John Y. Brown, III: Today’s Big Game

Are we mostly getting our “game face on” Saturday– or getting our hate face on?

I love the outrageously fun interstate stare down this week between UL and UK.

The smack talk: clever put downs and cleverer retorts and most of what goes with it. Most of it is in good fun, to be expected and a healthy and natural fan activity given the rarefied Final Four positions our state’s two remarkable basketball teams have achieved this year.

But there is a line where we start to sound loopy, goofy, nonsensical and downright mean-spirited if not a little demented.

The key is being cute, clever and competitive. Be like a happy warrior who relishes competition rather than a rambling insulter and hater.

After all, Sunday morning will be here soon enough and the world be back to the way it was last week–pre Final Four with UL facing off against UK.

So, before you rush out and buy this t-shirt or its corollary suggesting you do the same if you hate UK, I have a different suggestion.

Just Breathe.

And, most importantly, have one heckuva fun time. This may not happen again. For another year.

Who’s Better for the Jews: the Kentucky Wildcats or the Louisville Cardinals?

For centuries, Jews have looked at world events and/or world leaders and have wondered: Is it good for the Jews?  So much so, it’s become a running joke within the tribe.

JTA, the leading international Jewish news agency, decided to test this question on the issue of the week:  The NCAA’s Final Four,and specifically, the semifinal meeting of two longtime intrastate archrivals, the University of Kentucky Wildcats and the University of Louisville Cardinals.

Taking the side of all that is good and right and holy (the Wildcats) is the RP himself.  On the dark, red side (the Cardinals) is the RP’s great friend, Marie Abrams, who serves on the board of the University of Louisville, and has been a local and national leader of Jewish organizations for decades, including serving as former national chair of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

Listen to the podcast here for the fireworks and fun:

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: I’m Responsible for the UK/UL Rivalry

Here’s a NY Times story about how the UL-UK Dream Game became the great annual collegiate rivalry it is today.

In the article the state legislature and my father (former Governor John Y. Brown, Jr.) seem to take the credit for making this once unlikely occurrence a now historic rivalry.

My recollection, however, is very different. I remember one night at the dinner table suggesting to my dad, “Why don’t you work with the legislature to create an annual UK-UL game?”

I seem to recall my dad laughing it off and saying it would never happen.

I stood up, pounded my fist on the table and demanded, “It has to happen! And it has to happen now!!” I was relentless in crafting the legislative strategy and hounding my father to make this is last important act as governor.

I threatened to legally change my name to John Chandler Beshear Nunn if he wasn’t successful. And I succeeded.

Well, he and the legislature succeeded.

OK, OK maybe it didn’t really happen that way.

Maybe…. I was in college out of state at the time and didn’t even know about the effort until several years after it happened.

And, yeah, maybe I never had such conversations about legislation of any kind with my father because I was more interested in more hormonally appropriate topics.

But you gotta admit, it does make a darn good story. Even if it’s entirely an imaginary one.

Jeff Smith: O’Malley Says The Boss is “Born to Run” for Governor

Race of the decade in ’13: 

Governor Martin O’Malley says Bruce Springsteen is born to run for governor of New Jersey:

Click here to read the full article from Politico.

The RP’s Breaking News: The Politics of Pigskin

Why are pro days important for players entering the NFL draft? Also click through for some really good info on the most important prospects heading into next month’s NFL draft. [CBS Sports]

Jeff Smith: Should the Feds Probe the Florida Tragedy?


It may be the only way to get state officials to act.

The Sanford police chief claims that he has no ability to prosecute based on the “Stand Your Ground” law.

Of course, he’s making huge assumptions without a full investigation of the facts.

Most importantly, “Stand Your Ground” is misapplied in the case of an assailant who has actually pursued a victim; pursuit directly contradicts the notion of self-defense.

And the assailant is caught – on tape, no less – determinedly pursuing the victim even against the specific and unambiguous direction of the police dispatcher.

(Cross-posted, with permission of the author, from Politico’s Arena)

The RP: State Treasurers vs. Super PACs

I’m awfully proud to read this story about my former colleagues:

From The New Republic:

EXCLUSIVE: Are State Treasurers Preparing a Novel Attack on Mega-Rich Campaign Donors?

Thanks to Citizens Unitedand other recent rulings, the nation’s ultra-wealthy have a lot more latitude than they did a few years ago when it comes to pouring money into the political system. And, according to the latest campaign filings, they aren’t skimping. During February, Ken Griffin, founder of the hedge fund Citadel, and Henry Kravis, co-founder of private equity giant KKR, each gave $100,000 to the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney, while American Crossroads, the group co-founded by Karl Rove, received $500,000 from the financial services firm S.W. Childs Management Corp.

But these are just the contributions that get disclosed. Groups such as Crossroads do not need to reveal who donates to their 501(c)(4) arms, which are supposed to focus their advocacy on “issues,” not elections. (In practice, of course, they often blur that distinction to the point of meaninglessness. Crossroads’s 501(c)(4) arm, for instance, has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on two ads attacking Barack Obama over the Solyndra fiasco.) Because the donations are anonymous, no one knows how much money is flowing from Wall Street billionaires to these entities. But everyone assumes—and it’s a pretty safe guess—that it’s a lot.

Now, under the radar, a fledgling effort to force these donors out into the open is underway. And it’s being led by a rather unlikely group of crusaders: a handful of the nation’s state treasurers.

In most states, the duties of the treasurer include a role in the oversight of pension funds for state employees. These funds invest much of their money with the country’s biggest hedge funds and private equity firms. In fact, about 30 percent of the money invested with private equity is from public pensions. And so, it has occurred to some state treasurers that they might use these funds as leverage. The idea would be to say to firms: If you want to keep managing our billions, then we want you to be more transparent in your political giving. (While the stated intent is not to limit giving, presumably some money managers would be less inclined to write big checks if disclosure were required.) “They’re sending a message,” says Shelley Alpern of Trillium Asset Management, a “socially responsible” investment fund that pushes for transparency in political giving. “The pension funds have multiple billions of dollars to choose how they want to invest, and they can probably find hedge fund managers who aren’t involved in the political process the same way some of their current money managers are.”

So far, the loosely coordinated group of states considering this approach, according to several people familiar with the effort, includes California, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Rhode Island. Discussions appear to be most advanced in California, where the state’s two public pension funds have $53 billion invested with private equity and $5 billion with hedge funds. The tactic was a topic of discussion at a recent meeting of California pension officials in Los Angeles, and state staffers are now studying options for its implementation. “I support it,” California Treasurer Bill Lockyer, a Democrat, told me. “I’m among those concerned about the escalation of megabucks, private megabucks, in presidential and other campaigns. It’s alarming to see what’s happening.”

Click here to read the rest of the article in The New Republic.

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Tech

The Politics of Tech

Flexible e-ink displays coming soon. Awesome! [Extreme Tech]

Here are some rumors regarding what we could see in Sony’s next generation Playstation. [Kotaku]

The “Holy Grail of Material Science?” How does self-healing plastic sound? [BGR]

Is this the first step in the downfall of Best Buy? [Star Tribune]

A German court has found Rapidshare to be legal. [Tech World]


John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Talking with the Animals

I’m so relieved that society does not judge us on our thoughts but only on our actions.

I’d hate to be accountable for my thoughts. They aren’t dangerous. Just, well, hard to explain away.

For example, I was eating lunch alone in my car today–a turkey sandwich. Out of nowhere I start thinking about how I’m really glad that animals can’t talk. And I hope we never teach them to.

For one thing, what would we talk about? It’s hard enough making conversation with other humans. Besides, no matter how good we get at small talk with animals, we can only avoid the inevitable “Big Question” for so long.

Eventually a turkey (or some other animal) will ask, “So, why do you eat us?”

And the truth is I don’t have a good answer. All I can say is something along the lines of the primitive logic, “Look, I’m bigger than you and smarter than you and you taste good. That’s it. End of story. Let’s please talk about a less awkward subject.”

Just typing this response makes me cringe–and reinforces to me this is a conversation I’d like to avoid.

And besides, what other subject could we move on to after that uncomfortable segue? It’s just not realistic.

But even without an eloquent explanation, I’m not giving up turkey.

Well, my lunch time ran out on this thought. I’m on a business call now and sounding very professional –using lingo from my MBA and law degree. Very impressive. I’m on my game.

And I’ve almost completely stopped thinking about conversing with turkeys.

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Pigskin

The Politics of Pigskin

With Sean Payton suspended for the season the Saints have begun to search for potential replacements for the 2012 season. One named that has floated around has been Bill Parcells. Parcells recently said that a stint with the Saints is not outside the realm of possibility. [ESPN]

Is free agent acquisition  Matt Flynn the answer at quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks? [CBS Sports]

New York Jets CB Darrelle Revis spoke on Sportscenter recently and referred to the Jets’ locker room as in “disarray right now.” [NBC Sports]

The NFL owners have officially agreed to expand replay to turnovers. The playoff overtime system has now been applied to the regular season as well. [ESPN]

Cornerback charting! Who were the best in coverage in the 2011 season. Click through to find out. [Football Outsiders]

The Recovering Politician Bookstore


The RP on The Daily Show