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Our crazy politics year: From buying Greenland to Giuliani butt-dials to live-streaming dental work – NBC News

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WASHINGTON — It’s difficult to describe politics in 2019 as anything but painful.

The nation is split exactly in half over President Donald Trump’s impeachment. Partisanship pervades the most fundamental questions about American values. And the Democratic debates are starting to make us all feel like Natasha Lyonne’s character in “Russian Doll,” living the same events over and over even as characters start to disappear inexplicably with each reboot. (Steve Bullock, we barely knew ya.)

But 2019 also had plenty of political stories that qualified as, well, laughable. Absurd. Preposterous. Darkly comedic, patently nutty or even just plain silly.

Each year, the NBC News Political Unit does its best to gather the year’s silliest, goofiest, most bizarre human behavior from America’s elected officials. Because as the decade draws to a close, we all could always use a laugh or two. Here are some of our favorites, in chronological order starting from last January:

Beto O’Rourke goes to the dentist

In early 2019, Beto O’Rourke’s viral social media presence, and his antagonizing of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in the 2018 Senate race, had given his Democratic fans plenty of reasons to smile. After all, there had been a certain joyousness to his Insta-antics, such as skateboarding around a Whataburger parking lot or chowing down on guacamole.

But his public sharing of a trip to the dental hygienist was widely seen as less je ne sais quoi and more “TMI, dude.”

It wasn’t the last time that unvarnished access to O’Rourke’s every brain wave failed to age well. Eight months after the presidential hopeful declared, “Man, I’m just born to be in it” … he was right back out of it.

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Ted Cruz ate that guy’s son

You can’t blame Cruz for trying to have a sense of humor about, well, Ted Cruz. After all, not every United States senator faces conspiracies claiming that he’s the Zodiac Killer or that his dad killed JFK. (The latter rumor was, of course, fueled by the very president to whom Cruz has irrevocably tied his political fortunes. Irony!)

But Cruz’s particular clapback to a particularly absurd online meme, featuring his photo and the text “this man ate my son,” may have been, uh, alarming to those who weren’t in on the joke.

“He was delicious!” Cruz responded.

Inevitably, all traces of fun were immediately lost after Cruz’s foes and fans devolved into a Twitter argument about the joke and who precisely “owned” whom. But, hey, points for trying?

John Delaney has no time for your fun and games

John Delaney is having a Very Serious Year. He’s been spending his time and considerable personal wealth running for the Democratic nomination, with very little to show for it. The strength of his feelings about the direction of the Democratic Party is matched only by his urgency to deadlift 350 pounds right now.

So perhaps we should not be surprised that his turn on the Iowa State Fair’s giant slide did not exactly yield the childlike glee that might grip a less serious person.

Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., rides down the giant slide during a visit to the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 10, 2018, in Des Moines, Iowa.Charlie Neibergall / AP file

That whole Greenland thing

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When wide-eyed future generations ask about the Trump Era in American politics, wizened old political sages will tell the tale of the time the president of the United States suggested purchasing the ice-covered semi-autonomous Danish territory of Greenland and compared the transaction to a “large real estate deal,” which prompted a transatlantic spat that in turn resulted in the abrupt cancellation of his state visit to Denmark.

Remember that? That happened.

The pen ain’t mightier

Those wizened old political sages will also tell the tale of the time the president of the United States displayed a doctored map of a deadly looming storm — clumsily altered with a Sharpie, reportedly by his own hand — because he was in a dispute with an Alabama outpost of the National Weather Service over conflicting Twitter messages.

Remember that? That also happened.

President Donald Trump holds an early projection map of Hurricane Dorian in the Oval Office on Sept. 4, 2019.Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

J’accuse, Monsieur Delecto!

Keeping up appearances on your social media accounts can be a real drag. Just ask someone with a “Finstagram,” or someone who decided to #deletefacebook, or probably Beto O’Rourke after that whole dentist escapade.

So it’s not wildly unusual that Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, had an alias Twitter account that allowed him to be, in his description, a “lurker” on the site.

But not since Anthony “Carlos Danger” Weiner has a political figure chosen a spicier pseudonym for their secret online identity.

Was Mitt Romney really “Pierre Delecto”? At long last, he admitted, C’est moi.”

Rudy Giuliani can’t stop butt-dialing people

Speaking of older Republican men’s relationship to technology: Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has spent a lot of time on his iPhone this year (he also has spent some time with said iPhone in an Apple Genius bar after forgetting his password).

But it turns out that some of his own phone calls occurred unbeknownst to Giuliani himself. NBC News reporter Rich Schapiro wrote in October that he received TWO separate accidental calls — colloquially known “butt-dials” — in which Giuliani could be heard saying phrases like “the problem is we need some money.”

Not to be outdone, some of the nation’s pre-eminent journalists chimed in to say: “Yes, I too have received a coveted Rudy Butt-Dial. But never one quite that good.”

Just say no

Yes, the methamphetamine crisis is a tragedy with a horrific human cost. And yes, they say that acknowledging that you have a problem is the first step to recovery.

But maybe the state government of South Dakota should have, y’know, asked a few more friends, “So what do you think of our new slogan to fight the meth crisis?” At least before spending half a million dollars on billboards reading “Meth. We’re on it.”

Images from South Dakota’s anti-methamphetamine campaign.OnMeth.com

Inherit the Wind

American history is dotted with unsolved mysteries. Where is Jimmy Hoffa’s body? What’s really going on at Area 51? Did a congressman audibly pass gas during an appearance on MSNBC?

Theories and counter-theories abound on the internet, far too many to enumerate here. But if you find yourself bored during the holiday season, a Google search of “Swalwell” and “gas” is sure to provide a rip-roaring good time.

Feats of strength

Joe Biden apparently has a thing about challenging people to push-up contests.

Asked about his age back in July, he joked that he’d happily face off in one with Trump. But the mood wasn’t quite as light later in the year, after an 83-year-old Iowa man at a town hall event aggressively questioned Biden’s age and Hunter Biden’s dealings with Ukraine. “You’re a damn liar, man,” an angry Biden shot back, before suggesting a push-up contest or footrace. (There was also much dispute later about whether Biden also accused the man of being fat.)

To be fair, Biden isn’t the only 2020 presidential candidate who has mused about challenging a rival to engage in Feats of Strength. In August, Andrew Yang said he would challenge Trump to “any physical or mental feat under the sun.” He later added one exception: “Like, if there was a hot-air balloon that was rising and you needed to try and keep it on the ground, he would be better than me at that. Because he is so fat.”

Flush hour

When wide-eyed future generations ask about the Trump Era in American politics, those aforementioned wizened old political sages will surely not forget the tale of the time the president said this about toilets:

We have a situation where we’re looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms where you turn the faucet on, in areas where there’s tremendous amounts of water, where the water rushes out to sea because you could never handle it. And you don’t get any water. You turn on the faucet; you don’t get any water. They take a shower and water comes dripping out. It’s dripping out — very quietly dripping out. People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once. They end up using more water. So, EPA is looking at that very strongly, at my suggestion.

Honorable mentions: That time some teenagers were running an 89-year-old’s presidential campaign; an extremely gross story about a prank Beto O’Rourke allegedly played on his wife; Marianne Williamson’s “Girlfriend” shoutout; that very, VERY sparsely attended Deval Patrick event and Trump’s copyright dispute with the band Nickelback.

That’s in no way a complete list of the absurd things that happened this year, but there’s only so much room on the internet, after all.

From all of us here at the NBC News Political Unit, have a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year.

CORRECTION (Dec. 25, 2019, 9:23 a.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misspelled the last name of an NBC News reporter. He is Rich Schapiro, not Shapiro.

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Should Politics Play A Role In Our Investments? – Forbes

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With yesterday’s inauguration of Joe Biden, it seems the perfect time to consider the role that politics may play in our investments. Over the past weeks and months, politics has been a hot topic. Undoubtedly, we can expect the economy to change and the markets to react as policies and priorities shift. Many are worried about the outcome of the election—and many others are excited. So, with all of the different emotions at play, how do we think about politics as we make our investment decisions?

The Choice Facing Financial Advisors

As Commonwealth’s chief investment officer, I serve a wide range of advisors and clients. They all have political opinions, and I may fundamentally disagree with many of them (half?) on very important issues. How can I handle this disconnect?

As I see it, I have a choice. I can take public positions that might feel good but will both alienate and ill serve a substantial portion of my community, while convincing no one. Or, I can focus on communicating what I both know about and have been tasked to do, in order to help people, as investors, navigate the current turmoil.

All financial advisors face the same decision. For all of us, no matter what our opinions, stating them can make us less effective for a substantial portion of our clients. And we can’t sidestep the issue by saying we have no opinions, because of course we do. What to do?

The way I have tried to deal with it is by explicitly separating the two roles I have: as a citizen (where I have very strong opinions) and as an economist and investment advisor (where all that matters is the data). By decoupling the two, I acknowledge I have my own opinions, but I try to make them less relevant to the discussions we are having.

I might say something like this. “As a citizen, I certainly have my own opinions, which may (or may not) be the same as yours. As your advisor, however, they don’t matter. My job here is to help you navigate the uncertainty around these events in your investments, not in the rest of your life. Because of that, we can look at the economic and market facts, which is what I am here to do, and make a decision that is best for you. My only concern, sitting in this chair, is your financial future.” I have used something like this with multiple client groups, on both sides, and it has been effective.

A Focus on Long-Term Outcomes

Another way to approach this is to demonstrate how it works in practice. In the last two elections, for example, I had people—on different sides—who wanted to sell out when Obama was elected and when Trump was elected. In both cases, it would have been a mistake. This example is a good follow-up, as you can directly look at emotional decisions, tie them back to the factual results, and make the point that as an investor, data is what is needed most. And that is the job of an advisor. However good or bad things are now, investors need to be focused on the long-term outcomes, not the short-term headlines. Taking the politics out can and does yield better long-term results.

Bumps in the Middle of the Road

This approach doesn’t always work, of course. I typically get feedback, some of it ferocious, whenever I write a piece that touches on politics, with my recent blog post on Washington turning a light shade of blue a good example. Several people felt very strongly, based on that post, that I must be a hard-core Republican. Others thought that the piece showed a clear Democratic basis and needed to be rewritten.

What I tried to do, though, was write something straight down the middle, presenting the facts and reasonable conclusions in a nonpartisan way. With this one, more than some of the others, I clearly failed in the eyes of some readers. That is inevitable, and the feedback helps me get better, so I appreciate it. I will try to do better. But I also draw comfort from the fact that I got fire from both sides. The middle of the road can be an uncomfortable place as well.

Recognize the Disconnect

What if you are not an advisor but just concerned about your own investments? The advice is the same. Look at the data. Don’t make emotional decisions. Realize the U.S. economy and markets are largely disconnected from politics. And keep an eye on the long term. No matter how you feel about either administration, investing is a game of decades during which we will have a wide range of politics.

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Nova Scotia finance minister says she will leave politics when next election called – Toronto Star

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HALIFAX – A key member of outgoing Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil’s cabinet says she too will leave politics once the next provincial election is called.

Finance Minister Karen Casey, who is also deputy premier, made the announcement following a cabinet meeting Thursday, saying that after 15 years representing the riding of Colchester North, she is ready to retire and wants to spend more time with her four grandchildren.

Casey said while she had been pondering her future for some time, she only made a final decision over the last week.

“Fifteen years, I think, is a good amount of public service to give to my constituents,” Casey told reporters. “I’m happy with the work that we (government) have achieved, and it’s time to let somebody else represent Colchester North.”

Casey, a former teacher, also served in the education and health portfolios and was named deputy premier in 2017.

Over her time in the education portfolio, she was instrumental in the Liberal government’s move to rein in contract demands by the province’s teachers — a battle that ultimately saw the imposition of a contract that ended a two-month work-to-rule campaign by public school teachers in February 2017.

As finance minister, Casey also played a part in helping the government table five consecutive balanced budgets.

“I learned a lot personally in the finance portfolio, but there were challenges there, and I quite like a challenge,” she said.

McNeil, who is leaving politics next month, said he counts Casey as a personal friend and believes she played an “integral role” in helping return the province to fiscal health.

“We have really run a duo operation here in lots of ways,” McNeil said. “She is one person that I have always sought counsel of in my most difficult days.”

Casey was a former interim leader of the Progressive Conservatives and defected to the Liberals in January, 2011 at McNeil’s invitation.

“That allowed me to join a caucus and a leader … whose values I thought I shared,” said Casey. “What motivated me? It would be knowing that my ideas and those of my constituents and me as a person would be respected.”

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Casey confirmed she would stay on until the next election, which must be called by the spring of 2022.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021.

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Group forms to support women in politics in Grey-Bruce – Shoreline Beacon

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Article content continued

Merton said being involved in a non-partisan community organization for women was important to her because it allows her as a first-term councillor to share her personal experiences.

Merton said she did a lot of research and work before running for municipal council, which helped her get an idea of what to expect in the campaign and then at the council table.

“I thought if I have this information and there are others who have this information lets pass it on,” she said. “It is not easy work even making the decision and then certainly as you move forward to sit in a political office.”

Jan.20 also marked a big day politically for women as Kamala Harris was sworn in as the first female vice-president in the history of the United States.

Merton said that was a very inspiring and encouraging accomplishment.

“This is absolutely amazing,” she said. “It is important for us to just pause, reflect on what this means and appreciate the moment.”

She said Harris’ election gives women hope, something that electHER is also hoping to do.

“We want to give women the recognition and acknowledgement that there are opportunities for you,” she said. “We want future generations to realize that this can be accomplished.”

The first electHER learning session is on March 16 at 7 p.m. with the theme of “How to Decide to Run for Office.” Participation is limited with registration available online at electhernow.ca or by e-mailing

electhernow@gmail.com

All sessions are all “pay what you can” events.

More information on electHER can be found on its website page or on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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