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June 09, 2016
Morning Jolt
... with Jim Geraghty
Two Contenders So Bad They Can’t Be Hurt by Mistakes from Here On Out

Here’s the sixth paragraph of the press release from the Democratic survey firm, Public Policy Polling, on its most recent poll in Florida:

The presidential race in Florida looks like a toss up. Donald Trump’s at 41 percent to 40 percent for Hillary Clinton, with Gary Johnson at 4 percent and Jill Stein at 2 percent. In a head to head match up, Trump leads Clinton 45/44. What’s interesting about that is Clinton actually leads 45/34 with independents. But Trump has the slight overall edge because his 83/9 advantage with Republicans is a good deal better than the 77/14 one Clinton has with Democrats. If she can get the party unified around her after officially clinching the nomination she should have a slight edge in Florida, but for now Sanders supporters are showing some reluctance.

Here’s PPP in Pennsylvania:

PPP’s new Pennsylvania poll finds a close race between Hillary

Clinton and Donald Trump in the state, although both a generic Democratic

candidate and Bernie Sanders have more substantial leads that bode well for

Clinton’s chances if she can get the party unified around her in the weeks ahead. Clinton has 41 percent to 40 percent for Trump, with Gary Johnson at 6 percent and Jill Stein at 3 percent.

In a head to head match up, Clinton and Trump tie at 44 percent. Similarly to what we found on the Florida poll we released yesterday, Republicans are more unified around Trump (79/8) than Democrats are around Clinton (75/15). That dynamic is what’s making the state competitive.

For all of Trump’s flaws -- and there are many! -- he’s not looking doomed in the swing states yet. And Quinnipiac’s four-way poll in Connecticut -- a state that nobody has on the competitive swing state list yet -- finds Clinton gets 41 percent, with 36 percent for Trump, 6 percent for Libertarian-party candidate Gary Johnson, and 3 percent for Green-party candidate Jill Stein.

Caution: Sudden Conventional-Wisdom Shifts Can Cause Whiplash

Alex Isenstadt, writing in Politico, May 20: “The Never Trump moment is over.”

Burgess Everett and Seung Min Kim, writing in Politico, today: “The anti-Trump movement is now growing rather than shrinking: At least eight GOP senators either won’t vote for Trump or have declined to back him publicly.”

Here Is What I Believe: Political Correctness Killed ‘Edginess’

Former ESPN host Bill Simmons has a new show on HBO, and the first promotional commercial is here.

I’m Bill Simmons and here is what I believe: I believe the defending NBA champs should wear championship belts to every game.

I believe that Kanye’s a genius. It’s just that he knows it, and that’s the problem.

I believe we should ban the DH, long putters, extra points, the NIT, and pick-off throws.

You really wanna know what I believe?

I believe in the four-point line.

I believe soup is the perfect food.

I believe in a Belichick-Popovich presidential ticket.

I believe every DiCaprio movie would be just a little better as a Matt Damon movie.

I believe the 2004 ALCS was an act of God.

And finally . . .

I believe that billionaires should pay for their own [f-wording] football stadiums.

You’ve seen this style of television personality before. We saw it in 1990s-era Dennis Miller, and Denis Leary’s old stand-up persona, and more or less Bill Maher today. This is not a comparison of their quality, just their tone and attitude: I’m the guy who’s got the guts to tell it like it is, whether you like it or not. In the sports world, we’ve seen it from Jim Rome and more recently, Colin Cowherd, who may have gotten me to yell “YOU ARE COMPLETELY WRONG” at my car radio more than any other host. For a while, Glenn Beck’s old CNN show offered billboards with a slightly obscured “Cut the cr*p” slogan.

But something about the Simmons ad bugged me, nagged at the back of my cerebral cortex, until Ace from Ace of Spades groaned at the ad and asked whether we had reached “peak smug snarky opinion.” (Ace calls himself hypocritical in the extreme, and yes, I may have offered some snarky opinion myself once in a while.)

Those of us not terribly familiar with Simmons are supposed to gravitate to him based upon this ad, a series of short assertions delivered in a rapid-fire, defiant tone. But . . . did any of those assertions strike you as particularly controversial, or brave, or edgy, or even all that surprising, particularly for a Boston-area sports fan?

I can’t believe the climax of the ad is about team owners paying for their own stadiums. Not that I disagree, but that has to be the single least-edgy, least-dangerous, least-brave opinion you can possibly express in public. Nobody likes public financing of stadiums other than sports-team owners. “Damn greedy team owners” has been a staple -- no, a cliché -- of sports talk radio for DECADES. If you mention taxpayers’ being socked for hundreds of millions of dollars to build an arena where the team owner gets to sell the luxury boxes, it’s a near-certainty that “Vinny on the car phone” will call in and start fuming about how overpriced the hot dogs and beers in the bleacher seats are, and how his dad used to take him to games at the stadium all the time, and how the average Joe can’t afford to do that anymore.

In an ad that’s supposed to introduce us to this brave truth-teller, Simmons gives us the least controversial view imaginable. He might as well declare, “I believe that puppies are cute,” or “I believe that mosquito bites are annoying.”

(Closes eyes, concentrates) . . . No. Nope. I tried, I just can’t get that fired up about the assertion that soup is the perfect food. I’ve had really good soups and really bad soups.

Simmons closes with the sudden dropping of the “F” bomb - because gee, we’ve never heard that on HBO before. I’m not a huge fan of dropping the f-bomb in programming aiming for a general audience -- again, hypocritical myself -- but this is HBO, where the f-bomb is used more often than prepositions. This just isn’t shocking or surprising, Mr. Simmons; keep in mind that other shows on HBO like Game of Thrones are showing things like naked beheadings.

So why are we served up 52 seconds of non-controversy dressed up as edgy controversy? My guess is that in today’s society, genuine controversy is near-certain to run afoul of the forces of political correctness and social-justice warriors. And HBO, home of Bill Maher, Lena Dunham’s Girls, and that agitprop Anita Hill docudrama, doesn’t want to deal with that headache.

You can’t have much of an edgy, brave, dangerous counterculture without a buttoned-down, proper dominant culture to rebel against, and that dominant culture started dying in the 1950s. What we have here is a desperate effort to emulate the 1960s rebellion against the old order by a bunch of powerful people who refuse to recognize they’re the new order. Who are they rebelling against? The president? Nah, they love him. The pope? Have you noticed the complete disappearance of edgy, provocative comedians mocking the pope since Francis became associated with activism for climate change, illegal-immigrant rights, and denouncing corporate greed?

Sure, it’s still safe for a comedian on HBO to rip “greedy corporations” in the abstract, as long as they ignore the fact that HBO’s parent company, Time Warner, had $7 billion in revenue in just one quarter last year.

The past generation saw a lot of inspired voices striking a pose in defiance of the old order, almost always leaning leftward: National Lampoon, Saturday Night Live, Garry Trudeau, Spy magazine. But as the Left continued its long march through the institutions and succeeded, fewer and fewer easy targets remained. How many stodgy, old-fashioned university deans remain? Corporate America flees anything remotely controversial, touts how environmentally friendly it is, and celebrates diversity.

Until Trump rose again, “edgy” comedians had to look further and further to find good targets. Of course, there’s nothing edgy or brave about mocking Donald Trump from Manhattan or Los Angeles. Try making fun of Turkish President Erdogan in Germany; now that takes courage. Or try making fun of Islamists anywhere.

When Jon Stewart announced its retirement, I noted about The Daily Show:

For a program that allegedly was one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful and important satirical voice in America today, it sure as heck had no problem punching down. God help you if you’re some no-name Tucson school board member taking a stance the producers of the show find laughable. If you’re an Idaho pastor claiming evangelical Christians are bullied by the culture at large, don’t worry, a Daily Show correspondent will fly out to Boise to showcase you to the world. Washington Redskins fans who wanted to keep their team’s name were asked, without warning, to justify the name to angry Native Americans on camera. Are these really the Americans most deserving of nationally-televised on-camera rebuke and humiliation?

Sometimes these “edgy” comedians also simply refuse to let go of old jokes. Denis Leary can be really funny, but he was still telling Larry Craig bathroom jokes in 2011 -- based on a 2007 scandal.

So until there’s a real backlash against political correctness, we’re left with the faux-edginess of Bill Simmons contending the 2004 American League Championship Series was “an act of God.” If you’re a Yankee fan, that just affirms your suspicion that the only way the Boston Red Sox could possibly beat the Yankees is if God Himself came down to help them out.

ADDENDA: From Kurt Schlichter’s life advice:

1. Reclaim your time by unsubscribing to junk emails. If you’ve ever given money to a conservative cause, or especially to a fake conservative cause, every single conservagrifter, republiscammer, and rip-off with “Tea Party” in its name is now clogging your inbox with junk. This kind of time banditry is super annoying – yes, of course, I want the GOP to stand up to Obama’s gun grab, so stop sending me your damn polls! But it’s also a timesuck. You spend at least 15 seconds a day deleting this junk. That’s two minutes a week, 104 minutes a year. Save nearly two hours a year by taking five minutes right now to go through your emails and unsubscribe to all those useless newsletters, fake alerts, and other unwanted dreck. Just make sure you don’t accidentally unsubscribe to Townhall’s daily newsletter or Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt. They rule.


If you missed it yesterday, read Jim Geraghty’s analysis of Curiel’s record. He doesn’t sound like a wild-eyed ideologue exacting “social justice” from the bench. Exit question via Erick Erickson: If Trump’s problem with the judge has to do with his affiliation with the “La Raza” Latino lawyers’ association, not with his ethnic identity, why did he tell an interviewer that having a Muslim judge on the case might also be problematic?


Paul Ryan’s Purgatory
A Moral Disability
Pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act
Pomona’s New Tenure Standards Should Scare Liberals and Conservatives
SJW Internet: Saying There Is a ‘Correct’ Form of English’ Is ‘Classist’
California’s Culture War against Religious Liberty
Surprised by Beauty: A Listener's Guide to the Recovery of Modern Music
By Robert Reilly
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