Saturday, September 09, 2017

Cluelessness, thy name is Hillary Clinton

September 6, 2017
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She still doesn’t get it.
In her forthcoming memoir ‘What Happened” (out Tuesday), Hillary Clinton takes perfunctory responsibility for losing the election before spending nearly 500 pages blaming: Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, “rash FBI director” James Comey, Barack Obama, the Russians, sexism and, finally, the American people for not liking her enough.
Sanders, she writes, had the gall to run against her even though he’s not a Democrat.

“That’s not a smear, that’s what he says,” she writes. “He didn’t get into the race to make sure a Democrat won the White House, he got in to disrupt the Democratic Party.”
Clinton bemoans the sexism among “Bernie bros” and claims a causal link between Sanders’ campaign and Trump’s win. “Some of his supporters . . . took to harassing my supporters online,” she writes. “It got ugly and more than a little sexist.” Such attacks, she claims, “caused lasting damage, making it harder to unify progressives in the general election and paving the way for Trump’s ‘Crooked Hillary’ campaign.”
Obama, she says, was no help, telling her “to grit my teeth and lay off Bernie as much as I could. I felt like I was in a straitjacket.”
Sanders, like so many leading Dems, has no sympathy.
“My response is that right now it’s appropriate to look forward and not backward,” he told The Hill. Left unmentioned was collusion between Clinton’s team and the DNC to oust Sanders from the primary and depict his campaign as “a mess” to reporters. These revelations, contained in a 2016 WikiLeaks dump, led to the immediate resignation of DNC chair and Clinton supporter Debbie Wasserman Schulz.
Yet to read leaked excerpts from Clinton’s book, you’d never know her campaign was secretly manipulating party apparatus, or that she had a $150 million war chest (twice Trump’s), or that she had the backing of mega-stars from Bruce Springsteen to Beyoncé to Oprah, or that the media largely depicted her rival as a complete buffoon with zero chance of winning, or that the Justice Department laid off even though her husband privately met with then-US Attorney General Loretta Lynch in the midst of the FBI email investigation.
No, Hillary Clinton had no such advantages. The subtext here — and the reason she was such an epically bad two-time candidate — is that we should feel sorry for her, not the other way around. It’s the problem with her campaign writ large: At a time when millions of Americans were economically hurting and afraid of being left behind, she thought “I’m With Her” was a galvanizing slogan. If anything, it should have been “She’s With Us.”
But such is her narcissism, blinding Clinton to what most Americans saw: not a campaign but the would-be coronation of someone thoroughly convinced it was her turn.
The Democratic Party has made it clear they want Hillary to stop whining and go away. “When you lose to somebody who has 40% popularity, you don’t blame other things,” Chuck Schumer told the Washington Post in July. “What did we do wrong? People didn’t know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump.” Elizabeth Warren told USA Today that Clinton lost because “our side hadn’t closed the deal” when it came to reaching struggling Americans. Joe Biden, at a SALT conference in Vegas last May: “I never thought she was a great candidate.”
As is her way, Hillary will not brook criticism or search within to course-correct. Long a multimillionaire, Clinton — who writes that it was “bad optics” to accept huge speaking fees from Wall Street — is charging $3,000 for a “platinum VIP ticket” on her book tour. As for other blunders: She says she couldn’t confront Trump as he lurked behind her at a debate because she’d look weak, not because when most people think “Hillary Clinton” and “sexual predator,” Bill comes to mind. Nor is she as stiff and fake as people think, even though she writes that shetook a nap on Election Night as the electoral map and her place in world history cratered around her. Even the famously cool Obama would never make such a claim.
Toward the end of her memoir, Hillary concludes that the problem is ultimately not her but us. Mull that as you shell out $30 for a book and $89 — minimum — for a tour ticket.
“What makes me such a lightning rod for fury?” she writes. “I’m really asking. I’m at a loss.”
As are the Dems and an exhausted electorate — yet here, too, Hillary won’t listen, writing that she’ll stay in public life and refusing to rule out a 2020 run.
“There were plenty of people hoping that I, too, would just disappear,” she writes. “But here I am.”
FILED UNDER           

How to Stifle Policing

The Obama Era continues to hinder police effectiveness.
September 7, 2017
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Chicago Police forensic service vehicle arrives at the scene where four people were shot and killed at a restaurant on March 30, 2017.
 (Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is trying to restore the legitimacy of policing, so damaged by the Obama Justice Department. Ongoing conflicts in Milwaukee and Chicago show how difficult it will be to undo the previous administration's legacy. Barack Obama's Justice Department put more police departments under federal control than any previous administration; these federal consent decrees—binding agreements between a local agency and the federal government—cost police departments millions of dollars to implement and take dozens of officers off the street to fill out reams of paperwork within rigid deadlines. In 2011, the Justice Department started offering police departments “collaborative reform” as a less-burdensome alternative to the onerous consent-decree process. But collaborative reform soon morphed into consent-decree lite. The reports ran over 200 pages and contained scores of nitpicking recommendations. And when the Justice Department looked more closely, it was not at all clear that the agency that ran collaborative reform—the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)—had the statutory authority for such adversarial audits.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reoriented the program to help departments fight crime, rather than phantom police bias, without imposing a costly bureaucratic overlay. The changes come too late, however, for the Milwaukee Police Department, whose chief, Ed Flynn, was sweet-talked into collaborative reform by the former head of the COPS office. In 2016, Milwaukee’s collaborative-reform team produced a draft 243-page report, characterized by the usual Obama hallmarks—above all, a disparate-impact approach to finding police bias that measures police activity, like stops or arrests, against population ratios rather than against crime rates. The current DOJ lawyers agreed with Flynn that the draft report was seriously flawed and should not be released until its errors were corrected. But someone—whether an Obama aide, a member of the collaborative-reform team, or a Milwaukee police official—leaked the report to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and to the city council. The Journal Sentinel, which has waged a crusade against Flynn for years, splashed its nearly 3,000-word article on its front page under the unintentionally hilarious headline: TRUST IN POLICE DAMAGED, REPORT SAYS: DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE DRAFT SAYS MILWAUKEE CHIEF RELIES TOO MUCH ON DATA. Accusing a police department of relying “too much on data” is like accusing a doctor of relying too much on evidence-based disease markers in his diagnoses. Another term for “data-driven” is “victim-driven,” since crime data simply record the incidence of criminal victimization. The Journal Sentinel followed up with another front-page piece the next day: 9 KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE DOJ DRAFT.
Predictably, the report criticizes traffic-stop rates, allegedly three times higher for blacks than for whites. The investigators concede that the department deploys its resources based on “data to identify neighborhoods of higher crime rates.” Race, in other words, has nothing to do with deployment or enforcement. But, the report goes on to explain, “community members have expressed concern that the areas identified as high crime are also more populated by minority community members. As a result, MPD’s data driven policing strategy has a disparate impact on minority community members.” This, in a nutshell, is the core dilemma facing police departments today. Given the huge disparities in law-breaking, the police cannot go to where people are most being victimized without generating racially disproportionate stop and arrest data. In 2016, blacks made up 89 percent of robbery suspects in Milwaukee, 85 percent of aggravated-assault suspects, and 81 percent of homicide suspects, though they are 39 percent of the population. Their victims were predominantly minority. The nonfatal shooting rate for blacks is over 15 times higher than for whites; the homicide rate is over 11 times higher than for whites. The only way to avoid generating racially disproportionate police activity data is to stop serving the minority victims of crime. No one has articulated this bind more eloquently over the years than Ed Flynn.
The dilemmas of policing in the Black Lives Matter era were put on vivid display this April, when Milwaukee’s city council voted to require the MPD to loosen its policy on car chases. The current MPD policy, instituted by Flynn, requires a high threshold of criminal behavior before officers can give chase; it represents the gold standard of “progressive” policing, because high-speed car chases are extremely dangerous. But the city council now wants officers to crack down on reckless driving because minority communities have complained about speeding, often by carjackers who zoom away after stealing cars. Nearly 90 percent of car-theft suspects are black, but the same municipal officials who routinely blame the MPD for high rates of black incarceration are now demanding that the department ramp up enforcement against the black population. “It’s more than a little baffling to me,” reports Flynn, “that the same city council that’s on the record as opposing putting people in jail for committing crimes wants us to engage in more pursuits that place innocent lives at risk to catch people they don’t want to see put in jail.”
The collaborative-reform draft cites MPD’s alleged failure to engage in community policing. In fact, Flynn has put so many officers on bikes to interact with the community that critics have accused him of letting patrol-car response times increase. The report also alleges that the department has a patrol workforce that does not “reflect the diversity of the Milwaukee community at large.” Like every other department in the country, Milwaukee tries to recruit as many minority candidates as possible. The Black Lives Matter narrative that policing is racist does not facilitate that effort; nor does the fact that minorities are more likely to have a criminal record and weaker test scores. It’s unlikely in any case that further racial engineering would improve policing: another Obama-era collaborative-reform report found that black and Hispanic officers in Philadelphia had a much higher rate than white officers of shooting unarmed black males. That disparity, which has been found elsewhere, undoubtedly derives from racial quotas in hiring.
As if the leaked report were not causing the MPD headaches enough, the Wisconsin ACLU is suing in federal court for a consent decree against stop, question, and frisk. The suit is based on the usual specious disparate impact analysis.
These will be the anti-cop strategies in the post-Obama era: leverage the legal tools and documents left over from the Obama years and continue suing for federal control, aided or cheered on by former Justice Department officials. Chicago exemplifies this strategy as well. The Obama Justice Department just missed finalizing a consent decree for the Chicago Police Department before its term expired. The DOJ report preceding the planned decree was immaculately free of crime data or any acknowledgement of community demands for protection from public disorder.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel initially opposed the Justice Department investigation, then reversed himself under political pressure. When Attorney General Sessions announced that he would not pursue the Chicago consent decree, Emanuel backtracked and conceded that Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson was in fact capable of constitutional policing on his own, without having to dedicate millions of taxpayer dollars and hundreds of thousands of manpower hours to satisfy a federal monitor. This reversal of the reversal brought another round of bias accusations against Emanuel. Now he has reversed himself yet again, in the wake of a lawsuit filed by Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan. Madigan, of course, wants to put the CPD under federal court control. An Obama Justice Department lawyer, Christy Lopez, called Madigan’s suit a “clarion call” and an example to other states and jurisdictions of how to push reform though the federal courts in the Trump era, reports theChicago Tribune. Emanuel announced: “I am proud the attorney general is standing up for our city, for its residents, and for our police officers where the Trump administration fell flat.” The mayor has yet to explain why he thinks Eddie Johnson cannot “stand up” for Chicago’s residents and police officers. Any mayor who encourages a federal takeover of his police department should fire his police chief, since that chief is presumably unable to manage the department properly—and then the mayor himself should resign, since he, too, is apparently unable to lead his own agencies in the absence of a federal watchdog and judicially enforced mandates.
(With perfect gall, Emanuel has launched his own lawsuit against the Trump administration, demanding that Chicago receive its usual share of federal crime-fighting largesse, even though Chicago willfully thwarts federal attempts to deport illegal-alien criminals.)
During this jousting over who can more forcefully accuse the CPD of racism, Chicago’s shooting spree continues to turn the city’s South and West Sides into a bloodbath. Labor Day weekend was a relatively “good” holiday weekend—with “only” seven people killed and another 37 or so wounded in shootings. Among the dead was a 15-year-old boy who was shot in the back at 7:50 on Monday evening during an argument in front of a West Side home. By comparison, over Memorial Day weekend this year, at least 53 people were shot, eight fatally, according to the Chicago Tribune. This “good” Labor Day tally was accomplished by flooding shooting hotspots with an additional 1,300 officers and by conducting parole sweeps before the weekend to get known criminals in violation of their parole conditions off the streets. Don’t be surprised if the ACLU files a lawsuit in retaliation. If Emanuel and Johnson think that they will continue to have manpower to spare and the tactical freedom to make lawful preemptive arrests under a federal-consent decree, they are fooling themselves.
The FBI’s national crime report for 2016 will come out later this month. Expect a continuation of what I have called the “Ferguson effect”—rising violent crime in minority neighborhoods due to politically induced depolicing. Jeff Sessions has pledged to reverse that crime increase. But as Milwaukee and Chicago show, the shadow Obama government will fight him all the way.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Gene 'Stick' Michael's stubbornness was the heart of Yankees' Core Four

Buster OlneyESPN Senior Writer 7, 2017

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A few months ago, Gene Michael leaned against the railing in front of the New York Yankees' dugout, looking a little disheveled, as always. The baseball caps he wore always seemed ill-fitting -- I could never figure out if they were too big or too small -- and his shock of white hair usually needed a trim. When "Stick" Michael carried a notepad, the primary architect of what may be baseball’s last dynasty looked more like a sportswriter than a multisport star from Kent State, where he played basketball and baseball.
Even after 10 years as a major league middle infielder, Stick had long maintained to me that he’d been a better basketball player. But he loved to joke, loved to tell stories, particularly at his own expense, and he mostly smiled when he talked about his basketball career, so I never knew for sure if he was kidding. I am certain, however, that Michael was so smart that he understood that his grinning, aw-shucks Midwestern demeanor would improve the chances that he would be underestimated.
The fact is that he could not have survived decades as an employee of George Steinbrenner without a marrow-deep toughness, a stubbornness, as an emotional Buck Showalter recalled Thursday morning, not long after learning about the death of his close friend and former boss.
Michael played for the Yankees for the first couple seasons of Steinbrenner’s ownership and later worked as a coach, manager, general manager and scout -- just about every role. As Steinbrenner negotiated his suspension from baseball in 1990, he ordered Michael to generate a list of candidates to run the Yankees in Steinbrenner’s absence. But then Steinbrenner asked Michael himself to go back to being the team’s GM, because Steinbrenner knew that even in the worst of times, in the most trying of times, Michael possessed the integrity to always try to do what was right for the Yankees organization, rather than for himself.
The promotion was a crossroad for the organization. More than a decade before "Moneyball" highlighted the Oakland A’s focus on on-base percentage, Michael rebuilt the Yankees by emphasizing OBP and acquiring left-handed power hitters to take advantage of Yankee Stadium's dimensions. Michael also worked to rebuild the farm system.
Sometimes, what was right for the Yankees was to defy Steinbrenner throughout the owner’s swinging emotional pendulum -- sometimes directly, sometimes surreptitiously. Michael once recalled the day that Steinbrenner, frustrated with a young center fielder named Bernie Williams, phoned Stick and ordered him to cultivate offers from other teams, so the Yankees could pick the best offer and trade Williams, because it wasn’t working.
Michael believed in Williams and his talent, so much so that he had confronted veteran outfielder Mel Hall after seeing Hall bully Williams to tears. Michael had no intention of trading Williams. But Michael called every other team, as Steinbrenner had ordered, and talked to rival executives about everything and anything other than Bernie Williams.
Michael reported back to Steinbrenner that he talked to other teams and hadn’t gotten one offer for Williams. Steinbrenner, momentarily placated, moved on to other concerns, and Williams was in center field for the team’s five World Series appearances and four titles from 1996-2001.
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Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees is presented with milestone memorabilia by former General Manager of the Yankees Gene Michael before the game on September 29, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.
(Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America)

Before the 1992 season, Michael listened to former teammate and then-Reds manager Lou Piniella complain about one of his outfielders, Paul O'Neill, who Piniella thought should hit more homers. Knowing Piniella’s personality, Michael figured that Piniella would push and prod O’Neill to distraction. And sure enough, O’Neill had a bad season in ’92, batting .246. With O’Neill’s trade value bottomed out, Michael made a deal with Cincinnati for the right fielder, despite industry concerns that the intense O’Neill would struggle playing in New York.
But Michael believed O’Neill actually had a perfect personality to play in New York, because he would be far more critical of himself than any fan or columnist. A few years later, he made the same assessment of third baseman Scott Brosius; both players thrived for the Yankees.
Early in the 1995 season, in Michael’s last year in the role of general manager, he mulled the possibility of trading pitching prospect Mariano Rivera to the Tigers for left-hander David Wells. As he moved closer to a deal that spring, he read a report from Rivera’s most recent minor league start with Triple-A Columbus and noticed that the velocity readings reflected a jump of 4-6 miles per hour faster than Rivera’s history.
Michael called the Columbus staff to ask about the condition of their radar gun, which he assumed was broken. Nope, he was told, the radar gun was fine. Then Michael phoned a scout who he knew had been in the stands -- a scout from the Tigers, the team that was interested in acquiring Rivera.
The scout’s radar gun readings matched those of the Yankees’ affiliate, and Michael immediately called off the trade conversation. There was apparently more to Mariano Rivera than the Yankees had seen, Michael decided.
For the better part of a decade, the Yankees of the early and mid-90s did what they had never been able to do in the first 17 years of Steinbrenner’s ownership: They held on to their prospects, such as Rivera, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada. And they got back to winning in a manner not seen in the Yankees organization since the 1950s, in a way that has not been seen since in Major League Baseball and may never happen again because of how salaries have made it increasingly difficult for teams to retain players.
Even after Steinbrenner wore down Michael, as he had so many other general managers, the owner paid him handsomely to remain in the organization, as a scout and adviser. Michael would spend a lot of spring training in Tampa, trailing the Yankees from game to game, cross-checking players for GM Brian Cashman.
Stationed in front of the Yankees’ dugout -- almost in the same spot -- Michael would chuckle underneath that oddly tilted baseball cap as he told stories, a hint of laughter seemingly attached to his words.
But if you asked Michael to give an opinion about a player and that player's skills, the laughter would disappear and he would look at you directly and give you an emotionless, honest assessment about the player’s labyrinth of strengths and weaknesses, and the causes and effects of pitching or hitting mechanics. And you understood why George Steinbrenner trusted Gene Michael, and entrusted him.

With the death of Gene Michael, it's tough day for the Yankees, baseball and me

By Bill Madden
September 8, 2017

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In this March 1, 1981, file photo, New York Yankees manager Gene Michael, left, and team owner George Steinbrenner are shown during a team workout in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Gene Michael, the slick-fielding shortstop nicknamed Stick who went on to manage the Yankees and then as a front-office executive built a power than won four World Series titles in a five-year span, died Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. He was 79. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

He was the heart, soul and conscience of the Yankee organization for 40 years and also one of the closest baseball friends I’ve known, so writing about Gene Michael’s life, which was so shockingly snuffed out by a heart attack at age 79 early Thursday, is about the hardest task I’ve ever had to perform for this newspaper.

Please forgive me but this is personal
What can you say about the Stick? That when it came to player evaluations he was always the smartest guy in the room as the architect of four championship Yankee teams between 1996-2001 and, before that, the 1980 Yankee team that won 103 games?
That he had the keenest sense of baseball people in hiring three of the best managers the Yankees ever had in Dick Howser, Buck Showalter and Joe Torre.
That he was the one guy in the Yankee organization who was not afraid to go to the mat with George Steinbrenner, no matter what the issue, as he did in fighting not to give 1991 No. 1 draft pick Brien Taylor a major league contract; or pushing through the 1995 trading deadline deal for David Cone; or issuing a “me or him” ultimatum to the Boss after Tampa-based player development director, George Bradley — behind his back with the Boss’ approval — signed Steve Sax to a four-year extension in 1990 at the same time the Yankees were letting Dave Righetti sign a four-year deal with the Giants, or that he repeatedly deflected Steinbrenner’s snipes at Howser and Showalter?
“People don’t know all the things Stick did behind the scenes,” Showalter said by phone Thursday. “He kept the Boss at bay and allowed me to do my job.”
After taking over as Yankee general manager for the second time in 1990, Stick hired Showalter in the winter of 1991 to replace Stump Merrill, but not after first considering a more experienced manager such as Doug Rader or Hal Lanier. He was finally convinced by some of the Yankee limited partners, most notably Marvin Goldklang, to stay within the organization and give the job to Showalter, who had worked his way up through the Yankee minor league system.
“I knew I wasn’t his first choice,” said Showalter, “but midway through that first (’92) spring training he came to me and said, ‘I watched you closely the first two weeks of camp and then I knew you were going to be OK.’ You have no idea how much confidence that gave me.”
Together, with Steinbrenner suspended from baseball, Stick and Buck rebuilt the Yankees from their lowest ebb (back-to back 90-plus loss seasons in ’90 and ’91) to the team that became a dynasty under Torre.
The first building block was the November 1992 deal in which Stick sent Roberto Kelly, regarded then as the Yankees’ best player, to the Reds for Paul O’Neill, known to be a temperamental player who clashed often with then-Cincy manager and former Yankee Lou Piniella. Kelly’s star quickly faded while O’Neill went on to achieve icon status with the Yankees over the next nine seasons as a mainstay of those Torre teams.
“That was the other trait I so admired Stick for,” said Showalter. “He had guts. But he knew players, and he knew every aspect of the game. He was the one guy who believed Mike Gallego could play shortstop for us when everyone else looked at him as a utility guy. He signed Steve Howe, despite his drug history, because he believed he was passed that.”
There were all the other inspired trades and signings, of course.
The November 1990 signing of closer Steve Farr. The January 1992 signing of Gallego. The April 1995 trade with Montreal for John Wetteland, the August of 1996 re-acquisition of Charlie Hayes, who’d been lost over Stick’s objections in the ’92 expansion draft.
The December 1992 signing of Jimmy Key after Greg Maddux spurned the Yankees for less money from Atlanta and of course the 1995 megatrade with Seattle for Tino Martinez and Jeff Nelson.
But the one I remember most vividly was the 1995 trade deadline deal with Toronto for Cone, if only because on that one I witnessed Stick at his most frustrated.
For three days he’d been going back and forth with then-Blue Jays GM Pat Gillick, who was holding out for top Yankee pitching prospect, Marty Janzen. Finally, the deal got done and Janzen was shipped, but just before it was announced, Stick confided in me: “You have no idea what I had to go through with (Steinbrenner) on this.”
“What happened?” I asked.
“He kept telling me his baseball people didn’t want to give up Janzen because they thought he was gonna be a star. Finally I said: ‘George I’m your GM. If we don’t get Cone, we’re not going to the postseason.’ He finally relented, but then he told me: ‘Gillick’s the smartest GM in baseball. He’s taking advantage of you. He knows something about Janzen that you don’t.”
Janzen appeared in just 27 games, starting 11, for the Jays over two season, pitching to a 6.39 ERA.
Conversely, when Steinbrenner returned from suspension in 1993, it was Stick who had to talk him out of trading homegrown Yankees such as Mariano Rivera and Bernie Williams, who came up through the farm system he rebuilt.
And when it came to trades, there was another lesson Showalter learned from Stick. Showalter hated Danny Tartabull, whom Stick had signed as a last-ditch free agent in the winter of 1992 after Steinbrenner had locked up the coffers for most of the offseason. Sitting together in the manager’s office in July of 1995, Showalter begged Stick to get rid of Tartabull, who was repeatedly begging out of the lineup. “If you trade him I’ll kiss your ass at home plate in front of 40,000 people.”
“I’m gonna save you the embarrassment,” Stick said, pulling down his pants. “You can do it right here. I just traded him to Oakland.”
“You did?” said Showalter. “Who did we get back.”
“Ruben Sierra, who’s been just as big of a pain in the ass for the A’s,” Stick said, “but that doesn’t matter. You can trade anybody as long as you don’t care what you get back.”
Despite their frequent dust-ups, Steinbrenner always had the highest respect for Stick, beginning with when he hired him to manage the Yankees’ Triple-A team in 1979. It’s uncertain if the Boss was aware of the fact Stick pulled off five “hidden ball” tricks during his shortstop career from 1966-75 but he recognized early on his baseball acumen.
“Stick was always the guy George turned to,” Giants baseball operations chief Brian Sabean, who worked under Stick as Yankees VP of player development and scouting in the early ’90s, said by phone Thursday. “Stick taught me so much about baseball. He took me under his wing, brought me everywhere and had just a wealth of baseball knowledge.”
“Stick was simply one of the finest men I’ve ever known,” said a devastated Piniella. “One of the smartest baseball men ever and also one of the best poker players I ever knew. I don’t think he ever made a bad trade or signing. This is just so unbelievable. I just loved him.”
So, too, did everyone who knew him. God bless and rest in peace, my friend. 

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Book Review: ‘Enemy Of The State’ by Kyle Mills

By Elise Cooper
September 6, 2017
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With “Enemy Of The State,” Kyle Mills has found his groove as he nailed down the characters created by Vince Flynn. As other thriller authors pivoted away from terrorism, Mitch Rapp, Dr. Irene Kennedy, and company continue to keep America safe by thwarting Islamic jihadists.
As in “The Third Option,” this plot has Mitch Rapp going somewhat rogue after being asked by the president to perform a mission that is completely off the books. He must track down, interrogate and kill members of the Saudi royal family who appear to be working with ISIS. Although Irene knows about it, she and Mitch realize this must be a completely black ops mission; thus, his resignation from the CIA. The investigation discovered Aali Nassar, Irene’s Saudi counterpart, promising to support America, while secretly in charge of the ISIS financing and eyeing the chance to overtake the country’s government once King Faisal dies. Nassar frames Mitch giving him an excuse to hunt down the one man who might foil his plan to fund ISIS and bring about a Middle East superpower to threaten the U.S. He gets the U.S. president to agree to have FBI Agent Joel Wilson work with him to find Mitch.
The action never stops as Mitch tries to keep one step ahead of his pursuers and to expose Nassar for what he truly is, a covert terrorist. To help Mitch, Mills has brought back some old familiar faces, while giving others a backseat. The character Dr. Irene Kennedy is central to any book. Mills realizes no Mitch Rapp book can succeed without her dominant presence. The scenes with her are a pivotal piece of the plot. Even a few pages speak of Irene’s son Tommy.
Mills describes her as “a realist, a philosopher of sorts, someone clear eyed and a student of human nature. She is always in the book, just off the pages. I always think of her as the puppet master. By her own admission she is not involved but watches and waits until it becomes necessary for her to be involved. She is seen as an intellectual who makes decisions based not on her gut, but her head.”
Readers might remember Joel Wilson from “The Last Man,” where he became Mitch’s nemesis. As the deputy director of counterintelligence, he accused Mitch of stealing. After being proved wrong Wilson lost that position, and he is now all too happy to work with Nassar while seeking revenge. Because Mitch needs a team to work with and help him confront the bad guys, he enlists the help of Donatella Rahn, his onetime lover, Grisha Azarov, his adversary now a peer, and Kent Black, a former Ranger sniper.
The logistics leader of the team is Claudia Gould who has both a professional and intimate relationship with Mitch. Because she has a 6-year-old child, Anna, when at home Mitch gets to play dad. These scenes are a welcome relief and venture back to the first books when Vince Flynn would include some of the character’s personal life. What Mills has brilliantly accomplished is the humanizing of Mitch. It is interesting to see the two sides of Rapp, a take charge, non-nonsense patriot, a take no prisoners guy, while acquiescing to Claudia at home.
Mills hopes to continue to have Claudia as a major character. “She is not the goody character like Anna. Plus she could be a part of some operations because of her experience. Mitch needs a companion. She can be involved in both his professional and personal life. Since Mitch is consumed with his work life anybody he becomes involved with must be a part of it. She is brilliant, beautiful, mysterious, pragmatic, adaptable, and not naïve. I want to humanize Mitch. I think he is fighting for normalcy, peace, and security so while at home he does not want to argue or fight. I do think she takes the initiative at home. When they work together he is in charge, but at home she is in charge.”
This novel perfectly combines geo-politics, covert operations, and the backstory of the characters. Readers can close their eyes and remember past books written by Vince Flynn and will not skip a beat with Kyle Mills at the helm.

Dreams, Delusions and Duplicity

By Mark Steyn
September 6, 2017

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Between you and me, I'm in favor of deporting every single Dreamer just because of the stupid name "Dreamer".

Failing that, I'm in favor of deporting Senators-for-Life Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch who sponsored the original "DREAM Act", which failed. That's to say, despite repeated efforts over the course of this century, it has not become law. It's not an act, it's a bill - and a flop bill, which means it's just a pile of moldering papers sitting somewhere in the basement of the Orrin Hatch Archive and Senatorial Library soon to be built in Utah.

Readers will know I strongly dislike the contemporary habit of acronymic legislation: The "DREAM Act" is, more precisely, the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. The Tea Act that so excited His Majesty's subjects in British North America was, in fact, called "An act to allow a drawback of the duties of customs on the exportation of tea or oil to any of his Majesty's colonies or plantations in America; to increase the deposit on bohea tea to be sold at the East India Company's sales; and to empower the Commissioners of the Treasury to grant licenses to the East India Company to export tea duty-free". If only Lord North had thought to call it the TASTY Act (Telling Americans we're Still Taxing You), the whole unpleasantness of the Boston Tea Party and subsequent events might have been avoided.

But the DREAM Act is not merely an example of fatuous aconyms. It also demonstrates the larger point I've made over the years - of how culture trumps politics. The DREAM Act bombed as politics, but the stupid name took hold in the culture - to whit:
DREAMers Like Me Have Flourished Under DACA. Trump Might Take It All Away

So we have gone from "illegal aliens" to "undocumented workers" to "Dreamers". And Republican voters wonder why they never win anything. Sixty years ago, the US Government was happy to call its "comprehensive immigration reform" plans "Operation Wetback", and President Eisenhower was willing to use the term in public. Now we expect jelly-spined finger-in-the-windy legislators to stand firm against "Dreamers". Yeah, right. As for Europe, if Chancellor Merkel and the EU start calling their legions of sturdy young Muslim "refugees" Dreamers, it's game over.

Okay, if it's unreasonable to deport a fine upstanding colossus of the Democrats such as Dick Durbin, could we at least deport Orrin Hatch? A former Republican presidential candidate, he was all over the airwaves yesterday claiming to be tough on border enforcement ...but only once we've legalized all these "Dreamers". Presumably it was some obscure staffer of Durbin's, acting at the behest of the lobbyists, who came up with the beguiling name "DREAM Act". But Hatch might have understood the concession he was making. The sentimentalization of public affairs that accompanies these acronymic abominations is embarrassing to a self-governing republic in and of itself. But it's especially damaging on this particular question - because mass unskilled immigration is the biggest issue facing the western world right now, and that grotesque sentimentalization embodied by hogwash like "Dreamers" makes mature, rational discussion of public policy impossible. Republican voters have minimal expectations of the likes of Orrin Hatch, but they had at least the right to expect he would have grasped something that basic.

"I'm A Dreamer. Aren't We All?" as Janet Gaynor sagely observed in Sunny Side Up. I dream of a villa on Lake Como, but I don't see why the Italian government should be in the least bit interested in my dreams, or in adjusting their laws to accommodate me. As the founder of Davos, Klaus Schwab, has speculated:
Imagine one billion inhabitants [of the developing world], imagine they all move north.
I ran his math:
A billion man march, eh? The population of the developed world - North America, the European Union, Japan, Oz, NZ - is about a billion. Of the remaining six billion people around the planet, is it really so absurd to think that one-sixth of them would "move north" if they could?
As we had cause to reflect on Labor Day, no developed nation in the year 2017 needs mass immigration. To judge from the press coverage, the average DACA beneficiary is a twelve-year-old beatific moppet. In fact, Obama amnestied those aged 30 and under in 2012 - which means some of them are 36 now, which means (given that they're either undocumented or using fraudulent documents) some of these dreaming moppets are in their forties. No matter. Those who aren't telegenic infants are, we're assured, serving in the US Army or helping with Harvey relief. As Tucker Carlson scoffed last night, the proportion of Dreamers serving in the military is tiny. And as a statistic it might be more useful if we could compare it to the number of Dreamers serving in, say, MS-13.

Yet Orrin Hatch assures us that Dreamers have to be "of good character". And DACA supposedlyrequires that a Dreamer...
.. has not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
But this is rubbish. First, because US Immigration checks nothing. (I was told at the time of my own application that the relevant bureaucrat would spend six minutes on it, which is not enough time to read it, never mind check it. And I would imagine that since then the time allocation has only shrunk.) Second, because anyone with even the most casual acquaintance with the dank toilet of the US justice system knows that all over the map criminals are pleading down felonies to misdemeanors every minute of the day (a career criminal who stole from me did it in New Hampshire just last year). Third, because, thanks to the genius jurists of the Supreme Court, criminal aliens are specifically required to be advised of any immigration implications to their case, and so prosecutors more or less routinely tell them to cop a deal to avoid attracting the attentions of ICE.

That's to say, the left hand of government tells Americans not to worry, no felons are eligible - while the right hand of government is frantically pleading down felonies to misdemeanors precisely in order that the felons remain eligible.

And, of course, the minute Dreamers become legal, chain migration will take care of the rest, including their parents, who broke the law in the first place - because, despite the assurances, no one will check that, either.

Nevertheless, in the eyes of the American people, and certainly their media, a Dreamer is a class valedictorian about to sign up for a tour in Afghanistan. So good luck to any Republican legislator minded to argue against that. Thus the power of a single word to frame the issue: "Illegal aliens" are lawbreakers who should face the consequences. But Dreamers are an identity group, like the transgendered or gays or African-Americans: it's as innate as biology or orientation; why blame them?

Perhaps the most depressing aspect of the last 24 hours is the way it has utterly upended the extraordinary events of summer 2015, when Donald Trump did something truly radical for a candidate of either party: He talked about the problem of immigration policy not from the perspective of the Dreamers but of those on the receiving end of their dreams. Back then, several members of the current Trump Administration were outraged by this. In an unprecedented move, Nikki Haley used the official Republican response to the State of the Union to attack not President Obama but candidate Trump and those foolish enough to "follow the siren call of the angriest voices". As I responded:
Unfortunately for her, this sentimentalist twaddle is not where the Republican base is. She's looking at immigration policy from the point of view of the seven billion hard-working soon-to-be-vetted Americans-in-waiting around the planet. But one of the changes this election season is that the party base is considering immigration policy from the point of view of the 300 million Americans who are already here.
That was the extraordinary transformation Donald Trump effected two summers ago. Now we're back to all the usual "sentimentalist twaddle" - "hard-working", "family values", "living in the shadows" and (from delusional Republicans) "natural conservatives".

To be sure, Republicans are still prepared to criticize Obama for his chosen method of immigration "reform" - via executive order, or, as George III would have called it, Royal Proclamation. "We can't burn the Constitution just to do what you want," Sean Hannity told Jorge Ramos on Fox last night.

But why not? We're burning everything else, as one act of illegality leads on to another, and another: The unlawful entry of millions of unskilled immigrants has led to the unlawful corruption of state databases that implicitly accept the use of stolen Social Security numbers, and the unlawful issuance of drivers' licenses by multiple states to non-legal residents, and the unlawful creation of "sanctuary cities" premised on the nullification of US immigration law, and now even the proposed repeal by certain municipalities of the defining privilege of citizenship in free societies - by the introduction of voting rights for non-citizens. Why should the separation of powers be quaintly adhered to when nothing else is?

In his Royal Proclamation, President Obama, as the Coyote-in-Chief, was doing no more than what millions of Undocumented-Americans have done: Who says I can't do it? I've just done it. What you gonna do about it? From Undocumented Americans to Undocumented Legislating is but a small step. Shortly after DACA, my daughter and I were accused by an intemperate CBP agent of an arcane infraction of our own immigration status and, in fact, threatened with a call to ICE to deport my little girl. Evidently she's no Dreamer, notwithstanding that I brought her to this country through no fault of her own. I cocked a cool eyebrow worthy of Roger Moore: "Oh, yes?" I said. "So you're saying that this is a rare sub-clause of US immigration law still in effect?"

He disliked the cut of my jib, and even more so when I pointed out the President had no more right to engage in one-man legislating than I did. But our interaction was beginning to attract attention, so he waved me through. Yet this is very much where North American and European life is headed: those who flout the law with contempt are indulged; those deferential to the bureaucracy will be chastised ever more. I mean, is there anything more absurd than a constitutional argument over whether it's the President or the legislature who should surrender to mass organized law-breaking by illegal aliens?

The left is quite explicit: Borders are fascist and racist, and thus the organizing principle of the world for the last four centuries - the nation state - is an illegitimate concept. The globalist establishment is not that upfront about it: they're more of the view, publicly, that the nation state is an obsolescent and increasingly irrelevant concept. This is, in fact, "burning the Constitution", and even the very concept of constitutions, and of the Peace of Westphalia - for the two most fundamental aspects of any state are borders and citizenship. 
If there are no borders, there are no citizens, only competing tribes of identity politics - like Dreamers. And, if , as his name surely suggests, a Dreamer trumps a citizen, and if anyone on the planet is a potential American, then American citizenship is objectively worthless.

Words matter. Which is why seeing too many of the conservative commentariat meekly swallow the open-borders crowd's framing of the issue is so dispiriting. In this case, the Dream is a nightmare - of the end of nations, and of ordered societies.

~If you're a member of The Mark Steyn Club, feel free to comment away - especially if you're a Dreamer. If you're not a member but you'd like to be, you can sign up for a full year, or, lest you suspect a dubious scam by a fly-by-night shyster, merely a quarter. And don't forget our new gift membership for a friend or loved one. For more on The Mark Steyn Club, please see here.

Mark will be back with another episode of his current nightly audio adventure, The Secret Agent, later today, Wednesday, and he'll be live on TV with the aforementioned Tucker Carlson tonight at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific.