"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Diversity and the Democratic Debate

Image result for democratic debate 2015

A quick thought on the Democratic debate tonight. There will be five participants, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, James Webb, and Lincoln Chafee. It is an extraordinarily homogenous group -- all white, all professional politicians, with the partial exception of Jim Webb, who has been a successful author and has exemplary military service.   The one woman, Hillary Clinton, owes all of her professional success to her husband, the former President.

It is also a pretty old field.   O'Malley is the junior at 53.   On election day, Sanders would be 75, Webb 70, Clinton 69, Chafee 63.  

Now contrast that with the Republican field.  

  • Carly Fiorina., a woman who made it to the top in business through her own efforts. 
  • Ben Carson, an African-American brain surgeon.
  • Donald Trump, a multi-billionaire businessman.
  • Ted Cruz, a Hispanic Princeton undergrad/Harvard law grad who has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on numerous occasions.
  • Marco Rubio, the Hispanic junior Senator from Florida.
  • Even Jeb Bush, the most conventional white male politician of the group, is married to an Hispanic woman and speaks fluent Spanish.

It's a diverse field, with diverse backgrounds and skill sets  -- women, minorities, people from outside of government.   And Cruz and Rubio would both be only 45 on election day.

That's why the Democrats will try to destroy Fiorina, Carson, Rubio and Cruz.   They desperately want to run against a white male, because they only strategy they have is to paint Republicans as the enemies of women and people of color.   And they desperately don't want to run against new fresh faces who could argue that the Republican Party is the party of the future.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Contenders for 2016


UPDATE:   I'm looking back at this post from 6.5 months ago, and I wanted to update my list.   Here's my list as of today.  My January rankings are in parentheses, my new rankings follow.   The original rankings are from the National Journal.

1. Jeb Bush (10) - 8
2. Marco Rubio (8) - 6
3. Rand Paul (9) - 7
4. Scott Walker (1) - 1
5. Chris Christie (16) - 13
6. Mike Pence (7) - NR
7. Ted Cruz (3) - 5
8. Mike Huckabee (15) - 12
9. Rick Perry (6) - 2
10. John Kasich (5) - 9
11. Mitt Romney (11) - NR
12. Paul Ryan (4) - NR
13. Rick Santorum (12) - 10
14. Bobby Jindal (2) - 4
15. Ben Carson (13) - 11
16. Carly Fiorina (14) - 3
NR - Donald Trump - 14

The big risers here for me are Rick Perry, for taking on the idiocy of Donald Trump; and Carly Fiorina, for taking on the idiocy of Hillary Clinton.  

After six months, to me the big political talent that has emerged (Fiorina) or re-emerged (Perry) on the GOP side is heartening.   Couple them with the continuing strength of Walker, Rubio, Paul, Jeb Bush, Jindal, Kasich, etc., and you've got an extraordinary group that dwarfs the Democratic candidates (Hillary, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden... I mean really?).


It's way too early, but here is a list of sixteen potential GOP Presidential contenders from the National Journal.   Needless to say, anyone from this list would be infinitely better than either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton (or Elizabeth Warren for that matter).   My rankings are in parentheses.

1. Jeb Bush (10)
2. Marco Rubio (8)
3. Rand Paul (9)
4. Scott Walker (1)
5. Chris Christie (16)
6. Mike Pence (7)
7. Ted Cruz (3)
8. Mike Huckabee (15)
9. Rick Perry (6)
10. John Kasich (5)
11. Mitt Romney (11)
12. Paul Ryan (4)
13. Rick Santorum (12)
14. Bobby Jindal (2)
15. Ben Carson (13)
16. Carly Fiorina (14)

These are rough, and I might change my mind a hundred times over the next 22 months.   But my basic criteria include... I like governors more than Senators or Congressmen, I like new candidates more than retreads, I like young more than old, I like real conservatives over moderates, and I like proven competence in government and in campaigning over amateur status.   So that means Fiorina and Carson drop (amateurs), Huckabee and Christie drop (not real conservatives), Bush and Romney drop (retreads or family dynasties... yuck), and Cruz and Ryan drop (legislative experience, not executive).  

Young conservative governors who haven't been on the national stage before and have proven themselves in tough campaigns?

That sounds like Scott Walker of Wisconsin to me.   With Bobby Jindal of Louisiana a close second.   Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan are next, but don't have executive experience.  Perry and Kasich come after that because they are a little bit too old for my taste... we need a whole generation (or more) difference between our candidate and Hillary.   Mike Pence might be an interesting candidate too.  

Sunday, May 10, 2015


Probably the smartest single sentence I've read in many years, from Friedrich Hayek:

“If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion.”

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Elizabeth Moss Just Stole the End of Mad Men

Which otherwise hadn't been very good this spring.  

But then...


Those Balls Are Perfect

Haven't posted for awhile, but this seemed like something to share.

By the way, I read a significant part of the Wells report on DeflateGate and... well, let's just say that my opinion of Tom Brady as a football player hasn't changed, but my opinion of him as a person has gone way down. I don't care about the cheating... deflating balls is not as bad as the obvious steroid and HGH usage that goes on in football. But the Wells report shows pretty clearly that he was perfectly willing to let the locker room guys who probably make less than $50k a year take the hit.

In other words, this is a very very very rich guy basically treating little guys as if they were expendable. Not pretty.

Reminds me a little bit of Bill and Hillary... always ready to let the little people hang.    

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

ISIS Explained

A great, great article by Graeme Wood in The Atlantic that deserves and is getting a lot of attention, explaining ISIS as a medieval/millenarian, apocalyptic brand of ultra-Islam.   Short version:   where Obama and his liberal ilk think ISIS doesn't represent Islam, the reality is... "It's the religion, stupid!"

A brief excerpt:

Many mainstream Muslim organizations have gone so far as to say the Islamic State is, in fact, un-Islamic. It is, of course, reassuring to know that the vast majority of Muslims have zero interest in replacing Hollywood movies with public executions as evening entertainment. But Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects “what their religion has historically and legally required.” Many denials of the Islamic State’s religious nature, he said, are rooted in an “interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.” 
Every academic I asked about the Islamic State’s ideology sent me to Haykel. Of partial Lebanese descent, Haykel grew up in Lebanon and the United States, and when he talks through his Mephistophelian goatee, there is a hint of an unplaceable foreign accent. 
According to Haykel, the ranks of the Islamic State are deeply infused with religious vigor. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. “Even the foot soldiers spout this stuff constantly,” Haykel said. “They mug for their cameras and repeat their basic doctrines in formulaic fashion, and they do it all the time.” He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. “And these guys have just as much legitimacy as anyone else.” 
All Muslims acknowledge that Muhammad’s earliest conquests were not tidy affairs, and that the laws of war passed down in the Koran and in the narrations of the Prophet’s rule were calibrated to fit a turbulent and violent time. In Haykel’s estimation, the fighters of the Islamic State are authentic throwbacks to early Islam and are faithfully reproducing its norms of war. This behavior includes a number of practices that modern Muslims tend to prefer not to acknowledge as integral to their sacred texts. “Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish [jihadists] are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition,” Haykel said. Islamic State fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”

Chilling stuff.


Netanyahu on the reason why he's speaking to Congress.   Very powerful, very impressive.   Makes you wish he could run for President of the U.S.   Sadly, we need him, but Israel needs him more.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Calling for a Declaration of War Redux

Only a few days ago, I wrote this after the beheadings of four young Christians in Iraq by ISIS.   Now, after the cowardly murders of cartoonists in Paris, all I can say is this that, if you really want a holy war, my Islamic brothers, we'll be happy to oblige you.  

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

While I'm On the Subject... Why Isn't Pete Rose In the Hall of Fame Yet?

Just sayin'.


My Hall of Fame Ballot (Updated)


Well, I hit on three of my picks -- the Big Unit, Pedro, and Smoltz -- and missed on Biggio.   Bonds and Clemens remain at less than half the ballots they need to get in.   Meanwhile, every MLB broadcast has ads for Viagra and Cialis.   I guess performance-enhancement is OK everywhere else in society.   Sheesh!

Tim Raines is at 55% and needs a lot of help in the next two years to get in.   Not sure what the voters are seeing that I'm not seeing.   To me Raines was a great player, just a hair behind Rickey Henderson.   Biggio, meanwhile, is Jeff Kent with less power and slightly more longevity.  



Today the players who will enter the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown next summer will be announced.   There has been a lot of chatter about how the balloting unfairly restricts the electors to voting for only ten candidates.   In my view, that's already too many... there are a lot of names on the list that are nice players, good players, some who had great seasons, some who even had transcendent moments, but who aren't quite up to the standard of getting a plaque next to Babe or Stan or the Yankee Clipper or the Splendid Splinter or Sandy Koufax or Christy Mathewson or the Big Train.   If I had a ballot, there would be six names on it.   Here they are:

1. Barry Bonds.  
2. Roger Clemens

Enough said.   If you have a Baseball Hall of Fame and these guys aren't in it, who were the greatest players in the game over a period of twenty years, then it's a sham.   PEDs?   Everyone with eyes knows that Bonds and Clemens are Hall of Famers without the PEDs.   And, in an era where a lot (a lot!) of players were using PEDs, these guys were still better than anyone else.   It's not because they used more... it's because they were just better to begin with.

Anyway, that's my view.

3. Pedro Martinez

The closest thing to Sandy Koufax since, well, Sandy Koufax.   (Also one reason why I'm so excited for the 2015 season to see "Baby Pedro," Carlos Martinez of the Cardinals.)

4. Randy Johnson

The biggest and baddest lefty since Steve Carlton, which means he's in the discussion for biggest and baddest ever.   There are only so many pitchers who you think might throw a no-hitter anytime out.   Randy Johnson was one of them.   Also, a great nickname... the Big Unit.

5. Tim Raines

Best leadoff hitter not named Rickey Henderson.   And, in my view, Rickey Henderson is one of the Top 10 players of all time.

6. John Smoltz

This one is probably the only one I had to think about.   His numbers as a starting pitcher are very similar to Curt Schilling's (who I leave out as not quite good enough), and, like Schilling, he was a legendary playoff pitcher.   But Smoltz then added four plus years of being arguably the best closer in baseball, amassing more than 150 saves.   That puts him in, since it's such a unique achievement.   (Dennis Eckersley is the only player similar and he's in.)

So, who do I leave out?   Schilling to start with.   A record of 216-146 as a starter just isn't good enough.   Sorry.   Same with Mike Mussina.... 270-153 is a very good career, but did anyone really ever say to themselves that Mussina was the best pitcher in baseball?   Or even in the top 5 starters ever in his career?   I never sense that.   So he's not in the Hall.

Then... Craig Biggio.   Sure, he has 3,000 hits.   But, then, he played a long time, and he primarily played at second base, which is not a premium fielding position.   He had some pop and some speed and got on base pretty well and did a lot of things that made him a very good player, and one you'd want to have on your team.   But, again, no one ever said to themselves that Biggio was the best player in the game.   Usually he wasn't the best player on his team.   (And, really, if Biggio gets in, why wouldn't you vote for Jeff Kent... also a second baseman, also wasn't usually the best player on his team, and had more power.)

Finally, I have to leave off Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Gary Sheffield.   All of them have the numbers (500+ HRs), but it's my judgment that none of them would have reached that threshold without PEDs, and none of them were great players apart from their power (unlike Bonds, who early in his career was a great outfielder).   For similar reasons, I also leave off Jeff Bagwell, Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker and Mike Piazza.   In the PED era, their numbers are very good, but not good enough.   For Piazza, although he was a catcher, it's also my judgment that the fact that he was a terrible catcher factors in.   His power numbers look like Johnny Bench, but Bench was Yadi Molina before Yadi Molina was born.  

Monday, January 5, 2015

They're All in On the Joke

A Downton Abbey parody starring the folks from Downton Abbey:

My favorite part:   where the telegram comes and Grantham has lost the family fortune, and Lady G says "Not again!"

Girl of the Day - January Jones

Her birthday (today) may account for her first name.   Anyway, she's a terrific 37, and it will be interesting to see what she does after the last season of Mad Men, which starts this spring.