Category Archives: Politics

Hocus Pocus Messes With Our Focus

McDonalds-arch

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – There are several books I could sit down and write tomorrow: “Memoirs of a Street Hockey Legend,” “The World’s Greatest Air Guitarist” and “I Was Once a Heartthrob (In Fifth Grade).”

Another would be “Adventures in Fast Food.”

Yeah, I could fill a great portion of it up just with what I ordered going through the drive-thru windows and what I actually found in my bag, and my cup, when I got home.

Just the other day, some sort of road block because of a fire or car accident sent me so close to an unnamed place that I could smell the burritos.

On the ride home, I went for the cup holder in the center console and found it practically empty. There was lemonade, but not in the cup. A hole in the bottom of it had the lemonade bursting through the levees of the center console like it was Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

While I deployed hand towels as my National Guard, soaking up the damage, I immediately called the night crew and demanded to speak to the manager. He told me what they all do (Page 1 of their playbook). He said come back and he’ll make it up to me (albeit up to $10).

I went back two days later – around lunch time – and had to wait an inordinate amount of time just to get my free heartburn on.

And that was a good outcome, relatively speaking.

There have been numerous times where Manager X tells me to come back at a future time to have it “made it up to me,” and I return to find there is no Manager X anymore. His/her replacement, Manager Y, will reluctantly instruct Assistant Manager Z to take care of it.

It is what it is.

And it isn’t much.

The managers come and go, but the fast food joints remain.

Kind of like … leaders of terrorist groups.

They get hunted and killed – and the mainstream media swoons – and the threat is no less than it was the day before.

Sometimes, it’s worse.

Take, for example, this mockery of a sham that we woke up to a week ago today.

I checked my phone to see if Sofia’s softball tournament was called due to rain.

As suspected, it was.

I also caught a pre-dawn glimpse of the headlines and saw that your president (not mine), saying he would have a “big announcement” at 9 a.m.

Knowing a resignation — in the midst of an ongoing mountain of scandal — would be too much to hope for, I went back to bed only imaging who was going to be thrown under the bus after sunrise.

The “big announcement” came straight from an old bag of tricks made popular by an equally ineffective Republican president, George W. Bush.

The so-called big announcement was that some ISIS leader – after the ISIS hornet’s nest has poked back to life by a recent spate of flawed foreign policy in the first place – was killed overnight.

I’m not even going to bother to Google the dude’s name for a cut and paste here.

He’s ISIS leader X, only to be replaced by ISIS leader Y.

Towel Head

They come and go, often killed by our special operations forces — or often their own from the inside (like a coup from Assistant Manager Z).

And the terrorism – like the fast-food heartburn – remains.

I vowed not to bring myself to watch the 9 a.m. “I’m The Greatest” speech that pales in comparison to those of Ali.

The dreaded mainstream media already figured it out (we all knew an overnight mass shooting at Texas A&M, or California wildfires, would not spur him to the podium at 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning).

But I did check it around 9:01 last Sunday and stopped watching by 9:02.

I’d seen enough gloating.

Ironically, when my president (not yours), Barack Obama, pulled the trigger on an operation to kill Osama bin Laden, he was accused for “doing a touchdown dance.”

Knowing the lack of attention span for your president (not mine), I sounded an all-clear at 10 a.m. and went back to the news networks for analysis.

Instead, I saw your vice president (not mine), among others, being interviewed.

“Both America, and the world, are safer today” became the mantra.

No, America and the world are not safer today.

Someone else, whose name we can’t pronounce – and whose name we need not even commit to memory – will rise up in his place, just like managers in fast food joints, and they are only going to be more dangerous.

This column appeared in The Times Herald on Nov. 3, 2019

Bullying Knows No Bounds

Fuckface

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Let’s Move!

Remember that one?

Don’t strain your brains, people. It didn’t happen in the last 12 ½ seconds. Allow me to refresh your memories (and no, I’m talking about the classic song by The Cars).

That was the moniker of the initiative taken by former First Lady Michelle Obama to, basically, get kids to eat better and exercise more. Although she was slated to become a civilian after her husband’s two terms in office, the end goal of “Let’s Move!” was to reduce childhood obesity to 5 percent by 2030.

It was benign, and universal, enough.

No matter your creed, let alone political leaning, it seemed like something everybody could get behind.

Even those who immediately “wanted their country back” a split second after her husband was elected.

The wimpy Democrats rarely, if ever, criticized Laura Bush’s reading initiative (and it’s not like there weren’t chances, given her husband was not exactly coming across as the second coming of Socrates).

Yet, a core of Republicans, that same bitter-to-the-core group that helped elect your president (not mine), wouldn’t let the “Let’s Move!” thing go.

That brings us to the current First Lady, the one we all know by her first name of Melania.

A former “model,” and an immigrant, is somehow beloved by the same core group who stresses family values and hate on immigrants.

This is the same core group that ripped Mrs. Obama for wearing sleeveless dresses and consider Melania “classy” by comparison.

When Melania said her initiative as First Lady was anti-bullying, particularly on the Internet, the irony was not lost on most of us with functioning brain cells.

Nonetheless, it was a righteous cause – even it was not an original idea – so we wimpy liberals continued to leave it alone.

Well, after her husband’s constant online bullying went a step too far recently, as he mocked and taunted Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg on the heels of her stirring speed to world leaders at the United Nations, this liberal with a heart more hardened than bleeding is not going to let it ride.

The rest of you can put on your Earth shoes and fantasize about some impeachment that Pres. Teflon will somehow wiggle out of. Good luck with that one.

I’ll focus on the continued, and unchecked, bullying that flies so much in the face of his wife’s campaign.

Thunberg’s impassioned plea on the issue she knows inside-out and upside-down concluded with the following: “You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”

Your president (not mine), who pretends to deny climate change in deference to industrial polluters – just like he turns a blind eye to gun violence in deference to the NRA – could have taken the high road.

There were 1,001 different ways he could have done so while not agreeing with Thunberg.

But that’s not how bullies roll.

Instead, he took to Twitter: “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”

While not as below the belt as he can go, the sarcastic mockery while trolling a teen is, well, a bit disturbing.

Even by his non-standards.

When leaders behave like this, others follow.

Thunberg was mocked on the state-sponsored network, Fox, when a guest commentator, a putz named Michael Knowles, called her “mentally ill” in a clear reference to her having Asberger’s syndrome (highest level on the autism scale).

Knowles continued his assault, saying, “She is mentally ill. She has autism. She has obsessive-compulsive disorder. She has selective mutism. She had depression.”

While Fox shamed him into an apology, he continued ripping her on whatever smear site he writes for. Whatever he wrote there, in his own little bottomless pit, isn’t worth repeating.

Other pundits, while not going that far, have said that Thunberg is a pawn for mysterious forces on the far left.

What’s really going on here? No one can counter the scientific evidence, and the passion Thunberg brings in explaining the urgency of climate change, so she gets mocked and bullied instead.

This is what it has come down to when leaders, like your president (not mine), refuse lead.

It would seem our First Lady needs to go back to the drawing board with her stated agenda, and it starts on the home front. Meanwhile, with the “house on fire,” as Thunberg accurately states, the next move is clear.

Let’s Move!

This Column appeared in The Times Herald on Sept. 29, 2019.

Eighteen Years Gone: Here We Are

Sepy 11

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — I always resented what seemed like immediate parlor games of everyone sharing – usually on social threads – their boring yarns about how they were in the middle of this, that or the other thing when they heard about what was the worst attack on American soil.

Doing so 2-3 years after Sept. 11, 2001 — especially when the act led to a disingenuous rationale for a war in Iraq that quickly revealed itself as coming from Page 1 of the Vietnam playbook made these personal remembrances seem trivial.

I had what I thought was a more pertinent question: Where are you now?

But some time has since elapsed, and maybe it’s time to flip the script.

This past week, we commemorated 18 years since 9/11.

And Sofia is old enough – and intrigued by events that occurred more than five minutes ago – to share our own experiences, just like my father did with me about the JFK assassination (Oswald didn’t act alone, if at all, but that’s another column for another day) and the Japanese army (they acted alone) bombing Pearl Harbor.

I don’t know what makes me the final arbiter of when it is time to suddenly change lanes on the discussion. I just felt like it was too soon before and not so much now.

Where was I that day? I was just getting out of the shower in the Center City apartment I shared with my future wife (then fiancé). She worked in Wilmington at the time, and called with the news of a plane striking one of the twin towers. I had the TV on, but was pre-conditioned not to get too involved with the trivialities of Good Morning America, when it was clear something else was going on.

First reaction? It was terrorism, clearly, but it could be passed off as some sort of accident from air traffic control to avoid public panic (just like blaming the JFK assassination on a lone nut). But, after the second plane hit, which I watched as it happened, it was clear was going on. The whole nation could be under attack.

As the crime-beat reporter for The Times Herald, I drove into work that day while many others were scrambling to make it home from their jobs.

For all I knew, the nation could have been under total assault and this was only the start of it. But, like many Americans, I defined myself by my job back in those pre-Sofia years.

I was told by the editor at the time that I was a free agent, meaning stops at police stations to comb through blotter were out. The rest of it is a blur. I believe I had four or five bylines in the Sept. 12 edition, although I only recall two – from a bomb scare called into the Plymouth Township Community Center and from talking to congregants who came to pray at one of the historically black churches in Norristown.

I remember the sense of unity between a lot of scared people of all walks of life. While I was not a fan of the president who I thought stole the election, I felt he then had the nation in the palm of his hand.

Who knew how much he would blow it?

Eighteen years later, we are more divided than ever.

A new psychology emerged – a sort of acceptable narcissism — wherein we were inundated with a spate of reality television.

And the ultimate sociopath, who seemed to find a resting spot on reality TV after failing as a mogul, was elected as president.

The real patriotism we all felt in the aftermath of Sept. 11 has been subverted and perverted into a game of who is more patriotic than who, based on superficialities.

Mass shootings are now so commonplace that we aren’t even phased by them anymore.

Children drink water with lead in it, and we shrug it off.

Eighteen years later, that’s where we are.

Maybe that’s why it suddenly seems better to remember where we were, and get back to that place of temporary unity amid fear and chaos.

This column ran in The Times Herald on Sept.  15, 2019.

Let It Be (And Other Thoughts)

No Wood

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — It’s been a long time, perhaps too long.

Let’s press reset with another installment of “What Is And What Should Never Be” (named in honor of the Led Zeppelin Song).

If you don’t recall how it works, it won’t take long to catch on.

And we’re off:

What Is: We just celebrated the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, providing a chance to relive all the music and magic that took place (without getting caught in the rain and mud, let alone having to sleep outside). One of the most amazing aspects about the festival – beyond featuring a lineup of classic acts (The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, etc.) that can only be duplicated by those who turned down invites (The Doors, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel) – is that it was as peaceful as advertised. There were two deaths – one from an insulin injection gone wrong and one when an attendee sleeping in a nearby field was run over by a tractor – and two births.

And What Should Never Be: Attempts to mark the anniversary with a reboot. A 50th anniversary try failed miserably, but at least the plug was pulled to avoid the type of chaos that occurred at the 25th anniversary attempt (although the Philly-area band Huffamoose, featuring some real talented guys I’ve worked with, played the first day – before it went haywire on the second). That should serve notice to anyone wanting to make a 55th, 60th, 75th or 100th. It was a once in a lifetime event. It was a historical event. History naturally repeats itself anyway – often tragically – so we need not spur it along because we can’t think outside the box. In my mind, there was another Woodstock. It was Live Aid in 1985. I was there, at old JFK Stadium. It was my Woodstock. I’m good, thanks.

Iowa

What Is: In the landscape of our country still struggling to reach its potential greatness, consider Iowa as Exhibit A.

And What Should Never Be: Iowa wielding the political power that it currently does in the flawed political system that ultimately leaves voters from the other 49 states – and the District of Columbia, which somehow isn’t its own state – holding their noses in voting booths and feeling like they are voting for the lesser of two evils. Consider Steve King, the Iowa Congressman, who has uttered so many hateful and absurd pronouncements that they are not worth repeating. Do we really want a state whose voters elected this sad individual to disproportionately control to fate of America the way it does?

colin_kaepernick_jan_rtr_img

What Is: As soon as Eagles backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld was lost for 6-8 weeks, which equates to a few weeks of the regular season, the chirping began for the Eagles to sign exiled Colin Kaepernick began. It only increased when the No. 3 quarterback, Cody Kessler, went down for the count with a concussion and the Eagles coaxed 40-year-old Josh McCown out of a short-lived retirement.

And What Should Never Be: Sorry. Not the case. This was a football move, period. To paraphrase “The Godfather” (greatest movie of all time), this is business and not personal. A commitment to Kaepernick would have been complicated. Other teams – most notably, Seattle in 2017 – have kicked those tires. His reported contract demands were unrealistic (immediate chance to start, at starter’s pay). In a league with a fixed salary cap, and considering the pending media circus, the choice against becomes more vivid. I have my own personal feelings on Kaepernick, and where he was and is coming from, but it wouldn’t be fair to put them out there with any proof. Let’s just say, as both an Eagles’ fan and a bleeding heart liberal (i.e. snowflake) who supported his right to protest under the First Amendment, I’m fine with how it went down. If Sudfeld were out for the season, different conversation. He’s not, so drop it.

Bibi

What Is: Israel banned two U.S. Congresswomen, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, from visiting the West Bank, sparking such outrage on the left that Bernie Sanders – my Bernie Sanders, whose family fled the same Nazi persecution that help lead to the formation of Israel – called for an end to U.S. aid there.

 

And What Should Never Be: Hopping, skipping and jumping to the facts here. While it was wrong to not let elected officials visit, it’s also wrong to sweep with one broad brush about Israel. These are the actions of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (a graduate of Cheltenham High School right here in Montgomery County). Known as “Bibi,” he was elected by a narrow margin, with his Likud party eking out the more moderate Blue And White party of Benny Gantz. Sound familiar? It should. They are almost as polarized there about their leader, also working on his third marriage while operating under corruption charges, as we are with ours here. Just like many of us don’t want to be judged by the actions of your president (not mine) many there feel the same about their prime minister. When detractors quickly seek to punish “all Israelis,” I can’t help but think some other bells are going off in their heads.

Looop

What Is: John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado, dropped out of a crowded Democratic presidential race that most average citizens didn’t even know he was in.

And What Should Never Be: I like to make fun of John Hickenlooper because, well, his name is John Hickenlooper. Worse yet, he actually looks like someone whose name is John Hickenlooper. However, to his credit, he did the right thing here. Not only is the herd thinned by one, but he is now going to run for a senate seat currently occupied by a vulnerable Republican. All he needs is a nickname. Go get ‘em, “Loop.”

This column appeared in Time Times Herald on Aug. 25

No Retreat, No Surrender

GunArt2

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – So now your president (not mine) is willing to do something about gun control?

He’ll knock on Mitch McConnell’s turtle shell, see if he pokes that obtuse face out, and will let us know.

Then, maybe if they get a permission slip from the NRA, they’ll consider some background check language to file under “Red Flag” legislation.

While it’s a start, and you can never run down a start, I think we all know it’s not going to be sufficient.

And I think we all know that the next mass shooting after these laws go into effect will meet with a lot of “I told you so” remarks and smirks from the right.

The reality is that so much more would need to happen before the passage of time – five years, 10 years, etc. – shows a marked decrease in gun violence (mass shootings, street shootings, accidental shootings and suicides).

There are many facets to gun violence. It’s not a single-cause crisis, and there is no one magic-wand approach to making it vanish.

It’s a syndrome, with multiple causes.

And solutions.

We would be spraying Raid everywhere, except the hornet’s nest, without addressing the type of assault weapons used in Parkland, Vegas, Orlando, El Paso, Sandy Hook and so many other tragedies.

There was once a ban on these tools of destruction, and gun massacres (six or more deaths) dropped 43 percent. After it lapsed in 2004, under the George W. Bush administration, there has been a staggering 183 percent increase.

They like to say that the key to prevention is to turn every outpost in the country – from elementary schools to beauty schools, from supermarkets to dollar stores, from Little League fields to houses of worship – into armed fortresses.

Not that simple.

“I didn’t do anything because I thought police would think I was the shooter,” said an armed witness to the El Paso massacre.

Still, despite rather hollow willingness and passing-the-buck drills, we need to start someplace.

Those who are quick wrap body armor around the sugar daddy that is the gun lobby don’t want to go there, but any willingness to go somewhere that leads us out of nowhere is promising.

At least we are seemingly working past the “too soon to talk about (gun control)” and hollow “thoughts and prayers” mumbo jumbo.

Most of the country, as has been the case for a while, remains in favor of background checks. Democrats more than Republicans, but not by as much of a margin as you would think.

And there was this, in the wake of the recent shootings, from your president (not mine).

“Mental illness and hatred pulled the trigger. Not the gun.”

Actually, hatred did pull the trigger of the El Paso shooter, who was bent on shooting Mexicans after leaving behind a manifesto that was dipped in the DNA of the rhetoric of your president (not mine).

Your president (not mine) was not a welcomed guest in El Paso, and it showed when all eight hospitalized victims refused to meet with him.

He won’t own that, but he seems willing to move – after which he will likely shove it in the face of his 2020 presidential opponent.

It might be worth the tradeoff.

What are being called “Red Flag” laws could just be a trap serving as sort of a political flypaper. It should, by no means, lead to waving the white flag on legislation – the type that would have to come after a powerful left hook in 2020 – really needed for substantive change.

Taking ancillary causes (mental health, video games, Hollywood, etc.) and making them the core issue could be as dangerous, long-term, as doing nothing.

There are people called epidemiologists who are experts in studying, well, the science of epidemics in all forms based on statistics.

And that’s where we have been for far too long with gun violence.

How do you explain, for example, that women also have mental illness but 98 percent of those pulling the trigger in gun violence are men?

There are varied definitions of who is or isn’t mentally ill, although it is generally accepted that as much as five percent of the population have a condition that would require a psychiatrist (as opposed to a psychologist, counselor or member of the clergy).

Research shows that only 43 percent get help, and it is also noteworthy than an estimated 60 percent of American counties do not even have a psychiatrist.

The epidemiologists point out that people with mental conditions are, in fact, 3.6 percent more likely to exhibit some sort of violent behavior but are 23 times more likely to be victims of violence.

The FBI did a study in 2018, and it pointed more toward factors beyond being insane.

This is more about those who go temporarily insane, as the study pointed to financial stress and disputes/bullying at school and/or the workplace with co-workers. Substance abuse was also cited.

What happens when someone is infuriated?

They might go home and punch a wall. They might get their drink on at the local tavern. They might go the gym and pump a battleship’s worth of iron.

But, in the land of the gun, there are other realities.

Even though our mental health issues are not different than that seen in other countries, the difference is access to guns.

We have 400 million civilian-owned firearms, which breaks down to 120.5 per 100 residents (i.e. more than one per person).

That puts us first, with lovely Yemen (just under 53 percent per 100) a distant second.

This is what we call a real red flag.

This column first appeared in The Times Herald on Aug. 18, 2019.

Needed: Two Ingredients

DC State

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Bob Dylan, writer of so many amazing overt and covert political/protest songs, was asked to name what he believed to be his most powerful statement.

The answer was not “Masters of War” or “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.”

Instead, he was rather nebulous, leaving it blowing in the wind, stating that his most political songs may be his love songs.

He then added that everything is political.

I took that to heart, holding it near and dear as one of my personal 10 commandments.

So whenever the rightful issue of statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., is brought up, which it has been a lot lately, all the logical reasons why — such as that pesky little “taxation without representation” thing (some D.C. residents even have it on their license plates as a form of protest) — it gets real political real fast.

Let’s just say it has Republicans seeing red, as it is an idea of it being tangled up in blue.

A whole lot of it.

Two new states would mean four new senators, with the high probability of them being all Democrats, thus tipping the scales of social justice in what many of us believe is the right direction.

It would also mean more congressional districts, mostly blue, and the slow build toward the end of gerrymandering that has put a stranglehold on swing states like Pennsylvania and Florida.

That seems like a dirty trick to tip the senate, and it will be sold to right-wingers and centrists as such, but actually it is the right thing to do.

And — as in love and war — all is fair in politics.

If the need were to arise, citizens from both territories could not avoid serving in the military (unless they have bone spurs). Those from Washington, D.C., pay the same taxes as we do, and Puerto Rico’s residents pay some taxes depending on if they are a federal employee or a business owner.

The voting scenario, as currently constructed, heavily favors the Republican party and keeps the Senate within a swingable margin every election.

That would fine if only it represented the actual national population, but situations where states like Montana and South Dakota have the same number of senators as California and New York is, as Mr. Spock would say with one eyebrow raised, highly illogical.

How much traction, for example, would even a symbolic common sense gun control law have if smaller and more rural states didn’t have equal votes on issue favored by the majority of Americans?

statehood-poll

Residents of D.C. have voted overwhelmingly for statehood, and why wouldn’t they? It would provide residents with full representation in Congress, as opposed to what they have now — paper tigers called congressional delegates (as it stands now, Congress can run interference in D.C.’s local laws that don’t typically fall under congressional jurisdiction for other states).

It is a completely unfair scenario in which its residents pay federal taxes but have a muted voice in the legislative body that sets those tax rates. They point to numerous situations where local laws for marijuana policy, gun control and combating HIV/AIDS were interfered with by Congress.

The arguments against it — having to change textbooks (in an era of computer learning, it’s barely an issue), it’s not what the founding fathers wanted (yawn) — pale in comparison.

In terms of Puerto Rico, the gesture would be the least we could do after the abhorrent response there was in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017.

It immediately raised questions as to why a territory without true political clout and power would get second-class treatment after a natural disaster, and it put the island’s history as a territory under the microscope.

Unlike D.C. residents, those in Puerto Rico — under U.S. colonial rule since 1898 — are not even able to vote for president.

Residents call it “The Island,” but it is nothing but a colony under the rule of a nation that turned its colonies into states when it broke free from British rule after the Revolutionary War.

With approximately 3.2 million new citizens in Puerto Rico, and close to 700,00 in D.C., we would suddenly see Republicans thinking twice about the arcane and absurd electoral college that left us with two of the poorest excuses for presidents in the modern history.

Puerto Rico would be the 29th most populated state, with four to five representatives in Congress and six or seven electoral votes. D.C., which currently has three electoral votes, would be 50th, ahead of Wyoming and Vermont (and barely behind Alaska and North Dakota).

Putting it in more local terms, to show the disparity, just Philadelphia alone would be the 40th most populated state and have two senators voting for cheese steaks as the national food.

Adding Puerto Rico and D.C. as states would not be some crazy socialist idea – as Mitch McConnell told some non-journalist on Fox News – as we all know, he would be the first in line if the shell were on the other tortoise.

The reality is that this not some revolutionary idea. Every 50-60 years, U.S. territories were accepted into the union as states.

I started elementary school in 1970 – the year “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was on the radio and “Airport” was in drive-in movie theatres – and can remember American flags that still had 48 stars on them (Alaska and Hawaii became the 49th and 50th states in 1959, 60 years ago).

So, it’s not really time to just think about it.

It’s time to do it.

This column ran in The Times Herald on July 22, 2019.

Back To The Future

warrensanders

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — You know what I miss most from my younger days?

Going to this place they called a newsstand to purchase something I could hold in my hands. It was usually a sports magazine and the purpose was to check out the latest rankings in boxing, college sports, etc.

In the spirit of the times of yore, let’s review my rankings, post-debate, in the Democratic presidential field (all listed, and even those who missed the cut, are 110 percent better than what we have now):

1) Bernie Sanders (BernieSanders.com): I’m including that website – as I will for all – because my chosen candidate since last presidential election is mistakenly depicted as someone who wants to “give everything away for free” without a plan to pay for it. There is a plan. You’ll love it, trust me.

2) Elizabeth Warren (ElizabethWarren.com): Not much substantive difference between her and Bernie, and I’d vote for her in a heartbeat if it came to it.

3) Tulsi Gabbard (Tulsi2020.com): This is where there is a big gap between the top two and next group, where I saw a lot of people who would make quality cabinet members for Pres. Sanders or Warren. Among them was this 38-year-old Iraq War vet. Secretary of State Gabbard? I like it.

4) Kamala Harris (KamalaHarris.org): In real time, her verbal assault on front-runner Joe Biden seemed more calculated than off the cuff. Still, while I’d like to see her serve more time in the senate, I would pay good money for ringside seats to see this 54-year-old former prosecutor dismantle your president (not mine) in a debate. Attorney General Harris? I like it.

5) Eric Swalwell (EricSwallwell.com): A 38-year-old with a boyish smirk that reminds me of the kid no one really likes but who always wins the election for student council anyway. Still, he ranks this high because of he is the strongest of all the candidates on gun control, my long-standing No. 1 issue.

6) Cory Booker (CoryBooker.com): When Booker spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 2016, I said to myself, “Self, this is a future president right here.” I still see it. I’m just not sure about 2020.

7) Jay Inslee (JayInslee.com): The Washington governor is a single-issue candidate. That single issue, though, involves trying to save us from ourselves on climate change. Some of the candidates want to save the country, Inslee wants to save the world. Cabinet seat? Please?

8) Julián Castro (JulianForTheFuture.com): Before the debate, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary was just one of those guys in the red shirts on U.SS. Enterprise who met a tragic fate early in Star Trek episodes. But he came prepared and vaulted himself into a position to sway what will be the vital Hispanic vote. Vice President Castro? Who knows?

9) Andrew Yang (Yang2020.com): Want an extra $12K per year? Yang is your guy. Like Sanders, there is method behind what sounds like madness and worth investigating. Since he has no real opinion on anything else, he’s not a viable president candidate, though.

10) Marianne Williamson (Marianne2020.com): Let’s be clear. I have as much chance of being elected president as she does, and she’d be the first one to tell you so. That was liberating enough for her to really say what needed to be said a few times. Before a rather bizarre Yoko Ono moment toward the debate’s end made this Oprah disciple the butt of day-after jokes, I was semi-impressed.

11) Joe Biden (JoeBiden.com): The presumptive nominee ranked behind Marianne Williamson? Yeah, right now, that’s the way it is. Consider it a wake-up call, my man. Nobody wants a guy named Joe to be ordinary.

12) Beto O’Rourke (BetORourke.com): The flavor of the month has lost its taste, and the well-meaning congressman whose claim to fame is a moral victory in a Senate bid against Ted Cruz didn’t seem to have much focus on the debate stage.

13) Tim Ryan (TimRyanForAmerica.com): In the debate, he sounded a lone resonating note that ignored applause-line topics that won’t amount to a hill of baked beans in the general election (LBGTQ rights, legalizing marijuana, prison reform, etc.). That note – winning back key swing industrial states like his own (Ohio) and ours (Pennsylvania).

14) Amy Klobuchar (Amy-Klobuchar.com): This well-meaning Minnesota senator is failing to distinguish herself.

 

15) Steve Bullock (SteveBullock.com): He wasn’t in the first round of debates, but that could add to his mystique as the new sheriff in town (he has the ideal name for it for a hero in a Western).

16) Pete Buttigieg (PeteForAmerica.com): How dare I, right? Well, I just dared. He brings a lot of good qualities to the table, but let’s turn those qualities into more experience on the national level and we can talk down the line.

17) Kirsten Gillibrand (2020.KirstenGillibrand.com): First of all, is that domain name even legal? Secondly, she was quite the annoying Ms. Budinsky for a while on the debate stage, but then something happened on the road to Rudeville. She made sense on a variety of issues.

18) Wayne Messam (WayneForAmerica.com): Interesting to note that Messam was just elected to his third term as mayor of Miramar, Fla., which has a larger population than Buttigieg’s South Bend, Ind.

19) Joe Sestak (JoeSestak.com): Once upon a time — in a galaxy far, far away — I sat in on an editorial conference with Sestak during one of his failed bids for the senate. A former three-star Navy admiral, he called me “sir” – twice. That earns him a spot on this list.

20) John Hickenlooper (Hickenlooper.com): Pres. Hickenlooper? Try saying that out loud. You can’t? Neither can I. It’s a shame, because he is tough on gun control (see website).

Missing the Cut: John Delaney (JohnKDelaney.com); Bill de Blasio (BilldeBlasio.com); Seth Moulton (SethMoulton.com); Michael Bennet (MichaelBennet.com).

This Column ran in The Times Herald on July 7.