He knows a just cause
As a general rule, I don't answer the phone when the caller ID says the number is restricted. It's usually bad news - ex-girlfriends, the IRS, charities that expect you to give back.
Recently, I got a call from a restricted line. It turned out to be one of the governor's aides. She left me a cryptic voice-mail message:
"The governor wanted to speak with you," the staffer said. "If you could give me a call back at [restricted number], I would appreciate it."
Why would the governor want to talk to me? Did I tick him off without realizing it? (Possible.) Did he know that I cheated on my taxes? (Very possible.) Did he want to exile me to Jersey? (Almost certainly.)
When I called back, I was told to hold for the governor. I wasn't waiting long, but it felt like forever. I wondered if it was all an elaborate ruse designed to keep me in one location until the National Guard could storm my apartment and take me into custody for some unpardonable crime against Pennsylvania (otherwise known as Page 2).
"John, it's the governor," the deep, serious voice on the other end said.
If sudden chest and arm pain signals an oncoming heart attack, what does full-body paralysis mean?
"I wanted to tell you about a city judge I appointed."
Oh God. I wouldn't do well in prison. Maybe I could last a day. Two days, tops.
"He hates the Cowboys," Governor Rendell said.
As I put the emergency defibrillator away, the governor told me about Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Pat Dugan and his interesting campaign strategy. (Don't worry. This is about sports. We're getting there.)
Dugan, who is up for reelection in May, had some fliers made up to trumpet his campaign. They list a number of his accomplishments. To wit:
Currently a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves
Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, Global War on Terrorism Medal
Philly Mag's Best Philadelphian 2004
Child advocate as a lawyer
Prefers cheesesteak wiz witout
HATES the Dallas Cowboys
There's a little smiley face next to the last one. I'm not positive, but I'm willing to bet this is the first time a judge has tried to tap anti-Dallas voters to get reelected.
"I have to give myself credit for that," Dugan said. You may remember Dugan from the Rasheed Scrugs preliminary hearing. Scrugs was accused of killing Philadelphia Police Officer John Pawlowski, which led Dugan to call Scrugs a "domestic urban terrorist."
"I've hated the Dallas Cowboys my entire life. When the Eagles beat the Cowboys in 1981 for the NFC championship, I was there. I was there with 15 buddies at the top of the Vet. It was like we won the Super Bowl."
Of course they didn't win the Super Bowl - but why quibble? For Dugan and lot of others around here, it was almost the same thing.
Dugan's hatred for Dallas has become an obsession over the years - one that even led to a discussion about the Cowboys being named enemy combatants.
The Army reservist was a sergeant in Iraq and a first lieutenant in Afghanistan. In the military, part of his job was to brief incoming soldiers on the rules of engagement - when it's permissible to fire a weapon, when it's not, and so on.
As part of the presentation, Dugan would show pictures of well-known faces and then ask the soldiers, "Friend or foe?"
He'd start out with a photo of Osama bin Laden, and naturally everyone would yell out "foe."
Then he would put up a picture of Terrell Owens wearing a Cowboys uniform. Everyone laughed. Except Dugan.
"This lieutenant from Philly would say foe," Dugan told them, only half kidding.
T.O. should probably avoid Philly and any military personnel for a while. Safety first.