Remembering our neighborhood

After the Manchester attacks, like after so many of the other tragic incidents of domestic and international terrorism lately, the Mr. Rogers quote about looking for the helpers started circulating across social media.

Not long after, this tweetstorm surfaced from journalist and author Anthony Breznican about meeting Fred Rogers during a particularly sad time in his life. You should read the entire tweetstorm here, but grab some Kleenex first.

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Paris Agreement: Changing what we can

As I’ve aged, I’ve really started to love hiking. There’s something about wandering through nature with a friend, cut off from technology and surrounded by all of Mother Nature’s glory that just centers you.

It seems fitting that a year ago today I was spending a carefree June day hiking to the Kjenndal Glacier in Norway. I can still feel the crisp air that surrounded me as the sun shone in such a way that every drop of water and blade of grass seemed in technicolor.

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Health care is not a free market

A few years ago, I ran the Marine Corp Marathon. It was not a brag-worthy performance, but I finished and that’s all I really have to say about it. I’ve checked it off the bucket list and I’ll probably never go that long of a distance without the assistance of a car ever again.

In the weeks after, I developed a pain in my hip. I went to my primary care doctor who couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Concerned I could have torn something, the doctor referred me to a specialist who recommended an MRI.

I had a terrible insurance plan with a ridiculously high deductible compared to my salary. When I called to make the appointment, the receptionist told me I would need to have the payment for the MRI at the time of service.

“How much will that cost?” I asked.

“We don’t know,” she replied.

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Ad Astra Per Aspera: Why the Democrats need Kansas

Kansas’s state motto, Ad Astra per Aspera, is one of my favorites. The Latin translation “to the stars through difficulty” reflects the history of my home state while also accurately describing the people I know back home. Kansans are not afraid of hard work and fighting adversity to achieve their goals.

National publications keep interviewing Trump voters, trying to understand why they would vote against their own interest and they’re missing the bigger story. This is the story I see brewing in the Heartland: The people who normally are not involved in politics, are now energized. I’ve seen friends (both moderate Republicans and Democrats) form PACs, canvas for the first time, and in many cases, consider running for office.

Maybe after the near-win in the Kansas 4th Congressional District special election last night, they’ll take notice.

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What to think about the airstrikes in Syria

Just more than 12 hours after I published my post about WWI and Syria, President Trump launched an air strike against the Shayrat Airfield in Syria. There is certainly no shortage of hot or bad takes on social media right now about whether that was a logical decision.

I’m not an expert, nor am I confident in what the right decision is regarding Syria. I’m a little unsettled that this administration changed course in a 12-hour period. However, the Syrian people have been waiting for years for someone, anyone, to help end the conflict.

I have a lot of thoughts swirling in my head right now so here’s a rundown of them by hot take topics on social media:

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Reflecting on Syria on the anniversary of WWI

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entrance into World War I. To Europe, this is a significant day because it marks when the U.S. abandoned its longstanding isolationist position and began what Europe perceives as the United States’ modern transatlantic relationship with European nations.

Liberty Memorial-The National WWI Memorial in Kansas City, Mo.

While I was traveling in Brussels last week, I constantly heard about the anniversary and its importance to the relationship. There will be an anniversary celebration in my hometown of Kansas City at the National World War I monument today. You can watch it live here.

Meanwhile, I’ve been reflecting on that history, the Trump administration’s current foreign policy (especially in light of recent events in Syria), and my travel experiences in Brussels.

It’s always interesting to travel abroad and hear another perspective about your country. We had a lot of conversations about why American audiences don’t keep up with foreign current events until it actually affects America.

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Brussels: One year later

Memorial at the entrance of the Brussels Airport

My trip to Brussels ended over the weekend and I am back in D.C. now. It was quite an experience and I am so grateful for the chance to learn more about the EU, as well as get so many foreign policy briefings and observe the historic exercise.

Along with being in Brussels during British Prime Minister Theresa May’s historic triggering of Article 50 to begin Britain’s exit from the European Union, I was also in Brussels during the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the Brussels airport and metro.

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Brussels and Brexit

It’s a strange feeling to be incidentally on the doorsteps of history today. We’re on this diplomatic tour of the European Union and happen to be in town as British Prime Minister Theresa May sent the letter to European Council President Donald Tusk invoking the Article 50 separation. The EU officially received notice today that Britain will exit the union (or Brexit).

In the Press Club over lunch watching Prime Minister Theresa May address the British Parliament

What a day to be here! There were reporters all around Brussels today for this announcement. There was no room for us to join the press conference due to the amount of credentialed press for this historic event. Instead, we stood in the Press Club during lunch to watch May give her speech to parliament, then Tusk hold a press conference addressing what essentially amounts to receiving divorce papers from the U.K.

 

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Welcome to Brussels: An introduction to the European Union

Hello and Greetings from Brussels, Belgium, the home of the European Union!

I’m here on a tour sponsored by the European Union Delegation to the United States for graduate students in journalism to learn more about what it does and its relations with the United States. It has already been a fascinating trip and we’re only on day one. I would like to share with you some of my reflections from this trip so far. (Note: I want to point out these thoughts that I share are my personal reflections and not necessarily those of the EU.)

American and EU flag pin

It’s an interesting time to be visiting the EU as Britain is trying to exit the European Union. Meanwhile, Saturday was the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Romewhich established an economic community between six member countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. This economic partnership set the ground work for what developed into the European Union which now consists of 28 member countries — soon to be 27 when the UK “Brexits” (British exit).

Britain’s vote to leave the EU has left many pundits speculating about the future of the organization. But it seems European Council President Donald Tusk’s speech in Rome this weekend commemorating the anniversary has helped calm some nerves.

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So much winning! Is everyone tired of winning?

With all the winning in D.C. this week, it’s hard to believe we could win any bigger. But, I have some great news! Just in time for my latest podcast, Politics in Polite Company has finally made it on iTunes! Make sure you subscribe!

This week—I’m talking to Joy Namunoga with the Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda. Yep! We’re calling Joy in Uganda to talk to her about corruption and what she learned while she was a U.S. State Department fellow. We worked together at the Sunlight Foundation and I thought you might enjoy hearing her perspective. I wrote last week about my experience with these programs and I thought you might benefit from hearing from somebody who is not an American.

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