Thursday, April 25, 2019

Assignment #10 Wild Card

Reviewing the Democratic Presidential Candidates for 2020

I decided to analyze each of the candidates running for election on the Democratic ticket (Donald Trump is the main Republican candidate, so they're running against him). The former governor of Massuchusetts, William Weld, is the lone Republican running against Trump. Howard Schultz, former Starbucks CEO, may run as an Independent. Sadly, there are no female Republican candidates this time around.

I'm not going to discuss politics, or even the issues. I'm going to evaluate each candidate, what their ideas are, what experience they have, what chance I think they have, which have specific policy plans, etc.

20 different people are running this year in the Democratic primary; or as CNN calls it, "20 for 2020." It's a nice round number, but it's certainly possible that others may throw their proverbial hats in the ring. VIDEO: CNN's Ranking of the 20

Here is the list: Former Vice President Joe Biden; South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton; California Rep. Eric Swalwell; Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; former Rep. Beto O’Rourke; former Gov. John Hickenlooper; Gov. Jay Inslee; Sen. Bernie Sanders; Sen. Amy Klobuchar; Sen. Elizabeth Warren; Sen. Cory Booker; Sen. Kamala Harris; ex-San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard; former Rep. John Delaney; Miramar, FL Mayor Wayne Messam; author Marianne Williamson; and former tech executive Andrew Yang.

Who Democrats vote for in the primary may depend on whether they want the country to go back to the way things were before President Trump, or whether great change (being much more progressive) is the desired outcome. It's clear that the candidates are not just attacking Donald Trump. They also want to address issues such as climate change, gun control, and the country's "crumbling infrastructure," as well as racial inequality, health care, and how the government might be re-structured. Some have more solid proposals than others. Some get more media attention than others, too. I've listed them here roughly in order of how likely they are to get the nomination.

Former VP Joe Biden was the last Democrat to declare that he's running. He has support from former President Obama. Younger voters may think that the US really doesn't need any more "old white men" in the "old white house" for a while.  They might also think that he has too many other negatives, such as the fact that he likes to touch people and often makes inappropriate comments. Nevertheless, the latest polls put Biden and Sanders ahead of everyone else. It's still too early, though. At this same point in the last election, Republicans Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio were ahead of the rest.  There's another whole year and change left before the end of this primary season, and many things can happen. Biden has raised a lot of money already. His main strength is his vast experience, spending 40 years in the Senate and then being VP for 8 years. Some Democrats think he represents the old guard, rather than a more progressive future.

Senator Bernie Sanders is running again. Many have observed that he's not really a Democrat -- he's a socialist (or independent) who just pretends to be a Democrat during election years. He's popular with the young, with the extreme left, and with people in Vermont and New York. Critics may say that he's another "old white guy." Many people love what he has to say, even if his ideas may be unrealistic or may be too expensiveThis blogger counters many of the negative views about Sanders. Like Biden, Sanders has a long history of working hard for "the little guy" with his senate record. He has specific ideas about how to create medicare for all. Sanders has always put forth the idea of free college tuition. He would raise taxes on the rich to pay for his plans. He recently agreed that felons should be able to vote while in jail (Vermont already allows this). Finally, he has a proposal that would break up the big banks, the way that Wall Street was reigned in after the recession.

Massachusetts native Elizabeth Warren is running. She has been in the Senate for 6 years and has accomplished a lot.  Before that, she was a Rutgers law professor.  I believe she might be the best  female candidate on the list, due to her high visibility and detailed plans. Here's a list of her accomplishments and her views on the issues. Warren took Sanders' ideas about student debt and free college, and then made a specific plan for that, as well as one for providing free healthcare to working parents. She has a plan to raise taxes on the rich in order to pay for her ideas. She would also like to get rid of the Electoral College and the filibuster in the Senate, and break up big tech corporations like Amazon and Facebook.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker has been running for a while. Besides being a senator, he was also the mayor of Newark. He has a reputation as a centrist.  He calls for unity instead of divisiveness, which may make him popular with those in the middle of the political spectrum. On the other hand, he's appeared more progressive in recent years. Here are the issues that he focuses on and where he stands. He has specific plans for the idea that every child should have a nest egg. He thinks government should look into guaranteeing federal jobs and making reparations to descendants of former slaves. Booker worked with Trump on overhauling prison and sentencing laws; he would like to go further.

Kamala Harris is a first-term senator from California, running since January. She might need more experience.  She's a former prosecutor from San Francisco. Some say she's not progressive enough. She or Gillibrand would probably be my second choice among the females on the list who might have a chance to win.  Here's where she stands on the issues. Like Booker, she thinks the government should study whether reparations should be given out to descendants of slaves. They've both come up with ideas to help lower-income Americans of all types.

Kirsten Gillibrand is the Senator from New York; she followed in Hillary Clinton's shoes (and into her Senate seat).  Voters who loved Hillary might love Kirsten, who doesn't have nearly as much baggage. Her last name may be problematic (it's certainly not the most difficult to pronounce on the list).  Here is where she stands on the issues and her voting record.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is also running. She's another one with a hard-to-pronounce name.  She was accused by some of her staffers of being mean to them and yelling at them. Voters may or may not think that's a big deal. Personally, I would like to have a woman president for a change. I don't think she's the one that will win this time, though. Here is an article about her stances on the issues, such as cybersecurity and climate change.

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is very popular with gay voters.  He's also a former Rhodes scholar and war vet. The following factors might outweigh the previous ones:  he's only 37, has never been a national figure, has a name that's difficult to spell or pronounce, and he's gay (that might be a negative to some voters, sad to say).  The Atlantic suggests that the media focuses too much on Buttigieg being gay. Here's more about his opinions on the issues. He would like to expand the Supreme Court to 15 justices.

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who ran against Ted Cruz in 2016 and lost, is also running. He has slightly more experience than the mayors and state officials who are running.  At least, like former President Obama, he did serve in Congress.  He's very popular with some Democrats, but he's also only 46. He was very popular on social media, but since the 2018 loss, he doesn't seem nearly as popular in general. Read here about his take on gun control, climate change, immigration and more.

Mass. Rep. Seth Moulton, a former marine Iraqi war vet (who won the Bronze Star), unseated an incumbent Democrat in 2014.  He has spoken out against Nancy Pelosi.  Voters might think he doesn't have much experience. You can read here about his stance on the issues, such as military spending, healthcare, climate change, etc.

California Rep. Eric Swalwell represents a rich, mostly-white part of Northern California, South of Oakland and near San Jose. Voters might think he lacks experience as well. His focus is on the economy and jobs.

Congressman Tim Ryan represents Ohio and once tried to replace Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. He claims to be fighting for working people and says he's progressive. It's really too early to tell about some of these candidates - whether they will stay in the race or not. Then again, I doubt many people had heard of Bill Clinton outside of Arkansas the first time he ran for President, either. The New York Times says that he's a "left-leaning populist."

Miramar, Florida mayor Wayne Messam is also running... In my opinion, mayors really don't have the experience to be in a high office such as president (Of course, a reality show "star" is our current president).  Messam is the first African-American mayor for that city. He risks splitting the black vote with Harris and Booker.  He's the only Southerner, but they have more national recognition. He thinks that people will vote for him because "mayors get things done." Gun control and student debt are important issues to him. He doesn't have much fund-raising experience, nor does he spend many funds when he campaigns.

Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is running. He's worked with both Democrats and Republicans to get progressive ideas done in his state. Voters may be skeptical of any of the candidates who have long or hard-to-pronounce names.  He calls himself an "extreme moderate." See where he stands on the issues.

Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State, has a long track record of doing well in his job. Climate change is his first priority. Learn more about his stance on the issues here.

Julian Castro was the secretary of HUD under Obama (the youngest member of that cabinet), and the former mayor of San Antonio. He may get some of the Latino vote.  Immigration is one of his most important issues. Here's what he believes on all of the issues.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, another Iraqui war vet who's running, has quite a bit of political baggage. She offended many gay voters with her comments. She's offended some with her more conservative positions about Islam and foreign wars. Read about her stance on the issues. She has very strong opinions about the U.S. getting involved in changing regimes and wars.

Andrew Yang is a venture capital startup businessman, among other things. He wants us to have a Universal Basic Income and medicare for all. He's probably too unknown and too left-wing to get many votes.  He appears to have some very solid ideas, though. Here's how he stands on the issues.

John Delaney is a wealthy former businessman and congressman in Maryland. He thinks that he can win because he's against partisan politics and has experience in both the private and public sectors. Politico thinks he's a long shot. He sounds like he might be more conservative than the rest of the candidates. He has a specific plan for improving health care. Yang and Delaney have both raised concerns about automation taking away jobs.

The least-qualified candidate is Marianne Williamson of California, who writes spiritual books. She's also a self-proclaimed liberal activist who has done a lot to help the poor and sick. She ran for Congress in California and lost. She thinks that the government should spend billions of dollars on reparations to descendents of former slaves.

All of the candidates have pledged not to accept money from special interest groups: Super PACs, corporate PACs, and lobbyists.  However, they have accepted it, anyway...

Even though there are so many candidates, most of the media will likely focus their attention on the top candidates (the ones they think will be most likely to win), like Biden, Sanders, Warren, Harris, Booker, and maybe a few others.

Of the 20 people running, there are at least 8 I'd never heard of before.  It's an unusually large group of candidates, and it'll be very interesting to see how it all plays out. Here's a good comparison from Rolling Stone.   No matter whom you choose, make sure you go out and VOTE in 2020!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Assignment #9: Classmate Blog Critique

 🎵 These are a few of my Favorite Blogs...  🎶

Blog Critiques text plus butterfly - photo from
I enjoyed browsing through all of my classmates' blog posts. It's interesting to see the ideas that people come up with to write about.  I've learned about quite a few topics that I would never have known about if not for their posts, such as Savvy Shields, Roddy Ricch, The Source, or Morphe CosmeticsBlogging Tips Video

photo collage made by me, from the blogs above.

Everyone here writes in their own unique voice, and some are quite amusing.  Some seem to just write the bare minimum that they have to for the class, while some of us write, well...maybe too much!   Most of us just choose one of the standard Blogger designs when we set up our blogs, but others make their own designs, I believe.  Some have very distracting backgrounds (at least, that's how they look on my laptop). In my honest opinion, Blogger makes the text of their blog designs way too small to read. I usually like to make my fonts on here bigger because of that. I wish everyone did.😉 Blogger Design Video

These Are a Few of My Favorite Blogs - photo from

Kobe, Rhett, Elizabeth, Austin and Max are the students whose blogs I like the most, for reasons I've detailed below.

Kobe Armstrong writes well, which I've noted many times in other courses.  His choice of topics is always interesting, whether he's discussing the PBS miniseries "Black Earth Rising" or Singapore's new anti-fake news law.

screencap of Rhett's blog

Rhett Gentry has a very humorous and unique writing style. He expounds on his subjects in an in-depth way, as he did with the James Bond article. He has a very outgoing personality, so his blog presentations are usually very entertaining, such as when he described the $2,400 ironing board system.  Also, his font style is nice and big, which I really appreciate. I'll even overlook his calling those of us who are 55+ "old people." 😜

screencap of Elizabeth's blog

Elizabeth Nalley's blog is probably the best-written of all the blogs I've read here. Also, she chooses interesting and diverse topics...everything from the TV show "Reign," to an animated Superman movie, to veganism, to Bollywood.

screencap of Austin's blog

Austin Vredenburg writes very well, too. Sometimes he writes very concisely, and other times he goes into depth, which makes sense because sometimes there is more to say, and sometimes there isn't! I particularly enjoyed his movie reviews, and his article about internet speeds.

screencap of Max's blog

Lastly, Max Wilf's blog is interesting to read, and he writes in great detail. The background he chose is colorful but not distracting.  I enjoyed reading his in-depth critiques and thought-provoking analyses, such as his blog posts about Chinese cinema and Social Media.

reading blog posts - photo from

I had great fun writing blog posts for this class, and reading all the others' blogs, as I hope we all did. I look forward to reading the Wild Card blog posts!

dog and cat cartoon - photo from

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Assignment #8: International Media

Doctor Who: British TV Series, International Sensation

All of the Doctors - photo from

This TV show has been around since 1963. It started out as a black-and-white educational kids show that taught about history and science, but adults watched the show as well. Many people grew up watching the shows all over the world. In the U.S., the episodes were often shown on local PBS stations. It was one of the first successful British scifi shows, the most successful, and is the longest running scifi series of all time Video: Doctor Who Basics Explained

Recent Doctors in Christmas Special - photo from

The Doctor, the hero of the show, is a Time Lord, which means he can travel through space and time in his ship , the T.A.R.D.I.S.  He looks human, but he is an alien from the planet Gallifrey. The outside of the ship looks like a blue British Police box, "which was a common sight in Britain in 1963 when the series first aired."  The Doctor travels around to help people in need, to save civilizations and to combat foes. He has some companions who travel with him.  The Doctor is very smart and powerful. He doesn't need a weapon, aside from his intellect and his sonic screwdriver. In face, The Doctor doesn't like guns. His famous alien enemies include the Daleks, The Master, and the Cybermen. Video: Companions

Classic Doctors - photo from

It was originally a serialized story in multiple parts.  After the first series ended in 1989, they started it up again in 2005. The new series is not generally shown in multiple parts. They've had several specials and movies as well as the regular series. Video: Every Doctor Who Serial 1963-2013

 The First Doctor and his companions - photo from The Cinematic Packrat

The main reason that "Doctor Who" has been able to air for this long is because the main character, The Doctor, can regenerate after he dies. Each time he regenerates, he is played by a different actor, which keeps his story going indefinitely.  Time Lords can live for thousands of years. William Hartnell was the first Doctor.  He was in poor health after three years, so he left the show. They replaced him with Patrick Troughton, who also lasted for 3 years. Originally, The Doctor was "crabby, selfish, and heartless," a dramatic foil to the other characters, but they softened him. However, the Sixth and Twelfth Doctors often showed those crabby aspects of his personality. Video: The 12th Doctor In a Nutshell

Jon Pertwee page and autograph from my 1986 I-Con program

Jon Pertwee (whom I met in 1986 at I-Con) played The Doctor after that for four years (into the 1970's). His son, Sean Pertwee, followed in his acting footsteps.  He plays Alfred on the "Gotham" series on FOX and also played Inspector Lestrade in "Elementary" on CBS. Video: The Second Doctor meets the Third Doctor

Tom Baker as The Doctor - photo from

The fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, was very popular. He was the first young-looking Doctor.  He played The Doctor for 7 years (longer than any other actor).  Peter Davison was only 29 when he started playing The Doctor, and he continued on for three years.  Colin Baker was the Sixth Doctor and only lasted for two years. The series went on a long hiatus during this time because the head of the BBC didn't like the show. Scottish actor Sylvester McCoy was the last Doctor of the original run, from 1987 to 1989. Never officially canceled, low ratings convinced the BBC not to continue the show.  Other than an American "Doctor Who" film in 1996, the show did not air again until 2005. Video: Iconic Quotes & Humorous Moments of The Fourth Doctor

 The first 3 Doctors - photo from

Each time The Doctor regenerates, not only does he look different, but he has different mannerisms or quirks, and a different style of dress. Some of the Doctors wear bow ties. Some like wearing a fez on occasion. The Seventh Doctor had a long knitted scarf. The Sixth Doctor wore very colorful, clashing clothes. Some are very old and authoritative. Some are young and rebellious. Some are high energy; almost manic. Video: 13 Doctors Ranked From Worst To Best

World's Biggest Doctor Who Fan - photo from

The series ran for years in re-runs all over the world.  Like the original "Star Trek" series, it grew in popularity through the re-runs, novels and fanzines.The show has been shown internationally since 1964. The modern series is shown in more than 50 countries. It's "one of the five top-grossing titles for BBC Worldwide." In the U.S., it now airs on BBC America. Fans of the series are called "Whovians." Video: 2 Doctors Meet Their Craziest Fans

David Tennant, Matt Smith and Christopher Eccleston - photo from

Christopher Eccleston portrayed the first Doctor of the new series (technically, the ninth Doctor). He was fantastic but left after one year.  The new show is much faster paced, and has great writing and better production values.  David Tennant (my favorite), another Scotsman, took over and played The Doctor for five years. He is a successful actor who's appeared in many TV series and movies since.  I was thrilled to interview him over the phone in 2014. All of the new Doctors are far sexier than their previous incarnations, which probably reflects the changes in TV, and society in general, between the 1980's and the 21st century. Video: The Doctor Being Sassy

Clara (Jenna Coleman) and The Doctor (Matt Smith) - photo from

Tennant was replaced by Matt Smith, the youngest Doctor at 26, who played him for three years. Peter Capaldi (yet another Scottish actor) then played The Doctor for three years. He was considerably older than the previous modern Doctors, at 55. To me, he seemed even older than that. He played The Doctor as a very dour man who rarely smiled or laughed.  The best thing about Tennant and Smith was the pure joy they brought to the role, as well as the youthful energy. The stories were fine, and Capaldi's acting was good, but he just didn't impress me as much as the others. Video: Peter Capaldi Acting for 26 Minutes Straight

Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor; photo from

The latest Doctor, 35-year-old Jodie Whittaker, is the Thirteenth - and first female - Doctor. She was previously known to audiences for her role in the great British drama series "Broadchurch." She is very popular with most fans since taking over the role in 2017 and returns in 2020. Video: Interview with Jodie Whittaker

Russell T Davies inside the T.A.R.D.I.S. - photo from

During the Eccleston-Tennant years, the show had its best writing. Welshman Russell T Davies, who had previously written the groundbreaking drama "Queer As Folk" and other UK series, was also the executive producer/showrunner/writer. He revived the show and updated it, having lobbied to bring back the show since 1998. His writing elevated it beyond a children's show.  He also created two successful spinoff series: "Torchwood," which was even more adult; and "The Sarah Jane Adventures," aimed at a younger audience. Video: The Sarah Jane Adventures: Series 1-5 Trailer

The 12th Doctor and her friends; photo from

Although "Doctor Who" has always done social and political commentary, the recent series does "explore racism, sexism, war and colonialism for a family audience." While some fanboys object to having a female Doctor or having episodes that address racism and other social evils, most fans welcome both the latest Doctor and the socially relevant stories. The writing in the series faltered a bit after Davies left, in my opinion, but it's back on track with new Executive Producer Chris Chibnall and his staff of writers. Video: Series 11 Trailer #2

The last 5 Doctors; photo from
I love "Doctor Who" because the characters are interesting and likeable; the shows are thrilling and have lots of action; the dialogue is often very funny; and the show surprises me most of the time.  Not only do the plots surprise me, but they often make me gasp in wonderment or laugh gleefully like a child. It gives me chills and makes me weep with geeky enjoyment. Video: The Eleventh Doctor is a Badass