*** 2018 WORLD SERIES opens on Tuesday night *** RED SOX host DODGERS for Game One & Two at Fenway Park on Tues & Weds 8:09PM EDT - TV coverage by FOX *** Games Three, Four, and Five (if necc) on Fri-Sat-Sun at Dodger Stadium

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Trump State of the Union I: "Americans are dreamers too"

President Donald J. Trump delivers his first SOTU address
President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union address last night. His speech couldn't have been more positive for the country. 

Meanwhile, the opposition Democratic Party clearly demonstrated their political partisanship and personal animus towards this President all night long.

The Dems refused to applaud or otherwise positively acknowledge even the most positive developments involving programs and people they normally claim as their own.

This was clearly a victorious evening for a President who has been repeatedly attacked by those Democrats and their liberal media arm throughout his first year in office.

The economy and domestic policy. Defense and international relations. The President touched on all of the hot-button topics of interest to Americans today.

He began early in his speech by going over some of the tough challenges faced by the nation over this past year. The mass shooting in Las Vegas and the shooting at a Congressional softball game. Natural disasters in which "We endured floods and fires and storms."

To highlight these challenges, the President presented and told the stories of specific individuals. 

Coast Guard Petty Officer Ashlee Leppert worked for 18 hours straight during Hurricane Harvey to help save 40 lives. Firefighter David Dahlberg rescued 60 children trapped at a summer camp during the California wildfires. 

Congressman Steve Scalise, who the President christened as "the legend from Louisiana" to roaring applause, fought hard to recover from gunshot wounds at that Congressional softball game, returning to work just a few months later.
"Over the last year, the world has seen what we always knew:  that no people on Earth are so fearless, or daring, or determined as Americans.  If there is a mountain, we climb it.  If there is a frontier, we cross it.  If there is a challenge, we tame it.  If there is an opportunity, we seize it."


The President then segued into that seizing of opportunity in the economy: 2.4 million new jobs created. Rising wages. Low unemployment, including historic lows for African-Americans and Hispanic Americans. Massive individual and business tax cuts. A record-breaking stock market.
"This is our new American moment.  There has never been a better time to start living the American Dream. So to every citizen watching at home tonight — no matter where you have been, or where you come from, this is your time.  If you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in America, then you can dream anything, you can be anything, and together, we can achieve anything."
The President used that positive statement to move through a couple moments of open patriotism. He emphasized a love for the American flag, the pledge of allegiance, and our national anthem.

He acknowledged America's military and law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line daily for all of our citizens.

To help highlight the importance of patriotism, the President presented the story of Preston Sharp. The 12-year old California boy noticed that flags were missing from the graves of veterans. He began a movement that spread across the country, resulting in flags placed at the graves of more than 40,000 deceased American heroes.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Russia causes a mess for the FBI and the American political process

"Integrity" portion of FBI motto compromised?
There has been a great deal of controversy surrounding the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) over the last couple of years. 

Much of that controversy involves what is becoming increasingly apparent partisan political activity by some in leadership positions in the nation's leading law enforcement agency during the 2016 Presidential election process and its aftermath.

The key terms and the names of the players involved have been regularly splashed across news headlines. Fusion GPS, Russia meddling, deleted emails. Hillary Clinton, James Comey, Robert Mueller, Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Loretta Lynch, Andrew McCabe. 

What is all the fuss about, and what is the truth? Who actually did what? Was anything illegal or improper done? If so, was it anything for Americans to truly be concerned about? Is this all just political gamesmanship? 

In the news today, McCabe has "stepped down" as deputy director at the FBI. Per a report from Kelly Cohen at the Washington Examiner this afternoon, this move appears to be "tied to a forthcoming watchdog report on how the agency handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server."




That email investigation began to develop some time around October 1, 2016. With the Presidential election just over a month away, according to a May 2017 piece by Peter Elkind at ProPublica: "agents sifting through files on a laptop belonging to the former congressman Anthony Weiner, as part of a sex-crimes investigation, had stumbled across emails sent by Clinton when she was secretary of state."

Per Elkind, over the next few weeks as the investigation into Weiner's alleged relationship with a 15-year old girl unfolded "the agents concluded that the laptop contained thousands of Clinton messages."

This was problematic for a number of reasons. The FBI under Comey had already been looking into Clinton's email practices for more than a year. 

During her tenure as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama, Clinton had used her private home email server to send out official communications. More than 2,000 of these emails contained information that was classified at the time, or would be acknowledged as such later. Comey identified 65 of the emails as "secret", and another 22 as containing "top secret" information.

Anyone who understands computers and the Internet can understand why the use of a private email server by someone like the Secretary of State is a dangerous practice. Without the protection of government-based servers, the emails could easily be intercepted by hackers. This could potentially send devastating classified information into the hands of those who would do our nation harm.

Hackers from Russia and Serbia were known by the Clinton team to both have awareness of the email server vulnerabilities, as well as to have actually made hacking attempts during 2011 and 2012.

As more information was revealed over time, the FBI finally began an investigation in 2015. The purpose was to determine whether Clinton and/or her aides had jeopardized national security. If so, to determine who could be held responsible for such actions.

The controversy deepened when it was revealed that Clinton had directed that some 30,000 emails should be deleted. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Safe injection sites and the 'War on Drugs'

Heroin operation taken down in Delaware, May 2016
There has been a great deal of controversy in recent weeks here in my hometown of Philadelphia regarding a proposal by some local politicians to open so-called safe injection sites.

The position of Mayor Jim Kenney and others is that such sites would help combat the exploding opioid crisis.

This would be accomplished by providing a safe place for drug abusers, but also by providing them with counseling.

Kenney was quoted by Aubrey Whelan for Philly.com just last week:
“We don’t want dying on the street and we want to have a place to administer Narcan if necessary. We also want an opportunity to speak to people about their future and getting their lives straight. They can’t do that under a train bridge or on a train track.”
Almost immediately, various members of Philadelphia City Council tried to apply the brakes. Per a piece by Claudia Vargas and Holly Otterbein for Philly.com, those concerns were summed up by Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez: “There’s no plan,” Sánchez said, adding that the city’s official presentation on the proposal looked “like an intern gave it to them.”

I have a number of problems with the idea. Concerns over exactly where any facilities would be located, issues involving liability for the city involving death and injuries at the facilities, and many others.

However, perhaps my biggest problem with the idea is even more basic and controversial. This is especially so coming from me, as I spent most of the last three decades as a Philadelphia Police Officer, Detective, and Sergeant. That included a decade in the Training Bureau teaching officers, supervisors, and commanders.

My biggest problem is that the city would be basically endorsing and supporting folks who are breaking the law. Possession and use of illicit drugs such as heroin is a crime. Addiction is not a valid defense.

Now that statement is factual, so my problem may not seem immediately apparent. Until I reveal why I feel that it is a problem. It's a problem because the city is supporting an illegal activity. But it is an activity that I do not believe should be illegal in the first place.

That's right - I do not support laws against the sale, possession, or consumption of narcotics. And if you do, I want to hear the reasons. The real reasons.

Those reasons cannot have to do with health concerns for the individuals involved in that usage, or their families, or for the community. Not unless you also support criminalizing the use of tobacco products and alcohol.

The cost of alcohol addiction to the U.S. economy has been estimated at nearly $250 billion annually. This includes lost productivity, health care expenses, law and other justice costs, and motor vehicle crashes.

More than 40% of that cost, over $100 billion, is drained from government. In other words, you and I pay for it with our taxes. Another $3.5 billion in costs is incurred by individual states, who of course also get their money from we the taxpayers.

Even with all of the education regarding tobacco abuse and the decline in its use over recent decades, its use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in America today.


Sunday, January 28, 2018

Jesus is the Church

Embed from Getty Images
"...where two or three gather in my name, there am I..."

When it comes to their faith lives, folks with a deep conviction can be extremely defensive.

I've even heard some go so far as to claim that those who don't follow the same belief system and faith practices they do will even end up in hell when they die.

The fact is that neither you nor I, nor anyone else on this planet, has any idea whether any individual human being is going to end up in heaven or hell for eternity. 

That lack of knowledge holds for everyone from your local rabbi to the Pope. Our ultimate fate is God's alone to know.

My own faith is rooted in Jesus Christ. I practice and celebrate that faith in the Catholic Church. That is mostly because it is the church in which I was born and raised. I went to Catholic school for 12 years as a child and teen. I even later graduated from a Catholic university as an adult.

While it is my belief that my Catholic Church is the best way to practice the Christian faith, in no way to I believe it is the only way. In the end, it's not about the Mass or the building or the priest. The Church is none of those things.

The Church is Jesus Christ. He is not only the center, he is everything.

In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus says: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of  all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

In the famous verse of John 14:6, Jesus says: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Nowhere does Jesus say that in order to get to heaven you must go to church - any church. He says that all authority is his. He says that he is truth and life. He says to follow him and his teachings if you want to be assured of eternity with the Father.

Don't get me wrong, church is important. That is especially true of the Catholic Church. As I've written a number of times in the past, Jesus Christ founded His Church. It was important to him to have authoritative leadership and teaching continue.

In Matthew 16:18 we find this foundation: "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.Jesus founded one Church. The word "catholic" itself means universal. 

However, in John 14:16-17, Jesus said: "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper who will be with you forever. That helper is the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept him, because it doesn’t see or know him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be in you."

Here Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will come into the world. He also states that the Spirit will not only live with us, but will live in us.

Jesus founded one Church, and that universal Catholic church continues today, more than 2,000 years later. 

However, the Holy Spirit did indeed come into the world and into our hearts. The Spirit has worked to inspire men and women in ways that have contradicted that universal Catholic Church over the centuries.

It would be dangerous, in fact totally wrong, to say and believe that any and every possible means of practicing a form of Christianity is healthy and appropriate. 

Misguided men have formed many harmful practices over time in the name of a church. Any honest assessment of even the Catholic Church history would show that misguided men can do a great deal of harm in the name of faith and church.

Many have seen the abuses within various Christian churches and decided to maintain a personal relationship with the Lord. There is nothing wrong with this, but it is not preferred, and you are cheating yourself if this is your practice.

In Matthew 18:20 we hear Jesus make his famous church and family proclamation: "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” He tells us straight out that when we pray and worship him together, he will be present with us.

Whatever church you belong to, and even if you choose to maintain a personal or familial relationship with him, you cannot be making a mistake if your true center is Jesus Christ and his own words.

The teachings of the prophets in the Old Testament are excellent for education and inspiration. The preaching of the disciples in the Acts of the Apostles, the teaching of Paul, and other New Testament works are outstanding guides to follow.

But the fact remains that where his Word is present, there is truth. If you follow that Word, those teachings, then you are likely to end up in the spending eternity in the presence of the Father.

In the end, Jesus Christ is the Church. 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Are your kids - or even you - becoming a screen addict?

Gaming and screen viewing habits may become addictive
Are you, or is someone you care about, an addict?

I'm not talking here about an addiction to some substance. Illicit drugs, prescription pain killers, alcohol.

I'm talking about something that many people in 21st century America, certainly among the younger generations, take part in as a daily activity - video gaming.

Jacob Passey with the New York Post has reported that at some point later this year the World Health Organization will come out with their 11th update to the International Classification of Diseases.

The ICD is a well-respected and referenced guidebook which describes a variety of diseases. It further notes causes, symptoms, and ramifications.

The Post reports that an early draft includes "Gaming Disorder", essentially an addiction to video gaming. The disorder includes a behavior pattern which "is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning."

In a look into the possibility of gaming addictions back in 2016, CNN interviewed Iowa State University psychologist Douglas Gentile. He stated: "The first study I began in 1999, to basically try to show video game addiction isn't a real thing, and it turns out I was wrong!"

Gentile went on to further describe the results of his research as follows:
"Even though different researchers across the world may define the problem somewhat differently, or ask different questions in different countries with differently aged kids, we find almost the same results across the world. The estimates perhaps vary somewhat, but they all seem to come out somewhere between about 4 and 10 percent: that's the amount of gamers I would classify as addicted."

The Post column stated that the American Psychiatric Association had considered the disorder for DSM-5, which was released five years ago. 

However, that latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders did not include anything in regards to an Internet or gaming disorder, stating that more research was needed before formal inclusion.

It's not just kids who are developing potentially harmful habits where the modern information, communication, and entertainment tech is concerned. A piece for MarketWatch by Quentin Fottrell in December 2016 stated that "parents with tweens and teens (children aged eight to 18 years) spend over nine hours with screen media each day."

That may sound like a lot of hours. Surely you don't spend that amount of time in front of a screen? But consider your usage. 

Many spend time at work in front of a computer screen. Then add in time spent watching television. Factor in social networking on a laptop, home PC, and your phone. And there are parents also involved in video gaming. It all adds up.

Parents need to be concerned about the amount of time that their children spend watching television, on their phones with social media and other activities, and engaged with Internet gaming. Get them involved in activities outside the home, where they actually must learn to interact in person with peers and adults.

Of course, being a good example yourself goes a long way towards getting kids to buy in to your parenting. Make sure that you are spending time with other adults outside the home. And perhaps more importantly, that you are spending time with your family in both indoor and outdoor non-screen activities.

I'm not trying to tell anyone to unplug and give up gaming, or social media, or watching television. It was the ancient Roman playwright known as Terence who first wrote "moderation in all things." Some 2,000 years later, that saying applies well once again to the amount of time we spend in front of a screen.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Three decades as a Philly Cop come to a close

Career-spanning photos displayed
during January retirement party
This past Friday, January 19, was my last official day on the payroll of the Philadelphia Police Department. After nearly three decades, I hung up my badge and gun, riding off into the sunset of retirement.

I come from a Philly Cop family. My brother, Mike, remains on the job as a Sergeant with the Central Detective Division. For a few years way back in the early 1990's we were partners working a police wagon.

Our father, Matthew Veasey Jr (I'm the third), had been a Philly Cop himself for three decades from 1960 through 1989. He passed away back in August knowing that my retirement was coming up. If you combine his and my own service, the calendar year of 2019 will be the first in a half-century without a Matthew Veasey serving in uniform.

We also have a pair of cousins on the job. John Bernard is a Detective and Bob Veasey is a police officer. So even though I'm now out, the family influence remains within the Philly law enforcement ranks.

Trying to write about all of the experiences that I had, all of the people who made a difference, in one piece would be an exercise in futility. There were so many, I could write a book. Maybe some day I will do just that. I certainly understand how so many cops have written books and scripts in the past. There are that many amazing, wild, and touching stories.

But I will take a few paragraphs to glance back at my career as both a general reminder, and as a sample of where a career in the police profession can take you.

I started out by taking the written exam in December 1989. I had just turned 28 years old, and had been working in the banking profession for the previous decade since my graduation from high school.

This wasn't my first time taking the police test. I took it previously way back in 1980 as an 18-year old. At that time, I passed the written test as well as all of the subsequent exams and checks. 

Unfortunately, for one of the few times in history, not only was the PPD not hiring, they were actually laying off officers. I remained on a hiring list for two years while that layoff and city hiring slowdown continued. My list eventually expired, and by that point I was settled in to my job with First Pennsylvania Bank. 

By the time that 1989 testing opportunity came around, I had moved over to Fidelity Bank. Though I was making better money in a more responsible position, I still wasn't seeing much of an interesting future for myself in the banking profession.

In those days, the city actually gave you a booklet to study for the written test. I studied hard, and it paid off. When the results came out, I had finished high. By the end of January 1990, I was attending the orientation session at the old Academy facility on State Road.

Over the next few months there were numerous tests: psychological, psychiatric, lie detector. There was a background check in which neighbors and family members were contacted about my conduct and character.

I passed everything with flying colors, and entered the Philadelphia Police Academy as a member of Class 289 on April 23, 1990. The next five months were like being back in high school. Classroom work, homework, and studying. There was regular physical training that got me into the best shape of my life.
The Veasey Boys, early 90's
wagon crew in the 6th District

In mid-September of 1990 our class graduated. I was assigned to the 6th District, the same place as my brother, who had graduated the previous year. The 6th served an extremely diverse area in those days, stretching from Broad Street down to the Delaware River, and from South Street up to Poplar Street.

While there are districts with far worse violent crime situations, few could rival the 6th District for the variety of assignments and citizen interactions. You went from a job in the drug-infested Richard Allen Homes projects on one call to the wealthy inhabitants of Society Hill for the next. 

There was a thriving gay community, the burgeoning club scene along Delaware Avenue, and the boardwalk atmosphere of South Street. The entire downtown area was a hodgepodge of residents, visitors, workers, and transients. It was a great place to learn how to interact with people from all walks of life, and from all socio-economic backgrounds.

We had great cops in my squad, many of whom stayed together for much of the more than six years that I was in the district. One of those cops was my brother, Mike. He and I would spend much of the early 1990's as partners working a patrol wagon together.

My brother passed the Sergeant test and moved on, and for a couple of years I worked mostly on a solo patrol car, though I still occasionally worked a wagon with other partners.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Can Eagles fly without Carson Wentz?

Foles (L) replaces Wentz (R) for NFL playoffs
This afternoon for the first time since the 2013 season the Philadelphia Eagles will take part in an NFL playoff game.

For my fellow Eagles fans, if it seems that we've suffered through a long drought without a postseason appearance, that's because we have.

In the last 30 years there has only been one other stretch, from 1997-99 prior to the Andy Reid-Donovan McNabb era, where the Eagles missed the playoffs in three consecutive seasons.

The turnaround from the recent downturn for the franchise can easily be traced to one event, and basically to one person. That would be the selection of quarterback Carson Wentz with the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Wentz somewhat unexpectedly became the starting quarterback immediately. He led the Eagles to a 3-0 start as a rookie that fall, demonstrating the talent and leadership that had inspired team management to make him such a high draft selection.

After the defense collapsed during a five-game late season losing streak, Wentz orchestrated a pair of 2016 season-closing victories over the division rival New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.

Those late wins and his overall play buoyed the hopes and dreams of the Eagles rabid fan base for the 2017 season. Wentz and the team did not disappoint. He passed for over 3,200 yards and 33 touchdowns in leading the team to an 11-2 record this fall.

But the 13th game would prove to be unlucky in the extreme. Wentz was matched up against the quarterback chosen ahead of him with the top pick in that 2016 NFL Draft, Jared Goff, as the Eagles visited the Los Angeles Rams.

Wentz would throw four touchdown passes to out-duel Goff at the Los Angeles Colosseum in a 43-35 thrilling shootout. With four minutes to go in the third quarter, Wentz was hit awkwardly as he tried to score on a keeper from the Rams two-yard line.

Four plays later, Wentz passed to Alshon Jeffery to put the Eagles up by 31-28. However, on that earlier keeper play, Wentz had injured his leg. He would leave the game following the TD pass, replaced by backup Nick Foles for the first time all season.

A rusty Foles would go just 6-10 for 42 yards, but the Eagles defense took over. The 'D' forced a pair of fumbles, one setting up a Jake Elliott field goal and another returned for a touchdown by Brandon Graham.

It was learned following the game that Wentz had suffered major injuries. He would require surgery to repair a torn ACL and a partially torn IT band, as well as some meniscus damage. Not only would Wentz miss the rest of the 2017 season, but he is likely to miss much of the 2018 season as well.



With their NFL MVP candidate leader out, the Eagles turned the reigns of a playoff team over to Foles. The team won their first two games with the backup under center, but those victories over the Giants and the LA Raiders were marked by inconsistent play against inferior opponents.

Those two victories did allow the Eagles to clinch the top overall record in the NFC, and thus home field advantage for however long they last in the playoffs.

A season-closing 6-0 loss to the hated rival Cowboys continued the inconsistent play, with Foles seeing just limited action. Coach Doug Pederson took the meaningless contest as a chance to rest his regulars and get some game action for the new backup quarterback, Nate Sudfeld.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sunday Sermon: the Epiphany of the three Magi

The Magi, as presented in "The Nativity Story"
Any number of times over the years the inspiration for these "Sunday Sermon" pieces has been drawn from some idea put forward by the priests at my church.

Today, Father Sean English provided that inspiration with his sermon in which he spoke of the "Three Kings" in relation to today's celebration of the Epiphany.

The Epiphany goes by a few other names as well, depending on your cultural background or the specific church to which you may belong. The most frequent are for "Little Christmas" or "Three Kings Day" celebrations.

In today's world, when someone is said to have an "epiphany" it means that some sudden realization has come upon them. A moment of clarity in which something fundamental is revealed to them.

The "three kings" or "three wise men" or even the "Magi" as they have alternately been known through history are credited with both having and passing on such an epiphany following the birth of Jesus Christ more than 2,000 years ago.

The word "Magi" is an ancient one. It referred to those who practiced what was known as magic, usually including incorporation and study of alchemy and astrology. These were extremely learned men, bordering on what today would be called scientists more than true magicians.

As Father Sean explained today, the Magi of Jesus' time were not necessarily aligned with any particular religion. However, they were acquainted with all faith systems, including Judaism.

The Magi may have been followers or even priests of Zoroastrianism, one of the world's oldest monotheistic religions. No matter, they certainly would know of the ancient Jewish prophecy regarding the coming of a Savior.

The western Christian churches, including the Catholic Church founded by Jesus himself, believe and teach that there were three of these wise Magi men. That theory was drawn from writings showing that three gifts were brought: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

One thing is almost certain, they were not "kings" in the classic sense of the word. The reference to "three kings" is almost certainly drawn from prophecies such as Psalm 72 which said "all kings shall fall down before him" in the Jewish Torah, or Old Testament.

The three were said to have come "from the east", drawn by a star in the sky which their calculations led them to believe would lead to the Savior foretold in the Jewish prophetic writings.


In the western tradition, they went by the names Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar, and hailed originally from Persia, India, and Babylonia respectively. Some claim that they actually are meant to represent Europe, Asia, and Africa.

As the Magi neared the end of their long journey, possibly from a home base in the Parthian Empire, the three received word that King Herod, the ruler of Judea, wished an audience with them.

At this meeting, Herod asked that when the Magi found this newborn future "King of the Jews", that they return and let him know the location of the child. Herod alleged that this was so that he too could go and worship the child. However, his later actions revealed that Herod was actually plotting to kill the child, thus defeating the prophecy and a snuff out a future threat to his rule.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Two books, one POTUS

Insiders on the unlikely election upset
Two books penned by folks with access to the White House in the early days of the Trump administration have begun to fly off book shelves and online stores.

Each paints a picture of, at least in the early transitional weeks and months, a top-level staff surrounding the President that, while intelligent and talented, was seriously flawed and certainly not functioning as a team.

Sitting in the #8 slot (with a bullet) on the current New York Times hardcover nonfiction bestseller book list is "Let Trump Be Trump" by Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie.

Released today, "Fire and Fury" by Michael Wolff is sure to quickly enter and rise towards the top of that list as well. The two books deal with the same subject matter - Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States.

Lewandowski and Bossie were two of Trump's most intimate campaign advisors as he captured first the Republican nomination and then won the general election in 2016. Their respect and admiration for the man, at least as a candidate and as a leader, appears to be beyond doubt, as revealed in this snippet from their tome:
"...Donald J. Trump is the greatest big-game player in American political history. Period. There is no second. None. Not in modern times. No one is even close. If you disagree, show us someone who has never run for office before, and watch him become the leader of the free world in spite of the media, some of the Republican establishment, and the Democratic Party all being against him. We'll argue with you any day of the week."
There was volatility in the early months of the Trump administration as top officials came and went with alarming regularity. This was with the notable exception of the fiercely loyal Kellyanne Conway, who always had the trust of the President.
"In the coming months, we would watch as the fundamental flaw in the Trump White House made it shake and crumble, until the whole thing split in two with the American people watching. First out  of the White House was General Mike Flynn, followed by Katie Walsh and shortly thereafter Sean Spicer. They were followed closely by Reince Preibus. Sebastian Gorka has left...We watched Anthony Scaramucci flame out...and now, (Steve) Bannon, too, is gone."


But as Lewandowski and Bossie point out, that volatility was mostly a by-product of a man who was not a politician, who was not used to putting together a political team, being suddenly thrust into such a role.
"He's not, nor will he ever be, a politician in the traditional sense of that word. And he is not someone who goes back on his word. For Donald Trump loyalty is the currency of the realm, and nothing hurts him deeper than when someone he trusts is disloyal."
Wolff is a columnist and author who, thanks to a series of pro-Trump pieces during the campaign, was able to gain the confidence of enough staffers that he could frequently camp out in the West Wing during the first year of the Trump presidency.

The liberal news media have been parading Wolff out for interviews at any opportunity, as his book paints the President in a far less favorable light. This is, as we have all learned by now, in lock-step with their own anti-Trump agenda.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Duffy opens 2018 with a bittersweet Mummers tear-jerker

Captain Jake Kudrick and the Duffy String Band
On New Year's Day, we welcomed in 2018 with the usual pomp and celebration here in the United States and around the world.

In my hometown of Philadelphia, PA welcoming in the New Year means one thing above all others. That would be the annual Mummers Parade.

For the uninitiated, the Mummers Parade is one of the greatest spectacles of color, music, dancing, and merriment that you could ever enjoy. The vast majority of it, and the most fun, takes place right out on the streets of Philadelphia.

Mumming, a form of colorful costumed performance, is a tradition that dates at least back to England in the 13th century. In both England and Ireland in the mid-1700's, costumed Mummer's plays were put on, and this custom spread to America when we were still just a colony.

The following is from an article for the old Riverfront Mummers written by John Francis Marion back in 2007:
"Local tradition has it that as early as the 1620s the Swedes and Finns in Tinicum - now a southwestern section of the city - celebrated the New Year by shooting off guns (they were often called "the shooters"), banging pots and pans, and making a clamor as they visited neighbors after Christmas."
By the 18th century, Mummery had come to Philadelphia in the form of street parties and parading around Christmas time. These would merge with other working class celebrations over the next century or so, becoming a celebration of the arrival of the new year.

By the 19th century, city leaders were looking to organize the rowdy New Year's Day street celebrations. The city pushed for the marchers to organize into groups, each with leaders who would be held responsible for the actions of their individual group.

The first official Mummer's Parade was held on January 1, 1901. Over the next few decades the costuming and musical presentations became much more elaborate and sophisticated. For the longest time it was racially and sexually segregated, but those traditions (prejudices?) were dropped decades ago.



The parade has grown into an annual signature New Year's Day celebration on the streets of downtown and South Philly. Part of the celebration, the Fancy Brigades, have even been moved indoors. This allows more intricate and artistic presentations, and also guarantees a show for tourists on January 1, just in case poor weather postpones the rest of the day-long parading.

Many who marched in the Mummer's Parade passed down the marching tradition to their children. Those traditions have many times resulted in generations of a particular family not only taking part in the parade, but also remaining as staples within a particular organization.

Into this backdrop stepped Jake Kudrick on New Year's Day. In many ways, Jake is a typical 6th grader. Family, friends, school, video games, TV, music - you know the lifestyle.

His family story is also one that is familiar to many Philly Mummer families. Jake's dad, Teddy Kudrick, was Captain of the Duffy String Band for the last 32 years. Before that, it was Teddy's dad, Henry Kunzig, who had captained Duffy for 26 years. Jake has been marching alongside his dad since his first parade, when he was just 11 months old.

On October 19, tragedy struck Duffy and the Kudrick clan when Teddy died suddenly of a massive heart attack at home in Nether Providence Township, Delaware County. He was just 52 years old. You can imagine the emotional devastation that this brought to young Jake and his family.