These are my people…or maybe not

I ran an item in my most recent column in The Union (reproduced below) in which I noted a study by the Brookings Institute that tried to explain the great political divide in this country.

Brookings developed a profile of every Congressional district in the country, and concluded that districts represented by Republicans showed less vigorous economic activity, economies dominated by agricultural, mining and other labor-intensive jobs, and a population that was poorer and less well educated than people found in districts represented by Democrats.

Local conservatives didn’t like what they read. Local blogger George Rebane, who likes to believe he occupies a lofty perch when it comes to political commentary, labled his rebuttal to the item “‘Democrats good, Republicans bad’–Propaganda Central.”

That’s a misrepresentation of what I wrote–I made no value judgements, I just noted Brookings’ take on the political divide. Rebane apparently doesn’t like being lumped in with poorly educated, working- and middle-class families that toil in 19th century industries.

Rebane’s Ruminations regular Scott Obermuller, who decamped from California to more remote Idaho, chimed in with a lengthy screed proclaiming districts represented  by Democrats harbor loafers, the homeless, and welfare bums, and that many smart, hard-working Republicans reside in these districts. Nothing I wrote below suggests otherwise.

Todd Juvinall, who has never let his own ignorance deter him from expressing a firm opinion, complained that Brookings is not to be trusted, and pleaded with Rebane to provide links to studies done by the Heritage Foundation or the Cato Institute to refute those evil liberals.

Read what I wrote and decide for yourself:

One of the reasons we have such a sharp political divide in this country is that Democrats and Republicans have less in common than they ever did. When that’s the case, they don’t see problems the same way, assuming each recognizes a problem exists. Some statistics compiled recently by the Brookings Institute illustrate just how sharp the divide is. For example:

–Democrats dominate the most productive parts of the economy. House districts represented by Democrats generate over 63% of the nation’s gross domestic product, with Republican districts making up the rest.

–Household income shows a similar divide. A decade ago, median household income was about the same in each party. Since then, it has jumped nearly 17% in Democratic districts while declining 3% in Republican strongholds.

–Political partisans aren’t likely to run into each other at work either. Democrats represent districts with the biggest clusters of professional jobs, including tech hubs around Silicon Valley and Boston. Nearly three-quarters of jobs in digital or professional industries are in Democratic districts.

By contrast, Republican districts hold a growing share of the nation’s agriculture, mining and low-skill manufacturing jobs, many of which do not require a college degree, have lower pay and are more exposed to overseas competition. (No wonder Trump is fighting a trade war.)

–The two parties represent different kinds of places in the U.S., another reason they’re not likely to intermingle. Once, the parties were geographically intertwined, but the Tea Party revolution in 2010 wiped out Democrats in rural and working class districts in the Southeast and Midwest while the 2018 mid-terms ousted Republicans from many suburbs.

–Finally, people with college degrees are more concentrated in Democratic districts than in Republican districts. Democrats represent all 17 Congressional districts with the highest concentration of college graduates.

Just call us the Divided States of America.

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Posted in George Rebane, Media, Politics, Republican Party, Todd Juvinall, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Tell us what you really think, Tulsi

Quote of the week:

“You, the queen of warmongers, the embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from the behind the curtain.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, after Hillary Clinton suggested on a podcast that the Russians are grooming a female Democratic Party candidate for a third party run for president. It is widely believed that Clinton was referring to Gabbard.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

McClintock taking no chances in reelection bid

House Republican leaders Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise voted for it. Hell, even Devin Nunes and Doug LaMalfa voted for a resolution rebuking President Donald Trump for withdrawing U.S. troops from northern Syria, allowing Turkey to attack our Kurdish allies.

Tom McClintock

Just 60 Republicans–including California’s Duncan Hunter and Tom McClintock–stood with the president and voted against the resolution.

Hunter’s more likely to be in prison than in Congress come January 2021, but McClintock is seeking his seventh term representing probably California’s most conservative congressional district, and he can’t afford to take chances in these perilous times.

Check out his latest fundraising plea:

“The fundraising figures from this quarter will very likely determine whether this district is again targeted by Democrats,” McClintock wrote in a Sept. 26 email to supporters, pointing out that two Democrats seeking to oust him outraised the incumbent nearly three-to-one during the summer. “I cannot afford to be outraised by this kind of margin two quarters in a row.”

Every plea ever made for political funding has been couched in apocalyptic terms, but there’s a good reason fundraisers paint such dark pictures: They work. Certainly it did this time as McClintock more than double his cash haul from the second quarter to the third quarter of 2019, according to the latest filings with the Federal Election Commission.

McClintock raised $333,000 during the third quarter, bringing his total haul for the 2020 campaign to $729,000. He had over $500,000 in the bank on Sept. 30, moving him ahead of his leading rival, Democrat Brynne Kennedy.

Given the conservatism of his district, it really isn’t necessary for McClintock to outspend his opponent. In the 2018 race, Democrat Jessica Morse outspent him two-to-one and still lost by 8 percentage points, a comfortable margin of victory even if it was the closest one for McClintock this decade.

Kennedy, who bills herself as a former San Francisco-based technology entrepreneur, has raised over $550,000 and had $330,000 on hand at the end of September. But Kennedy will have one advantage Morse lacked: No significant opposition in the primary. Morse had to spend a lot of money to secure a run-off spot against McClintock, but Kennedy has a clear path to November 2020 since her only significant primary opponent, Sean Frame, dropped out of the race last month.

Money plays a big part in the shape of a campaign. Incumbents who have a lot of money in the bank can scare away formidable opponents, and the Democratic Party won’t invest a lot of money in the race if the party’s hopeful–in this case, Kennedy–can’t raise a lot on her own.

Kennedy’s campaign pointed out that she has now raised more than any previous McClintock challenger at this point in the campaign. “Over half of her contributions are here in the fourth district, ” spokesman Todd Stenhouse told the Sacramento Bee. This past quarter, Kennedy saw not only a “huge influx of support inside the district but a 25 percent increase in the number of contributions,” he added.

Still, in a district where Trump got 54 percent of the vote in 2016 but lost the state by over 3 million votes, you have to like McClintock’s chances of getting reelected, regardless of how much money he has to spend.

Posted in California Republican Party, Politics, Rep. Tom McClintock, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Where have I been the last 5 months? An explanation

It has been almost 5 months since I posted anything on this blog, and some of you may actually wonder why.

Part of it has been a long list of family obligations that have kept me occupied outside western Nevada County, but I still managed to write my weekly column for The Union. So what was the real reason?

The real reason is that I couldn’t figure out a reason for writing the old blog. Instead of providing a focus and a reason for net surfers to take a look on a regular basis, I took a shotgun approach, writing about anything that interested me. So when I thought about the blog the last 5 months, I kept asking myself the question: What one subject should I write about?

The answer is politics. Aside from the fact that’s it is an interesting take on the human condition and provides numerous examples of the low humor that amuses me, it is clear to anybody who follows local media that there is a high level of interest in the subject in Nevada County.

The level of interest will ratchet up even more as we get nearer to the 2020 general election, one of the most consequential in this country’s history. Because it lacks the manpower, The Union can’t give the subject the kind of coverage that is clearly justified. I’ll try to fill some of that void by focusing on local and state politics, but I’ll occasionally comment on the national scene.

Regular readers of my column in The Union know where my sympathies are, but that won’t stop me from writing about the buffoonery that afflicts both parties. I will have more time to delve into the subject because I won’t be writing 50 columns for The Union next year.

A new state law requires businesses like The Union to offer people like me full-time employment if they publish more than 35 of my submissions in a year. Since that’s not going to happen (and I wouldn’t want it to happen), I’ll be writing less for the paper next year, and maybe not at all.

It may take me awhile to find my stride (as they say in the writing game), but I hope to turn the blog into something that’s worth checking out a couple of times a week. I invite you to come along for the ride.

–George Boardman

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SPEAKING OF SPORTS: Why women won’t get their ‘due’

There is an undercurrent of discontent among the players as the U.S. women’s soccer team gets ready to defend its World Cup championship. The discontent involves money–the women don’t think they’re getting enough of it.

Several of the players sued the U.S. Soccer Federation in March, alleging institutional gender discrimination, and team co-captain Megan Rapinoe of Redding charged last week that soccer’s international governing body, FIFA, isn’t doing enough to close the huge gender disparity in prize money.

When it comes to inequality in the U.S., the women have a point that should be an embarrassment in a country where the money goes to the winners. The U.S. women’s team has excelled on the international stage, winning three World Cups–the only nation to do so–and four Olympic gold medals. The U.S. men’s team is just embarrassing–heck, they didn’t even qualify for the World Cup competition this year because they couldn’t beat Trinidad Tobago.

But in the U.S., the women on the national team get just 38 percent of the compensation of their male counterparts. In the World Cup, the men’s teams will divide up a pot of $440 million in prize money, with more than $40 million going to the winning team. The women’s prize money has been doubled to $30 million, with $4 million going to the winners.

But since we’re talking about professional sports, equity has nothing to do with it–compensation is bottom-line driven. The reality is that women’s sports are not as popular as men’s sports and the women are compensated accordingly.

The experience of the WNBA illustrates the point. No new league was better positioned to succeed than the WNBA when it opened for business in 1997. For starters, the operation was bankrolled by the highly successful National Basketball Association. The women’s teams were owned by NBA franchises, which meant they had financial stability, nice venues to play in, and favorable schedules.

Then NBA Commissioner David Stern strong-armed the TV networks carrying NBA games to broadcast the women’s games. Two networks signed multi-year deals with the WNBA. None of this produced the success everybody expected. Men ignored the women’s game, and there aren’t enough female fans to fill the arenas. TV ratings were poor and coverage has dwindled to a few games on ESPN.

Several franchises, including the one in Sacramento, folded and others moved to new cities. The players are so poorly paid that many of them play overseas during the off-season in order to make a decent living.

The comparison isn’t fair, but the reality is that men compare the women’s game to the men’s game and conclude it’s inferior. Until there are a lot more female sports fans in this country wiling to buy expensive athletic shoes and drink low cal beer, operations like the WNBA and women’s soccer will continue to be second-class sports, and will be compensated accordingly.

Female athletes who want to make serious money in the U.S. should take up golf or tennis.

***

Sacramento Kings coach Dave Joerger had a record of 98-148 over the last three seasons. Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton had a record of 98-148 over the last three seasons.

But Vivek Ranadive, principal owner of the Kings, is apparently an impatient man, so Joerger was fired and Walton was hired two days after the Lakers canned him, making Walton the Kings’ sixth coach since Ranadive and his partners bought the team in 2013.

As it turns out, Walton may be the shortest tenured coach of the bunch. A week after he was hired, former Southern California television sports reporter Kelli Tennant filed a civil suit alleging Walton sexually assaulted her when he was an assistant at the Golden State Warriors in 2014.

Tennant never filed a police report and waited five years to take action against Walton, so a lot of people will question her claim. But this is the age of #MeToo and the NBA has launched an investigation into the allegations. If the league concludes there is substance to her claims, Walton could be fired and the Kings would again look like the dolts they’ve been for years.

The Kings have had only eight winning seasons since arriving from Kansas City in 1985–all of them during the reign of Rick Adelman–and this last season was their best since Adelman was fired in 2006.

But the young Kings faltered after the All-Star break, finishing the season 9-16, and General Manager Vlade Divac decided Walton was the coach to lead Sacramento to the promised land. “I’ve found my teammate,” Divac told the media the day Walton’s hiring was announced. “We’re going to work together and it’s going to be an exciting season for us.”

Then the lawsuit hit, and Walton disappeared from public view. The Sacramento Bee reported a siting last week–Walton showed up at the team’s training facility to work out some free agents–but has studiously avoided any contact with the media.

Even if the NBA gives Walton a passing grade, you have to wonder how he will deal with persistent questions about the lawsuit and the salacious details it will undoubtedly contain. The Kings already have a difficult time attracting good free agents. This won’t make it any easier.

Way to go, guys.

***

As long as we’re on the subject of dysfunction, let’s not ignore Magic Johnson’s recent bridge-burning exercise designed to cover his inept leadership of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Johnson was hired two years ago as president of basketball operations, tasked with reviving one of the NBA’s marque franchises. He was less than successful in this endeavor before abruptly resigning in public, not even bothering to alert the Lakers’ main owner, Jeanie Buss.

Then he went on ESPN to blame everybody but himself for the team’s inability to become a contender during his tenure. In Johnson’s accounting, too many voices in the front office and back-stabbing by general manager Rob Pelinka did him in.

People in the organization describe a Johnson who tolerated no dissent, signed players without discussing or vetting them with anybody in the organization, and made deals in secret. As for Pelinka, Johnson could have fired him if he was the back-stabber Magic now claims he was.

But Johnson owns the deals he made, and none of them look very good right now. For starters, he signed the likes of Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley–players on the downside of their careers with a history of being malcontents and trouble makers.

Johnson failed to sign Brooke Lopez, who went on to have a solid season off the bench for Milwaukee, and traded young center Ivica Zubac for essentially an expiring contract. NBA insiders laughed at that deal.

Then there’s the saga of Anthony Davis. After the New Orleans star demanded to be traded, the Lakers offered the few good young players they have to the Pelicans for Davis. The offer was rejected, and the players are now less than enthused about their futures in Los Angeles.

Of course, Johnson did sign LaBron James, who proceeded to undermine Walton’s authority.  Now there are reports James is trying to lure future free agents Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry to the Lakers, apparently without consulting team ownership.

Magic Johnson can do all of the shucking and jiving he wants, but that won’t disguise the fact he was a disaster during his latest stay with the Lakers.

***

Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse needs to work on his sideline posturing: He reminds me of a high school coach who is trying too hard to win…It is rare for the team with the home court advantage to be the underdog in a championship series, but that’s what the Raptors are…If the Warriors win their fourth championship in five years, Steve Kerr won’t get the credit he deserves for the coaching job he did this year.

***

Nevada City’s own Alexander Rossi, who won the Indy 500 two years ago and finished second this year, comes across as a guy who has been packaged for sponsors, not for fans.

Posted in Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, Sports, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Two invisible candidates are running for our state Senate seat

Voters in the first state Senate district have less than 2 weeks to decide who they want to represent them in Sacramento, but don’t expect to see either one of the candidates before you cast your vote.

Brian Dahle, who represents Nevada County in the state Assembly, has avoided making any public appearances in the county since declaring his candidacy to replace former Senator Ted Gaines. His opponent, fellow Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, is also missing in action.

Brian Dahle and his little red wagon.

If you’re a Republican and attended the local party’s annual dinner in PLACER County Saturday night, you were able to meet and hear Kiley speak–Dahle said he had an engagement elsewhere in Placer County. As you would expect from Republicans, you had to pay $40 to meet him at the VIP reception or $85 to have dinner with Kiley, who apparently devoted his speech to blasting Dahle.

So much for Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment!

The candidates remind me of Republican Sharron Angle’s run against Senator Harry Reid in 2010. Angle disappeared during the last two weeks of the campaign, making unannounced private–almost secret–visits with small groups and avoiding the media whenever possible.

Our problem is that both candidates are acting this way, apparently deciding to avoid the media and public while running their campaigns through mailers and social media, where they have total control of the message.

Except, of course, when they screw up. Dahle, apparently courting the county fair crowd, professed on his Facebook page to be a fan of all county fairs in his district. He held up signs expressing love for all of them–except the 1 in Nevada County. Jeff “Podunk” Pelline says he called Dahle on it and, based on Jeffy’s reporting, clumsily tried to lie his way out of the gaff. This is the kind of representation we need in Sacramento?

Newspapers in the district, which have been hollowed out by years of cutbacks, are devoting little energy to holding the candidates accountable. There has been practically no coverage since the primary, when they were forced to surface if for no other reason than to distinguish themselves from the other candidates. I’m sure we’ll see straight-down-the-middle profiles of each before election day, but most of the people who care in Nevada County will have voted by then.

Each candidate seems content to add to his endless list of endorsements–most of them people you never heard of–while standing 4-square for the local motherhood issues: Low taxes, good schools, stop wildfires, etc., etc.

Kevin Kiley

Kiley claims he started the campaign with a $500,000 war chest and has been spending it on mailers trying to woo Nevada County Republicans. Meanwhile, Dahle is reaching out to people in the Democratic Party. My wife received a letter recently from a couple who claimed they lost their home in the Paradise fire, asking her to support Dahle against PG&E and other special interests. The letter contained a Paradise street address. Maybe their mail box survived the fire.

Then we received a mailer claiming Kiley has taken $500,000 from PG&E and other special interests, apparently accounting for his campaign war chest. The mailer also lists 5 instances where Dahle “held PG&E accountable for wildfires” while Kiley (of course) didn’t. The flyer doesn’t mention Dahle’s participation in crafting legislation that will let the utility offload some of its liabilities on rate payers, a major issue now that state officials have formally blamed PG&E for starting the Camp Fire.

Each claims to be the most conservative candidate while bashing special interests that traditionally support Republican candidates. A review of past campaign contributions shows that both–particularly Dahle–have accepted plenty of money from special interests.

As for me, I’ve already thrown out my ballot. Since I can find out little or nothing about Kiley (his campaign web site is no help), I’m essentially flying blind if I vote. It doesn’t matter who wins  anyway because he’ll be a member of a super minority in the senate.

But who knows: Maybe the winner will start appearing at public forums when he has to run again in 2020.

Posted in Assemblyman Brian Dahle, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, Politics, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

SPEAKING OF SPORTS: From high school star to ???

 

The NFL Draft can make or break the dreams of college kids who have been working for years in hopes of playing professional football. Given his high expectations 4 years ago, I doubt few people were more disappointed at this year’s draft than former Folsom High phenom Jake Browning.

Browning is certainly a familiar name to fans of the Nevada Union Miners, but not in a good way. Browning terrorized the Miners the four times he played them from 2011-14, turning every game into a rout.

But the Miners weren’t alone. Browning set new state records for completed passes, passing yards, and touchdowns during his time at Folsom. He was considered a 4-star recruit out of high school and the third-best pro style quarterback in the class of ’15.

Browning landed at the University of Washington, where he was the school’s first freshman starter at QB since 1997 and was the Pac-12 offensive player of the year in 2016. Then his career flat lined.

While the Huskies were successful in ’17 and ’18, Browning became more of a game manager and less of an offensive force, putting up respectable numbers while relying on the skills of his receivers to make the big pass plays. Browning had shoulder surgery after his sophomore season and was considered a weak-armed thrower by the time he finished his career in the Rose Bowl in January.

Browning went undrafted and subsequently signed a free agent deal with the Minnesota Vikings, a team that is committed to Kirk Cousins and his $84 million (guaranteed) deal. The Vikings signed free agent Sean Mannon as Cousins’ backup and have another young prospect in Kyle Sloter.

If the Vikings decide to carry three QBs on their roster (unlikely), Browning’s best shot will be the taxi squad. He was an “A” student in high school and studied business at Washington. I hope he got his degree because it looks like he’ll need it.

***

Kevin Durant is the most dominant offensive player in the NBA today, capable of taking over a game and ruining the day for the opposition. But the Golden State Warriors shouldn’t break up their team to resign him when he becomes a free agent in July.

Durant is an iso player on a team that emphasizes movement and passing by players who are willing to do what’s best for the team. While Durant has been a good teammate during his time in Oakland, he really doesn’t fit into the Warriors’ style of play.

Golden State’s core players–Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green–are still relatively young and masters of coach Steve Kerr’s style of play. Given the team’s salary cap constraints, Green, Thompson or both would have to be jettisoned to resign Durant. He’s not worth it.

***

Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney was rewarded recently for winning two of the last three national championships with a 10-year contract extension that will pay him a minimum of $92 million.

That makes Swinney the highest paid college coach (and maybe the highest paid coach, period) in the nation, ahead of Alabama’s Nick Saban (8 years, $74 million) and Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher (10 years, $75 million).

Keep those numbers in mind the next time the NCAA and its member schools explain why paying players is a bad thing.

***

Long-time football coach Dick Tomey died recently at the age of 80 from cancer. While he was a head coach at Hawaii, Arizona and San Jose State, Tomey was best know for running his “Desert Swarm” defense for 14 years at Arizona.

Tomey was one of those coaches who didn’t feel comfortable running an offense; he would much rather play defense all the time and take his chances. As a result, Tomey’s Arizona teams were known for playing tough defense but not scoring much, which presented opportunities for people who bet on college football games.

Specifically, it became a winning bet to take Tomey’s team when it was an double-digit underdog and bet against them when they were double-digit favorites. A lot of bettors were sad when Tomey got fired.

***

Lamar Odom, a former Kardashian spouse whose NBA career was ruined when he became addicted to cocaine, is out with a book claiming he’s bedded 2,000 women in his life.

The book is probably Odom’s last shot at making some decent money, so you should probably make allowances for exaggeration. And he admits he paid at least some of them for their services–should they be deducted from the total?

In any event, Odom’s an amateur compared to NBA great Wilt Chamberlain, who claimed he bedded 20,000 women–not 2,000. Since Chamberlain was never sued for paternity, he was either very lucky, infertile, or lying. Wilt’s dead so we’ll never know the truth.

Posted in College athletics, Golden State Warriors, NCAA, Sports, Sports betting, Uncategorized | 1 Comment