Election 2016: How We Really Lost (By The Numbers, Part 3)

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(This is about the election. Because so many Democratic and progressive voters are still debating what happened, and because a forthright postmortem is essential to the Democratic Party moving forward effectively [and is, to all indications, something they don’t actually care to do], I’ve researched what the numbers actually tell us. I find it interesting. If you don’t, that’s fine. If your highest caliber response is to school me on paying attention to this when you want me to pay attention to something else I’m probably also paying attention to, just keep it to yourself.)

Would Bernie Sanders have won? Did Hillary Clinton lose because of Russia/FBI/Mercury retrograde? Was she a good candidate? Was he?

In a discussion elsewhere of factors which led to Donald Trump’s win, I pointed out that Clinton’s favorability ratings throughout her entire 2015/2016 campaign remained historically awful, never hitting a point where a majority of voters saw her positively. Someone asked about the polls before the election which seemed (unlike the polls throughout the months prior) to show her handily beating Trump. Nate Silver was mentioned.

The thing is, though Clinton enjoyed bumps in the polls toward the end, in most cases her edge remained within the margin of error. Real Clear Politics, which tracks and averages all the major polls, had her lead at only 3.2% going into election day. This was just slightly better than her polls against Trump had generally been all along (you might remember those weak numbers during the primaries because some people said they indicated she might lose).

The big numbers predicting her win were projections of probability of her winning according to the biases of those making the projections. Silver, for example, gave Clinton a 71.8% chance of winning (and he was actually accused of being too pessimistic). This didn’t mean he expected her to get 71.8% of the vote. In fact, he predicted she would get 48.5% and Trump would get 45%, a margin of only 3.5%, a number which was, you guessed it, within the margin of error.

But the polls pitting the candidates against each other were only part of the story. Just as, and possibly more, important were the candidates’ favorability polls which indicate how liked and trusted each was. This should have been an important consideration because no candidate had ever won the presidency with a net negative favorability with voters.

When she entered the race in April 2015, Hillary Clinton’s favorability/unfavorability rating was 44%/52%. A net negative of -8 points.

When he entered the race in April 2015, Sanders’s favorability/unfavorability was 20%/27%. Lower scores in both, and a net negative of -7 points. But 54% of voters had no opinion because they didn’t know him, compared to 4% for Clinton.

By November, 2015, Clinton’s favorability/unfavorability was 41%/52%. Net negative -11 points.

By November, 2015, Sanders’s favorability/unfavorability was 41%/37%. Net positive +4 points.

By the Democratic National Convention at the end of July 2016, Clinton’s favorability/unfavorability was 42%/56%. Net negative -14 points.

By the Democratic National Convention, Sanders’s favorability/unfavorability was 53%/36%. Net positive +17 points.

By the election, Clinton’s favorability/unfavorability was 43%/56%. Net negative -13 points.

By the election, Sanders’s favorability/unfavorability was 59%/33%. Net positive +26 points.

So what we see is that throughout the entire primary season and the general election, Hillary Clinton’s favorability scores remained roughly static. Nothing she did after November 2015, months before the email leaks or FBI fishiness, boosted her numbers. Likewise, none of the allegedly critical negative events of the election dropped her scores much further. She stayed at her net negative score, with a constant majority seeing her unfavorably, from DAY ONE up to her loss. Voters had pretty much made up their minds about Hillary Clinton before she even started running.

Would Sanders have fared better in the general, as so many of us think? He did, after all, go from a -7 net negative as a relative unknown to +26 net positive. And he managed to close Clinton’s initial sixty point lead to give her a very tense fight through the primaries.

Clinton, meanwhile, not only just got less popular, she, a globally renowned candidate with a huge war-chest of corporate cash and the support of the entire Democratic establishment, squandered a sixty point lead to a little known, grumpy old senator from a small state.

And, of course, Sanders always beat Trump in the polls by double digits, while Trump was the only GOP candidate whom Clinton would usually beat, though always by a narrow margin. Like that 3.5% Nate Silver spun into a 72% probability of victory.

Sanders now has 56% favorability (32% unfavorability; Clinton has 40% favorable, 54% unfavorable). Among Democrats, he has 80%. Among Republicans, he has 31%; that’s right, nearly a third of GOP voters actually like and trust Bernie Sanders. Among Trump voters, 27% favorable. You know, those voters we’re told would never have crossed over to vote for him?

And how does he score with Clinton voters? 86% favorable. That’s twice Clinton’s favorability on election day, while the majority of her voters (54%) said they were voting for her only to vote against Trump.

A lot of people run with that line about how the Republicans would have attacked Bernie in the primary, and maybe his numbers would have fallen to Clintonesque levels as a result. They never seem to grok the fact that Clinton was already down there, and Bernie would have had to fall thirty-one points in the short time after the convention to sink to her level.

I think the numbers tell the tale. I tell you only because I’m sick of seeing Clinton fans slander Sanders and blame her loss on him (one I saw just before starting to put this post together said, “OMG Bernie people, just STFU and think about how you ruined everything!”). All the data indicates that Bernie had a big chance of winning, while Hillary had a slender chance and was so relentlessly unpopular that the slightest puff of ill wind (an ambiguous FBI announcement, evidence of unethical collusion with the DNC, refusal to take a stand on the Dakota pipeline…) might destroy her shot.

The fact is, Hillary Clinton ended her race as she began, the single most unpopular Democratic candidate in history, while Bernie Sanders started as a relatively unknown, impossible long-shot and finished as literally the most popular politician in the United States.

Anyone who thinks that wouldn’t have (probably) made all the difference is in denial.

By The Numbers, Part 1: How Democrats Continue to Lose

By The Numbers, Part 2: Who’s Our Champion Now?

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By The Numbers, Part 2: Who’s Our Champion Now?

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(This is the second of three posts regarding Democratic attitudes and performance, both in the election and at present. Part 1 showed how the Democratic Party  has rapidly shrunk, even after the election, and showed the public attitudes toward its leaders and their GOP counterparts. There will be some overlap in my references to certain data through the three posts.)

I’m often accused of “relitigating” the Democratic primaries because I still vocally support Bernie Sanders (who is now in Democratic Party leadership and is their frontman in most of their actions against Trump) and I occasionally still criticize Hillary Clinton (who is now…uh…tweeting sometimes, I guess).

The main reason I do this is because I am, like many progressives, fighting to strengthen the party through reform, trying to force a failing party away from the corporatist policies and out of the calcified bubble of privilege which led to its catastrophic failures in the past quarter century. Part of that is very much a frank look at where it failed in the last election, both with its presidential candidate and with its national strategies.

Another part is actively countering those who do not want the party to change, or who are themselves still litigating the primaries. While I may post things like, “Hillary Clinton not only didn’t even go to Wisconsin to campaign, she bought seven times more TV ads in Los Angeles than she did in Milwaukee,” I see other folks post things like, “I fucking hate Bernie Sanders, Trump is his fault.” I hope you’ll recognize that my posts are generally a sharing of information, not invective, while much of what I see from those standing in defense of Clinton and the entrenched party establishment is pure venom. I often feel my skin crawl after reading through a thread from these folks.

Mind you, #NotAllClintonistas. I’m not saying no Clinton supporters offer reasoned arguments, nor am I saying all Sanders supporters avoid nasty invective. There is a lot of anger out there, and a hell of a lot of people are blinded by it and, often, not actually as informed as they should be. There are a few lefty folks in my feed who are my natural allies, who share very good information, but will often veer into crazy land and make their posts unshareable because I don’t want to be associated with irrational nonsense, even if offered up with otherwise sound info.

While many on the left who disagree with me seem to detest progressive voters, I harbor no ill will toward Clinton supporters, though I do think all of the data we have available strongly indicates that the Nader effect during this election wasn’t a third party vote in the general, it was a Clinton vote in the primaries. I understand why some folks thought she was the better choice even though I don’t agree. Those voters voted for her because they believed in her, or at least believed in her greater electability. And to whatever degree they support a Democratic party which serves the actual needs of the American people, they are my allies.

As for the folks who spew hate toward Bernie and toward the left, I am relieved to discover that, though very loud, they are in a nasty little minority, even among Democrats (just as the nasty Bernie supporters are a sliver of the community, just as they always were, no matter how much the DNC and Clinton campaign tried to insist otherwise).

According to a recent poll by YouGov and The Economist, Bernie Sanders has:

56% favorability among all Americans
(higher even than Obama’s 53%)

80% favorability among registered Democrats

85% favorability among liberals

31% favorability among Republicans
(that’s right: almost a third of Republicans actually like Bernie)

53% favorability among all men

58% favorability among all women
(note that’s higher than among men because, you know, “Bernie Bros”)

52% favorability among all whites

64% favorability among all Blacks
(note that’s higher than among whites, and most “Bernie Bros” are supposed to be white)

58% favorability among all Hispanics
(ditto)

61% favorability among “Other” races
(ditto)

86% favorability among those who voted for Hillary
(note that on the day of the election, Hillary had 43% favorability, exactly half Bernie’s number here, not even a majority, and 56% unfavorability)

27% favorability among those who voted for Trump
(you know, all those voters we’re told Bernie absolutely couldn’t have gotten; Trump, by the way, had 39% favorable/60% unfavorable on election day)

Bernie Sanders finished the primaries as the most popular politician in the country, and he remains so. So don’t be surprised when people champion him for continuing to champion us, or when they voice regret that he didn’t get the chance to beat Trump, or when they simply say good things about him. He isn’t old news, he is, arguably, the current leader of the Democratic party, at least to the American people. And to the degree the Democrats embrace him and his policies, they have a greater chance to prevail.

(Oh, and in case you’re interested, Elizabeth Warren has a 34% favorability among all voters. Just so you know where the other “progressive champion” stands.)

And as for those acid-spewing Bernie haters on the left, I assume they’re in the “very unfavorable” category which makes up a pathetic 6% of Democrats. Nurse that grudge, you’re so insignificant you’re basically the margin of error.

By The Numbers, Part 1: How Democrats Continue To Lose

By The Numbers, Part 3: ELECTION 2016: How We Really Lost

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Trump People (And The Terrible Moment I Was One Of Them)

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Cliff Caldwell was a splintered twig of a kid, short and gangly, a twitchy scarecrow without enough stuffing. His hair was blond and dirty, but always combed down with a troubling precision. He stared at the world through glasses with big thick frames, and his clothes were ratty and didn’t fit right.

Cliff wasn’t very smart, and he moved from grade to grade largely out of an embarrassing agreement by teachers to pass him rather than actually help him in any meaningful way. Teachers even allowed him to grade his own tests because his handwriting was incomprehensible.

Outside of school, you’d sometimes see Cliff walking along the roadside, stomping swiftly along, his gaze fixed straight ahead as if he were racing obsessively toward some definite goal. He was going where he was going, and he seemed oblivious to everything around him.

I don’t know how old we were when I met Cliff, I just remember him always being around when I was a teenager. He was one of those unfortunate kids who was born broken, who can’t function properly, and who thereby becomes the target of derision and abuse from most of his peers.

The last I heard about Cliff was in 2009, when this happened:

“The holidays can cause stress for all of us. This must particularly apply to those slaving in Santa’s workshop. One case in point: 45 year old William C. Caldwell, III, surely the frontrunner for 2009 Angry Elf of the Year.

“It may come as no surprise to anyone that your local mall Santa receives excellent security training these days. And a good thing, too. On Wednesday evening, the mall Santa on duty at Southlake Mall in Morrow, Georgia came face to face with a potentially explosive situation. The 45 year old Mr. Caldwell, in full elfin attire, wanted his picture taken with Santa. When his turn came, he informed Santa that he had in fact brought some of his own tools from the workshop… specifically, a bag of dynamite.

“It probably should have raised a few eyebrows that a 45 year-old man, dressed as an elf, was standing in line with a bunch of kids waiting to speak with Santa… particularly when he’s got this look in his eyes:

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“…The quick thinking Santa immediately informed the Southlake Mall security team of the potentially dangerous elf. Authorities contacted local police who evacuated the mall, blocked off streets and cordoned off the area. Georgia Bureau of Investigation officers arrived along with the Morrow Police. They completed an exhaustive search of the mall. Three suspicious bags were discovered near Santa, but no explosives. Fear that Caldwell would actually drop an elf bomb subsided after the ‘all clear’ was given at 10 p.m., local time…”

Fortunately, this was at worst a crazy whim of Cliff’s tormented mind, at best an actual cry for help. No one was hurt. I have no idea what happened with Cliff after he was arrested, but I hope he found some badly needed help and some happiness and peace.

The reason I’m telling you about Cliff is that he was instrumental in my learning a lesson about myself that has stuck with me for years, a lesson that makes me all too able to understand some of the dark impulses that drive many of the people who support Donald Trump (and, frankly, the Republicans in general).

I’m already quite familiar with the basic unenlightened and racist mindset we see flying its Confederate flag at Trump rallies. I’m from Georgia and was raised by those people. But the lesson I learned through Cliff Caldwell is about something deeper and more intimate than that, about the very nature of self and how it can turn rotten.

As I said, Cliff was often a target of abuse from our peers, from cruel insults and mockery to outright violence. I remember sitting nearby in one class as a group of popular kids (the oft stereotyped jocks and cheerleaders, acting according to stereotype) clustered around Cliff’s desk alternately teasing him and acting like they were his friends. Everyone would laugh. Why not? It was just Cliff Caldwell.

One day, in tenth or eleventh grade, a group of bullies started pushing Cliff around in the locker room, shouting in his face, yanking at his clothes, shoving him into the wall. Laughing at him. To my lifelong shame, I joined them.

Why did I do that? I was a kindhearted kid, a gentle kid, a smart kid who had somehow never absorbed the racism or bigotry I’d been raised in. I had not only always treated Cliff with kindness, I’d stood up for him at times. And here I was,  clawing at his arm, laughing in his face.

It was because, as strong as my sense of self was, as deep my compassion, I was broken too. I was horribly abused at home, so depressed I came close to suicide several times, and of uncertain social value among my peers. I felt small. I felt threatened. And on another day, it might have been me under attack instead of Cliff, though I was at least able to fight. Cliff wasn’t.

I joined that hateful little mob because I desperately wanted to belong. I desperately wanted to be one of the popular kids. And I wanted them to know I was one of them, not a pitiful wimpy target like Cliff, so they would leave me alone.

I thought I was showing strength. But I was really showing the depths of my own despair and weakness.

Then, I really lost it and did something that degraded me far more than it degraded Cliff.

I spat on him.

I actually fucking spat on him.

And this other kid, I can’t remember his name, looked me right in the face with such a look of disgust that it burned me to the quick. “You spit on him?” he shouted, and pulled me back.

And that, my friends, was the moment of epiphany. Through that guy’s eyes, I saw what a craven piece of shit I had allowed myself to become in my desire to belong and to be on top.

I lashed out because I was weak and afraid, and I went too far. I’m pretty sure I’d have walked away ashamed of myself anyway because, as I said, I was a good kid. This was an aberration. But good kid or not, it was me attacking and spitting on a kid whose only sin was that he couldn’t function in the world, a kid fighting his own battles who didn’t need me adding to them.

That other kid, that hero, didn’t become a part of the mob, didn’t give in to those dark petty drives. And he jerked me back into the right, painfully and swiftly, and I am forever in his debt. His disgust with me taught me this necessary lesson much more powerfully than I’d have learned it on my own. I had allowed myself to be drawn into terrible dark waters, and he helped me back to shore.

Trump people swim in those dark waters. They ignore the shore. They thrive out there, making themselves feel strong by tearing others down. The poor, the lost, the weak, the Others…all targets of chthonic rage that can’t find a healthy outlet because the members of the mob don’t bother looking for one. They scream at the light because, like that hero kid’s eyes on me, it makes them see themselves. But they never learn the lesson I learned in that horrible moment.

They are more comfortable in the dark, with their own kind.

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Cookie Monster Presents The Song Of The Week, 8/30/2012

It’s all about the cookies this week…

First, this isn’t a song, but it is the funniest damn thing I’ve seen in a couple or three weeks on the internet. I’ve probably watched it twenty or more times and I always laugh:

Our actual song this week I offer in honor of the Republican National Convention currently infesting Tampa, “God’s Away On Business” by Tom Waits, karaoked by Cookie Monster…

I’d sell your heart to the junkman baby
For a buck, for a buck…
If you’re looking for someone to pull you out of that ditch
You’re out of luck, you’re out of luck…

North East West South 3/1/2009

N.E.W.S. of the day…with smartassery.

Bobby Jindal: i can haz gravitaz?

For those who were worried that the loss of George W. Bush would be a terrible blow to comedians across the land, rest assured that the Republican Party is just as dedicated to providing buffoons for us to laugh at as it is to promoting tax cuts for the idle rich as the only solution for everything from genital warts to possible catastrophic asteroid collision.

Sarah Palin and Joe the Unlicensed Plumber Not Named Joe were great buffoons, and Rush Limbaugh has really been pulling his weight lately, but ladies and gents, we have a new champeen: Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

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Knowing they couldn’t beat President Obama on charm or substance, the GOP wisely chose to beat him on laughs, and pulled the goofiest Joker from their misbegotten deck to provide the official Republican response to Obama’s big speech before Congress.

Jindal is another entry in the new Minstrel Show the Republicans are putting on to show that they have colored folks too, and are, in the words of RNC Chairman Michael Steele, “off the hook.” (And Steele himself is quite the Negro, apparently, since Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachman told him “Michael Steele! You be da man! You be da man!”) (And Bachman herself recently bemoaned the tragic circumstance that “we’re running out of rich people in this country…” and I could just keep digressing and digressing at the idiocy this party has to offer, but I am supposed to be talking about Jindal right now…)

Jindal came bobbing onto screen and started talking in a Gomer-Pyle-with-a-head-wound way that seemed to uncannily channel Kenneth the Page on 30 Rock (this observation is in no way original to me, it’s all over the net, and Jack McBrayer even went on The Late Show in character to comment on it). Not only did he come across as an idiot, he told a dramatic story about how he courageously stood up to government bureaucracy during rescue operations during Hurricane Katrina which his office has now been forced to acknowledge was a lie.

But Jindal’s creds as a lackwit go far deeper than his performance after Obama’s speech. Much like Sarah Palin, Bobby has been involved in spiritual warfare against the forces of darkness, and while Sarah was only blessed by a minister who has driven witches out of their homes in Africa, the Bobster himself took part in exorcising a demon out of his best friend Susan:

Whenever I concentrated long enough to begin prayer, I felt some type of physical force distracting me. It was as if something was pushing down on my chest, making it very hard for me to breathe. . . Though I could find no cause for my chest pains, I was very scared of what was happening to me and Susan. I began to think that the demon would only attack me if I tried to pray or fight back; thus, I resigned myself to leaving it alone in an attempt to find peace for myself.

It appeared as if we were observing a tremendous battle between the Susan we knew and loved and some strange evil force. But the momentum had shifted and we now sensed that victory was at hand.While Alice and Louise held Susan, her sister continued holding the Bible to her face. Almost taunting the evil spirit that had almost beaten us minutes before, the students dared Susan to read biblical passages. She choked on certain passages and could not finish the sentence “Jesus is Lord.” Over and over, she repeated “Jesus is L..L..LL,” often ending in profanities. In between her futile attempts, Susan pleaded with us to continue trying and often smiled between the grimaces that accompanied her readings of Scripture. Just as suddenly as she went into the trance, Susan suddenly reappeared and claimed “Jesus is Lord.”

Palin/Jindal 2012? There’s something worth praying for.

Mermaid Dreams

When she was a little girl, Nadya Vessey lost both her legs below the knee. As an adult, she wrote to New Zealand special effects powerhouse Weta Workshop (the guys who made the Lord of the Rings movies so freaking amazing) and asked if they’d create a prosthetic for her that would make her into a mermaid. They did.

I don’t have much to say about this, really, only that it’s just cool as hell that they did this for her. Both onscreen and offscreen, Weta apparently sees their mission as bringing magic into the world.

North East West & South 2/5/2009

N.E.W.S. of the day…with smartassery.

Obama Needs To Listen To The GOP’s New Leader

The Republican National Committee has a new dude up top, named Michael Steele. As Sarah Palin was a “get on that bandwagon” choice to show that Republicans can do a Hilary too (which showed, instead, not so much), the choice of Steele (who is one of, what, one black guys in the party?) is their attempt to show they can have black folks too.

But I have to admit, so far he has shown a grasp of certain matters that I think President Obama needs to heed. Steele says that bipartisanship is overrated, and I think he is absolutely correct. Bipartisanship to Democrats is “Let’s give the other side input and try to reason things out.” Bipartisanship to Republicans is “If we’re in power, fuck you guys; if you’re in power, you need to do what we want you to do.” It’s time Democrats learned that expecting any actual attempt at cooperation from the GOP is akin to teaching table manners to a hagfish. It never works.

It’s not like they have anything to bring to the table for reasonable discussion. Look at our country, and our planet, after eight years of their rule. The further we get from letting them have their way, about anything, the better. They do not want bipartisanship, they want to stand in the way till they can claw their way back to power. Obama, so far, is taking the high road too much, and may find it runs off a cliff. He wouldn’t be the first Democrat to find that out.

The stimulus plan passed in the House with how many Republican votes? None. There’s their reply to your attempts at bipartisanship, Barack. There’s their answer to your attempts at including them, honoring them, showing them respect.

Additionally, after Rush Limbaugh made comments about how he’s hoping for Obama to fail (at this time where so much is going wrong, and we’re still at war on two fronts), a large amount of Republicans have re-embraced him as the near-official mouth of their party. Partisanship is the Republican creed, and we need to put patriotism, to our country, our species, and our planet, first.

The GOP, as it stands, is in well-earned decline, and until it is replaced by something that at least makes an attempt at serving our county’s best interests, needs to be ignored as much as possible. It’s a rabid mutt in the yard, and needs to be chased off, not fed with the family dog.

Christian Fucking Bale

I haven’t watched the video of Christian Bale going apeshit on Director of Photography Shane Hurlbut, but references to it are all over the place. It’s painful to see, because I admire Bale a great deal as an actor, and you do want to believe in the folks you admire, but he did lose it in front of a camera, so that’s the chance you take. And while people think they know famous people, they really don’t, and for all I know, Bale is a monster of a man.

Or he may be a saint who was having a rotten day. I don’t know. I don’t actually care, as long as he’s not actually victimizing anyone and is doing a good job in the movies.

I am sympathetic to Bale in this matter, however, based on having read the backstory of the video. Bale is a very intense method actor, who puts himself deeply into character, and Hurlbut apparently kept doing things like tweaking light setups during the actual filming of scenes, which is a no-no. When a scene is being filmed, it’s crucial that no one is moving around in the actors’ sight-lines, much less doing something as distracting as moving the damned lights around. And Bale had politely asked him several times to stop doing this, and it hadn’t worked. Finally, he blew a scene for Bale, who was no doubt worked up within his character, and the actor lost it.

What Bale might have done was just pull rank and have the asshole fired, but he didn’t. He just vented loudly, since simply asking the guy to not do these things hadn’t worked, then let it go and said let’s get back to work, likely hoping the message would stick this time.

The bad guy here is director McG, who should never have let this become an issue on his set. But one gets the impression McG’s not exactly Scorsese anyway.

Another Buggy Release From Bill Gates

As reported on Yahoo:

Microsoft founder turned disease-battling philanthropist Bill Gates loosed mosquitoes at an elite Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) Conference to make a point about the deadly sting of malaria. “Malaria is spread by mosquitoes,” Gates said while opening a jar onstage at a gathering known to attract technology kings, politicians, and Hollywood stars. “I brought some. Here I’ll let them roam around. There is no reason only poor people should be infected.” Gates waited a minute or so before assuring the audience the liberated insects were malaria-free.

Kudos to Bill Gates, who left Microsoft and started a charitable foundation with his wife that has been far more than just a philanthropic mask like those worn by many other wealthy people. Gates is actually trying to do something positive with his money, like helping millions of people worldwide in the fight against malaria.

“There is more money put into baldness drugs than into malaria,” Gates joked. “Now, baldness is a terrible thing and rich men are afflicted. That is why that priority has been set.”

Yeah, Gates is also known for many questionable business tactics over the years, but that doesn’t seem to be where his head’s at anymore. At a time we’re seeing the results of our nation’s coddling of greedy people, it’s awesome to see him out there giving back to the world that gave to him.