Friday, November 21, 2014

Game Planning

Based on precedent, those of us who are not on the Left have little confidence that the GOP knows what to do believe it is healthy to give the GOP advice about what to do with the mandate it received on November 4th. Therefore, here are some things I believe the incoming Republicans should do after they take their oaths of office.

Follow George Will's advice
By which I mean, take up the six items he recommended in this column.

Follow Charles Krauthammer's recommendation...
...of passing one good and popular piece of legislation per week and sending it to Obama's desk, forcing the president to either sign it into law or veto it. If he chooses the latter route, it will further cement his reputation as America's first imperial president, as one who governs unambiguously against the will of the people. The fact of it being Obama's pen that strikes the legislation down will dim the Democratic Party's chances of retaining the presidency in 2016.

And if Obama chooses to enact rather than veto, that will also dim his party's hopes of retaining the presidency because it will reinforce what the public appears to already believe about Democrats: That they follow the people's will only when they desperately need to get back in the people's good graces.

There is a third possibility: That Senate Democrats will filibuster House-passed legislation to prevent it from being voted on. This too would hurt them and help the GOP.

Before the first week of the new Congress is done, announce the party's plan to combat Obama's dictatorial action of November 20th executive order granting de facto amnesty to millions of illegal aliens Jeffersonian individualists.

The Exalted One is announcing his unilateral action on the same evening I am writing this, and I am not yet going to offer any thoughts on what the GOP's counter plans should be, for the simple reason that I need more time to think through my ideas before putting my name on them. I will, however, stress that the Republicans' November 4th  mandate was clearly a demand for them to stop this autocrat president! In light of that, if they still can't summon the gumption to stand up to him after the amnesty outrage, the disaster which flows from that outrage will be just as much their fault as his.

Obamacare, Part A
Attack it on multiple fronts and do so by root and branch. The public has never approved of it and polls show it is even less popular now than ever. On November 4th, Republicans who won Senate races in key states did so after making a point of opposing it during their campaigns.

Of course, Obama is almost one hundred percent certain to veto any legislation that substantially changes the law which bears his name, but as noted above, him using his veto pen against popular measures will hurt Democrats and help Republicans when 2016 rolls around.

The GOP should start by passing a repeal of Obamacare itself. When El Presidente vetoes it, they should start repealing specific parts of it or challenging them in court. The parts they target should include the individual mandate, business mandate, death panel Independent Payment Advisory Board, tax on medical devices, and many others. If these piecemeal repeal measures also get vetoed or filibustered, well, again, so what? Each veto or filibuster shows who it is that's truly blocking what the public wants and needs -- and while I know my "each veto will hurt the Democrats" claim must be getting repetitive, I am going to repeat it here because it is especially true when the veto protects an unpopular law that was passed solely by Democrats.

Obamacare, Part B
In concert with attacking specific parts of Obamacare, Republicans should pass the kinds of health care reform measures they believe in. Things like: 1) allowing medical insurance carriers to sell a broad array of plans customized to customers' desires and budgets, rather than forcing them to sell only plans that cover what and how Master Government decrees; 2) removing the pointless regulations that force insurers to incur large compliance costs, which are always passed on to their customers in the form of higher premiums; 3) allowing medical insurance to be sold across state lines, which will increase competition and thus could put downward pressure on premiums; 4) allowing tax deductions for medical expenses, and counting insurance premiums as one of those expenses; and 5) encouraging the kind of tort reform that has led to a health care boom in Texas.

In addition, Republicans should leave alone whatever aspects of Obmacare are good and popular (there have to be some).

Obamacare, Part C
They should openly debate and ultimately pursue some health care reform measures that do not fit into the doctrinaire conservative box. One of these might involve making treatment for life-threatening conditions, such as chemotherapy or a coronary bypass, be paid for by the federal government -- while leaving all other treatment, such as your rotator cuff repair or Obama's grandmother's hip replacement, to be paid for by private insurance or by the patient going out of pocket.

(In case you were wondering, although treatment for life-threatening conditions can be overwhelmingly expensive for an individual, it is a relatively small percentage of America's overall health costs. Therefore the government might be able to take up that responsibility without capsizing its fiscal ship, especially if private insurers can also cover such treatment and government steps in only when there is no private coverage.)

Court the "black vote"
I have always contended that based on their stated policy positions, the majority of black Americans ought to be in the Republican Party. (I also base that on the the facts that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican while Jefferson Davis was a Democrat; Governor Orval "Block the Little Rock Nine" Faubus was a Democrat while President Dwight "Protect the Little Rock Nine" Eisenhower was a Republican; George Wallace and Bull Connor were Democrats while MLK was a Republican; Jack Kemp was a Republican; Greg Anthony is a Republican; Charles Barkley trends Republican; Lionel Hampton was a Republican, and on and on.)

I long ago made my peace with not being able to comprehend why such a high percentage of black voters pull the Democrat lever, but I have never wavered in my desire to bring more of them into the Republican tent -- and like I already touched on here, November 4th shows us that the time is ripe to do just that.

I do not believe the goals of the GOP and the goals of black voters are different. To make that clear to the only people who matter -- black voters themselves -- Republicans should engage in the very simple and extremely important task of speaking directly to black audiences about issues on which they agree. By "speaking directly," I'm talking about doing so year-round, not just in election years, and in intimate settings like churches and community meetings. And I mean "talk with" as opposed to "talk to." When Republican leaders are in the LA area, they should spend more time conversing with parishioners in the middle of Watts than dining with members of Rick Warren's Orange County megachurch.

The issues on which Republicans and the majority of black Americans agree include, above all else, school choice. Not far behind that are protection of religious liberty, protection of property rights, and creating a friendly market environment with genuine and visible prospects for new jobs.

Perhaps most importantly, however, today's GOP leaders should make it a centerpiece of their speeches to stress that they are dedicated to preserving a welfare safety net for those who truly need it. They should stop superficially playing the "What Would Reagan Do?" card, and instead point to what the the Gipper actually did regarding welfare when he was governor of California: Enact reforms that removed those who did not need assistance from the state's rolls, while increasing benefits by more than 40 percent for those who did need it.

Republicans have never wanted to eliminate welfare; but they tend to be poor communicators, and therefore they have always assumed everyone knows they don't want to eliminate it, and thus they have failed to state so with the kind of passion that makes doubters believe. As a result, for decades on end the Democratic Party has been able to say the GOP wants to throw the indigent on the street and eliminate school lunches and do all kinds of nefarious things that will have a disparate impact on America's black population -- and the GOP's listless denials to those charges have caused many members of America's black population to suspect that there might be some truth to them.

It is time for Republicans to stop committing this abominable unforced error. By simply making it clear that they don't want to eliminate the safety net, they can get millions more black people to listen to what they have to say. Once that happens, a not-insignificant percentage of them might decide to pull the Republican lever.

It would only take 20 to 25 percent of black Americans voting GOP to make the GOP almost unbeatable, and let's be serious:  A piddling number like that should not be hard to obtain. Getting to it is not the easiest lift in the world and it won't happen overnight, but it's not the heaviest lift in the world either.

The black vote is available. The GOP should go out there and earn it.

I'm kind of riffing off the above section with this. Like I just said, Republicans tend to be poor communicators and it's time to put an end to that. It bothers me that the same party which produced Lincoln and Reagan has not been able to produce any other excellent communicators in its 150+ years of existence.

Thankfully, the GOP does have some good communicators in its younger ranks and it's not necessary to send them to speech class. They simply need to get their face directly in front of the public more often, talk candidly when they do, and eventually each of them should mature into the best version of himself.

Republicans can't count on the media to accurately portray conservative ideas and ideals, because the media never has and never will. Instead, Republican officeholders need to go on talking head news shows (national and local ones alike) and state their case to the viewers. They should welcome doing so at the same time that another guest is presenting "the other side," so that the public can see a debate rather than a monologue. They should pen commentaries to appear in their local newspapers. They should often travel back to their states and districts and talk at all kinds of community gatherings, public holiday observances, etc.

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz should do everything possible to make Univision their second home. So too should the fluently Spanish-speaking Jeb Bush, who, contrary to what some radio fire-breathers claim, is a bona fide conservative with a long public record that proves it.

A little communication can go a long way. Like Vincent "Bo" Jackson famously said on behalf of Nike: Just do it.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Ten Days Later

Since McConnell & Co. are dying to know my ideas for what the GOP should do next, I will share some of them in my upcoming post, and at some point after that I will wrap up last month's "Loquacious Latina" series.

Today's post, however, takes a look back at some lessons that can be gleaned from the Republican wave that rolled ashore last week. Such as...

Take nothing for granted
The obvious takeaway is that American voters rejected Obama's brand of big-government socialist liberalism for the pure and simple reason than it has been failing at an escalating pace for six years running, both in economic and national security matters, and the pace of its failure is now so fast as to feel supersonic.

Perhaps I should focus on that takeaway, but I'm not going to because I know the voters' rejection of Obamaism does not necessarily mean they have accepted the vision of Milton Friedman.

If you doubt me, consider that in an Edison Research exit poll of 18,000 voters, 52 percent said they believe Hillary Clinton would not make a good president, and by a 16-point margin they said they would vote for "the Republican candidate" over her (a good sign!) -- yet in the very same poll, 60 percent said they believe Rand Paul would not make a good president and 64 percent said the same of Chris Christie (a not so good sign).

Basically, all the voters have done is reject Obama's worldview; ask Republicans to stop his ideas from continuing to become reality; and invite them to articulate a vision of their own and prove they have the nerve to implement it.

Demography is not destiny
In my mind, the biggest takeaway from the midterms is the rapid erosion of Democrats' ability to convince minorities that the Democratic Party is their salvation. And by "minorities" I guess I mean any demographic group that pandering liberals claim to love.

Women:  Liberals have long accused Republicans of wanting women barred from lucrative jobs and forced to give birth to ten children by the age of 35. Though the accusations were never true, they became even more egregious when Democrats kept making them in spite of the fact that red states like South Carolina and Alaska elected women as governors. Then came last Tuesday, when Republican women won U.S. Senate seats in two non-red states.

Up in Iowa (which voted twice for Obama and has gone Republican only once in the last seven presidential elections) Jodi Ernst handily defeated Bruce Braley by a margin of 52-44. And in West Virginia, Shelley Moore Capito clobbered Natalie Tennant 62-34, becoming the first Republican to win a Senatorial election in that state since 1956 (and the first woman from either party to ever win one there).

Making things even better is that Democrat Wendy Davis -- the media's pinup, intellectually shallow, abortion-on-demand candidate for Texas governor -- lost the female vote to Republican Greg Abbott by six points.

Dems have long condescended to women by acting like the only things they care about are 1) forcing someone else to pay for their contraception and 2) being allowed to kill their children terminate their pregnancies without any restrictions whatsoever, for any reason they desire, at any time they desire right up to the due date and beyond, so long as some portion of the baby's body has yet to slip outside the vagina. Fortunately, it looks like more and more women are seeing that condescension for what it really is.

The "black vote":  For the last half-century or so, no voting bloc has been as one-sided as that of black Americans. In race after race, state after state, the percentage of blacks who vote Republican has been stuck in single digits -- until last Tuesday brought some surprising results.

In Obama's home state of Illinois, which is bluer than the sky, Republican Bruce Gauner did what everyone thought impossible by beating incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn in the governor's race. And not only did he win, he did so while receiving an astonishing 20 percent of the black vote. It might sound pathetic to celebrate winning only 20 percent of something, but when you think about the math, it seems that if the GOP could get that much of the black vote nationwide, it would almost never lose an election. The fact that Gauner got 20 percent in Illinois, of all places, shows that that number can be attained and even exceeded.

Then there is Maryland, which has the fourth-largest black population in America, at 29.44 percent of its total. On top of that, Maryland is a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than two to one. In short, it sounds like a place where Republicans could never win, and for much of its history that has been the case. However, when last Tuesday came, white Republican Larry Hogan defeated black Democrat Anthony Brown in the governor's race. (Keep in mind that in addition to having the advantage of being a Democrat and being black, Brown also had the advantage of being Maryland's incumbent lieutenant governor).

Maybe this video is having an effect.

Black Americans as Republicans:  Related to the Left's assertion that black people in this country should never vote for Republicans is its belief that black people could never run as Republicans. Because, you know, Republicans are racists and would never allow a black candidate to get through a primary. But in South Carolina, Republican Tim Scott just became the first black person since the 1800's to win a U.S. Senate seat in one of the former Confederate states (though as recently as 2010, there was a Democrat serving in the U.S. Senate who actually was a Ku Klux Klansman).

Plus, out in Utah -- where the black population is almost invisible -- black, female, Brooklyn-born Republican Mia Love was elected to the U.S. Senate after winning more than half the vote against white, male, Utah-born Democrat Doug Owens and white, male Libertarian Jim Vein.

The "Hispanic vote":  Historically, up through the near-history that is the 2012 election, the nationwide Hispanic vote has gone overwhelmingly for the Democrats. Not as overwhelmingly Democrat as the black vote, but still Democrat by an extremely wide margin. Then, last week, there were signs of change when Greg Abbott received 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in Texas, Nathan Deal received 47 percent in Georgia, and Sam Brownback received 47 percent in Kansas. (Comparatively speaking, Mitt Romney received only 27 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2012, though admittedly, that 27 percent is a national figure rather than a state-specific one.)

Considering the above...
...don't you think some of the honchos at Democrat Headquarters are getting worried that their electoral foundation is starting to crack?

Two Transcendent Issues
During this election season, for whatever the reason was (and it was probably to avoid having its words mischaracterized), the Republican Party itself chose not to say anything at all about its platform. The party, kind of like a football team playing prevent defense or trying to milk the clock late in a game, decided that its safest bet for achieving victory was simply to point out that the other team sucks.

Fortunately, it did not impose that game plane on its individual candidates, and those candidates who made the biggest splash did so by focusing on two specific issues over which the public is truly energized: fighting Obamacare and turning back the tide of illegal immigration.

With regard to the former:
David Harsanyi made this observation: "Another myth we heard for weeks leading up to the elections was that Republicans had abandoned Obamacare as an issue. Turns out some of the biggest winners in the most competitive states -- Cory Gardner in Colorado, Jodi Ernst in Iowa -- were full-throated critics of the Affordable Care Act and never shied away. According to Kantar Media's Compaign Analysis Group, Obamacare ads dominated TV and radio. The GOP ran about 13,000 Obamacare ads in Senate races in one week leading up to Election Day. When was the last time a single piece of legislation dominated a midterm that way?"

Actually, I would submit that the answer to Harsanyi's question is the midterm immediately preceding this one; and I would add that the galvanizing issue then was the very same one, since the GOP's 2010 landslide was driven largely by Americans' bipartisan dislike of Obamacare and outrage over the way it was passed against their will. You may go here to read Harsanyi's entire column (which was about several election-related matters, not merely about Obamacare).

With regard to the latter: Well, well, well. The Exalted One and his minions used the first half of his first term to shove his brand of "health care reform" down the public's throat without the public's approval, and the public responded by poleaxing his party at the midterm. And now that the the first half of The Exalted One's second term has resulted in another midterm poleaxing, he is seeking a bookend kind of symmetry by plotting to shove amnesty for illegal aliens down the public's throat without the public's approval.

Make no mistake about it: The public loathes the idea of amnesty. From coast to coast, in states blue and purple as well as red, Republicans who vowed to combat illegal immigration defeated Democrats who did not.

Oregon is far from the southern border and arguably the most liberal state in our blessed Union, and even its voters voiced an unambiguous "Hell no!" to illegal immigration when they voted against Measure 88 by a margin of 67-33 (the measure would have allowed illegal aliens to obtain driver's licenses, and Oregonians cast more votes over than particular issue than they did over any other item on the ballot).

New Hampshire has been predominantly blue for 20 years and is about as far from the southern border as you can get without crossing into Canada. In addition to facing the disadvantage of being a Republican candidate in that state, Scott Brown faced the obstacle of being called a carpetbagger because he moved there less than a year ago. He was thought to have no chance against incumbent Jeanne Shaheen when he decided to run against her for one of the state's U.S. Senate seats, and indeed, for most of the election season he was far behind her in the polls... However, in the weeks before Election Day the large gap between them rapidly closed after Brown made illegal immigration a central issue in the race. Yes, he wound up losing by a hair, but if not for the issue of illegal immigration, he would have gotten blown out.

So make no mistake about this: Barack Hussein Obama knows very well that the public loathes the idea of amnesty, just as he knew we loathed the idea of nationalized medicine when he forced it upon us in 2010. If he was unconstrained by public opinion then, when a midterm was visible through his windshield and he himself faced reelection in two years, just imagine how unconstrained he is feeling now, with his final midterm in the rearview mirror and he himself not facing reelection for the rest of his life.

And finally, make no mistake about this: When Barack Hussein Obama quickly makes millions of illegals legal with the stroke of a pen -- giving them all access to a smorgasbord of taxpayer-funded benefits; giving them a pathway to citizenship that ignores the rules millions of people from other countries have followed by coming here legally; screwing millions of blue collar Americans who will suddenly have to compete for jobs against once-illegals who work for less -- he will do so not in spite of public opinion but because of it. He loathes the American public for disagreeing with him, and this act will be his most cathartic way of saying "fuck you" to the nation that made him its first black president and even gave him a second chance after his first term proved a disaster.

His spiritual mentor, the Right Reverend Jeremiah Wright, will be smiling.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Midterm time

Saturday November 1st
8:16 a.m. -- 76 minutes after the polls opened on the last day of early voting in Florida, I submit my ballot, complete my duty, and walk back outside where the sky is gray and the air chilly. It was a long drive home from Atlanta the day before, but it's always worth it when I get to kiss Erika and see our kids smile.

4:33 p.m. -- I sit down to start writing this post, and decide I might as well say how I voted. Which was this: Rick Scott for governor, Pam Bondi for Attorney General, and yes on Amendment 2 (which would legalize medical marijuana). Since neither of the state's senate seats are on the ballot, those three line items are the only ones likely to generate any national interest.

4:35 p.m. -- I think about writing an explanation for why I voted Scott, Bondi, and yes -- but decide it would take too long, especially once I start talking about the once-Republican, then-Independent, now-Democrat, snakeoil-selling charlatan running against Scott.

4:51 p.m. -- I decide to add that I did not vote on any of the judicial seats, for the simple reason that I do not know enough about the candidates to make an informed choice. On a similar note, I skipped voting on Amendments 1 and 3 because I had not spent enough time thinking about their pros and cons to make a well-considered decision... But in the off chance anyone is curious, I was leaning towards no on Amendment 1 (which would commit a set percentage of excise tax revenue to land acquisition) and no on Amendment 3 (which would in some circumstances require, and in others allow, the governor to "prospectively fill" judicial seats before they become vacant).

5:13 p.m. -- I decide to make a few predictions about the midterm elections nationwide: The GOP will add approximately a half-dozen seats to their current advantage in the House of Representatives, and gain seats in the Senate but not enough to give them more than 50... I also decide to make a Florida prediction: Scott will edge the snakeoil-selling charlatan, even though a large percentage of Floridians don't like his personality, because an even larger percentage of Floridians is acutely aware that the snakeoil-selling charlatan is a snakeoil-selling charlatan.

Tuesday November 4th
8:37 a.m. -- I take a bathroom break at work and sneak a peek at a Michael Barone column. I had recently heard that Millennials are no longer supporting Obama, but in my mind I downplayed the notion by assuming that "no longer supporting" him did not mean they had "switched sides." However, Barone's column got specific by citing a Harvard Institute of Politics poll that showed Millennials who were likely to vote favored Republicans 51-47. That is huge when you consider that Millennials voted 66% for Obama in 2008 and 60% in 2012. It makes me smile, but it still does not make me expect a Republican wave.

10:11 a.m. -- I sneak another peak and what I see is a story that broke overnight about Jeanne Shaheen, incumbent U.S. Senator from New Hampshire. In a nutshell, the story reveals that documents released by the IRS -- after years of refusing to release them -- appear to show that Shaheen not only knew about the IRS targeting conservative groups but actively worked with the IRS in an effort to make it happen.

8:29 p.m. -- I get back to the hotel after having a lovely dinner with my cousin Sarah and her husband Jarrett. I look at the TV, which I had left on, and the first thing I see is Mitch McConnell giving his acceptance speech after winning re-election in Kentucky.

8:32 p.m. -- Fox News calls Arkansas for Republican challenger Tom Cotton over Democrat incumbent Mark Pryor. With twenty seats left to be decided, the GOP holds a 41-39 Senate edge and has a decent chance to take control of the Senate.

9:15 p.m. -- Back in Florida, with 96% of precincts reporting, Rick Scott leads Charlie Crist 49-46 in the governor's race. But news outlets refuse to call the election, which tells me that the outstanding 4% must be in the heavily populated (and heavily corrupt) Miami-Dade area.

9:54 p.m. -- Fox News calls Colorado for Republican challenger Cory Gardner over Democrat incumbent Mark Udall, giving the GOP a 47-42 Senate lead with ten states yet to be called and one (Louisiana) headed for a runoff.

10:47 p.m. -- Fox News calls Kansas for Republican incumbent Pat Roberts, who was thought to be in trouble. It's now 48-43.

10:49 p.m. -- Up in New Hampshire, Republican challenger Scott Brown just pulled even with Jeanne Shaheen, despite the race having been called in Shaheen's favor a couple hours earlier. Maybe that 48-43 count should be changed to 48-42 for the time being.

10:57 p.m. -- According to the Drudge Report, Rick Scott has been re-elected governor of Florida. I love how the headline ("Crist Loser") mocks the snakeoil-selling charlatan he just beat (a charlatan who, much to my chagrin, graduated from the same high school as me).

10:59 p.m. -- Fox News calls the Georgia U.S. Senate race for David Perdue and the Idaho U.S. Senate race for Jim Risch. Those calls, combined with a few West Coast races going to the Dems, bring the GOP Senate lead to 50-45. The Republicans are therefore on the brink of winning control of the Senate.

11:22 p.m. -- Iowa's U.S. Senate race gets called for Republican Jodi Ernst over Democrat Bruce Braley, giving the GOP 51 of the 100 seats. Unless some of the "called" results turn out to be wrong, the GOP has prevailed.

11:27 p.m. -- North Carolina's U.S. Senate race gets called for Republican Thom Tillis over Democrat Kay Hagan. Make it 52 apparent seats for the GOP. There are races yet to be decided, but it looks like we've got this one in the bag.

Wednesday November 5th
6:52 am -- While getting dressed for work, I hear some results that I also heard last night, but somehow I managed not to think about their significance until now. One of them was Republican Tim Scott winning the U.S. Senate race in South Carolina by 61-37, thus becoming the first black Senator from the South since the 1800's (do you think that will get Democrats to stop calling Republicans racists? -- neither do I)... The other results involve GOP candidates being elected governor in Maryland, Illinois, and Massachusetts. They weren't expected to have a chance in the first two states, and all three of the states voted heavily for Obama in 2008 and 2012.

Final thoughts
Despite my earlier "don't expect a wave" thoughts, this election truly was a wave.

It was a wave because every surprise outcome (like the governor races mentioned above) went against the Democrats. In every other election I can remember, surprise outcomes have cut both ways.

It was a wave because incumbent Republicans won while incumbent Democrats lost.

It was a wave because the Republicans won races they weren't expected to, and came within a whisker of winning races in which they weren't even expected to compete.

It was a wave because the Republicans expanded their number of governors when many prognosticators thought that number would go down.

It was a wave because the Republicans gained control of more than half of the Democrat-controlled state legislatures the party decided to pursue.

It was a wave because when you combine federal seats and state seats, the Democratic Party is now in its weakest position since the 1920's.

And lastly...
May I suggest that the Republicans react to the midterm election not by "reaching out" to Democrats, but by opposing Obama and passing their own legislation with or without Democrat support.

And may I suggest that when they do things, they clearly and repeatedly explain the benefits of what they are doing.

Guys and gals, you have two years to prove you are worthy of the victory the people just handed you. Our party's past performances don't do much to inspire confidence, other than the period from early 1995 to mid-1996, so please step up and make sure you don't blow it.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Ten Weeks In

Don't look now...
...but Missouri, who lost to Indiana and got shut out 34-0 at home by Georgia, is all alone atop the SEC East and in the driver's seat to reach the SEC Championship Game.

That fact encapsulates everything about this crazily unpredictable and nonsensical season. And since the season is crazily unpredictable and nonsensical -- and everyone in America assumes the SEC West will win the conference and maybe send two teams to the four-team College Football Playoff -- perhaps it's not so nuts to consider the possibility of Mizzou reaching Atlanta and pulling an upset to win the SEC and thereby causing voters' minds to melt from coast to coast. 

Go Lower Midwest, Young Man!
You don't have to convince me how good Kansas State is, and over the last couple weeks much of America has come around to my way of thinking about Bill Snyder's Wilcats.

And you don't have to convince me that TCU is a legitimate top ten team, though you do have to convince me that they are a national title contender. Over the last couple weeks, much of America seems to have persuaded into the latter way of thinking about Gary Patterson's Horned Frogs.

When the two teams meet in Fort Worth on Saturday, it will be for the inside track to the Big 12 crown and to make a case for being in the College Football Playoff. I cast my lot with the WIldcats.

Go Upper Midwest, Young Man!
When Michigan State and Ohio State lock horns, the stakes will be extremely high for Michigan State -- and for the Big Ten.

The Big Ten's reputation is in tatters and MSU's hard-nosed approach to football is the only thing about the conference th8at garners any national respect. Meanwhile, OSU's reputation as the most overrated program in the country is so deserved that if the Buckeyes were to defeat the Spartans, America would respond not by saying "OSU is good" but by saying "man, we were wring about MSU."

Auburn, Part One
Every team has strengths and weaknesses. That has been true for every team ever, all the way up to the professional level and the Steelers dynasty of the 1970's and 49'ers dynasty of the 1980's. And when you watch every game a team plays, you become just as familiar with its weaknesses as you do with its strengths. For that reason, you will not find me placing my beloved Auburn Tigers #1 in my rankings below.

Yet I am here to say this: Auburn's body of work is better than any team's in the country: They have beaten two top ten teams on the road, they pulverized LSU 41-7, and their lone loss was on the road against the team that most most voters are ranking #1.

Auburn, Part Two
In the wake of their well-deserved, 35-31 win over Ole Miss two nights ago, almost all of the media attention has been on the horribly broken ankle suffered by Ole Miss WR Lequan Treadwell with a minute and a half remaining as he tried to score a go-ahead touchdown.

From a human interest perspective, that is as it should be. However, Treadwell clearly fumbled, and facts are facts, and as John Adams once wrote: "Facts are stubborn things."

Auburn, Part Three
In any event, the real story of the Auburn-Ole Miss game was how much Auburn outplayed the Rebels and won the game outright. Naturally, you won't hear the real story from the MSSM that are eternally eager to use words like "lucky" and "fortunate" to describe AU victories.

Those who watch sports know that the most dangerous opponent is a top-notch contender coming off a loss with its back against the wall. Ole Miss was just such an opponent on Saturday, and Auburn beat 'em in their own house.

Long-standing conventional sports wisdom says that a good defense beats a good offense. Ole Miss entered Saturday as one of the most feared defenses in America, having given up only eight touchdowns in eight games, yet Auburn scored five against them will relative ease... Ole Miss's defense had not given up 20 points in any game all year, yet Auburn hung 35 on them... Auburn moved the ball seemingly at will, piling up 507 total yards and 248 on the ground; and when they didn't score, it was usually because they stopped themselves with penalties.

Those who trumpet the "Auburn is lucky" canard by pointing to Treadwell's fumble and QB Bo Wallace's fumble on the prior drive are ignoring: 1) the fact that Wallace did not fumble, but was stripped of the ball; 2) the fact that many, and probably most, ball carriers would not hold onto the ball through the kind of tackle that Kris Frost put on Treadwell; and 3) the fact that Ole Miss had a continuous spell of good fortune all night long by virtue of an avalanche of 15-yard and 3rd-down penalties that extended Ole Miss drives and snuffed out Auburn drives.

In short, don't by the "Auburn is lucky" canard. Llike the old saying goes, luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, and "Auburn is lucky" is nothing more than jealous bullshit peddled by people whose teams fail in the clutch while Auburn comes through in the clutch. "Auburn is lucky" is something I've been hearing since George H. W. Bush was president, and those who speak it will never stop speaking it; but the rest of us don't have to fall for it.

And now...
...based on what has happened, here is the Stanton's Space Top Twenty:

1.    Florida State
2.    Mississippi State
3.    Alabama
4.    Oregon
5.    Auburn
6.    Michigan State
7.    Kansas State
8.    Notre Dame
9.    TCU
10.  Ole Miss
11.  Oklahoma
12.  West Virginia
13.  Ohio State
14.  Arizona State
15.  Nebraska
16.  Duke
17.  LSU
18.  Utah
19.  Georgia

20.  UCLA