Tag Archives: Martin O’Malley

The latest Democratic Debate was fantastic for all. Another dramatic weekend of NFL football, and I’m conflicted. And great news out of Iran, as a reporter is freed

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Whew. That was one crackling, energetic, informative and substantive Democratic debate Sunday night.

If you didn’t watch, you missed a doozy. I know it was on a Sunday night of a holiday weekend, but hey, this is sadly as close to a big audience as the DNC is going to allow the primary candidates this year, and all three of them put on a hell of a debate. (here’s a 2-minute video recap)

Quick thoughts on the 2-hour affair:

— Bernie Sanders was outstanding on the economy. He had his best debate yet (yes I’m biased as a supporter of his), being forceful, shouting less and pointedly telling voters the differences between he and Hillary Clinton. He dominated on the economy, and scored morality points by refusing to talk about Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct. He did nothing to hurt his recent rise in the polls.

— Hillary was very strong as well. She dominated on foreign policy; she wipes the floor with any candidate in either party on that one. She tried hard to paint Sanders as a position-shifter on guns and was effective in trying to say his health care plans are unrealistic. She attacked Bernie as strong as she ever has, and yet… she was still unable to explain how she’d be tough on Wall Street, when she’s taken so much of their money.

— Martin O’Malley had about two minutes to speak the whole night. Poor guy was railroaded but I thought he had some great answers, critiquing Hillary on her Wall Street ties, and on drug treatment.

— Bottom line for me: If Democratic primary voters think this election is about the economy, Bernie has a great chance to score the big upset. If it’s about terrorism or foreign policy, Hillary wins as expected.

— It’s ridiculous we’ve had only four Democratic debates, and no more before Iowa. Ridiculous.

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**Next up, another dramatic weekend of NFL football, setting up a fantastic Championship Weekend next Sunday. Patriots at Broncos, with Brady and Manning facing off probably for the last time in a big game like this. And then Carolina hosting Arizona, the two best teams in the league all year going head to head. Fantastic stuff.

Couple thoughts from the weekend, and then one big thought that gave me a lot of pause, that I’ll hopefully expand on more in another post.

— That was an incredible comeback by Seattle Sunday, down 31-0 and roaring back to only lose 31-24.

— But then again, you have to also fault Seattle for getting totally destroyed in the first half. Where the hell was the defense?

— The Arizona-Green Bay game was just nuts. Nuts. Arizona finally takes the lead late, gives up a 4th and 20 to Aaron Rodgers to keep the game, alive, then this ridiculous Hail Mary (the 2nd of the year for Rodgers!) that tied it and sent it to overtime.

Then in the extra period, the Cards’ Larry Fitzgerald makes that incredible catch and run, and Arizona wins.
After the game, I went on Twitter and as usual after a big sporting event, people were losing their minds with excitement. I got caught up in it and Tweeted something to the effect of “no matter how many CTE lawsuits and concussions happen, football will survive because of awesome games like this.”

Well, my good friend and former boss Dave saw that and we got into a terrific text exchange. Dave likes to call me on things I say and write, which is good, because we all need to be checked sometimes.

His solid point Saturday night, which I am trying to square my heart with, is that he can’t really get excited about football anymore knowing the longterm damage it does to so many brains, and bodies. And he wondered how I could justify still obsessively following the NFL when I know the horrible pain it causes.

He said “I don’t think, as a society, we should simply excuse the real effects as the price of a great game.”

I’ve been thinking about that a lot for the past 24 hours. I don’t have a good response. It bothers me that I read and write about the horrors of what football does to a person, and yet scream and yell on Sundays and can’t wait for next week’s title games.

Definitely something I need to think more about. And maybe change my behavior.

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**Finally today, it’s not often there’s any kind of good news out of Iran, but Saturday we finally got some in the “case” against Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Rezaian, an Iranian-American, had been detained for more than a year on ridiculous and nonsense “spying” charges after he was reporting for the Post in Tehran.

The Iranian courts had arrested him, did God knows what to him in the notorious Evin Prison, and allegedly sentenced him to death just a few months ago.

Finally on Saturday, after months and months of negotiations, the U.S. and Iran struck a deal to release Rezaian in exchange for other Iranians held in America also being released.

It was a prisoner swap, and no one’s ready to back-slap Iran for doing a wonderful deed. But Rezaian is by all accounts a first-rate reporter who did absolutely nothing wrong, yet was imprisoned for 545 days.

Thank God he’s free.

 

After Paris attack, fear and helplessness. A lively Democratic debate exposes Bernie, and Hillary makes a bizarre 9/11 reference. And a hilarious ticket option if you love your in-laws (or don’t).

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I don’t know what to say about yet another terrorist attack on the people of a free nation, by those who want to destroy freedom and democracy.

Friday night’s devastation in Paris, killing 129 people and injuring more than 200 more, struck me with lots of feelings. Fear, that ISIS and other terrorist groups are getting stronger, not weaker, and that this “war on terror” will probably go on forever.

I felt helplessness, knowing that this is only one attack of many, that there are still millions of people around the world who hate Western democracies like the U.S. and France, and that once again, just like on 9/11, people who are evil were one step ahead, intelligence-gathering wise, than those who are trying to stop them.

I felt anger, and I felt rage, and I felt sympathy for the people in Paris who seem to be more of a target for terrorism than other places.

But what I didn’t feel is hopeless. I’m by all means an optimist always trying to believe that the good will overcome the bad. And of course I can’t tell you that there won’t be more tragedy, that there won’t be tears and bloodshed.

But I know that there is still way more good than bad in the world, and that no amount of suicide bombers or automatic weapons will change that.

I refuse to live my life in fear of terrorism, even though I live in one of the biggest target cities in the whole world.

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Maybe I’m naive, maybe I’m being Pollyanna, maybe the world really will be brought to its knees by terror.
But I refuse to believe that. Look at the faces in that photo above, taken on the streets of Paris after the attack.

None of them believe it either.

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**OK, time for a palate-cleanser. I’ve seen a whole lot of creative marketing ideas by college and pro teams trying to attract fans, but this one might be one of my favorites, ever. Georgetown University is offering spectators a chance to bring their in-laws to their game with Bryant on Nov. 28.

But the kicker is this: When you buy the tickets, you can choose the promo code “sit with” if you want your in-laws next to you, or “sitwout” and they’ll get seated across the arena from your own seats.

Hey, I love my in-laws dearly, but I think this could be a VERY successful promotion!

**And finally, Saturday night’s Democratic presidential debate was pretty entertaining and lively, I thought, but sadly nothing happened that will likely shake the narrative of the race: That Hillary Clinton is firmly in control, and Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley have only a slim chance of beating her.

Some thoughts from my liberal-loving brain on the 2-hour Iowa debate:

— By far the strangest and worst moment of the debate was when Clinton, finally really being pressed by Bernie about her long history of being cozy with Wall Street money, came up with the bizarre invocation of 9/11 and how close she was with New Yorkers down at the World Trade Center as a defense of her chumminess with Wall Street (the clip is above). It was a page out of Rudy Giuliani, throwing 9/11 into a conversation when it had no business being there. It was a bit offensive and made no sense.

— Bernie was strong thru much of the debate, but he didn’t fully press Hillary on her many position shifts to the left in the last several months (TPP anyone)?, and he was again weak on his previous support of gun rights. I don’t think he understands just how huge of an issue gun control is on the left; he’s gotta come up with better answers on this.

— I thought O’Malley was terrific again, especially with his “boots on the ground” comment, that a Mom in Iowa told him politicians should stop using that phrase, that her son is more than just a pair of boots. I think in most other elections, O’Malley would have a real strong shot at the nomination. This year, though, against two forces of nature like Bernie and Hillary, he’s getting demolished.

— I’m fairly certain these two people have never been in the same sentence, but Hillary has some Floyd Mayweather in her: She never gets hit head-on, always manages to dodge and weave and escape major damage. It’s really quite the remarkable talent, just as is her talent for avoiding direct questions.

— I thought John Dickerson, the moderator, did a hell of a job, trying to press the three of them on past statements and voting records, and seeing if they’d make their criticisms of each other face-to-face that they’d made elsewhere.

— Time’s running short on Bernie. He must win Iowa and New Hampshire to hae a shot at this huge upset. He needs a Hail Mary or a Clinton implosion, either of which is possible.

The Democratic debate: O’Malley and Hillary shine, Bernie does OK. And an incredible “60 Minutes” story and the most arrogant D.A. you’ve ever seen.

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Well that was a pretty darn interesting two hours if you ask me.

We finally got to see a Democractic Presidential debate Tuesday night, with a manageable field of five candidates, giving all of them plenty of time (except, apparently, for Jim Webb, who did everything but stomp his feet, take his ball and go home because he wasn’t getting the time he wanted).

Was it thrilling? Nope. But that’s OK. It was substantative, entertaining, and informative.

I watched at a midtown Manhattan bar at a Bernie Sanders supporter “watch party,” packed with about 100 people. (So weird to see a whole bar quietly watching TV.) Lots of thoughts to get to about the debate, so here goes…

— Hillary Clinton won because she was Floyd Mayweather inside the ring: Touched up a bit but not really hurt. I thought Hillary was strong on the foreign policy stuff, she sounded pretty darn progressive on income inequality (a big pivot for her from the past), and luckily for her, the line of the night came from her biggest rival praising her (more on that in a minute). She’s an excellent debater, though I thought her answer on the Black Lives Matter question was weak, and she did a whole lot of dodging at the start when Anderson Cooper (who was pretty good) asked about her changed opinions.

— To me the clear star of the night was Martin O’Malley. I said the other day here that this was his shot to become relevant, and boy, did he seize it. He was direct, he was forceful, he attacked Hillary on some of her Senate positions, and he made a clear case for why he should be taken seriously as a candidate. His closing was terrific, too. I’m very, very happy O’Malley may start to get some traction now.

— As for my man Bernie … it went OK. His gun control answers were convoluted and all over the place, and it seemed like he was pressured from all sides and that the issue dominated the first half of the debate. He got much better as the night went along… and then he said this.

Lots of people at the bar cheered. I cringed and groaned. Bernie handed his biggest rival for the nomination an absolute gift, giving her a free pass on a situation that, while not the huge scandal the GOP is making out to be, is also not nothing. This is a real troubling situation that the FBI is looking into. And Bernie basically cleared it off the table. At least he admitted it was bad politics.

Overall, Bernie’s goal was to keep this a two-person race. I don’t think he did that. I think O’Malley will get a nice bump and it’s now a three-person race, at least for a little while.

— Nice to see a debate among grown-ups, without name-calling and actual policies and problems being discussed, not mindless platitudes and dick-swinging from macho male men.

— Jim Webb would make a real nice nominee for the Republican Party. He’s about as Democratic as Joe Lieberman was at the end. And bragging about killing a guy in his military service in his closing statement? That’s right out of the Republican playbook.

— More Democratic debates, please. And Lincoln Chafee, you can leave now, thanks for playing.

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**Next up, this story blew me away, from last Sunday’s “60 Minutes” program. It infuriated me, moved me, and made me want to strangle someone on TV like few stories have in a long, long time.

Glenn Ford was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death row in Louisiana in 1983. There was almost no evidence against him, he was African-American facing an all-white jury, and his attorneys were woefully unqualified.

Ford spent 30 years in prison before finally being released when new evidence came to light about his innocence, and he was finally released.

The story “60 Minutes” tells is about the anguish and remorse felt by the prosecutor in the case, Marty Stroud, and he comes across as very sympathetic and torn up over what he did.

But what really blew me away were the comments of Dale Cox, the current acting D.A. of Caddo Parish, Louisiana. This son of a bitch defends the prosecution of Cox, doesn’t believe any injustice has been done, and argues strongly FOR the death penalty as much as possible.

Here’s an excerpt from CBS’ Bill Whitaker’s interview of Cox, but really I urge you to watch the whole piece:

Dale Cox: I think society should be employing the death penalty more rather than less.
Bill Whitaker: But there have been 10 other inmates on death row in Louisiana who have been exonerated. Clearly, the system is not flawless. Are you sure that you’ve gotten it right all the time?
Dale Cox: I’m reasonably confident that– that I’ve gotten it right.
Bill Whitaker: Reasonably confident?
Dale Cox: Am I arrogant enough, am I narcissistic enough to say I couldn’t make a mistake? Of course not.
Bill Whitaker: But until this information came out, the state was convinced that Mr. Ford was guilty.
Dale Cox: Yes.
Bill Whitaker: He could have been killed.
Dale Cox: Yes.
Bill Whitaker: And it would’ve been a mistake.
Dale Cox: Yes.
Bill Whitaker: It sounds like you’re saying that’s just a risk we have to take.
Dale Cox: Yes.

So in Dale Cox’s world, it’s OK if you kill a few innocent people, that’s just the cost of doing business.

If this CBS interview didn’t cost him his job, there really is zero justice in the world.

 

A great Saturday in Westchester Co., walking for a great cause and then picking pumpkins with the little guy. Insane finishes all over NFL Week 5. And why I can’t wait for Hillary vs. Bernie tomorrow night

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Had a fabulous weekend slightly upstate, one of those perfect autumn weekends when you realize why James Taylor writes all those songs about fall in the Northeast.

Saturday the Lewis family went to two great events (well, one event and one outing): In the morning we attended the Friends of Jaclyn 3rd Annual Pediatric Brain Tumor Awareness Angel Walk, done over the Walkway over the Hudson pedestrian bridge in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. (pictured above)

I’ve written about my love and support for FOJ before; they’re the grassroots organization that pairs up pediatric brain tumor patients across the U.S. with college sports teams who “adopt” them, and greatly improve their quality of life, and lift their spirits.

I write stories for their website each week and have really come to so respect and appreciate what they do. Saturday’s walk honored those who have passed away from the insidious disease, and there were singers, bagpipers, and hundreds of family members, athletes and coaches there to pay tribute to those who still fight, and those who’ve passed. There was an incredibly beautiful moment at the end, when doves were released to commemorate those who’ve died. (Have you ever actually seen how beautiful a flock of doves are when they fly in formation? It took my breath away.)

After that we took the little guy to his first Harvest Festival, where he got to play with a whole heap o’ pumpkins, go on a hayride (it was a little bouncy for his liking, but still fun) and look at some farm animals from behind some chicken-wire fencing.

He was a little baffled by the whole scene, as to be expected, and some of the pumpkins were bigger than he was. But it was a great time (and cider donuts too!)

Just a terrific fall weekend all-around.

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**My weekly quick-hit NFL thoughts on a day the Jets rested, the Eagles finally woke up, and we saw a ton of great finishes:

— The NFL RedZone channel is crack cocaine, and Sunday at 3:30 I stepped up to the pipe, thank you very much. It just so happened that my boy’s nap time coincided with the last half hour of the 1 p.m. games, so I got to see the fantastic Redskins-Falcons finish (oh Kirk Cousins, from hero to zero so quickly), the great Browns comeback win over the Ravens (I know they stink, but once again, the Browns are so fun to watch), a terrific Jay Cutler throw and comeback, and the Bengals thrilling win over Seattle.

All that happened in like a half hour. And it was glorious.

— The Bengals impressed me the most; Cincinnati might really truly be for real this year. Seattle had the game won, on the road, in the fourth. Andy Dalton, I know, no one believes in him because of his playoff failures. But maybe he’s maturing into a winner? Maybe?

— It’s sad watching Brandon Weeden play QB in the NFL. It just is.

— A not-so-bold prediction: The Philadelphia Eagles will win the NFC East. They’re the best of a terrible division, and Sam Bradford will get better every week.

**Finally today, I’ve refrained for the most part at writing about the three-ring circus that is the GOP presidential field, because frankly there’s just so much crazy going on there that I don’t even know where to start, and because I know most people aren’t even paying attention to the 2016 race yet, and because I’m finding the infighting among the crazies (Carson, Trump, Cruz, etc) so hilarious, and because there’s a perfectly electable candidate who’s the only GOP candidate Dems like me are scared of (Marco Rubio) and no one in the Republican primary electorate seems to like him.

But for me, it’s time to start talking politics because tomorrow night we get the first major event of the Democratic season, the first debate. How will Hillary hold up under what I’m sure will be tough questions about emails and other topics from her, umm, colorful past? Can my original pick for this nomination, Martin O’Malley, finally do or say something to get some attention and some traction?

And most importantly, what I’m SO looking forward to seeing, is Bernie Sanders thundering away at Hillary and her sudden shift to the left. He has all kinds of material he can use against her, including her sudden shift against the Trans Pacific trade deal just announced last week, and her sudden interest in racial justice issues, and against big money in politics (she and her husband have been swimming in it for decades.)

It’s ridiculous that there will be only six Democratic debates this cycle (as of now), as Hillary pal Debbie Wasserman Schultz, head of the DNC, clearly set this up to give HRC as smooth a path as possible.

So it’s imperative that Bernie seize this moment and really show he’s a legitimate, credible alternative to her.

Get your popcorn ready. CNN, 8:30 p.m. Should be fun.

The Jets are 3-1, and my brain is divided. Hillary on “SNL” actually pretty funny. And I try to cope with yet another senseless gun rampage

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The conversation inside my head around 12:30 p.m. Sunday, after the New York Jets finished off the Miami Dolphins, 27-14 to move to 3-1:

Side A: Holy crap! The Jets are 3-1! Maybe they’re actually good!
Side B: Chill out. They’ve beaten three pretty crappy team so far: The Browns, Colts and Dolphins would have trouble beating Ohio State.
Side A: Who cares? They’re 3-1. They have a real offense, led by a real good running back (Chris Ivory) a top receiver (Brandon Marshall) and a defense that’s as good as the ones they had in ’09 and ’10 when they went to the AFC Title game.
Side B: Look what you’re doing to yourself. It’s been four games. Their quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, only played OK on Sunday. He’s better than Geno Smith, but so is Wilma Flinstone. Calm down. Did you forget the Jets still play in the same division as the Patriots?
Side A: But the Jets have a real coach for once! One who actually makes smart in-game decisions, doesn’t talk smack in the media, and keeps an even keel. And he’s actually got his team doing exactly what he preaches.
Side B: Yeah, but remember, you liked Rex Ryan once too.
Side A: They’re 3-1 and you won’t let me get at least a little excited, especially when you look at the upcoming schedule and see lots of beatable teams (Washington, Oakland) on it?
Side B: No, I won’t let you get excited. I’ve been watching this team for 35 years. Have you learned that nothing good ever happens to them, and you’ve gotten excited so many times before?
Side A: You’re right, you’re always right. Nothing will ever change. I’m so glad you’re here.
Side B: Me too.

Yeah, the Jets do weird things to me…

Some other quick-hit NFL thoughts…

— Remember when everyone used to complain how automatic kicking had become, and that no one ever missed inside 50 yards anymore? NFL kickers missed 14 field goals and four PAT’s this week. Insane. Where have you gone, Morten Anderson?

— So much fun to watch Rex Ryan coach a team other than mine. On 4th and 1 Sunday from the 1, Bills QB Tyrod Taylor threw a screen pass four yards behind the line of scrimmage. Buffalo fans, I feel your pain. And I’m glad it’s your pain and not mine.

— Is there anything more fun than watching Jerry Jones agonize over a Cowboys’ loss and seeing if his face moves at all? I didn’t think so.

— Atlanta, Carolina, Cincinnati all moved to 4-0. And I don’t believe in any of them as a serious contender yet. Fool me so many times, Matt Ryan and Andy Dalton, I stop believing.

**Next up, I think it’s pretty crystal clear if you read this blog that I’m no fan of Hillary Clinton, and that I’m hoping like heck she implodes like she did in 2008 and Bernie Sanders or Martin O’Malley gets the Democratic nomination for President.

But I have to give credit where it’s due: Hillary was pretty funny in her appearance on “Saturday Night Live” this past weekend. Especially the Donald Trump impression … pretty damn good.

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**Finally today, like many of you I spent some time over the weekend thinking about yet another awful mass shooting on American soil, and I watched our President give a moving speech/statement about gun violence in America, looking as powerless as the rest of us to do anything to change our laws.

And I tried not to get despondent. Even as I read stories like this fascinating New York Times graphic, that explains how the last 14 mass shooters got their guns, that eight of them had either criminal histories or previously known mental illnesses, yet our federal gun laws allowed each of them to purchase their weapons legally.

Or this chart above from the Washington Post, which shows the amount of gun deaths worldwide vs. the amount of deaths caused by terrorism. Chilling.

But it’s hard not to give up hope. It’s hard. So I did what I could do to make a small difference: I gave a small donation to one of my favorite organizations, Cure Violence, which works in inner cities and uses ex-gang mambers to “interrupt” gun violence before it happens. They’ve had tremendous success in major places like Chicago and New York, but of course their funding is always nowhere near what it should be.

And I tried to envision a day when our politicians aren’t completely held hostage by the NRA, a day when actual, meaningful laws could be enacted against gun violence, and a day when all the politicians who say it’s a “mental health issue” will suddenly listen to themselves and actual spend MORE money on mental health services in America. Fund clinics in hospitals and treatment centers, let them hire more social workers and psychologists and case workers to actually treat those who so desperately are crying out for help.

I can’t see that day yet. But one day it will come. That thought helps get me through.

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…

 

 

The Yankees collapse is complete, for now. A rip-roaring start to the DNC. And a Paralympic table tennis shot you won’t believe

I’m not really a good Yankees fan anymore. Haven’t been one for years; as I’ve said many times, I just don’t follow baseball on a day-to-day basis.

But man, watching the Bombers collapse over the last month has been pretty shocking. And seeing the Baltimore Orioles, who were last relevant when Jeffrey Maier was sitting in the Yankee Stadium bleachers, rise up to become a real rival has been pretty amazing as well.

If you haven’t been paying attention, the Yankees had a double-digit lead in the American League East 47 days ago. Tuesday night, it was down to zero. As in, the Yankees and Orioles were tied for first.

The Yanks aren’t hitting, the pitching hasn’t been near good enough, and injuries are a problem, too. Meanwhile, Baltimore is playing like a hungry team under a really good manager (Buck Showalter) and I can only imagine how nuts Camden Yards will be this weekend, when the Yankees and O’s hook up for a four-game series.

As a Yankee fan, I’m definitely worried that Bobby Valentine’s seemingly crazy July prediction (“the Yankees can be caught,” Bobby V said then) has come true.
Still, kind of neat for baseball to see the O’s back in business again.

**Well that sure was a hell of a start to the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night. Great speeches all around, I thought, especially by Deval Patrick (above), who clearly has some fire in his belly. Some quick-hit musings:

— Great keynote speech by Julian Castro (really interesting piece by Charlie Pierce on Castro vs. Rubio here). Guy has a bright future, brighter than just being the mayor of San Antonio. But I’m only half-joking when I wonder if voters in Florida would ever vote for a guy named Castro.

— Happy to see all the speakers hammer home the point that the auto industry in this country is no longer on life support. But sadly, my fiancee and I both wondered whether there are even that many people employed in the auto industry to impact a national election anymore.

— Michelle Obama — wow. What a composed, beautiful speech she gave, from the heart and filled with wonderful personal details about her life with Barack (my favorite line was when she discussed the family sitting around the dinner table, “strategizing about middle school friendships.”)

— Going to be a very interesting 2016 Democratic primary. I’ve loved Martin O’Malley for a long time now (he was the model for Carcetti’s character on “The Wire”) and I think he’ll be in it in ’16. Andrew Cuomo will be running. Biden will probably run again. Too soon for Castro, maybe Hillary gets back in? Will be very interesting.
— Can’t wait to hear what Bubba Clinton says tonite. And Tebow knows Joe Biden could say just about anything.

**Finally, the Paralympics don’t get much attention every four years, but there are plenty of amazing athletes competing in London right now. Here’s one great moment that I saw on Twitter this week, from British table tennis player David Wetherill.

How did he do that?

I finally see “Bridesmaids:” Funny, but not epic. The Obama administration’s hideous war on medicinal pot. And Omar from “The Wire” on gay marriage

In my quest to see as many of the Oscar-nominated movies as I can before Sunday’s show (and I’m going to an Oscar party for the first time, don’t think I’m not excited!), I finally saw “Bridesmaids” on Monday, a movie I’d been wanting to see for a long time. I’d heard all the huzzahs and accolades thrust upon it, and figured I’d be among the legions who loved it.

And, you know, it was funny. The concept was good, Kristen Wiig had some great lines (especially in the airplane scene, which was stellar) and Melissa McCarthy was every bit as awesome as I’d heard she was.

But frankly, I expected more. I only belly-laughed a couple of times, the much-discussed scene in the bridal store with the wedding dresses and the food poisoning was only a little amusing, and I was surprised at how little depth they gave most of the characters in the movie (the police officer, the other bridesmaids, etc.)
It was never quite clear why Maya Rudolph freaked out on the morning of her wedding day, and there were long periods of the movie where I felt like the story was dragging.

Hey, I’m happy it made so much money, and I’d love to see more female-driven comedies made, because men have dominated movies for far too long.

I was just a little surprised “Bridesmaids” wasn’t funnier.

**Yet another way the Obama administration has reneged on its promises (to add to the list about closing Guantanamo, no longer holding terror suspects indefinitely, and standing up to the oil companies) is in the issue of medical marijuana.
In the campaign Obama swore up and down that he would leave legal medical marijuana dispensaries alone, and wouldn’t waste federal time and resources on these businesses.

And yet, as this searing Rolling Stone story points out, Obama has sailed past W.’s administration in enforcement in this area, and now it appears that Los Angeles may consider banning medical pot altogether.

So freaking disappointing to see this President and his administration completely go against what he said he’d do. And so disappointing to see states’ rights get trampled upon yet again by this b.s. about a “war on drugs.”

**Finally today, my main man Omar Little from “The Wire,” the greatest television show in history, has come out in support of marriage equality. It’s a big issue in Maryland right now (where “The Wire” took place, of course), with the state Senate poised to pass an equality law today, before it gets approved by Democratic governor Martin O’Malley (who, by the way, was the inspiration for Mayor Carcetti in “The Wire.”)

Anyway, here’s Michael K. Williams with a short, beautiful endorsement. Omar listening!