Watching The Debate So You Don’t Have To – South Carolina Edition

So, I watched the debate, but not live.  There was a campaign related meeting I had to go to and a basketball game to watch first.  I took notes as I normally do, but it was too late to write something up last night while it was fresh in my mind.  I have a grandma doctor appointment to go to this morning and another campaign thing to handle after lunch with the MadDoc.  Therefore, I’m just going to bang out a few quick thoughts and give you my ranking.

The moderators were pretty terrible.  They let the candidates talk all over each other.  It was entertaining to watch the first section because of all the fighting and jabs at each other.  On the other hand, it wasn’t a great look for the Dems.  For better or worse, this chaos will abate after Super Tuesday.  Or, at least, I hope it will.

When they got to the second section, it turned boring.  The fact is that the Dems really don’t disagree too strongly on most issues.  That’s why almost every debate has included a healthcare section, because that’s where you can find meaningful differences between the candidates.

The Democratic voters in South Carolina are overwhelmingly African-American, which explains the number of questions and answers touching on race.  The group of white men and women on the stage have to show their bona fides in advance of the South Carolina primary.  It made for an awkward section of the debate.

The last question was ridiculous.  With that said, I though Warren and Pete had the best answers.  Warren, then Pete, if I’m ranking them.

I was stingy with the “good answer” notes.  I gave one each to Warren, Steyer and Bloomberg.

I’ll also note that I paused the debate for a bit because MadDoc and I got into a rather contentious discussion when they started talking about legalizing marijuana.  I’m for it, she’s against it.  She comes at it from her knowledge of studies of long term marijuana use and her experience with patients who use it frequently.  I come from my legal background, my pro-defendant bias in the criminal justice system, and my peculiar brand of libertarianism.  Since I know she will read this at some point, I’ll say that I understand her perspective.  But she’s still wrong ;-).

Now, on to the ranking.

  1. Biden – Joe definitely has a ceiling when it comes to debates.  For me, this was one of his better ones.  Also, no one else really shined.  So, by default, Biden won this debate.  And he needed to, since South Carolina is his firewall state.
  2. Buttigieg – Pete is a little desperate to get some traction in a state he’s not doing well in.  He had some memorable lines and he’s been the most consistent in pointing out the problem with Bernie at the top of the ticket.  Last time it was his line about choosing between someone who wants to burn the party down and someone who wants to buy it out.  Last night he used the same line he gave in his speech after Nevada, that we need to care about more than just the Presidential race.  And Bernie at the top of the ticket is going to endanger the House and the Senate.  I agree with him on both of these points.  He also continued to show a good grasp of foreign policy.
  3. Warren – It was just an OK debate for the candidate who has consistently been the best debater since the beginning.  She took advantage of the moderators lack of control and interjected quite a bit.  I’m sure some white men someplace are calling her shrill for doing so.  She won the last question and was pretty good all the way through.  She doubled down on Bloomberg with the women and their NDAs.  And her explanation of how he’s the riskiest candidate was solid.
  4. Sanders – Bernie was attacked.  Finally.  They get that he’s going to win if they don’t do something.  Bernie’s responses were, as usual, some combination of deflection and pivoting to his stump speech.  I think it was Steyer who said that Bernie is right about his analysis of the situation.  It’s just his proposed fix is wrong.  The question is whether the fact that he’s really fuzzy on how to pay for M4A and his other programs will cause him to crash the way it did with Warren.  His base of support is so enthusiastic, I suspect not.  He’s got a high floor.
  5. Klobuchar – In the first section, Amy returned to the nervous sounding candidate of the early debates.  Later on, she did better.  Too many attacks going around for her to get into the mix.  I think we’ve seen the end of the Klobuchar boomlet.  She’s gonna stay in through Super Tuesday because she wants to win her home state over Bernie.  But I suspect her money will dry up and she’ll be out around March 4.
  6. Bloomberg – The mayor did better this time than last.  Although that’s a low bar.  He had his answers better rehearsed this time.  If you’re inclined more to the center, then you probably think Warren’s attacks against on the women and NDAs was too much.  I’m not so inclined, so I think he really hasn’t answered the question and Warren is right about how risky it’ll be if he’s the nominee.  But he was better than…
  7. Steyer – This billionaire was just not ready to be back on the stage.  He’s polling pretty well in South Carolina and he wants to keep his position, so he was playing to the South Carolina electorate hard.  If he doesn’t do well, I could see him dropping out before Super Tuesday.  Then again, he’s got the money to stay in if he wants, so who knows.

My College Basketball Top 25 – Bracket Edition

I’ve decided it’s time to shake things up.  Instead of doing the rankings as usual, I’m going to transition to something more like Bracket seeding.  It was a wild weekend in college basketball and it’s starting to get serious with the bracketology.  I thought I would take a look at a couple of the high profile brackets and then come up with my own seeding, about the first 6 seeds.  I’m looking at the brackets from Lunardi, Palm, NBC and Bracket Wag.  It looks like a couple of these haven’t updated since the losses on Saturday, but it gives me a starting point.

Not all the brackets provided a true seed list, but I did my best to figure it out.  By averaging them, the true seeding list (1-6) would be something like:

  1. Kansas
  2. Baylor
  3. San Diego St
  4. Gonzaga
  5. Dayton
  6. Duke
  7. Maryland
  8. Florida St.
  9. Creighton
  10. Seton Hall
  11. Villanova
  12. Kentucky
  13. Louisville
  14. Penn St
  15. Oregon
  16. West Virginia
  17. Auburn
  18. Colorado
  19. Butler
  20. Michigan St
  21. Iowa
  22. Arizona
  23. Ohio St
  24. Marquette

Like I said, a couple of these brackets haven’t been updated since the Saturday games.  Arizona, Ohio St, and Marquette, as well as BYU and Michigan, didn’t appear in the top six seeds of all the brackets.  I did a guesstimate to come up with this average of the top 1-6 seeds.  So, that’s going to be what I start with.  I’ll provide my true seeding below and then continue to update until Selection Sunday.

  1. Kansas
  2. Baylor
  3. San Diego St
  4. Gonzaga
  5. Dayton
  6. Florida St
  7. Duke
  8. Maryland
  9. Kentucky
  10. Villanova
  11. Creighton
  12. Seton Hall
  13. Oregon
  14. Louisville
  15. Auburn
  16. West Virginia
  17. Penn St
  18. Colorado
  19. Arizona
  20. Ohio St
  21. Michigan
  22. BYU
  23. Michigan St
  24. Iowa

The Band Story Continues – February Edition

As you may recall, my old band from my days in Northern Virginia are getting back together for one last gig.  A wedding in June.  I gave some more details here.  Our last practice with the whole group was in November.  Tomorrow, we’re going to have another go.  I’m flying up in the morning.  We’re practicing tomorrow night and then I’m flying back on Saturday.  I scheduled this originally on a day when the MadDoc was scheduled to be on call the next day.  The MadDoc is off call for a bit as she recuperates from surgery, but the show must go on.  So I’m flying tomorrow anyway.

I think one of the guitarists from the band is out tomorrow.  But we’re going to make our way through as many of the songs as we can manage.  The good thing after the last practice is that we pared down the list and most of what’s left are songs that we have done a million and six times.

Just in case you’re curious, here’s the new list we’re aiming for, in the order we’re thinking of playing them:

Set 1

  • American Band – Grand Funk Railroad
  • What You Need – INXS
  • What I Like About You – The Romantics
  • Heart of Rock and Roll – Huey Lewis and the News
  • 99 Red Balloons – Goldfinger
  • Rock This Town – Stray Cats
  • China Grove – Doobie Brothers
  • Bad Case of Loving You – Robert Palmer
  • Can’t Take My Eyes off of You – Muse cover of Frankie Valli tune
  • Rock and Roll All Night – Kiss
  • Don’t Gotta Work It Out – Fitz and the Tantrums

Set 2

  • Jumpin Jack Flash – Rolling Stones
  • Back in the USSR – Beatles
  • Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry
  • I Want You To Want Me – Cheap Trick
  • Lido Shuffle – Boz Scaggs
  • If You’re Wondering If I Want You To – Weezer
  • I’m a Believer – Monkees/Smashmouth/Neil Diamond
  • Kiss Me – New Found Glory cover of Sixpence None the Richer tune
  • Last Nite – The Strokes (but I don’t sing this one)
  • Semi Charmed Life – Third Eye Blind
  • That Thing You Do – The Wonders
  • American Girl – Tom Petty
  • Drive My Car – Beatles
  • Accidentally In Love – Counting Crows
  • Maybe I’m Amazed – Paul McCartney

Set 3

  • I Saw Her Standing There – Beatles
  • Shut Up and Dance – Walk the Moon
  • Hold On Loosely – .38 Special
  • Synchronicity II – The Police
  • Happy Together – The Turtles
  • Long Train Running – Doobie Brothers
  • Hard to Handle – Black Crowes
  • My Love – Paul McCartney
  • Closing Time – Semisonic (to wrap things up?)
  • Freebird – Lynyrd Skynyrd (not necessarily played here, but you know someone will call out Freebird)
  • Birthday – The Beatles (in case someone has a birthday)


Watching The Debate So You Don’t Have To – Nevada Edition

There were only six people on the stage tonight.   No Tom Steyer, no Andrew Yang and welcome Michael Bloomberg. 

A very interesting and combative debate tonight.  Plenty of attacks on Bloomberg.  Sanders got some attacks, but not as many as the front-runner would normally expect.  Pete and Amy don’t like each other and that showed.

The first hour or so was electric.  All of the attacks on Bloomberg came out.  They asked about the socialist thing with Bernie.  Bloomberg called it communism.  Amy asked if Pete was calling her dumb.  It was really a fun debate from that perspective.

When I get to my ranking, I’m going to go into who I think did the best in the actual debate.  But if you want to say whether the debate performances will have an effect on the vote in Nevada or South Carolina or beyond, that’s harder to say.  Looking at this issue, I think Bernie came out ahead, even though his debate performance was just OK.  He wasn’t attacked and, as the front runner, that means he’s a winner.  Bloomberg was terrible in the debate, but how many people actually watched the debate?  Are his ads going to save his overall standing in the race?  Warren was probably the best in the debate (not just me saying it), but will it actually help her?  Maybe not.

On to the ranking:

  1. Elizabeth Warren – Really good debate.  She attacked effectively Bloomberg.  A little less effective when she did her scattershot attacks on a bunch of candidates at a time.  With the time limits, doing serial attacks like that probably were good tactics, since there was never going to be enough time for everyone to respond.  She got a really good response from the crowd on her 2 cent wealth tax, which actually does poll really well.
  2. Joe Biden – Joe attacked judiciously but didn’t overdo it.  Some of his answers were just straight out of his plans, but for Joe that may be a good thing.  Joe may have benefitted from Bloomberg having a bad debate.  He looks pretty progressive next to Republican-lite Bloomberg.
  3. Bernie Sanders – Part of the reason I put Bernie here is that he really wasn’t attacked.  If you’re the front-runner and you don’t get attacked, you had a pretty good debate.  There was some attempt to pin Bernie down on the cost of his healthcare plan.  He avoided a straight answer as he usually does and just talked about healthcare as a human right and the US is the only developed country that hasn’t figured it out.  He also skated on the transparency of his medical records and his online supporters.  I did appreciate that he disavowed anyone attacking people online and said they’re not part of his movement.  I suspect I may use that line in my own discussions with Bernie supporters online.
  4. Pete Buttigieg – I liked Pete’s line about how we should nominate a Democrat.  We shouldn’t have to choose between someone who wants to burn the party down and another person who wants to buy the party out.  Deduct points for the Pete-Amy squabbles.
  5. Amy Klobuchar – For me, Amy won the last debate.  She was off her game tonight.  Part probably because Warren had such a good debate and that took some of the space she could have had.  Also, she lost in the squabble with Pete.  She more clearly than Pete showed her dislike for him.  He might also dislike her, but he hides it better.
  6. Mike Bloomberg – Just a terrible debate.  He wasn’t prepared for questions that should have been obvious.  If you’ve seen his ads and then saw this debate, you might not recognize the man tonight.  One thing he did better than everyone else, was talk about beating Trump.  I’m just not sure Bloomberg can beat him and I don’t think he represents the Democratic values we want our nominee to have.  I’ll vote for him if he’s the nominee, but he’s likely down here at the bottom in my overall candidate ranking as well.

I Voted

We’ve got early voting in Tennessee and it extends until next Tuesday, at least here in Knox County.  I’ve been a Warren supporter since last summer, so it has been my plan to vote for her in the primary for a long time.  Recently, though, the rise of Bernie has changed the calculation a bit.  I was toying with the idea of holding off on voting until after the Nevada caucus to make sure that Warren isn’t completely out of the running by Super Tuesday.  But I figured I should vote my heart here in the primary no matter what.  So I turned the little circle thing and voted for Elizabeth and me on my ballot.  The only races with Dems in them in my precinct.

No matter what happens in the Primary, I’m blue no matter who.  We need to vote Trump out of office.

See you after tonight’s debate.

My College Basketball Top 25 – Valentine’s Edition

Will any of the top 3 (Gonzaga, Baylor, San Diego State) lose before the NCAA tournament?  Or Duke, Kansas, Dayton?  I think Kentucky is maxed out at a 2 seed and that’s only if they win out.  Probably a 3 seed.  Beat LSU on Tuesday and things look good for the 2.

  1. Gonzaga (26-1)
  2. Baylor (23-1)
  3. San Diego State (26-0)
  4. Duke (22-3)
  5. Kansas (22-3)
  6. Dayton (23-2)
  7. Maryland (21-4)
  8. Auburn (22-3)
  9. Kentucky (20-5)
  10. Penn State (20-5)
  11. Oregon (19-6)
  12. Florida State (21-4)
  13. Colorado (20-6)
  14. Villanova (19-6)
  15. Houston (20-6)
  16. Creighton (20-6)
  17. Louisville (21-5)
  18. Vermont (21-6)
  19. Seton Hall (18-7)
  20. West Virginia (18-7)
  21. LSU (18-7)
  22. Butler (19-7)
  23. Wichita State (17-5)
  24. Iowa (18-8)
  25. Rhode Island (19-6)

I’d Love to Change the World

I’ve always thought this was a great song.  One lyric came to me again today in the midst of the fall of Warren and the rise of Bernie:

“Tax the rich/feed the poor/Till there are no/rich no more?”

I’ve got no problem with taxing the rich or feeding the poor.  I always thought the goal ought to be no poor no more.  Maybe it doesn’t flow as well in the world of songwriting.  But, I wonder if that’s the difference between Warren and Sanders supporters.  Warren supporters focus on eliminating poverty, while Sanders supporters want to get rid of the rich?

Just a thought.