Tuesday, April 17, 2018

What Religion is Your Chicken?

What Religion is Your Chicken?
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
April 16, 2018

“Welcome to Chick-fil-A. Before you order your chicken sandwich, have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? No? I’m sorry, no food for you! Next, please.”

I’ve visited Chick-fil-A restaurants in easily half a dozen states and have never encountered such a greeting. Folks, you know me, I would certainly have noticed!

Apparently, in the warped notion dreamed up by The New Yorker magazine’s Dan Piepenbring, Chick-fil-A is seeking global domination via the cow mascot/preacher’s attempt at proselytization of all who misguidedly deign to enter its restaurants. In his April 13 article, “Chick-fil-A’s Creepy Infiltration of New York City,” Piepenbring belies the cosmopolitan airs of the Big Apple with his small-minded, parochial fears that the mere existence of Chick-fil-A in New York City will bring on the second coming of witch trials, prohibition, and the loss of women’s suffrage.

“...the brand’s arrival here feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism,” wrote an almost paranoid Piepenbring.

Infiltration? There are more than eight and a half million people living in New York City with but four Chick-fil-A restaurants; the latest, on Fulton Street, is the world’s largest at more than 12,000 square feet. Even with the proposed plans to open about a dozen more, does that sound like an infiltration, let alone a creepy one? Are there more than 16 McDonald’s in New York City? More than 16 Starbucks? Is there a fear of oversaturation by those franchises?

Of what is Piepenbring afraid? Is he afraid of juicy, good tasting chicken sandwiches? Is he afraid of good service from clean-cut workers with good manners and the ability to speak English proficiently? That is what he will experience, and more, when choosing to dine at a Chick-fil-A. Workers greet customers with a smile, visit tables offering refills on beverages, even clearing away refuse while patrons are still finishing up their meals. Is it Shangri-La? No, of course not. And to be fair, their iced tea is often weak, but the restaurants are crowded for a reason. It certainly is not the least expensive of the fast food options, but business is good, because Chick-fil-A is a good business.

A good business with a business model that works for them. But a “pervasive Christian traditionalism?” Squads of preachers are not waiting at every table with church applications or asking anyone to join a prayer circle. What is so visibly Christian about these restaurants? And what would be wrong if Chick-fil-A were overtly Christian, replete with Bible verses or even crosses on the walls? Walk into a kosher restaurant and you will see a mezuzah on the doorpost along with sinks for hand washing and the appropriate Hebrew prayer, as well as the blessings for before and after meals. I’m pretty sure that won’t lead to planetary dominion by the Orthodox community.

But why the condemnation of a Christian-owned restaurant? Is it simply because the owners believe in G-d in the first place? Yes, the restaurant’s corporate purpose begins “to glorify G-d.” And sure, Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays to give its employees a day of rest to spend as they choose. They are not required to attend church, or any other religiously affiliated building. Quite frankly, if I owned a restaurant I might want to close Friday after lunch through Saturday in observance of my Sabbath. Like Chick-fil-A, that would be my choice, just as it is Piepenbring’s choice whether or not to patronize the restaurant.

Is Piepenbring’s condemnation because Chick-fil-A believes in traditional values such as marriage and contributes money to anti-LGBT groups? Chick-fil-A also contributes “thousands of pounds of food to New York Common Pantry,” as Piepenbring begrudgingly admits. I don’t think a person in dire need of food is overly concerned about the political leanings of the donor. Chick-fil-A does not discriminate in who it serves or who it hires.

Where is the condemnation of restaurants that support Planned Parenthood? Where is the condemnation of Starbucks for their vocal anti-Second Amendment stance? Hearing crickets. Why? Because of the far left, secular agenda of publications like The New Yorker and its ilk - which is their right, as I am an avid defender of the First Amendment. But don’t claim to be objective or speak for the people, especially when those people are in line purchasing a Chick-fil-A sandwich every six seconds at one New York City restaurant, according to Piepenbring himself.

The bottom line is that Chick-fil-A is an honest business serving the community good food, putting money its pockets, and is successful enough to be able to support the communities’ tax coffers, that in turn help all the people whether or not they eat more chicken. If their belief system includes a belief in G-d, more power to them - there is nothing to fear there.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN. Having grown up in North Jersey, he is thrilled Chick-fil-A is in New York City.

Monday, February 5, 2018

GOP, ADL Don't Challenge Nazi

"Illinois Nazis. I hate Illinois Nazis." - Jake Blues

GOP, ADL Don’t Challenge Nazi Commentary by Sanford D. Horn February 5, 2018 Much to the posturing protestations by the Illinois state Republican Party and the Anti-Defamation League, a self-avowed Holocaust denier is set to become the GOP nominee for the United States Congress in the Third District in the Land of Lincoln. The 70 year old political gadfly, whose name was not to be printed here, for he does not deserve the publicity, is Arthur Jones - people need to know who this ignorant cretin is, in order to vote against him - has been active in both Illinois and Wisconsin since the 1970s, having run for mayor of Milwaukee as well as numerous other offices in Illinois, including Congress. A former leader of the American Nazi Party, Jones often refers to the Holocaust of European Jewry as “an international extortion racket,” and has been on the radar of both the Illinois GOP as well as the ADL for decades. The “Anti-Defamation League has been keeping tabs on him for years,” noted the Chicago Sun-Times. This potential GOP nominee “proudly displays Holocaust denial, xenophobia and racism on his blog and website, has a long history of hateful, extremist and anti-Semitic views,” said Lonnie Nasatir, regional director of the ADL Chicago-Upper Midwest Region. “The Illinois Republican party and our country have no place for Nazis like Jones. We strongly oppose his racist views and his candidacy for any public office, including the Third Congressional District,” said Tim Schneider, Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party. With all the notoriety given this racist, anti-Semitic, white supremacist, it is shocking that the Illinois Republicans could not find a primary challenger to this crackpot. While he has the right to run for public office, the people should also be given choices on their ballots. The claim that this district is so overwhelmingly Democrat in its political makeup as an excuse not to field a candidate is tragic. No candidate should run unopposed for office - any office. Sadly, the complaints lodged by both the GOP and ADL are disingenuous as they are complicit in allowing someone as repugnant and truculent to attain ballot status when they could have worked together to find a challenger. Certainly even a novice should be able to defeat a Nazi. As the GOP nominee, he would face the winner of the Democratic primary race between incumbent Congressman Dan Lipinski, a pro-life Catholic who voted against granting in-state tuition to illegal aliens, both good stances, and Marie Newman. Lipinski is considered a more conservative Democrat, especially for a district that includes parts of the City of Chicago as well several surrounding suburbs. This district’s voters has sent a Democrat to Congress the last 22 consecutive terms. The last Republican elected in IL-3 was Robert Hanrahan in 1972, serving but one term. I understand long odds, having run for a city council seat in Baltimore, MD as a Republican when the registered Republicans totaled eight percent of the voters, but it was important to give the citizenry an alternative. Needless to say, the outcome was less than successful, but not surprising as a Republican has not been elected to the Baltimore City Council since 1939. As a Republican I am incensed that the party went straight to surrender. As a Jew I am disgusted that the Jewish community didn’t rally together to recruit someone to, at the very least, challenge Jones to debate the issues and out him for the danger he clearly is. Perhaps voters ought to mount a write-in campaign for the March 20 primary. Were I a resident in Illinois’ third Congressional district, I would have thrown my yarmulke into the ring as a GOP contender - money or no money. Some things are simply too important. Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Trump's DACA Betrayal

Trump’s DACA Betrayal Commentary by Sanford D. Horn January 29, 2018 A week following President Donald Trump trumping Senator Chuck Schumer’s Shutdown, the President is behaving as if he not only lost, but is being held hostage on the DACA debacle. On the eve of Trump’s first State of the Union address, I feel betrayed. And judging from the collective outrage, I am not alone. For all the early promises kept in his first year in office, and for his historic notoriety as being the champion deal maker, President Trump seems to have skipped negotiation and compromise and gone straight to surrender on DACA. His current, on the table proposal would grant complete, total amnesty and an ultimate path to citizenship to 1.8 million illegals - more than double the estimated 800,000 DACA participants. That’s more than proposed under Barack Obama’s heinous plan when he drew up the Executive Order that was never law in the first place. My own needle moved from the far right position of deport anyone in the United States illegally - period, to what I wrote in my January 12, “DACA is a Dilemma” column: http://sanfordspeaksout.blogspot.com/2018/01/daca-is-dilemma.html. Simply put, granting legal status, while not citizenship or the right to vote, is the same status as a permanent resident who came to this country legally. People here illegally should not have more rights than those who arrived here legally - even if those people, the DACA people, had no choice in the decision made that brought them to the US in the first place. Including the people who made the conscious choice to enter this country illegally on the path to citizenship with their, then minor children, is as bad an amnesty as that which was granted in 1986 that legalized more than three million interlopers in an effort to squelch the perpetual run of illegals flooding into the US. The four-pronged plan does not end with granting a path to citizenship, even a 10 year path, for 1.8 million illegals. There is the call for $25 billion to build the border wall - a dire necessity. Eliminating the visa lottery and ending chain migration are also part of the plan, but to what end? Where is the use of e-verify? Yes, the three “sticks” are vital parts of the plan, but the giant “carrot” not just legalizing, but granting citizenship to more than double the DACA numbers is simply unacceptable - even at the cost of not supporting the bill in its entirety. It is tantamount to total capitulation with the Democrats. To the Democrats calling the $25 billion for the wall a “ransom,” they are hypocrites as they themselves held the whole country hostage in mid-January by voting en masse against the budget bill because it did not include DACA provisions. The Democrats would rather protect illegals than the American military and citizenry. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called for including the best of the best as part of the American fabric, calling for strong vetting of the 1.8 million - how that becomes reality remains to be seen. Sessions also said that there will be deportations of DACA people who are criminals, “gang members, drunk drivers, and fraudsters.” What is the likelihood those miscreants will emerge from the shadows, admit their crimes and face deportation? Republicans supporting this new plan are even worse than the Democrats. While I have never been a one-issue voter in the past, I simply cannot vote for a House or Senate member willing to grant citizenship to criminals as an expedient manner of gaining the wall or the other “sticks.” Thinking this so-called immigration reform bill will stem the tide of illegals entering the United States? Think again. Foreigners wanting to come to the US, risking imprisonment, deportation, or their very lives, will work tirelessly to achieve their goal. More illegals will arrive, and perhaps another 32 years will pass before the next amnesty. Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again, expecting changes. Call your House members and your Senators. Remind them, politely, they work for you, and you oppose this pitiful excuse for compromise. The phone number for the Capitol Switchboard is 202-224-3121. They won’t get my vote. Will they get yours? Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Tribe's Thome, Vizquel Lead Class of 5 Into Hall

Tribe’s Thome, Vizquel Lead Class of 5 Into Hall
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
January 19, 2018

For the last several years I have devoted time and space in my annual Hall of Fame column to consistently rail against the evils of steroids and the potential allowance of players tainted by steroids to call Cooperstown their immortal home.

Either due to a lack of a prescient Hall of Fame policy or fear that too many members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) have short memories, as certain former players are inching closer to the 75 percent vote total required for enshrinement, Joe Morgan penned a letter to the BBWAA voters regarding the steroid issue.

Not a fan of the Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, or Oakland A’s, I nevertheless long admired Morgan the player, a Hall of Fame second baseman inducted in 1990, enjoyed his commentary on ESPN, and even more so now that he has taken his position public. Morgan continues to serve on the Hall of Fame’s board of directors, a position he has held since 1994. Much of the contents of Morgan’s letter were the subject of a December 4, 2017 Sports Illustrated article, “Letter of Intent,” written by Jay Jaffe.

Morgan, in his e-mailed letter, requested that the BBWAA voters “reject players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball’s [2007] investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report.”

“We hope the day never comes when known steroid users are voted into the Hall of Fame. They cheated. Steroid users don’t belong here,” wrote Morgan. 

Morgan signed his letter “Vice Chairman,” his title with the Hall’s board of directors since 2000, making it “an official position,” wrote Jaffe.

Jaffe further opined that Morgan was disingenuous with his letter for using “the term steroids and not performance-enhancing drugs” avoiding the fact that amphetamines were used for decades, long after their classification as controlled substances. Jaffe also criticized baseball as an industry for hypocrisy over splitting hairs regarding one set of substances versus the other. “Steroid use was due to a complete failure that implicated the commissioner, owners, players and media,” wrote Jaffe.

Former Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan “Bud” Selig is without a doubt complicit in the growth of the steroid era by refusing to address the larger than life elephant in the stadium. Following the baseball strike of 1994, Major League Baseball revived itself and grew its fan base with the accomplishments of Cal Ripken, Jr. and the home run battle waged between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.

Career-long Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame shortstop, Ripken, one of the true class acts in the history of the game, who I had the privilege to meet in 2001, set the standard for durability eclipsing the consecutive games played streak of New York Yankees Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig. Gehrig’s streak of 2,130 consecutive games stood for 56 years until Ripken played in consecutive game number 2,131 on September 6, 1995. On that historic night, Ripken hit a home run, and the Orioles defeated the then California Angels in Baltimore at Camden Yards 4-2. Ripken’s streak would continue through game 2,632, a record I believe will not be broken due to the current climate of the game.

Three years later, the epic 1998 McGwire-Sosa home run behemoth was akin to Godzilla swallowing Tokyo. Back and forth the sluggers went trading places on the leaderboard until September 8 when McGwire hit home run number 62 at home in St. Louis in a game against Sosa’s Chicago Cubs with Sosa watching from the outfield. Also present were the children of the late Roger Maris, whose record McGwire broke, having initially been set in 1961 with the Yankees. The Cardinals defeated the Cubs at Busch Stadium that night 6-3. By the end of the 1998 season, McGwire won the home run title 70 to 66. 

Another three years later Barry Bonds of the Giants would pass McGwire with 73 home runs, but by that time the rumors of steroids had become more of a reality. In fact, both Bonds and McGwire admitted to steroid use while Sosa and others such as pitcher Roger Clemens and infielder Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez, known unaffectionately as A-Roid, have been linked to steroids with a preponderance of strong innuendo and overwhelming circumstantial evidence. But Selig did little if anything to thwart the use of steroids, instead enjoying the renewed popularity of America’s favorite pastime. Sadly, Selig himself was enshrined in Cooperstown last year.

The cloud of controversy has been dark and heavy, while initially eliminating others from Hall of Fame contention; yet in the cases of Bonds, Clemens, and even Sosa with his less than 10 percent support, have seen their numbers rise from 2016 to 2017. The BBWAA voters’ support of Sosa rose from seven percent in 2016 to 8.6 percent in 2017. Bonds’ support rose from 44.3 percent to 53.8 percent during that same time, and Clemens’ totals jumped from 45.2 in 2016 to 54.1 last year. Manny Ramirez, another accused steroid user received 23.8 percent of the vote in his first balloting opportunity last year. The voting results due to be released on January 24 will determine if a trend is looming or if the BBWAA voters have come to their senses and reverse course. What is not released are the ballots of the voting members of the BBWAA. I think they should be disclosed to the public. Let the BBWAA voters defend their votes as I have defended mine, even if not as a member of the BBWAA.

In the interim, in an effort to shrink the window of opportunity for tainted ball players to achieve Hall of Fame status, the board reduced the number of years of eligibility to reach the 75 percent promised land, from 15 to 10 in 2014. But Jaffe sees that as hypocritical. “Recognize the era’s best, while understanding the context in which they thrived, and move on,” he concluded. 

I disagree vehemently. The only way steroid users should enter Cooperstown is with a paid ticket for admission. Jaffe encourages rewarding bad behavior. It’s how they got there to be the best that should matter. Cal Ripken played a clean game, as did myriad others, including, but not limited to Hall of Famers Joe Morgan, Nolan Ryan, George Brett, Lou Brock, Brooks Robinson, Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, and future hall of famer Jim Thome. It’s time to stop perpetuating the bad behavior. Many wrongs do not make anything right. Now is the time draw the baseline in the sand.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame has a so-called character clause. “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contribution to the team(s) on which the player played.” So-called because it has existed since 1945 and more than a fair share of ne’er do wells have found their way to Cooperstown. (https://baseballhall.org/hall-of-famers/bbwaa-rules-for-election)

With voting in mind, were I privileged to be charged with the task of electing the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2018, seven former major leaguers would earn my votes - four first ballot denizens and three holdovers. Of those seven, I expect three to be inducted on July 29, along with two others for whom I would not vote, but deserve induction. Candidates must receive at least five percent of the vote in order to remain on the ballot should they not attain 75 percent the previous year.

Because members of the BBWAA are permitted 10 votes, I’m throwing one to Jamie Moyer in his first year on the ballot, mostly for his longevity in the league - 25 years pitching in the Major Leagues, but also for some of the statistics. Let that sink in for a moment - Moyer toiled in the Bigs for a quarter century. Only five pitchers appeared in 25 or more seasons: Nolan Ryan (27), Tommy John (26), Jim Kaat (25), and Charlie Hough (25) - all having hurled since the 1960s. Five other non-pitchers have done likewise: Cap Anson (27), Deacon McGwire (26), Rickey Henderson (25), Bobby Wallace (25), and Eddie Collins (25) - interestingly, all  but Henderson had retired by 1930.

Moyer became the oldest player to win a game at age 49 years and five months, minus one day, on April 17, 2012. Moyer tossed seven innings, yielding two runs, neither earned, on six hits, picking up the win at Coors Field, as his Colorado Rockies defeated the San Diego Padres 5-3. His 269 wins ranks 35th - 23 of the top 24, sans Clemens, are in the Hall with 300 or more victories. Of the next 10, five are also in the Hall. With 2,441 strikeouts, Moyer ranks 40th. Moyer, having started 638 games, ranks 16th, and all but two of the top 15 are also in the Hall. While Moyer would get my vote, I don’t expect him to reach 75 percent.

Another freshman on my ballot not expecting to reach the magic number but would still earn my vote, is pitcher Johan Santana. His win-loss record of 139-78 and his 3,20 ERA are very good, but not great. He led the league in wins once and in ERA three times. Of his 12 seasons, eight are worthy of discussion, yet only four could be considered very good to excellent. My vote for Santana is mostly for the no-hitter he tossed while playing for my favorite team, the New York Mets, on June 1, 2012 versus the St. Louis Cardinals in an 8-0 victory at Citi Field in New York. This was the first no-hitter in the history of the Mets, but certainly not enough to warrant Hall entrance beyond this year’s symbolic vote.

The last two freshmen on my ballot were teammates for nine years with the Cleveland Indians - Jim Thome and Omar Vizquel, both of whom I expect to be enshrined in July. Both players suited up for six teams each, but are best known for their time with the Tribe.

With his 612 home runs, Thome is eighth on the all time list and 16 times in his 22 year career did Thome hit 20 or more homers. Six times he hit 40 or more. Nine times Thome batted in more than 100 runs and his career total of 1,699 RBI places him 26th on the all time list. Thome was five times an All Star and earned MVP votes in nine different seasons. Thome is one of only five players in MLB history to accumulate 500-plus home runs, 1,500-plus runs scored, 1,600-plus RBI, and 1,700-plus walks. Of the other four, three are Hall of Famers - Mel Ott, Babe Ruth, and Ted Williams, while one, Barry Bonds, should not be.

Thome’s teammate, Vizquel, was the quintessential shortstop of a generation, having won 11 Gold Glove awards during his 24 year career, second most at that position all time. Vizquel was also the oldest shortstop to win a Gold Glove, having done so at age 39 in 2006. After five years with the Seattle Mariners, Vizquel took his talents to Cleveland continuing to be the defensive gem that will vault him into Cooperstown.

Vizquel was three times an All Star, overshadowed by Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees. On the field, Vizquel led the league in Fielding Percentage six times as a shortstop and is the all time leader in Fielding Percentage at .985. Vizquel shares the season record with Cal Ripken, Jr. for committing the fewest errors by a shortstop playing in at least 150 games with a paltry three. Additionally, Vizquel is first all time in double plays turned by a shortstop, third all time in assists at shortstop, and 11th all time in putouts made by a shortstop.

At bat, Vizquel compares rather favorably to Hall of Fame shortstops Ozzie Smith, Luis Aparicio, and Luke Appling. Vizquel hit more home runs than Smith and Appling, trailing Aparicio by only three. Vizquel drove in more runs than Smith and Aparicio, stole more bases than Appling, hit for a higher batting average than Smith and Aparicio, while collecting more hits overall than all three. Vizquel and Thome should be inducted together, donning Indians caps.

Rounding out the ballot first timers who I believe will win the necessary votes for enshrinement is Chipper Jones, who played his entire 19 year career with the Atlanta Braves. Jones, with his 468 home runs, ranks 33rd, and his 1,623 RBI, ranks 34th to go along with his .303 career batting average is practically a lock for Cooperstown. Jones was selected for eight All Star games, garnered MVP votes in 13 seasons and won the award in 1999. Jones is one of nine players to accrue at least a .300 batting average, .400 on base percentage, .500 slugging percentage, while belting at least 400 homers. Seven of the other eight are already ensconced in Cooperstown: Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Mel Ott, Stan Musial, Babe Ruth, Frank Thomas, and Ted Williams. The eighth, Manny Ramirez, should be disqualified from the Hall of Fame for steroids.

While there is no doubt Jones deserves a plaque in Cooperstown, I would not vote for him. He single-handedly slaughtered the Mets for two decades. He enjoyed such success in Queens, he named a son Shea - home of the Mets from 1964 through 2008.

In addition to Jones, I am fairly secure in saying Vladimir Guerrero will also be elected into the Hall of Fame, but I would not be voting for him. In his first year of eligibility, Guerrero garnered 71.7 percent of the vote in 2017, falling 15 votes short of election. He has excellent credentials. In his 16 year career Guerrero batted .318, hit 449 homers, driving in 1,496 runs on 2,590 hits. He earned MVP votes in 12 seasons, winning the award in 2004.

Of the three holdovers from 2017 I would have voted for last year and again this year, Trevor Hoffman seems the only one likely to gain admittance into the Hall of Fame, having earned 74 percent of the vote, falling a mere five votes short. Neither pitchers Mike Mussina nor Curt Schilling are likely to reach 75 percent this year, but I continue to support their candidacies. Mussina’s stock rose as he earned 51.8 percent of the vote in 2017, up nearly nine points from 43 percent in 2016, while Schilling lost some momentum slipping seven points to 45 percent last year from 52.3 percent in 2016.

Hoffman pitched his 18 years in the majors with the then Florida Marlins, San Diego Padres, and Milwaukee Brewers racking up 601 saves while hurling mostly for mediocre teams where save opportunities were not as prevalent as for sure-fire Hall of Famer to be in 2019 Mariano Rivera. Known as a Padre the majority of his career, Hoffman represented the team as a six-time All Star, and one additional selection as a Brewer. The first pitcher to reach both the 500 and 600 save threshold, Hoffman was four times in the top 10 voting for the Cy Young Award and five times received votes for MVP. In 1998 Hoffman converted 41 consecutive save opportunities – a record at the time.

With 270 career wins, five-time ballot occupant Mussina spent 10 years with the Baltimore Orioles and eight with the New York Yankees. A big fan of “Moose,” an economics graduate from Stanford University as an Oriole, it hurt my eyes to see him donning pinstripes. Mussina made five All Star teams and won seven Gold Gloves. While overshadowed by Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz in 2015, Mussina garnered more victories than Hall of Famers Carl Hubbell, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal – with whom Mussina was compared, and Whitey Ford. Mussina ended his career at age 39, the oldest to record his lone 20-win season, going 20-9 with a 3.37 ERA. 

Schilling, bloody sock and all, is a six-time All Star who pitched 20 seasons in the big leagues – three with the Orioles, one with the Astros, eight-plus with the Phillies, three-plus with the Arizona Diamondbacks, then calling it a career with the Boston Red Sox. Schilling tossed 83 complete games, appeared in three World Series, and had three 20-plus win seasons within a four year span at ages 36, 38, and 39. Schilling should have his ticket stamped this summer – was my mistaken prediction the last five years, and while he probably won’t reach 75 percent this year, Schilling still belongs among those earning a plaque in Cooperstown.

While it is important to not sully the Baseball Hall of Fame with the likes of Bonds, Clemens, Ramirez, and Sosa, the focus must be on the greats who will be enshrined this July and how they will continue to be the true ambassadors to the community as so many before them have been. Ambassadors such as Jim Bunning and Bobby Doerr, who sadly left us in 2017 – Bunning at age 85, on May 26 and Doerr at age 99, on November 13. Bunning pitched a perfect game for the Phillies on Father’s Day 1964 against the Mets at Shea Stadium. He later went on to represent Kentucky in the United States Senate. Doerr, at the time of his death, was the oldest living former major leaguer, and the last living person to play in the 1930s. Doerr, a career Red Sox player, missed the entirety of the 1945 season serving his country during World War II. May their memories always be for a Blessing.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN. He has been a Patron-level member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame since 2007.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Messer Polled Smartly

Messer Polled Smartly
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
January 13, 2018

In Tony Cook’s January 12, 2018 Indianapolis Star article “Messer accused of rigging straw poll,” the sounds of sour grapes and lost opportunities could be heard from several of the six Republicans vying to be the next US Senator from Indiana.

This was actually a smart move on the part of US Rep. Luke Messer and his campaign to cover the cost of college students wishing to attend and participate in the straw poll. Why should anyone pay to participate in the straw poll - especially students? The purpose of paying to play, as it were, is simply to raise funds for the state GOP - a common practice by both major parties nationwide.

Paying the students’ fees simply encourages them to become more engaged in the political process. It does not guarantee a vote for the candidate actually paying the fee. It also sounds like sour grapes on the part of US Rep. Todd Rokita for not motivating his base. That was demonstrative by the final tally, as Messer won handily, 147 to 82 over Rokita, or 45 percent to 25 percent of the 326 votes cast in a six-man field.

Messer clearly has a more motivated base and an ever-growing ground game that hopefully will propel him to garner the GOP nomination in the May 8 primary, and ultimately winning the the US Senate seat in November.

Mark Braun ironically noted that “the straw poll results should be the result of a free and open process.” Sounds like an indictment against the event itself, that had a $30 price tag attached to it for college students - not a small price for students on a budget. And, quite frankly, with an attendance figure of more than 500 people, college students or not, more than a few balked at the ticket price for casting a ballot in the straw poll.

Braun, mostly self-financing his campaign, finished a distant third in the poll with 36 votes, or 11 percent. Rounding out the bottom half of the polling were Mark Hurt, with 29 votes, or nine percent; Andrew Takami, with 20 votes, or six percent; and Andrew Horning with 12 votes, or just under four percent. Apparently so insignificant are the candidacies of the bottom three, that their names were not mentioned until the last paragraph of a 26 paragraph story.

Braun’s effort appears to be a vanity campaign in what is largely a Messer versus Rokita race, in which I am proud to support Messer. Having met several of the candidates, including Messer, I can attest that he is a genuine family man, pro-life, fiscally conservative, a solid supporter of Israel, and listens to the people, regardless of the district in which they reside. I look forward to casting my vote for free in the May 8 primary.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Friday, January 12, 2018

DACA is a Dilemma

DACA is a Dilemma
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
January 12, 2018

DACA is a dilemma - a moral dilemma, a legal dilemma, and a sociological dilemma. And this assessment is coming from someone fervently in favor of deporting illegal aliens.

Illegal aliens are a drain on the American economy, particularly, what they are stealing from taxpaying Americans and legal residents; and by living in this country illegally, stealing is exactly what they are doing, a crime to be added to that of breaking and entering.

As there is no such animal as government money, those miscreants in the United States illegally are stealing from us - we the people - those of us who fund the government with our tax dollars. Illegals steal from us in the form of education by having children attend the public schools, older children being granted in-state tuition rates on the college and university level, free medical care and hospitalization, food stamps, welfare, as well as forcing legally licensed and insured drivers to pay increased rates for what is called uninsured motorist.

That is the tale of many of the at least 12 million people who reside in these United States illegally - people who made the willful decision to enter this country without permission or who overstayed their one-time legal welcome via a student visa, for example.

There is also the joint issue of jobs and employment. Illegals are taking jobs real Americans should be performing, thus keeping unemployment artificially inflated. The problem here is that both major political parties are complicit in this, and for different reasons. Democrats want illegals to be granted immunity, legalized, and ultimately given citizenship that will help bolster Democrat voter rolls. Naturally, the Democrats support illegals holding jobs in this country to strengthen their case. As for the Republicans, they turn a blind eye to illegals holding employment in this country because it improves their position with large companies hoping to keep costs down. Either way, this is a deleterious circumstance for lower income Americans forced to compete with illegals for limited employment positions.

This is part of the repercussion of the failed amnesty of 1986 granted by President Ronald Reagan, forced upon him by the overwhelmingly Democrat Congress. Roughly three million, three decades ago, ultimately swelled to more than four times that amount, although, to be sure, an accurate accounting of those in the US illegally may never be fully known or appreciated.The carrots were plentiful, while the sticks were in absentia. Those who willingly broke the law by entering the United States illegally, should be deported at a cost to their countries of origin.

However, with regard to the DACA, things are not so cut and dried. DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) concerns the children of illegals who were unwittingly spirited out of their countries of origins at ages too young to either object or know any better. These are now young adults roughly in their mid-20s who more often than not, did not choose to sneak into the United States illegally, yet here they are, sans legal status or citizenship and they live and work among us.

For the overwhelming majority of the roughly 800,000 “DACA recipients,” a.k.a. DREAMers (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors), the United States is the only country they know; English is their primary, if not only language; they have attended school in the United States, and in many cases only learned they are in this country illegally when attempting to apply to college or for employment and are required to demonstrate proof of citizenship.

Herein lies the dilemma. While it is easy to endorse the deportation of miscreant illegals for their willful lawbreaking, or deny them services or seats in classrooms, the DACA people fall into a different category. More than a fair number of conservatives believe the right thing to do is allow DACA people the right to remain in the United States and even become citizens. While I draw the line at citizenship, and ultimately voting rights, granting them permanent legal status is the moral path to be traversed. It would be morally wrong to deport these people to places that have not been their homes in possibly two decades to a world of the cultural and linguistic abyss.

From a legal standpoint, it is vital to remember that DACA is an illegal program established by Barack Obama via an executive order in 2012. Remember that anyone in this country illegally has broken the law whether civil or criminal, it matters not. It is up to the Congress to grant legal status upon the DACA people, or not. With Congressionally conferred legal status, they can then work legally, have legal status identification, and would no longer reside in legal limbo.

But as noted before, the failings of the 1986 amnesty must not be replicated, only in 2018 they would be four times worse. Carrots need be met with concomitant sticks, and those sticks must take the form of the wall across the southern border, as well as the end of chain migration and the visa lottery. Legal immigration based upon meritocracy must be adopted - just as is done in Australia and Canada. While I have long been a proponent of singular issue bills standing on their own merit, sans riders and pork, this is one time where the granting of legal status must be linked in the same legislation with the funding for the wall as well as the end on chain migration and the visa lottery. The art of compromise means there is something to aggravate everybody.

Historically, the Democrats have been weak on border security and strong on advocating for a path to citizenship for illegals. “There is not a Democrat that is not for a secure border,” said US Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), adding that “no Democrats want to make sure our military isn’t funded,” but that they are also concerned with domestic issues. In spite of his assertions, Hoyer still called for separate bills where DACA is adjudicated first, then border security. Seems Hoyer is being both disingenuous and recalcitrant about genuine immigration reform.

Additionally, Senator Richard “Dick” Durbin (D-IL) expressed his chief concern regarding the possibility of DACA recipients being deported, noting that 2,500 alone are school teachers in his state of Illinois. That statement is beyond daunting. How are these people actually teaching legally in the state of Illinois without proof of United States citizenship? Substitute teachers in practically every state, and certainly in each state where I have taught, are required to demonstrate American citizenship, let alone full time teachers. It’s not xenophobia to expect people to follow the rule of law.

It also isn’t racist to expect accuracy in reporting. Far too many defenders of DACA people aver that they are eager to serve in the United States military. Yet, according to CBS News, the Pentagon reports fewer than 900 DACA recipients are serving in the armed forces.

This is part of the dilemma referenced earlier - on the one hand, inaccurate information being bandied about, but simultaneously, hardworking people, albeit illegally, but dedicated to doing so. Most are attempting to live their “American” dream, and being brought to the United States typically beyond their control, should be able to live as legal residents - my form of compromise - neither deport nor grant citizenship - but legal residents out of the shadows.

No one has the right to become an American citizen. No one has the right to live in the United States. These are privileges determined and conferred by birth and observance of the rule of law. We welcome legal immigrants to the United States; legal immigrants who will contribute to the betterment of this country, and not attempt to recreate their country of origin, which, if that is their goal, we should ask ourselves why they left in the first place. Immigrants who join the United States as part of the melting pot it has become over the past three centuries, and not attempt to balkanize this nation into a conglomeration of ethnic enclaves determined to segregate themselves from the rest of society and then complain that the majority does not adhere to their cultural lifestyles.

If anything, many of the DACA people have become part of the fabric of America, the embodiment of what an American should strive to become, and in turn make America great again. Borrowing from one of my favorite American Indian adages, DACA immigrants should also endeavor to leave America better than they found it, as we all should - paying it forward to future generations of Americans.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Friday, December 22, 2017

UN Condemns US - Bites Hand Feeding It

UN Condemns US - Bites Hand Feeding It
Commentary by Sanford D. HornDecember 22, 2017

The United Nations, on Thursday, December 21, cast what must only be interpreted as a symbolic vote condemning the United States for making the long overdue decision of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and announcing its intention to move the American embassy there, from Tel Aviv.

While symbolic to be sure, as it will not alter the decision made by the United States, it is the definition of that symbolism that speaks volumes. The UN, increasingly anti-American and always, historically, anti-Israel, demonstrated why, as an organization, it is less and less relevant.

News flash: Jerusalem, in fact, is actually the capital of Israel - of that there can be no disputing. Yet the vote, an overwhelming rebuke of the United States’ declaration, was rife with ignorance and hatred - again no surprise. The final tally looked like a pasting The Ohio State University football team would hand to a local Columbus high school: 128-9.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Only eight countries stood with the United States in support of an announcement declaring what is already a historical fact, while 128 nations condemned the United States, and by conjunction, Israel, again, for publicly stating what is factual data. It is akin for condemning the science teacher for declaring the world is round, or the math teacher for a pronouncement that one plus one equals two - a real flair for the obvious.

Standing with the United States: Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, and Togo. Thank you for having the courage to do the right thing.

Enter US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley who delivered a dynamite speech before the UN as she continues performing an excellent job in her appointed capacity. Haley said the United States exercised its right as a sovereign nation recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and for planning to move its embassy to that city.

“That is what the American people want us to do, and it is the right thing to do. America will put our embassy in Jerusalem. No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that. But this vote will make a difference on how America looks at the UN and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN. And this vote will be remembered,” said Haley.

“Let them vote against us,” said President Donald Trump, adding, “we’ll save a lot [of money].” This is yet another example of Trump’s boldness to keep his word, his promise, and follow through on what previous American presidents - Democrat and Republican alike failed to do.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the vote on Thursday “preposterous…. Jerusalem has always been Israel’s capital, and Jerusalem will always be Israel’s capital.”

This condemnation is hardly new nor surprising where Israel is concerned. According to Jake Tapper, Chief Washington Correspondent for CNN, between 2012 and 2015, the United Nations General Assembly voted 97 times to condemn a specific nation - 83 of those condemnations targeted Israel. Israel, the one democracy in the Middle East, the sole Jewish state on the planet, has been the subject of 86 percent of the UN’s condemnations.

Sure, that makes sense, after all, Israel is guilty of human rights violations such as denying women the right to walk in public alone, beheadings, the slaughter of children, the rape of women, murdering Christians and homosexuals… oh, wait, that’s NOT Israel. That’s a cadre of Arab/Muslim states who are on the receiving end of nary a UN chastisement. Arabs and Muslims live more freely in Israel than in Arab/Muslim nations. Christians are not attacked for being Christian in Israel and Israel hosts one of the world’s largest gay pride parades on an annual basis.

How does this vote benefit those 128 countries? If anything it demonstrates their animus toward both the United States and Israel. It demonstrates they are in the pockets of the 57 Arab/Muslim countries and that those 128 nations fear the Arab/Muslim countries while disrespecting the United States. That is, until those nations come crying to the United States for funding or to use its influence for their benefit.

Regarding that funding, for 2017, the Regular Budget of the United Nations is $2.6 billion, of which the United States contributes 22 percent. Of the Peacekeeping Budget of $7.8 billion, the United States contributes 28.4 percent. That does not count the use of the hall, the local police and security in and around the UN headquarters in New York City.

It is high time the United States start talking with its dollars. First, pull and/or decrease the funding the United States provides any of the 128 nations that voted against the US. For many years I have called for countries voting against the United States in the UN 50 percent of the time or more should receive absolutely nothing - not one red cent. Clearly, those countries do not have the back of the United States. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), during his failed 2016 presidential campaign, put forth the notion of each country starting at zero dollars and then making the case for why they should receive any funding on an annual basis. Unless a nation provides some security benefit for the United States, such as a military base, or unless there is a humanitarian need, the funding should be curtailed. Those funds should revert back to the US for use on domestic programs such as national security or desperately needed infrastructure repair.

Second, kick the United Nations out of the United States. Most of these nations don’t like the United States, thus, they can set up shop in Brussels, Geneva, Paris, or even Moscow. Let one of their countries pay the mother lode of expenditures. Revoke the diplomatic immunity retroactively in order to require any UN miscreants and denizens to pay their parking tickets, be tried and serve time for the crimes of rape, murder, and human/sex trafficking.

Lastly, the United Nations building should be converted into housing - apartments or condominiums for homeless and/or disabled veterans. At least those expenses can be justified to the American people. The residents can live there rent/mortgage free under the proviso that they maintain the units and overall property to acceptable New York City standards. The building, designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, opened in 1952, and is located on First Avenue between 42nd Street and 48th Street.

Interestingly, Ambassador Haley announced a reception will be held for the 65 nations that did not vote to condemn the United States. This includes the aforementioned nine nations who voted no, the 35 countries that abstained, as well as the 21 who did not attend the vote at all. For the results of the vote, nation by nation, please visit: https://twitter.com/NBCNews/status/943895292138741760/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.npr.org%2Fsections%2Fthetwo-way%2F2017%2F12%2F21%2F572565091%2Fu-n-votes-overwhelmingly-to-condemn-trumps-jerusalem-decision

May G-d continue to Bless the United States of America and Israel.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.