Tag Archives: Bernie Sanders

Michelle Obama and the Democrats show how it’s done, with 2 beautiful days. And Trump pissed off his littlest followers, and now they’re suing

My goodness, what a breath of fresh air the last two days of the Democratic National Convention has been.

Look everyone, actual grown-ups giving speeches, with specifics, and those crazy little things called facts, and somehow giving us the idea that America isn’t a complete hellhole just a few weeks away from total obliteration!

The contrast could not be more obvious. Monday night and Tuesday night in Philadelphia, a cross-section of America, people that actually look like America, walked up to the podium and spoke from their heart with an uplifting, realistic message.

And Tuesday night, a little before 7 p.m., a woman became the nominee of one of our two major political parties, for the first time ever. Even though it has been known for months that Hillary Rodham Clinton would make history, it was still pretty amazing to see it happen.

So much I want to talk about from the first two nights, but I have to start with the greatest speech from a First Lady, maybe ever.

— I mean, how inspiring was Michelle Obama? This highly educated, graceful, beautiful woman stood on the stage at the Wells Fargo Center and tore the roof off. She spoke so movingly about her daughters, and about history, and starting at the 11:30 mark of the above video, uttered one of the greatest passages I’ve ever heard spoken.

“Today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent black young women, playing with their dog on the White House lawn.”
What an incredible line, delivered beautifully. I know she would never, ever do it, but I’d vote for her for elected office in a nanosecond.

– Cory Booker = the 2024 Democratic Presidential nominee. He was powerful and passionate Monday night as well, making the case for Hillary strongly. I still think he should’ve been the VP pick.

MothersofMovement.DNC

— Another sensational moment Tuesday night was the speeches by the Mothers of the Movement, moms whose children had been killed by law enforcement in the last few years. Hearing their gripping, beautiful words of pain and grief is so important.

— Can’t believe I’m saying this, but I don’t think the speakers the first two nights hit Trump hard enough, specifically, how incredibly terrifying a Trump Presidency would be. The GOP spent four days last week on doom and gloom and fear and horror, preying on Americans’ worst nightmares.

I think 20 minutes of the nightmare of Trump and Putin destroying the world is in order, maybe tonight by Joe Biden. The case has to be hammered home, over and over, how catastrophic a Trump win would be.

— The Big Dog, aka Bubba, aka Bill Clinton, gave a long and mostly terrific speech about his wife Tuesday night. He humanized her, which needed to be done, telling great anecdotes about their life together, but when talking about how she sticks with things, he might’ve said “And she stuck with me through all my cheating and zipper problems, even after I got oral sex in the Oval Office! How ’bout that woman!”

Still, he was solid and seemed to, as always, relish the spotlight.

— Finally, allow me a few words to vent about the idiotic Bernie Sanders delegates who heckled, booed and disrupted the first two days: GROW UP. Seriously, grow the f up. Heckling Elizabeth Warren with chants of “We Trusted You!” and, most amazingly, “Goldman Sachs” was just ridiculous. Elizabeth Warren, the most anti-Wall Street politician in the country, getting heckled with “Goldman Sachs” chants… so stupid.

The ideological purity and absolute fealty they were demanding was so naive and juvenile, and booing their OWN hero, Bernie Sanders, during his speech Monday and then again on Tuesday showed these narcissistic blowhards to be beyond the pale.

We Bernie fans desperately wanted him to win. He didn’t. Shit happens. Get on board and realize a Trump Presidency would be astronomically awful. Grow up.

**Finally today, this story, pointed out to me by avid blog reader (and wonderful friend) Will, just about made my freaking day. Do you remember that incredibly creepy “pep rally” video I posted on the blog back in January, of three little girls doing a dance routine before a Donald Trump rally? If you don’t recall it, watch it above (Their group is called “USA Freedom Kids,” which sounds like an awful charity or something.)

Then again, maybe don’t watch it: It’s about the worst piece of propaganda I’ve seen since that awful Rick Santorum “Game on” commercial back in 2012.

Anyway, I’d forgotten about these little misguided darlings until Tuesday, when the Washington Post ran a story saying that the father/manager of one of the girls, Jeff Popick, is suing Trump because he never paid the group what they were promised.

“These are guys that insist they’re straight shooters,” Popick said, “‘You may not like what we’re going to say, but we mean what we say and we say what we mean’ — and they just would not say anything of any substance!”

“I’ve invested a lot of time, effort, money,” he continued, “and it’s just been complete silence.”

You can screw with lots of people, Donald Trump. But you do NOT fuck with the USA Freedom Girls, OK?

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Bernie and Hillary, a team made not quite in heaven. A bizarre Colbert sketch reminds me of 1980s Letterman show. And the father who took out an ad searching for a wife for his son

Bernie.Hillary

Well, it finally happened. It took all the until mid-July, but the old Jewish guy from Vermont finally endorsed the woman who will be our next President, his former rival.

No one could ever accuse our man Bernie Sanders of being hasty. More than a month after he formally lost the race to be the Democratic presidential nominee, and two months after it was realistically over for him, the man from Vermont officially endorsed Hillary Clinton Tuesday.

But man, it sure as heck didn’t sound much like an endorsement. I’ve seen 9-year-old boys more enthusiastic about eating Brussels sprouts than Bernie was about Hillary.

Most of his speech on Tuesday was about everything he, Bernie, and his followers have accomplished, and what He, Bernie, thinks. He mentioned Hillary a few times and sort of, kind of endorsed her, but mostly he was saying “I’m supporting her because she’s finally come to our side on some issues.”

Look, I’m no Hillary Clinton fan as I’ve said many, many times on here, but Bernie really is seeming like a sore, sore loser at this point. His ego seems a bit out of control. His grudging endorsement of Hillary is just the latest sign that Bernie doesn’t want to get off the stage, at all, and that he’s enjoyed the attention he’s gotten the last year so much that he can’t do without it.

Bernie, I love ya. But sadly this election might actually be close, and it might help if you would, to quote the name of the show starring the man who plays on “SNL,” curb your enthusiasm about how awesome you are, and do your best to actually, enthusiastically support the candidate who won.

**Next up today, this Stephen Colbert zany sketch from last week is the most bizarre thing I’ve seen in a while. It’s very reminiscent to me of the old David Letterman late-night show from NBC in the 1980s, when Dave would do weird stuff just because he knew no one was watching.

This skit has three concurrent challenges going at once, with them each trying to finish their task first: Colbert cooking and eating a Hot Pocket, a world-champion videogame player trying to win Super Mario Bros. 3, and a four-man college track team from Columbia University running a 4×100 meter dash.

With sportscaster Ian Eagle calling the action! Really funny stuff.

**Finally, from the files of “Really Dad, this is how you choose to help me?” files.

Spare a thought today for poor Baron Brooks, a 48-year-old Salt Lake City resident.

We all know our parents embarrass us sometimes, but rarely this publicly. Baron’s dad, Arthur, took out a $900, full page ad in an Idaho newspaper advertising for a wife for his son.

Arthur did this without permission, and he didn’t exactly “sell” his son very well.

The ad is written from Baron’s point of view (which of course makes it sound like he wrote it and paid for it!) and states that he is looking for a wife who fits very specific criteria. Specifically, the ad calls for a woman “between the ages of 34-38,” which is 10 years younger than Baron, and “height and weight proportional,” which is basically like saying “no fat chicks.”

Poor Baron. But amazingly, since this story went viral a few weeks ago, his dad has gotten 12 responses from women who say they want to meet Baron.

If one of them turns out to be his wife, you think ole’ Arthur gets forgiven?

Nah.

An incredibly brave rape victim makes a powerful statement in court to her rapist. It’s Hillary, and a pretty historic moment. And “The Americans” season finale tonight, I can’t wait!

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The words “courage” and “hero” are thrown around far too easily in our society. An athlete, or a singer, or a businessman, does something a little different or out of the ordinary, and we laud them with those words like they landed at Normandy or something.

Let me tell you what I think courage is: Courage is a rape victim standing up in court last week, after her convicted attacked received the pathetically light sentence of six months in jail, and speaking powerfully, emotionally and honestly about everything she has gone through.

A victim who has the horror of that night seared into her mind and body forever, while Mr. Brock Turner (above), the Stanford swimmer who met the victim at a party in 2015, got drunk along with her, then sexually assaulted her behind a dumpster, sat there and listened to it.

If you haven’t been following this story, it has happily gotten huge play over the past few days.

The victim’s speech in court has gotten more than 6 million views on Buzzfeed, where it was first published. CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield read the entire thing on live TV Tuesday. What this young woman did took so much guts, and so much courage, that when I finished it my jaw was on the floor. I am in awe of her.

I could not encourage you more strongly to read the whole thing. It speaks to the power of the human spirit.

Rape is a disgusting, hideous crime which so often gets covered up or excused by our court system. Here, in plain English, we see what it really looks like.

Here are just a few passages from this incredible speech.

One day, I was at work, scrolling through the news on my phone, and came across an article. In it, I read and learned for the first time about how I was found unconscious, with my hair disheveled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, bra pulled out of my dress, dress pulled off over my shoulders and pulled up above my waist, that I was butt naked all the way down to my boots, legs spread apart, and had been penetrated by a foreign object by someone I did not recognize.

This was how I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned what happened to me. That’s when the pine needles in my hair made sense, they didn’t fall from a tree. He had taken off my underwear, his fingers had been inside of me. I don’t even know this person. I still don’t know this person. When I read about me like this, I said, this can’t be me, this can’t be me. I could not digest or accept any of this information. I could not imagine my family having to read about this online. I kept reading. In the next paragraph, I read something that I will never forgive; I read that according to him, I liked it. I liked it. Again, I do not have words for these feelings…

And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming…

My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition. I became closed off, angry, self deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You cannot give me back the life I had before that night either. While you worry about your shattered reputation, I refrigerated spoons every night so when I woke up, and my eyes were puffy from crying, I would hold the spoons to my eyes to lessen the swelling so that I could see. I showed up an hour late to work every morning, excused myself to cry in the stairwells, I can tell you all the best places in that building to cry where no one can hear you.

When I see my younger sister hurting, when she is unable to keep up in school, when she is deprived of joy, when she is not sleeping, when she is crying so hard on the phone she is barely breathing, telling me over and over again she is sorry for leaving me alone that night, sorry sorry sorry, when she feels more guilt than you, then I do not forgive you. 

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**Next up today, Hillary Rodham Clinton gave a speech Tuesday night as the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party. For President of the United States.

And she’s a woman. I feel the need to point that out because so many Bernie supporters seem so angry, so bitter, so unwilling to acknowledge the game is over and she won.

I’m not one of those people. I was surprised at my own reaction Tuesday night, as the most famous woman in America bounded onto the stage in Brooklyn to give a speech, and I got a little emotional for a few seconds.

It’s been more than 200 years of democracy in America, and we finally decided to give a woman a chance at the top job. For all the things Hillary Clinton is (and is not), she’s a symbol to young girls everywhere that you really CAN do anything boys can do, that there’s no longer any barriers to achieving the ultimate prize.

And as much as I’ve railed against her, as much as I don’t trust her and as much as I doubt her sincerity on many of her positions, it’s a pretty wonderful thing for the U.S. to finally nominate a woman. And she is going to be President, and with a Democratic Senate, she may even turn out to be a pretty good President.

It was a historic night. My fellow Bernie backers need to suck it up and realize she’s the nominee, and get her elected.

THE AMERICANS -- "Glanders" (Airs, Wednesday, March 16, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: Holly Taylor as Paige Jennings. CR: FX

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**Finally, tonight is the season finale of “The Americans” and I am as amped up for this finale as I have been for all the others on the best show on TV. This season has been, in a word, magnificent, probably their best yet (SPOILER ALERT, IF YOU’RE NOT CAUGHT UP, STOP READING).

Just about every episode this season has ratcheted up the tension, whether making Paige Jennings just a little more aware of how cunning and deadly her parents are, or Phillip and Elizabeth both having major second thoughts about their operations, or poor clueless FBI agent Stan Beamon trying desperately to stay relevant and with a step or two of the Russians.

Last week’s last few minutes stretched credibility a little for me (come on, within a few days of Oleg’s tip they already had found William and where we worked) but damn if I am psyched for tonight. So many plotlines to wrap up, including Gabriel and his future, whether Henry Jennings will EVER come out of his room and hear what he’s missing, and if Don and Young Hee get divorced (that storyline killed me. So, so heart-wrenching.)

“The Americans” is as good as it gets on American TV. So thrilled it’s been renewed for two more seasons. And I can’t wait to see what happens tonight.

An Australian teacher becomes a hero on airplane, doing what comes naturally. 65-year-old pitcher Bartolo Colon is just the best. And Bernie’s right about needing a left-wing Fox News

Aussieteacher.Sophie

I usually save stories like the one I’m about to share for Good News Friday’s, but this one moved me so much I kind of feel like I need to share it right away. Plus, it’s nice to start off Monday with a happy tale.

I’ve written before in this space about my buddy Konrad Marshall, a native Aussie and fantastic journalist who I worked with many moons ago. Konrad and his terrific wife, Nikki, moved back Down Under a few years back, and he’s now writing for “The Age” newspaper there.

This weekend he shared the story of Sophie Murphy, a special education teacher in Australia who was on a flight from Sydney to Melbourne a few weeks ago, when something very unusual happened.

A 14-year-old boy with Down’s Syndrome was feeling unwell, and laid down in the aisle of the plane and could not be moved, not by anyone. The plane could not land, 179 other passengers were stuck, and so the pilot, with nothing else having worked, asked:

“Is there a teacher on board this flight? Is there a special needs teacher on board?”

There was. Murphy, 42, is a teacher of two decades experience, now lecturing and completing a PhD at the University of Melbourne.

And how Murphy got this boy to feel better and help him through the flight is just beautiful. Read how she did it here.

“”Teachers get such a bad rap,” she says. “I was proud to go back there, knowing I could help. This is what every single teacher does, every single day.”

What a wonderful woman. This story, by the way, has gotten huge attention in America the last few days, NPR’s Weekend Edition interviewed Murphy here.

**Next up today, this may sound crazy talking about a 42-year-old pitcher, but Bartolo Colon might be the most fun player to watch in Major League Baseball right now.

I’m at best a casual fan of the sport, but whenever Bartolo does something goofy or incredibly athletic, I can’t stop smiling.

So Saturday night, when Bartolo hit his first career home run and his teammates and the Mets announcers went nuts, it blew up Twitter and made me really happy. (OK, Gary Cohen on the call maybe got a little carried away calling it “one of the greatest moments in baseball history.”)
Colon is just a wonder. God bless him.

**Finally today, I must admit that as Bernie Sanders’ chances for winning the Democratic nomination have officially been reduced to nearly zero, I haven’t been paying as much attention to his day-to-day interviews.

But he said something to Rachel Maddow the other night that caught my attention, and it’s something more Democratic politicians and future leaders should also be talking about.

Bernie said, “I think we have got to think about ways that the Democratic Party, for a start, starts funding the equivalent of Fox television.”

This has long been a sore spot for Democrats. Fox News, over the past 20 years, has become an enormous boon to the Republican Party, parroting out talking points, helping build up stars in the party by giving them tons of air time, and, sad but true, driving so much of the debate in this country to the right.

And Fox News exists because Rupert Murdoch, who has 84 gazillion dollars, decided in 1996 that he wanted to start a political cable channel that would put his points of view out front.

And it has worked incredibly well. With Donald Trump being a rare outlier (in this and everything else, it seems), Fox News makes or breaks candidates and issues.

And the Democrats, we don’t have anything like that. We’ve got billionaires, but not as many, certainly not as many in politics. And if we ever got a true blue cable channel dedicated to putting forth liberal, progressive ideas, maybe the dialogue would change a little bit in America.

I know MSNBC sorta half tried the last few years, and Air America radio almost kinda worked. But I’m talking about a huge investment, long-term, in a channel that would do for progressives what Fox News has done for conservatives.

Since so many people get their news only from TV, and since so many of our “mainstream” networks refuse to call out GOP politicians on outright falsehoods, I think a progressive TV channel it would go a long way toward giving Democratic issues the kind of “equal time” they don’t get elsewhere.

I know, I know, I’m dreaming again. But it really is a good idea.

An African-American dude who’s never seen hockey live-Tweets his first game, hilariously. Hillary and the Orange one romp in the Northeast primaries. And a really sweet love story commercial from Lowe’s

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We hockey fans know that our sport is perpetually unloved by a great majority of sports enthusiasts.

We know that so many people dismiss this incredibly exciting, fast-paced, stomach-twisting sport as “a bunch of dumb Canadians without teeth” skating around a rink.

We’ve heard all the complaints about how you can’t see the puck, how there’s not enough scoring, how the rules are too hard to follow, yada yada yada.

So when we get fantastic nights like Wednesday, when the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks played a scintillating Game 7 (won by the Blues), we relish the fact that only a small subset of us truly appreciated it.

But that subset may have increased by one, hilariously. A Twitter user named Tony X was apparently looking for a St. Louis Cardinals game and stumbled upon the Blues and Hawks, and just about lost his mind with excitement.

Some of my favorites? First up…

Then this one on Blackhawks star Patrick Kane…

Then the two best ones, as the Blues clung to a 3-2 lead in the final minutes…

And my favorite that made me literally cry laughing, when the Hawks pulled goalie Corey Crawford for an extra attacker…

My wife thinks this is a prank, that “Tony X.” is a phony who just tried to get Twitter famous.

Me, I’m an optimist. I think we’ve got another fan. One at a time, baby!

christie.trump

**Next up, it was yet another “Super Tuesday” in the Presidential race that just goes on and on, at least as far as the primaries are concerned.

Couple quick thoughts on what’s quickly becoming a fait accompli:

–All of us political nerds who have been panting with anticipation of a knockout, drag down contested Republican convention, with no candidate getting the required number of delegates? Yeah, that’s probably not happening. Donald Trump swept all five Northeastern states Tuesday, winning big, and he’s got a really good chance of reaching the magic 1,237 delegate number before the convention.

It’s really going to be Trump as the nominee. Which means a complete Democratic sweep in November of all three chambers of government is possible. And I am gleeful.

— As Hillary beat Bernie like a drum in three of the five states voting, and squeaked out a win in Connecticut, there wasn’t much for me to smile about. But thankfully, I got the incredible footage of Chris Christie, bully extraordinaire, looking like a zombie or a hostage, standing behind Trump in his speech. I mean, look at that man’s eyes, does he look in any way human, or happy?

— Ted Cruz HAS to know it’s over. I mean, he has as much chance of winning the GOP nomination as I do. I just love his relentlessly optimistic concession speeches, though. He is as big a jerk as we’ve ever had run for President. And, in the words of Vincent from “Pulp Fiction,” that’s a bold statement.

Oh, and also, in Indiana (Indiana!) Tuesday he called a basketball hoop a “basketball ring.” I mean, come on…

— Bernie Sanders’ only national TV exposure Tuesday night came on C-SPAN. Ouch.  Hillary did throw his supporters a few bouquets in her speech Tuesday, expect a whole lot more of that over the next few weeks.

**Finally today, I thought this was a really sweet and clever new commercial from Lowe’s. It’s about a girl who moves across the street from a boy, how they grow up to fall in love, and their houses fall in love, too.

Just give it three minutes of your time, I have a feeling it’ll make you smile. Very well done ad.

The party’s over for Bernie Sanders, and I am sad. A teenager films her friend’s rape and puts it live, on the Web. And a man thrown off an airplane for speaking Arabic

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Well that stunk.

There will be a day, probably a few months from now, that I will sit back and think for a moment and smile that a 74-year-old democratic socialist from Vermont scared the bejeezus out the overwhelming presumed nominee for President, that he forced her all the way to the left on so many issues, and that he energized millions of young voters who’d never been a part of the political process.

Today, though, is not that day. In a crushing defeat, Bernie Sanders lost New York to Hillary Clinton by a sizable margin, quite a bit bigger than I thought. As I type this it’s 58-42 with 98 percent in, and with this big of a defeat, it’s pretty much over for Sanders. He’d have to win Pennsylvania and New Jersey by a pretty sizable margin next Tuesday, and there’s not really a chance I see that happening.

And on the GOP side, the vulgar, talking yam Mr. Trump dominated all his competition, and it looks like he’s got an insurmountable lead.

So we’ll have Trump vs. Clinton, and she’ll crush him with 320 electoral votes, and the Dems will take back the Senate, and maybe even the House, and all that is a good thing. And there’ll be plenty of time, oodles of time, to talk about and analyze that race nobody saw coming.

But tonight, tonight I’m feeling sad that Bernie Sanders’ fairly-miraculous run is going to come up short.

Winona Ryder was right: Reality does indeed bite sometimes.

marina-lonina

**Next up today, two stories that repulse me so much, I almost don’t even have anything to say about them.

First, a high school student in Columbus, Ohio witnessed her 17-year-old friend being raped last month, in the same room where she was standing.

Did Marina Lonina (above), 18, try to help her friend by attacking the rapist, or by calling the police, or by screaming for help, or something like that?

No. Of course not. She pointed her phone at the rape and streamed a live video of it on Periscope.

Let me say that again: She pointed her phone at the rape and streamed a live video of it on Periscope.

Yes, as 29-year-old Raymond Gates allegedly sexually assaulted Marina’s friend, she decided to make a live Periscope movie out of it.

I don’t have the words. This story is chilling in many ways; On the evening of Feb. 27, all three were gathered at a residence in Columbus where Mr. Gates pinned the 17-year-old down and raped her as Ms. Lonina used Periscope, an app owned by Twitter, to live-stream the attack, the authorities said.

Lonina,  faces a spate of charges as severe as those facing Raymond Gates, 29, the man accused in the attack. Both have been charged with kidnapping, rape, sexual battery and pandering sexual matter involving a minor.

Mr. O’Brien, the prosecutor, said Ms. Lonina had apparently hoped that live-streaming the attack would help to stop it, but that she became enthralled by positive feedback online.

And this line chilled me to the bone:

“She got caught up in the likes,” he said.

According to Lonina’s lawyer, Ms. Lonina told the police that she filmed the encounter to gather evidence of a crime. Mr. Shamansky, who has viewed the Periscope video, said Ms. Lonina made “substantial” efforts to thwart the attack, though he declined to specify them.

I’d love to know what “substantial” efforts she made. Just disgusting. Of course there were extenuating circumstances (maybe Lonina was drunk), but I cannot fathom a person actually filming their friend’s rape.

Arabicspeaker.Southwestflight

**The second story repulsed me in a different way: A college student at UC-Berkeley named Khairuldeen Makhzoomi (above) boarded a Southwest Airlines flight in Los Angeles on April 6, bound for Oakland. Before the flight took off, Makhzoomi called an uncle of his in Iraq to tell him about a U.N. event he just attended.

He spoke to the uncle in Arabic. This alarmed a fellow passenger (who of course didn’t speak Arabic and had no idea what Makhzoomi was saying), and the passenger immediately alerted the flight crew. Who then got ahold of the police, who within minutes of the phone call ending escorted Makhzoomi off the flight, where he was then interrogated by the FBI.

This is America, 2016. Where someone speaking Arabic is automatically a terrorist.

Southwest Airlines has yet to apologize.

“All I want is an apology today,” Makhzoomi said. “We as a people, Iraqi, American, Iranian, we share one thing in common, and that is our dignity. If someone tries to take that away from us, we should fight but not with aggression, with knowledge and education. One must stand for his principle.”

Larry David and Julia-Louis Dreyfus reunite on SNL, and it’s great. Germany’s radically different prison system is worth copying. And the best of Steph Curry, all in one place

Tuesday is the New York presidential primary, and so of course everyone here in NYC (well, most people) are pretty focused on it.

Even though I’m a huge Bernie Sanders supporter, I’m pretty sure Hillary is going to win Tuesday, though I’m hoping it’s at least very close, like within a few points. The next week pretty much makes or breaks the Democratic race; if Bernie can pick off New Jersey, or New York, or Pa., we still have a race.

Otherwise, not sure we do. But hey, this has been an exciting last few weeks for political junkies like me; New York hasn’t had a competitive Democratic primary since I was in high school! (And oh yeah, there’s a GOP primary too, but Mr. Trump is so far ahead in the polls I’m not sure there’s much drama there.)

Anyway, as usual, “Saturday Night Live” was all over the primary, using the awesome Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ hosting last weekend as a chance to bring back Larry David as Bernie (By the way, am I the only one who remembers JLD on that briefly great show “Day by Day,” with D.B. Sweeney?).

The cold open of SNL featured Elaine Benes, and Rachel Greene, two real “new Yorkers.” I laughed pretty hard toward the end.

60minutes.Prisonstory

**Next up, I’m a few weeks behind on my “60 Minutes” viewing so this piece aired two weeks ago. But it kind of blew my mind: Reporter Bill Whitaker went on a tour of prisons in Germany, and to say they’re a bit different than here in the U.S. is the understatement of the year.

In Germany, prisons are radically less punishment-oriented, and way more rehabilitation oriented. Prisoners are allowed all kinds of family visits, they have keys to their own cells, and the relationship between guards and inmates is 180 degrees different than here in the U.S.

I’m not saying American prisons should be exactly like this, but wouldn’t it be nice, and refreshing, if we at least took some of their methods?

It’s really a fascinating look at how much better and more humane prisons could be.

 

**Finally today, the NBA playoffs started this weekend, and of course Golden State easily won its first game.

If you’re like me and still in awe of Steph Curry’s amazing performance this season, this highlight video of his 20 greatest plays this year will be enjoyable watching.
The New York Times also had a very cool graphic Sunday about Curry and how record-shattering his season has been; his 3-point shooting has been so far and away better than anyone ever, that percentage-wise, his year would be equivalent to someone in baseball hitting 103 home runs.

Incredible. This guy is such a joy to watch.

 

Still smiling after that incredible Villanova-UNC title game. Bernie with a big win in Wisconsin. And did the Associated Press coordinate with the Nazis in the 1930s?

As I write this, it’s been exactly 24 hours since the greatest ending to an NCAA Tournament ever.

And I’m still smiling, thinking about it, and not because the team I hate most, the University of North Carolina, lost in the most excruciating manner possible. (not proud of my feelings, just admitting them).

What happened Monday night in Houston, between Villanova and UNC, was extraordinary. The game was well-played throughout, neither team got too far ahead, it was exciting, it was thrilling, and then the last 10 seconds happened.

Before we get into the awesomeness of Kris Jenkins’ shot, I have to throw a little love at Marcus Paige and the miraculous play he made to tie the game.  A double-pump wild-looking 3-pointer that went in, it was the perfect capper to a great career.

And produced this incredible photo…

Apr 4, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Marcus Paige (5) shoots and scores a three point basket against the Villanova Wildcats in the second half in the championship game of the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Only, there were still 4.7 seconds left on the clock. And Villanova is an experienced team that knows exactly what to do in those situations. And the Tar Heels played way too loose on defense at the end, and Jenkins is a great shooter, and as soon as he let it go, I thought it was in.

And it was, setting off an incredible celebration. Only once before has an NCAA Tournament title game ended on a last-second game-winning shot, and that was 1983 N.C. State over Houston. But let’s be honest: That Lorenzo Charles dunk was a fluky play; he snatched Derreck Whittenberg’s long desperation jumper that was going to fall short, and he put it back in.

This, Monday night, was perfect, flawless execution. The reaction videos were all over social media; this one of Charles Barkley was great, I thought:

Whew. What a great game. I say this all the time but there are SO many things wrong with college basketball, from the academic fraud cases to the exploitation of players, to the inconsistent officiating, yada yada yada.

But for two hours Monday night, it was sports at its best. Such a wonderful, wonderful contest. Thrilled the Villanova kids won. The NCAA Tournament remains the most wonderful sporting event of the year.

And I can’t wait till next college basketball season starts.

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**Next up today, Tuesday night was another huge night for my man Bernie Sanders. In a very important state in the general election, everyone’s favorite 74-year-old Vermont Jew came up big, beating Hillary Clinton 56-43 as of this writing, with 86 percent in.

There was a lot here that favored Bernie: Wisconsin is a big union state, independents could vote in the Democratic primary, and there are some big college towns in the state, like Madison.

But this is more than that: He’s now won 7 of the last 8 contests. He’s winning big states and small states, and now he’s got yuuuge momentum heading into New York.

And let me tell you, as someone who lives here and is a big political junkie, the next two weeks leading up to the April 19 primary are going to be all kinds of fun.

Bernie slicing into Hillary’s lead, the whole Wall Street argument against HRC, the Jewish vote being up for grabs, the Clintons likely going super-negative to blunt Bernie’s momentum… it’s all on. Believe me, I don’t have blinders on, I know it’s still a longshot for Bernie to get the nomination.

But that he’s still this viable heading into New York, I never would’ve believed it. He’s got a real, real shot to win my state. And then, boy, the shit would really hit the fan in Hillary-land.

And don’t forget! We’ve got Satan in a Cowboy Hat, Ted Cruz, and the man Charlie Pierce calls the vulgar, talking yam, suddenly in a competitive race again. Cruz whupped Trump in Wisconsin by 20-plus points, and now Trump is saying all kinds of nasty things again, and the Orange man is coming back to his home turf here in N.Y., where nobody likes Cruz, and the mud will be flying from Brooklyn to Binghamton.

Get your popcorn ready.

**Finally today, I thought this story was truly fascinating. The Guardian newspaper of London came out with a story citing a German researcher’s recently unearthed archive material from the 1930s, and alleging that the Associated Press willingly cooperated in helping spread Nazi propaganda.

As the only foreign news source in Germany for several years back then, the story alleges that the AP was allowed to stay in the country only after agreeing to not publish anything negative about the Hitler government.

This is an explosive, explosive charge against a legendary news operation, and the AP has of course denied the charge.

But this is really interesting stuff. Here’s the AP’s response to the article.

 

The best show on TV, “The Americans” returns tonight! Looks like the end for Bernie, and Rubio. And my NCAA Tournament picks, guaranteed to be right

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The best show on television returns to the air tonight after what seems like an interminable wait.

And if you’re not watching “The Americans” on FX by now, its fourth season, all I can say is “WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU???”

Sorry to shout. But seriously, if you’re not watching, you’re missing some incredible television. Catch up on the first three seasons and you’ll get why myself, TV critics, and a small legion of fans are so addicted to this show.

When we last saw Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings, our favorite Russian spies living in Washington, D.C., in the early 1980s, they were dealing with the fallout of telling their American teenage daughter who they really were, and of course she was stunned.

Daughter Paige then cracks after only a few episodes of having this knowledge, and in the season finale, told her good buddy Pastor Tim at her church group.

I have no idea what a stranger finally knowing this secret means for Phillip and Elizabeth, and for the incredible cast, like FBI agent Stan Beamon, Phillip’s fake “other wife” Martha, or the Russian embassy in D.C.

But what I do know is “The Americans,” with its incredible writing, powerful acting, and just all-around awesomeness, is a show more people really should be watching.

Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are amazing as the leads, and I’m very happy that Frank Langella and Margo Martindale appear to both be around this season.

“The Americans,” Wednesday night, 10 p.m. on FX. So psyched to have it back. And I’m going to keep writing about it until everyone watches it.

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**The fat lady is in the back warming up, getting ready to sing.

That’s my No.1 reaction coming out of Tuesday night’s series of Presidential primaries. After a pretty incredible run, that literally no one besides he and his wife (and OK, my mother) saw coming, the end is here for Bernie Sanders.

My favorite old Jewish guy from Vermont and Brooklyn was trounced Tuesday night, losing four states and as of this writing, barely hanging on in Missouri. He really needed to sweep the Midwest to keep this Democratic primary a real contest, and he just didn’t.

I am sad. I’ll have many more thoughts, I’m sure, about Bernie Sanders, and what he’s accomplished in this remarkable few months to make the Democratic Party exciting again to millions of liberals like me. But it’s late and I’m tired and right now, I’m just sad.

Couple other primary night thoughts:

— Trump. Again. Now seeming even more inevitable. And what a giant “fuck you” for him to the world, and the media, to bring his disgusting campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, onto the podium for his victory speech a few days after he allegedly assaulted a female reporter, Michelle Fields. God, will the vast majority of the American people be motivated to vote against this guy. So, so motivated. Ezra Klein of Vox.com explains why Tuesday was such a fantastic night for Hillary on many levels.

— I was dead wrong about Marco Rubio, folks. I said on this blog and everywhere else that when all the dust settled, he’d be the nominee. Silly me, I thought he’d be the best general election candidate. But he wasn’t batshit crazy enough to win primaries, and he turned out to be a terrible campaigner.

— CNN and MSNBC, showing minute after minute of empty podium while waiting for Trump to speak, while Bernie Sanders actually speaks at a rally, tells you all you need to know about the cable news networks, doesn’t it?

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**Finally today, my favorite four days of the year are about to commence! The NCAA Tournament tips off Thursday (yeah I know the play-in games started Tuesday but come on, the real tournament starts Thursday) and I can’t remember a harder year to fill out my bracket. I couldn’t find as many upsets as I wanted to, but I certainly couldn’t go “chalk” on my Final 4, like so, so many experts seem to have.

Without further ado, some quick thoughts on how I think it’ll shake out. Go ahead and pencil these into your office brackets, I’m never wrong (ha.)

Final 4: Michigan State, Oklahoma, Miami and Xavier. I just have a feeling about the Hurricanes, and Jim Larranaga is one hell of a coach. I’m going with Xavier because I don’t trust UNC’s guard play, and they are a hell of a team, the Musketeers. I’ve got Sparty winning the title.

First-round upsets I really think will happen: Iona over Iowa St. (if you only watch one first-round game, watch that one, 2 p.m. Thursday on TBS; final score may be 100-99); Yale over Baylor (Yale is really, really good); N. Iowa over Texas; and the whopper, Stephen F. Austin, a 14 seed, over West Virginia.

First-round upsets that could happen and I’m not picking them but you wouldn’t be crazy if you did: South Dakota State over Maryland (Terps have underachieved this year; they could go to the Final Four, or lose in first round); Gonzaga over Seton Hall; UNCW over Duke (my Blue Devils are very fragile right now).

— Surprise Sweet 16 teams, because there are always a few: No. 11 Northern Iowa, No. 6 Seton Hall (Pirates have great guards and have played a tough schedule well);

— Best game of the tournament will be: Virginia-Michigan State, for the third time in recent years, in the Elite 8. But Kentucky-Indiana could be lots of fun, too.

Enjoy the madness!

Bernie and Hillary spar once again in terrific Dem Debate. Nancy Reagan’s indelible impact on Gen X’ers like me, in one TV clip. And remembering the great Bud Collins, as fine a man tennis has seen

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That was one heck of a newsy weekend, on a lot of fronts, in my world. Two very famous people died (more on them below), my Duke basketball boys lost to North Carolina Saturday night (not crushing because Duke is so undermanned but still, I hate losing to the Heels), Ted Cruz looks like the only person who might be able to stop Donald Trump, and Peyton Manning is going to announce his retirement today (and maybe Maria Sharapova too?)

No way to cover all that in one blog post, so let’s start with with a crucially important Democratic debate from Flint, Mich. Sunday night.

First of all, I don’t know what kind of “presidential debate” this was. Nobody made reference to their penis size, nobody called each other liars, and I don’t think in the whole two hours anyone obsessively bragged about their poll numbers. Weren’t Hillary and Bernie watching the GOP Debate last week, to see how it’s done? Geez, all we got Sunday night was a couple hours on substantive issues, policy, and real answers. Madness!

— In all seriousness, what a damn breath of fresh air this Dem debate was. Actual policy discussion, no ridiculous braggadoccio, and very few insults.  Tweeted NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof: “Listening to tonight’s debate  and the audience, it appears the Democrats and Republicans are competing to lead different countries.”

And said Yahoo!’s Matt Bai: “Watching these GOP and Dem debates isn’t like watching 2 different parties. It’s like watching 2 different political systems entirely.”

— Personally I thought it was another even debate. Hillary was outstanding on the schools question, her “blind spot” when it comes to race, and on guns. Bernie was terrific as always in pushing her about her Wall Street ties, his forcefulness about income inequality, and his fantastic line about mental health (“Either President Clinton or President Sanders is going to invest a lot of money in mental health, and when you watch these Republican debates you know why.”)

— But as a huge Bernie backer, I must admit that an “even” debate doesn’t help. He needs, in boxing parlance, some 10-8 rounds here. He had a strong weekend, winning Kansas and Nebraska and Maine caucuses, but he needs a yuge state win. He needs Michigan, or Florida, or Ohio on March 15 to really turn the tide here.

— I thought Bernie was fantastic and moving, in embracing his Jewishness really for the first time in front of a national audience. But I also think it’s completely ridiculous that in 2016, candidates still get asked about God and religion in their life, when it’s completely irrelevant and immaterial to them doing the job of President.

— Final thought: Bernie has to be careful with his hectoring and his temper and his “Excuse me, don’t interrupt me” like he did a few times tonight. Comes off looking bad.

**Next up today, Sunday brought news of the death of Nancy Reagan, who symbolized so much to so many. For a lot of people, she was a symbol of style of grace, the first lady of the 1980s and the strength behind her husband, Ronald Reagan.

For others, she was a cold, shrewish woman who consulted an astrologer on major decisions and helped her President husband do some terrible things for non-rich white people in that decade.

But for me, and my fellow Generation X’ers? Nancy Reagan will always be associated with three words: “Just Say No.” Her preaching on the drug issue to children was by far what we will remember her for, nevermind that her husband was doing absolutely nothing to help poor and inner-city people get off drugs, or give them economic opportunities besides selling on the corner.

Yep, for us and Nancy, it’ll always be about this “Diff’rent Strokes” episode…

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**Finally today, the tributes have been pouring in since word came down Friday that the great Bud Collins, a wonderful sportswriter and sportscaster of my favorite sport, tennis, had died.

Everyone in tennis has a Bud Collins story, or at least, they do if they’re lucky. As good a sportswriter and broadcaster as he was, he was an even better person. There was no one he didn’t have time for, whether you were from Sports Illustrated or a two-bit weekly with a circulation of 12.

Me? I got a Christmas e-card from Bud and his wife twice, and felt honored. I had interviewed the legend a few times by phone that year for a few freelance stories I wrote for Tennis Week magazine, and thoroughly enjoyed both conversations.

You couldn’t not enjoy talking to Bud; I saw in one of the tributes to him a comparison to Dick Vitale, in that both were so passionate about their sport that you couldn’t help feeling energized.

I’m sure I got the card because I had first emailed Bud through his wife, Anita, who took care of him in all ways, and that thousands of other people got the same card.

Still, I was excited. I felt, somehow, part of the big, beautiful world of Bud Collins. He made everyone feel that way, and he will be sorely missed.

I hope he’s got a great seat for this year’s French Open up there in heaven.

Here’s the best Bud tribute I’ve read, by the great S.L. Price on SI.com.