Tag Archives: Joe Biden

Ahead of first Presidential debate, the NYT finally gets a look at Trump’s taxes. Who could’ve guessed? He’s a total liar and cheat. A brilliant “This American Life” segment on a Cosmic Yoga teacher. And a crazy-exciting week in the NFL, as the Falcons choke again, the Bills win a thriller, and both N.Y. teams may go winless

 

Well knock me over with a feather, and just look for a few moments upon my shocked face.

I am shocked, shocked I tell you, that exhaustive New York Times research has shown that Donald Trump has barely paid anything in taxes.

Why, I thought it was just coincidence he refused for five years now to turn over his tax returns, not that he had anything to hide, didn’t you think that? Surely not a man who lives by such a strict moral code in every other area of his life could possibly have anything untoward in his taxes, could he? Perish the thought.

Yep, a few days ahead of Tuesday’s first Presidential debate, the Times has published a scathing report showing that in addition to being a racist, a liar, a corrupt businessman and an all-around scumbag, Donnie T has paid almost nothing in taxes for years, and has dodged paying what he truly owes.

Among the many findings in what is promised to be the first in a series of stories is that for 2016 and 2017, Trump paid a whopping $750 in income tax each year. That’s it, $750! To me that number has always symbolized what I paid for my first car as a senior in high school, a 1982 Chevy Celebrity (it was 1993 at the time), and I totally overpaid.

— He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.

— Many of his signature businesses, including his golf courses, report losing large amounts of money — losses that have helped him to lower his taxes.

— The financial pressure on him is increasing as hundreds of millions of dollars in loans he personally guaranteed are soon coming due.

Taken all together, the story reports what many of us have long known and believed: Trump has been lying about his wealth for decades, he’s actually deeply in debt, part of why he’s been monetizing the Presidency while in office like no other President ever has, and that he’s a true and total tax cheat.

The whole story is worth reading, and it’s infuriating. I hope Joe Biden destroys him in the first debate tomorrow, and finds ways to bring up Trump’s lying and cheating on his taxes.

I don’t have a lot of faith that the Times’ excellent reporting will sway votes, but it’s good that someone, at long last, has finally seen all the lies and distortions in Trump’s tax returns.

It’s just one more thing this disgusting human has been lying about. 

/www.thisamericanlife.org/717/audience-of-one/act-four-7

https://www.thisamericanlife.org/717/audience-of-one/act-four-7

**Next up today, it’s rare that I try to embed part of a podcast on the blog, but this was so clever and well done, I really wanted to share.

The amazing public radio podcast “This American Life” did an episode two weeks ago called “An Audience of One,” sort of about movies and the strange experience of watching them alone, as so many of us are doing during this pandemic.

This part of the episode dealt with a Cosmic Kids Yoga teacher named Jamie Amor, who does yoga storytelling videos for kids by taking classic children’s stories, either fairy tales or contemporary classics like the Harry Potter series, and incorporates yoga poses and moves into them. It’s actually quite excellent; here are some of her videos, which got 1 million hits a day during the spring, when kids were home from school.

Well, the clever, devilish brains at “This American Life” decided to ask Jamie to do a Cosmic Yoga video for a famous, definitely NOT kid-friendly movie.
Here, in the same voice and mannerisms, is Jamie narrating the plot of “Thelma and Louise.” It’s freaking fantastic and very funny.

**Finally, what an amazing day in the NFL Sunday. So many fantastic, down-to-the-wire finishes, so many thrilling comebacks … and oh yeah, then there were the two New York teams, who both got obliterated yet again, and I swear it’s entirely possible the Jets and Giants both go winless.

But enough about those crappy teams here in New York; let’s talk about the incredible play Sunday…

— Russell Wilson is good at football. My goodness, what in the name of Jim Zorn and Dave Krieg has gotten into this guy? Fourteen touchdown passes in the first three weeks of the season, and the Seahawks won another thriller over Dallas. Wilson has always been sensational, but he’s like, on another level this year.

— Speaking of another level, ladies and gentlemen, the Cleveland Browns are over .500! For the first time since 2014, the perpetually-awful Brownies have won more games than they’ve lost so far in a season. Kind of amazing it’s been that long, but hey, the future looks bright! The Browns beat the pretty-terrible Washington Football Team, 34-20 Sunday, but Baker Mayfield looked good, Nick Chubb is a stud running back, and the defense picked off accuracy-challenged Dwayne Haskins five times. The Browns!

— Speaking of another level, this is amazing: At one point in BOTH the last two games it’s played, the Atlanta Falcons had a 98 percent chance of winning. And the Falcons lost both games. Last week they gagged up a 20-point lead and lost to the Cowboys, and Sunday they led 26-10 and somehow got beaten by the Nick Foles-led Chicago Bears.

Ninety-eight percent chance of winning, and lost both games. Unbelievable.

— Remember when the Falcons led New England 28-3 in the Super Bowl and lost? Well, it almost happened to the Bills Sunday, as they blew a 28-3 lead to the Rams, but came back to win, 35-32. Josh Allen was thought, three years ago, to be clearly the fourth-best QB in the draft, yet so far he looks like the best. Just a tremendous player.

— The Titans are 3-0 and have won the three games by a total of six points. Lucky, or good?

— I may not watch another Jets game this season until they fire Adam Gase. I know they have a ton of injuries and it’s not like they were the 2008 Patriots, talent-wise, before that, but good God are they pathetic. And the coach is terrible. Just terrible.

Good News Friday: An NFL rookie does something awesome for a big fan of his. Gabby Giffords was a profile in courage at the DNC. And a 10-year-old wants to challenge Dave Grohl in drumming.

Welcome to Friday, people! You’ve survived another week. As usual at the end of Democratic National Convention week, I’m fired up and ready to go. Barack Obama brought it big-time Wednesday, as did Kamala Harris, and Thursday we got to see my man Cory Booker, future candidate Tammy Duckworth, and of course, Joseph Robbinet Biden, Jr., the pride of the University of Delaware (what, you thought fellow UD grad Chris Christie was our pride?)

I thought Biden’s speech was outstanding, one of his best ever, and it’s clear that the best thing about the coronavirus, for his candidacy, is that he hasn’t been on the road for months, giving speech after speech, and most likely making verbal gaffes that would be played repeatedly on the news. The Biden we saw Thursday night was calm, confident and in command. Good to see.

Let’s move on to the three Good News stories I’ve got for you today. First, a story brought to me by my awesome friend Melissa L., the biggest sports fan I know (not exactly.)

Philadelphia Eagles rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts is a former college star at Alabama and Oklahoma, and has a reputation for being a terrific kid.

Well, a big fan of his named Alexander decided to get Hurts’ name on his backpack for the new school year. Alexander’s Mom tweeted out a photo of the backpack, joking that everyone thought her son’s name was Jalen because of the backpack.

Well, social media being what it is, the photo made its way to Hurts, and he did something awesome.

Check out this photo below. So, so cool.

**Next up today, the most amazing moment of the Democratic National Convention, for me anyway, was Wednesday night’s stirring speech by Gabrielle Giffords.

This woman, who was shot point-blank in the head 11 years ago and very easily could’ve died, has made combating gun violence the mission of her life, and her recovery has been remarkable.

Watch how beautifully she speaks, and know how difficult this was for her.

The power of the human spirit is quite something.

**And finally today, how cool is this? Watch this 10-year-old British kid named Nandi Bushell throw down a challenge to Foo Fighters drummer Dave Grohl, as he rocks out to Grohl’s song “Everlong.”

This kid is phenomenal, and I’m betting Grohl saw this and has already contacted the kid for a “battle.”

You go, Nandi!

 

Thoughts on the first two nights of the Democratic Convention: Michelle Obama kicks so much butt, and a wonderful picture of America. And my annual tribute to Jim Murray, for my money the best sportswriter who ever lived

Tuesday night was a wonderful night to be a member of the Democratic Party.

After two days of the Democratic National Convention, a convention the likes of which we’ve never seen, I am thrilled at what I’ve seen so far.

People of all different races, religions, sexual orientation, young and old, coming together virtually and showing America what the country can be like again, once we get rid of the worst President in our history.

I have many, many thoughts after two nights of the DNC, trying to hit as many topics as I can:

— First, as I’ve said many times on here, Joe Biden was not my first choice for this nomination. But he’s what we’ve got, and I think he’ll be a good President.

And it had to be quite a moment for Joe Biden Tuesday night. This is a man who’s been talked about as a future Presidential nominee since the mid-1970s, and has tried and failed several times to reach this moment.
He was never my first choice for this moment, but I feel good for this Blue Hen.

— I absolutely loved the “roll call of America” with people from all 50 states announcing the delegate total. It was awe-inspiring and beautiful.

Having people like Matthew Shepard’s parents announce Wyoming’s total, and Khizr Khan (the Gold Star parent Trump insulted) from Virginia, to wonderfully charismatic people like the teacher from Arizona, it was a wonderful reminder of what America looks like.

And I have to admit, as a sappy fool, I really enjoyed hearing all the different accents from across the country.

— Bill Clinton was good, had some good zingers, and didn’t say anything stupid. That’s all I was hoping for and all we can expect.

— John Kerry’s speech was excellent, as was Sally Yates’, the once and perhaps future attorney general.

Sally Yates: “Put simply, [Trump] treats our country like it’s his family business—this time bankrupting our nation’s moral authority at home and abroad. But our country doesn’t belong to him. It belongs to all of us.”

–Michelle Obama, ladies and gentlemen! She is an absolute freaking rock star. Just another sensational speech Monday night, hitting all the right notes, calling out Trump by name and doing a call-back to her “they go low, we go high” speech from four years ago and admitting that, yeah, sometimes it’s OK to go low.

Watch this 15-minute speech and be in awe. Also be depressed that Michelle hates politics, because if she didn’t, damn would she make a great candidate for something.

— Dr. Jill Biden was beautiful and poetic in her night-ending speech. As a teacher herself, using the setting of an empty classroom to talk about the fear all of us parents of schoolchildren feel right now was pitch-perfect, and her line, How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole: with love and understanding.” was excellent.

She’s going to make an excellent First Lady.

— It’s nuts that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was only given one minute to speak, and kind of a slap in the face to the progressive wing of the party. But she was terrific.

— Tonight, we get to hear from Kamala Harris, which should be sensational. She’s going to tear the (virtual) house down.

**Finally today, my annual tribute to the late, great sportswriter Jim Murray, who died Aug. 16, 1998.

As I say every year here, Murray was the greatest, my absolute favorite writer ever. His typewriter dripped with brilliant prose, he had more great one-liners than anyone else (one favorite has always been “Elgin Baylor is as unstoppable as a woman’s tears.” And also, “Rickey Henderson’s strike zone is smaller than Hitler’s heart.”)

He wrote for the Los Angeles Times for decades, despite having only one good eye. As always, I want to excerpt two of my favorite Murray columns here. First, a touching tribute to his first wife Gerry who had just died, in 1984. Here’s an excerpt:

She never grew old and now, she never will. She wouldn’t have anyway. She had four children, this rogue husband, a loving family and this great wisdom and great heart, but I always saw her as this little girl running across a field with a swimming suit on her arm, on a summer day on the way to the gravel pit for an afternoon of swimming and laughing.

Life just bubbled out of Gerry. We cry for ourselves. Wherever she is today, they can’t believe their good luck.

I don’t mean to inflict my grief on you, but she deserves to be known by anyone who knows me. She has a right to this space more than any athlete who ever lived. I would not be here if it weren’t for her. I feel like half a person without Gerry. For once, I don’t exaggerate. No hyperbole. If there was a Hall of Fame for people, she would be No. 1. She was a champion at living.

And second, Murray’s elegy for his left eye, which finally gave out on him in 1979, rendering him mostly blind. The last four paragraphs are just perfect, but here’s another excerpt:

I lost an old friend the other day. He was blue-eyed, impish, he cried a lot with me, saw a great many things with me. I don’t know why he left me. Boredom, perhaps.

We read a lot of books together, we did a lot of crossword puzzles together, we saw films together. He had a pretty exciting life. He saw Babe Ruth hit a home run when we were both 12 years old. He saw Willie Mays steal second base, he saw Maury Wills steal his 104th base. He saw Rocky Marciano get up. I thought he led a pretty good life.

 One night a long time ago he saw this pretty girl who laughed a lot, played the piano and he couldn’t look away from her. Later he looked on as I married this pretty lady.

He saw her through 34 years. He loved to see her laugh, he loved to see her happy …  He recorded the happy moments, the miracle of children, the beauty of a Pacific sunset, snow-capped mountains, faces on Christmas morning. He allowed me to hit fly balls to young sons in uniforms two sizes too large, to see a pretty daughter march in halftime parades. He allowed me to see most of the major sports events of our time.

I suppose I should be grateful that he didn’t drift away when I was 12 or 15 or 29 but stuck around over 50 years until we had a vault of memories. 

Can’t believe he’s been gone for 22 years. He was the greatest.

Hey Democrats: Way too soon to be burying Trump and being overconfident about November. A fantastic brain-teaser about great works of literature. And my favorite-ever video about awful Dad jokes

Happy Father’s Day to all my fellow Daddies out there. Hope your day was as enjoyable as mine was, when we had the family over for a socially distant afternoon of Wiffle Ball, food, and my mom kicking all our butts in cornhole, a sentence I never thought I’d write.

So you may have heard the current President of the United States had a rally on Saturday night.

It was billed as a huge, sellout “return to greatness” kind of rally for Mr. Donald Trump, but it was, to paraphrase Marcellus Wallace in “Pulp Fiction,” pretty f’ing far from great.

The arena was barely half-full, a whole bunch of teenagers seemed to have punked the campaign by registering for hundreds of thousands of tickets, and Trump was his usual blustery, nonsensical self up there.

And so, as was the theme in media leading up to the rally, a lot of what I read Sunday was basically this: Trump is cooked. Done. Finished. Biden leads in all the polls, he’s leading nationally, he’s leading in just about every swing state, and Trump is well aware the end is near. Get ready for President Biden, it’s just a matter of riding out these last few months.

To which I emphatically say: STOP. Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop.

It is June 22. This race is far, far from over. After the debacle of 2016 election predictions, when every “prognosticator” had Hillary Clinton winning easily as late as two weeks before the election, you would think people would’ve learned.

There is still a TON of time between now and the election. Trump looks finished now, but don’t you dare underestimate how much worse it can get. He will play dirty tricks in this campaign that would make Lee Atwater or Roger Ailes blush. He will do everything possible, just like an authoritarian strongman, to hold onto power.

And remember, this is Joe Biden we’re all pinning our hopes on. Biden could still screw this up in any number of ways: He could pick a terrible VP candidate (unlikely, but possible). He could say something monumentally stupid, which is what he does sometimes.

The economy could start to get better. Voter turnout might not be as strong as hoped. The vote-by-mail crusade to allow more Americans to cast their ballots that way could turn out to be impossibly difficult.

I’m just saying, there’s WAY too much premature dancing on Trump’s political grave right now. Way too much.

The man is like a mythical creature for a storybook: No matter how many times you think they’re dead, they still come back to life.

It’s June 22. There’s a lot of time left. There’ll be plenty of time for celebration on the night of November 3, if we’re lucky.

**Next up, my smart friend Kelly posted this on Facebook the other night and I’ve been showing it to everyone I know since (we had a great time with it on Father’s Day).

It’s one of these brain teaser games with 25 famous works of literature listed, but using synonyms for their titles. Your job is to figure out what each description refers to.
For example, I’ll give you No.1: “The Old Man and the Sea.”

Some of these were really hard and stumped me, and most of them are crazy-clever (No. 11 is my favorite).

Enjoy this brain workout.

**Finally today, I looked Sunday night for some new Father’s Day videos to share with you today, but nothing I saw was as good as this one I shared two years ago in this space. It’s a PSA from Australia in 2015, called “Dad Joke Survivors.”

It made me laugh really hard, again. I am a huge fan of Dad jokes, because of course I am. And these were so bad they were great (the constipation one is a particular favorite.)

An incredible “British Got Talent” performance blows me away. A devastatingly effective Joe Biden ad that should run every week. And an Olympic athlete at-home workout that dropped my jaw

 

Every once in a while, I see something perfect.
Something that hits me exactly where I want to be hit, at exactly the right moment, and makes me smile from ear to ear for hours.

This video above was that thing a few days ago. My friend, the wonderful human Catherine Pearlman, shared this on her Facebook page and I was blown away.

It’s a man named Jon Courtenay, from England, appearing on “Britain’s Got Talent,” the Simon Cowell-led show that’s a spinoff from “America’s Got Talent.”

Courtenay has spent his life performing in pubs and dive bars, he’s got a wife and two kids, and he knows this is his shot: An audition in front of four judges and millions of people watching at home on TV, and if he does well, who knows what can happen?

One of my favorite quotes from my all-time favorite movie, “Field of Dreams,” came from Burt Lancaster’s character, Moonlight Graham. “You know,” he tells Ray Kinsella, “we just don’t recognize the most significant moments of our lives while they’re happening. Back then I thought, well, there’ll be other days. I didn’t realize that that was the only day.”

I think Moonlight was wrong on this one; I think Jon Courtenay knew this was one of the most significant moments of his life, and man did he knock it out of the park.

Just an absolutely perfect, heart-tugging performance, and if this doesn’t pull you out of any quarantine-related depression you’re in, man, nothing non-pharmaceutical will.

I’ve watched it 10 times at least. Just so marvelous. I hope he wins the whole show, now.

 

**Next up, it seems like nobody’s talking about Joe Biden these days, because we’re in a very strange place in the world and the 2020 election has, incredibly, been put on the back burner for now.

But this ad he released a few days ago is absolutely fantastic, and I hope it runs a million times between now and November. Watch it, and share it, and remind people of the awfulness of Donald Trump. Joe Biden is nobody’s idea of a dream candidate, certainly not mine. But he must, must, MUST win this election.

More ads like this please, Joe.

And finally today, check out what Olympic athletes do while they’re stuck at home. This is Russian swimmer Julia Evimova, and I’m kind of amazed anyone can actually do this and not get hurt.

Wow.

 

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.

obamafamilyr_450x300

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.

scotlandherald-tvguide

**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.

Obama.2009.16

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!

TheREview

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…