Cubs Now!
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
  Badger B-Ball

Got to watch the Big Red for the first time this year, and it makes me wistful for what could have been. Had Alondo Tucker been healthy last season, with Devin Harris leading the way, Wisconsin would have been an easy top ten team (though they were ranked as such for most of the year, they got screwed by the committee). In any event, they would have been tough to knock out of the tournament.

Wisconsin, alone among Big Ten teams, beat their ACC counterpart, Maryland, tonight. Michigan State looked good, losing to Duke on the road. I haven't seen the Illini play this year, but remember that Tucker was Freshman of the Year over both Deron Williams and Dee Brown two years ago. I think Williams is over-rated. I remember the way Devin Harris schooled the Illini guards at Madison last season. While the Illini crushed Gonzaga (while my Badgers got smoked at Pepperdine), I'll reserve judgment on the legitimacy of the Illini until they get smoked tomorrow by Wake Forest.  
Sunday, November 28, 2004
  Me before Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. Ah, my smile would be gone in about 3 hours. Posted by Hello
  Long, Cold Four Months

It's times like these that I remember how much baseball means to me. The first snow has fallen in Chicago (though it was gone within two days), and the snow reminds me that we have to endure four more months without baseball. If you are reading this in the Chicago area, I don't have to tell you that these are the four worst months of the year. Long, cold nights with short grey, sunless days jammed in between.

My happiness depends on me being able to direct attention onto something external. Unfortunately, I'm not seeing much going on right now that interests me. The hot stove league is not heating up so far (at least for the Cubs, although I'd be happy if I were an A's fan). The election is over, and my Badgers folded like a tent. They also lost to Pepperdine in hoops last night. So, to the folks who have stopped by, I ask the question: what is a good way to get through these grey days until opening day? What keeps you happy in late January? 
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
  Twisting Slowly, Slowly...

No watches Keith Olbermann. I don't either because, outside of his ESPN career, he's been an embarassment. But I think he gives a good illustration of the difference between blogging and journalism.

Olbermann has gone on for three days about alleged voting irregularities. Each day, he's pretty much given up the ghost on what he reported the last night. He goes on TV and says there are irregularities with Cuyahoga county and that there are counties in Florida which are overwhelmingly Democratic but voted for Bush. Well, within a day or two, those alleged controversies are shot down (Cuyahoga county's "irregularities"--i.e. more votes in certain precincts than voters--are show to be due to the election commission's strange (though not fruadulent) decision to assign absentee votes across precincts and the Florida counties acted exactly as they did in 2000). He later is forced to admit as much.

Keith has made a stupendous ass of himself. He's embarassing on TV, but would be marginally acceptable if he were simply writing a blog. In a blog, you can note something strange, ask for comments, check the comments against facts, and say "oh yeah. My fault." On TV, you're stuck. Journalists are supposed to have the loose ends of a story tied up before you go on a rant and question the democratic legitimacy of an election. Keith ignored that, and it's not legitimate to make others try to clean up the mess he made on TV (though, on a blog, that's legitimate!).

I have to say, as a Bush supporter, this burns me up. Bush won. It was a relatively clean election. Remember that it was Joe Lockhart who was trying to stop any questions about irregularities on the day of the election (because he thought Kerry won at the time!). Keith should be pounded and hounded for his irresponsible reporting.

Keith then posts on his blog that the election is like the blow-up weeble wobbles (you knock one argument down, and another pops up). Well, yes, things in a big country are strange. But if you look at them, examine them, and discover the truth, most often there's not much fraud there. That doesn't mean that once your bullshit gets knocked down, you get to go on to another bullshit story. It means you nail your story before you broadcast it. Olbermann has made a fool of himself and his show should go the way of "Allen Keyes is making sense."

P.S. I'll be guest blogging for Bill at The Rooftop Report. Bill apologized to me for his small readership. Hah! The 30 sets of eyes who look at this on a daily basis can read my blabberings over there along with his regulars. Also check out the new Cubs blog at 1060 West. That's Addison. Home of Jake and Elwood. 
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
  Stick to Sports

No, not me. Keith. Keith Olbermann, in his second go around as a self-important
non-sports talking-head, is becoming ridiculous and making a fool of himself. Keith thought he was really going to blow the lid off the election results by demonstrating that there was voter fraud. You can see the white specks of spittle as he continues his uninformed ravings tonight on "Countdown" (which is running ever more asymptotically towards a zero Nielson rating).

A little background. Keith thinks he has some startling evidence that that one county in Ohio closed its vote-counting from public view. The county's explanation of a terror threat seems weird. Okay. But the actual results of this count are consistent with the 2000 results, with a modest gain for Bush. The increase in turnout in the county is consistent with voting patterns in Ohio as a whole and population growth in the county. Moral of the story, some county official screwed up, but nothing much more to see here.

Oh but Keith's not done. He just can't believe the results of several counties in Florida where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by as much as seven to one. See, he says, in these counties, Bush won overwhelming majorities. Inexplicable, he says in his breathless tone. Why, even the fair-minded John Conyers is upset! Where's the outrage? Where are the other mainstream media? Keith notes dryly that he got all of this right of the state's voting results. Others could do the same.

Well, others have done the same, Keith. They just knew enough to shut up. Don't think Daily Kos might have liked to run with this? Josh Marshall? The New York Times? Slate looked at the issue and discovered Keith was a wind-bag (though that's been pretty obvious since 1998). See this guy, too.

Those Florida counties he spoke of went overwhelmingly for Bush in 2000 as well, despite the fact that the entire election was closer and his opponent was a southerner. These counties are populated by white southerners. They still may have a nominal connection to the Democratic party, but don't vote for Democratic presidential candidates, particularly ones from the north.

It's funny that basic research skills like looking at past results and other controls would have prevented Keith from making an ass of himself.
Monday, November 08, 2004
  More Fun

Spend an hour reading and reflecting on this. Now, do you think these folks have, in their rage, have added anything that might change the results of a future election? Folks, the losers are clueless. Just as you can't put lipstick on a pig and call her beautiful, you can't dress up a liberal welfare state and call it "values."  
Sunday, November 07, 2004
  David Brooks, the Cubs, and Other Musings

David Brooks, the New York Times resident conservative (or at least, the conservative that troubles liberals least) has his thoughts on the the election and what "values voters" mean. He makes a plausible, but not entirely convincing, case that the answer is "not much." He says that the answer to why Bush won is that the majority of voters believe that they're safer with Bush as president than with Kerry.

I think that it is true that the United States is safer with Bush than with Kerry. That belief, however, requires some argument. That is, it's not self-evidently true. A certain amount of that belief is based on the fact that Bush's insistence on the US's right to act unilaterally is better than Kerry's die-hard insistence on a multilateral solution. It seems complex to me but intuitive to a lot of people. Brooks also ignores the resentment that millions have of coastal elites telling them what is right and how dumb they are for disagreeing.

But one of the things that interests me is the relationship this has to baseball and the Cubs. I've gotten comments and e-mails (unfortunatley, not the number that I'd like) saying that I should drop all political talk and stick to baseball. The thing that interests me is that saber-geeks should appreciate the degree that the election results proves the power of statistical analysis. Bush won because he increased his turnout in counties, towns, and precincts he needed to. Karl Rove is a Billy Beene in disguise. Ignore certain obvious and superficial points, concentrate on certain overlooked and valuable points, and this thing is winnable. Get voters in certain counties fired up, and this or that fact that everyone is going on about will be washed away.

For me, when it comes to sabermetrics, the only thing I can tell that is important is: draw more walks, hit more extra-base hits, strikeout a lot of opposing batters, and don't walk 'em. That seems to be the approach that the Republicans took in this election (under the radar-screen, get your voters jazzed about the fact that your candidate is with them on certain issues, don't make major errors, hit them where they're weak, direct market your voters, etc.). Democrats need to learn this lesson: don't nominate a guy who has no ability to relate to most people and seems to disdain them.

The Cubs need to look at 2004 in the whole. What were they missing? They didn't draw walks. Baker disdains walks ("this ain't little league"). Look at what went wrong; study the situation in real depth. Make the necessary changes, both personnel and approach. And turn 2005 around.  
Friday, November 05, 2004
  Even Better

Notorious Man of the People, Hero of the Workingclass, and Michigan State Spartan fan Michael Moore sent me his seventeen reasons not to slit my wrists! Mr. Moore lists reason # 7 as: "Once again we are reminded that the buckeye is a nut, and not just any old nut -- a poisonous nut. A great nation was felled by a poisonous nut.
May Ohio State pay dearly this Saturday when it faces Michigan."

One problem there Mike. Ohio State isn't playing my Michigan Wolverines this Saturday. They're playing your Spartans! Please take off your green S hat now. Go Blue!

PS: I'll be happy to forward you this e-mail, as I'm sure he'll have it corrected and deny that such an e-mail ever went out.
  Special Schadenfreude Edition

Since I began reading his columns on the New York Times Op-Ed page, I've always belived that Paul Krugman was the least fair and most reactionary writer in large circulation. However, he has given me joy today, the sublime joy of schadenfreude. Here is Krugman's article from Tuesday:

"I always get a little choked up when I go to the local school to cast my vote. The humbleness of the surroundings only emphasizes the majesty of the process: this is democracy, America’s great gift to the world, in action. But over the last few days I’ve been seeing pictures from Florida that are even more majestic. They show long lines of voters, snaking through buildings and on down the sidewalk: citizens patiently waiting to do their civic duty. Those people still believe in American democracy; and because they do, so do I"

Ah, those majestic citizens, so civic minded, so American, so patriotic. Today, Krugman's view of a majority of those majestic citizens has changed. They are "intolerant," ignorant radicals and extremists.

Well, Paul needs a nap. He's taking some time to himself. Hopefully, he'll be writing his textbook in a padded room. When "the people," those brave masses waiting in line, let you down, it's time for a break.

Oh, the joy! The sweet, sweet joy! 
Thursday, November 04, 2004
  First Thoughts

Something profound has happened. With war, terrorism, a struggling economy, and forty million people without health insurance, I don't understand how cultural issues could have been the largest concern of the electorate. It never was on the front-burner of the election. I haven't culled the exit polls sufficiently to understand this. I'm not entirely comfortable with it, but it's something that those who consider themselves part of the "cultural elite" need to think a lot about.

I live in Chicago. I work with hyper-educated professionals. My friends, my wife, and much of my family are as well. Out of respect to my friends, I don't talk about the election with them. On the other hand, I've talked with my brother about it. He is an english professor at a university in my home town. It's hard to describe the anger he is feeling right now. He thinks that the country has been taken over by evangelical "water-heads" too ignorant to see what is really important in their lives. He sees no need to compromise with the winner and no need to grapple with the fact that there is a profound cultural gap.

But if it is true that the plurality of people voted based on moral values, those in urban areas, academia, and other cultural institutions need to examine what that means. First and foremost, I think it means that gay marriage needs time before it is accepted. Do not attempt to impose it on the country through the courts. People are coming around to total equality for gays, but they want to think about it and decide upon it themselves.

The president's cousin, John Ellis, makes some interesting points. People are mad about the sexualizing of children and the increasing mainstreaming of pornography. The cultural sewer needs to be reexamined. John Kerry never disassociated himself from it and openly embraced an entertainment industry which seemed hostile to tens of millions of its consumers. On the other hand, George Bush openly embraced traditionalism.

You can complain about the people who decided the election, but the foot knows best where the shoe squeezes. Political power depends on governing majorities. Disdain and disgust feel good for a short time, but it's not a solution. I can't tell you what happened. I haven't heard a good explanation, but it's extremely important. 
  Urban Elites And "Moral Values"

The map posted below is misleading. President Bush won comfortably by 3,500,000 popular votes and a solid majority of the electoral college. But he didn't win 90% of the country.

Still, the map shows that outside of urban areas, the Democratic party is in sad shape. If you get the Tribune, look at the back page. But for Cook County, Bush would have won Illinois. The majority of Kerry's votes came from urban areas, but that wasn't enough. The vast numbers of rural, suburban, and exurban voters gave Bush the win. Why?

I thought the most important issues were the GWOT and Iraq. Democrats may have thought the economy would be the key. Well, the plurality of voters cited moral values as their chief concern. I'm going to study the exit polls and post something on this in the coming days. This seems incredibly important to me--urban vs. non-urban and the values voter. There are screechy voices out there. Give them a few weeks to calm down. But let's take a careful look at what happened, and consider what it means for the future. 
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
  Thoughts Later

I have my thoughts.

  Full Story

What is the full story on the exit polls? How was South Carolina ever rated "too close?" North Carolina? Virginia?

Exit polls seem to be susceptible to a self-selection problem. Most people vote and go to work, or vote and go home for dinner. If you're angry and fired up about voting, you're probably more likely to talk to a pollster and complete a survey. But, boy, were the polls wrong. I thought the race was over as I rode the train home. The National Review Online was getting input from Republican insiders that the polls were wrong. I thought it was spin. But they did a wonderful job of getting accurate information.  
  So Now What?

An election is a huge production, and sometimes can seem like the end of the story. In some sense, it is the end. We have settled who will lead the United States for the next four years. However, this is just the beginning of the story. The country obviously has really difficult problems. Can Iraq be salvaged? Can we prevent another 9/11? Can Iran's nuclear program be stopped? These are the challenges we face, and there may be no end in sight.
  They Just Don't Want to Admit It.

cBS: Nevada, but no Ohio.

NBC: Ohio, but no Nevada.

Why deny the obvious folks? Your man lost. Deal with it.

Update: They cave
  I Fell Asleep After They Called Ohio

We won. Unbelievable. Please just admit it's over. Bush won Ohio by 136,000 votes; Iowa by 15,000+, Nevada by 10,000+, and New Mexico by 11,000+. This isn't 2000. Bush won the popular vote. I don't know what happened. I hate exit polls. They brought me down and probably brought false hope to some people. Tell me when the lefties will admit they lost. 
Tuesday, November 02, 2004

I was pretty sure that this was over come 5 tonight. Florida looks in the bag. Ohio! Ohio! Ohio! (or lesser upper mid-west).  
  Bush Has Florida, How About Ohio?

Wow. Feeling marginally better. Ain't over yet!! 
  Looks Bad

Just listened to the Fox "All Stars." Rarely, do you hear pundits so negative before official numbers come out. Needless to say, I will be disappointed if Bush loses, but I'd like to see some actual votes counted before I throw in the towel.

If Bush loses, well, there's little I can do about it. I voted, I encouraged others to vote for Bush, and I gave Bush some money. Hope Bush doesn't lose, but from what I've been reading, it does not look good. 
Monday, November 01, 2004
  Vote Bush

I'm voting tomorrow at 6:00 AM. My vote will be cancelled out by my wife. Illinois is going for Kerry. But we're both voting anyway.

I've been writing about the election since the Cubs collapse. I'm not a Pollyanna about Iraq, and I have misgivings about Bush. I've explained my problems with Kerry. But more than anything, a Kerry victory would bother me because of the people who would be happy. Want to hear cheers from a guy who was happy about people dying trying to rebuild Iraq? Or Michael Moore? Or mindless celebrities who know nothing but like to bloviate anyway? Or the corrupt kleptocrats at the UN? Or...well, you get the point.

There are thoughtful people who make thoughtful arguments about why they favor Kerry, without a primary argument being "I hate Bush." Mickey Kaus's arguments are strong. Kerry would ease tensions with European "allies." Kerry might not piss off terrorists as much (the basis for Kaus's argument distilled into 8 words). But, in the words of Osama Bin Laden, terrorists respect the "strong horse." There is no doubt, despite the protestations of Andrew Sullivan, the Economist, and others, a defeat for Bush will be seen as a defeat of an expansive war on terror. Kerry, if he won, would win on the shoulders of "peace voters." It's whom he will placate.

So vote and vote Bush. 
  No Break

I believed that there would be an obvious break for one candidate or the
other over the last week or so. Didn't happen, no matter what some wish to see. Bush maintains a slight lead in national polls, with the states being unclear. It would be the
ultimate irony if Bush won the popular vote but lost the electoral.
There seems to be a decent chance of that happening. It would at
least shut people up about the 2000 "stolen" election.

There's no shortage of prognostication going on out there. But with
polling ranges in states from +8 to -7 in Wisconsin, they all seem to be
semi-educated guesses. So here are mine. Bush will win Florida, Ohio,
Iowa, New Mexico, Nevada, and Wisconsin. Kerry will win Minnesota,
Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. Bush 296, Kerry 242.
Popular vote--Bush 50.5, Kerry 48.5, Nader 1. No litigation, no

Update: Over the last week, the Zogby poll has been the most pro-Kerry of all major polls. But look at what's happening even at Zogby. Remember that it is a tracking poll (which means you drop one day and add the new day). Ohio is trending Bush, big time. Going from Bush +2 two days ago to Bush +6 today. Florida, too, is trending Bush, from Kerry +2 two days ago, then +1 yesterday, and now tied. Given that there was a good Kerry day two days ago, expect Zogby to have Bush up in Florida tomorrow. That would be in line with Survey USA, Mason Dixon, Quinnipiac and Strategic Vision (but surprisingly, against Fox). There is no conceivable combination in which Kerry wins the election while losing Florida and Ohio.

Also, for those who have heard that early voters are going heavily for Kerry, well, no, they're not. The Harris poll combined results from phone calls and internet surveys, totalling over 5,000 voters. Of those voters, 24% have already voted (or about 1,250 voters, a statistically meaningful sample), and they voted for Bush 50-44.

Look, I'm not saying it's not close, but the noise from MSNBC tonight that this is breaking for Kerry isn't supported by the polls. 
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