Kevin Kelton

The ‘Right’ College Is The One You Go To

by Kevin Kelton

I got a 1190 when I took the SAT in the 1970s. And though I went on to become a fairly successful professional writer, my verbal score lagged far below my math score, proving that the SAT’s ability to test “aptitude” was pretty poor in my case.

In the college application world, anything under a 1200 SAT score is considered modest at best, and I ended up getting into Boston University and a few state schools, not the prestigious universities many of my high school classmates got into. Back then B.U. was nowhere near as respected as it is today. But it was still darn expensive, so after my freshmen year I transferred to a somewhat dreary New York state public university to cut my tuition costs. I had adored living in Boston and going to B.U., loved that they had a Division 1 hockey team, and had forged several close friendships I was loathe to abandon. I ended my freshman year devastated that I had to give all that up.

Sounds like a pretty sad story, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t. 

Because while I was studying Business Administration on my new upstate NY campus, I met a guy at the top of our dorm tower watching ˆSaturday Night Live” who shared my passion for comedy, and learned he and some fellow comedy nerds were writing and producing a radio sitcom for the school’s AM station. They invited me to join in, and soon I was working regularly at the station as a disc jockey and newscaster, things I had never thought to try before. In my senior year I roomed with that guy I had met watching SNL and we began writing and hosting our own sketch comedy show on the school’s new FM station. 

I graduated SUNY Albany with a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Marketing (areas for which I had little passion), but I chose to pursue a comedy writing career instead. Forty years later it seems I made the right choice, having written and produced several hit TV series – including an Emmy nomination writing for Saturday Night Live, a dream of its ownand building a very substantial nest egg in the process. Plus that roomie who shared my love of comedy is still my best friend. And it all happened at a school I wasn’t the least bit excited to go to.

I didn’t get into the colleges of my choice. But the journey I did take turned out great.

The same is true for my oldest son. He got into a great in-state public school, UC Santa Barbara, but he still pined to go to the University of Wisconsin where his best friend was attending. So my son applied to transfer to WISCO, but the required collateral paperwork didn’t arrive in time, and he had to stay on at SB. So my son dedicated himself to his newfound passion of sportscasting and is now the play-by-play announcer for several UCSB varsity teams. He plans on pursuing broadcasting as a career, and he knows that the opportunities he got to hone his talents at SB might not have been available to him on the Madison campus. 

Instead of getting into the school of his dreams, he turned his existing school into a dream experience.

I also know someone who eked their way into Harvard, was miserable, and quickly bombed out there, then “found” themself at a less-prestigious public university.

Let this be a lesson (albeit anecdotal) to the high school students who are sweating out the college acceptance wait right now, and to the parents who think their kids’ lives will be ruined if they don’t con an elite university into accepting them. It’s okay to have a dream college, but you don’t have to go to it to live a dream life.

Whatever college you attend will most likely turn out to be the right one for you. Because the one you get into and do attend is the one where you’ll make lifelong friendships, meet lovers you will never forget (and maybe one you’ll marry), find new interests that weren’t on your radar before, and have multiple adventures that will enrich you life forever.

Sadly, we have turned the college acceptance process into an end-all, be-all destination instead of what it should be: a single step on the wonderfully unpredictable journey of life.

So to the student running to the mailbox (or your email) every few hours waiting for that acceptance letter that will change your life, slow down and enjoy the excitement of the wait. Whatever school you attend will be the right school for you, I promise. In all likelihood, within months of arriving on campus, you’ll be living a great new life and rarely give those other schools another thought.

And to the parents of high school seniors, stop trying to micromanage the process. Your job is to protect them from harm, not from minor life disappointments. If your daughter or son doesn’t get into Yale or USC, it won’t be the end of their world. But if they think they’re somehow a failure at 18 because they didn’t live up to your unrealistically high standards, it might.

Let your kids try. Let them fall short. Let them learn to accept adversity and persevere. Those are the lessons that will propel them to success, whatever the name of the school on their diplomas. 

And once they graduate, let them pursue careers in comedy writing or sportscasting or ballet if that is their calling. Love them for who they are, not who you’ve always wanted them to be. Parenting is not about gaming the system to their advantage. It’s about teaching them to excel and be happy with who they are.

Chances are, they’ll turn out just fine. Even with a state school education.

Kevin Kelton is a cohost of The More Perfect Union podcast and runs the Facebook political group, Open Fire Politics.

 

A Blameless Life (Ep. 197)

This week’s MPU podcast looks at Paul Manafort’s “otherwise blameless life” prison sentence, the latest turns in the Democratic primary race, what’s behind Chelsea Manning’s refusal to testify against Julian Assange, and Rebekah puts forth a strong feminist view on a woman’s right to control her own body.

The Cohen Mutiny (Ep. 196)

This week the gang discusses Michael Cohen’s public congressional testimony and offer up their dream tickets for the Democratic nomination.

Primary Colors 2020

by Kevin Kelton

Democrats, forget left vs. moderate for a moment and talk raw primary politics. Because ultimately primary races are a battle of personalities, not political purity. Once Joe Biden and Beto O’Roarke jump into the 2020 race, the field will be set.* Now the game is primary chess. So let’s look at the board.

Bernie Sanders is likely to win or do very well in his neighboring New Hampshire, the second big prize, a place where an old school candidate like Biden is not likely to run well. (Granite staters tend toward newer flavors.) And South Carolina will be tough for both Joe and Bernie, two guys not known for playing to the grits crowd.

That means Joe must win Iowa. Otherwise he’ll be 0 for 3 in the first three contests⁺ and no one comes back from that except the ’04 Red Sox.

If Beto or Kamala Harris can knock off Sanders in New Hampshire, that could douse The Bern for good. Harris seems positioned to do well in minority-heavy South Carolina. But neither of them is likely to break free if they don’t win Iowa. At best, one might emerge as the fresh-face candidate who will still have to fend off the old guard to prove their mettle.

So once again Iowa is key, even more so this time than normally. (How do a few hundred thousand caucus voters kidnap the nation every four years?) Should Biden somehow win there, it’s probably a Biden-Bernie or Biden-Beto or Biden-Harris race.⁺⁺

That would set up yet another epic battle for the ideological soul of the party, with pragmatists behind Biden and ideologues splintering between Bernie and Beto or Harris. There’s only one lane out of that bowling alley, while Biden would be free to play to the pragmatist, anti-Trump crowd.

But for Joe to get there, it’s Iowa Iowa Iowa. Can he out-caucus Sanders in the heartland? Or will a smooth-talking Music Man (or Woman) from out west come in and steal their swooning Iowan hearts?

If Biden stalls in Iowa, NH and SC become the game. The party will lurch left. Everyone will be touting Medicare For All and play some version of a Green New Deal hand. “I’ll see your carbon tax and raise you a solar jobs bill.” Each will have their own version of a Robin Hood wealth tax, turning the debates into a giant Mathletes club. “Is 70% of an eight figure salary greater than 2% of a nine figure estate? Please show your work.”

And Trump will run against socialism, no matter who tops the ticket. Meaning the world may finally learn what would’ve happened if a Democratic Socialist had secured the 2016 nomination and ran against Trumpism.

There. I just spared you the next year of your life. Now, who do you like for 2024?

Kevin Kelton is a cohost of The More Perfect Union podcast. He also runs the Facebook political group, Open Fire Politics.

* No one is waiting to see what Jeff Merkley or Michael Bennett will be doing. And Sherrod Brown doesn’t have the fire to catch fire.

⁺ The Nevada caucus actually comes before SC this time, but I don’t see that traditionally blue state being much of a factor. Considering it’s so far west compared to the others and what that entails in travel time, it may not get much candidate play at all.

⁺⁺ At this point I don’t give Amy Klobuchar much of a shot, but we can’t rule her out, since “Midwestern nice” plays well in Iowa. And though I personally like Elizabeth Warren, I doubt she can compete in this field. She has no lane that I can see, and I get no sense of traction for her in Open Fire, my Facebook focus group. 

Waiting for the Man (Ep. 195)

This week the MPU gang tells you why the Mueller Report is unlikely to be the dud that some cable news talking heads are claiming it could be, why Trump’s meeting with Kim Jung Un will be a bigger dud than Trump is would like it to be, and what they’ll be snacking on when Michael Cohen drops a dime on The Donald in his televised congressional testimony.

Listen at…
https://www.spreaker.com/user/themoreperfectunion/mpu195

Hanging with Mr. Trump (Ep. 194)

This week, the MPU gang is joined by standup comedian Bruce Smirnoff, who regales them with stories about his 48 hours hanging out with Donald Trump.

Shutdown Showdown Hoedown (Ep. 188)

This MPU episode looks at the ongoing showdown between President Trump and the new Democratic congressional majority over his demand for $5.7 billion for his border wall/steel slats/fence/drones/security/whatever, watching Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dance on the top marginal tax rate, and Elizabeth Warren’s first week on the presidential campaign trail.

Mexican Standoff (Ep. 186)

This episode looks at the partial government shutdown and who will emerge victorious, the Go Fund Me drive to help fund the border wall, Trump’s plan to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan, and the looming war between Bernie and Beto for the soul of the Democratic left.

A Fake News Intervention

by Kevin Kelton

Hi. Come in and sit down. I’m here – we all are here – because we love you and we need to tell you something. This may be a little tough to hear, but hear me out.

We know you and we see you. You are bright, educated, and consider yourself relatively smart, sophisticated, worldly, and informed. You’ve voted Republican most of your life (or at least over the last decade or so) because you love your country and truly believe in conservative political philosophy. While you think of yourself as open-minded and are still somewhat open to voting for the right Democrat, you’ve always hated the Clintons, and you came to particularly resent and despise Hillary during the 2015-16 campaign as you learned more and more about her true evil intent – from her “illegal” email server to her support for Muslim terrorists to the highly corrupt Uranium One deal, her secret concussion, The Clinton Foundation “slush fund,” how she and the DNC cheated Bernie to fix her nomination, the “highly suspicious murder” of that poor young DNC staffer who was about to spill the beans, and all her other “crooked” behaviors that were revealed to you day after day by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, conservative media outlets and blogs, and of course by your close, trusted friends on Facebook and the links with the salacious headlines that they reposted and urged you to read…day after day after day.

YOU WERE DUPED. And you still don’t know it (or do but can’t accept it) because you are still being duped by the same powers that filled your brain with fake news and utter nonsense. You think you were immune to the more far-fetched conspiracy stories. But you’d click anyway, at first just once or twice to see what people were saying. But soon you were doing it regularly – as each click got you more and more intrigued. You say to yourself, oh, I never really believed that stuff.  You just thought they were funny and had a slight “ring of truth,” even though you didn’t really buy into them.

It was just recreational web surfing. It was fun; it was harmless. You could stop anytime you wanted.

But you absorbed it all – fake new story after story after story – and it clouded your judgment and subtly changed your perceptions. Your mind was slowly poisoned, so slowly you didn’t realize it was happening. You still sincerely believe you are smart, informed, and your belief system is right and true. But you have been brainwashed and used by people smarter than you. You are a walking, talking disinformation campaign and you don’t even know it. You are part of a massive, worldwide disinformation pyramid scheme.

You are a Russian bot in human form. And you don’t even realize it.

Consider this an intervention by a friend. You are on a very self-destructive path. You are a disinformation addict, and the disinformation pushers have you hooked just like a junkie. You shoot-up regularly on Twitter, Facebook, and with Fox News and other disinformation cartels who are playing you like a fool and cashing in on your addiction. Only in this case, you won’t die from your overdose. You’ll only kill the nation you love. Look at what happened to Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen – two other “smart men” who got duped and hooked, and saw it destroy their lives. Learn from their mistakes.

We all love you and are here for you. But you need to make a change, and make it fast. So please read these articles and start to turn your life around now. 

Senate Report on Russian 2016 Disinformation Campaign Shows Its Scale and Sweep

Michael Flynn, James Woods, Ann Coulter Regularly Shared Content From Russian Fake News Accounts

Fake News Ecosystem Still Thrives in 2018

Mainstream Advertising Pushing Fake News

Kevin Kelton is a former Saturday Night Live writer and cohost of The More Perfect Union podcast. He also runs the Facebook political group, Open Fire Politics.

Trump Train Wreck (Ep. 185)

This episode looks at the legal assault on Obamacare, the looming government shutdown, the continuing tragedy on the southern border, and the latest in the Robert Mueller Russia probe. Plus check out our Number 1 ranking on Podranker.com.

Looking Back: An MPU Retrospective (Ep. 184)

This special retrospective episode looks back at the early days of The More Perfect Union podcast from our very first podcast in September of 2015 through the end of 2016, with clips that cover the rise of Trump, chaos in the GOP primary campaign, and the Hillary-Bernie battle for the soul of the Democratic party.

Unseating Trump

by Kevin Kelton

The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.
–Sen. Mitch McConnell, 2010

Every opposition political party has a duty to try to oppose and, when justified, defeat the party in power, and that starts with its highest leaders. Just as the Republicans worked their tails off to unseat Barack Obama in 2012, Democrats have an obligation to their voters to do everything in their constitutional power to unseat Donald Trump.

The question is, How?

For one, Democrats should not be afraid of impeachment and so cowered by the right as to turn the mere mention of the word into a taboo. The “I word” is not a curse; it’s a constitutionally sound legal process that The Founding Fathers created for just this reason. The House is fully in its constitutionally mandated oversight rights to investigate potential high crimes and send articles of impeachment to the Senate if justified. Yet with a “jury” comprised of 53 Republican senators, it’s doubtful (though not inconceivable) that body will achieve the requisite 2/3 vote to remove Trump from office. 

But that does not mean an impeachment trial would be in vain. While the decision to vote for or against an impeachment conviction is a political calculation made by each senator, the damning testimony and evidence that would likely be unearthed in an impeachment proceeding would greatly inform the 2020 election.

The 2018 midterms showed that most Americans have lost patience with the lack of character and moral compass of this president. The revelations that could come out during an impeachment trial would greatly add to that impatience. Like the Titanic taking on water, Trump’s presidency cannot float forever. With each dirty revelation that surely would come out, each compartment of Trump’s illicit ship of state will begin to flood, and the entire administration will quickly submerge.

From Paul Manafort to Michael Flynn to Michael Cohen to Roger Stone – and maybe even Jared Kushner and Don Jr. – the wrong-doings that would come out during testimony in a public impeachment trial will send the Trump dominos falling. The president himself would probably survive thanks to his GOP firewall in the senate, but his presidency would be mortally wounded and on life support just as it heads into the 2020 primary season.

The idea that Trump might emerge from an impeachment acquittal victorious and vindicated is nonsense. He is not as likable as Bill Clinton, and his high crimes will prove much more than a sordid sexual affair. And it cannot be overlooked that even with a bump in Clinton’s approval ratings after his acquittal, that still didn’t stop his vice president, Al Gore, from losing the presidency in 2000.

One could even anticipate a GOP primary challenge to Trump on moral grounds. His poll numbers might get so bad that Trump would be compelled to forgo a re-election run, handing the nomination to Mike Pence in an effort to salvage some scraps of his presidential legacy. (A Hail Mary pass that didn’t work so well for Hubert Humphrey or Gerald Ford.)

But invariably, we will have to unseat Trump (or Pence) at the polls. While right now the pundit banter seems to flitter around who is the most progressive candidate or who is the new, younger face the party needs, I suspect that an impeachment process will change that equation. Voters often lurch from one extreme to the other – from Reagan-Bush old stodginess to Clinton young dynamism; from Clinton philandering to George W. Bush family values; from Bush II recklessness to Obama coolness.

If Trump is proved in a senate trial to be a dirty con artist who scammed his way into office and continues to profit illicitly from it, decency and honor may be the commodity 2020 voters crave.

Joe Biden is well-positioned to make that case. Just as George W. Bush was able to run on restoring honor and dignity to the Oval Office, Biden could run on honor, decency and competence. So might another Democratic candidate who can project a similar sense of honor and character in a way Hillary Clinton could not. A Trump-weary electorate might flock to that message and messenger.

The way to unseat Trump is to hammer his faults relentlessly and then offer a clear contrast. An impeachment trial in the senate, even one ending in acquittal, would magnify that contrast.

Trump’s policies may resonate with conservative voters, but his bankrupt character is what will ultimately defeat him.

 

Kevin Kelton is the founder of Open Fire Politics and cohost of The More Perfect Union podcast.