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Analysis | Campaign Silly Season Is Already Underway

Jacob Scott

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Okay, I’m calling it: We’ve officially entered the silly season of presidential-nomination speculation.That’s why we’re getting articles about how secure President Joe Biden’s hold is on renomination if he winds up running again in 2024, and articles about how shaky Vice President Kamala Harris looks right now. Expect more. Expect them to be silly. Expect them to be sillier than such articles usually are at this point in the cycle, and they usually are quite silly indeed.The problem is that there’s very good reason to write about presidential nominations several years before the Iowa caucuses — traditionally, the first event in which voters get to weigh in. Political scientists disagree on exactly how important this stage can be for choosing the nominee, but it’s pretty clear that early skirmishing around the nomination is an important part of a long process in which candidates and party actors wind up pushing the eventual nominee, and therefore the party as a whole, toward something resembling agreement on policy positions and priorities.How does that work?Candidates start circulating among the politicians, campaign and governing professionals, formal party officials and staff, donors and activists, party-aligned interest groups, and the partisan media. They see which policy ideas win support and which leave their audiences cold. They also begin, even at the very early stages, to test out their ideas on voters, sometimes at personal appearances and sometimes by commissioning survey research. Some candidates modify their agenda to account for what they hear; others are committed to running on what they believe in (or, in some cases, what they’re convinced will sell regardless of what they hear). Eventually, some candidates thrive and collect valuable party-controlled resources — such as money, personnel and publicity — while others drop out. Collectively, all of that activity, some in public and some less so (thus the “invisible” primary), pushes the party toward a collective platform.That’s why it’s a good thing for the media to cover the early stages of the nomination process. So why is it silly? For one thing, much of the activity is behind the scenes, and the people eager to talk to reporters about it aren’t always the ones who are actually important within the parties. For another, reporters — and, lets face it, readers and viewers — are far more interested in the candidates than they are in policy, and they’re most interested in the candidates who are already well known, whether or not they’re serious contenders. Even so, any party with an open nomination, and therefore a relatively public process, gets generally solid coverage with only relatively small doses of silliness.The real problem is the parties without open nominations — typically, those with first-term presidents. In those cases, if there’s any early maneuvering around a potential nomination fight, it’s almost always done quietly, leaving reporters with less to report. One obvious solution is to just ignore that party. But some speculation is normal, and ignoring one party entirely may seem unfair. (One substitute for speculation about a primary challenge to a sitting president is speculation about whether the vice president will be dropped from the ticket. This time, we’re just getting speculation about whether the vice president’s political career has been ruined instead. The truth, of course, is that vice presidents always have a rough ride, and it’s even worse when the president is unpopular.)Which brings us to the 2024 cycle, in which both parties are more or less frozen in place. On the Republican side, several candidates are doing candidate-like things, but many believe that the nomination is Donald Trump’s if he wants it, and none of the other candidates wants to earn Trump’s wrath by seeming to challenge him. On the Democratic side, meanwhile, Biden’s advanced age makes the possibility that he’ll eventually drop out more plausible than it normally would be, which means that the press is (correctly!) more tempted than usual to cover a nomination race, even though the potential candidates are just as careful as they always are about keeping their ambitions quiet.Thus reporters have good reason to be looking into the inner workings of both parties, but little of substance to say. Which is why they’re apt to either speculate or, more likely, amplify everyone else’s speculation. So take it all with a large grain of salt, or just ignore it for a while. It’s silly season.

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‘Moon Knight’ Took Marvel in a Different Orbit, but It Didn’t Rise to the Occasion

Jacob Scott

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Before anyone writes that off as an anomaly, “Eternals” tackled a similar introduction of a dense mythology on the bigger screen, with equally mixed results. It’s a reminder that while film-goers have had more than a decade to get to know characters like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, introducing some of these lesser-known heroes can pose a more formidable challenge beyond catering to the most ardent fans.
For Marvel, there are warning signs in that, since “Moon Knight” will be followed by several series based on second-tier characters, although the next two on the horizon, “Ms. Marvel” (which is due in June) and “She-Hulk,” at least have the benefit of sharing franchises and name recognition with existing Avengers.
Ultimately, “Moon Knight’s” murky storytelling appeared to squander its principal assets, which included the cool look of the character — a costume that was too seldom used — and the presence of Isaac, who possesses additional genre credentials via the “Star Wars” sequels.

Taking its time in peeling back the layers of the character’s complicated backstory, “Moon Knight” took a weird plunge into the Egyptian mythology behind it, in ways that became increasingly confounding and surreal.

By the time the protagonist’s two halves, Steven Grant and Marc Spector, wound up in a psychiatric hospital talking to an anthropomorphic hippo in the penultimate chapter, the question wasn’t so much being able to keep up with the story as whether bothering to do so was worth the effort.

The sixth and final episode brought the plot to a messy close, seeking to stop the goddess Ammit from proceeding to “purify the souls of Cairo, and then the world.” In the customary credit sequence, the producers capped that off by introducing a third personality, Jake Lockley, also rooted in the comics. While that seemingly spelled the end for the show’s villain (Ethan Hawke), the finish — giving the god Khonshu the protégé he sought — paved the way for further adventures should Marvel so choose.

That last twist might be cause for celebration in narrower confines of the Marvel fan universe, but “Moon Knight” too often felt like it was one long Easter-egg sequence, conspicuously preaching to that choir.

Granted, Marvel has made clear that Disney+ offers the chance to explore different kinds of stories, but “Moon Knight” feels at best like a quirky showcase for Isaac and at worst a failed experiment in terms of execution and tone.

That doesn’t mean this “Moon” won’t somehow rise again, if the closely held streaming data justifies it. But the promise that surrounded this property has faded, providing further evidence that even Marvel isn’t immune from setbacks as it moves into its next phase.

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Start-up Pony.ai says it’s the first self-driving company to get a taxi license in China

Jacob Scott

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Autonomous driving start-up Pony.ai can collect fares for robotaxi rides in parts of two major Chinese cities as of Sunday.

Pony.ai handout

BEIJING — Self-driving start-up Pony.ai announced Sunday it received a taxi license, the first of its kind in China.

The license allows Pony.ai to operate 100 self-driving cars as traditional taxis in the Nansha district of the southern city of Guangzhou, the company said.

The Chinese start-up, which is backed by Toyota, received approval from Beijing city late last year to charge fees to operate a commercial robotaxi business in a suburban district of the city. It is not the same as a taxi licence.

Baidu’s Apollo Go also received approval in the same Beijing district last year.

Pony.ai was valued at $8.5 billion in early March. The company said its Nansha taxi license required 24 months of autonomous driving testing in China and/or other countries, and no involvement in any active liability traffic accidents, among other factors.

The start-up said it plans to launch commercial robotaxi businesses in two other large Chinese cities next year. The company is already testing self-driving cars in those cities and in California. 

Robotaxis in China currently have a human driver present for safety.

— CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

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How to watch Timberwolves vs. Grizzlies: TV channel, NBA live stream info, start time

Jacob Scott

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Who’s Playing

Memphis @ Minnesota

Current Records: Memphis 2-1; Minnesota 1-2

What to Know

The Memphis Grizzlies’ road trip will continue as they head to Target Center at 10 p.m. ET this past Saturday to face off against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Memphis will be strutting in after a win while Minnesota will be stumbling in from a loss.

The Grizzlies are hoping for another victory. They beat the Timberwolves 104-95 this past Thursday. The victory came about thanks to a strong surge after the first quarter to overcome a 39-21 deficit. Memphis’ success was spearheaded by the efforts of power forward Brandon Clarke, who had 20 points in addition to eight rebounds, and shooting guard Desmond Bane, who shot 7-for-15 from beyond the arc and finished with 26 points and six boards.

Barring any buzzer beaters, Memphis is expected to win a tight contest. They might be worth taking a chance on against the spread as they are currently on a two-game streak of ATS wins.

Memphis’ win brought them up to 2-1 while the Timberwolves’ defeat pulled them down to a reciprocal 1-2. A couple offensive stats to keep in the back of your head while watching: The Grizzlies come into the game boasting the second most points per game in the league at 115.6. But Minnesota is even better: they rank first in the league when it comes to points per game, with 115.9 on average. Tune in for what’s sure to be a high-scoring contest.

How To Watch

When: Saturday at 10 p.m. ET Where: Target Center — Minneapolis, Minnesota TV: ESPN Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.) Follow: CBS Sports App Ticket Cost: $76.96

Odds

The Grizzlies are a slight 2.5-point favorite against the Timberwolves, according to the latest NBA odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Grizzlies as a 3-point favorite.

Over/Under: -110

See NBA picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

Memphis have won 19 out of their last 28 games against Minnesota.

Apr 21, 2022 – Memphis 104 vs. Minnesota 95 Apr 19, 2022 – Memphis 124 vs. Minnesota 96 Apr 16, 2022 – Minnesota 130 vs. Memphis 117 Feb 24, 2022 – Minnesota 119 vs. Memphis 114 Jan 13, 2022 – Memphis 116 vs. Minnesota 108 Nov 20, 2021 – Minnesota 138 vs. Memphis 95 Nov 08, 2021 – Memphis 125 vs. Minnesota 118 May 05, 2021 – Memphis 139 vs. Minnesota 135 Apr 02, 2021 – Memphis 120 vs. Minnesota 108 Jan 13, 2021 – Memphis 118 vs. Minnesota 107 Jan 07, 2020 – Memphis 119 vs. Minnesota 112 Dec 01, 2019 – Memphis 115 vs. Minnesota 107 Nov 06, 2019 – Memphis 137 vs. Minnesota 121 Mar 23, 2019 – Minnesota 112 vs. Memphis 99 Feb 05, 2019 – Memphis 108 vs. Minnesota 106 Jan 30, 2019 – Minnesota 99 vs. Memphis 97 Nov 18, 2018 – Memphis 100 vs. Minnesota 87 Apr 09, 2018 – Minnesota 113 vs. Memphis 94 Mar 26, 2018 – Memphis 101 vs. Minnesota 93 Dec 04, 2017 – Memphis 95 vs. Minnesota 92 Feb 04, 2017 – Memphis 107 vs. Minnesota 99 Nov 19, 2016 – Memphis 93 vs. Minnesota 71 Nov 01, 2016 – Minnesota 116 vs. Memphis 80 Oct 26, 2016 – Memphis 102 vs. Minnesota 98 Mar 16, 2016 – Minnesota 114 vs. Memphis 108 Feb 19, 2016 – Memphis 109 vs. Minnesota 104 Jan 23, 2016 – Minnesota 106 vs. Memphis 101 Nov 15, 2015 – Memphis 114 vs. Minnesota 106

Injury Report for Minnesota

No Injury Information

Injury Report for Memphis

Dillon Brooks: Game-Time Decision (Foot) Santi Aldama: Out (Knee) Killian Tillie: Out (Knee)

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