A Sad Day for America, A Sad Day for the Supreme Court, a Sad Day for Law

The American legal system has no ability to enforce it’s own law, no real inherent claim to it’s own legitimacy. It has power because we respect it’s legitimacy and the rest of our government abides by their rulings. If we get down to it, rule of law exists because we have precedent, so we accept there is a framework beyond base opinions of nine people on the high court giving us edicts based on their own opinions. Once you remove that framework, you simply have tyranny by any five people on the bench. It doesn’t matter if they are liberal or conservative, the other half of America is going to struggle to accept that.

In the past 24 hours the Supreme Court has overruled precedent twice to rule that the states are incapable of regulating conceal carry gun laws but they are capable of regulating the right of women to abortions. In both cases they have abandoned precedent, but for entirely different rationalizations. It makes no common sense. They are arbitrary. The court has done great harm to itself as an institution. It has harmed respect for our law.

In the President’s remarks today, he noted that there is no executive action that can undo this ruling. He is right. Presidents have no special powers to make laws, only the act of enforcement is within their power. You do not want to live in a country where Presidents decide law by fiat and pick and choose what to enforce. President Biden was right to say today that Congress should pass a law to codify Roe. I think we all know that the current Congress cannot, it is far too closely divided and one of it’s two parties will vote nearly unanimously against it. This leads to the third, and most correct thing the President said- the most powerful response to this action is to vote. You get the government you vote for. You had five judges, all appointed by Republicans and almost entirely confirmed by Republicans, who took today’s action. If you elect Republicans, or just don’t show up to vote against them, this is what you will get. You can certainly say Democrats are not perfect on the issue, or that you don’t like that they have a few pro-life members in Congress, but here’s reality- all three Democratic appointed judges dissented with today’s opinion, and there would be no less than two more judges there agreeing with them had Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in 2016. Democrats have been losing elections in America for most of my lifetime. That’s how we got here.

None of this process talk does the issue justice though. For the last 50 years women had a constitutional right, and today that was taken away from them. The state has no fundamental reason to regulate reproductive rights of women other than a political preference for control. The autonomy to make their own reproductive decisions has improved health outcomes for women and allowed women to leave their homes for the workplace. The right to make their own decisions on pregnancy and contraception has allowed women to make great advancements in our society. Yes, there are tens of millions of pro-life women that live pro-life lifestyles in this country, but the point is that they get to decide so, not the government. It is impossible to gauge the 50 year impact today’s decision will have with precision, however it is very easy to listen to those impacted by this decision today and gauge the impact on them. For poor women in conservative states, their autonomy is simply gone today. Even for some affluent women, their real world ability to make their own decisions has virtually vanished. Those directly impacted don’t need to wait and see about this ruling. They know today.

If you think this is the end of this court’s rights grab, you’re sorely mistaken. Judge Alito attempted to do intellectual gymnastics in saying his ruling was limited just to Roe and not other rights covered under the right to privacy. Judge Thomas didn’t even attempt this, instead writing in his concurrence that the court should now look at contraception, gay marriage, and other areas of law that fall under the right to privacy. Any halfway intelligent person can realize that if Alito says Roe was wrong because it was not a clearly enumerated write in the 14th Amendment, he and his four colleagues can’t argue differently about interracial marriage, same sex marriage, contraception, or really any other personal right previously protected under this rationale. In short, we’re now on a slide to a pre-1960’s America where the state can and will make moral decisions for the individual.

The court not only delegitimized itself today, it harmed half it’s own population. Three judges appointed by a President unpopularly elected and four judges appointed by one term Presidents took a right away from a majority of the population. Five judges decided to throw precedent out the door multiple times this term. The stability of our law has been removed by five activist judges. Yet all we can do under our system is vote out as many elected officials who agree with these five justices as possible. Yelling louder doesn’t fix it. Our options are limited.

It’s a sad day in America.

Yes, Juneteenth is Worth Celebrating for Everyone

Across America on Sunday millions of people celebrated Father’s Day. For the second year in our history we also recognized Juneteenth as a Federal Holiday. Both holidays just happened to fall on the same day this year. For some, that apparently put them in competition.

As I watched sports teams, politicians, and companies put social media posts up about Juneteenth and Father’s Day on Sunday, I noticed a trend in the Juneteenth comments- people complaining that “it was Father’s Day,” and that’s all that should have been acknowledged. Why? Was there any reason to not celebrate both? Was there any reason to not be able to acknowledge two great things at once?

Juneteenth is a holiday we should have been celebrating for over 150 years at this point. The end of slavery, arguably the worst thing America has ever done, is worth celebrating for all of us. That the good guys won the Civil War and ended the “peculiar institution” in the South is a good thing. If it happens to fall on the same day as the day we picked to celebrate the great men that made our lives possible, good. There’s no reason to not be happy about both.

There’s no real alternative to Biden or Harris for Democrats in 2024

The year was 1946 and things weren’t going so well for President Harry Truman. His party got beaten so badly in the midterm that his fellow Democrats were even floating that he should resign, not just not run in 1948. Truman resisted those calls and was elected President in 1948. In 1979, President Carter faced criticism from within his own party and also managed to at least beat back a primary challenge in 1980 from Ted Kennedy. Presidents Clinton and Obama faced critiques from within their own party after midterm beatings. Basically, Presidents don’t lose re-nomination in the Democratic Party.

If Joe Biden wants to run again in 2024, he’ll be the Democratic nominee for President. There is no one in the Democratic Party with the standing, fundraising prowess, broad support within most wings of the party, and pathway to the nomination. Yes, President Biden has definitely seen some slippage in the polls, even within his party. No, he’s not beatable in any sane campaign. The scorched earth campaign anyone who beat him for the nomination would have to run would be utterly divisive and disqualifying in a general election. A serious primary challenge, from literally anyone you would like to mention here, would leave the party unelectable and in ruins. The Republicans would use the attacks and wreckage to damage that person out of the gate.

None of this means President Biden should or should not run in 2024. He’ll be 82 years old. His polling numbers are objectively awful right now. He could recover, as Presidents Clinton and Obama did (or not, as Carter). There’s a decent chance that in early 2024 Covid is well in the rear view, interest rate hikes halted inflation, and job creation is booming- in which case Biden will be putting the GOP to bed with a beating in November. He also could get lucky and get to run against someone weak like Ron DeSantis. There’s at least a decent argument that he’s politically damaged though, or that his age is such that he should consider retiring. But we just don’t know about any of that in the Summer of 2022.

For the sake of the nonsensical though, let’s entertain the idea that he doesn’t run. If there is a vacancy to be filled on the ticket, I’d there a realistic world where Kamala Harris isn’t the Democratic nominee? My answer is that it is unlikely. What damage would the Democratic Party do to it’s most faithful voting block, Black women, to deny the first Black woman to serve as Vice-President the nomination to succeed her boss? I won’t totally deny the possibility of another candidate that may be popular with Black voters (aka- Senators Booker and Warnock, maybe Mayor Adams, or even *gasp* Hillary again) being able to win the nomination and credibly unite the party against Trump or a similar GOP nominee, particularly with the VP’s polling numbers looking rough. Again though, which of the names I just mentioned is likely to try it or do it credibly? Every Democratic Vice-President from Truman forward has ascended to the Democratic Presidential nomination. Now we’re going to entertain denying it to her in favor of what would likely be a white candidate such as Warren (lol), Sanders (for real?), or Buttigieg (who to his credit is doing everything right to be nominee, someday) that is far less popular with Black voters right now? Even if everyone made up afterwards and said the right stuff, a very small drop in raw Black voter turnout or in the percentage of said voters voting Democratic would be enough to destroy Joe’s entire margin of victory from 2020. Vice-President Harris is almost as likely as President Biden to win a 2024 primary fight to begin with, and the train wreck necessary to stop her might even be more damaging than a primary challenge to the President.

The only two times a sitting Democratic President faced a credible primary challenge in the last century were 1968 and 1980. Both times, Democrats lost the general election. Both of those elections contributed to the fall of the party as the dominant political party in this country post-1994. Running a primary against Joe Biden would be a stupid and likely fruitless fool’s errand. Running a primary against Kamala Harris could do generational damage to the party. I’d certainly never say absolutely never, but I personally have almost no appetite for this talk.

You Mean Vince McMahon Had An Affair? The Horror…

There are some people who you know are not pillars of moral example, and Vince McMahon is one of them. The WWE (formerly WWF) owner made his money selling you fake wrestling as entertainment. We allegedly know (make of that what you will) that they encouraged steroid use among the talent. CTE is a problem their performers deal with. They had evening gown matches between women, had one of their biggest stars drink beer on the show, and had McMahon himself speak of his sexual prowess on the air, often. If you watched pro wrestling for moral guidance, that’s probably worse than if you thought it was real.

You’ll be shocked to find out that the WWE CEO that once had a storyline about having an illegitimate midget child has apparently had an extramarital affair with an employee and paid her off to sign an NDA. I know, you’re shocked. Setting aside that adultery and sleeping with employees aren’t good things, what’s the story here? According to the reports the affair was between consenting adults and McMahon paid her out of his own money, not company money. Their is no accusation of any crime there, just poor judgment. Of course the Deadspin article suggests that McMahon will have to sell the company. Why exactly? This is certainly not good behavior that we applaud, but it’s neither criminal or overly shocking. A guy that made millions on smut happened to also be a womanizer and adulterer? I’m failing to see something here.

There is a solution to behavior you object to- don’t buy from the people going it. Just as I thought Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky was not our concern, I don’t really see the story here, unless there is more to it. If McMahon used his power and authority to force her into something, or to create a hostile work environment, you’re in different territory. If he just had an affair, as the accusations read, so what?

Joe Biden vs. the Democratic Party

If Joe Biden wasn’t the Democratic nominee in 2020, Donald Trump would still be the President of the United States. He was literally the only candidate in the field that could both turn out enough Democrats and still reach the political middle enough to win states like Pennsylvania and Michigan. Everyone else, literally everybody else, would lose. That was true then. It might very well be true now.

Uncle Joe’s poll numbers are sagging a lot though right now and no combination of January 6th hearings and gun bills are seeming to fix them. It turns out gas and food prices trump theoretical plans. Until that changes, I doubt the President’s standing changes, even if he has very little control over these things.

What’s interesting though is that while Democrats are probably heading for losses this year, Democrats on the campaign trail are doing better than Joe Biden or even generic Democrats are. Senator Warnock is running even in Georgia, with Stacey Abrams behind just beyond the margin of error, while the President is -16. In Pennsylvania, Democrats lead in early polling for Governor and Senator, while the President is down double digits (I think the poll is flawed). Polling in Nevada and Arizona matches up with these numbers too. Repeatedly, Democrats on the ballot beat the President in the battlegrounds, the opposite of what we saw in 2020.

The popular internet theory, or at least on the Twitters, will be some sort of Bernie/Warren vs. Biden proxy fight, but that is not really grounded in any kind of fact. Yes, there are definitely some leftist voters angry that perhaps President Biden has not enacted the Build Back Better provisions of his platform, or hiked the minimum wage (both of these take acts of Congress), or forgiven massive amounts of student debt (but he has and is), or that he hasn’t signed some massive climate change bill. There are also “resistance” Democrats mad that Trump isn’t in prison yet too. Most Presidents eventually reach a polling point where they poll a bit below their victory number (in his case 51%), because they can’t deliver everything. Biden is well below that though, and there is little evidence in polling or election results so far in 2022 that this is being driven by left-activist driven anger. Biden’s low approval seems to mostly be driven by malaise within his own political base- rank and file Democratic voters, the less ideological types. What are they unhappy about? One would guess that it’s the same as the general population- high gas prices, inflation, and general kitchen table anxiety. If this was a left-wing revolt, Democrats like Jim Clyburn, Shontel Brown, and Dina Titus would have been defeated by their far-left challengers. They weren’t.

This suggests two fairly interesting potential outcomes in the political future. First off, it suggests that while Democrats are likely to lose the House (the body where more members are viewed “generically” by the public), 2022 may not be an absolute wipeout in the Senate or in House races where members have a unique brand. Number two, it suggests that Biden would probably still defeat a primary challenge from his left, and could even be re-elected if the economy improves. While I give you this positive news, I’ll also give you the inverse news too. The Democratic electorate is clearly more divided and willing to turn against Democrats they don’t live than the Republican electorate is.

All of this, for what it’s worth.

My Very Low Expectations for the January 6th Committee Hearings

I have very little expectations for the January 6th hearings, no matter what production wizardry the committee pulls to make them more interesting. Committed Trump loyalists aren’t going to believe anything they say, even if the testimony came from Ivanka’s mouth. Ultimately the Justice Department isn’t (and shouldn’t) charging Trump with anything unless it’s a virtual lock he will be convicted- an acquittal would help the guy. The reality was always that 90% plus of the arrests for the terrorist attack on our Capitol would always be low level people, with the slim possibility some Trump aides got mixed in here too. The ultimate reality was that random “Proud Boys” and “Boogaloo” members were always taking the fall on this, because ultimately the actual “constitutional crisis” never came to pass- Biden was elected by the electoral college that night, regardless of how ugly it got. Yes, frankly it’s more important the ring leaders go to jail, but that was never likely.

So what exactly am I hoping for out of this? Not much. I don’t see many people moving politically because of these hearings. People watched the Capitol riots on live TV and still a third of the country either doesn’t think it’s a big deal or thinks it was fake. I’m not sure what question Liz Cheney is going to ask to change their mind. In the end I think the price of gas is going to matter a lot more to the upcoming elections than this. While some hope that like the Watergate hearings these hearings will simply stun people into demanding action, that’s overly hopeful.

My chief hope from this committee is that they can produce a report by January 3rd that offers the Justice Department a kind of “soft indictment” to guide their investigation. I don’t think this ever reaches Donald Trump himself, but you never know. If not, it is what it is at this point. Charging him with no chance at conviction is pointless.

The Last Foo Fighters Shows?

Few musician deaths hit me like Taylor Hawkins. It was sad when Charlie Watts or Tom Petty died, but both were from generations before me. Cobain’s suicide happened when I was young. Weiland and most of the other 90’s guys who died had long standing, well documented personal demons. Yes, Hawkins had suffered from previous substance abuse issues, but the Foo Fighters drummer both seemed to be in a much happier place at this point and seemed to be “from this generation.” As we learned, addiction battles are for life, and they can torture anyone- including major rockstars.

When Hawkins died, I wondered if that would be the end of the band. They quickly canceled their 2022 tour, as the band appears to be devastated. It’s not like Dave Grohl or anyone else in the band “needs” the money. No one said anything about it being the end, but it felt like it could be. Taylor Hawkins is to the Foo Fighters as Joe Perry is to Aerosmith.

Obviously I was hoping it wasn’t the end of the band, but you prepare for the worst. Well, out of the sadness, some good news has arrived- two September Taylor Hawkins tribute concerts, one in London and the other in Los Angeles, put on by his family and the band have been announced. It’s not a rescheduled tour, but it is at least confirmation that sadness will not be the final act of one of the all-time great rock bands. There are still questions, like who will be the drummer? Of course those questions do not need to be answered for these shows. Dave Grohl can always do it himself, and honestly could probably convince almost any major drummer to come play two shows with him. I wouldn’t be all that shocked if he talked Ringo Starr into showing up in London. The shows will be great, of that I’m certain, but will anything come after. We just won’t know for a while.

The Impossible Presidency

I’m not saying things were easy for Bill Clinton, being President is hard. It was easier than it was for Barack Obama though. Being President was hard for Barack Obama, I’m sure of it, but it was probably easier than it is for Joe Biden though. You probably are scratching your head and asking how I came to this conclusion, and where I’m going with this. The fact is, foreign relations are considerably harder today than they were right after the Soviet Union fell. The federal courts were much easier to navigate pre-Trump. The steady decline of Congress is 30 years further along than they were when Clinton came to town. The Republican Party’s decay is accelerating in the post-Bush world. And yes, Joe Biden faces more opposition within the Democratic Party than any Democratic President in my lifetime.

It’s amazing the guy wants the job.

In the moment after the Berlin Wall fell, America was the lone super power to shape the direction of the world. In the time since a lot has happened. Globalization has accelerated. Terrorist groups replaced foreign nation-states as the chief threat to our borders. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drained our treasury, lost us lives, and diminished our global standing. Maybe most important though, China emerged as a super power and Russia took a newly aggressive posture towards us under Vladimir Putin. A new anti-democratic consensus emerged among our rivals, challenging our world view. Attempts at more normal relations with Cuba and Iran didn’t go very well. Amidst all this, we had our first post-World War II Presidency where the United States questioned our own commitment to our European alliance. In other words, the world just ain’t what it used to be, and I’m not even diving into global issues like climate change.

Presidents Clinton and Obama faced Supreme Courts that were at times adversarial, but they had 5-4 conservative majorities. During their Presidencies, the Solicitor General could defend government actions at the court by focusing on one or two potential swing justices. Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy could be persuaded to allow the government to act on legitimate issues and even to protect the rights of the marginalized on some matters. President Biden faces a Supreme Court, and federal court system radicalized by Donald Trump. There are now six Republican appointees on the bench, and the Biden Administration needs to win over two of Chief Justice Roberts, Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. The court is showing an open willingness to ignore precedent and act from the bench that we haven’t seen in generations. Worse yet, four of the six Republican appointees are likely to be there for decades to come, so change is very unlikely to come to that branch. Civil rights and government power are likely to be seriously narrowed, and the only option President Biden and future successors have to push back is to eventually either try to get Congress to expand the court (dead end right now) or provoke a Constitutional crisis. This is not workable.

Congress no longer works. There simply aren’t dealmakers on the Hill to get much done with anymore. Like his recent Democratic predecessors, President Biden got a stimulus bill through to deal with the economy, and one major generational bill (infrastructure), and then everything ground to a halt. Even consensus issues like insulin prices, gun safety measures, and raising the minimum wage to at least $12 go to Congress to die. Narrow Democratic majorities are undone by both the filibuster and more aggressive House progressives forcing demands on bills that can’t be squared up. The reality is that Democrats are unlikely to see massive majorities into the future either. With the Rockefeller Republicans long dead, and the Blue Dog Democrats close behind, there’s simply no one to make deals with on Capitol Hill, no way to build legislative consensus. Democrats can only pass legislation where they either have near unanimous support in their own caucus of both houses, or where the bill is so non-controversial that everyone is ready to go along. This is a problem for a nation facing crises with climate change, guns, public education, immigration, and health care. The main goal of many new members of Congress is to get a seat on an oversight committee where they can yell at witnesses and use props to get internet attention, not to get a seat on Appropriations where they can find actual solutions. In short, Congress doesn’t work.

Once upon a time, the Republican Party was an actual governing party. No Child Left Behind was their education policy. Welfare Reform was an actual bill. There was a bipartisan “Gang of 8” immigration bill that John McCain and George W. Bush tried to pass. President Nixon (!) created the EPA. When deficits soared after the 1981 tax cuts, Presidents Reagan and Bush 41 accepted the reality that some tax increases were necessary. President Bush 43 sent record funding to Africa to fight the AIDS epidemic. Some of this was good policy, much of it in my opinion was bunk- but these were policy positions. A political party must have some ideas if they want to be a political party. Basically since President Bush’s failed 2005 attempt at reforming Social Security, the Republican Party has completely abandoned any sort of coherent policies in favor of slogans and “own the libs.” The GOP of today is a grievance party, nothing more and nothing less. They want to cut off immigration with a wall on the border, shame transgender athletes, and make voting harder if they don’t win elections. During the Trump White House their only major achievements on Capitol Hill were a massive amount of federal judges, a major tax cut bill, and “phase 1” of criminal justice reform, which was basically all the really easy stuff nobody objected to. While they talked about major changes to NAFTA and trade agreements, the changes we got were virtually nonexistent. They promised a border wall, but never delivered it. Basically, you got infrastructure week, on repeat, with no infrastructure bill. It should come as no shock that they are proposing no solution to get more workers into the supply chain right now, or that their plan for gas prices is “drill baby, drill,” when we drilled more in 2021 than we did in 2017. They are not a serious party. Their most “successful” policy in implementation was banning Muslims from entering the country for no reason. This is our “partner” party to negotiate with, a party that idolizes Jim Jordan and nominates Herschel Walker and Dr. Oz for Senate. The GOP is completely broken.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, Joe Biden contends with a Democratic Party that more accepted him than wanted him. Had it not been for the wisdom of Black voters coalescing behind President Biden in South Carolina, would white moderate Dems have got their act together and coalesced behind the only electable candidate in the field? While the party rallied behind the Biden-Harris ticket during the election, the White House has faced more attacks from inside the party than any in recent memory. Congressional Democrats and Vice-President Gore had a rally for President Clinton when he was impeached, while Joe Lieberman’s career ended after he opposed Barack Obama in 2008. Today, Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer take to Twitter regularly to criticize President Biden for not using an executive order to forgive student loan debt at levels he never promised to during the campaign. AOC and “The Squad” mostly voted against Biden’s biggest achievement as President, the infrastructure bill. Vice-President Harris routinely faces tough articles from “inside sources” at the White House, criticizing her work and staff members exiting the building. There is open talk of who should run for President in 2024, from Democratic sources, if President Biden does not. When the President speaks on matters of policy, as he recently did about Taiwan, anonymous White House sources race to the media to “correct” what he said to meet their policy objectives. In short, the President and Vice-President do not enjoy unanimous support from their party, far from. Some of this is kind of obvious- in an era where identity and “self expression” drive our politics, an old, straight, white man is leading the Democratic Party, and a chunk of the party wishes they had a different voice. The bigger problem that President Biden faces that President Clinton never really faced, and President Obama only kind of faced, is a shifting geography of Democratic elected officials and activists. The large bulk of Democratic members of Congress, state legislators, and municipal leaders represent super blue urban areas and very diverse suburbs. Most Democratic votes and donations come from those districts. Unfortunately there are not enough of those districts to build a working majority, and people who want White Houses and Congressional majorities need broader electoral appeal than these folks want. When you combine those geographic tensions with a louder, more independent critics class inside the party, you get a President facing larger scale defections in his party than we’ve seen since the 1980 primary season. There is simply now a chunk of voters left of the political center now who demand either a more leftist ideology from the party, or an identity for the party that matches their view of where the votes are from. Joe Biden doesn’t really meet either of those demands, and so he lacks the rock solid support of Democrats in the recent past. While the reality is that these demands make the party unelectable, trying to convince some people of that is seemingly impossible.

Joe Biden inherited a pandemic, a government rocked by scandal, an economy that was shut down, a Capitol that had just been the victim of an attempted coup, and a job that was already extremely difficult because of trends facing our nation that I outlined above. Some of the problems he’s had were predictable, others were not. I have to wonder out loud if there was ever going to be a way to appease the nation in his position. Governing is hard enough, doing it while at the center of a hurricane is nearly impossible. I think he’s doing a good job, I’m just increasingly wondering if anybody cares.

The Phillies Failed in Firing Joe Girardi

The Phillies are not a good baseball team and have not been since 2011. They are 23-29, 11 games out of first and 5.5 out of the Wild Card. They went 82-80 last year, their best record in a decade, but basically the same as the 2018, 2019, and even 2020 versions of the team. They are one of the most dreadful defensive teams you will ever watch play baseball. They’re a decent enough hitting team, but they’re so poor at making contact that they can be shutout any given night, as they already have five times this season. They honestly thought they’d be able to hold leads with the cast of Familia, Alvarado, and Knebel pitching in the late innings, but instead we’re watching another horrible bullpen lose leads. Their top position prospect has been an automatic out at the plate, while their other young infielder has been better than last year, but still lacks power and the ability to catch the baseball. Someone thought they’d find an acceptable center fielder among Odubel Herrera, Matt Vierling, and Roman Quinn while waiting for former #1 overall pick Mickey Moniak to heal up and hopefully become a starter out there. I honestly thought this team would hit enough to mask their problems and make the playoffs, before the season. At this point I accept what is. I just don’t think this group is much more than a .500 group, at best.

None of this is meant to absolve Joe Girardi for his performance as manager. His bullpen management stands out in particular as a problem. He uses far too many relievers and neither pushes them to get more outs or appear in more games each week. His continual decision to use Brad Hand in the 6th and 7th inning, while using Jose Alvarado as a late inning lefty drives me nuts. It seems like he had multiple relievers unavailable every night. Girardi’s management never bothered me like Gabe Kapler’s, but I wouldn’t honestly say he did great. He tried to close a pivotal game in Atlanta with Nick Nelson.

The problem with this team has very little to do with the manager. With hindsight now as a guide, it wasn’t the manager with Gabe Kapler either. The roster simply isn’t good. Joe Girardi doesn’t make the first baseman throw the ball away when it’s hit to him. No manager is going to make the closer handed to him by the big name team President stop giving up home runs. It’s not the dugouts fault that their high priced catcher has a sub-.700 OPS in June. The manager isn’t at fault when a wild throw to second base from the catcher ends up rolling through the center fielder’s legs, a center fielder that same team President brought back on a guaranteed deal. it’s not the manager hitting .181 in June in year one of a four year free agent deal paying him almost $20 million a year. I’m going to be blunt- this team is mostly bad because former GM Matt Klentak destroyed it, but the current brass of Dave Dombrowski and Sam Fuld made a ton of clear mistakes building this team. The blame for this belongs in the composition of the team.

I’m basically saying you’re not likely to find a manager who can fix this. I almost certainly am sure it’s not handing the team over to Girardi and Kapler’s long time bench coach. Is this even a change? The GM said he will “communicate” better as a reason he’ll do well. What? That’s going to change things for a team that’s not doing much right? The team needs to play 90 win pace the rest of the way to get to 85 wins and sneak in the playoffs. I can count 7 teams in the NL that are better than this team. There are 6 spots. I don’t really think any manager changes that right now. I’m puzzled about how this move is an attempt to change anything.

So here’s where I give you a glimmer of hope, then snatch it from you. This team has played worse than I thought, and they will play better. The schedule starts getting easier the rest of the way. The Phillies will play their way into at least the Wild Card race. This will happen under Rob Thomson and you’ll see lots of people say he’s doing a better job. All of this would have happened under Joe Girardi too. Unless the roster changes, this improvement won’t get them to the playoffs though. They will be eliminated in the final week of the season, again. That would of happened under Girardi too. It’s not going to be much different under Thomson. The problem is the players the front office puts on the field.

Demographics are a (Red) Destiny

Here’s some maps for you…

2004 under the 2024 electoral vote values.
2008 under 2024 electoral vote values.
2012 under 2024 electoral values.
2016 under 2024 electoral vote values.
2020 under 2024 electoral vote values.
The 2024 outlook.

Back in the Obama years, we heard a lot about “demographics are destiny.” In fact they are, just not how those smart folks thought. There were thoughts of Democrats building huge electoral majorities as late as just after the 2012 election. The only part of that huge majority that has held as “permanent” so far is Colorado and Virginia, totaling 23 electoral votes. Democrats could probably count turning Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina all purple, totaling 49 electoral votes, as a somewhat positive outcome as well (Bush won them all somewhat easily). But for those 72 electoral votes, let’s be clear about what Democrats have seen slide against them. Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin all blue from 1992 through 2012 and somewhat comfortable Obama wins, now are the 54 most competitive electoral votes in our nation’s politics. Florida, Ohio, and Iowa, 53 electoral votes that President Obama carried twice, are now almost certainly red moving forward. Indiana and Missouri, two of the three most competitive states in the 2008 election, are 21 electoral votes of red bastion. And of course, the promised movement of Texas to the left doesn’t look all that close to fruition. That’s 128 electoral votes Democrats thought as late as 2008 were no worse than battlegrounds that have slid away from them to varying degrees.

So the obvious question is why? An underrated part of this is Republican gains with Latinos and Black men in 2020 putting Democrats on defense. Even this though understates the bigger problem Democrats have had for a while- they put all their eggs in the demographic tsunami’s basket, and never understood what that meant under our federal system. This will become even more crystal clear in Senate elections over the coming decades. Population growth is in fact more non-white than ever before, but it’s all in a couple of states. By 2040, half the population will live in eight states, and 70% of the population will live in fifteen states. What that means in short is that half the country will elect 16 Senators and the other half (which will be much whiter and possibly have less education) will elect 84. The 70% of the country in 15 states will get just 30 Senators and the 30% in smaller, more rural, less diverse states will get 70 Senators. The United States Senate, before I am 60 years old, will be one of the least representative legislative bodies in the democratic world. While the House of Representatives, and by extension the electoral vote count for President, should at least partially move with population growth, even that won’t be perfect. Worse yet for Democrats, even if the GOP just keeps up marginal growth with non-white voters, they will keep Texas and Florida in their column for President, keeping them in the ball game to win elections if they continue doing well with white voters. Basically, if Democrats can’t change their 60 year trend line with white voters, Presidential elections remain on a knife’s edge, the Senate’s future is fairly conservative, and the House will only lean Democratic, not permanently tipped left. This is not even getting into state level governments, or what the Supreme Court will look like and do.

Demographics are not the destiny we hope for.