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rom left, Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. raise their hands to answer a question Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC at Texas Southern University in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

From Jordan

(Corey) Booker having the biggest improvement tonight?

From Jason

What was your biggest takeaway from the debate? And will you let us know  in the future when you are going to live Tweet an event like (Thursday night) — you were hilarious during the debate.

Js

Sure, about the tweeting, if I can remember. More times than not it is spontaneous and depends a lot with what's happening at the homestead.

I have been impressed by Corey Booker's delivery and presence from the very beginning, and I actually thought he would have been a bigger factor to this point. In some ways, Booker was the most hurt by having so many candidates in the first two debates.

That said, I think Beto O'Rourke made the biggest leap last night. His hard stance on guns — the "Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15" — after the mass murder in his hometown of El Paso was the most lasting moment in the end.

I think Mayor Pete was excellent almost every time he got a chance to speak. I also think he has the same chance to get the Democratic nomination as I do.

I think Kamala Harris took the biggest step back, and her "Wizard of Oz" joke about President Trump was sophomoric. And speaking as someone who is a borderline expert on sophomoric humor, Kamala's attempt was not even funny. She has shown herself to be a one-trick pony, and that trick — blaming everything on Trump and calling him a racist — is a pretty common tool in the boxes for all 10 of the folks on the stage last night.

In truth, before we break down the big three, can we all agree that the other seven folks on the stage are running for a VP nod or some other federal post if the Democrats take back the White House? (And the entrepreneur fellow who dropped, "I'm Asian, so I know a lot of doctors," and offered to pay 10 people a freedom dividend of $12K after visiting his website, well, this is an expensive hobby, my man.)  

As for the big three — Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden — I think Warren has been the best in the debates.

She has had the most clarity, the most direction and a smooth way of answering questions while weaving in connectable personal stories.

In each debate setting, Sanders has turned into a hand-waving, hair-messing, tone-raising cross between Doc Brown from "Back to the Future" and Larry David in "Curb Your Enthusiasm." If he gets the nomination, the debates between Crazy Bernie and President Trump will absolutely be must-see TV.
     
I know the polls point to Joe Biden being the front-runner, and I understand that. In fact, I believe he represents the best chance for the Democrats to beat Trump.

He has the past connection to Obama. He has a civility that the others have not or refuse to display. His distance from some of the socialism plans of Sanders and Warren on health care and student loans that will add tens of trillions to our debt may not allow him to get the nomination, but it would serve the entire party much better in November 2020.

Biden may not be far enough left for a lot of Democrats, but for those of us who vote first and last with our wallet, he is a viable option against Donald Trump.

Wallet-voters see the trillions and trillions of dollars in promises — and the tax increases that will have to come with them to fund them. Sanders and Warren want to add to our debt for student loans, universal health care and even slave reparations. And it will galvanize wallet-voters to support Trump, regardless of his social shortcomings and his tweeting addiction.

At least, those were my thoughts. How about you?

———  

From Stacey

(Today) is Friday the 13th. Do you have any superstitions?

Thanks - I enjoy your column and my husband loves your radio show.

Stacey

Not anymore, although even though my mom died almost three years ago, I still semi-subconsciously do not step on cracks on the sidewalk if I can help it.

When I was playing baseball and basketball in high school I had a few. Ate the same food before home basketball games — Hardee's chicken sandwiches — and got my haircut every Friday during the season. Did the exact same routine before every free throw — ball, dribble-dribble-dribble, knee bend, deep breath, swish — for as long as I can remember.

Wore the same socks every time it was my turn to pitch, and my junior year when we were pretty good — we were dreadful my senior year — we all sat in the same spots in the dugout.

Now, not really. Well, I guess if Auburn is playing well while I am sitting a certain place or standing, well, you can't change that, right?

Because, as Crash told us, "A player on a streak has to respect the streak. You know why? Because they don't happen very often."

From Terry

If you were running the NFL what do you do with Antonio Brown?

Terry

First, I would make sure that $45-million-or-so annual paycheck cleared because this is a complete lose-lose situation for almost everyone involved, including Commissioner Roger Goodell.

There really only seem to be two options from the league's point of view: Sit him down or do nothing until the process plays out.

If you do the latter, and he plays for the Patriots, well, the worst-case scenario is that if he pays the accuser to make the lawsuit — a civil lawsuit not a criminal lawsuit, mind you — go away or he loses the court case, you allowed a rapist to play in your league.

Plus, if this is not what the "Commissioner's Exempt" list was designed for, then what is?

Which leads me to the next point, and this has been a fair and unresolved complaint from the players and the fans in the league's handling of off-the-field issues: Where's the consistency and standards? Why is there no playbook on matters like this?

Because we can all understand why the NFL — a $15-plus-billion-a-year (and growing) operation — has to be concerned with its image and public perception, but is that really the best place to investigate and regulate behavior before the legal process does its thing?

As for sitting Brown, well, the first thing you have to acknowledge is that the league's view could easily be described as "guilty until proven innocent" in that scenario.

And that may not be the worst unintended consequence of sitting Brown, because at least in this instance, there are some pretty incriminating allegations and threats in the text messages and emails in the lawsuit — provided of course that Brown sent them — that could be described as some evidence.

If you suspend or sit Brown — costing him game checks and valuable time to try to generate numbers on a very performance-bonus-based contract — could that possibly encourage more females to try to blackmail players or even worse?

I don't know, and I'm not sure anyone knows the right answer.

I do know that this is why Goodell gets those monster checks. I would likely let him play until the league, at the very least, meets with the accuser next week.

But I believe the league was better served as a reactionary punisher — as in after the legal decisions were made — rather than an investigatory one.            

Which leads us to our NFL picks this week.

Cincinnati minus-1 over San Francisco. The 49ers were the beneficiary of two defensive scores to win Week 1 over a plodding Bucs team. The Bengals were scrappy against Seattle. Now comes the flight across the country. Am I tickled to think that "Yep, let's get that Andy Dalton and roll with it" is my Sunday play? You betcha.  

Cleveland-New York Jets under 45. The Browns offensive line against a motivated Gregg Williams, who was a Cleveland assistant and interim head coach before being shuffled away. Check. The artist known as Trevor Siemian prominently involved in a Jets offensive scheme that managed one score last week with Sam Darnold. Check. Two desperate teams that will almost assuredly play conservatively. Check. This one has a monster 17-13 feel to it.

L.A. Rams-New Orleans over 52. The reverse of the Monday night snoozer will be his NFC championship game rematch. Playmakers everywhere. And points to match.

Chicago minus-2 over Denver. The Bears are decisively better and that price, even on the road, is very affordable.
Dallas minus-5 over Washington. Same thought as above.

Last week: 4-1 against the spread (80 percent)

NFL picks this season (including preseason): 20-9 against the spread

From Peter

Heard you guys talking about video games on Press Row — love the show and listen as much as I can — so I wanted to ask you your Rushmore of video games all-time. Thanks and keep up the great work.

Peter

Thanks for listening my man, and for playing along with the silliness.

Most of my video gaming was sports-related games. I was never big into the shoot 'em-up-kill-everyone games, although I think everyone my age at some point got into Contra on the old-school Nintendo.

Mike Tyson's Punch-Out was my first game addiction. Madden would have to be there, too. A sneaky argument could be an old-school game called Baseball Stars which actually allowed you to spend money and improve the players' skill-sets (which has become a foundation for the franchise modes of today's super-sophisticated games). The old school EA Sports college football is a must, and Tecmo Bowl, which gave us Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson, for Pete's sake.

From Mike

I laughed at your request for TV female cops earlier this week and could not help but think of Heather Locklear's character on "TJ Hooker."

That made me wonder who would you pick as your first TV crush?

Mike

Wow, what a great question.

There's a complete generation of us who grew up in the South having unprintable thoughts about Daisy Duke.

For me though, if we had to pick the first, I would have to go with Pam Ewing, Bobby's wife, played by Victoria Principal ,in "Dallas."

Wowser.

Also, Erin Gray's character on "Silver Spoons " was reason enough to watch that show on Sunday nights.
Enjoy the weekend gang.

(Gang, I will add the Rushmores before lunch — had some computer issues and this is the 5-at-10, not the 5-at-10:40.)

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