Monday, November 7, 2016

Trump – An Unprecedented Risk to American Democracy

This election should be easy.  There is really only one responsible position to take.  It’s what makes this election so unusual.  There certainly has been no other election in my lifetime where I would make that statement.  Depending on your ideology and issues that matter to you there have been reasonable arguments to make to support each major party candidate the last 3 decades.  Trump is unfit for the presidency in every respect.  He’s a vindictive narcissist, running a campaign by trying to appeal to the worst in all of us. 

I wish this campaign was about more than stopping Trump.  I think Hillary offers plenty to be hopeful of despite her flaws and I’ll spend some time talking about those things, but the reality is it doesn’t matter.  Trump is a risk we cannot take.  With Hillary as president the country will be fine.  With Trump, we have no idea what could possibly happen, but we know he is an unprecedented risk to American democracy, one that responsible voters simply cannot take. 

It is telling that every living United States president opposes Donald Trump.  This includes 2 former republican presidents.  Those who have done the job, have the clearest understanding of why Trump could be such a disaster for this country.  I think the first thing that stands out with Trump is how much his ego drives everything he says and does.  If you say anything negative about him or anything he says he will come at you.  He’ll spend days ripping on the family of a deceased war hero, he’ll mercilessly mock a disabled reporter, he’ll make up inane nicknames for his political rivals (“Lying Ted”, “Little Marco Rubio,”) while defending dictators provided they say good things about him,  he’ll mock women who accuse him of sexual harassment for not being attractive enough for him to harass. 

Just go back and review the amount of lawsuits Trump has threated and then dream about what he would do to anyone who criticized him in any way if he had the power of the presidency behind him.  In an article about the message discipline recently added to the Trump campaign the author notes that Trump still privately muses about how he will destroy his enemies after the election even discussing a super-PAC with vengeance as its mission.  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/07/us/politics/donald-trump-presidential-race.html?_r=0 Imagine someone like that with the full power of the presidency behind him.  When Hillary Clinton mused that any man who can be bated with a tweet should not have the nuclear codes, this is what she meant.  Trump is about Trump and if you are against Trump he will use whatever means he can to destroy you.  As president, those means at his disposal will be extraordinary. 

Trump’s willingness to lie about anything and everything is also historically unprecedented.  Politicians are often creative with truth, spinning numbers and facts to fit their political purpose.  Trump does not even worry about any aspect of the truth, he literally makes things up or says the exact opposite of what is true.  Throughout this campaign Trump has said crime is at all-time highs (it’s near 30 year lows), he’s said immigrants are flooding our borders (we’ve seen a net decline in illegal immigration),  lied about the number of people at some of his rallies, lied about the NFL writing him a letter complaining about the debate schedule and the list goes on.  Politifact ranks 17% of what he has said as Pants of Fire lies, 34% as false and 19% as mostly false.  That’s over 70% of what he says as some sort of lie.  It’s absolutely insane (For comparison Hillary’s numbers are in line with most politicians somewhere in the 20-30 range).

Two recent stories illustrate Trump’s just utter disregard for the truth.  Recently at a rally for Hillary Clinton a Trump Supporter was protesting while President Obama was speaking.  The President told the Hillary Supporters that they need to respect the man’s right to free speech and his right to protest.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PA6vPYfbk8  He went out of his way to defend what the man was doing repeatedly yelling at the crowd to stop.  At a rally describing the incident Trump said that Obama spent so much time yelling at the protester it was a disgrace.  It was literally the exact opposite of what happened and it is the kind of bold faced lie that Trump has no care about making.  He trusts that his supporters will believe anything he says and he makes up stuff time after time never caring to correct himself and with seemingly no shame.

Another outright whopper lie Trump made recently was saying that if Hillary is elected we could have 600 million people pouring into our country.  This is the kind of bold faced lie that is impossible to be true and yet Trump didn’t back track, he even expanded on it later saying 650 million people.  That would triple the size of the United States and he’s saying this in an environment where the US has actually seen a decline in illegal immigration.  Trump has understood that we live in a partisan environment where even facts are a political tool.  He understands that most of his supporters will believe something just because he says it.  It has emboldened his lying to unprecedented degrees.
Trump has run an anti-establishment campaign by allowing people scared of shifting demographics to blame minorities and women for any issues we have in this country.  He’s ran trying to build a wall for a non-existent Mexican immigration problem.  He was the lead birther for years, a baseless conspiracy theory appealing to those who were threatened by an African American president.  He has called Mexicans rapist and murderers.   He’s gotten in trouble for tweeting anti-sematic memes and even one of his big closing political ads is full of anti-Semitism.  He has called for a ban on immigration based on one’s religion.  He has taken fears of the unknown, lied about numbers and consequences and made it the center of his campaign. 

On the issues he’s the combination of the worst positions of both political parties.  He has got far left views on trade asking for historic level tariffs, and far right views on immigration.  He’s not suggested one area where he will cuts spending and in fact talks about different things the government will do and yet he’s advocating historic tax cuts for the wealthiest (while his policies would increase taxes on single families http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/nov/06/hillary-clinton/would-51-single-parents-see-taxes-rise-under-donal/).  He promises the world with no plan to give it.  When asked about his plan on health care his answer is Repeal Obamacare and replace it with ‘something terrific.’  In fact this general “something terrific” is pretty much his answer to everything over the course of the campaign.  He’s not conservative, he’s not liberal.  He’s running as a demagogue with authoritarian dictatorial tendencies. 

Amazingly I’ve managed to write 1100 words on the insanity of Trump without mentioning his propensity for shipping jobs overseas, his hiring of illegals at his own properties, his scam university, his foundation buying paintings of himself and giving very little to charity, his potential ties to Russia and his refusal to release his tax returns.  The number of utterly disqualifying offenses uncovered about Trump are staggering, but I do want to spend some time on Hillary.  I know 30 years and billions of dollars (often taxpayer dollars) of far right attacks and investigations into Hillary Clinton have people worried about her.  I will point out with that amount of time and money and people claiming her to be a criminal they’ve achieved frighteningly little.  Either she’s the most competent criminal of all time, everyone coming after her are complete idiots or maybe, just maybe she’s a politician with some baggage but nothing at the disqualifying level.  Certainly nothing criminal. 

When she was in the senate many republicans talked about how she was someone they could work across the aisle with and get things done.  Her political pragmatism (often self-interest driven) moves her towards the center and a desire to find common ground in moving forward.  We’ve had 8 years of governing from the economic center under President Obama and we’ve seen a record period of sustained job growth, unemployment drop to 4.9%, continued GDP growth and even have seen recent wage growth in all demographic groups.  Hillary will likely be a continuation of those policies.  While I understand there are people that may want other policies, these have achieved solid results and are by no means a risk to the American people. 

For those wanting to vote 3rd party to send a message I get and respect your choice, and in most elections I wouldn’t fault you for it.  There were clear differences between McCain/Romney and Barack Obama and tangible effects depending on who was elected, but ultimately all of them would like keep America going forward and allow the country to continue to thrive.  If McCain/Romney won we probably don’t see the repeal of don’t ask don’t tell and don’t get the justices that ultimately enforced the Constitutional Right to Gay Marriage yet, though I think it was inevitable long term.   That would have been a real cost, but I’d argue the danger of a Trump presidency is far worse.  Trump has shown open hostility to our democracy.  He’s threatened to jail political rivals, banned press from covering his campaign, threatened removal forces to take out illegals.  He’s given strong indication he’d take unprecedented executive power and given his track record of wanting to destroy opposition for any personal slight, his hand on the powers of the presidency could have disastrous consequences. 

I’ve been incredibly pleased to see the many who have put partisanship aside in this election and withheld their support for this dangerous man.  I’ve mentioned the former presidents, but we’ve also seen the last Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, oppose Trump from the beginning.  Governor Kasich of my own state has done the same.  We’ve seen McCain announce he cannot support him, we’ve seen McMullen launch a conservative campaign in response to the direction Trump is taking the party away from conservative and towards his populist white nationalist positions.  We’ve seen former republican advisors and operatives like Stewart Stevens and Tim Miller vocally opposing Trump and we’ve even seen some far right media acknowledge Trump is a bridge to far. 

Before you vote tomorrow ask yourself if what Trump is offering at all is consistent with what this country should be.  Do we want a country where it is ok to attack women and minorities or do we want a country that stands up for everyone?  Do we want to stifle free trade and potentially cripple the economy or do we want to continue to advancements we’ve seen as the country has continued to grow?  Do we want a vindictive man with no impulse control with his hand on the nuclear weapons?  A man whose campaign literally had to take his phone from him so that he wouldn’t keep sending out insane tweets, a man who picked a fight with a deceased war hero’s parents, mocked a disabled reporter, has had multiple women come forth with sexual harassment allegations, lies unapologetically and in the most blatant possible manner, ran a scam university and the many other examples of his complete inability to do this job. 


This election should be easy.  There is no conservative candidate on the top of the republican ticket.  There is a demagogue with no respect for the rule of law or American democracy.  A man completely about himself who could do real damage to our country.  This should be above petty partisanship.  Too much is at stake and Donald Trump is an unprecedented risk to American Democracy.  A risk we simply cannot take.  

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Final Bracket Projection



Midwest Region

1. Kentucky
16. Texas Southern / Hampton
                                            
               Louisville, Kentucky

8. Cincinnati
9. Purdue

4. North Carolina
13. Valparaiso

               Jacksonville, Florida

5. West Virginia
12. Harvard

3. Notre Dame
14. Georgia State

               Columbus, Ohio

6. Wichita State
11.  Texas / Temple

2. Kansas
15. Coastal Carolina

               Omaha, Nebraska

7. Xavier
10. Ohio State


West Region

1. Duke
16. North Florida / Lafayette

               Charlotte, NC

8. Iowa
9. Dayton

4. Arkansas
13.  UC Irvine

               Jacksonville, Florida

5. Butler
12. Wofford

3. Oklahoma
14. North Dakota State

               Portland, Oregon

6. Michigan State
11. Davidson

2. Arizona
15. Eastern Washington
              
               Portland, Oregon

7. San Diego State
10. LSU


South Region

1. Wisconsin
16. Robert Morris

               Omaha, Nebraska

8. St Johns
9. Georgia

4. Baylor
13. New Mexico State

               Seattle, Washington

5. Utah
12. Stephen F. Austin

3. Iowa State
14. UAB

               Louisville, Kentucky

6. SMU
11. Ole Miss / Colorado State

2. Gonzaga
15. Belmont

               Seattle, Washington

7. Oregon
10. Oklahoma State  


East Region

1. Villanova
16. Manhattan

               Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

8. VCU
9. North Carolina State

4. Northern Iowa
13. Wyoming

               Columbus, Ohio

5. Louisville
12. Buffalo

3. Maryland
14. Northeastern

               Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

6. Providence
11. Indiana

2. Virginia
15. Albany

               Charlotte, NC

7. Georgetown
10. Boise State




Selection Sunday - Morning Bracket Projection





Hopefully I have time to do one final projection before the bracket come out, but here is my bracket as of Selection Sunday morning.  All of the conference tournament champions are in bold.  I have included the first round tournament sites by putting them in between the two pod games played there.  Each site gets two 4 team pods.  There is a potential for UConn to steal a bid today, so that is something to keep an eye on. 

Cincinnati Bearcats:

I have the Bearcats as the third 8 seed.  I think there is a 90% chance UC is playing in the 8/9 game (yea I pulled the number out of thin air and it’s probably wrong, but just seems that is what their resume will warrant).  You could make a case for UC has high as a 7 and as lows a 10.  I don’t see them any higher or any lower.  The way my bracket worked out after doing adjustments for locations and balance of brackets I have UC in Kentucky’s region playing their first round games in Louisville.  For teams not seeded in the top 4, locations and what top teams they are paired in a region with are almost impossible to project accurately, so take all that with a grain of salt.  The seed range is the most important part and who they are paired against is largely luck of the draw after that.

Top 10 on the S-Curve: 

As of right now my top ten looks like this:
1. Kentucky
2. Villanova
3. Wisconsin (assuming they win the Big 10, if they lose you can make a case for 4)
4. Duke
5. Virginia
6. Arizona
7. Gonzaga
8. Kansas
9. Iowa State
10. Notre Dame

I think the top 6 are going to be the top 6 in some order (with UK at the top undoubtedly).  You can make a case for Arizona and Virginia as 1 seeds, but I think the case for Wisconsin/Duke is stronger.  It seems clear to me that the 1 seeds will come from those 6 teams.  I have Gonzaga and Kansas as 2 seeds, but both Iowa State and Notre Dame have good arguments as well.  In the end I valued Gonzaga’s gaudy record and 9-2 RPI top 100 record (6-2 vs. top 50) and I valued Kansas’s incredible RPI profile that included play the number 1 schedule in the country and an absurd 9 RPI top 25 wins, 12 RPI top 50 wins and 17 RPI top 100 wins.  It is possible the committee sees it differently, but I am pretty confident that all the 1 and 2 seeds will come from these 10. 

Last 7 in:
Boise State, Davidson, Indiana, Colorado State, Temple, Texas, Ole Miss

First 2 out:
BYU, Old Dominion

I did this as 7 and 2, because in the end these are the 7 I have in that I could see the committee leaving out and the First 2 are the 2 teams I could possibly see taking any of their places.  I think I am one of the few people still leaving BYU out so that is probably where I am most likely to be wrong.  My problem with BYU is they only beat 1 at large quality team all season (a great win at Gonzaga).  Historically that just has never been enough for the committee.  Every team on the bubble has more quality wins than BYU.  That means something.  Old Dominion has a weird profile where they are 6-2 against the RPI top 100 (including wins over VCU and LSU) and strong nonconference strength of schedule numbers (both of which the committee loves for at large bids), but they were very mediocre in conference play and lost in their conference tournament semis.  Had they made the finals, I would have them in, but I think they just miss. 

Of the last 7 I feel best about Boise State.   One major reason I feel best about Boise State is that I can see no reason they would be behind Colorado State on the S-Curve.  That’s one team where I believe they certainly have a better profile.  Davidson’s performance down the stretch will likely be enough to carry them in as well.  I’m in the minority but I think Temple should be very worried at this point and think they should be rooting against UConn today.  I think UConn could take Temple’s spot in the tournament.  It’s an easy switch for the committee to make and Temple is only 2-8 against the RPI top 50.  Looking deeper a lot of those losses are to really good teams (5 in RPI top 13), but 2 wins over tournament type teams isn’t ideal.  The Kansas win will carry a lot of weight, but I’m not sure it carry’s enough considering both of Temple’s wins over tournament competition were at home. 

I have Colorado State below most projections as well and would be fine if the committee left them out.  They simply haven’t done any damage away from home and haven’t beaten tournament caliber teams.  I think Indiana’s quality wins keep them in and I think Texas’s ridiculous schedule combined with not losing to any bad teams keeps them in.  Still in the end, I see the bubble as 9 teams for 7 spots (and if UConn wins 9 teams for 6 spots).  If any other team misses I think it will be a clear error by the committee and if any team not listed gets in, I think it will be another error by the committee.  These are the teams with the best at large cases.

Here’s the bracket:

Midwest Region

1. Kentucky
16. Texas Southern / Hampton
                                            
               Louisville, Kentucky

8. Cincinnati
9. Purdue

4. North Carolina
13. Valparaiso

               Jacksonville, Florida

5. West Virginia
12. Harvard

3. Notre Dame
14. Coastal Carolina

               Columbus, Ohio

6. Wichita State
11.  Texas / Temple

2. Kansas
15. Lafayette

               Omaha, Nebraska

7. Xavier
10. Ohio State


West Region

1. Duke
16. North Florida / Georgia State

               Charlotte, NC

8. Iowa
9. Dayton

4. Arkansas
13.  UC Irvine

               Jacksonville, Florida

5. Butler
12. Wofford

3. Oklahoma
14. North Dakota State

               Portland, Oregon

6. Michigan State
11. Davidson

2. Arizona
15. Eastern Washington
              
               Portland, Oregon

7. San Diego State
10. LSU


South Region

1. Wisconsin
16. Robert Morris

               Omaha, Nebraska

8. St Johns
9. Georgia

4. Baylor
13. New Mexico State

               Seattle, Washington

5. Utah
12. Stephen F. Austin

3. Iowa State
14. UAB

               Louisville, Kentucky

6. SMU
11. Ole Miss / Colorado State

2. Gonzaga
15. Belmont

               Seattle, Washington

7. Oregon
10. Oklahoma State  


East Region

1. Villanova
16. Manhattan

               Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

8. VCU
9. North Carolina State

4. Northern Iowa
13. Wyoming

               Columbus, Ohio

5. Louisville
12. Buffalo

3. Maryland
14. Northeastern

               Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

6. Providence
11. Indiana

2. Virginia
15. Albany

               Charlotte, NC

7. Georgetown
10. Boise State