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Dealing With Grief After Losing Your Mother

15 April 2021

It’s exactly two years to the day since I lost my mother and it still consumes my life every day. Rarely a moment will pass that my mind won’t drift onto her, and that’s amplified in times of solitude. The common refrain from anyone else that’s gone through the experience is “it gets easier”, and that is partially true. There are several components of grief that hit you and while some parts do get easier, others become harder to reconcile while others won’t fully manifest for years. The three main components I’ve identified are physical, emotional and psychological.

Mumsey in Osaka (top 2), Miyajima Island near Hiroshima (middle), Washington DC & New York, June 2014.

The Physical Loss

The physical loss is the trauma of losing someone. The tears, the pain, and possibly some anger, and that is the component that gets easier over time. I lost my mother on the Monday before Easter in 2019 and I cried everyday for the following four weeks. Mumsey, as we called her, was such an integral part of my life and losing her was devastating. The only day without tears in that four week period was the third Tuesday, which was my first real week back at work. While I went back the Tuesday after Easter (8 days after her passing), I couldn’t cope, so went home early. I recall vividly being in tears just walking towards the office building, and needing to wait downstairs for my eyes to dry. On Wednesday I worked from home, not that I did much. Then it was Anzac Day and the week was over as I’m part time, Monday to Thursday. On Friday was the funeral. That night, I would sleep on the couch. It felt comforting to snuggle under the quilt, watch TV and drift off to sleep. It became my comfort zone and I’m still there, adding a proper pillow and sheets since.

The middle Monday of that 4 week period was the first day of trying to return to my normal life and I quickly learnt there was no normal without her. I remember mostly crying as I rode home from work and wanting to be with Mumsey – in the grave with her. Thankfully, that was the only time of such nonsensical thoughts and I could just hear Mumsey saying, “don’t be so stupid”. I also tried to retain a rational perspective and would soothe my grief with positive thoughts, especially that Mumsey was with us for a long time. She was 85, had a good life, and was in no pain. She had her “rabbits” (as she called us children) with her and was so well looked after. In fact, almost every photo I have of her in her final week she was smiling. That’s why I never felt angered. I know some people aren’t so lucky with their parents. A girl in my grief counselling group was 26 when losing her mother to cancer.

Any period of solitude during these initial weeks would always make me cry. Bike rides to and from work were the most common, along with taking a shower or even just going for a wee. In that small room alone, there’s no distractions or anything. During this early phase, the main trigger was thinking about Mumsey in her final few weeks. Those thoughts were almost all the time. Over the months, specific events or activities would become the trigger. Anything, even if very small, associated with Mumsey would trigger tears. Going to the supermarket was a struggle because not needing to buy her things reminded me she was gone. Another time was playing the Super NES game, Yoshi’s Island, with my sister, as as that reminded me of our lives in Port Melbourne in the 1990s.

Mumsey would always buy a game for my birthday and Christmas. In fact, she bought my first game system – the NES, along with the game, Wrestlemania. That was about 1989 and it started a tradition of giving games. I still have all these games. When I bought the SNES myself, the first thing I did when she got home from work was place the bare console down in the kitchen to show her how sleek it was. She was curious to read about games herself, and would save news stories from newspapers about them, along with so much other stuff.

The common trigger event for tears is a change to cooler weather. With April the time of year I lost Mumsey, cooler weather is a strong reminder of that period. February 2020 was one such period it suddenly got cold, my mind shifted gears, and I sobbed in the office. My coworker heard me, much to my happiness. I really wanted to talk to someone. Obviously, milestones were tough. My birthday wasn’t until September, my sister’s in October, and my mother’s not until the following March. Even with that time lag, they were tough. The first Christmas I took a photo of Mumsey to her parents grave and reunited them. The last time we went as a family was on a Christmas Day, about when I was 14.

One bad trigger event was the movie, Forrest Gump. I’d never seen it before and so Forrest losing his mother and then his wife had me in tears. I would sleep in my Mumsey’s bed that night. While looking in her room usually made me sad, sometimes it was a great place of solace. Her room still makes me think of her life’s progression, right to this point. That she had her own place for so long and accumulated so much stuff. When she made her move to a new public apartment building around 2012, we threw out so much stuff. Mostly books and newspaper clippings from her years of university study later in her life. Once she was diagnosed with failing kidneys, I had her move in with me. Then a whole bunch of more stuff went out as her domain was now one bedroom. Gradually her material life reduced and reduced, and now her bedroom and remaining belongings are all we have. Then I think, in years and centuries time, nothing will exist. We’ll all be forgotten. It’s sad.

I should say, Mumsey loved the final year of her life with me. It’s something I always planned to do for her, that once she was beyond living alone, she would live with me. I hoped this would be at least 5 years and I was always sensitive to any signs she needed me more. If there’s any slight feeling of resentment or feeling cheated in her passing, it’s that I didn’t perhaps push her to move in earlier. Then I think she was reluctant to let go of her apartment once she moved in with me, and that I got one year with her is still one year longer than many people get. First thing I told her is that it is her place now, even if she lives to 100. She loved her independence and didn’t like to be a burden, so it was important to reassure her. So many of my most vivid memories now are in that final year. Just little things like her enthusiastic “Yes, please!” when I asked if she wanted another tea. She loved her tea, and I loved making it for her. I should be grateful for that.

Mumsey at the Imperial Palace East Garden, Tokyo, November 2017. She loved Japan. We went 3 times, with this one to see the autumn leaves.

The Emotional Loss

Having someone part of your life since birth, and knowing nothing else, it’s a huge loss. It’s magnified in that Mumsey was a sole parent and we became very much a team. This loss manifested itself as a permanent dark cloud hanging over my head. I can’t say I ever reached the point of depression; it was more this constant feeling of despondency and emptiness. It dominated my existence. It sapped my energy and dampened any interest in previous joys of life. There was now nothing to live for. Talking helps, and I did a lot of it, mostly to myself. That helped rationalise my feelings, and then being able to release these thoughts to other people felt liberating. My most pervasive thought in the early stages is that I’ll never be the same again. I’ve lost part of my core, and while it might fill over time, it won’t be the same. Much like replacing a chunk out of an apple with a piece of orange. Whole again; not the same.

The days between tears would begin to get longer and longer. First a few days, then a week, then a few weeks. Thinking about Mumsey during her final few weeks was still the main trigger. The toughest period I ever had was in November of 2019. The hospital had a memorial service and I wept and wept for ages. Not just there, for most of the rest of that Saturday. While it was a nice way to remember her, it didn’t help emotionally. To compound the sadness, the next morning her final fish, a zebra danio, passed away. I had taken over her aquarium and it was strange how it aligned with Mumsey’s life. The filter stopped working around the time she went into palliative care and it caused an ammonia spike. Among her fish were two bronze catfish, one an albino, and the albino passed away soon after the spike. I cried and was in panic, not wanting to lose them all, as they were a living connection to Mumsey. A week later, the other catfish, her favourite fish of all, passed away the morning Mumsey did. He stopped eating a few days prior without showing any signs of illness. Perhaps he missed his friend. Who knows. She said she had him for 5 years, if not more, plus the year at my place. A couple of zebra danios succumbed over the weeks, while the three remaining seemed to escape mostly unscathed. They would swim happily for many more months until that final one passed away. I had replaced the lost ones to ensure an unbroken spirit between the fish was retained. I subsequently set up a second aquarium so there’s one representing my mother’s life and one representing mine. I also have her plants as a living connection.

There were times of feeling good, if not euphoric. They were often linked to small, simple triumphs like cooking, or doing the dishes. They were temporary escapes to a normal, previous life. Temporary in that they were very short lived. In a snap, I’d be back to that depressive state again. These are the waves of emotion you’ll often hear grieving people talk about. While the intensity and duration can change depending on the situation, you always return to that constant, interminable depressive state. There was a period, around the middle of 2020, I was sick of it. I felt it many times over the months, usually in that great place of reflective thinking – the bathroom. I would reconcile it as part of the process and just got on with life. This was the period of the COVID-19 lockdowns. The first one started just before the first anniversary of losing Mumsey, while the second one, the four-month one, was from June 2020. My work hours were slashed to just a few a day. In some ways this all helped. The time to myself felt like I could honour Mumsey properly. I could visit her grave more often and consider solely my own needs. I didn’t have to be anywhere or see anyone. It was just me, my thoughts and looking after myself.

Nowadays, the waves of emotions have subsided and changed a bit. Instead of a dark cloud it’s more a grey cloud. The peaks and troughs are longer and not as extreme. While I don’t get the short, euphoric moments that often anymore, I get sustained periods of perhaps a week of reasonable contentment, and then a week or two of moderate despondency. Again, they often align with the weather, or an event associated with my mother. The America’s Cup in New Zealand in early 2021 was one such event. Mumsey loved most sports and we were both fans of major international competitions. For the 2000 event, she’d record the races on videotape off pay-TV and I’d pick them up on the way home from work. We always lived close by. I made sure of that when I moved out a few years earlier. The Tour de France was something else we both loved over many years, and it was me recording the daily highlights for her to watch when she got home from work. In later years we’d still text and talk about it. Without her around, these events now cause sadness and overall interest has declined, and new experiences feel hollow. It’s not the same anymore.

Mumsey in New York, September 2015. This was our first morning.

The Psychological Loss

This is the component I’m only now confronting. It’s the one that will more often trigger tears these days. I still haven’t comprehended I really lost my mother. I can’t believe it’s possible, nor can I believe I’m living this reality. I still can’t even think about the d-word when it comes to Mumsey, much less say it. Every reference is “I’ve lost” or “passed away”. While I’ve begun to accept, or realise, she’s gone forever, I haven’t fully reconciled why. It’s not something fathomable. Other than leaving flowers, plants and other adornments, my sister and I still haven’t done anything with her grave site. I guess this is part of the acceptance process. We’re not ready yet. This part, I believe, will take many years to traverse. It’s a journey that’s only just starting, and it’s the one that seems to be getting harder too.

Mumsey buying some Uniqlo at Hakata Station, Fukuoka, November 2017. Yes, we travelled a lot together. This was our last trip.

Today

When I’m asked how I’m doing, the answer is always “getting by”. That’s still life at the moment – getting by. While I’ve transitioned out of the daze of the early grief period, I’m far from normal. Especially as I’m now only beginning to fully deal with the psychological part. I’m still in that grieving stasis, and who knows how long it will last. The first test might be appreciating a birthday – anyone’s birthday – because birthdays are not happy for me and I refuse to sing Happy Birthday, nor do I want it sung to me. Another test will be Christmas. Since losing Mumsey, my response to someone saying Merry Christmas is “thanks”. I haven’t said Merry Christmas to anyone for two years. There’s nothing merry about it without Mumsey. Although, today, I did say “you too” when a client said “have a nice day”. That’s something.

What I’ve learned most about the grieving process is that it is silent. This being my first loss, I was totally unaware of the difficulties. I was bemused by the expression “Sorry about your loss” you hear often from Americans. I didn’t understand the magnitude of the meaning behind that statement. I didn’t realise there was such a strong feeling of loss. Sadness, yes. Trauma, yes. Loss, no. Coming home, even from a walk, still provides strong feelings of loss. Mumsey’s bag, that I placed on the kitchen table after arriving home from the hospital, is still there, probably to help fill that void. Then there’s the public facade. You often hear of public figures losing someone and then a week later they are back on TV as though nothing has happened. Quite simply it’s a facade. Grieving people easily switch modes. They seem completely like their usual self while committed to a task or activity, much like my euphoric moments doing the dishes. Then it’s straight back to dealing with their loss once in their private time. Those private times can be at any time too. If you hear someone weeping at their desk, talk to them.

Also from November 2017, this is on the train to see Nitama the cat – the stationmaster of Kishi Station.

Many of my thoughts now are about reliving time, especially that final week. The knowledge I have now I’d love to use then. I’d like to ask more about her specifically. In that moment, you’re really thinking about the extra day or the extra week, not about the end. While Mumsey would probably hate it, I’d like to talk more about our memories together, and say a proper goodbye. Although, she did seem to do that herself in her own special way. I’d also ask about the grieving process she had when losing her mother and father. I was 6 and 8, respectively, when it happened, and all these years I never thought to ask. My main memory was Mumsey taking a phone call and then bursting into tears and hugging me when her father passed away. Of course, my one real wish is to see Mumsey again. I still think she’s out there someone, that we’ll unite, and discuss our experiences since she’s passed. I miss her so much. I always will.

Our Maneki-Neko today. See the link below.

Gotokuji Temple – The Tale of the Maneki-Neko and Tribute to My Late Mother

Gotokuji Temple – The Tale of the Maneki-Neko and Tribute to My Late Mother

15 October 2019

Exactly 6 months ago today I lost my mother, and it’s been the most painful and difficult part of my life ever. As a single parent, she was more than a mother to me. She was a role model, an inspiration, an adviser and my closest friend. We were a partnership in life and could talk about anything, even if we disagreed completely. We shared many interests, and we were always there for one another. She was the one constant in my life since I was born, and we did so much together. From taking me to ride my new bike I had just got for Christmas, to travelling the world together.

Gotokuji Temple, Japan, November 2017

My mom from our trip to Japan and Gotokuji Temple in November 2017

The travelling we did came in the last few years, and it was something she always wanted to do. Raising children, then returning to university as a mature age student, and then age and lack of finances, ultimately meant she couldn’t do it herself. In 2014 it was time for me to make her wishes come true, and we went on a round-the-world trip for a month, to Japan, Estonia, Latvia and the USA. One of my most vivid memories is when we exited the subway near Times Square, and my mom looked up in wonder at all the buildings. It was exactly as I had done in New York 10 years earlier on my first ever trip overseas. Upon returning home, I couldn’t let her go without a final hug, rushing downstairs to my sister’s car before she could drive off. It was the first time I realised just how big a loss she would ever be to me.

In 2015 we would go away twice. The first was to Japan in early April for cherry blossom season, and we’d expand our trip beyond Tokyo and Osaka to include Kyoto, Nara and Hiroshima. Hiroshima offered one of the true highlights with the Shukkeien Japanese Garden. We ended up visiting it twice. In September, it was to New York and Washington DC again, while adding Philadelphia and Boston, which became of her favourite places. Suffice to say, out of everywhere we visited, the place my my mom loved the most was Japan. We’d go again in November 2017 to see the autumn foliage, a special temple in Tokyo called Gotokuji, adding Fukuoka and Nagasaki as new cities to visit, and make a curious stop in Wakayama for the Wakayama Electric Railway to Kishi station.

Kishi Station Wakayama - Nitama

My mom at the cat-shaped Kishi Station in 2017 to see Nitama

Gotokuji and Kishi station share one thing in common: cats. Approximately late 2015, I saw an episode of the Amazing Racing that visited Gotokuji Temple. This Buddhist temple is from the Edo period and is full of maneki-neko, or beckoning cats. It’s not a mainstream tourist site and a bit out of the way, so it’s the reason it never appeared on our radar for the previous two visits to Japan. In June of 2015, a story appeared on CNN about a cat named Tama that passed away. It was the official stationmaster at Kishi station, and was responsible for saving the Wakayama Electric Railway. Even though we really wanted to concentrate our 2017 trip to places we hadn’t seen and not return to Tokyo or Osaka, we had no choice. We had to experience those cats! Gotokuji was in Tokyo, while Wakayama was an hour from Osaka. So we’d fly to Tokyo and stay a few days, leave real early for the shinkansen (bullet train) to Osaka for the detour to Kishi station, and get to Fukuoka that evening.

The point of Gotokuji is to buy a maneki-neko from the small shop there, bring it home and make a wish, and if the wish comes true, to return the cat to Japan and place it in the temple. The history behind this was of an actual cat that saved a feudal lord from an approaching storm by beckoning him into the temple. As reward, the lord ensured the temple would prosper. The beckoning cats from this temple all have their right paw raised in the traditional Japanese sense, which is a symbol of good fortune. A raised left paw is more about good business and those cats are typically displayed in shops.

When my sister went to Japan in 2016, she went to the Gotokuji and brought a maneki-neko back for my mother, and the plan was to return it to Japan when we eventually went again. Naturally, we forgot to even take it for that trip in November of 2017. Not to matter. During our trip to Gotokuji, we bought a maneki-neko each, and for some reason, I thought we should remove them from the box and take a photo of us holding the cat. Was this the first sign of luck brought by the cat? Because we ended up losing them, leaving them at the hotel, in a case of confusion. I had them stored in my case during our stay, and while packing to leave, I removed them to make space. Before closing the case, I asked my mom if she’d seen them, and she said she had the boxes. Little did I know (I totally forgot) the boxes to which she was referring were other things she bought, and they were the boxes she packed.

Despite losing the cats, it was another great trip to Japan, with many highlights including the trip to Kishi station and visiting Nitama – the cat that superseded Tama as the official stationmaster – and a cruise to Battleship Island in Nagasaki. We had still hoped to return to Japan one day and return my mother’s original maneki-neko (from my sister) and buy replacements for the ones we lost. That was until I learnt in May of 2018 my mom had poor kidney function, down to just 10%. She was in hospital due to a bad urinal track infection, and we hoped that was affecting the blood results. It wasn’t to be, so began the start of the biggest change of both our lives. I had many thoughts running through my head, one of which was at least she got to see the world. When trying to tell her this, I burst into tears. I’d actually just come home from Eurovision in Lisbon, learning of her hospitalisation while there. She mentioned kidneys in a message, and I thought the worst, knowing her mother had died of kidney failure at just 64. My mother, now 84, had never shown problems of ill health. That Monday after seeing her, I was so tired from the flight home, I slept easy that night. It was probably the last time I slept so well.

Typically with kidney function that low, it’s about a year to live without dialysis. Of course, who knows how long her kidneys were bad. My mother was now on medication to compensate for her weak kidneys, and it was only 2 months later she had her first serious symptoms with fluid on the lungs, meaning another stay in hospital. I hoped she could be stable for a few months so we could make a snap trip to Japan. It never happened. Preparing for dialysis and then dialysis itself meant should couldn’t go anyway. Just before Christmas of 2018 she had a cardiac arrest on dialysis, and while she was released on Christmas Eve with only bruised ribs caused by CPR, it made for a gloomy Christmas and New Year period. She seemed to really pick up through January, and I thought the trip might be back on. By the start of March, she was growing increasingly weaker and more tired, and on the 21st of March – her 85th birthday – we took her to hospital. She had been living with me since her initial diagnosis, and while technically she was going there for a “service” (a transfusion of red blood cells), we both sensed it might have been her last day at home.

The next day I saw her she was in good spirits and receiving the transfusion. Similar again the following day. Then the day after (a Sunday), I was stunned to see her so tired and weak. Monday was similar. On Tuesday she was being wheeled out for scans as I arrived and she didn’t remember me saying hi to her. I regret now not hanging around and asking what the hell was going on. Between Monday and Thursday I’d visit before work, so I just went to the office. All the excitement seeing her begin to improve over the next few days was quashed on the Friday when we were told her kidneys were refracting medication and she’d be moved to a palliative care hospital. She was transferred the following Thursday and looked down and out. Over the subsequent week, she began to improve more and more, and seemed so content she was in a nice room and looked after so well. She began to read newspapers again, doctors wanted to start some of her old medication, and she was doing that well I even figured her care could be transferred home. It wasn’t to be. She suddenly deteriorated on the Saturday, and I was there with my sister for her last breath on Monday morning.

My mother rarely spoke about the d-word, or anything about after life. She only had one final wish: that I had to return her maneki-neko to Gotokuji Temple. I told her I will Mumsey, don’t you worry.

So began a trip to Japan I wish I never had to make. My sister had already planned a trip a while back for June, so it made sense to coincide mine with hers, and I could take her to Kishi station. Indeed, the purpose of my sister’s trip was to retrace the steps Mumsey and I took, and share those experiences with her. Now she had a maneki-neko of her own to return to the temple.

I never planned to construct a photographic record of all the places my mom’s maneki-neko would visit. It just happened that it felt apt to do it at Akihabara in Tokyo, and from then it just followed. I would land in Tokyo and stay two nights, then head south to Osaka to meet with my sister for the trip to Kishi station, then visit Kyoto and Hiroshima again, and add Kobe and Himeji as new places to visit. The final day I’d return to Tokyo and stop by Gotokuji Temple before the night flight home.

The Maneki-Neko

This was the one my sister had bought from Gotokuji Temple in 2016. My mother also loved horse-racing, and her final weekend coincided with Winx’s final run. While she was too weak to watch it, I put the speaker near her ear during the replay and she smiled once Winx won. She also loved cinema, opera, reading (novels and newspapers) and sport, especially international sport. She was an avid walker, loved train travel, and worked for the state railways for most of her life. She was a tea addict and loved vegetables, and her favourite treat was shrimp burgers sold in most fast food places in Japan. In Australia, she’d settle for fish & chips or pizza. The aquarium hobby I had as a teenager, she would continue herself, which now I’m continuing.

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko

Tullamarine Airport – Melbourne

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Tullamarine Airport Melbourne

Approaching Japan – Sunset

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Sunset Japan

Akihabara – Tokyo

Akihabara was a frequent visit for us, and my mom became very inquisitive about video games and Pokemon over the years. She bought be my very system (the NES) and plenty of games over the years, including a couple from Akihabara, and her favourite Pokemon was Pikachu. A gust of wind would soon knock the maneki-neko off the pole and smashing it. I would repair it with superglue I bought and a texta I had already brought with me.

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Akihabara, Tokyo

Kanda Capsule Hotel – Tokyo

If you’re staying only a night or two, and arrive late, these places are great!

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Kanda Capsule Hotel, Tokyo

Shinkansen to Osaka

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Shinkansen to Osaka

Meeting Nitama at Kishi Station

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Nitama at Kishi Station

Nunobiki Herb Garden Ropeway – Kobe

My mom and I never got to Kobe, and this Herb Garden she would have loved. While there, I looked at the maneki-neko and was overwhelmed with a feeling that I had to take it home, especially after everything we’d already been through. That feeling slowly eased and I became at peace with letting it go.

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Nunobiki Ropeway, Kobe

Philosopher’s Path – Kyoto

I hired a bike this day, and was able to get around quickly to the Kyoto Railway Museum, Nintendo’s old and new building, and Ginkakuji (Silver Pavillion).

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Philosopher's Path, Kyoto

Nintendo Building – Kyoto

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Nintendo Building (New), Kyoto

Fushimi Inari Shrine – Kyoto

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto

Ryoanji Zen Garden – Kyoto

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Ryoan Ji Zen Garden, Kyoto

Shoseien Japanese Garden – Kyoto

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Shoseien Japanese Garden, Kyoto

Ninendo Building (Old) – Kyoto

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Nintendo Building (Old), Kyoto

Hello Kitty Shinkansen

Yes, a Hello Kitty themed bullet train. There’s only the one, and typically these themed trains are for a limited time only. This one does a round trip between Osaka and Fukuoka (Hakata) each day, is the slower Kodama train (makes all the stops), so check the timetables.

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Hello Kitty Shinkansen

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Hello Kitty Shinkansen

Himeji Castle

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Himeji Castle

Miyajima Island – Hiroshima

Famous for its deer and the Itsukushima Shrine and its torii gate.

mumsey16hiroshima-miyajima-deer

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Itsukushima Shrine Torii Gate - Miyajima Island, Hiroshima

Shukkeien Japanese Garden – Hiroshima

Probably my mother’s favourite place in all of Japan. We went three times together, and I obviously went again this trip. Not at its best during summer because everything is so green. Best to go during cherry blossom season or autumn.

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Shukkeien Japanese Garden, Hiroshima

Atomic Dome Building – Hiroshima

This is the main visible structure that survived the atomic bomb. The second image is from the new Orizuru Building, which features a huge open timber deck.

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Atomic Dome Building, Hiroshima

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Atomic Dome Building from the Orizuru Building, Hiroshima

Leaving Hiroshima for Tokyo

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Sunroute Hotel, Hiroshima

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Shinkansen, Hiroshima

Arriving in Tokyo

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Shinkansen, Tokyo

Gotokuji Temple

On the final trains to Gotokuji, and I was beginning to become overwhelmed and had to stop myself crying, otherwise it would have been a strange sight to the locals. It was surreal walking through the quiet streets to the temple itself, knowing my mom and I had only been there together recently, and now I was alone fulfilling her final wish. The maneki-neko had been protected all trip by an old sock and a stubby holder, and now I was removing it for the final time. I kissed the maneki-neko goodbye and placed it in the temple.

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Tokyo

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Tokyo

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Tokyo

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko - Tokyo

Mumsey

Mumsey was the name we used to refer to her since we were young. It’s a nicer sounding and a more distinct name, and suited her well. Mumsey always had soft elegant hands, and it must have been decades since I last held them. I remember vividly the feel of them when I was little being walked somewhere, and when I held her hand at the hospital, it was like nothing had changed.

Mumsey

This was the final ever photo taken of her, the Thursday before she passed away. Flicking through all the photos before writing this, she was so happy during that final week in hospital. Nearly every photo she was smiling. This was something she was usually reluctant to do, and here she saved her best until last.

mumsey30mumsey

Maneki-Neko

These are the two maneki-neko I bought in Japan to replace the ones we lost. I took them to her grave to show her wish was fulfilled and we’re together again. Now I always take them when visiting. She’s on the left, me on the right. As for my wish before returning my maneki-neko: it’s to see my mom again.

Gotokuji Temple Maneki-Neko, Tokyo

Warrior’s Video Games of 2021 & Game of the Year

12 January 2022

2021 was the year of almost exclusively playing the Nintendo Switch. Pokemon Shuffle, the game that kept me playing my 3DS daily, finally hit its end point when I S-ranked the remaining Ultra stages. Elsewhere, I barely turned the PlayStation 4 on at all (despite buying a few games on sale), while the PlayStation 3 got a run with some older games, including some PS1 games. I also dabbled around on the N64 with some new controllers I got, and discovered that F-Zero X still holds up over 20 years later. The speed and purety of the racing is just sublime. Other than that, it really was the year of the Nintendo Switch.

Samus Aran from Metroid Dread - Game of the Year - 2021 Year In Gaming
Samus Aran from Metroid Dread

3DS Acitivty Log

All Time

Pokemon Shuffle – 1400:14 hours (plus 1089:19 on the old 3DS)
Mii Plaza – 217:37
Animal Crossing: New Leaf – 217:27
Mario Kart 7 – 181:53
Star Fox 64 3D – 57:44
Super Smash Bros – 29:15
New Super Mario Bros 2 – 24:39
Double Dragon NES – 18:45
Mario Tennis Open – 18:25
Metroid: Samus Returns – 14:37
Pilotwings Resort – 13:34

2021

Pokemon Shuffle – 88:18 hours (plus 91:10 on the old 3DS)

Pokemon Shuffle was the only 3DS game I played all year. I had about 70 of the 700 Ultra stages left on both my 3DS systems (yes, I had two different games going) in May, and then it was just left to complete the mission cards. That was quite easy except for the Yveltal mission on card 9 that required 40 black clouds cleared within 60 seconds. It was almost impossible unless you extended time with jewels as not enough clouds would appear in the time. A jewel, which added 15 seconds, was awarded every 15 days by checking in daily, so I waited to accumulate several before going for it. That process took a few months as I stopped checking in daily, and only cleared the mission in December after using 4 jewels to extend time. With all that extra time for the stage, the other trick was not to defeat Yveltal before enough clouds were cleared so I boosted the skill level of a weak team of black cloud clearers during these months too. Skill boosters are also only periodically awarded. The final two expert stages are still to be S-ranked, which is the final challenge if I’m up to it. They seem impossible as beating them in the existing time limit is tough enough. An S-rank requires them beaten in half the time. Equipping yourself with an extra 10 seconds and getting very lucky seems the only hope.

Nintendo Switch Activity

The Switch only provides an estimate of the hours played for a game and presents it as “X hours or more”. It also seems to be in 5 hour increments so games with “5 hours or more” might be 8 hours, while some games presented as “played for a little while” (likely less than 5 hours) I’ve estimated the actual time myself. There’s no breakdown of hours player per year either, only an overall total.

World of Tanks Blitz – 1140 hours

Up from 130 hours last year, WOTB has been my daily ritual. I got addicted to the monthly battle seasons and the daily missions to accrue boosters, credits and gold to acquire more and more powerful and interesting tanks. The credits buy you the regular “tech tree” tanks while the gold buys premium tanks. The main benefit of those is they do earn much more credits, and are often quite unique, whether in design or appearance. I’d only reached tier 7 of the British heavy line last year, and now I’ve acquire 3 tier 10 British tanks – the FV215b heavy, and the FV4005 and FB215b (183) tank destroyers – and pushed through most of the lines of all 7 other nations to around tier.

I’ve also bought/acquired around a dozen premium tanks. A couple came free by chance from periodic crates (loot boxes) awarded, while the rest were from gold accumulated or gold bought with real money, and one (E25 – affectionately known as the cockroach) bought outright. Yes, after so many hours from this game, I decided to reward the developers and spent just on $52. The E25 was $11 straight out, $4.50 for a particular Australian tank (the AC1 Sentinel), there was $8 for premium access to one of the battle seasons, while the rest was gold, and always when they had a double-value offer. That’s it. I’ve enough gold left to get a couple of other premium tanks for when (or if) they show up in the store, notably the Helsing and the T54E2 Shark. The battle season I bought was the Terminator-inspired Salvation one that offered the cool BLTZ9000 tank that looked straight out of the Terminator movies. Premium access to a battle season also offers more much credits, gold and various booster certificates to progress faster through the tech trees.

I lie! I’ve also been playing on the personal computer too, and that is more World of Tanks Blitz! I started a new account and was curious how it plays on PC, and the replay above is from that. The mouse makes targeting easier and the keyboard makes reversing in straight lines easier. Countering that, I do like the auto aim of the Switch, especially when tracking tanks, whereas the mouse requires constant movement and you can run out of desk. Curiously, my win rate there after around 350 battles is 68%, whereas it’s 44% on the Switch. Of course, I came into the PC version with skills developed and am fighting in the lower tiers there, so that all could change over time. So far I’ve only touched the American line and reached tier 6 in one each of the heavy (M6) and tank destroyer (Hellcat) lines.

Tetris 99 – 440

Up from 195 hours from last year, much of it in Invictus mode (only available to regular mode winners) and clearing missions, and then returning for special events. I’ve done most of the missions that interest me, notably winning 10 games on Invictus mode (completed in August) and all the team missions. The only other mission I want is top 10 ten times in a row, which seems impossible, as I get targeted too much and can be eliminated early. Overall I won 15 times in 2020 – when I first started playing it. At the end of 2021 the total is now 48, which includes 38 in regular mode and 10 in Invictus mode. Most knockouts is 19 – achieved both in regular and Invictus mode.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – 155

Only 10 extra hours this year, and that was the start of the year. I pulled it out on New Year’s Even to see the new year cycle over in the game. Much more exciting that the real thing! I do plan to get back into it.

Horizon Chase Turbo – 80

Probably added another 20 hours to this game this year, and you can thank the Ayrton Senna DLC and the regular Playground events for much of that. The Senna DLC is a great addition, adding F1 cars and courses through Senna’s career, and even has a first-person view.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – 50

Also great fun and probably doubled my play time.

Mario Golf: Super Rush – 10

While it was light on for courses at the start, Nintendo really added to it over the months and it’s a great game with plenty of modes. I only wish it had 4-player split screen for speed golf or simply just to play a round of normal golf simultaneously. Otherwise, each player take turns and that can mean for a long game.

Mario Tennis Aces – 10

Played this quite a bit in multi-player mode. It’s extra level tennis when you get a grip of building and using your energy meter wisely for zone shots, special shots and slowing down the game for block shots.

Metroid Dread – 5

The surprise release of the year. Announced mid-year and arrived in October. As a Metroid fan, it seems to be a compilation of all the ideas in previous 2D Metroid games to make for one grand finale to the series. I’m surprise the Switch activity log only shows 5 hours as I swear it’s more. Same for some other games.

Pac-Man 99 – 5

This was a daily ritual until I finally won a game, and never went back! I’m fairly sure this is another with more than 5 hours played.

Pokemon Unite – 5

A free online battle arena game, I got into for a few weeks and then suddenly forgot about it. It works, and is fun. It just has a natural and easily reached limit of interest.

Quake – 3

An unbelievable update to an old game. Plays beautifully on the Switch and is fully featured. I need to stop playing WOTB so much and dedicate more time to it, among many other games.

WarioWare: Get It Together! – 3

A fun, silly, and often humorous game.

New Pokemon Snap – 2

A great update to the N64 classic. Beautiful scenery and it’s cool to see Pokemon in their fully realised “native” environments.

Hades – 2

Got this on sale and agree with the hype about it. Really fun and plenty of action.

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury – 1

Arrived at the start of year, played it for a little while, got distracted by other games, and totally forgot about it. It’s an update of a Wii U, with Bower’s Fury as bonus content.

Star Wars Jedi Night II: Jedi Outcast – 1

In the bucket with Quake, meaning I need to play more.

Game Of The Year

Of those mentioned, these are the candidates released this year:

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
New Pokemon Snap
Mario Golf: Super Rush
Wario Ware: Get It Together
Metroid Dread
Quake

The winner is…

Metroid Dread!

Metroid is my favourite game series ever, and this version excels in every way possible. Combining so many elements of the previous games, adding a few new ideas, and topping it off with superb graphics and sound. This is the fifth and, apparently, final game in the 2D series and is a stellar way to complete it. The Metroid series started with Metroid on the NES in 1986 and was updated as Zero Mission on the Gameboy Advance in 2004. Return Of Samus arrived on the Gameboy in 1991 and was later reworked on the 3DS as Samus Returns in 2017. Super Metroid on the SNES was next in 1994 and then Metroid Fusion on the Gameboy Advance in 2002. Then it was almost 20 long years until Metroid Dread in 2021. The wait was worth it!

Warrior’s Video Games of 2020 & Game of the Year

Previous Games of the Year

2020 Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch)
2019 Horizon Chase Turbo (Switch)
2018 Super Smash Bros Ultimate (Switch)
2017 Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)
2016 Yoshi’s New Island (3DS)
2015 Pokemon Shuffle (3DS)
2014 Super Smash Bros (3DS)
2013 Fire Emblem Awakening (3DS)

Melbourne Cup 2021 – Preview and Review

2 November 2021

It’s an unusual Melbourne Cup in modern times due to the low numbers of international horses in the field. Compared to the highs of 11 in recent years, there’s officially just two this year (Twilight Payment and Spanish Mission), while a couple of others were recently transferred to Australian trainers. In that sense, it’s an old school Melbourne Cup with plenty of locals making up the 24-horse field, many of whom are just making up the numbers. The positive is that there’s very few mystery international horses that can be hit and miss.

PREVIEW

I’m keeping it simple next year, looking for horses in form, are likely to run the distance and have a nice weight. In fairness, in this modern era, weights are compressed, so very few horses are weighted out of it and nearly all actually race below their weight-for-age weight. I’ll also remain skeptical of the international horses, especially if the Cup is their debut race in Australia. It should be a stamina test with Twilight Payment in the field, who led all the way last year to win.

Melbourne Cup 2021 Field - Preview & Review
Melbourne Cup 2021 Field

Incentivise won the Caulfield Cup in impressive style and is currently on a 9-race winning streak from his 12-race career. He looks like he’ll get the distance as he’s really strong to, and past, the line in his recent races. While the Caulfield Cup stunk as a form reference for over a decade, it has began to return to its historically good reference. Forgetting that anyway, Incentivise’s win was a key form reference in itself and he’ll run as the shortest priced favourite since Phar Lap (1930).

Last year’s winner Twilight Payment goes up 2.5kg and is now 9 years old on the Australian calendar (8 on European). Only 4 horses have won the Cup two years running, and no 9yo has won it at all. He looks to be going as well as last year, he’ll love the warm day and firm track, and this is a weaker field. His main competition is only just behind him in the weights too.

Spanish Mission has quality form and likes it dry. The big knock is, as an international, he’s as likely to flop as he is excel. It’s a 50/50 scenario with these visitors, especially on warm days, and he’s had injury concerns too. Verry Elleegant didn’t quite see it out last year and carries more weight. The Chosen One finished fourth last year and has conditions to suit again this year. Ignore the Caulfield Cup run on a wet track. Possibly do so for Delphi too. Persan was fifth in last year’s Melbourne Cup, ran an excellent third in the Caulfield Cup, so looks to be plotting similarly this year.

If you like Pondus, you’re better off with Floating Artist, who beat him in the Moonee Valley Cup, has a lower weight and is is good recent form. Grand Promenade won The Bart Cummings (the same race as Almandin in 2016) and his recent form is similarly good. Tralee Rose is the Geelong Cup winner, which has been used as a preparation for international winners in 2010 and 2011, and has had little guide since. Being a mare is a concern (many don’t like the big fields) and she has flopped over the distance before. In good recent form otherwise. Great House won the Hotham Handicap on Saturday to guarantee his place and was solid in the Caulfield Cup, while Sir Lucan has the good profile of being a European 3yo, albeit without the form of recent successful horses in that category.

Of the outsiders, the main one to note is Johnny Get Angry. He’s trained by former Australian Rules premiership coach, Denis Pagan, and won the Victoria Derby last year. Has done nothing since, so it’s really only the football interest.

SELECTIONS

02 Incentivise
01 Twilight Payment
16 Grand Promenade
22 Floating Artist

No surprises here. I’m sticking to the hot favourite, Incentivise, and believe Twilight Payment is on the right path to repeat his 2020 performance. Whenever I look at horses at longer odds, the common thread is Grand Promenade has beaten them all. Similarly with Floating Artist, he’s beaten most of those in the same lead-up races to him. They’ve run in different races leading up to the Melbourne Cup, so I split them based on Grand Promenade looking like the stronger stayer. I worry about Spanish Mission so will throw it into a 5-horse boxed trifecta. I’ll do my favoured multi-trifecta (which scored in 2019) of Incentivise, Twilight Payment and Spanish Mission first or second, with about 10 horses in third.

Remember, it’s only gambling if you lose!

REVIEW

It was a weird Melbourne Cup of 2021. A bit slow in that they didn’t go as hard as expected and Verry Elleegant unleashed a surprisingly devastating sprint to win easily by 4 lengths. She only ran on late last year for 7th, was up in weight and prefers a wet track. All racing experts I saw discarded her for others, and one couldn’t even find her a spot in a wide trifecta covering about 10 horses. That’s horse racing! It’s not a precise science and Verry Elleegant proved that and showed to never discount a champion horse. The Melbourne Cup was her 10th Group 1 win, which includes the 2020 Caulfield Cup. Her winning time of 3:17.43 was just over a second outside the race record 3:16:30 set in 1990, so it was a reasonably fast race, attributed to a long wind up in the second half and Verry Elleegant’s super sprint. The Chosen One in fifth was the only horse to make up any major ground from the back, albeit finishing over 10 lengths from the winner.

At $18 in the market, Verry Elleegant wasn’t an outsider anyway, and she led home a group of horses all well in the market. Except for perhaps the order of the top 6, especially with Verry Elleegant winning, it was a fairly predictable result. Indeed, remove the winner, and I would have landed the trifecta twice with Incentivise, Spanish Mission and Floating Artist. Even Verry Elleegant in third behind Incentivise and Spanish Mission would have meant a trifecta landed.

Incentivise anchored the hopes of many punters and ran a gallant race to almost deliver the fairytale win of a bush horse from Toowomba on a 9-race winning streak taking Australia’s biggest race. He sat just outside the leader the whole way, and it makes you think if he could have taken a sit behind a strong leader that he might have prevailed. Last year’s winner, Twilight Payment, who led all the way then, didn’t get a fast enough start from his inside draw and got buried in midfield. Even then, a tad disappointing to not run on and only finish 11th. Spanish Mission, the other international, was a hit in third place. He couldn’t sprint with Verry Elleegant and that was it. Floating Artist performed as hoped to finish fourth. He just couldn’t match the sprint of Verry Elleegant. No horse could. For the rest, it’s mostly as per the preview: either not good enough, not in form or couldn’t run the distance. Persan probably the only surprise, capitulating early from the lead to finish 20th.

FINISHING ORDER

1st – Verry Elleegant ($16.50 W, $4.50 P)
2nd – Incentivise ($2.00 P)
3rd – Spanish Mission ($3.00 P)
4th – Floating Artist
5th – The Chosen One
6th – Grand Promenade
7th – Delphi
8th – Selino
9th – Tralee Rose
10th – She’s Ideel
11th – Twilight Payment
12th – Miami Bound
13th – Great House
14th – Sir Lucan
15th – Explosive Jack
16th – Master of Wine
17th – Pondus
18th – Carif
19th – Knights Order
20th – Persan
21st – Port Guillaume
22nd – Johnny Get Angry
23rd – Ocean Billy

Quinella: $21.80
Exacta: $72.70
Trifecta: $436.20
First Four: $5,413.50

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Review – Grading Australia’s Performance

From my Socceroos Blog

Socceroo Realm

15 August 2021

A year late, no fans attending, and pressure to cancel the entire event, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games surpassed all expectations and provided the world with a wonderful fillip as it still manages the COVID-19 pandemic. These were the pressure Games, with the pressure to finally allow the athletes to compete, the pressure to prevent COVID-19 wreaking havoc, and the pressure simply to succeed. They did so easily, while also reminding us the Olympics are about sport itself. Without the glitz and hype, it was allowed to shine through in its purest form, with many memorable performances and achievements.

Tokyo 2020 were also the pressure Games for Australia. After two C-grade performances at recent Olympics, the pressure was on Australian athletes to deliver on the millions of dollars invested in them and return the country to its previous status of an A-grade Olympic nation and delivering at…

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Donald Trump Acquitted Again – Why Impeachment Failed Again – The Facts

17 February 2021

The second impeachment trial against President Donald Trump followed the same predictable path as the first one: acquittal. While, on substance, the Capitol Hill Riots of 6 January was more grave than the nebulous “Abuse of Power” over a phone-call to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky ever was for Trump’s first trial, the rush to impeach Donald Trump before he left office meant the Democrats hysterically landed on the wildly disproportionate charge of Incitement of Insurrection. Just like the first trial, the facts never lined up.

Donald Trump acquitted of Incitement of Insurrection – Image: congress.gov

INCITEMENT

If this was a criminal trial, it would have been thrown out within 2 minutes. There’s a strong precedent for incitement known as the Brandenburg test and it states that speech is not incitement unless it is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action”. In the two days of the House Managers’ prosecution, they failed to show Donald Trump’s key words from his speech that actually exonerates him: “everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard”. Just prior to that, Trump clearly stated the objective was “demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated”. There was nothing in the speech to direct or incite rioting. The charge never had any basis and therefore collapse on immediate presentation of the complete evidence. In fact, most of Trump’s speech was dedicated to reeling off examples of election fraud and improprieties, hence, the call to only count legal votes.

INSURRECTION

On a legal standard, another failure. As much as the hours and hours of footage of rioters wandering the Capitol building was meant to stoke passion and resentment obtain a guilty verdict, much of it was actually “peaceful protesters”, albeit they had entered the building illegally, including some simply strolling through the senate and house chambers with police watching as they took selfies. An insurrection is a genuine attempt to overthrow the government, and clearly this wasn’t it. Of course, this being a political trial, it is more subjective, and it could have been seen as an insurrection by those caught in it, while the semantics of it all were immaterial to others.

HYPOCRISY 1

Almost the entirety of the House Managers’ claim of incitement hinged on one word: fight. Most specifically the phrase from Trump’s speech, “And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” The problem with that is it is normal political speech, and ably proved by the defence team showing a 10 minute montage of every Democratic senator and all the House Managers using the same language to some degree at some point in time. There were so many examples (around 70) from Vice President Kamala Harris that you could have created a rap song with them, while there were plenty from President Joe Biden too. The most damning footage was of senate leader Chuck Shumer on the steps of the Supreme Court threatening two of the justices with “you have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price”, and representative Maxine Waters‘ notorious and direct incitement to a crowd that if they see a Trump official at a restaurant or gas station to “you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere”. If “fight” and “fighting” is the language of incitement, then every politician should be impeached.

HYPOCRISY 2

The Democrats’ claims that objecting to state electors was an act of treason was swiftly exposed as grand hypocrisy as the defence showed a montage of current Democrats, including the lead House Manager, Jamie Raskin, objecting to Trump’s 2016 win, and even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi objecting to George W Bush’s win in 2005. Then there was the endless whining from Hillary Clinton about a stolen election in 2016, the Russia Collusion Hoax, and the obsession by Democrats to impeach Donald Trump before he even took office. They able proved the Democrats are the party of objecting to elections and being democracy deniers.

HYPOCRISY 3

As much as the Democrats’ moralised and sobbed over the ugly Capitol Hill riots, Trump’s defence team showed their morals and virtue against rioting curiously went missing during the summer riots of 2020. For months and months, Democratic support groups like Black Lives Matter, Antifa and Joe Biden voters in general attacked federal buildings, burnt countless buildings and stores to the ground, and saw around two dozen people killed. In fact, Democrats tacitly condoned those riots until it started to show negatively in the polls, while Kamala Harris even promoted a bail-out fund on her twitter for rioters in Minnesota. Let’s not also forget the attempted invasion of the Capitol building and Supreme Court during the confirmation hearings of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

DOCTORED EVIDENCE

Other than exposing the Democrats’ blatant hypocrisy, Trump’s defence showed that their video montages were heavily edited to radically alter their context. Where footage might have been exculpatory for Donald Trump, it became incriminating. Far worse was a photo of Jamie Raskin sitting in front of tweets that were manipulated to show a different date and the addition of a blue verification check. The House Managers also falsely asserted “bringing the Calvary” (a representation of the crucifixion – as a prayer vigil was planned) meant “bringing the cavalry”. Based on these lies and deceit, you couldn’t trust anything the House Managers showed.

DUE PROCESS

Unlike previous impeachments, including Trump’s first one, there was no investigation or inquiry into this one, just a mad rush to impeachment. We’re now learning that much of the violence was premeditated, with pipe bombs laid the night before, police officer Brian Sicknick was never attacked with a fire extinguisher, and the protests started while Trump was still talking. Upon learning about this, the Democrats tried to alter the substance of the incitement charge to Trump’s broader behaviour about a rigged and stolen election over the preceding two months. Not so fast, as the impeachment article was clearly about the speech on the day. A proper investigation might have exposed the real concern being the lack of security, specifically that there were offers to deploy the national guard in advance, and rejected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – the person ultimately in charge of security. If there were enough security present, the Capitol breach never happens, the impeachment never happens, and Pelosi now partially culpable and potentially involved in a cover-up.

WITNESSES

Once it was obvious the Democrats would not have the numbers to convict, they sought to introduce witnesses. Trump’s lawyers were prepared and said they would call House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, among many others, to the stand. The trial was then suddenly wrapped up in a record 5 days and Donald Trump acquitted. This shows that more evidence only further unravels the incitement claim and further indicts those responsible for security. The vote was 57 to 43, which was 10 short of the 67 required. The Democrats needing 17 Republicans to defect with only 7 doing so. They were the four notable Trump haters (Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Mitt Romney of Utah), two to retire at the end of their term in 2022 (Richard Burr of North Carolina and Pat Toomey of Pennyslvania) and Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy, who’s not up for reelection until 2026. Only Murkowski faces an election in 2022.

THE CONSTITUTION

The trial should have been abandoned simply on this question, as the sole purpose behind the impeachment process is to remove a president from office. Donald Trump was gone way before the trial started, and the unconstitutionality of it was seemingly confirmed when the Supreme Court Chief Justice refused to preside over it. The Democrats had one of their own senators do the job instead. Also note as precedent that when Richard Nixon was impeached, he resigned and the trial never proceeded.

IMPEACHMENT PROCESS

With the impeachment process so abused you can now imagine the Republicans retaliate when they next win the House. It could easily be for Abuse of Power against Joe Biden for his extreme use of executive orders. The impeachment process must be taken out of partisan hands via a constitutional amendment that would require 60% in the House to impeach and 80% in the Senator to convict.

TRUMP LEGACY

Regardless of the impeachment farce, the events of 6 January 2021 have hurt Donald Trump’s legacy. It’s a sad end to an eventful and consequential presidential term. For all the legitimate grievances over the election, notably the rushed rule changes to radically expand mail-in voting and the inexplicable statistical anomalies that support likely rorting, once the election was certified by the states in mid-December, it was over. Trump should have given up the fight, invited Joe Biden to the White House, and then spent the next month selling his achievements. While Trump’s lawyers were unable to flip a state or nullify a result to put a real stain on the election, there was already enough evidence and sentiment in the community, even among Democrats, that the election wasn’t fair and he was cheated out of a second term. Especially when you consider the media, big tech and corporate America were almost all unanimously against him. Even the results of COVID-19 vaccine trials were delayed a few weeks until after the election so as not to aid Trump’s election chances.

Instead of a stain on the election, there’s one on Donald Trump’s legacy, and it’s one that will likely be difficult to remove. Indeed, this rushed impeachment was simply an exercise to cement that stain. It’s probably backfired as he exits with another acquittal and an expanded narrative of the constant “witch-hunt” against him since his famous election win in 2016. With an actual investigation, a more relevant charge of dereliction of duty could have been made, especially that there’s suggestions he was too slow to act to stop the mob. Of course, for the hate-fuelled Democrats, there wasn’t the time for a real investigation, so it became a mad rush for the highest voltage accusation possible and slimy abuse the constitution for solely political gain.

Former President Donald Trump’s full statement upon acquittal:

I want to first thank my team of dedicated lawyers and others for their tireless work upholding justice and defending truth.

My deepest thanks as well to all of the United States Senators and Members of Congress who stood proudly for the Constitution we all revere and for the sacred legal principles at the heart of our country.

Our cherished Constitutional Republic was founded on the impartial rule of law, the indispensable safeguard for our liberties, our rights and our freedoms.

It is a sad commentary on our times that one political party in America is given a free pass to denigrate the rule of law, defame law enforcement, cheer mobs, excuse rioters, and transform justice into a tool of political vengeance, and persecute, blacklist, cancel and suppress all people and viewpoints with whom or which they disagree. I always have, and always will, be a champion for the unwavering rule of law, the heroes of law enforcement, and the right of Americans to peacefully and honorably debate the issues of the day without malice and without hate.

This has been yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country. No president has ever gone through anything like it, and it continues because our opponents cannot forget the almost 75 million people, the highest number ever for a sitting president, who voted for us just a few short months ago.

I also want to convey my gratitude to the millions of decent, hardworking, law-abiding, God-and-Country loving citizens who have bravely supported these important principles in these very difficult and challenging times.

Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun. In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people. There has never been anything like it!

We have so much work ahead of us, and soon we will emerge with a vision for a bright, radiant, and limitless American future.

Together there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

We remain one People, one family, and one glorious nation under God, and it’s our responsibility to preserve this magnificent inheritance for our children and for generations of Americans to come.

May God bless all of you, and may God forever bless the United States of America.

Warrior’s Video Games of 2020 & Game of the Year

11 January 2021

The HUGE game this year was Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the Nintendo Switch. It came at the right time of the year when the COVID-19 lockdowns started and it built upon everything that already made Animal Crossing great on other systems. The big change for the Switch was that you started on an island, not in a town, and gradually built your island over the months to the point it could resemble a small town, or remain more like an island. I’ve kept mine quite natural with not too many paths and every islander in their own little space. The main feature of my island would be the massive dinosaur park full of dinosaur skeletons. My Dream Address is DA-0708-1495-9878 if anyone wants to visit.

Lenna on Kuurmaa island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons from the first day in her tent, to the first day in her house, through winter and then Halloween.

Following from the 3DS, my character is female and named Lenna, while the island is named Kuurmaa. In New Leaf, I named the town Tallinn. So Lenna Kuurmaa, an Estonian singer, and Estonia have been fully entrenched in my Animal Crossing games. All my original animal friends remain with only a few ever asking to leave (mostly Robin and Skye). That’s one distinction from New Leaf on the 3DS where they would leave if you stopped playing the game for long enough.

Except for Hippeux the hippo (he’s a bit boring), I don’t want any to leave anyway. They are all good. Hippeux has yet to ask and I’m not one to put in a complaint against him either. I’ll wait a bit longer for him to ask before prodding him as I’ll be miffed if Victoria the horse came to camp and I didn’t have spare plot for her. Eight animal friends is the limit on an island. My day-one originals are Mac the dog and Diva the frog. Mac’s house is next to mine and I expanded my Japanese Zen Fence to include his house. My other islanders are Apple the hamster (who regards me as a bestie or BFF), Skye the wolf, Chadder the mouse, Robin the bird, Rooney the kangaroo and Ozzie the koala.

Lenna’s first friends Diva and Mac, Lenna’s birthday with Mac, Diva and Apple, and New Year’s Eve 2020

Elsewhere on the Switch, it’s been a year of Tetris 99, World of Tanks Blitz and Doom. In fact, it has been a Doom frenzy with purchases of Doom 2 and Doom 64. Yes, the classic old Dooms! I never liked them at the time so they’ve been a bit of a revelation after buying them on sale. Doom and Doom 2 were $2.27 at 70% off, while I got Doom 64 at half price for not much more. They’re all in 16:9 widescreen format too.

For a free game, World of Tanks Blitz is brilliant. While the game pushes you to buy stronger tanks, it’s not required as you’re always matched to similar level of tanks. Progression to higher tanks is quite swift through the normal free dose of XP and gold by completing daily missions. I’ve mostly stuck with British tanks, with the little Matilda heavy tank my favourite. A bit of speed, good armour and a fast reload. It’s only tier 4 (out of 10) too. I have managed to acquire beefier tanks on the same tree including the Churchill (tier 5), Churchill 2 (6) and Black Prince (7). They’re all heavy tanks. I’ve even acquired the Comet medium tank and Challenger tank destroyer at tier 7. I find with the higher tier tanks I’m often out-gunned, not just by other powerful tanks (particularly some crazy premium tanks), also by better players. That’s the key: the best players typically are using the better tanks so sticking to the middle tiers is actually the best way to play the game. The tier 3 Crusader IV would be my second favourite and one of my most used tanks.

Switch Activity – All Time

Tetris 99 – 195 hours or more
Animal Crossing: New Horizons – 145
World of Tanks Blitz – 130
Super Mario Bros 35 – 40
Doom – 25
Super Nintendo Online – 20
Super Mario 3D All Stars – 5
Hotshot Racing – 5
Doom 2 – 5
Doom 64 – 5

It’s worthwhile mentioning Super Mario Bros 35. While initial plays seemed a bit sterile and random, once you get into it, the battle royale of Super Mario Bros levels actually works. There’s still some luck to winning. While I’ve won about 15 times, they have ranged from 5 minutes of minimal fuss to 12 minutes of a really hard battles and defeating heaps of enemies. Occasionally I’ve gone 12 minutes without even reaching top 5. Tetris 99 is more straight forward, albeit the more you win, the more you get targeted. I’ve won about 15 games there too, which is interesting considering that involves 195 hours of play compared to just 40 on SMB35 for about the same amount of wins. I regard myself as a far superior Tetris player than a SMB one.

Hotshot Racing is a really fun mix of Virtua Racing, Ridge Racer and exaggerated Mario Kart AI. The recently released free Big Boss Bundle adds a welcome addition of 4 new and technical tracks to the 16 fairly derivative tracks already in the game. Super Mario 3D All Stars is an excellent package of 3 great games. While it’s disappointing Super Mario 64 wasn’t updated to 16:9 widescreen format and the camera controls tweaked, everything else sparkles. I never owned a Wii so Super Mario Galaxy is the game I’ve played most, and it’s seriously warped!

Nintendo 3DS

The 3DS is still not dead! While the Nintendo Switch dominates my gaming time, I’m still playing a few games on the 3DS, and there’s still so many brilliant games left on it, some of which I’m still to complete. I hang my head in shame that Metroid: Samus Returns is one of them. I’m still playing Pokemon Shuffle after almost 5 years, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and finally bought New Super Mario Bros 2 after it was discounted to 50% off. It’s one of the few games in ages that I’ve bought, played, and finished within a short period of time. Perhaps there’s still one secret world to find, otherwise that’s it. It’s a great game with really well designed levels. It’s probably my favourite 2D Mario game released during the modern 3D era. Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo is still the best.

Pokemon Shuffle is being played across two systems. I’m currently trying to S-rank all the Ultra stages, and I’m up to 630 of 700 stages on both systems. Last year I was at 350 on my primary system so I’m clearly about to reach the end. It’s a free game that’s mostly enjoyed via a short daily check-in to get the free daily coins and other stuff. While you can buy jewels, which convert to coins, I don’t. The game in its current state (meaning no more updates) is quite rewarding with coins and power-ups compared to its first couple of years. Every 15 days it gives you a jewel, which I use to play the once-weekly Meowth special stage 3 extra times and have occasionally racked up 10,000 coins in one go. Usually it’s around 5000, or 20,000 for the 3 tries.

When New Horizons wasn’t stealing so much of my time on the Switch, it was New Leaf on the 3DS. There was a heavy phase of playing it early in the year to get a feel of Animal Crossing before New Horizons was released, before trickling back to it towards the end. I still have a bit to go with that in terms of expanding my house. Sadly, Victoria the horse, one of my favourite residents, recently left, after I didn’t check in frequently enough. I was occasionally mailing her stuff and made a point to always talk to her. It just wasn’t enough. The one I don’t want to lose is Apollo the eagle, who’s been a resident since day 1. That was in January 2019 when I first started the game.

3DS Activity – 2020

Pokemon Shuffle – 129:53 hours (plus 138:55 on the old 3DS)
New Super Mario Bros 2 – 24:39 hours
Animal Crossing: New Leaf – 24:12

3DS Activity – All Time

Pokemon Shuffle – 1311:23 hours (plus 996:56 on the old 3DS)
Mii Plaza – 217:37
Animal Crossing: New Leaf – 217:27
Mario Kart 7 – 181:53
Star Fox 64 3D – 57:44
Super Smash Bros – 29:15
New Super Mario Bros 2 – 24:39 (new entry)
Double Dragon NES – 18:45
Mario Tennis Open – 18:25
Metroid: Samus Returns – 14:37
Pilotwings Resort – 13:34

For the second year running, I’ve recorded no steps on the 3DS. Very few people carry it around these days for hits (to play Mii Plaza games), with the last record being 118,962 steps in 2019 when I went to Japan after losing my mother. Total steps are 2,808,629 since Dec 2011.

PlayStation 5 vs Xbox Series X

Not interested at either at this stage, and typically I wait a couple of years for a “slim” version of a new PlayStation model anyway. I certainly won’t be buying the current monstrosity. As for Xbox, I’ve never owned one. That might change this cycle due to Game Pass. Again, I’ll wait a year or two for the library to build and preferably for a slimmer model to arrive.

Game of the Year

Animal Crossing: New Horizons!

It’s not just a game, it’s a cultural phenomenon.

Warrior’s Video Games of 2019 & Game of the Year

Previous Games of the Year

2019 Horizon Chase Turbo (Switch)
2018 Super Smash Bros Ultimate (Switch)
2017 Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)
2016 Yoshi’s New Island (3DS)
2015 Pokemon Shuffle (3DS)
2014 Super Smash Bros (3DS)
2013 Fire Emblem Awakening (3DS)


Donald Trump vs Joe Biden – 2020 Presidential Election Preview

3 November 2020

The most consequential presidential election of all time, and this time it’s true. While Joe Biden talks about the “battle for the soul of the nation”, Donald Trump talks about the existential threat of the nation. The freedoms that Americans love, the constitution that helped forge a nation, the institutions that provide the checks and balances to those in power – they are all under threat. The Democrats have not been shy about it this time, and with them is a posse of fellow elitists including the media and big tech to help foster this totalitarian trend.

Donald Trump speaks at a rally – Image: Reuters

The soul of the nation Biden talks about is more about the character of a president they furiously hate, that they deny he was legitimately elected, and that apparently feeds into some of the violence and rioting seen, and harming the progress of issues like race and social justice. It isn’t true, as these are issues long used by the Democrats to stoke discord and disharmony in order to gain power. It’s part of the playbook from the socialist movement, of which the Democratic elite are fast moving towards, where they believe society is flawed and needs replacement. In their mind, society is the real criminal. Criminals are victims while victims are collateral damage. The only solution is to uproot everything and begin a new society totally subservient to the ruling class.

Joe Biden speaks at a car rally – Image: @JoeBiden

Ironically, this move towards socialism has helped fire up many hispanics, traditionally Democratic voters, to move towards the president. They fled their former homeland due to socialism and tyranny, believing in America as the place of freedom and a better life. They want no return to that, not even a hint. The totalitarianism creeping into our lives has also set off alarm bells in the Republican base and even among some traditional Democratic voters. They see it from basic things like “cancel culture” (that Trump has addressed) to sinister things like the rampantly biased media, censorship and suppression in social media, and expanding the supreme court.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an example in itself of the political landscape, where Democrats lean towards extreme measures of control like lockdowns and federal mask mandates while Republicans prefer to preserve livelihoods and trust the people to follow the health guidance. The Democratic view is all supported by a media running a fear campaign, constantly obsessing about daily deaths while ignoring USA is far from unique in the world, and exposing those that might be “doing the wrong thing” as irresponsible or even murderers. This is in their own estimation of course, as, using mask mandates as an example, being socially distanced without a mask, especially outside, is perfectly safe. A recent survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed 89% of wore masks anyway, yet the media will still froth about the lack of a mask, especially if it is the president or a senior official, and curiously do it from the position of an indoor studio where they are not wearing masks either.

Indeed, President Trump has recognised he’s not facing one opponent this time in Joe Biden, he’s facing five opponents: Biden, COVID-19, the media, big tech and the deep state, including the FBI. In his four years he’s withered the Russia Hoax, the Impeachment Hoax, endless leaks, and anonymous sources fabricating stories to the media. The FBI spied on his campaign in 2016 and knew early on the Russian Colluision investigation was predicated on a fabrication (the Steele Dossier) and there was nothing there, yet they still let it persist. Then they figured Trump obstructed the process somehow. Wrong again. The impeachment over a phone call to the Ukraine president was merely trying put a stain on the president as, until that point, he was surfing to an easy re-election. Even when COVID-19 hit, the Democrats tried to say he caused it, leading to him calling it another Democratic hoax.

With the media in full tow with the Democrats, this has caused the huge division in the country. It’s been feral, even militant, and started practically from day one with the claim Trump removed the Martin Luther King bust from the Oval Office, and it has continued to suppressing the story of Joe Biden potentially getting cash via his son, Hunter, selling influence in China and Ukraine. If this was one of Donald Trump’s sons, it would be wall to wall media coverage.

THE ISSUES

COVID-19, and within that the economic recovery, is the only issue. COVID-19 has been a gift from the Chinese heavens for the Democrats as, from that point on, this election has been COVID, COVID, COVID. Their sole purpose is to make the referendum about Trump and his handling of the virus, and polling shows that’s their strong suit. Polling also shows Trump is more favoured to handle the economy, so there lies the two tangents on this issue. Republicans see Biden as the lockdown candidate while Democrats see Trump as the reckless candidate. This divergence has alleviated many of the criticisms those have against Trump as many Americans want to look forward. They are sick of lockdowns and restrictions, vaccines are arriving soon, and while they see he didn’t handle it well at the start, that’s in the past.

With Europe now in the grip of serious second wave and heading into more lockdowns, it is really a case of there’s not much you can do other than try to live with it. Even Trump rates himself poorly, at least on public relations. While he graded himself an A for the response, it was a D for PR. Indeed, if you look at New York, which had the worst response in the country and potentially the world, the Democratic governor there, Andrew Cuomo, is seen as making a triumphant response and is swanning around selling a book. Let’s all forget that he shoved infected patients into nursing homes and baulked at an idea from Trump to quarantine the city to slow the spread of the virus to the rest of the country.

The big area of critisism against Trump is he never took the virus seriously. The leaked audio where he said he downplayed the virus publically so not to cause a panic, and that it was airborne, is the classic and lethal case of a candidate’s own words proving an opposition’s narrative. Even then, he’s still flubbed the counter response when it was actually quite easy. The China travel ban and declaring a national health emergency was taking it seriously and being honest with the public. The virus isn’t airborne either, which he’s failed to correct. As a respiratory disease, touch and close contact are the primary means of transmission. Also, his own advisers of Dr Birx and Dr Fauci said COVID-19 would be like SARS, so not too contagious and would die out quickly, while in mid January the World Health Organisation said there was no evidence for human transmission. In late February, Fauci was still on TV saying the risk was low and there was no need for people to change anything they are doing. In essence, Trump listened to the experts (as Fauci has confirmed) and they all got it wrong.

Trump’s counter to the mask mania is simple too. He only need point to the person interviewing him and saying “you’re not wearing a mask now”. They’ll say “there’s exceptions”. He’ll say, “there you go” and “what about everyone else socially distanced”. They’ll say, “of course”. He’ll say, “then stop with the political games”. On a specific mandate, he should just say, “It needs to be enforced. With big fines. We don’t need a situation of police harassing ladies sitting in a park by themselves. We’ve issued guidance and it’s up to states and counties to implement them as they see fit. There might be no cases in Wyoming. Why should they wear a mask because New York is in a wave? It’s stupid and an overreach.”

Race and unity is another issue playing around that Trump has failed to counter successfully. While he has at a policy level with record low unemployment for minorities and criminal justice reform (and boosted support from the black and hispanic community), he hasn’t with the narrative. He’s barely mentioned Joe Biden’s “you ain’t black” comment about voters that might vote for Trump, nor the systemic racism the Democrats claim.

At the final debate, Trump could have looked at the black female moderator and said “Joe says you ain’t black if you’re thinking of voting for me” and looked to Biden and say, “The only systemic racism is in your system, Joe. I’m proud of our country. We had a rough start, and look at our progress. We elected a black president twice. While I didn’t vote for him, I was proud of our country. You’re the one stoking racism and division. People are sick of it. That’s why they elected me after 8 years of you and Obama. I see people as people, not as black or white. We want a situation where roughly half of black people vote one way, the other half the other way. I want to win voters on ideas, not your way where people vote based on their race, religion or gender.”

Refer to my Woke Guide to the 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates for a discussion on other issues.

WHO WILL WIN?

The Polls

The polls are conclusive. Biden will win in a landslide. That’s if they can be trusted. They were way out four years ago, between 1% and 7% in the battleground states. The shy Trump voter that existed then, we just don’t know the level of it now and whether the polling has adjusted for it. Indications are it hasn’t and it will close in the battleground states. Approval ratings tell a similar story with Trump around the mid-40s for job approval and Biden roughly 10 points ahead in favourability.

Early Voting

It’s in record numbers of around 100 million people. Typically early voting favours Democrats, and with early voting more than 50% higher than ever before, it suggests a Biden landslide. Of course, COVID-19 has skewed the voting patterns, and the bump is almost exclusively due to that. Also, the gap between Democrats and Republicans voting early is narrower than usual in some places, especially in Florida. Finally, these figures are based on voter registration. There’s a strong chance many registered Democrats will actually vote for Trump.

Enthusiasm

This can be broken down into love vs hate. In terms of love, it’s simply wild for Donald Trump with massive rallies and spontaneous car, boat and caravan parades. It’s remarkable and unprecedented. In contrast, hate is driving the Democratic response – the pathological and endemic hatred of President Trump. With COVID-19, they also have a tool to help deliver their hate and ensure their strategy remains as a referendum on Trump. They’ve kept Biden sequestered – both to ensure the focus stays on Trump and to hide Biden’s ever increasing senility. He’s been forced out more over the past few weeks as Trump showed there is a choice this election. In contrast to Trump’s vitality, Biden looks old and frail. Trump’s effusive and rambunctious rallies where he dances to YMCA are a stark contrast to Biden talking to a handful people of sitting in marked circles or barking angrily at cars in a parking lot. Where crowds chant “I love you” to Trump, Biden gets a few car horns tooting in response. Some of Biden’s appearances have actually seen more Trump supporters show up in mock protest. This election would be a huge landslide to Trump if based on enthusiasm.

Donald Trump rally – Image: @realDonaldTrump

The Ground Game

This is knocking on doors to register people to vote, and even to encourage people to vote. New registrations are high propensity voters too, and Democrats have largely dropped most of this due to COVID-19. Republicans haven’t.

Money

While Joe Biden has raised more money, neither campaigns are struggling. Where the money translates is in advertising, and it’s here where the Biden campaign have been able to swamp the airwaves with twice as much advertising as the Trump campaign. This includes advertising from independent arms known as Super PACS. In some areas, and for close senate races, the advertising superority is even greater. Democrats had a similar advantage in 2016, not that it ultimately mattered. People can become desensitised to too much advertising. In more signs of the shifting party demographics, Democrats rely more on the wealthy for their donations compared to the Republicans.

History

Incumbent presidents rarely lose, the last being Jimmy Carter in 1980 to Ronald Reagan. While George H W Bush technically was one term in 1992, he followed from Reagan as a third Republican term so I discount that has an accurate precedent. That election had a significant third candidate in Ross Perot too, further diluting the historical relevance. In a Gallup poll, 56% of registered voters said they were better off now than 4 years ago with only 32% worse off. Such figures should guarantee re-election. Barack Obama was only 47% and George W Bush 44%.

The Path

Republicans always have it tougher due to the nature of the electoral college system. Essentially, they must win Florida and hold all the Republican-leaning battleground states, Maine’s second congressional district, and then pick off a state that typically goes to the Democrats. Trump managed that easily in 2016 with Pennsylvania (20 electoral college votes), Wisconsin (10) and Michigan (16), so one of those will do again. If he grabs only Wisconsin and loses Maine 2 (Maine and Nebraska are the only states that split electoral votes), it would be 269 each. Then the house of representatives decides the president and the senate decides the vice president. You could end up with Joe Biden president and Mike Pence the vice president.

Michigan and Pennsylvania are the likely wins. Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic governor in Michigan, has angered many voters with the continued lockdowns and draconian rules to control COVID-19, while Pennsylvania are worried by Joe Biden’s many claims during the primary season to ban fracking, and then at the final debate to transition off oil. As a large energy state of working class people, that hasn’t gone down well. Indeed, Trump’s ability to transition the Republican party to more a working or aspirational class one has started to bring other states into play like Minnesota and Nevada. This would help overcome previously Republican-leaning states like Georgia and Arizona moving to toss-up, or even leaning Democrat like Colorado has become.

PREDICTION

Over the months as I’ve listened to so many pundits, looked at so many polls, and watched the respective campaigns in general, I’ve shifted between an obvious Biden win, to a likely Trump win, to a toss up. Instincts can often be trusted and I’ve honed to a 55/45 chance to Biden after being at 60/40 for most weeks. That’s due to the late Trump surge in both the rallies and the polls. Even then, there’s a hidden feeling Trump wins easily. It’s such a mystery because the election is so unconventional due to the massive early voting, the shifting electorate and the wildly different campaign strategies.

The keys will be Florida and Pennsylvania early. If Trump is winning in Florida from the early vote, before they reach the rural panhandle in the next timezone, then it’s at least a contest. If Pennsylvania is solidly trending Trump, that’s a good sign. It needs to be solid there due to them counting pre-poll votes after in-person votes are counted, and allowing other ballots to arrive several days later. Trump looks like he’ll hold Ohio and Iowa (a huge swing there in the polls recently), and if it begins to look good in Wisconsin and Michigan it’s a repeat of 2016. If it’s looking bad for Trump in Florida and Pennsylvania, then the election is over unless something truly bizarre happens. For the sake of something crazy in these really crazy times, a tie would be no surprise.

On a personal level, as someone wary of Donald Trump in 2016 and supported Hillary Clinton to win, I’ve jumped on the Trump Train over the years and thoroughly enjoyed his presidency. The man is funny and knows how to communicate. He’s different, and a vulgarian. I accept his ways. Most of all, he gets the job done. Also over the years I’ve noticed the disturbing trend towards totalitarianism among the political and media elites. I’ve become disgusted with the suppression of free speech and people silenced or attacked for simply stating obvious scientific facts like there’s two sexes. I’m sick of the bias, lying and activism that masquerades as journalism. I’m sick of the false labelling of people as racist or sexist for simply disagreeing with an opinion. I’m sick of the culture of hate that the Democrats and much of the political left have fostered. I’m sick of all of it. One man is leading the fight against it. That man is Donald Trump. It’s rare, if ever, an election has been fought on love vs hate. For the sake of democracy and not rewarding a cynical four-year campaign of hate, division and suppression, love must win… and win big.

Donald Trump is President – What the heck just happened?

Obama’s Legacy – The Reality Check; Trump’s Inauguration

Melbourne Cup 2020 – Preview and Review

2 November 2020

After landing the trifecta and a small bet on the winner, Vow And Declare, last year, let’s twice make it two in a row. As usual, I’ll run my process of elimination by looking at class, form, ability to run the distance, previous Melbourne Cup runs, the poor guide of the Caulfield Cup in recent years, international horses on their first run, mares (female horses) and weight. Top weights and mares rarely do well unless they are superstars and Vow And Declare is the only spark for Caulfield Cup placings (2nd last year) in recent times.

The past three years has seen European 3 year olds perform well, finishing third last year and winning the previous two. Due to the separate breeding season in the northern hemisphere, these horses are closer to 4 year olds on Australian time, so immaturity is much less of a factor while they are still nicely weighted. In contrast, a northern 4 year old is more seasoned and has plenty of exposed form, so ends up quite high in the weights. Weight, more specifically weight difference (weights are reduced in handicaps to even the field), makes a huge difference.

With the temperature 30 degrees tomorrow, that might present a problem for some of the Europeans. Not only are they out of season, the track will likely be firm.

PREVIEW

01 Anthony Van Dyck (IRE) 58.5kg $9

The class horse of the field and second in the Caulfield Cup. Never been over the distance and the weather would be a worry. Probably one to risk.

02 Avilius (GB) 57kg $51

Not in form.

03 Vow And Declare (AUS) 57kg $51

Last year’s winner hasn’t looked like winning since.

04 Master Of Reality (IRE) 56kg $20

Second over the line last year before relegated to fourth after a protest. Hasn’t done much since so go on last year.

05 Sir Dragonet (IRE) 55.5kg $11

Cox Plate winner probably a distance doubt and prefers a wet track.

06 Twilight Payment (IRE) 55.5kg $21

Flopped last year.

07 Verry Elleegant (NZ) 55.5kg $11

Caulfield Cup winner will need to be a superstar to win. Not sure she is. Also a doubt at the distance and prefers it wet.

08 Mustajeer (GB) 55kg $71

Flopped last year.

09 Stratum Albion (GB) 55kg $51

A bit of a plodder. Melbourne Cup winners need a sprint.

10 Dashing Willoughby (GB) 54.5kg $81

Flopped in the Caulfield Cup

11 Finche (GB) 54.5kg $19

Third try at it and always runs on without threatening. Likely a repeat.

12 Prince of Arran (GB) 54.5kg $10

Second last year (after a protest) and third the year before. Ran OK in the Caulfield Cup, which proves he’s at least settled in. The omen bet of the year as he starts from barrier 1 and has a female jockey (Jamie Kah). Just like Prince of Penzance in 2015 with Michelle Payne.

13 Suprise Baby (NZ) 54.5kg $8.50

Need to go on his good run last year when finishing a close 5th. In his few runs since, hasn’t done too much since so go on trust.

14 King of Leogrance (FR) 53.5kg $51

Not good enough.

15 Russian Camelot (IRE) 53.5kg $12

Best of the locally trained horses. Second in a Cox Plate after a hard run, and is a classy horse. Has champion jockey Damien Oliver on board.

16 Steel Prince (IRE) 53.5kg $41

Doesn’t seem quite up to standard and only 9th last year.

17 The Chosen One (NZ) 53.5kg $41

Third in the Caulfield Cup and a flop in last year’s Melbourne Cup. That sort of says two things: he’s average and so was this year’s Caulfield Cup.

18 Ashrun (FR) 53kg $23

I’ll have something on it just for the name. They wanted him to qualify by winning the Geelong Cup (4th) the Wednesday before last so had to win the Hotham Handicap on Saturday to get in. Has good form in Europe and down in the weights. The same trainer won in 2014 with Protectionist so he knows how to get a horse here. It’s whether running three times in such a short period will harm him – something unusual for European horses.

19 Warning (AUS) 53kg $51

Victoria Derby winner last year, and the only two horses to win that then the Melbourne Cup the following year were Efficient in 2007 and Phar Lap in 1930. Ran OK in the Caulfield Cup and was a close up in the Turnbull Stakes. The best of the long shots.

20 Etah James (NZ) 52.5kg $81

No hope.

21 Tiger Moth (IRE) 52.5kg $7.50

Only his fifth start hence the very low weight for a horse that fits the classic profile of those northern hemisphere 3 year olds. His European form is good (in small fields) so will need to go on that and ignore any concerns with inexperience. With no crowds due to the mishandling of COVID-19 in Victoria, it’s only the big field of 24 horses that could frazzle him.

22 Oceanex (NZ) 51.5kg $71

Form not good enough.

23 Miami Bound (NZ) 51kg $35

Ditto.

24 Persan (AUS) 51kg $34

Progressive horse in super form in lower grades. If he can step up, who knows! When I was kid, all I ever did when selecting horses was look at their form, and Persan’s last six runs are 112121.

Melbourne Cup 2020 - Preview & Review
Melbourne Cup 2020 Field by Odds

SELECTIONS

I’m launching for Prince of Arran due to his excellent previous runs and the omen factor with Prince of Penzance in 2015. Tiger Moth is clearly the horse to fear. They’ll be my main two best. I’ll also have a nibble on Ashrun and Persan at longer odds.

For the trifecta I’ll add Russian Camelot as the third horse. For my big trifecta, I include three horses first or second and a bunch in third. That’s how I landed it last year. My other trifecta is a simple 5-horse box (any 5 in any order in the first three) and will add Surprise Baby and Anthony Van Dyck in that mix.

Remember, it’s only gambling if you lose!

REVIEW

03 November 2020

In an exciting race, Twilight Payment superbly led all the way to win from a fast closing Tiger Moth and Prince of Arran. Despite the winning dividend of $23 (so he was hardly an outsider), it was a win that no one predicted. Across the news and the horse racing channels, the only mention was that he was in better form than last year. Even then, his lack of a sprint wiped him as a chance, as the feeling was other horses would run past him like last year. The difference in 2020 was that he set a solid tempo, which took the sprint out of many horses and it was only the final stages as he tired that horses began to close.

Melbourne Cup 2020 Review - Twilight Payment wins ahead of Tiger Moth and Prince Of Arran
Twilight Payment wins the 2020 Melbourne Cup ahead of Tiger Moth and Prince Of Arran

Tiger Moth in second was sensational. He was second past the post the first time, was forced to do the chasing when Twilight Payment and then Finche put the pressure on, and then closed late, falling by about a half a length. Arguably Prince of Arran should have won to improve on his previous results of third and second. Jockey Jamie Kah was too impatient heading into the straight, weaving about trying to find a path through. Had she stuck behind The Chosen One (who finished fourth), she could have peeled off in plenty of time and likely caught the winner. By the time she got out for a run, it was too late. Kah said the horse was “super unlucky”. That’s an understatement. Clearly it’s a race that got away.

In fifth was Persan, who was behind Prince of Arran leading into the straight, and got through on the inside, to emphasise the chance missed by Prince of Arran. Many jockeys said their horses got too far back. In truth, in a solidly run race just 1 second off the race record, they weren’t quite good enough. Only Russian Camelot you could say failed to run the trip after looming as the winner. Of the favourites, Surprise Baby (13th) was the main failure. I always felt this horse was a bit of a hype machine. It had been specifically set for the race this year and the few runs it had in the past year were moderate. It’s like everyone believed the trainer was a secret magician. Sadly, Anthony Van Dyck had to be put down after a fracturing a leg upon entering the straight.

Even though I picked second and third, it was a wipeout for me as I don’t do place bets unless the horse is at big odds. It might also be time not to be so rigid to rules. Other than last year’s big success landing the trifecta, I have to go back to 2011 and 2010 to have picked the winner. Not since Brew in 2000 has a horse returned from a poor Cup result to win the following year. There’s often exceptions to rules, and in the case of Brew and Twilight Payment it was form. As a kid, that was the only thing I’d ever look at, and Twilight Payment’s last four runs were 2113. While I had him in my wide trifecta for third, he was definitely worth a nibble for the win. Always easy in hindsight.

RESULT

1st Twilight Payment – Win $23, Place $6.50
2nd Tiger Moth – Place $2.40
3rd Prince of Arran – $3.30
4th The Chosen One

Quinella: $97.20
Exacta: $211.60
Trifecta: $1806.90
First Four: $38939.50

FINISHING ORDER

01 Twilight Payment
02 Tiger Moth
03 Prince Of Arran
04 The Chosen One
05 Persan
06 Sir Dragonet
07 Verry Elleegant
08 Russian Camelot
09 Finche
10 Ashrun
11 Oceanex
12 Warning
13 Surprise Baby
14 Miami Bound
15 Master Of Reality
16 Steel Prince
17 Etah James
18 Vow And Declare
19 Mustajeer
20 Stratum Albion
21 Dashing Willoughby
22 Avilius
DNF Anthony Van Dyck
SCR King of Leogrance

The Woke Guide to Joe Biden’s Vice President Pick for 2020

12 July 2020

After all the hyperventilation about diversity and inclusion, the Democrats ended up choosing Joe Biden – an old, white, straight male – as their nominee for president. The next best option was another of his ilk, Bernie Sanders. Then it was Elizabeth Warren. Still old, white and straight, she at least was female and had lived her life for decades as a “woman of colour” thanks to her high cheekbones and releasing a book called “Pow Wow Chow – A Collection of Recipes from Families of the Five Civilized Tribes: Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole”. Unfortunately a DNA test showed her as potentially only 1/1024 part Cherokee, and she had to apologise to Native American leaders for her decades of deception, so she’s just another candidate as white as the rest of them.

Sleepy Joe Biden - Democratic Nominee for President 2020 -

Joe Biden – Democratic Nominee for President 2020

It’s not like options were few. The Democrats had over 20 colourful candidates from which to choose. So how did the former vice president Joe Biden win the nomination so easily? Quite simply, it was because he was the former vice president and presented himself as a moderate. His platform was always that he was the most electable, and by having the most name recognition and presenting as one of the few sane candidates among the socialist and radical clown show that comprised most of the rest, he was consistently leading the polls. While voters played around a bit in the first three primaries, notably for Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, once it reached South Carolina, where Biden always polled strong and proclaimed it was the first real test of the primary season, it was over. South Carolina has a large African American population compared to the previous states of Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, and when local and popular US House Representative Jim Clyburn endorsed Biden, that, along with Biden’s 8 years serving with Barack Obama, saw him sweep to a commanding win.

On the eve of Super Tuesday, where over a dozen states and territories would vote, candidates like Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar suddenly withdrew to endorse Biden and put an end to the chances of the more radical Sanders and Warren. Biden won almost all the states that day, the main exception being Sanders winning California, while Warren was out cold, failing miserably even in her home state of Massachusetts, finishing third. In the face of the ever increasing lead in delegates and the Democratic establishment’s clear objective for Biden to be their nominee, Sanders was the last to capitulate and immediately endorsed Biden. Only Warren stopped short of swiftly endorsing Biden, when her campaign ended on Super Tuesday. It took another 6 weeks for the woman of colour to finally endorse the old, white, straight male, hoping to slide into his calculations as his vice president nominee.

THE STATE OF THE RACE

This will be one of the most important picks for vice president, probably ever. The bumbling Biden is getting worse with his mental acuity and ability to form coherent sentences. He’ll likely be a puppet president, with his VP and senior Democrats doing the bulk of the work running the country and making the hard decisions. At 77 years of age, speculation is he’ll only serve one term, meaning he’ll hand the reins to his VP before the 2024 election.

Right now, Biden is camped in his house due to COVID-19, doing the occasional soft interviews, and seems likely to stay there as long as possible. He doesn’t need to do more because the Democratic Party and the media have made sure the opposition to Donald Trump is Donald Trump himself. Any success by Trump, no matter how grand, is spun into catastrophe or is totally ignored by a concerted media operation that’s long bypassed any notion of being objective, or even biased, to being outright militant. There’s no greater example than COVID-19.

After the Russia Hoax, the Obstruction Hoax and the Impeachment Hoax, the militant media is all on board with the COVID-19 Hoax. You only need look at the fawning treatment New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, received for the unmitigated disaster in his state. If New York was a country, it would have almost twice the amount of deaths per million people than the actual worst country, Belgium. Cuomo failed to prepare hospitals despite constant assurances New York was prepared, underplayed the virus well into March, forced nursing homes to take COVID-19 patients, and only started cleaning subway trains in May. Comparing to similarly size states and deaths per million, New York has lost 10 times more people than Florida (and 500% more in nursing homes) and 20 times more than Texas. Yet this clown was touted as a likely last minute replacement of Joe Biden to be the presidential nominee.

In contrast to the abject failure of Cuomo, Trump closed flights from China in late January just 10 days after the first USA coronavirus case, ensured states were got enough ventilators and protective equipment, and even fast-tracked a navy hospital ship to New York that ultimately wasn’t even needed. When Trump said he had the authority to shut down the entire country, states resisted. They were correct, while also showing the actual response for handling the virus was at state and local level. Even an idea to quarantine the COVID-infested New York City from the rest of the country (like China did with Wuhan) was met with howls of abuse. Nothing Trump did would have been good enough.

It’s important to note that models predicted 2.2 million American deaths (currently it’s around 130k or 6% of the prediction, with almost half of that in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut), and all the expert advice right to the end of February, including from Dr Anthony Fauci (chief adviser on COVID-19 to the president), was the virus posed minimal threat, and USA’s first coronavirus death was only on 1 March 2020. No country locked down weeks before any deaths and the latest fad of mask wearing was actively discouraged by experts until recently, so to suggest Trump didn’t “act” (whatever that means) early enough is folly and downright deceitful. In fact, his early action of blocking flights from China was described as racist and xenophobic, even by Joe Biden, and if he was anyone else, he’d be praised for keeping lives lost so below the level the models predicted. It remains to be seen what Biden, or any other president, would have done differently other than perhaps sit at a desk looking smug with a silly slideshow every day. Really, it is style over substance, and such is the militant media’s crusade to destroy Trump’s hopes of re-election, style counts much more than lives.

With COVID-19 and the socialist mob violence and general lawlessness, and expect to see phrases like “The Trump Depression” if the economy begins to suffer after the heavy lockdowns the media championed (it’s actually bouncing back quickly with 7 million jobs added compared to the predicted 8 million more lost), there’s still plenty of ammunition the militant media have to take down Trump. As much as Biden is starring in Weekend At Biden’s, his version of the old Weekend At Bernie’s movie, not enough people, much less the media, care. Indeed, a recent poll showed Republican motivation for voting was 63% to support their candidate and only 33% to vote against their opponent. For Democrats, those figures were reversed. Such that the prime motive for Democrats is to get Trump out of office, a chaff of bag could be the Democratic nominee right now. In Joe Biden, you don’t have much more than that.

THE CANDIDATES FOR VICE PRESIDENT

Joe Biden has already narrowed did his choices to two criteria: 1) a woman; 2) preferably black. After he said “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black”, he’s now almost compelled to pick a black woman to redress that horrendous comment.

Kamala Harris – Senator for California and former attorney general

As I said about her chances in The Woke Guide to 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates, she’s black, she’s a woman, she’s attractive and, most importantly, she looks presidential. She’s well spoken and articulate and, as a former prosecutor, should be able to handle herself in debates. Indeed, in the first presidential debate, Harris insinuated Biden was a racist due to his work with segregationists in the past, particularly over school bussing. Biden slammed the attacks as a mischaracterisation and defended his overall record on race. In the next debate, Biden greeted Harris by saying go easy on me, kid – showing there were no grudges. In that same debate, Tulsi Gabbard hit Harris hard on her incarceration record of black and brown people while attorney journey, and was the beginning of the end for her. Harris proved to be a dreadful candidate with no serious message, saying yes to everything and flailing about on so many topics. That time as a prosecutor still is a negative for her, while her positives still remain… if she can get it together. Supporting a Biden platform, not something of her own, should see her avoid repeating her previous errors.

Chance to be VP nominee: 40%

Val Demings – Representative, Florida (10th District since 2017)

The big appeal is she’s from Florida – probably the most important state in the election. Republicans can’t win without Florida. It’s usually a guide to other swing states, so if Demings delivered Florida (29 electoral votes), Trump would need to reproduce the surprise results of winning Michigan (16), Wisconsin (10) and Pennsylvania (20). Not necessarily win all three, he could win Pennsylvania and one of the others is fine. Or win Michigan and Wisconsin, and flip a state like New Hampshire (4), where he narrowly lost last time. Against Demings is she lacks experience and is a former chief of the Orlando Police Department. With radical Democrats on the “defund police” march, her history in law enforcement might not be palatable. Countering that, in a state like Florida, with an older, moderate population, it could help, because most people think defunding the police is nuts. She was also the impeachment manager against Donald Trump, which could play either way too.

Chance to be VP nominee: 35%

Gretchen Whitmer – Governor of Michigan (since 1/1/2019)

Has a very similar name to the greatest American president of all time – Thomas Whitmore, who led the fight against the alien invasion in Independence Day. While she’s not black, she has a nice shiny, buffed sheen to her complexion, and is equally polished in her presentation and appearance. Gained national exposure by being one of the most tyrannical governors with her COVID-19 restrictions before losing some gloss when some proved too over zealous and irrational, and began threatening longer lockdowns in response to protests against them, and then was exposed as a hypocrite. She’s still popular in the state, and being from Michigan, a generally Democratic state that Trump won in 2016, adds to her appeal. She’s only one of two candidates you could imagine stepping straight into the role as president. The other being Kamala Harris. Donald Trump derides her as Gretchen Half-Whitmer.

Chance to be VP nominee: 25%

Stacey Abrams – Georgia State House Representative 2011-2017

The latest Democratic glamour girl, the Yale educated former lawyer made a name for herself by losing the Georgia election for governor in 2018 despite a powerful campaign and high profile endorsements from the likes of Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey. Losing by over 55,000 votes and 1.4%, she immediately blamed voter suppression. While there were irregularities (notably 53,000 registrations were delayed), such was the size of the win and the large voter turn-out, it didn’t matter. Election officials said the irregularities didn’t stop people from voting, while no evidence has been found indicating malfeasance. Abrams is still whinging about it and playing the victim, as most Democratic losers do. She’s been clearly auditioning for the VP slot, even suggesting if Biden doesn’t pick a woman of colour (her), he’s racist. Under the pen name Selena Montgomery, she has written several adult fiction novels, including Hidden Sin, Secrets And Lies, Never Tell and Deception. That could be her Democratic stump speech. As much as so many people (mostly herself) want to believe, she has no hope.

Chance to be VP nominee: 0%

Susan Rice – former National Security Adviser

A name mentioned more in the “who else can we think of who’s black” vein. These people that worked in national security are typically policy people, not politicians. She’s infamous for going on five Sunday news shows and lying about the cause of the Benghazi terrorist attack on the USA embassy in Libya on 11 September 2012 as being “spontaneous response from protesters to an internet video”. While the Obama administration obviously sent her out with this lie, it’s a stain on her career, and something Republicans could exploit. She was ambassador to the United Nations at the time, becoming NSA the following year.

Chance to be VP nominee: 0%

Keisha Lance Bottoms – Atlanta Mayor since 2018

Made a great speech against the rioters and looters spoiling the message from the peaceful protests over George Floyd’s death. She’s very attractive, quite young (born 1970) and speaks well too. Again, seems to be a name mentioned because of her colour. She has no national profile and would likely be attacked as too inexperienced to become president, not to forget a “President Bottoms” would be the butt of many jokes.

Chance to be VP nominee: 0%

Michelle Obama – former First Lady

The right colour and the right name. You could imagine she’d really excite the Democratic base and wouldn’t be a surprise selection. She’s constantly and unequivocally said no way, and with the current race issues in the USA now, she could easily be framed as “your husband did nothing for 8 years” and, indeed, has trafficked in the divisive identity politics as much as he has. The United States seems now looking for solutions, not Democrats wooing the black community every four years with “vote for us, Republicans are racist”, and doing nothing in between.

Chance to be VP nominee: 0%

Elizabeth Warren – Senator for Massachusetts since 2013

Many of the socialist ilk want her, and she’d be a good campaigner. In reality, she’s too polarising, would really expose the socialist drift of the current Democratic Party, and her “woman of colour” heritage and other deceptions that already sunk her presidential campaign would be big targets. You can already hear Donald Trump reviving the Pocahontas nickname or calling her “Sleepy Joe Biden’s woman of colour”. If she could only finish third in her own state’s Democratic presidential primary, that says it all.

Chance to be VP nominee: 0%

Amy Klobuchar – Senator for Minnesota since 2007

Even with the push for a black female candidate gathering momentum, Klobuchar was probably a 20% chance until the George Floyd episode in Minnesota materialised. She was the former County Attorney for Hennepin County (which covers Minneapolis), and her lack of prosecuting police misconduct during her tenure has seen her chances evaporate. If not for that, she had good credentials with her career in the senate and presenting well in her run for president this cycle. Only holding her back was that she’s a bit bland and often sounds nervous when she speaks. Seeing that she now has no hope, she’s withdrawn herself as an option and got on board with Biden picking a black female.

Chance to be VP nominee: Withdrawn

Hillary Clinton – former First Lady, Secretary of State and Senator for New York

If Biden totally loses it before the Democratic convention, or even afterwards, especially if Biden’s VP pick is inexperience, she could be drafted to be the presidential nominee. She desperately wants to be president and both she and the Democrats would like nothing more than revenge over Donald Trump. Doing it via the VP route would be too difficult now and look too cynical.

Chance to be VP nominee: 0%

THE PICK

While Kamala Harris is the obvious one and has the highest chance at 40%, there’s something to be said for Val Demings by being the fresh face on the scene. Often VP picks are the opposite of the presidential nominees: the fresh Obama went for the experienced Biden, while the experienced John McCain went for the fresh Sarah Palin. Of course, the fiery Donald Trump went for the calm and stable governor from Indiana, Mike Pence. With Biden being the old, white and stale male, a youthful and fresh Demings would be his ideal running mate. The fact she could help swing Florida would be irresistible too. If it’s planned, or it looks likely, Biden only serves one term, then they’ll not only want someone more experienced, they’ll likely want to reward someone that ran for president this cycle, and that would be Kamala Harris. If the Biden camp have doubts with Harris’ ability on the campaign trail (she’ll have even greater responsibility if Biden stays isolated at home), Demings’ inexperience, and don’t forget their respective (and problematic) histories in law enforcement, then it would be Gretchen Whitmer. That she’s not black wouldn’t matter if she helps get Trump out of office, and the selection might prove a positive for Biden in that he put credentials ahead of skin colour.

The Woke Guide to 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates

State of the 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates before Iowa

State of the 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates before Super Tuesday

 

 

State of the 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates before Super Tuesday

3 March 2020

Then there were two! That’s the way it seems after Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg ended their presidential campaigns and endorsed Joe Biden. The other main candidate running is socialist, Bernie Sanders. While technically there’s still Elizabeth Warren and Tulsi Gabbard, and Mike Bloomberg doing whatever he’s trying to do, the Democratic nomination is down to two old, white, straight men. So much for progress!

Remaining 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates before Super Tuesday - Preview

Remaining 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates before Super Tuesday

Progress was meant to be the Democrats’ mantra for choosing their nominee for president this 2020 cycle. By progress they meant anyone other than old, white, straight and male. Or, at least, avoid the white and the male bits. That was the basis of The Woke Guide to 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates where I had Kamala Harris as the obvious choice with a 75% chance and covered all the issues affecting the race. Once Harris imploded, and none of the other “diversity candidates” could gain traction (mostly because they were all nuts), in the State of the 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates before Iowa, Joe Biden became the obvious choice, again with a 75% chance. It seems, now, the only way someone like Kamala Harris can get to the highest office in the land is as a vice president pick for one of these old, white men, and hope one of them keels over, or at least resigns after unable to fulfil their duties due to exhaustion or senility.

At this stage of the race, after Biden swamped the field in South Carolina to pick up most of that state’s delegates, the total delegate count is quite even between Sanders and Biden, with Sanders leading 60 to 54. Buttigieg is next with 26, Warren 8 and Klobuchar 7. Bloomberg has yet to appear on the ballot so Super Tuesday will be his first test with the voters.

In contrast to the single state caucuses and primaries so far, Super Tuesday will involve 14 states, the territory of American Samoa, and the start of the Democrats Abroad primary. Also in contrast to the early states, there’ll be a huge amount of delegates on offer, with California alone providing 415 and Texas 228. Whereas the first four states provided just 4% of the total delegates, Super Tuesday will provide about 34%. This is why it’s make or break time, and also why Bloomberg skipped the first four states, instead concentrating his huge financial resources on Super Tuesday to make a big sweep of the delegates.

THE LATEST LOSERS

Pete Buttigieg (mayor, South Bend, Indiana)

Never a hope given his low stature as a lowly mayor of a lowly town in lowly Indiana. It’s only that he’s openly gay that he got any attention. In effect, he executed gay privilege. Personally, the cynical use of religion showed his real ugly side. Often quoting scripture, he’d suggest a true Christian would never vote for Donald Trump. Fairly sure that’s not correct, and definitely sure that’s not the way to unite a country. Donald Trump has succeeded with Christians because of policy decisions, like the two justices he’s put on the supreme court. In contrast, Buttigieg proposed expanding the supreme court, and stacking it with favourable justices. From an initial chance of 1%, I rated him 0% before Iowa, and now he’s out. Good riddance.

Amy Klobuchar (senator, Minnesota)

Her problem was she always lack authority, especially in that she sounds nervous when speaking. A 5% chance initially, then up to 10% before Iowa. A strong third place in New Hampshire was encouraging before she cratered in Nevada and South Carolina. She needed to go after Sanders earlier to show she’s not one of the bonkers radicals, and go after Biden to show she’s the most capable moderate. As it stood, she was mostly flailing about for attention.

Andrew Yang (entrepreneur)

Other than his bonkers plan of a $1000 payment every month to every adult American (his “freedom dividend” or universal basic income), he didn’t stand for much, and should have used his famed math skills to expose the massive financial implications of the radical ideas proposed by other candidates, notably Sanders. I gave him a 3.902% chance initially, before dropping him to 0% before Iowa. He quit after failing badly in the first two states.

THE FAILED NEWBIES

Tom Steyer, who believed his climate change obsession would offset his huge negatives of being a wealthy, white, straight, old, male former hedge-fund manager, quickly learnt climate change policy rates low in priority, even for Democrats. Deval Patrick, the former governor of Massachusetts, made no impact, despite being African American. With Kamala Harris and Cory Booker failing, why is it that Democrats are so racist?

STILL IN IT

Joe Biden (former senator, Delaware; vice president 2008-2016)

With Klobuchar and Buttigieg bailing just days before Super Tuesday and endorsing Biden at a rally in Dallas on polling eve, a key strategic move is obviously afoot to ensure Biden wins the nomination. With those two still in it, the so-called moderate vote gets split, and the risk is none of them get any delegates if they all fall below the 15% threshold. Sanders could get them all, and if got all 415 delegates in California, that really is it. Even Bob O’Rourke (this blog refuses to indulge fake hispanics with their fake “Beto” moniker) appeared at the rally for Biden. While Biden had 5% chance at the start and a chance 75% before Iowa, he’s now a 95% chance to win the nomination.

Bernie Sanders (independent senator, Vermont)

Has finally begun to face a barrage of attacks, notably for his sympathy to the authoritarian regime in Cuba, and for the mind-blowing costs of all his promises. Even his Medicare For All scheme, which would actually ban all private health insurance, would cost, at a minimum, $32 trillion over 10 years. Some estimates put it above $50 trillion. Then there’s the Greed New Deal (not Green New Deal, because it’s actually a front for the government taking over all aspects of the economy), free college tuition, relieving all college debt, free childcare, free whatever else, you’re at least $120 trillion over 10 years. Considering the budget is $4 trillion a year and revenue only $3 trillion (yes, there’s already an annual deficit of $1 trillion), anyone can see there would need to be massive tax increases to pay for all this. Notably that would be a large federal sales tax, or VAT, of 25%. This is how European countries pay for their generous welfare states. As social democracies, they actually believe in capitalism and have low company tax (around 20%). They’re not socialist as Sanders likes to describe. I never rated him a chance, saying he was on the scrap heap before he begun. It was also inevitable that the Democrats would not allow a crazy old socialist to be their nominee.

Elizabeth Warren (senator, Massachusetts)

Seems to be only sticking around to be the key attack dog against Mike Bloomberg. She’s been caught out with her fakness, elitism and lies too often. Her chance went up to 5% (up from an initial 1/1024) before Iowa as she temporarily was flavour of the month after good debate performances. Now it’s 0%. Her election results have been poor so it’s only a matter time before she quits.

Tulsi Gabbard (representative, Hawaii)

Sticking around only to cause trouble, notably to hold the Democratic National Committee to account, and to sue Hillary Clinton for calling her a Russian asset. She was always the most articulate and knowledgeable of the candidates and, with Kamala Harris, my favourite from the start. Started with a 5% chance, then dropped to 0% before Iowa, and now ostensibly is out of it. With her calm, rational disposition, and being such an independent thinker that she is, her likely next step is in the media.

Michael Bloomberg (former Mayor of New York City)

His only chance is for a brokered convention. If no candidate gets the 1991 pledged delegates as required, the super delegates (party leaders and officials who comprise about 15% of all convention delegates) will vote, and be added to the pledged total, with a new target of 2376 required. After that, all the pledged delegates become unpledged and anything goes. Hard to see them going for Bloomberg over Biden, as Bloomberg has troubles with black voters due to his “stop and frisk” policy when mayor of New York. He’s been exposed in the debates too, so the 10% chance before Iowa is now a 0% chance to win electorally, and 5% at a brokered convention. More likely, his role in this process is to deny Sanders reaching 1991 so bringing the super delegates into play, and potentially a brokered convention. It’s quite amazing that a party that rails against the electoral college system in the presidential election persists with the same style of system in their nomination phase, and, worse, allows the concept of super delegates to interfere with a democratic outcome. The Republicans do not have super delegates interfering. The Democrats really should have a series of national elections and run-offs to decide their nominee if they’re sincere that the popular will of the people is the only fair system.

PREDICTION

Joe Biden. He’s actually been solid in the polls right from the start, and only dropped a little as voters flirted with other candidates over the months. The key will be in California and Texas, where Sanders did have a healthy lead. After Biden’s impressive result in South Carolina, especially with black voters, and the recent drop-outs and endorsements, he looks set to recover much of that ground and have a super Super Tuesday. With Democrats awarding delegates on a proportional basis (not winner-take-all like the Republicans typically do at this point), he’ll need a roughly 50/50 split, if not a bit better, to set himself up for the nomination. He’ll likely pick Kamala Harris as his running mate to be vice-president.

DONALD TRUMP

The Republicans still do have a primary process, and despite a popular sitting president and no real challengers, Republicans have voted in record numbers. Trump has massive approval rating among Republicans, and his rallies are off the scale. He’s in a far better situation now than four years ago so would be favoured to win against any Democrat in November. While Sanders is the only Democrat with the similar sort of passion as Trump, it’s far less numerically, and he risks alienating too many moderate Democrats with his radical policies anyway. If Trump wins big on election day, this would impact down-ballot races too, meaning a strong chance the Republicans regain the House.

Donald Trump Acquitted – Why Impeachment Failed – The Facts