Big Blue Madness is Friday!

So it must be time for a Kentucky basketball post.

I previously did a post summarizing the preseason rankings.  I was interested to see that, in the ESPN preseason bracketology, Lunardi has Louisville as a 1 seed and Kentucky as a 2 seed.  In the same part of the bracket, so that they would face each other in the Elite 8 game, if things went according to chalk.  Since Kentucky is preseason #2 in my rankings and Louisville is preseason #5, and no games have yet been played, I thought it would be worthwhile to look into what might be behind this.

One way to explain this is just that Lunardi figures, right now, Louisville should be ranked higher than Kentucky.  Looking back at the preseason rankings that I used to come up with the average, I see that UK was ranked either 2 or 3 and Louisville was ranked anywhere from 4 to 9.  But, OK, maybe Lunardi would put Louisville in the Preseason top 4 and UK would be from 5 to 8.  If you figure Louisville as the lowest number 1 seed, you could see Kentucky as the top 2 seed and that’s why they’d match up.

But maybe Lunardi looks at how he thinks the seasons will play out and he figures, by the end of the year, Louisville will be top 4 and Kentucky anywhere from 5 to 8.  So, look at the respective conferences.  The ACC has four teams in my top 39 (#3-Duke, #5-Louisville, #11-North Carolina, and #12-Virginia).  The SEC has five teams in the top 39 (#2-Kentucky, #7-Florida, #24-Tennessee, #27-Auburn, and #30-LSU).  So the ACC is more top heavy, while the SEC has more potential top 25 teams.  I’d say the ACC is stronger this year than the SEC, but not by a crazy amount.

Regardless of the strength of the conferences, how many ranked teams will Kentucky and Louisville play this year?  Maybe Lunardi is basing his bracketology on strength of schedule? Louisville plays the following teams in my top 39: #29-Michigan; #10-Texas Tech; #2-Kentucky; #3-Duke; #12-Virginia (x2); and #11-North Carolina.  Kentucky plays the following top 39 teams:  #1-Michigan State; #17-Ohio State; #5-Louisville; #10-Texas Tech; #27-Auburn (x2); #24-Tennessee (x2); #30-LSU; and #7-Florida (x2).  Certainly Kentucky has better strength of schedule here, so that can’t be it.

If you look at the rest of the bracketology, Lunardi has Florida as one of the 1 seeds, while Louisville is the only 1 seed for the ACC and Duke and North Carolina are 2 seeds.  Clearly, Lunardi sees Florida and Lousiville as the class of their respective conferences.  I don’t think the facts bear it out at this point, but let’s play the games and then, by December 28, we’ll see how it goes.  There’s no doubt Louisville has a good team this year.  But the game is in Rupp, so I like the Cats’ chances.  Before that game, Louisville has a game at Miami, Michigan at home and a neutral court game against Texas Tech.  Kentucky has no big games at home, but three neutral court games, including the biggie to start the year against #1 Michigan State.  I predict both teams will have 1 loss by the time they meet on December 28.

Impeachment and Horserace Miscellany

Thanx to Professor Mondo for the title suggestion.

  • I think Mitt Romney has a good point.  He tweeted, “When the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China’s investigation is his political opponent in the midst of the Democratic nomination process, it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated.”
  • I think it’s fitting for how bad this President has been and, I think, will be considered by history, that he’s only the 4th President to have faced impeachment.
  • At some point in the course of his campaign so far, Biden has made the argument, explicit and implicit, that he’s the candidate that can get things done across the aisle.  He’s worked with and gotten things done with Republicans before and he can do it now too.  On the other hand, both Warren and Sanders know what the Republicans have become and aren’t pretending that they can make deals with them.  Mayor Pete and Booker have the “bring everybody together” campaigns.  I think Harris might actually have the best way forward in this respect.  I’ve said before that I like how she’s suggested that she’ll give Congress the first 100 days to take some action and, if they won’t, she’ll start with executive action.  I think the topic was immigration, but that tack probably works for any of a number of issues.
  • Evidently, Elizabeth Warren was asked if she had seen enough evidence to convict Trump and remove him from office.  She said yes without qualification.  I saw some criticism on twitter that she is a member of the “jury” and she shouldn’t prejudge the case.  Harris and Klobuchar have both said they’ll wait to see the evidence that comes to the Senate.  If this were a true criminal proceeding, then maybe I would be with the critics.  But impeachment is an inherently political process.  And, evidently, Moscow Mitch has seen enough evidence to say in his fundraising pitches that the impeachment stops with him as majority leader.  So, I support Warren sticking with her answer unless and until Moscow Mitch figures it’s inappropriate for him to prejudge the outcome as well.

Friday Afternoon Politics Post

  • Senator Warren finally released her Q3 fundraising numbers.  At 24.6 million, they’re right below Bernie’s massive haul of 25.3 million.  Mayor Pete was at 19.1 million and Biden was at 15.2 million.  So, the top two Democratic fundraisers got their money with no big dollar events.  Looks good for the grassroots strategy that they’re both employing.
  • If we have any pause about actually removing Trump from office after impeachment, it’s the thought of President Mike Pence.  I just wish he would make up his mind on what he thinks about foreign election interference.  It’s almost like his opinion changed once it became clear that Trump was in favor.
  • Speaking of Mayor Pete, here’s a good piece on his “undeniable allure.”  I just need a nudge at this point to put him at number two in my personal rankings behind Warren.  Here’s the laugh out loud section about Trump that sold me on the article.

And that raises a new question: Is Buttigieg, who would be four years younger than JFK if he were inaugurated in 2021, ready for the White House? Not ready in the way that Donald Trump was ready (a random first-grader eating paste would undoubtedly do a better job), but ready to be a successful president who would lead America out of the wreckage of the Trump years?

A Great Thread from Twitter

I wanted to say a little more than 280 characters on this one.  Susan Hennessey, who is on the Lawfare podcast about the Mueller Report that I’m slowly making my way through, had a great thread on twitter yesterday.  A good compare and contrast job of the fake controversy about the Bidens versus what Trump is doing everyday.  I’m going to excerpt some of the better parts below (emphasis mine), but go check the whole thing out.  And follow her at @susan_hennessey.

All presidents and vice presidents and cabinet members have family and friends whose jobs might be impacted by policy. That’s why we ask them to observe transparent ethics processes and norms. That is what Biden did. That is what Trump doesn’t do.
To begin with, we ask that presidents and vice presidents divest from personal business holdings. That is what Biden did. That is what Trump didn’t do.
Then we ask that presidents and vice presidents disclose tax returns and financial records to ensure transparency. That is what Biden did. That is what Trump refuses to do.
Then we ask presidents and vice presidents to observe the laws and norms against nepotism in government, by not hiring their family members. Biden observed those norms and laws. Trump refuses to do so. …

A Couple Thoughts on Trump and Impeachment

  • I was listening to a podcast this morning and they were discussing Trump’s pronouncement on the South Lawn about how he encouraged Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens.  One of the pundits offered the opinion that this might be excused by some as “Trump being Trump.”  It’s just like during the campaign when he encouraged Russia to go find Hillary’s emails.  It also brings to mind the excuse that I heard some offer for Trump’s announcements during the campaign.  I’ll build the wall and Mexico will pay for it.  They would say, you should take Trump seriously, but not literally.  My response to that is I have no problem if Trump wants to be Trump…as a private citizen.  Unfortunately, he speaks for the country as President now.  If the defenders out there would have a problem with Obama appealing to a foreign country to investigate an American citizen, and especially a citizen who happens to be the President’s likely opponent in the next election, then their defense of Trump for doing that should be given little to no weight.
  • I think I have previously said that I opposed making the impeachment only about Ukraine.  I think I’m coming around on that idea.  There’s enough there in the Ukraine fiasco to warrant impeachment on its own.  While I think the Russia stuff and general obstruction are also impeachable, adding those might give Republicans cover to obscure why they’re voting with the President.  Make it about Ukraine and only Ukraine and you get them on the record very clearly.  If, as I suspect, polling on impeachment and removal starts to align with Trump’s underwater approval numbers, then a no vote on impeachment in the House and a vote not to remove him in the Senate are going to be important data points for Democratic candidates to use against their Republican opponents.
  • I thought impeachment is what Trump wanted.  He was sure it was going to be a political winner for him.  His antics this week undermine that theory.  But that’s also one of the points I think was in favor of impeachment to begin with.  Keep Trump focused on the witch hunt and he can’t do other things to hurt the county.

What About the All the Other Democratic Candidates?

As I promised, I’m going to expand on the question of the other candidates in the race to be the Democratic nominee.  Past history would seem to indicate that only the top 5 polling candidates in the Democratic primary right now have a shot to take the nomination.  That means Biden, Warren, Sanders, Harris, and Buttigieg.  The other 7 on the debate stage are: O’Rourke, Klobuchar, Castro, Steyer, Gabbard, Yang, and Booker.  Beyond that list of 12, we have a few candidates who are still in the race, but who could seemingly drop out at any time.  They include:  Williamson, Messam, Bennet, Bullock, Delaney, and Ryan.  Let’s take them one at a time.

  • Williamson – I think she’s in no hurry to drop out.  She’s got a built in base on support, so she will probably be able to stay in as long as she feels like it.  Her supporters go to the women candidates or maybe Yang.  Doubt she’ll endorse anyone.
  • Messam – I’m surprised he hasn’t dropped out yet.  I’m not sure he’ll move the needle, but I could seem him endorsing Booker, Harris or Mayor Pete if he wanted to go with a fellow mayor.
  • Bennet – I think I read someplace that he’ll stay in until voting in Iowa at least.  I think bad fundraising numbers could change that calculation, but let’s see.  He won’t make the November stage and he’s an establishment guy, so I could see some pressure coming his way to drop out and endorse Biden.  I think that’s where his supporters would go.
  • Bullock – The governor said he’s going to take federal financing, so I guess he’s staying around.  He’s got to be staying in the race in a long shot to fill Biden’s shoes if he collapses.  Good VP candidate except that he’s pretty moderate.  Not a great fit for Warren.  Maybe Harris?  If he drops out, his supporters go to Biden and I think he would endorse him.  Filing for the Montana Senate race opens in January, so if he’s thinking of that as a backup plan, he’s got time.
  • Delaney – He’s rich, so money isn’t an issue.  It’s a vanity campaign, so I don’t think he’s in a hurry to leave.  Still, since he’s a moderate, he could help Biden by dropping out and endorsing.
  • Ryan – As another establishment candidate, I could see pressure on him to get out and focus on reelection to his House seat.  He’s moderate, but also has a pro-worker focus.  I think his supporters go to Biden.  Maybe.  I think he might be the next to drop out if he has terrible Q3 numbers.

While I’m at it, what about the other candidates?  Are they all in until Iowa?

  • Biden – yes
  • Warren – yes
  • Sanders – probably, but his health is a wild card here.  If he wants to get out, it mostly helps Warren, but some of his supporters are in the demographics where Biden is strong.
  • Buttigieg – yes
  • Harris – yes.  She frickin’ moved to Iowa after all.
  • O’Rourke – yes.
  • Yang – yes.
  • Klobuchar – yes.  She’s going to have enough money and she’s counting on a surprise third place finish in Iowa.  Not gonna happen though.
  • Booker – probably.  Did well enough in his Q3 numbers and he’s in the next debate.  If he makes the November debate, he’ll stick to Iowa and probably after.  He needs to try and get to South Carolina.  If he drops out, look for an endorsement of Warren.  He’s a great fit as her VP.
  • Steyer – probably.  He’s rich and he’ll probably be in the November debate too.  Impeachment is his issue and that’s going to be going strong into January.
  • Gabbard –  Maybe.  I’m not sure of her financing numbers.  She’s on the fringe of making the November debate.  If she doesn’t, I think she’s done.  Endorses Biden and hopes to be his VP.
  • Castro – Maybe.  I’m thinking he doesn’t have great Q3 numbers.  He’s in the next debate, but he’ll be cautious about making waves after the debacle at the last debate.  Probably not going to make the November debate and then he’s a candidate to drop out before Iowa.  He endorses Warren and hopes to be her VP or in her cabinet.

Latest Thoughts on the Horserace and Impeachment

I’m still struggling to come up with a great title for these catch-all posts of lots of little thoughts.  I’m determined not to steal Professor Mondo’s eminently useful “potpourri.”  But, hey, he’s a published author with stories in collections with guys you might know, like Lawrence Block and Stephen King, so it only makes sense that he grabs the best words first.

  • The age and health of the septuagenarian Democratic candidates is on my mind again.  Bernie had some stents put in this week.  I’ve been pretty clear on my thoughts about Biden’s age.  As it happens, I live with my mother and my mother-in-law, both of whom are 77 years old.  I take them to the doctor, get them their prescriptions and just generally help them around the house.  Seeing how diminished they are gives me pause when I look at Bernie, Biden, and Warren.  Bernie will be 79 on election day and when he would take office.  Biden will be 77 on election day and 78 when he takes office.  Warren will be 71 on election day and when she takes office.
  • I think Bernie’s health scare is a big deal and, potentially, a race-changing deal.  He’s off the campaign trail while he recovers, which doesn’t help.  In addition, we’re two weeks away from the next debate.  It could take the focus away from his policies to the question of age.  It will also cause commentators to focus on how he looks, more than on what he says.  While he was the oldest candidate running, Bernie seems to have a lot of energy.  I suspect this could affect that.
  • This is potentially race-changing because it brings the health and the age of the older candidates more to the fore.  I suspect we might see a question about age or health at the next debate.  Biden is close to Bernie’s age, so this could have a negative effect on his candidacy.  Not as much for Warren, but she could definitely be in the range of some shrapnel from this grenade.
  • I think the Ukrainian thing and discussion of age works to the favor of Mayor Pete.  He’s clearly in the top 5, even if he’s not top tier.  He’s got oodles of money and he plays in the moderate lane.  He’s playing to be an alternative to Biden and the latest news cycles have been good for him.
  • One of the reasons I favor Warren over Biden is enthusiasm.  I think enthusiasm is maybe the single most important factor for Democrats in 2020.  Probably the race for president will be close.  Even if impeachment brings Trumps numbers down so that the Democratic candidate would be favored, enthusiasm is important for all of the other races that are being decided in November 2020.  Right now the candidates that can hope to instill some enthusiasm in the campaign are Warren and Mayor Pete.  Maybe also Bernie, but see above.  So, if age becomes a thing and Warren doesn’t look like the nominee, I’m might start looking at Pete as the best alternative.  He’s got a great story and would be groundbreaking despite being a white guy.
  • On the other hand, Mayor Pete and Warren both have yet to catch fire with African-Americans.  Some of Biden’s support in that community will erode if it looks like he’s not going to be the nominee.  Still, enthusiasm, remember?  So, the VP pick will be key.  I’m intrigued by the idea of a Warren/Harris ticket.  I like Stacey Abrams and think she would be awesome with Mayor Pete.  Cory Booker with Warren would also be a great combo.
  • I’m not sure if I’m going to do another ranking post before the debate.  I’ll do a debate post and probably an overall ranking after that.  I think I’m still about where I was in the last ranking.  1-Warren, 2-Harris, 3/4/5-Booker, O’Rourke, Pete and then the rest.  My ranking is my personal preference, so that’s the only reason that Pete is down around 5.  He’s just a little too in the moderate lane for my taste.  But I’m thinking about this enthusiasm thing, so I’m might consider bumping him up to 2.  Let’s see what the debate shows.
  • Hello, Warren campaign! Let’s get those fundraising numbers out.  Sooner, rather than later, please.  I’m curious why the delay.  Does this mean she undershot?  And what about Biden?  Word seems to be his number will be low.  Inquiring minds want to know this stuff.
  • Ukraine and impeachment stuff is coming fast and furious.  Something new every day.  I still think it’s an overall negative for Biden.  It’s also negative for the candidates who are stuck down below 5%.  There’s only room for the top tier and impeachment at this point, so hard to get noticed.  The debate will help, but only if you’re on the stage and, with 12 people up there, even the debate might not help.
  • I think I’m going to do a full post on this, but I wonder about the candidates who haven’t made the debate stage, but are still sticking around.  I’m talking Delaney, Bennet, Williamson, Ryan, Messam, and Bullock.  When do they get out and to whom does their support go?
  • I think I’ve gone on long enough.  One last thought.  Or question.  What’s the deal with Andrew Yang?  Good fundraising numbers.  Zero chance to get the nomination.  How does he fit in?