Saving Speaker Ryan

The results were probably something President Trump wanted all along. He does strike me as a bit Machiavellian from time to time, after all.

As we now know, the healthcare proposals of the Trump administration couldn’t even get out of the House of Representatives on Friday. There wasn’t even a consensus amongst the Republicans to get the deal done, with moderates and far-right Republicans proving to be the obstacles.

Now the typical finger pointing and other such punditry has begun. Some are calling for House Speaker Paul Ryan to step down. The point does have logic to it, as he advocated the merits of the new system to staggering levels.

Some are blaming the Freedom Caucus, a group of constitutional Republicans, for holding out for a better deal. I can’t blame them, really. Most of us were doing likewise.

I’ve always believed that if you have to sell something that hard, its probably something you are better off not having. Now Obamacare likely implodes, and the Trump team will later be able to work off a clean slate as opposed to the frequently erased chalkboard they have now.

A better day and deal will come. I haven’t given up on Trump yet.

Hoop Dreams

vsin03202017
The leader board after two rounds of the “Beat The Spread” challenge on VSIN. I’m the guy who’s #8, actually tied in sixth.
I hate to keep talking basketball so much lately, but recently I’ve had a good bit of luck come my way.

As of late, I’ve been listening or watching VSIN off of either Facebook Live or YouTube, and heard that the network had a contest where you pick games in the NCAA basketball tournament against a point spread.

I wasn’t really paying attention to it, honestly. It wasn’t something I was keeping all the picks on a sheet of paper and eyeballing my progress every 10 minutes. But when I picked South Carolina and the points against Duke in the round of 32, and then seeing Duke lose outright to the Gamecocks, it began to dwell on me that I might be doing well.

Now I’m in a three-way tie for 6th out of over 1,100 pickers. If I win, it’s a trip to the South Point in Vegas, plus $1,000. I’d like to win, sure. But right now, I’m just enjoying the view.

After the “Sweet 16” round, I thought I had stunk up the joint, but I surprised myself again. I went 5-2-1 with my picks against the spread (I thought I had changed a couple of them around when I hadn’t), good for 5.5 more points to get me to 36.5 as a total. At that point, I was at 36.5 points, tied for second.

Over the weekend, I decided to take a gamble. I picked all the underdogs on all four games, taking South Carolina, Xavier, Oregon, and Kentucky. I wasn’t thinking all four would win, but that each team was capable of keeping the game close and within the point spread.

With Kentucky losing by two points as three point underdogs, I hit three out of four picks. I’m still tied for second, but if I had picked Gonzaga, I’d be ahead. 

Flashback: “My Ding-A-Ling” by Chuck Berry

As many of you know, Chuck Berry passed this past Saturday at the age of 90. Any words I could use to eulogize him wouldn’t do him justice, but I’ll give it a shot. He fused R&B and rock and roll together, becoming the catalyst of many artists and groups who came into the business after him.

Berry’s biggest hit was this chart-topper novelty hit from the fall of 1972, recorded in a concert from Coventry, England.

Terror On The Thames

Another alarming day for the free world.

There was another terror incident in Europe, this time in London, not too far from British parliament, then at the building itself. 

Details changed over the course of the day, and might still be sketchy as you see this today. The asailant was shot, eventually dying of his injuries, but not before he took the lives of a few others.

It is a chilling reminder for some that the threat of terrorism still, sadly, exists. But as they say over there, we shouldn’t be afraid of them.  At some point in the future, no matter how hard our governments try, we will again be reminded of it. 

A Piece Of The Action

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Over the past week, I was paying attention with great interest to the new VSIN network and their chronicling of the $352,000 wagered by Derek Stevens, owner of the D Hotel and Casino, of 32 first-round games in this year’s NCAA basketball tournament.

Stevens bet on  the four “first four” play-in games, then the 28 first round games not involving those teams who played in the play-in round. He went 10-19-3 (10 wins, 19 losses, and three games landing right on the point spread for “pushes” which count as neither a win or a loss), losing $109,000 in total.

Stevens, according to Brent Musburger on his Sunday show “My Guys In The Desert”, also has a bet on Michigan to win the NCAA tournament at 80-1. Derek wagered $12,500, so if he’s correct, he wins a cool $1,000,000.

I’ve always heard that the most successful sports handicappers play very few games, not a whole bunch of them. The “wisdom” in that is the fewer games you wager on, the less errors one can make. Then again, Las Vegas hasn’t had all that money pour in because there’s a lot of “sharps” out there looking for openings in the sports lines.

Can’t help but hope the Wolverines win the whole shebang, though.

Rachel And The Documents Of Doom

Some of you will be surprised to hear that I find Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show to be tolerable. That was, until she, like the other media outlets, got caught up with the hysteria surrounding Donald Trump’s presidency, and the partisanship it’s caused since. I think we, as Americans, can do better than this for our duly elected President under the current constitutional rules. I like hearing the opinions of both sides, because when you take being bellicose out of it, it’s how I learn what they’re saying.

Then came last week. Maddow’s Twitter feed bursted on Tuesday with news of a surprise revelation concerning a seemingly forgotten about topic: Donald Trump’s taxes, and his failure to release them to the public. Someone anonymously sent journalist David Cay Johnson the documentation for Trump’s 2005 taxes, who then released the findings to NBC and cable outlet MSNBC. The findings probably didn’t go the way Maddow or the network of Peacocks had hoped, despite making news on all the other televised outlets: Trump paid over 25 percent of his income in taxes this year, far more than other politicians paid recently, such as former President Obama or Democratic contender Bernie Sanders.

A brief rant here: the one thing that drives me crazy about TV news is that networks, cable news stations, and local TV stations frequently wave documentation around on camera, then tell you what’s in it. I would love to see the FCC pass a rule, for the sake of transparency, that if a station does that, they must put the same documents on a website or other such forum for public view. It isn’t something media does or doesn’t do all the time, but there should be a uniform rule so that informed people wanted to learn more, that ability is there for them.

As for Maddow, the big show on Tuesday night was a ratings hit, but it seemed to harm her reputation on both conservative and liberal sides. Geraldo Rivera’s career recovered from the “bomb” of a 1987 special promising to reveal the contents of Al Capone’s vault, but finding nothing of significance within. My gut tells me we’re not getting rid of Rachel so quickly, and I’m sure her bosses will remind her not to turn into such a caricature of herself.

Ones And Sixteens

Even at age 45, statistics still fascinate me. Maybe not as much as they used to, but stats can be a powerful tool in sports, in politics, or in the news in general.

Up until the Super Bowl this year, I thought the most amazing statistic in sports was the anomaly that up until that classic Pats/Falcons Super Bowl, no Super Bowl had gone to overtime, winding up tied after 60 minutes of regulation play. Roughly, at least 1 NFL game in the regular season and beyond out of 20 such games needs overtime to decide, but after 50 Super Bowls, it had never happened in the big game.

Now that it finally happened this year (and I “marked out” big time when it did, dancing around the TV and saying to myself, “It happened! It finally happened!!!”), there is an heir apparent to the biggest anomalous stat in the sports world.

Since the NCAA men’s basketball tournament went to 64 teams in 1985, the teams are seeded in four regions: based on a combination of record and roughly the strength of schedule a given team plays. The best seed is to be a number 1 seed, while being a number 16 seed is the least desirable.

Counting the first round games this year, the 1 seed has played the 16 seed 132 times. The 16 seed teams have NEVER won, 0-132 against the 1 seed. In women’s college basketball, it’s only ever happened once, in 1998 when Harvard stunned the top seeded Stanford squad.

It will happen someday, but not until at least March of 2018.