Top Ten Candidates for the Democratic Nomination – Post Debate, Pre-Thanksgiving Edition

Yeah, I know I said I’d do these rankings every two weeks and it’s been almost three, but sometimes you get busy, you know.  The big news in the horserace was the debate last week.  For more on that, see here and here.  Also, the impeachment hearings took up a lot of my television viewing time last week.  There’s been some polls showing Mayor Pete taking the lead in Iowa and New Hampshire.  Julian Castro didn’t make the debate stage.  And Michael Bloomberg and Deval Patrick have entered the race.

Not much has changed in my rankings.  The tiers are also about the same.  Tier 1 is Warren, Biden, Sanders and Buttigieg.  Tier 2 is Yang, Harris, Klobuchar and Booker.  I think I’ll just put everyone else in Tier 3, since none of them currently have a chance.  I guess that means a demotion of sorts for Julian Castro.  Although, I could possibly be talked into a special Tier 4 for Tulsi Gabbard, since it’s clear she isn’t really running for the Democratic Party nomination.

The big question will be who makes the debate stage in December.  Right now, there are six – Warren, Biden, Buttigieg, Harris, Klobuchar, and Sanders.  Some of the others are close, but it seems certain one or two of Booker, Steyer, Yang, and Gabbard will not meet the prerequisites to get on the stage.

On to the rankings…

  1. Elizabeth Warren – Staying steady.  I had Warren in the top 3 of the debate and I think her performance there has gotten better in my mind in the last few days.  I’m a little more bearish on her chances to win the nomination, considering how things are playing out.  But she’s still top tier and will not be dropping out any time soon.
  2. Pete Buttigieg – staying steady.  I think Pete has a chance to generate some enthusiasm for his general election campaign.  Maybe more than any other candidate, including Warren or Bernie.  But he’s very…coached.  Prepared.  That’s good in a way, but also makes me think I’m not necessarily getting the real Pete.  Compared to Warren, who showed some real emotion in the last debate, he looks…less.  Still, after Warren, he’s the best option to go into November against Trump.
  3. Cory Booker – staying steady.  Cory hasn’t made the debate stage for December yet and that’s a problem for his viability.  He does great in the debates, but he’s just not connecting with voters.  If he doesn’t make the next debate stage, I’d like to see him endorse.  His only path to the VP is Warren, so drop out and endorse Elizabeth, Cory!
  4. Kamala Harris – staying steady.  Good debate.  I’d like to see more of this.  Still not seeing her in the top spot, but she’s got a high ceiling, so let’s see how December goes.
  5. Amy Klobuchar – up 3 spots.  She rubs me the wrong way, but she would be strong against Trump in the general.  I like how she has focused on female issues.  You know how, all things being equal, I’m voting for the female candidate.  That just might tip me to Klobuchar under the right circumstances.
  6. Andrew Yang – down 1 spot.  I still don’t see him in the top spot.  But we’re getting down to a group of candidates that I’ll vote for if they’re the nominee, but who don’t excite me.  He’s top of that group.
  7. Joe Biden – down one spot.  No need to repeat my criticisms of Joe.  Nothing has changed there.
  8. Bernie Sanders –  down 1 spot.  Bernie has some momentum.  And he’s not going away.  But, as I’ve said before, he’s too old for the job.  And I’m coming back to my previous problem with his candidacy.  His supporters.  They’re going to force him to stay in the race long past when he has a chance to win.  That will end up weakening the eventual nominee.
  9. Tom Steyer – up one spot.  We don’t need a billionaire as the nominee.  As billionaire’s go, though, he’s not terrible.  Good on climate change, in fact.
  10. Deval Patrick – new to list.  I have to put someone here and I’m not putting Tulsi Gabbard on the list.   Also, one billionaire on the list is enough, so no Michael Bloomberg.

Others: 11 – Michael Bloomberg, 12 – Tulsi Gabbard.

My College Basketball Top 25 – Pre-Thanksgiving Edition

No upsets in the upper tier of teams this week, so most of the movement is going to be in the bottom half.  There are some games coming up in the first part of December which might take some teams from the ranks of the undefeated.  No muss, no fuss – here you go.

  1. Duke (6-0)
  2. Louisville (5-0)
  3. Michigan State (3-1)
  4. Maryland (5-0)
  5. Kansas (3-1)
  6. North Carolina (4-0)
  7. Gonzaga (6-0)
  8. Virginia (5-0)
  9. Arizona (5-0)
  10. Ohio State (5-0)
  11. Texas Tech (4-0)
  12. Oregon (5-0)
  13. Utah State (6-0)
  14. Xavier (6-0)
  15. Auburn (5-0)
  16. Tennessee (4-0)
  17. Memphis (5-1)
  18. DePaul (6-0)
  19. Oklahoma State (5-0)
  20. Kentucky (5-1)
  21. Baylor (5-1)
  22. Washington (4-1)
  23. Texas (5-1)
  24. VCU (5-0)
  25. Oklahoma (5-0)

MadZee’s Top 25

  1. Michigan State
  2. Duke
  3. Louisville
  4. Maryland
  5. Gonzaga
  6. Kansas
  7. Ohio State
  8. North Carolina
  9. Virginia
  10. Seton Hall
  11. Memphis
  12. Texas Tech
  13. Oregon
  14. Tennessee
  15. Arizona
  16. Auburn
  17. LSU
  18. Florida
  19. Villanova
  20. Kentucky
  21. VCU
  22. Texas
  23. Washington
  24. Utah State
  25. Colorado

Impeachment and Post Debate Miscellany

It’s been a lot of politics this week.  Impeachment hearings and the debate last night.  There’s a bunch of stuff that I haven’t been able to share in other posts, so I figured I should throw out another bunch of nuggets.

  • I did my usual post debate viewing, reading and listening.  I put Mayor Pete at the top of my list of who did best in the debate.  I also noted that the top 3 (who were also the top 3 in some order of my last candidate ranking) were very close for me.  When I do my debate rankings, I actually put my thumb on the scale a little not to put Warren at the top.  I know I haven’t hidden the fact she’s my first choice.  I figure so that these posts don’t just look like a Warren love fest, when it’s close, I’ll put her down the list on my debate rankings.  Even with that, after having revisited my notes and some of the moments from the debate through podcasts and articles, I’d probably re-rank the top 3 as Warren, Booker, Buttigieg.  Looking back at his answers, he was smooth, but calorie free.  He mostly came out on top with attacks, but wasn’t completely unscathed.  The lack of experience thing and his lack of support in the African American community is going to bring him back to the pack, I think.  On the other hand, Warren was very good in several of her answers and didn’t get thrown off stride on Medicare for All.  She showed passion and emotion and weaved her theme into her answers very well.
  • I think we’re seeing the Democratic position coalescing around or near Mayor Pete’s plan of Medicare for All who want it.  Warren has adjusted her support of Medicare for All down from the Bernie position.  Biden in the debate last night described his plan in terms that made it sound like Mayor Pete’s plan.  For me, healthcare isn’t the top priority.  I’m happy with Medicare for All as an Overton window expander.  I am quite content with a plan that supports the ACA and adds a public option, as long as that public option is Medicare.  I see no need to create a new program when you’ve got Medicare sitting right there to be used.  And now you’ve got three of the top four candidates settling their plans right in that zone.  This is a good thing and should help the primary campaign go more smoothly from here on out.
  • Many of the Republicans in these impeachment hearings (Devin Nunes is doing this as I write) have focused on the fact that some Democrats have been calling for impeachment of Trump from day one.  To that, I say – so what.  If there was nothing there, Dems would be grousing and doing nothing.  They’re not exactly a picture of bravery in their politics.  No, Trump just went too far even for the cautious Democrats.  If he hadn’t committed his bribery and high crimes, he wouldn’t be here.  It’s his own fault.
  • So, evidently Trump tweeted today and called Dems human scum.  Hardly surprising that he calls anyone a name, even a group of millions of Americans.  But it brings to my mind the expectation that seems to exist that Democrats should strive for civility.  Sometimes even just civility for the sake of civility.  I try in my arguments and discussions to stick to the issues and not make it about the person with whom I’m speaking.  Even when that person resorts to Trumpian name-calling.  I think that’s a good rule of thumb.  Remember my rule – Be nice, help when you can.  If you can’t, at least don’t be a jerk.  So be nice.  But why is the onus to be nice on Democrats?  To be the “adults in the room?”  I’m not arguing that Dems should be mean and call people names like Donald Trump does.  But when it comes to politics.  To passing legislation.  To running campaigns.  I have less criticism for Dems who won’t compromise or who play hardball.  I’ll be happy when things change in this regard, but let them go first.  If Dems win the White House and both Houses of Congress, then forget the idea of trying to be bipartisan.  Use executive action and eliminate the filibuster.  Get stuff done.
  • I’m not a fan of Gabbard, but just as a practical matter, if you’re trying to win the nomination of the Democratic Party, you should try to win over, I don’t know, Democratic voters.  I mean, unless you’re not actually trying to win the Democratic nomination and your goal is something else.  The fact that she appears on Fox News so frequently can be a nice zinger for someone like Kamala Harris.  But if you’re trying to win over Democratic voters, it doesn’t take a heavy left-leaning partisan to understand that Democratic voters don’t watch Fox News and that Democrats are very likely to have a skeptical view of any candidate for the Democratic nomination who tries to appeal to a Fox News audience.

Watching the Debate So You Don’t Have to – MSNBC Debate Edition

This was a pretty good debate.  For the first time, healthcare didn’t dominate the topics.  They missed some topics (Warren pointed out gun violence, for one), but they chose not to try to get everyone involved in every topic and it worked.  The word before this was that Mayor Pete would get some attacks and he really kept his jersey mostly clean.   I don’t think this debate will lead to much movement at the top.  Will some of the lower tier candidates break out?  Probably not.

Some of the moments and/or general comments from the debate:

  • Klobuchar seems nervous when she starts in all of these debates
  • Mayor Pete, Warren, Bernie and Yang did good jobs of coming back to their campaign themes
  • I thought when Biden was discussing his healthcare plan, it sounded a lot like Pete’s.  Since Warren also compromised on Medicare for All, is Pete’s M4A who want it the new middle ground?
  • Gabbard again with her “regime change wars” comments
  • I was glad that Harris went after Gabbard.
  • Both Booker and Harris made a big play for African-American voters.  Harris with her push to rebuild the Obama coalition and Booker’s zinger on marijuana.
  • Pete was challenged on his experience level and handled the answers pretty well.  Gabbard went after him and didn’t come out well for it.  Klobuchar was more subtle in going after him.  He was mostly untouched.
  • As I was taking notes through the debate, I noted the “good” answers.  Pete and Warren had multiple good answers.  Biden, Klobuchar, Yang, and Harris had good answers as well.
  • I liked Steyer’s passion on climate change.
  • I noted that Warren showed some passion on her answer about separating children from their families at the border and in her closing statement, almost to the point that she was going to tear up.  I liked it.
  • Best closing statement was Booker.  He’s so good at this.  Other good closings from Yang and Warren.
  • Bernie’s closing seemed like it was a laundry list of things he was hoping to say during the debate but didn’t get the chance.
  • Both Klobuchar and Pete called out to Republicans as people that Democrats need to appeal to.  I liked Steyer’s view that turnout is key.
  • Biden’s closing was weak.  He tries to get a crowd fired up and it falls flat.

Now for my ranking:

  1. Pete Buttigieg – Based on number of good answers and the fact that Pete wasn’t really harmed by the couple of attacks that came his way, I’ll put him here.  In reality, the top 3 for me are really close.
  2. Elizabeth Warren – Elizabeth was forgotten a bit in the middle of the debate.  She had multiple good answers and I liked her passion on some questions.  She didn’t get attacked on healthcare, which is a win for her.
  3. Cory Booker – I really like Booker.  Great closing and good zinger against Biden.  I hope he makes the next debate.
  4. Kamala Harris – Pretty good debate for Kamala.  I still can’t help but think when I see her on the stage that she’s a VP, cabinet secretary or just stays as a Senator.
  5. Joe Biden – This might’ve been Joe’s best debate for me.  He didn’t ramble as much as usual and was really good on foreign policy.  Emphasized his experience, which is his strength.  Got a little wounded in his exchange with Booker and Harris.
  6. Andrew Yang – Yang is growing on me.  I don’t see him in the top job, but I hope there’s a spot for him in someone’s administration.  He would be a good cabinet secretary.
  7. Amy Klobuchar – She was fine and has settled into her lane.  She’s not my cup of tea, but when she focuses on women’s issues, she does well.
  8. Bernie Sanders – Bernie was fine.  It was a solid performance, but nothing stood out for me.
  9. Tom Steyer – One good answer on climate change, but doesn’t have a good answer for why he is the guy to take on Trump.  He’s done good things with his millions, but a billionaire isn’t the right candidate for the party.
  10. Tulsi Gabbard – Harris called Gabbard out for her time spent on Fox News criticizing Obama.  She went after Pete in a dishonest manner.  I was watching the post debate coverage on MSNBC and she couldn’t bring herself to call Assad a war criminal.  Her dodge was that there is an international court for that.  She needs not to be on the stage in December.




Impeachment and Politics Miscellany – Pre-Debate Edition

The next Democratic Primary debate is tomorrow night and I’ll do a summary of the debate and update my rankings after the debate.  Some things I’m thinking about here in the middle of November 2019.

  • I’ve got the impeachment hearings on today.  I’ve watched a little from all of the days of public hearings and have read about them after the fact.  I don’t think the Democrats are changing any Republican minds, but the fears pre-impeachment that they would be a disaster for Democrats politically have been shown to be overblown.  There’s a solid case for impeaching the President and the Democrats are putting it on methodically, if not with “pizzazz.”  The Republicans have been running through various defenses of Trump throughout the process.  Very few of their defenses involved saying that it’s ok he conditioned military aid on an investigation that would help him personally.  Their complaints are mostly process.  I’m not going out on a limb to predict that the Dems will approve impeachment articles out of committee and a majority of the House will vote to impeach Trump.  That’s a big deal, regardless of what happens in the Senate.
  • In the Senate, there’s no reason to expect anything other than acquittal by the Republicans.  The question is whether any Rs will break ranks to save their own electoral prospects.  Voting to acquit could harm Collins, Gardner, McSally, Tillis and Ernst.  It’s worth it just for that vote.
  • I think the best defense the Rs could use to House impeachment is it’s inappropriate, but it’s an election year and I’m going to leave it up to the voters.  The Dem counter argument should be the fact that Trump is trying to influence the election with his actions and, if he is acquitted, it puts the fairness and transparency of the election in question.
  • I understand why Dems are trotting out “bribery” as the word that describes what happens.  It’s a bank shot that gets them right into language used in the Constitution about impeachment.  It’s not a slam dunk, but maybe easier to understand that “quid pro quo.”  I suspect they may use the term as part of an overall Abuse of Power when they’re drafting the Articles of Impeachment.
  • Impeachment and the horse race.  Looks like McConnell is going to use the impeachment trial to divide the Democratic candidates and keep some of them (Warren, Harris, Klobuchar, Sanders) out of Iowa in the stretch run there.  I think Moscow Mitch is being too clever by half here.  His best move would be to wrap up the trial as quickly as possible.  Trying to drag it out to harm Democratic presidential candidates might just serve to give them more attention than he wants.  And this redounds to the benefit of the candidates who were also prosecutors in their day – Harris and Klobuchar.
  • As for the debate tomorrow night, I expect there to be, yet again, an extended section on healthcare.  With the attacks on Warren last time and her new plans on the subject, it’ll definitely be a huge topic.  One of the reasons is that it’s the main area where there is a lot of difference among the candidates.  I was listening to a podcast interview of Sherrod Brown today and I think points go to whichever candidate adopts the frame that he used.  Democrats are all for universal coverage.  We can argue about the differences among us, but remember that Trump is trying to take away people’s healthcare.  There’s the real difference.
  • I also expect that Mayor Pete will start getting attacked from below, since he appears to be the new frontrunner in Iowa.  Lots of time to go til the Iowa Caucuses, but I expect that Pete and Warren will be 1-2 in some order there, based on their organization and the makeup of the electorate.
  • I’ve seen some discussion on Twitter about Biden leading big in South Carolina and Nevada.  Since it looks like he’ll lose in Iowa and also probably New Hampshire, Biden seems to believe he has a firewall, of sorts, in the latter two, more diverse states.  My thought is that if Biden finishes 4th or worse in Iowa, he’s done.  If he finishes that far down in Iowa, he’ll definitely lose in New Hampshire, where Warren and Sanders have home court advantage.  With those two losses, I think the lead Biden has in Nevada and South Carolina will shrink away.  For me the bigger question is whether, if Pete wins in Iowa, can he take some momentum from that into the next three contests.  Pete is weak with the national Democratic electorate.  If he’s looking like a winner, can he pick up some African-American support?  You’re probably not hearing it here first, but if Pete gets to the point where he can win the nomination, Stacey Abrams is a great choice for his VP.  She balances his ticket in all the ways that he needs.
  • Michelle Obama has said she wouldn’t run for President.  I wonder if she’d consider being the #2 on someone’s ticket?

My College Basketball Top 25 – Post Evansville Edition

A tough loss for my Wildcats was the story of the week from my perspective.  There’s actually going to be a lot of movement this week with some other big losses and wins among the top 25.  Duke at the top, although I don’t think they’re the best team.  I think Louisville could be shown to be a pretender in December.  Kentucky gets moved down to #25.  I still think they’re a top team, but they’ve got to earn their way back to the top.

  1. Duke (4-0)
  2. Louisville (4-0)
  3. Michigan State (2-1)
  4. Maryland (3-0)
  5. Kansas (2-1)
  6. North Carolina (3-0)
  7. Gonzaga (4-0)
  8. Virginia (3-0)
  9. Arizona (4-0)
  10. Ohio State (3-0)
  11. Texas Tech (3-0)
  12. Oregon (4-0)
  13. Utah State (4-0)
  14. Xavier (4-0)
  15. Auburn (4-0)
  16. Tennessee (3-0)
  17. Xavier (4-0)
  18. Texas (4-0)
  19. Memphis (3-1)
  20. Villanova (2-1)
  21. St. Mary’s (3-1)
  22. Washington (2-1)
  23. Depaul (5-0)
  24. Oklahoma State (4-0)
  25. Kentucky (2-1)

MadZee’s Top 25

  1. Michigan State
  2. Duke
  3. Louisville
  4. Maryland
  5. Gonzaga
  6. Kansas
  7. Ohio State
  8. North Carolina
  9. Virginia
  10. Seton Hall
  11. Memphis
  12. Texas Tech
  13. Oregon
  14. Tennessee
  15. Arizona
  16. Auburn
  17. LSU
  18. Florida
  19. Villanova
  20. Kentucky
  21. VCU
  22. Texas
  23. Washington
  24. Utah State
  25. Colorado

Impeachment and Politics Miscellany – Bloomberg and Patrick Edition

  • 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.