The Day After Kavanaugh

The Republican Party is essentially made up of two groups- Evangelicals and traditionalists. The organizing principle that guides them is pretty simple too- the government has forced social change on society that they don’t want. To the Republican Party, they’ve done that through two vehicles- taxation and spending policy, and the courts. This has guided Republican Party policy and politics from Richard Nixon to today, and it is the way to understand the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, and even the Trump Presidency.

To the core conservative in America, there is no bad tax cut, nor is there a good spending program that doesn’t benefit *them.* Courts shouldn’t extend new rights to *other* people, or force societal change. Progress should be limited, and it shouldn’t infringe on their lives. You can live here, but on their terms. The traditional societal order should be maintained.

Many of us on the left seem shocked that conservatives have accepted Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh. We seemed caught off guard when Mitch McConnell blew up every norm in the Senate to stop Merrick Garland. I even hear the phrase thrown around, “the Republicans will do this to America just for their tax cuts and judges?” Of course they will. That is the point. Stop government activism. Stop the courts from ordering change. Stop the Congress from giving away *their* tax dollars. If that means getting into bed with imperfect people, conservatives can accept that.

That is the backdrop with which one should view American politics moving forward. Brett Kavanaugh will either be confirmed or not, but we will move forward somehow, and *that* is what will motivate Republicans to move heaven and earth to pass tax cuts and confirm judges. If there is some deep, terrible flaw in a candidate for office, but they will do the things this base wants, they’re going to vote for them. It is fair to assume the treatment that Garland received, and the support that Kavanaugh is getting, are the new norm.

Sometime this week, the Kavanaugh situation will be resolved. Don’t think the politics behind it will be too.

So What Were the Phillies?

Just under a month ago, the Phillies were down around two games out of first. Just over a week ago, the Braves lost five in a row, and seemed to let the Phillies back in for one more shot at the NL East. The Phillies lead the NL East for the bulk of the Summer, and were once fifteen games over .500. The Phillies left for their final road trip of the season eight days ago at 78-73. It feels like that was long ago.

The Phillies are 78-81 now, going into the final series of 2018. They were among baseball’s worst teams in the final two months of the season. They just went 0-8 on a road trip. Worse yet, the Phillies looked uncompetitive on the trip, losing the first three games in Colorado while giving up over ten runs a game. If I didn’t know better, I’d say the Phillies were throwing the games on this trip.

The Phillies achieved something amazing this year: their first 155 games were all played with a chance to make the post-season, and yet they can’t win more than half of their games. They managed to improve by at least twelve games over last season and yet finish so badly that they left a bad taste in your mouth. They managed to improve by 12 games while being much worse offensively and defensively. They have a line-up where nearly every position hit double digits in homers, yet they fell way off offensively from 2017. The bullpen was very good, even though everyone they tried at closer stunk. The team made no sense.

The Phillies spent almost the entire season contending for the playoffs, and yet they’re going to finish more than any one player’s worth out of the playoffs. After Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins, name me another player you want to definitely keep. Tell me you wouldn’t even entertain firing the manager and GM, even though the team is 12 games improved over 2017. Tell me what part of this team couldn’t use improving.

The Phillies have some major advantages going into the off-season- a low payroll, lots of money, excess of starting pitching, and a good minor league system. They’ll need to use those advantages actively this Winter. They have some raw ingredients of a good team, but clearly in hindsight, they weren’t close to good. Maybe the positive season we thought happened, in fact did not.

The Carolina Blues: Reprising 2016 in 2018

November 8th, 2016 might have left many other people triggered, but the shock it left me with was something completely different. I worked for Hillary Clinton in South Carolina and Ohio in 2008, and had spent eight years essentially waiting for her political return (in bliss, I’m a fan of President Obama). Election Day of 2016 was going to be my last day as a campaign operative- she was going to be elected, I knew who I wanted to follow into the administration, and I knew I was done with this- until it all just wasn’t. I remember almost every detail about the hotel room in Elizabeth City that I watched Trump’s victory speech in. I remember where we had the cases of beer that we were all going to celebrate with. I remember what spots on the floor which organizers were laying in, either sobbing or in total disbelief, as Trump was declared the winner.

I could sit here and wax poetic about my time in North Carolina in 2016. The Outer Banks are paradise. I could also complain about the difficult politics of the northeastern portion of the state, the crazy things I saw there, or even the problems the Clinton Campaign had. On the whole, I probably had 30 or 35 good days out of the 42 days I worked there. I got to see my cousins, my aunt and uncle, and towns and places I never would have seen. It was overall a great moment in my life. The ending just sticks with me.

It’s always the ending that you remember most in anything. Trump’s victory speech has stuck with me for almost two years. Him walking onto the stage to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” one of my favorite songs of all time, was just a double f**k you, frankly (You know it’s a f**k you to the Stones for this.). Watching that unqualified ignoramus ramble, sounding as shocked as the rest of us, was appalling. I still remember the sobbing sounds in the hotel room, the honest fear I felt, and the moment I just burst out laughing as I watched. It enrages me yet.

Alas, I’m back in the Tar Heel State. In the wreckage of Hillary losing so close, Roy Cooper won for Governor that night, and the Republican lead legislature has been trying to strip him of his power ever since. I’m back in North Carolina, this time leading the charge in Charlotte, trying to help him get a more friendly legislature, and maybe help flip a major Congressional race here too. I’ve set a goal on this trip of getting across the border to South Carolina’s Gaffney while I’m down here too, to see the mythical home of “House of Cards” President Frank Underwood. It’s the little things, right?

One thing I will assure you of is that this is not going to be my last rodeo this time. If I think back on the times I turned down taking a job “inside the government,” or the times I planned to and came up agonizingly close (like 200 votes close, or losing because of the electoral college close), I’d go crazy now. That’s not happening this time. I’m here to do winning. Then I’m ready for one more bigly, huge rodeo in 2020 where we elect a real, truly great President. Once again, my career has purpose.

But for now, I’ll enjoy this great city, some Bojangles, and the opportunity for some sweet affirmation.

The Real Fight Over Kavanaugh

Donald Trump has past baggage with women that is objectionable. Of course, I think if you dig through most straight men’s pasts, you could find something to not like. Donald Trump isn’t like most other guys though- he’s unrepentant to the core. We heard it on the Access Hollywood tapes. We hear it in the language he uses about women, in the present tense. We see it in his NDA’s and payouts to mistresses. Donald Trump was, is, and will be a misogynist old man. He’s 70, he’s not going to change. The man talks (present tense) about wanting to sleep with his daughter. He is who he is, he’s not evolving, he’s just bad.

Of course, what makes this worse is that he was elected President over the first female nominee of a major party in U.S. history, with less votes than her. What compounds that is that he’s putting pro-life judges on the bench at a break-neck pace. It’s pretty hard for some women to take that an avowed misogynist, who won over a qualified woman on a technicality, is putting judges on the bench to restrict their rights. It makes some folks blood boil.

Enter Brett Kavanaugh, maybe the worst nominee to the high court that I’ve seen in my life. With all due respect to Doug Ginsburg, Robert Bork, and Harriet Miers, all of them needed 60 votes, and all of them either showed some intellect, or likability in their confirmation. Kavanaugh is a wet blanket in an air conditioned room, he’s not even a sympathetic figure.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation has been a display of America’s worst politics. Chairman Chuck Grassley made a mockery of the process from the start, marking tens of thousands of pages of documents “committee confidential,” denying Americans the right to see emails where he said the government had “no compelling interest” in combatting racism, or that Roe v. Wade really isn’t settled law. Couple this with Kavanaugh doing the normal, new age nominee routine of stonewalling the answers on questions about executive power, the environment, labor, guns, Roe v. Wade, and more. He appears to be hiding something from us.

Of course, Kavanaugh is. Like most conservative nominees, he hides his answer on Roe behind calling it “settled law”- while nominees like RBG, Sotomayor, and Kagan clearly stated their support. Kavanaugh’s history of honesty (or lack thereof) makes this answer look good though. During his nomination hearing to the DC Circuit Court, Kavanaugh seems to have perjured himself in saying he did not work on the nomination of Justice Pryor to the DC Circuit while working in the White House, when he in fact did. Is it any wonder Grassley tried to argue that Kavanaugh’s time as White House Staff Secretary wasn’t all that important to this nomination? Is it any wonder that no one believes Kavanaugh saying he didn’t recall discussing the Mueller probe with Trump’s lawyers?

All of this leads to why questions persist over Kavanaugh’s personal finances. From his appointment to the bench, through 2016, Kavanaugh listed $60-200,000 in personal debt on his disclosure forms. Kavanaugh said he ran up this debt on Nationals tickets and home improvements. That’s a lot for baseball tickets. The White House said he floated the money for some friends, but Kavanaugh said he gave “no loans.” In 2017, Kavanaugh suddenly had no debt on his forms. For a man with an expensive country club membership, two kids in an elite private school, and lots of expensive baseball tickets, living on a (albeit good, but not great) government salary, you wonder how? It doesn’t add up. Nor does his explanation of his debt. Could he be a gambling addict? Could he have a wealthy “sugar daddy” helping his finances and pulling his strings? How do we know either way- the man isn’t transparent and honest.

Now that we have established the lies and evasiveness of Brett Kavanaugh, let’s address the elephant in the room here- the accusation that he attempted to rape Christine Blasey Ford while he was a 17 year old high school student. We could debate the importance of this matter to the nomination, or that it happened years ago, or that he’s a changed man, or that this is an attempt to destroy his life, if in fact Kavanaugh admitted that some form of the events alleged ever happened. Kavanaugh says categorically that nothing like the accusations ever happened at all, leaving little wiggle room for any forgiveness or discussion of the germane nature of the allegation. Ford isn’t asking for forgiveness, context, or review of his life- he says it didn’t happen. Now if it is in any way, shape, or form shown to be true, it’s all true. If Kavanaugh did a tenth of what she alleges, he’s a liar. He will not only have harmed this woman, he will have denied her the dignity and benefit of the doubt with his lies. The hypocrisy shown by some of his defenders, that he deserves the benefit of the doubt that they would deny to Ford and others will be even more stinging.

I actually believe Kavanaugh deserves a fair and thorough investigation. I believe that with every accusation. If he’s innocent, we should know that. If he’s guilty, we should know exactly what he’s guilty of, and to what degree. Context, intent, and outcomes do matter, whether in a criminal case, or the nomination of a judge. The problem Kavanaugh has is that no one believes that’s happening here. No one believes *his defenders* want an investigation. They want to attack the accuser, shame her story, and approve him. Once again, Grassley’s Committee is hiding the full truth from the public.

So here we have a nominee that is shrouded in secrecy and doubt, put forward for a lifetime appointment by Donald Trump. He could change the rights of women forever, and there are real questions about who he is, now and then. He’s being put forward by someone who makes it clear how he feels about women. This nomination fight isn’t just about Kavanaugh, but really whether we’re going to treat women as equal citizens- in the future.

Decisions…

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Ain’t that the truth. You know, after the 2012 Election, I turned all of my attention towards electing Hillary Clinton as the 45th, and first female President. I worked for a Clinton White House veteran on a 2013 County Executive race, partially because he’s a great person and ally, and also because it enhanced my brand. I went to Iowa in 2014, partially for a great friend and candidate, and also for a good career move. I raised money for Ready for Hillary, and later HFA. I was a 2008 alum of the first Hillary Presidential run. But my call didn’t come. I got a call or two about jobs I was never going to take, but was mostly left disappointed through the primary process.

But my phone did eventually ring, and my services were needed in North Carolina, the new mother of swing states. I went down there and gave it my all to help pull back together the situation on the ground in my region. I worked with great people, I gave it a great effort, and I thought we would win. I was over confident. I contacted a friend that was going to be in the administration about a week before the election, just to let him know I wanted to go in. He told me he’d get me in touch with the transition right after the election, and that everything would be just fine. Of course, as we all know, it wasn’t.

And so my 2017 happened. Two County Executives in my hometown, and two statewide appellate judges elected later, I was on a professional high, putting together a transition team. When the Congressional race came up, I decided to support and work for my good friend, a 27 year elected District Attorney who was the front-runner. It was admittedly a difficult assignment. My candidate was more moderate than the voters. He strongly preferred not running the standard, modern Congressional campaign. He wanted to be a maverick on some hot-button issues. There are plenty of areas on which he and I didn’t agree. It was a tough assignment, but I don’t regret it a bit. I believe in him, and think he would have generally represented the Lehigh Valley as we actually are. I also had decided that going to Capitol Hill was something that interested me at this point in my career. The outside money came in though, and the baggage came out. Friends and enemies alike in the local political scene took their shots at me, as though I could have possibly done much with all the outside money trashing my candidate. When election night came though, the results weren’t good. We lost the Congressional race, and I was swept off the state committee (the two aren’t really related, that race was geography mostly, but it was simultaneous). I guess we’re going to see how this new group of Democratic “leaders” can do leading the party now. Some are good people, some aren’t. I firmly believe some people are going to fall flat on their faces, and I am going to be amused. Some of these folks, new and old, with their pure ideological politics, are not representative or in touch with the regular voters of the Lehigh Valley, and they will eventually either be pushed aside as irrelevant by the elected officials (already happening at this time) or will simply fail to elect people themselves. Either way, they’ll have their clubhouses and meetings, but they’ll make the party further irrelevant here.

I thought about quitting politics for a bit this Summer. I don’t need it. I’ve long had thoughts of other things. Going back for a grad degree, teaching some college courses, becoming a teacher, coaching, writing professionally, maybe even law school. I pretty much did everything I set out to do in politics when I entered it in 2002. I’m not in love with the current Democratic Party, and it would have been a logical time to walk away. I couldn’t do it though. For one thing, I think the republic is in real danger right now, thanks to the current Republican Party and Donald Trump. Equally as important, while I think some loons have gotten loose in the Democratic Party, we’re also running some outstanding candidates for office. I want to be a part of that. I have 16 years of experience, at every level from intern to manager, and I need to do my part. We all do, if we want to preserve our country. There are fundamental changes in the Democratic Party happening, but they’re changes I always supported. I worked for President Obama, Secretary Clinton, the first African-American Congresswoman in New Jersey history, a Bosnian, Muslim war refugee, Latino and African-American Senators, people of the Jewish faith, and all of the rich diversity of the Democratic Party. I needed to be a part of this election. My adult life’s work is at stake.

As I have in recent election cycles, I do some work for a pair of Pennsylvania State Representative incumbents, so if you live in Northeastern PA and want to get involved, let me know. I’m going to be heading to Charlotte also this week, to help flip North Carolina blue. The unfinished business of 2016, the chance to work with a young, hungry, exciting team, and the chance to work on the cutting edge of the future of progressive politics is too much to pass up. I’m excited about all the work I’m doing this Fall, and looking forward to the future.

I’m done making plans. In a business where incompetence isn’t a vice, where self-promoters do well, where unserious carnival barkers excite the mildly informed, and so much that happens is beyond your control, you can’t make plans. All you can do is put in the work where you want to do it. I had three of the best offers I’ve ever had to work this Fall, in three major swing states. The races I’ve chosen to put my time into things that I think are worth my time. I’ll make the same kinds of choices about who to donate to this Fall too.

Decisions, decisions.

What the Primaries Taught Us

Primary season is over. The next big election night will be November 6th, when we have partisan, not primary, elections. When we next are glued to the television on an election night, it will be to figure out if the “Blue Wave” happened.

For full disclosure, I think the Democrats will pick up the House. I still think the most likely outcome in the Senate is a narrow GOP majority, but Kavanaugh might kill that. I think Democrats will see their greatest gains in state elections.

So what did we learn in primary season? What did we gain in knowledge? What truths were told?

  • Trump owns the GOP. Let’s be honest, who did the winning? Ron DeSantis, Henry McMaster, Lou Barletta, and people associated with Donald Trump. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker didn’t bother running, and Mark Sanford won’t have the option of running this Fall, thanks to South Carolina Republicans. Trump has 90% approval among Republicans, and therefore he’s the big dog.
  • White “Bernie Progressives” are dead. Who are the Bernie Sanders’ wing’s big wins of the 2018 primaries? AOC, Jealous, Gillum, and other non-white, non-male progressives. Where they took losses were races where they ran white guys. There’s no market for uber liberal white dudes that spout ideology. They have no party now.
  • Being a “moderate” can only be a matter of rhetoric, not action. Note something from the Democratic Primaries: do not offer any aid or comfort to the other side. Here in the Lehigh Valley, my “Blue Dog” Congressional candidate was pulled down 20% basically for tweeting positive tweets at Donald Trump. The IDC State Senators in New York lost 75% of their members. The Democratic Party is not welcoming back the Blue Dog Caucus to win a majority, unlike 2006. That may blunt their victories, but they do not care. Neither side is looking for compromise.
  • Non-white progressives win urban primaries, every time. There are white guys in Congress that represent urban districts. Some of them are going to be unemployed in January. The rest are on borrowed time. Joe Crowley’s overall progressive record didn’t save him against Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. Ayanna Pressley crushed the very liberal Mike Capuano. Non-white, urban voters don’t feel any requirement to vote for white dudes for “electability” anymore, and they honestly don’t need to. What will be more interesting in the years ahead is to see if the younger white crowd continues to vote with the minority population in these primaries. If so, urban politics are transformed forever.
  • Neither party cares to play to the middle. Can we be serious for a moment? The GOP gave up on playing to the middle year’s ago, and consummated that in picking Trump. The Democrats? Hillary essentially gave up on the middle by aiming her campaign towards the large cities and ignoring the Rust Belt. The 2018 primaries don’t mark a change from that. Sharice Davids, a historic candidate by any measure and a progressive, is “moderate” on the 2018 Democratic ticket. Abortion rights and supporting the LGBTQ community are not “liberal” positions in 2018. Some of this is good, we should progress on these issues. The flip side of course is the vast swath of non-ideological, potentially swing voters who are either being forced into a political party they’re not comfortable in, or left to dangle in the 2020 winds. Democrats should have had these people in 2016, but weren’t able to because they didn’t contest them. What happens next to them?
  • Cash rules everything around me. The 2018 Democratic Primaries saw massive infusions of outside money, from groups like Emily’s List, No Labels, and Our Revolution. The outside spending often exceeded the campaign’s spending. The simple truth moving forward is that if you’re not somebody’s candidate, you’re not winning. Buying TV time, paying for a ground game, mail, and even digital ads cost money. You have to have some money behind you to win.
  • Identity politics are the only politics in 2018. Lets be clear, the two parties have gone tribal. Republicans increasingly prefer white men as candidates. Democrats increasingly prefer the opposite. If you’re going to break that mold, you both must be a prolific fundraiser and have something compelling to say. The two parties don’t want the same things anymore, and have diverging views of America. Views on diversity and multiculturalism have moved so far apart that there’s a mistrust of candidates that don’t fit the mold.

On a personal level, I’m feeling like a unicorn right now. I’m a white, straight, Catholic, suburban raised, moderate to liberal Democrat. These primaries were not about people like me.

New Yorkers- the Best Voters.

I like to talk about how smart New Yorkers are, but last night they proved it. Cynthia Nixon is completely unqualified to be Governor of New York. Her lack of experience, her tendency to back whatever the furthest left position is, without critical thought, and running her campaign on the issue of subways was all pretty appalling. I’m also not a fan of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, so their candidate losing is helpful. I’m really happy that New Yorkers not only backed Governor Cuomo to a comfortable nomination win, but also re-nominated Lt. Governor Hochul and Tish James for Attorney General. Competency beat pure ideology.

I’m also glad that New Yorkers rectified the mess that is their State Senate, and shook up the Albany establishment a bit. Seven incumbent Democratic State Senators lost their primaries. Six of the eight members of the former “Independent Democratic Caucus” (IDC) lost, and the other two nearly did. While there have been more Democrats elected to the State Senate than Republicans for eight years, these eight members have refused to caucus with the Democrats, handing control over to the GOP. The result has been a giant blue state in New York being essentially at the mercy of upstate conservatism. Last night, New York Democrats made them pay for it. Even IDC Leader Jeff Klein is out this morning.

New York voters channeled their inner anger with a government that doesn’t represent them last night. Rather than a wholesale vote to penalize everybody, they went after those who can and should be competently replaced. Most change electorates can’t focus that way. New Yorkers did it perfectly.

For the Republic…

I never thought Paul Manafort would flip, but he did this morning. He plead guilty in Washington and agreed to cooperate with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. For Mueller to allow this, he must both have had Manafort dead-to-rights, and felt he had useful information to the prosecution. Manafort was already guilty on eight counts in Virginia and facing a long prison sentence. Mueller didn’t need this deal as bad as Manafort.

I’m still very skeptical of the Mueller probe getting Donald Trump. He’s going to be hard to impeach and remove, there’s no good reason for Republicans to go along, politically, as long as their base loves Trump unconditionally. They probably will indict him and try him after his Presidency, but there’s no guarantees of a conviction. Today certainly moves the ball forward. Manafort was the head man of a campaign that took aid from Russia. I think Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner should be terrified. Manafort can probably put them at the middle of it. If Mueller can convict them, the Republicans in Congress *might* start pushing Trump to get out of the way and let Pence govern.

It is important that we don’t lose sight of the bigger issue here though, which is not Donald Trump himself. The problem of Russian meddling and a fractured society that can fall victim to their misinformation is the issue. The gulf between the two sides allowed one side to fall victim to a con-man and Kremlin stooges, and the other side could fall victim too, if other stooges re-affirm what they want to hear.

I’m glad to see Manafort flip. He deserves jail, and the people he is exposing deserve this fate too. Hopefully this investigation will expose the traitors among us. Even if it does though, our civil society needs work.

The Pressing Phillies Questions, Re-Visited

A few weeks ago, I wrote of the “most pressing questions facing the Phillies” for the remainder of this season. With the team playing badly, and with Seranthony Dominguez letting them down in what should have been an easy win last night, I feel like it’s at least time to update the answers to the questions I had.

Number one, I wrote:

Is Seranthony the closer moving forward? My answer is no. He’s a guy with high velocity, sure, so he’s probably a major league reliever. His command hasn’t been impressive though, and the movement on his ball has diminished as the Summer went. I think he was lightning in a bottle, not our Kenley Jansen.

I’m more sure of this than when I wrote it. I’m not ready to DFA Seranthony, but it’s clear the league has figured him out. He’s not ready for this role.

Number two, I wrote:

What’s Odubel’s future in Philadelphia? It’s not looking great. His stat line usually comes out good, he’s shown impressive power this year, and he does make some amazing plays in center. He’s super streaky though, and sometimes really stinks. He makes bonehead mistakes. He’s a liability when he’s off. With the Phillies needing to open up a spot if they sign Bryce Harper this Winter, Odubel’s second half is making him expendable.

I’m pretty much sticking by this, too. Odubel is a really likable, fun player. He’s also been terrible since the beginning of June. You can’t be that streaky.

Number three, I wrote:

What’s Roman Quinn’s future? As bad as Odubel has been, he’s opened the door for Roman Quinn to get a chance. I see Quinn limited to being a fourth outfielder at this point, as he gets hurt too much. He should get to play right now though, as long as he keeps hitting.

I’m sticking with Quinn as a fourth outfielder. He’s played well, but he broke a toe and is limited right now. I like Quinn, but my opinion isn’t moved.

Fourth, I wrote:

Should Carlos Santana start over Bour? Right now? No. Bour is hitting better, right now. We need to win games, right now. You deal with the contracts in the Winter. For now, give me Bour.

For the moment, I have to admit some error here. Bour got hurt right after I wrote this, and after his return, the Phillies have been able to get him at-bats by sticking Santana at third. Santana has been hot as well. The future at first base is murky though, not unlike what it was from 2012-2016, where a big contract controlled baseball decisions.

Fifth, I wrote:

Can Jerad Eickhoff save the Phillies? This is a sleeper story on the horizon. Eickhoff was so good in 2015 and 2016 that many fans saw him as a cornerstone. Then in 2017 the Phillies seemingly tried to pitch him through pain/nerve damage, and messed him up bad. Now he’s rehabbing back towards the majors, just as several starting pitchers are hitting career inning highs, and several relievers look cooked. They very much need Eickhoff to be right.

This was unfair of me to write. I got right that the Phillies starters were getting tired- Eflin particularly stinks right now. Eickhoff save the team after missing most of two years with injuries that the team seemingly mishandled? Best case is he gets in some work and is ready for 2019. Gabe’s not even starting him.

Sixth, I wrote:

Is the back end of the Phillies rotation cooked? Eflin, Pivetta, and Vince are looking really inconsistent lately. Could they be out of gas? It sure looks it. The Phillies need some reinforcements.

I think I nailed this, mostly. Eflin is done, and shouldn’t be sent out there to fail anymore. Pivetta has been very unlucky this season, and should finish the season out to help continue his maturation process. Vince has actually made a good impression on me this season, but isn’t going to save us right now.

Seventh, I said:

Why does Scott Kingery still start games? No, for real, why? He’s terrible offensively. He’s not a good shortstop. We sent Crawford down after he came off the DL, but Crawford at least can man the spot defensively. Cabrera should be playing shortstop every single game remaining, and if it weren’t for his contract, Kingery belongs in AAA. I don’t think his whole career will stink, but the Phillies rushed Kingery up early. He’s not someone who should be playing in a 2018 pennant race.

Ok, imagine this- I’m re-thinking my position on Kingery. I don’t see what the Phillies do. I don’t think it works out. They get paid to be right though. Since I think the Phillies are toast, play him somewhere- like second base. I have been a Cesar Hernandez fan, and I still think he’s better than Kingery, but his second half has left me wanting more. Let’s see Kingery play there too.

Eighth, I wrote:

Can the Phillies win games when Rhys Hoskins isn’t hot? It seems no. Rhys is having a really good season, and I’m a fan, but he’s been a bit streaky this season. When he’s in a funk, or even is just normal, the Phillies struggle. They’ve put a lot on a first year player this year.

Let’s rephrase this- can they win at all? He homered in every weekend game to reach 30, and the Mets won twice. Rhys is a really good hitter that played out of position this year, and I get why, but he’s not going to carry this bucket of slop offense to the playoffs on his own. The Phillies need to commit to him, but they need to add too.

Ninth, I wrote:

Will Nick Williams be back in 2019? I think this comes down to Williams and Odubel trying to hang on. Right now, I’d pick Williams. If we sign Harper, I think Odubel would lose his job, even though he’s the best center fielder in the group.

You know what, I have no idea here. I like a lot about Williams, but I’d like his glove more in left, and his bat in the lower part of the order. Is he back? I don’t know.

Tenth, and finally:

What’s with Gabe’s line-up card? Not starting Bour and Cabrera against de Grom is a sin. Making sure he gets Kingery at-bats is a sin. Throwing Seranthony out to close is a sin. Gabe has to do better, this team can win right now.

I’m actually more positive than not about Gabe Kapler. Really. But, I got this right.

Be Bold?

9/11

Time comes and goes without prejudice, and the seasons change for us all. I was once a senior at Easton Area High School, sitting in second period Latin one, as airplanes flew into the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon, and a hillside in Shanksville, PA. A younger girl named Tarin was sitting next to me, and I immediately remember telling her “it’s Bin Laden.” I clearly consumed too much news for my age.

That morning was beautiful. I’m talking a perfect blue sky, the slightest twinge of Fall in the air, the music bumping in my car on the way to school. Gas was under a dollar at the gas station down the hill, and my friends were in the car with me on the way to school. It was a cross-country meet day, a race we would not run that day. I was excited though. I was most mornings that year when I went to school.

I remember the crazy rumors that day, of planes heading towards Philadelphia, the White House, and the Empire State Building. I remember being sent back to home room in the band wing, then being at lunch in the senior cafeteria, sitting with a group of athletes, listening to our principal, Dean Jones explain to us what happened, and helping us make sense. It finally made sense, just how big of a world event we were watching.

I remember the days and weeks after too. I remember watching funerals right here in our communities, just over an hour from New York City. I remember going to the Monday Night Football game between the Eagles and Giants in the Meadowlands, just weeks later. I remember going past the crash site in Shanksville, PA just weeks later on the long, winding trip to Pittsburgh to visit Pitt. I remember going to Washington, DC and looking at the Pentagon from across the highway, in horror. I remember being tested for anthrax after a trip to the Capitol, days later, because another girl (her name was Carrie) I was there with got sick after we were exposed. I remember how long the Q-tip was they stuck up my nose to test me, too (it was scary and funny at once). I remember going back into Manhattan for the first time that Fall. I remember when the first friend of mine came home from Afghanistan that Winter, critically injured.

I remember the years that would follow, too. I remember falling in love with New York after that, for the first time in my life (even after years of disliking my parents former home). I remember the respect I suddenly found for people there, watching them recover. The events of 9/11 made me realize what a great, big, important deal Washington was too. I remember how the events of 9/11 actually lead me to oppose the Iraq War, and how that galvanized me to go into politics. I remember years later living in Washington, and how I celebrated with total strangers on my first night there, because America had killed Osama Bin Laden. Just months later, I went into Manhattan on 9/11/11, ten years after the attacks, simply as a point of national pride. The sound of the bagpipes, and of the toasts in Lower Manhattan to fallen cops and firefighters shook me up.

I am not naive to the events of 9/11/01, or how they happened. I am not a conspiracy theorist either. I understand the role the United States had in training Osama Bin Laden and the Mujahideen through the CIA, and in creating the Taliban, and how the aftermath of the first Gulf War helped create the conditions for al Qaeda. I understand the follies of the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, and much of the War on Terror. I fully understand that 9/11 wasn’t some inside job, but that our government, and particularly our White House, missed the signs. We made mistakes before 9/11. We made mistakes after, too. We shouldn’t view 9/11 through purely red, white, and blue glasses.

Seventeen years have gone by, and much has changed. Tarin who sat next to me in Latin one, she’s married and lives up by New York. Principal Jones is long retired. One of my friends who rode to school with me that day, she died in a plane accident in Colorado. That Marine that grew up in my town and was the first person I knew to come back from Afghanistan injured, is married, has kids, and is in a television commercial. One of the girls with me in the anthrax scare, a classmate of mine at Easton, Meghan, is in politics too. I’m definitely not running a cross-country race today either. I still love New York. I’ve fallen back in love with DC.

Time passes everything by. Seventeen years is not a significant milestone in the time since 9/11/01, but yet I remember it more vividly today than I have in some times past. It means different things to me now. I miss those two big buildings. I felt weird walking past the memorial at the Pentagon when I lived in Arlington, but I also felt peaceful. I spent this 17th anniversary at home in Easton, listening to Bruce Springsteen. I have “Atlantic City” stuck in my head. I think it fits my feelings today perfectly.

Seventeen years after I was an 18 year old boy, making sense of the most world altering event of my life, all I can do is think. Time truly passes. I pondered today if America could be that united today, if we squandered that unity on the wrong things, if we have the leaders and political will to even unite now. Then I reminded myself, this time too, shall pass.