The 2016 Democratic National Convention: A Look Back

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So, my first in-person political convention experience was …well..and experience.   But it was a good one.  For years I have watched on TV what the networks have been willing to show in prime time.   To be at the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia was an enlightening look into the inner workings of a combination of political power, star power and enthused supporters — be they for HiIlary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.

There were several moments that did stand out for me during FOX’s coverage of the Democrats.

I was assigned as the street reporter.  So I spent much of my time trudging the streets of Center City Philly (in about 97 degree heat) tracking protesters.  In other words..chasing around Bernie Sanders’ supporters.

bernieprotest

Also, there were the top flight speakers.  Of course Hillary Clinton’s and Tim Kaine’s acceptances of their respective nominations and President Obama’s impassioned plea to people who voiced their displeasure with Donald Trump saying ,”Don’t boo.  Vote!”  however, the two best speeches in my opinion were from First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.  You’ll find them below.

But to me…the best moment came Tuesday night during the roll call vote that officially nominated Hillary Clinton — but it wasn’t about her.   In the ‘City of Brotherly Love’, it was a moment of brotherly love that got everyone choked up when Bernie Sanders’ older brother Larry cast delegates from Democrats Abroad for Bernie.

It was a great experience.  Now come the presidential debates.

Will Hillary Clinton rise past her haunting email troubles?

Will Donald Trump even show up to debate?

Tune in next time.

The 2016 Republican National Convention: Top Tweets

Really..there are too many good ones to mention.  However, here are three Twitter offerings among them that stand out. We’ll work our way backwards.

From the final night of the convention, GOP nominee Donald Trump during his speech uttered the phrase “I am your voice!”  Republican pollster Frank Luntz couldn’t resist the Star Wars reference..

trumpvader

On night three, when Ted Cruz hijacked the convention by not endorsing the Trumpster, Francis Maxwell took to twitter to comment.

cruzboo

And I couldn’t do this quick post without this take from night one…and perhaps the moment of the whole four-night event.

trumptaker

Of course..in the interest of equal time..we’ll do this again with the Democrats and Hillary Clinton as the focus.

You gotta love the political season.  So much fodder…so little time.

Dear NRA: A Little Consistency, Please!

dallas

I rarely do this…but I feel compelled.

I  — like many of you — follow the news and am shocked and saddened by the tragic deaths of Philando Castile in Minnesota, Alton Sterling in Louisiana and — at this writing — five Dallas police officers patrolling a peaceful protest.

President Obama said in reference to the deaths of Castile and Sterling — two black men shot by white officers, “These are not isolated incidents. They’re symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.”

The president referenced statistics showing — in part — that black men are three times as likely to be pulled over than whites and twice as likely to be shot.

The President also labeled the shootings in Dallas as “vicious, calculated and despicable” and ordered flags nationwide flown at half-staff to honor the fallen officers.  Amen to that.

I do want to drill down a bit though.

The National Rifle Association’s CEO Wayne LaPierre also issued a statement on the fallen Dallas officers.  It read — in part:

“On behalf of the more than five million members of the National Rifle Association, and especially on behalf of our members from the law enforcement community, I want to express the deep anguish all of us feel for the heroic Dallas law enforcement officers who were killed and wounded, as well as to those who so bravely ran toward danger to defend the city and people of Dallas.”

Again…I agree with the sentiment.

Yet..the NRA — when it comes to the deadly shootings of Philando Castile (1st photo below) and Alton Sterling (2nd photo below) — for a while remained conspicuously silent.

castile

sterling

And remember, while both black men had weapons on them, video shows Sterling being restrained and not reaching for a weapon when he was killed and Castile was licensed to carry a concealed firearm — which he reportedly told officers before he was shot and later died.

Late Friday, the NRA did issue a statement on the Castile case essentially saying it could say nothing yet.

“The reports from Minnesota are troubling and must be thoroughly investigated.  In the meantime it is important for the NRA not to comment while the investigation is ongoing.  Rest assured, the NRA will have more to say once all the facts are known.”

Support not nearly as forceful for Castile as for the Dallas officers.

Should anyone wonder why there is a perception that the NRA doesn’t stand up for ALL gun owners?

All I ask is for equal anguish from the NRA.  Two other families are devastated by what many are seeing as an irresponsible use of deadly force.

As President Obama said about mending the mistrust between the black community and law enforcement, “We must do better.”

Viva ‘Dia Portugal’

I guess it’s just like American ‘Happy Hour’…it’s never just ONE hour.

PortugalSign

There is a rather vibrant Portuguese community in Newark, New Jersey.  So much so that the annual Portugal Day celebration here lasts THREE days.  It’s chock full of glimpses into the culture.  From the traditional drum ensemble..

PortugalDrums

to the native dancing.

PortugalDancers

And no matter the festival…the food is always a draw.   Nothing makes you smile like a wheel of barbecued meat.

WheelOfMeat

The lovely Karen and I had a good time browsing, people (and dog) watching and taking in the sights.  By the way..even though we’re standing in front of the beer stand, we did not partake.   We saw what the excess imbibing could do to some folks out there.

Wifeyandme

It was a good time.   If you ever get to Newark and can find your way to the ‘Ironbound’ section…there are plenty of Portuguese, Spanish and Iberian stops to make and dishes to sample.  We’re just getting started.

Viva Portugal!

Words…Words…Words..

I thought I was good with words.

Turns out I SUCK at them.  In every way imaginable.

They have power…and one of them — just one — can drop like a ton of bricks in the worst places possible.   After years..and years..and years of thinking I had this down. this realization is a smack in the face.

I often think about what the punishment should be for the irresponsible use of words.

When kids are bad..one way to deal with it is to take away one of their favorite things for a time.  In missing the value of that “thing”..they understand there are consequences.

What if…a person who values words were denied the ability to speak?   How immense would that word value become?  How much more carefully will those words be chosen the next time?

It depends solely on the user.    Words have their place.  We all must communicate.   But to rely vastly upon them is unreliable — even ’empty’ in a way.

It makes me rethink many aspects of my existence.  What I now see is that the last 30 years of my life (and if you know me, you know exactly what that refers to) has ultimately done me more harm than good in totality.  That 30-year relationship may have to be re-thought to make things better.

Can it happen?  Certainly…but it will be — in a word — difficult.

Remember the adage we heard as kids:

“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Not entirely true.   The wounds from sticks and stones can heal.   The scars from words can remain for a lifetime.

I’m done with words.

 

 

 

 

 

Who Says You Can’t Find Love…Through Politics!

And so it begins.

If you were wondering what the first effect of a possible Donald Trump presidency would be…look no further than the dating world.

Introducing:  MapleMatch.com!

maplematch

A co-worker of mine pointed me to the website…which I understand started out as a joke, but quickly earned legitimacy.  Under the (fairly obvious) tagline of “Make Dating Great Again”,  the site has a very specific mission statement:

“Maple Match makes it easy for Americans to find the ideal Canadian partner to save them from the unfathomable horror of a Trump presidency.”

Funny!

The Washington Post article about the site reports — as of Monday (5/9) — the site registered more than 35,000 hits and 4,500 sign ups in just FOUR DAYS!     That’s some hard-core paranoia.

I’ve often said I hope there’s someone tracking any spikes in U.S. passport applications ahead of a possible Trump victory in the general election.   It will be interesting to see if an exodus — of any kind– could really happen.   As for opinions on what nations around the world think of a Trump White House, the Discovery Channel offering Test Tube gives us a decent overview.

We are just two months (at this writing) out from the conventions.   With the still-raging dogfight on the Democratic side and the GOP drama,  the national political gatherings in Philadelphia and Cleveland respectively will truly be (with apologies to NBC) Must See TV.

 

Hooray for Harriet!!!

harriet-tubman-20-dollar-bill

The U.S. Treasury took a while, didn’t it?   Well..at least the ball is rolling.

Sometime around 2020 it will unveil a new design for the $20 bill…with abolitionist Harriet Tubman front and center..literally.   An historic move to say the least.  It has been a mere century since a woman (Martha Washington) appeared on American paper  money.  Tubman’s appearance is the first for an African American on currency.

Our nation’s 7th president Andrew Jackson is not going away.   His image will move to the rear of the bill.  That will create an interesting dichotomy.  On the front of the 20, a woman who led slaves to freedom.   On the back, a man who owned them.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog (and thank you if you are), you may remember a while back that I posted a piece about the final options to appear of the $20 note.   If you don’t remember it, you can read it by clicking here.

That wasn’t all the news from the Treasury.  Alexander Hamilton will remain the face on the $10 bill.  I wonder how much the popularity of the Broadway musical ‘Hamilton’ actually played in that decision.   If you’ve been under a rock and haven’t heard the back story of this musical, CBS Sunday Morning’s Mo Rocca pulled back the curtain before the show hit Broadway.

On the back of the 10 will be a tribute to the key women who led the suffragist movement securing women the right to vote.

The rear of the $5 bill will also change..from just a static shot of the Lincoln Memorial to also commemorating some key historic events there.  Most notably are Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech and black opera singer Marian Andersen’s performance.

The takeaway is this.   America is inclusive.  America is diverse.  But, one of the last places where that diversity was not reflected was on U.S. paper currency.

It’s about time.

 

 

You Can’t Spell ‘Menace In The Kitchen’ Without ‘MEN’

My wife posed a question to me recently.  I will attempt to paraphrase.

“Why is it”, she asked, “that when men cook in the kitchen, they always wind up emptying the cabinet of every single pot, pan and plastic container?”

toomanypots

It does open the door to those marathon dish washing sessions. Your dinner guest might end up putting out a hashtag on Twitter:

#Ihadtohelp!!

Important rule:  the dish washing should NEVER take longer than the meal itself.

As for my wife’s question, I have a theory.

Problem 1: We, as men, are not very good at judging proportion when it comes to cooking.   If you’re preparing soup for two…you DO NOT need a stock pot.   If you’re cooking French toast for one…don’t reach for the jumbo-neighborhood fish fry-size cast iron pan (even if it is the first vessel you lay eyes on that will do the job).

Problem 2: Once we realize that the pot/pan we’ve chosen is not right for the dish we’re making, we immediately go hunting for a smaller-sized container.  In some cases, we misjudge on the small side too.   There’s nothing like cooking rice or grits and not taking into consideration how much it will multiply in volume once it absorbs the liquid.  This search for the right pot happens several times — hence the great pot pile-up.

Been there.   Done it.

This is why — I believe — men are so fond of grilling.  (Yes..I said GRILLING.  Remember…barbecue is something you EAT, not something you DO)

Outdoor-Grilling

It’s one LARGE, FLAT surface over heat.   And, if you’ve set it up correctly, there are zones on the grill surface that regulate the intensity of the cooking (direct vs. indirect heat).   So if you’re cooking ribs, steak or burgers on the center of the grate,  the vegetables or seafood can cook slowly or stay warm in one corner (or a raised basket) off the heat.  You can brown buns or Texas Toast in another corner.

Thanks Bobby Flay and Food Network for that knowledge.

Guys…I’ve found my way to avoid the kitchen mess.   I confine my cooking to the Crock Pot.   One pot..dump everything in..and wait five hours (or more).   Perfect for setting up and turning on before you go to work, and enjoying when you get home.   And when you tell your dinner guest that the meal has been cooking for hours, it’s not a lie.

And then..there the minimal mess afterward.

You’re welcome.

 

 

Isn’t 108 Years Enough?

Wrigley_Field_-_by_Kaczmarczyk

As much as I would love to…I can’t bring myself to pick my favorite baseball team to win the 2016 World Series.  It would be the first title since 1908.

That’s right.  I am a Chicago Cubs fan!

I know what you’re thinking.  How does a guy from South Carolina (whose only experience with the Windy City are delays at Midway Airport) get to love the Cubbies?

The answer is simple.   I like baseball..but in Charleston..the only teams you would regularly see on cable were the Atlanta Braves (on Superstation WTBS) and The Cubs (on Superstation WGN).  The late Harry Caray called Cubs games.  Harry’s son, the late Skip Caray, called Braves games.  Quite honestly, I liked Harry more than I liked Skip.  In my eyes, who wouldn’t have?

So I became a Cubs fan.  I like a Bud every once in a while, too.

Before last season…when the Cubs hired former Tampa Bay skipper Joe Maddon to lead the team, I said..if he sticks around..it will be about four or five years before they contend. But they won…and kept winning.  They finished with the third best record in baseball.

Surely..that was a good enough first season for Maddon.

It wasn’t.  And don’t call me Shirley.

They vanquished the Pittsburgh Pirates (who had the Majors’ 2nd best record) in the Wild Card Game.  Then polished off arch nemesis St. Louis in the divisional series.  The Cardinals finished the season with the best record in the bigs.

Hector Rondon

Chicago Cubs players celebrate after winning Game 4 in baseball’s National League Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Chicago. The Cubs won 4-6. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Only a New York Mets buzz saw stopped the Cubbies from reaching the Series.

Turn the page to 2016…and expectations are high.  Names like (Cy Young winner) Jake Arrieta, (Rookie of the Year) Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, Jon Lester and new additions Ben Zobrist (from the World Champion Royals) and Jason Heyward (formerly of the Cardinals) give hope that this will be the year.

Already this year…some adversity.  Schwarber has been lost for the season injuring his ACL and LCL in an outfield collision.  Ouch!

But the usual early-season joke — about the Cubs already being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs — isn’t being heard.   Hope is running rampant in Chicago.

But I still can’t pick them to win it all.

Oh but if they do!   One of these flags that fly after Cobs victories at home..and sometimes away..will find a spot in my office.

cubs-win-flag

I can dream…can’t I?