Monthly Archives: November 2014

Maybe my most depressing Election Night ever was even worse than I expected. And a fantastic Esquire story about solving the mass shootings issue

GOPstomp

Well that sucked.

I went into Election Night last night with very low expectations, fully expecting the Republicans to take over the Senate, and probably win some governorships.

But the reality was so, so much worse than I expected. Just about every race that I was emotionally invested in, the candidate I supported lost. And it’s not just that: Just about ALL of the biggest horse’s asses who were running Tuesday night got re-elected, and some by much larger margins than I thought.

Rick Scott in Florida. Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback in Kansas. Mitch McConnell. Joni Ernst, your new bat-shit crazy Senator from Iowa.

The list goes on and on. I think the only other time I was this depressed on Election Night was 2004, when W. Bush got re-elected and I had no idea how America (and me) was going to survive four more years of him.

So depressed. Just went in and kissed my 2-month-old son, that made me feel better.
Some final 2014 election thoughts as I sit here in the wee hours, with my ginger ale and bag of Tostitos multigrain chips (a truly outstanding snack we’ve just discovered in my house):

— I gotta start with Rick Scott.  I lived in Florida for 5 years, and was there in 2010 when he first got elected. I know Florida’s a crazy state, much more conservative than people realize, and I know the Democrats have put up two straight really terrible candidates against him. (Really? We couldn’t do better than ex-Republican governor Charlie Crist?)
But I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone voted for Rick Scott and elected him twice to run a state.
He was a miserable candidate, and an evil, greedy governor. Within three months of his first term he was the most unpopular governor in America. And yet he just got re-elected. I will remain baffled by that forever.

— That said, I know Rick Scott has zero chance nationally. But Scott Walker? He’s starting to scare me. Three election wins in four years (one was a recall), not much national political baggage, and he destroyed an opponent Tuesday who was tied in polls with him. He’s hugely anti-union, loved by the Tea Party, and governor of a blue state. Plus he’s bought and paid for by the billionaire Koch brothers, so you know they’ll have his back in two years.
He’s got a great shot to get the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.

— It kills me that once again, the Democratic candidates ran far, far away from the greatest legislative achiement their party has pulled off in decades: Affordable, universal health care. Did any of them take credit for it, or campaign on it? Why were they so scared to tout one of the few things that’s actually gotten done in Congress the last six years?

— Chris Matthews is always the most annoying part of Election coverage for me. I watch MSNBC of course, because I love Maddow and most of their other commentators, but Matthews comes off as so smug and arrogant, I just can’t stand him.

— Mitch McConnell is your new Senate Majority leader. A man who said in 2009 that his No. 1 legislative goal was to make Barack Obama a one-term president. Yep, I have a great feeling bipartisanship and cooperation is about to ensue.

— Only bright spot Tuesday was that Scott Brown lost, this time in New Hampshire, after losing in Mass. in 2012. Best Tweet of the night said “Hey Scott Brown, Vermont has a Senate seat available in 2016!”

— I lied, there was one other bright spot: Voters in Oregon and Washington, D.C. approved pot legalization laws. Outstanding.

— OK, time for a mood-lifter. Take it away, Partridges…

Well, I feel better.

–Finally, the loss of the Senate doesn’t really bother me too much. Nothing was getting done on immigration, climate change, etc. in the next two years anyway. But the governorship dominance by the GOP really hurts, because sadly that’s where all the real legislation that affects people’s lives, longterm and short-term happens.

Politics sucks when your side gets slaughtered.

**Next up, I promised in Monday’s post to highlight another great piece of journalism I’ve read lately. Tom Junod of Esquire takes a look at a radical new way that a division of the FBI is looking to stop, or contain, the huge number of mass shootings that have gone on in America in recent years.

No, it’s sadly not about enforcing gun control laws or making it harder for people to get guns, because that’s never happening in the U.S. But it’s a strategy that’s really enlightening and fascinating to read about, basically learning to target “behavioral threats” in a different and more comprehensive way.
Junod does excellent reporting here, using one troubled kid who walked right up to the line of becoming a mass shooter and explains the psychology of what he thought back then.

Really great story here, I urge you to check it out.

A fantastic profile of the great Billy Joel, tortured genius. A girl with an inoperable brain tumor has an amazing day of hoops. And I hold my nose and praise the incredible Tom Brady

NikWallenda.Chicago

**Nothing to see up above, just Nik Wallenda walking blindfolded on a high wire, without a net, above the city of Chicago Sunday night. Insane.

I’ve really fallen down on the job lately in this space when it comes to recommending/highlighting great stories I’m reading. There’s so much out there that’s so well-written that I try to point readers toward, but the truth is I do a much better job of hyping great stories on my Twitter feed than I do here.

But I’m trying to rectify that this week with two posts about amazing journalism I’ve read lately. The first is this exquisitely-researched and composed profile of Billy Joel by Nick Paumgarten in the The New Yorker. If you’re a kid who grew up on Long Island in the 1970s and ’80s like I did, Billy Joel pretty much was the soundtrack of your childhood.
Even if you weren’t a fan, his music was everywhere, on every station, seemingly all the time.

I’ve always been a big admirer of his music, have a ton of his albums, and know all the lyrics to many of his songs (not that you asked, but my three favorite songs of his are “She’s Always A Woman,” “Goodnight Saigon,” and, “The Angry Young Man.”)

But Joel has always had off-stage troubles, from legal problems to drinking problems to women problems. He comes off as a hard guy to work with and to like, but Paumgarten does such a thorough, fantastic job in this story, and given so much access by Joel, that the reader is sort of forced to admire all that Joel has accomplished. And at 65, he’s still going strong, making $25 million for just a dozen concerts at Madison Square Garden in 2014.
A really terrific story; I know it’s long, but read it a little bit at a time when you can, it’s so well worth it.

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**I’ve been following this Lauren Hill story for several weeks, and almost wrote about it a bunch of times. But each time I stopped, because I wanted to wait until it had at least a sliver of a happy ending, which it did Sunday.

Lauren Hill is a 19-year-old college freshman from Ohio. She was supposed to be a varsity starter for tiny Division III Mt. St. Joseph’s (OH) College this year, but as a high school senior she received some devastating news from her doctor: Lauren was diagnosed with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG, which is a rare tumor that destroys brain cells and squeezes off vital functions.
It is inoperable, there is no known cure, and doctors told Hill this summer that she likely only had months to live.

Lauren still wanted to live out her dream of playing one college basketball game, and Mt. St. Joseph’s desperately wanted that for her, too.

And so the NCAA agreed to let MSJ move one of its early-season games up to Sunday, so Hill could play. A tsunami of love and support poured over her from everywhere in the world, with famous pro athletes, fans from as far away as Japan, and so many thousands of people in Cincinnati who bought tickets to the game.

Finally the game came on Sunday, and off the opening tap, Lauren Hill sank a layup. And the biggest cheer she ever heard erupted from the crowd. They gave her a standing ovation, and chanted her name, and … here, just watch. If you don’t get chills, check your pulse, you may not be alive.

Such a horrible hand Lauren Hill got dealt in life. There’s nothing anyone can do to get rid of her tumor, but they at least gave her one incredible day. Here’s a great story about her ordeal, and her wonderful day Sunday, and why Lauren Hill has inspired so many.

**And finally, a few words about a man who has tormented my football team for more than a decade. A man I loathe, a man I’m sick of, but a man I can’t help but stand in awe of after yet another phenomenal performance Sunday.

I speak of course of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who helped throttle the Broncos Sunday. Year after year, Brady, like Dan Marino before him, has driven a stake through my football heart, but leaving that aside, he truly is one of the five greatest quarterbacks I’ve ever seen play.

Every year, his supporting cast changes, he hasn’t had a good running game in a decade, and his receivers are rarely big-name guys. But Tom Brady gets it done, year after year, game after game. Sure he’s lost a couple of Super Bowls, but they weren’t his fault. The man is incredibly consistent, and at 37, still on top of his game.

I hate him, but he is a marvel and a legend. And he deserves all the accolades he gets.

Geez, you see what an eight game Jets losing streak does to me? I’m writing paeans to Tom Brady!