you don’t have to be a pro-democracy activist to see that, for too many people, the CCP is not meeting its side of the deal.

And what would a youth-led protest be without a bit of clever trolling?

In response to accusations that foreign forces were stirring up discontent, one Beijing student shot back: “Do you mean Marx and Engels?” Another protester led a trio of alpacas through Shanghai; the animal has become a protest meme thanks to its supposed resemblance to the mythical grass mud horse, the name for which in Chinese sounds a little like a sexual act involving one’s mother.

The Chinese word for “alpaca” is written in English as “yáng tuó” and is pronounced like this. Keep that handy if you get busted by the Chinese police operating in our country. Ms. Yu concludes:

As I was scrolling through social media at the weekend, one video threw me. It showed a gathering of students on a Nanjing campus singing the national anthem: “Stand up, stand up, stand up!” I wept. When I was a child, the national anthem made me proud. Now it makes me grieve.

Do read it all if you can, and realize with an unpleasant feeling that there are plenty of people in this country who look towards China as a successful case study in organizing society and would love to bring plenty of unappealing aspects of it here.


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