Sunday, March 25, 2018
Hail! Hail Michigan, The Champions of the West (Bracket) The University of Michigan Alumni Association called an impromptu meeting in Los Angeles this weekend. A capacity crowd of 19,665 was announced for Staples center. About 19,000 of them wore the maize and Blue as Michigan turned Staples Center into Crisler Pavilion for a home game against the Seminoles in the West Region of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Florida State prides itself as “junkyard dogs” on defense. Michigan also knows how to play defense. Coach Beilein jhas always emphasizes d scrappy defense. It’s unfair to say the Wolverines mauled the dogs. It’s more accurate to say Michigan had enough grit to outlast Florida State 58-54. Basketball fanatics will say it was an ugly game. Michigan shot 38.8% from the floor (19/49). Florida State was even lower, shooting 31% from the floor. How good was Michigan’s defense? FSU got no fast break points! Basketball purists will say it was a great defensive match. Michigan’s great football coach Bo would be proud of the defense. Florida State shot 31% for the game and 22% in the second half. Michigan, which was raining threes on Thursday against Texas A & M made only 4 threes in 22 attempts against FSU, which only connected on 4 of 17 of its own. They weren’t falling because of great defense. Both teams had trouble driving inside. Michigan shot 19 0f 49 from the floor. Its season free throw travails reappeared with 16 out of 24, with four misses in the last 1:20 of the game. FSU blocked 7 Michigan shots. The Wolverines W is the only statistic that matters! Florida State may have been only a 9 seed, but it defeated #1 Xavier and #4 Gonzaga. Those wins were well earned and not flukes. Defense wins games this time of year. No team was truly predominant in college basketball this year. The pre-season prognosticators have been way off. Athlon, Sports Illustrated, and Street and Smith had neither Loyola Chicago or Michigan in their top 25. Street and Smith picked Michigan 8 in the Big Ten and Loyola 4 in the Missouri Valley Conference. The NCAA finals will have either a 1, 2, or 3 seed playing a 3 or 11 seed. Forget the rankings; teams actually have to play the game! Michigan’s next game is against Sister jean and Cinderella. Never underestimate the Ramblers. The Jesuits have God on their side. Georgetown thought it did, but lost to Florida State. Loyola will come into the game with an attitude that they have neither nothing to lose nor nothing to prove. They will be dangerous. Loyola and Michigan have several commonalities: 1) They both play as a team; 2) They both have juniors and seniors starting; they’re not one and dones; 3) They play great defense; 4) Both have long winning streaks, during the toughest part of the season: 17 for Loyola and 13 for Michigan, 5) They’ve know how to win; 6) They got little respect preseason. Michigan’s tournament MVP was Charles Matthews from Chicago. He did not know who Sister Jean is. I hope he gets to meet and greet her. And yes, we were at the game.
Monday, March 19, 2018
How’s Your Brackets Doing? Decimated? Nuked? Wiped out? Sucked bilge water? Forget it this year. They say the odds of winning Megabucks or Powerball are better than having a perfect bracket. I’ll take their words for that; doing the math is not my forte. Let’s look at what has emerged from the carnage. The South Bracket was destroyed 1 through 4. The West Bracket lost 1 and 2, and Michigan, #3, survived by a 30’ desperation shot. Two number 1’s lost. Virginia, the overall #1, was a true One and Done, not to be confused with the Kentucky and Duke one and done institutions. Virginia had the ignominy of losing to a school, #16 UMBC, that few heard of before Friday. They have now; UMBC is now a national legend. Bookstore sales are through the roof. Don’t you love the 5’8” (?), 140 lb. K.J. Maura? Isn’t the University of Maryland, College Park the basketball power in Maryland? Not this year! Syracuse was the last pick for the tournament. It had to win a pre-game to enter the field of 64. It is now in the Sweet Sixteen. The 11 seed Loyola Chicago Ramblers have been blest by the team chaplain, 98 year-old Sister Jean. They defeated 6 seed Miami and 3 seed Tennessee to reach the Sweet 16. The NCAA is happy with the results even if viewership is down the next two weekends. Two of this year’s “problem children,” Louisville and USC, were sent to the NIT. Arizona, Auburn, Miami, Michigan State, and North Carolina were bounced from the Tournament. Houston’s coach, Kelvin Sampson, has a checkered history with the NCAA as does Bruce Pearl at Auburn. They lost. The Pac 12 justified the NCAA’s only naming three schools to the Tournament. Arizona, Arizona State, and UCLA went a collective 0 for 3, with Arizona losing to Buffalo. UCLA may have lost, but it’s cured of a migraine, the Ball Boys, The state of Ohio struck out. So much for the new coach at The Ohio State University. Thad Matta is available. Purdue is relying on its mechanical engineers to design a brace to get 7’2” Isaac Haas back in the games. Two #1 seeds, Virginia and Xavier, as are two #2’s, Cincinnati and North Carolina, two #3’s, Michigan State and Tennessee, and Arizona, Auburn, and Wichita State. Nine of the top 16 teams are back home as students, rather than student-athletes. Two #9’s are in the Sweet 16 (Florida State and Kansas State), as many as #1’s and #2’s. No matter the rankings, 18 and 19 year-olds have to show up and play. How’s your brackets doing? The season’s over. Get back to work! To quote House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: "Enjoy the Suck"
Sunday, March 18, 2018
We have the Tao of Mao Pensees by Pascal “I think, therefore I am” by Descartes And now comes the profundities of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi “We will fight this sham lawsuit and will fight all cowardly attacks on our immigrant communities.” “Embrace the suck” “Where fencing will do or mowing the grass so that people can’t be smuggled through the grass” “In terms of the bonus that corporate America receives versus the crumbs that they are giving to workers.” “First, Bush cut taxes for the rich and the economy has rebounded with new record low unemployment rates, which only means wealthily employers are getting even wealthier at the expense of the underpaid working class.” Every month we do not have an economic recovery package,500 million Americans will lose their jobs.” We avow the First Amendment. We stand with that and say that people have a right to have a gun to protect themselves in their homes and jobs …” “Well, I’m with the 11th Amendment, so … or, is it the 11th Amendment that, uh? 14th Amendment, is it? Whatever it is I’m with the Constitution of the United States.” “We have to pass this bill [ObamaCare] for you to find out what’s in it.” “The most privileged person in America has better health because if everyone has health, everyone is in the loop.” “waiting rooms in the emergency rooms will allow you to make new friends.” “I believe in natural gas as a clear, clean alternative to fossil fuels.” “I don’t think [Obama’s] ever done anything for political reasons.” “We have to support the Palestinians and what they need. And we have to confer with the Qataris, who have told us over and over that Hamas is a humanitarian organization.” “I must have good genes from my parents because I feel no slowdown of energy, enthusiasm, or memory.” Let us not forget her classic: “I’m a master legislator. I’m a strategic, politically astute leader.”
Hail Mary! Hail to the Victors! Hail Jordan Poole! Jordan Poole drained a 3 pointer as the clock ran out; Michigan defeated Houston 64-63. He swished the basket from 30 feet out, Downtown Freddy Brown territory. Shooting guard Jordan Poole, a freshman from Milwaukee, is listed at 6’4”, but he plays higher. Jordan Poole’s shot was reminiscent of another freshman named Jordan, Michael Jordan. MJ drilled a jump shot at the buzzer to lead North Carolina to a 63-62 victory over Georgetown in the 1982 NCAA Basketball Championship. Villanova won the title two years ago on a buzzle beater from Kris Jenkins, 77-74 over North Carolina. Another classic tournament play was by UCLA’s Tyus Edney, who drove the length of the court with 4.8 seconds on the clock and made a short bank shot to defeat Missouri in the regionals 75-74. UCLA went on to win the title. Washington Bullets Coach Dick Motta said in the 1978 NBA championship tournament when his Bullets were down 3-2 with the final game at Seattle: “The opera isn’t over until the Fat Lady sings.” I love it when my team pulls it out at the end. I hate it when they lost that way. I feel sad for the losing teams when they lose on Hail Mary’s and Buzzer Beaters. They have gone from exhilaration to agony in a few nano-seconds. This year brackets are busted for most people after 3 days. David can beat Goliath. Mighty Casey can strike out. The Number One seed Virginia was blown out by 16 seed UMBC, 75-54. Who or what is a UMBC? The University of Maryland Baltimore County Retriever’s defeat of Virginia is in the books is as monumental as Appalachian State defeating #5 ranked Michigan 34-32 on September 1, 2007 in the Big House. It’s up there with the U.S. Hockey Team Miracle on Ice defeating Russia 4-2 in the semi-final game against the Russia in the 1980 winter Olympics at lake Placid. The American amateurs defeated the reigning, professional Olympic Gold Medalist champions. Arizona, another favorite to reach the Final 4, was crushed 89-68 by 13 seed Buffalo. Both Houston and Michigan had trouble scoring on offense because their tight, physical defenses were incredible. It was an exciting physical game. Houston’s great offensive star, Rob Gray, scored 39 points against San Diego State Thursday. He may be the next coming of Steph Curry. He scored 23 against Michigan, but it was on 8 for 22 shooting. Houston missed two free throws with 3.8 seconds left, leaving a chance for Michigan to tie or win. Michigan went cold from three point territory, shooting several air balls prior to Jordan Poole’s perfect shot. Doesn’t matter! Michigan advances in a Hollywood ending. By way of full disclosure, my Fantasy Bracket has Michigan defeating Michigan State in the finals for the title (not happening), and my wife is a graduate of SUNY Buffalo.
Friday, March 16, 2018
Ron Rotunda surprisingly passed away Wednesday. Ron was an ardent conservative and brilliant scholar. The prodigious, brilliant scholar was a scholar’s scholar. He wrote two leading casebooks in Constitutional and Professional Responsibility. Few professors publish even one casebook. He co-authored a six volume treatise on Constitutional Law and the leading deskbook for lawyers on professional responsibility (legal ethics). The Professor authored over 500 books, articles, papers, and op-eds. He was writing until he entered the hospital two weeks ago with complications from a simple hernia operation. He has been cited over 2,000 times, one of the most cited law professors. Ron attended Harvard College on a scholarship and then Harvard Law School. He graduated magna cum laude from both. He clerked for Judge Walter R. Mansfield of the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals. He served as an assistant majority counsel to the Watergate Committee and later from 1997-1999 as Special Counsel to the Office of Independent Counsel (Kenneth Starr). One of the memos he wrote two decades ago is cited today with respect to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the possible collusion between the Russia and the Trump Presidential campaign. He concluded that a special prosecutor could not indict a sitting President, but a grand jury could. His tenet is that no one is above the law. The Constitution provides immunity to legislators “for any speech or debate” in Congress,” but is silent on immunity for the President. He entered the professoriate in 1974 at the University of Illinois Law School, where he became the Alfred E. Jenner, Jr. Professor of Law Chair. He moved after 25 years to George Mason Law School as the University Foundation Professor of Law. He then came west to the Dale E. Fowler School of Law of Chapman University in 2008 as the Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence. He never slowed down, continuously grinding out pages of op-eds, papers, and updates. His latest book, “John Marshall and the Cases that United the States of America: Beveridge’s Abridged Life of John Marshall,” was published just before his death. He was scheduled to discuss the book at Chapman last Tuesday. His influence extended far from the United States. He has consulted with Cambodia, the Czech Republic, Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine. Not everyone understood or appreciated Professor Rotunda. He could be prickly on occasion. He was an irreconcilable, irascible curmudgeon. That was part of his charm. Silence was not an option for him. He would speak truth to power for he had power in his convictions. He could be a pain in the gluteus maximus of administrators. Ron Rotunda’s persona was one of transparency. You always knew where he was coming from. His heart was in the right place. He asked questions for which others perhaps did not want to hear the answers. He could quickly cut through the clutter and BS to the core of the issue, and point out inconsistencies and weaknesses of opponents. You would not want to debate him without a full understanding of the facts, law, and policies. Ron Rotunda was a conservative’s conservative on economic and security issues. The ardent conservative was associated with the Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation. He was a social libertarian and a strong advocate for personal freedom. Professor Rotunda constitutional base was as a Scalia constitutionist. He supported President Trump’s policies, but not the President’s style. Yet, no matter how heavy his work load, he always was willing to graciously spend 15 minutes, a half hour or more several times a week discussing current political and social issues, political history, and history in general with a slightly younger colleague, often interrupted only by an important phone call. The erudite professor had an memory unbelievable memory and encyclopedic knowledge. We enjoyed these times over the past couple of years. i The amazing phenomenon about Professor Rotunda is that he was still in his prime at 73 when fate struck him down. Professor Rotunda will be missed, but his legal scholarship will last for eons. Professor Ronald Rotunda was more than an esteemed colleague; he was a close personal friend to me. His was a life well-lived, that ended too soon.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Conor Lamb Delivers Acceptance Speech; Of course he won! Democrat Conor Lamb proves once again that a young, energetic, empathetic, telegenic candidate can defeat a dour, tired, lethargic, unenthusiastic old man. JFK proved that against Nixon. The Republicans saw it coming. They recognized that Rick Saccone was a poor candidate. President Trump and millions in Republican dollars almost pulled it out for Saccone, but the chasm was too great. President Trump said Rick Saccone would be his “wingman” in Washington, but Rick Saccone was more of an albatross wrapped around the Republican neck in Pennsylvania 18, just as Judge Ray Moore in Alabama was a political trainwreck. The Republicans ran negative ads against Lamb because they had little positive to offer for Saccone. A young, telegenic positive message can overcome an old, tired negative message. Tip O’Neill said all politics is local. The implications can be national though. The Democrats have now won both a Senate seat and House seat away from the Republicans. They now have a burst of energy, salivating about a blue wave in November. Conor ran as a traditional Blue Dog Democrat, a politically endangered species in today’s America. He ran away from gun control. He ran away from Nancy Pelosi, far away. He ran away from celebrities. He ran away from his anti-Semitic student days. He ran as an ex-Marine. He was not running with the baggage of the 2016 Clinton campaign. He promised to work with anyone. He attacked the Trump tax cuts as a gift to rich corporations He has yet to be infected with Potomac Fever. He leads by 571 votes with 3,200 absentee votes left to be counted. The absentees probably will not change the outcome. All politics are local. Conor Lamb won with the union vote, 1/5 of the voters in the District. The coal miners and steel workers voted for Donald Trump 14 months ago, but Rick Saccone is rigidly anti-union. He supports Right to Work, anathema to labor. Two questions remain: How did Rick Saccone ever get the Republican nomination? Why didn't Conor Lamb win by more votes?