“No Bracket, No Pay” NCAA Hoops Update

Printable NCAA Bracket 2014It was the best week of college hoops since James Naismith emptied out a peach basket.

No let me go further:  It was the greatest week in the history of the world.  Consider:

1. My home team — my favorite squad in all of sports — the University of Kentucky Wildcats — overcame all of its freshman jitters and poor play to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, by upsetting the only 35-0 squad in the history of the game.  I haven’t rooted so hard for an underdog like this since 1992, and we all know what happened then.

  1. 2. My alma mater — Harvard University — which I don’t believe had a basketball program when I attended in the late 1980s, announced itself as a legitimate, gritty basketball school on the 25th anniversary of my graduation by coming thisclose to beating Michigan State, which many of predicted to win the whole thing.

3.  The source of all evil in the world — the Duke Blue Devils — lost to Mercer in the first round.  With all apologies to anyone who went to Mercer, I still don’t know where it is located.

Meanwhile, our popular, No Labels-co-sponsored “No Bracket, No Pay” prediction tournament saw nearly 100 entries.  We have 5 people tied at the top (I’m respectfully tied for 15th place): check out the full standings here.  And don’t forget to vote on the prizes to be awarded to our winners.

So, it will all be a letdown from here.  All we have going on in Kentucky is THE BIGGEST GAME IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE on Friday.  Go Cats!

“No Bracket, No Pay” Awards Revealed

bb33003ebdd250e695_4bm6iixz4Nearly 100 brave souls signed up to compete in the third annual Recovering Politician/No Labels NCAA basketball tournament prediction contest, No Bracket, No Pay.

(The name comes from No Labels’ signature proposal, “No Budget, No Pay,” the simple proposition that if Congress doesn’t perform its constitutional duty to pass a budget, they shouldn’t get paid.  Click here to learn more about No Labels, and here to learn about “No Budget, No Pay”).

Today, we announce the fabulous prizes to be awarded to the winners of this free contest:

1.  The top prize — for the person who earns the most points through being the best predictor of the entire bracket, wins the new No Labels iPhone case.  What does it look like?  Well, take a look at the finalists above and vote on your favorite by clicking here.

2.  Everyone who correctly predicts the NCAA Champion, but doesn’t win the entire contest, will receive a No Labels car magnet!

So good luck to all, and in the interim, help us decide on the best iPhone case.

Last Chance to Sign up for No Labels/Recovering Politician NCAA Contest: “No Bracket, No Pay”!

Printable NCAA Bracket 2014

Click here for a printable 2014 NCAA Bracket

You have only about 15 more hours to sign up for year three of “No Bracket, No Pay” — The Recovering Politician’s contest for college hoops forecasting mastery. Just click here to signup, and fill our your brackets before TONIGHT at Midnight.

Our first two years were spectacular successes — not only did over 150 people compete, but two of my home state teams, the University of Kentucky Wildcats and the University of Louisville Cardinals, won the national championship.  Better yet, “No Budget, No Pay” — the hallmark policy proposal of our co-sponsor, No Labels — passed through Congress and became law.  All because of our hoops competition! (OK, maybe the cause and effect was a little tenuous.)

Stay tuned to read about the fabulous prizes that we will be offering.

Anyway, you are invited to join us in No Bracket, No Pay III.  Simply click here to signup, and fill our your brackets before Wednesday night at Midnight.

Good luck!

Sign Up for “No Bracket, No Pay,” — Compete Against Recovering Pols in NCAA Brackets Forecasting

Printable NCAA Bracket 2014

Click here for a printable 2014 NCAA Bracket

We are back at it for year three of “No Bracket, No Pay” — The Recovering Politician’s contest for college hoops forecasting mastery.

Our first two years were spectacular successes — not only did over 150 people compete, but two of my home state teams, the University of Kentucky Wildcats and the University of Louisville Cardinals, won the national championship.  Better yet, “No Budget, No Pay” — the hallmark policy proposal of our co-sponsor, No Labels — passed through Congress and became law.  All because of our hoops competition! (OK, maybe the cause and effect was a little tenuous.)

Stay tuned to read about the fabulous prizes that we will be offering.

Anyway, you are invited to join us in No Bracket, No Pay III.  Simply click here to signup, and fill our your brackets before Wednesday night at Midnight.

Good luck!

Jonathan Miller: Kentucky’s Attorney General Goes With His Gut and for Same-Sex Marriage

conwayThis afternoon, The Daily Beast ran an edited version of the following piece on its home page.  Here’s the unedited version, with plenty of Kentucky political color.

I used to be Jack Conway.

Well, to be more precise, Kentucky’s incumbent Attorney General and I used to occupy the same crowded political space: two young, big-city, over-educated, well-connected, center-left, aspiring pols, each trying to elbow out the other for the chance to grasp the political brass ring that was the opportunity to be anointed the next great hope for Bluegrass State Democrats.

Our journeys finally came into direct conflict when, in 2007, all of our political mentors withdrew their names from the gubernatorial hat, compelling Jack and I to engage in a hyper-awkward, Elaine Benes-ian dance to explore teaming up as a ticket…which ended, of course, when both of us insisted on leading. I ultimately plunged into the seven-person governor-wannabe scrum from which I never emerged, while Conway found open daylight running and easily winning the state’s top law enforcement position.

In the intervening years, as I have found a permanent seat on the sidelines as a recovering politician, I’ve watched Jack’s career with consistently wistful cognizance that “but for the grace of God go I.”  During his 2010 bid for the U.S. Senate — a race that had our paths been reversed, I undoubtedly would have run…and lost — I saw Jack pilloried in much the same way I had been skewered for my own policy-wonkish, retail-politics-averse approach to campaigning.  And when his ultimate undoing came at his own hands — the ill-advised decision to run the now infamous “Aqua Buddha” ad that challenged Rand Paul’s faith, I could see myself succumbing to the same pressures, within the oxygen- and rationality-deprived political bubble, to employ a desperate, risky strategy in order to stop an “dangerous” opponent with a diametrically-opposite ideological worldview.

When Conway later admitted his mistake — arguing that the ad was “the only time in my political career I’ve gone against my gut,” I recalled my greatest gut-check regret.  In the 2007 race for Governor, I was questioned by a newspaper’s editorial board about how I voted in the 2004 statewide referendum over what I felt was a pernicious constitutional amendment that would not only ban gay marriage, but anything that looked like it, such as civil unions.  Privately, I’d supported marriage equality — strongly — ever since Andrew Sullivan introduced much of the country to the possibility in his historic 1989 essay in The New Republic.  But while I had openly supported anti-discrimination laws, and was especially proud to have been the first gubernatorial candidate ever to pursue, secure and embrace the endorsement of gay rights organizations, marriage equality was a third rail that I was still too timid to touch — the amendment, after all, had passed statewide overwhelmingly just three years earlier, with 74% support.

So I did what I had done my entire political career on the issue:  I lied to the editorial board.  And I didn’t come out of the political closet until I had formally renounced politics a few years later.

Today, my former political doppelgänger faced a similar challenge on this very same issue.  When federal District Judge John Hayburn’s recently ruled that the Commonwealth must recognize lawful same-sex marriages from other states, Conway was confronted with the decision on whether to appeal the decision — on behalf of the voters who had so overwhelmingly voted for the ban a decade ago.

For some of Conway’s Attorney General colleagues in blue states who encountered similar circumstances, this may have not been a difficult decision.  But here, in an inner notch of the Bible Belt, marriage equality is still quite an unpopular position.  A few brave Democrats had stepped out months earlier — including, most prominently, Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson, and State Auditor Adam Edelen – but general election voters, who Conway will likely appeal to in a 2015 gubernatorial run, still oppose the practice by a 55 to 35 percent margin in a recent independent poll. (And today, a GOP candidate who had donated. $20,000 to support the constitutional anti-gay effort in 2004 just announced his entry into the 2015 governor’s race as the standard bearer for social conservatives.)

Worse yet for Conway, his client, the popular Democratic Governor Steve Beshear — who won statewide liberal plaudits for vetoing an Arizona-like anti-gay, “religious freedom” bill in 2013, and national progressive celebration for successfully implementing Obamacare in the state — wanted to pursue the appeal.

So Conway chose the route he had abandoned in his U.S. Senate race:  He went with his gut.  In announcing his decision to refuse to pursue an appeal, the Attorney General stated that ”in the end, this issue is really larger than any single person and it’s about placing people above politics…I can only say that I am doing what I think is right…I had to make a decision that I could be proud of – for me now, and my daughters’ judgment in the future.”

Conway’s decision will not have a significant practical effect: Governor Beshear announced a few minutes after Conway’s press conference that he would hire outside counsel to pursue the appeal.  But for a populace desperately seeking politicians who are authentic, who lead from their heart, even at great political risk, Conway’s choice may instill a small ray of hope that even in this most cynical of times, conviction can sometimes trump politics.

And for this recovering politician, who has forsaken the arena for many of the same reasons that so many Americans hate politics — as well as for the chance, finally, to live a life when I can always be true to my most passionate beliefs — it’s great comfort to see my former political frenemy take the kind of brave, selfless action that I would have loved to put on my political resume.

Please Sign Petition to Thank KY Attorney General Jack Conway

As I wrote today in this The Daily Beast cover piece, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway took a very courageous stance today by refusing to appeal federal District Judge John Heyburn’s decision that requires Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.  Here’s an excerpt:

conwayFor a populace desperately seeking politicians who are authentic—who lead from their heart, even at great political risk—Conway’s choice may instill a small ray of hope that even in this most cynical of times, conviction can sometimes trump politics.

And for this recovering politician, who has forsaken the arena for many of the same reasons that so many Americans hate politics—as well as for the chance, finally, to live a life when I can always be true to my most passionate beliefs—it’s great comfort to see my former political frenemy take the kind of brave, selfless action that I would have loved to put on my leadership resume.

Click here to read the full piece.

Do you, like me, agree with Conway’s decision?

If so, please join me in saying thanks.  Sign the petition below to let Attorney General Jack Conway know that you are with him as he stands for equality and fairness:

Thank You, Attorney General Conway for Supporting Marriage Equality

We the undersigned extend our gratitude to Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway for announcing today that he will not appeal federal District Court Judge John Heyburn's decision that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. We appreciate Conway's strong stance on behalf of equality and fairness, two fundamental American values.

[signature]

445 signatures

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445Paul JosephMar 21, 2014
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442david lohrcrestwood, KentuckyMar 19, 2014
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440Donna FosterLexinton, KyMar 18, 2014
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438Wendy MeierdirkOregon, WIMar 13, 2014
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426Debbie TuckerTampa, FloridaMar 08, 2014
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418Brandy SmithElizabethtown, KentuckyMar 08, 2014
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416Beth ThorpeLouisville , KentuckyMar 08, 2014
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414Nicole LallyLexington, KentuckyMar 07, 2014
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412Tina MorrisKyMar 07, 2014
411Gina PhillipsKyMar 07, 2014
410Anna Lee AdamsLouisville, KyMar 07, 2014
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408Linda LeeserLouisville, KYMar 07, 2014
407Korey HouskaMinneapolis, MinnesotaMar 07, 2014
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404Frank SchwartzLouisville, KYMar 06, 2014
403Elizabeth TremayneProspect, KentuckyMar 06, 2014
402L.A. Watsonfrankfort, kyMar 06, 2014
401Tara GillandLexington, KYMar 06, 2014
400Susan NashLouisville, KYMar 06, 2014
399Isaac CarterMar 06, 2014
398Brandy ReevesLexington, KYMar 06, 2014
397Joanne BrownLexington, KYMar 06, 2014
396Emily DuncanLexington, KentuckyMar 06, 2014

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Born to be Wild

jyb_musingsYou know you are 50 when….

Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” pops up to play on your iPod and instead of proudly displaying the album image and secretly believing it is your way of warning others that you, deep down, have a ferrel and dangerous side that they should be wary of—you instead flip quickly to the next song because you know, deep down, that others have nothing to be wary about in your presence.

And others know that, too.

And when the next song that pops up us Scarborough Fair by Simon and Garfunkel you proudly display the album image for others to see and secretly believe  it is your way of saying, “I may not be wild today but back in the 70′s I had a very sensitive side and loved Simon and Garfunkel’s melodic Scarborough Fair no matter what other people thought.

And that’s how I still roll today.”

Jonathan Miller: Working together to take care of our service men, women and returning vets

This article appeared originally in The Hill.

nolabelsorg-87_600When California Congressman Ami Bera met New York Rep. Christopher Gibson at a dinner last April, they began a conversation about how the two of them — a physician and a retired Army colonel, a Democrat and a Republican — might work together in Congress to advance the country’s interests.

It didn’t take them long to come up with an idea.

While the two men held different career perspectives, they shared a deep concern about health care for our military’s men and women. They knew that there were serious problems, particularly with the muddled and inefficient health-records system in which active duty service members received care through the Department of Defense and veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs. The doctor and retired officer understood that with little coordination between the two mammoth agencies, service members often encountered frustrating bureaucratic delays in accessing benefits and health care as they returned to civilian life. And they agonized that this was a terrible way to repay those who’ve served our country.

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Both Rep. Bera and Rep. Gibson are members of No Labels, a fast-growing movement of citizens and political leaders who are dedicated to the politics of problem solving and consensus building. As members of No Labels’ Congressional Problem Solvers, a group of nearly 100 lawmakers from both parties and both houses, they were committed to working together to find a better way to take care of our service men and women and returning vets. And they did.

Out of their conversation that night came the 21st Century Health Care for Heroes Act, a bill to construct a streamlined and easily accessible electronic health-records system for military service members and veterans.

The bill became part of a legislative package, Make Government Work!, that the No Labels Problem Solvers unveiled last summer with sponsors on both sides of the aisle.

So clearly beneficial was the No Labels bipartisan, common-sense bill that key language from it was incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in December.  The language set out standards for the creation of an authoritative health-data system that will, for the first time, merge the electronic health records of the Department of Defense with the Department of Veterans Affairs—thereby, as Rep. Bera stated, “saving money, making the transition to civilian life easier for vets, and helping address the VA backlog.”

If all goes according to plan, patients will be able to download their own medical records and, in time, share them via a secure, remote storage system with their healthcare providers.

As Rep. Bera noted after the original bill was introduced, “Creating an efficient and responsive health care program for service members and veterans isn’t just a Democratic or Republican priority, it’s important to all members of Congress regardless of party, and it’s something we can achieve if we just listen to one another and work together.”

The adoption of this measure is proof that listening to one another and working together really can make a difference and lead to results. This is just one example of what No Labels and the Problem Solvers group can do and continue to strive towards.

The group has just embarked on a three-year campaign to develop a national strategic agenda, a shared vision for this country built around goals and concrete actions that reasonable people of differing political persuasions can agree upon and rally around.

The group is working with members of Congress — people like Congressmen Bera and Gibson and more than 75 others who’ve said they support the concept of a national strategic agenda — as well as other political leaders and some of the nation’s leading voices in business and economics to develop a set of objectives and policy options. No Labels hopes its national strategic agenda — a new sort of governing process based on shared goals — will emerge as a major part of the political discussion in the next presidential campaign.

The process won’t be easy—nobody ever said democracy would be. But the continued progress of our nation and the well-being of citizens depend on our earnest efforts and more constructive, good-faith conversations between Democrats and Republicans.

My Response to the Death of One of My Childhood Favorite Comedians? Son of Beach, Sheet!

haroldramis

 

Rest in Peace, Zichro Livracha, Harold Ramis

h/t Brad Gendell

Join Me When I’m on “Dancing with the Stars”!

Rotary_Club_of_Lexington's_Dancing_with_the_Lexington_Stars_2014-SAVE_the_DATEOne of my greatest strengths is that I understand my weaknesses.

And if there is anything that I do more poorly than dance, I have yet to experience it.

That’s why I am thrilled — and scared to death — to be a “celebrity” contestant in this season’s “Dancing with the Stars”

OK, to be clear this is not the ABC national version.  I am not a washed up football player, little-known Disney Channel actor, or a Kardashian,  Rather, this is the Rotary Club of Lexington’s “Dancing with the Lexington Stars” — a fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Lexington’s Rotary Endowment Fund, which supports “Surgery on Sunday” for needy Lexington families; Cardinal Hill Hospital, a nationally acclaimed rehabilitation center; and other worthy organizations.

I hope you will be able to join me at this important event, if only to laugh at me as I trip over my poor wife, Lisa.

For now, please save the date — Saturday, May 10, 2014, from 6:30 PM- Midnight.  I guarantee a lot of fun, a good cause, and plenty of opportunities to laugh at my expense.

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