Thursday, November 23, 2017

The history of Thanksgiving in America

Shrine of the first U.S. Thanksgiving in Virginia
Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. As we gather to celebrate with family and friends, let me offer a short history lesson on the holiday origins in America.

In the fall of 1619 the Margaret set sail from Bristol, England on a roughly two-month voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Captain John Woodliffe would bring his ship with 38 settlers safely to what was known as Berkeley Hundred on December 4.

Berkeley Hundred was a land grant from the Virginia Company of London, an English stock company formed by King James I in order to fund the establishment of colonial settlements in America.

The Berkeley Hundred land grant went to a group of five men, including John Smyth, who became the official historian of the group. Over the next two decades he collected documents relating to the settlement of what would be known as "Virginia", and these still survive today.

The land grant was for some eight thousand acres along the James River a few miles west of Jamestown, which itself had been the first British colony in the New World just a few years earlier.

The proprietors of the Virginia Company had directed in their granting of the land charter that "the day of our ships arrival...shall be yearly and perpetually kept as a day of Thanksgiving." The settlers of the Margaret did indeed keep that celebration, doing so more than two years prior to the popularly remembered landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Over the hundreds of years since, there have been many disputes as to the official beginnings of this holiday which has become formally known as Thanksgiving Day here in America. Most of those disputes have been sources of regional pride battles between Virginia and the New England area.



When he became the first President of the United States, George Washington proclaimed that Thursday, November 26, 1789 was an official "...day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God."

It was from this Washington proclamation that most formal Thanksgiving celebrations were celebrated on the final Thursday in November. However, it was not an official national holiday. 

Following decades of lobbying by schoolteacher and author Sara Hale of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" fame, President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 called for such an official Thanksgiving Day holiday on the last Thursday in November. However, the rancor of the Civil War caused the celebration to become delayed until the 1870's.




The United States would then celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November until the early days of World War II. On December 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law a joint congressional resolution moving the official celebration to the fourth Thursday in November. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Alabama U.S. Senate election: the problem with not voting for Roy Moore

Moore (L) faces Jones (R) for Alabama U.S. Senate seat
The special election for an open U.S. Senate seat taking place in Alabama on December 12 is pivotal for a number of reasons.

One of those reasons is that Alabama residents need to be represented in the Senate by someone who will fight for the values held dear to the majority of the citizens of the state.

The second reason that this election is so vitally important is the continuance of Republican control of the Senate as a voting body.

There are 100 seats available in the Senate, two from each of the 50 states. Currently, the Republican Party enjoys a 54-44 edge with two Independent representatives. Those two, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, are "independent" in formal affiliation only. They are both reliable Democratic Party votes.

So the actual current working makeup of the United States Senate shows a 54-46 voting edge for the Republican Party. Since most important issues are settled by a simple majority these days, Democrats need to flip just five seats in order to take control.

Bill Clinton and Barack Obama sat in the Oval Office for 14 of the last 23 years. Control of the U.S. House of Representatives slipped into Democratic Party control three times during the Obama years.

For the majority of the last two decades, the U.S. Senate has been in Republican Party control. However, that control has usually been by a fairly slim margin. Republican senatorial control has been vital to keeping America from slipping down a Liberal Progressive slope

In Alabama, Richard Shelby was elected to one of the two senate seats as a Democrat all the way back in 1986. However, he switched over to the Republican Party in 1994 as part of the Republican Revolution. Now age 83, Shelby was elected just last year to a new six-year term.

The other Alabama seat was held since 1997 by Republican Jeff Sessions. He became the current U.S. Attorney General in the Trump administration, and Luther Strange was appointed as his temporary successor. Republicans have thus held both Alabama senate seats for over two decades.

Back in September in a hotly contested race, Strange lost a runoff to Roy Moore for the Party nomination to fully succeed Sessions. Moore is now set to face Democrat Doug Jones in the December 12 election. The winner will hold the senate seat formerly held by Sessions through 2020.



Under normal circumstances, Moore might be expected to win this election fairly easily. He is the far more conservative of the two candidates in a state that has gone Republican in Presidential elections for over nearly forty years.

However, these are not normal circumstances. Moore has recently been accused by a half-dozen women of either sexual assault or harassment decades ago. Moore has either denied the accusations, or stated that they were consensual with younger women who were past the age of legal consent.

Moore is a former state judge who served twice as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He has been a colorful, often controversial public figure for decades. His rulings have frequently come down on the side of protecting conservative values.

These accusations have raised questions among some, especially due to their surfacing at this time, with Moore running for such a powerful and influential seat in government.

Folks have had plenty of time to digest these accusations and Moore's responses over the last few weeks. As I wrote this past weekend, people are going to believe what they want to believe on most of these situations.

Numerous liberal publications and commentators, and even some conservative Republican big names, have called for Moore to drop out of the race. They would prefer to have him step aside willingly, and then install a candidate with less baggage into the race. Moore has stated unequivocally that he will not step aside.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Real American Hero: John Mihalowski

The old series continue to return here with the first "Real American Heroes" piece in over four years.

This series normally remembers and honors heroes from the American military ranks. Many were recipients of the Medal of Honor. This is the highest and most prestigious honor which can be bestowed upon a member of the United States military. It is awarded to recognize outstanding acts of valor.

However, the series is not limited to winners of that honor, or even solely to the military. For instance, in April of 2010, I told the story of Brandon Darby, whose conversion from radical leftist to undercover FBI informant saved numerous lives and helped keep America safe.

Thus far, my series has told the story of 10 of these individuals. With this piece, 'ROH' will continue regularly into the future.

Today the spotlight shines on late United States Navy diver John Mihalowski for his actions on May 23, 1939. For those who know their history, this places his actions a full two and half years prior to American involvement in World War II.

There have been 3,516 Medal of Honor recipients to date in the history of the award. Only 193 of those honored came for actions performed during peacetime. Mihalowski, who died in October 1993, is the last such living recipient.

Mihalowski also did not perform his valorous actions alone. He was one of four recipients for actions performed that day. The other three honorees, Orson Crandall (1960), James McDonald (1973), and William Badders (1986) all predeceased him. All should be remembered, and Mihalowski has been highlighted simply for being that last living Medal of Honor recipient for actions during peacetime.

The events leading to the heroic actions of these four brave men actually began on May 12, 1939 when the submarine USS Squalus undertook a series of test dives off the coast of New Hampshire. Over the next 10 days, Squalus successfully completed 18 dives. It was then on May 23, while attempting her 11th dive, that things went tragically wrong.



Approximately six miles off the coast at the Isle of Sholes, Squalus main induction valve failed. The sub quickly flooded, and 26 men were immediately drowned. The remaining crew were able to prevent final compartments from flooding, but the sub sank to the bottom in some 243 feet of water.

The submarine rescue ship Falcon was dispatched to her aid with our four heroes on board as part of the crew. Falcon was equipped with new technology, the McCann Rescue Chamber. This device was capable of holding up to eight rescued crew members, as well as two rescuers.

Mihalowski and the three other Real American Heroes were the divers assigned to the actual rescue operation. The men utilized newly developed heliox diving schedules which were designed to help overcome cognitive impairment symptoms that had previously accompanied such efforts.

Using the MRC and the heliox schedules, the four men were able to rescue all 33 remaining Squalus crew members. Mihalowski and Badders, who was the senior member of the dive crew, made one final effort to rescue possible survivors in the Squalus flooded portion.

While no survivors were discovered there, the effort was extremely perilous for those final two divers. As their Medal of Honor citations read, both men were "fully aware of the great danger involved...became incapacitated, there was no way in which either could be rescued."

Monday, November 20, 2017

Islamism Series: American Jihad in the second decade after 9/11

On July 23, 2008 here at my website, I introduced the "Islamism Series", which was inspired by a class on 'Radical Islam' that I was teaching at that time.

Over the next year and a half, I wrote 20 pieces in the series. The aim was to educate folks on the history of radical Islam, to comment on current Islamic terrorist attacks, and to keep Americans alert to the continuing threat.

As with other series that have resumed in recent days with the re-launch of this website, the "Islamism Series" returns as well. As with the others, it will continue into the future with periodic articles which will continue those original goals of education and commentary on what I believe to be that continuing threat.

Perhaps you've forgotten, or you haven't put the pieces together for yourself. With so much going on these days in the nation and world, who could blame you? But the fact is that radical Islamic attacks right here in America are continuing.

Since the historically devastating attacks of September 11, 2001 there have been at least 14 successful attacks by adherents to the tenets of radical Islam right here in the United States. There have been further countless planned attacks which have been thwarted by law enforcement.

Some would have you believe that this is a brand new phenomenon. Perhaps actual terror groups such as ISIS are just beginning to formally sanction attacks. However, individuals inspired by groups like ISIS have been committing terror attacks for some time.

Of the successful post-9/11 attacks, 13 have occurred since 2009. Nine have happened in just the last four and a half years. If anything, the pace seems to be picking up. This is a problem that is going to get worse, possibly much worse, before it ever gets better.

So in renewing this series, let's start by reviewing what has happened since the last piece was published in February 2010. Something to catch us up. A reminder that we need to continue to be vigilant.

That last piece in the "Islamism Series" came out in February 2010, just months after a pair of attacks on the United States military here in our homeland. 

In June of 2009, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad (born Carlos Bledsoe) committed a drive-by shooting outside of a military recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas. In the shooting, U.S. Army Private William Long was killed and another soldier was wounded.

Five months later, U.S Army Major Nidal Hasan, an army psychiatrist, committed the largest mass shooting on a United States military base in our nation's history. Hasan killed 13 and wounded some three dozen others. 




Since publication of that last piece in the series to this point, more blood has been shed on American soil by Islamic radicals. The first actually came on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

On September 11, 2011 in Waltham, Massachusetts, three men had their throats slashed and were nearly decapitated by Ibragim Todashev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Both of these men had Chechen family backgrounds, and had come under the influence of radical Islam.

If the name of that second killer in Waltham sounds familiar to you, that's because it should. A year and a half later, Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev committed the Boston Marathon bombing. The brothers killed three, caused 16 others to lose limbs, and injured hundreds more.




In September of 2014, Alton Nolen was suspended from his job at Vaughan Foods in Moore, Oklahoma, just outside of Oklahoma City. Nolen went home, got a knife, and made his way to the company's main offices. There he attacked one female employee, slashing her throat and completely beheading her. He then slashed another female employee as well. 

As he attempted to behead that second woman, Nolen's attack was stopped when he was shot by the company C.O.O., who also happened to be a reserve sheriff deputy. An FBI investigation revealed that he had become radicalized, and used "Jah'Keem Yisrael" as his name on Facebook.

The following year, in July 2015, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez committed a pair of drive-by shootings at U.S. military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He killed four U.S. Marines and a Navy sailor in the attack, injuring a police officer and a military recruiter.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Sermon: Giving thanks for modern religious

Another day marks the return of another regular series to my website. This time it will be the weekly 'Sunday Sermon' series geared towards religious/spiritual issues.

This series is one of my oldest, beginning all the way back in September 2005. It ran fairly regularly through 2013, but then disappeared for the better part of three years.

I briefly resuscitated the series a year ago, but it turned out to be for just three installments. The last of those was published nine months ago.

Well, 'Sunday Sermon' is back for good now with this, the 70th installment in its history. All of the previous articles and any into the future can be viewed simply by clicking on that 'Label' found immediately following this piece when viewed in its web version.

Today's piece covers a topic of vital importance, one that speaks specifically to the Catholic Church. That would be the difficult decision made by young people in the 21st century in joining a religious order.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is currently engaged in its annual St. Charles Boromeo Seminary Appeal. The appeal is an attempt to raise money for the seminary through donations from parishioners.

There are currently fifteen young men at St. Charles who are in the midst of their studies to become a Catholic priest. They come not only from Philadelphia, but from all across the country. They entered the Seminary from high school and college, from careers on Wall Street, and from service to our nation's military.

During today's Mass at St. Christopher's Parish in the Somerton section of Philadelphia, Father Sean English was the celebrant. In his homily, Father Sean spoke of his own decision making process after college. Father told of how, once he knew that he did indeed want to enter the Seminary and become a priest, the process of telling his family and friends took another nine months.

Father Sean's last name may indeed be "English", but he is a young Irishman through and through. There was a time when it was expected that a young man from an Irish American family would become one of three things: a cop, a politician, or a priest.

You would expect that his family might be overjoyed at having their son enter the priesthood. But it was still a difficult decision for Father Sean to tell his parents of his decision. To tell them that their son would not be having children to pass along the family name.

The Catholic Church has to be thankful that he heard a call from Christ, and had the courage to respond positively. Father Sean is an outstanding young priest. He is exactly what the Church needs more of, both here in American and across the globe.

It's a difficult decision, surrendering yourself to a life of service to others. It is not so very unlike the calling that I felt myself at one point, to serve my community as a police officer. It is not unlike the call that many feel to serve the United States as a member of the military.

When called to a vocation, rather than simply taking a job in private industry, you have to surrender a certain amount of freedom. You must accept that you are going to help as many people as you can, under the most difficult circumstances. Not only will you face ridicule, but at times you will face outright opposition.

That call to the priestly vocation has been made particularly difficult in recent years by the priest abuse scandals which came to light over the last decade or so. Those scandals were then exacerbated by denials and cover-ups from some in the Catholic Church hierarchy.

But here is a fact. No matter those scandals, the Church needs priests. The priesthood is a vital institution for the survival of the Church into the future. The Church needs good men to step forward and become priests.



As a police officer, I have seen radicals charge that the entire profession is corrupt. There are some who believe that every police officer is racist, abusive, or both. I know from firsthand experience that is not only false, but that officers who fit into those categories are extreme rarities.

Do they exist? Yes. They exist in every profession. When those officers personal beliefs result in abusive actions, they often become newsworthy, sometimes sensationally so. But the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of police officers are good, decent people like everyone else. They try to help their community every single day while raising their own families.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

TV Watch: Justified

It's been three and a half years since the last piece in my "TV Watch" series came out. That last article in February 2014 covered the action-packed Cinemax drama "Banshee" starring Antony Starr and Ivana Milicevic.

Since that time, more and more Americans have taken on the phenomenon of binge-watching television series. This involves watching all episodes of a show in a short period of time via an OnDemand service, or through a pay service such as Netflix or Amazon.

Many times, I have found myself in conversations regarding which series folks are currently binging. Some of these conversations have turned me on to some of my favorite television shows.

I have also passed along some of my own favorites as a recommendation to others. That is what I'll be doing now with 'TV Watch' over the next few months. As the series continues with occasional pieces, I'll be highlighting some of my favorite shows from the last decade or so that have concluded their original runs, but which are available for you to enjoy on those various OnDemand or pay networks.

Near the top of any recommendation list that I could make would be "Justified", which originally aired on the FX network from March 2010 through April 2015. It's 78 episodes over six seasons make up one of the best and most original cop dramas in television history.

Timothy Olyphant stars as deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, who battles the bad guys operating in and around his home turf of Harlan, Kentucky.

Harlan is a small town and county located in extreme southeastern Kentucky near the Cumberland River, bordered by mountains and ridges. The mountainous geography and warm, humid climate help set the stage for the series.

Olyphant is in some ways the typical smart aleck style law enforcement officer. His quick wit and superior intelligence often helps him disarm his opponents, both literally and figuratively.

One of my all-time favorite lines in TV history came out of the mouth of Raylan Givens:
"You run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. You run into assholes all day, you're the asshole."


And as with many a good ol' Cowboy hat-wearing southern boy, he can back up his mouth. Raylan is good with both a gun and with his fists when needed. But he's quick enough with both that wit and his gun that he rarely needs to actually use his fists.

A running thread throughout the series finds Raylan battling with the outlaw Crowder family, especially one whom he knew since childhood. Boyd Crowder, as played marvelously by Walton Goggins, proves to be Raylan's principle nemesis.

Raylan's personal life is complicated by ongoing flirtations with both his ex-wife Winona Hawkins (Natalie Zea) and Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter), Boyd's sister-in-law. Though Winona disappears for large stretches of the series, she will return and prove critical as it winds to a conclusion.

Both Raylan's personal and professional lives are also constantly complicated by his father, Arlo Givens (Raymond J. Barry), who is suffering from the early signs of dementia. Unlike Raylan, Arlo has spent much of his life on the wrong side of the law, often with Boyd's father Bo Crowder (M.C. Gainey) who is a key figure in the shows first season.

As the show progresses, Raylan is forced to battle newly emerging threats, some from locals such as the Bennett and Crowe families, others from out of town drug operatives.

That renegade Bennett clan includes family matriarch Mags Bennett, played by Margo Martindale, and her sometimes bumbling but always villainous son Dickie Bennett, played by familiar face Jeremy Davies. Both Martindale and Davies won Emmy Awards for their roles. The Crowe family is a bunch of alligator farmers, and is led by another familiar face in Michael Rapaport.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Rock & Roll Heaven: Chris Cornell

After a nearly seven year break, this piece marks the return of my "Rock & Roll Heaven" series, which began nine years ago.

It was originally intended to be a week-long mini-series of articles. That first week included pieces on Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Michael Hutchence, and Jim Morrison. However, I also offered that I might consider continuing the series with additional occasional pieces. 

After receiving positive feedback, the series continued over the next two years. The musicians highlighted after the original mini-series were Karen Carpenter, Ty Longley, and John Bonham. All articles in the series can be enjoyed by simply clicking on the series 'label' at the bottom of this piece.

Bonham, the drummer for Led Zeppelin who Rolling Stone magazine has ranked as the top drummer of all-time, died in September of 1980. He was just 32 years old. The alcoholic Bonham died after a two-day drinking binge.

That factor is a hallmark of my series. All of the artists portrayed were icons in their generation, and died young under controversial or dramatic circumstances. 

Icon of his generation. Death under controversial circumstances. That perfectly fits the loss earlier this year of Seattle grunge band icon Chris Cornell. The lead vocalist for Soundgarden and Audioslave, Cornell's death on May 18, 2017 was ruled a suicide. He was known to have suffered from substance abuse issues and depression.

Like many popular rock artists of the early 1990's, Cornell emerged from the Seattle, Washington scene. He was born in Seattle on July 20, 1964, and so was less than three years younger then me. 

He helped form Soundgarden in 1984, and by 1990 the band was receiving a Grammy Award nomination for their debut album. They continued to record and tour together through 1996, and their 1994 album "Superunknown" won the band a pair of Grammy Awards.

One of those 1994 Grammys was "Best Hard Rock Performance" for the song "Black Hole Sun", perhaps their most well known among the wider music-listening public.



Of those early 1990's years with Soundgarden, Cornell stated the following:
"Nobody came to Seattle to sign a band or write about you or put your song on the radio, so everything there was very genuine. I’m privileged to have been in that place at that time. I also put a lot of energy into that. We really had to beat the doors down."
In 1990, Cornell had to cope with the death of his close friend and roommate, Andrew Wood. A fellow musician from Seattle, Wood died in March 1990 following a heroin overdose. In an interview with Jim Farber for The Guardian just a year ago, Cornell stated: 
“I’ve always had really difficult time with loss. I didn’t deal well with Andy’s death. After he died, numerous times I’d be driving and I would look out the window and I thought I saw him. It would take me five minutes to update to the moment and realize, ‘no, he’s actually dead.’
Cornell recorded a 1990 tribute album to Wood with a project band known as Temple of the Dog. This band included members who would go on to form Pearl Jam. 

Temple of the Dog featured the first recordings by Eddie Vedder. Originally from San Diego, his friendship with Cornell helped legitimize Vedder in the Seattle music scene. The two would remain close friends, and Cornell would go on to work with Pearl Jam a number of times over the next two decades.

In 1985 at age 20, Cornell began dating Soundgarden's manager, Susan Silver. They married in 1990, had a daughter in 2000, and divorced in 2004. Later that year he married Vicky Karayiannis. The couple would have two children, a daughter born in 2004 and a son a year later.

His Irish-Catholic father and Jewish mother were both alcoholics according to Cornell. If true, that propensity towards addiction was already going to be a factor at some point in his life.

Cornell stated in a 2006 interview with Dorian Lynskey for SPIN magazine that his early life had been "pretty great." But then a bad experience after trying PCP at age 14 left him with panic disorder and he slipped into depression through his teen years.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Traditional marriage grounded at United States Air Force

Genesis 2:18-23 reads as follows:

The LORD God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him.

So the LORD God formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each living creature was then its name.

The man gave names to all the tame animals, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be a helper suited to the man.

So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The LORD God then built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman.

When he brought her to the man, the man said “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman, for out of man this one has been taken.”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.

The story of the beginning of man and woman's journey together here on Earth is a familiar one to most people, no matter their level of faith or their personal belief.

To some, it is simply that, a story and nothing more. But to myself and more than half of the human population it remains a basic tenet of faith. To most of those same people, this biblical story forms the basic foundation for the concept of marriage.

The institution of marriage has been under attack for decades from progressives here in America. They have made major inroads in their battle to bastardize these sacred unions.

A controversy in the United States Air Force highlights that the battle for marriage continues today.

Colonel Leland Bohannon was set to be promoted to the rank of one-star general. However, one of his subordinates recently filed an EO (Equal Opportunity) complaint against him.

This complaint was substantiated, and now Bohannon has been suspended from his command and is likely to never receive the promotion he earned with decades of sacrifice and hard work.

The complaint was based on Bohannon's position supporting traditional marriage. This past spring, a master sergeant under his command was retiring. The master sergeant is gay, and has a same-sex partner.

It has become tradition to honor the spouse of such a retiree for the sacrifices they have made in supporting the retiree. That honor comes in the form of recognition at the retirement ceremony, and presentation of a certificate of spouse appreciation.

Per the website militarywives.org, during the retirement ceremony an air force wife will be called and escorted to the stage, and presented with a certificate that reads as follows:


CERTIFICATE OF APPRECIATION
FROM THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE

In grateful appreciation,
The United States Air Force presents
this certificate of recognition to:

(Spouse Name)

for the commitment and numerous contributions
that made positive impacts to the Nation's defense.
Thank You for the support which gave strength and
purpose to your spouse's service

GIVEN THIS FIRST DAY OF JUNE
TWO THOUSAND AND SEVENTEEN

Holding a traditional Christian view of marriage, Bohannon refused to sign the certificate of spouse appreciation for his retiring master sergeant's same-sex partner. He instead had a more senior military leader sign the certificate. The master sergeant then filed the EO complaint.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Believing what we want to believe

In case you don't pay close attention to the news, perhaps you don't yet know about Roy Moore.

Moore is a controversial 70-year old Alabama politician who is running for a seat in the United States Senate.

A former state judge, Moore has been the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of Alabama twice. He has also been removed from that position twice, each time for standing up for conservative causes.

In the first incident, Moore was ordered by a federal court to have a monument to the Ten Commandments removed from the front of the Alabama Judicial Building. He refused, and the Alabama Court of the Judiciary removed him from his office.

In 2016, Moore was suspended by the same body after he ordered probate judges to enforce Alabama's ban on same-sex marriages after those unions had been found to be constitutional. He appealed this time, was unsuccessful, and he resigned earlier this year.

When longtime Republican U.S. Senator from the state, Jeff Sessions, was appointed as the new Attorney General of the United States in the new administration of President Donald Trump, Moore announced that he would seek that office.

In September, Moore won a runoff election to become the Republican Party nominee for that Alabama Senate seat. He will oppose Democrat Doug Jones in a general election on December 12, 2017.

Moore is a strong, outspoken Christian who has made numerous public pronouncements against homosexuality, abortion, and radical Islam. He is characterized by many as "far right" in his political and social beliefs.

Those publicly spoken beliefs over decades, as well as his judicial rulings, have made him a major target of liberal critics in political circles and the news media.

All of this would be enough to make Moore's candidacy in next month's Senate election a major story. But at that point it would, for the most part, simply be partisan politics at play. Now there is even more controversy surrounding the candidate.



Moore has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault decades ago while he was a young prosecutor. These assaults came in the form of what have been described as sexual encounters with teenage girls.

Witnesses have come forward to support some of the women. Those witnesses are able to at least corroborate what they have described as sexual harassment.

For his part, Moore vehemently denies any sexual assault. But he has alluded to relationships with teenage girls who were over the legal age of consent while he was in his early 30's.

A number of folks on both sides of the political aisle, both political office holders and media members, have called on Moore to provide some reliable information to back his refutations. That, or to withdraw from the race.

Moore continues to retain strong support among the Alabama electorate. Results of a reputable poll released today show him with a 49%-43% lead over Jones despite the allegations. Some politicians have said that if Moore does win, they will immediately call for his removal from office.

Moore is just one of many male public figures to face years or even decades-old sexual assault and/or harassment allegations in recent months.

Similar allegations have been made against such celebrity figures as entertainment mogul Harvey Weinstein and directors Oliver Stone and Brett Ratner. Actors Kevin Spacey, Steven Seagal, Jeremy Piven, Louis C.K., and Ed Westwick are among a number of other Hollywood figures facing accusations. For his part, Piven has vehemently denied the accusations.

Eerie questions have even been raised regarding the conduct of former Vice-President Joe Biden.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Coming Soon: Website Renovations 2018

This website being re-designed, re-launch by 2018
UPDATE: THE WEBSITE RE-ORGANIZATION HAS NOW BEEN COMPLETED!

Below is the original article that accompanied the announcement of this re-organization.

---------------------------------------

Anyone who has visited here over the years has watched my website undergo a number of previous renovations.

Those changes and renovations have ranged from the design of the page, to the topics emphasized, to the actual name of the page itself.

It began with "Philly Cops" all the way back in the late 1990's. That first site was created as an early place for police officers, especially Philadelphia Police, to get information and news regarding our department and profession.

Within a couple of years, another site called "Domelights" had been developed. 'The Dome' dealt with the same topics. I liked it's format and the dedication of its founders and managers, and so decided to direct my own efforts in another direction.

Sometime around 2004, I decided to direct my efforts at politics. "The Right Way" was a short-lived effort that presented my opinions on various political and social issues from a conservative perspective.

About a decade ago, I decided to check to see if my own name was available as an internet domain. It was, and the "mattveasey.com" site under my own name was born.


Over this past decade the emphasis of the site has changed a few times. At first a continuation of the political and social direction of "The Right Way", I began to incorporate pieces written on any topic that sparked my interest.

At one point, I tried to turn the site into a purely family site. The intent there was to make it a place where our extended family of kids and cousins, aunts and uncles, could catch up and stay in touch with one another.

Then along came Facebook almost immediately. So many family members joined up and got in touch with one another quickly that it became a perfect place to stay in touch.



Over the last half-dozen years there have been three major changes in direction. The first was to a religious and spiritual emphasis. Next came a change to baseball, specifically my hometown Philadelphia Phillies. Finally over the last year or so, to overall baseball coverage.

It was the fall of 1997 when I purchased our first home personal computer and logged on to the internet through the AOL service. Amazing to think that it was a full two decades ago. I began writing soon after. Most of those early pieces are lost to time.

Thankfully when starting "mattveasey.com", I was able to recover a number of pieces dating back as far as 2004. Those are now available here. If you flip through the "Archives" in the left sidebar, you can see the evolution of the topics and direction.


Another thing that I hope you can see is the evolution of my own writing. It is an old axiom that "writers write" - it's in the doing. I enjoy the writing, the self-experession and sharing of ideas.

I'm a writer, whether ever getting paid to do so professionally or not. And so I have to write. I've learned a great deal along the way, and believe that both my style and presentation have improved over the years.

What I have learned in making all of these changes in direction and format over the years is that I have a lot of opinions on a wide variety of issues. It's becoming time to get back to that variety.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Yankees find life as C.C. Sabathia turns back the clock

Sabathia gem helps cut Yankees ALCS deficit in half
The New York Yankees were in desperate shape entering Game Three of the 2017 American League Championship Series.

The Yanks trailed the Houston Astros by two games to none in the best-of-seven series. A loss back home in the Bronx would put them in an almost impossible 3-0 hole.

Manager Joe Girardi handed the ball to 37-year old, 17-year veteran C.C. Sabathia for the pivotal starting assignment on the mound.

Sabathia delivered, and then some. He would shut out the tough Houston lineup for six innings over which he threw 99 pitches. The big lefty surrendered just three hits, walked four, and struck out five batters in what he described as a "smoke and mirrors" performance per MLB.com's Bryan Hoch.

Despite his age, there is no one his team would have wanted more in that position. Per Hoch, Sabathia is now 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts following a Yankees loss during the 2017 regular season and postseason.
"Obviously you want to go out and have a good performance in the playoffs and give us a chance to get back in the series. Hopefully we did that tonight. We can come out tomorrow, swing the bats and score some more runs." ~ Sabathia, per Hoch
Swing the bats they did last night as well. The Bronx Bombers came out bombing early and often against Houston starter Charlie Morton. The veteran right-hander yielded seven earned runs on six hits and two walks over just 3.2 innings of work.

Todd Frazier got it started in the bottom of the second inning. The former Little League World Series hero reached out and poked a three-run homer just over the right field wall. That blast got the offense rolling in what would become an eventual 8-1 Yankees victory.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Red October: Justin Turner beats the champs

Turner's walkoff homer wins NLCS Game Two for Dodgers
The drama of October postseason baseball continued to unfold in a big way in Sunday night's Game Two of the 2017 National League Championship Series.

The host Los Angeles Dodgers held a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven NLCS. Now they were battling the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs into the bottom of the 9th inning with the two teams tied at 1-1 on the Dodger Stadium scoreboard.

There is an old sports axiom that states "if you want to be the champ, you gotta beat the champ." That is exactly the task in front of this latest version of what has become a perennially disappointing Dodgers ball club.

The Dodgers have not won a World Series championship in nearly 30 years. Not since a gimpy Kirk Gibson caused Vin Scully to disbelieve what he had just seen in October of 1988. Not since Orel Hershiser was acing it on the mound, rather then commenting on aces from the broadcast booth.

Ten times since, Los Angeles has advanced to the postseason. Ten times they and their fans have gone home disappointed. Six times the team didn't even advance past the NLDS.

The disappointment has been particularly difficult in recent years. The Dodgers have now captured five consecutive NL West crowns. But their regular season successes have ended in postseason failure each of the previous four years.

The Dodgers organization and fans wear those recent years and even decades of disillusionment like an albatross around their collective necks.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

NLCS: Los Angeles Dodgers vs Chicago Cubs preview and prediction

The Dodgers and Cubs meet in a repeat NLCS
For the second consecutive season the National League Championship Series will be contested by the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers.

The two teams engaged in a spirited series last October, eventually won by the Cubs in six games. Chicago would then go on to defeat the Cleveland Indians, winning the franchise first World Series in more than a century.

A year ago, Chicago took the opener. But LA then received back-to-back pitching gems from Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill, shutting out the Cubs twice to take a 2-1 series lead.

After that, it was all Chicago. The Cubbies bats awoke with a vengeance to take the final three games by a combined 23-6 score.

This season, the Dodgers staggered out of the gate, going 10-12 over the first few weeks of April. But from April 27 through August 25 they accumulated an unreal 81-24 record.

That four month stretch of dominance allowed the Dodgers to run away with the National League West Division race. Even a month-long slump over which they lost 20 of 25 games would not allow either the Arizona Diamondbacks or Colorado Rockies, both eventual NL Wildcard teams, to make a dent in the division.

Los Angeles would recover to take eight of their final 10 games, finishing with 104 wins and an 11-game cushion over Arizona. The 104 victories gave them the best mark in all of Major League Baseball, and were the most by any Dodgers team in more than four decades.

Friday, October 13, 2017

ALCS: Houston Astros vs New York Yankees preview and prediction

Judge (top), Altuve lead teams into ALCS
The Houston Astros are right where most baseball pundits thought they would be when the 2017 MLB postseason began. The club will begin play in the American League Championship Series beginning on Friday night.

The Astros finished 101-61, the second best record in the American League. The surprise is that they will be opening this ALCS at home in Minute Maid Park.

The vast majority of those pundits, myself included, believed that Houston would be traveling to Cleveland to face the Indians, who won 102 games, the best record in the American League.

However, the Tribe were stunned in the ALDS by the New York Yankees. That was after favored Cleveland had jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the series.

Game Three was a nail-biting 1-0 affair. With a chance to sweep, the Indians had two runners on and two out in the 9th inning. But Carlos Santana's drive to deep left-center field was hauled in by Aaron Hicks, and the Yanks stayed alive.

New York then tied the series up behind a gem from young ace Luis Severino, and finished the comeback with Brett Gardner's huge two-out, two-run single in the top of the 9th inning of Game Five.

So it will be the Astros hosting those Yankees for the first two games. For Houston, this will mark the franchise first ALCS appearance. The club moved from the NL Central to the AL West for the 2013 season.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Nationals can prove nothing today - they must win two straight

Dusty Baker's Nationals need two wins (photo: Chicago Tribune)

The Washington Nationals are on the brink of postseason elimination. Stop me if you've heard this story before.

This year's version of the Nats will take the field on Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley Field in Chicago trailing the host Cubs by 2-1 in a best-of-five NLDS.

Whether they are willing to admit it or not, the Nationals will face another opponent today as well. That opponent lives inside their own heads and hearts.

This 2017 MLB postseason marks the fourth time in the last six years that Washington has participated in the National League Division Series. They have been eliminated in each of the previous three opportunities.

Winning today will not take the pressure off the Nats. Forcing a Game Five back at Nationals Park on Friday would not prove a thing. For the Nationals to show that this year's team is different from those previous playoff clubs, they must win two straight.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Red Sox vanquished in ALDS, but they'll be back

The Boston Red Sox should contend once again in 2018
The Houston Astros came from behind, scoring twice in the 8th and once in the 9th inning, then held off a last-ditch rally to down the Boston Red Sox by a 5-4 score on Monday afternoon.

The victory advances Houston into the American League Championship Series for the first time since the 2005 postseason. The defeat in front of more than 37,000 mostly disappointed fans at historic Fenway Park sends the host Red Sox home for the winter.

Over the last decade and a half, those Fenway faithful and the team they love have enjoyed the greatest period of sustained success in franchise history. In those last 15 seasons, the Red Sox have reached the postseason nine times, capturing three World Series titles.

But more importantly for the future of the team is that the prospects for long term future success appears to be just as bright as those recent victorious campaigns.

The Red Sox are blessed with one of the most talented group of young players in Major League Baseball. Half of their projected lineup of position players will spend all of the 2018 season at or below 25 years of age.

Phillies Andy MacPhail right not to spend money on roster

Phillies President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail
Andy MacPhail has just begun his third off-season as President of Baseball Operations with the Philadelphia Phillies organization.

First hired by the Phillies as an assistant to Pat Gillick in June 2015, MacPhail has been an inside observer to the workings of the team as it finished with 63, 71, and 66 wins over the last three seasons.

Going back even further, the Phillies and their fans have now suffered through five consecutive losing campaigns. Not just barely losing, where your team is competitive. The Phillies best finish in that stretch was 16 games below the .500 mark.

It has been a long, dark period made even less palatable by the fact that it followed the greatest decade in franchise history. From 2001-11, the Phillies fielded just one loser, and that 2002 team finished just a game below the .500 mark.

Most fans, though frustrated, understood the circumstances that led to this current losing stretch. Our heroes of the previous decade pretty much all aged out together. Injuries cut short a few careers. A few poor decisions exacerbated matters.

The reality was that the Phillies needed to rebuild their farm system, developing a group of players who could form the next core of a winning ball club. That was going to take a few years.

Well, a few years have passed. The Phillies have indeed rebuilt that farm system. In the opinions of most respected evaluators, they have indeed developed a core group capable of special things in the coming years.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

MLB awards: my 2017 IBWAA ballot

IBWAA members submitted 2017 MLB Awards ballots
With the four Major League Baseball Division Series each heading towards their climactic moments, this marks a good time to take a quick look back at the regular season.

As a lifetime member of the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association of America), the end of each MLB regular season means that my awards ballot is due.

The IBWAA asks each of its members to vote on five categories in both the National and American Leagues. Those five are the MVP and Cy Young, as well as each league's top reliever, rookie, and manager.

As with the vast majority of voters in the IBWAA, my own selections were certainly based on performance. However, also as with every other voter, subjectivity comes in to play.

There are almost always multiple individuals deserving of awards consideration. That was most definitely the case this season. I found this past 2017 MLB season to be one of the toughest ever for which to fill out an awards ballot.

Friday, October 6, 2017

NLDS Prediction: Washington Nationals over Chicago Cubs

Nationals fans believe that this will be their year - so do I
This isn't necessarily a now-or-never situation for the Washington Nationals, as some pundits have claimed.

The Nats are likely to again be favorites to win the NL East crown in 2018, and will have the talent again to be a serious championship contender.

However, it is getting to be time for the Nationals to prove that they can actually win a postseason series, let alone make a deep October run.

This is the sixth consecutive season of contention in our nation's capital. Washington captured the NL East crown in four of those six seasons, and finished second in the other two. This is their fourth shot at postseason play.

In their three previous October series, the Nationals dropped a hard-fought NLDS. In 2012 it was a 3-2 series defeat at the hands of the Saint Louis Cardinals.

The Nats won the opener of that series, and held a 7-5 lead with two outs in the top of the 9th in the decisive Game Five before a Cardinals rally killed their dreams.

In 2014, the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants took out the Nats in four games. Each of the three defeats came by a single run: 3-2 and 2-1 in the first two games, and then a 3-2 defeat in Game Four where the Giants clinching run scored via a wild pitch.

Last season, Washington was a clear favorite against the LA Dodgers. A 3-2 loss to Clayton Kershaw in the opener was nothing to be ashamed of, and the Nats bounced back to capture the next two games.

Then in Game Four, the Dodgers tied the series with a two-out, nobody on rally in the bottom of the 8th in which a Chase Utley RBI single drove in the winning run of a 6-5 game.

In Game Five, Max Scherzer was tossing a gem, shutting out the Dodgers for six innings. But in the 7th, LA erupted for four runs, ultimately holding on for a 4-3 victory that again eliminated the Nationals.

This history matters, because if the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs get out to a series lead, or even take it to a decisive game, that history of playoff losing could work on the Nationals collective heads.

NLDS Prediction: Arizona Diamondbacks over Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodger Stadium hosts the first two games of a 2017 NLDS
Through four games of the 2017 Major League Baseball postseason, home teams are 4-0. Those hosts have outscored the visiting squads by a 31-14 margin to this point.

For my prediction in this National League Division Series to come true, that is going to have to come to an end. I am picking the Arizona Diamondbacks to top the NL West Division rival Los Angeles Dodgers in what some might consider an upset.

I say "some", because knowledgeable baseball fans who have been following these teams know that, despite the Dodgers finishing with a better overall record, the Dbacks have actually been the better team for some time.

Guided by second-year skipper Dave Roberts, the Dodgers finished with an MLB-best record of 104-58. That was 11 games better than Torey Lovullo and his Diamondbacks, who had to settle for the top NL Wildcard position.

But as late as August 25, that Dodgers lead had ballooned up to 21.5 games. Over the next month, LA collapsed, losing 20 of their next 25 games. The Dodgers did ultimately recover their equilibrium at the end, winning 10 of their final dozen.

The Dbacks, meanwhile, were nearly polar opposites. They won 20 of 25 between August 21 and September 16 to take complete command of a Wildcard playoff berth.

In that NL Wildcard Game, held on Wednesday night, Arizona blitzed out to an early 6-0 lead over the division-rival Colorado Rockies. The Diamondbacks ultimately powered their way to an 11-8 victory in the slugfest that many had predicted.

The Dodgers offensive attack is led by two of the top young players in the game today in second-year shortstop Corey Seager and rookie first baseman Cody Bellinger.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

ALDS Prediction: Cleveland Indians over New York Yankees

Progressive Field in Cleveland hosts first two ALDS games
No disrespect meant to the most decorated organization in the history of Major League Baseball, but I think they are in over their heads in their ALDS matchup with the Cleveland Indians.

Let's begin the preview with who the Yankees are coming into the series. Joe Girardi's squad took control of the top AL Wildcard spot in September, and even made a run at the Boston Red Sox for the AL East Division crown before falling two games short.

That pushed the Yanks into the AL Wildcard Game. In that contest, held on Tuesday night, the Yankees spotted the Minnesota Twins a 3-0 first inning lead. The Bronx Bombers then bombed away, out-scoring the Twins 8-1 the rest of the way.

The Yankees (91-71) big hitters did the damage in that one-game playoff. Aaron Judge went 2-4 with a monster home run (what else is new), and scored three runs. Gary Sanchez and Brett Gardner each had two hits, with Gardner and Didi Gregorius each blasting a home run.

Those three are going to have to contribute heavily if the Yankees are to have any hope of overcoming the defending AL champion Indians. The Tribe won five of the seven meetings between the two teams this season, and I just don't see it happening in a playoff series.

Girardi is scheduled to send big trade acquisition Sonny Gray to the mound in the opener. He'll be followed by veteran lefty C.C. Sabathia in Game Two. Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka gets the nod for Game Three on Saturday back at Yankee Stadium.

For the Indians (102-60) and manager Terry Francona, it was a surprise to many to see righty Trevor Bauer get the call for the opener. But Francona and the Tribe have a great deal of trust in Bauer, who started Game One of the ALDS a year ago vs Boston, and who also made two starts in the World Series vs the Chicago Cubs.

ALDS Prediction: Houston Astros over Boston Red Sox

One ALDS opens this afternoon with Houston hosting Boston
The Division Series open today in the American League, and each series features a strong AL East contender.

I'm picking both of these "beasts of the east" to go down at the hands of what like slightly more talented opponents.

In one ALDS, the Houston Astros, champions of the AL West, will be facing the Boston Red Sox, champs of the AL East. In the other series, the Cleveland Indians, champions of the AL Central and the defending American League champs, will be taking on the wildcard New York Yankees.

Let's take the Houston-Boston matchup first. The Astros won 101 games during the regular season, running away with the AL West crown by 21 games.

It was the franchise' first division title since 2001, and puts them into the postseason for the second time in three years. In 2015, Houston was edged out in a five-game ALDS by the eventual World Series champion Kansas City Royals.

The Red Sox went 93-69, and held off the Yankees down the stretch to capture their second consecutive division title, their third in five seasons. The Bosox were swept out of the ALDS a year ago by Cleveland.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Why the Diamondbacks / Rockies will win the NL Wildcard game

NL West rivals will meet in the NL Wildcard Game
The New York Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins by an 8-4 final score in Tuesday night's AL Wildcard Game.

I called it 7-4, Yankees, in yesterday's AL Wildcard preview and prediction piece. Now it's time to take a look at the National League matchup.

Wednesday night will find the NL Wildcard Game taking place at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. There the Arizona Diamondbacks will host the NL West Division rival Colorado Rockies.

The winner of this win-or-go-home matchup will move on to face yet another division rival. That would be the Los Angeles Dodgers, who will host the NLDS opener beginning on Friday.

Arizona has a first-year big league manager in Torey Lovullo. The 52-year old played 303 games in Major League Baseball, mostly as a utility infielder, spread across eight seasons between 1988 and 1999.

Lovullo did have extensive minor league experience. He registered more than 5,000 plate appearances over a dozen minor league seasons from 1987-99. He then wrapped up his playing career overseas in the Japanese Central League in the 2000 season.

Following his retirement, Lovullo was hired as a minor league coach by the Cleveland Indians. He would rise during the 2000's to become one of the most successful managers in the minors, becoming a frequent big league managerial candidate and interviewee.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Why the Yankees / Twins will win the AL Wildcard Game

Twins visit the Yankees for the 2017 AL Wildcard Game
On Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, the New York Yankees will host the Minnesota Twins in the American League Wildcard Game.

The Yanks are skippered by Joe Girardi, who has never experienced a losing season in his 10 years at the helm.

Girardi has accumulated a 910-710 record, and led the team to three AL East Division crowns. He also guided baseball's marquee franchise to their most recent World Series championship back in the fall of 2009.

Girardi accumulated 1,100 hits across 15 seasons in the big leagues, which included four in Yankee pin stripes. Those four years, from 1996-99, coincided with the franchise' most recent dynastic run. Girardi would win three World Series rings as a player with those Yankees teams.

Over in the visiting dugout, the Twins will be guided by Paul Molitor. One of the greatest hitters of all-time, the Hall of Famer amassed 3,319 base knocks over a storied 21-year career. He was a 7x All-Star and a 4x Silver Slugger Award winner.

Molitor was the MVP of the 1993 World Series while a player with the Toronto Blue Jays, and was also runner-up for both the 1978 AL Rookie of the Year and 1993 AL Most Valuable Player awards.

As the Twins manager, the Saint Paul native has compiled a 227-259 record over three seasons. Two of his three years have resulted in winnings campaigns. But a year ago, his Twins club finished at 59-103, the worst record in baseball.

This season, Girardi's Yankees finished at 91-71, just two games behind the arch-rival Boston Red Sox in the AL East. Molitor's Twins team was one of baseball's most unlikely stories, and finished 85-77, good enough to capture the second AL Wildcard spot by five games.

During the first decade of this century, the Yankees ousted the Twins from the American League Postseason four times. New York defeated Minnesota in the ALDS in 2003, 2004, 2009 and 2010, the last two coming in three-game sweeps.

The host Yankees will enter the game as favorites, and prohibitive ones to many prognosticators. However, there are very good reasons to believe that each of these teams can win, moving on to a date with the defending AL champion Cleveland Indians in the ALDS.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Indians, Astros battle for AL's top record and home field advantage

Houston routed Boston at Fenway Park on Thursday 
The Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros have long ago clinched their respective divisional crowns.

But as Major League Baseball's regular season opens its final weekend, the two teams find that there is still an important battle to be fought.

With a record of 100-59, the Tribe have the top record in the American League. The Astros at 99-60 are just a game behind.

Should the two teams eventually meet, which would likely only happen in an ALCS matchup, then Cleveland would be awarded home field advantage, were the season to end today.

Of course, the 2017 season does not end today. The Astros and Indians still have three games each to play. Those games will determine which actually finishes with that best overall mark.

Terry Francona and his Indians will be at home this weekend, hosting the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field. At 66-93, the Chisox have the second-worst record in the league.

The Astros and their skipper, A.J. Hinch, are up in Boston, where they opened a four-game series with a 12-2 rout on Thursday.

John Farrell and his Bosox team are trying to nail down the AL East crown for themselves. Boston is three games up on the traditional arch-rival New York Yankees with three to play.