Category Archives: Musings
I used to love reading the news, now I can’t stand it. The national news media has become an absurd a parody of itself. In the latest freakout, the news media convinced millions of people that the special election to fill Georgia’s sixth congressional district was a crucial test for Donald Trump’s presidency. Republicans have held the district since 1979.
In a result that should have shocked no one, Republican Karen Handel, Georgia’s secretary of state, defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff, a 30-year old newcomer who doesn’t even live in the district. What is surprising is how well he did–48%. Unprecedented Democratic spending made this the most expensive House race in history. We were expected to believe this election was a referendum on President Trump and a Democratic victory would be devastating to Trump’s agenda. One “expert” even predicted (hopefully, I assume) rain would keep Handel’s voters away.
Look at this NPR headline:
“Karen Handel Hopes to Win Traditionally GOP House Seat”, as though she’s the underdog! In the wake of Handel’s victory, we’re told Democrats are “despondent” and the electoral loss was a “massive blow.” “When will they [Democrats] win?” CNN, based in Atlanta, Georgia, asked. “Democratic strategists and candidates are pondering what went wrong.”
Who decided this race would be an easy win for Democrats? Why was it even important to begin with? (Even if Ossoff won, Republicans would still have a 43-seat majority in the House)
In the end, voters voted business as usual. Frank Bruni at the New York Times at least gave an honest assessment when he wrote, “Democrats were swimming against the current in Georgia. The House seat that their sights were on had been safely in Republican hands for nearly four decades. Georgia’s Sixth District is purple only if you scrunch your eyes just so. If you un-scrunch them and look at it honestly, it’s red.”
The election was actually really close. In previous elections in that district, Republican candidates have won by a landslide. Ossoff is the first Democratic candidate in that district to win over 40% of the vote since 1974. Why isn’t that a news story? Suddenly there’s “nothing to see here” because events didn’t pan out as hoped.
This program is about unsolved mysteries. Whenever possible, the actual family members and police officials have participated in re-creating the events. What you are about to see is not a news broadcast.
From 1987 to 1997, Unsolved Mysteries was the scariest thing on television. My parents wouldn’t let me watch it as a kid, so I had to sneak over to a friend’s house after dinner on Wednesday evenings. The format was simple. Each episode featured interviews and reenactments about two or three mysteries involving missing persons, lost loves, unsolved murders, alternative history, and occasionally something supernatural. My favorite episodes featured ghost stories, of course, particularly Chicago’s Resurrection Mary.
It aired on NBC from 1987 to 1997 before being canceled due to declining popularity. CBS picked it up from 1997 to 1999, Lifetime from 2001 to 2002, and Spike TV from 2008 to 2010. None of these continuations had the raw, spine-tingling impact of the original. The show was interactive–featuring a tip line where viewers could call in with information on the cases. Sometimes these tips helped solve the mystery.
Robert Stack (1919-2003), from Los Angeles, California, hosted the show from 1987 until 2002, when he fell ill. Stack was a veteran actor of more than 40 feature films and numerous TV shows with a characteristically deep voice. Stack’s voice, together with the show’s theme music, were genuinely terrifying. To this day, there’s nothing like it on television. What happened? Actor Dennis Farina took over as host on Spike TV, but it just wasn’t the same.
Boomer’s Tap in Des Plaines, Illinois served as a neighborhood bar at 1000 E. Prairie Avenue for nearly a century, except during Prohibition. According to the Chicago Tribune, efforts to shut it down began after a customer was arrested in November 1999 for trying to sell cocaine to an undercover cop. The Baumhart family of Arlington Heights ran Boomer’s Tap for 50 years. I think it was torn down in early 2002. I passed it plenty of times when I was in high school, but it closed before I turned 21. Does anyone remember this place?
“I’m now the nominee of the Democratic Party… I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party. It was bankrupt, it was on the verge of insolvency, its data was mediocre to poor, non-existent, wrong.”
Her recollection was, of course, hyperbole. Data can’t simultaneously be poor, wrong, and nonexistent. Former DNC director of data science Andrew Therriault had a less generous way of describing it. In a deleted tweet, he called Hillary’s comments “f—ing bull—-.”
If the DNC’s data was so bad, why did it cause such a fuss in December 2015 when the DNC blocked Bernie Sanders’ campaign from accessing its voter file? If you recall, the DNC blocked access after a Sanders staffer was accused of accessing data gathered by the Clinton Campaign. At the time, the Sanders Campaign alleged being denied access to the voter database cost them “$600,000 in donations” every day. Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager, called the data “the lifeblood of this campaign.”
“The DNC database is a goldmine of information about voters,” according to CNN. It was built during Barack Obama’s two successful presidential runs, not to mention numerous gubernatorial, congressional, and senatorial races.
A presidential campaign shouldn’t have to rely on its national party for support anyway. Partisan political organizations have declined in power and influence over the past few decades. Hillary was right when she said the DNC is on the verge of insolvency. This article in Fortune is from 2013, but with $18.1 million in debt at the time, I don’t see how their situation could have improved much in three years.
Hillary shouldn’t be burning bridges with the DNC and its data analysts if she hopes to continue to be influential in Democratic circles. No one likes to have their efforts disparaged, especially if they’ve been meeting or exceeding expectations. Graciously accepting defeat, and responsibility for that defeat, will win more friends in the long run.