What I Want in our Next President

On Friday night I attended Senator Chris Dodd’s annual holiday gathering, as I have most years in the decade-plus since his 2008 campaign gave me my first “major” political gig. I go in part to see people (though less and less of my former co-workers attend), and in part out of respect- one of the most accomplished Senators of the last century actually employed me and invites me to join in the company of that room. It’s an honor, and one of only four reasons I put on a tie (funerals, weddings, and Presidential visits being the others).

There is a common theme in Presidential candidates I tend to like and support, one that Chris Dodd personified- experience, achievement, gravitas, accomplishments. This was true of Hillary Clinton, Wesley Clark, John Kerry, and obviously for Dodd. Chris Dodd authored or lead passage on the Family and Medical Leave Act, Dodd-Frank, the 2008 Mental Health Parity Act, Part of the Affordable Care Act, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, the India/U.S. Nuclear Accords, TARP, the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, the Class Action Fairness Reform Act of 2005, the Help America Vote Act, the Child Care Act, and numerous other pieces of legislation I can’t remember or name, but impacted millions of lives for the better. His career was one of achievement, he got things done, even when it wasn’t front page news. That’s what I tend to seek out in political leaders I support.

I am not looking for the 2020 Democratic nominee to inspire me. I’m not looking for a generational shift. I don’t care much for their rhetoric. Surely any Democratic nominee will come to the debate with a universal health plan, a climate change/energy policy, ideas to lower the cost of higher education, and a host of other liberal policy plans that we desperately need, even if they are just copied from their colleagues. I don’t give a damn about that, so long as they’re in the realm of reality. I care about how they’re going to get the plans passed and enacted into law. Show me your revenue streams to fund your ideas, tell me your Congressional allies you will work with. In a post-Trump world, cleaning up for a disaster administration, I need to see that you actually know what you’re doing. This is not a time for on-the-job training, just because I want to feel good and inspired by my choice. I’ll take an imperfect vessel if it can actually get us through the rocky waves of the world Trump is leaving us.

I recently attended George H.W. Bush’s lying in state at the Capitol, and they gave us a card on the way out that essentially had his government resume on the back. During the Cold War we tended to nominate and elect very experienced people for President, something that has become less common since then. Perhaps Americans would be much happier with their country if they’d seek that out again. The challenges we face today are every bit as complex and dangerous as they were then. Whether it’s Putin, Climate Change, automation, terrorism, globalization, nuclear proliferation, cyber warfare, or any of the other major global issues, we need someone ready for the job on day one. I don’t care how old they are, or exactly what’s on their resume. I do care that they have demonstrated the intellect, the grit, and execution to get things done. I do want to see that they have plans, not just words about what our road ahead shall be.

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Mixed Feelings on “Happy XMas (War is Over)” Re-Make

I am a John Lennon fan. I actually like Miley Cyrus too. I love the song “Happy XMas,” John Lennon’s anti-war, Christmas classic. I listened to Miley’s rendition with Sean Lennon and Mark Ronson on Saturday Night Live. I really liked it.

So what’s there to write about?

You can re-make any song you’d like, but some songs just belong to their moment. John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s rendition of this song had a meaning, an actual point- to protest the Vietnam War. While we have troops abroad at Christmas of 2018, we are not embroiled in a national debate over the justness of a full scale war. There aren’t large-scale protests in the streets over our continued presence in Afghanistan. We aren’t losing thousands of young, American G.I.’s every month. The moment we’re in isn’t the moment of that song.

One could argue that as long as there is war in the world, which is all of our human history, one needs to hear that song. By that standard, Miley Cyrus did a great job. This re-make just felt slightly off for me, even if masterfully done.

One Month of Christmas, Day 11

Welcome to the “oops” edition! I missed yesterday, so today gets two posts. Here’s the post for Wednesday, December 5th, 2018…

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Oh, Dubliner

How can I forget thee? I can’t, so I went there last night and had a few drinks and some corned beef and cabbage. I’ve seen plenty a Senator there over the years, but last night it was the Chuckster- Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who was in and out in about three minutes time, while I was outside on the phone. I guess he was in a rush…

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The Phillies Were Right to Hold the line on Corbin

So the Washington Nationals tried their hardest to remain relevant in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, paying Patrick Corbin the bank, and giving him the desired sixth year. Obviously I would have liked to sign him, but I’m glad the Phillies didn’t go six years to do it.

Obviously this doesn’t look like “spending a little stupid,” and Corbin is good, but even the deepest pockets in the NL East have to pick their battles. Save that extra year to get Harper. The Nats don’t have the fanbase to sustain contracts like Scherzer and Corbin, even though attendance has improved. They’re a stagnant, underachieving team that has an owner who’s very rich, but not richer than John Middleton. Use the cash we didn’t spend on Corbin to bury that team once and for all, and take the face of their franchise.

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Don’t Feed the President’s Ego

Donald Trump thinks he behaved during George W. Bush’s state funeral. No, really, just ask him. By not making a total fool of himself, he thinks he did well. I guess if you ignored his twitter account, maybe- but you can’t do that. And besides that, why are we giving credit for him not attacking Jeb all week. I mean really, the man’s a child. Treat him like one.

One Month of Christmas, Day 10

Happy December 4th, 2018. Here’s today’s random thoughts…

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R.I.P. Mr. President

So last night I went to the U.S. Capitol and paid my respects to President George H.W. Bush in the Capitol rotunda. It took me about 90 minutes to get through the line, and I spent a few minutes there at the casket, then moved along. It was the quietist I’ve ever heard the Capitol.

When I was five, the 1988 Election captivated my mind. I obviously knew nothing about it yet, but it was interesting to me. It’s weird to bury powerful people from my childhood, as it does really mark the passage of time.

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Don’t Lock Him Up?

Apparently Robert Mueller doesn’t want to lock up Michael Flynn, because he cooperated fully and he served the nation in uniform. He probably gave Mueller some great information. All the redactions suggest some juicy stuff is in there.

Luckily for Michael Flynn, Robert Mueller is a better man than he is. While he could have made an example of Flynn, he chose not to. He didn’t lead an arena in chanting to lock Flynn up. He allowed him due process. He treated him humanely. It was the right thing to do.

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Tonight’s a light night for writing. I’ll be back at it more tomorrow.

One Month of Christmas, Day 9

Happy Monday, December 3rd, 2018. Here’s today’s random thoughts…

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In DC

I’m in DC- it was a lovely night being an Eagles fan in enemy territory. The Eagles and Redskins are playing on Monday Night Football. I must say- nobody gave me an issue. A few beers and some food later, all’s well.

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Compassion for the Homeless? Not Here…

I just walked past a group of homeless people sleeping on Pennsylvania Avenue. They’re just laying on the sidewalk. I’m walking to the Capitol to see a President’s farewell and these people aren’t even treated as people.

Who are we?

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You Have to Cheer for Ewing

I went to see the Georgetown Hoyas beat the Liberty Flames tonight. The Capitol One Arena is nice, and the Hoyas need to start filling it. That will mean tournament wins, Final Fours, and yes, a title. Georgetown expects to win, not just games against Liberty, but big games too. Tonight was an expectation for the Hoyas.

I’m not a fan of the Hoyas, but I’m pulling for Ewing. How many Hall-of-Famers go coach their alma mater? The risk of fraying the relationship is too much for most. That he’s taking it on is enough for me to pull for him.

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May Jean be the First

Jean Segura is coming to Philadelphia. The two-time All-Star will be the Phillies shortstop in 2019. Juan Nicasio and James Pazos will join the Phillies as well.

I’m in a minority that is sorry to see J.P. Crawford and Carlos Santana gone, but don’t mistake me as opposing the trade. I think Crawford will blossom, and Santana is still a positive player. I think Segura is good now. If you want to win now, you need players like him.

If you want to sign Bryce and Manny, you do this.

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Paying my Respects to 41

As I said above, I’m going to see George H.W. Bush’s body lie in state at the Capitol- in fact, I’m in line now. It’s not bad, slightly cold, but the line is moving. I’m signing off for tonight to do this.

God speed, sir: God speed.

One Month of Christmas, Day 8

Happy Sunday, December 2nd, 2018. There are 23 days until Christmas. I’m on the way home from dropping my sister back at Philadelphia and just listened to the Sixers win their 17th game. #TrustTheProcess.

Here’s tonight’s random thoughts…

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Wild-Eyed Critics Need to Lay Off of Susan

My new Congresswoman, Susan Wild (D-PA-7) has already run afoul of my “friends” (to be read- lunatic Berners) on the Socialist-Left. Congresswoman Wild did join the Progressive Caucus in the House (which to be fair, isn’t as selective as it once was), but that’s not enough for them. They’re angry she joined the New Democratic Coalition Caucus, or as they call it “The Wall Street Dems” conference.

I voted for Susan in the Fall, but have some misgivings. This isn’t one of them. She didn’t run as an anti-capitalist screecher in the primary or general election. She’s not Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and never claimed to be. Her joining an ideologically diverse Caucus is not a bad thing.

I’ve appeared on these types of freaks’ radar before, most notably their anti-Bernie hit list in 2017. Susan, keep doing you. You won doing so.

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LOLOhio State

To hear Ohio State fans tell it today, it’s not a big deal to lose to Purdue by 29, or deserve to lose to Maryland, or to win a crappy conference. To hear the Buckeyes fans tell it, they should be the #3 team in the land, over an undefeated Notre Dame. They look and sound ridiculous.

The Big Ten sucked this year. Wisconsin was trash. I love Penn State, but they weren’t that good. Michigan State was terrible. Michigan was a wildly overrated, poorly prepared team, when it mattered. Ohio State has no signature win, really. They won an overrated conference. They lost by 29 to Purdue. Not only are they not better than Notre Dame, they’re not better than Georgia and Oklahoma.

The committee got it right- but it doesn’t matter. Alabama is going to kill any #4 team that gets in.

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I Was a 41 Fan

I liked George H.W. Bush. I liked him as a young kid. I like him now. In 1992, I forced my Clinton supporting parents to get me a Bush-Quayle sign in 1992 (9 year old me believed in supporting the President). I wrote his White House after the 1992 Election, and got back a photo of him at the Grand Canyon.

I grew to appreciate his Presidency more as the years past. I find some of the far-lefty attack articles on him this week to be beneath the dignity of a response. President Bush 41 had plenty of faults. On the whole, I don’t think he’s on the negative side of the ledger though.

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You Like the NFL for the Reasons I Don’t

I watch the NFL for the same reason I watch cop shows- you can’t take your eyes off a wreck. The NFC stinks. With a win, the Eagles could pull within a half-game of the Wild Card. With another win next week, they could lead the division. The Eagles and Cowboys might both make the playoffs, with like nine wins.

I’m sorry, this slop is trash. I like excellence, not parody. I like the longer term rebuilds in MLB and the NBA. This over-night change crap in the NFL is garbage.

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DC Trip 1 Starts Tomorrow

Tomorrow I hit the road to DC, my first of two December trips to the nation’s Capitol. I’ll be doing a Georgetown game, meeting with a couple of Chiefs-of-Staff on the Hill, having a Happy Hour, and having some Russia’s best (vodka). I’m also going to try to get to President Bush’s lying in state. Should be a good trip.

One Month of Christmas, Day 7

It’s December 1st! It’s a rainy Saturday here in Easton. Here’s today’s random thoughts…

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I Tip My Hat to Bush 41

After 94 great years on this Earth, President George H.W. Bush has gone home. The 41st President of the United States died last night at home in Houston.

President Bush was a genuine war hero. He also was a mixed bag politically. He was the first “third term” for a political party since Herbert Hoover, and the first Vice-President to ascend to the Presidency directly via election in the 1900’s. He lost his re-election less than two years after having a 90% approval. He never won a statewide election in Texas until his 1988 Presidential victory, losing two Senate races. He was the father of a political dynasty, but his son left the White House with record negatives, and his other son failed to win a primary. President Bush had epic highs and titanic lows.

President Bush was mixed in his record. He signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). He twice vetoed the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). He oversaw the end of the Cold War. He pardoned away crimes he may have been involved with, in relation to the Iran-Contra Scandal. He successfully lead military actions in Panama and Iraq. He and Ronald Reagan seemed to dubiously get the Iranian Embassy hostages free, minutes into their administration. He took a lifetime membership from the NRA, but gave it up when they publicly attacked federal agents. The Bush Family had been very involved with Planned Parenthood, until he accepted the Vice-Presidency in 1980. President Bush had a mixed record on taxes, Civil Rights, and education. He was not nearly as ideological as many of today’s politicians.

I liked President Bush for much the same reason as I now like President Obama- they were both no-nonsense, non-divas. They faced down the extremists in their parties, made decisions that ran against their ideology, and tried to govern from consensus. That was also part of both of their failings. Neither was responsive to the passion of the masses. Neither saw the political storms coming after they were gone (Gingrich for Bush, Trump for Obama). Both were steadfastly committed to Washington “norms,” even as they passed.

I’ll say more about Bush 41 later. For now, may he rest in peace.

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The G20 Debacle

The only lasting memory of this G20 Summit in Buenos Aires is MBS and Putin’s “bro-shake” when they got there. Past that, it was more of the unfortunate same. Our President is too compromised to meet with Putin or call out MBS’ bad behavior. Trump was the only leader there to not sign on to a statement on climate change. It ended with a video showing Trump saying “get me out of here.”

Are you tired of winning yet?

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What are the Mets Doing?

I want to give the Mets credit for getting Nelson Diaz from Seattle for Jay Bruce and four other players. The Mets got better and dumped a bad contract. They also took on five years and $63 million. I’d call it worth it, but there is still the rumor of them trading Noah Syndergaard. These two things make no sense together. Getting Cano is a “win now” move. Trading Thor is not.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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The Power of Video

I doubt Kareem Hunt plays again this season. The now former Chiefs running back was shown shoving and kicking a woman on video, back in February. The video mysteriously showed up, incriminating Hunt with an assault that was never charged. The Chiefs almost immediately released him.

Once again, we are seeing the power of video in today’s society. An incident like this, on radio, can “Ray Rice” a career.

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We’ll be back at it tomorrow…

One Month of Christmas, Day 6

Good evening, today is Friday, November 30th. There are 25 days until Christmas. Here’s today’s thoughts…

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Rudolph is Fine, Get a Life

So apparently, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer isn’t good to show to kids. Why? Apparently showing the other reindeer bullying Rudolph is bad for kids. I kid you not.

This is part of why America hates liberals. Bullying is something that goes on in life. Will against it if you like, it will still be there generations after I’m dead. In this particular case, the victim at least ends up being beloved and popular, a powerful lesson to kids that bullying is stupid. That kid you’re bullying will grow up to make you feel foolish for being a jerk.

Honestly, people need to get a life.

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Holy Commercialism, Aerosmith

I just watched Aerosmith’s “Dream On” in a Tiffany and Co. commercial. Aside from my burning disdain for jewelry companies, good for them. Except that I recently saw another of their songs, “Livin’ on the Edge,” in a smart phone commercial. Oh, and Aerosmith will be “in residency” in Las Vegas next year.

As they approach their 50th anniversary together, Aerosmith is clearly cashing in. And you know what, good. Bands shouldn’t feel bad about making money off their music. It just feels like Aerosmith is going to hit gold here in the next few months.

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Yes to Woodstock 2019

Yeah, sure, Woodstock 1999 was kind of a shitshow. Sure, they burned some stuff. Sure, there were kind of, sort of rioting. But we have had a 20 year timeout. And dammit, 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the original Woodstock.

I not only want a 2019 Woodstock, but I want the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Green Day back there. I want to see the bad behavior surrounding both’s Woodstock performances repeated. I’m totally in for it.

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#NC09 is a Real Mess

The only race we were involved in on Election Day in Mecklenburg County, NC that didn’t end in victory was the 9th Congressional District race. We won Mecklenburg County for Democrat Dan McCready by a comfortable margin, but the final count has put him down by 905 votes. He conceded the day after, and the race seemed over.

I have to say it *seemed* over. We now know that foul play seems to have been going on, in a county well East of where I was. In Bladen County, an individual named Leslie McRae Dowless, the Soil & Water Commissioner, worked for Mark Harris’ Congressional campaign. In that county, Harris got 61% of the mail-in ballots, but only 19% of the voters who mailed in ballots were Republicans. The North Carolina State Board of Elections now has affidavits, signed by voters that Dowless’ had people going door to door to pick up ballots and “mail them in” for them. In some cases his people filled in ballots for people, in other instances they discarded ballots for Dan McCready. Dowless standed to make a $40,000 bonus if Harris won. It appears he may have broken some rules to get it.

If that’s so, these election results cannot be certified.

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We’ll be back at it tomorrow…

One Month of Christmas, Day 5

Good day, today is Thursday, November 29th, 2018. It’s really windy out. Despite my rant yesterday about the Stones’ prices, my dad bought up a few seats for us today. My hypocrisy with things I want knows no end, I guess. On to today’s thoughts…

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Where the Action Will be, 2019 Governing

What will happen the next two years in government? The most common answer is nothing. Congress is divided, the nation is divided, the states are divided. Yet, in the past two days, I’ve sung a different tune to two PA State Reps I’ve advised in the past.

One is a newer representative (not a freshman), who asked me what committees she should ask for. I told her almost instantly “transportation.” I told her the only thing coming out of Washington the next two years is an infrastructure bill. When that money hits state capitols, you’ll want to be helping craft the state’s bill.

The other is a more senior state rep, who will be Democratic Chairman at Agriculture. My advice? Stay there. Trump will desperately want to help farmers across the Rust Belt heading into his re-election. The U.S. House Agriculture chairman represents probably the reddest Democratic seat in the country, and makes his political bones by being very engaged with the agriculture community. I think they may be sending some money to the states.

Just a hunch, though.

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The 30 for 30 Bobby Knight Special was Wow

I just watched the “30 for 30” on Bobby Knight and was absolutely stuck on it. It was incredibly well done, and paints a picture of an unlikable Bobby Knight. What an awful guy.

It was also a super sad story. Neil Reed was tortured by his experience at Indiana. He finally had escaped the shadow of his time with the Hoosiers, had happiness, and then he died. There was no happy ending.

The business of college sports was once again on trial. Like Ohio State and Michigan State’s recent problems, or Penn State and Baylor’s past problems, it’s clear that money causes questionable decision making. The NCAA never looks good when we view these sagas.

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Cohen Blows the Lid on Trump-Russia Connection

There is no question if Russia tried to help Donald Trump in the 2016 Election, only whether or not he and his associates knew. I’ve long since believed they did, but I had mostly assumed Donald Trump himself was largely shielded from that. I never thought he himself would get hit.

Today I’m not sure. Now we’re getting into connecting not only Trump’s campaign to Russia, we’re also connecting Trump’s company and finances to Russia. This is new territory for this case. Perhaps this was more than just an operation by Russia to influence an election, but also to control a foreign asset. If that is so, this is a new chapter, and not a good one.

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Back at it tomorrow…

One Month of Christmas, Day 4

Hey there, it’s Wednesday, November 28th, 2018, 27 days until Christmas. It’s cloudy and windy out, but not terrible- just how I like it. Here’s today’s random thoughts…

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Giving Companies Money Does Not, and Has Not Ever Worked

So GM is taking their tax cuts and subsidies and closing a few plants, laying off around 15,000. Who would have ever guessed this? This has never happened before, right? Right?

How many people a company employs basically depends on how many people they need. Corporations don’t hire more people unless they need it. Sure, some sectors of the economy may use some portion of new money to expand their business or do more research, but that is not the norm. Typically, if you hand out tax breaks and subsidies to corporations, the money goes back to shareholders and in bonuses for execs. Tax breaks don’t typically stop corporations from closing factories or outsourcing jobs. Why would they? Their job is to make a profit, not employ the public. They hire to need.

What on earth should we do? How about an actual re-write of the corporate tax code? Make a business’ tax rate relative to their behavior and societal impact. Companies that pay well, offer benefits and pensions, keep the environment clean, allow unions, and do the things we want as a society can pay below the standard rate, because they’re already adding benefit to our society. Companies that pay below a living wage, pollute, outsource, and hurt our public should pay more. It seems simple to me, they’re handing us their bills to pay.

Just a thought…

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I Love the Stones, But…

I’ve seen The Rolling Stones four times. I’ve seen them from floor seats, from the last row of old Giants Stadium, in the rain, and inside. They’re one of the greatest live shows you’ll ever see in your life- if you can afford it.

The cheapest nose-bleed seat I saw during today’s “pre-sale” was $163- in any city. I suppose if you’re rich enough, you’d just drop $1,900 to be in the pit, but for the working class fans of the Stones, that’s not happening. $163 to sit all the way upstairs is steep- especially to buy multiple seats.

It’s not exactly a great look for the bad boys of rock n’ roll.

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Nancy Don’t Lose

You’ve probably read a lot about how Nancy Pelosi might not be the next Speaker. You may even have read about how she can’t get 218 votes. Don’t over read that.

Nancy Pelosi won today’s Democratic Caucus vote 203-32. She will be the Democratic nominee to be Speaker of the House. Sure, she needs 15 more votes. She’ll get them. You can bank on that.

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Cutting it short tonight. More tomorrow.