From The Washington Post:

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) responded defiantly to President Obama’s comments earlier Wednesday about the impending “fiscal cliff.”

In an appearance before cameras that lasted less than one minute, Boehner said the House would pass his “Plan B” on Thursday “to make permanent tax relief for nearly every American – 99.81 percent of the American people.”

“I hope the president will get serious soon about providing and working with us on a balanced approach,” Boehner said. “Then the president will have the decision to make: He can call on Senate Democrats to pass that bill or he can be responsible for the largest tax increase in American history.”

With that, the Speaker walked away from the microphones without taking questions.

According to CBS News correspondent Mark Knoller, Boehner’s statement lasted 51 seconds. I’m not sure why Boehner didn’t just send out a press release — except he probably wanted some face time on television and a clip to be played on the radio. That’s fine, except that a press conference should be exactly that — let at least a few questions be asked.

Maybe he’ll get it right next time.


President Obama held a press conference today to announce the formation of a gun violence task force headed by Vice President Joe Biden. This seems like a good idea considering that in 1994, then-U.S. Sen. Biden was a key author of a 1994 crime bill that banned assault weapons. The ban expired in 2004, but there are renewed calls to reinstate it after the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Many questions asked by the press concerned the so-called “fiscal cliff” negotiations, but the one that stood out most to me was the last one, asked by ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper. The question itself wasn’t a bad one per se, but the way he asked it seemed a bit rude and confrontational (especially if you hear it rather than just read it in a transcript):

“It seems to a lot of observers that you made the political calculation in 2008, in your first term and in 2012, not to talk about gun violence,” Tapper said. “You had your position on renewing the ban on semiautomatic rifles that then-Sen. Biden put into place, but you didn’t do much about it. This is not the first issue — the first incident of horrific gun violence of your four years. Where have you been?”

Obama responded with what I thought was an appropriate “smackdown” response:

Well, here’s where I’ve been, Jake. I’ve been president of the United States, dealing with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, an auto industry on the verge of collapse, two wars. I don’t think I’ve been on vacation.

And so, you know, I think all of us have to do some reflection on how we prioritize what we do here in Washington. And as I said on Sunday, you know, this should be a wake-up call for all of us to say that if we are not getting right the need to keep our children safe, then nothing else matters. And it’s my commitment to make sure that, that we do everything we can to keep our children safe. A lot of things go — are involved in that, Jake. So making sure they’ve got decent health care and making sure they’ve got a good education, making sure that their parents have jobs — those are all relevant as well. Those aren’t just sort of side issues. But there’s no doubt that this has to be a central issue. And that’s exactly why I’m confident that Joe is going to take this so seriously over the next couple months.

Again, it was not inappropriate for Tapper to question Obama why he hasn’t done something about gun violence sooner, but I believe he could’ve asked his question in a less-confrontational manner.

You can read a full transcript of the press conference here.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! It’s been several months since I last posted here at The Bread Line, but this morning I felt the urge to write here again.

While this blog has been dormant (other than the ever-changing Twitter feed on the right side of the website), my other blog, The Midwest League Traveler, has been going strong. That where I chronicled my summer journey to the 16 Midwest League (Class A minor-league baseball) ballparks and continue to write about baseball-related topics. I’m in the process of writing a book about the ballparks and my experiences visiting them. My plan is to publish the book by the start of the next baseball season, and most nights I’m staying up late to work on it. If you haven’t done so already, I hope you will check out my work at The Midwest League Traveler and if you use Twitter, follow me at @MWLtraveler in addition to @thebreadline.

That brings me to what I’m thankful for this year. In addition to the usual stuff — you know what kind of stuff I mean — I am thankful for the opportunity to be pursuing my dream of writing a book and, in doing so, being able to combine my loves of baseball, road trips and writing. I’m thankful for all the support I’ve gotten from family, friends and even some strangers (people I hear from through the blog or Twitter, or whom I met at ballparks this year), but I’m especially thankful for the unwavering support of my wife, without whom my book project wouldn’t be happening.

Thanks for checking in at The Bread Line. While I rarely post here anymore because of my commitment to finishing my book and pushing it through my other blog and social media, I am glad you stopped here and read this.

Now it’s time to enjoy a turkey day cup of coffee. Have a happy and safe holiday, everyone.

A jury of 11 women and one man today found Rod Blagojevich guilty of 17 of 20 charges in the former Illinois governor’s corruption retrial.

I’m sure Blagojevich’s attorneys will file a motion to appeal the verdicts, but I believe the convictions will stand.

Justice has finally been served in this case.

I was saddened to learn tonight that Clarence Clemons, the E Street Band saxophonist nicknamed “The Big Man,” died today of complications from a stroke he suffered about a week ago.

Bruce Springsteen is one of my favorite musicians, and the loss of his longtime sidekick will be felt throughout the music world. I got to see them perform together in Milwaukee during the E Street Band reunion tour, and that remains one of the best concerts I ever saw in person.

You may be aware that I’m currently working on a book project that involves visiting all 16 of the Midwest League (Class A minor-league baseball) parks. (You can read more about it on my other blog, The Midwest League Traveler.) I go back on the road Monday, and I’ve decided that I’m going to make that two-day trip’s soundtrack Springsteen-based. I’ll bring all the classic E Street Band albums, but I also want to create a Big Man mix CD for the trip. I’m definitely going to include “Jungleland,” which includes my absolute favorite Clarence Clemons saxophone solo. I have other songs in mind, too, but I’d like to know what you would include if you were making the mix CD.

I look forward to reading your suggestions!

My apologies to readers of The Bread Line who haven’t had any new blog posts to read for several weeks. I was on vacation for 12 days (road trip to Atlanta and Florida) and since then I’ve been busy working on my summer project: visiting all 16 Midwest League ballparks and writing about the experience.

I’m still in the beginning stages of the adventure, having gone only to a couple Peoria Chiefs games so far. I’ve got a schedule in place for when I’ll visit the other 15 Midwest League ballparks (and likely return to Peoria’s park, too, since that’s the closest one to me). I set up a second Twitter account from which I’ll tweet about my Midwest League odyssey: @MWLtraveler. I’m also building a blog at which I’ll chronicle my ballpark visits at It’s still a work in progress right now, so please excuse the metaphorical dust as construction continues, but bookmark it and check back regularly if you want to follow along there, too.

That’s it for now here at The Bread Line. I’ll still be posting here occasionally, but I’ll be posting at The Midwest League Traveler blog a lot more this summer. I hope you’ll like what you read there, and as always, feel free to give me feedback about my writing and the project in general.

President Obama has decided not to release photographs of a dead Osama bin Laden. Here are his comments about the subject, told to “60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Kroft:

“The risks of release outweigh the benefits,” Obama said. “Conspiracy theorists around the world will just claim the photos are doctored anyway, and there is a real risk that releasing the photos will only serve to inflame public opinion in the Middle East.

“Imagine how the American people would react if al-Qaida killed one of our troops or military leaders, and put photos of the body on the Internet,” he continued. “Osama bin Laden is not a trophy — he is dead and let’s now focus on continuing the fight until al-Qaida has been eliminated.”

I completely agree with Obama’s reasoning. Here’s what I tweeted about his decision before I read his comments:

“I think that’s the right decision. No need to risk upsetting the wrong people (potential terrorists) just to satisfy conspiracy theorists.”


“Besides, would conspiracy theorists really be silenced if photo released? They probably would claim it’s doctored.”

Obama’s comments about not releasing post-mortem images of bin Laden will air today on “CBS Evening News.” The full interview will air Sunday on “60 Minutes.”