Tag Archives: John Edwards

Tonight I’m meeting a Presidential candidate, who I hope is on the ballot next November. Simone Biles continues to do amazing gymnastic things. And cocaine, or bird poop? You decide!

So in what may be the most obvious statement I’ve ever made on this blog, I tell you this:
I’m really, really into politics. And I really like seeing how the sausage is made, getting up close and personal to candidates and trying to learn as much about them, and the people close to them, as possible.

Sometimes, seeing them up close validates what you previously thought: I’ll never forget standing on line for hours at Bethune-Cookman University in Sept., 2008 waiting to see Barack Obama. And then getting into the auditorium and feeling the special vibe and enthusiasm he brought to millions.

On the other side, I’ve written here before about being a recovering John Edwards supporter. I spent hundreds of hours in 2004, and in 2007, volunteering to support a man who I thought embodied everything I wanted in a President. Only to find out later he was a lying, conniving fraud who was wildly unworthy of all my effort.

Anyway, my point is I love to get personally involved in candidates, and campaigns, and so far in this 2020 cycle I’m eager to support two Democrats above all others: Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Senator Kamala Harris of California. (Elizabeth Warren, I love deeply and truly, I’m just not quite ready to pledge my support to. Not that she needs it, she’s doing awesome right now.)

I’ll talk more about why I am on Harris’ bandwagon in another post.

I’ve been following Booker’s career for 15 years, and have been a fan of his since first learning about his passion, commitment and humility in turning around one of America’s worst cities, Newark, N.J. I’ve watched Booker rise and overcome quite a few obstacles, some of his own making, to become a respected Senator and a powerful voice on the left.

He’s always had Presidential ambitions, that much was clear, and I’ve been waiting for him to make this run for a long time.

Now I am not a blind supporter; I know he has his faults. Booker had some trouble with the ACLU over Newark’s policing, he’s a little too close to Big Pharma, and his school improvement deal with Mark Zuckerberg didn’t work out too well.

But overall I’m impressed with Booker’s progressive ideas on issues like criminal justice and marijuana, and on many other topics. He’s a very smart man with the charisma a leader needs.

And tonight, I finally will get to meet him, I hope.
I’m headed into Manhattan this evening for a small fund-raising event for Booker, at which I hope to truly size him up. You can’t ever truly get to know a politician, I know, but in small settings you get to see how they are up close, when the cameras are off.

I don’t expect to gain any huge insights, but maybe a collection of small ones. I hope to find out, in essence, if Booker is more Barack Obama than John Edwards.

**Next up, every once in a while Simone Biles, the greatest American gymnast of all time, shows up to remind us how amazing she is. She continues to push the sport forward, and this weekend at the U.S. Gymnastics championships she did all kinds of amazing things.

In the clip above, Biles becomes the first-ever woman to land a triple-double to open her routine.
I’m not entirely sure what that means, but she is so badass.

**Finally today, this story cracked me up because of its ridiculousness. Meet Georgia Southern University quarterback Shai Werts.

Last Friday night, young Mr. Werts was arrested during a traffic stop. It seemed the police found a white substance on the hood of his car was tested, and the test came up positive for cocaine. So Werts has hauled off and charged with misdemeanor drug possession.

In the police body-cam footage released, Werts and the officer discuss the substance found.

“If anything, there’d be a one in 1,000 chance that these things are faulty, but I don’t think they just turn pink,” the officer said.

“I swear to God that’s bird poop,” Werts said.

Guess what? Werts was right. It WAS bird shit, further tests showed. And so Werts was released after spending a night in jail.

I mean… how in the world could bird poop and cocaine contain the same properties? Someone get Bill Nye the Science Guy on this, pronto.

In the meantime, little flying creatures who soar above our heads? Please lay off the white powder, it’s a bad, bad habit you’ll never kick.

 

Mario Cuomo and the idea of “missed opportunities.” The Baseball Hall of Fame elects the best pitcher I ever saw. And I finally watch the “SNL” Serial parody, and it’s genius

Mario Cuomo’s funeral was here in New York City Tuesday, and it got me thinking about missed opportunities, and wasted talent.

Cuomo was an early political hero of mine; growing up in N.Y. as a political junkie-kid and discovering I was a liberal, there was no one bigger to look up to than Cuomo, then the towering governor of New York.

He spoke so eloquently, and so passionately, about equal rights, about income inequality, about the destructiveness of Ronald Reagan’s policies, that I completely fell in political love for the first time (sometimes it goes great when that happens; other times, when I fell hard for John Edwards, well, not so great.)

His speech at the 1984 Democratic Convention was, until Barack Obama came along, the best speech I ever heard while it was happening; it was on the radio and we were in the car on a family vacation and my Dad, a big Cuomo fan, wanted to hear it (I’ve pasted the clip above).

He was so thunderous, so eloquent, so … right that we wanted him to run for President right then and there.
Surely, in 1988 he would run, we figured. There was no one standing in his way in a weak Democratic field. Mario Cuomo was going to be President, a real, true-blue liberal in the White House.
Only, somehow, he didn’t run. We were crushed. Then, come 1992, again it seemed like he was destined to cruise into the job. The first George Bush was wildly unpopular, the Democratic field was jumbled and without a front-runner, and Cuomo’s name recognition towered over everyone.
And still, Cuomo demurred, and eventually decided not to run. The press called him “Hamlet on the Hudson.”

Again, it was crushing for me as a young liberal that he passed up going for the biggest job in the world. Why, why would this man choose to miss an opportunity he was so clearly qualified for? (His son, N.Y. governor Andrew Cuomo, a man I also think would make a good President, answered that question at the funeral Tuesday: “Beccause he didn’t want to, that’s all.)

There were always rumors as to why he didn’t run, rumors about his father-in-law’s alleged Mafia ties, rumors about financial improprieties in his past. But Cuomo himself never talked about any of that, and the theories continue (Steve Kornacki at MSNBC.com has a really good column with a theory why he didn’t run here.)

I was angry at Mario Cuomo for a while after ’92, angry we lost probably our last real chance at a liberal progressive in the White House. I saw it as a great missed opportunity.

But Cuomo? Maybe he just didn’t want to be President. And that’s hardly a sin.

 

Pedro-Martinez-02

**The Baseball Hall of Fame 2015 Class was announced Tuesday, and as usual, there was plenty of hand-wringing and criticism, as Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Craig Biggio and John Smoltz were elected to be memorialized in Cooperstown forever
“How could Mike Piazza not get in, that’s a joke!” the NY media cried. (Answer: He used steroids, quite obviously, which has been verified by many, many former players.)
“Why don’t the writers put Bonds and Clemens in, everyone was using steroids back in the 1990s and early 2000s?” is another rant I saw everywhere. (My answer: So because everyone did it, we should put two major, unrepentant cheaters in? No.)

Anyway, the one legit complaint I have every year is the pompous, self-important members of the BBWAA refusing to let anyone be voted in unanimously. That there were three percent of voters who didn’t vote for Randy Johnson, and nine percent who didn’t vote for Pedro Martinez, is absolutely ridiculous; those voters should have their credentials stripped, and their voting privileges going to someone else.

Let me tell you something about Pedro Martinez: I’ve been watching baseball for 35 years, and he is the scariest pitcher I’ve ever seen. Watching him live, which I was lucky enough to do twice, was practically a religious experience, and I hated his guts because he was a Red Sox and then a Met.
His curveball? Unhittable. Changeup? No chance. Fastball? Dominating. He had an aura on the mound that I’m guessing Bob Gibson had, just a sense you had that when he was out there

 

**Finally today, I know I’m WAY late on seeing this, but it’s so good that I have to share it, in case some of my fellow “Serial” obessives haven’t seen it yet. Two weeks ago “Saturday Night Live” did a brilliant, hilarious spoof of Serial, investigating the story of one “Chris Kringle,” and they nail the voices and details of the real “Serial” so perfectly, I was amazed.

Enjoy…

I have an awesome quasi-celeb encounter. R.I.P., Art Donovan. And Red Sox owners buying the Globe?

Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People

This seems to be like one of those “Only in New York” kind of stories, but maybe it could happen anywhere.

So I’m sitting in my dermatologist’s office Friday, getting my second Moh’s surgery in two weeks (for the uninitiated, Moh’s gets done when they find basal cell growths on your face, the first step toward skin cancer. So they dig it out, then stitch you back up. I’ve had two in two weeks and right now I’ve got more stitches in my face than a hockey goon in mid-February.)

Anyway, so I’m sitting there waiting to get called in again (when you have Moh’s, it’s a lot of hurry up and wait) when my phone buzzes. It’s my pal Tony, and we have a quick chat about college basketball, and my love of Duke’s prospects for next year, and then I hang up after two minutes.

The guy sitting across from me in the waiting room, silver-haired and about 65 years old, says “I’m sorry, did I hear you say you’re a Duke fan?”
After I confirm, he says “Well, I’m just about the biggest UNC fan you’ll ever meet.”

I’m always happy to argue with a Tar Heel supporter, even in July, so we start amiably chatting, and I reference the ongoing NCAA investigation into UNC.
This devolves into my new friend talking about “newspaper reporters” and “tabloids” always trying to dig up dirt on people and programs, and then in what I thought was a really random reference, he said “like the National Enquirer did with John Edwards.”

“Oof,” I said, “that’s a sore subject with me. I was a huge John Edwards supporter and volunteer on his campaign.”

“Oh yeah?” he replied. “I’m John Edwards’ brother-in-law.”

If not for the fact that I was gripping the arm-rest, I would’ve fallen out of my chair.
“No you’re not!” I said to him, laughing.
“Yep, Elizabeth Edwards was my sister.”
Now, part of me instantly believes him, because who the heck would make up a thing like that? But the journalist in me was dubious, so I started gently probing him with questions, about the 2004 campaign, John’s disgusting behavior in 2007-08, his sister’s battle with cancer, etc.

And damned if he didn’t know all the answers. Over the course of a few hours, while each of us went into the Dr.’s office and then back out to wait, my new pal Jay regaled me with hilarious and awful stories of John’s schmuckiness, how he could tell “after 15 minutes of meeting her that Rielle Hunter (Edwards’ lover) was crazy,” and about how his sister felt about different people in the campaign.

I was in heaven. I was a true-blue Edwards-ite (I wrote about it here a few years ago), and here I was trading stories with Elizabeth’s brother (I Googled him and all the bio information he told me checked out)
I was all disappointed when after about two hours, I heard him leave while I was back in getting stitched up.

Only in New York. I have another appointment this Friday; I hope I see him again.

**Word came late Sunday that the great Art Donovan had died. Donovan was a Hall of Fame football player for the Baltimore Colts back in the 1950s, but he became even more famous in retirement for the hilarious interviews and talk-show appearances he gave.
I remember as a kid holding my sides I was laughing so hard, watching him on Letterman and Carson and in countless NFL Films videos.

He was a jolly guy who was a superb storyteller, and he will be missed. Here’s him on Letterman from 1988.

RedSox.JohnHenry**Finally today, a story that alternately makes me happy and frightened. Word broke Friday night that John Henry, one of the majority owners of the Red Sox, has agreed to buy the venerable Boston Globe newspaper. (He’s paying $70 million for the paper; the New York Times Co. paid $1.1 billion for it in 1993. That’s staggering)

On the one hand, it’s great that anyone is buying a newspaper these days, especially one with deep pockets and a strong connection to the region like Henry does. He’s done fantastic things with the Red Sox (as a Yankee fan that pained me to write), helping them spend enough to win two World Series in the last 10 years.

But it frightens me as an ex-journalist because now you will have the majority owner of by far the biggest team in the region, owning the biggest newspaper in the region.

Now I know full well newspapers don’t have the influence they used to, and there are dozens of other outlets who can cover the team without any appearance of conflict of interest.

But still… it makes me a little queasy. The Globe has broken tons of big stories about the Sox over the years, many of them negative. Will they still be allowed to do so?
I hope so.

Elizabeth Edwards, a woman of grace. And “Men of A Certain Age,” back and great again

I met Elizabeth Edwards on two occasions in the winter of 2003-04.
I was working as a volunteer for the John Edwards for President campaign in New Hampshire, going up on weekends to knock on doors, stand in the freezing cold and sing songs (“E-DW-ARD-S, oh yes, John is the best!” Seriously, that was our song).
One day after a rally,  the host family I stayed with while in Concord called me over, said someone wanted to meet some volunteers. And there, standing in the middle of a group and holding a hot chocolate, was Elizabeth Edwards.
She was smiling so brightly; I’ll always remember her enthusiasm and gentle smile.
I shook her hand, she called me by name (each volunteer got that courtesy from her), and she thanked me for coming up to New Hampshire to help her husband get elected President.
I spoke to her once more, a few weeks later right before the primary, and once again, her warmth cut through the freezing Manchester night.
She was a remarkable woman, brave in her fights against cancer, resilient in the face of the unspeakable tragedy she and John endured when they buried their own son, Wade.
Some will remember Elizabeth Edwards for sticking with John even after his infidelities, and even after most of the rest of us fled and wondered how she could stay with him. Others will recall the salacious details in a campaign book released last year.
I will remember her smile, and gentle nature. And how remarkably courageous she was in the face of so much pain.
Rest in peace, Elizabeth Edwards. Your smile remains with us, always.

**One of my favorite discoveries last year was the TNT show “Men of A Certain Age.” I caught on halfway through the season, and was shocked at how good it was, and how much I liked it. I’ve never cared for Ray Romano, never found him funny at all. But he’s really good in this show, as are Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher.
It’s a very well-written show, with flashes of humor and drama and all kinds of good acting. It just started its second season, and you haven’t missed too much if you start watching now.

Definitely worth your time. TNT, Monday at 10.

The day the world changed. And tennis violence between octogenarians

Vodpod videos no longer available.

It was November 4, 2008, and I knew the world was changing.

At least I hoped so. It’s so easy in this day and age to be cynical. It’s so easy, in our instant culture of “what’s important today is not important five minutes from now”, to forget when transformative moments happen.

So even though I’ve been a little bit disappointed in the presidency of Barack Obama so far, I think it’s important to take a minute and remember the feeling some of us felt that night.

It had been such a long campaign. I followed it more closely than I had followed anything in my life. Every day felt like another skirmish. What did Hillary say in Indiana? Can you believe the crap the McCain campaign was saying now? It was like a long, tough struggle where you were never really sure if your side was going to win.

I was a John Edwards supporter when the long slog of the ’08 campaign began. I’d been an Edwards volunteer in ’04, and was a huge fan of his. I’m still not really able to come to terms with what we found out about him last summer, so that’s all I’ll say about Edwards.

After Edwards dropped out, I knew Obama was my candidate. He had impressed me throughout the early parts of the campaign, but it was his Iowa victory speech, one of the most inspirational speeches I’ve ever seen, that officially won me over.

And so, the campaign that never ended went on and on, until November 4. I saw some things that night that fortunately I’ll never be able to “un-see.”

I saw an older black woman named Rose who I’d come to befriend, watching the election be called at 11 p.m. and crying her eyes out. She marched in Alabama and Mississippi as a kid, and now … this. I saw white people cry, too, and women and children and old people and everyone from across the spectrum, who never thought they’d live to see the day when hope beat fear, and an African-American was elected leader of the free world. I remember staying up even later than usual that night, not wanting to go to bed.

Not wanting the night to ever end.

I get chills still thinking about it, and got some more watching HBO’s new movie about Obama, “By The People.”

I know Obama hasn’t delivered on all his promises yet, but I’m still hopeful he will.

After the night of Nov. 4, I’ll have hope for a long, long time.

(The video above is a cool thing put together after the election by the great people at DailyKos.com. Kind of a permanent keepsake of that night.)

oldtennisguysfighting

**OK, and now for something completely different.  I love this story. Apparently two 80-something tennis players in Arizona were fighting at the tennis complex of the retirement club they live in, and the cops had to be called. And the cop had to use force to restrain one of them!

And I thought the biggest fights among 80-somethings was whose kids visited less, and which brand of prunes is most enjoyable.

Why Bill Clinton still fascinates and frustrates me

bill_clinton

So I found myself thinking about Bill Clinton again Tuesday night, because once again, he has ridden into the spotlight on his steed. Apparently he convinced Kim Jong Il, our little friend in North Korea, to release the two American journalists who were captured back in March for allegedly entering the country illegally.

Clinton flies into Pyongyang, schmoozes for many hours with possibly the craziest world leader going right now (Hugh Chavez and Robert Mugabe, my apologies), and then he and Euna Lee and Laura Ling get on a plane and suddenly, POOF!, the Americans have been pardoned and all is right with the world and there’s the big guy smiling and will someone please get this man a cigar?

Now, a couple of things before I get to my main point: One, a decent argument could be made that since Ling and Lee allegedly admitted to illegally entering the country, they were indeed guilty and American power should not have been used to free them. To quote a person I know, “They knew what they were doing was wrong, did it anyway, got caught, and now, because America is America, they get to come home.” I’m not saying it would be a popular argument, but you could make it.

And before we all excoriate Mr. Clinton for hogging the spotlight, apparently many other negotiators were involved in the freeing of the “North Korea Two”, and many other statesmen were considered before the North Koreans expressly asked that Bubba be involved at the end (This made me laugh for some reason, like the North Koreans are some TV talk show show director and an agent is pitching guests: “No, we don’t want Jimmy Carter or Al Gore, give us someone bigger”).

Still, this episode is No. 4,545 in the Bill Clinton file in my mind as I try to figure out how I feel about the 42nd President of the United States. Seriously, I go back and forth on him like a kid choosing between the hot fudge sundae or the seven layer cake. Rarely do I feel the same way about him twice in a row, if you know what I mean.

Sometimes I hate him and get so angry that he wasted so much of his time as the most powerful man on Earth shtupping interns and getting bogged down in scandal after scandal. Other times I marvel at his brilliant mind, tremendous fund-raising prowess, and skillful powers of pursuasion.

I hated him when he played sewer-water dirty in the presidential campaign of 2008, showing how incredibly desperate he was to get back into the White House. I admired him when he helped Barack Obama win.

Why, I sometimes raged during the 1990s, does a man with so many extraordinary gifts have to have so many extraordinary flaws? And why now, as he does so many great things world-wide, with the Clinton Foundation raising billions to help so many outstanding causes, does he still say and so many stupid things?

One memory often shoots to the front of my mind when I think about Clinton: When I volunteered for the John Edwards for President campaign in New Hampshire in the winter of 2003-04, I stayed with a couple who had worked for Clinton in 1992 and ’96. I will always remember the sheer wonder and thrill in their eyes when they talked about meeting him, and how he made them feel important, and how I felt like for a few minutes like they were 9 years old and talking about meeting a rock star. The guy just has that effect on people.

I hate him. I love him. I hate him. I love him. I hate him. I love him.  I honestly don’t know how he’ll be treated by history, nor do I know how I’ll feel about him tomorrow.

I just know he’s endlessly fascinating, because he’s so damn human.

P.S. So for those people who think Keith Olbermann of MSNBC, who has turned into an amazing voice for liberals in this country, only calls out Republicans, here’s some proof he hates all political scumbags, Democrats included. This health care thing is making me madder and madder, as we drift further away from a solution: