PHILLIES left fielder Rhys Hoskins set to take part in Monday night's MLB Home Run Derby *** PHILLIES NOW 53-41 and lead the NL EAST by 1.5 games *** PHILLIES begin four-day break for MLB ALL-STAR GAME following Sunday's series finale *** BE BOLD ***

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 American of the Year: Donald Trump

President Donald J. Trump, American of the Year
It's hard to imagine any first-year American President having to cope with partisan trials such as Donald Trump was forced to endure in office during 2017. 

Trump was sworn-in back in January as the first-ever President of the United States to not previously have been an elected politician or serve in the American military ranks.

The new President was under attack from the opposition Democratic Party and liberal-slanted media outlets from day one.

On the television airwaves, networks such as CNN and MSNBC, programs like "The View", and talk hosts led by Jimmy Kimmel continually bashed the President and his ideas and programs. While these same outlets and individuals had treated the last Republican President, George W. Bush, in much the same way, they chose to take it to a new level with Trump.

Meanwhile the Democrats, led by Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren attacked Trump through their media friends as often as possible, and on every issue. Their hatred, and that is what it is, pure hatred, came largely due to their shock that Trump was in office at all.

They had collectively believed that their idol, the socialist-leaning Barack Obama, would be followed to the highest office in the land by Hillary Clinton. The first black POTUS to be followed by the first female President. Even more importantly to them, the liberal progressive agenda would continue on.

When it didn't happen, the Dems and the media were legitimately shocked. They responded by lashing out in an open, obvious, childish tantrum never seen previously. It is a whining, crying, stomping feet tantrum that continues today.

Trump had established during his campaign in 2016 that he was never just going to sit back and take it from the media. He continued taking to Twitter to get out his message unfiltered. Often those messages were direct counter-attacks at the media.

The media had never experienced anything like it. They were used to controlling the message heard by the vast majority of Americans. Here was a President not only going around them to deliver his program and policy ideas, but also his personal thoughts on a wide range of issues.



Donald Trump is the first POTUS to make such aggressive use of social media to reach the masses. It has backfired on him occasionally. He has at times come across as petty and vindictive. However, there is not doubt that he has also kept his base fired up. And there is no doubt that his Twitter account has been a major public relations and messaging tool.

Thanks to the President's past as a businessman rather than a politician, he is beholden to far fewer special interests than normally chip away at the energy of other administrations. His personal wealth allows him an independence of thought, speech, and action rarely seen in occupants of the Oval office. And his life experiences as a public figure for decades have left him unafraid of how he is perceived.

Because of the uniqueness of the man, he has won the year by successfully labeling as "fake news" that old school media. That the moniker has stuck is largely their own fault. The media has often gotten away from its reporting responsibilities to actually become a second form of opposition. So instead of simply battling Democrats, the President has to battle an ego-shattered media.

However, defeating a biased media that has largely abandoned any expectations of impartiality in reporting is not the reason that he has been selected as the 2017 American of the Year. That's nice, don't get me wrong, but it's really a minor factor.

There have been a series of big victories during this first year for President Trump that have led to his selection for the honor. In many ways, his has been one of the most effective freshman season's in POTUS history. Let's examine this substantive list of accomplishments.

We'll begin from the end: the President was a pivotal voice in getting tax reform done for the first time in more than three decades. As Sarah Westwood and Gabby Morrongiello at the Washington Examiner stated: 
"In addition to slashing the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent, the landmark legislation cut individual rates for all income tax levels, doubled the child tax credit to $2,000, and dramatically increased the standard deduction."
President Trump also began to change the face of the American judiciary, consistently and insistently pushing the courts toward the right with his nominations and appointments. This was led by the appointment of Neil Gorsuch, an originalist in the mold of his friend and idol, the late Antonin Scalia, to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

2017: Year in Review

2017 has indeed been a historic, memorable year
The year 2017 is about to slip fully into the annals of history, and what a truly historic year it was. For good and bad, the news headlines were dominated by one man. But there was still plenty more to make this past year memorable.

On January 20, Donald J. Trump was sworn-in as the 45th President of the United States. Trump, a New York City businessman, thus became the first person to ever hold the highest office of the land without having served previously in the political arena or the U.S. military.

Trump's wife, the former Melania Knauss, became just the second First Lady born outside of the United States and the first-ever naturalized U.S. citizen to take on that role.

Mike Pence, the former Governor of Indiana, was sworn-in as Trump's Vice-President. He would provide a stable, measured, traditional balance to Trump's bombastic style in office.

Much as he had in winning the Republican primaries and then the general election, Trump rallied support for his initiatives through the use of social media. The use of his Twitter account produced some notable gaffes, but also galvanized his loyal followers.

The President and those in his administration pushing out his first-year agenda would run into a number of roadblocks, most publicly from the Democratic Party and from liberal court jurists. However there were a number of big victories for the freshman POTUS.

Neil Gorsuch was nominated and confirmed, putting a jurist with a conservative record on the Supreme Court of the United States. Trump utilized the power of his office to roll back numerous Obama-era regulations, as well as some on Cuba.

It was Trump leadership that led to FCC repeal of so-called 'net neutrality' rules. The President pulled the United States out of both the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris climate deal. Under his direction, ICE had its most active year ever in combating illegal immigration, and the Border Patrol has similarly had a banner year in stopping illegal border crossings.

And as Christmas approached, the leadership of the President was key in getting tax reform done for the first time in decades. The act to reduce and reform taxation in the country would also eliminate the Obamacare individual mandate, basically killing that program. In addition, it opened up areas of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, creating more economic opportunity for the nation.



On the day following the inauguration, millions took to the streets in the largest single-day protest in U.S. history. Though it was known as the "Women's March", it was actually anti-Trump, with American leftists rallying against the new president's stated campaign goals.

On February 11, North Korea fired a ballistic missile over the Sea of Japan. This began a year-long war of words and military posturing between Trump and North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-un.

March 29 saw more major international news when the United Kingdom began Brexit negotiations aimed at withdrawing Britain from the European Union.

On April 13, the U.S. military dropped MOAB (Mother of All Bombs) on ISIL (also known as ISIS) troops in Afghanistan. This was the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used, and resulted in the deaths of 94 militants along with four commanders.

By years-end, the U.S. military, loosed by President Trump from reigns imposed under his predecessor, had virtually destroyed ISIL. On the last day of the Barack Obama administration, some 35,000 ISIL troops controlled 17,500 square miles in Afghanistan. Today there are only about 1,000 fighters left controlling some 1,900 square miles.

Mass casualty violence reared its ugly head at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England on May 22. Islamic terrorists set off a homemade bomb, killing 22 people and injury over 500 others.

Tensions with North Korea heightened even further on June 12 when an American student, Otto Warmbier, was returned home following a year and a half imprisonment there. In January of 2016, Warmbier had been accused of attempting to steal a political propaganda poster from the hotel room where he was staying as a tourist.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2017: the year that I lost my Dad - but in the end, not really

Mike, our Dad, and myself in the late 1960's
The calendar is about to flip not only to the end of a month, but also to the end of another year. The end of December causes most of us to take a glance back at the events of the past year. As usual, this one was filled with many good times

But the calendar year of 2017 was a year of goodbyes for me as well. The biggest goodbye of all was one of the hardest of my life. This was the year that I had to say goodbye to my Dad.

I'm sure that many of you can say something similar to this regarding your own fathers. My Dad, Matthew Joseph Veasey Jr, was my hero. He was also very much a role model and inspiration. But it wasn't always that way.

Many of the memories that I hold from childhood and my teenage years regarding my relationship with my Dad are way too personal to share publicly. The specifics of those memories belong kept between he and I, and a few close family members.

Suffice it to say that I was the test case for challenging my Dad. I have a younger brother, Mike, and I'm fairly certain from conversations that we all had in later years that he would back me up on that fact.

I grew through my teen years and tried to spread my wings away from the control of this tough-guy U.S. Marine and Philadelphia Police boss. It didn't always go smoothly.

But through those difficult years we learned a greater respect for one another. And the fact that I had already softened him up made things a little easier on my brother coming up right behind me. You're welcome, Bro.

As I said, my Dad was a Philly cop, rising through the ranks to retire as a Captain after three decades of service to the community. I took the test at the age of just 18 as well, and passed through all of the preliminaries. Unfortunately for me, this was the one time in the last half-century that the PPD was going through actual layoffs and not hiring anyone new.

Despite taking that test and my father's career choice, I never had some overwhelming urge to become a police officer myself during my 20's. After that early test, I never even considered that line of work.
Dad (L) with Mike & I and our families, summer 1993

I began to draw closer to my Dad during the decade of the 1980's. He got much more political in his 40's, and recruited me to help out with those efforts. This involved volunteer work on a couple of Philly mayoral races, and his move into the presidency of the Philadelphia Emerald Society, a local Irish organization.

Conversations that we had during those years definitely can be given credit for at least planting seeds of change in me. I was a liberal Democrat to that point in life. He had become much more conservative.

While I disagreed with many of his positions in our discussions, which at times bordered on arguments, he forced me to think and to defend my own thought process.

Over time, I would challenge myself in my worldview, leading to more open-minded self-education on my part. This ultimately led to a wholesale change that was much more in line with his thinking.

I made him a grandfather twice over in those 1980's, and at a young age. This allowed him to enjoy decades with his granddaughters, who he loved unconditionally. He wanted to be called "Grandfather" by them, because he felt it was more regal. Though we busted his chops on that choice of title over the years, the girls embraced it and him, returning his love completely.

That 'busting chops' aspect would become a staple of conversations involving him, my brother, and I during the 1990's. Over the last three decades of his life, those little dining table discussions among the three of us will always remain some of my own life's favorite moments.

Following his retirement in late 1989, our Dad moved down to Florida. He would spend the last quarter-century of his life there, but returned to the Philly area for regular visits. Even though we all eventually gained a greater ability to stay in close touch via access to the Internet and cell phones, he stated "I need hugs", and would make his way up to Philly for a visit.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Why Democrats don't want you to have nice things

Democrats refer to historic tax relief as a "scam"
The Republican Party-controlled United States Congress led by Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky passed historic tax reform legislation this week. This tax relief will lower the tax burden for nearly every American individual and business.

The Tax Policy Center is a nonpartisan joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution. They are an organization made up of nationally recognized experts in tax, budget, and social policy who have served at the highest levels of government.

Howard Gleckman at TPC had this to say about the changes:
"About 80 percent of households would get a tax cut while about 5 percent would pay more in 2018 (the rest would pay roughly the same as under current law). Among middle-income households, about 90 percent would pay less and 7 percent would pay more."
So then why would every single Democratic member of Congress, Senators and U.S. Congresspersons led by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, vote against the legislation? Why would not one single Democrat want middle-class workers and families to keep more of their own hard-earned money?

The answer is simple: control. It is the answer to the same question asked in the headline accompanying this piece. That answer lies in the fundamental difference between today's American conservatives, found mostly in the Republican Party, and Democratic Party liberal progressives.

Conservatives - and trust me, not all Republicans are true conservatives - want you to keep more of your own money and power. They desire more familial, local, and state control over your finances and your personal lives.



As Republican ad-maker Brad Todd put it per James Hohmann at The Washington PostGod created Republicans to cut taxes. Big bills are always complicated, but in time the truth comes out when something costs them (the American people) more or less money.

Liberal progressives want greater state control. The lib-progs believe themselves to be fundamentally more capable than you to make decisions regarding how your money is spent, what your children are taught, and in fact, what you as an individual should think and feel.

Liberal progressives want businesses taxed and regulated so as to have more control over their product output and direction, regardless of the impact on the economy or society. With taxes lowered and regulations loosened on businesses, the worn and tired lib-prog talking point of Republicans "helping only the wealthy and corporations" is once again foisted on the gullible.

The liberal progressives have taken control of the Democratic Party over the last century. Today they are moving ever leftward, marching towards outright Socialism as publicly proclaimed by one of their most popular leaders, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

(Milton Friedman on capitalism over socialism)


Why don't publicly proclaimed socialist Democrats such as Senator Sanders want businesses to receive even greater tax and regulatory relief? Why are even supposed "mainstream" Democrats voting against tax relief for middle-class Americans workers and families?

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Carlos Santana: bad signing by the Philadelphia Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies agreed to terms with veteran free agent first baseman Carlos Santana this past week.

Per a report from Phillies insider Jim Salisbury on December 15, the formal signing will take place pending the results of a physical exam.

This was a wholly unnecessary signing, and I believe that in the end it will prove to have been a waste of $60 million dollars.

The Phillies are mostly a young team. They are finishing up a rebuilding program that has seen major changes within the organization over the last few years. Now the club is trying to find a few more talented veteran pieces that will help their young nucleus move forward in the standings.

Santana (Twitter: @TheRealSlamtana) would appear to fit the bill in a handful of ways. He will turn 32 years old by the first week of April. He has seven full years of big league experience. Santana certainly fits the "veteran" bill.

He also fits in a couple of other ways. The Phillies could use a bit more power and patience in their batting order. Santana has averaged 24 home runs over those seven full seasons, which were all spent with the Cleveland Indians in the American League. His career .365 on-base percentage demonstrates plate discipline that is generally lacking with the Phillies lineup.

Defensively, while Santana will never be an NL Gold Glove Award winner, he does field the position well. His 6.7 rating on the SABR Defensive Index led the American League, and ranked fifth among all MLB first basemen.

Bleacher Report ranked Santana at #12 in their Top 25 First Basemen of 2017 list. Their Zachary Rymer stated the following:
 "Swing-wise, Santana was once again one of the most extreme pull hitters in MLB. This made him vulnerable against shifts, but his pickiness allowed for consistent contact and his strength and solid loft allowed for relatively easy power."
Santana is a veteran who hits home runs, gets on base, and fields his position well. So what's not to like?



First would be his age, and the contract. As previously stated, Santana turns 32 years old at the start of the season. The Phillies have reportedly offered him a three-year, $60 million deal with a team option for a fourth year. The contract commits the team to him at least through his age 34 season, and makes him one of the top 50 highest paid players in baseball history based on average annual value.

That 24 homers per year? It's just an average, one that is propped up by a 34 homer campaign in 2016. He has never otherwise approached that number. He also has a pair of 27 homer seasons upping that average. Those two seasons came four and seven years ago, respectively.

Santana is not an elite middle-of-the-order offensive performer, but he will be paid like one. He has just a career .249 batting average, and has failed to reach the .260 mark in six of those seven full seasons. He has averaged just 80 RBI per full season. That's not bad at all, but nothing special for a 3-4-5 hitter in your lineup.

From what I have seen in my 47 years following Phillies baseball, Carlos Santana does not appear to be the kind of player who is going to sell tickets and merchandise. There will not be a boatload of Santana shirseys and jerseys flying off the Majestic Clubhouse store shelves. This is not another Jim Thome signing. Not even close.

The Phillies are paying $20 million per year for the next three years (at least) for a guy who has received MVP votes just once. A realistic best-case season for Santana would be a .250 batting average with 20-25 homers and 80 RBI.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

My wife and I had the pleasure of taking in a preview showing last night of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi", which officially opens in theatres on Friday, December 15, 2017.

There are going to be many spoilers in this review, but they don't start just yet. Consider this opening sort of like the seemingly endless commercials and previews that accompany every motion picture these days. If you don't want to know the actual film storyline, I'll let you know when those spoilers are coming.

Before getting into the film, a little personal background on the two people doing the viewing. You see, we come at the entire Star Wars series and phenomenon from completely different places. Those differences result in my wife and I viewing from completely different perspectives.

When the original film "Star Wars" was released in 1977, I was a highly impressionable 15-year old boy. I was just beginning to explore the broader world around me outside of the little South Philly neighborhood where I was growing up.

My wife, on the other hand, was a 22-year old young woman that summer. She had already started in the working world, and her interests had become much more focused on adult pursuits.

That 15-year old me related strongly to the young Luke Skywalker, who was supposed to be just an older teen himself at that point. Luke was portrayed by Mark Hammill, and the character dreamt of a bigger reality beyond the confines of the comforting yet bland existence in which he was raised.

I went along happily with Luke and his new friends, Princess Leia Organa (who we would later find out was Luke's twin sister) and smuggler Han Solo on a series of adventures. Luke was on a quest to find his purpose, and to engage in the battles taking place out there in the larger universe, not unlike my teenage self.

The first film, and the two sequels that followed in that original trilogy, drew tens of millions of us into a world of empire and rebellion. In fact, the original 1977 "Star Wars" film, now known as "The New Hope" within the context of the series, remains the only movie that I ever paid to see more than once at the box office.

It was all highlighted by the ultimate battle between the good and light of The Force, and the lure of The Dark Side. It is a familiar struggle, one that has visited each of our real lives as we continually find ourselves in a tug-of-war with good and evil forces, both external and internal.



I did not see those original films with my wife, we had not yet met, so we never got to share that experience. Her exposure to the "Star Wars" franchise was far less intense than my own. While mine was more personal, hers was based more on what was seeping into the broader culture. So her reaction to these films is never as visceral as my own.

Flash forward a couple of decades, and we would get to share my love of the franchise by seeing all three of the prequel films together between 1999 and 2005. That trilogy revealed the story of how Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala, Luke and Leia's parents, got together.

The prequels also told how the friendship and mentor-student relationship between Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker deteriorated, leading to the latter ultimately turning to the Dark Side and becoming Darth Vader.

The prequels set the stage in a timeline for the action in the original film series, which ended with "Return of the Jedi" in 1983.

This new series of films picks up the story decades later. The evil Galactic Empire, defeated thanks to the intervention of Luke and his allies in the original films, is re-emerging as the First Order and threatening the benevolent New Republic.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dems keep throwing curves, Trump keeps taking them deep

President Trump swings for the fences in rookie political year
Democrats have tried nearly everything within their power during 2017 to discredit President Donald J. Trump. Still obviously butt-hurt after Hillary Clinton's stunning (to them) defeat last November, they have refused to simply play the role of gallant opposition party.

The Dems could have decided to put forth their own agenda, their own vision for the future, pushing those programs into the public consciousness through their media cohorts.

They could have chosen to work with the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress to gain something, no matter how small, for their own constituents until the next opportunity to win control for themselves at the ballot box.

Instead, they chose a MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) scorched Earth policy of no-holds barred, relentless attacks against the Trump administration. They did so in some cases knowing full well that it would mean some of their own stars would fall, such as U.S. Senator Al Franken. It has been a year of nothing else but "take down Trump, at all costs" for the liberal progressive Democratic Party.

They have pulled one trick pitch after another out of their arsenal. Trump collusion with the Russians helped enable the November 2016 election upset. Trump's anti-immigration goals would prove reminiscent of Nazi Germany in the 1930's. His reversal of Barack Obama regulations, as well as ill-conceived tax reform, would benefit the wealthy while hurting the "little guy" and prove devastating to both the economy and the environment.

Relentless attacks on Trump on these and many other issues, all aided by their liberal media sycophants, were sure to eventually wear down the President. There would be a major slip-up, some irreversible damage would occur. This would lead to a Democratic Party takeover of the U.S. Senate and Congress in 2018, and then the White House in 2020.

Heck, perhaps the inevitable Trump gaffe would be so major that it would lead to impeachment, and a Nixonian resignation. Then a weakened Pence administration would be dominated by the new Dem-controlled congress over the next couple of years.

That was the plan as inning after inning, the Dems took turns on the mound making their pitch, tossing curve balls and spit balls at the President and his team.

Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Jimmy Kimmel. CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post. Much of their pitch financed by deep-pocketed ownership in the person of George Soros, along with other wealthy liberals.

And yet here we are, more than a year after that election, and Donald J. Trump is still standing, perhaps stronger than ever. Nearly every exaggerated curve tossed by the Dems to date, every fabricated spitter that has slipped from their grip, has been taken deep by POTUS.



Russian collusion on the election? About as big a nothing burger as has been offered up on the liberal menu in decades. When the liberal progressives couldn't nail Trump with that one, they went after his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Then his son, Donald Trump Jr. The result? Two more wild pitches in the dirt.

Immigration? There is still no wall, even though the President continues to tout it's inevitability. Big city liberal mayors such as Philly's Jim Kenney continue to thumb their noses at federal immigration law by establishing their municipalities as "sanctuary cities" while taunting the President with vitriolic rhetoric. But there have also been huge wins.

An empowered and emboldened ICE made more than 143,000 arrests, with a 92% "win" rate. The proportion of removals resulting from ICE arrests rose from just 27% in FY2016 under Obama to 36% in FY2017 under Trump.

ICE has taken down hundreds of members of the notorious MS-13 gang. The CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Patrol) has stated that due to President Trump, we have seen a "historic shift" in attempted illegal border crossings. Also, SCOTUS just upheld President Trump's travel ban from seven Muslim-majority countries. All of these moves are helping make America more secure.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

My 2018 IBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot

Thome and Jones among five to receive my 2018 HOF vote
This past year marked a major change in direction as far as my baseball writing was concerned. For the previous three years, I wrote almost exclusively on the national pastime.

As the Fall of 2017 arrived, I decided to return to writing across the broader spectrum of politics, religion, entertainment, and social issues.

Baseball is always going to hold a special place in my heart and life, especially in regards to my hometown Philadelphia Phillies.

For anyone who has enjoyed my baseball writing in the past, rest easy. I am going to continue writing on the sport here at my website from time to time. You can enjoy those pieces, including all from the past, by clicking on the "Baseball" category from the website toolbar.

As a lifetime member of the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association), I have the honor of being involved in the organization's annual Hall of Fame voting process. This was my fourth year with a ballot, and my selections were returned just this past week.

The IBWAA voting process does not earn a player a plaque at Cooperstown. It does, however, allow another block of informed voters to express their opinion as to which players are deserving of that ultimate career honor. You can consider it a formal endorsement from the Internet baseball writers and bloggers.



A year ago for the 2017 IBWAA Hall of Fame voting, I broke down my ballot into three categories: Hall of Famers, Under Future Consideration, and Not Hall of Famer. I am doing the same for this piece on the 2018 ballot, and will continue that process into the future.

There were 31 eligible players on last year's 2017 ballot. Eight of those players received my vote as a Hall of Famer: Barry BondsRoger ClemensTrevor HoffmanMike MussinaManny RamirezIvan RodriguezCurt Schilling, and Larry Walker.

Rodriguez and Vladimir Guerrero, who was on my "Future Consideration" list a year ago, were each voted in by the IBWAA in 2017. Both players received 175 votes (84.54%) to gain the honor of our HOF endorsement. Mussina, Hoffman, Bonds, and Clemens all received more than 70% of the vote, falling just short of the 75% requirement for endorsement.

This year, I was more frugal with my own vote, casting a ballot for just five players. In doing so, I left off three players who received my vote a year ago: Walker, Ramirez, and Hoffman. 



Frankly, I don't really enjoy taking a vote away from these players. It's not that I no longer feel they are worthy. I made a personal decision this year to "tier" my deserving choices. The five players who did receive my vote are, for me, clearly ahead of those three.

A year ago there were 31 players on the ballot. After voting for eight, I listed another seven under consideration, and rated 16 as not deserving. You can see here that the number of players who I will be considering in the future has grown considerably.

There are three videos accompanying this piece. I would recommend that you view each of them for more information on the HOF 2018 nominees and process. The middle video on Schilling's worthiness is particularly revealing. 

Here is my breakdown of the 2018 IBWAA Hall of Fame ballot. You will also absolutely have your own opinions, and I would love to hear them. Among the below nominees who were on the 2018 IBWAA ballot, which would receive your vote to the Baseball Hall of Fame?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Why remembering Pearl Harbor remains important today

Forget lessons of history, we are destined to repeat them
On December 7, 1941 the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service delivered a devastating blow to the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii.

This was a preemptive surprise attack by the Japanese, with the hope that they could decimate the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The Japanese believed that the United States was the greatest potential threat to their planned expansion of power in the Pacific region.

The early morning attack would launch in two waves from a half-dozen Japanese air craft carriers. Some 350 aircraft fighters and bombers would sink four American battleships and damage four more, sink eight other vessels, destroy 188 aircraft, and damage 159 more.

Over 2,400 Americans were killed with more than 1,100 injured. Japanese losses of life and equipment were minimal in comparison.

In response, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered one of the most famous and impassioned speeches in U.S. history to a joint session of the U.S. Congress the following day. It began as follows:
"Yesterday, December 7th, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. 
The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific."


To that point, the United States had been able to stay out of active involvement in World War II. Meanwhile, the Japanese had become involved in an "Axis" powers agreement with Germany under Adolf Hitler and Italy under Benito Mussolini. Their aim was nothing less than global domination.

Roosevelt's speech called on the Congress to declare war against Japan, which it did within the hour. Germany and Italy would then declare war on the United States. Thus began U.S. involvement in World War II, the deadliest war in human history.

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the Japanese Marshall Admiral of the Navy and leader of their combined fleet during the war, did not believe that Japan could win a lengthy war with America. 

Following the attack, Yamamoto is alleged to have written in his diary "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."

American had been trying to stay out of World War II to that point. Formally declaring neutrality in the opening years of conflict, the U.S. gradually began to provide aid to Great Britain and others, and imposed economic sanctions on Japan.

The Japanese attack did indeed awaken America from its slumber. It forced us to realize that we could no longer ignore the expansionist aims of Hitler, Mussolini, and Japanese Emperor Hirohito. 

We were now forced to either allow these ideologies to overrun Europe and Asia, eventually becoming a major threat to our own security, or go to war to try and defeat them.

In the end, American military might and civilian industry proved the difference in winning the war. However, it would not be the last time that our nation was attacked on our own shores, or threatened by an ideology bent on world domination.

Flash forward nearly 60 years to September 11, 2001. Most Americans reading this require no reminder of what happened on that equally beautiful morning. Another sneak attack from the skies, this time from radical extremists bent on spreading the dominance of an Islamic worldwide caliphate.

That extremist ideology did not begin on 9/11, and it has not gone away today. The Islamists continue to spread their hope for a renewed global caliphate ruling under Sharia law in both aggressive and passive ways. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

In Masterpiece, gay couple wants to have their cake, and have you eat it

Phillips creates his art at the Masterpiece Cakeshop
The Masterpiece Cakeshop is a small bakery located in a shopping center in Lakewood, Colorado, just west of Denver. The proprietor is Jack Phillips, and he is not simply a baker. Phillips is an artist.

The business website proclaims that for your wedding, birthday, or special occasion, "Phillips creates a masterpiece. Custom designs are his specialty: If you can think it up, Jack can make it into a cake!"

For more than two decades, Phillips grew his business into an award winner, one of the most popular of its kind in the Denver area. But now, despite it being one of their most popular services, the shop is no longer accepting custom wedding cake requests.

Masterpiece and Phillips are embroiled in a highly controversial and public battle that has wound its way to the United States Supreme Court. There will be no wedding cakes, at least until the court makes their ruling.

It all began more than five years ago. In the summer of 2012, a gay couple was planning to get married. Charlie Craig and David Mullins, that couple, wanted their cake designed by Masterpiece. 

However, Phillips wouldn't do it, claiming that his religious beliefs kept him from creating designer cakes for same-sex celebrations. He would, however, sell the couple other baked goods. Craig and Mullins, with the ACLU of Colorado in their corner, decided to literally make a court case out of the refusal. 

According to a timeline of the events provided by Kaitlyn Schallhorn for Fox News, in May 2014: "The Colorado Civil Rights Commission decided at a public hearing that Masterpiece had violated Colorado's Anti-Discrimination Act, or CADA. Phillips was ordered to change its company policies as well as offer “comprehensive staff training” to employees. The cake shop was also required to provide quarterly reports about how it handled prospective customers."

That ruling was just one in a series of court decisions in the five years since the original complaint. The current SCOTUS case of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission will finally settle that legal battle once and for all.




At issue is a clear attack on individual freedoms. Does the government have the right and ability to force a business owner to create a product that is against their legitimately held personal and/or professional beliefs?

The clear answer for anyone who cares about freedom would be: no, the government has no such right.

The couple wants you to believe that this is a case about gay rights. That is a farce. Phillips was not denying sales to Craig and Mullins. They were free to choose from any number of items available at the shop.

This is about freedom of expression for the artist. Do the research and take a look at Phillips' specialty work. That is exactly what he is, an artist. To force him to make a gay wedding cake against his legitimately held Christian religious beliefs would actually violate his own rights.

Michael Farriss leads the Alliance Defending Freedom, the organization representing Phillips and Masterpiece in this case. He recently stated the following in a Fox News piece:
"Since the dawn of the republic, our constitutional order has honored individual freedom of mind and accorded citizens the corresponding liberty to speak and refrain from speaking as their conscience directs. Yet this formerly prized feature of our legal system devoted to individual freedom now faces growing opposition."
That growing opposition largely comes from liberal progressives such as Craig and Mullins. There was a much more appropriate course for the couple. Simply take your business elsewhere. Then ensure that the gay community learned of the Phillips position at the Masterpiece Bakeshop. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Jerusalem is factually the capital of Israel

To say that the city of Jerusalem, the entire Land of Israel, has a contentious history would be a colossal understatement. Doing justice to the entire history of this land in the Southern Levant in one short piece would be an impossible task.

Let us simply deal with the reality of the world today. Israel is by far America's greatest friend and ally in the Middle East, a challenging region of the world where those are hard to come by for the United States.

When the modern State of Israel was formed nearly seven decades ago, the United States under President Harry Truman was first to recognize it as legitimate.

Over the ensuing decades, through times of outright war and spasmodic peace, United States support for Israel has slowly but steadily grown stronger. Drawing lines on a graph to display that U.S. support would look more like a roller coaster than a straight, steady upward incline, but the overall movement would certainly be upward.

Donald Trump is perhaps the greatest U.S. Presidential supporter that the Israelis have had to date. He now appears poised to become the first to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel.

This public recognition has not happened previously due to claims on Jerusalem by the Palestinians. Not wanting to further inflame tensions in the region, past administrations have withheld this recognition, and have kept the U.S. foreign embassy located in Tel Aviv.

The President's son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, has been intimately involved in relations between the administration and Israel since the momentous 2016 election. Just yesterday, Kushner stated that he wasn't sure the President actually had made up his mind on formal recognition.

“He’s still looking at a lot of different facts, and then when he makes his decision, he’ll be the one to want to tell you, not me," said Kushner per Marisa Schultz for the New York Post. \

Still, rumors persist of a speech this week by the President granting just such recognition. This past Friday, Jonathan Swan at Axios reported that "two sources with direct knowledge" had told him that the speech would likely come on Wednesday. 




The capital of Israel is the city of Jerusalem. This is the location for their formal seat of government, the Knesset.

David Ben-Gurion, the nation's first Prime Minister, stated the following in 1949:
"Jewish Jerusalem is an organic, inseparable part of the State of Israel, just as it is an integral part of Jewish history and belief. Jerusalem is the heart of the State of Israel...its eternal capital. Twice in the history of our nation were we driven out of Jerusalem, only after being defeated in bitter wars by the larger, stronger forces of Babylon and Rome. Our links with Jerusalem today are no less deep than in the days of Nebuchadnezzar and Titus Flavius, and when Jerusalem was attacked after the fourteenth of May 1948, our valiant youngsters risked their lives for our sacred capital no less than our forefathers did in the time of the First and Second Temples. A nation that, for two thousand and five hundred years, has faithfully adhered to the vow made by the first exiles by the waters of Babylon not to forget Jerusalem, will never agree to be separated from Jerusalem. Jewish Jerusalem will never accept alien rule after thousands of its youngsters liberated their historic homeland for the third time, redeeming Jerusalem from destruction and vandalism."

Friday, December 1, 2017

Kate Steinle verdict is latest evidence that California is lost

Kathryn 'Kate' Steinle was a 32-year old woman back on Wednesday, July 1, 2015 as she walked along Pier 14 in San Francisco. It was a gorgeous day in the City by the Bay, perfect for a leisurely stroll.

There was no way under these completely innocent circumstances, not far from her home, with her Dad and a friend alongside her, that this beautiful young woman would have given even a passing thought that this was the final moment of her life.

Jose Inez Garcia Zarate was a 45-year old (possibly older) illegal from Mexico who had already been deported from the United States on five separate occasions. Seven felony convictions on his record, he was on probation still in Texas.

That night, Zarate, who also has gone by Juan Francisco López-Sánchez or Francisco Sánchez, was back in the United States illegally. He was purported to have been simply wandering the same area of Pier 14 where Steinle and her companions were enjoying their stroll.

John Woychowski was an agent for the California Bureau of Land Management. That same day, he and his family were driving to Montana when they decided to stop off for dinner in San Francisco. 

Woychowski, per a Fox News report:
...parked his car in what he thought was a safe location and left a black backpack, which had his loaded weapon inside, in the back seat. He said the car was locked and had an alarm and tinted windows. When his family returned from dinner, he said his car's windows were smashed and the backpack was gone. He said he immediately reported the theft to 9-1-1 and his employer.
The gun was the .40-caliber Sig Sauer P239, a popular handgun. A review from James Grant back in 2012 said that the gun "not only looks the part of secret service heater, but plays it just as well."

That night, that gun would be used to end the life of Kate Steinle. It was fired by Zarate, who claimed to have simply found it wrapped in cloth underneath a bench, and that the shooting was accidental.

As Steinle innocently walked along, Zarate fired the weapon three times. One of the bullets ricocheted off the pier's concrete decking and struck Steinle in the back. She went down immediately, with her father dropping in a panic next to her.

"Help me, Dad." In her father's arms, those were the final words in the life of Kate Steinle.




Just three months earlier, Zarate had been released from jail by San Francisco authorities. This was despite a request from federal immigration authorities that he be detained in order that he might again be deported. 

You see, San Francisco is another in a series of large American sanctuary cities where local law enforcement has been barred from cooperating with the feds in such cases.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Monica reminds us that it wasn't her scandal

HLN, which was formerly known as 'Headline News', is a cable TV network spun off CNN by Turner Broadcasting. Today the network broadcasts a mixture of traditional news and real crime stories.

In a recent announcement, HLN said that they would revisit what it called "The Monica Lewinsky Scandal" with a two-hour special program.

Many readers may be too young to know who she is, and those who do may have forgotten all but her name. Let's do a quick review of exactly why Monica Lewinsky became such a public figure, along with a little background as to how she got into such a sensitive position.

In 1995, Lewinsky graduated with a degree in psychology from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. That summer, family friend Walter Kaye, an insurance big wig who was also friends with Hillary Clinton, helped her land an unpaid internship in Washington, D.C. in the office of White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta.

Per Jeff Leen of the Washington Post back in 2008, one of Lewinsky's fellow interns that summer painted her as extroverted, hard-working and ambitious. In the coming months there would be rumors, some started by her own comments, that she had somehow developed an uncommonly close relationship with President Bill Clinton.

By December, Lewinsky had been moved to a paid intern position with the Office of Legislative Affairs. She would later confide in a friend, Linda Tripp, that she had begun an affair with the President a month earlier.

Per a USA Today article in 2008, Lewinsky had her first sexual encounter with Clinton in the private study of the Oval office on November 15, 1995. The two repeated this Oval office tryst under similar circumstances just two days later. 

This was the beginning of a physical relationship that lasted approximately a year and a half. There would be, according to Lewinsky, a total of nine sexual encounters between the two. There was never sexual intercourse, but fellatio and other sex acts were involved.




Described by some on staff as a bit forward, and by others as outright flirtatious, Lewinsky was moved in April 1996 into a position as assistant to the Pentagon's chief spokesman, Kenneth Bacon. The move came because some of her superiors felt that she had grown too close to the President.

Lewinsky also had a reputation as a hard worker who was willing to genuinely put in long hours. She seems to have been an enigma. While exhibiting drive and determination, she also came across as distracted at times, with a fairly obvious crush on the President.

During a February 1997 liaison, Clinton purportedly left stains on Lewinsky's dress during one of their encounters. The revelation that the dark blue dress had been preserved with this "evidence" would later became a part of the public lore involving their relationship. A month later, the two had their final dalliance with one another.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Donald Trump, Elizabeth Warren, and Pocahontas

At the White House on Monday, President Donald Trump honored three members of the Navajo Nation who had helped America as "Code Talkers" during World War II.

The Code Talkers were recruited to the United States Marine Corps during the war. They transmitted messages via radio using a code developed from their unique native language, one which the Japanese were unable to decipher. 

In remembering and honoring the group yesterday, the President chose the occasion to take a swipe at one of his favorite political foils on the Democratic side of the aisle, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts:
"You were here long before any of us were here, although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.”
The Trump-Warren feud stretches back into the Presidential campaign last summer. Trump was the presumptive Republican nominee. Warren was considered an early contender for the Vice-Presidential slot for the Democrats on the ticket with their own presumptive nominee at the time, Hillary Clinton. 

Warren would attack Trump at Clinton campaign rallies and at her own speaking engagements. Per the New York Times, for instance, Warren called Trump a man born with cash in his fist and hate in his heart.

Trump would then fire back, at one point beginning to use the Pocahontas reference. This was his way of bringing up claims made by Warren throughout her political career that she is partially of Native American ancestry. There have been numerous vitriolic barbs slung back and forth between the two ever since. 

Warren has claimed, per the Washington Post, that she is of Cherokee and Delaware Indian heritage. During her 2012 Senate campaign, this claim was disputed by her opponent, Scott Brown. The Cherokee demanded proof, and Warren was only able to fall back on old family stories. 

The bottom line according to the Post's 'Fact Checker' researchers: "There is no documented proof of Warren’s self-proclaimed, partial Native American heritage..."

Warren's name has also been floated as a possible candidate for the 2020 Presidential election as the Democratic Party nominee. When the President refers to Warren in joking terms as "Pocahontas", he is taking a calculated jab at her. He is also clearly hoping to provoke some type of public response.

Warren responded, of course, stating It is deeply unfortunate that the president of the United States can’t even make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without throwing out a racial slur.

Per the Huffington PostNavajo Nation President Russell Begaye appeared on CNN’s “New Day” program earlier today and made this comment: 
“Pocahontas is a real person, not something that’s just made up. This is a young lady, a Native American woman that played a critical role in the life of this nation, and to use that person in that way is unnecessary and is being culturally insensitive.”
Pocahontas is a genuine historic figure, not just a character in a Disney movie. She was the daughter of Wahunsenacawh, the paramount chief of the Powhatan people, whose land the original Jamestown colony had settled upon. Her actual life story, though brief, was pivotal in early relations between peoples of the Old and New Worlds.

The White House came back at Warren on Monday afternoon through press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who stated per The Hill: I think what most people find offensive is Senator Warren lying about her heritage to advance her career."

My own feelings on the issue can fairly be summarized by a statement made on CNN this morning by the former communications director for the White House, Anthony Scaramucci. 

"At the end of the day — we're getting a little bit too micro-managing with each other's languages and the whole political correctness movement," Scaramucci said per The Hill"I think most people, in general, are tired of it ... I'm totally tired of it."

Monday, November 27, 2017

Tax reform postcards from the edge

The Republican controlled United States Congress is attempting something significant that has not happened in more than three decades. Yet it is something that almost everyone in both parties believes to be grossly overdue.

Updates to the United States tax code have not been accomplished since Ronald Reagan was President.

That long ago legislation passed a voice vote in the House of Representatives in December 1985. It then took another seven months before finally passing the Senate in June 1986. President Reagan then signed the Tax Reform Act of 1986 into law on October 22, 1986.

Over the ensuing decades, further changes to the tax code have been discussed and debated in both formal political circles as well as in the media and in academia. Many on both sides of the American political aisle have voiced their concern that tax reform was necessary. Agreeing to the specifics and getting such reform done has been much more elusive.

Charles Rangel is as liberal a Democrat as you are going to find. He served in Congress for nearly five decades before retiring earlier this year. Per Brainy Quotes, Rangel once stated "We all want a simpler code, but tax reform is about much more. It is about ensuring that everyone pays their fair share."

Those final words have usually become the rub. What makes up a "fair share?" Reaching any consensus is becoming nearly impossible now in an era where American politics are as partisan and polarized as any in history. 

That 1986 tax legislation was actually co-sponsored by a pair of Democrats, Congressman Dick Gephart and Senator Bill Bradley. While Republicans held a 53-47 advantage in the Senate, the final vote in support for tax reform was 97-3. 

When the 2017 House vote was taken on November 16, no Democrats voted for it. None. Their mantra, as it has always been, claimed that Republicans were cutting taxes for "the top 1%" of earners, while giving no or little actual relief to the middle class. 

The Speaker of the House, Republican Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, responded per Naomi Jagoda and Cristina Marcos for The Hill that "Passing this bill is the single biggest thing we can do to grow the economy, to restore opportunity and help these middle-income families who are struggling."




The fact is that on most issues, especially the big ones, votes in both the House and Senate now come down rigidly along party lines. Where there used to be a dozen or more "swing" votes to be had, legislators of either party who could be appealed to and lobbied for support, that is rarely the case today. 

There is always an obligatory appeal to the middle class by both parties. Each claims to want to bring relief to those middle income earners. Yet somehow, the two parties can never agree on any issue that will actually help the middle class.

Getting actual tax reform done now is going to come down to one party or the other gaining control of both the House and the Senate. Then they are also likely to need a President of their same party who is willing to sign the new tax proposal into law.

Right now, Republicans have just such control. The GOP holds a slim 52-48 edge in the U.S. Senate, and a tight 239-194 edge in the House of Representatives. And, of course, a Republican now sits in the Oval office for the first time in eight years.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sunday Sermon: In the end, we all become one with God

1 Cor 15:28
Today marks the final Sunday in the liturgical year of the Catholic Church. 

Next Sunday begins the season of Advent, the four-week period leading up to the birth of Jesus Christ.

As Advent begins, the readings at Mass will begin to lead us towards that most important and holy moment in the history of humanity.

Today, however, we peer into the future, to the end of time itself.

The second reading today was from the first letter, sometimes called an epistle, written by Saint Paul to the Church at Corinth.

The Yale Divinity School calls this first letter from Paul to the Corinthians "a masterpiece of pastoral theology." Of this important and lengthy 16-chapter work, Yale further states:
"It challenges us to think about how we relate to the wider world that we fully engage even if it does not always share our values, provoking us to imitate Paul’s pastoral logic, which probes fundamental convictions to see how they apply in difficult situations."
Corinth today lies in south-central Greece, approximately 48 miles west of Athens. But the Corinth of Paul's time could be located about two miles southwest of today's city. Paul himself founded the original church in Corinth around 50 A.D., less than two decades after Christ's death.

Paul's first letter to the Corinthians was written during one of his stays at Ephesus. It includes a number of important teachings, and contains a handful of famous sayings that have survived through today.

The focus of my piece today comes from near the end of Paul's letter, and relates to the end of time. Here, Paul talks of Christ's return at the second coming, stating that he will destroy "every sovereignty and every authority and power" before finally destroying the "last enemy", death itself.

Paul then finishes by stating that once everything has been subjected to Jesus Christ, then Christ himself will be subjected to God. This is, as Paul puts it, "that God may be all in all." In the end, we will all become one with God, through Christ.

You can choose to interpret the exact physical and meta-physical mechanics of that merger with our Creator in a number of ways. However you choose to do so, the fact is that we don't know when these events will take place. Will they even take place in our lifetimes?

The more important point is that, no matter when the end times come, there is something that we can all and should all be doing right now. We should all be preparing now by subjecting ourselves to Christ.



Jesus said "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Clearly the most important thing that we can do right now is ensure that we are believers. That we recognize that Christ gave up his life so that we could be freed from sin.

This acceptance, this subjecting of ourselves to Christ in accepting and celebrating his role in our lives, gives us a chance to join God as one of those "all in all" at the end.

A joyous season is about to begin. The birth of your Savior is not far off. As this holy time of year approaches, remember exactly whose birth it is that we will be celebrating. In the end, we all become one with God. That is only made possible by the one who is about to be born.