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Friday, October 21, 2016

The Writer's Life 10/21 - Grass Roots

Here are excerpts, pared and edited by yours truly, from an interesting article by James Covert in today's NY Post: NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, eager to add scalps to his resume in order to make a run for governor, has been trying to put the kibosh on fantasy sports betting sites, arousing the ire of the millions who use them. A grass roots movement has sprung up to challenge the AG and politicians in favor of a ban. The man at the center of strategy is Bradley Tusk, a high-power political Mr. Fix-It., a 42-year-old veteran of back-room battles, best known for leading Michael Bloomberg’s controversial, successful bid for a third term. I won't hold that against him, although I thought it was criminal. Tusk’s master plan — a mix of tech-savvy guerrilla campaigning and good old fashioned celebrity hand-shaking, has produced more than 100,000 emails and 5,000 phone calls into the state capital, winning over reluctant lawmakers. He says: “You go to your average state senator and say, ‘Look, there’s 2,000 people in your district who don’t know who you are, but they really love fantasy sports — and if you take it away from them, we’re going to make sure they know who you are, and then they might start to vote.” Tusk’s scorched-earth methods were on display last summer when he coordinated Uber’s smackdown of NYC Mayor de Blasio’s bid to curb the size of its ride-hailing network. In that battle, officials and city council members were barraged with more than 100,000 emails and tweets from concerned customers, many of whom were sparked into activism through prompts on Uber apps. Tusk met with FanDuel brass and outlined a strategy centered around the fact that the combined five million customers of FD and DraftKings was equal to the membership of the NRA. Another part of the strategy was pointing out that Schneiderman had taken “so much campaign money from so many casinos.” In the early hours of June 17, lawmakers passed a bill supportive of fantasy betting by an overwhelming margin. I do not gamble, but I support the right to do so. To shut down such sites because a handful go overboard sets a bad precedent. There are people vulnerable to excess in every endeavor, legal and illegal.

I've said it so many times -- there is nothing more discouraging than politics. The grass roots tea party movement has faded. Despite noble intentions, it didn't accomplish much. One particular triumph has been blown to smithereens. NY's Nassau County Executive, Ed Mangano, who, to everyone's surprise, won election over an incumbent, is in hot water, accused of massive corruption. Among his sins, he appointed his wife to a $450,000 position as a food taster. He's another example of why I will never again refer to myself as a Republican. Even more infuriating -- he's Italian-American. Disgraziato.

Hondo's droll football picks column contained its typical commentary on what's in the news. A friend of his suggests that the term "Crooked Hillary" also applies to "Peyronie Bill." He notes, given that STD's are at an all-time high, that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is ironically named. He points out that Obama's recent take down of Trump for pointing fingers at others when things get tough completely ignores the fact that O has been blaming Bush for eight years. He also claims that 96% of journalists have made political contributions to Hillary, although he does not cite the source of the info. Curiously, he didn't have much to say about the Donald for a change.

For the second straight period of time, the Rasmussen poll has Trump in a two-point lead. All other polls show Hillary with a comfortable lead.

Here's an eye-opening stat from across the pond, noted in a Post editorial: Of 594 non-terminal patients Belgian doctors have euthanized, nearly 21% had been diagnosed with mental illness. Some were in their 20's or 30's. From beyond the grave, Nazis are smiling.

Because of rain, I opened the floating book shop five hours later than usual, and it went well. My thanks to the kind folks who made purchases.
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