A 20 Year Odyssey

20 years ago in August I moved into my dorm at Moravian College. It’s now Moravian University in Bethlehem, PA, which underscores the point I’m making. I was 19, kind of a mess, and basically had a very unsophisticated world view. I was totally unaware of the changes that were going to take place in my life in just those coming weeks. I would get mono at the end of my first week of cross-country practice, and would never participate in an organized sporting event again, after winning seven varsity letters as a high school athlete. One day I would come home from practice and find a flier on my building door to intern on the Ed Rendell for Governor/Ed O’Brien for Congress/PA Dems coordinated campaign. The phone call I made to the number on that sheet of paper would begin the 20 year career I’m still working on today. Within those last two weeks of August, my childhood and previous obsessions would end, and my adult life would begin with lots of bumps and bruises along the way.

Two weeks ago, as I stood in MetLife Stadium watching the Red Hot Chili Peppers rock out like it was 1998 again, I was reminded- all that was, will be again. You don’t know how things will end ahead of time, but you can bet all things run in a loop. I mean hell, the biggest rock band in the country in 2022 was also the biggest in 1998. When I moved in at Moravian I was 6’1” and 175 pounds- and despite eventually ballooning up as high as 265 pounds in 2009, today I’m 6’1” and 175 pounds. Like I said, all that was, will be again, even if it makes no sense how.

So those last 20 years, a lot happened. I did go to college and graduate. I worked for two U.S. Presidents, Barack Obama and Joe Biden. I went to three inauguration celebrations and served as a delegate to the 2020 national convention. I got to meet, shake hands with, and talk to the President of my formative years, Bill Clinton, and to go see another President of my childhood, George H.W. Bush, lay in state at our Capitol. I worked for the first Black woman in Congress from New Jersey. I got to work for a Bosnian war refugee. There are ten current and former U.S. Senators on my resume. I served a term on the Democratic State Committee, and as a township auditor. Politics has taken me to the South, the Midwest, the West, and all across the MidAtlantic. My life choice twenty years ago has been really good to me. I can’t complain very much about it.

I must admit though that I had reached the point of feeling kind of burnt. The 2020 campaign left me extremely jaded, not with the guy I had worked for, but with my career and my life. Going home for Covid, and staying home after inaugurating the guy, definitely had a negative impact on me. I’m old enough to be at peace with who I am, but I guess I thought at some point there’d be a different ending. I decided over the last 20 years to forego so many of the “real life” experiences of my friends- buying a house, building a family, being a “respectable adult.” It has begun to dawn on me that doing that hadn’t really made enough people appreciate me, least of all myself.

I finally kind of “got it” earlier this year, and started putting some work into myself. I’m happy with where it’s put me. I formed a couple of LLC’s, learned to write direct mail, and spent a lot of time just trying to plot some sort of future course, because I have not had anything resembling a plan in 15 years. I now can say I have a pretty decent idea of what kind of work I want to do moving forward, and it’s not whatever pays. I feel much better. And the last boss who disrespected me? She got fired this Summer. I’m not taking credit, but I’m not apologizing either. I guess for me, stepping back was stepping forward.

In all seriousness though, the most important thing I’ve learned in 20 years is choose who you surround yourself with wisely. I spent a chunk of my last trip to DC two weeks ago getting drinks with the guy who gave me my first serious, paying campaign job, planning out future collaboration. I’m writing mail for a long-time friend who I first worked with 15 years ago. I’m setting up companies with accomplished people that come from the same school of thought as me, top quality people. I’m excited again, like I was 20 years ago. There’s a little more uncertainty in me, and that’s a worry, but I’ll survive it. I think the future has a chance to be bright again. I wasn’t sure of that six months ago. But all that was, will be again.

Forecasting the Doom in 2022

It should be pretty simple. Inflation is up on everything from gas to milk, everyone is feeling. Interest rates are creeping up. The President isn’t very popular. The Democrats won control of the whole Congress and the White House two years ago. trend lines on Democratic performance among non-white voters aren’t great. Republicans should take back both narrowly divided houses of Congress in the 2022 midterm, as well as win back governors mansions and everything else. This should not be very close.

For all the bad things one could write here about the Democratic Party, it’s worth noting the obvious- the GOP is an incompetent, dangerous political party right now. They nominated Mehmet Oz and Herschel Walker for Senate seats, celebrities with very little clue what they are talking about or where they are at. They nominated Doug Mastriano and Kari Lake for Governor of their states, people pledging to overturn elections if they don’t like the results. House members like Liz Cheney have been excommunicated from the party for saying attempting a coup is bad. Ron DeSantis is either fighting Disney World or removing elected office holders, depending on the week. Their former President was removing nuclear secrets from his office on the way out the door, as he tried to overturn his own defeat. Ron Johnson and Rick Scott want to get rid of Social Security and Medicare. And yes, their five judges are overturning freedoms women have had for 50 years. It would be no wonder that people are having second thoughts about giving the weak and feckless Kevin McCarthy the Speakership.

To be clear, I still believe the Republican Party is more likely to have a good midterm than the Democrats. I just don’t think it will go as well as it could have if they had shut up. Just how much have they hurt themselves? They need just 4 House seats and 1 Senate seats. Should they succeed?

The House

The answer here is yes, but probably not as well as they would have. Without deaths and resignations, the House was 221-214, with one seat potentially switching hands tomorrow night. According to the Cook Political Report, Democrats have 58 seats currently in danger or that could be and Republicans have 27. Digging deeper, they have ten Democratic seats as “likely” or “lean” Republican. There are just three seats from the GOP “leaning” Democratic. 26 Democratic seats are considered toss-ups, while just 8 GOP seats are in the same category. In other words the Republicans are +25 if all the endangered members lose. They need 4 seats.

Democrats have had a relatively decent recent run in the press and are still in a tough spot here. If the goal here is just to mitigate the losses and keep the House competitive, Democrats need to keep within 20 seats of the majority for next term. In other words they need to keep the GOP to gains of 24 or less. Considering that midterms usually turn against the President’s party in the Fall, they’re probably in trouble there. With that said, they have a shot. If we assume both sides lose the seats leaning and likely going the other way right now, and lose half of their toss-up seats in play, Democrats would lose 23 and pick up 7, for a -16 seats. Right now, I’ll buy a 230-205 GOP House. However I still think it more likely gets worse than that, not better.

The Senate

The Senate is evenly divided right now, but Democrats win the tiebreaker. Right now they have tough defenses in Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada, with people watching New Hampshire, Colorado, and Washington. Right now, Democrats lead the average of the polls in every one of these races that has polling. If anything, Nevada and New Hampshire are polling the scariest. On the other side, the GOP has a different story. The hold a slim lead in the averages of North Carolina, while they’re trailing in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio (depending who you ask). There are even signs Florida *could* be competitive and grumbling about Iowa. In short, the fundamentals still lean Republican, but the map doesn’t. If we just stick to the RealClearPolitics numbers I linked to above, the Democrats pick up two seats and go up 52-48. That leaves Ohio in limbo a bit and doesn’t address the weird race in Utah.

Of course I’m going to cite again that things change in the Fall. Republicans will spend serious money, especially in their tough defenses. Even so, I don’t see Democrats losing the doomsday four seats they could have earlier this year. I’d put their current floor at losing two, their ceiling at winning three. in other words, right now they win two and go up 52-48, but I’m thinking it stays 50-50.


In general I don’t like forecasting governor races nationally. People don’t vote that way. With that said, you can generally see how the playing field is shaping up. Republicans have a very weak chance of holding open seats in Maryland and Massachusetts. Holding the open seat in Arizona is going to be tough now too. On the other hand, races in Iowa, Florida, Texas, Georgia, Ohio, New Hampshire, and Vermont that looked like they could be tough all lean their way to some degree. Democratic defenses in Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Kansas look to be very competitive races. On the other hand, great opportunities in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, and Illinois appear injured by crazy nominees. California and New York now look safe.

The real question here is what matters- inflation and Democrat fatigue or Republican insanity and Dobbs? Reality tells us it may not neatly be either. Local matters can be important in these races. If I had to gamble right now I’d say there’s no change in the partisan composition of the nation’s governors- and that’s good for Democrats.

In other words, I’m calling a very competitive Fall.

On Liz Cheney

Liz Cheney lost last night. Very badly too. She lost her primary by 37%, again proving to us that Donald Trump owns the GOP. He’s still the overwhelming favorite to win their 2024 nomination. It probably is true that no person can beat him for it.

I’m not crying for Liz Cheney. I began my political career literally *hating* her father. This woman once basically disowned her sister’s marriage and family. She cheered the Dobbs decision. She voted for Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy to be the Speaker of the House. There’s not much we politically agree on. Sure, her opponent yesterday was a moon howling nut job. Sure, Wyoming and America are worse off to have this person instead of a smart, principled conservative. I don’t much care for most of those principles though, and so there’s nothing for me to be upset over.

I think to a large extent Beltway media and Democratic activists cheering Cheney on is why we’re here. Did Wyoming Republicans want to hear that? Did it help Cheney to receive such “advocacy” on her behalf from us? No. Wyoming Republicans alone had the final say on her, and for them it was clear she had betrayed them. Her disloyalty to their party, in their eyes, was unacceptable. It is perfectly fine for the rest of us to judge this and have opinions on it, in fact we should. It won’t change it though.

It’s perfectly fine for the rest of to be afraid of what is going on today. We have just two serious political parties and one is a mentally unstable cult. They kicked out the daughter of a former Republican Vice-President, just months after the nephew of a former Republican President got trounced in Texas, but this was worse. She was removed for telling the truth- Donald Trump lust the 2020 election clearly, fairly, and in every way. That gets you beat in the 2022 GOP. Loyalty is to but one man.

While I’m not crying for Cheney, we’re all worse off today. This woman chose principle over expediency, truth over lies, and facts over fiction. Her service on the January 6th Committee was exemplary. She was willing to give away a promising political career because she knew lying about our elections and encouraging domestic terrorism were wrong. That should be a low bar to clear. She was rare in doing it though. I don’t like her at all. I completely respect her all the more for it.

To Hell With The Experts

I have friends who will sometimes say they could hit a major league fastball. They can’t. They’re no less stupid than people who think they know better about educating kids than teachers, or treating illnesses better than doctors, or act as their own lawyer. Different jobs take different skills, talents, and educations. I don’t want my barber doing open heart surgery on me, but I do want them cutting my hair. You know what you know.

Being an expert isn’t cool with a lot of people these days. Knowledge is no longer respected. For many people, being ignorant is fine. That would be ok with me, but they have moved on to ignorant and opinionated on things they don’t know. Scientists, teachers, or really anyone with expertise is accused of “looking down” on regular people when they state things they are experts on knowing. Respect for study is gone, replaced with edgelords armed with Google searches.

We just lived through four years electing an amateur, ignoramus President who felt he knew better than the “experts.” We all ended up locked in our houses, his supposedly strong economy collapsed, and over a million dead, while the national debt soared. Almost half the country still hasn’t put two and two together that the current inflation situation is a direct derivative of Covid destroying our economy. Sure, he managed to not get everyone killed for three years, but the term was four. Now, ironically he may be in major legal trouble NOT because he’s the awful guy/master manipulator criminal that many Democrats spent four years saying, but because he was an idiot that took documents home with him when they weren’t his. By the way, despite what you saw on the internet, Barack Obama did not do that. The job was simply too hard for Donald, because he came from a totally different professional world.

You may recall that knowing nothing and having strong opinions is not a new thing, just the popularity of it is. Tonight, a certain woman from Alaska who really got this ball rolling is expected to be elected to the United States House. Yes, that would be Sarah Palin, arriving back in our politics just in time to weigh in on issues she knows nothing about, like CRT (not being taught in our schools), Russia (she lives near it, you know?), Monkeypox (facepalm), and FBI search warrants. Seriously, she’s going to be back. Like tonight. And she looks totally sane next to today’s GOP. For real.

RIP expertise: The Big Bang-2022.


Well, they did it. The FBI served a search warrant on Donald Trump. They raided his home. They did so unannounced. They “broke into his safe.” He put out the unhinged statement above. It would take news this big to overshadow Rep. Scott Perry having his phone seized.

Generally I’m against investigations and searches of ex-Presidents. Investigations that seem politically motivated don’t do much good for the country. It’s also seemingly clear this is about a violation of the Presidential Records Act, which is a real law. Given Trump’s extraordinary behavior at the end of his Presidency I’ll wait and see where this leads. It might be the exception to the rule.

Pete Rose Behaved Like Pete Rose in Philly Return

I’ve said it many, many times- Pete Rose belongs in the Hall-of-Fame, both because he was the baseball player his fans say he was, and because the Hall-of-Fame is not what many of his detractors claim it is. Rose, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire all belong in the building. So does reputed dirt bag Curt Schilling. They all belong, just like Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Mickey Mantle, and every other flawed person already in. The Hall is a museum, nothing more. It’s a building with walls of plaques telling us the history of a sport. It is not sacred ground. It is not a church. If you can’t tell the history of baseball without a player, they need to be the Hall, period. Pete Rose is the greatest hitter of all-time. He was the star of an iconic team in Cincinnati. He is the reason Philadelphia broke a 97 year curse. Rose belongs in the Hall, even if he deserves to be banned from any active role in MLB. If you want to chastise his bad behavior on his plaque, go ahead. That’s far better than a childish attempt to cancel him out of our history.

Now, there is an entirely different story of rather we should want Rose around anymore. Acknowledging he’s been a part of the game isn’t the same as inviting him to your alumni weekend to be a part of the franchise today. That’s even more true if you’re the franchise that canceled his Wall-of-Fame celebration five years ago amidst revelations that Rose had an illegal relationship with a 14 year old girl 50 years ago as a married ball player. The Phillies said that was a line too far for them five years ago, and not many people seemed upset with them for it. Then they invited him this year to celebrate with his 1980 teammates on the field. Predictably, Rose made them look bad for it.

Alex Coffey is a first year Phillies writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Pete Rose was made available to the press and she asked him a fairly obvious question he had never answered, one deemed relevant by the Phillies cancelation of his honoring five years ago. “What would you say to those who say your presence here sends a negative message to women?” Pete said exactly what you’d expect Pete to say.

As I said above, I’m not much of a fan of canceling people. And Pete Rose gave you exactly the response you’d expect. He dismissed the question, which he’s allowed to do, he’s not under any obligation to answer something he doesn’t wish to. He dismissed the questioner though too, which he’s just not. neither is shocking. In the 55 years since the affair, in the 38 years since he left Philly, in the 33 years since he was banned from baseball, in the 32 years since he did time, in the five years since this came out, Pete Rose never showed any signs of contrition for his mistakes, he never showed even one iota of growth. More than anything, that’s what’s telling, Pete is still the guy who broke the rules and broke the laws, he is unchanged by time. That’s also why baseball won’t let him in the Hall, or really anywhere near the game. Here he had a chance to show that maybe he is now a harmless old 80-something now that we should honor before he dies. He predictably failed that opportunity in a condescending, disappointing way. If he just didn’t want to answer the question, he easily could have said that without being offensive. He was, of course, still offensive. And so don’t expect any change in status soon for Pete.

Of course, I don’t blame a scorpion for being a scorpion. The blame here falls on the Phillies, who invited Rose back, reversing their own stance on him, then made him available to the media to overshadow the whole day. No one can argue that Rose wasn’t the missing piece that got them to their first championship, but I think it’s clear there’s an argument that maybe he’s just not up to being around civilized people. What exactly did the team think he would say under questioning from reporters, representing the franchise? Was Pete Rose finally going to show some growth after his 80th birthday? Of course not. We knew it. They knew it. At a minimum they could have not made him available to the press. In reality they could have simply held to their 2017 line. Instead they let Pete be Pete. I think it’s clear where the blame belongs.

The Luxuries of the Luxury Tax World

Back in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021, the Phillies were hamstrung by a big money problem- despite being a top ten payroll team, they were cash poor when it came to baseball’s trade deadline. You see, they had an atrocious minor league system with no talent to trade for really good players. They also were unwilling to go over the luxury tax threshold to buy the players they wanted and needed to compete for the playoffs. In just about every year they fell somewhere between “falling short” and “falling apart” over the final two months. This was true across managers, seasons, and front office regimes.

Are the 2022 Phillies really much different? I don’t think so. They’ve had a couple of demonstrably better drafts of late to replenish the system, and they aren’t capped on money. Wait, the second part is big- since the Phillies were already over the luxury tax, they weren’t as concerned about taking on more money to get better players. The result is they got the best reliever on the market. The result is that they traded a good prospect to get a 24 year old starting center fielder they can control for more than a half decade. The result is they got a third or fourth starter with post-season experience and the opportunity to continue getting better as he pitches deeper into the season after some major injuries. The result is an elite defensive infielder that they can control for years to come, that dramatically improves their team defense. The Phillies didn’t go crazy like the Padres at the deadline, adding every piece they could ever want, but they also didn’t behave like a poverty team that doesn’t believe they can make the playoffs, let alone compete in them. In short, once the money wasn’t an issue, and the minor league system actually had some nice players, they Phillies acted like they were real buyers.

The results of this deadline are already pretty clear. The Phillies opened up space for younger players to audition for future roles. They traded for good players, and didn’t give away premium talent to do so, because they were willing to absorb more money from the other team to get the deal done. Where they needed to trade a prospect for the player they wanted, they had one. The Phillies finally had a deadline where they traded from a position of strength, and didn’t lose out on the targets they wanted because they were out of money or talent to trade. The result looks like they could break an 11 year playoff drought. Or at least we can actually hope to be a little more than lucky this October.