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No Right to Self Defense?


Yesterday, I brought you the story of Master Gunnery Sergeant (retired) Richard Zahn and his ridiculous imprisonment, all because an overzealous prosecutor, a soviet-style liberal judge and the New Jersey legislature’s paranoia about guns formed into a perfect storm around his case. Many of you have reached out in support of Rich Zahn, and for that I thank you. But one person sent me this link and my sense of bewilderment and outrage got sparked all over again.

This is a case that has received some notoriety, although I admit I was unaware of it until I opened that link. It concerns Michael Giles, a US Air Force airman who became entangled in a bar brawl – and as a result, is now spending 25 years in a Florida prison for the crime of defending himself. Although there are differences between his story and that of Rich Zahn’s, there are some striking similarities:

  1. Both men are combat veterans and career military.
  2. Both men found themselves in unwanted, potentially lethal situations.
  3. Both men used a licensed firearm to defend themselves.
  4. Both men found themselves victimized twice, first by their attacker and later by misguided anti-gun laws.

Here’s a synopsis of Michael’s story. In 2010, he and some friends went to a bar in the Tampa area. Two rival fraternities were also at that bar and a brawl broke out between them. Michael and his friends left the bar but became separated in the melee, at which point Michael retrieved his weapon from their vehicle. As he turned to look for his friends, he found himself in a crowd of approximately 40 brawling men. Somebody hit him from behind, knocking him to the ground and as they were getting ready to follow-up the assault, Michael fired once, striking him in the leg.

None of this is in dispute. During his trial, even his assailant admitted to an unprovoked attack with intent to do Michael serious bodily harm. It’s a clear cut case of self defense, or at least it should be. Except, he used a firearm – and the prosecutor flat-out said that was the crime. In fact, the prosecutor tried to make the case that because Michael used a firearm to defend himself, he was guilty of attempted murder. I do not know the prosecutor’s motivation in making that charge. Perhaps he thinks all career military types are capable of defeating 40 angry, drunk brawlers with their bare-hands. Maybe he thinks Michael received some sort of specialized training from Chuck Norris. It could be he thought, being in the Air Force, Michael could call in a flight of A-10’s to quell the mini-riot.

But here’s what I do know. Michael Giles used a firearm to defend himself and is now spending 25 years behind bars. Richard Zahn used a firearm to defend himself and is now spending 5 years behind bars. The linkage is unmistakable: if you dare to assert your Second Amendment rights, expect some liberal in the criminal justice system to hammer you like a nail. In wacky liberal land, the only thing worse than a gun is the person who actually uses a gun to defend themselves or others. Better you should be a rotting corpse on a slab, I suppose.

That these two outstanding citizens are facing this nightmare is what the insanity of the left is doing to our country, and it’s time we put an end to it. So what can you do? First, let’s get these guys out of prison. If you haven’t signed Rich Zahn’s petition yet, you can find it here. And you can find Michael Giles’ here. Next, it’s time to get rid of these ridiculous anti-gun laws that turn law-abiding citizens into criminals, simply because they dare to defend themselves. These two cases give us two places to start, New Jersey and Florida. As luck would have it, these also are two states that have governors seeking national prominence and who claim to be staunch conservatives. I say it’s time to put them to the test. Write, call, organize protests at the state house steps. Let’s let Chris Christie and Rick Scott know that the time for talk is over. It’s time to actually do something.

And in the meantime, they can use their executive powers to let two unjustly convicted comabt veterans go home to their families.

A Memorial Day Outrage – and How You Can Help Fix It


MGySgt (ret’d) Richard Zahn and Family

February 24, 2014. Hackensack, NJ. A relatively quiet town in the Garden State. A highly decorated combat veteran of three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with Kosovo and Kuwait, driving from his current home in North Carolina to visit his extremely ill mother at Hackensack University Medical Center. Little did he know that he was about to become a victim – not of a crime, but of New Jersey’s draconian and antiquated anti-gun laws.

MGySgt Richard Zahn served for 26 years in the US Marine Corps, earning a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. After retiring, Rich worked as a civilian contractor for Homeland Security. His job? Training FBI agents and young Marine leaders in anti-terrorism tactics. Rich also possesses a concealed carry permit in North Carolina. In addition to his military honors, he’s also received personal commendations from General James Dunford, Commandant of the Marine Corps and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (select); General James Mattis, former US Central Command commander and Louis Freeh, former Director of the FBI.

None of that would matter at 9:30 that morning, though. After receiving the call about his mother’s turn for the worse the night before, Rich was nearing the end of his 10 hour drive to be with her. Since he had just finished a live a fire exercise right before receiving the call, he still had his TO weapons in his truck: a .306 sniper rifle and AR-15. As is his custom, he also carried his legally licensed sidearm, a M&P .40 caliber pistol (he is on Al-Qeada’s hit list, after all). As he rounded a bend in the road, a SUV suddenly veered in front of him – and Richard Zahn’s day was about to get much, much worse.

The SUV was driven by one Jorge Polo, a previously convicted and known member of the Latin Kings street gang. Polo forced Rich off the road and began approaching Rich’s truck. Reacting in accordance with his training and experience, Rich produced his sidearm – finger off the trigger-guard, weapon up and away from his assailant. When Polo continued his advance, Rich reached into his truck and grabbed his .306, again pointing the weapon up and away from any target. At that point, Polo realized he had bitten off more than he could chew, clambered back into his car and drove off. Rich, thinking nothing more than that he was glad he had left New Jersey and it’s crazy drivers years ago, continued on to visit his mother in the hospital. You can read more about the incident at Allen West’s blog.

That’s where he was arrested by the Hackensack Police Department, for having illegal and unlawful weapons, transporting “assault weapons” across state lines, and two counts of brandishing a firearm in a threatening manner. Right outside his mother’s hospital room, the Hackensack police made every effort to ensure that the ever dangerous criminal  MGySgt Richard Zahn was quickly taken into custody, thereby protecting the citizens of the Garden State from a twice wounded combat veteran.

After more than a year of trying to fight his way through New Jersey’s byzantine legal system, especially when it comes to guns and gun ownership, Rich was sentenced on March 27 of this year. A detachment of Marines from around the country was present, including me. The prosecutor had Mr. Polo read a victim statement. That Mr. Polo could be considered a victim in this shows you just how screwed up this state’s laws are. (Sidebar: one of the Marines present is a resident of Bergen County and through a few connections, found that Jorge Polo had outstanding warrants in NY and PA. Immediately after reading his statement, in which he described how he damn near pooped his pants, and exiting the courtroom, Mr. Polo was taken into custody by the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department. Karma is a bitch.) The judge, Liliana Deavila-Sibeli, then pronounced sentence: 5 years, with a 42 month period of parole ineligibility. In her remarks, Ms. Sibeli noted that Richard Zahn, retired Marine with more commendations than letters in her name, is a deranged individual and extremely dangerous person. She made sure to note that guns are inherently dangerous in the hands of any but law enforcement. She also dropped this bombshell: if it were up to her, combat veterans should never be allowed to have weapons, because “combat veterans are homicidal psychopaths in waiting.”

That’s right. Hide the women and children – a combat veteran might be in your midst! They kill people for no reason! That such pure left wing dreck could actually occupy a Superior Court bench in the United States is a topic for another time, though.

That’s the story of what happened, Now for your chance to change the ending to this tale, help free a Marine guilty of nothing more than defending himself and – HEAVEN FORBID! – owning a US Constitutionally allowed gun. This past week, Rich’s lawyer exhausted his last appeal to get the sentence overturned. As you’re probably aware, the Governor of New Jersey is the honorable Christopher J. Christie, potential Republican nominee for President of the United States. Recently, Gov. Christie pardoned a woman from Philadelphia in a similar case. It certainly seems if Chris Christie can find reason to pardon a welfare mother from Philly for having a firearm in her vehicle, he can do the same for decorated combat Marine veteran. Especially if he wants to be taken seriously as a candidate in the Republican primary.

There is currently a petition circulating, asking Chris Christie to pardon Richard Zahn. All I am asking of you is to review the facts  of this case as described here (they are not disputed by anyone) and then take two minutes of your time to sign the petition. You can find it here.

And Governor Christie? We’ll be watching. Don’t make Rich Zahn wait for justice any longer.

And They’re Off!


courtesy NJ.com and Advanced Media

It’s very early in the morning, Monday, May 4, 2015. As I’m writing this, the sun is just beginning to peek out from night’s solemnity. But with it’s rising, the political silly season – better known as our quadrennial national election cycle – begins anew.

This one, for both seasoned political observer and novice alike, portends a change in the American political landscape. For a generation now, the Republican party has essentially conducted their primary schedule as a drawn-out coronation. The Democratic Party, in contrast, has conducted not only a search for a candidate but for a national identity. Excluding incumbents, the last time Republicans engaged in the type of soul-searching Democrats routinely embrace was 1980. The last time Democrats engaged in a slow ascendancy to the Presidency was before the Wilson administration. On the surface, the 2016 election looks as if the roles are reversed, with perhaps two dozen Republican candidates jumping into the fray and the megalith known as Hillary Clinton dominating the Democrat primary season. But I suspect the surface is just the glimmering reflection of political reporters unable to look past the Beltway. Hillary may be a formidable candidate – but the undercurrents in her party belie a certain uncertainty in her or the direction she wants to lead both her party and the nation.

As I’m writing this, there are six declared candidates, 4 Republican (Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, former Sen. Rick Santorum) and 2 Democrats (former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders). By the time you’re reading this, two more Republicans (Dr. Ben Carson, former CEO Carly Fiorina) are likely to have announced their candidacies. Here’s the potential roster of candidates, broken down by party:

Republican (21): Sen. Ted Cruz (TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (FL), Sen. Rand Paul (KY), Sen. Lindsay Graham (SC), former Sen. Rick Santorum (PA), Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA), Gov. Scott Walker (WI), Gov. Chris Christie (NJ), Gov. John Kasich (OH), Gov. Mike Pence (IN), Gov. Rick Snyder (MI), former Gov. Jeb Bush (FL), former Gov. George Pataki (NY), former Gov. Mike Huckabee (AK), former Gov. Rick Perry (TX), former Gov. Bob Ehrlich (MD), Congressman Peter King (NY), former Ambassador John Bolton, Dr. Ben Carson, CEO Carly Fiorina, CEO Donald Trump.

Democrat (6): Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT), former Gov. Martin O’Malley (MD), former Gov. Jim Webb (VA), former Gov. Lincoln Chaffee (RI).

I’ll be delving further into the dynamics of the race as the months roll along. I hope you’ve brought your airsick bags.

This is going to be a bumpy ride over the next 18 months.

Noob of the Month: Bill Oesterle


Noob (n.): A person who attempts to make themselves look good in society by demonstrating a desirable trait, despite not actually possessing that trait. (var. n00b)

Bill Oesterle, Co-Founder and CEO, Angie’s List. Also, the n00b of the Month.

Hello, everyone. Meet Bill Oesterle. Who is Bill Oesterle, you might ask? Chances are, if you aren’t a resident of Indiana, you have no idea who he is. But you’ve probably heard of the company he founded, Angie’s List. And if you do live in Indiana, you know that Bill Oesterle has been a behind-the-scenes political mover for the past twenty years. While his name didn’t come to national prominence during the recent hullaboo over Indiana’s RFRC dust-up, he certainly injected his company into the fray in a big way.

Oesterle made headlines on March 28 when he announced that Angie’s List, the company he founded and of which he was CEO, was “rethinking” a proposed $40 million expansion of the company’s Indianapolis headquarters, potentially nixing 1100 jobs, because of the controversial law. Democrats seized upon the news with fervor, saying the RFRC was costing the city and state good jobs. Bill Oesterle was an instant hero to the left: here was a big-company CEO putting his money in concert with his beliefs and punishing the evil-doers on the right. That Oesterle has been a player in the state’s Republican Party didn’t hurt, either. After all, if a good, stalwart Republican was denouncing the RFRC with such vehemency, what  the hell was the law doing, anyway?

And now, as Paul Harvey used to say, for the rest of the story.

Angie’s List may be a behemoth in Indianapolis and Bill Oesterle may be big-time player in Indiana politics, but Angie’s List is a company in serious trouble. Since peaking at around $28 two years ago, share prices have plummeted to around $6 today. Under Oesterle’s leadership, the company has gone 241 consecutive quarters without turning a profit. The company’s investors are beyond nervous. Google and Amazon are eating away at Angie’s List market share, forcing Angie to rethink their entire subscription-based strategy.

As for that $40 million expansion? 3 1/2 weeks before Oesterle made his announcement about shelving the project, the Indianapolis City Council and Indiana legislature shelved it for him. Seems the state and city have a few reservations and weren’t quite so sure it was a good deal for the taxpayers. Why? The city and state were expected to pick up $25 million of the $40 million project. It was, like most of Oesterle’s business deals, good for Angie’s List and good for Bill Oesterle, but kind of meh for an investor. The city council has essentially told Angie, show us a the money – and for a company that’s only expecting $30 million in revenue this year, that’s a tall order.

All of this duplicity finally caught up to Oesterle on Monday. He resigned/was forced out as CEO of the company he founded, replaced with…nobody. I guess the investors simply got tired of paying the guy a salary north of $800,000 for no return on their investment.

Not too worry about him, though. Oesterle has already got his next gig lined up, or at least he hopes he does. 11 years ago he chaired former Indiana governor Mitch Daniel’s campaign. Three years ago, he raised over $1.3 million for Mike Pence’s campaign. Now, he plans on running his own campaign for governor.

So, connect the dots. Your job is in trouble; deep, deep trouble. You need an escape hatch. Wait – GOT IT! The only thing, other than legally scamming people out of money, you’ve ever done well is politics. Problem is, a friend currently occupies the only job you want. But friends, shmends. He just signed a law that is causing the latest teapot tempest. If you can take advantage of that, do something to knock him down a few rungs while building yourself up as the sainted avenger – GOT IT! That expansion deal that went south. Shout from the rooftops with all your might that your company is killing the deal because your friend is an evil man. Play it up. And when the axe falls, tell everyone that you’ll make a fine governor, the perfect man to “begin the long process of repairing” the state’s image.

Congratulations, Bill. For playing the hero when the reality is you’re one of the most cowardly CEOs and politicians of the past decade, you’ve won the Noob of the Month award.

Why Mitch Won’t Fight


Conservatives are beginning to realize that when push comes to shove, Mitch McConnell is going to get shoved. The Kentucky Republican caves in to Democrats and the Imposter in Chief at every turn. The latest surrender is on the subject of Presidential overreach and the administrations attempt to grant amnesty to over 5 million criminals. So why does he do it? Here are 4 reasons that immediately come to mind:

1. His heart isn’t into it. Mitch is not a true conservative, and indeed, never has been. He is what he’s always been: a neocon. One of those RINOs dedicated to the idea that Big Government knows best and we little people shouldn’t bother with concerning ourselves about what the government does and why.

2. Mitch is one of those idiots who thinks granting amnesty to illegal aliens (read:CRIMINALS) is important, because doing so means they’ll become lifetime Republican voters. This seems to be a serious delusion in the GOP (see: Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, etc). Here’s something to remember guys: they are never going to vote or you. They’re going to vote for the people who give them free stuff, like the Prez giving them tax refunds (even though they’ve never paid taxes).

3. To the men like Mitch, this is all just a game. Why else convoluted “strategies” that amount to giving the Democrats what they actually want while striving for esoteric (and meaningless) talking point legislation? That the decisions he makes have a real impact on the future of the Republic is lost on him. After all, he’s 73 years old. It won’t affect him for much longer.

4. Also, he’s 73 years old. (Did I mention that?) There’s a good chance he and 75 year old Harry Reid are kicking it in the cloakroom with  a fine bottle of scotch, laughing at the way they’re screwing over the American people. You know, kind of like the jokester billionaires played by Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy in “Trading Places.”

Can the Yankees Contend?


A month ago, I wrote that the Yankees GM, Brian Cashman, needed to get off his duff and get to work retooling the Yankees roster. While I would like to take credit for the moves he made since, I doubt that had anything to do with it. But, other than a bolt-from-the-blue move (hello, Max Scherzer?) or some work on the roster fringes, Cashman has revamped the Yankees for the 2015 season. Now the question is, can the rebuilt squad contend?

First, a caveat: at this point of the year, a team would have to be facing serious problems to think they couldn’t contend. Between parity and the two wild-cards in each league, even seriously flawed teams have to think they have at least a puncher’s chance at earning a playoff spot. Even with the problems the Yankees face heading into 2015, contention is a definite probability. But then again, on paper the Marlins, Mets and Brewers are all contenders, too. No, these are the Yankees and what I’m talking about is actually being a force to reckoned with come October.

Well, the short answer is: probably not. It isn’t for lack of talent. The “back of the baseball card” theory of talent evaluation would lead you to believe that, if everything breaks right, the Yankees could win 105 games and sweep into the playoffs a prohibitive favorite to win it all. But there are too many questions, too many “ifs” and too many aging players on this roster to truly believe that will happen. Here’s a short list of things that need to break right:

*CC Sabathia‘s knee is fully healed and doesn’t bother him at all. In fact, it turns out the bum knee has been his problem for the past three seasons and he turns in a vintage 20 win, 200+ inning, 200+ strikeout season.
*Masahiro Tanaka‘s right elbow doesn’t reach home plate before one of his splitters some fine June afternoon.
*Ivan Nova comes back from Tommy John surgery with new found command and focus.
*Michael Pineda proves that last season wasn’t just a pine-tar induced haze and becomes the pitcher the Yanks thought they were getting when they sent the jar of mayo Jesus Montero to Seattle.
*Reports of Nathan Eovaldi developing a killer change up to go along with his 96 mph fastball are true and he realizes the promise that made scouts drool.
*Dellin Betances turns into the kind of closer that makes fans say, “Mariano who?”
*Rob Refsnyder plays an acceptable second base and hits around .290, while fellow rookie Jose Pirela turns into the type of super-sub Yankee fans were expecting to see from Martin Prado.
*Mark Teixeira stays healthy enough to play 140+ games and stops trying to hit every pitch into Hoboken.
*Didi Gregorius hits left handed pitching well enough, and Chase Headley’s back stays strong enough, to keep Brendan Ryan glued to the bench.
*Carlos Beltran plays less like Carlos Danger and more like Carlos Beltran.
*Alex Rodriguez realizes his time has passed and retires. Before Spring Training opens.

And that’s a short list of things that need to happen for the Yankees to be a major force this year. I actually think Pineda will be fine, that Eovaldi will prove to be a steal, that Refsnyder and Gregorius will develop into a very good keystone combination. I doubt any of the rest of the things listed above happen: Tex is a shell of the player the Yanks signed 6 seasons ago, Sabathia seems fated to being a sub-.500, over 5.00 ERA type pitcher these days and even if Nova comes back strong, he’ll remain the enigmatic headcase he’s been for the past 3+ years. Beltran is entering his age 38 season battered from his injury history. And sadly, A-Rod will never walk away from the $60 million still owed him, even if he’s hitting .150 without any homers on the ledger. As for Tanaka, the type of injury he’s nursing should have been addressed with surgery last summer, not the wing-and-a-prayer approach both he and the team are taking.

If things really go bad, the Yankees are looking to get 150 or more innings from an old Chris Capuano, and in all likelihood shuttle guys like Chase Whitley in and out of the rotation during the season. We’ll probably get to see the MLB debuts of stud prospects like Bryan Mitchell and Luis Severino, a year early. Meanwhile, the cache of aging and injury prone players leaves Joe Girardi filling out a line-up card with Ryan, Gregorius, Pirela, Chris Young, Austin Romine and Mason Williams all starting for extended periods. If you want to say “yuck,” feel free. (You’re also excused if you’re unsure who those guys are. Trust me. They’re baseball players.)

That’s the conundrum facing both the Yankees front office and fans this upcoming season. Everything goes great, 95 wins and a division title. Everything goes wrong, 65 wins and the Hal is asking the Astros for directions out of the basement.

God Is Real. Here’s Proof.


I’m often asked by my irreligious friends how I, an otherwise intelligent and learned person, can also believe in the existence of God and also how I can possibly believe that Jesus Christ is both God’s Son and mankind’s salvation. I don’t take umbrage at the questions. After all, we’ve been taught – in school, in society and in the popular media – that the existence of God and the practice of logic and reason are mutually exclusive. This slow divorce of reason from the logic of God has been an element of neoliberal thought for well over 150 years. What was once an edgy, cool philosophical theorem primarily examined and debated on the most respected campuses made its way into the public consciousness by the beginning of the 20th century. By the 21st century, it was no longer cool or edgy – it had become accepted dogma, even among most of the religious, that logic and religion were non simpatico.

I was not immune to the modern doctrine. As I pursued my Baccalaureate degree in the sciences, it was only strengthened. Like most of us, I didn’t question the infallibility of idea that science and “mysticism” can not co-exist. And as I gravitated further towards the “rational” world, the religious world, the world of “mysticism,” became something not only to be ignored but shunned.

As Christians, we’re admonished to “take it on faith” that God exists and that despite our failings, he loves us enough to have sacrificed his own Son for our salvation. A powerful message, yes, but also pretty mystical as usually presented. This is largely because the majority of Christians fail to understand the actual meaning of faith. Yes, it is about belief (as explained by the apostle Paul, faith “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” [Heb 11:1]) and when we begin talking about things we can’t see, that gets pretty mystical. But faith is not belief in the absence of evidence, nor is it belief in spite of contrary evidence. The New Testament is replete with stories of people who came to faith though knowledge and who used logic, reason and contemporaneous thinking to increase not only their faith but that of those around them. Perhaps the most famous of these is that of “Doubting Thomas,” who did not believe that the Christ had returned after his crucifixion.

I’ll leave out how my personal journey back to sanity and away from the secular commenced. Not because I don’t think it’s an interesting story, but simply for brevity’s sake. But 27 years ago when I began looking for the real meaning to life, rest assured I used every bit of the classic liberal education I received earlier to answer the question, “Is God real?” Not unlike Thomas, I wasn’t looking for absolute, irrefutable proof of His existence. Rather, I was searching for something that any reasonable person could look at as proving God lives.

The elegance of the answer is in its very simplicity. We can know God lives because every religious philosophy has, at it’s core, one tenet. In Christianity, we refer to it as the Golden Rule and it can be found in every religion, current and past, all over our planet. From the Brahmans to the Zoroastrians, EVERY religion espouses that the purest way to demonstrate their teachings is to love our fellow humans as we love ourselves.

Is this incontrovertible proof? Perhaps not. But consider this: over the thousands of years humans have walked the Earth, we’ve rarely found the capacity to agree on anything. We’ve fought, argued, warred over far less important topics. Yet, even in our ancient history, when scattered to the four corners with virtually no contact, our ancestors all came up with the same central religious philosophy? Perhaps someday, a statistician will run the numbers and give us the probability of that happening on its own. The odds, I imagine, will be astronomical. But with a spark of divine guidance, the odds suddenly become not astronomical but likely.

So, the proof God lives? It is as complex as quarrelsome nature and as simple as our belief that the highest goal is treating everyone with respect.

Where Art Thou, Brian?


It’s time to take a break from politics for a moment and concentrate on that other topic of extreme national importance: Baseball.

Specifically, the only team that really matters to the sport: the New York Yankees. Because let’s face it, whether you live in Alaska or New York, the Yankees are the team that drives MLB. They’re kind of like Barack Obama. You either love them or hate them, but you can’t ignore them. The last thing MLB needs is for their premier team, the one playing in the $1 billion stadium in the largest media market in the world, is to be irrelevant. Remember how wonderfully well the sport fared the last time the Yankees were irrelevant, about 25 years ago? The team in Montreal folded. The Twins and Marlins almost disappeared. Attendance and fan interest waned across the land.

Well, I hate to break the news to MLB, but the Yankees are fast approaching the point of not mattering again. After two consecutive years of not being contenders (and really, the last time they put a serious contender on the field was in 2010), the only news coming out of the south Bronx is that the Human Steroid is attempting to salvage the $60 million owed on his contract. Baseball doesn’t need any more of Alex Rodriguez‘ shenanigans, not after 2+ years of his mea culpas and Fred Astaire impersonations.

What MLB does need is for the Yankees GM, Brian Cashman, to stop sleeping and actually get to work rebuilding the team. The Yankees entered this offseason needing a shortstop, a second baseman, a right handed outfielder, and at least two starting pitchers. They also had to keep the back end of their brilliant bullpen together.

As of this moment, they need a shortstop, a second baseman, a right handed outfielder, and at least two starting pitchers. They also have to keep the back end of their brilliant bullpen together.

This is a nice way of saying that so far, Brian Cashman has done absolutely nothing to address the many roster holes left from the last 3 seasons of roster disasters. That might not be so bad in what is a declining American League East, except the American League isn’t declining any longer. In case you’ve missed it, Boston has done everything imaginable at this point to improve their club. Toronto has done an equally admirable job of improving. Tampa Bay has done what it needed to address the ennui that inevitably set in after a few overly successful seasons. Baltimore ran away with the division last year and made it to the ALCS.

It’s not that the Yankees need to go crazy on retooling, a la the Red Sox, and throw nearly $200 million at older players. But signing a Jon Lester or Max Scherzer would look pretty nice. It’s not that they need to swing a trade for Josh Donaldson, like Toronto, but a Ben Zobrist would look pretty good in pinstripes. It’s not that they need to to pry Andrew Miller away from Baltimore, but they can’t let David Robertson become a repeat of the Robinson Cano debacle from last year.

The Yankees made splashy, but ineffective moves last offseason. Jacoby Ellsbury is a good player, but wasn’t really needed – after all, Brett Gardner was rounding out into a solid center fielder with the same skill set. Carlos Beltran would have been a terrific signing – a decade ago. Brian McCann was a nice addition, but questions about how well the laid-back Southerner handles New York will continue until he proves he can. Besides, had Cashman not balked at resigning all-star catcher Russell Martin a few seasons ago, McCann wouldn’t be here.

In short, the front office pogues at MLB need to light a fire under Cashman’s butt. I say that, because it’s becoming more evident with each passing season that the Steinbrenner family can talk all they want about how they share their late patriarch’s desire to win, but the only thing they really care about is the money they’re making from their cash cow. But baseball as a whole needs the Yankees to be more than Hal’s personal ATM. As such, they need to tell Cashman to do something, anything. The roster is too bloated with over-the-hill player on bad contracts? Fine. Gut the roster. Pay off the old guys, bring up the kids for a season or two and start over. It might not be a win-now strategy but it would at least lend itself to some excitement in the Bronx.

Or if that isn’t palatable, then return to the “Steinbrenner Way” and aggressively pursue the best available talent. Go crazy, offer Lester and Scherzer $200 million each. Back up a Brinks truck to Nelson Cruz‘ door. Give Asdrubal Cabrera his own lane across the GWB. Heck, give the A’s everyone not named Gary Sanchez in exchange for Jeff Samardzija.

But whatever you do, don’t just stand pat – or even worse, let your own players walk away. This journey into nothingness does absolutely nothing for the Yankees or baseball.

Maybe I’m Getting Old…


I began this morning the way I usually do, by opening my Bible and reading a passage, then moving on to Facebook and looking at the overnight posts from my friends. Usually, this is a great way to start the day: I get my moral gyroscope spinning with the right orientation and then lighten my mood by seeing the crazy stuff people I know were up to the night before. I especially enjoy the memes that get posted. As those of you who follow me on the Zuckerberg Express are certainly aware, I’m a pretty snarky person and love ironic humor.

But this morning…well, this morning is different. All of the Ferguson memes, styled in a way that ordinarily would at least get a chuckle from me, didn’t have that effect. Instead, they only filled me with a sense of sadness. Pictures that are repurposed to make you laugh have instead left me wanting to cry – and that’s why I now worry if, in fact, I’m getting too old.

I worry about that, because I know it’s an old-fashioned idea that senseless and needless violence simply isn’t a source of humor. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not unfamiliar with senseless violence. After all, I live in Newark, not exactly a paragon of domestic tranquility. In my decades of life, I’ve witnessed dozens of riots similar to the ones we’re seeing in Ferguson. And yet, somehow, these riots have touched me in a way that none of those others did.

Maybe it’s the circumstances that led up to them. There seems to be a sickness in our society, a malady that is on the edge of my understanding without my truly being able to grasp it. At the core, the source of the riots and the accompanying (no longer funny) memes is this: blacks in America are certain the police are gunning for them. Whites in America think that idea is a bunch of baloney. Try as I might, I cannot find a way to bridge that difference – and I don’t think anyone else has the answer, either. That very real possibility is the source of my angst, because I’ve always believed in America as the world’s best hope for a Shining City on a Hill – and if we’ve failed in that mission, we’ve failed in so much more.

If America is not the nation of our collective imagination, one where any man can rise as high (or sink as low) as he chooses based solely on his abilities and desires, then we have a serious problem. If America is not a nation where we strive to make that dream a reality, then we have a problem. If America is simply a nation where an entire class of people believes they are to be permanently impressed as nothing more than the punching bags for everyone else, then we have an even bigger problem. How do you change someone’s belief system, one they see reinforced on a daily basis in their personal experience, even if the reinforcement is only perceived?

I don’t know, but I find my mind traveling back to the time of my youth. Men like Bobby Kennedy and Ralph Abernathy provided the leadership to help guide America towards our goal of realizing Shining City on a Hill status. Of course, foremost among the men of that day was Dr. Martin Luther King and I think of the speech he gave 46 years ago in Memphis. Many remember it as the call to arms for the sanitation worker strike; others as the last speech Dr. King would ever give. I recall it for the simple sermon Dr. King gave towards the end of the speech, in which he relayed how the Parable of the Good Samaritan should infect our modern lives. He talked of the time he and his wife traveled the Jordan Road and was made aware of how the travelers could ignore the mugged man’s plight, how the dangers of that road were evident even in his day. (By the way, if you ever get a chance, you’ll see it still hasn’t changed). But most importantly, he talked about how the Good Samaritan took the element of danger and turned it on it’s head. I don’t remember the exact quote, but it was something along the lines of, “Rather than asking ‘What is the danger to me if I stop to help, he asked what is the danger to him if I do not stop?'”

Maybe that passage still holds true today and maybe that’s where we’ve lost our way. Maybe we’ve simply stopped asking ourselves what the danger is to our nation and our society, if we stop to help the guy who’s in trouble. If instead, we’ve become so insular as to be unable to even see that question, much less answer it.

I’m not sure. But for now, I’m going to find some old Three Stooges shorts and see if some senseless violence can restore my humor.

What To Do About Obama?


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Within 16 hours of my writing this, it seems certain the Grand Exalted Emperor of North America, Barack Hussein Obama, will have used his pen-and-phone strategy to effectively legalize some 5 million illegal immigrants. The hand wringing in the countryside is palpable. What do we do with this guy?

I propose the answer is actually simple. Ignore him. Much like the adolescent throwing temper tantrums because he doesn’t get his way, what we’re witnessing today from the Great One is a spoiled brat getting his comeuppance. And as any parent will you, the most effective way to deal with a brat is to ignore him. Don’t punish him. Don’t spank him. Just…ignore him. It is the absolute thing a self-centered, pompous ass cannot stand.

As to ignoring him, that’s far easier than one might think. His party has been relegated to a bunch of political back benchers, unable to advance an agenda and much less devote energy to defending a President many dislike. When he takes to the bully pulpit, his speeches are already met with a cross of derision and disbelief. The rest of the world looks upon Team Obama with, at best, patronizing disregard.

Obama isn’t completely toothless, of course. He can convince the Iranians to go ahead and build nukes, plunging what’s left of Mideast stability down the toilet. He can sic the machinery of government on his domestic enemies – something he’s already done with seeming glee. Worst of all, he can rely on his sycophants in the MSM to provide him with more face time than he deserves.

But still, when even the pols in your party are doing their best to already ignore you in the quest to coronate Hillary, you’re already borderline irrelevant. Oh, and checking back to the beginning: go ahead and announce you won’t deport those 5 million illegals. We already know the reality was you were never going to deport them anyway. The only person you’ve fooled is the guy starting back at you in the mirror.

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