Thankful

I’d like to think I’m a thankful person, but the truth is that I take a lot of things in my life for granted. I’ve been blessed with many great things in life, whether it be my family, a comfortable middle-class life, intellectual and athletic abilities, decent health, a solid education, friends, second (and third) chances, or even just the chance to be alive. When you live every day in relative peace and tranquility, it becomes your norm, and you take it for granted. It’s not to say I haven’t had trials and tribulations, it’s to say I’ve lived my life free of oppression and despair. I should be thankful for that, every day.

This Christmas though, I am happy for my career in politics. Since I was 19, I’ve lived around political campaigns, and the people in them. Many, many of those people are not like me. I’m not calling them better or worse, but they’re there for very different reasons and motivations, and their different perspectives have enriched my understanding of life. Learning from their experiences, I think I’ve grown to be a better man than I might have grown up to be, as I was as a 19 year old intern on my first campaign.

I’ve had so many wonderful opportunities, and some not wonderful ones, to see the world through different eyes. I’ve worked with people who had undocumented relatives they desperately wanted to save from deportation. I’ve worked with people struggling to speak their own truth, and come out as who they are. I’ve worked with war refugees, who’s entire families were on “kill lists,” forcing them to leave their countries and seek asylum here. I’ve worked with people who grew up in poverty in southeast Washington, New Jersey, Appalachia, and Philadelphia. I’ve worked with Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. I’ve worked with a Latin American member of his nation’s Congress who was assassinated when he went home. I’ve worked under some of the most accomplished members of our Congress in my lifetime. I’ve worked for career teachers. I’ve worked for Muslims, Catholics, Jews, and Protestant Christians. I’ve worked for Midwesterners, Northeasterners, and Southerners. I worked for the first African-American Congresswoman in New Jersey history. I’ve worked for prosecutors, and alongside ex-felons. I’ve worked for Latinos, African-Americans, and white people. I’ve worked for winners and losers. I’ve worked for incompetent people, evil people who left their jobs in shame, and some of the finest people I’ve ever met. I’ve worked for Senators, Governors, Congress people, cabinet secretaries, state legislators, local officials, unions, and even a President. I’ve probably worked for or on a lot of cool things I’m forgetting right now.

Politics hasn’t made me rich, God knows that, but I’d like to think it’s enriched me as a person ten fold. I’d like to think the people I’ve met professionally, in addition to the people in my personal and private life, have all left an impression on me in some way. I’d like to believe the pathway I’ve chosen in life has made me better than perhaps I would have been otherwise. Lord knows I’m not a perfect person, that my vices and flaws would leave me unacceptable to some. Nevertheless, I’d like to think those of you who have gifted me with your presence have made me a better person than I would have been, and that this better person has helped make the world a better place than it would have been otherwise. We’ll all die, and we’ll all make mistakes on the way there, I’m not really worried about that. I’m just thankful that my pathway has forced me to take stock of different positions in life than my own, and maybe changed my view of the world for the better.

I think my time out in the field will come to an end soon. Probably after 2020. I’m on the old end of the pool at this point, so I need to be in an office or headquarters, and maybe have a little life stability. At 35, that’s not too much to ask.

Thank you to you all. Merry Christmas.

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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 2

Good day and Happy Monday, November 26th, 2018. Today is 29 days until Christmas. Here’s today’s random thoughts…

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Our Immigration System Has Been Broken for a Century Plus, but Trump is Creating a National Disgrace

What’s happening at our Southern Border Right Now is a disgrace. Trump sent several thousand troops to the border in a basic political stunt, to pretend he’s getting tough on illegal immigration. The reality? It was a publicity stunt. Now he’s violating American and international law by not allowing asylum seekers to enter our country while their claims are investigated and decided. This is not supposed to be something up for discussion- it’s long-standing law. To make matters worse, he’s literally having us tear-gas people on the Mexican side of the border, for some unknown, indefensible reason. In the ultimate sign that their isn’t intelligent decision making going on here, he might just close some border points altogether, making things inconvenient for Americans who cross the border on the regular.

I’m reminded throughout this mess that we are a nation of immigrants, and that my family has immigrant roots too. My great-grandfather Joseph, from my father’s paternal side of the family, came to the United States with his brother from Poland, immigrants who would not become citizens for years after their arrival. My great-grandmother Julia and her husband, from my father’s maternal side of the family, came to Ellis Island from Czechoslovakia, and also took years of working here and raising a family before getting citizenship. None of these relatives were high-skilled “desirable” workers, in fact some of the family members who came here had been gassed in World War I and were what I would call insane. They were all welcomed here to work though, and they built a life a world away from places in Europe where they no longer felt okay with staying. It’s the best side of America that they were allowed in.

In 1892, Ellis Island began processing immigrants as a port of entry. In 1924, just months after my Great-Grandmother Julia Kravchak arrived from her village of Udol, in present day Slovakia, the Immigration Act of 1924 shut down Ellis Island as an immigration entry processing center, and turned it into a detention center for undocumented immigrants in our country. That law created quotas for immigration, largely racist quotas that favored immigrants from white nations over people from non-white nations (at that time, largely aimed at Asian nations). While the law has been amended since then, these same quota systems have largely survived in American law. They have caused much of the backlog of those waiting for entry from Mexico, Central America, and South America, while making it easier to come from “more desirable” places. Our asylum system, our system of refugees, and our educational visa system have all worked fairly decently though, and have been good for our society and economy. Or, at least they were. Now Donald Trump’s border policy has become to fire tear gas and rubber bullets at families trying to flee violence and oppression. There is nothing to be proud of here. This is our Immigration Act of 1924, except that this time we’re actually being violent.

I’m not arguing that we should have an open border, because I don’t think we should. I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t deport criminals, because I think we usually should. I’m arguing we should be a humane people, because I think we always should.

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The Eagles Still Suck

Yes, they won a football game yesterday. Yes, they’re 5-6, and one game out of first place. Yes, three of their final five games are against the two teams in front of them, so they just need to win games to win the division. Yes, someone has to win the division, host a playoff game, and then has the same shot as everyone else in the NFC. With all of that said, the Eagles stink. They have guys literally coming in off the street playing in the defensive secondary. They have no deep threat, aren’t committed to the run, and have a quarterback who still seems just a little bit off this year. Oh, and they’re not as good in the trenches on either side of the ball. And the coaching is worse. 

Who are they really going to beat though? New Orleans? The Rams? Kansas City? The Patriots? The Chargers? Please let me know, because I don’t see a contender they can beat, right now. As a result, my enthusiasm is low.

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Climate Change, Climate Change, Climate Change, and yes, more Climate Change!

I don’t think we can scream loud enough about the U.S. Government’s report on Black Friday the climate change is an imminent problem that will hurt our society across all demographics and income levels. The report, mandated by law across many agencies not only said climate change is real, or that it is man-made, but also that it is dangerous. Of course the Trump Administration tried to release it on Friday of a holiday weekend.

Democrats, but also really any people who care about Earth’s future, need to scream bloody murder about this. I may think less of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her Pelosi protest stunt than an outdated can of spam, but she is absolutely right to be calling for a “Green New Deal” right now- Democrats need to latch onto this, party wide. First off, in nakedly politically potent terms, jobs. Second off, we have to move towards a more green economy, now, to avoid disaster. The fact is, there’s no sane argument *not* to move towards a green economy.

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So You Think You’re Smarter Than Your Dog?

This really isn’t a long post here, but let’s dive in here- are you smarter than your dog? Sure, dogs can’t build the intricate society we have, with houses, currency, relationships, and entertainment. On the other hand, who cares? Dogs don’t care about all of that. They like to eat, play a bit, go outside a few times a day, and sleep. In many ways, I envy them.

Today though, I was talking to my dogs and it hit me- when I talk at them, they seem to grasp my language and know what I mean. When they bark at me? I have no idea. So their brains managed to evolve enough to understand another species, but mine didn’t.

Who saved who again?

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Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid are the Best Sports Entertainment in Philly

No, for real, fight me on this. Jimmy Buckets has been here for like two weeks and has two walk-off baskets. Joel Embiid is throwing himself alley-oops off the glass. Embiid is playing like an MVP, leading the league in 30 pt., 10 reb. games so far this year. I realize maybe Ben Simmons isn’t quite leaping forward as hoped, but he’s your third scoring option now- does he need to? Not in November.

And since I know you’ll bring up Markelle Fultz- relax. He’s 20. He should be in college yet. Yes, it’s possible he has a debilitating nerve injury and is shot. Maybe he’s a head case. Or maybe he’s just young, and has been snake-bit by injuries and an impatient fan base. Why trade him now, at pennies on the dollar? Put him on the bench, get him safe minutes, and hope he turns into 70% of what you hoped in a few years.

But for now, just watch The Process and Jimmy Buckets amaze you.

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Run DMC’s “Christmas Time in Hollis, Queens” is a Better Christmas Anthem than Mariah’s Song

Hear me out- I don’t hate Mariah Carey. I don’t even hate her over-played “All I Want For Christmas.”

But the reason for the season is “Christmas Time in Hollis, Queens.” It’s getting overplayed, in NBA and car commercials. But it’s just better, more authentic, and didn’t play to the fantasy land Christmas love story narrative of millions of teens in my generation. They just wanted you to know they loved their mom’s cooking.

And I do too.

The Annual Family Christmas in New York Trip…

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I’m in New York right now. It’s really, really cold. There’s no place in the world I love more than New York City, but Manhattan on a cold day isn’t really much fun. What makes it worse is that I like the outside New York things, not the museums or Broadway shows. I’m not a big interested in the Christmas Tree or any of that either. We’ll see how this trip goes.

We were locked into this trip when my parents made reservations at Becco’s in Manhattan for tonight, over a week ago. The food there is very good (as is true at maybe thousands of places in Manhattan), and will make the trip worth it, but yeah, I wish we had a little more freedom on the date. We do this trip as a family every year, i’m not totally sure why, but it usually turns out to be fun.

New York City is the greatest city in the world. It’s the cultural and financial capitol of the United States, if not the world. It has the greatest skyline in the United States, if not the world. It’s my favorite place to take pictures. It has iconic parks, ballparks, arenas, observatories on skyscrapers, food, and other landmarks. I love the subway. Terminal 5 is probably my favorite concert venue, but my Dad used to play CBGB’s. I’m not a huge fan of “touristing” New York, but i’m a huge, huge fan of just going and hanging out in coffee shops and bars there. Even so, any day in New York City becomes a good day just  by being there, and a great day by eating there. If I get down to Washington Square, call it a win. If I get to St. Patrick’s, consider it a religious experience. If I get to Strawberry Fields, call me content.

So yeah, I’m cold right now. Really, really stupid cold. Don’t cry for me though- unless I’m in a museum or a show right now. Then realize right now that I’d rather be sitting in a bar or coffee shop.

…And So Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas Morning to All! With all of the issues in the world today, I know it can be a stressful time for many. I hope that today can be an opportunity for you to spend time with your family, reflect on whatever beliefs you have, and just enjoy good food and gifts. Today should be a day of being happy, finding yourself content with life, and looking ahead to another year together on this Earth.

For me, I happen to be a believer, so today is a religious holiday. It’s more than that though, it’s a day to look forward to 2018 and all that life has ahead of me. I’m probably more content this Christmas than I have been in a very long time. I’ve long had a chip on my shoulder, and that chip feels off of it. This is a happy Christmas.

Even so, I think it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on those having a more difficult Christmas than I- the poor, people in Syria and other war zones, our troops abroad, the sick, those suffering through a tough time in life, those with work and money issues, the addicted, and my seemingly many friends who are dealing with the very recent loss of loved ones this holiday. My thoughts are with you this morning, i’m here for you if you need. From me to you, veselé Vianoce.

2018 could be another long year, so please take today to be happy and enjoy the moment.