Tag Archives: Joe Biden

A smaller Democratic debate entertains but lacks fireworks, and a few words from a Booker supporter as he bows out. An awesome “Family Feud” horrible answer. And Ken Jennings is a “Jeopardy” God

The Democratic presidential debate stages are getting smaller, which makes me happy. But they’re also getting whiter, which does not, and this week brought a second defeat to candidates I support (more on that in a minute).

First some thoughts from a lively, but relatively tame, CNN debate:

— Right from the first question Wolf Blitzer pissed me off. It’s not just him, lots of people ask a variation of it. It was a question directed to Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, asking how can Americans trust your judgement when you made a mistake voting for war back in 2003 with Iraq (Biden) and 2001 with Afghanistan (Sanders).

So basically the premise of the question is that, “Hey, you made a mistake once, so how can we ever trust you again?” I’m sorry but that’s freaking ridiculous. Every single person on Earth has made a bad decision or judgement in their life, so no one is to be trusted again?

“Steve, in 1998 you decided to go to that terrible office party instead of seeing Prince live in concert. How can we ever trust you again?”

Such a stupid premise. People make mistakes! Doesn’t mean they can’t learn from them and grow. I just so, so hate this line of questioning.

— Biden was sharp Tuesday night. He’s been getting better and better. It’s like the first few debates were spring training and now he’s rounding into form.

— I thought Elizabeth Warren, now my top choice (more on that in a minute), had another terrific debate, standing up for women candidates, showing savvy and intelligence on foreign policy, and again showing why she’d be an outstanding President. I don’t want to hear any of my wishy-washy fellow Democrats talk crap about “ooohh, she’s too liberal, she won’t get the moderates, yada yada yada.”

Screw the moderates, she’ll get the liberals and progressives to turn out in Obama-like numbers, and that will be enough to get to 270 electoral votes.

— I also loved it when Warren said she and Amy Klobuchar were the only candidates on the stage who’d never lost an election. Women!

— A few words about Cory Booker, my No. 1 choice for President and a man I truly think would have made an excellent nominee, and Commander-in-Chief. Booker suspended his campaign for the nomination this week, and I am not surprised but crestfallen. He is a strong, smart, incredibly-charismatic man who I believe has a terrific heart, and he failed in this nomination because not enougb people felt that way.

I don’t know, truly, why Booker never caught on. Maybe it’s that we’ve already had an African-American President. Maybe he never found a lane between progressive die-hards like Warren and Bernie, and moderates like Klobuchar and Biden. Maybe he should’ve done big-money fundraisers to keep him in the race, I don’t know.

But he was a longshot from Day 1, and it makes me sad that is candidacy is over. I was more stunned that Kamala Harris failed in this quest than Booker did, but it still makes me sad.

Sigh. Elizabeth Warren, you’re getting all my support now. Go get it done.

**Next up today, game-show screwups always bring the funny. Check out how confident and proud of herself this blonde woman is when she gives what she thinks is the best answer to host Gerry Dee’s question on the Canadian version of “Family Feud.”

What’s really scary? What did those other 46 people out of 100 say?

**And finally tonight, let us all bow down to the greatest mind of our generation, Mr. Ken Jennings.

OK, maybe he’s not the greatest mind. But who knows more than this guy? Tuesday night he finished his downright evisceration of two incredibly smart guys on the “Jeopardy” Greatest of All Time Tournament.

In winning three of the four matches against James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter, Jennings just again showed mastery of all subjects, winning the $1 million cash prize and a super cool trophy. It was incredible how good he was, against two “Jeopardy” masters.

The whole tournament was great, as three dudes who got super-wealthy for knowing stuff had fun in the competition.

Hey kids, it’s cool to be smart. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

The Obama era ends: A few thoughts on how history will see him, and how much we’ll miss him. The greatest TV program guide description ever, from Australia. And thoughts on Joe Biden, whose reputation has changed so much in eight years.

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People are very quick to pronounce that something or other is “the end of an era.”

Friends say it all the time, when a buddy gets married, or when people go off to college and leave all their childhood friends behind. Sports commentators are the worst offenders, always declaring one team’s run of success “the end of an era” when it ends.

But as much as I hate that overused and hackneyed term, I gotta tell ya: This week really does feel like the end of an era. Barack Hussein Obama, a Hawaii-born mixed-race kid who was blessed with the kind of charisma we see once every 40-50 years in politics, is leaving his job as President of the United States.

And he did an outstanding job. You could go by the numbers and facts: Incredible economic growth, lowest unemployment (under 5 percent) in decades, two big election wins, passing universal health care, saving General Motors while killing Osama Bin Laden.

You could go by the less-tangible successes: How decent, how kind, how funny this man was; how he went eight years in the White House without a major scandal. How he signed a historic climate change agreement that finally, finally forces the world to take this problem seriously. How he gave us Michelle Obama, the coolest and smartest First Lady (not to mention, most beautiful) maybe ever.

Or you could go by what he didn’t do: Never stooped to the lowest levels of slime thrown at him from the right; never bemoaned his fate upon inheriting a catastrophic economic situation in 2009, never failed to blame himself at least partially when things didn’t go the way he or the Democrats.

No, he wasn’t perfect: He wasn’t the liberal hero many of us wanted/hoped he’d be; his Justice Dept. spent way too much time going after journalists who wouldn’t reveal their sources; he never had quite enough fire in his belly to fight down and dirty with the GOP, and he never did get around to making his administration as transparent as he claimed it would be.

But this man from Chicago, this “skinny kid with a funny name” accomplished some extraordinary things in this era of polarization and hate. He brought hope back. He showed African-Americans, and all Americans, what’s possible in a leader. He brought respect and grace and intelligence back to the White House, and tried his best to keep on being optimistic about America.

And when you contrast him with the next guy who’ll be in the Oval Office… let’s just say I’m already nostalgic for the last eight years.

Thank you, Barack Obama, for all that you have done for this country. You deserve a few months of sleep, the ability to play pick-up basketball whenever you want, and a rich and rewarding life outside Washington, D.C.

We will miss him greatly. Will.i.am, take us out…

**Next up, I laughed really, really hard at this TV guide-like synopsis of this week’s programming from a newspaper called the Scotland Herald.

It’s about a certain event happening in America on Friday. Bravo to whoever at the newspaper wrote this, for creativity.

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**And finally today, let’s not forget that Joe Biden is leaving the stage this week, too. He’s been an excellent vice-president, it appears, pushing Obama to the left on some issues and continuing to use his status for good. He has suffered many tragedies over the years, including of course losing his son Beau in 2015, but he has always maintained his humor and his passion.

I was thinking, watching that incredible speech he gave when Obama surprised Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom the other day, how much Biden’s reputation in the public eye has changed in eight years. In 2008, he was “Crazy Uncle Joe” of the Senate, the proud Delawarean who made verbal gaffes, wasn’t really taken seriously as a Presidential candidate both times he ran, and wasn’t considered by most people a major political figure.

Now look at him: Most Democrats think he would’ve beaten Trump, he’s considered a statesman and a great partner to Obama; a guy who has been completely at ease in his own skin the last eight years, after often seeming like someone trying to impress.

There’s talk about Biden 2020, but I think he’s done. He’s going out on top, and man, what a great public speaker he turned out to be.

 

Obama goes out in style in his final State of the Union. A fabulous gun-control ad hits hard. And the Flint water disaster deserves your attention.

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Man, I’m really going to miss this guy.

That’s what I kept thinking when I watched Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, the eighth and final one Barack Obama will give as President of the United States.

From the first time I saw him speak, back in 2004 at the Democratic Convention, he’s held my attention and moved me with his words more than any politician of my lifetime (40 years). Whether he’s angry, whether he’s hopeful, whether he’s empathetic, or whether he’s just saying really smart, incisive stuff, Barack Obama has never been boring.

Has he been a perfect President? Of course not. I have lots of issues with him the last seven years, from failing to close Guantanamo, moving WAY too slow on drug decriminalization, clamping down on press freedoms and subpoenaing more reporters than any President ever, and there are a few more.

But the good has far outweighed the bad to me, and watching that tremendous speech Tuesday night, I realized how much I’m going to miss him.

I’m going to miss the way he can cut through the clutter with a funny phrase or joke; he had a couple doozies Tuesday, right off the top saying he was going to keep this SOTU speech short “because I know some of you are antsy to get back to Iowa.”

His best line, despite all the ones basically smacking down Donald Trump’s B.S.,” was about denial of reality, when he said “60 years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn’t deny Sputnik was up there.”

There was so much I liked about this speech, even knowing that very little gets done legislatively in a two-term President’s final year. Loved the talk about making it easier, not harder, to vote, which sadly goes against what so many GOP governors are doing. Loved his passionate defense of the growing U.S. economy, and really liked his talk of criminal justice reform, years too late though it is.

The President seemed, to me, relaxed and confident; I said on Twitter I thought it was his “I’m Keith Hernandez!” moment. He’s done so much good for so many, that when he walks off the stage for the final time next January, it’s going to be a sad day.

Other things I will miss after watching Obama’s final SOTU:

— Joe Biden, smiling for an hour like a proud papa at his son’s Little League game.
— The TV shots of Ruth Bader Ginsburg falling asleep. I think she stayed awake this year!
— The Michelle Obama screen shots. She is one beautiful, powerful, fierce First Lady.
— Trying to decipher the system these TV networks use when they decide which politicians to identify and which aren’t worth it. I have no clue what their formula is.

— Finally, I’ll miss seeing the history of the first African-American President of the United States. Cannot be overstated how important this man has been, symbolically, to the world.

**Next up, one thing Obama has been talking about lately is gun control, and I have to say, I’m impressed with how committed groups like Michael Bloomberg’s gun control lobby has been. This ad, which I just saw last week, was incredibly powerful and points to what could be a life-saving law change, if it ever happened.

The ad shocked me and will probably shock you. Which is the point.

Finally today, the lead poisoning of the children of the city of Flint, Mich. should be a much, much bigger story, and lead to criminal charges for state officials and maybe even the governor.

If you’re late to this like I was, a quick recap: The city of Flint is very poor, and the state of Michigan, thanks in large part to Detroit, is looking for any way to save money possible. So in 2014 Flint’s water supply was switched from Lake Huron, which has been supplying their clean water for decades, to the Flint River, which apparently is notoriously dirty.

Very quickly, folks in Flint noticed their water was odd colored and odd tasting, and what do you know, the state did nothing about it, said it was safe, blah blah blah. And of course, it turns out the water, when tested, revealed huge amounts of lead in it, which can have horrible effects for children.

Rachel Maddow has been all over this story, I urge you to watch the above clip, and not to be outraged. The Detroit News has more damaging info.

 

A trip back to UD to talk about college journalism leaves me inspired. Joe Biden, for the love of God, just decide already. And “Gilmore Girls” is coming back!

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I’ve said this before on here, but I’ll say it again: My experience at the University of Delaware’s student newspaper was the best experience of my life.

The three years I spent on the paper, staying up all night to make deadline, eating crap food, having wonderful memories with like-minded crazies like me who lived, ate and breathed journalism, still makes me smile every time I think of it.

It’s been almost 20 years now since my byline last appeared in The Review, but the darn thing still holds a grip on me. It’s where I first learned everything about how to be a reporter, how to write good stories, how to write bad stories, how to screw up so bad and then face the music the next day, and truly, how much bloody fun it is to be a journalist.

Anyway, back in June I wrote about how, but due to financial troubles, a bunch of UD alumni who worked at The Review were trying to raise money to help save it, and one of the things we’ve done is form an alumni association. Last Saturday I ventured down to UD for our first event, a workshop featuring current Review editors and us old geezer alumni.

We had a great turnout, with alums from places like the Philadelphia Daily News and Baltimore Sun coming back to lead sessions about writing, reporting and editing.

I led sessions on interviewing techniques and longform writing, and what I’ll remember most about the day was the passion of the current staff.

They told us stories about frustration with current administration, coaches who wouldn’t let them talk to players, and general, unbridled enthusiasm about their journalistic futures.

These people were me two decades ago, and despite the challenges facing journalism today, were full of passion and love for it. I felt fortunate to be passing along what wisdom I’ve gleaned to these 19 and 20-year-old kids, newbies in the field.

I loved talking to them and seeing their hope, and how much they still cared about my old student newspaper.

I hope their passion never fades.

(By the way, this is totally random, but when I did a Google search for photos of The Review,” that one above came up. And the guy on the right in the photo? Ray West. Kanye West’s father. How bizarre.)

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**Next up today, Joe Biden made some remarks at George Washington University on Tuesday, and he made a few remarks that seemed to be digs at Hillary Clinton, and a few barbs that seemed to be digs at Bernie Sanders, and he looks like a Presidential candidate, smells like a Presidential candidate … but refuses to say he is one.

A quick open letter to Joe from Delaware: Seriously, with all due respect Mr. Vice President, I’m getting Mario Cuomo flashbacks here. Either you’re running or you’re not. Poop or get off the pot (trying to be respectful here, he is, after all, the VPOTUS).

It’s late-October, the debates have started, nearly all the Democratic millionaires and billionaires have chosen their candidate, and all this waffling is pretty unbecoming of someone of your stature.

You’ve run for President twice before, and failed badly. Apparently, though, instead of going out of public office on a high note, as a terrific vice-president to a two-term Democratic President, you want to run again, where you’ll likely lose.

There’s no clamor for you to run, no void for you to fill. I don’t think you can beat Hillary, but it seems against your own better judgement, you’re going to run (just watch that Colbert interview from a few weeks ago again, that’s not a man who wants to do this).

Anyway, whatever you do, just make up your mind already. Please. Thank you.

**Finally today, this really could wait until Good News Friday but news this exciting just can’t wait: “Gilmore Girls” is coming back! Yes, one of my all-time favorites, a show with more words per minute than anything this side of “The West Wing,” is coming back.

Sorta. Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and Netflix have announced that the inhabitants of Stars Hollow are returning for four 90-minute episodes, or mini-movies, or whatever.

Apparently they’ve already got a large part of the cast returning, with Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Scott Patterson (Luke) and Kelly Bishop (Emily) agreeing to come back.

I really hope they don’t ruin the show and make bad comeback episodes. I mean, they have to set it in the present day and not try to go back eight years to when the show ended, right?

Anyway, I’m thrilled. I loved “Gilmore Girls” for its wit, wisdom, heart, and downright quirkiness. The scene above is one of my all-time faves, but really, there were 50 I could’ve picked from.

We’ve missed you, Stars Hollow. If there’s any justice in the world, Kirk will be mayor by now.

“The Daily Show” will be just fine with Trevor Noah. An amazing profile of Joe Biden, unfiltered, from 1974. And the catch of the year in major league baseball

I have to admit I felt a little bit like a nervous parent watching a Little Leaguer I loved taking his first at-bat on Monday night, when “The Daily Show” with someone other than Jon Stewart debuted.

I loved the show so much with Stewart, and I really, really hoped that Trevor Noah, the new South African host, would carry on the tradition of biting satire and brilliant, take-no-prisoners coverage of news events.

You can’t judge too much off two shows so far, but what I’ve seen, I’ve really liked. Noah is smart, appealing and quick with a one-liner, and as expected with almost the whole writing team remaining from the Jon Stewart version of the show, the writing was still damn funny.

Any concerns Noah wouldn’t push the envelope were erased, oh, four minutes into Monday’s show, when he said “bullshit” and moments later made a dick joke while talking about Pope Francis.

Noah wisely started the show thanking and paying tribute to Stewart, who gave him his break, and then cracking some great jokes … “once more a job Americans rejected, is now being done by an immigrant.”

Noah’s interviewing skills definitely need work; the “interview” with Kevin Hart Monday was awful, but Tuesday’s was better.

In short, give the kid a try if you’re worried about a “Daily Show” without Stewart not being worth it.

So far, Noah’s definitely got the chops to keep this great show going.

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**Next up, once more the magic of the Internet is affirmed: This 1974 profile of young Senator Joseph R. Biden from The Washingtonian newspaper somehow rocketed around Twitter over the weekend.

It was written by Kitty Kelley, who then was a reputable journalist, but now is known for writing trashy books about the Royal Family and many other celebrities.

The profile is astonishing in so many ways: Biden’s candor about his wife’s recent death and his political aspirations; Kelley’s complete breezy style about serious matters, and the absolute certainty expressed by all that Biden would be president someday.

Check out this passage: “It was awful in the beginning,” says Chazy Dowaliby, a press aide. “A few weeks after Neilia’s (Biden’s wife) death we got a call from Sally Quinn of the Post. She wanted to do a story on the Senator as Washington’s most eligible bachelor. Naturally we said no but it wasn’t easy because she kept calling all the time. She wasn’t the only one. Women’s Wear Daily ca lled morning, noon, and night. And so did every female magazine in the country.

Ah, Sally Quinn, always empathetic.

Just take a look at some of these quotes from Biden, things NO politician would ever say in 2015:

— “Let me show you my favorite picture of her,” he says, holding up a snapshot of Neilia in a bikini. “She had the best body of any woman I ever saw. She looks better than a Playboy bunny, doesn’t she?

— “At first she stayed at home with the kids while I campaigned but that didn’t work out because I’d come back too tired to talk to her. I might satisfy her in bed but I didn’t have much time for anything else. That’s when she started campaigning with me and that’s when I started winning.”

-Biden defines politics as power. “And, whether you like it or not, young lady,” he says, leaning over his desk to shake a finger at me, “us cruddy politicians can take away that First Amendment of yours if we want to.”

There’s a whole lot more of that in the story; really, the whole thing is an incredible read. It explains a lot about Biden’s hubris and his mistakes he’s made while running for President twice before.
Take a few minutes and check out Joe Biden, circa 1974, while we wait for the 2015 version to decide if he’ll run for President, yet again.

**Finally today, I hate the Red Sox but have to admit this is the best catch of the year in baseball: Mookie Betts, a superstar in the making, climbs the fence at Fenway to rob the White Sox of a homer. And also, it was the last out of the game.

Very cool…

The Kansas State band gets “accidentally” naughty. Joe Biden on Colbert was beautiful. And an Iranian judge assigns book reports to criminals

You know, I really love college bands. They’re usually really creative and sometimes quite clever, they make college games fun, and they bring a little extra spirit.

When I lived in Daytona Beach I got to hear the Bethune-Cookman marching band a few times; HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) always have kick-ass bands, and Cookman’s was no different.

Anyway, my point is, I love college marching bands. And I also love when they, intentionally or unintentionally, do something hilarious.

Kansas State’s big rival is, of course, Kansas University. Well, for the Wildcats’ opening game two Saturdays ago, the band was performing some sort of tribute to the Starship Enterprise from “Star Wars,” and well, it looked like a giant penis, which went right into the mouth of a Kansas Jayhawk.

You think I’m exaggerating? Check this out…

K-State claims it was only trying to represent the Enterprise, the spaceship from the “Star Trek” shows and movies, doing battle with the University of Kansas Jayhawk.

The university fined the band $5,000, and the band director swears he didn’t mean for it to look like, what it looked like.

Can’t wait to see what they come up with when they play Kansas this year.

**Next up, I’m still catching up on a lot of the media I missed while engorging tennis at the U.S. Open the past two weeks, so I just got a chance to see this phenomenal, emotional interview Joe Biden did with Stephen Colbert on his new show. Really terrific stuff; if there’s one thing Biden definitely is, it’s real. I hope he runs for President, but even if he doesn’t, he’s shown great courage being so openly naked and honest about his emotions after the death of his son, Beau.

Here’s Part I of the interview above, you can watch Part 2 here. The whole thing is fabulous.

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**Finally today, it’s not often you get to use “fun story” and “Iran” in the same sentence, but today’s a day you can. I heard this on “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” and couldn’t possibly believe it was real, but it is:

A judge in Iran has started sentencing criminals to buy and read books and do reports on them, instead of handing down prison terms.

According to this story, Judge Qasem Naqizadeh, who presides over a court in the north-eastern city of Gonbad-e Kavus, is using the alternative sentences to avoid what he calls the “irreversible physical and psychological impact on convicts and their families” that a prison term might bring, state-run IRNA news agency reports. Individuals are told to buy and read five books, then write a summary of them, which is returned to the judge. The books are then donated to the local prison, IRNA says. The punishment is spiritual as well as educational – offenders also have to include a saying from the hadith, a collection of sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad.

I cannot stress enough how fabulous this is. I so wish this could be done by judges in America. You tried to sell a couple kilos of cocaine? Go read this book on Pablo Escobar and have a 10-page report on my desk in two weeks. You robbed a few stores? Go read “Crime and Punishment,” it’s a nice short read, you’ll breeze through it in no time.

I think crime would be drastically reduced if criminals knew they’d be sent back to doing seventh grade homework, don’t you?

I’d bet a fair amount of money that judge’s mom or Dad was an English teacher.

Ronda Rousey is the 21st century Mike Tyson. R.I.P. to the great Rowdy Roddy Piper. And Joe Biden, running for President once again?

 

Heading home to NYC today after a wonderful weekend with friends in Massachusetts, where we picked blueberries, went swimming, and I tried mightily not to annoy the locals with DeflateGate jokes. It was hard, though, especially after I was served my Dunkin’ Donuts beverage in a Red Sox cup. Love New England, love, love, love it. But man do I hate their sports teams…

Back in late 1980s, Mike Tyson would win some of his boxing matches before he even stepped into the ring.

His opponents would be so psychologically frightened and psyched out, that they didn’t even think they could win, and would enter the ropes already hoping the damage they’d suffer wouldn’t be too bad.

I don’t follow boxing, nor do I follow UFC too much, but Ronda Rousey pretty much demands your attention, and she is quickly becoming the 21st Century version of Tyson. She had another “fight” Saturday night, this one lasting all of 34 seconds, which is a little longer than her bouts have gone lately.

She destroyed yet another opponent, Bethe Correia, and this time didn’t use her signature finishing move, the armbar; instead, Rousey just knocked Correia out with some well-placed punches to the face.

Rousey truly is an elite athlete, worthy of being compared to Serena Williams and other female stars. I wonder if her opponents really think they can beat her, or if, like when Tyson reigned, they’re already beaten.

If you haven’t seen her fight yet, she’s definitely worth a look.

**Speaking of wildly entertaining characters in the squared circle, I must spend a minute or two today remembering the great Rowdy Roddy Piper, who died on Friday at age 61. When I was an enormous wrestling fan in the 1980s, Piper was the ultimate villain, with his wise-cracking remarks, his incredibly obnoxious face, and of course, his kilt. He was over the top with his verbal deliveries that as much as you hated him, you had to kind of admire and laugh at him.

As a wrestler, Piper wasn’t so great, but man, was he fun to watch. He and Hulk Hogan help build the WWF into the colossus it is today, and there hasn’t been anyone as good on the mic since.

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**Finally today, the big political news over the weekend, besides the frothy anticipation and must-see television that will be the first GOP presidential debate this Thursday (I can’t wait, it’s going to be a freak show/car crash kind of TV show), was this New York Times story saying that Vice-President Joe Biden, who twice has run unsuccessfully for President, allegedly thinking about running again, and challenging Hillary Clinton.

I’m actually surprised it’s taken this long for Biden to jump in, although I don’t think he has much of a chance. Democrats like me who are looking for an alternative to Hillary aren’t likely to support Biden, whose age (72) and previous failures in primaries don’t engender much support.

I love the guy, and hope he runs, because I want as competitive a Democratic primary as possible (and don’t think the Hillary people haven’t noticed the Bernie Sanders momentum).

But Biden as Prez? I think standing next to Barack Obama is as close to the big chair as he’ll get.

The pizza place that gives free slices to homeless people. A high school tennis player wins a title, 11 weeks after being shot. And praise almighty, LaGuardia will be improved!

And a happy, steamy Friday to you all out there in Internet-land. Three great stories for Good News Friday this week.

First, there’s a pizzeria in Philadelphia that deserves your love, and has been getting it. Rosa’s Pizza owner Mason Wortman sees homeless people on the streets around his shop all the time, and last year he decided he wanted to do something about it.

So he put up a sign asking customers to donate $1 when they order, and to use that money to buy slices of pizza for the hungry of their city.

Mason’s idea went viral, and 800,000 people shared it on the Web.

According to this story on Upworthy.com, as of June 2015, Rosa’s has given away more than 23,000 slices of pizza, and is providing meals free of charge to up to 100 people on any given day.
What’s more, Rosa’s is hiring more employees thanks to his booming business, and he’s been great enough to hire through agencies that connect homeless people with jobs.

What a fantastic idea. I hope more pizzerias do this, because homelessness is a problem that’s not going away anytime soon.

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**Next up, one of those sports stories that seems incredible, but is true. Mason Dragos was a star tennis player at Lexington High School in Indiana this past school year, and looked to be on his way to compete for a state singles title.

On March 14, near the start of the season, Dragos and his friends went to a local pizza joint on a Saturday night. While they were eating, a handgun sitting on the counter just a few feet from them went off.

Dragos was wounded when the bullet ricocheted off the pizza shop counter and hit him in the chest.

There was blood everywhere, of course, from his hands, where the bullet had sprayed pieces of granite countertop everywhere, to his arms and legs.

At the hospital later, Dragos’ father said doctors told him the bullet that hit his son was one inch away from his heart.

Mason Dragos made an incredible recovery; 11 weeks after the bullet hit him in the chest, he won a state tennis championship.

There’s gotta be a movie in that story, am I right?

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**Of all the Good News Friday stories I’ve run over the past two years since I started this weekly feature, this one might bring me the most joy to report.

My feelings of hatred and contempt for LaGuardia Airport cannot be adequately put into words. My loathing for Walmart, Time Warner Cable, McDonald’s… those I have railed about for decades, and can rattle off reasons for my rage at them.

But LaGuardia, it’s just so awful, in so many ways. Dangerous for pilots, awful and congested for passengers, horrendously spread out and impossible to drive into, plus, I’ve literally never flown into and out of that dump with an on-time departure or arrival.

So it brought me immense joy this week to read that finally, finally!, the airport is getting a makeover. Thanks in part to my main man, Vice-President Joe Biden, who last year called LGA “a third-world country” (and frankly I think he was insulting third-world countries there), LaGuardia is getting a $4 billion makeover (see above for what it’ll look like).

New terminals! New ways to get there, like subway and rail stops so we don’t have to fight the traffic! And most importantly, longer runways and taxiways, so passengers’ lives aren’t in mortal danger everytime two planes try to land at the same time.

Seriously, this is so freaking exciting for NY’ers like myself. 2021 can’t get here soon enough.

I’ve found my 2016 Presidential candidate: Martin O’Malley. The boyfriend who swatted the bridal bouquet away from his girlfriend. And spare a thought for Joe Biden, who’s suffered another great tragedy.

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I know a few weeks ago I wrote a post about Bernie Sanders, and how I was thrilled he was in the 2016 Presidential race on the Democratic side, and how I really felt he would at least force Hillary Clinton to the left, at least a little bit.

But as much as I like Sanders (his love of guns aside), I don’t think he could actually topple the Clinton machine. His age (73) and some of his views are sadly a little too far left for most voters, even in the Democratic Party.

The guy I was really waiting for, the guy who I really think has a shot (albeit a small one) to beat Hillary and one who truly represents the kind of progressive politics I fervently believe in, officially jumped into the race on Saturday.

If you know Martin O’Malley’s name at all, you know he was the very successful mayor of Baltimore from 1999-2007, and then Governor of Maryland from 2007-2014.

He is truly, truly, much more liberal politically than Hillary Clinton, and he accomplished huge things in Baltimore and in Maryland. Cut the city’s highest-in-the-nation murder rate, put hundreds of millions into the city’s schools, raised wages for city and state workers, helped pass strict gun control laws and paved the way for marriage equality, and lots more things than I can list here.

The platform he started explaining at Saturday’s announcement hits all the progressive high notes: breaking up the big banks, prosecuting those responsible for the massive financial fraud

He is, as this Vox.com article perfectly states, the candidate for people who desperately wanted Elizabeth Warren to run and after she chose not to, want someone to support who believes what she believes.

I’ve been following O’Malley (who was the model for Tommy Carcetti in “The Wire,” by the way) since an amazing Esquire profile came out about him in 2002 (sadly it’s not online). He’s not perfect; he’s been getting criticized lately after the Freddie Gray incident brought Baltimore’s history of police misconduct into a national spotlight light, misconduct that was going on long, long before O’Malley came on the scene.

O’Malley’s ideas are better than Hillary’s, and he’s a fresh, dynamic leader who I’d love to see President. Look, I know he’s a longshot to beat her, an extreme longshot.
But if you’re at all interested in an alternative, a real, plausibly electable alternative to Hillary Clinton, you ought to check O’Malley out.

**Next up today, I thought this was hilarious and sad. Last month at a wedding in South Africa, a British man and his girlfriend were sitting quite close to where the bride was throwing the bridal bouquet.

But Daniel Bickerdike wanted absolutely no part of this ritual, whereupon he’d be tapped to soon marry his girlfriend, Angie Schultz. And so he sprung into action, hilariously.

The look on her face is just priceless.

**And finally today, you probably heard about yet another tragedy for Vice-President Joe Biden. Forty years ago he lost his wife and 13-month-old daughter in a horrible car accident, and now 46-year-old Beau Biden, his son, has died of brain cancer.

Beau, a budding politician who was formerly the Attorney General of Delaware and a military veteran, was battling brain cancer.

It is unspeakably awful to have your children pre-decease you, and for a man like Biden, who’d already been through so much, well, your heart goes out to him.

Here’s an excellent Washington Post story in which a 2012 speech by Joe Biden, discussing what loss feels like, is embedded. And above is Beau Biden’s beautiful intro to his father at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Really worth listening to…

 

 

I feel a surge of Blue Hen Pride: UD women in the Sweet 16. A musical tribute like you’ve never seen. And a man freed from prison suffers a tragedy

NCAA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL 2012 - JAN 12 - #18 Delaware defeats UNCW 69-37

It’s not often that we graduates of the University of Delaware get to puff out our chests and boast of our athletic prowess in ANY sport, but 2013 has been an embarrassment of riches so far.

First our best quarterback ever, Joe Flacco, leads the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl. And now, capping off a magnificent, never-before-seen-in-our-little state career, the transcendent Elena Delle Donne has led the Blue Hens women’s basketball team to the Sweet 16 for the first time ever.

If you don’t know who Delle Donne is, she’s only one of the top five women’s basketball players in the country, and as I’ve written about her many times on this blog before, it’s a miracle she’s at a non-powerhouse like UD in the first place. But through personal circumstances and incredibly good luck (for UD), she came back to her home state four years ago and has led a remarkable surge to the upper echelon of women’s hoops.

Last year the Blue Hens and the 6-foot-5 Delle Donne (watch VP and Delaware alum Joe Biden gush about her here) won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time, and this year they’re doing even better. Tuesday night before a sold-out crowd at the on-campus arena, the Bob Carpenter Center (which believe me, never sold out for men’s or women’s games before Delle Donne came, even when UD won), the Blue Hens advanced to their first-ever Sweet 16 by beating national powerhouse North Carolina. (Of course as a Duke fan I love it when any UNC team loses, but to have my tiny alma mater beat ’em? So sweet).

It’s beyond any Delaware fan’s wildest dreams to think one of our basketball teams could do this well, and I absolutely know that is is a one-shot deal; Delle Donne fell into Delaware’s lap and we’re never likely to have such a great player or team again.

But hey, for right now, it’s just special to see. Saturday at noon, UD plays Kentucky on ESPN2. For the first time in my life, I’m DVR’ing a Delaware women’s game.

On behalf of all Blue Hen alums, Elena, thanks for putting our school on the map again.


**And now a little musical tribute you’ll either find hilarious, a little disgusting, or both. Count me on the “both” category. I’d love to know how many Simon and Garfunkel records this kid has listened to, and how long he practiced this “song.” Well done, son.

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**Finally today, this is just a terrible case of a bad thing happening after a great thing to a man named David Ranta.

Last week Ranta, 58, was set free after 23 years in prison, where he had been wrongly held after being convicted of a murder he did not commit. After two decades prosecutors finally admitted that the evidence against Ranta didn’t add up, and his 1991 sentence was thrown out.

On his second day of freedom, Ranta suffered a major heart attack and was hospitalized over the weekend.
Fortunately, it appears he’s making a recovery and should be OK. But can you imagine the horrible karma of that; being freed finally after 23 years, getting your life back as a free man, and then two days later almost dying?

Just really not right. Here’s hoping Ranta gets to live out a nice long life after spending so much of it behind bars, unjustly.