Nick Paleologos: Filibuster the Filibuster

Last week, the US Senate voted 54-46 to strengthen gun safety laws in America. It failed.

That’s right. 54%–a solid majority of the US Senate–voted in favor of universal background checks, and the bill still lost. Because the filibuster rule requires a 60% vote for anything to pass.

Which made me think about Elizabeth Warren.

You will recall that Ms. Warren carried her reform message together with everybody’s highest hopes into the halls of congress. Shortly after her election–I received an email from her. This is what she said:

“You know what I want to do. You know what I care about. But here’s the honest truth: Any senator can make a phone call to register an objection to a bill, then business comes to a screeching halt. On the first day of the new session in January, the Senate will have a unique opportunity to change the filibuster rule with a simple majority vote. I’ve joined Senator Jeff Merkle and four other senators to fight for this reform on day one. No more bringing the work of this country to a dead stop.”

Nick paleologosThe only problem is that on the first day of the session she fought for nothing of the sort.

Neither did Jeff Merkle, nor any other senator—Democrat or Republican. And by fight, I mean rise to their feet on the floor of the Senate and use the filibuster to change the filibuster. Bring that shameful institution to a screeching halt on behalf of majority rule.

Stop everything. Force a national conversation on why—in the “world’s greatest deliberative body”–a simple majority isn’t enough.

Why–after 20 kids got their heads blown off—doesn’t 54% of Senators voting in favor of gun safety legislation advance that bill to the next step? I’d like Ms. Warren, and Mr. Reid, and the Democratic majority in the United States Senate to explain to the parents of those twenty dead six year olds, why protecting the filibuster is so much more important than protecting our children?

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Nick Paleologos: Filibuster the Filibuster

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Running for Office

The other day I was interviewed about who I thought run in the 2015 Governor’s race. Here is an answer I fleshed out that didn’t get quoted but I re-read it and liked.

“As fun as it is to speculate about who will run for governor in 2015 and who will be the strongest candidates, it is more art than science and more about personal timing than politcal timing. At bottom, running for governor is an irrational decision. One morning you wake up and decide to run because you can’t not run. It is a leap of faith. One of the boldest leaps of faith a mortal can ever take who is also politically inclined. And especially in Kentucky. Where it is two parts political and one part horse race.

jyb_musingsAnd the gambling metaphor is fitting. Running for governor is like walking up to a casino craps table and grabbing the dice. But before you throw the die, striping off all your clothes and crawling onto the table. And betting everything on yourself –physical, mental and emotional–on a single roll. Not because it is a wise or prudent thing to do. And not because you have nothing to lose or something to gain. It is deeper than that. There is something in the gubernatorial candidate’s DNA code that makes him or her feel they are betraying their genetic make-up if they don’t run. They run not because they worry of what others will say in their presence if they don’t run —but rather worry what they will whisper to themselves when no one else is around.

It is, in these candidate types, as if they were born with invisible wings. And like any animal blessed with wings, there will come a day when it is time to try to fly.
And that day, so to speak, is more about instinct and impulse that intellect and preparation. The day a gubernatorial candidate files to run for office is, in a very real sense, the day that particular political animal believes is the day he or she is finally ready to fly.

And they jump.”

Join No Labels’ Problem Solvers in a Google+ Hangout

No Labels Problem Solvers PinFor what may be the first time ever, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are sitting down together for a video town hall with No Labels.

I’m honored to moderate a conversation with Reps. Ami Bera, David Cicilline, Rodney Davis and Adam Kinzinger in a Google+ Hangout as they discuss how they’re working together in the No Labels Problem Solvers group. This video discussion is the only place where you can hear the facts on what is happening in Washington, not just the party talking points.

Will you join us on Wednesday at 5 p.m., eastern time, to watch the Problem Solvers talk No Labels?

Click here to RSVP for the exclusive, live event.

These lawmakers are just four of the 61 Problem Solvers in Congress — but they can give you an inside look at what goes on in these meetings. This has never happened before — you won’t want to miss it. And they’d love to hear from you.

Click here to hang out with four members of Congress (and me) on Wednesday, April 24, at 5 p.m., eastern time and ask your question in advance.

See you Wednesday!


P.S. Click here to forward this exclusive invite to three friends and ask them to join you on Wednesday afternoon.

Artur Davis: Obama the Polarizer

Give the New Republic’s Adam Winkler credit for laying some of the blame for the collapse of background checks on gun sales not just on NRA sophistry but on a poorly executed, badly timed, overly polarizing campaign by the Obama Administration. As Winkler points out, the over-reach of going after an assault weapon ban boomeranged badly, serving only to galvanize opposition and define even incremental regulations as a wedge to confiscate guns. And the virtues of a go-for-broke strategy, whatever they were, never compensated for the fact that no assault weapons ban had even a remote chance of passing the House.

I would add an additional point that goes much deeper than tactics and the debate over guns. To a degree that could not have been anticipated, and seems doubly odd for a reelected president, Barack Obama smothers his own initiatives.  He has the capacity to lend eloquence to his own followers’ views, but no demonstrated ability to organize them behind any cause other than putting him in office. He moves literally no sector of the electorate that didn’t vote for him. His intervention in a legislative fight seems good primarily for preserving gridlock. Obama wins elections but through pathways that close quickly and elevate few specific policy aims: in 2008, a backlash against George Bush’s unpopularity and an airy promise of a post-racial society, and in 2012, a relentlessly negative siege against Mitt Romney. And the country that has elected Obama twice is still split to the core, more so today than when he was a senator signing book contracts. And the deepest splits are more around the country’s perception of Obama than around any singular issue.

davis_artur-11None of this means, of course, that there are not a variety of other elements that contribute to the hyper-polarization of the past four years, from the internet’s inevitable pipeline for misinformation, to the continued weight of interest groups like the NRA, to a cable culture that dismisses any efforts by politicians to craft a middle ground as expediency. But it would take an element of willful denial to ignore the fact that Obama occupies the single most divisive space in American politics since Nixon, and that one of the costs is a presidency that is frustratingly weak at persuasion.

It is not too early to wonder if Obama a generation from now looks weirdly like, of all people, Margaret Thatcher: a highly effective campaigner whose victories spun off the unintended consequence of an entrenched cultural opposition, and whose “conviction politics” seem like a relic. Twenty plus years after Thatcherism formally ended, it has been supplanted by a run of center-leaning British prime ministers with a penchant for downplaying sharp ideological rifts. It is not hard to imagine that Obama’s successors won’t be similarly preoccupied with navigating away from the intense divisions of the Obama era.

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Artur Davis: Obama the Polarizer

Nancy Slotnick: When You Least Expect It

It happens when you least expect it.  That’s what they say anyway.  But I was always expecting it.  And it still happened for me.  It didn’t happen how I expected it.  I met my husband on the street.  When I was single, I had opened a dating Café with the idea in mind that necessity is the mother of invention.  I had imagined that the right guy would just walk through the doors one day. But it wasn’t happening.  So I set out to look outside my Café and take matters into my own hands.  I met my husband within 2 weeks of that.  (you can read the whole story here)

But my story is not typical, I know.  Many people swear by the “least expect it” story.  Here’s one example from this week’s post on the Matchmaker Café fan page:

@Britta Alexander: It was for me! I finally gave up on finding the one, moved into a loft in Brooklyn, practiced my violin day and night, and my future husband was listening to me through the walls. Turns out he was the roommate on the other half of the shared loft. So there’s a strategy: just move around and live with complete strangers!

Nancy SlotnickSo I tried to analyze the common denominator of these seemingly contradictory philosophies and here’s what I conclude.  It depends how you expect it.  If you have too much negative attention on it (i.e. why isn’t happening?!?  I have such bad luck with dating!! L) then it can’t happen.  If you feel entitled to meeting someone but are not doing the work on yourself, it can’t happen.  If you are so busy working that your Cablight is not on, (like I was) then it can’t happen.

On the other hand, if you are open and willing to make yourself vulnerable without putting expectations on how or when, then the universe will work hard to send it to you.  If you become grounded in who you are and move towards the life that you want to have with a partner, it will happen faster.  If you are really ready, you will just walk out your door and the One will be there.  If you read Britta’s story carefully, you can see that she was willing to move somewhere new and live with complete strangers!  That takes courage and confidence.  And by practicing violin she was developing her core sense of herself.  She was not shy about the world hearing her.  And that is very powerful.

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Nancy Slotnick: When You Least Expect It

John Y. Brown, III: Come Run with Me

Today is a good day to run again.

When I run I will always have this image (see link) fixed in my mind.

And no cowardly destructive act will ever alter my faith in this world or dampen my spirit to live fully in it.


Josh Bowen Featured in The New York Times

Josh Bowen, The Recovering Politician‘s resident fitness expert — and The RP‘s personal trainer — was quoted in this Sunday’s New York Times Style section, in an article entitled “Fitness Playgrounds Grow as Machines Go”:

plastic bagJosh Bowen, until recently the quality control director for the seven-state Urban Active chain, referred to the sweeping revisions the company made last year as swapping “Arnold machines” (as in Schwarzenegger) “for AstroTurf.”

Mr. Bowen, who left Urban Active when it was acquired by LA Fitness, said, “Gyms are way out of the times if all they have is machines.”

People spend all day sitting with machines, he said. “When they come into a gym, they don’t want to be sat down at another one doing three sets of 12.”

Click here to read the entire article.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: A Lonely Basketball Goal

A seven foot basketball goal at a neighboring condo from the one we rented in Amelia Island, FL where I played basketball with my kids almost every spring break for nine years.

And probably will never see or play on again

The first few spring breaks the goal seemed big to my kids. And then about right. And then too small. And then too embarrassing to be seen playing on

For me, today, it seems too big —as I drive away for the last time

Leaving our ball as our gift…to new families

Matt & Erica Chua: Bigger than Imagined — The Pyramids of Giza

In the whole, wide, world I most wanted to visit the Pyramids of Giza.  In fact, it was one of three things I wanted to see on this entire trip, yet it took two years to make it happen. The pyramids are worth the wait.  They stand up to the hype.



During the heat of the desert day exploring the area can be a tiring experience, but as the sun began setting the true beauty was revealed.  At their least impressive, during the heat of the day, the Pyramids are a well-organized arrangement of rocks.  Yes, they are enormous, but they are pretty plain.  As the colors of the sunset start to hit them, the ancient tombs come alive with vibrant yellows and oranges.

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Matt & Erica Chua: Bigger than Imagined — The Pyramids of Giza

Saul Kaplan: If All the World were Gamified

Need to turn around your company? Trying to start a movement? Want to change the world? Easy Peasy! Just turn it in to a game. Everywhere we turn, it seems there are experts claiming that the best path forward is to engage people with elements of competitive play. The business world in particular has gone gaga for gamification.

I thought games were mainly for kids, and the occasional ice-breaker or temporary escape from reality. Why encourage more of them? As adults, aren’t we supposed to set aside childish things and get down to work on the problems of the real world?

Truth be told, I have always loved games. Stratego was a mainstay among my school buddies. We spent hour upon hour lining up red and blue soldiers to protect our flags. My family’s Monopoly  games were epic battles, beginning with the fight over game pieces. (No, I get the Scottish Terrier!) The side deals we struck and the arguments that ensued still liven up family gatherings. In college I became a professional Risk player. Tell me you didn’t learn about the challenges of fighting a multi-front war from playing Risk. Who among us hasn’t attempted to conquer the world by way of Kamchatka?

Saul KaplanGames ruled – till it was time to make my way in the real world where they didn’t. By the time online games exploded onto the scene, I was so immersed in reality that I managed to ignore them. I’ve never created a level-80 character in World of Warcraft, won the staff of life in Spore, mastered an artichoke crop in Farmville, or knocked over any pigs with Angry Birds. But others have – hundreds of millions of them around the world. Already, 5.93 million years of total time has been spent playing World of Warcraft alone.

One response to this is to despair of all that wasted time. Imagine if only a fraction of it had been focused on improving our education, health care, energy, and economic systems. Another response, though, is to say: if you can’t beat them, why not join them?

Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken makes a strong case for leveraging game design and mechanics to work on the big social challenges of our time. McGonigal suggests that the four defining traits of any game – a goal, clear rules, a feedback system, and voluntary participation – can be applied to any challenge. She even says game-playing makes us better people. The book is a passionate articulation of why we should pay attention to what is going on in the world of games.

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Saul Kaplan: If All the World were Gamified

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The RP on The Daily Show