Tuesday, February 9, 2016

POSTED: Monday, February 8, 2016, 8:31 PM
Granite State showdown: Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton at Thursday night's debate. (JUSTIN SULLIVAN / Getty Images)

If you're a political junkie like me, one of the great things about being alive in 2016 is that there's more than one way to "watch a debate." Last Thursday, I was commuting by train during a lot of the (relatively) rock 'em, sock 'em debate between the Democratic presidential candidates in New Hampshire…so I "watched" it on Twitter.

That meant my view of the clash between Sen. Bernie Sanders and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton was filtered with a thick layer of Internet snark. But it also meant that a lot of my first impression was set by the pundiocracy, the Acela set, or whatever we're calling these days the D.C. pundits who try — with mixed results - to shape our political agenda.

A lot of those TV and Internet talking heads called it a bad night for Bernie Sanders, because he’d seemed to fumble questions about North Korea and other foreign-policy hot spots. But after I got home and saw the actual debate highlights, I realized that it had, in fact, been a devastating night for Clinton.

POSTED: Sunday, February 7, 2016, 11:46 PM
Military personnel stands guard outside Levi's Stadium before the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

On Jan. 15, 1967, I was just a few days away from my 8th birthday. We'd just moved into Don Draper's neighborhood (although I didn't know it at the time, maybe because Don Draper is fictional) of Chilmark in New York's northern suburbs, with a dank family room and a fairly newfangled color TV. I could probably count on one had the sporting events I'd ever watched, as it had been just that fall that my Midwestern-raised dad had been turned on by a friend to the NFL's Giants. But something told me that I should check out this thing that was called, by some, the Super Bowl. Maybe because the name sounded like a favorite toy, my Super Ball.

By the next year, I was pretty much hooked on sports, so it's really no surprise that -- through a lifetime of many ups and downs -- I've positioned myself, wherever I was, on my 9-inch black and white TV in college or even on my computer while I worked, ahem, the Sunday night shift at the paper, to watch all 50 Super Bowls. Tonight's Super Bowl 50 was...well, it was the dullest one I've seen since the routs of the 1980s and '90s. But the game was marked by the usual helmet-crunching, CTE-causing violence, four hours of relentless capitalism (capped by the winning quarterback making his post-game remarks a product placement for Budweiser, after kissing the actual Papa John), and of course "honoring America" out the wazoo.

It was the USA...love it or leave it. I hope I live to see 50 more Super Bowls, or see the Philadelphia Eagles win just one. Both of those things seem highly unlikely.

POSTED: Thursday, February 4, 2016, 6:01 PM
In an Aug. 10, 2015, file photo, protester and social media activist DeRay McKesson records outside the Thomas F. Eagleton Federal Courthouse in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

Shortly before 9 p.m. on Wednesday night, something really exciting happened in the world of American politics...and for once it had nothing to do with the short-fingered vulgarian of 5th Avenue, the "democratic socialist" from maple-syrup country, or anyone else among the shrinking cast in the 2016 White House reality show.

The best-known civil rights activist to emerge from the chaos in Ferguson and the #BlackLivesMatter movement -- 30-year-old social-media whiz DeRay Mckesson -- filed papers at the last possible moment to run for the open mayor's job in his hometown of Baltimore.

Even though Mckesson's remarkable odyssey from a comfortable-but-obscure school administrator to a leader of protests in Ferguson and elsewhere has made him a national figure in just 18 months, the activist -- famous for, among other things, his bright blue down vest that he wears year-round -- faces an uphill campaign against 12-13 other Democrats, including several elected officials. But after marches, sit-ins, and occasional unrest -- including a mini-riot in Baltimore last April after the killing of arrestee Freddie Gray -- it will be fascinating to see whether #BlackLivesMatter can gain an electoral foothold.

POSTED: Thursday, February 4, 2016, 3:22 PM
Signe Wilkinson 02/03/16

Just a short in-between-posts-post to say that it wasn't just me who thought that Monday's Iowa caucus wasn't democracy's finest hour. It was also the state's largest, and much-honored, newspaper, the Des Moines Register. Oh, and Iowa's popular long-time governor.

One of these days, America will figure out how to elect a president. I won't live to see it.

POSTED: Wednesday, February 3, 2016, 6:06 PM
Gov. Wolf and the Assembly have been at odds for months over a new state budget and the money he wants. (DAVID SWANSON / File Photograph)

There's a thing that pops up Twitter from time to time under the hashtag, #ConfessYourUnpopularOpinion....a way for folks to express their undying love for Nickelback or the movie Ishtar. Well, here's mine: I think Tom Wolf is doing a good job after one year as Pennsylvania's governor.

I know this is an unpopular opinion because the pollsters tell me that the first-term Democrat has a low approval rating -- pretty close right now to where it was for his predecessor Tom Corbett, who in 2014 was unceremoniously voted out of office by the people. With the state unable to pass a real working budget during 2015, and with school districts and non-profits facing continued uncertainty over how much money they'll get from Harrisburg and when it might come, that's hardly a surprise. According to one recent poll making the rounds, the governor's current approval rating is at 33 percent.

In that case, We...Are...The 33 Percent.

POSTED: Tuesday, February 2, 2016, 4:33 PM
(Jim Mahoney/Associated Press)

ROSENCRANTZ: Heads. (He picks up the coin and puts it in his money bag. The process is repeated.) Heads. (Again.): Heads. (Again.) Heads. (Again.) Heads.

GUILDENSTERN (flipping a coin): There is an art to the building up of suspense. Heads.(flipping another): Though it can be done by luck alone.

ROSENCRANTZ: Heads.

POSTED: Monday, February 1, 2016, 11:15 PM
Precinct chair John Anderson counts votes for Republican candidates during a caucus in Nevada, Iowa, Monday, Feb. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Anyone hoping for clarity out of tonight's Iowa caucuses didn't get it. On the GOP side, comeback winner Ted Cruz, expectation-beater Marco Rubio and the short-fingered vulgarian of New York City are going to keep slogging away, probably all the way to Cleveland. Ditto on the Democratic side, where Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are locked in what amounts to a tie.

Maybe this is the way it was meant to be. A lily-white prairie state shouldn't pick the president for the rest of us.

Let the games continue. And discuss the results below.

POSTED: Sunday, January 31, 2016, 9:32 PM
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders delivers a major policy address on Wall Street reform in New York on January 5, 2016. (KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)

No one -- with the possible exception of Bernie Sanders -- really thought that Bernie Sanders would get to this point. With the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses less than 24 hours away, the independent Vermont senator, now running for the White House as a Democrat, has come all the way from Nowheresville to within a couple of percentage points of long-assumed frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the Hawkeye State. And the polls show him on the verge of a landslide victory in next week's first primary, in New Hampshire.

The result, not surprisingly, is that Sanders is becoming 2016's Icarus, the mythological Greek dude who soared high with his wax-sealed wings -- until he got a little too close to the sun. The centrist, Wall Street-funded Democratic Party establishment -- which patronized Sanders last summer with the friendly equivalent of a pat on the head -- has suddenly turned vicious. No one more so than the wretched editorial board of the supposedly liberal Washington Post, which ran a hatchet job last week entitled "Bernie Sanders's fiction-filled campaign" (No, there shouldn't be a second "s" after the apostrophe, but who are we serfs* to correct the Washington Post's grammar?) -- probably to impress its billionaire libertarian owner, Jeff Bezos, who was visiting D.C. that morning and who might pay higher taxes under democratic socialism.

What's truly bizarre is that Sanders' Democratic critics like these editorial writers or the Clinton campaign are attacking the Vermont senator for backing things -- a single-payer healthcare system, or breaking up big banks -- that they themselves have backed in the past. But now that Sanders has a fighting chance to acquire real power to push for these things, the Establishment is in full panic mode. It almost makes you think the Left has been "played" by the Democratic hierarchy and the so-called liberal media all these years. (Spoiler alert: They have.)

About this blog
Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, blogs about his obsessions, including national and local politics and world affairs, the media, pop music, the Philadelphia Phillies, soccer and other sports, not necessarily in that order.

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