- I’m sure I’m not the first person to observe this and I’ve probably stolen it from someone, somewhere on Twitter. The term “fake news” has morphed from objectively false articles spread on Facebook by Russia or others trying to influence the 2016 election to anything that is critical of Trump. And Republicans appear to be taking the stance that the only credible witnesses in the impeachment are those that are defending the President. And a NeverTrumper is no longer someone who might otherwise support a Republican candidate, but because of Trump is now “independent.” Now it just means someone who doesn’t support the President.
- While I am decidedly not a Republican, I think I can call myself a NeverTrumper. And I’m proud in doing so.
- I still like Julian Castro, but I’ve been saying for a bit that I’d like to see him drop out. He just has no path to the nomination. Further evidence of that is the fact that he did not qualify for the November debate. The December debate is even harder to qualify for, so very unlikely he’ll make that one either. He’s not competitive in Iowa. To borrow his line, it’s time to say Adios to Julian. But, go endorse someone when you do.
- Like Tim Ryan did. He’s in for Biden. Neither Biden nor Ryan are/were my preference, but I’m glad he endorsed. C’mon Beto, don’t ride the fence. Endorse someone.
- The horserace has gotten interesting lately. Michael Bloomberg is looking to get in, but he’s not going to compete in the first four contests. Deval Patrick is in and will compete in the first four. He might also be competitive in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Neither of these guys are in the next debate. Still time to make the December debate I guess. But with Biden and Buttigieg in the moderate lane and with the strength of Biden, Harris and Booker in the African-American community, it’s hard for me to see how they have any chance for the nomination. Plus, Bloomberg is a billionaire and Patrick works for Bain Capital. That’s just easy pickins’ for Warren and Sanders. Expect shots to be taken by both at the next debate.
- A recent poll has Mayor Pete up in Iowa, with Biden second, then Warren and Sanders. Seeing Mayor Pete in front shouldn’t be a surprise, but with Biden second, I’m not sure I think that reflects how Iowa is really going to play out. All indications are that the organizations of Mayor Pete and Elizabeth Warren are the best among all the candidates. Biden, on the other hand, doesn’t appear to be putting his all into Iowa. So, could Warren have fallen? I think yes. But I don’t see her falling below Biden. I think 1-2 are going to be Warren and Buttigieg in some order.
- I wrote back in the summer that I thought Pelosi should get the impeachment over in the Fall. Part of my reasoning was to get vulnerable Senators on the record. I think now I would probably prefer that they keep investigating and not worry about a Fall deadline. Still, I am going to get my wish. The Democrats are going to impeach the President for, at least, abuse of power. He extorted and/or bribed Ukraine to get them to investigate his political rival to make it easier for him to be reelected. Assuming the Dems phrase this well, Susan Collins and Cory Gardner and Marth McSally and Thom Tillis are going to answer whether they think it is OK for the President to do that. And that vote will harm them either way they go.
- It should be no surprise that I think Trump should be impeached and removed. I stand with Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, who once said, “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if this body determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role. Impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.” If only you lived by those 1999 words about the Clinton impeachment in 2109.
There’s not much horserace talk to discuss since impeachment is hitting the live and in person stage. And I’m waking up with a hangover from a disappointing loss by the Kentucky Wildcats Men’s Basketball team (which is 3 days after a disappointing loss by the Kentucky Wildcats Football team). So I figured now would be a good time to tell a couple of stories from last weekend’s adventures in the life of a ten year old 5th grade girl.
Last Friday, I was the chaperone for MadBee’s field trip to the local high school production of Crazy For You. It was about what you’d expect from a high school musical, with some good performances and some not so good. But it was cute and it did a good job of keeping the attention of the kiddos.
I rode on the bus with the kids, which was an experience. The class divide between boys and girls was quite evident. Boys all the way to the back and then girls clustered together. No boys sat with girls, except yours truly, who got to share a small orange bus seat with MadBee. Not sure I count as a boy in this context though. A highlight of the ride from Blue Grass Elementary to Bearden High School (a 10 minute drive at most) was the fact that the boys in the back decided that the bus ride was a good opportunity to break out into song. This song in fact:
After that song petered out, the girls tried to start some Christmas carols. Jingle Bell Rock didn’t really get going, but when they tried Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, many joined in.
It was a half day with 5th graders, but we had a good time. For once, MadBee actually wanted to sit next to me, so I’m taking this one as a win.
On Sunday, Diamonds All-Stars had their Showcase, where all of the cheer teams put on their competition performances. Since practices are generally closed to the parents, this is the first time that many could see their kids do their stuff as a team. It was a long day for the kids and the parents. MadDoc was at the Showcase location for at least 7 hours and that doesn’t count the time it took her at home to get the resident cheerleader dressed with her full makeup on.
I don’t have a photo from Sunday, but here’s one from the Spring that shows the full get up:
The girls (and some boys) did themselves proud and had fun in the process. I suspect we’re going to have some teams that win some big competitions this year. Shout out to Bombshells – they were the most impressive team on the day. No falls in stunts or tumbling and a good championship-worthy routine. I can’t provide any video because the cheer gym bosses have strictly forbidden it. Evidently there is espionage in the cheer world and they need to do social media blackouts to keep their routines from being stolen. Who knew?
As for MadBee, she’s affiliated and practicing with one full year team and a half year team. She doesn’t get to compete with the full year team because her dad doesn’t support cheer activities and she is with him for more than half of the scheduled competitions. There’s a longer post in there, but that’s for another time. On Showcase day, though, MadBee did get to perform with her half year team – Sparkle. She did well and got to do some tumbling in the performance for the first time since she started cheering. We’re proud that she’s sticking with this despite the pushback she gets from her dad.
Next big cheer event for the Mad Dog clan is Gatlinburg in December. I’ll try to come back with a report from that even.
As I promised, I’m going to try and update the ranking every Sunday. This is my first one after Kentucky beat Michigan State and Duke Beat Kansas in the Champions Classic last Tuesday. So, without fanfare, here’s my ranking, followed by MadZee’s.
- Kentucky (2-0) – They won a huge game, so they’re number one on all the rankings, not just mine.
- Duke (2-0) – Bump them up from #5 after they knocked off Kansas.
- Louisville (2-0) – Impressive looking win against Miami.
- Michigan State (1-1) – Can’t drop them too far, they did lose to the #1 team in my ranking after all
- Maryland (2-0)
- Kansas (1-1) – they didn’t look that strong against Duke, so I’m dropping them a bit.
- North Carolina (2-0) – The Cole Anthony Show
- Gonzaga (2-0)
- Virginia (2-0)
- Arizona (2-0)
- Florida (1-1) – Tough loss to Florida State.
- Seton Hall (2-0) – Myles Powell out for a “prolonged absence.”
- Ohio State (2-0)
- Texas Tech (2-0)
- Memphis (2-0)
- Villanova (1-0)
- Oregon (2-0)
- Utah State (2-0)
- Xavier (2-0)
- St. Mary’s (1-0)
- Auburn (2-0)
- LSU (1-0)
- Tennessee (1-0)
- Washington (1-0) – good win vs. previously ranked Baylor
- Texas (2-0) – Good win vs. previously ranked Purdue
MadZee’s Top 25
- Michigan State
- North Carolina
- Texas Tech
- Seton Hall
- Ohio State
- Utah State
- St. Mary’s
For two reasons.
First, and most importantly for all Kentuckians, the odious Matt Bevin appears to have been defeated by Andy Beshear and will no longer be Kentucky’s governor in a couple of weeks. Of course in true Trump acolyte fashion, Bevin didn’t gracefully concede his loss, which was by about 5,000 votes. No, he said he would not concede because of unspecified “irregularities.” We won’t put it past the Kentucky GOP to try and find a way to install Bevin back in the governor’s mansion despite the clear loss he experienced from Kentucky voters. I heard this elsewhere regarding these claimed “irregularities.” Every other major office up for election yesterday was won by Republican candidates. Some by huge margins. So if irregularities were at play in the election, how come only Bevin lost? Why wouldn’t those sneaky Democratic scoundrels also rig things so that more Democrats could win?
Second, and just as important to me, the Kentucky Wildcats Men’s Basketball team won a huge game in the Champions Classic against Michigan State, the preseason #1 team in the land. Maybe not a huge surprise since Kentucky was the preseason #2, but still a great win for my favorite sports team. Look out on Sunday or Monday for my weekly post where I update my College Basketball Top 25 and share billing with a local college student studying sports management, aka my son, the MadZee.
Matt Bevin is an unpopular governor. But he’s an R, not a D, plus abortion, so he may get reelected in today’s gubernatorial election. That’s really too bad. Just like with his fellow super unpopular, but somehow gets reelected even though he does nothing good for the state with his power in Washington Republican Senator McConnell, Kentucky deserves better.
While I live in Knoxville, Tennessee, I was born and raised in Kentucky. It’s where my family is from and many of them still live. I don’t have a vote today in the elections about an hour north of where I am, but if I did, I’d be voting for Andy Beshear over Matt Bevin.
But MadDog, you’re a noted liberal and amateur Democratic pundit (some might say shill). I’m sure you’d just vote for a terrible Democrat over any Republican, wouldn’t you? To that I say not necessarily. It’s a topic for a longer post that I want to write, but the short of it is that I vote for the candidate that advocates most or all of my policy preferences. It just happens that, on a national level, the Democratic candidates share my preferences and the Republicans are the exact opposite.
Maybe someday the partisan fever in Washington will break, but it can be different at the state level. Heavily Democratic states like Massachusetts (Baker) and Maryland (Hogan) have successful and popular Republican governors. Heavily Republican states like Montana (Bullock) and Kansas (Kelly) have successful and popular Democratic governors. I would say that the voters of those states were able to shake off the R and D fever and they chose the best people for the job, regardless of party. I’m here to say that Kentuckians should do the same and elect the Democrat Andy Beshear.
Now, I could write about how Beshear has the best policy ideas for leading the state. But I’m not convincing you on that basis. No, you should vote for Beshear because Matt Bevin has been a terrible governor and a disgrace as the leader of the state.
Matt Bevin admirably started to try and fix Kentucky’s pension problems. But he did it by going after teacher’s pensions. When teachers rallied to fight Bevin’s proposed changes to their pensions, Bevin said that a child somewhere in the state was left home to be sexually abused because the teachers weren’t at school that day.
Matt Bevin has also stalled and stonewalled on the issue of sports gambling in Kentucky. While the bordering states around Kentucky get that revenue, Bevin lies and shifts blame elsewhere for why it can’t be passed in Kentucky. He even said, “Every night somewhere in America, somebody takes their life in a casino because they’ve wasted the last semblance of dignity and hope that they had.” And then he lied and said he didn’t say it, even though there was a recording of him saying it.
Bevin has also been shady in accounting for his flights on state owned planes. Even when he finally released some of the information about the flights, he has evidently not released all of the information. It’s a state owned plane, so shouldn’t the citizens of the state have a right to know how he’s using it?
So, if you’re a Republican, split your ticket and get rid of the awful, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Matt Bevin. If you’re a Democrat, proudly vote for Andy Beshear. C’mon Kentucky, we deserve better.
And, Go Cats, beat Michigan State!
It’s been a couple of weeks since my last ranking and every two weeks feels like a good interval to make updates to this list. The big news in candidate world is that Beto O’Rourke bowed out of the race. I wasn’t high on Beto in my last ranking – #8. Lack of funds finally did him in. As I said in the last ranking, he wasn’t adding anything to the discussion, so it was a good time for him to go.
Also, we had the Liberty and Justice Dinner (L&J) in Iowa last Friday, which I wrote about here. I understand this is sometimes a big deal in the Iowa race, but there doesn’t seem to have been any breakouts among the lower tier candidates.
And, speaking of tiers, I should probably update that as well. I think tier 1 is Warren, Biden, Sanders, and Buttigieg. I’m moving Yang up into Tier 2 with Harris, Klobuchar, and Booker. With O’Rourke out, that leaves Castro in Tier 3 by himself. All of the others who haven’t been on the debate stage are in the “why don’t you drop out already” Tier 4.
Now, to my rankings, with some speculation about VP picks as a bonus.
- Elizabeth Warren – Staying steady. I had Warren at #3 in my ranking of the L&J performances. She’s got some headwinds with the Medicare For All questions. But no change for me. There’s discussion of how she has some problems with the African-American community. I had thought maybe Mayor Pete would be a good VP pick, but he’s also not great with that community. So Cory Booker is the obvious choice here.
- Pete Buttigieg – staying steady. He’s been hitting Warren hard on the Medicare for All issue. He’s playing for the win in Iowa, since it’s probably between them for first place. With his problems with the African-American community, Kamala Harris is the choice for the #2 job.
- Cory Booker – staying steady. Even though he’s most likely to be a VP choice (he’s averaging 1.3% in the Real Clear Politics average of Iowa polls), this list is whom I’d like to see in the job. He’s my third favorite of the candidates.
- Kamala Harris – up 3 spots. She’s too inconsistent and, at this point, is probably just a VP choice. But she was good at the L&J and, if she got her stuff together has the highest ceiling of all of the candidates. She’s a good VP choice for Mayor Pete or Joe. Or Bernie for that matter.
- Andrew Yang – up 5 spots. This is probably a temporary blip for Yang, but I liked his performance at the L&J and I’m down on the other candidates for various reasons. I don’t see him in either the top spot or as anyone’s VP choice. I think he’s going all the way to the convention and going to leverage his delegates for a speaking spot.
- Joe Biden – down two spots. I’ve documented my issues with Joe. He may be the national polling leader, but I’m just not sure he’s up to the job. Or even up to the rest of the campaign. He’s low on cash and polling 3rd or 4th in Iowa. If he loses Iowa and New Hampshire, I don’t see a comeback story in the cards for him. He’s nobody’s VP.
- Bernie Sanders – down 2 spots. I really haven’t changed on Bernie. Just don’t see him winning the nomination. Top job or bust for Bernie.
- Amy Klobuchar – down two spots. She’s doing her thing, but her message doesn’t speak to me. Good VP choice for Biden
- Julian Castro – staying steady. He pulled in enough cash to stay in for the next debate. But after that, he just needs to go. Potential VP for Warren or Harris, but Booker is probably better for Warren.
- Tom Steyer – previously off the list. I said it’s a top ten list, so I have to put someone here. Gabbard is not making this list again, so it’s Tom. If a few more drop out, I may just have to change it to top 8.
Others: 11 – Tulsi Gabbard.
On Friday night was the Liberty and Justice Dinner in Iowa (previously known as the Jefferson and Jackson dinner). I was out of town that night, so I recorded it on C-SPAN. Even though I added an extra 30 minutes to the recording on the DVR, I still ended up recording only 7 of the 13 candidates who spoke. I had to go out and find the replay on YouTube in order to finish my watching.
The candidates who took part in the marathon series of 10 minute speeches were, in order: Pete Buttigieg; Joe Biden; Andrew Yang; Elizabeth Warren; Kamala Harris; Tom Steyer; Bernie Sanders; Michael Bennet; Julian Castro; Amy Klobuchar; Cory Booker; John Delaney; and Steve Bullock. Beto O’Rourke was schedule to speak, but dropped out of the race earlier that night. The other candidates who have not dropped out (as far as I know) but who did not speak were: Tulsi Gabbard; Wayne Meechem; Marianne Williamson; and Joe Sestak.
I figure since I rank everything else, I may as well do this as a ranking based on how I think their performances went. It was also fun to try and figure out their walkout songs, not all of which I knew at first listen. I’ll do a bonus ranking at the end of the walkout songs, just for fun.
- Kamala Harris – I was previously higher on Kamala earlier in the campaign. But she’s been very inconsistent in her debate performances and her polling has been pretty poor. I’m not even sure what tier I’d put her in at this point. But this was the best I’ve seen her. She had a clear message – Justice. For the People. She did some call and response stuff in the speech, but it was effective. If she can channel this Kamala during her time in Iowa, maybe she can make a comeback.
- Cory Booker – I just really like his speaking style. He does a great job of weaving stories into his speeches. He didn’t have a clear message that works in an election context, but he repeated some phrases that were good in the context of this speech – “I see you. I love you” and “we will rise.”
- Elizabeth Warren – I’m not hiding that I’m a Warren supporter. After Harris and Booker, there are 3 or 4 candidates who could be right about here in the rankings. Tie goes to the candidate number one on my overall rankings. Plus, she had the second largest crowd in the arena. Since crowd size is part of the game at this dinner, she got a lot of energy from her supporters. Her message is good. Obviously I like the message on the merits, but it’s also an effective political message that she can weave into any speech she gives – Dream Big, Fight Hard. A lot of the press coverage of the dinner noted that Warren and the moderates took subtle shots at one another. She did her fair share and I liked it. Also kudos to Warren for not spending time on Trump. Many of the other candidates took too much time focusing on the President. There’s time to do that in other places, but I think at this event, the more effective candidates focused on what their message is, rather than what they’re against. She did it well.
- Pete Buttigieg – Pete had the largest crowd and got to lead things off. There was a lot of energy and he did a good job surfing that wave. He spent a little too much time throwing zingers at Trump. You know what his message is generally. He’s more moderate. He’s looking for unity and to bring the country together. And he’s focused on what happens after Trump. But he really doesn’t have a good, one line message that he can hit home. Harris and Warren did this best tonight. Pete is on the rise, but he’s going to have to hone his message.
- Andrew Yang – I was watching this last night and made sure MadZee stayed up to watch with me, since he’s a Yang fan. He has done a good job of identifying a problem (but maybe not THE problem) about the economy. He has done a great job of getting his proposed fix for that problem (Freedom dividend) into the discussion. He just lacks a more bite sized message. His speech was good and it’s the best I’ve seen him. You really need to listen to him for more than the short snippets he gets in the debates in order to be able to fully follow his line of reasoning. It struck me, though, as I was watching last night that he’s really proposing a political revolution in the same vein as Bernie and Warren are. He talked about starting a wave that would crash down on Washington. It’s a variation on the theme of the progressives and I think I’m going to start including him in my mental grouping with Bernie and Warren from now on.
- Bernie Sanders – Bernie was the only candidate that read from prepared remarks and used a lectern. I had thought that was not allowed, but what do I know. Since he was reading his speech, Bernie did a good job of keeping on his overall message. He didn’t have supporters there (he set something up at a different location for his supporters and gave a donation to the Iowa Democratic Party instead), so the crowd reaction was just so-so. I note since I was paying attention to it for the other candidates that Bernie doesn’t have a one line message and that’s a deficit for me. The closest he comes is his line about political revolution or a political movement.
- Amy Klobuchar – The rest of the candidates from here on down didn’t do anything to stand out. They stuck to some variation of their stump speeches. And that’s what Klobuchar did. I liked how she put some focus on women getting elected. She also took some shots at the progressives. Her message or repeated line was that she was going to “win big.” She could really use to refine that.
- Joe Biden – I’ve got the same criticisms of Joe here that I’ve used in other posts. He rambled. His speech didn’t really have a coherent theme. He tried to use “restore the soul of America,” but he wasn’t consistent enough to make it work. A big emphasis for Joe was how Trump doesn’t want him as the nominee. And Joe will beat Trump “like a drum.” He started his speech off with a bunch of comments about Trump and then also ended with that. If he’s got a theme, it’s that he can beat Trump. We just need something more than that.
- John Delaney – I put Delaney here in the ranking because I think he was very consistent in his speech in focusing on rural America. He name-checked Iowa counties and towns. It was a solid speech. He was also one of the lower tier candidates who explicitly asked Iowans for help. Come caucus for me. Help me get my message out. None of the top tier candidates did that.
- Michael Bennet – His message was that he would tell the truth. He tried to draw some contrast with the progressives on policy. I liked that he focused on how his policies would help children, calling back to his time as a school superintendent.
- Julian Castro – I still really like Julian. His speech didn’t have a good theme that I could tell. He ended trying to get applause by listing progressive ideas that he would get done. Underwhelming.
- Tom Steyer – He focused on the fact that he was the first to really push impeachment. He’s done other things and got them done. He pushed impeachment and we’re doing that. I can get things done in Washington. Maybe his message is “truth and action?”
- Steve Bullock – On paper, Bullock should be a competitive candidate. He’s a governor and in a red state. He won in 2016 when Trump was on the ballot. But his speech was just awful. It’s fine that he’s focusing on the rural areas. Democrats forget about those areas and all that. But his call and response line was “give Trump the boot.” He tried to weave boots versus wingtip shoes into his speech a lot. It was just all forced and I think took away from what ought to be a good message. Too bad.
And now for my ranking of the walkout songs used by the candidates.
- Andrew Yang: Return of the Mack – Mark Morrison. It’s a cool tune and he sang and danced on his way out. Props.
- Cory Booker: Lovely Day – Bill Withers.
- Elizabeth Warren: 9 to 5 – Dolly Parton. I’m not sure this fits her campaign message so well, but I’ve always liked this song, so there you go.
- Pete Buttigieg: High Hopes – Panic! at the Disco. I know this song from riding around in the van playing Hits 1 on Sirius with a 10 year old girl. But I like Panic!, so deal with it.
- Amy Klobuchar: Bullpen – Dessa. I’ve never heard this song before, but I kinda dig it.
- John Delaney: The Rising – Bruce Springsteen. One of two songs from The Boss.
- Kamala Harris: Work That – Mary J. Blige
- Steve Bullock: Dirt on my Boots – Jon Pardi. Bro country tune, but it’s kinda catchy. Plus bonus points for follow through from Bullock’s message.
- Michael Bennet: Move on up – Curtis Mayfield
- Joe Biden: We take care of our own – Bruce Springsteen
- Julian Castro: Baila Esta Cumbia – Selena.
- Bernie Sanders: Power to the People – John Lennon. Lennon sounds a lot like Mick Jagger in this tune.
- Tom Steyer: Up Around the Bend – CCR. Just not a fan.