Swing State Pres

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

BTRTN: Boycott Starbucks!


Steve is tired of billionaires and their delusional messianic visions... particularly when they brazenly endanger the rest of us. Let's send a message to Howard Shultz: we like our coffee with no milk, sugar, pompous posing, or destructive egomania.

Over the course of my adult life, I have worked diligently to winnow my list of bad habits, weaknesses, and foolish indulgences down to a manageable number, and yet there is one dependency that has proven a bridge too far.

I drink way too much coffee. 

Every time some medical journal reports that a huge study has definitively proven that excessive caffeine is bad for you, I, to my shame, immediately google “medical studies that prove that caffeine is good for you” to justify my continued addiction.

But Howard Shultz may have finally accomplished what the American Medical Association could not: he has made me want to lead a national boycott of Starbucks. Join me, please. Pass this article on to both your friends, caffeinated and decaffeinated alike. This doesn't bug me a little, it bugs me a latte. We need to bring Howard Schultz to his knees, and I know exactly how to do it. We are going to punish this self-involved egomaniac and force him to abandon his presidential aspirations by giving him a double-shot right right in the frappuccino.

The quick background: on Sunday Starbucks founder Shultz became the latest billionaire to conflate entrepreneurial savvy in a specific industry with comprehensive qualifications to lead the free world. Howard Shultz thinks he should be President of the United States, and is exploring running as a third party, independent candidate.

Let us reflect for a moment on how devastating his egomania could be for our country.  Shultz may claim to be an “independent,” but this guy leans left on just about every issue. As such, he would siphon away far more votes from a Democratic candidate than from Donald Trump. 

Shultz, free to spend billions of dollars of his own money on this venti-sized ego wank, could easily percolate three percentage points off a Joe Biden in Pennsylvania. He could cold-brew several thousand votes away from an Amy Klobuchar in Wisconsin. He could pry a few thousand baristos away from voting for Kamala Harris in Michigan.

Howard Schultz could win just enough votes to re-elect Donald Trump President of the United States. 

Do not dismiss this heinous possibility. This writer will never forgive the hopeless presidential bid of Ralph Nader, who pulled just enough votes away from Al Gore in Florida in the 2000 election to elect George Bush President. I hope that Ralph Nader goes to sleep each night thinking about how many Iraqi children died because of his pathetic need to masterbate in public. 

Hey, Howard, do you want me to call off the national boycott of Starbucks? Run as a Democrat. Go through the same test of viability that everyone else is going to be put through. Better yet, run as a Republican. You could really help if you spent some your grande billions beating up Trump in a savage primary battle. Besides, there are far fewer candidates over on the Red team, and they seem to go for unproven arrogant billionaires who have a better handle on marketing than on, say, global geopolitics.

But if you want to take your billions and declare a national candidacy on a third party ticket, then you are just using your coffee money to avoid the humiliation of getting crushed in real primary battles so you can skip right on to the Superbowl. Even Tom Brady doesn't get to do that.

And here is what really roasts my beans, you pompous pumpkin-spice poser, you know damn well that you don’t have a chance of winning the Presidency on an independent ticket. You know that you are just making a grab for fame and glory without the slightest risk that you would actually have to do the job. This is just a self-indulgent lark to elevate your personal brand, which happens to be the exact same rationale used by the dimwit who is currently in the White House. Above all, you obviously don't give a damn if the consequence of your ego trip is helping keep Donald Trump in the White House.

How’s this, Shultz? If you want to buy your way into a rogue run for the White House, you are going to find out just how far Americans will go to make sure Donald Trump does not get re-elected President.

When we see rich guys helping Donald Trump, we are inclined to grind up them up finer than a pound of Tanzanian Peaberry.

We’ll start by giving up coffee. Starbucks Coffee, specifically

No more vente, soy, non-fat, no foam, half-sweet macchiatos with caramel drizzle for this guy.

And, oh, by the way, cancel the orders from my sixty million Democratic friends, too. 

Boycott Starbucks, everyone!

Please pass the word. These things take time, but they can be incredibly powerful. 

Do you know what a three percent drop in same-store month-to-month sales would do to this guy’s dreams of being a political rock star?

Let’s all make this guy realize that his ego trip is wreaking havoc on his company, and he will run screaming from this race. 

Get him out, before he does real damage.

Get him out, before he is in a position to help Trump win. 

Make him an example that we can use to keep other billionaire creeps like him out of the game.

Please, everyone. Pass this on to your friends. No more Starbucks for anybody until Howard Shultz abandons this potentially catastrophic jerk-off. 

Besides, hey -- it’s time I pulled back on the caffeine. 



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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

BTRTN: Time For Republicans to Build a Tunnel Under Trump's Wall


The Democratic and Republican positions on the wall and the shutdown seem utterly intractable, but Steve sees a light at the end of a tunnel.

Donald Trump is an inverted Midas: everything he touches turns to crap. 

It can be banal. Like inviting the NCAA College Football Champions to the White House and demeaning their stature by serving them heaping piles of junk food. 

It can be significant. A good example here would be the reputation of the United States of America.

It can be the routine ruination of infirm souls who stray into his orbit. Michael Cohen, Sean Spicer, Rudy Giuliani… the full list would take years. As we watch the loopy, bug-eyed Giuliani shill for the President, we may forget that he was selected Time Magazine’s Man of the Year for 2001, with the cover story’s headline trumpeting New York’s Mayor as a “Tower of Strength.” Now he has all the tensile might of Gumby on ice skates.

Rudy has spent too much time in the radioactive zone that emanates from Donald Trump’s odd orange glow, and the effect on his brain, spine, and impulse control has been catastrophic. Giuliani seems to have found renewed zest for life in pimping for Trump, hurling himself into the media maelstrom of each new controversy, determined to justify Trump’s actions while assiduously eschewing logic or factual support. Rudy fills one hole by digging another, impervious to the possibility that his explanations are more damaging than the original allegation. 

At this point, you’d expect that if rumors were to emerge that Mueller’s team actually has a copy of a “golden showers” video tape that Christopher Steel alleged to exist in his famous “dossier,” Rudy would careen down to CNN headquarters and get into a high testosterone shouting match with Chris Cuomo, ranting, “Now, Chris, I have not seen the tape, but heaven’s sake, Chris, watching a Russian prostitute urinate on your bed is not a crime! It’s not collusion, Chris! And collusion isn’t even a crime, Chris! So if some Russian prostitute urinated on some bed in Moscow, Chris, I can’t imagine why it is even relevant to anything at all!” 

Such an exchange would of course only serve to convince America that the tape must exist. It must be real. Hiring Rudy Giuliani for damage control is like vacuuming your carpet with a fertilizer spreader. 

And yet, somehow, through it all, Rudy Giuliani has now somehow emerged as the most visible spokesperson for the Party of Trump, other than the Big Stupid Orange himself. Mitch McConnell has opted to spend the duration of the shutdown in the witness protection program, and we all miss Sarah Huckabee Sanders performing her “Ursula the Sea Witch” impression at the now once-a-month daily White House press briefings. When did she disappear, and why?

Most Republicans are content to parrot White House talking points about the shutdown and the Mueller probe, hoping their commentary is as limp and non-controversial as ranch dressing, all to the goal of keeping them out of the A bloc.

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi isn’t even breaking a sweat to flummox the Lummox-in-Chief. For starters, she realizes that Trump’s tiny head is in an internecine vise within his party, and she is letting those competing forces do her heavy lifting. Trump cannot retreat from his $5.7 billion demand for a border wall without triggering a ghostly visitation from the terrifying Coultergeist, the right wing fanatics who will deal Trump a full-on Lorena Bobbitt if he flinches. Trump has now learned that his fallback plan – to declare a national emergency in order to commandeer funds for his wall from other government budget lines – scared the crap out of the Freedom Caucus, whose members quickly realized that establishing such a precedent could embolden a future Democratic President to declare a national emergency for sweeping action on climate change.  Finally, Trump’s belief that he can wait out the Democrats on the shutdown is perilously flawed, as public opinion is overwhelmingly placing the blame for the shutdown on Trump.

Most significant, though, are two simple facts. The shutdown is an ongoing saga, and it is being felt very significantly by people in Trump’s base.

Consider the first point: as horrific as most of Trump’s outrages have been, they have been episodic rather than protracted events, here today, and largely gone tomorrow. Whether it was “shithole countries,” “blame on both sides,” or the appeasement in Helsinki, Trump’s disasters do not linger for days and weeks. They are usually blown off the front pages by the fresh outrages of the next news cycle, often of Trump’s own creation and many seemingly concocted for the very purpose of alleviating yesterday’s rotting stench. 

The shutdown is different. Its impact is sustained and cumulative.  It is the story that keeps coming back, night after night. 

This, in turn, is where the second fact comes into play. In the past, Trump has displayed a savvy for making policy decisions that wreak havoc in blue states while padding pockets in Red States. For example, his tax plan famously gutted real estates tax benefits which hurt property values in the Northeast. It appears, however, that no such Machiavellian forethought was given to the impact that a government shutdown would have. Now, Trump is finding that four of the ten states most adversely affected by the shutdown are traditional red states like West Virginia, Mississippi, Arizona, and Alabama.

It’s one thing to live in West Virginia and scream lustily as the candidate promises to build a wall thousands of miles away that Mexico will pay for. Quite another to watch that nice young family down the street struggle to pay bills and feed their children because the government paychecks have been cut off.

Thirty-three days into this self-inflicted quagmire, Trump has allowed the wet concrete around his ankles to harden into unmovable blocks. There appears to be no way out. The Democrats won’t give him a wall. Ann Coulter won’t let him survive without one. The “national emergency” Hail Mary is dead. The public blames him for the shutdown. And every day it drags on, it drags Trump down some, and Republicans with him.

Nancy Pelosi is just standing back and allowing the Republicans to absorb the increasingly uncomfortable data that shows where the public stands on the blame game. Cancelling the State of the Union? Just a shrewd move by a real pro: Pelosi just wanted to deny Trump the opportunity to go on network television and blame the Democrats for his shutdown. She is five moves ahead before Trump has tuned into his morning strategy download from Fox and Friends.

If this is all just a game of chicken, Nancy Pelosi does not look particularly scared.

It all raises a very simple and relevant question for Republicans: when you find yourself stuck behind a gigantic wall, what do you do?

Do you sit there and just hope it goes away?

Do you hope somebody else comes and removes it?

Or do you just do nothing, and allow it to defeat you?

United States Border Patrol officials will give you an answer.

People in the former East Berlin will give you a similar one.

People who need to get through a wall find a way.

Smuggling, ladders, helicopters, chisels, hammers, passion, commitment, and tunnels.

Hey, Republicans… perhaps it is time for Congressional Republicans to stop parroting the talking points of a White House that is now living in a permanent state of denial. Time for Republicans to rethink going back to the bar for another glass of Kool-Aid.

No, don’t worry… I am not asking you to take the incredible risk of publicly breaking with your President and inviting a right wing whack-job to primary you.

No, I am suggesting something different.

Go underground.

Beat the wall by building a tunnel.

Sneak over and meet with Democrats.

Tell them you need to figure out how to extricate the President from the dead-end end-game that is endangering the economic viability and health of hundreds of thousands of government workers and the secondary businesses that depend on them.

Horse-trade with them. Give them something they want and then, yes, beg for something you need. Perhaps you phrase it as begging for something the country needs.

Do what legislators are supposed to do.

Make a deal.

Have McConnell bring it to the President, gift wrapped with the absolute certainty of a veto-override.

Then tell McConnell to instruct the President to go ahead and veto it, so he can save face and claim that he never caved in.

Override the veto. You will make Trump a happy man. It will re-open the government, give Trump someone to blame for the lack of wall funding, and keep him in Ann Coulter's good graces. Trust me: Trump would dramatically prefer the embarrassment of the veto override to an humiliating capitulation of Nancy Pelosi. He'd rather take friendly fire.

It will work. More important, it will get the government working again. 

It might even change your outlook on your job. If you encounter more stupid walls from this president, you'll know what to do.

Build more tunnels.

Get the Congress working again.  The way it is supposed to. 

Make deals. 

Because you know what, Republicans?

We understand that you are terrified of taking public stands against Trump. But we also have heard far, far too many anecdotal stories of Republicans privately venting their conviction that the President is an ignorant, childish, boorish, incompetent, and utterly self-centered child.

Fine.

Form an underground. Do your dirty work out of sight.

Build some tunnels.

They can be incredibly effective when you have to get through a big, stupid wall. 



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BTRTN: The Best MLB Hall of Fame Predictors

Tom on how we did in our BTRTN baseball Hall of Fame predictions.

Image result for mariano rivera mussina halladay martinezWe weren’t perfect, but we did pretty darn well.  We were correct in forecasting that Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez and Mike Mussina would be elected to the Hall of Fame.  We missed on Roy Halladay, but we had him close – at 65% -- and acknowledged right up front that he could very well make it in given the tragic circumstances that forwarded his nomination.  And in terms of returnees to next year’s ballot, we got everyone right except Lance Berkman.

In our predictions for the percentages for individual players, we were off by a mere 3.3 percentage points on average, our best showing since a 2.9 in 2015 (last year we achieved a 4.8, and the two prior years were each 5.9). 

Apart from Halladay, we were a bit off on the size of Larry Walker's jump in his penultimate year on the ballot, and Fred McGriff's in his final year.  And we overshot the mark on Todd Helton in his first year.  Otherwise, we were about as close as you can get.

And we bested Nate Silver on the Moose – even though Nate was using the public vote data that we ignored for “purity.”  (This is akin to predicting a political election with 50% of the precincts reporting versus predicting it before the polls open.)  This allowed Nate to “accurately forecast” that Roy Halladay would make the HOF, because at that point, with 50% of the HOF vote in, Halladay was a “yes” on 92% of the ballots!  Not too tough!   But Nate thought Moose would fall short -- even though he had access to actual voting data -- and the Moose made it, and we were right on that one.

So, rather immodestly, we are claiming the title of “Best MLB Hall of Fame Predictors” --although we welcome others to come forward with evidence of better results!

2019
Year on Ballot
WAR
Should be in HOF?
BTRTN Proj. %
Actual %
Act vs Proj  pp diff.
Mariano Rivera
1
56
Yes
99
100
1
10
68
Yes
81
85
4
Roy Halladay
1
64
Yes
65
85
20
6
83
Yes
76
77
1
7
80
Yes
58
61
3
7
140
PED
60
60
1
7
163
PED
59
59
0
Larry Walker
9
73
Yes
40
55
15
Omar Vizquel
2
46
No
40
43
3
Fred McGriff
10
53
Yes
28
40
12
Manny Ramirez
3
69
PED
21
23
2
6
55
Yes
16
18
2
Todd Helton
1
61
Yes
40
17
24
Billy Wagner
4
28
Yes
11
17
6
Scott Rolen
2
70
Yes
14
14
0
Gary Sheffield
5
61
PED
9
14
5
Andy Pettitte
1
60
PED
8
10
2
Sammy Sosa
7
59
PED
6
9
3
Andruw Jones
2
63
Yes
7
8
1
Lance Berkman
1
52
No
6
1.2
5
Miguel Tejada
1
47
No
2
1.2
1
Roy Oswalt
1
50
No
4
0.9
3
Placido Polanco
1
42
No
1
0.5
1
Kevin Youkilis
1
33
No
1
0.0
1
Derek Lowe
1
34
No
1
0.0
1
Michael Young
1
25
No
1
0.0
1
Freddy Garcia
1
34
No
0
0.0
0
Vernon Wells
1
29
No
0
0.0
0
Ted Lilly
1
27
No
0
0.0
0
Travis Hafner
1
25
No
0
0.0
0
Jason Bay
1
25
No
0
0.0
0
Jon Garland
1
23
No
0
0.0
0
Darren Oliver
1
22
No
0
0.0
0
Juan Pierre
1
17
No
0
0.0
0
Rick Ankiel
1
5
No
0
0.0
0
754
795
114
# on ballot
35
off per player
3.3