Early Polling

Dana Blanton, writing on the Fox News website, reviews a new Fox News Poll showing Donald Trump is in a world of hurt come next November. He’s losing to every conceivably viable Democrat with registered voters.

A Fox News poll released Thursday showed President Trump losing head-to-head matchups against four of the top Democratic presidential primary contenders. The poll found Trump with 39 percent support among registered voters in head-to-head matchups against Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). The poll found Sanders beating Trump with 48 percent, Warren winning over Trump with 45 percent and Harris winning with 46 percent support. Former Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, beat Trump in the theoretical matchup with 50 percent support among those surveyed, compared to Trump’s 38 percent.

The poll also breaks down voter concerns in a way that probably doesn’t surprise most people who have been following politics since the last election. Basically, people are worried about mass shootings and are exhausted by political battles that don’t accomplish anything.

Remember, this is a Fox News Poll that rates really high in accuracy. Plus, it’s a Fox News Poll so Republicans can’t really dismiss it (although they will). It’s also good to remember that this is a poll out in August 2019 and anything and everything will likely happen between now and Election Day.

August 16, 2019

The Athletic on Illinois

Eamonn Brennan, writing in The Athletic, have a few words about this upcoming season of Illinois Basketball.

There’s a lot to like about Illinois, both in the immediate term and beyond. As for the immediate term, the 2018-19 season felt like a platform year, the throw-your-talented-kids-in-the-mix-and-let-them-figure-it-out season you often see of programs in mid-rebuild. And the kids played well. Giorgi Bezhanishvili became a star. Ayo Dosunmu was both immediately productive and full of potential. Trent Frazier had a solid sophomore season. Andres Feliz rounds out a quality core. And Illinois added some much-needed size with 6-foot-10 center Kofi Cockburn, who’ll likely play a lot right away. At worst, this team should be in the tournament mix. At best, they have serious breakout potential.

As for the long term: I remember when I heard Illinois had hired Brad Underwood. I was with to long-suffering Illinois alumnus and friend of the mailbag John Gasaway, in fact. I was surprised and impressed. John was thrilled. Underwood was really, really good at Oklahoma State, and it was a total coup for Illinois — a program that has struggled for much of the past decade — to land him. Just two years in, you can already see Underwood’s sharp, uptempo style coming through, and it’s still just the beginning.

Just the beginning.

August 16, 2019

Illinois Football: 2020 College Football Playoff Champions

Matt O’Neall, writing for The Champaign Room, has obviously drunk all the Orange Koolaid. In this piece that rivals The Song of Fire and Ice and The Lord of the Rings in its fantasy roots, he envisions how Illinois wins the 2020 College Football Playoff.

A couple of my favorite bits –

Lovie Smith’s sorcery solves the defense. Of course, how could we have been so blind! Lovie has been growing this beard to impart magic and wisdom onto this defense. Now that he has harnessed the power of his beard and gotten full control of the defense, he should have no issue turning this into a top-40 unit. Dumbledore, Gandalf, Lovie.

By this point the national media is both confused and furious. They discover Lovie has a beard and is still coaching football., but they still can’t get a half-way interesting quote out of him. The debate rages on ESPN for 10 straight hours every day whether Illinois is actually good or if the Big Ten West is actually bad.

The Aftermath

Mostly it’s confusion across the country.

Students riot all throughout campus and the university is forced to cancel classes for a week. Thirteen cars and two fraternities are burned in celebration.

KAMs makes so much money during the week that they are able install functioning plumbing, and invest in mops.

Lovie shocks the world and retires and rides off into the sunset. Rod Smith takes over and looks to turn Illinois into a dynasty.

And most importantly, Illinois sports is back.

Love the optimism!

Illinois Football begins their 2019 Season August 31 against Akron.

August 16, 2019

The Secrets of Success

Nicholas Bate’s secrets of success in handy PDF form.

Four pages of brilliance.

August 15, 2019

Crushed

BRYCE HARPER, YOU ARE THE MAN!

(MLB x @PapaJohns) pic.twitter.com/UGGQRJ49xw

— MLB (@MLB) August 16, 2019

What a delightful baseball moment. Look at Harper sprint around the bases.

Sorry, Cubs fans.

August 15, 2019

The White of the Plate

Jayson Stark, writing in The Athletic, has the most recent take on the upcoming robot apocalypse i.e. computerized ball-strike calls via TrackMan.

What James Skelton sees — what everyone in the Atlantic League sees — is that TrackMan has no feelings, doesn’t care who is on the mound, does no favors for whatever hitter is in the box, isn’t interested in how the strike zone used to be called. To get a strike call from TrackMan, there is one thing that never changes:

Some portion of the baseball has to cross over the 17-inch span from one side of the plate to the other. Period.

So there’s almost no such thing as a pitch on the black” anymore. What has messed with many pitchers’ minds in the Atlantic League, says York manager Mark Mason, is that it’s making them throw it over the white of the plate, not the black.”

Yes.

August 14, 2019

Wil Wheaton’s Guidelines

Over on Instagram, Wil Wheaton posted what he calls guidelines to help you live your life. I thought I’d share.

August 13, 2019

WordPress Buying Tumblr

Madison Malone Kircher, writing in Vulture, takes the Wall Street Journal story that Automaticc, the owner of WordPress, has purchased Tumblr from Verizon and, interestingly, goes straight for the smut angle.

But, Automattic … this could be your moment. Bring back the porny stuff. Bring back the nipples — female-presenting” or otherwise — and the sexy GIFs. The erotic fan art. The content for horny teens and horny adults alike. (Tumblr traffic has been down ever since the site went G-rated.) Engineer better filters and reporting systems to create a Tumblr without child porn, obviously. Bring back the smutty Tumblr we all knew and loved.

I guess that’s an approach. Maybe just take some of the best parts of Tumblr and incorporate it into WordPress and vice versa?

August 13, 2019

The Truth About Jeffrey Epstein Is Far Uglier Than the Conspiracy Theories Surrounding Him

Eddie Kim, writing for MEL Magazine, outlines all the crazy conspiracy theories, memes, and social media posts involving the apparent suicide of Jeffrey Epstein. His ending pretty much sums up my feelings on the matter until I hear something different.

But here are the facts: People kill themselves and each other in prison, often when they’re supposed to be supervised by guards. Our prison systems, whether federal, state or privately run, are a disaster. World leaders wreak death and havoc all across the world in the name of nation-states. Millions of minors around the world are subjected to sexual violence. 

It’s a lot less funny than an Epstein meme, right?

August 13, 2019

Surrogate Angels of Death

Rhonda Garelick, writing at The Cut, tries to wrap her mind around the photo of Melania Trump holding a newly orphaned baby while her husband grins like a ghoul and gives the camera a thumbs up.

Imagine this: A shooter has entered a public place, where you are walking with your family. You have but a minute to realize you can save your 2-month-old by using your own body to shield him from the bullets raining down around you. Mere days later, your baby, the youngest survivor of the El Paso massacre, will appear on television with the very man who inspired the terrorist who killed both you and your husband. A photograph is taken, for posterity.

In the photo, your baby wears a bowtie and tiny jacket; someone has dressed him up for this occasion. He gazes off to the side (toward his aunt, who stands beside First Lady Melania Trump), his body stiff, his face solemn. He is not at ease in this strange lady’s arms. How could he be? Your child has just gotten out of the hospital, where he was treated for broken bones incurred when you desperately threw yourself over his little body and took the bullets that seconds later orphaned him and his two siblings.

Neither the president nor Melania so much as glances at Baby Paul. Oblivious (as ever) to the solemnity of their occasion, they smile broadly, matching veneers on full beam. Your husband came from a family of Trump supporters. Perhaps, in a different world, you might even have wanted to meet Donald Trump, or take a photo with him as he gave one of his signature thumbs-up gestures — everything is A-OK here.

It is decidedly not A-OK here and the lack of empathy and understanding is sad yet unsurprising.

Dahlia Lithwick, writing in Slate, calls Trump small and incapable of living in any sort of reality.

Trump is really only good at one thing: being on television. Any event that can be engineered to look like a scene from The Apprentice can be fudged to his advantage. Stadium rallies, press availability from inside the Oval Office, even canned speeches read from a teleprompter can be salvaged; so long as he is essentially only producing a simulacrum of presidenting, he can shift along. But reality confounds him. Take him out from behind the oceans of fawning MAGA hats and put him next to a real survivor of sexual violence, and all the grinning and preening tricks fail him. Put him next to actual heads of state discussing actual international policy, and he sulks and mopes. Oh, he can pull off the photo-op; this is a man made of photo-ops. But time and time again, when he is called on to deal with real people—not glassy superfans but genuine human beings whom he allegedly serves as president—he fails to meet the occasion. The consummate reality-TV president is unerringly confounded by reality.

It’s not simply that an injured baby had to be returned to a hospital so that a grinning president could throw a Fonzie-style thumbs-up for the Twitter fans—that’s gross, yes, but it misses the point. The point is that this president, who understands only ratings and adulation and crowd size and getting credit,” is seemingly incapable of subordinating all that to the moment. This was a moment in which grieving Americans wanted nothing more than for him to show up and be with them. The catastrophe,” with all due respect to the unparalleled wisdom of Scaramucci, is not that he failed to show the requisite compassion” or empathy” for the cameras. Neither Donald Trump, nor his wife, nor his handlers and enablers, will ever understand that the real catastrophe isn’t how he appeared on television or Twitter. The real catastrophe is that Americans are dead and dying and their president is mass-producing a television show about his presidency, with their personal tragedy as a set choice.

Trump cannot function in reality. He lives in a hall of mirrors with his made-for-TV family, as the national security apparatus, the national intelligence apparatus, the foreign service, and foreign policy detonate all around him. And on the rare occasion on which he is called to step out from behind the glass panopticon that he has built, he fails, spectacularly, because that which really matters can’t be tweeted or reduced to a campaign video.

Americans will soon have to choose whether or not they want to live forever in Donald Trump’s reality—the one in which words don’t matter, and everything is a ratings game, and proximity to the famous and the beautiful is the epitome of a life well lived. If that is the only value left, Donald Trump’s is indeed the presidency perfected. For those of us who still live in reality, the photo-op with the orphaned baby is proof positive that Trump’s is not a big life, or a real life. It’s just smallness, refracted a million times over, which is nevertheless impossibly small.

I don’t have much to add here. He’s obviously a narcissistic buffoon without an ounce of empathy. History will not be kind to this man or his followers.

August 13, 2019

© 2018-2019 Sean McDevitt