Friday, June 28, 2019

My Democrat Rankings after the 1st Debate Part 2

After the first debate (part 2), these are my new ranking of the Democratic Candidates for president.

1. - Cory Booker (Sen, NJ)

2. - Elizabeth Warren (Sen, Mass)

3. - Bernie Sanders (Sen, Vt) - Sanders does hit the same note and is weak on foreign policy, but he makes a good case on health care.

4. - Julian Castro (Sec, HUD)

5. - Kamala Harris (Sen, Cal) - She had a strong debate and her passion came across. Her interaction with Biden was awkward. It hurt both of them.

6.  Pete Buttigieg (Mayor, Ind) - His mea culpa seemed a little forced, but he has the life story. He would make a great governor of Indiana.

7.  Kirsten Gillibrand (Sen, NY) - She interrupted a lot at first. She had a good answer about her priority, but she thought she had a better debate than she actually had.

8. - Amy Klobuchar (Sen, Min)

9.  Andrew Yang - Made a good closing argument. He didn't get much time, but he showed he belonged.

10.  John Delaney (Fmr Rep, MD)

11.  Bill De Blasio (Mayor, NY)

12.  Tim Ryan (Rep, Ohio)

13.  Michael Bennet (Sen, Col) - He seemed unsure of himself and was inarticulate despite having a worthy life story.

14.  Jay Inslee (Gov, Was)

15.  Joe Biden (Fmr VP) - Biden was strong on education and health care early in the debate, but he stumbled down the stretch.

16.  Eric Swalwell (Rep, Cal) - He didn't have any policies except "pass the torch." That line didn't go well for him.

17.  Tulsi Gabbard (Rep, Hi)

18.  John Hickenlooper (Fmr Gov, Col) - He ran as the anti-socialist. He might do well in  a Republican primary.

19.  Beto O'Rourke (Sen, Tex)

20.  Mike Gravel (Fmr Sen, Alaska)

21.  Marianne Williamson - She did not come across as a serious candidate for president.

22.  Steve Bullock (Gov, Montana)

23. - Sestak, Moulton, Messam

Thursday, June 27, 2019

My Democratic Rankings after the 1st Debate

After the first debate, these are my new ranking of the Democratic Candidates for president.

1.  - Cory Booker (Sen, NJ) - He stood out for his commitment to gun safety, but by attacking the president, he wasn't the inspiring unifier I was hoping for.

2.  - Elizabeth Warren (Sen, Mass) - She is clearly versed in policy and confident. She had a good showing int he first debate and is close to becoming the frontrunner for my vote.

3. - Bernie Sanders (Sen, Vt)

4. ↑ Julian Castro (Sec, HUD) - He had a good first debate. He was a strong voice in reforming the immigration system. He recognized that we owe something to the Central American countries from which the asylum seekers are coming.

5. - Kamala Harris (Sen, Cal)

6. ↑ Kirsten Gillibrand (Sen, NY)

7. ↑ Pete Buttigieg (Mayor, South Bend)

8. ↑ Amy Klobuchar (Sen, Min) - She didn't stand out in any way, but didn't hurt her chances. She came across as more moderate than the other candidates.

9. ↑ John Delaney (Fmr Rep, MD) - His economic plan seemed sensible.

10. ↑ Bill De Blasio (Mayor, NY) - He had a rough night often interrupting and sticking to his talking points that he will fight for working people. But he had an inspirational closing statement that focused on what he's accomplished in New York as mayor.

11. ↓ Tim Ryan (Rep, Ohio) - He had a good point about representing the forgotten people, but he was out of his element in foreign policy.

12.↓ Jay Inslee (Gov, Was) - He didn't have a good debate. His talking points were: I'm a governor! and I hate Donald Trump!

13. - Joe Biden (Fmr VP)

14. ↑ Tulsi Gabbard (Rep, Hi) - Her campaign is focused on foreign policy without much substance.

15. ↑ Andrew Yang

16.  Beto O'Rourke (Fmr Rep, Tex) - His message was that our laws should support our values in an overly dramatic fashion that didn't provide any substance.

17. - Marianne Williamson

18. - Mike Gravel (Fmr Sen, Ak)

19. - Hickenlooper, Swalwell, Bullock, Bennet

23. - Sestak, Moulton, Messam

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

My Democratic Nomination Power Rankings

Dozens of Democratic presidential hopefuls have thrown their names into the fold in hopes of capturing my vote. Currently, I am taking a mild interest in the race with the first debate scheduled for tonight. Here is how I rank them pre-debate.

1. Cory Booker (Senator, NJ) - Booker has one of the most liberal voting records in the senate, which appeals to my political sensibilities.So far he's attempted to inspire the electorate rather than simply attack the President. I believe we need someone who can bring up together, and that's why Booker has my top slot.

2. Elizabeth Warren (Senator, Mass) - Warren and I also largely agree politically. She understands policy and has tremendous experience. She's a bit too divisive and her DNA stunt made me question her political instincts a bit.

3. Bernie Sanders (Senator, Vermont) - he did a great job in '16 bringing important issues into the mainstream. His campaign succeeded in changing the narrative. I feel this latest run is more of a vanity project.

4. Tim Ryan (Rep. Ohio) - Those more of a moderate, my mom has met and worked with Ryan before.

5. Kamala Harris (Senator, Cal) - I'm not sure her prosecutorial style is what we need in a president. She received much praise for her questions in recent high profile committee eharings, but I wasn't as impressed as other people.

6. Julian Castro (Former Sec. of HUD) - He has been bold in putting out some bold policy positions ahead of the field, but he doesn't have much electoral experience.

7. Kirsten Gillibrand (Senator, NY) - Though a strong supporter of sexual assault victims, Gillibrand became far more liberal when she ran for the senate, openly admitting that she made political calculations.

8. Pete Buttigieg (Mayor, South Bend) - He has an incredible life story. His two knocks fall under the same umbrella: He's four days younger than me and his top elected position was as the mayor of the fourth largest city in Indiana. Perhaps he should run for governor first.

9. Beto O'Rourke (Former Rep., Tx) - O'Rourke should probably be running for senate again. His speaking style seems self-aggrandizing and doesn't appeal to me. He is short on substance.

10. Amy Klobacher (Senator, Min) - Apparently, she's horrible to wrok for, but any hold-over White Staff would be used to it. At least she has experience and knowledge to do the job.

11. Jay Inslee (Gov, Wash) - He has focused on climate change, which is certainly an important issue. He also has executive experience.

12. Bill de Blasio (Mayor, NY) - A liberal guy who isn't loved in his own home city.

13. Joe Biden (Former VP) - I think Biden is a sub-par candidate as he's shown in previous presidential runs. He makes a lot of gaffes, has a questionable voting records, is creepy around young women and girls, and I don't like his fake tough guy act.

14. John Delaney (Former Rep., MD) - I had a chance to vote for him in 2012 and it was the first and only time I've ever voted for a Libertarian candidate. He's a millionaire who bought his way into Congress.

15. Tulsi Gabbard (Rep., Hi) - She was pleasant on Finding Your Roots, but that whole anti-gay scandal was a turnoff.

16. Andrew Yang - A guaranteed monthly income is a good idea, but he lacks experience.

17. Marianne Williamson - She's written some books and has been an activist. If that last couple of years has taught us anything it's that experience in government is an important quality in being president.

18. Mike Gravel (Former Sen., Alaska) - He ran an outsider in '08 and barely got any momentum. I don't see the point this time.

19. The rest - I've actually heard Hickenlooper, Swalwell, Bullock, and Bennet speak but couldn't tell you anything about them, which is a bad sign for their presidential hopes. Democrats need them in Congress more than running for president.

23. - The bottom - There are actually three additional candidates! Maybe they should do something else.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Top 10 NBA Players

Top 10 NBA Players Now
While this list consists of the top 10 players now, the past is taken to account, but it is not a list of the best players who happen to be active. Previous ranks posted on June 20, 2018.

# David (PR) Mike (Previous Rank)
1 LeBron (1) Harden (2)
2 Harden (4)  Antetokounmpo (9)
3 Durant  (2) LeBron (1)
4 Westbrook (3) Jokic (NR)
5 Curry (5) Gobert (NR)
6 Kawhi (NR) Towns (6)
7 Antetokounmpo (8) Westbrook (4)
8 Jokic (NR) Curry (3)
9 A. Davis  (6) Durant (5)
10 Lillard (10) Kawhi (NR)

Top 10 NBA Careers Among Active Players
You're making a list of the ten best players in NBA history, but there's one caveat; you can only include players who played during the 2017-18 season. These are our choices, taking the players' entire careers into account. Previous ranks posted on June 20, 2018.

# David (PR) Mike (Previous Rank)
1 LeBron (1) LeBron (1)
2 Durant (2) Wade (3)
3 Dirk (3) Dirk (2)
4 Curry (4) Durant (4)
5 Westbrook (5) Paul (5)
6 Paul (6) Curry (6)
7 Harden (10) Westbrook (8)
8 Wade (7) Harden (10)
9 Parker (8) D. Howard (7)
10D. Howard (9) Carmelo (9)

Top 10 NBA Franchise Players
This list is about which players you would pick to start a franchise right now. They must have played in an NBA game. Previous ranks posted on June 20, 2018.

# David (PR) Mike (Previous Rank)
1 Antetokounmpo (1) Antetokounmpo (2)
2 Kawhi (NR) Harden (3)
3 Simmons (2) Jokic (7)
4 Towns (4) LeBron (4)
5 Jokic (NR) Towns (1)
6 A. Davis (3) Gobert (NR)
7 Embiid (NR) Kawhi (10)
8 Harden (NR)A. Davis (8)
9 LeBron (6) Simmons (NR)
10 Doncic (NR)Doncic (NR)

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Man to Save America Nae the World

Levita and John Edward together produced more than just great barbecue. Their youngest son is a famous chef. Their eldest son is the only human who can save our divided country and polarized world from imploding into extinction. Only one person can quell humanity's hostility and contentiousness.

John Junior assumed the nickname "Skip" when he was seven years old in honor of his preferred method of transportation to school. The precocious youngster valued education even more than one of his parents' pulled pork sandwiches. His formal learning instilled in the boy values of truth, of critical thinking, and of consideration before one speaks that have not particularly come to define his life and work.

Skip Bayless spent his high school years as the big man on Northwest Classen's campus in Oklahoma City. He was blessed with the good looks of a slightly withered Mel Torme and gifted with the charisma of a sweaty gym sock. Bayless dominated the basketball court averaging nearly 1.5 points per game on the junior varsity squad as a senior. That year, the not-valedictorian soon became enamored with the ancient fairy-tale Three Billy Goats Gruff. The fable inspired a lifelong love of trolls. He spent much of twelfth grade hiding under the Crosstown Bridge accosting passersby with riddles. Bayless was so popular as a teen. fellow classmate and country music star Vince Gill wrote songs about Skip, including 1995's Which Bridge to Cross (Which Bridge to Burn) and 2006's Building Bridges.

Bayless, who has an uncomfortably deep Christian faith, played tight end on the football team at Stanford despite going to Vanderbilt University. He was a Rhodes Scholar and studied at Oxford (Texas). With the Vietnam War raging, Watergate bubbling, and violence in the Middle East, Bayless decided to go into the far more important world of sports journalism, where he lived out his dream of becoming a troll.

The best sports journalist and personality to ever live, Bayless supported Troy Aikman when his head coach Barry Switzer outed the Dallas Cowboys quarterback in Skip's book. For the record there is no indication that Aikman is actually gay, but that's beside the point. This pillar of journalistic integrity courageously stood up to convention more than a decade later, the lone voice howling in the wind when he claimed LeBron James is not a good basketball player. When Bayless isn't challenging well established fact, he's hurling false accusations plucked from the toilet of Twitter at professional athletes, thereby distracting the public from their actual bad press.

Stirring the pot and challenging convention is exactly what we need now. We are angry. We are at each other's throats. Only one man can save us. Every moment of Skip's life has been geared towards this one purpose. We need to stop the hatred towards one another and redirect it towards something- or someone- else. We need to focus all of our animosity towards one man, our savior, the conceited king of contrived controversy.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Game Six - Balanced Raptors Win First Title

The Toronto Raptors won their first NBA championship with a 114-110 victory over the Golden State Warriors in the last ever game played at Oracle Arena. Kawhi Leonard, who scored 22 points and wont he NBA Finals MVP, was the Raptors superstar, but the true narrative of the Canadian club's season was balance. Game 6 epitomized that balance.

Kyle Lowry started strong and ended with 26 points and 10 assists. Lowry survived all the playoff disappointment and thrived when it mattered most. Pascal Siakim snapped out of his shooting slump and scored 26 of his own and added 10 rebounds. Fred VanVleet was clutch in the fourth. He scored 22 with five threes. Serge Ibaka added 15 key points.

The Warriors held tight throughout the game. Klay Thompson had another great Game 6. But he injured his knee and after making two free throws to raised his total to 30 points, he would not return. Andre Iguodala found the fountain of youth and notched 22 points. Draymond Green hit a key three late to score 11 points. He pulled down 19 rebounds and dished out 13 assists in his best game of the Finals. DeMarcus Cousins scored 12 points. Shaun Livingston and Kevon Looney also contributed.

Late int he game, Danny Green threw the ball away. The Warriors had one last shot at forcing a Game 7. Curry missed and the ball rolled out to halfcourt. The Warriors grabbed the ball and nearly every man called a timeout that didn't exist. Three Leonard free throws later, the Raptors won the championship.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Game Five - One Shot Away

A wild Game 5- a contest filled with heroics, pain, and epic blunders- came down to one shot. The Golden State Warriors somehow held a 106-105 lead. The Warriors denied Kawhi Leonard, who posted a line of 26 pts 12 rebs 6 asts 2 blocks and 2 stls, a lane to the basket. He passed to Fred VanVleet, who shied away from the big moment.

The ball was shuffled to Kyle Lowry, who epitomizes everything about the Raptors franchise over the past half decade. Lowry had bounced around the league a bit before finding a home up north. He'd become an all star while also transforming into the face of Toronto's playoff heartbreak.

In the fourth quarter of Game 5, Lowry threw the ball into the backcourt in a key moment instead of into Marc Gasol's hands at the top of the key. Lowry, who had 18 points and 6 assists, camped out in the corner waiting for VanVleet's pass. If he nailed the shot, the Raptors would capture their first ever championship. Lowry fired a lame duck and the series will continue.

The Warriors started the game strong. Kevin Durant made his triumphant appearance and it was apparent that he makes the game easier for everyone in a Warriors uniform. He scored 11 in 12 minutes. The different between Stephen Curry's load in Game 3 vs. Curry's freedom to start Game 5 couldn't be missed. Durant pulled up early int he second quarter. He seemingly reinjured his right calf. The mood on the Warriors' bench sunk. But the players on the floor took charge.

DeMarcus Cousins, who was essentially the fourth string center after two poor games, entered the game and caught fire. He scored nine quick points and added a block to extend the Warriors' lead. He'd finish with 14 points and make a huge imprint on the end of this game.

Marc Gasol played well, especially early. His 17 points forced Steve Kerr away from his planned small lineup. Serge Ibaka added 15 points of his own. The Warriors held a double digit lead in the third when the Raptors raced back to cut the lead to 6 at the end of the third.

Toronto took a 6 point lead with two and half minutes to play. Leonard led a run and the Raptors sped by the Warriors. Klay Thompson, who finished with 26 points on 7 for 13 shooting from downtown, hit two threes and Curry,-who ended with 31 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists- knocked down a ridiculous three. That was it for the greatness of the game.

Leonard tried to force a couple shots late with Thompson draped all over him. Lowry threew the ball away and badly missed the potential game winner. DeMarcus Cousins committed two goaltending violation. He also was responsible for a blatant offensive foul the play before Lowry's final miss. Draymond Green had his usual 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assist night. He also added a silly technical foul and a boneheaded backcourt violation.

The series moves back to Oakland for Game 6. Durant is likely done for the season,. Do the Warriors have enough to keep the series going?

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Game Four - Leonard Leads Raptors to 3-1 Lead

After a miserable start to the game, both Toronto and Golden State continued to struggle offensively for the remainder of the first half. The Warriors led 46-42 at halftime.

Kahwi Leonard had a decent first half, but exploded in the second. He finished with 36 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 steals. He only tallied two assists, but his play making off the dribble has improved throughout these playoffs. He's a true superstar, taking the tough shots when the shotclock has nearly expired and demanding the ball in a key moment.

Serge Ibaka continued to play well. This time he did it ont he offensive end of the floor. He scored 20 off the bench. Kyle Lowry didn't shoot well, but he distributed the ball effectively. He and backup point guard Fred VanVleet combined for 13 assists. Danny Green was off, but Marc Gasol did a little bit of everything and Pascal Siakim added 19 big points. Fourth year Raptor Norman Powell, an important contribute during the regular season, got into the game for 10 minutes.

Stephen Curry finished with a respectable 27 points, but on a night when he had to do everything, he shot poorly and made some questionable defensive decisions. Klay Thompson returned from injury to post 28 points on 6 from 10 shooting from distance. Draymond Green nearly got a triple double and Kevon Looney also returned from injury to score 10.

Without Kevin Durant, the Warriors need great games from Curry, Thompson, and someone else. Green hasn't been able to fill that role from a scoring standpoint. DeMacrus Cousins faded away again. Andre Iguodala seems to be aging dramatically before our eyes. Shaun Livingston didn't get enough run. Quinn Cook's six minutes were too much.

Toronto raced by the Warriors in the third. Game 4 was nearly the mirror image of Game 2. In the end, the Rapotros coasted in the fourth and won 105-92. The took both games in Oakland and now lead the series 3-1 heading home to Toronto. The big question now is: will Kevin Durant play in Game 5?

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Game Three - Down Two Stars, Warriors Now Down 2-1

Stephen Curry's shoulders were fuller than normal. Without Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, two of the top 15 players in the NBA, the Warriors relied on Curry more than normal. The two-time MVP and three-time champion responded with the best game of his career. He scored 47 points on 31 field goals. He knocked down 6 of his 14 threes and missed only one of his 14 free throws. He grabbed eight rebounds, dished for seven assists, and added two steals. He dove on the floor to save the ball and did pretty much everything a basketball player can do out on the floor.

But he needed help to beat the talented and balanced Toronto Raptors. It was a bad omen when DeMarcus Cousins and Draymond Green- the likeliest teammates to pick up the scoring load- whiffed on early threes. Andre Iguodala gave it a go with a strong third quarter, but his 11 points couldn't replace Durant and Thompson.

Two returnees to the Warriors, Andrew Bogut and Quinn Cook were decent, adding 9 and 6 points respectively. Alfonzo McKinney played decent defense in 18 minutes. Green contributed 17 points, although he padded his total int he fourth when the game was basically out of reach. Cousins, whose career has been derailed by injuries the past two seasons, and Shaun Livingston didn't provide much as starters. Jonas Jerebko scored six points but looked lost out on the floor.

The Raptors got off to a strong start as usual. Marc Gasol had another good game with 27 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. He played well in a Game 1 win and poorly in a Game 2 loss. Kyle Lowry added 23 points and 9 assists. Danny Green proved that he is a clutch Finals player. He channeled the 2013 Finals and drained six threes for 19 points. Pascal Siakim scored 18 points.

As good as Gasol, Lowry, and Green played, none were the best Raptor in Game 3. Kawhi Leonard matched Curry's intensity. He had 30 points on 9 for 17 shooting from the field and only one miss from the line in 11 attempts. He contributed 7 boards, 6 dishes, 2 filches, and 2 shot-swats. On a team filled with good individual defenders, Serge Ibaka was the standout with six blocks including keep ones in the fourth quarter. Fred VanVleet scored 11 points including the clinching three pointer, a buzz-beating rainbow before the shot clock expired.

The Warriors kept crawling to within ten points, but the game was sealed late in the fourth. Toronto won 123-109 to take a 2-1 series lead with Game 4 in Oakland. The Warriors need both Thompson and Durant to win this series. Golden State needs those stars not only to lessen Curry's offensive burden, but the defending champs need them for their defense as well.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Game Two - Shorthanded Warriors Even the Series

An 18-0 run to start the third quarter saw the Warriors race ahead of the Raptors. With leading scorer Kevin Durant already out, Golden State's fortunes took a turn for the worse when Klay Thompson was forced to leave the game int he second half. He didn't return.

Stephen Curry started the game cold. The Raptors used good ball movement to maintain a lead for most of the first half. Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points and grabbed 14 boards, going 16 for 16 from the free throw line. But he turned the ball over 5 times. Leonard is a strong scorer, rebounder, and defender, but he isn't the best play-maker in the league. No Raptor even shot as well as 43% from the field. Pascal Siakim took 18 shots to add just 12 to Toronto's tally. Fred Van Vleet had a good game off the bench again with 17 points.

Curry caught fire just at the end of the second quarter. He carried it over to the run in the third, and finished with 23. Thompson added 25 on 10 for 17 shooting. When he went out in the fourth, the Warriors' offense stalled.

Andre Iguodala, who- along with Draymond Green does a little bit of everything- hit a huge open three with just a few seconds left to seal the game. The Warriors held on for a 109-104 victory. Golden State's injuries are taking a toll, however. With an injury-hampered DeMarcus Cousins already limited, they can't afford to lose both Durant and Thompson and win the series. For the Raptors, Marc Gasol seems to be the key. He had a big game in a Game 1 win, but posted only 6 points on 7 field goals in a Game 2 defeat.