2018… What Will Be.

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Predictions for the New Year:

  • The Dodgers will beat the Red Sox in the World Series.
  • Democrats will win the U.S. House back, provided they are not pushed too far by their base. Their majority will not be huge, but they will win a similar number of seats to their 2006 victories.
  • North Korea will attempt to mess with the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, causing international outcry. The games will ultimately happen though.
  • The Patriots will win the Super Bowl, beating New Orleans. No one outside of New England will like it.
  • The British Parliament will be forced into early elections that will end Theresa May’s Prime Minister term, giving power to Jeremy Corbyn, who will stop Brexit, leading to political turmoil and chaos for years to come.
  • The Warriors will defeat the Cavaliers for the NBA title. Neither team will face a competitive playoff series.
  • The Senate Democrats will net two seats and take a 51-49 majority in the chamber, putting an end to President Trump’s push to pack the courts.
  • Chaos in Venezuela will become a much larger story.
  • Vladimir Putin will win a sham election with over 60% of the vote.
  • Lindsey Vonn will strike Gold in Pyeongchang.
  • There will be a Presidential funeral in 2018. Donald Trump will make a circus of himself.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu will be indicted.
  • The U.S. stock market will slow.
  • Young protesters in Iran will be one of the biggest stories of 2018.
  • Robert Mueller will issue more indictments, some hitting the White House directly, but he will not issue his final report during 2018.
  • Donald Trump will not be impeached, nor will he resign in 2018. He also won’t be indicted. The only chance that he will resign is if he does so after the elections, facing a Democratic Congress.
  • The Nashville Predators will win the Stanley Cup, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning.
  • Joe Biden will announce a Presidential run for 2020 in December.
  • Iowa, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, and Nevada will elect Democratic Governors to replace their Republican ones.
  • The U.S. Deficit will rise faster than expected.
  • The situation in Syria will actually begin to improve, because the U.S. will allow Assad to stay in power.
  • Taylor Swift will win a Grammy. So will the Foo Fighters.
  • The JFK files will be released, and while we won’t find a smoking gun in them, there will be something really weird that drives conspiracy theories.
  • Omarosa’s tell-all will compete with Barack Obama’s memoir for best selling political book of 2018.
  • The Phillies will finish second in the NL East. Carson Wentz will miss nearly half of 2018 while healing, but will return to lead the Eagles to the playoffs. The Sixers will make the playoffs. The Flyers will, well, keep playing.
  • You’ll hear a lot more of the name Tom Steyer. He’ll run for President, announcing this year.

I’m out of predictions. The time is your’s.

The Highlights of 2017

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My most important moments of 2017, in my life, in no particular order:

  1. I made it to a personal record 42 MLB and MiLB baseball games in 2017. I went to games in Philadelphia, Allentown, Pittsburgh, both New York Stadiums, and Washington along the way.
  2. My sister graduated from Temple University with a degree in communications, and then entered Temple Law.
  3. We lost a couple of family members this year. My great-uncle Charlie, and my mom’s cousin Janet both died this year. Both will be missed.
  4. I officiated my first wedding for my friends Dana and Mike Graziano. I’m not going to lie, I love public speaking, but was very nervous for that.
  5. My twitter account blew up this year. I gained over 8,500 followers in 2017. I need to thank Sally Albright for helping me get my message out, and Bernie-twitter for attacking me and giving me a larger platform. The more people are seeing my stuff, the more strength the message has. Thanks folks!
  6. My friends Bob and Andrea got married at Lafayette College during the Summer. My friends Frank and Jess celebrated their wedding in DC the day before Easter. I was thrilled to attend both.
  7. All of my candidates I worked for this year won. I managed Phillips Armstrong to a victory in Lehigh County for Executive, worked Northeast Pennsylvania for Ellen Ceisler’s victorious run for Commonwealth Court in both the primary and general elections, advised on Lamont McClure’s winning campaign for Northampton County Executive, worked GOTV for Jeanne McNeill’s successful special election campaign for a PA State House Seat, and did some work for successful county council candidates in Northampton County and judicial candidates.
  8. I went to the Sixers home opener against the Celtics. It didn’t go as hoped, but it was the first step on the road to being an NBA powerhouse.
  9. I got to attend Barack Obama’s farewell address in Chicago. I love any excuse to go to Chicago, but that night was extraordinary. No sooner than the speech ended though, the sadness of what was ahead set in.
  10. The family did a vacation trip, dogs and all, to visit my uncle in Creedmoor, NC. I love it down there, you don’t need to give me an excuse to stop in. My cousin Griffin turned 21, but his brother Ben broke his collarbone.
  11. My sister and cousins Evan and Brad did a mini-vacation in DC. We hit the sites and the Smithsonians. The highlight to me was the Capitol Tour though, and the huge gathering of friends we had in DuPont. The lowlight was a psychotic woman yelling at the manager next to us at Ben’s Chili Bowl.
  12. The Eagles won the NFC East. Something good happened in Philly sports.
  13. My fraternity, Omicron Gamma Omega (OGO) celebrated our 95th anniversary in the spring. I’m proud of my affiliation and the people I’ve had the privilege to meet from that.
  14. I saw my Lehigh Valley Ironpigs (Phillies AAA) win a playoff game. It was their only win, but I saw it.
  15. I attended my friend and client Maureen Madden’s swearing-in to the Pennsylvania House on January 4th. We have a beautiful capitol, and I’m proud of her work.

That’s that. I’m sure I missed lots of stuff, but this jumped out. On to 2018!

Donald Trump, Vanity Fair, and Our Broken Media

The New York Times got themselves quite a scoop- our vacationer-in-chief President gave them his one interview from Mar-a-Lago. The reporter doing the interview made a decision- to not really press Donald Trump, and instead to mostly let him talk. It was a smart decision from the standpoint that it got Trump to essentially babble and ramble, and not go back into his shell. It was a terrible decision for a reporter though- follow-up questions and clarifications on things that a reporter knows to be false are part of their job, not just an option to consider. Basically Trump was given an open microphone to spew what he wanted, and while he made some mistakes, the bigger danger is in letting his words reach the public without a challenge.

In essence, this is part of why we have Trump- our media allowed him to be an option. His rallies were shown in full, rarely were his lies challenged on their way to the American public. While Hillary Clinton was pressed for details on her plans, and forced to defend herself on trumped up scandal after scandal, Donald Trump never gave us details on his plans, from building his wall to taxes, to health care, and so on. The press is so afraid of both losing access, and being viewed as unfair, even if those they’re being “unfair” to are lying and lost. They did not press him for details enough during the election, or now, and they did not challenge his lying enough, then or now. Their job is to challenge those who lie or have weak ideas. They didn’t. In fact, they didn’t with several candidates in 2016.

The Trump interview showed us that, at least as 2017 ends, this is still a problem. The behavior of writers from the New York Times, especially Maggie Haberman, shows that we shouldn’t expect change any time soon.

I could go on all day, but I won’t. Maggie Haberman spent the whole day circling the wagons to defend her paper, her colleagues, and her view of journalism. She literally trolled and sub-tweeted people over the criticisms. This is one of the top reporters at the New York Times, not some random nobody. This is also a reporter who has a reputation for being fairly rough on Hillary Clinton, the woman Trump beat for the White House, despite losing the popular vote by almost 3 million votes.

Speaking of people who are pretty tough on Hillary Clinton, Vanity Fair is having quite a tough week. They published a list of “New Year’s Resolutions” for Hillary Clinton that included getting new hobbies, “like knitting.” They also told her to keep wandering the woods, not run for President ever again, and basically to just go away. They got hammered on the internet for it, and were forced to apologize. The video was purely sexist, and that was plain to see, even if you don’t like Hillary Clinton. Those who made it should be reprimanded or fired by Vanity Fair, to save their credibility. Bad journalistic work, like bad work in any other professional field, should have consequences. I guess not everyone though…

Yeah, that’s what this is about- not liking the opinion. It’s not about the sexism and ageism that is thinly, if at all, veiled in the Vanity Fair product. It’s not about the insult to an accomplished and successful woman, it’s about how it makes us *feel* to Elizabeth. But wait, there’s more:

This is just… WOW! According to Elizabeth Bruenig, if someone is bad at their job, they shouldn’t face consequences. Of course, she doesn’t afford Hillary Clinton nearly as much leniency, bringing up her “low approval ratings” in her defense of her colleagues. I guess Hillary should pay for her sins, but the writers of VFHive should not. Much like Maggie Haberman, she is running to the aid of her colleagues to defend them- circling the wagons.

Could there be a reason why Mrs. Bruenig is doing this? Well, her husband Matt Bruenig was fired from his blogging job at Demos for calling Neera Tanden a “scumbag” for one thing. He had a track record of this kind of behavior, and his “side-employer” canned him for it finally. He then created a “go fund me” page and asked people to finance his health care- which is funny for a guy who’s a lawyer, and who’s wife writes for the Washington Post. To say the Elizabeth Bruenig has a bias that should have prevented her from writing this piece is the least of it. It seems to me that she actually agrees with this behavior that has been directed at Hillary Clinton, Neera Tanden, and many, many other people on the internet. Or, at least she agrees with it when it’s people who espouse her socialist views, directing it at members of the Democratic Party.

Why does the Washington Post employ someone so compromised? Why does Vanity Fair think sexism is okay against politicians they don’t like? Why does the New York Times think it’s above reproach? Listen, I love the media, and generally agree with a lot of the things the people I’ve mentioned here write. I don’t know what I’d do in my business of choice without them. This isn’t about killing all journalism. It’s about fixing it.

The media has had several great failings in the 21st Century, with the Iraq War and 2016 Election standing out, but one could also include the run-up to the 2008 Market Crash. In each of their cases, they failed to pressure the main actors nearly enough, and ultimately the public didn’t even see the negative outcome coming. The words of Elizabeth and Maggie suggest that accountability is still something they’d rather avoid. The problem is that journalism is a really, really important field. The only way to have an “informed” public is for them to read the whole story. That might mean sacrificing some objectivity between “both sides,” or making a subject uncomfortable, or even losing some “access” that the powerful grant them.

The most revealing thing in Donald Trump’s New York Times interview this week was his statements saying the media needs him to win again. He probably believes that, and to be honest, I’m not sure he’s wrong, from the media’s perspective. His nonsensical babbling will continue to be treated as coherent and of some value, he won’t be pushed for the details on his vague policy and harmful statements, and his lies will be debated, as though they are not objectively lies. Why? Because it gets reads. When some of us challenge their unfair treatment of Hillary Clinton and other, actually competent politicians, they will circle the wagons around their colleagues and defend their poor performance. They will not look themselves in the mirror, and accept accountability. At least not the voices at the top echelon of the media. This is one part of why we’re in this mess. This is one really important thing that we have to push back on in 2018.

As An Eagles Fan, I Keep Asking- Could This Happen?

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I’m not going to lie- I pegged the Eagles for somewhere between seven and ten wins before the season. The AFC West was supposed to be loaded. Carson Wentz was only in year two of his development from North Dakota State to NFL Franchise QB. Road games at Carolina, Seattle, and Kansas City were mortal locks for defeat. Two trips to Los Angeles? Impossible. The defense wasn’t going to be very good, Doug Peterson’s offense still worried me, and the team went 7-9 the last two years. I wasn’t a believer.

The thing here is, I’m not often a believer in the Eagles. I was a kid watching Buddy Ryan’s feared defenses get let down in the playoffs, and when Reggie White was allowed to leave Philadelphia over money. I was a young adult when they lost the NFC Title Games to St. Louis, Tampa, and Carolina. I was in college when they lost the Super Bowl to Tom Brady. I was 25 when they lost the NFC Title Game to an Arizona team they had beaten during the season. I can honestly say at least three times I expected (yes, expected) my Eagles to win the Super Bowl. They never did. They never have, period. When they got gimmicky and brought in Chip Kelly, I immediately called fraud on that clown. He proceeded to wreck the team. Over my 34 years, the Eagles have given me every reason to doubt them.

The thing is, if you’re actually objective, there’s no reason to trust a franchise who last won an NFL Championship when my father was three years old (1960). Like most Eagles fans, I’ve so badly wanted to believe they’d win, but they usually end up disappointing us- in fact, they always seem to. It’s part of being a Philadelphia fan- you learn to deal with heartbreak and disappointment with the best of them.

I didn’t feel that way about this year’s team though, at least not until December 10th. Carson Wentz made me, and many others, truly believe this could be it. He’s that good. He’s an MVP type of QB. He really has the talent. So, of course he got hurt. Of course. His ACL had to tear as the team was winning the NFC East, and their 11th game of the season. This is the essence of being an Eagles fan. You want to believe so bad, and when the deck finally seems stacked our way, the rug gets pulled out from underneath you. Wentz got hurt, then somehow it was the defense that went shaky. Then the defense looked great this week, and the offense went shaky. I’ve never seen a less confident fanbase for a 13-2 team.

So, here’s the thing. I actually am pretty happy with the season they’ve had. They’ve defied my expectations and beliefs about them. I’m bought in on the coach/front office regime, the quarterback, and the roster they’ve assembled. I think this team is actually, legitimately good. Would I predict them to win the NFC, or the Super Bowl, right now? No. Do they have a shot? Yes, they have a real shot to win it all. I think they absolutely would have won the Super Bowl if Carson Wentz hadn’t got hurt. I think they still have a chance now. Why?

  • They have home field advantage in the NFC Playoffs. If you’re home, you at least have a chance. Philadelphia is a tough place to play in January, and who among the other current NFC Playoff teams is a legitimate outdoor, cold weather team? Minnesota, New Orleans, and Atlanta play in domes. Los Angeles and Carolina play in nice weather cities. Even beyond the noise, there is a real advantage here.
  • The road is shorter. Thanks to the bye in the Wild Card round, the Eagles only have to win two games to win the NFC, not three. Beating two good teams is a lot easier than beating three, even if it’s still hard.
  • Nick Foles replacing Carson Wentz really isn’t their biggest issue. Okay, so Nick Foles didn’t look great Monday night, but he looked good in LA and New York the two previous weeks. He’s had some playing time this season, he’s not totally cold. He’s  been an NFL starter, and even started in the playoffs. I’m far more worried about mistakes in the secondary and the loss of Jason Peters doing the Eagles in than Nick Foles. Foles isn’t Wentz, and I never bought into him even in his “27 to 2” season a few years back, but he’s good enough to win an NFL football game. He’s done what he needed to for the first two weeks as starter.
  • They keep overcoming major injuries. Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Darren Sproles, Caleb Sturgis, and of course, Carson Wentz have all suffered season-ending injuries.. Ronald Darby and Zack Ertz missed time. The Eagles are 13-2. Again, that’s 13-2, not 10-5 or some other very good, but not dominant record. This is a very good football team, a team that seems to find ways to win, regardless of the issues.
  • If not them, who else? No, really, who else? I guess if I were a betting man on the hot hand in the NFC, I’d probably take Carolina, who will have to play in the Wild Card round regardless of what happens next week, and who the Eagles did beat at their place earlier this year (granted, with Wentz). Minnesota has a great defense, but do you really think Keenum gets them all the way? Drew Brees is a football God, but do the Saints scare you in the cold like they do in the Dome? Are you bought into the Rams yet? Is Atlanta what they were last year? Are the Patriots or the Steelers the best version of those franchises that you’ve seen in recent memory? Any of the teams I mentioned, and even a Jacksonville or Kansas City, could possibly beat the Eagles in the post-season. The Eagles may not even win a game. But really though, which team is out of their league?
  • If they get there… Look, if the Eagles can win two NFC Playoff home games and win the NFC, they’re in the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is unique in American professional sports in that it’s a one-and-done game. It’s hard to get lucky and win four out of seven games in the World Series, or the NBA Finals, or the Stanley Cup Finals- you have to at least be competitive to get lucky in those championships. The Super Bowl is one football game. You have to outplay the opponent one time. That can happen- any given Sunday.

I don’t want to get your hopes too far up- the Eagles aren’t the favorites to win the Super Bowl anymore. They’re at best a “pick ’em” in the NFC, where no one is way out ahead right now. They could lose in the divisional round. If that happens, it’ll be sad, but something we’ve all seen before. I’ll still have faith in the future of the team, provided that they are smart and let Carson Wentz heal 100%- not rush him back to play Opening Day in 2018. With the way this team defied my expectations, my hopes are now sky high for a next decade of Carson being among the NFL’s elite. With a defense that showed amazing progress in a year’s time, a running back situation that was productive, and receivers that make plays, I have high hopes moving forward. I’m just not done hoping for big things to come- this year.

New Year’s Resolution- Vanity Fair Should Just Go Away

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It’s no secret- Hillary Clinton is not the President of the United States. That’s because she lost the Electoral College in 2016, which is to say she lost the Presidential Election under our rules in America. She lost to Donald Trump, her campaign made some fatal and unforgivable errors, and obviously she made some mistakes as a candidate too. There’s a flip side to that though- Hillary Clinton got about 66,000,000 votes, or about 2.9 million more than Donald Trump. She became the first woman to be nominated by either major political party for President. She beat Bernie Sanders by about 4 million votes for the nomination. She got more general election votes than any white man in American history, including the 44 white, male Presidents. Turning the former Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady of the United States into a punch line and joke is deplorable, pardon the pun. The country would be better off if she were the President today. Despite the fact she didn’t end up in the White House, and it was one of the most bitter losses I’ve ever dealt with in campaigns, I’m proud to have worked for Hillary Clinton.

Vanity Fair lives in a different world, apparently:

Yes, the absolute worst thing in the world would be the continued involvement in politics by Hillary Clinton– the person who more Americans picked for President than anyone not named Barack Obama (ever). She should take up literally any other hobby than politics- right? God forbid she stays involved and tries to continue rallying her rather large voting block against Donald Trump, right? I mean, really, this is clear to all of these very smart, young, white writers.

I’m not for Hillary running again in 2020, I’ll say that now. It’s not because I can’t support her, it’s because I don’t think the country can get over themselves and elect a woman that is smarter than 99% of us, particularly one with a long political history like Hillary. I think she’s taken too much (unfair) damage along the pathway from the 1992 Election through today. Is there a double standard here, since I’d be fine with Al Gore or Joe Biden running? Hell yeah, there is. Hillary’s taken a beating from an ungrateful nation for her service, and I don’t think she’s as likely to beat Donald Trump in 2020 as other elder statesmen of the Democratic Party. I think the most important thing is nominating the Democrat (not you, Bernard Sanders) who can best beat Donald Trump, and then govern the country and get things done. I don’t think Hillary is in the best position to do both of those things, sadly for us. She deserved better.

As for Vanity Fair though, they can go pound sand. I’m not really interested in reading their hot-takes at this point. If anyone needs a new hobby, it’s these out-of-touch writers and their attempt at “humor.”

The Case for Renewable Energy Sources and Nuclear Power

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Let’s set a few things straight about the energy situation on planet Earth:

  • The fossil fuel companies say that time is running out on fossil fuels. Whether you believe coal/oil/natural gas has 50, 75, 100, or even 200 years left of supply, it’s finite. Demand is rising, as more and more of the former “third world” is seeing a rise in standard of living from globalization. Rising demand and falling supply will increase prices. That is compounded by the fact that fossil fuels become more expensive to mine as we dig deeper into the supply. We will price ourselves out of fossil fuels in the near term.
  • There is no segment of the scientific community actually arguing that global warming is not happening. There is a small, and somewhat suspect wing of the community that says it is not a man-made issue, but there is no credible argument that we are not experiencing warming at the atmospheric level that is altering the state of our planet.
  • We’re not going to be able to completely get off of fossil fuels quickly. It won’t be an over-night thing. We’re talking about entirely re-making our entire power grid, our auto-industry, our housing industry, and on and on. Given the problems stated in my first point, time is ticking away.
  • Even if you don’t believe in global warming, there’s no way you believe the smog and pollution caused by fossil fuels is actually good for you. That would be an absurd and laughable position to take. If you want to argue this with me, please volunteer to go huff fumes from a big truck that is “rolling coal.”
  • Solar is creating more jobs than coal in America today. Even in Donald Trump’s America, this is true. It’s a growing industry, and one which young people tend to favor. Again, refer to point number one, and solar has a better long-term outlook as a fuel of choice. The same is true for wind.
  • A large chunk of the planet’s oil is located under the Middle East. That would be a region with great instability (Syria, for instance), governments that we’re not terribly fond of (Iran), extreme poverty and human rights abuses (Saudi Arabia), and wars- not the place you want to be beholden to for your energy.
  • People fear nuclear power, in part because of it’s military uses, and in part because of fears about accidents (Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Fukushima). Here’s the facts though- nuclear power, particularly in newer plants, has a very good record of safety. Innovation will only make that better. The second fact is that nuclear power is extremely clean, comparable to our current energy sources. Nuclear power plants aren’t easy to build, and we can’t produce enough of them to make them our primary source of power, but they can be a part of the solution.
  • Much of the reason why fossil fuels still enjoy primacy in our market in the United States is because they still get a lot of the tax subsidies. If we started shifting those subsidies towards renewables, we would see the market begin moving that way even faster.
  • Much of our domestic supply of oil is in areas that we should want to protect for future generations. Oceans, national parks, and on our wild lands. Transporting via pipelines isn’t necessarily the hazard that some would have it seem to be, but the record of these pipelines is far from perfect. We risk the beauty of our natural lands and seas to increase domestic production, at very little benefit- More domestic drilling does not lower prices for us here in the United States. In fact, we don’t get all of the oil.
  • Global Climate Change is actually a real thing. Extreme weather is a problem that we are facing right now, both in the United States and abroad. Failing to act, and soon, will continue to harm everyone.
  • Russia is a petro-state. Moving the world away from their fossil fuel driven economy would force change in Putin’s Russia.

Given the geo-politics, the economics, the potential for ruining the planet, and the positive impact that cleaner energy would have on our daily lives, it would make sense to speed up the move away from fossil fuels and onto cleaner energy. Given the economic potential in wind, solar, nuclear, and other cleaner energy sources, it makes sense to move towards them for job creation. The potential for innovation, for job creation, for a better quality of life, and to ease the geo-political stresses the fossil fuel industry creates, should be driving our policy. Unfortunately, it’s not at the national level, at this time. We need to begin the move though, and now. It’s a good reason to go vote for change in 2018.

So You Got a New Dog…

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So you got a new dog for Christmas- good. A few years ago, a new dog named Nugget arrived at my house for Christmas. We had two already, so it was a surprise, but I’m glad he did. He’s still here, this is his home now, and it will be his home for the rest of his life.

This Christmas, I saw an increased amount of attention on other dogs who have not been as lucky. There are people who bring their older dogs to the pound when they are getting a new dog. There are still others who take their new dog to the pound before the next Christmas, for varying reasons.

To me, there’s a special place in hell for these people. Dogs are our best companions, frankly better companions than other people are. To me, once you bring a dog into the house, you added a member of the family. If you don’t want to commit to the animal, don’t get the animal in the first place. It’s a pretty simple thing. They’re capable of feeling abandonment, and nothing should ever feel abandoned.

So I hope you really like your new pet. Merry Christmas.