Act III: Baseball Enters The Game

It’s time to Break It Down!

It was bound to happen. I’ve written about what was at the time a totally new thing when the NBA hired its first female coach. Then, football entered the game, so to speak. It was almost certainly only a matter of time before a third member of America’s Big 4 sports franchises took a seat at the table. Sure enough, the inevitable transpired when Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Oakland A’s and Justine Siegal made MLB history yesterday, as the Oakland Athletics announced she would serve as a guest instructor for their Instructional League club, making her the first woman to coach in big league history.

On July 29, 2015 I wrote:

“Jennifer Welter was hired as a training camp and preseason coaching intern for the inside linebackers position for the National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals. The signing made her the first female coach in the NFL.”

On July 22, 2015 I wrote:

“Coach Gregg Popovich and the Spurts made Ms. Hammon the NBA’s first full-time Regular Season female Assistant Coach on August 5, 2014. It was clear at that time she had cultivated a history with the Spurs, and that she had established a relationship with both Coach Popovich and a number of Spurs’ players. Other women had served in support roles, one as an Assistant during the Summer League, and another as a Volunteer Assistant during the Regular Season. Hammon, however, assumed full coaching responsibilities, and traveled with the team.

On Monday evening, Ms. Hammon led the Spurs to the Championship of the Vegas Summer League, as the Spurs beat the Phoenix Suns 93-90. By doing so, she became the feature attraction in yet another chapter in the annals of history, after having added one just two weeks ago, when she became the first woman to serve as Head Coach of an NBA Summer League Team. The Spurs lost their first Summer League game to the NY Knicks, but rallied from that point, winning the rest of their games, including in the end, persevering in a hotly contested Title Game.

On August 6, 2014 I wrote:

“But that’s a tale that will not be told until next spring.  Apparently, the Spurs wanted to make a statement now, and that they did.  Yesterday, they announced the hiring of Rebecca (Becky) Hammon as an Assistant Coach.  In doing so, they made her the first female to become a full-time Regular Season Assistant Coach in the League.  This year, Natalie Nakase, an assistant video coordinator for the Clippers, was hired to help run the Summer League.  Also, during the 2001-02 Season, when John Lucas coached the Cleveland Cavaliers, Lisa Boyer served as a Volunteer Assistant with the Cavs.  However, Ms. Boyer did not travel with the team.  In contrast, Hammon will operate in the capacity of a full-time Assistant, and will travel with the team.

Hammon, a veteran WNBA player had already announced her retirement, slated for the end of the WNBA Season.  As a member of the San Antonio Stars, she and the Spurs were already familiar with each other.  In fact, she had previously worked with the Spurs; a key factor in Coach Popovich’s comfort level with her.  CNN reported that Popovich, in speaking of Hammon said:

“I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff.”  Having observed her working with our team this past season, I’m confident her basketball IQ, work ethic and interpersonal skills will be a great benefit to the Spurs.””

Today it’s Major Leaguer Baseball’s turn to grab a proverbial 15 minutes of fame for its foray into the world of female coaching hires. At first blush, it appears they are doing a fine job, and that they have selected an excellent candidate. Dr. Siegal, who has a Ph.D. in Sport and Exercise Psychology, has completed the Major League Scouting Bureau School. As a rookie coach, she will assume a slate of duties that comprises an array of responsibilities, including, hitting infield practice, throwing batting practice, offering her knowledge in meetings, and, as she says, “helping out wherever they want me to help out.”

Dr. Siegal went on to say:

“And I do like talking about life skills—I like to help people achieve their life goals.”

Siegal, became the first woman to coach men professionally in 2009 when she was the first-base coach for the independent league Brockton Rox. She will work with A’s minor-leaguers from Oct. 4 through Oct. 17.

Her hiring continues an upward trend for women in men’s professional sports. The San Antonio Spurs’ hired Becky Hammon as an assistant coach, and she led the Spurs’ summer league team to a championship this past July. This summer the Sacramento Kings followed suit by hiring Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman to serve as an assistant under head coach George Karl.

At the moment it appears that Siegal’s situation is best compared to that of Dr. Jen Welter, who served as a coaching intern with the Arizona Cardinals during training camp. Like Welter, Siegal was not hired for a permanent position but as temporary help during a time when a team needs all hands on deck.

A’s Assistant General Manager David Forst put it this way:

“Justine knows that nothing has been promised, but we’re not ruling that out,” referring to a full-time position.

For her part, Dr. Siegal responded:

“I think it would be incredible to coach full-time.” But for now, I’ll do my best every day to help out any way I can, from carrying water to throwing BP to using my Ph.D.”

When questioned about the potential reaction of the A’s minor-league players, Mr. Forst believes they will be as accepting of Siegal as they would be of any other coach. He added:

“I’ve found from experience that men are surprised to have a woman coach, but when they realize you know what you’re talking about and that you care, you fit right in with the rest of the staff.”

Siegal has served as co-chair of SABR’s Women in Baseball Committee and she directs a program that champions gender equity in sport for Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society. She is the founder of Baseball For All, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing instruction and opportunity in baseball, especially for girls; Baseball For All will hold a national event for girls aged 7-15 in San Francisco in July.

The A’s are one of a handful of teams to have employed a woman in a scouting capacity in the front office; Kate Greenthal was a scouting assistant with the team from 2012 through ’14. Former A’s assistant GM Farhan Zaidi, now the Dodgers’ GM, is one of the few Muslims in baseball administration, and Oakland’s director of player personnel, Billy Owens, is African American.

That leaves the NHL as the only major professional sports league that has not had a female coach. The Athletics previously employed Kate Greenthal in their scouting department from 2012 to 2014, and this hire shows they’re still among the most progressive organizations in baseball. Even if Siegal’s just a guest instructor, this is progress worth celebrating and, hopefully, a sign of things to come.

So there you have it, “Act III: Baseball Enters the Game!”  All-in-all, not a bad way to create a little pre-World Series buzz.  Way to go A’s, and MLB!

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Capitalism: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly!

It’s time to Break It Down!

Words matter; any number of words can be used to signify the Pathos of American culture. However, perhaps none does so more aptly than Capitalism. It is arguably, the spirit, zest, and emotion that propel us to so frequently achieve greatness. There are most certainly terms that better reflect the American Ethos, and our sometimes, slippery connection to communal ethics. In addition, we can point to more poignant vessels to accurately capture the Logos that is the essence of the way we in America reason. Today’s word, however, is Capitalism, so perhaps we will examine those other elements of persuasion at another time.

In this election season especially, a number of politicians are poised to place an extra fine point on the distinction between Capitalism and other primary systems of organizing and managing government’s economies. The term Capitalist means owner of capital. Capitalism is an economic system that emphasizes that trade, industry, and the means of production are largely or entirely privately owned and operated for profit. Central characteristics include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor and, in some situations, fully competitive markets. In a capitalist economy, the parties to a transaction typically determine the prices at which they exchange assets, goods, and services.

The degree of competition, the role of intervention and regulation, and the scope of state ownership vary across different models of capitalism. These models include laissez-faire or free market capitalism, welfare capitalism, crony capitalism, corporatism, “third waysocial democracy and state capitalism.

The American Way, purists will insist, is punctuated by free enterprise. At its core, in a free enterprise system, business is governed by the laws of supply and demand; not restrained by government interference, regulation or subsidy. This apparatus is also referred to as free market.

The American combination of Capitalism and Free Enterprise is considered to be one of the most successful economic experiments in the history of the world. The United States is the world’s largest national economy, representing 22% of nominal global GDP and 17% of global GDP (PPP). The United States’ GDP was estimated to be $18.124 trillion as of Q2 2015. The U.S. dollar is the currency most used in international transactions and is the world’s foremost reserve currency. Several countries use it as their official currency, and in many others it is the de facto currency. The United States has a mixed economy and has maintained a stable overall GDP growth rate, a moderate unemployment rate, and high levels of research and capital investment. Its seven largest trading partners are Canada, China, Mexico, Japan, Germany, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.

The US has abundant natural resources, a well-developed infrastructure, and high productivity. It has the world’s ninth-highest per capita GDP (nominal) and tenth-highest per capita GDP (PPP) as of 2013. Americans have the highest average household and employee income among OECD nations, and in 2010 had the fourth highest median household income, down from second highest in 2007. It has been the world’s largest national economy (not including colonial empires) since at least the 1890s. It’s abundantly clear that our national economic bona fides are firmly entrenched and indelibly established.

The numbers are not just staggering on the macro level. The United States, not surprisingly, also has a number of incredibly wealthy individuals. Our Country has more billionaires than any other. As of 2015, the U.S. was home to more than twice as many billionaires, 536, as the second closest Country, People’s Republic of China, 213. In fact, to sharpen the focus to an even higher degree, the State of California has more billionaires than every Country, except China and the U.S.

California spawned 23 new billionaires over the past year, bringing its total count to 131 — or nearly a quarter of America’s 10-digit club. It not only has more billionaires than any other U.S. state, but also tops Germany, India, Russia and the UK. In fact, if California were a country, it would be home to the third-highest number of billionaires in the world, surpassed only by the United States and China. California’s billionaires own a combined $560.1 billion in wealth, which is more than the GDP of 49 countries, including Argentina, Poland and Taiwan. All in all, it is fair to say, that is good!

Not surprisingly, the United States is home to the world’s wealthiest man. In 2014, Bill Gates, the Microsoft Tech Titan, was the world’s richest man, according to Forbes. As of July 2015, Gates remains at the top of the list.

While you have undoubtedly heard of Bill Gates, the name of a very wealthy man that has bludgeoned its way into the consciousness of Americans this week is Martin Shkreli. He is the CEO of a company known as Turing Pharmaceuticals, which bought the 62-year-old drug called Daraprim in August of this year. The company immediately raised the price of one pill from $13.50 to $750. Just for the record, I’ll submit, that is bad!

This increase drew protests in the medical community from those concerned that many patients will no longer be able to afford the drug. According to Mr. Shkreli, however, the move is simply a smart business decision.

“Why was it necessary to raise the price of Daraprim so drastically?” CBS News correspondent Don Dahler asked Shkreli.

“Well, it depends on how you define so drastically. Because the drug was unprofitable at the former price, so any company selling it would be losing money. And at this price it’s a reasonable profit. Not excessive at all,” Shkreli responded.

Daraprim was developed in 1953 as a treatment for toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite. It comes from eating under-cooked meat or drinking contaminated water, and affects those with compromised immune systems, like AIDS and cancer patients.

As one might imagine, there were stark economic repercussions stemming from Mr. Shkreli’s “reasonable profit” motive. When Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of Daraprim to $750 per tablet, the average cost of treatment for patients rose from about $1,130 to $63,000. For certain patients, the cost can go as high as $634,000.

While Shkreli acknowledged that the move might look “greedy,” he said there are “a lot of altruistic properties to it.”

“This is a disease where there hasn’t been one pharmaceutical company focused on it for 70 years. We’re now a company that is dedicated to the treatment and cure of toxoplasmosis. And with these new profits we can spend all of that upside on these patients who sorely need a new drug, in my opinion,” he added.

Oncologist and CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus disagreed.

“Patients shouldn’t be taxed and charged for future research and development. Patients should pay for the drug they’re getting and what they need in the situation that they are” Agus said.

“It’s predatory practice and it’s inappropriate,” he added.

The topic entered the political debate on Monday, with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeting: “Price gouging like this in the specialty drug market is outrageous.”

Her rival Bernie Sanders sent a letter to Shkreli demanding information on the price increase and called the rate hike “…the latest in a long list of skyrocketing price increases for certain critical medications.”

Sanders and Congressman Elijah Cummings have been investigating drugs that have seen jumps in prices.

Suffice it to say, Mr. Shkreli got the message. The 32-year-old Shkreli has been called everything from a boy genius to a vulture. Take your pick, but one thing the wealthy Capitalist is not is slow on the uptick.

Turing’s increasing the price of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 a pill represented an increase of over 5,500%. Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton generously called that drug “price gouging.” OK, you knew it was coming; that is ugly!

The Daily Beast declared Shkreli the “most-hated man in America,” surpassing the dentist who killed Cecil the Lion.

Mr. Shkreli insists he has heard the outcry.

“We’ve agreed to lower the price of Daraprim to a price that is more affordable,” Shkreli said on ABC World News Tonight.

He didn’t say what that “affordable” price would be, but stressed that the company already gives away the drug for free to about half the patients who use it and that Turing plans to expand its charitable drug program.

In a somewhat ironic confluence of circumstances, Pope Francis (Jorge Mario Bergoglio), the former Cardinal of Buenos Aires, and the 266th Roman Catholic Pope is visiting the United States this week, week stops scheduled in Washington DC, Philadelphia, and New York. While there is no real expectation that Pope Francis will delve into or weigh in on Shkreli-gate, the Pontiff is a well-known critic of Capitalism.

In fact, this Pope’s Socialist posture, and his affinity for an array of issues including Climate Change/Global Warming, Restoration of formal Cuban-American relations, abolition of the death penalty, and a duty to the poor and marginalized has resulted in many Conservative politicians, a number of whom are seeking the GOP Nomination for the Presidency, to openly state their opposition to positions taken by the Pope. This just heightens the irony for a number of folks who happen to be Catholic, but do not bond with the 266th Pope.

Neatly summarized, there you have it…”Capitalism: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly!”

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Next on Deck The Apprentice II: Otherwise Known As the GOP Debates

It’s time to Break It Down!

Almost everyone I know well who purports to follow politics avers that they believe the Donald Trump phenomenon will eventually dissipate, evaporate, or in some form or fashion, just go away. I should amend that statement to note I have not had this conversation with persons who admit to being Republicans. Therefore, it is certainly not meant to be representative of how a typical Republican feels about the situation.

Nevertheless, if that affirmation proves to be an eventuality, it surely cannot come too soon for the GOP Establishment, nor for the other GOP Presidential candidates, regardless of whether they consider themselves to be a part of the Establishment. Three weeks ago I wrote a post discussing the conundrum that the Republican Party faces in dealing with Mr. Trump and the immigration issue (

The bigger story, undoubtedly, is that it is not just the Club Leader’s position on immigration that is troubling to the Party hierarchy. It’s his deep pockets money stream; his prickly, mercurial, unpredictable nature, it’s his penchant for “counterpunching” anyone with the temerity or effrontery to take him on in mano a mano terms.

The first 2015 GOP Presidential Debate was held six weeks ago tomorrow on August 6th at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. I wrote about the pending festivities on August 5th (

The abundance of contestants for the GOP Nomination, in concert with predetermined Party Rules, resulted in a split debate format for the first Debate. The schematic consisted of 7 candidates appearing in what amounted to the Early Show, and the remaining 10 candidates appearing at the Prime Time event later that evening.

This evening’s Debate will operate in a format slightly altered from the first contest. It will convene at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Semi Valley, California. At 6:00 p.m., 4 candidates, down from 7, will appear in the first session. Those individuals are George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, and Lindsey Graham. CNN amended the Debate Criteria by adding this caveat:

“In the event that any candidate is polling in the top 10 in an average of approved national polls released between August 7th and September 10th, we will add those candidates to our top tier debate, even if those candidates did not poll in the top 10 in an average of approved national polls between July 16th and September 10th.”

This change opened the door for Carly Fiorina to be promoted to the main stage. Rick Perry suspended his campaign, and therefore dropped out of the field. Jim Gilmore failed to attain the necessary threshold for inclusion.

That means the Prime Time Show expanded from 10 to 11 participants. The post-debate polls, which were used to determine the participants, were also used to determine the order that the candidates would appear on stage. Trump will anchor the center of the stage for the 8:00 p.m. debate, flanked by Carson to his right and Bush to his left. Walker, Fiorina, Kasich and Christie, in that order, will stand to Bush’s left, while Cruz, Rubio, Huckabee and Paul will appear to Carson’s right.

Up to this moment in the campaign, which many experts continue to insist is still early, The Donald has been the straw that stirs the GOP Presidential Candidates’ Drink. There is a fair amount of speculation that a number of the candidates may actually try to gain traction by attacking Donald Trump. This has been a largely unsuccessful, and in some cases fatal flaw in strategy for those with the gumption to try it. See Rick Perry, who no longer lists himself among active candidates, and Lindsey Graham, whose campaign has appeared to limp along.

One of the next, certain to take up the gauntlet is Bobby Jindal. Governor Jindal wrote an Op-Ed that appeared on CNN’s website yesterday, in which he lambasted Donald Trump as, among other things, “a madman who must be stopped.”   Are you ready yet?

So in the Apprentice, Donald Trump ran the show. When a contestant didn’t live up to his lofty standards, Trump would, with great fanfare and bluster, utter the phrase, “You’re fired!” It will be interesting to see if Trump tweets some scathing message about/to Jindal between now and the Debate this evening, or whether he will take the opportunity to launch a broadside attack (he likes to say he only counter punches) during the Debate.

Here’s the opening salvo from Jindal’s CNN commentary:

“President Trump today announced that the first season of “The Apprentice: White House Edition” will air on CBS this fall. Contestants, including Gary Busey, Ted Cruz and Kanye West, will vie for Cabinet positions. The announcement came as the newly renamed “Hair Force One” touched down in South Dakota for the unveiling of President Trump’s face on Mount Rushmore. Meanwhile, first lady Melania had reason to celebrate as her White House-branded perfume, Trump, by Trump, hit Macy’s shelves …”

No, this is not a story from The Onion. It’s a vision of our future. The only people who would enjoy a Trump presidency are Trump, Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert. The jokes, as he said, will write themselves.

Jindal is clearly, desperately seeking a breakout moment. So much so that he did not limit his targets to Mr. Trump. What Right Wing/Tea Party diatribe would be complete without a nod to President Obama? Definitely this one, by Governor Jindal, will not be the first. To further shore up his macho Trump imitation bona fides, he said:

“The liberalism and incompetence of the Obama administration have pushed us to the edge of a socialist abyss.”  So much for creativity.

In analyzing The Donald, Jindal proclaims not only that he will never be President, but that his nomination would be tantamount to delivering the White House to Mrs. Clinton, at least in part because he is sure to self-destruct in a general election. Apparently, Trump is venom and he (Jindal) has, or is the antidote.

He insists that everyone knows Trump is not the answer, but…no one has the courage to say so…except him, of course. He noted that he said last week:

“Donald Trump is a shallow, unserious, substance-free, narcissistic egomaniac. It’s pointless arguing policy with someone not intellectually curious enough to care and who makes it up on the fly. According to him, his plans will be “fabulous” and “something terrific. His problem with Washington isn’t big government, it’s that he’s not running it. He’s not liberal, moderate or conservative. He’s not Republican or Democrat. Donald Trump is for Donald Trump. He believes only in himself.”

Jindal did eventually concede that Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, and the aforementioned “no longer a candidate,” Rick Perry called out Trump for lacking adherence to conservative values. Alas, it was a fruitless gambit because Trump is not a conservative.

He panned Ted Cruz for “clinging to Trump like a limpet to an oil tanker, hoping to suck up his votes when Trump eventually sinks.” Senator Cruz may be hoping to jet with Trump’s votes, should he falter, or he may be making space for a Trump-Cruz ticket, but it’s not likely he and Bobby will be making up anytime soon.

Showtime is 8:00 p.m. There may be more histrionics and fireworks when the lights come up. In fact, I’d say you could depend on it. Put the kids to bed early, get the beer and your popcorn. It’s about to be on and poppin’. “Next on Deck The Apprentice II: Otherwise Known As the GOP Debates!”

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Game, Set, Match: POTUS Style!

It’s time to Break It Down!

This is another of those weeks. For anyone interested in reading or writing about current events, the list of relevant topics is both inviting and long.

  • If you have a Right-leaning religious bent, the now famous Kentucky Clerk, Kim Davis, was released from jail yesterday.
  • For tennis fans, Serena beat Venus (no last names necessary) in the U.S. Open Quarterfinals last night. She’ll play Roberta Vinci in the semifinals Thursday.
  • For those for whom politics is their wheel-well, Round 2 of the Republican Party Presidential Debate series kicks off a week from today…Part I at 6:00 p.m., followed by the Prime Time nightcap at 8:00 p.m.
  • If you are just dying for the juiciest details of the latest violent jump-off, a pair of Atlanta teens landed in jail for allegedly attempting to murder their parents.
  • If you love Hillary…or you love to hate Hillary, she has executed yet another tack in an effort to subdue or escape e-mailgate; she apologized.
  • If you’re a tech titan, Apple releases the new 6S today.
  • If you are a football fan, over the weekend, two Texas high school football players executed blindsided tackles on an unsuspecting referee, allegedly after a slur was uttered.
  • For fans, and perhaps detractors of Pope Francis, on yesterday, the Holy Father radically revised the process by which Catholics may annul their marriages, streamlining steps that many in the church considered too cumbersome and costly.
  • If you are a hoops fan, yesterday was huge…because President Obama entertained the reigning NCAA National Champion Duke Blue Devils at the White House. As an aside, I must note, that in itself was not the top aspect of that news, though it certainly was newsworthy.

The actual significance of the encounter stemmed from the fact Duke’s Coach, Mike Krzyzewski, actually praised President Obama. It was well delivered, well deserved, and surely setting appropriate. Coach K said:

“On behalf of our Duke community, we want to thank you for serving our country over these last two terms. You’ve been an amazing leader for our country. And it’s not just you, but your family and the sacrifices. So thank you very much for your service.”

He even urged the crowd to give the President a standing ovation.

Of course, the reputedly conservative Duke Coach has publicly expressed other opinions about President Obama. Krzyzewski is the same man who criticized the administration’s strategy regarding ISIS and said in 2009 when Mr. Obama didn’t choose Duke for the Final Four:

“The economy is something he should focus on, probably more than the brackets.”

Coach K may very well be an ideologue. But he is suave, and capable of being glib, despite his fiery on court persona. I’ve seen him deliver the goods in person. He did a good job yesterday.

  • Of course, if you are a student of history, you know that Friday marks the 14th Anniversary of the September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th, or 9/11). These attacks were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda on the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The attacks consisted of suicide attacks used to target symbolic U.S. landmarks.

That’s an auspicious Top 10 for considering a blog topic. Yet, none cut the mustard in terms of my choosing today’s subject. I believe the President’s phenomenal accomplishment gets the nod. At least it gets mine. Moreover, as I’ve noted before, to use a basketball analogy…my court my rules.

To wit, despite historic measures and wide-ranging attacks by opponents of the Iran Deal, President Obama and his team have not just withstood the often vicious and ad hominem attacks from within the borders of the United States and abroad, they have managed to construct a coalition that is not merely capable of sustaining a veto; as of yesterday, the President amassed enough votes (41) to prevent a Senate vote against the Deal from occurring.

It is without question, the Iran Deal is controversial. Republicans have initiated a number of desperate attempts to scrap the deal before it ever materialized, including issuing an unprecedented invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress, without first advising the President…just weeks before the Prime Minister’s election in Israel

That affront took place prior to the completion of the Deal. So did a broadside attack in the form of an open letter to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran signed by 47 senators and instigated by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). It was, in modest terms, a stunning breach of protocol. While many observers insist, it would be beyond the pale to characterize or dub the signers as “traitors,” it was definitely another slap in the face of President Obama and an affront to the presidency,

When the question was put to retired Major Gen. Paul D. Eaton for perspective, he wouldn’t say Cotton and Co. were “traitors.” However, he did not hold harmless the Senator from Arkansas. As he put it:

“I would use the word mutinous.”

Eaton has had a long career, which includes training Iraqi forces from 2003 to 2004. He is now a senior adviser to He went on to say:

“I do not believe these senators were trying to sell out America. I do believe they defied the chain of command in what could be construed as an illegal act.”

Eaton certainly had stern words for Cotton. As he framed it:

“What Senator Cotton did is a gross breach of discipline, and especially as a veteran of the Army, he should know better. I have no issue with Senator Cotton, or others, voicing their opinion in opposition to any deal to halt Iran’s nuclear progress. Speaking out on these issues is clearly part of his job. But to directly engage a foreign entity, in this way, undermining the strategy and work of our diplomats and our Commander in Chief, strains the very discipline and structure that our foreign relations depend on, to succeed.”

The consequences of Cotton’s missive were plainly apparent to Eaton. He went on to say:

“The breach of discipline is extremely dangerous, because undermining our diplomatic efforts, at this moment, brings us another step closer to a very costly and perilous war with Iran. I think Senator Cotton recognizes this, and he simply does not care. That’s what disappoints me the most.”

That’s among the more frightening aspects of this entire episode. The freshman senator from Arkansas and 46 of his Republican colleagues sought to Bigfoot Obama on a deal not yet done whose details are not yet known. This demonstrates in a classic fashion how contemptuous so many members of the Radical Right are of this President. Yet to paraphrase the late Maya Angelou, “And Still He Rises!”

In yesterday’s edition of the Washington Post, Michael Gerson makes a point that one would think would have been clear to all 47 signatories of Senator Cotton’s letter.

“If Republican senators want to make the point that an Iran deal requires a treaty, they should make that case to the American people, not to the Iranians. Congress simply has no business conducting foreign policy with a foreign government, especially an adversarial one (See the Netanyahu invitation). Every Republican who pictures his or her feet up on the Resolute Desk should fear this precedent.”

There was a time one could have imagined Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) making this point. That was back when he fancied himself a statesman. Instead, he signed the letter.

In wrapping up his thoughts on Senator Cotton, General Eaton said:

“I expect better from the men and women who wore the uniform. And the American people deserve better from the Senate.”

So the huge, in Joe Biden parlance, “Big eff’n deal,” news is, three Democratic senators announced Tuesday they will vote in support of the nuclear deal with Iran, paving the way for a possible filibuster of Republican-led attempts to disapprove of the controversial agreement. Given the pressure on Democrats, on Jewish legislators in both Houses, on anyone in a heavily Jewish precinct, district, or state, that the President whom Republicans targeted from his first day in Office, in an attempt to deny him any political victories at all…ever, could marshal the requisite number of Senators to potentially avoid even having to issue a veto is a simply amazing feat of nuanced Presidential leadership. Add it to the list!

Pro-deal statements from Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) mean 41 senators are now publicly backing the deal, enough to keep a disapproval resolution from emerging from the Senate and making its way to President Obama’s desk and forcing a veto.

In related news, a fourth Democrat making an announcement Tuesday, Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), said he would vote to disapprove of the deal, as did the last undecided Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, thus dashing White House hopes for bipartisan Senate support.

Republicans are still engaging in discussions designed to avoid a 60-vote minimum requirement to scuttle the Deal. Democrats, understandably oppose such a move, in part due to precedents set by Republicans when they were in the Minority. It appears likely at this point that the 60-vote requirement will stick, and that Democrats will filibuster attempts to bring the measure to a vote.

Who would have thunk it possible? President Obama is wearing this Lame Duck thing extraordinarily well thus far. Game, Set, Match: POTUS Style!”

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The Mountain Wouldn’t Come To Obama…So The President Changed Its Name

It’s time to Break It Down!

This week President Barack Obama became the first sitting President to visit Alaska and the Arctic. While there, he’ll discuss climate change and its effects, evident in Alaska and elsewhere.

In addition, he is set to appear on a Survival TV Show, “Running Wild with Bear Grylls,” NBC and the White House announced Monday. The show will be aired later this year, as will the interview filmed when he visited the Oklahoma Prison.

PETA, among others, criticized him for his decision to appear on the show. For good measure, however, the President took another action, an Executive Action; one that left Conservatives peeved. He changed the Name of Mt. McKinley, the highest peak in the United States, in fact, the highest in North America (20,237 feet), to Denali, or Great One. The U.S. Government renamed Denali, Mt. McKinley in 1917.

The President’s opponents immediately condemned him for acting like a dictator, taking unconstitutional action, overstepping his authority, engaging in a partisan stunt and, of course, exhibiting racial animus.

Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), said:

“I hope my colleagues will join with me in stopping this constitutional overreach,” vowing to work with the House natural resources committee to reverse Obama. “President Obama has decided to ignore an Act of Congress in unilaterally renaming Mount McKinley in order to promote his job-killing war on energy. This political stunt is insulting to all Ohioans.”

Former Rep. Ralph Regula, also from former President McKinley’s home state of Ohio, weighed in too, in an interview with the Columbus Dispatch, saying:

“Obama “thinks he is a dictator and he can change the law.”

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) framed it as:

“Yet another example of the president going around Congress.”

Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) scolded Obama for moving to:

“Undermine a prior act of Congress.”

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a GOP Presidential candidate utilized social media, and:

Tweeted that “POTUS once again oversteps his bounds.”

House Speaker John Boehner, also from Ohio, pronounced himself:

“Deeply disappointed.”

However, lest the surge of exuberance by Ohio Republicans deludes you into thinking this matter was simply a provincial dispute, fostered by individuals from a State that had its local hero’s name decommissioned, and removed from a Mountain 3,000 miles and several Time Zones away, au contraire mon frère! It was no such thing.

One Representative, Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill), said on Fox News, he thought the move might be related to McKinley having been a Republican. He noted:

“People feel like this president is constantly trying to, like, stick it in our eye, and put his thumb in our eye.”

The conservative website Gateway Pundit posted an item titled:

“Obama Renames Mt. McKinley (Named After Some White Guy) to Denali.”

At the conservative outlet, Ben Shapiro asked:

“Why did Obama choose to change the name now? Presumably because Obama has now solved all the world’s problems, and decided against his second choice, Mt. Trayvon.” He continued a “more serious” explanation was that Obama “opposes the legacy of President McKinley,” which includes the Spanish-American war and annexing various territories. Asked Shapiro: “[W]hen will President Obama change the name of the American Southwest to Aztlan?”

The deeper one wandered into the conservative blogosphere and Twitterverse, the uglier the messages became – about President Obama’s presumed anti-American views, his Muslim practices, and his primal and unquenchable urge to defecate on his predecessors.

Here’s the almost comical, truly ironic, best-kept non-secret. The President is actually perfectly within his authority to make this change. If his opponents are really outraged, they can overrule him in Congress, or they can elect a president who will change the name back.

The sticky-wicket, tricky little problem with both of these possible options is that Alaska, run by Republicans, wants the name to be Denali and have been trying to make the change for decades. The Alaska delegations — Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young, Republicans all — heralded the move (even as Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, who represents McKinley’s hometown, joined the opposition).

That, however, is not the only fly in the proverbial ointment, in this case. There is the (elephant in the room) not so small matter of Conservatives professing to support local control, and lamenting the devolution of power at the local level. Yet, oddly, it seems to this casual observer, in this particular case, they are demanding the federal government overrule a state’s wishes. Oh what a conundrum, a tangled Web, I believe Mr. Shakespeare dubbed these kinds of matters. As Washington Post Columnist Dana Milbank said in an Opinion piece Monday, perhaps a more ideologically suitable solution would be to rename something actually in Ohio for McKinley. A city, a river, an Interstate…the possibilities are endless.

As for Denali, Mr. McKinley hadn’t even visited the Mountain, named for him by a prospector before McKinley was elected the 25th president. A prospector, William Dickey began proposing the name Mt. McKinley in 1896, after traveling the Mountain Range. Eventually, sixteen years later, after McKinley’s assassination on September 14, 1901, Congress renamed the Mountain. For hundreds if not thousands of years of years prior to that, natives of the land had referred to it as Denali.

In 1959, Alaska gained Statehood. Afterward, Alaskans – many of whom had never stopped referring to the mountain as Denali – started wondering why their State’s natural crown jewel was named for a President from Ohio. The Alaska Legislature has been backing a proposal to change the name back to Denali since 1975. To wit, it’s fair to say, this idea is not only not some egomaniacal, brainchild of President Obama, since it predates his 1961 birth (in Hawaii, by the way). In point of fact, the most fervent backers of the idea are republicans. Go figure.

Mr. Milbank speculates, and I believe, that the dustup over renaming the mountain will be added to the other molehills of the President’s supposed overreach, which have been turned into mountains, and already includes:

  • Obamacare
  • The Stimulus
  • Dodd Frank
  • The IRS
  • Immigration
  • Executive Appointments
  • Saving General Motors
  • Contraception
  • The ATF
  • Prosecution of Low Level Drug Offenses

That’s just to name ten; not necessarily a Top 10, just ten, although Obamacare is likely at the top of almost everyone’s list. I’m sure any Conservative worth his or her salt could tick off another dozen without drawing a second breath. The real rub here is, the common objection to all of these is less about what was done…than who did it. IJS!

Yes, Conservatives’ heads will once again spin due to an action taken by President Obama. Ultimately, though, the rest of us can be at peace knowingThe Mountain Wouldn’t Come To Obama…So The President Changed Its Name!”

I’m done; holla back!

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