The State of Our Union is Bad.

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Tonight, Donald J. Trump will give the “State of the Uniom” to Congress. That seems a lot more fitting than it should be. To imply we are a UNION is to imply some level of unity. The hellfire that is American civic life has no unity. Our politics are resorting ever increasingly towards tribalism, our institutions failing to act, and the pulpit of our leadership being used to feed propaganda and lies to the public. One might imply Donald J. Trump caused this. I would argue he is the symptom.

Our institutions don’t work. Our Congress is incapable of addressing national issues, unless those issues benefit the wealthy in cash form. Tax cuts and spending cuts happen, but rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, raising wages, and guaranteeing access to health care are expenses that are “out of the question.” Our national debt is used as an excuse to not invest in our people, but is rarely an issue when it comes to paying government contractors and cutting taxes. Meanwhile millions of Americans face deportation after the expiring Dream Act, millions lack health insurance, and millions lack basic housing. Our Congress is broken.

Our courts show more interest in protecting the rights of capital than the people. They hoist freedom of speech protections on corporations and shadow political groups, while not always protecting access to the ballot. Our high court is predictably partisan, and is willing to protect their party any chance they get. Our lower courts are increasingly packed with younger, ideological, incompetent judges who lack experience. Our trial courts can’t be accused of fairness or justice, from a purely statistical view, towards people of color. Our judiciary is not fair or impartial, but increasingly it is broken.

Our press is under assault, from our President, no less. An institution that should be progressive, just by demographics (reporters are largely college educated), practices in false equivalency to give regressive voices “fairness” for lies about things so broad as trade, climate change, and even our justice system. In return for the unfettered ability to spew propaganda, Trump and his allies call actual news reporting “fake news,” and question it’s veracity next to paid mouthpieces like Tomi Lahren. Even under this abuse, even as the demagogue calls their legitimacy into question, they report lies as facts. This didn’t just start, by the way- just look back at the Iraq War.

Our social movements no longer unite us at all, but are used to further divide us. Yes, Civil Rights and the anti-war movement of the Vietnam era divided America, but our divides today are essentially walls between us. As Black Lives Matter rose to question the treatment of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement, they were called anti-cop. As MeToo rose to highlight sexual assault and harassment towards women in our society, questions have risen as to whether or not they are simply seeking revenge against all men. When Occupy Wall Street rose to highlight income inequality, many questioned if they were just anti-capitalist anarchists, intent to destroy American prosperity. American elections can easily be predicted now, based on demographic turnouts. Our ability to discuss our differences have been drowned out by cable news formatting. Gender politics are deepening every passing week. Open racism is more accepted than it has been at any point in my life. The idea of genuine social progress is actually a debatable thing. We seem hopelessly divided.

The haves are doing better than ever, our have nots are doing even worse. Our new tax code was better to those with yachts than those seeking to write off their state and local taxes. The corporate tax cuts were made permanent, the middle class tax cuts phase out. The pay roll tax declines in it’s ability to fund Social Security and Medicare with each passing year since President Reagan signed the current version into law. The minimum wage hasn’t been increased in over a decade, federally. Union membership becomes less common every year. Billionaires can increasingly buy elections through Citizens United. Our President brags of his pace in deregulating our economy. We are sliding towards oligarchy.

And yes, there is our President. He is ignorant on policy matters. He is a racist. He is most certainly a sexist. He is seeking to manipulate our Department of Justice into working for him. He calls entire continents “shitholes.” He equates Nazis with regular protestors. He pays off porn stars for affairs. He golfs instead of working. He attacks reporters on twitter. He wants to build a wall along our southern border. He breaks up American families. He bans religious groups from coming here. He insults entire regions of the world with inflammatory policy decisions. He supports pollution. He is a bad man. I could go on. And on. And on.

I’m not even scratching the surface here. I’m not mentioning Russia invading our democracy, our falling standing in the world, the protectionist scourge driving our economic policy right now, or the multiple wars we remain engaged in. This American carnage threatens our very quality of life, our way of being. It must end, we need leadership now. It is leadership we lack though. Our President, our Congress, our civic way of life is rotten right now.

This American carnage is killing us. The State of our Union is bad. Rotten. Terrible.

Why Tom Brady Won’t Be Visiting the White House in 2018

A few years ago, after the Patriots won the Super Bowl over the Seahawks, Tom Brady turned down the opportunity to visit the White House, at the invitation of Barack Obama. That’s his right, so no one can blame him for that. He went when Donald Trump invited him in 2017. I don’t think he’ll get the opportunity to make that decision in 2018.

Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of his time, and maybe of all-time. His Patriots opened as one of the larger favorites in Super Bowl history, giving 5.5 points to the Eagles. The Eagles will play in this Super Bowl without the best quarterback in football this year, Carson Wentz, as well as without future Hall-of-Fame offensive lineman Jason Peters, electric return man Darren Sproles, and star linebacker Jordan Hicks, among others. If you’re lazy, you’ll assume the outcome from that. How in the world did this team get here?

Well, that’s the point, and that’s been the point, going back to when I told you to not count the Eagles out, after Wentz went down. The Eagles lost several Pro-Bowl level players and still went 13-3 in the regular season. They still beat the Atlanta Falcons, the reigning NFC Champions. They still beat the Minnesota Vikings, who possibly had the best defense in football this season. Here they are, in the Super Bowl. What’s that tell you about this roster? What can you make of a team that is 15-3 and in the Super Bowl, with all of those injuries? That’s a pretty good squad, right?

Here’s some facts about this game:

  • From the start of the second quarter in the Giants game (Week 15), the Eagles defense has surrendered five touchdowns. That’s 5 TD’s in 19 quarters.
  • Jay Ajayi and LaGarrette Blount, behind an offensive line with two All-Pro first teamers, present one of the most dominant rushing attacks in the league.
  • New England’s defense has greatly improved since week one. It still gave up twenty points to Blake Bortles.

What’s all of this mean? Brady is certainly better than Foles, and Gronk is some sort of other-worldly creature, but if you stop there, you’re missing the point. The defense Brady and Gronk will face is one of the very best in the NFL this season, and the offense the Eagles will put out on the field probably has about the same number of question marks as the defense they are facing. Both teams have kickers who can steal points from far away at the end of a half. Both teams are reasonably well coached too.

The hottest unit on either team going into this game is the Eagles defense. They will carry that through the Super Bowl. I don’t think they’ll shut down Brady like they did Case Keenum, but I do think they’ll remain on a roll. Will their offense give them enough points to win? After watching what they did to the Vikings, my answer is yes.

Sorry- But if You Want a Lasting Democratic Majority, You’re Going to Have to Engage Republican Voters

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In 1992, Bill Clinton was elected President, along with solid Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. Congress had been solidly Democratic basically since FDR, and Clinton went about governing the first two years, as he had been elected to. His approval was actually very good throughout most of the two years, and he would go on to a commanding re-election, but in 1994 the Democrats lost both chambers of Congress with a dramatic thumping. In the years since 1994, Democrats have held the House of Representatives for just four out of twenty-four years (4 of 24). The Senate side has been slightly better for Democrats, with them holding control for 9.5 years out of 24.

For the better part of the last quarter century, Congress has been a Republican institution. Democrats have shown they could win a couple of wave elections during a very, very unpopular war and economic crash, but that’s about it. The result has been that for just two years each in the Presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Democrats were actually able to govern. While Democrats have won the popular vote for President in every election since the Cold War ended, except for 2004, it has been the Republicans who have presided over the actual business of governing this country. Presidencies are great, but Congress is where governing happens.

As a veteran of the Hillary campaign, one of my chief beefs with our leadership from that campaign was the geography of our campaign- that is, that our candidate continuously visited the large metro areas, and did not spend as much time out in the suburbs or in small cities as past Democratic nominees. Hillary Clinton never stepped foot in northeastern North Carolina, the traditional swing area that I worked for her, and neither did her husband (he was quite popular in the area). She never went to traditional Democratic strongholds in Pennsylvania like Allentown, Wilkes-Barre, State College, Reading, or Bethlehem. There is the whole Wisconsin story, which is pretty famous now, about her not going at all. How much do candidate visits actually matter? More so when you don’t do them, especially when the opposition’s line against you (in both the primary and the general) is that you are an elite who doesn’t care about the everyday people in these places. That sentiment did Clinton in with some of these swing state voters. While Hillary carried all of the suburban Philadelphia counties, and carried a traditionally unbeatable 400,000 vote margin out of Philadelphia itself, she lost Pennsylvania. She saw a 40,000 vote swing against her in Luzerne County (Wilkes-Barre), a 15% swing against her in Lackawanna County (Scranton), a fall from a 15% win to a 900 vote win in Monroe County (the Poconos), and became the first Democrat to lose Northampton County (Easton and Bethlehem) since 1988, by 5,000 votes. All of those counties have a Democratic Congressman. All of those counties voted for Barack Obama. And John Kerry. Three of them were for Al Gore. And Bill Clinton.

There is a certain comfort for Democrats in the urban core, particularly in national races. The fact of the matter though, is that Democrats do better when they get beyond their safe havens. While Hillary lost North Carolina by under 200,000 votes, Roy Cooper was elected Governor, and Josh Stein Attorney General- both campaigned across the state. While Hillary lost Pennsylvania by just over 40,000 votes, Josh Shapiro was elected Attorney General, Eugene DePasquale as Auditor General, and Joe Torsella as Treasurer. Our obsession with our “blue” enclaves has a serious impact on our ability to win statewide elections, but it’s even more pronounced in Congressional and state legislative races, where the governing actually gets done. Democrats have close to maxed out the cities for seats in Congress. You can find one or two seats left in the New York Cities of the world, but you can’t find the 24 we need to win back the House in 2018. The road to the majority does not go through the places where our base vote lives.

Fortunately for the short-term Democrats, 2018 is shaping up as a potentially good year. The President has several senior aides under indictment or headed to jail, his approval has consistently been below 40%, and we have an enthusiastic female base that might just barely give us back the House on their own, organically, if we don’t stop them. There are 23 seats that Hillary won who have a Republican House member (and about 5-10 she lost with a Democrat), and an increasing list of retiring Republicans in somewhat vulnerable seats, which should give us an opportunity to win the House, this year. Suburbs in Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Alabama gave Democrats solid wins in 2017, fueled by disapproval of Trump. The short-term is good for us, thanks to just being on the wrong side of 2016.

If we do win the House in 2018, standard logic is that we should be able to hold it in 2020. The GOP was able to hold their new majorities in 1996 and 2012, even as they lost Presidential elections, and Democrats held their majority fine in 2008 after the 2006 wave. Of course it’s worth noting that Democrats then lost their majority in 2010, and 2022 could be a similar election if we are successful in defeating Trump in 2020.

Here is the simple fact: whether it’s beating Trump in the electoral college in 2020, or building a lasting Congressional majority, the road to doing so is not bleeding more votes out of our base. This doesn’t mean stop registering new Democrats in our strongholds, this doesn’t mean throw the base under the bus on policy issues, and it doesn’t mean to talk about some new message that we don’t have yet, that will supposedly change voters minds. First and foremost, it means be present in more places, in more communities. Second, it means running authentic candidates for the communities they are running in. Third, it means centering the conversation at a district level, not a national, one-size-fits-all approach. Finally, it means talking about more, if not all, of our platform, and not just the things our insiders want to see. You see, you have to offer people things they are interested in, if you expect to get their vote. We have stuff for suburban voters to like.

There is a resistance to some of these ideas though. There are Democratic activists (just look at my Twitter) who are both absolutely opposed to bothering with any Republican voters at all, but also to trying to embrace the Bernie-left. They have a math problem. Democrats are almost assured of 48% in national elections, going back to Bill Clinton in 1996, every Democratic nominee has received at least 48%, and we’ve won Congress just twice. Our base of votes can’t build us a durable majority right now. It’s not big enough.

Their response usually centers around people who are not voting now. End voter suppression, register more people, cater to our base, they say. Those are all good things, I don’t oppose a single one of them. There is a chance that if we do that, we win in 2020, although it is not an absolute lock- again, Hillary hit her metrics in the Philadelphias of the world, while still losing. Trying to expand the base more could win us back the White House, so it’s good, but it’s also the right thing to do. I support it. It will not build us a durable, lasting majority.

If you bring in a bunch of new voters in Democratic areas, they will probably be Democrats. If you bring in a bunch of new voters in Republican areas, they will probably be Republicans. Voter registration is great, but it’s not magic. Demographic trends tend to stay true with new voters, as they are with existing ones. Unless there is some magic way to only bring new people in from one area (it’s called targeting), there’s not a real advantage to it. If we target right, we can add tens of thousands of new voters- in already blue districts. There are about 190 solid Democratic districts in this country, and this strategy will make them even more solid. That doesn’t get us to a lasting 218 seats in the House though.

In the end, the way forward for Democrats is we have to persuade someone. The Berners say this should be the white working class voters who began leaving us after Civil Rights, but frankly, that’s not workable. You’re not going to bring in people diametrically opposed to your base and think that coalition can last. White collar suburbanites main issue with us is taxes, but they are bothered by the blatant racism coming from our President. The truly poor white voter, making under $30,000, voted for Hillary in 2016, and could be a group with targeting for growth, but it’s not entirely that simple. Not persuading any group to come over is not really an option for Democrats though, if winning a majority in the majority of the seats is the goal here.

The solution is probably in the portion of the electorate who voted for Trump but had misgivings. His low point in approval was 32%, he’s currently sitting around 37%, and he got 46% in the 2016 Election- so there is a small pocket of people who picked him because they didn’t pick her. There’s no love there for either party, probably just opposition to taxes that out-weighed concerns and dislike for Trump. For a lot of Democratic activists, targeting these people is sacrilege. In reality, they’ve yet to show a better idea.

Regardless of who, in the end the point is that Democrats must grow beyond their existing base. A nation in which we are assured 48% and they are assured 46% yields consistent Republican majorities in Congress, which has lead to a consistent chipping away at the values Democrats hold dear. Being willing to lose, just so you can hold purity in your views, is the height of privilege. People who are suffering don’t get that option. As the party who is supposed to represent them, neither do the Democrats.

Skol? **** ‘Em, Go Philly.

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Today would have been my grandfather’s 88th birthday. Like me, Richard Wilkins Sr. was a Philadelphia fan, four for four, and I often times look back on what that must have been like in his lifetime when judging what it’s like for me. I find it was probably frustrating. For whatever reason, we seem to keep passing our fandom down though.

Philadelphia sports were tough when my grandfather was young. It took 50 years for him to see the Phillies win a World Series, the only he’d see. The Eagles won three NFL titles, all by the time he was 30. The Sixers and Flyers added a few too. All told, Philadelphia won a title roughly every 8 years of his life.

Frankly, I’d take that ratio. I was a month old when the Sixers won in 1983, and I wouldn’t see another champion until the 2008 Phillies won. I’ve lived through four Phillies World Series, of which they won one. The Sixers have been in two NBA Finals, with the only win coming in my infancy. The Flyers have lost four Stanley Cup Finals in my life, winning none. The Eagles? This is NFC title game six. They have one win, and they lost the Super Bowl that year. Technically I’ve seen a title every 17 years. In reality? It’s been worse.

There is no tortured fanbase like the Eagles. It’s been 58 years since they won an NFL Championship. That was not a Super Bowl, as the Cowboys, Giants, Redskins, and other local fanbases let us know. The die-hares spend every August calling into WIP, predicting it will be their year. They watch as it never is. Neighboring cities like Baltimore, New York, Pittsburgh, Washington, and Boston get their day. Eagles fans are left with memories of Fog Bowl, Ronde Barber, Jake Delhomme, and even SpyGate.

Tonight as this game kicks off, I sort of know the drill- how can back-up Nick Foles beat the elite Vikings defense. How can this time be different for a blue-collar fanbase that gets picked on for their strong home field advantage. This should be the fifth time I watch the Eagles lose an NFC Championship game. Ask the media. Ask Vegas. Ask the Super Bowl ads with career scrub Case Keenum already in them.

But while we’re waiting for kick off, if you’re cheering for #Skol, and you’re not from Minnesota (or a long time fan), you can go **** yourself. It’s time for this Bird Gang to get it done.

Three Things About the Eagles Win…

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From the Eagles twitter…

The Eagles are back in familiar territory for me as a fan- the NFC Title Game. Yet, despite the familiarity, and the negative memories of the past, I’m more happy than normal about this. This sixth NFC title game since I entered high school is satisfying because it wasn’t supposed to happen. I have three main thoughts about this one:

  1. So much for Atlanta’s second round bye– The Eagles had no chance. That’s what you heard all week. Some media types talked about how the sixth seeded Atlanta Falcons essentially had a “second round bye” in coming to the 13-3 Eagles place for this divisional round game. Someone must have forgot to tell that 13 win defense, which held Matt Ryan and Julio Jones to 10 points. Someone forgot to tell that offensive line, with it’s two All-Pros, and the running back tandem that ran well all year. This team won 13 games for a reason, but got no respect. They were the first top seed ever to be an underdog in Vegas in their first home playoff game, getting three points from the sixth seeded Falcons. For the record, they’re +3.5 right now for the NFC Championship game with the Vikings.
  2. This team is one game from the Super Bowl– When Carson Wentz went down, it would have been easy to give up on the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles. No team can lose an MVP Quarterback. This team has lost it’s kicker, an All-Pro tackle, their kick returner, their best linebacker, and plenty of other talent for stretches along the way this year. They are one game from the Super Bowl though, and two games from a championship, their first since 1960. They’re facing a team who is also on a back-up quarterback in this championship game. You have to start thinking about the Eagles as a potential championship team. You also have to stop making any excuses. The game is in Philadelphia, you only have to win it once. The opportunity has arrived.
  3. I had this team pegged for 7 to 9 wins before the season– I didn’t see this coming. I felt Carson Wentz would have a good year, but I didn’t see this team going from 7-9 the last two seasons to 13-3 and in the NFC Championship game, especially the way it’s went. This season is absolutely a successful one. For the first time since the Bush Administration, the Eagles won a playoff game. They found a franchise quarterback. Their defense stepped up. Their offense was balanced. I figured they’d win three games in division, split the non-division NFC games, win two or three times against the NFC West, and maybe win a game or two against the AFC West. In some ways , their schedule lucked out. In other ways, this team just impressed me. Doug and Howie did a good job building a winner, very quickly at that.

Now- beat #Skol.

What You Don’t Get About 2016 and American Politics in General

Above, you see Trump Tower. One of the great falsehoods of American Politics since 2016 is that something innovative and new happened there. The truth? nothing radical happened there. Donald Trump’s electoral coalition wasn’t really a lot different than John McCain or Mitt Romney’s. Hillary Clinton’s wasn’t wildly different than Barack Obama’s, or John Kerry’s. Really.

From 1996 until today, every Democratic nominee for President has received at least 48% of the vote. Every single one of them has carried African-Americans, Latinos, the LGBT community, and millennials (when it’s been relevant). From 2000 until today, every Republican nominee has received at least 46% of the vote. Every single one of them has carried Evangelicals, white men, gun owners, and rural America. From 2000 until today, most of the states haven’t even moved from column to column. Catholics, suburbanites, soccer/security moms, and union households have been your swing voters. Every Democratic campaign has tried to increase turnout among their groups, and Republicans have done the same with their’s. Turnout among the specified interest groups above has changed from election to election, and the swing groups have changed from election to election, which of course has changed the outcome. For the most part though, the electorate has remained stagnant.

Barack Obama’s 2012, and for that matter 2008 election was as much about his ability to beat his opponents into the ground among the swing-voters above as it was his increased turnout in the base. Donald Trump’s 2016 electorate was a mixture of winning the swing groups and base mobilization changes on both sides.

A lot of people look forward and forecast things that are wild variations from where we were in 2016, and they’re probably wrong. John McCain got 46%, Mitt Romney 47%, and Donald Trump 46%- despite Trump’s low approval numbers, he’s probably not going below 45% against any Democratic nominee, if he doesn’t go a couple points higher. There is no reason to believe that people who voted for every Republican from George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign on are now going to flee Trump. They may be embarrassed by his behavior, but they probably don’t really disagree with him.

A portion of the American left wants to argue that a different nominee in 2016 likely would have won. That may be true if that nominee is someone who had greater appeal to the base voting groups that have backed every Democrat since Bill Clinton, someone with say Barack Obama’s appeal. That may also be true if that someone was a candidate who had greater appeal among the swing-voter groups that went from Obama to Trump, someone like Bill Clinton or Barack Obama that did very well with white Catholics, soccer moms, and blue-collar union households. The thing is, neither of those candidates existed in 2016. There’s a pretty good argument that no 2020 hopeful being mentioned has a case right now that they can do that like Barack Obama did in his two races. Even so, there’s a good argument that virtually anyone nominated should get to 48% in 2020, simply because they are the Democratic nominee, and that’s the floor for Democratic nominees in the last 20 years.

So while you’re watching the craziness of American politics, the upheaval and turmoil of it all, over the next three years, don’t get too caught up in the hype. To every action, there is a reaction. To every game changing moment, there is a reality that we’re probably going to end up in a similar place to before. The 2020 Election probably starts out at 48-46%, regardless, and then becomes a fight to the finish from there.

Let’s Cool the Impeachment Talk- For Now

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No one wants to see Donald Trump out of the White House more than me- I never felt he should have been considered, by anyone. The man is incapable, doesn’t really seem interested in learning, and doesn’t represent the majority of America. I’d love to see him go home to Trump Tower and stay there, as soon as possible.

With all of that said, I’m not in favor of impeachment right now, or even in the medium term future unless the facts of the matter change. Even in a hypothetical world where Democrats win the House back in 2018 with a huge wave, I think a lot of things would have to change, and fall into place for impeachment to be a reasonable option.

The first thing we should wait for, before moving forward with impeachment, is a report from Bob Mueller. The term “high crimes and misdemeanors” is rather vague, and hasn’t been tested constitutionally very much, but it has to have some meaning. If Robert Mueller’s eventual report on either Russian involvement in the 2016 Election, or potential obstruction of justice from firing Comey, ends up saying that Donald Trump and/or his campaign/White House broke the law, obviously I think impeachment proceedings should proceed. It would be reasonable to begin hearings at that point.

It’s worth considering the plausibility of going down this road though. Even a huge Democratic majority in the House is only one piece of this puzzle. The current 51-49 U.S. Senate is not likely to radically change- perhaps Democrats get to 51 or 52 seats in a wave year, and maybe hold a 52-48 majority. The problem with that is that 67 Senators would have to vote to convict Donald Trump and remove him from office for it to matter. Democrats would need 15 Republicans to vote to convict the President. That’s a tall order, and one which they would have to force many Democratic House and Senate members to vote to remove Trump, even though he won their constituencies. That is a big ask for something that is unlikely to succeed.

I’d like to see Trump go. I’m not against impeaching him, if the eventual facts back up that assertion. I’d just wait to jump on that bandwagon. Let’s see what the facts say, before marrying ourselves to something that he will try to use to make himself into a victim to his (clearly approving) supporters. Perhaps the Mueller report will be so clear as day to cause a national reckoning, and it will be clear that Republicans need to support impeachment. It’s just as likely it will not. Let’s just cool our jets until we have enough information to make a smart decision here. I think we’d all hate to see a failed attempt at impeachment help Trump and the Republican Party win the White House and Congress back in 2018 or 2020.

So Long, Old Friend

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In 2007, I moved to Iowa to work for Senator Chris Dodd. I was the regional field director for twelve counties for the Senator, the second largest of which was Cerro Gordo County. Cerro Gordo County is the home of Mason City and Clear Lake, and Buddy Holly died there in a plane crash. That’s about all I knew about it then.

Fortunately, I met some great people there. One of them was the Democratic Party’s Chairman in the county, John Stone. About once a week, I would drive up to see him, sitting in his shop and talking with him for an hour or so. The man was a wealth of knowledge. He also served as a good sounding board on who I should talk to, and who really wasn’t going to be helpful. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t know a damn thing about the Midwest when I moved there, in fact I had barely ever been there, but John taught me a lot about it. While he ultimately didn’t support my candidate in the end, John ended up being a huge help to me.

John passed on yesterday. I never got back up to Mason City, though he and I had become Facebook friends in the years since then. He was 71. While it’s been years since I visited, I’ll never forget the help he was for me. He’ll be missed.

How This Has to End

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The New Year has started off with a bang, or at least a lot of loud noises from the White House. Tweets threatening nuclear war. Book excerpts suggesting the President can’t read well, is losing his mind, and didn’t even want to win in the first place. Overt talk of Ivanka Trump being President some day. And of course, my personal favorite, the right-wing war on Steve Bannon- I’m having trouble figuring out who to root for. Every hour it seems like the New York Times and Washington Post are breaking new stories about the status of the Trump-Russia investigation, and what Robert Mueller knows or doesn’t know. I wonder if Donald Trump wishes he had stayed in South Florida on a longer vacation.

I am starting to feel for the many smart, capable Republicans I’ve known in my life. They’ve clearly made a mistake in nominating, let alone voting for this man to be the President of the United States. Say whatever you will about Barack Obama, George W. Bush, or Bill Clinton, at no point was their sanity and mental capacity questioned. At no point was there a reason to defend their family meeting with Russian agents. At no point did someone write a book talking about how upset they were when they won an election. My Republican friends voted for a lazy, entitled, stupid, and angry man, one who’s conduct on Twitter and beyond, makes them look bad to the world. What’s worse is, I believe many of them feel as though they’d do it again- because they just could not ever vote for Hillary Clinton to be President. They felt trapped into this mess.

There’s no good outcome for how this ends, but there’s only one acceptable one- complete humiliation. Never again can a figure like Trump be considered a viable option for the White House. Never again can being an ignoramus be considered a positive attribute for a President. That can’t happen if this President, and his hardcore 32%, are let down lightly. The best outcome is crushing electoral defeat in 2020, but that may not be the way this has to go down. Whether it’s impeachment, handcuffs, resignation, or electoral defeat, the bottom line is that Donald Trump must be discredited and humiliated for history- or we’ll see this happen again.

Legalize It.

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Jeff Sessions is going after marijuana legalization. Why? Despite all the evidence that marijuana is *not* a gateway drug, despite the fact that most of the violent crime connected to marijuana is a byproduct of the prohibition on it, despite the fact that states legalizing marijuana are seeing huge budgetary benefits and economic growth, Sessions is still living in 1985. He still wants to lead a “Just Say No” style war on drugs. The war on drugs has failed.

Let’s be clear here, this is little more than a power grab. In the wake of the tax scam that Trump signed into law, “blue states” were increasingly looking at marijuana legislation as a way to increase relief for their citizens. The goal here is to starve those states, and in the process strengthen the police state that Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump swear by. The goal is to hurt the economies, starve the treasuries, and hurt the job creation. They figure that if they can do that, they will force the “blue states” to adopt “red state” style budgets, and essentially starve government to death, from “sea to shining sea.” It’s transparent, but it is also in line with their past regressive statements.

Marijuana legalization simply makes sense. The tax revenue continues to exceed expectations, and close budget deficits. The lack of criminal cases resulting from non-violent marijuana saves the system money. Marijuana can be very helpful for health issues. The marijuana industry is creating jobs. The lack of convictions leaves many less people as ex-convicts, which helps their outcomes in everything from the workplace to health. There aren’t a bunch of people getting DUI’s for being high. There are literally no cases of “overdosing” on marijuana. This is really an easy call.

So, of course the Trump Administration gets it wrong.