Sunday, December 4, 2016

College Football Playoffs as it should be (2016)

There are some fans upset with the College Football Playoffs, and rightfully so. There are more than four teams that have a legitimate claim to a spot in the playoffs, and there are only four playoff spots.

Penn State won the Big Ten, winning their last 8 game of the regular season including knocking off Ohio State, but was left out of the playoff picture.

The Big 12 champion, Oklahoma, won its last 9 games, including three wins over ranked teams, and went unbeaten in their conference.

Western Michigan did everything they could do, winning all 12 regular season games plus their conference championship, scoring 40 points or more in a game seven times. (For those that wish to discount the Broncos, remember the 1984 BYU team, who did less than this year's Western Michigan.)

The solution? The very solution I've been promoting for a decade.

A 16-Team Playoff

The champions from each conference take up the top ten slots of the 16-team playoff, and the field is filled out by the highest ranked teams that didn't win a conference. The seedings would be set by a playoff committee, much as the current College Football Playoff is done, and as Division 1-AA/FCS does.

For my purposes, I propose the NFL model, in which conference champions are the top 10 seeds, and the non-champions are the lower seeds. The point of that would be that conference championships matter. I'm sure Penn State and Oklahoma would agree, as would others.

Had this been in place all along, the recent spate of conference jumps to improve playoff positions wouldn't have happened. The increasingly inaccurately named Big 12 and Big Ten conferences might actually have meaningful names.

The Field of 16

  1. Alabama (Southeastern Conference champion)
  2. Clemson (Atlantic Coast Conference champion)
  3. Washington (Pac-12 Conference champion)
  4. Penn State (Big Ten Conference champion)
  5. Oklahoma (Big 12 Conference champion)
  6. Western Michigan (Mid-American Conference champion)
  7. Temple (American Athletic Conference champion)
  8. San Diego State (Mountain West Conference champion)
  9. Western Kentucky (Conference USA Conference champion)
  10. Appalachian State (Sun Belt Conference champion)
  11. Ohio State (Big Ten wild card qualifier)
  12. Michigan (Big Ten wild card qualifier)
  13. Wisconsin (Big Ten wild card qualifier)
  14. Southern California (Pac-12 wild card qualifier)
  15. Colorado (Pac-12 wild card qualifier)
  16. Florida State (Atlantic Coast Conference wild card qualifier)
The first two rounds would be played on campus of the higher seed of each matchup. Number 1 hosts number 16, number 2 hosts number 15, and so on. Some of these games will be great. Others, not so much. But that's how post-season matchups sometimes are.

The First Round Matchups

Florida State at Alabama
Colorado at Clemson
Southern California at Washington
Wisconsin at Penn State
Michigan at Oklahoma
Ohio State at Western Michigan
Appalachian State at Temple
Western Kentucky at San Diego State

Personally, I don't like the rematches, but in the larger scheme of things, it's more than made up by being a better overall system. At the end of such a field of 16, there should be no doubt about who the champion is.

The losing teams in the first round would still be bowl-eligible. The bowls could bid for the rights to have a playoff-quality team. The second round would follow the same format as the first, with the highest remaining seed hosting the lowest remaining seed, the next-highest remaining seed hosting the second-lowest remaining seed, and so on.

The third round would be the final four, played much as the four-team CFP is today. The championship would follow, as it does today.

Some have been critical of this plan over the years. Too complicated, some say. But it's really nothing more than the ten conference champs at the top, and the best of the rest filling it out.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Recount rumors

There's a conspiracy theory floating around, most prominently on American Thinker and promoted by Drudge Report, that the real strategy behind the recount called for by Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton is to throw the election to the House of Representatives. Let me tell you up front that either the conspiracy theory is flawed, or the plan the theory exposes is flawed. Here's why.

Now, for those that may not be familiar enough with the actual electoral process for selecting the president, here's how it works.

The states choose electors to elect a president. You don't elect a president, and never have elected a president. It has never been intended for you to elect a president. If you thought otherwise, you thought wrong. But now you know.

The electors meet at their respective state capitals and actually vote for president and vice president in December. Congress sets the date for this, and this year, it's December 19.
The electors of President and Vice President of each State shall meet and give their votes on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December next following their appointment at such place in each State as the legislature of such State shall direct.
The votes are then counted in Congress in January and the actual election of the president and vice president is announced. If no one gets a majority, the House of Representatives choose a president from the top three recipients, or two if there is a tie at 50%. The states caucus and vote as a single entity. Each state gets one vote. A majority of states is required to elect a president.

The Senate would then select a vice president from the top two vote recipients. Each Senator gets a vote. A majority is needed to choose a vice president.

Now, back to the theory. It says that the intent is to tie up the vote in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Those three states voted for Trump, and account for 46 electoral votes. And, according to American Thinker, the master plan is to get those electoral votes to not be counted.
The recounts, if done by hand, which can be demanded, may take longer than the last day for completing the official counts in a state and directing Electoral College voters. If all 3 states miss the deadline, Trump is at 260, Hillary at 232. No one hits 270.
That much is true. If -- and it's a big if -- those states aren't able to choose electors by the deadline, they don't get to vote for president. And, if that happens -- again, a big if -- Trump would indeed have only 260 votes.

The whole thing hinges on the denying of 270 votes, with the thinking that the House of Representatives would then elect the president. And, since the GOP controls the House, the intent is to make Trump seem like an illegitimate president, not receiving a majority of the popular vote nor a majority of the electoral vote.

But that's the flaw. If the three states don't select electors, and the final vote is Trump 260, Clinton 232, the fact is Trump still wins the electoral vote.

The thinking at American Thinker is that denying 270 votes throws the election to the House. But, in the scenario laid out, it would not. You see, an actual reading of the Constitution, particularly the 12th Amendment, says that's not so.
the person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed
And that's the key: "a majority of the whole number of electors appointed." If Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania don't appoint electors, they don't figure into the mix. That means instead of 538 electoral votes cast, there would be only 492 votes cast. In that case, 247 votes are needed to elect a president.

Hillary would still only have 232 votes, while Trump's lowered total of 260 is still a majority.

So, if the plan is to deny Trump 270 by getting electoral votes not counted, it's a badly flawed one. Regardless, the American Thinker isn't thinking very clearly.


The American Thinker has updated the post (scroll to the bottom) with information along the line of what was laid out here on this little blog:
If a state never gets to name electors, the number needed to win goes down; a majority of those named is enough. Even with 260-232, Trump should win unless there wee lots of faithless electors....
If someone has a majority of electoral votes submitted, the Senate and House open the tally and merely name the winner. Clearly this process is now subject to recount mischief in the future, now that Jill Stein and Clinton campaign have in essence argued any close state that Trump won should be challenged.
I'm glad to see The American Thinker is once again thinking clearly.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

President Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington

Monday, November 21, 2016

How To Talk To Your Liberal Family Members At Thanksgiving

[The YouTube]

Friday, November 18, 2016

Counting the votes

January 6, 2017, 1:00 PM EST

Ladies and gentlemen, as Speaker of the House of Representatives, it gives me great pleasure to introduce the President of the Senate, the Honorable Joseph R. Biden.

Thanks, Pat.


So, we vote now, right? I was thinking onions, mushrooms, and bacon. Oh, and extra cheese. What about you guys?

Mr. President, we're here to ...

Oh, is Barack here, too? I suppose that means no bacon.

No, I'm addressing you as president of the Senate. While the Senate is in session, as it is now with the House, you are presiding. So we call you Mr. President. And you call me Mr. Speaker.

"Paul Speaker?" That's a funny name. Anyway, are you telling me that all this time, I didn't need to worry about Barack watching me? Jeez. I wish someone had told me. So, is he here? Do we get bacon or not?

Mr. President, we're not here to vote on pizza.

It's one o'clock and it's a Friday, Mr. Speaker. I'm thinking extra-large. There are more here than I realized. How many is this? About 50?

Well, the D.C. House delegate is here, so 536.

We better get two pizzas. And bread sticks.

Joe, we're here to open the electoral votes to select the president.

You just told me I was president.

For Heaven's sake, Joe, we're picking the next president of the United States. Your term as vice president of the United States and as President of the Senate is up in two weeks, so we need to pick the next person for the job.

Didn't I do a good job? I've seen my picture all over the Internet. I must be doing something right.

Listen, Joe, it's time to open the votes and count them.

Oh, okay. I hope we get bacon. I'm tired of pepperoni. So, how do we do this?

The same way we did four years ago. You have the ballots in front of you. Open them in alphabetical order and read the total. Hand them to the tellers, who will record the totals. When all the states are counted, they'll add them up and give you those totals, and you announce the next president and vice-president.

Alphabetical? So, we start with Delaware, right? Why is Alabama on top? Delaware is the first state.

No, Joe. Alphabetically, it's Alabama, followed by Alaska. Delaware is, let's see, 8th on the list.

No, that's not right. Delaware is the first state. I know my algebra.

This is the order they want us to read them, Mr. President.

Okay then, Mr. Speaker. We'll do it that way. But I do get extra cheese?

Joe, I've just been informed that an extra-large pizza with onions, mushroom, bacon -- and extra cheese -- has won. If you'll follow me to your car, we'll head over to ... um ... Amy's ... and introduce you.

Yay! Another job well done!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Tom Neyman

You might not know who Tom Neyman is. Heck, when I heard he died, I had to ask "Why do I know that name?" I'm sorry to say that I didn't place him at first. And, if you didn't, Tom Neyman was the actor that played The Master in Manos: The Hands of Fate.

If you have seen Mystery Science Theater 3000, then you've probably seen the classic episode that featured that movie. It's one of the most famous episodes, not just for the terribly awfully horribly bad movie, but the short "Hired Part 2" as well as the Chocolate Rabbit Guillotine. A truly classic episode with top-notch riffing. (I wrote my full review of it here.)

Now, how many of you have seen the actual, full, unriffed movie? I have. And, yes, it is truly bad. However bad you thought it would be while watching it with Joel and the Bots, it is. Maybe even worse. But maybe not. I didn't hate it.

That's not because it's not a bad movie. I just told you it is. But, the fun, the joy, the thrill of watching the MST3K version colored my watching of the movie. Even without the riffing, it was great to see Torgo talk about the Master, and to actually see the Master.

I'm going to stop talking about the movie since we're back on topic. The Master. Tom Neyman. He died this weekend.

He lived long enough to see that terrible little film he worked on 50 years ago rise from obscurity to become the most beloved bad film of all time. And the sequel -- yes, there is a sequel -- is in post-production, according to IMDB.

I truly hope the recognition, even for being in a bad film, brought joy to Mr. Neyman in his later years. I'm looking forward to seeing the sequel. And seeing the rebooted MST3K riffing it.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Understanding the Electoral College

A lot of people don't understand the Electoral College. It's their own fault. I mean, it's been around since 1789, so there's no reason to not know about it. But, a lot of people still don't.

Briefly, it's the group of people that actually elect the President of the United States. And, it's been that way since the Constitution was first ratified.

The thing that should really be understood is the "why." Why in the world would we have such a system. Well, you need to learn a little history.

When the Founding Fathers decided to set up a new government, there was a great disagreement about how to do it. They finally decided there would be three branches of the government: a Legislative Branch to make the laws, an Executive Branch to carry out the laws, and a a Judicial Branch to interpret questions regarding the laws. Each branch of the government would be populated by different people, all in different ways.

Before we get to the Executive Branch, let's quickly cover the Legislative Branch.

Legislative Branch

The branch that makes the laws were to be representatives of the people. But there was great disagreement over how to select the representatives and how to apportion them.

The delegation from Virginia, the most populous state at the time, wanted each state to get representatives in proportion to their population. The more populous states would get more representatives. The problem with that, though, is that four of the 13 states would be able to push through anything despite objections from the other nine states. (Actually, the four largest states were one shy of a majority, so they would need to convince one, but only one, representative of the other states to go along.) The smaller states didn't like that.

The delegation from New Jersey, one of the smaller states, wanted each state to have an equal number of representatives. That meant the concerns of New Jersey or Rhode Island carried as much weight as Massachusetts or Virginia. The problem with that was the seven smallest states, which had only one third of the population, could push through legislation that two-thirds of Americans didn't want. The larger states didn't like that.

So, the solution was to implement both plans. The Legislative Branch would consist of two bodies, representing both the people and the states.

A House of Representatives would be have members in proportion to population. It would be the representatives of the people, and chosen by the people every two years.

A Senate would provide equal representation of the states. Each state had two Senators, and they would serve six year terms. Every two years, one third of the Senate would be chosen. Since the Senate were representatives of the states, the Senators were chosen by the legislatures of the states. (More about that here.)

The Executive Branch

Of the three branches, one part of Legislative Branch was the one selected by the people to represent the people. But the Executive Branch? How to deal with that?

It was decided that each state would be granted Electors to choose the President, equal to the combined number of Representatives and Senators. Each state would determine how to select the Electors. Some were chosen by the state legislature, and some were selected by the people. In the first election (1789) of the ten states that participated, half the states voted on the Electors, and half were appointed by the state legislatures. In the second election (1792), of the 15 states, ten selected Electors by the legislature and five by votes of citizens.

One other thing. Originally, the Electors cast two votes. Whoever got the most was President and whoever came in second was Vice-President.

Judicial Branch

The Supreme Court was then filled by the other two branches of the government. The President appointed judges to the Court, but the Senate had to approve the appointments. Justices served for life.

But, The People...

There are complaints by some, or by many, about how unfair it is that they don't get to elect the President. Well, that's the whole point. The Founding Fathers gave me, you, and all citizens our voice in government through the House of Representatives. They gave the states (us collectively by state) a voice in the Senate. They gave the states the ability to choose those that would choose the President.

That's the genius of the system we have in place. The Electoral College is a combination of the voice of the people and the voice of the states.

If you think you should have the say directly, keep in mind that George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and the rest of the Founding Fathers said otherwise. Take this any way you want: I trust them more than I trust you. Or me.