Sunday, March 06, 2016

Post-Pre- and Pre-: Stuff

Oscars Post-Mortem
I didn't follow my advice with the Oscars telecast; I watched it all. The most dramatic moment was Lady Gaga's song for survivors of sexual abuse, "Until It Happens to You"--which, surprisingly and disappointingly, did not win the award for best song (the winning song was an unspeakably sappy Sam Smith one). Chris Rock did the expected and skewered the Academy for the expression of its subtle racism in the absence of nominees for persons of color; he did it in ways both "kidding on the square" and outright humorous (the best was his interviews with filmgoers in Compton, none of whom had seen the movies nominated for the major awards).

As for the results, I hit a couple of the upsets--that of Mark Rylance for Supporting Actor and that "Revenant" might not be a sure thing for Best Picture (though I would've picked "The Big Short" rather than "Spotlight"). The bettors' picks would not have made much money if you had bet with them, as most of their winning picks were odds-on favorites, but they would have helped with your local pool. They had 17 of 24 correct, with three of the misses being in the random "Shorts" categories. In particular, they previewed correctly the sweep of many of the technical categories by the "Mad Max" movie; in that regard, the biggest surprise was the miss on the Visual Effects award--they had the "Star Wars" movie winning, over "Mad Max", but the winner was the (generally unviewed) artificial intelligence sci-fi pic "Ex Machina", which featured Alicia Vikander as the living robot--the same person who won for Supporting Actress in "Carol" (one that I missed).
Dump Drumpf Update
It seems, finally, that the effort to stop Donald Trump (or "Drumpf", as John Oliver recently disclosed Trump's original family name to be) is getting some traction.  And, it's not a moment too soon.  As I identified several months ago (back in September, though I had the principal antagonists wrong), if Trump takes the winner-take-all primary in Florida on March 15 (and the one in Ohio the same day), it will essentially be all over.

Last night's results showed that the latest affronts to common decency by Trump may have eroded his momentum--in the last, disastrously juvenile Republican debate, in his equivocating response to Klansman David Duke's support for his candidacy, or possibly as a result of sustained takedown attempts from Oliver, from 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, and others.  The benefit, at least last night, accrued to Ted Cruz, as he won caucuses in Kansas and Maine, and performed well above expectation in primaries in Louisiana and Kentucky.  The Maine result was the most surprising--Trump dismissed it with a good quip and dig at Cruz' citizenship status, that it was "because it's so close to Canada"--as he showed, for the first time, the ability to win outside of states bordering on Texas.  Cruz called for the other contenders in the race, Marco Rubio and John Kasich, to get out and let him--Cruz--take on Trump mano a mano.  Trump, also, suggested Rubio was toast and should get out, as he also longs for the singular showdown with Cruz.

Rubio and Kasich, understandably, are not taking their campaign advice from their rivals.  They will aim to win their respective home states' primaries on Mar. 15--they will be must-wins to sustain their candidacies--and to show some momentum for their own campaigns in the meantime.   Rubio will be looking for his second primary victory today in Puerto Rico, and Kasich is promising some improved result in Michigan on Tuesday.  They show some sign of understanding that the best chance to stop Trump is to split delegate allotments three or four ways, each of Trump's rivals focusing his efforts in the states where good results are most likely, and thereby keeping him from getting an absolute majority of delegates going into the party's convention.

Cruz, on the other hand, does not seem to be a party to the understanding.  To reinforce his anti-Rubio argument, he shows signs of making an effort to compete in Florida.  In doing so, he risks becoming defamed as the "Nader" of the Republicans' nomination campaign:  if his efforts, which are extremely unlikely to win the state's delegates, spoil Rubio's hopes to do so, it would knock Rubio out, but also make Trump's mathematical chances much more favorable.  Rubio's having a hard enough time in Florida as it is.  Ted may also try to "Cruz-ify" Kasich in Ohio with a similar, ultimately self-defeating strategy, one which is very much in keeping with his egomaniacal, antisocial nature.

Below is a screen scrape from this morning, showing the status of a few of the headline markets, and applying my son's "Drumpfinator" software that he downloaded from John Oliver's website (it magically substitutes "Drumpf" for "Trump" anywhere it appears on your computer's screen)  Some of the formatting may be lost, but you may be able to click on the panels and link through to the original pages (which address, clockwise from the top left, the top two choices for Democratic nomination, Republican nomination, 2016 Presidential election winner, Michigan Democratic primary, Michigan Republican primary, and for the Maine Democratic caucuses, to be held tonight).

Featured Markets

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