Bob Franken




Microsoft announced recently that starting today individuals using their various accounts won’t need to use passwords. Big bloomin’ deal! If you were underwhelmed by that declaration, you were probably aware that passwordless access has been available for Microsoft’s corporate clients since March.
More importantly, various competitors have offered such features as fingerprint recognition, facial recognition, odor recognition (best used with a dog), driverless cars (best used with a driver; they have a tendency to have accidents), and now cashierless grocery stores where Amazon is making everyone happy (except cashiers and shoplifters).
And speaking of meaningless exercises, here’s another case in point: the California recall election scam (a redundancy), which was accompanied by the punditocracy filling the void with words, proving that Aristotle was right: “Nature abhors a vacuum.”

The outcome was never in doubt; Gov. Gavin Newsom was never in danger of losing. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1 in California. Donald Trump lost California in 2020 by 30%. Newsom’s leading opponent, conservative radio host Larry Elder, was even more of a buffoon than Trump was in the state, and President Joe Biden got a lot of mileage out of it. “All of you know last year I got to run against the real Donald Trump.” He went on, “Well, this year, the leading Republican running for governor is the closest thing to a Trump clone that I have ever seen in your state.”
Biden wouldn’t have said that if Trump or Elder was a threat to Newsom. He wouldn’t even have been out there if he didn’t expect that Gavin would wipe the floor with Larry, and the other 40 odd opponents (and some of them were really odd), which he did.
But pundits got to puntificate, and they did, both before and after it was over. “The key to this election is turnout,” said the political experts. If Democrats were not going to turn out, there would have had to be a disease that wiped out only their party. And did anyone point out that if consultants specialized in turnout, they would be hired at exorbitant wages? I mean, how many would be employed if they said something like, “This is a slam dunk; the Democrats have got this in the bag!”?
It got worse after the polls closed. Not only did Newsom lap the field by a 30 point margin, but he automatically became one of “the mentionables,” meaning he would be one of those mentioned if Democrats with presidential appeal were the topic of conversation. Of course, that line of thinking has limited appeal, because Joe Biden has a lock on the office — until he doesn’t, if, say, something unpredictable were to happen. In which case the lock would switch to Kamala Harris, unless she pulled a Mike Pence.
Pence was Donald Trump’s No. 1 bootlicker until the last moments of the administration, when he dared not do anything illegal, like telling a big lie about his power to sway Trump’s “big lie.” The Trumpster controls the party through intimidation, and the next presidential nomination is Trump’s if he wants it, unless he goes to jail or something.
Or the Democrats live down to their reputation of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Actually, it’s premature to talk presidential politics since there’s a midterm election for control of Congress before then. If that goes bad for the Ds, it could open an entire can of worms. Although the worms have already turned with Afghanistan and the new surge in COVID, thanks to the delta variant and the lack of patriotism on the part of anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers.
So the recall hyperbole will last as long as there’s nothing more for the self-serving pundits and candidates to exaggerate.
Sen. Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, was quoted in The Washington Post as saying, “I don’t think a recall election in California means much at all.” He’s probably got the password to this election, which was to pass. Sen. Blunt has chosen to do so and not to run next year.

© 2021 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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