Archive for October, 2012

Direct from Caesar’s Palace

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

A Las Vegas “odds maker” gives his reasons for big win by Romney in

Most political predictions are made by biased pollsters, pundits, or
prognosticators who are either rooting for Republicans or Democrats. I am
neither. I am a former Libertarian Vice Presidential nominee, and a
well-known Vegas odds maker with one of the most accurate records of
predicting political races.

But as an odds maker with a pretty remarkable track record of picking
political races, I play no favorites. I simply use common sense to call
them as I see them. Back in late December I released my New Year’s
Predictions. I predicted back then- before a single GOP primary had been
held, with Romney trailing for months to almost every GOP competitor from
Rick Perry to Herman Cain to Newt- that Romney would easily rout his
competition to win the GOP nomination by a landslide. I also predicted that the
Presidential race between Obama and Romney would be very close until
Election Day. But that on Election Day Romney would win by a landslide
similar to Reagan-Carter in 1980.

Understanding history, today I am even more convinced of a resounding
Romney victory. 32 years ago at this moment in time, Reagan was losing by 9
points to Carter. Romney is right now running even in polls. So why do most
pollsters give Obama the edge?

First, most pollsters are missing one ingredient– common sense. Here is my
gut instinct. Not one American who voted for McCain 4 years ago will
switch to Obama
. Not one in all the land. But many millions of people who voted
for an unknown Obama 4 years ago are angry, disillusioned, turned off, or
scared about the future. Voters know Obama now- and that is a bad harbinger.

Now to an analysis of the voting blocks that matter in U.S. politics:
**Black voters. Obama has nowhere to go but down among this group. His
endorsement of gay marriage has alienated many black church going Christians.
He may get 88% of their vote instead of the 96% he got in 2008. This is not
good news for Obama.

**Jewish voters. Obama has been weak in his support of Israel. Many
Jewish voters and big donors are angry and disappointed. I predict Obama’s
Jewish support drops from 78% in 2008 to the low 60’s. This is not good
news for Obama.

**Youth voters. Obama’s biggest and most enthusiastic believers from 4
years ago have graduated into a job market from hell. Young people are
disillusioned, frightened, and broke- a bad combination. The enthusiasm is
long gone. Turnout will be much lower among young voters, as will actual
voting percentages. This not good news for Obama.

**Catholic voters. Obama won a majority of Catholics in 2008. That won’t
happen again. Out of desperation to please women, Obama went to war with the
Catholic Church over contraception. Now he is being sued by the Catholic
Church. Majority lost. This is not good news for Obama.

**Small Business owners. Because I ran for Vice President last time
around, and I’m a small businessman myself, I know literally thousands of
small business owners. At least 40% of them in my circle of friends, fans
and supporters voted for Obama 4 years ago to give someone different a
chance. As I warned them that he would pursue a war on capitalism and demonize
anyone who owned a business…that he’d support unions over the private
sector in a big way…that he’d overwhelm the economy with spending and debt.
My friends didn’t listen. Four years later, I can’t find one person in my
circle of small business owner friends voting for Obama. Not one. This is not
good news for Obama.

**Blue collar working class whites. Do I need to say a thing? White
working class voters are about as happy with Obama as Boston Red Sox fans
feel about the New York Yankees. This is not good news for Obama.

**Suburban moms. The issue isn’t contraception; it’s having a job to pay
for contraception. Obama’s economy frightens these moms. They are worried
about putting food on the table. They fear for their children’s future. This
is not good news for Obama.

**Military Veterans. McCain won this group by 10 points. Romney is winning
by 24 points. The more our military vets got to see of Obama, the more
they disliked him. This is not good news for Obama.
Add it up. Is there one major group where Obama has gained since 2008?
Will anyone in America wake up on election day saying, I didn’t vote for Obama
4 years ago, but he’s done such a fantastic job, I can’t wait to vote for
him today. Does anyone feel that a vote for Obama makes their job more
Forget the polls. My gut instincts as a Vegas odds maker and common sense
small businessman tell me this will be a historic landslide and a
world-class repudiation of Obama’s radical and risky socialist agenda.
It’s Reagan-Carter all over again.
But I’ll give Obama credit for one thing- he is living proof that
familiarity breeds contempt.

I hope to God he is right.


Another Braves Post Season Consigned to the Trash Can

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

There was a veil of inevitability hanging over the Braves Wild Card one-game playoff against the St Louis Cardinals. The Braves have not won a post season series since 2003. Last year the Cardinals took advantage of the Braves infamous September meltdown and pipped them to the wild card berth going on to win the World Series. For the first time ever there would be two wild card teams who would compete in a one game playoff for the right to join the three division winners in the next round.

This time was going to be different. After all, the Braves had all their ducks in a row. Medlen would be pitching. The Braves had won the previous 23 games in which Medlen started, breaking a major league record in the process. The Braves had won 93 regular season games compared to the Cardinals’ measly 85. They had home field advantage with Chipper making his swan song before 50,000 adoring fans. What could possibly go wrong?

The game began reasonably well. The Braves enjoyed a 2-0 lead following the completion of 3 innings and Medlen looked comfortable on the mound. He began the 4th inning in similar fashion to the previous innings with the Cardinal Player hitting a routine ground ball to Chipper at 3rd base who had a routine throw to second base for a double play. Inexplicably, Chipper threw the ball way above Uggla at second base and it went sailing into the outfield. The Cardinals proceeded to score three runs before the innings was completed, and Chipper’s error proved to be a game changer.

The Braves made a total of 3 throwing errors, left 12 men on base and went 1-7 with runners in scoring position (RISP.) Statistics confirmed that the Braves had the best defense in the National League. Toss in a running error by the rookie short stop and there is a case for retitling the post: “Comedy of Errors” with apologies to Will Shakespeare.

During the post mortem following the 3-6 demise to the pesky Cardinals, there were debates about one of the worst calls in baseball history: to be forever known as “The Shallow Left Field Fly Rule” which helped damper a potential Atlanta rally in the eighth.

The crowd was so incensed by the call that missiles rained down on the field from the upper decks in the shape of beer cans, coke cans, water bottles, and mustard and ketchup containers. The game was delayed for over twenty minutes while the crew chief conferred with major league officials and stadium staff picked up the trash strewn all over the field.  Braves manager Freddie Gonzalez lodged an official protest against the outrageous call, but to no avail. The officials upheld the call and play was restarted.

Chipper came up to bat in the ninth innings for what turned out to be his last at bat in the major leagues. Alas he was unable to weave his magic and had to be content with a base hit. Yet another Braves attempt at a run to The World Series ended in disappointment for a capacity crowd.

I am convinced that the Braves’ franchise has never recovered from Jim Leyritz’s three run homer hit off Mark Wohlers in the third game of the 1996 World Series against the New York Yankees. The Braves had won the first two games in New York and were leading 6-3 in the third game at home. They didn’t win another game and lost the World Series to the Yankees by 2-4. Do I detect the curse of the Leyritz?

Miracle, Meltdown and Mayhem at Medinah

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

This was the greatest comeback since Lazarus.  Europe’s win over the USA in the Ryder Cup by 141/2 -131/2 was truly remarkable.  Only one other team had ever come back from 6-10 down to win the Cup and that was achieved by USA at Brookline in 1999.

Arguably this win by Europe was even better.  It was achieved on foreign soil amid a hostile crowd and against a rampant American team who were dominant for the first two days. At one stage America led 10-4 with two four ball matches remaining on the course on Saturday evening.

Ian Poulter had been playing this competition like a man possessed since day one and Saturday evening he went into hyper mode. His partner Rory Mcilroy birdied the 13th hole to leave his team one down, but then Poulter reeled off 5 birdies on the last five holes to snatch a much needed win to reduce the margin to 10-6. Donald and Garcia did their bit to snatch a win from Woods and Stricker.

On Saturday evening ESPN’s chief golf writer claimed that Europe had no chance in winning the Ryder Cup. He said: “Team Europe can still win if the following five things happen Sunday:

Keegan Bradley is abducted.

Team USA captain Davis Love 3rd inserts cup spectators Michael Jordan, President George W. Bush, Amy Mickelson and the Rev. Jesse Jackson into the singles lineup.

Lee Westwood: U.S. citizen.

Marty McFly shows Team Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal how to go back in time. Last Friday will do.

Team Europe wins eight of the remaining 12 matches to retain the cup.”

Emboldened by America’s 10-6 lead going into the final day’s singles competition, he signed off by suggesting that the task the Europeans faced was “as close to insurmountable as trying to climb Everest wearing a T-shirt, cargo shorts and flip flops”.

I’m sure Jose Maria Olazabal shared the hack’s comments with his team before stacking the top of the order with his best players. Europe won the first five matches with Luke Donald and the incomparable Ian Poulter leading the way.

Golf is a strange game in many ways. There are players who excel in the majors. There are those who perform well in the majors and the Ryder Cup. Jack Nicklaus, Larry Nelson, Nick Faldo, Tom Watson and Sevy Ballesteros fall into the latter category.  Then there is the enigma of Tiger Woods with 14 majors, but has a dreadful record in the Ryder Cup. Woods in conjunction with veterans Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker won a meager 11/2 points between them.

Finally we have the category of golfers who have never won a major, but have an excellent record in Ryder Cup matches. Donald, Westwood, Garcia, Montgomerie and Poulter epitomize this phenomenon. Montgomerie was undefeated in singles matches and Poulter has the eye-catching record of 12-4 in his three Ryder Cups. The competition has reached such magnitude that a good Ryder Cup record can now define a golfer’s career.

Europe’s amazing start in the singles drew them level in terms of the overall score, but more work was required to retain the cup. By the time the middle matches were completed the score was level at 12-12. If Mickelson’s chip or Stricker’s putt on 17 had dropped, Martin Kaymer and the Europeans would have come up a point short in their quest to retain the cup. Instead Kymer sunk the putt and the rest is history.

Did we witness a miracle inspired by the spirit of the late and great Sevvy Ballesteros, or did the Americans have a meltdown in the home stretch? Neither assumption is probable but anything is possible. However there is one factor of which I’m sure: on the first two days most of Europe’s putts were lipping out, but on Sunday every European putt appeared to find the cup which made it possible to retain the Cup. Add the ensuing mayhem to miracle and meltdown, and there you have it in a tin cup.


There’s nothing quite like Live Theatre, Right?

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

I was looking forward to watching “War Horse” at the Fabulous Fox Theater in Atlanta the other night. Why not? The play received rave reviews on Broadway and the West End, so it had to be a no brainer.

We enjoyed a pre-show meal with friends at Bara Wanda restaurant a mere half a block away from the theater, and well fed and watered eagerly approached the Foxy lady.

Atlanta’s only daily newspaper “The Atlanta Journal & Constitution”, had given the performance a B in its review the following morning, but unfortunately I could not share their enthusiasm. We had reasonable seats in the Dress Circle until I realized I was sitting behind the incredible hulk. Half the stage was obliterated by his white head of hair bearing the hallmark of a Jimmy Johnson bouffant supported by gargantuan linebacker shoulders. The situation improved in the second half when a number of the audience around us left and we were able to move forward a few rows to obtain a better view.

However the sound system remained unpredictable for want of a better word. I have always had issues with the Fox’s acoustics and War Horse proved to be no exception. It was probably made worse by some of the phony English accents produced by members of the cast.

The script was rather lame from the words I could hear or understand, and the performance by the actor in the leading role of Albert was wooden and generated little empathy with the audience. The set was bland and uninspiring, but one redeeming feature was the exceptional puppetry which brought two horses to life ingeniously operated by two “three man” crews.

The Fox is an old theater (built in 1929 and saved from the demolition ball in 1974) and consequently the seats are spatially challenged. The auditorium can hold 4,678, but it’s not exaggeration to find one’s knees supporting one’s chin while experiencing the surreal straight jacket effect.

Don’t get me wrong. The shortcomings of the Fox Theater would not have mattered if the play had held my attention. Furthermore it mattered little that I had seen the movie version which I thoroughly enjoyed. The movie did not increase my expectations. You can’t compare apples and oranges.

In hindsight, the original National Theater’s production is probably light years away from a touring production with American actors attempting English accents from the Kevin Costner Speech Academy introduced for his version of “Robin Hood.”

But I can only judge on what I see and hear (which wasn’t much) and I regrettably can only give the play a D. However the horses stole the show and deserved an A.