Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Putting AOC on an Equal Footing with Pelosi

News editors like conflict. No surprise in that. The Democrats, to their credit, disagree among themselves. So when fissures appear, editors (and journalists interested in hits and front-page appearances) do backflips. 

Just so with the splits among younger and older Democrats, which, because the media generally abhor subtlety because it's too much "in the weeds," they reduce to a personal conflict between Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. 


So far, the press seems to be putting AOC, as she is known, on an equal footing with Pelosi, which is ridiculous. 

The Speaker has a long career of accomplishment in the U.S. House. AOC has been a Member of Congress for a few months, but, while garnering an amazing amount of coverage in major newspapers, that relic of the 19th Century, and less, but still a lot, on cable TV and broadcast news and in online articles, has not demonstrated any clout in the Democratic caucus. Take the recent vote on the original House bill on one of the most highly-followed issue of recent years--the status of undocumented immigrants at the Southern border. The House passed its version of the bill with 227 Democrats voting "yea" and 4 Democrats voting "nay." (4 Democrats were absent.) The four? Members Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Pressley, and Tlaib. That was the bill Pelosi was talking about when she told Maureen Dowd of The New York Times: “All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” she said. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.” Yes, a lot more Democrats voted against the Senate bill, which became law, but that vote cost them nothing among the faction of the party that is to the left of the House caucus, and Pelosi did not need them to pass a bill that at least addressed the issue before Congress left town for a recess.

The whole thing causes me to worry about whether this fissure is going to lead the Democrats to a smashing defeat in 2020.

Who is more likely to lead the Democratic Party to a smashing defeat--Nancy Pelosi or "The Squad," as the afore-mentioned four have been calling themselves since right after their election? Let's do something very old-fashioned: look beyond Twitter for real evidence.

If it's fair to assume that people's voting choices are closely correlated to their views on what's important to them, then Democrats would be wise to focus on what's important to their voters. Where does the press come in? They do a basic disservice when they give more prominence to those with views not held by the majority than those views merit. This is not to say that those with non-majority views should be shut out by the media. It is a question of seeing the forest from the trees. 

Take a few moments to read the Pew Research Center's Public’s 2019 Priorities: Economy, Health Care, Education and Security All Near Top of List.

Democratic voters may be repelled by the likes of Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein, and they may be sympathetic to the rights of minorities and women.  But, being interested mostly in matters that affect them personally, they think that good government (and politics) are not just about the latest Twitter or other hashtag obsession. Rather, they are concerned mostly about "bread and butter" issues--like how they are going to be able to support themselves during retirement and how they and their children are going to be able to support themselves. They also show increasing concern about the state of the environment. 




And they are skeptical of "solutions" that are oblivious to political reality. So, by a fairly hefty margin, 53-40, more Democrats want the Party to go in a more moderate direction than in a more liberal direction:




In other words, The Squad is right in there with Donald Trump, with a 40% rating. (Yes, it's a little bit apples and oranges, but the point is undeniable.)

Ultimately, AOC and The Squad will achieve whatever they're going to achieve, but what evidence is there that they are going to be more successful than Occupy Wall Street?

If the press could spend a few moments doing basic research rather than repeating Tweets,  maybe the Republicans and Fox News will have less basis to equate all Democrats with The Squad. 



Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Shays's Rebellion Lives On

Is there one factor that has the highest correlation to political leaning? Is it income level? gender? attitudinal factors? There are already available data, from November 6, 2018 exit polls, showing both the breakdowns between the two major parties on a variety of characteristics, as well as stabs at correlations. But surely only one election cannot reliably predict future trends.

I have not taken the time to review these data over the years and, despite a search on Google Scholar and the Pew website, I have been unable to find any. So, my stab is just that. 

It is that, over time, the split is largely based on the age-old cultural and political divisions between city dwellers (recently joined by more suburbanites) and country folk. Let's call it, loosely, metropolitan v. rural. 

This has been a persistent theme throughout American history, perhaps most graphically expressed in the brief rebellion against the political status quo waged by residents of Massachusetts in 1786 and early 1787--colloquially known as "Shays's Rebellion." It may be worth studying these events to try to make sense of what is occurring now.

Shays's Rebellion has typically been portrayed as an effort by dirt-poor farmers to avoid their debts and, along the way, overturn the established order (they did try to seize the federal armory in Springfield). In other words, there was supposedly a correlation between income level and participation in Shays's Rebellion. Indeed, most of the “Rebellion” consisted of semi-successful attempts at shutting down the operations of courts in various localities throughout Massachusetts, most in the western portion, and because, history being written by the victors, so casting the rebels was a propitious way for the victors (merchants from Boston, among them Samuel Adams, and their political allies) to characterize the rebels and their cause. 

Professor Leonard L. Richards, in his 2002 book, Shays's Rebellion, found that this traditional portrait of Shays's Rebellion was wrong. Based on the Richards book, I summarize his findings on two questions: what was the Rebellion about and who were its participants and sympathizers? 

Take the concerns and demand Richards cites as being typical of the complaints addressed to the Massachusetts legislature by local governments in Western Massachusetts since the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783: relief for farmers unable to obtain hard money to pay debts; simplification and reform of court system; elimination of upper chamber of state legislature; redistricting of lower chamber; and moving of state capital from Boston to a more central location. These reforms stemmed from perceived defects in Massachusetts' 1780 constitution, which enshrined conservative principles aimed at preventing the poor or landless from exercising political power, including the creation of an upper legislative chamber based on tax payments and comparable provisions.

On the second question--who were the rebels?--Richards reveals that impoverished farmers were a minority. The vast majority were "yeomen" farmers--not "gentlemen," but not dirt-poor either. Meanwhile, most leaders of what became known as Shays's Rebellion were established, even wealthy, citizens in their local communities in Western Massachusetts. As can be expected, the vast majority, even in the most rebel-laden jurisdictions, were observers, but there was unmistakable widespread sympathy with the central demands of the early protests, as illustrated by the refusal of local militias to put down attempts by semi-armed rebels to shut down a few courts. Importantly, the militia was made up of men who owned property--"men of substance with deep roots in the community since militia law rather systematically excluded the poor and the transient from service," according to Richards. 

In all, from September to December 1786, courts in six towns, including the eastern towns of Taunton and Concord, were forced to be closed. Eventually, Shays's Rebellion was put down by a force of soldiers assembled for this purpose largely by the efforts--and funds--of wealthy Bostonians. Importantly, amidst active attempts of state-sponsored recrimination against the rebels, especially their leaders, Governor Bowdoin was defeated in a landslide by John Hancock. And the general who ordered his state troops to shoot to kill in the battle over the Springfield-based federal armory was vilified for the rest of his life and died a pauper. The first political parties, under President John Adams, were roughly split on these lines. Divisions during the eras of Jacksonian democracy and prairie populism were, arguably, direct descendants of this split, and a quick look at a red-blue national map by counties show the concentration of Democrats in metropolitan areas, especially on the coasts.   

The key point is that just as participants in Shays's Rebellion were largely comfortable if not wealthy men from rural areas, Donald Trump's following is composed very substantially of  member of the "establishment" of small town and rural America.

Realistically, I am not optimistic about the Democrats' ability to break down the barriers between metropolitans and country folks. Organized Democrats--or at least many of those who vote for Democratic candidates--seem to have a preternatural ability to offend their country cousins. This year, it was calls to "abolish" ICE, harassment of their political opponents at restaurants and homes, and unquestioned acceptance of women's accusations against men because they were made by women. These tactics play into the hands of Republicans like Trump (and have done so at least since the days of Richard Nixon) by enabling them to portray all opponents as discourteous mobs. They were taking a page from the playbook of opponents of Shays's Rebellion nearly 250 years ago.










Friday, November 9, 2018

The Senate: "Not Democracy," For Sure!

Immediately after this year's mid-term elections, New York Times columnist Michael Tomasky lamented that, in "Democratic Senate candidates garnered 45 million votes, and Republicans just 33 million (57 percent to 42 percent). Yet, the Republicans will gain perhaps three seats. That is not democracy." 

No, it certainly is "not democracy." But how can one seriously suppose that the Constitution structured the government of the United States on principles of "democracy"? Go no further than Federalist 10 ("The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection"), in which James Madison examined the differences between a democracy ("a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person") and a "republic" ("a government in which the scheme of representation takes place"). 

Even if Mr. Tomasky can be granted poetic license and be assumed to be using "democracy" as a reference to the power of numerical popular majorities, his comments are seriously mistaken. The Constitution intricately limits the power of the majority and preserves the power of individual States. Witness this discussion of "the equality of representation in the Senate" in Federalist 62 ("The Senate"):
The equality of representation in the Senate is another point, which, being evidently the result of compromise between the opposite pretensions of the large and the small States, does not call for much discussion. If indeed it be right, that among a people thoroughly incorporated into one nation, every district ought to have a PROPORTIONAL share in the government, and that among independent and sovereign States, bound together by a simple league, the parties, however unequal in size, ought to have an EQUAL share in the common councils, it does not appear to be without some reason that in a compound republic, partaking both of the national and federal character, the government ought to be founded on a mixture of the principles of proportional and equal representation. But it is superfluous to try, by the standard of theory, a part of the Constitution which is allowed on all hands to be the result, not of theory, but ``of a spirit of amity, and that mutual deference and concession which the peculiarity of our political situation rendered indispensable.'' A common government, with powers equal to its objects, is called for by the voice, and still more loudly by the political situation, of America. A government founded on principles more consonant to the wishes of the larger States, is not likely to be obtained from the smaller States. The only option, then, for the former, lies between the proposed government and a government still more objectionable. Under this alternative, the advice of prudence must be to embrace the lesser evil; and, instead of indulging a fruitless anticipation of the possible mischiefs which may ensue, to contemplate rather the advantageous consequences which may qualify the sacrifice.
In this spirit it may be remarked, that the equal vote allowed to each State is at once a constitutional recognition of the portion of sovereignty remaining in the individual States, and an instrument for preserving that residuary sovereignty. So far the equality ought to be no less acceptable to the large than to the small States; since they are not less solicitous to guard, by every possible expedient, against an improper consolidation of the States into one simple republic.
Another advantage accruing from this ingredient in the constitution of the Senate is, the additional impediment it must prove against improper acts of legislation. No law or resolution can now be passed without the concurrence, first, of a majority of the people, and then, of a majority of the States. It must be acknowledged that this complicated check on legislation may in some instances be injurious as well as beneficial; and that the peculiar defense which it involves in favor of the smaller States, would be more rational, if any interests common to them, and distinct from those of the other States, would otherwise be exposed to peculiar danger. But as the larger States will always be able, by their power over the supplies, to defeat unreasonable exertions of this prerogative of the lesser States, and as the faculty and excess of law-making seem to be the diseases to which our governments are most liable, it is not impossible that this part of the Constitution may be more convenient in practice than it appears to many in contemplation.
In short, according to Madison or Hamilton (the authorship of Federalist 62 is assigned to one or the other), the Senate was constructed as it was on the basis of a compromise between small states and large states; it was expressly designed to prevent dissolution of the powers of the states and to provide a check against oppression of small states by the large, while vesting in the House the power to prevent oppression of large states by the small.

My fellow Democrats, a perfect example of the purpose of the Senate was the defeat of the GOP's American Health Care Act by one vote in the Senate. The fact that it was defeated is ascribed to one Senator--the late John McCain--but his vote carried no greater weight than those of 12 Senators from "small" states like Alaska, Delaware, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. 

As Democrats, let's focus--as Mr. Tomasky does in his op-ed--on getting more votes from people who live in "red" states. Let's stop focusing on the side-effects of particular provisions of the Constitution. Let's live or die under that document.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Were Cohen's Hush Payments Illegal Campaign Contributions: Who the Hell Knows?

On August 21, 2018, Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former lawyer/fixer, pleaded guilty to violating 52 U.S.C. §§ 30109(d)(1)(A), 30116(a)(1)(A), and 30118(a),  and 18 U.S.C. § 2(b). United States v. Cohen, 18-cr-00602 (S.D.N.Y.). These are all provisions of federal law dealing with illegal election campaign contributions. In particular, they had to do with Cohen's making or arranging for separate payments to a porn star and a former Playboy model to secure their silence, before the 2016 election, about their supposedly having had sex (separately) with Trump.

Amidst the media firestorm that resulted, it was not seriously discussed whether, 
irrespective of the fact that Cohen pled guilty, these payments actually constituted violations of the federal campaign finance law. Whether they were violative depends on whether the payments were "contributions" to Trump's Presidential campaign. The Federal Election Campaign Act, 52 U.S.C. §  30101(8), states, in pertinent part: "The term 'contribution' includes--(i) any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office..." 

What does "for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office" mean? That the sole purpose of the payment was to influence a federal election? Or does it suffice that one of the purposes of the payment was to influence an election? Suppose, in the context of the Cohen case, that the payments had two purposes--influencing the Presidential election and preventing the Trump's wife or family from hearing about the candidate's possible sexcapades. Under one reading of the law, the payments would be contributions and, under the other, the they would not be contributions. Note that this hypothetical is based on the assumption that the fact-finder (judge or jury) can and does find, as a matter of fact, that the payments had two purposes: in other words, just because a defendant or the candidate claim that there were two purposes, that claim need be credited by the fact-finder. Here, it is assumed, for argument's sake, that it is.


Michael Mukasey, a former U.S. Attorney General under George W. Bush and, before that, a U.S. District Judge, appeared on PBS the day after the Cohen guilty plea and, without reservation, announced that the law required that electioneering was the sole purpose of the payment: "If there is a dual purpose, including protecting his reputation, then it’s not considered a campaign contribution." Mr. Mukasey was not alone in making this argument. Months before the Cohen guilty plea, Rudolph Giuliani, President Trump's personal lawyer, made essentially the same argument in a statement issued in May 2018.

Of course, Mr. Mukasey and Mr. Giuliani are entitled to their opinion--even to be cocksure of their opinion--and it may turn out that they're right, but the fact is there's no case law that confirms (or proves incorrect) their opinion. Instead, the issue is up for grabs.That neither of them felt the need to caution the listener that theirs was only one view of the issue and that there was no case law on the subject is regrettable, but apparently this is not the season for such a high level of intellectual honesty, especially when you're aligned with Trump.


Did the U.S. Attorney's Office come up with their theory that the payments were illegal campaign contributions out of thin air? No. At least one previous case, not on "all fours" with the Cohen/Trump case, paved the way. It appears that the only time that the statute had been used in a criminal case was in the Government's June 3, 2011 indictment of former Senator (and Presidential candidate) John Edwards. United States v. Edwards, 11-cr-161 (M.D.N.C.). In that case, while running for President in 2007, Edwards coordinated the payment of nearly a million dollars to his mistress to keep his fathering of her child a secret. His position was that the purpose of the payment was not electioneering but personal--to keep the information from his cancer-ridden wife--and thus did not constitute a violation of the campaign finance statute.

The Edwards trial resulted in an acquittal on one count and a hung jury on the other five, and the Government chose not to retry him. Before the case went to the jury, the defense moved to dismiss the indictment on the basis, among other things, that the payments were not "contributions" under the election law. The government opposed the motion, and the trial judge denied the motion without writing an opinion. The briefs filed by the defense and the prosecution are on PACER. Neither side was able to cite any authority directly on point.

The defense principally argued that a Fourth Circuit decision, N. Carolina Right to Life, Inc. v. Leake, 525 F.3d 274, 286 (4th Cir. 2008), required dismissal. Leake involved a challenge to a state statute requiring registration of a committee "that has as a major purpose to support or oppose the nomination or election of one or more clearly identified candidates." The Fourth Circuit held that under the Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S.1 (1976), the First Amendment required that for a group to be regulated as a political committee, the group must have "the major purpose” of supporting or opposing a candidate, and that its being "a major purpose" did not suffice (emphases added). The defense argued that Leake 

required a narrow reading of the term "contribution"--that the federal definition of contribution referred solely to a payment whose sole purpose was electioneering.

The Government responded that courts construing the term "for the purpose of" in other statutory contexts (including, ironically, the Mann Act) have rejected the argument that the term means "only for the purpose of." The Government also argued that the First Amendment did not require otherwise. As a side note, following the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Fed. Election Comm'n, 558 U.S. 310 (2010), three circuits have concluded that "the major purpose" test under Valeo is not a  
constitutional  
requirement, but rather is a statutory requirement. See Vermont Right to Life Comm., Inc. v. Sorrell, 758 F.3d 118, 135 (2d Cir. 2014) (disagreeing with Leake and citing two other such cases).
Without denigrating either side in the Edwards case, my view is that neither side's brief did much beyond scratch the surface of this issue. Certainly, District Judge Eagle's denial of the motion to dismiss without an opinion and her letting the case go to the jury would appear to be an extremely slim reed on which might lean the conclusion that the term "contribution" does not require that the sole purpose of the underlying payment be to influence an election. It remains to be seen whether any further prosecutions or Federal Elections Commission rulings will provide some guidance on this issue. 

Another issue is whether, if the law is as vague and uncertain as it appears it may be, a potential defendant would have the requisite mens rea--willfulness or specific intent--required for any illegal act to be criminal. Not to mention how this issue would play out in an impeachment context.


In the meantime, for partisans such as Messrs Mukasey or Giuliani who argue "no crime"--and for people, including representatives of organizations as disparate as the Heritage Foundation and Common Cause, who have taken the opposite position--I humbly offer the suggestion that they temper their opinions, no matter how heartfelt, with a healthy dose of "who the hell knows?".








Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin'

The Singapore Summit is over. Who won and who lost?

First, the all-important atmospherics: 

Most important for both, Trump and Kim got their photo op:



Trump took care of his base, railing before the summit against the (always) unidentified "haters and losers." 

And, after the summit, he managed to fawn all over Kim and even to call Chinese dictator Xi "a very special person."

But, atmospherics and premature-Nobel-Prizing aside, 

What did the United States get and what did North Korea get?

What the U.S. Got

1. An agreement to recover POW/MIA remains and repatriate those already identified.

Comment: a worthy goal, but at what cost?

 2. An agreement to "commit to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

Comment: a worthy goal, but:
a."work toward": at best, an unenforceable agreement to agree
 b. no mention of "irreversibility."
c. removal of U.S. nuclear weapons from S. Korea?
 
3. An agreement to "join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula."

Comment: a worthy goal, but:
a. what does it mean?
b. how will it be achieved?
c. where does it leave South Korea?
d. where does it leave the North Korean people?
e. "lasting and stable" are key words for the Kim family.

4. An agreement to "commit to establish new U.S.–DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity."

Comment: a worthy goal, but:
a. what does it mean?
b. how will it be achieved?
c. where does it leave South Korea?
d. do the North Koreans deserve only peace and prosperity?
d. no mention of "freedom" or "liberty"


What North Korea Got

1. The U.S. agreed to call off what Trump called "inappropriate," "very provocative" "war games"--joint military exercises with South Korea.

Comment: a "huge" concession by the U.S.
a. These "war games" have served to remind 
North Korea of the U.S.' commitment 
to defend South Korea, a major U.S. ally
b. This has been a major North Korean goal for decades.
c. where does it leave South Korea?

2. The U.S. gave North Korea--and the Kim family dynasty--important legitimatization:



Bottom line: 

The big winners: Kim and his clique.

The next big winners: 

Russia, because Trump can't stop scratching that itch and it thrives when the U.S. creates disunity among its allies, 

and China (which can now return to trading with North Korea and whose Communist Party chief, Xi, got a nice plug).

The big loser: South Korea.

The third biggest winner: those who own the royalty rights to Dusty Springfield's 1964 hit, Wishin' and Hopin'. Copyright 1969, Blue Seas Music, Inc. & KAC Music Co., Inc.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Marlins' Trades: Look in the Mirror

As dedicated Marlins fans—we go to 20 games a year and watch almost every other game on TV—my wife and I are surely disappointed that the new Marlins ownership has lowered player salaries by jettisoning three starters—Dee Gordon, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna.

But as realists, we are not at all surprised. How could it be otherwise?

Anyone focused on reality, as opposed to emotion-driven name-calling—in other words, anyone who considers it necessary to base opinions on the facts as they are and not as one wants them to be—knew that holding onto these high-priced stars made no long-term sense.

Why? Because of a few undeniable facts, both of the baseball and financial variety.

First, the baseball facts:

1.             The team was a chronic loser with Stanton and Gordon and Ozuna. Let’s look at their record since they moved into Marlins Park in 2012:

Year
Record
Games Out in NL East
Games Stanton Played
…Ozuna
…Gordon
2012
69-93
29
123
0
0
2013
62-100
34
116
0
0
2014
77-85
19
145
153
0
2015
71-91
19
74
123
145
2016
79-82
15.5
119
148
79
2017
77-85
20
159
159
158


2.             Their starting pitching—even had Jose Fernandez not died—was mediocre or worse. You need four starters to win. One does not do it. Aside from the young starter who came from nowhere, Jose Urena, starters the Marlins used in 2017 were over-the-hill or marginal—think Dan Straley,  Adam Conley, Edinson Volquez, Tom Koehler, and Vance Worley. Yes, Urena had a good 2017 (14-3 W/L, 3.82 E.R.A., 1.273 WHIP), but no one can say whether what he displayed last year is replicable. But for every Urena there was a Justin Nicolino, an Odrisamer Despaigne, or, my favorite, a Wei-Yin Chen, an oft-injured lefty who parlayed one decent year (2014 at age 28) with the Orioles into a ludicrous 5-year, $80 million backloaded contract (he’ll earn $24,600,000 in 2020). This, from the same management team that lavished millions on John Buck, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Heath Bell, and similar busts.

3.             Their relief pitching was equally suspect. Of the 5 Marlins pitchers with the most relief appearances, they had WHIP of 1.200, 1.379, 1,339, 1.392, and 1.553. The The Marlins dished out major dollars to a 37-year-old submariner, Brad Ziegler, whose best years were long behind him: his cumulative ERA since debuting in 2008 (including 2017) was 2.61; in 2017, 4.79. His average WHIP, 1.252; 2017, 1.553.

4.             Their depth was non-existent. Compare the Astros’ 2017 top three non-starting position players to the Marlins’:



G
PA
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
SB
CS
BB
SO
BA
Astros














Marwin Gonzalez
134
515
455
67
138
34
0
23
90
8
3
49
99
.303
Evan Gattis
84
325
300
41
79
22
0
12
55
0
1
18
50
.263
Jake Marisnick
106
259
230
50
56
10
0
16
35
9
4
20
90
.243
Marlins














JT Riddle
70
247
228
20
57
13
1
3
31
0
2
12
50
.250
Ichiro Suzuki
136
215
196
19
50
6
0
3
20
1
1
17
35
.255
Tyler Moore
104
203
187
17
43
14
0
6
30
0
0
10
56
.230


5.            
As usual, the Marlins’ minor league system was bare. At the end of the 2017, their minor league system was ranked 28th by Baseball America. Even after the trades of Gordon, Stanton and Ozuna, not a single guy in their farm system was rated in Baseball’s Top 100 by MLB Pipeline. Just look at their 2013-2017 top draft choices to get an idea why:

a.     2013 Colin Moran, 3B (now with Astros, .206 BA, 34 AB);
b.    2013 Matt Krook, LHP (never signed by Marlins);
c.     2014 Tyler Kolek, RHP (still in Rookie League);
d.    2014 Blake Anderson, C (switched to pitcher, Gulf League);
e.    2015 Josh Naylor, 1B (traded to Padres in 2016; low minor leagues)
f.      2016 Braxton Garrett, LHP (yet to play: Tommy John surgery)
g.    2017 Trevor Rogers (yet to play)

How did the Marlins get that way? Were all their front-office baseball people total dolts? Maybe they were below-average talent evaluators, but is that the sole reason for the Marlins’ sustained mediocrity? Not likely. More likely it’s at least largely, if not exclusively, a lack of cash to spend on first-class scouts, cross-checkers, data analysts and the other sources of baseball knowledge. Any question why is there not enough cash?

That leads to the financial facts.

1.             It has been widely noted that the Marlins have been last or near to last in the National League in attendance for years. But what is the effect of this lousy attendance on team revenues?

This is the Marlins’ reported home attendance since 2012, when they moved to Marlins Park (still named generically). The “Gap in Dollars” estimates that, as Fortune reports, the average Marlins ticket-buyer spent $33 per ticket plus concessions per game.



Year
Marlins
ML Average
Marlins’
Rank
Difference
Gap in Dollars
2012
2,219,444
2,495,309
18
275,865
9,103,543
2013
1,586,322
2,467,563
29
881,241
29,080,959
2014
1,732,283
2,457,987
27
725,704
23,948,245
2015
1,752,235
2,458,668
28
706,433
23,312,280
2016
1,712,417
2,438,636
28
726,219
23,965,214
2017
1,651,997
2,422,347
28
770,350
25,421,564


For nostalgia’s sake, let’s look at 2003, the last year the Marlins made the playoffs and won the World Series:

Year
Marlins
ML Average
Marlins’
Rank
Difference
Gap in Dollars
2003
1,303,214
2,256,300
28
953,086
33,358,003

2.             But that’s only attendance and concessions. How about local TV revenue. Figures from Fangraph for 2016 show that Miami is locked into a local TV contract through 2019 paying them $20 million a year; the mean payment per team was $53.5 million, while the median was $46 million. Split the difference, and the Marlins bank $30 million a year less than the average team from local TV rights. Meanwhile, media reports claim that the Marlins earn next to nothing from radio rights. So, between attendance and TV revenues, they’re in the hole about $55 million a year (throwing out 2012 attendance, their first year in the new park). No wonder they had to lower their payroll by $25 million a year—and, we can pray, put some of the difference into a quality farm system and analytics group.

Finally, let’s compare the years at Marlins Park when Stanton was injured for a major portion of the season and when he was not injured, to see if the fans turned out to see their star when he was playing.

Year
Games Stanton played
Marlins Attendance
2012
123
2,219,444
2013
116
1,586,322
2014
145
1,732,283
2015
74
1,752,235
2016
119
1,712,417
2017
159
1,651,997

As you can see, there’s no correlation. Indeed, in 2017, when he had the greatest year any Marlin has ever had and likely will ever have, attendance dropped overall, even though he played in 159 games.

So, for all who seek to cast blame for this situation, why blame the owners, capitalists all—from Wayne Huizenga to John Henry to Jeffrey Loria to Bruce Sherman/Derek Jeter. Who can blame them for either growing tired of losing money or not wanting to lose money from the outset? Who would willingly buy a business to lose money? Yes, business losses can be written off a tax return, but until people pay taxes at a 100% rate, no one comes out ahead by incurring business losses.

The only solution to this team’s financial woes will be increased attendance and TV viewership. But what chance is there that, as the Miami Herald has reported the Sherman/Jeter business plan reflected, attendance revenue and local TV revenue are going to increase sharply?

If you’re looking for people to blame, look at the people who don’t go to Marlins games, don’t listen to them on the radio, and don’t watch them on TV. No one is required to do any of the three. But if people want to get angry and fulminate, but stay even somewhat tethered to reality, they should start by looking in the mirror.

When you’re though looking in the mirror, concede this: this is a lousy baseball town. Then ask whether you’re willing to do anything about it.