*** 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

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Why I joined the NRA, and why you should too

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The National Rifle Association was founded in 1871

The gun debate has once again heated up in America in the aftermath of the recent Parkland, Florida school shooting.

As usual, a major target for the anti-gun crowd has been the National Rifle Association (NRA), who those liberals see as being at the vanguard of gun rights in the United States.

The fact remains that the killer in Florida was, once again, not an NRA member. In fact, none of the school shooters who have reigned terror down on American children over the last couple decades have belonged to the NRA.

What the NRA does, what makes it the major liberal target, is resolutely fight for 2nd Amendment gun rights with few restrictions.

The NRA was chartered in New York state back in 1871 to "promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis", and even more specifically to improve marksmanship within the United States military. The organization really came to prominence in 1873 after its members won a marksmanship contest with the best riflemen of Europe.

Over the ensuing decades, the NRA spread to many other states and continued to expand in influence. The NRA gained further prestige when Civil War heroes Ulysses S. Grant and Philip Sheridan, the former also a United States President, served as the organization's eighth and ninth presidents.

In 1907, the NRA moved its headquarters to Washington, D.C. in order to improve its opportunities to advocate on behalf of gun owners. Those headquarters relocated to the current home of Fairfax, Virginia in 1998. In addition to its administrative offices, the Fairfax NRA headquarters is also home to the National Firearms Museum.

The museum is home to some 2,500 guns covering seven centuries of firearms history and development. Included are weapons which belonged to such historic figures as Napoleon Bonaparte, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Teddy Roosevelt, Annie Oakley, and 'Buffalo Bill' Cody.

A total of nine U.S. Presidents have been NRA members: the previously mentioned Kennedy, Reagan, and Roosevelt, as well as William Howard Taft, Dwight D. Eisenhower, George H.W. Bush, and current President Donald Trump.

From 1998-2003, famed American actor Charlton Heston served as president of the NRA. At the organization's 2000 convention, Heston picked up a replica of a flintlock long rifle and stated:
"So, as we set out this year to defeat the divisive forces that would take freedom away, I want to say those fighting words for everyone within the sound of my voice to hear and to heed, and especially for you, Mr. Gore: 'From my cold, dead hands!'"

Heston repeated the phrase at the end of each NRA convention over which he presided. When he announced his retirement in 2003, he concluded by repeating "From my cold, dead hands."
The NRA sponsors programs on firearms safety, including hunting safety. It trains firearms instructors and issues credentials for same. It hosts and sponsors a number of shooting competitions. The organization publishes at least a half-dozen regular periodicals as well.

Their own "brief history" of the organization at the official NRA website reveals both the size of its membership and its primary modern activities:
"While widely recognized today as a major political force and as America's foremost defender of Second Amendment rights, the NRA has, since its inception, been the premier firearms education organization in the world. But our successes would not be possible without the tireless efforts and countless hours of service our nearly five million members have given to champion Second Amendment rights and support NRA programs."
I first fired a gun as a small boy of about 10-11 years old when my father gave my younger brother and I a brief lesson in the woods of the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania. Dad was a Philadelphia Police supervisor at the time, and showed us how to safely use his service revolver.

I never fired a real gun again until I followed in Dad's footsteps, joining the Philadelphia Police Department in 1990. My brother had done the same the previous year.

I purchased my first private firearm a couple of years later, a small five-shot Smith & Wesson air weight revolver that I still own today.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

There should be no debate: we need to talk about guns

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The AR-15 used by the Parkland school shooter is widely available

This past Wednesday was marked by the convergence of a number of happenings on the same day. Lovers and wannabe's were celebrating Valentine's Day.

Western Christianity was marking the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. And at camps in Florida and Arizona, many Major League Baseball teams were opening their spring training.

But for many in America, those happenings were overshadowed by one of the worst school shootings in history which took place at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

A former student, 19-year old Nikolas Cruz, entered the school with an AR-15 in the middle of the afternoon and proceeded to murder 17, including three faculty members and 14 students. Numerous others were injured, many remaining hospitalized today.

Per a piece by Bart Jansen at USA Today, Cruz legally purchased the weapon himself in 2017.
"Cruz lawfully bought the semiautomatic rifle last February, according to Peter Forcelli, special agent in charge of the Miami office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The gun, a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 .223, was purchased at Sunrise Tactical Supply, according to the Associated Press. Federal law allows people 18 and older to legally purchase long guns, including this kind of assault weapon. With no criminal record, Cruz cleared an instant background check via the FBI criminal database."
In the immediate aftermath, a number of students and others came forward making statements that they were not surprised if such a thing were to happen, that Cruz would be the attacker.

At least three students made reports regarding Cruz to adminstrators at the school, per Max Greenwood for The Hill. According to that report, the attack may have at least partially been set off by jealousy and a fight over an ex-girlfriend.

Cruz' mother had died back in November, his father years ago. The couple who took him in at the urging of their own son stated per a piece by Katherine Lam for Fox News that, though they knew he was depressed, they never saw this type of outcome.

“We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know,” Kimberly Snead, 49, said. “We didn’t see this side of him.” James Snead, 48, added that he and his wife didn’t know what “everything, everybody seems to know.” “Everything everybody seems to know, we didn’t know,” Snead said. “It’s as simple as that."

That is actually not very unusual, as Erica Goode, a visiting professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, wrote in a piece for The New York Times.
"Tony Beliz, a consultant to schools and corporations on violence prevention who for many years ran the mental health side of the Los Angeles program, which was started by the Los Angeles Police Department, has noted that parents often have no idea what their children are up to. In more than a few cases, a team visiting a home has found weapons or other indications of deadly intention."


The Federal Bureau of Investigation had received a tip regarding Cruz nearly six weeks prior to the shooting. You've heard of the public "See Something, Say Something" campaign, perhaps? Well, someone saw something and said something. And the FBI dropped the ball.

U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) made this very observation as related in a Kyle Feldscher piece for the Washington Examiner:

“We all say if you see something, say something. And Parkland community, we saw people reporting, there were 20 calls to the sheriff's department, they responded. The FBI received a legitimate, credible tip and it was not followed up upon. What we have seen in three major atrocities is that the system that was in place simply was not followed.”

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The 2018 State of the Phillies

Phillies owner John Middleton plots the next steps forward
Philadelphia Phillies pitchers and catchers reported for the official start of spring training on Wednesday.

While much of the Delaware Valley and broader Phillies Nation were celebrating Valentine's Day, the first steps towards the 2018 season were being taken down in Clearwater, Florida.

A year ago, the Phillies finished with a 66-96 record. It left them in last place in the National League East Division for the third time in four years.

The fifth consecutive losing season for the ball club then cost manager Pete Mackanin his job. The team went just 174-238 under the former skipper in roughly two and a half years.

It's hard to blame Mackanin, however. Fact is, no manager would have been able to win with the combination of subpar talent and youth with which he was asked to work in the entirety of his time at the helm.

In late October, the team hired Gabe Kapler as their new manager. The colorful and intense Kapler was a player for parts of 13 seasons in Major League Baseball. He also played in Japan for part of the 2005 season. Kapler was a part of the Boston Red Sox 2004 World Series championship team.

After his retirement as a player, Kapler coached for Team Israel in the 2013 WBC, worked for a baseball analytics company, and then served as an analytics voice for the Fox Sports 1 network. He then worked as the Los Angeles Dodgers Director of Player Development. He certainly brings a rare depth and breadth of baseball experience to the job.

What Kapler brings most is an intensity to the Phillies clubhouse and dugout not seen since Larry Bowa was relieved of those responsibilities late in the 2004 campaign. Heck, even the mercurial Bowa might not have been as intensely driven as Kapler appears.

It remains to be seen how Kapler's style will translate on the field and in the standings. The bottom line, as it is with almost all baseball teams, will be talent. Do the Phillies actually have the talent to finally make a move upwards in the divisional and league standings this season?

The short answer appears to be a firm "It's hard to say." And as non-committal as that may seem, it's simply the truth.

The Mets, who the Phillies finished four games behind a year ago, look to be improved this year. The Marlins, who finished 11 games ahead, have lost serious talent. The Braves, who ended up six games ahead of the Phillies, appear at a similar place in their own rebuilding plan. The Nationals remain light years away for the time being, clear divisional favorites once again.

Financially, the Phillies are in great shape moving forward. The club is operating with a $63 million projected payroll for the 2018 season per Cot's Baseball Contracts. That figure is between one-half and one-third of what they spent each season between 2008 and 2015.

What this means is that Phillies management has the ability to take on almost any contract at the trade deadline if the club finds itself in contention. In fact, they could take on multiple contracts without hurting themselves, especially if those are of the short-term variety.

The key will be in that fight for contention. The players who will be making the pitches and cracking the bats at Spectrum Field over the next six weeks will be the ones who have to make it happen if there is to be a surprise push this year.

The Phillies lineup will be intriguing if nothing else. Start with first base, where Carlos Santana was the club's big free agent signing. I was and remain critical of the signing, especially at roughly $20 million per year for the next three seasons during which he will go from 32 to 34 years of age.

Santana is lauded for his plate discipline and defensive prowess. He has a career .365 on-base percentage, and his K/BB marks have been very close over his career.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Book Review: Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates

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Burning of the 'USS Philadelphia' during the raid on Tripoli

I recently returned to my first love in reading topics: history and biography. While fiction can be extremely enjoyable, especially when done well, I have always found the true, non-fiction stories of real people and events much more interesting.

That return to true history results here in my latest book review. For the first time in nearly four years, it does not involve the topic of baseball.

"Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates" was published in 2015 by Penguin Random House's 'Sentinel' imprint. 

This joint effort of Fox News host Brian Kilmeade and author Don Yeager tells the story of "the forgotten war that changed American history."

That war is what many students of U.S. history know as the 'First Barbary War', which, as the book jacket explains, "is the little known story of how a newly independent nation was challenged by four Muslim powers and what happened when America's third president decided to stand up to intimidation."

America's first four Presidents played key roles in the events leading up to and during the conflict. But George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison are largely secondary figures to the real military and diplomatic heroes and villains who took part in the action.

Following the War for Independence, the newly formed United States of America was saddled with enormous debt and had largely disbanded its military. This was particularly true in the area of naval force. 

America was protected from more established world powers of that time primarily by distance and trade agreements. It had little or no influence on the high seas.

In trying to further those trade efforts, American merchant ships would frequently come under attack in the Mediterranean Sea by the Muslim powers of North Africa. These 'Barbary States' nations practiced state-supported piracy in order to exact tribute from weaker Atlantic powers.

American ships would be raided, and their goods stolen by Muslim crews. At times, the ships and their crews would be taken and held hostage for large ransoms. 

The fledgling United States had no response other than to pay those ransoms. But this only further added to the national debt. Also, the problem wasn't being dealt with in any meaningful way. It just kept happening, with no end in sight.

The United States wasn't the only nation facing these issues. Wealthier countries with an actual naval presence in the region simply paid tribute to the Muslim leaders in order to ensure free passage of their ships.

Adams, a Federalist, and Jefferson, a Democratic-Republican, were political adversaries. Those differences extended to their views on dealing with the Barbary powers. 

The second President of the United States, Adams thought it possible to continue to buy peace, as was done by other nations. Jefferson, America's third President, wanted to end that system permanently. He preferred a strong military response.



As Kilmeade and Yeager write:

"In response to events on the Barbary Coast, Jefferson, in 1801, had dispatched a small U.S. Navy squadron to the Mediterranean. For the next four years, he responded to circumstances, expanding the fleet to a much larger naval presence. In the end, thanks to the bold leadership of men like Edward Preble, James and Stephen Decatur, and William Eaton, and Presley Neville O'Bannon, military force had helped regain national honor. Even the Federalists, who liked little that Jefferson did, came to accept that the United States needed to play a military role in overseas affairs."

The book is the story of those men: Preble, the Decatur's, Eaton, and O'Bannon and many more as they battled on land and sea to help a new nation stand up for itself on the world stage. 

The United States Marine Corps played a key role in the ultimate victory. This was the war from which came the USMC hymn line "From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli, we fight our country's battles in the air, on land and sea."

Monday, February 12, 2018

Republican citizen voices more important than ever

America needs Republican bloggers more than ever
Republicans and Democrats alike frequently criticize the general tone and specific messaging pushed by various major media outlets.

For those Americans who consider themselves to be conservative, almost exclusively Republicans, the usual suspects include broadcasters such as CNN, MSNBC, and NPR and print/web sources such as The New York Times, Washington Post, and the Huffington Post.

Leftists frequently bemoan the messaging and tone that comes from the Fox News network, including Fox Business, as well as media outlets such as One America News and The Washington Times.

For decades, liberals had a monopoly on mass messaging pushed to the American public through broadcast and print news. Slowly over the last two decades or so, conservative voices, once relegated to talk radio, have grown in influence. This has been thanks to the Internet and cable news.

Still, there remain more liberal resources. The influence of the old school networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC continues to wane. However, there remains a large segment of America who still receive their news from these sources, especially at the local news level.

The vast majority of newspapers and TV entertainment programs in America remain under the control of liberal media organizations as well. The messaging pushed out to the public is overwhelmingly liberal, unless you specifically go looking for conservative voices.

That fact makes the continued efforts and expansion of independent Republican voices more important than ever. It is one of the main reasons that I put effort into this website and into my all around social media presence.

Michelle Malkin is the queen of American conservative bloggers. Born in my hometown of Philadelphia and raised across the Delaware River in South Jersey, the 47-year old Malkin makes her home in Colorado Springs, Colorado with her husband and two children.



A decade or so ago, Malkin gave occasional space at her michellemalkin.com home to an anonymous contributer known only as "See-Dubya" who once described their blogging as follows:
"Actually, blogging is kind of therapeutic. Especially when you’re a red-state person living in a blue, blue state, and your neighbors would burn a peace symbol in your yard at midnight if they knew how you really felt about things. Some people do yoga; I pound the keyboard. The blood pressure goes down either way."
Your own therapy aside, the continued presence and growth of American bloggers of a Republican persuasion is vitally important thanks to the upcoming midterm elections here in the United States.

The facts are that, no matter who sits in the Oval Office, the President's party loses an average of 30 congressional seats in normal midterm elections.

One reason this happens is what is known as the "presidential penalty" - voters from the President's party are happy that he won. History shows that happy voters are much more likely to stay home than angry, possibly more motivated, voters from the opposition.

Per Tom Murse writing for Thoughtco.com:

"In the 21 midterm elections held since 1934, only twice has the president's party gained seats in both the Senate and the House: Franklin Delano Roosevelt's first midterm election and George W. Bush's first midterm election. On three other occasions, the President's party gained House seats and once it was a draw. On one occasion, the president's party gained Senate seats."

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Sometimes the bear eats you

The Dow dropped more than 1,000 points on Monday
It's one of the oldest sayings around, likely attributable to an idea first passed into public consciousness by 19th century American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Sometimes you eat the bear - sometimes the bear eats you."

For more than two centuries since even before the founding of the New York Stock Exchange, market up and downs have used the terms "bull" and "bear" to describe down and upturns and waves in markets.

A "bull market"comes about when the markets are rising, charging forward like a bull. A "bear market"comes about when they slow down and investors sell stocks off, almost as if they are hibernating.

That's a simplistic explanation of the terms. There are a number of theories as to how they came about. But it serves well enough to describe how those terms are applied today.

Suffice it to say that since President Donald Trump was sworn in back in January of 2017, the markets had been charging forward. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose more than 5,000 points during the President's first year in office.

The "Dow" represents the stock performance of 30 major U.S. companies. These companies currently represent a wide swath of impact across the American landscape, from Microsoft to McDonald's, DowDuPont to Disney, and dozens more.

As the bull market charged forward, the President took credit. He believes that the policies of his administration pushed those markets forward. From reducing and eliminating regulations on businesses to reducing taxes, the climate has certainly been favorable to business.

It has also been favorable to average Americans, as those companies have hired more employees and given out raises and bonuses. It was no wonder the President mentioned it during his first 'State of the Union' address just last week: 
"The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8 trillion in value.  That is great news for Americans’ 401k, retirement, pension, and college savings accounts."
However, a number of financial analysts have warned that a market 'correction' was inevitable. At some point, investors were going to look to capitalize on their gains, taking profits and sitting back to find their next opportunity.

Such a market correction would come in the form of a downturn. That correction finally came on Monday, and it came in a big way. The Dow plunged down over 1,600 points at one time before finally closing with a 1,175 point loss. It was the largest single-day loss in market history.

The bear was hungry, and it was eating.

The Democratic Party's media propaganda wing, led by CNN, quickly seized on the moment to try and make a political statement. Their headline blared "Trump's embarrassing split-screen moment on stocks."

In the piece, CNN's Stephen Collinson wrote the following:
"As the President touted his economic agenda in Ohio on Monday, his face stared out of millions of television screens next to blaring red graphics and yellow numbers whirling like the reels on a slot machine, telling the story of a full-bore stock market plunge. For any president, the split screen moment showing an apparent disconnect between his message of a roaring economy and hemorrhaging equities would be a little embarrassing. But for Trump, who has constantly boasted about almost daily record highs on Wall Street since his election and told Americans that he alone is responsible for their healthy 401(k) balances, the mismatch was even more pronounced."
However, the embarrassingly biased cable news giant forgot a simple, basic rule of the markets. Just as the bulls will run for awhile, the time will come for the bears to slow, eat, and hibernate. History shows that those bears only eat so long before the bulls inevitably come charging back.

Derek Thompson for The Atlantic wrote about the rise of the markets under Trump back in October 2017. He stated it succinctly:

"It’s important to remember that the stock market is not a referendum on the state of liberalism or conservatism. It is not a barometer of moral progress. And it is not a report card on the president of the United States (even if he wishes it were). The stock market is a collective daily wager on the future performance of the nation’s public companies. And they are, to employ a technical term, making a boatload of money right now."

Monday, February 5, 2018

Finally Eagles, Finally!

Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles raises the Lombardi Trophy
"Fly Eagles, Fly!" is the official fight song for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League.

After winning the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history last night, we can at least temporarily change those first three words of the song to "Finally Eagles, Finally!"

The Eagles and New England Patriots threw haymakers at one another all night long on Sunday night during Super Bowl LII in Minnesota in a game that was reminiscent of the climactic fight of the film "Rocky II".

In that epic slugfest, Philly's favorite fictional underdog fighter, Rocky Balboa, traded big blows with and ultimately defeated a legendary unbeatable champion named Apollo Creed.

Last night it was a real, live legendary champion named Tom Brady who was throwing bombs at the Eagles. For most of the night, Brady found the Birds weak spots, landing punishing shot after punishing shot.

But the Eagles kept taking those shots and answering back with big shots of their own. Leading the way was a man every bit the underdog that the fictional Rocky had been in that film series.

Nick Foles has had big moments as an NFL quarterback before, including in an Eagles uniform. But his career had gone a bit off the rails over the last couple of years to the point where he was ready to retire from the game.

Given another shot at NFL life, Foles was signed by the Eagles for the 2018 season. Brought in to serve as a backup to rising stud Carson Wentz, most Eagles fans thought - in fact hoped - that Foles would never see the field.

As everyone now knows, the unthinkable happened. Wentz led the Eagles to the NFL's best record and was the leading NFL MVP candidate. But it all seemed to evaporate when Wentz suffered a debilitating knee injury, ending his season in a Week #14 victory in Los Angeles.

In stepped a cold Foles. With no training camp, having taken no game snaps all year long, the 28-year old in his sixth season was suddenly put under center for the NFC's top team.

It was a no-win situation for Foles. If the Eagles collapsed at that point, blame would all go to the Wentz injury. If they lost at any point in the playoffs, there would always be those who would wonder "what if Carson" had stayed healthy?

In retrospect - if it had to happen at all - the timing of Wentz' injury could not have been better. His great play had been the biggest key in the Eagles having clinched a playoff berth. He put the team in position to finish as the top overall seed in the NFC playoffs.

That timing allowed Foles to come in and play in two full games and parts of two others before the playoffs would begin. It was just enough time to get him up to game speed and ready to perform once again on the big stage.

Perform he would. Foles threw for 246 yards and managed the game well as the Eagles held off the tough defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons by 15-10 in the Divisional Round.

Taking it up a notch, Foles put on a show in throwing for 352 yards and three touchdowns as the Eagles crushed the Minnesota Vikings dreams of hosting the Super Bowl in their home town with a 38-7 victory in the NFC Championship Game.

That all led to last night, and the battle with Brady and his Patriots. Brady threw for an unreal Super Bowl record 505 yards and three touchdowns.

But for nearly every Brady drive of excellence, Foles had an answer. He threw for 373 yards himself, and matched the great Brady with three touchdown passes of his own.

He also did Brady one better. While Brady dropped a possible TD reception on a second quarter trick play, Foles caught one tossed by tight end Trey Burton. Foles thus became the first player in NFL history to both pass for and catch a touchdown in the Super Bowl.

The game itself was much like those fictional Balboa-Creed battles. Big shots. Back and forth action. When each seemed within a blow of landing a knockout punch, the other would come roaring back to life.

After the two teams traded early field goals, Foles was first to put his team into the end zone when he connected with wide receiver Alshon Jeffery on a 34-yard TD pass with 2:41 to play in the first quarter.

Halfway through the second quarter, former Patriots' running back LeGarrette Blount bulled his way in from 21 yards away with the help of strong blocking from his teammates to give the Birds a 15-3 lead.

That lead nearly got even bigger. On their next possession from the New England 43-yard line, Foles tried to connect with Jeffery down along the sideline at the eight-yard line.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Continued propagation of 'fake news' may be our collective fault

President Trump has repeatedly railed against 'Fake News'
President Donald Trump may not have coined the phrase "fake news", but it absolutely seems as though the practice has exploded since he took office.

Just last week during his speech in front of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the President delivered the statement “it wasn’t until I became a politician that I realized how nasty, how mean, how vicious, and how fake the press can be.

The statement was greeted by a loud chorus of booing. At least it sounded that way to those watching on a popular German news program. 

However, the broadcaster 'ARD' later admitted that it had "boosted" the sound clip to make it appear louder than it actually was, per Chris Tomlinson at Breitbart. When originally heard on CNN, for instance, the booing was moderate, and obviously came from media in the back of the room.

The ARD editor-in-chief then made the following statement as part of his defense for the move:
"By the way, newspapers also make comparisons when they enlarge image sections and may even mark them with a red circle – nobody would come up with the idea of calling this manipulation, but rather journalistic precision."
Journalistic precision? Now there's a new one.

But this statement perfectly sums up the tactics repeatedly used against the President by the former "mainstream" media here in America, which include cherry-picking from quotes and highlighting stories with unflattering photographs.

In a 2017 year-end article, Georgina Rennard with the BBC did a nice job defining "fake news" as follows:
  • Completely false information, photos or videos purposefully created and spread to confuse or misinform
  • Information, photos or videos manipulated to deceive - or old photographs shared as new
  • Satire or parody which means no harm but can fool people
Liberal news outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, NPR, and more have consistently been violators. This is particularly so in their coverage of the President, his team, and his programs.

Dan Gainor at Fox News did a nice job breaking down the media's 2017 anti-Trump efforts in a piece characterizing their "round-the-clock journalistic insanity":
"...the media have been claiming Republican politicians are evil, racist, crazy or stupid (or all four) for years. Journalists and their lefty partners in slime are running that game on Trump more aggressively than they ever tried with President Ronald Reagan. None more than CNN. The network’s “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter was freaking out about his view of Trump’s mental health back in August. “Is the President of the United States a racist? Is he suffering from some kind of illness? Is he fit for office? And if he's unfit, then what?” He began 2018 with a claim the year was starting off with “madness.”"