My College Basketball Top 25 – Pearl Harbor Edition

Yeah, OK, that was yesterday.  But you try to come up with a different “edition” title every time.

The number of undefeateds is down.  I’m not considering any 3-loss teams right now, which eliminates North Carolina.  My Cats are up to 7.  If they sweep the month of December, I would imagine I’ll put them back at the top, but gonna be tough to beat both Ohio State and Lousiville.

Keep an eye on Auburn.  They’ll probably be favored for the next 8 games.  Not that they couldn’t drop one, but you could also see them at 16-0 going into Florida.  I watched them against Furman and they’re not as strong as that record would indicate.  But you can’t argue with 16-0.

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

MadZee’s Top 25 (still last week’s ranking).

  1. Louisville
  2. Kansas
  3. Maryland
  4. Ohio st
  5. Virginia
  6. Duke
  7. Michigan
  8. UNC
  9. Kentucky
  10. Arizona
  11. Memphis
  12. Gonzaga
  13. Seton hall
  14. Auburn
  15. Oregon
  16. Dayton
  17. Michigan State
  18. Tennessee
  19. Villanova
  20. Colorado
  21. Baylor
  22. Utah St
  23. DePaul
  24. Xavier
  25. Florida State

Top Ten Candidates for the Democratic Nomination – Post Harris Drop Out

We’re still a couple of weeks away from the December 19 Democratic Debate in Los Angeles.  I might have just stayed with my previous ranking, but the bombshell yesterday was that Kamala Harris has suspended her campaign.  Harris was #4 on my ranking and, back in July in my first of these Top Ten posts, I had Harris at #1.  I saw enough of Kamala in debates and other events to be wary of her as the ultimate nominee.  I found her to be inconsistent in her performances and it felt like she had a hard time settling on a strategy and a message.  I actually thought she was doing better of late and I liked her mash up of “Justice for all” and “for the people” messages that she was settling on.  But, it was a little too late to save her campaign I guess.  She might still be in the VP stakes, so don’t write her off completely.  And we’ll be seeing her and hearing from her in the inevitable impeachment trial in the Senate in January.

The other issue with Harris dropping out is that it makes the field of Democrats more male and more white.  The debate stage this month is all white candidates at this point and that’s a problem for the Dems.  We’ll need African-American engagement in 2020 to win the election.  I think this development ensures that if one of the six or seven top tier candidates ends up with the nomination, the VP is going to be a person of color.  If I had to bet right now, I see a Biden/Abrams ticket going against the Republican ticket.

Finally, I had Harris in tier 2, so she had some support that will now go to other candidates.  Who’s going to earn her support?  I suspect the Harris supporters will end up being more or less evenly split between Warren, Klobuchar, Biden and Booker.  But I don’t think she had enough support to make waves in the overall race.  Unless.  Here’s a dark horse idea.  Klobuchar and Harris have the prosecutor thing in common.  A couple of extra points to Klobuchar will make a big difference to her Iowa campaign and could be the thing that would help push her into a top 3 finish in Iowa.  It’ll be interesting to watch.

On to the rankings…

  1. Elizabeth Warren – Staying steady.  Is Warren in a slump?  Has she hit her ceiling and is now going to come down to the middle of the pack?  Are the electability concerns going to do her in?  I say Elizabeth still has a good to great organization in Iowa.  A little stumble now lets her surprise in Iowa and get some good comeback stories written about her going into New Hampshire.  Booker for VP.
  2. Pete Buttigieg – staying steady.  Speaking of expectations, with the Mayor Pete bump, if he finishes out of the top 2 in Iowa, he’s probably done.  It’s his strongest state.  If he doesn’t win or finish a close second, he’s bound for the Department of Defense.  Harris or Abrams for VP.
  3. Cory Booker – staying steady.  With the lily white debate stage coming, Democratic voters should really be hoping Cory can get a post-Harris drop out bump and get on the stage.  I see Booker choosing someone from out of this field for his VP if he gets the nomination.  Just don’t have an idea who yet.
  4. Amy Klobuchar – up 1 spot.  Up side is that Harris drop out could really help her campaign.  Down side is if she can’t finish top 3/4 in Iowa, she’s back in the VP stakes.
  5. Joe Biden – up two spots.  Attrition gets him here.  If he gets the nomination, the VP selection is key to base enthusiasm.  Stacey Abrams is the obvious choice.
  6. Andrew Yang – staying steady.  I like Yang, but he’s not going to be the nominee.
  7. Bernie Sanders –  up 1 spot.  Same as for Joe, his VP selection will need to create some balance.  Bernie will get the enthusiasm.  He needs a woman and possibly a person of color on the ticket with him.
  8. Julian Castro – back on list.  I have liked Castro for a while.  He’s still hanging around even though he’s not making the debates.  He’d be better than the rest.  I like his recent focus on poverty in America.  Maybe he’s someone’s VP pick?
  9. Tom Steyer – staying steady.  Better than Bloomberg.
  10. Michelle Obama – new to the list.  Actually, I might have her at #1 if she were a legit candidate.  But she’s not.  And I just don’t see Bloomberg or Gabbard on the list.

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

My College Basketball Top 25 – Post Thanksgiving Edition (Updated)

[Now updated with MadZee’s Top 25]

By my count, six teams in my top 12 got at least one loss this week.  To be expected with the number of ranked teams playing each other this week in various holiday tournaments.  I think it’s also far enough into the season that the teams which are still undefeated deserve some due.  So, big shake up this week.  Also, a note about the Duke loss.  When Kentucky lost to an unranked team at home, I punished them by moving them to 25 in order to make them work their way up the rankings.  I won’t do the same to Duke.  I’m keeping them in the Top 10.  I am, however, taking Michigan State out of the Top 25 for a bit.  They’re probably a top 5 team when they’re right, but that’s not the case right now.

For this week’s ranking, I’ve eliminated any two loss teams from the rankings.  I suspect there are some of those teams which would deserve to be more highly ranked than some of the other teams in the Top 25 this week.  I am sure that this will sort itself out in the next two weeks, because there are a lot of games coming up which are going to bring the number of undefeateds down.

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

MadZee’s Top 25

 

  1. Louisville
  2. Kansas
  3. Maryland
  4. Ohio st
  5. Virginia
  6. Duke
  7. Michigan
  8. UNC
  9. Kentucky
  10. Arizona
  11. Memphis
  12. Gonzaga
  13. Seton hall
  14. Auburn
  15. Oregon
  16. Dayton
  17. Michigan State
  18. Tennessee
  19. Villanova
  20. Colorado
  21. Baylor
  22. Utah St
  23. DePaul
  24. Xavier
  25. Florida State

My November Political Donations

I’ve been doing this every month since July.  I summarized how much and to whom I’ve given in my September post.  I’ve been staying at about $20/month, except in September I gave an extra $5 to the advocacy group Fair Fight 2020.  In October, I gave to Warren and Booker among the Presidential candidates and I also gave $10 split among three Senatorial candidates – Mark Kelly in Arizona, Cal Cunningham in North Carolina, and Sara Gideon in Maine.

Since last month, the horserace for the Democratic nomination for President has changed.  Where Warren was a co-frontrunner, she’s fallen back a bit.  Mayor Pete has seen a big bump in Iowa and New Hampshire.  Cory Booker is not looking like he’ll make the debate stage in December.

I’m still a big supporter of Elizabeth Warren, so I think I should chip in a little extra to help her regain some momentum.  I’m giving her $10 this time.  I want to see Cory stick around in the race, so I’m going to give him $5 again.  There aren’t any other Presidential candidates that I want to give money to right now.  For tactical reasons – Biden, Buttigieg, Sanders.  They’re not viable – Castro, Patrick.  They’re billionaires – Steyer, Bloomberg.  They’re terrible – Gabbard.  I’m on the fence on a couple of candidates – Yang, Klobuchar, Harris – but I’m not there yet and I have my self-imposed $20 limit to consider.

I’m going to give the last $5 of my $20 to Fair Fight 2020 again.  Aside from the Presidential primary, there’s still so much uncertainty in the Senate and House races, I can’t decide.  Fair Fight is working to get all votes counted and I figure that’s a worthy cause at this point in the process.

On top of my usual $20 donation, I am also making one other, rather substantial donation this month.  To my campaign.  I’ll write more about my thoughts on campaign money in a longer post (at some point) on my campaign website – www.fro4knox4.com. I won’t be accepting donations for my campaign.  I plan to self-fund.  Not in the Bloombergian model of spending my millions on a nationwide ad campaign.  No, but we’re well enough off that I can contribute $500 to my campaign to pay for basic things like a domain name and some candidate flyers of some sort.  No Political Signs!  Again, I’m going to come up with an official policy on how much I’m going to be willing to spend.  I’m thinking no more than $1,000.00 over the course of the campaign.  This isn’t just a political gimmick.  I really and truly think money is one of the biggest problems in our politics and I want to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.  If I end up losing the campaign because the other side does huge fundraising and campaign spending, then so be it.  But I plan on doing everything I can to make this one of my top two issues that I’m running on.  As I said, look for a more detailed post at my campaign website.

Ranking the Harry Potter Movies After A Rewatch

I’ve been in a Harry Potter movie mood the last few weeks and then burned through the last 4 over the last 3 days.  It’s what you do when your wife is sick and has to take call.  And, since I’m all about the rankings here at maddogesquire.com, I figured I’d finish up my Thanksgiving (although it’s really Black Friday at this point) by doing a quick ranking of the movies.  Yeah, I’ve also read the books, but 8 installments of about 2 1/2 hours in front of the TV works better for me right now.  And for ease of making the list, I’m going to leave off the “Harry Potter and” part of the titles.  I think you’ll still be able to follow.

  1. Prisoner of Azkaban.  I started this rewatch already inclined to put this one at the top of the list.  Nothing I saw changed my mind.  The Potter movies gradually turn darker, as I’m sure you know.  Prisoner of Azkaban starts the Sirius Black arc in movies 3-5 and I really enjoy the relationship between Harry and Sirius.  So, by the end of that arc, when Sirius is killed and everybody acknowledges that the Dark Lord is back, we’re in full on dark mode.  In Azkaban, though, it’s still got a touch of the light, kiddie feel of the first two movies.  I’m also a sucker for a good time travel story and this one is good.  Plus, I think Remus is the best defense against the Dark Arts teacher and Buckbeak rocks.
  2. Deathly Hallows, Part Two.  I put this one here because, well, Voldemort gets his, finally.  Neville has some good scenes.  Snape gets a little redemption.  Give me my happy endings all tied up in a little bow.  The couples couple off, including Neville and Luna.  Professor McGonagall gets to be a bit of a bad ass.  Mrs. Weasley gets to finish off Bellatrix.  Harry gets a stand up to Snape moment, with assistance from Professor McGonagall.  The Epilogue is just OK for me, but at least they included one.
  3. Goblet of Fire.  Even though Mad Eye in this one was just Barty Crouch with a polyjuice potion, I love Mad Eye’s character.  There’s a lot of Mad Eye in this one, so that’s a big plus.  I like the structure of this story, based around the tests the contestants have to pass to become Tri-Wizard Champion.  They did less of the classroom stuff in this one, which worked well.  This is the second movie in the Sirius arc. Where Azkaban was a little dark with more lighthearted moments, this one is the opposite.  There are some lighter moments, but the darkness, culminating in Cedric’s death at the end of the movie, is a sign of things to come.
  4. Order of the Phoenix.  Dolores Umbridge is just the worst.  A very good secondary villain.  Maybe the best in all of the movies.  The last movie in the Sirius arc.  Harry really grows up and becomes a leader here, with his time teaching Dumbledore’s Army.  If you weren’t sure that the movies were going to turn dark after Cedric’s death, you sure knew it after Sirius was killed.  I like how they built the tension at Hogwarts with Dolores’ increasing level of authority at the school.  It should be no surprise that she was a major figure at the Ministry of Magic after Voldemort took it over in Deathly Hallows, Part One.
  5. Chamber of Secrets.  One of the two light, kiddie movies.  This one lands higher in my ranking because of the introduction of Tom Marvolo Riddle, aka I Am Lord Voldemort.  Myrtle is a fun character and the storyline with students partially stunned by the Basilisk holds up.
  6. Sorceror’s Stone.  The series began here.  It’s fine.  Nothing much beyond that to say.
  7. Deathly Hallows, Part One.  This is a necessary movie to get to the #2 movie on my list.  I didn’t like the section of the movie where Ron was recovering from their escape from the Ministry of Magic.  A little too reminiscent of The Hobbit.  Whoever was wearing the locket got irritated?  Meh.  I like the movies better when the main three are working together and this one failed at that.  Plus Dobby died.

I mentioned above that Remus is the best DADA teacher.  A quick ranking.

  1. Remus.  He’s a werewolf.  But cool.  And he’s an auror and taught them a spell.
  2. Mad Eye Moody.  It wasn’t really Moody, but I dig Mad Eye, so he’s #2.
  3. Severus Snape.  I give him credit for helping Harry with occlumency.  In the movies we didn’t really see much instruction from him.
  4. Gilderoy Lockhart.  He did a little dueling with them, even though he wasn’t good at it.
  5. Professor Quirrell.  He had Voldemort on the back of his head.
  6. Dolores Umbridge.  She’s the worst.
  7. Amycus Carrow.  I guess he was in the books – Deathly Hallows – although I don’t remember him.

An Announcement

I’ve been doing this blog as a sort of online diary and alternative to arguing politics on Facebook.  If you’re one of the two or three regular readers here, you know most of my output is politics.  And really just a subset of politics – the 2020 horserace for the Democratic nomination to run against Trump.  I also like to write about pop culture and some sports (Go Big Blue!).

I’ve had this idea in my head for a while that I was going to explore what it takes to run for political office as a Democrat here in deeply Republican Tennessee.  I wasn’t sure how serious I was about it, but figured if I gave it a go, I’d use it as a civics lesson.  I’d write about the process of getting on the ballot and other behind the scenes aspects of being a political candidate.  And I would do this on the way to being slaughtered by whichever Republican I happened to be running against.

As any good husband should do, though, I talked to my wife, the awesome and wonderful MadDoc, about my idea.  She’s always supportive of my activities, so I just figured she would sign off as she has in the past.  This time, though, she surprised me.  She told me that if I wasn’t going to take it seriously and try to win, then she would not support me doing it.  I have to admit I was a little stung at first.  But then I realized that she was right.  If I was going to do it, I should go all out.  That’s what the process deserves.

One of the things that prompted me to want to run for office is how many races end up with a Republican running unopposed.  So, I figured if I was going to do this, I should try and target a race where it was looking like no Democrat would appear on the ballot.  My first step was to talk to the Knox County Democratic Party.  In doing so, I was able to figure out that the race for County Commissioner in my district might not have a Democratic candidate.  So, check one.

Second, I attended a Campaign 101 class at Leadership Knoxville.  I learned quite a bit about the process and about the race for the seat I am targeting.  I’ll talk more about the process of getting on the ballot and being a serious candidate at another time, but the bottom line is that the process did not prove too daunting to take on, so I’ve started the process.  Check two.

Third is where I’m at now.  Taking it seriously.  Putting together a platform and social media and figuring out a strategy and everything else is ongoing.  But here’s the thing, if I’m going to be at least a semi-serious candidate, I’m going to have to separate some things.  I’m still going to write my national political stuff and all of the other personal thoughts I have here at maddogesquire.com.  But I’ve also grabbed another domain where I’m going to write posts about the process of the campaign.  So the stuff that I had originally thought about writing here when I was not necessarily going to be a serious candidate, I’m now going to write at my new campaign website – www.fro4knox4.com.

I imagine there will be some crossover between the sites (I’m going to put a version of this post over there, for instance).  But, fair warning, since this campaign stuff is swirling through my head right now, I’m more likely to be writing a bunch at the campaign site, rather than here.  Hope to see you here and there!

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.