I Love Being Asked, “What Do You Do???”

I chose an interesting path in life, one I may exit off of in the future, but one I still enjoy for now. I don’t have a 9-5 schedule, I move around a lot, and security is not a part of my vocabulary. On the other hand, I had a Barack Obama dot com email, worked for Hillary Clinton twice, for five U.S. Senators, a Bosnian War Refugee, the first African-American Congresswoman in New Jersey history, and worked for a couple of state Democratic parties, to name some things on my resume. I’ve been around the block a bit.

I’ve gone on the record in interviews with reporters from some of the nation’s biggest news outlets, and had bonfires in Cedar Falls, Iowa with local party leaders. I’ve run 15 counties for Presidential candidates and gone to State Senators summer picnics, where I ate some wonderful potato salad. I’ve worked for PCCC endorsed candidates, and moderate to conservative Democrats who had no support from local activists. I’ve worked out of union halls and a candidate’s living room. I’ve worked for a Muslim candidate, Jewish candidates, and a preacher’s wife. I’ve lived several months in an Extended Stay Inn on the Waterloo-Cedar Falls border, and in a beachside gated community in the Outer Banks. It’s fair to say I’ve done it all.

So what do I do? Fundraising, on-the-record communications, targeting, field management, petition drives, and of course, campaign management and senior advising. If you’re not political, that means nothing to you. If you’ve followed my life over the last month, you’d be correct in assuming I’ve mostly stayed out of the political realm. I’ve done lots of baseball games, urban hiked out onto the Brooklyn Bridge, and spent some time with my non-political folks. There is a certain sting to losing an election, and it makes you step back and think a bit. I didn’t rush in and push for any specific next job, though I poked at some. I took my time to survey the future. The plan I had, to go to Capitol Hill, was somewhat busted by the results in PA-7 on May 15th’s primary. On the other hand, new opportunities have arisen from the ash left behind. I think our politics are as disgusting and insane as they have been at any time in my life, and as liberal guy I have felt isolated, but I have decided to re-focus and press on. I still enjoy politics too much to go away.

So what is the future? What are my goals? I’ve made a few, some short term and some long term. I’ve found in the past that having goals can leave you disappointed when the plan doesn’t work out, but it also gives you direction, and forces you to make a plan. May I be so fortunate as to formulate a new plan (side note: I’ll probably never share the plan on here, like I am the goals, so you’ll have to ask for that.).

So here we go:

  • I want to work the 2020 Presidential race, both the primaries and the general election. Given my immense antipathy towards the President, let me unequivocally say I’m doing this for Democrats.
  • I want to go work for the next Democratic President, in the Administration. Official side, where the work is for the people. Ideally, this is 2021. This does mean I have one more DC stint in me.
  • Don’t mistake that for meaning I’m abandoning home. I would like to serve in some non-elected capacities, on some boards and commissions. Given my relationship to both County Executives in the Lehigh Valley, I hope to be appointed to some boards and commissions. Home will always be home, and I hope to make life better there.
  • I’d like to add a degree or two to my resume. I’m taking recommendations on an MPA vs. MPP/what school/masters vs. JD.
  • I’d like to make money. I’d like to buy a house. I’d like to have a family. I say these things, first and foremost, because they were never goals of mine. Second, I think this part gets understated. Campaigns are jobs. They’re hard jobs. They take up an extraordinary portion of your life. If this isn’t a part of your plan, you should say so- for the sake of other people. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do well, or wanting some stability. I want both, though that was never the thought process before.
  • I’d like to represent my community in Harrisburg, or maybe even Washington, someday. Consider this not short time. Or be the Mayor of Easton- someday.
  • I’d like to do a foreign election. No strong preference. Maybe the UK? Idk.
  • I’ll go back out and do 2018. And maybe even Capitol Hill, if I must. We’ll see.

I think that’s as clear cut of future plans, and as broad of them as I get. I could quite obviously call an audible on the behalf of any of them, as I get the potential change factor. Even so, my life is in re-think mode, and I’m open to whatever.

Donald Trump Actually Shares Putin’s World View

In the midst of all the insane news that came out of the Trump-Kim Singapore Summit, I think we all are missing the big point. Sure, Trump saluted a North Korean General and elevated a tin-pot dictator to his level in direct negotiations, but that is a blip on the overall radar. In the long run, bringing North Korea out of it’s pariah status is a good thing, if it’s possible. Having a poor, starved, nuclear state sitting next to South Korea and Japan isn’t beneficial to anyone.

The important thing is the suspension of “war games” with our allies in Asia, coupled with our refusal to join the rest of the G-7 in the joint statement of principles at the end of that conference, our threats to pull out of NAFTA and other trade agreements, and our willingness to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement and Paris Climate Change treaty. Donald Trump is moving the United States towards isolationism, out of our world leadership role. A United States that doesn’t counter-balance Chinese power in the Asian Pacific, doesn’t lead in negotiating Middle East Peace, doesn’t lead on international trade, and isn’t part of solving global problems is simply not a superpower anymore. Trump is creating a militant, inward looking, isolationist state, complete with fraying alliances abroad and a nativist, nationalist identity driven immigration policy at home.

There is someone happy about that, and that’s Vladimir Putin. His stated world view is that there should be no United States superpower, but instead a collection of regional powers. Russia should dominate the old Soviet-bloc, China should move into the void we leave behind in Asia, we should dominate our hemisphere, perhaps Germany controls Western Europe, and someone should emerge in the Middle East. Even if all of that doesn’t work out, he just wants the United States to stop leading a strong Western coalition. If he can get us to break our bonds with Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, he’s happy. If he can get us out of Asia, even better. If he can get us out of the Middle East too, he now can grow Russian influence in every direction. For Putin, that’s the goal.

Trump’s foreign policy and Putin’s long held aspirations seem to be perfectly aligned. It’s beginning to be a lot less shocking that Putin’s Russia was so solidly supportive of Donald Trump’s campaign. After all, this is the new alliance that matters.

WTF is a Progressive Anyway?

The “modern” progressive movement is a little over a century old, and is widely credited as beginning in the age of Teddy Roosevelt. They concentrated many of their efforts on “trust busting” and worker protections, and can be widely credited for making the “factory era” of America’s working class safer.

A couple of decades later, FDR is credited with pushing progressivism forward with the “New Deal,” creating Social Security, the WPA, Medicaid, and a host of other programs to get the working class back to work. LBJ’s “Great Society” built on that, creating Medicare and seeking to “eradicate poverty” in our time. The one big difference of the Johnson era was the emphasis on Civil Rights being added, adding African-Americans for the first time to the working class coalition.

There were many great achievements in the mid-20th century by progressives, but we absolutely have to note an inconvenient fact- the addition of Civil Rights to the progressive platform, and later battles about the rights of women, LGBT people, and Latinos, broke apart the progressive coalition that had largely governed American politics for several decades previous. While LBJ held together the coalition in 1964, much of that was a reaction to JFK’s assassination. In 1968 the “solid South” poor and working class voter began their bolt away from the Democratic Party, which lead to Reagan, which lead to Gingrich, which lead to Bush, which lead to Palin and 2010, which ultimately brought us to Donald Trump. At this point the working class voter of FDR is the backbone of Trump’s America.

There are many things I could say positively about Woodrow Wilson or FDR’s Presidencies, but both were absolutely not social progressives. In fact, both were fine letting open bigots into their coalition. Wilson fought giving women the right to vote and was an open segregationist. FDR was nominally better, but completely unwilling to push for Civil Rights and is responsible for the Japanese internment camps. The economic progressive movement of the 20th century mostly showed little to no interest in social justice, Civil Rights, or spreading the benefits of their platform to people who weren’t white and male.

Fast forward to 2018, the height of Trump America. Just about every Democratic candidate in the country is running as a “progressive.” An alarming number of candidates have little to no achievements on their resume to back this up. Some are defining their “progressive” politics in terms of their positions on guns, abortion rights, and Civil Rights- all things that progressives have traditionally ignored. Essentially, 2018 progressivism seems to only have a loose affiliation with progressivism in a traditional sense. In a very real sense, calling a candidate a “progressive” is nothing but a buzzword now, a signal to the public that this candidate is willing to fight, and particularly be anti-Trump.

As I said above, not everything FDR did should be judged negatively for his weakness on Civil Rights, and the same could be said about LBJ in light of the Vietnam War, so there could be value in reclaiming the word “progressive” moving forward. It would be nice if we made the word mean something. Wealthy social liberals in the suburbs are not really synonymous with what the word meant in the past though, and maybe we don’t really want to force them to own that.

Where Am I?

At least if we’re watching the end of the “Superpower America” era of the world, we’re being entertained. As if the site of Donald Trump as the American President wasn’t laughable enough, we actually saw him shaking hands with North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un in a globally watched summit. The whole thing looked ridiculous. Donald Trump insulted France and Canada, then met with a miniature dictator who starved his people and has “work camps” (concentration camps) for political opponents.

But the winner of the Singapore Summit was Dennis Rodman, or at least PotCoin.com. Rodman showed up in Singapore, to much fanfare, and managed to get on CNN for a prime time interview with Chris Cuomo. Wearing his PotCoin shirt through the whole trip, Rodman rambled his way through the interview, acknowledging Kim’s shortfalls, while still calling him his friend. Rodman started crying at one point, and continuously saying he hoped for success. He said he really believes in the North Korean people, which seems to be better than their government does at times. All the while, the crypto currency that wants to be the main currency of the marijuana industry was there on the screen for all to see. It was entertaining.

There are major problems with an American President meeting with a North Korean Dictator without pre-conditions, which of course is lost on the knuckle-dragging Trump backers, but I don’t think we should damn the whole thing. I have real fears about Donald Trump negotiating anything, let alone a deal with North Korea, but we should hope for the best. A nuclear, isolated, poor North Korea is not helpful to anyone. We should not disarm and withdraw from Asia altogether, just in the hopes of North Korea behaving better- that cedes our power and influence to China and leaves our allies vulnerable. But a deal that gets even some weapons out of North Korea in exchange for economic help for their people would be a good thing.

Let’s hope this circus ends well.

The Democratic Party As It Is vs. The Party the Public Wants

For virtually my entire life, the Republican Party has had one rule- move right. I was born in 1983 and Ronald Reagan had already married social conservatism to fiscal conservatism and hawkish foreign policy, laying the groundwork for today’s GOP. From starting his campaign in Philadelphia, MS, to attacking unions and “welfare queens,” to huge increases in the Defense Budget, to tax cuts for the wealthy, the party of Reagan wasn’t wildly different on policy from the party of Trump. It moderated more, and it was more reasonable, but it was just an earlier model of the same beast.

The GOP’s lurch right didn’t end there. Newt Gingrich’s 1994 “Revolution” pushed Reagan policies, mixed with weaponized personal attacks. George W. Bush pushed the most Hawkish foreign policy in American history, while using social conservatism to divide America and motivate his base. Mitch McConnell weaponized governmental obstruction in ways Newt Gingrich wouldn’t even do. Donald Trump came along and offended our senses, but he’s really just the next logical step along the ugly, negative vein of our politics that Sarah Palin unleashed. All through it, the same principles remained. Tax cuts for the rich. Crippling deficits that we use to justify cuts to spending that helps marginalized people. A huge war machine. De-regulation for banks and corporations. Appeals to nationalism and religious identity.

Folks, this is who they are.

I actually think most of the country gets what the GOP is, at least on some level. I actually think the majority of America is bothered by it, at least on some level. Every once in a while, we see a revolt against it. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both were elected in part as responses to the GOP’s failings in government. The 2006 mid-term was virtually entirely a response to the Bush 43 Presidency. In 2017, the Democrats made historic gains in state legislatures, particularly Virginia’s, as a response to the Trump Presidency. Americans are uncomfortable on a basic level with an incompetent, fundamentally unfair government. They don’t approve of how things are done. Look at the polls in the Trump era- and even before that. People aren’t happy.

Yet, the facts are the facts- Americans vote for Republicans anyway. The GOP has held the majority in the U.S. House for 20 of the last 24 years. They’ve held the U.S. Senate for nearly 15 of the last 24 years. They’ve held most Governorships for eight years running now, and most of the state legislatures too. In fact, the GOP has held four of the last six Presidencies too, and therefore has had a stranglehold on our courts. America has been governed by Republicans for most of my life. The question we have to ask is easy: how?

The issue is that while the public may not be in love with the Republican Party, the Democratic Party isn’t what they’re looking for either. If the Democratic Party was considered to be the answer to the GOP’s over-reaching ideology, extremist policies, and governmental incompetence, they’d probably win a lot more elections. America sort of sees Democrats as just the opposite of the Republicans though. Democrats aren’t viewed right now as the reasonable alternative, but rather as the polar opposite of the GOP. Democrats have their own ideology. Democrats, like the Republicans, increasingly seem content to concede certain groups of voters. Democrats, like Republicans, seem to want to concentrate their policy solutions for America on their political base. Democrats seem to want to make America to be what they want it to be.

This would be fine, but Democrats have paid a bruising price for their vision, while the GOP has not. In the Democratic waves of 2006 and 2008, Democrats saw tremendous gains in suburban America. They gained seats in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York, and Cleveland. They gained blue-collar seats in Iowa and Wisconsin. They even won some rural seats in places like South Dakota. The party was seen as fixing the problems created by George W. Bush. Over just four years though, nearly all of those seats disappeared. Democrats were viewed as not representative of those districts anymore. Some of that directly traces back to the people who live in those places, and who they are. A lot of it also traces back to Democratic messaging though. Even very broad-based policies, like raising the minimum wage, aren’t discussed in broad based terms, but rather are tailored to explain how they help our base. To many voters, if they aren’t even a part of the Democratic message, they don’t view themselves as part of the Democratic Party. The 2016 campaign of Hillary Clinton only made that issue worse. We all know about her lack of attention in Wisconsin and Michigan, but what about her lack of visits in places like Wilkes-Barre, Reading, and Allentown, PA? What about her not visiting rural African-American voters in Eastern North Carolina? This goes far beyond a matter of racial politics- it’s a case of a party that wrote off large portions of America’s geography, and didn’t expect to see a loss of votes. The Democratic Party can’t win by only concentrating on the very liberal politics of America’s biggest cities. We’ve been shown that. Frankly, we should have learned that while winning in 2006, 2008, and even 2012.

The Democrats pay a price that Republicans don’t for their ideology. If the Democratic Party is going to emerge from it’s wilderness time out of power strong enough to hold a lasting majority, it won’t get there through a complete buy-in to being a Bernie Sanders style socialist party, or through the “Brooklyn progressive” vision of Hillary’s campaign. It’s just not what the voters who decide general elections typically are looking for us to offer.

Making the Northampton County Democratic Party Work Into the Future

Northampton County, Pennsylvania is a uniquely important county in American Politics. Generally, for about as far back as you would care to look, the Presidential candidate who wins Northampton County, wins Pennsylvania, and very often, the election. We are a swing county, one that went from Obama to Trump. We are in a very swing Congressional District (D+1). We are in one of the most swing of swing states. We are our own little world. We’re also important to the rest of the world.

The state of our county Democratic Party isn’t great, and that has big implications in the political universe. We have missed quorum in two of the last three attempted county meetings. The Executive Board meets very rarely, probably averaging less than once a year. Our Treasurer of official record resigned over a year ago, and the books haven’t undergone an independent audit. The area committees that are supposed to drive the committee on the whole never got that promised re-drawing from four years ago. Only four of the nine area committees even meet at this point. Despite the unprecedented anti-Trump energy and activism of the past 20 months, virtually the same number of people filed to run for the committee in this primary. Our elected officials are unhappy and view the committee unfavorably. We sent a mailer out in 2017, via first class mail, on the behalf of our county council slate- and it arrived the day after the election. Organized labor is unhappy with the committee as well, which could be fatal (they are some of our biggest donors). Things aren’t good.

I learned a long time ago that you don’t promise the moon, it’s hard to deliver. You promise what you can deliver. I would like to see the leadership for the next term make a few concrete promises that they can deliver on. In my opinion, they should be:

  1. Repair relations with the local elected officials that we helped elect. We nominated, advocated, and voted for our County Executive and Council. Then they feel we stepped on their messages, in an effort to run their campaigns. Candidates set their message. We support them. We need to get back to that.
  2. Repair relations with organized labor by supporting pro-labor candidates and recruiting candidates committed to the cause of organized labor. Labor feels like they’ve been treated as an ATM by the party. They feel we’ve opposed some of their candidates. That has to stop. We have to be committed to their cause on issues from prevailing wage to the minimum wage. We have to nominate people who support them, period.
  3. Have the state Democratic Party conduct an independent audit of the books and get a Treasurer on the job. It is unacceptable that this position has sat open so long. Right now, nobody would want it, due to the lack of certainty about the state of our books. This needs to be rectified, immediately.
  4. Four meetings of the general body a year, every year. One per quarter. One before petitions. One before the primary. One around Labor Day. One in October.
  5. Bring forward a new map of area committees within the next year. This seems simple. Four to six areas is all we can carry. Get a map to vote on, now.
  6. Lower quorum from the 40% set by the current leadership to 30 people a meeting. The 40% number is ridiculous, but that’s what they chose. Lower it to 30, a number we better be able to get out to meetings.
  7. Six executive board “meetings” a year. One every other month, with minutes, if only to check in. It can be done via conference call, Skype, or whatever other technology is needed to get everyone together.
  8. Creation of a “Northampton County Democratic Club” to allow people not elected as committeeman or committeewoman to take part in our organizations. Rather than fighting the DNC gender balance rules, create a structure under the party to allow non-committee people an outlet to be involved. This is common place in New Jersey, where strong municipal committees have more activists than slots.
  9. Enforcement of the rules, uniformly, from day one. If someone isn’t attending any meetings, is endorsing Republicans, or otherwise violating our rules, remove them in accordance with the bylaws. Don’t start in year four though, do it from day one.
  10. Work on increasing Democratic registration and turnout. Make voter registration and outreach to infrequent voters a permanent mission of the party, rather than fighting with campaigns who need to spend their time appealing to the super-voters that usually decide elections. Do our job, let them do their’s.

That’s my take. What’s your’s?

Dear Eagles- Your Fans are With You

Let me start by stating something controversial- I would probably go. If you’re incredibly lucky in life, you’ll get to be a professional athlete. If you are truly blessed, you might win a championship in pro sports. The invitation to the White House to teams who win major sports championships has become a tradition, even an honor. That’s our house, the President lives in it. These athletes earned that moment to bask in the glow of our country. They may never get it again. So I’d go, even with a bad President.

I understand why the Eagles are not though. For many of them, the causes they are protesting are incredibly important and personal. It is their God-given right to speak out and use their First Amendment Rights. This is what our country is about. Even the very President of the United States must honor that right. The Eagles players who chose not to go were right in exercising their rights. President Donald Trump was wrong to disinvite them. Period. Full-stop.

The White House says the Eagles “disagree with the President” and “abandoned their fans.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Fox News showed clips of Eagles players praying to their God to attempt to smear them with the NFL’s controversy about players kneeling during the National Anthem. In fact, no Philadelphia Eagle player kneeled during the National Anthem during their Super Bowl season. The efforts to smear the Eagles players are all about optics and politics, without even taking into account the personal behavior and belief of any of the players. It’s disgusting.

We know that Donald Trump stands with Super Bowl runner-up Tom Brady, who skipped visiting the Obama White House with his team, so none of this should be a great shock. The Eagles players should know a few things, from at least this fan who was down there in the sea of green on JFK Boulevard for parade day:

  1. We Eagles fans support our team.
  2. You’re right to exercise your rights as Americans.
  3. Fly.Eagles.Fly. Super Bowl Champs.

No one likes us, we don’t care.

You Read Me, Now Get to Know Me

I spend so much time on here writing about the theoretical that you could be forgiven if you don’t know much about me. I spend a lot of time giving my point of view on the world, but less giving you a point of reference on me. So let me try to do that today, by giving you some facts about myself. Here they are:

  • Sign- I’m a Taurus, born May 11th. I fit all the descriptions of a Taurus pretty well, and I think Bulls are cool.
  • First Concert- The Rolling Stones “Voodoo Lounge” tour at Giants Stadium. The Counting Crows were the warm-up, fresh off of their “August and Everything After” tour, and I was more excited about them- until I saw the Stones.
  • Favorite non-Phillies baseball player- All-time, I’d say Tom Glavine. During his first Cy Young season, I was yelling to him for a ball while he ran wind sprints on the warning track for his off day. He said he’d come over at the end, which of course I didn’t believe. Sure enough, he did, and he signed that ball for me. I’ve been a fan ever since.
  • Height- 6’1″. I can get on all the amusement rides.
  • First Political Campaign- The 2002 Pennsylvania Democratic Party coordinated for Ed Rendell for Governor and Ed O’Brien for PA-15. I had mono through most of the internship, but it was still amazing. I got to meet Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi. It was cool at the time.
  • Rank the Top Three Skylines in America- In order, it’s New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia.
  • Where Were You Born- Warren Hospital in Phillipsburg, NJ. It’s as blue collar as it gets.
  • Favorite Presidents (top 3, ordered)- Dwight Eisenhower, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama. What Eisenhower did for the country, on issues like creating the interstate highway system, really beginning desegregation, ending the Korean War, and the early space race work, was all amazing. Clinton and Obama are the best Presidents of my life, and so I’m a huge fan.
  • How Many Varsity Letters Did You Win at Easton?- Seven. Four in outdoor track, two in cross-country, and one in indoor track.
  • How Did You Spend Your 16th Birthday?- In Wilkes-Barre at the Red Hot Chili Peppers/Foo Fighters concert.
  • Why Aren’t You a Big FDR fan?- The guy did nothing on Civil Rights. Yes, he did great work getting us through the war and out of the Depression, but I can’t forgive that. His politics were essentially a competent version of Donald Trump’s, which deserves credit for competency and it’s successes, but still ignored the marginalized.
  • What Did You Expect to do When You First Got to Moravian?- Get a Political Science/History double major and then go to law school. I’m glad life pulled me in other directions.
  • Would You Put Jimmy Rollins in the HOF?- Yes. I know, the advanced metrics people say no, but I’m not one of them. The baseball Hall-of-Fame is a museum to commemorate baseball as we saw it. Players are entertainers. You can’t write the 2005-2012 era of baseball without talking about Jimmy. He won Gold Gloves, made All-Star teams, had 20-20 seasons, won an MVP, became a post-season fixture, and won a World Series. If Jimmy played in New York, we’d put him in. He’s the all-time hits leader for one of the oldest franchises in sports. Unfortunately, the saber metrics crowd is increasingly dominating the conversation.
  • Favorite Rap Beef?- I’ll go with Jay Z and Nas over Biggie and Pac, because they lived. Nas best up Jay pretty bad for a lot of the beef, but “Super Ugly” ended the discussion of who won, for me.
  • What’s the Top Political Issue Facing the Lehigh Valley?- Infrastructure. US-22 is too congested. We need SEPTA rail to Philly, and rail to New York. I’d like to see more bus service too.
  • What’s Your Feeling on Immigration?- My great-grandmother died when I was nine, and she was one of my closest relatives to me as a child. She came over to Ellis Island just before xenophobia stopped the influx of immigrants in the 1920’s. She came here for a better life, and thank God she did. I try to remember that in shaping my views today. I’m for DACA for the DREAMers, and support a pathway to citizenship for most undocumented immigrants here currently. I don’t support protecting felons and other serious criminals who are here illegally though. If you’re violating our laws while here illegally, I don’t think you should receive legal status.
  • How Did You Spend Your 21st Birthday?- I went into the old Drinky Drinkerson’s on the circle in Easton and had a couple of beers from a couple of bartender girls I went to high school with.
  • Twitter Handle?- @therichwilkins
  • Nationalities?- Slovak, Polish, Hungarian, German, Italian, and British. I definitely need a DNA test.
  • Position on Abortion?- I’m pro-choice. Completely pro-choice, like repeal the Hyde Amendment level. This isn’t a question of morals, it’s a question of public policy. America is better off letting women control their own bodies. If you want to personally live pro-life, do it, but why should everyone else have to as well? That’s not the government’s place to say.
  • Favorite Kind of Food?- Italian food, especially pasta. Throw some seafood on it and I’m in heaven.
  • All-time High Bench Press?- 310
  • Years With Phillies Season Tickets?- We’ve has our 17 game plan since 1991, making this year 28.
  • Most Offensive Trump Policy?- This is too hard. I could say pulling out of Paris, separating parents from their children at the border, or any number of things. I’ll say the Muslim Ban though.
  • Fastest All-Time Mile?- 4:52
  • Instagram Handle?- @therichwilkins
  • Weight Wrestled in High School?- 171, mostly. Some 160.
  • Favorite Political Boss?- Chris Dodd. He was actually really fun to get to know, and he’s one of the most consequential Senators of our time.
  • Favorite Kennedy?- RFK. Not even close.
  • Favorite 2008 Phillies Player? Ryan Howard. Watching him hit moon shots never got old.
  • Snapchat Handle?- @rtwilkins
  • Scariest Moment?- Definitely the 2001 anthrax scare at the Capitol. Not only did another student get sick after we were exposed, but I met Rick Santorum that day. In all seriousness though, I wondered if I was going to die.
  • What 1990’s Rock Star Would You Want to Be?- Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day. You know that dude had a fun life.
  • Favorite Aerosmith Album?- Get A Grip. It’s a masterpiece, and they wrote a lot of it in rehab. That made it take on special significance to me.
  • Most Important Political Issue For You?- Climate Change. We only have one Earth to live on, and we’re destroying it. It will effect us in every facet of life, for the worse, if we don’t fix it.
  • Favorite City- New York.
  • Favorite Day of the Year?- Thanksgiving in Easton has no peer.
  • How Did You Spend Your 25th Birthday?- At a Mets bar in Woodbridge, with a couple of girls and a DJ. I believe he was on Jersey Shore, or something. It was… something.
  • Political Issue You’d Like to Solve?- Progressive tax reform. I’d like to make the tax code work for working people.
  • Religion?- I was raised Byzantine Catholic. I still consider myself a believer and Catholic, but I haven’t been going much anymore.
  • Favorite non-President Politician?- Al Gore gets edged out by RFK for me.
  • Favorite Place in Iowa?- Waterloo/Cedar Falls. It’s twice been my temporary “home.” There are great people there.
  • How Did You Spend Your 30th Birthday?- I went out to dinner in Manhattan with the family, then came home and drank all night at the College Hill Tavern in Easton.
  • Have You Been in Any Weddings?- I was just officially in my first on May 12th, my buddy Pfen’s. I officiated my friend Dana’s and sort of did for my friends Drew and Kelsey as well.
  • Play Any Instruments?- I still hop on my drums sometime. I used to play the bass guitar too.
  • Favorite Basketball Player/Sixer?- Allen Iverson. It’s not even close either.
  • Favorite Season?- The Fall. I like it when the heat starts to go away.
  • Greatest Sporting Event You Attended?- Game three, 2008 World Series. Chooch’s 60 foot walk-off fielder’s choice grounder.
  • How Did You Spend Your 35th Birthday- At Pfen’s rehearsal dinner. It was the best.
  • Facebook Link- https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010332789343

I hope that illuminates me a bit more for you. I’ll do another of these soon.

LeGOAT? That Won’t Be Enough.

LeBron James is the best player in the NBA. He’s going to his 8th straight NBA Finals. He’s arguably the best athlete in North American sports. His presence on a roster makes that team a title contender. He essentially carried this Cavaliers team to the Eastern Conference title. The only professional athlete in North America I’d put on the same pedestal right now is Tom Brady.

LeBron is going to lose in the NBA Finals, and probably lose pretty bad. Golden State is just a hands down, far better team than Cleveland. If LeBron is the best player in this series, the next four best players are all on Golden State. Frankly, the big four of Durant, Curry, Thompson, and Green are all putting together Hall-of-Fame resumes before our eyes. They just won a much harder conference, and beat a better team in each round than Cleveland did. You can try and argue that a healthy Kevin Love could make this competitive, but he’d be the fifth best player on Golden State, and that’s arguable against the also questionably healthy Andre Iguodala.

Last year, Golden State swept a Cavaliers team that had Kyrie Irving, arguably a top ten player in the league. Does anybody actually think the bench pick-ups Cleveland made at the deadline will narrow the gap with Golden State? This Cleveland team needed LeBron James to put up arguably the greatest post-season ever to get by a not-quite-ready Indiana squad, a scared Toronto squad, and a Celtics team missing their best two players.

For me, the argument over LeBron being the best current basketball player is over in his favor, as is the argument of him being the best of his generation. LeBron will have a great series against the best team of this era. He might even average a triple-double. It won’t matter. His 2016 NBA title in Cleveland is his greatest achievement of his career, but once Durant went to Golden State, the mountain got too high. If LeBron’s supporting cast shows up, I could see this series going six games. I expect Golden State to win the title in four or five games.

Long live the king. I’m pulling for the upset. This would be a top five athletic feat of all time.