Saturday, January 19, 2019

Meet the Tommy Tomlinson you don’t know – the one his loved ones didn’t know, either

By Dannye Romine Powell
January 9, 2019

Tommy Tomlinson (John D. Simmons/Charlotte Observer)

You think you know somebody.
Then that somebody writes a memoir about the most intimate details of his life.
You realize you didn’t know him. Not really.
Legions of Observer readers believe they know Tommy Tomlinson.
After all, he wrote a prize-winning column for 15 years (1997-2012). He wrote about falling in love with his wife. He wrote about his mom and his sister and growing up in Brunswick, Ga. All sorts of things that revealed the big heart of the man behind the photo.
But you won’t fully know him until you read his debut book, “The Elephant in the Room: One Fat Man’s Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America.” (Simon & Schuster, $27.)
Here, in prose honest enough to raise blisters on your own skin, Tommy, who now hosts WFAE’s podcast “Southbound,” tells what it was like to grow up fat, and how frustrating it is trying to lose weight.
As he puts it, telling a fat person to lose weight by exercising and eating less is like telling a boxer: Don’t get hit.
“On top of that,” he writes, “some of us fight holes in our souls that a boxcar of donuts couldn’t fill.”
You’ll love Tomlinson’s prose. After all, he’s been a Pulitzer finalist in commentary (in 2005), and his work has made two appearances in “Best American Sports Writing.” He spent a year at Harvard as a Nieman Fellow.
No matter his accomplishments, Tommy, who’s 55, says he’s always “craving an emotional high, the kind that comes from making love, or being in the crowd for great live music, or watching the sun come up over the ocean.”
So this isn’t a diet book. Not exactly. It’s a book about growing up, about struggle, about frustration, and, yes, about coming to terms with yourself, your responsibilities, your life.
“The Elephant in the Room” is a knockout.
Q. New Year’s Eve, 2014: 460 pounds. The hardest words, you say, you ever had to write. Nobody knew that number. Not your wife, Alix Felsing, not your doctor. What did it take to put that number out there?
A. I told myself that if I was going to tell this story, I had to tell it right — I couldn’t hedge. In some ways, that number was the hardest part. It was something nobody knew about me, but I’m sure a lot of people wondered. So I treated it like a big old Band-Aid. I grabbed the edge and took a breath and yanked it off right there at the beginning.
Q. You give many reasons why you fell again and again into the sweet clutches of Little Debbie and Wendy. Loneliness. Shame. That USUCK-FM station that played in your head. Yet you grew up with loving parents in a peaceful home. What first caused the bad feelings that you learned to soothe with food?
A. I don’t know. I was always fat but I’m not sure when I first realized what that meant for me out in the world. The first really strong memory I have of when that made a difference was those relay races I write about in the book. We lined up and raced one another in elementary school, and in that moment it was obvious how fat and slow I was, and how much the other kids mocked me for it.
Click on the link below to read the rest of the article:

‘Elephant In The Room’: Inside Tommy Tomlinson’s Obesity Memoir

Longtime ‘Charlotte Observer’ columnist writes about his struggle with weight — but this isn’t your typical sunny-side-up read
January 16, 2019

Image result for tommy tomlinson

A few years ago, I was in Charlotte, North Carolina and a mutual friend suggested I look up Tommy Tomlinson, a longtime Charlotte Observer columnist who was transitioning from the paper to becoming one of America’s best longform sportswriters. Tomlinson proposed lunch at a Greek restaurant not far from my hotel.
Not knowing the city, I arrived about 15 minutes early. The fiftyish Tomlinson was already there, sitting squarely in the middle of a booth. We had a nice lunch, but I felt that Tomlinson, a Falstaffian-sized man with twinkling eyes was going to leave many great stories untold. Even getting out of the booth was an effort, with Tommy breathing heavily after a difficult extraction. It was the middle of the day, but he already looked exhausted.
I left wondering why he had arrived so early. I learned the answer just a few pages into The Elephant In The Room, Tomlinson’s heartbreaking and self-lacerating look at his life as a man who hates himself for tipping the scales at 460 pounds. Turns out that one of the trials of being a man of his size is he has to scout restaurants for seats that will support him. The Elephant In The Room begins with Tomlinson on a rare trip to Manhattan. Between fearing he will crush an old woman on the subway to his dread of a chair collapsing when he meets someone at a diner, he is in a near panic. He must advance the restaurant like a campaign aide working a political campaign.
“I scan the space like a gangster, looking for danger spots,” he writes. “The booths are too small — I can’t squeeze in. The bar stools are bolted to the floor — they’re too close to the bar and my ass would hang off the back. I check the tables, gauging the chairs. Flimsy chairs creak and quake beneath me. These look solid. I spot a table in the corner with just enough room. I sit down slowly — the chair seems OK, yep, it’ll hold me up. For the first time in an hour, I take an untroubled breath.”
This is just another day in the life of an obese man in America, a country where instead of lampooning ex-New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for his microscopic approval ratings we go straight to the fat jokes — even though, as Tomlinson cites, 79 million Americans can now be considered clinically obese.
Tomlinson came to his weight through a combination of genetics and circumstance. His parents came from sharecropping roots where food was consumed greedily when possible, as if storing away for another depression. As times improved, plentiful food became the tangible sign of progress and, as Tomlinson writes, “Everybody in my family was an artist when it came to Southern food.” His family medicated and celebrated in good times and bad with fried chicken and his sister’s patented Christmas peanut-butter log. The only vegetables on the menu were swaddled in butter or cream.
On his own, Tomlinson confesses to spectacularly bad eating with decades of Wendy’s double cheeseburgers replacing Proust’s madelines as memory signposts. As a frequent guilt-ridden partaker in Taco Bell, I was overjoyed when Tomlinson tartly pointed out the reason people eat fast food is not only for cheapness, but because it’s a diabolical combination of processed sugar, salt and fat that launches pleasure chemicals in our brain. Once you’re hooked, it’s as hard to kick as Ray Liotta’s pre-Chantix cigarette addiction
Tomlinson began to reassess his life in 2014 after the death of his 63-year-old sister Brenda, who died because of MSRA infection after years of declining health tied to her body weight. He hates himself for all the things he has not done, from swimming to hiking to skateboarding. (Well, he didn’t miss much with skateboarding). He knows he’s let his wife down in the bedroom by simply not having agility or energy. He writes of never having great dreams, reasoning if he can’t manage this one bit of self-care there is no way he is going to accomplish anything on the big stage.
Still, he tries to understand why a man who wrote columns on deadline for a living and built a stellar career in a dying industry can’t say no to bad food. (One of the ways you know this isn’t your sunny-side-up inspirational memoir is each chapter includes Tomlinson’s weight through 2015 and, for most of the time, he loses next to nothing). He would do ok for a few days, but then he’d be back at the drive-through where the cashier could finish his order just from recognizing his voice.
What could have been a wallow in memoir self-pity is raised to art by Tomlinson’s wit and prose. Yes, he examines the external causes for his weight — family, America’s tyranny of choices and temptations, not to mention the solace it gives him when fat-induced loneliness strikes. But he is hardest on himself, admitting he never met a couch he didn’t like and an exercise he couldn’t despise.
“Every body perseveres in its state of rest . . . unless it is compelled to change,” he writes. “Newton’s first law is also known as the law of inertia. It is the one law I have followed with devotion….The law is meant to describe the physical world. But inertia works just as hard on my mind. My willpower has been an object at rest longer than anything else. It is my weakest muscle.”
After yet another backslide, Tomlinson has a sleepless night and a dialogue with himself. Does he have a death wish? Does he want to check out before his beloved wife so he doesn’t have to relive the agonized grieving he felt after losing his sister? Maybe. But in the end, he settles on a less sympathetic take that plagues men of a certain age whether it is eating, dating women half their age, or being the oldest dude at the kegger: He doesn’t want to become an adult writing “Grown-ups watch what they eat. Grown-ups exercise… Grown-ups are honest with other people and with themselves. The boy inside me says: Fuck that.
Armed with that simple but oft-ignored revelation, Tomlinson moves forward, but it is trench warfare measured in inches, a highlight is being able to fit into a 4XL shirt at Walmart. There’s none of the rhetoric of ridiculous diet ads where a famous man holds out his empty pants implying if you drink this powdered drink you will lose a foot off your waistline.
The greatest asset of The Elephant In The Room is that Tomlinson frames his struggle in a way that makes it universal, whether your downfall is food, an exciting but disastrous life partner, or some other unconquerable temptation. By the end, Tomlinson doesn’t so much defeat his obesity, as battle it to a well-understood draw. Days are won days are lost. For most of us, that’s the best-case scenario.

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Opiate Epidemic Is Coming To A Suburb Near You

January 18, 2019

Image result for dopesick book

One recent summer morning, I awoke to discover that the house across from ours had been surrounded by a SWAT team in the middle of the night. That’s unusual stuff here in my sleepy southern neighborhood of two-car garages and young couples pushing baby strollers.
The guy who lived there had escaped our notice—by design, I’m sure. Right under our noses, hidden in plain sight, he managed to operate a thriving mail order business selling fentanyl and Xanax. The police hauled him, and the $700,000 in cash he kept on hand, away at 4 a.m.
The opioid epidemic is carefully reaching its tentacles into the very places we search out to protect our children—middle- and upper-class suburbs with good schools. America is losing almost as many young adults each year to opioid overdoses as the total number of deaths from the entire Vietnam War. One doctor wryly noted that if this were a communicable disease with red blotches we’d be flying in helicopters.
One reason this scourge has flown under the radar so long is that for the past 20 years its victims were mostly rural white guys hit hard by the loss of coal-mining and manufacturing jobs. They hail from places that never make the news—places like St. Charles, Virginia and Bristol, Tennessee. In years to come, as the epidemic makes its way into suburbs like my own, these backwoods hamlets may be regarded as the first signs of a crisis in the making, much like San Francisco and New York were the sentinels of an emerging HIV outbreak.

Crying for Help

In her new groundbreaking book, Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America, Beth Macy chronicles the in-depth story of lives lost and communities impacted in a pills-to-needles progression that begins with a pain-killer called OxyContin. The evidence is damning. What used to be a rural problem few people recognized has become a crisis that is unfolding in well-heeled suburban locations previously considered more immune. Perhaps now the cry for help will be heard.
It’s not like opioid addiction is an entirely new phenomenon in the annals of human history, though, as the author explains. After the Civil War, more than 100,000 impoverished, defeated veterans took “to eating and drinking opium to drown their sorrows.” From eating opium we progressed to taking morphine, far more potent, and then to heroin, which was twice as powerful as morphine.
The train really took off in 1996 when the Food and Drug Administration approved the brainchild of the three brothers from Stamford, Connecticut who created Purdue Pharma. The Sackler brothers, a trio of research psychiatrists, saw the opportunity to market the latest and most powerful form of pain-killing heroin beyond hospice and end-of-life care. Their new pill was called OxyContin. All of a sudden, a prescription for a 14- to 30-day supply of these green or yellow pain-killers could be had, easily, for maladies as common as bronchitis or back pain.
Through data-mining research, Purdue Pharma sent out an army of salesmen into rural communities hardest hit by the downturn in the economy, rewarding those salesmen with huge bonuses and luxury vacations. In rural Virginia, they managed to transform average family doctors into the area’s largest group of OxyContin prescribers.
Even the American Academy of Pain Medicine and the American Pain Society climbed on board, pushing for the expanded use of opioids for chronic pain while they pocketed millions from the companies who made the pills. Small wonder that Americans, though 4 percent of the world’s population, now consume 30 percent of its opioids.

Slippery Slopes

The myth fueling the increase in pain-killer prescriptions was best summarized by Purdue Pharma’s David Haddox as he touted OxyContin for all kinds of chronic pain, claiming “it was safe and reliable, with addiction rates of less than 1 percent.” (Subsequent, unbiased studies put the addiction rate as high as 57 percent). Pain became the “fifth vital sign,” and treating it the compassionate, moral thing to do.
The dominating idea was if you took pain-killers like OxyContin for actual pain, you were immune to addiction worries. Too late,we discovered how naïve we were. As Dr. John Burton, the head of the largest medical provider in western Virginia, said, “I can remember telling my residents, ‘A patient can’t get hooked on a 14-day supply of opioid pills.’ And I was absolutely wrong.” Fully three-quarters of those who end up dead from opioids began this way: with that first pill of OxyContin.
The trek from rural America’s opioid use to teenagers in tony suburbs like John’s Creek, Atlanta or McLean, Virginia is a short one. Those in the know claim that suburbs are where you find the best heroin now. These are the kids with money to spend. If a person is willing to drive to Baltimore or Newark he can get a stash of 50 grams of heroin for $4,000 and earn $60,000 selling to desperate users back home. Heroin is so wildly lucrative that the sheer profitability makes the epidemic much harder to contain.
Most young suburban opioid users are introduced to pills that are traded and passed around like hors d’oeuvres at “pharma parties.” Halfway into Macy’s book, she pleads with the reader to get up, this moment, go to the medicine cabinet, and throw away any old prescription pills left over from surgery. Old stashes of left-over opioids are a common introductory source for teenagers.
The pathway from OxyContin pill use to injecting powdered heroin or crushed up pills is slicker than you can imagine. It’s not so much the search for a new high that keeps users returning for more. Rather, it’s the fear of “dopesickness.” Think of your worst flu days of fever, chills, and diarrhea and add a bucket of anxiety, multiply by two, and you have a picture of being “dopesick.” Most addicts claim fear of this misery is what set their addiction on fire. Sooner than anyone would think, the kid who was just popping a few pills a few months ago finds himself injecting heroin directly into a vein.
Recovery for users, suburban and otherwise, is a long battle, fraught with multiple relapses. Many addiction specialists claim it takes roughly five years of ongoing treatment, and many former users remain on medication-replacement-therapy (MAT) much longer.
The Verdict
The Sackler brothers who began this debacle did meet their day in court. They figured that backwoods lawyers in southwest Virginia would be no match for the big-city firm they chose, headed by good-guy Rudy Giuliani. They figured wrong.
Those hillbilly lawyers brought in 2,000 cardboard boxes of documents and depositions to a Roanoke, Virginia courthouse. In 2007, Purdue Pharma coughed up the eleventh-largest fine paid by a pharmaceutical firm in the Justice Department’s history. Company executives were required to come to Abingdon, Virginia and sit through story after story told by parents who lost their child to a drug overdose.
Yet not until 2016 did the Centers for Disease Control announce voluntary prescribing guidelines, strongly suggesting doctors severely limit the use of opioids for chronic pain. That took ten years of pleading. The demand for Oxycontin continues. Today the Sackler brothers remain in the top 20 of America’s richest families—having slid a bit, though, from 16th to 19th place.
Perhaps the best advice comes from one public health professor on the edge of the coalfields of Virginia, a place where folks say things straight. He says, quite simply, “Don’t mess with this sh-t, not even a little bit.”
Paula Rinehart, LCSW, is a therapist, an elder in a Presbyterian church, and the author of “Sex and the Soul of Woman” (Zondervan Publishing).

Take This SOTU and Shove It

January 16, 2019

Image result for trump pelosi state of the union

In the annals of American political showboating, it’s tough to top the annual circus called the State of the Union message. Mandated by the Constitution—and at first delivered to Congress in written form—it has metastasized since the Wilson Administration into a full-blown political rally, celebrating not the party in power, but the president of the United States personally. Once a year, at the invitation of the Speaker of the House, he commands the attention not only of the Congress, but also members of the Supreme Court. It’s the nearest thing we have to a monarchical moment: all pomp and damn little circumstance, offering a president the chance to reel off, at stupefying length, a laundry list of policy prescriptions that have almost no chance ever of being realized. In short, the hot air that keeps the Capitol dome inflated doesn’t get much hotter than this.

This year, however, may be different. In their ongoing tug-of-war over the partial government shutdown, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has decided to stick her thumb in the eye of President Donald Trump and, citing security concerns, has asked him to delay his scheduled January 29 State of the Union address until the government re-opens or, alternatively, send it up the Hill in writing, as every president from George Washington to William Howard Taft did.
What a good idea.
The key to understanding what the SOTU was meant to address in the first place can be found in its Article II constitutional wording, which states that the president “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” Accordingly, early presidents concentrated on the nuts-and-bolts of government, including budget requests, the general economy, and other mundane matters.
It wasn’t until Wilson, who prior to the election of Barack Obama was the most “progressively” radical president we’d ever had, that the annual message started morphing into the thing we know today—a full-throated advertisement for the president’s foreign and domestic policies, symbolizing the shift of power from the legislative branch to the executive.
Now, thanks to Pelosi, Trump has an opportunity to turn it into something else altogether: an actual report on the “State of the Union.” As Pelosi’s sidekick, U.S. Representative Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), cracked: “the state of the union is off.” Boy, is it ever.
As Pelosi suggested, Trump can easily send a written report to the Congress. He should do just that. Even better, he can then take his disinvitation and move the venue elsewhere. He could then deliver his speech from the Oval Office—although he just gave a short talk from behind the Resolute Desk. Or, he could take it to Trump Country, and find a 50,000-seat stadium somewhere in Indiana or Texas and rock the house; if the SOTU is little more than a campaign speech in disguise, might as well go whole hog.
Or, more audaciously, he could take it into the heart of Progville—San Francisco, say, or Chicago, or his hometown of New York City—and let his political opponents see just how many folks even in their own constituencies agree with him. As the victorious Roman consuls and commanders knew, there is much to be said for triumphalism, just as long as there is always the one slave, riding in the quadriga behind the victorious Caesar, holding the laurel wreath above his head while whispering in his ear: “Memento homo”—remember, you are only a man.
And what should he say? That the State of the Union is notgood, and is not emotionally strong. That after nearly 75 years of cultural-Marxist battering at the doors of all the major American institutions, half the country thinks its own nation is fundamentally illegitimate; that it was founded in venality and exploitative racism and sexism, for the purpose of establishing “white privilege” in North America—and no amount of evidence to the contrary will persuade them otherwise. That as faith has foundered, a new, secular religion has arisen, whose first burnt offerings were wafted aloft by the Wilson Administration, a government of experts celebrating a rule by the elites, a faith in which any gender could grow up to be president, as long as that gender went to Yale or Harvard.
More: that the other half of country has finally had its manners and its good will tested long enough; that it liked the way we used to be, and saw nothing either evil or exploitative about our country. That it resents the influx of Marxist professors—vipers, whom it welcomed as refugees—who via their sacred tenet of Critical Theory encouraged their naïve charges to pull down the pillars of American society. All the social troubles we have witnessed since, from the Weather Underground to the current racial and sexual unrest, derives from them. But wrapped in their false flag of “real patriotism,” they demand that the impossibly perfect always be the enemy of the good, and ascribe only villainy to their opponents.
He should say that the bloated federal bureaucracy is far too large and expensive, and that he will begin reductions in force as soon as practicable. He should say that trillion-dollar deficits—at a time of record tax revenues—prove not that taxes are too low but that government is too big, and that henceforth all extra-constitutional functions will be wound down, including the regulatory agencies created by Congress, until we at least reach some stasis point.
He should assert the equality of all three branches of government when it comes to interpreting and defending the Constitution, inform the lesser federal judges that they have no power over the executive acting either in his constitutional administrative capacity or as commander-in-chief, and tell them that henceforth he will ignore restraining orders and injunctions that are, in his opinion, unconstitutional, until such time as they are adjudicated by the Article III-established Supreme Court (the only federal court not established by Congress, as it happens).
Most important, he should say that the state of our union in a time of Cold Civil War is weak, but could once again be strong if we accept that we are all Americans, benefiting from the same system of government and living in the same blessed land, and that the sooner we remember that, the better. That we don’t have to be prisoners of imported central-European Marxism. That the genius of the American Founding was precisely that it was not ideological, systemic, academic, or programmatic, but based simply on the notion of individual freedom and Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”—a society built from the bottom up, not the top down.
In that way, the president can extend an olive branch to his enemies, “with malice toward none, with charity for all,” as Lincoln put it in his Second Inaugural, and try to turn the corner on the bitterness of the 2016 election. The Trump election signaled a desire for a sea-change and, now that things have come to this pass, it’s time to sink the showboat on the Potomac and move on.

Thursday, January 17, 2019


By Ann Coulter
January 16, 2019

Image result for gillette men toxic
Gillette's "We Believe" ad focuses on "Toxic Masculinity"

By finally returning to the issue that won him the election, President Trump once again has a winning hand. That's why we're hearing so much about "white supremacy" this week. 

Liberals lie all the time, but when they know they're vulnerable they lie even more than all the time. They're vulnerable on immigration. Even heroic, nonstop lying doesn't help -- as CNN has discovered. 

So, naturally, the media have turned to their larger project of relentlessly trying to discredit conservatives as "white supremacists." 

Unfortunately for them, apart from a few crackpots -- whom I assume exist in a country of 320 million people -- there are no "white supremacists." There were white supremacists 50 years ago, and they were all Democrats. (See my book Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama.) 

Today, "white supremacy" is nothing but a comfortable fantasy the left developed to explain its sick preoccupation with white people.

Talk about a manufactured crisis! The same people who love to snicker about Fox News viewers worrying about Sharia law sweeping the country are convinced that mythical "white supremacists" are hiding under every bed. 

The whole concept is bogus. In my life, I've encountered a number of white people -- some of them are my best friends. I've never heard any of them suggest that whites should rule over other races. None of them has argued that a substandard white person should get a job over a more competent person just because he's white -- you know, what every other group openly advocates for itself. 

There is a whole swath of journalists who have decided that instead of investigating relevant news, they will spend their time doing oppo-research on prominent conservatives, hoping against hope to call them "racists." 

If the facts don't fit, they'll make them up. The New York Times' Maureen Dowd once famously imagined a Republican congressman calling Obama "boy." 

This week, Newsweek's Nina Burleigh ("I'd be happy to give (Bill Clinton) a b---job just to thank him for keeping abortion legal") casually asked to interview me about "white identity politics." 

I have nothing to do with "white identity politics." I don't know anyone who knows anyone who even knows what that means. (Nor do I know anyone who's seen a copy of Newsweek in at least a decade.) 

When will we get around to talking about the media's actual hatred of whites? 

Last year, The New York Times hired Sarah Jeong, a Korean journalist who has posted such venomous anti-white tweets as: 

"White men are bullshit." 

"(F)uck white women lol." 

"White people have stopped breeding. (Y)ou'll all go extinct soon. (T)hat was my plan all along." 

"Dumbass fucking white people marking up the internet with their opinions like dogs pissing on fire hydrants." 


"Are white people genetically predisposed to burn faster in the sun, thus logically being only fit to live underground like groveling goblins?" 

"(O)h man it's kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men." 

There's no question but that such racist attacks would never be tolerated toward any other group. Jeong never apologized and happily took her seat on the Times' editorial board. 

Our cultural institutions regard the statement "It's okay to be white" as hate speech. Colleges instigate investigations whenever signs with that phrase appear on campus. Second-graders in this country are being indoctrinated into "white privilege" ideology. 

Eventually people get tired of the left's fixation on "white people" -– the gratuitous dumping on Western civilization, the incessant sneering about "old white men," and the nonsense about "white privilege," as if every white person knows every other white person and is greased into jobs and promotions. 

But if you ever respond to the hate by noting that the contributions from the parts of the world loathed by The New York Times dwarf the contributions of other cultures, they threaten you. 

Any references to white male accomplishments are merely defensive. 

Consider the current Gillette ad, "We Believe: The Best Men Can Be" (after the board of directors rejected the more accurate title, "ANNOUNCEMENT TO SHAREHOLDERS: WE'RE FOLDING THE COMPANY"). The ad shows only white men harassing women -- and being corrected by minority men. 

As long as they brought it up, every culture in the universe is galaxies more misogynistic than Western European culture. The ad should have been titled, Hey, white America, you've got to stop doing the things that everyone BUT you does. 

When other groups talk about themselves, they instantly go to: We rock, we're awesome! Only the descendants of white Western Europeans are not allowed to be proud of their culture. 

There is still casual racism, and that should be quickly and severely condemned. Iowa Rep. Steve King, for example, was fanatically obsessed with vindicating a white defendant accused of, first, murdering a half-Pakistani woman, and, second, falsely accusing a Congolese man of the murder. 

Except King never did that. Newsweek's Burleigh did, writing an entire book in defense of alabaster-white Amanda Knox, after she was convicted of the brutal murder of her half-Pakistani roommate -- later overturned -- and also convicted of falsely accusing an innocent Congolese man of the crime, for which she served four years. 

Liberals could never, in a million years, survive the standards of "racism" applied to conservatives. 

Even famed defense attorney Alan Dershowitz said that the only reason journalists defended "Foxy Knoxy" was that "she's pretty and she doesn't look like she did it and Americans care about what people look like. She's the all-American young woman and we don't care about the evidence." 

If you want to know about white supremacy, Nina, interview yourself. After that, maybe you can learn your maid's name. 

I'm getting back to the subject you desperately don't want to discuss: How uncontrolled low-skilled immigration is slaughtering our working class -- white, black and brown. 

Vaping Is Good, Vaping Works, So Government Is Trying To Kill It

By Derek Hunter
January 17, 2019

Image result for vaping

I used to be a smoker. It was stupid, I know, but I did it for a very long time. I'm not alone, not unique, plenty of people made that same choice I did to take up the nasty habit when we were young and convinced we were invincible. Like tens of millions of Americans, I managed to quit and haven’t looked back. I would still be smoking today if not for the miracle (and it is indeed a miracle) of the e-cigarette. I vaped like a madman...and it was my bridge to a much healthier and happier lifestyle.

To paraphrase one of the greatest modern cinematic scenes: Vaping is good. Vaping works.

You’d think the scolds who lecture everyone about the dangers of smoking would be ecstatic about the dramatic drop in smoking rates in the United States thanks to this technology, but you’d be wrong.  The government always wants more control over people, and more of our money, so anything new, popular and effective always ends up in its regulatory crosshairs. A few decades ago, government geniuses nearly shut down a nascent and thriving company called Microsoft, for crying out loud.

There aren’t many people who, when they get exactly what they wanted for Christmas, complain about what they got for Christmas. That's what our busybody government regulators (often quietly or not-so-quietly fueled by competitors or sectors at risk from the societal benefits brought by the innovators) are like. The sad record shows that these people are more easily manipulated than babies, basically.

For decades, the nanny state has been lecturing smokers about quitting. They went after private property rights of restaurant and bar owners, mandating that they eliminate the rights of adults to engage in a perfectly legal (even subsidized, which huge amounts of our tax dollars going to tobacco farmers) activity in their establishments. As if people went to bars for the health benefits.

After having chased smokers out onto the streets, they’ve started chasing them out of anywhere in public, and even in their own homes in some cases. What they’ve never done is eliminate subsidies to tobacco farmers or simply declared cigarettes to be illegal. They won’t do that, there’s too much money in it for them.

Cigarettes are more and more heavily taxed, which makes them a large and important revenue stream for all levels of government. Banning them means that money dries up. So, while talking about the evils of smoking, they’re benefiting from it, at this point likely more than the behemoth companies that make them.

That’s why, even though these big government advocates are getting their way as smoking rates drop to their lowest levels in history, they have been complaining about what may be the most effective stop-smoking aid to come along ever. And, unlike the war on combustible tobacco products which has been nearly the exclusive purview of liberals, supposed free marketeers in and out of the Trump administration have joined the war on innovation by going after e-cigs.

I quit smoking on my wedding day in 2015. That was it, I was done. But I didn’t go cold turkey. Anyone who’s ever smoked knows how hard that is. So, as I mentioned earlier, I started vaping.

Vaping, for anyone living under a rock for the last couple of years, is a battery-powered device that allows people to inhale vapor mist with nicotine in it (though you can get it without nicotine, or even step down the levels of it incrementally) and doesn’t contain all the tar and other harmful chemicals traditional cigarettes have in them. It’s “healthy smoking,” if you will. It doesn’t smell, which is something you (not to mention those around you) become acutely aware of once you quit, and the exhale is water vapor.

It’s a great tool for anyone looking to quit because, as former smokers know, what to do with your hands while you engage in the activities you did when you were a smoker is why a lot of people go back to the cancer sticks.

Rather than embrace this incredibly helpful stop-smoking option, the same crowd who were hounding people to quit are, armed with some puzzling new allies, starting to treat vaping the exact same way they treated smoking. They’re banning it in places, trying to restrict sales (thereby restricting access), taxing it like crazy, condemning it as just as evil, etc. People who love government don’t actually like it when people quit smoking because it means less money from cigarette taxes. That’s why they’ve never considered making it illegal, they want their taste; they want to wet their beaks.

They won’t take success lying down. And since it’s 2019, and everything is about race to the political left, they’re even whining about who is quitting smoking now.

The LA Times lamented, “Cigarette smoking is at an all-time low in the United States, but the benefits of this public health achievement are not being shared equally by all Americans.” They’re upset at the racial and socioeconomic make-up of those quitting. They write, “people who live in neighborhoods with the highest smoking rates are more likely to be poor, less likely to be white, and more likely to have chronic heart or lung diseases.”

People are quitting, but the wrong people are quitting, laments the left and their media pets. This is the same left that wants to further restrict access to the e-cigarettes that are helping many Americans kick the habit. This is nuts.

Smoking is down across the board, which is something that should be celebrated. They just can’t bring themselves to. They should be embracing anything that helps people break the habit, but they’re demonizing one of the newest and most effective tools to come along in generations, and are actively looking to prevent its use. Like Microsoft a few decades ago, the e-cigarette industry is closer than it probably realizes to being annihilated by the government and the left. Like Microsoft smartly did a few decades ago, they'd better fight like there's no tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Mel Stottlemyre was a great pitcher and coach, and a firm believer in doing the right thing
January 14, 2019

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Mel Stottlemyre (AP)

When I was working at the Yakima Herald-Republic in the early 1980s, I did a story on Harlond Clift, a former major-league star who in his old age was living a lonely life of near-poverty in a trailer home in Yakima.

It wasn’t until years later I found out that Mel Stottlemyre, another former major-league great abiding in Yakima, had been moved to action by that article. He took it upon himself to visit Clift (with his sons in tow) and help him out, starting a relationship that he maintained for years.

When I was covering Mel’s son, Todd, with the Oakland A’s in 1995, he told me that story. He said his dad simply felt an obligation to aid a fellow major-leaguer, a fellow product of the Yakima Valley – a fellow human being who had hit hard times.

The anecdote encompasses Mel Stottlemyre, who died Sunday after a long battle with cancer – compassionate, loyal, proud of his Washington state roots, and a firm believer in doing the right thing, for its own sake.

He passed on those values to his three sons – Mel Jr., Todd and Jason – all of whom were youth baseball standouts in Yakima when I worked there. Mel Jr. and Todd would go on to pitch in the major leagues. Jason died of leukemia at age 11, a scar that everyone in the family carried with them forever after.

The Stottlemyres were royalty in Yakima. Mel came out of the tiny Yakima Valley town of Mabton, population 900, where he first strode onto a mound, and where Mel met his beloved Jean, to whom he was married 55 years.

Then he became a star with the New York Yankees, under the brightest lights in baseball. Stottlemyre palled around with Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and the rest. He made three starts against Bob Gibson as a rookie in the 1964 World Series – and beat him in one of those games.

But most of Stottlemyre’s career, which spanned from 1964-74, was spent in a dreary stretch of Yankees history, between the Bronx Bombers dynasty of the 1950s and ’60s and the Reggie Jackson-led revival in the mid-1970s. He never made it back to the postseason, though he was often the best thing the Yankees had going for them in those days. Stottlemyre won 20 games three times, pitched 40 shutouts (the same number as Sandy Koufax) and made five All-Star teams.

In 1975, Yankees general manager Gabe Paul led Stottlemyre to believe he’d have all the time he needed to come back from a rotator-cuff injury. Instead, the Yankees released him in spring training. Stottlemyre never pitched in the majors again.

For 20 years, Mel held a deep grudge against the Yankees. When I did stories on him in Yakima – which was a common occurrence – you could barely get him to spit out the word “Yankees.” He boycotted their old-timers games, which killed him, and cut off communication with then-owner George Steinbrenner. His moral compass didn’t have any place for that kind of deceit.

“I was lied to by Gabe Paul,” Stottlemyre told me in a 2002 interview for this newspaper. “I had a real chip on my shoulder when it came to the Yankees, and it stayed with me for a long period of time. I got through that.”

In the interim, Stottlemyre ran a sporting-goods store in Yakima. He instructed a generation of youngsters at Stottlemyre baseball camps in Yakima and Ellensburg. He spent a stint as a roving instructor with the fledgling Mariners, and even worked as a television color man for Dave Niehaus for a few games in their inaugural season of 1977. Mel tinkered with his younger brother (by 18 years) Jeff, a pitcher in the Mariners organization.

He also nurtured the burgeoning careers of his sons, but always unobtrusively. Stottlemyre was never one of those pushy dads who flaunted his stature in baseball, though he easily could have. In January 1985, when Mel Jr. and Todd became the first brothers picked in the first round of the now-defunct secondary draft by Houston and St. Louis, respectively, I stopped at Stottlemyre’s Athletic Supply to pick up Cardinals and Astros caps for them to wear in the newspaper photo.

In 1983, the Mets coaxed Stottlemyre back to a full-time baseball gig as their pitching coach under Davey Johnson. It was the perfect time to join the Mets, with the likes of Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, David Cone and Sid Fernandez on their way up. Mel earned a World Series ring in 1986.

Four years earlier, another Yakima resident had won a World Series title as pitching coach – Hub Kittle of the 1982 Cardinals. Mel and Hub had a warm relationship, delighted that this quiet town was a hub of such renowned pitching knowledge.

In 1996, Joe Torre took over as manager of the Yankees after Buck Showalter’s loss to the Mariners in the 1995 playoffs sealed his fate with Steinbrenner. Torre wanted Stottlemyre as his pitching coach.

Mel still wanted nothing to do with the Yankees. Steinbrenner placed a phone call to Stottlemyre to make amends for past indiscretions by himself and the organization. That’s what Stottlemyre had been waiting to hear. He took the job.

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(Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Stottlemyre’s 10-year stint under Torre with the Yankees was the great joy of his baseball life. They won four World Series titles. He worked with a glittering array of pitchers who he loved, from Andy Pettitte to Mariano Rivera – and they loved him back. The coaching trio of Torre, Don Zimmer and Stottlemyre became inseparable lifelong friends.

“I’ve never been in a better surrounding,” he told me in that 2002 interview. “Gosh, I don’t know how things could have gone any better than the way it has here. The people I’ve had to work with, the material we’ve had here, arm-wise. People like, Joe, Zim, Willie (Randolph), the other coaches. I’ve gotten along great with Brian Cashman, the general manager. George has treated me fantastic. It’s going to be a difficult situation to leave.”

Stottlemyre was going to leave because his 2000 bout with bone-marrow cancer, which resulted in stem-cell surgery and chemotherapy as part of a year-long ordeal, had left him with a desire to slow down, spend more time with family. But at the end of the 2002 season, Stottlemyre felt so good that he rescinded his retirement and stayed on with Torre for three more years.

Finally, in 2005, Stottlemyre got tired of Steinbrenner’s meddling and stepped down, this time following through. Mel went back to Issaquah, where he and Jean had settled. In 2008, Mariners manager John McLaren lured him out of retirement once more to be his pitching coach in Seattle, at age 65, but that lasted just one season before the entire staff was let go.

A few years later, the cancer that had long been in remission came back with a vengeance. Stottlemyre’s courage and strength in fighting it off for these past eight years has been truly heroic. There was more than one occasion when the family thought the end was near, but he always pulled through.

In 2016, Mel Jr. became pitching coach of the Mariners, and moved in with Mel and Jean during the season. Partly, it was to help with his care but mostly to bond and absorb the wisdom of the man Mel Jr. called his mentor, role model and best friend. I’ve rarely seen a closer-knit family than the Stottlemyres.

That year, I went out to the house to do a Father’s Day story. It was a good day for Mel, and he was in high spirits. Most days weren’t like that. At the time, Mel Jr. told me, his dad was dealing with internal infections, heart and thyroid issues, hip problems, a torn Achilles tendon that couldn’t be operated upon because of the chemo, a broken rib and a form of diabetes. All without complaint or bitterness.

But on this day, Mel was feeling pretty good, he said. He was cheerful and optimistic. And emotional when he paid tribute to Jean for her selfless care and advocacy over the years. He said Mel Jr. and Todd were as perfect as two sons could be. He talked of his fervent desire to find a cure for multiple myeloma – too late for him, he realized, but for others.

I learned of the pride Mel felt watching his son follow in his steps as a pitching coach.

“I can’t tell you how good that made me feel,” he said. “It was sort of a stamp of approval of what I had done with my life.”

Mel Stottlemyre’s life ended Sunday, but his legacy, and shining example, will endure long after.

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or; on Twitter:@StoneLarry. Larry Stone calls upon more than 30 years as a sportswriter to offer insight, wisdom, opinion, analysis - and hopefully some humor - regarding the wide world of sports. Topics include the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, and, especially, the people responsible for either outcome, as well as the wide chasm between.

Stottlemyre rose above Yankees noise to become an inspiration

By Ken Davidoff
January 14, 2019

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Joe Torre and Mel Stottlemyre

Time has covered up the level of chaos that reigned over the Yankees from March 10 to May 18 of 1999. It hardly felt like the midpoint of a dynasty.
Joe Torre, the beloved Yankees manager and magical Steinbrenner whisperer, took a leave of absence to treat his prostate cancer. Don Zimmer, Torre’s bench coach and behavioral opposite, became the interim skipper and took turns engaging in public battles with George Steinbrenner, Darryl Strawberry, Hideki Irabu and an achy knee that required a replacement.
Behind all that noise, Mel Stottlemyre ran the Yankees’ pitching staff, taking on additional media responsibilities in Torre’s absence, while covering up his own level of personal chaos.
Stottlemyre died Sunday at age 77 after battling multiple myeloma, the blood cancer, for more than a quarter of his life. Doctors first detected the disease during that frenzied stretch in 1999, and Stottlemyre kept quiet for nearly a year until its advancement forced him to miss time with the 2000 Yankees as he underwent treatment.
This was a death sentence. Stottlemyre knew it. Yet he treated the diagnosis as a challenge to conquer and an opportunity to inspire others. Missions accomplished and then some.
Torre, in a statement Monday, called Stottlemyre “the toughest man I have ever met,” and good luck finding someone who met Stottlemyre, who had a heck of a pitching career before joining the coaching ranks, and would disagree. It didn’t start with his John Wayne act with those 1999 Yankees, who straightened out to win their second World Series title and third in four years. No, that setback occurred some 18 years after Stottlemyre suffered every parent’s worst nightmare, the loss of a child, as his 11-year-old son Jason died of leukemia.
In my years of covering Stottlemyre — his entire run as Yankees pitching coach from 1996-2005 and occasional subsequent contact — it’s not like I ever sat down with him in a therapist’s office and psychoanalyzed him. But he conducted himself like a man who had been through hell and wouldn’t be intimidated by anything — or anyone — in his path. He was fearless.
As the Yankees’ fortunes turned after 2000, the championship spigot turned off and postseason disappointments becoming the new norm, Stottlemyre treated The Boss’ increasingly frequent public harangues with a mixture of contempt and defiance. Having already been estranged from the Yankees for over two decades following his 1975 release — in the interim, he worked as the Mets’ pitching coach from 1984-93 and won a ring in 1986 — he didn’t give Steinbrenner the satisfaction of firing back with insults. Rather, he would smile and offer variations of “I’ve been through worse.”
He still enjoyed the work even when the parades stopped. I recall sitting next to him at a Newark Airport gate, both of us traveling to Tampa for the start of Yankees spring training in 2003, and talking through the entire roster; he loved having Raul Mondesi’s arm in right field for his pitchers. We realized that we rented condominiums in the same Tampa development, and he talked about how much, after a long day at the ballpark, he loved fishing on the property’s waterfront. Even though I never ran into Mel carrying his fishing pole, I occasionally glanced at the waterfront and envisioned him enjoying his earned tranquility.
I last spoke with Stottlemyre in the summer of 2016, when I worked on an oral history of the legendary Subway Series two-stadium doubleheader in 2000. He joked about how the cancer had clouded his memory, yet he still recalled working with Dwight Gooden in the bullpen as Doc, Mel’s old Mets charge, somehow fooled the Mets for five innings to win Game 1, his only Shea Stadium appearance as a visitor. Then Stottlemyre ran through the timeline of the Roger Clemens-Mike Piazza feud, as Mets pitcher Shawn Estes threw at Clemens in 2002 to retaliate belatedly for Clemens beaning Piazza in Game 2.


He loved his time in uniform. He made baseball a better place. The game could use more calming forces, more inspirations, don’t you think?