My College Basketball Top 25 – Race for the SEC Edition

I’ll put my rankings below, but here’s my thoughts on the SEC.  Right now, I think the SEC gets 5 in the tourney – Kentucky, LSU, Auburn, Florida, and Mississippi State.  Three are tied in first place – UK, Auburn, and LSU.  Auburn’s schedule is the easiest.  LSU has UK at home, but some other losable games.  The Cats have Florida and LSU on the road and Auburn at home.  If anyone goes 7-1 down the stretch, they’re the SEC regular season champ.

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

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

There were only six people on the stage in the pre-Iowa debate.  Seven tonight, so Andrew Yang back on the stage.  

The dynamic was different tonight because the pecking order has changed.  Bernie and Biden are at the top of the pack and Pete got a lot of attention as well.  For the first time in any of the debates that I can remember, Bernie was the focus of attacks.  Warren had been the focus in the past, but she’s faded.

I think it would be good if the next debates were with 4 candidates (maybe 5 with Bloomberg).  Steyer and Yang should probably be done.  Maybe the higher polling threshold for the next debate will get us the 5 candidates.  Also might be less if someone drops out after a disappointing showing in New Hampshire.

The format was OK and they at least let some cross talk go on and a little bit of debate happen.  Steyer was the most aggressive jumping in over top of people.

There was no opening or closing statement segment.  The first question got everybody involved in a question of Sanders’ electability.  It was the first sign that Sanders would be the target of some attacks.  He is consistent in falling back on his standard rhetoric.  None of the attacks were fatal, but he was put on the defensive a little bit.  Bernie was also attacked on guns and it harmed him a bit.

The closing segment was the same question for everyone – what to do about child poverty.  Most of the candidates pivoted from the question to transition to a version of their stump speech.  Warren and Yang were the most effective at actually answering the question and saying something about making things better for kids in poverty.

I did a little bit of the good answer thing again this time.  Steyer had one, Yang had one, Warren had one, and Klobuchar had one.  I also noted that Steyer had one entirely confusing section.

On to the ranking:

  1. Amy Klobuchar – Good debate for Amy.  She got in some attacks on Bernie and Pete and also didn’t hit the moderate stuff too often.  Now that we’re looking at Bernie at the top of the heap, I think I may be looking at arguments a little differently.  I might be drawn to a more moderate stance because I worry about Bernie as the nominee.  Amy is the best moderate for me.
  2. Elizabeth Warren – Now that Cory Booker is out, Warren is the best overall debater and has been consistently good in all of the debates.  She’s fallen in the polls, I think, because of the rise of Bernie.  Now that she’s down middle of the pack, she doesn’t get attacked, so she can just do her thing and hammer on corruption and extol the virtues of the 2 cent wealth tax.
  3. Pete Buttigieg – I’m probably pulling for Pete to win in New Hampshire because it forestalls the Bernie juggernaut.  He had a really good answer on the Commander in Chief question.
  4. Joe Biden – Joe didn’t have the problem he’s had in previous debates of rambling answers.  Nothing exceptional, but no stumbles.
  5. Bernie Sanders – He lost his footing a bit in some of the segments where he was the focus of attacks, but he kept solid on his standard stump speech.
  6. Tom Steyer – Tom had one really good answer and one super confusing answer.  He was more aggressive, but that’s probably a net negative for him.
  7. Andrew Yang – I like Yang better than some of the others on this list above him, but he really didn’t make an impact for me.

My College Basketball Top 25 – Super Bowl Edition

I stayed up watching the Super Bowl, so I didn’t get my Top 25 posted last night.  I’m gonna get it out there quick before the new AP Top 25 hits, so here you go:

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

New Year’s Resolution – January

I didn’t bother to write about my resolution for this year in advance.  They’re pretty common around January 1.  Now that I’ve made it through the month (about 36 hours to go), I figure it’s a good time to take stock.

Here’s what I resolved for January 2020:


And, for clarification, that meant that I would drink only water, not that I was going to try and drink a certain number of ounces a day.  Just, no sodas (diet or otherwise), no milk, no tea, no coffee.

No meat for me was just the same as the time I did 5 years as a vegetarian.  No land based meat.  And not vegan.  So eggs/cheese = OK.  I’ll also eat the occasional Tuna Salad sandwich.  Just no chicken, beef, pork and the like.

No sugar meant no sweets.  No candy, no cookies, no ice cream.  Also no fruit, although I usually only eat fruit in smoothies anyway, which was ruled out with the rule on drinking water.  Muffins, pastries are all out.

So, with 36 hours to go, I think I can call this one a success.  I had to take a sip of a diet coke to keep it from spilling, but, other than that, I’ve only had water to drink the entire month.

And last night, I was eating what was supposed to be just dumplings from Cracker Barrel.  Turns out there were some stray pieces of chicken in there.  I was watching bastketball at the time, so one piece of chicken was consumed.  I left the other two alone.  That’s the only meat I’ve eaten all month.  BTW, the Impossible Whoppers are good.  I didn’t care for the Beyond Meat sausage at Hardee’s.  Morningstar products veggie sausage and veggie burgers are still as good as ever.

No backsliding on the sweets, either.  I found that I did a lot of snacking with chips and dip.  I wasn’t trying to be super stringent about “no sugar added” or anything like that.  It’s my game, so my rules.

We’ve got a cheer competition in Nashville on Saturday, February 1 and then the Super Bowl this Sunday.  I’ve decided I’m going to throw all the rules out for the weekend and come back on Monday for another month’s resolution.  I’m thinking about eliminating or curtailing fast food.  I also might try and do fruit this month and have a daily smoothie.  I’m not sure what to do about meat and sodas.

Oh, and, BTW, I lost 8 pounds.

Top Ten Candidates for the Democratic Nomination (It’s really a Top 8) – Plus January Political Donations

I see I haven’t updated my ranking since the end of last year.  Other politics have been more pressing I guess.  But the deadline for January donations is approaching and the Iowa Caucus is coming up.  Plus, I feel like I have some things to say about the state of the horserace.  Better here than arguing with someone on Facebook.

  1. Elizabeth Warren – Staying steady.  No change here.  We’ll see if her organization in Iowa can surprise and get her a top two finish there.  It seems the recent Bernie surge has come at her expense.  Guess there really is a progressive lane.  I had heard theories that Warren was fighting with Pete for college educated white voters, but the fall recently seems to correspond exactly to Bernie’s gain.  Between Warren and Sanders, Warren is the much better choice.
  2. Amy Klobuchar – Staying steady.  Now word of an alliance with Biden.  I’m still hoping for a woman at the top of the ticket and I don’t see Biden as Klobuchar’s VP.
  3. Joe Biden – up two spots.  In the race between two septuagenarian white guys, Biden is a better choice than Sanders (seeing a theme here?).  He needs a woman and someone young on the ticket.  Klobuchar is fine, but how about Kamala or Stacey Abrams?
  4. Pete Buttigieg – down 1 spot.  After he spent his time at the top of the Iowa polling, Pete has come down to earth.  If he doesn’t win Iowa, does he have a chance?  I wonder why he’s not trying to get into the alliance with the other moderates?
  5. Andrew Yang – up one spot.  He’s back on the debate stage for New Hampshire. I like what he adds to the discussion.  A great addition to a Warren administration.  What about an alliance with Elizabeth, Andrew?
  6. Michael Bloomberg – up two spots.  I saw some I Like Mike buttons at a Democratic event tonight.  He’s got some following here in Tennessee.  It’s his Super Tuesday strategy in action.  He came to a Democratic get together in Knoxville when he was in town to open his office.  I think there’s a chance he gets some delegates out of Tennessee.
  7. Tom Steyer – up 3 spots.  He’s now the climate change guy, which isn’t a bad thing to be.  How about an alliance with Elizabeth, Tom?
  8. Michelle Obama.  Just because.
  9. Stacey Abrams.  Because she’s a great option for VP.
  10. Bernie Sanders –  down three spots.  Yeah, I put him last for a reason.  I’m a little disgruntled with the Sanders supporters on Twitter and FB.  They’ve gone hard after Warren.  And I wonder how many of the negative things I’m seeing are bots or other disinformative types.  But his supporters give me pause.  There’s a reason Trump goes after everyone but Bernie.  Trump wants to run against Bernie.  Rs will call Ds socialists. It’s what they do.  But it’ll stick with Bernie.  He might still beat Trump because he does have a hard core, dedicated base of support.  The problem is also that his base views the Democratic Party the same way Republicans do. Until a different system comes along (ranked choice?), it’s a binary option.  Bernie is trying to be a third option in Democratic Party clothing.  I’m afraid we’re damned either way it plays out.  Bernie is leading and is going to get delegates.  If he doesn’t get the nomination, no amount of logic or reason will convince his supporters that he wasn’t cheated by the Democratic establishment somehow.  Or he gets the nomination and we have to fight an election with his baggage.  But a President Sanders is better than a President Trump.  So, I’ll vote blue, no matter who.

Now, on to my political donations this month.  Earlier in the month, I made another $500 donation to my campaign.  You can read about my financial disclosure here.

I’m also going to spread my donations out.  $5 each to Elizabeth Warren (of course), the Knox County Democratic Party, and my fellow candidates going for the WIN on the Knox County Commission – Courtney Durrett (District 2) and Kimberly Peterson (District 5).

My College Basketball Top 25 – Home, Sick Edition

The MadDoc is recuperating from some surgery and I’m battling a cold.  Trying to get over it enough to handle the campaign events coming up this week.  Can’t be sniffling when you’re recording a TV spot, can you?  But, I’ve got a little time to kill this evening in between some campaign prep work, so let’s talk a little college basketball.

It’s been a crazy year and I think there are no certain Final Four contenders.  Or, to put it another way, if my top 4 from last week (and this week) were the #1 seeds this year, do they really scare your preferred team?  Probably not.  From the perspective of a Wildcats fan, I think we can beat anybody and also get upset by more teams than I would like.  There are 20 or 30 teams that could get on a roll and win 4 to get to the Final Four.

That said, here’s where I rank them now:

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

Impeachment And Politics Miscellany – Cover Up Edition

The political part of my brain is still focused on campaign stuff.  I’ve got to prepare for a few public speaking things, including a 5 minute spot on local TV, called “Equal Time,” a Meet and Greet that sounds more like a debate, and a Democratic function where I’m going to introduce myself to Democrats in my District.  Still, with all that, there’s some horserace and impeachment stuff on my mind.  Maybe if I write it down, I can move on to the other stuff without interruption.

  • Whatever happens with the impeachment (so-called) trial that’s starting today, at least forever and ever, Donald J. Trump will be one of the minority of Presidents who was impeached.
  • It’s hard for me to get too worked up about the shenanigans being cooked up by Mitch McConnell that he’s trying to pass off as a trial.  This was always going to be how it was going to go.  It’s exactly the opposite of how he would be acting if it was a Democratic President facing impeachment, but the hypocrisy of his actions has never bothered him.  Or hurt his electoral chances.  I can hope it’ll be different this year, but I’m not sure Amy McGrath can beat him.
  • So, the important thing about this sham of a trial is that Democrats should make the Republicans take as many votes in support of the cover up as they can.  There are Senators in Colorado, Maine, North Carolina, Arizona, Iowa, and maybe a couple more for whom these votes will be politically painful.  McConnell only has 4 votes of wiggle room before it becomes a D win and an R loss.  I say get them on the record and then take the case to the voters of those R senators.  Let’s see how many we can make pay for covering up Trump’s misdeeds.
  • I’ve been expanding my local network of social media friends in hopes that it will pay off for me in the campaign.  Even though I’ve been with Warren pretty much since the beginning, I’ve learned that I fall more into the camp of Democrats who are more interested in defeating Trump than in getting my favorite candidate at the top of the ticket no matter what.  I would have thought that was a no-brainer.  But there are quite a few people out there in Facebook world who still have a mentality of Bernie or bust.  I single out the Bernie supporters because I’ve only seen this phenomenon with them.  I had some unfriendly interactions with Kamala supporters (after she had already left the race) and they were angry at Warren and Bernie.  I think blaming their focus on grassroots donations as the reason that Kamala couldn’t get enough money to stay in the race.  But even those few Kamala supporters admitted that, after they had processed her leaving the race, they would get behind the eventual nominee.  That sentiment is less common among Bernie supporters.  I want to think we’re on the same team.  Not just in defeating Trump, but in the fact that we’ve got very similar agendas.  The difference between Biden and Bernie is nothing compared to the difference between Biden and Trump. But maybe it’s not as simple as that.
  • Bring on Ranked Choice Voting!
  • I guess I’m not up for the Revolution just yet.

My College Basketball Top 25 – MLK Edition

So many of the teams lost games this week, that my usual process of moving teams up and down isn’t going to work.  Instead, I’m going to start from scratch and rank them just on who is playing best right now.  If I’m torn, I’m going to think about who would win head to head on a neutral floor.

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

Watching The Debate So You Don’t Have To – Last Debate Before Iowa

Even though my political brain is caught up with my own campaign, I will always have time to watch the debates and give my commentary.  Some observations and then my ranking of the six candidates on the stage tonight.

I thought the format didn’t do enough to let the candidates actually debate.  The candidates were cut off too quickly, especially by the moderator from Iowa.

The choice of topics were OK.  I was fine with a return to the healthcare debate, since the number of candidates was only six and they haven’t addressed it much in the last couple of debates.

Tom Steyer seemed to be aligning himself with the progressives against the moderates, so that it was a 3 on 3 kind of thing.

I didn’t really not a lot of “good” answers, as I’ve done in the previous debates.  I had Warren with two, Pete with two, Klobuchar with one and Sanders with one.  I also noted throughout how Biden had a lot of rambling answers.

I thought Warren had the strongest closing, followed by Pete and Biden right behind her.

On to the ranking…

  1. Warren – Since Elizabeth has been top of my candidate ranking for a while, I have gone out of my way not to seem biased with my debate ranking for her.  But she had some good moments and was the most consistent in her answers throughout the debate.  Also, the immediate reactions from the CNN post debate commentary seemed to agree with me that it was Warren’s night.
  2. Buttigieg – Mayor Pete was pretty solid, but missed some opportunities to really shine.  He had some good applause moments (bone spurs) and a good closing.
  3. Sanders – Bernie was Bernie.  He kept turning back to his issues and he does that well.  He lost the mini-battle with Warren on women candidates and it felt like he was a little on the defensive in that area.  He also got a front-runner like attack on paying for his Medicare For All program, similar to how Warren got it in the Fall.
  4. Biden – Biden had a good closing, which saved an otherwise mediocre night.  He falls into rambling when he gets a question he isn’t totally prepared for.
  5. Steyer – I liked that he’s trying to align with the Progressives.  He also made some good points on climate change.
  6. Klobuchar – I like Amy.  But she’s just trying too hard to be pragmatic.  She swung and missed on all of her opportunities.  I may still have her more highly ranked in my overall ranking, but she wasn’t great tonight.  And that’s bad, since she really needs to overachieve in Iowa to have any chance to move on.

My College Basketball Top 25 – Mid January Edition

Time for another Top 25 update.  We’re getting to two games a week territory, so we might see some movement.  Not in the top 5, though.

  1. Auburn (15-0)
  2. San Diego State (17-0)
  3. Duke (15-1)
  4. Gonzaga (18-1)
  5. Baylor (13-1)
  6. Butler (15-1)
  7. West Virginia (13-2)
  8. Kentucky (12-3)
  9. Florida State (14-2)
  10. Maryland (13-3)
  11. Kansas (12-3)
  12. Louisville (13-3)
  13. Villanova (12-3)
  14. Oregon (14-3)
  15. Wichita State (15-1)
  16. Dayton (14-2)
  17. Arkansas (13-2)
  18. Colorado (13-3)
  19. Penn State (12-4)
  20. Memphis (13-3)
  21. Texas Tech (10-5)
  22. Ohio State (11-5)
  23. Michigan State (13-4)
  24. Seton Hall (12-4)
  25. Arizona (11-5)