9 to the Power of 20

booker yang warren

20 Days Ago…

I’ve continued the Power Ranking of the 20 Democratic Candidates for the 2020 Democratic Primary to be concluded on its 20th iteration the day of the 2020 Iowa Caucus.

Since the last list … Successive polls have been released with Joe Biden firmly in the lead, which also includes a comfortable lead in Iowa polls as well… Vice President Biden has also faced serious criticism for his support of the Hyde Amendment… The roster for the first two Democratic Debates has been set, twenty candidates over two different days… Several candidates have released proposals, in preparation of the first debate later this month… Candidates have all made their position clear on the impeachment of the President, extending from Robert Mueller’s first public statement…

Reminder, this is a “power ranking” and not a list of my favorites in the order I’d like them. But taking in the news cycle over the last 20 days and other pertinent data, this ranking is just a snapshot of where I think the candidates are and where the voters are in their likelihood to select them as the Democratic Nominee for the 2020 Presidential Race.

So don’t be mad at me. Tell your candidate to get better.

So without further adieu…

20.  Seth Moulton – Congressman, Massachusetts – 40 (Last 20: 17)

19.  Michael Bennet – Senator, Colorado – 54 (Last 20: #20)

18.  Eric Swalwell – Congressman, California – 38 (Last 20: #15)

17.  Steve Bullock – Governor, Montana – 53 (Last 20: #16)

16.  Bill De Blasio – Mayor, New York – 58 (Last 20: #18)

15.  Tulsi Gabbard – Congresswoman, Hawaii – 38 (Last 20: #19)

14.  Tim Ryan – Congressman, Ohio – 45 (Last 20: #11)

13.  Kirsten Gillibrand – Senator, New York – 52 (Last 20: #9)

12.  Andrew Yang – Entrepreneur, New York – 44 (Last 20: 14)

11.  John Hickenlooper – Former Governor, Colorado – 67 (Last 20: #12)

10.  Julian Castro – Former HUD Secretary, Texas – 44 (Last 20: #13)

9.   Jay Inslee – Governor, Washington – 68 (Last 20: #10)

8.   Amy Klobuchar – Senator Minnesota – 58 (Last 20: #7)

7.   Cory Booker – Senator, New Jersey – 50 (Last 20: #8)

6.   Beto O’Rourke – Former Congressman, Texas – 46 (Last 20: #6)

5.   Pete Buttigieg – Mayor, Indiana – 37 (Last 20: #4)

4.   Kamala Harris – Senator, California – 54 (Last 20: #5)

3.   Elizabeth Warren – Senator, Massachusetts – 69 (Last 20: #3)

2.   Bernie Sanders – Senator, Vermont – 77 (Last 20: #2)

1.   Joe Biden – Former Vice President, Delaware – 76 (Last 20: #1)

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Time After Time

VB ribbon

It’s been a few days and I’m still struggling on how to wrap my mind around what has happened. Trying to make sense of something entirely senseless. But there’s no way I can stay silent about what has happened. Not here. Not now.

There might be those that read this and know me. For as much and as long as I have worked in politics, and traveled throughout this state and country, I’m inevitably asked, where am I from. I often answer “Hampton Roads”, which is as about an apt description as it can get for someone like me. I was physically born in Portsmouth, my father’s hometown. The first city I lived in as a child was in Norfolk, my mom’s hometown. My first memories of Virginia are of living in Chesapeake. My first professional job and responsibility in politics was working in Newport News and Hampton. But the city that I consider home, where I was raised, educated and socialized and currently live and work is Virginia Beach.

But watching the news about what happened on Friday, it’s hard to describe what this city, what the area looks like.Virginia Beach is indeed the largest city in the state of Virginia. At nearly 500,000 residents, the media has used words like “small town” and “community” to describe our city. And there is validity to this. Looking back at our city’s history, sixty years ago, Virginia Beach was far smaller, not just in terms of population, but in area as well. It was just the resort city on the eastern shore of Princess Anne County. However, after a merger in 1963, the two merged and the existing county became the entire city at large. And over the next 56 years since that time, Virginia Beach has changed dramatically in terms of our cityscape. When I actually tell people I’m from Virginia Beach, they think “Oh that’s cool, to live right there on the beach.” The reality is I’ve never really lived near the beach at all. I live on the other side of the former county, the part of the city closest to Norfolk and Chesapeake, which is no less than a 20-25 minute drive away from the Atlantic Ocean, that’s without traffic. Virginia Beach has developed a  lot in the western part of the city. So much so that our “downtown” area(still rather stick out like a sore thumb to many longtime residents), the Town Center, which is thought to be the most centralized part of the city, is more north and east geographically considering.

Now, even though Town Center and the urban development that has come with it is effectively the heart of the city, Virginia Beach was still run from the same area which was the original municipal center from the original city. Which to many residents is far removed from practically any where else in the city. But it is, for lack of a better term, the brain and nerve center of Virginia Beach. It’s where the city is run. Not just the city council, but also the school board is found here and the courthouse, the city manager, registrar and yes, the Virginia Beach Police headquarters is practically across the street from the Virginia Beach Operations Building where DeWayne Craddock walked into and shot 16 people, killing 12.

Now, Virginia Beach has prided itself on being not just one of the best cities in the state, but among the best in the country. One of the best to start a business, to raise a family. Comparatively speaking, we’re not afflicted by many of the urban troubles of neighboring cities and frankly, there’s kind of a feeling of having a raised nose about it and I’m okay with it. However, we’ve had our share of blight and bad days. But nothing like this. Virginia Beach now joins other cities like Charleston, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, San Bernadino, Aurora and Littleton, Colorado, Newtown, Connecticut, Parkland and Orlando Florida, and another city on the other side of the state of Virginia, Blacksburg. These cities now touched by, not simply gun violence, which we’re all quite familiar with, but with multiple persons being shot and killed by a single unprovoked shooter. And time after time that this happens, it becomes less random and more routine. The same routine.

And with the details still coming in, it’s hard to imagine what it was like, but with the frequency of these tragedies, if you’re not thinking about what could have been done to prevent these or the measure of dedication it took into stopping this, then I don’t know what to say. DeWayne Craddock, after shooting someone in their vehicle with a firearm armed with an extended magazine and silencer, he proceeded into the Operations Building where he worked and indiscriminately began shooting. The attack started almost ten minutes after 4 p.m. It would take another 25 to 30 minutes for the police to find and confront Craddock. From there, Croddock engaged the police in a shootout that lasted from five to ten minutes. In comparison, the most famous gun fight in American history at the O.K. Coral was only 30 seconds long.

So in all, DeWayne Craddock takes nearly 30 minutes to go through an entire building shooting indiscriminately, nonstop until the police come and he then engages in a firefight longer than the time it takes to read this essay. While it is a small miracle that the police arrived within minutes, the police are headquartered within 200 yards of the operations building. They could have ran there faster than driving. And he was still able to hold them off for at least five minutes, which is on top of the at least twenty minutes it took to find him.

DeWayne Craddock was well armed. He had an unGodly amount of ammunition. And he had nothing but the deadliest of intentions. As much as there are those that are thankful that the police were literally right there an quick to respond, Craddock was still able to shoot 16 people in nearly forty minutes of sustained shooting. It should not have been more than one. And it didn’t have to be.

We need to have a conversation about our firearm laws. We need to have that conversation NOW! But time after time this happens, we get in the same routine. Say the same things. But we can’t keep doing this. There is no more time to waste. We have to act now, but there are those who insist that now is the time to wait. Within hours of the shooting, our former Congressman, Scott Taylor was on air telling a CNN anchor that “now is not the time to talk about our gun laws.” Meanwhile, as of my writing this, 53 people in Hampton Roads have been shot since the start of Memorial Day weekend. What could we possibly be waiting for? And if waiting isn’t enough, there are also those voices that, right now, are saying there could be no law that would have prevented this particular shooting. Over the weekend, White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney repeated on Meet the Press the same line of logic that even though we have laws that make murder illegal, people still do it, and so laws do not fix everything. Of course they don’t! They’re not MADE to fix everything. They’re made to punish those who break them.

In every other instance, in almost any other time we’ve responded. Depression Era gangsters brazenly have machine gun fueled shootouts in the public. Within a few years the National Firearms Act is passed. Two of the greatest icons in in civil rights and civic life are shot and killed within months and by the end of that very year the Gun Control Act is passed. A president and his staffer are shot in broad daylight and while it took some time, the Brady Bill is passed because of that staffer. But bigger than gun violence, we always demand response to tragedy. Those who can act and have a responsibility to act must do more than pray and delay. The Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and less than 24 hours later, President Roosevelt is declaring war. Was that too soon? Did anyone tell him that it wasn’t the time to talk about declaring war on Japan or protecting American life at any point during those 24 hours? Or when terrorist hijacked planes and flew them into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Three days later Congress unanimously responded with authorization. Should they have waited longer?

More intimately, on October 12th of 2000, when a banana boat launches into the U.S.S. Cole and claimed my brother’s life, no one would have dared to tell me on October 13th. that it was “too soon” to talk about justice for my brother’s life and preventing such attacks from ever happening again. Fact of the matter is that it was FAR too late. And we cannot continue to do this. It is that kind of pray and delay mentality that only invites more tragedy. While it’s meaningful to be in the thoughts of those who are removed, who have no power to change the laws, we expect action from those who can change laws and protect lives. Because when they wait, when we waste time, another community is a one less day away from being the next Virginia Beach. And when it happens, time is not the only thing that is lost.

8 to the Power of 20

20 Days Ago…

I’ve continued the Power Ranking of the 20 Democratic Candidates for the 2020 Democratic Primary to be concluded on its 20th iteration the day of the 2020 Iowa Caucus.

Since the last list… Kamala Harris impressed during questioning of Attorney General Barr during his senate hearing… the number of declared candidates has increased to an unprecedented 23 candidates running for the Democratic Primary… Pete Buttigieg has faced his first serious criticism… Several candidates, including Buttigieg, Bennet and Ryan had notable late night national televised appearances…

Reminder, this is a “power ranking” and not a list of my favorites in the order I’d like them. But taking in the news cycle over the last 20 days and other pertinent data, this ranking is just a snapshot of where I think the candidates are and where the voters are in their likelihood to select them as the Democratic Nominee for the 2020 Presidential Race.

So don’t be mad at me. Tell your candidate to get better.

So without further adieu…

20.  Michael Bennet – Senator, Colorado – 54 (Last 20: Unranked)

19.  Tulsi Gabbard – Congresswoman, Hawaii – 38 (Last 20: #16)

18.  Bill De Blasio – Mayor, New York – 58 (Last 20: Unranked)

17.  Seth Moulton – Congressman, Massachusetts – 40 (Last 20: 15)

16.  Steve Bullock – Governor, Montana – 53 (Last 20: Unranked)

15.  Eric Swalwell – Congressman, California – 38 (Last 20: #13)

14.  Andrew Yang – Entrepreneur, New York – 44 (Last 20: 17)

13.  Julian Castro – Former HUD Secretary, Texas – 44 (Last 20: #10)

12.  John Hickenlooper – Former Governor, Colorado – 67 (Last 20: #11)

11.  Tim Ryan – Congressman, Ohio – 45 (Last 20: #14)

10.  Jay Inslee – Governor, Washington – 68 (Last 20: #12)

9.   Kirsten Gillibrand – Senator, New York – 52 (Last 20: #8)

8.   Cory Booker – Senator, New Jersey – 50 (Last 20: #9)

7.   Amy Klobuchar – Senator Minnesota – 58 (Last 20: #7)

6.   Beto O’Rourke – Former Congressman, Texas – 46 (Last 20: #4)

5.   Kamala Harris – Senator, California – 54 (Last 20: #6)

4.   Pete Buttigieg – Mayor, Indiana – 37 (Last 20: #3)

3.   Elizabeth Warren – Senator, Massachusetts – 69 (Last 20: #5)

2.   Bernie Sanders – Senator, Vermont – 77 (Last 20: #2)

1.   Joe Biden – Former Vice President, Delaware – 76 (Last 20: #1)

7 to the Power of 20: Presidential Ranking

biden delaney bessam

20 Days Ago…

I’ve continued the Power Ranking of the 20 Democratic Candidates for the 2020 Democratic Primary to be concluded on its 20th iteration the day of the 2020 Iowa Caucus.

Since the last list… The domino that everyone has been waiting for, former Vice President, Joe Biden, has finally announced his candidacy making him an official candidate for the 2020 Primary… Joining him to less fanfare is Congressman Seth Moulton… Additionally, prominent Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has announced that he will not be running for the 2020 Democratic Nomination… Several candidates competed in a marathon townhall sponsored by CNN revealing some weaknesses and inequities in each…

Reminder, this is a “power ranking” and not a list of my favorites in the order I’d like them. But taking in the news cycle over the last 20 days and other pertinent data, this ranking is just a snapshot of where I think the candidates are and where the voters are in their likelihood to select them as the Democratic Nominee for the 2020 Presidential Race.

So don’t be mad at me. Tell your candidate to get better.

So without further adieu…

20.  Marianne Williamson – Entrepreneur/Activist, California– 66 (Last 20: 20)

19.  Wayne Messam – Mayor, Forida – 44 (Last 20: Unranked)

18.  John Delaney – Congressman, Maryland – 56 (Last 20: Unranked)

17.  Andrew Yang – Entrepreneur, New York – 44 (Last 20: 18)

16.  Tulsi Gabbard – Congresswoman, Hawaii – 38 (Last 20: #16)

15.  Seth Moulton – Congressman, Massachusetts – 40 (Last 20: 13)

14.  Tim Ryan – Congressman, Ohio – 45 (Last 20: #15)

13.  Eric Swalwell – Congressman, California – 38 (Last 20: #14)

12.  Jay Inslee – Governor, Washington – 68 (Last 20: #12)

11.  John Hickenlooper – Former Governor, Colorado – 67 (Last 20: #9)

10.  Julian Castro – Former HUD Secretary, Texas – 44 (Last 20: #11)

9.   Cory Booker – Senator, New Jersey – 50 (Last 20: #7)

8.   Kirsten Gillibrand – Senator, New York – 52 (Last 20: #10)

7.   Amy Klobuchar – Senator Minnesota – 58 (Last 20: #8)

6.   Kamala Harris – Senator, California – 54 (Last 20: #5)

5.   Elizabeth Warren – Senator, Massachusetts – 69 (Last 20: #6)

4.   Beto O’Rourke – Former Congressman, Texas – 46 (Last 20: #2)

3.   Pete Buttigieg – Mayor, Indiana – 37 (Last 20: #4)

2.   Bernie Sanders – Senator, Vermont – 77 (Last 20: #1)

1.   Joe Biden – Former Vice President, Delaware – 76 (Last 20: #3)

6 to the Power of 20

Swalwell Moulton Ryan

20 Days Ago…

I’ve continued the Power Ranking of the 20 Democratic Candidates for the 2020 Democratic Primary to be concluded on its 20th iteration the day of the 2020 Iowa Caucus.

Since the last list… Pete Buttigeig has continued an increase in popularity, polling and more importantly name ID and pronunciation… Two members of congress from the House of Representatives have entered the race, Eric Swalwell of Califronia and Tim Ryan of Ohio… Where Elizabeth Warren has struggled with fundraising, Kamala Harris released her fundraising numbers from the first quarter and is doing quite well… Meanwhile Bernie Sanders has promised to release his tax returns soon… Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is waiting to enter the race, has gotten into hot water with multiple accounts of women who have reported being made to feel uncomfortable around him…

Reminder, this is a “power ranking” and not a list of my favorites in the order I’d like them. But taking in the news cycle over the last 20 days and other pertinent data, this ranking is just a snapshot of where I think the candidates are and where the voters are in their likelihood to select them as the Democratic Nominee for the 2020 Presidential Race.

So don’t be mad at me. Tell your candidate to get better.

So without further adieu…

20.  Marianne Williamson – Entrepreneur/Activist, California– 66 (Last 20: 19)

19.  Steve Bullock – Governor, Montana – 52 (Last 20: #16)

18.  Andrew Yang – Entrepreneur, New York – 44 (Last 20: 17)

17.  Terry McAuliffe – Former Governor, Virginia – 62 (Last 20: #18)

16.  Tulsi Gabbard – Congresswoman, Hawaii – 37 (Last 20: #13)

15.  Tim Ryan – Congressman, Ohio – 45 (Last 20: Unranked)

14.  Eric Swalwell – Congressman, California – 38 (Last 20: #15)

13.  Seth Moulton – Congressman, Massachusetts – 40 (Last 20: 14)

12.  Jay Inslee – Governor, Washington – 68 (Last 20: #11)

11.  Julian Castro – Former HUD Secretary, Texas – 44 (Last 20: #12)

10.   Kirsten Gillibrand – Senator, New York – 52 (Last 20: #8)

9.  John Hickenlooper – Former Governor, Colorado – 67 (Last 20: #9)

8.  Amy Klobuchar – Senator Minnesota – 58 (Last 20: #10)

7.   Cory Booker – Senator, New Jersey – 49 (Last 20: #6)

6.   Elizabeth Warren – Senator, Massachusetts – 69 (Last 20: #3)

5.   Kamala Harris – Senator, California – 54 (Last 20: #4)

4.   Pete Buttigieg – Mayor, Indiana – 37 (Last 20: #7)

3.   Joe Biden – Former Vice President, Delaware – 76 (Last 20: #5)

2.   Beto O’Rourke – Former Congressman, Texas – 46 (Last 20: #2)

1.   Bernie Sanders – Senator, Vermont – 77 (Last 20: #1)

5 to the Power of 20

 

marianne beto yang

20 Days Ago…

I’ve continued the Power Ranking of the 20 Democratic Candidates for the 2020 Democratic Primary to be concluded on it’s 20th iteration the day of the 2020 Iowa Caucus.

Since the last list… Beto O’Rourke has finally announced and has outraised Bernie Sanders in a single day of his announced candidacy… Listed possible candidates, Eric Holder, Sherrod Brown and Michael Bloomberg have all announced they are indeed not running in 2020… Pete Buttigeig has impressed in townhalls and also in fundraising causing Democrats to give him a new/first look… A surprising topic many of the candidates have actually been asked is on Reparations for African-Americans and while most have taken a position, this was effective spurred when Marianne Williamson introduced the idea of $100 Billion over 10 years as her signature campaign promise.

Reminder, this is a “power ranking” and not a list of my favorites in the order I’d like them. But taking in the news cycle over the last 20 days and other pertinent data, this ranking is just a snapshot of where I think the candidates are and where the voters are in their likelihood to select them as the Democratic Nominee for the 2020 Presidential Race.

So don’t be mad at me. Tell your candidate to get better.

So without further adieu…

20.  John Kerry – Former Secretary of State, Massachusetts – 75 (Last 20: #18)

19.  Marianne Williamson – Entrepreneur/Activist, California– 66 (Last 20: Unranked)

18.  Terry McAuliffe – Former Governor, Virginia – 62 (Last 20: #16)

17.  Andrew Yang – Entrepreneur, New York – 44 (Last 20: Unranked)

16.  Steve Bullock – Governor, Montana – 52 (Last 20: #20)

15.  Eric Swalwell – Congressman, California – 38 (Last 20: #19)

14.  Seth Moulton – Congressman, Massachusetts – 40 (Last 20: Unranked)

13.  Tulsi Gabbard – Congresswoman, Hawaii – 37 (Last 20: #13)

12.  Julian Castro – Former HUD Secretary, Texas – 44 (Last 20: #11)

11.  Jay Inslee – Governor, Washington – 68 (Last 20: #14)

10.  Amy Klobuchar – Senator Minnesota – 58 (Last 20: #8)

9.  John Hickenlooper – Former Governor, Colorado – 67 (Last 20: #15)

8.   Kirsten Gillibrand – Senator, New York – 52 (Last 20: #7)

7.   Pete Buttigieg – Mayor, Indiana – 37 (Last 20: #10)

6.   Cory Booker – Senator, New Jersey – 49 (Last 20: #5)

5.   Joe Biden – Former Vice President, Delaware –  76 (Last 20: #4)

4.   Kamala Harris – Senator, California – 54 (Last 20: #1)

3.   Elizabeth Warren – Senator, Massachusetts – 69 (Last 20: #3)

2.   Beto O’Rourke – Former Congressman, Texas – 46 (Last 20: #6)

1.   Bernie Sanders – Senator, Vermont – 77 (Last 20: #2)

 

They’ll Never (un)Learn

Terrorist Picture

Twenty years ago, a half dozen men from various nations in the Middle East received the approval and formed a cell affiliated with Islamic extremist terror organization, Al-Qaeda. Their expressed goal was to attack both military and non-military interest of the United States and their allies who they believe are a part of a Christian and Jewish alliance that they have determined to destroy. By late October of 2000, they found their target: United State’s Naval Destroyer, the USS Cole.

On October 12th of that year, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri lead a group including Tawfiq bin Attash, Jamal Ahmad Mohammad Al Badawi, Fahd al-Quso and Abu Ali al-Harethi along with two suicide bombers and took the lives of 17 sailors on board the USS Cole and injured nearly 40 others. My brother, Cherone Gunn, was one of those 17 that lost his life in the attack.

It was a horrific and violent act perpetrated by individuals claiming an allegiance to the Islamic faith, used that faith to justify my brother’s murder.

This week, an Australian extremist, Breton Tarrant, opened fire on the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand murdering 49 and injuring 48 others. Tarrant is not alone. In October of last year, Robert Bowers, walked into the Tree of Life Synagogue, murdering 11 and wounding six others. A few days earlier, Gregory Bush attempted to enter a predominantly black church in Jeffersontown, Kentucky before finding a Kroger Supermarket where he shot and killed two, both black and elected to not shoot another because he proclaimed “Whites don’t kill whites. In 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette walked into the Islamic Centre of Quebec City and killed six, wounding another 19. June 17th of 2015, Dylann Roof walked into Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and killed nine during bible study. August 5, 2012, Wade Michael Page walked into a Sikh Temple in Milwaukee to kill six and would three others. In the Summer of 2008, David Adkisson killed two shooting six others in a Unitarian church in Tenessee.

These are some of the most recent mass murders targeted at religious institutions. These massacres did not just take place in these institutions, but they happened because of very specific reasons and by specific persons. These attacks happened because these individuals used hate of race and religion as justification to attack and kill persons who had no quarrel with them at all. Just like the group of individuals who attacked and killed my brother, Cherone.

I can’t help but to think of the stark dichotomy of these circumstances. These individuals that attacked these temples, mosques and churches due to perceived grievances against those of a race and religion, they cultivated hate and courted violence. And just the same, al-Nashiri, Badawi, al-Quso, Attash and al-Harethi, they used their hate to justify the murder of my brother. But not once over the last 20 years have I even thought to use my grievance as reason to hate another. While Tarrant, Bowers, Bush, Roof and Page internalized their hurt and blindly broadcasted it with hateful intent to an entire race and religion. In my case, I can’t even conceive that being possible. Not that I don’t want to think that way. I don’t even know how. Yes those responsible for killing my brother might call themselves Muslim and native of a Arab nation, but I have known, befriended, loved and cared for others that have done nothing but enhance my existence and made me a better person. I cannot associate experiences with one to unfairly judge another. What if you were to think of it another way? I can no more blame any of them as I could blame men in general, since those responsible for my brother’s death were all men. They all also had facial hair. So should I hate everyone with facial hair too? They all have brown eyes, so perhaps I cannot trust those of you who also have brown eyes. Sounds silly? Blaming a race or religion is just as silly.

As a matter of fact, it is the likes of Roof, Bowers, Page and Tarrant that have more in common with al-Nashiri and his cell than any other Muslim I have ever met. They are the ones who hate and use violence and destruction. Not my friends and family.

I cannot ascribe the acts of a few upon the lives and fortunes of millions of others. It’s a matter of an irrelated circumstance. As a matter of fact, I would say it isn’t in our nature to have such a thought from a prompt of hate. To hate an entire race or religion because of the actions of a few individuals never occurred to me. And honestly, I don’t think it simply occurs to anyone. This is something you have to have been taught. Hate is not instinctive. It does not manifest without a precipice. But when it is used to ignore extenuating qualities of singular individuals, that is only something that can be learned.

And if it is being learned, it can also be rejected.