Thank a Millennial and a Gen Xer today

Look, I’m biased. I understand that Millennials have an incredible amount of promise and that Gen. Xers are basically carrying their weight when it comes to electoral politics.

But last night in Alabama, those two groups shined brightly. No doubt, the country owes a debt to minority voters who overwhelmingly voted for the candidate who wasn’t an islamophobe, homophobe and pedophile. They deserve applause. More than that, they deserve policy that supports them.

But Millennials and Gen-Xers? Look at these numbers.

You go, kiddos. The future is bright. Now get your friends to vote.

Boomers, you failed us yet again.

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Thank a Millennial and a Gen Xer today

A debt to their sacrifices

When we think about people protecting our rights, we rightly often think about the men and women in uniform. In fact, we tend to assume our service members have a monopoly on this type of sacrifice.

We do so at great peril to our national soul.

That’s because the people who sacrificed for our rights didn’t always wear uniforms.

Consider:

One man, a former insurance salesman turned community activist and father of three, was gunned down in his driveway in 1963. He’d spent years organizing voter registration drives, boycotts and more. His agitation meant he regularly had a police escort.

One woman, a mother of five, drove from Detroit to Selma, Alabama, to support civil rights marchers. While driving fellow activists to the airport, she was murdered by the KKK.

There are hundreds of stories like theirs.

On Election Day, you owe them – as well as anyone who ever suited up for military service – your vote.

A debt to their sacrifices

Christmas came early

Mary grabbed the empty bottle from my hand as I walked toward the door.

“Hey, give me that,” I declared with a smile.

She laughed and banged it on the ground. The bounce made her laugh. So the 2-liter Pepsi bottle that was destined for the recycling bin ended up being a toy for about 45 minutes.

She banged it off the wall, refrigerator, floor, couch and my leg. She noticed that the booms sounded different.

She’d also try to drink from it. It was quite a sight. The bottle, almost as big as she is, held aloft as she tried to get something, anything, out of the bottle.

Christmas came early

One of the best baseball biographies you’ll ever read

I’ve owned “The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron” for almost a year, and I couldn’t wait to crack it open.

The book’s author, Howard Bryant, is one of the best sportswriters of all time. He covers the four bases of great reporting. He writes clearly, concisely, accurately and authoritatively. There are no wasted words and no errant details. His foundation is evident. It’s his diligent research. No doubt he has hundreds of pages of information that never saw the printed page, but that information informed his writing. Bryant’s work has one other aspect that sets him apart. He brings great wisdom to the craft. It’s a trusted axiom that great journalists zig where others zag. Jimmy Breslin wrote about JFK’s grave-digger when most journalists covered the funeral.

Like Breslin, Bryant finds a different way to cover Henry Aaron, a man who became under appreciated despite owning baseball’s most hallowed record. You discover who Aaron is through contrasting the ballplayers around him and his personal relationship with family and friends. Bryant excels at introducing his relationship to Jackie Robinson.

While Robinson and Aaron were competitors for a few seasons, Bryant explains the obvious: that Robinson inspired Aaron. He also points out things not so obvious: like how Aaron was part of a generation that came up as the Negro Leagues were dying and spent his developing years mostly in the barely integrated minor leagues, instead of gaining their professional footing with African American veterans. Bryant’s description of Aaron showing up at a movie theater his teammates were at that was “whites only” drives home this point.

Everyone who knows who Aaron is, knows racism, race relations and Jim Crow are a major part of both Aaron’s story, and America’s story.

I remember watching Ken Burns’ “Baseball” as a teenager with my father. When it got to Aaron’s Chase of Babe Ruth’s record, I asked my dad about it. Did he root for Aaron? He said he didn’t want Aaron to break the record. I was in sixth grade and I was worried the man I most looked up to was about to confess some racism. Then the old man added, “I wanted Willie Mays to do it. I just liked Willie more.”

Bryant brings stars like Mays, Warren Spahn and Eddie Matthews to life in the book too. We see the differences between them and Aaron. How steady Aaron was. We see his grace and strength. We also get to see Aaron through the eyes of people he met in the minor leagues, a Catholic priest he met in Milwaukee and others.

Bryant, who is definitely worth a follow on Twitter if you have an account, has created one of the two best baseball biographies I’ve ever read. Along with David Maraniss’ “Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero,” it is the gold standard of the genre.

If you’re looking for a list minute Christmas gift for your favorite baseball fan, pick up Bryant’s biography of one of the game’s best statesmen.

One of the best baseball biographies you’ll ever read

It’s all over, but the shoutin’

I didn’t expected President Trump to last a full year in office. Not because he’d be impeached or because of a 25th amendment palace coup, mind you. I expected him to throw up his hands, blame everyone around him and shout “I’m done.” He’s a lazy, incompetent, vainglorious fopdoodle. A little man like him was never going to be successful in the world’s biggest job.

But it’s over. He’s the lamest duck we’ve had in the office. We know this for two reasons. And no, it’s not because he has one policy accomplishment and one legislative accomplishment in an entire year that was riddle with own goals, unnecessary scandals and being derided abroad.

  1. Special Counsel Robert Mueller just hooked Herr Trump’s former National Security Advisor on a 0 to 6-month plea deal for crimes that could have mean 30 years.
  2. His lawyer told Axios, “President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case.” You don’t say that if your client didn’t obstruct justice.

It’s a stunning statement.

First of all, it’s untethered from the reality of the world.

What was one of the four articles of impeachment brought by  Republican against President Bill Clinton? You guessed it. Obstruction of Justice. Here’s the full text of that particular article of impeachment. What was the first article of impeachment brought against Richard Nixon? That’s right, obstruction of justice. Again, here’s the full text of that article.

So three presidents, Andrew Johnson, Nixon and Clinton, have faced impeachment, two were impeached. Clinton, one of those who was impeached faced an obstruction of justice charge. Nixon resigned before the impeachment vote could be taken, faced a charge of obstruction of justice.

Second of all, it’s a clear sign members of the president’s team know he’s in the end game.

It’s all over, but the shoutin’

Alone on Not-Yet Pajama Day

As the boy scrambled into the car Thursday, he turned to me and smiled. “I have to wear my pajamas tomorrow to school.” This was a big deal in the world of a soon-to-be 6-year-old. He wanted to wear his Snoopy Santa PJs. A few hours later, he ran up to me, caught his breath, and said, “I can’t find my Catboy pajamas. Can I wear them?”

I told him I’d find them. Where could they be, but in the laundry, after all?

But after the kids went to bed, I checked and couldn’t find them. Later on, Molly got into the hunt.

Then I finally found them. They were inside a sweater of mine in a pile of washed laundry that was waiting to be folded.

We sighed.

Continue reading “Alone on Not-Yet Pajama Day”

Alone on Not-Yet Pajama Day

A Dickens of two car trips

A man approached the car when I was coming home from the grocery store a few months ago. The kids were nestled in their car seats. Bags filled with vegetables, snacks and other foods were on the floor. I had some change in the pocket.

The man asked if I had any change or food, he said his car was broken down and he was waiting for AAA. There was, in fact, a car with its hood up behind him.

Normally, I wouldn’t mind handing the man something. But I was in a bad mood. I was stressed out with the kids. I’d just been let go.

As we drove away, a 5-year-old Jiminy Cricket in the back seat peeked up.

“Why didn’t we help him?”

The “we” hit me hard.

Well, I said, I wasn’t sure if he really needed it.

“He seemed like he did.”

I didn’t want to get into it. I thought about the time I handed a man on Baltimore street in Hanover my lunch. The time I bought a guy pizza on Wilkes-Barre’s square. I truly believe hay of you have it, you’re morally compelled to help. I try to live that. To me, it’s not a political thing. It’s not even quite a religious thing, though it probably comes from the lessons I learned at Mass.

So we turned the car around and tried to find the man.

The car was still there. The man wasn’t. But the evidence suggested he wasn’t lying. The car had Delaware plates. But even if he was, there’s no harm in helping anyone eat. Michael was disappointed, so I promised him that we’d keep a can of soup in the car if we saw anyone like that again.

****

I read the first two chapters of “A Christmas Carol” to the kids as we drove up to Molly’s family this thanksgiving. It really is a potent and powerful morality play about haves and have-nots. Scrooge’s miserliness is a major part of his character.

It shows up in his exchange with Fred.

“Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough.”

“Come, then,” returned the nephew gaily. “What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough.”

But a moment later, it’s truly driven home.

“At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge, … it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

“Are there no prisons?”

“Plenty of prisons…”

“And the Union workhouses.” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”

“Both very busy, sir…”

“Those who are badly off must go there.”

“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

As I read this, I thought of modern conservatives, pretending to be libertarians but really being anarchists hell-bent on individualism at the cost of the common good.

Then Jiminy Cricket piped up from the backseat.

“He’s like you when you didn’t give that man any help.”

Ooof.

A Dickens of two car trips