Nature Boy Strikes Again!

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have always had a deep appreciation for the natural world. WhenI was a little kid I was up in the Catskill Mountains catching bluegills with dough balls and big ole bullfrogs by hand…much to the chagrin of my mother and her friends. I collected salamanders and newts…kept toads in terrariums…took care of an ant colony I dug up and even caught some awesome spiders and kept them as pets in gallon jugs. Let’s not foget the snakes we caught…the hamsters we raised and the ever popular chameleons (Anoles)

My father was big on tropical fish and I remember him setting up a big aquarium in the family family of our house in Brooklyn. From that moment on I had the bug! I soon found myself on a lifelong mission to create as natural an environment as possible for just about any sort of watery friends I could try.  Freshwater fish, saltwater fish, in the house or in the yard.

The “disease” started with silver angelfish, a fairly common freshwater variety that my father was partial to. Then I was off to the beach with my buddy Stevie catching some crabs, spearing and killifish and maintaining them in my mother’s basement. The equipment was primitive in those days so it was a real challenge. Then as a teenager Stevie I dug a pond in my father’s yard and went out fishing to stock it. We managed to catch a bunch of sunfish and a large bullhead catfish which we released into the 10 x 12 foot area.   It lasted for a season or too and when the cement cracked, and the winter was upon us this little pond was history.

In the ensuing years I became one of the largest importer-exporters of marine tropicals in the USA. We wholesaled all types of exotic coral reef fish and invertebrates to pet shops in both North America and Europe. It was a stimulating business. A young man’s business…challenging both physically and mentally. I made a lot of money in a short time and decided that the crazy hours would be best left to someone else. I sold out but I never lost the love and fascination the amazing creatures I had come into contact with.

Fast forward many years. I’m living in a new home and I’m thinking I’d love to build a pond in my yard. A nice freshwater environment to relax and enjoy nature up close and personal. So around 2001 I started building a pond with a waterfall right in the backyard of my home within 10 feet of the back door. I could never understand why anyone would build something like this far far away from the house. I wanted to interact with these critters.  One morning while feeding the adult fish I noticed quite a few smaller fish with the distinct and unmistakable markings of baby koi. They were resembling the markings of some of the adult fish and I was pretty excited and amazed. There are SO MANY OF THEM !

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This is the largest koi in the pond.  Distinctive black flecks on a bright orange body.  A few of the small fish are exhibiting similar markings so I’ll assume they are the children of this one. Not sure what sex the fish is but I suspect female.

Here are the kids…sorry the photos are tough to take in moving water with moving fish

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The pond has been running with a filtration system I devised for about 15 years now and for the first time the koi which inhabit this spot are breeding with great success. Up until this point I had only one koi survive to adulthood and I’d never really seen too many juvenile fish in the pond. The goldfish on the other had breed regularly and I’ve given away quite a few to other pond enthusiasts but the koi are a lot tougher to propagate…that is until this season.

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These adults have a more typical color pattern and here are the baby fish on the left in this shot  that resemble them.

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This large yellow koi called a Sunshine Koi for obvious reasons also has some progeny swimming about.

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I decided to try and give them a better chance at growing into adults, I’d take some of the responsibility out of the hands of Mother nature, and I started feeding them

Some really nutritious flake foods that I ordinarily feed my satwater fish in the house. It seems to be doing the trick. The young koi have gone from 1-2 inches to 3-4 inches in a very short time. They seems healthy and active and their color patterns are more pronounced. I have a couple of large bullfrogs and a red eared slider (turtle) also living in the pond at the moment, and they don’t seem to be causing any problems with these young fish. I also have a large channel catfish that generally eats anything that fits in it’s rather large mouth. So far they seems to have avoided him as well.

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As the summer rolls on I’ll try and collect btter photos and report on how the baby koi are doing.

Posted in Gardening, ponds, water gardening | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

NY METS-JUNE 2016

From the moment the World Series ended the fan base of the NEW YORK METS have only thought of one thing. Get back to the Series and WIN IT.

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Management did everything within reason to make that wish a reality.

Cespedes is amongst us.

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The pitching staff is solid…(despite Matt Harvey’s recent hiccups)

In addition to the signing of the big slugger, they upgraded both short and second by bringing in Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker. These guys are professionals and have shown it since they’ve been here. . Reliable steady bats and gloves to support the pitching staff with solid middle infield defense. The METS have made more double plays than ever…a boon to the young flame throwing arms. They re-signed Bartolo Colon…a great move. He’s been great and will keep eating innings until Wheeler gets back.

So where are we on June 13, 2016? The injury bug has taken a nice big bite out of the METS lineup. Once again Wright is out indefinitely, and his career could possible be over depending on what he looks like when he gets back. Duda out indefinitely with the foot fracture. Flores hurting but trying to tough it out. Lagares hurting and trying to touch it out. Conforto hurting and trying to tough it out. Actually today’s NEWSDAY says his bad left wrist will be examined doctors today.

D’Arnaud out indefinitely but maybe it looks like he may be back sooner rather than later. Wow. The Mets are fielding a minor league team similar to th eone they put on the field last year at this time. Great move bringing back Kelly Johnson from the Braves and I like the Loney deal too.

The METS are 34 and 28 after a 5-5 road trip that could have easily been 7-3. Though they are scuffling along, they are keeping their heads in the race with Tha=e Nats and I there’s something to be said about that.

Terry Collins

The latest bug bite came yesterday when Terry Collins went to the hospital before the Brewer game in Milwaukee with what has been described as “undisclosed symptoms”. That sounds fairly ominous for a 67 year manager in the middle of the season. I guess we are going to find out just how resilient, just how tough these METS are. They sit 4 and a half games behind rival Nationals. It’s quite early to be drawing any definitive conclusions, but if they pitch as expected, and if they can get some of their front line palyers back off the DL, they should be battling the NATS all season long.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Baseball, NY Mets, Sports | 2 Comments

Gearing Up For Summer 2016

I’ve decided that time goes by way too fast. I was talking to a friend of mine that other day and it is truly amazing how we were young men of 24 and then bang…40 years went by! It’s another growing season here on Long island and once again I’m out in the sun with my hands in the dirt.

The small plants we started in the house are now transferred into the garden plot. This was a very late spring. The weather was pretty cold and miserable which made hardening the plants a big pain in the butt…but…they finally got rolling and during the past couple of weeks we got everything into the ground. Usually we have the tomatoes and peppers in the ground around Mother’s Day.  It’s been a late year indeed.

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The garlic we planted last September is now about 30 inches high and looking good and strong. We will be picking them in about three and a half weeks.

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The asparagus patch has been giving us a nice crop, the last of which we ate this evening. Hopefully we’ll get some more shoots before the plants go to seed in a few weeks.

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We’ve been eating red and white romaine lettuce and arugula for a few weeks now. We can never eat as much as we grow! Been giving it away to appreciative folks.

 

Our blueberry bushes are full of green fruit and it looks like it’s going to be another good year of around 20 pounds. I use BLUEBERRIES ALIVE, a great organic fertilizer that we get online from GARDENS ALIVE. Give them plenty of water and sunshine and the fruit will be great. Our patch is enclosed in a 10 x 10 structure covered with ¼ inch metal screen to keep out both the 4 legged and 2 legged animals.😉

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We planted two types of kale this year…red ragged leaf and dinosaur Italian heirloom. Both are a little slow getting started but my experience is once they get rolling there’s no stopping them!

We also have brussels sprouts and cabbage in the ground. These vegetables are very slow growing and won’t be ready till September.

So far 2016 looks like a great year for vegetables on Long Island.  Enjoy the summer!

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The Vegetable Garden 1 – Spring 2016

Another year…another growing season upon us here on Long Island. This will be our year 13 growing vegetables at the Greenlawn Organic Gardens in Huntington Town, in Suffolk County New York.

As we do each year in late February, we started the tomatoes and peppers in the small greenhouse that we sit in our dining room near the double glass doors. The sunshine warms the small enclosure and heats up the seeds. Within a week or so we have plenty of seedlings popping up. Tomatoes and peppers won’t be transferred to the garden. plot till around Mother’s Day so they’ll be spending a bit of time here at home to start the season.seeds indoorsIMG_5399IMG_5398

Last week they made their first foray outdoors to begin the “hardening process”.

This week we went over to the plot to get started cleaning up the winter mess. The garlic we planted last September is now 12-15 inches high and looking good and strong. The very mild winter was kind to the plants. Unfortunately the mild weather was also kind to the weeds that were covering the garlic bed. Removing them became job one as we started to get the garden into shape .  We mixed up our organic weed killer solution of epsom salt, Dawn dish soap and white vinegar.  Works like a charm every time.  It won’t hurt people, birds or beneficial insects but man it absolutely destroys the weeds. Spray that on unwanted growth and overnight it’s dead.  Then you can easily rake it away.

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Next I checked the blueberry enclosure for weeds poking through the newspaper and pine needle ground covering we use around the bushes. I also check that the screen is in good shape to keep out the animals, both the 4 legged and 2 legged varieties! The blueberry bushes are covered with sprouting leaves right about now.

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We just put in a dozen heads of romaine lettuce both red and green, some brussels sprouts, mesclun greens, beets and snow peas.

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Lastly we got our first pound of fresh asparagus shoots.

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Next week we’ll be mulching the garlic to keep the weeds from coming back and we’ll be expecting more asparagus.

Posted in Gardening, Growing Vegetables, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

A WILD AND CRAZY POLITICAL SEASON

Republicans taking each other off at the knees.   Democrat Sanders has the balls to call himself a Socialist and nearly upsets Hillary in Iowa then goes on to crush her in New Hampshire. Usually it’s the Democrats beating each other over the head to prove who is the most progressive forward thinking leader. This year the Republicans have been smacking each other around at some of the nastiest debates on record trying to prove who is the most religious, who is the most anti-immigrant and who can undo anything Obama did. The National Review trashes Republican front runner Trump and 7.4% of American Muslims say they would support him despite his Islamophobic comments. It’s been a truly amazing political season so far. The polls have fluctuated wildly and the candidates are out swinging in full force.

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True to his crude bullying modus Trump says Cruz is a liar and questions whether or not he is even eligible to be POTUS due to his Canadian birth. Hmmm. Where have we heard that before? I am amazed that in an era where there are so many pressing issues that need immediate attention, that leaders of a political party would be trying to emasculate each other based on where they were born? Nonsense in it’s truest form. And let’s not forget the ever entertaining Sarah Palin. She decided to endorse Trump through a rambling and barely intelligible speech. At one point in her diatribe she blamed the actions of her wife beater son in law on President Obama’s lack of support for the troops..? Whaaaaaaat? Most people agree the colorful Ms. Palin was a huge contributing factor in John McCain’s loss 8 years ago.   The woman may be one of the most polarizing figures in the country. How will this affect Trump’s run? So far there has been no obvious fallout. But then is anything she said all that much more incendiary than statements Trump has made himself?
Sanders HILLARY

Bernie Sanders says that due to the fact that Hillary’s campaign has received huge donations from PAC’s and rich donors. that she will be beholden to powerful interests. Maybe. I don’t think that is a given. She has made the point that just about every person running for high office in this country has received similar donations. It’s the way of the world and that is Bernie’s point. He has not accepted any money from any PAC or large contributor putting his faith in the small donations that Obama made legendary during the last elections. Many young people agree. How can we get big money out of our election campaigns if the candidates continue to accept large sums and the influence peddling they presume? It is noteworthy to mention that Donald Trump has repeatedly insisted that he has not accepted any large donations and that his campaign is being entirely financed by himself. There have been some questions as to the validity of his statements but all in all his claims do seem sensible and legitimate.nI believe it is quite unavoidable that until ALL BIG MONEY DONATIONS ARE BANNED FROM POLITICS, NO PROGRESSIVE CHANGES OF ANY MAGNITUDE WILL BE POSSIBLE, regardless of how altruistic the intent, regardless of how fervent the ambition. Money can corrupt even the purest of endeavours. It seems fairly obvious that the absurdly titled CITIZENS UNITED legislation is one of the worst decisions ever made by any branch of the US government in our history and hopefully will be reversed in the near future.

So Trump decided to skip the FOX NEWS Debate because he didn’t like the moderator, or the questions she was asking him? Wow. So I guess candidates for public office now get to decide which questions they will accept in a debate? And this is a free and open debate? It is no wonder his rivals trashed his absence though I’m sure they were relieved to not have Trump jumping in all over their answers to questions.

And so this unusual political season rolls on. After Trump trashed Cruz as a liar Cruz questioned Trump’s “New York Values”, a tactical mistake that will surely cost him any shot to win the nomination. Trump says Cruz is a “guy nobody likes”

If all of this craziness wasn’t enough enter The Pope.  Trump’s controversial plan to build a giant wall to keep out Mexicans and basically anyone else has come under fire from Pope Francis. Conservatives have been bashing the Pope over his climate change comments for several months.

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His latest salvo against Trump, calling his plan something very “un-Christian” has once again sent the freewheeling Trump off on a tirade. His statement yesterday that, “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian and as President I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now, with our current President.”  Really? Christianity is being attacked and weakened? By whom? ISIS?  I’ve heard this statement echoed on several occasions.  Attacked and weakened?  The vast majority of the people inthe USA are Christian.  Many of them are quite loud about it.  How are they being attacked and weakened. I’m not sure wher e this concept came from other than to say it is an obvious attempt by Trump and others to mobilize a voting block.  The United States is a country that has flourished for well over 200 years as a melting pot of many cultures and religions. The first people to arrive here were indeed Christians, and of many denominations, but this idea that the government would favor any one religion over another is completely contrary to what this country stands for. The Founding Fathers had very strong feelings about the separation of Church and State and any candidate that is attempting to cash in on religious fervor to gain votes simply can’t be trusted in my estimation. And was the Pope questioning Trump’s faith? Another slippery maneuver to move the emphasis off his plan and place it back on the Pope. Francis wasn’t questioning his faith. He was questioning his modus which in the final analysis does reflect on his acceptance of Christian values. I find it interesting that many of these politicians have extremely convenient Christian values and faith when it suits there ends, and they seemingly lose their religious zeal when it doesn’t.

Hillary 2016

The other day someone asked me what I think of Hillary. Tough question that requires a lot of thought. Qualified to be POTUS. I think so. She has great experience. Community Organizer, Lawyer, First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State. But along with Sarah Palin and a handful of others, she is a hugely polarizing figure at a time when maybe we need a unifying force in this country. Does such a politician exist anymore? Her involvement with lawsuits and various scandals is well known. Is she guilty of crimes? Maybe yes, maybe no.  Has she been targeted by Republicans as a way of derailing her political ambitions? Well yes. They admitted as much themselves. So what do I think of Hillary Clinton?  I think she has a politician’s tongue and bends things to suit her own needs.   Of course they all do but in her case it’s a feeling I have and I think it is shared by many others in the electorate.  She REALLY wants to be the First WOMAN PRESIDENT.  I’ll have to wait and see what develops over the course of the next few months before I decide on her.

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I was also asked what I think of the Republicans running for office. I think Jeb Bush may be the most interesting candidate. He has a good track record in Florida and he has some common sense no-nonsense approached to problems. Of course he is polling at about 3% so it obvious his party doesn’t think he is a good choice.

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I think John Kasich is also a reasonable fellow who understands that maybe science does after all make a lot of sense and he also has some good ideas but again he is polling at around 2% so his party has little use for him.  Marco Rubio is a young guy with energy and enthusiasm but his policy ideas are pretty weak.  Rand Paul interests me in many ways but his party won’t nominate him.  He may be too cerebral for the average bear. He is sort of the Bernie Sanders of the right.  Has some really good radical ideas but will they fly?  The rest of the Republican field are non-factors for me.

Our elections seem to be a battle between socially progressive and fiscally conservative ideals. It’s interesting that not ONE…not a single candidate can stand before us and say he or she embraces these two divergent viewpoints. There are many many people out in the world who have described themselves to me as just that.  Progressive thinkers, based in science and intellectual thought,  who adhere to a fiscally conservative game plan. Hmmm…does that sound like anyone running for POTUS?  How about someone who MIGHT be running for POTUS? Maybe someone who is a sort of responsible, educated billionaire with a strong successful background and great experience governing a huge diverse populous? Did someone say Bloomberg?  Rumours say it could be but that he is too right to be a Democrat and too left to be a Republican.  Hey maybe that could work?

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Regardless of who gets the nod in this crazy election season it is pretty obvious that we are all in for some high drama, some higher comedy, some double and triple talk and more than a goodly amount of entertainment.  God help the Republic!

 

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The Winter of Great Expectations

 

From the moment the 2015 World Series ended until just a few days ago, a controversy was raging in the media and amongst the fan base of the NEW YORK METS.

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To Cespedes or Not To Cespedes…that was the question.

 

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Whether t’was nobler to stand pat and try to get back to the Series on the strength ofyoung arms, suffering the slings and arrows of a lack of offense (see last season before the trade deadline) or to take arms against a sea of troubles by signing a bat and ending the slumps before they even began! Ending the heartache of a thousand foul balls…to hit…perchance to dream…that the slugger would return.

Spaeketh wise Jerry Seinfeld…Cespedes…for the rest of us !

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And then something miraculous happened. A thunderbolt of such fury and power that all of the great City was consumed in delight and much celebration…Cepedes was truly for the rest of us! The NY METS…those same METS who have given us little to be thankful for in recent years gave us a gift of such magnitude that burnt offerings to the BASEBALL GODS are in order.

All kidding aside,  the signing of Yoenis Cespedes puts the METS back into contention for serious serious October baseball. Can they duplicate the feat the Royals accomplished by beating the METS in the 2015 World Series? Can this team get back to the Fall Classic and win it?

Why not?

In addition to the signing of the big slugger they desperately needed, they upgraded both short and second by bringing in Asdrubal Cabreara and Neil Walker. These guys are professionals. Reliable steady bats and gloves to support the pitching staff with solid middle infield defense. They re-signed Bartolo Colon…a great move. He’ll give them innings until Wheeler gets back, and then long relief as seen by his outstanding performance in the post season.

Is it obvious that the MET pitching staff is off the charts. They needed a bit of help at the reliever spot and they signed Antonio Bastardo from the Pirates giving them another reliable professional. With the anticipated return of Blevins and Edgin, the MET bullpen is looking fairly solid and deep. Let us not forget Familia and his awesome 2015 season.

And so looking towards the 2016 season I think of the immortal words of Casey Shakespeare who said, “And enterprises of great pitch and moment, with this regard their currents turn awry…but that ain’t gonna’ happen this year…’cuz the METS be flyin’ high!

 

 

Posted in Baseball, NY Mets, Sports | Tagged | 1 Comment

Trump Gets Whacked by THE NATIONAL REVIEW

The Trump bandwagon continues to roll along. picking up speed with pissed off white people lining up to back him.

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Apparently he embodies all of their misdirected anger and more than a little of their loud pushback. A pushback against all of their perceived slights from Obama to Muslims; Chinese investments in American properties to gun control. He slams immigrants…they love that. He slams women. That resonates too. He mocks the President, he mocks his Republican rivals, he mocks Foreign Countries and denigrates everybody and anybody who doesn’t buy into his unique and rather peculiar reactionary agenda.  He’s the corner bully but in this case he’s convinced a lot of people that he will be THEIR bully.

This week the highly regarded bastion of conservative intellect, THE NATIONAL REVIEW, has come out with both barrels a-blazing to question whether or not Trump is fit and capable to be the President.

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According to an article by Michael Calderone in the January 22, 2016 HUFFINGTON POST  “National Review’s editors denounce Trump for shifting his political stances and describe him as “a menace to American conservatism who would take the work of generations and trample it underfoot in behalf of a populism as heedless and crude as the Donald himself.”

In a story appearing in the WASHINGTON POST’s “Fix” section, written by Callum Borchers, the editor of THE NATIONAL REVIEW (and a FOX NEWS analyst)  Rich Lowry explains the how and why of what they did.

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So conservatives, across a wide spectrum of political thought have banded together to try and stop the Trump diesel from gaining any more momentum.  I think part of the problem here is it’s not your typical conservative movement.  There are lots of people supporting Trump who wouldn’t ever consider themselves conservative.  He’s struck a chord with people who are first and foremost “angry” and “dissatisfied” with what they perceive as the deterioration of their own lives,  and the life of the country on a grander scale.

Since THE NATIONAL REVIEW came out with it’s blistering AGAINST TRUMP issue, the candidate has labeled them as “establishment” and as a “dying paper”. charges that in my opinion are both self serving and disingenuous.  Lowry responds.

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The facts are simply this.  Trump is a political outsider, a moniker that he relishes.  He paints the politicians and the government as the root cause of all the problems in the society.  This is a calculated strategy that many before Trump have used to manipulate followers.  This is the original thesis of the fledgling TEA PARTY before they were commandeered by the rightwing of the Republican party.  Trump seems like he wants to be connected with the outsider mentality.  But then why in the world would he make such a big deal out of being endorsed by Sarah Palin just a few days later?  Most mainstream Republicans cringe at the very mention of her name.  She represents a small stratum of society, at least in the last two national elections,  that doesn’t reflect the attitudes of the vast majority of people.  Is it possible her endorsement could be the kiss of death to his campaign?  Maybe yes, maybe no.  Remember Trump has already alienated Latinos, women and Muslims.  He has insulted a national hero in John McCain; He has mocked and bullied his rivals Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina and yet his standing in the polls remains constant.  His campaign tactics are less an indictment of The Donald himself,  and  I believe more a reflection of the darker side of American politics in 2016.  When a candidate can show grossly classless behavior,  when a candidate can mobilize anger into a political force against large swaths of the population; when a candidate promises to “make America great again” yet shows little in the way of programs to do so,  it seems pretty obvious to me that he is playing to the lowest common denominator in the electorate.  These are the issues that THE NATIONAL REVIEW,  and the Republican hierarchy in general are faced with. As the loudest portion of the party moves further and further to the right, traditional Republicans with more moderate centrist views, are finally waking up to the danger presented by Trump and his angry populist movement.

Can Trump win a national election?  Can he even win a number of the primaries? Will he keep his word and support the eventual nominee if he is not selected?

It’s going to be a VERY INTERESTING year on the right.

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Disappointing Loss Ends Hopeful JETS Season

Source: Disappointing Loss Ends Hopeful JETS Season

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Disappointing Loss Ends Hopeful JETS Season

Though JET fans are still irritated and smarting from the season ending loss to Wrecks and his Bisons, there are two very good reasons JETS NATION can look to a promising future.

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The first reason is the new GM, Mike Maccagnan, who assumed the reins of a team in disarray and moved them forward with a steady hand. For the first time in a long time it was obvious the man running the show knew what the heck he was doing. Woody Johnson has taken a lot of abuse over the years for some of the hires he made and rightfully so. But in this case he deserves the lion’s share of the credit for assembling the right advisors in Ron Wolf and Charlie Casserly and then making this critical hire. In this case Woody brought in the right man for the job. Mike Maccagnan did a splendid job turning the franchise around and he did it quickly. He stepped up to the plate and started smacking line drives all over the field.

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First he acquires the extremely talented Brandon Marshall via trade for basically nothing (a low round draft pick). People were concerned that maybe Marshall could be a bit of a head case. How’d that turn out? Marshall became the quintessential team player and goes on to write single season JET and NFL receiving records. Then he brought in Ryan Fitzpatrick whom he knew from his time is Houston. All he does is foster an intelligent, quiet calm and confidence to the offense as he sets the JET single season TD record surpassing Vinny Testaverde’s mark of 29 in 1998 with his 31. A pretty good start to the GM’s first off season. But he was just getting warmed up.

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Then he orchestrates a return to Revis Island with Darrelle “Batman” Revis and his sidekick Antonio “Robun” Cromartie. With a wave of his hand he steals Buster Skrine from the Browns and Marcus Gilchrist from the Chargers revamping what had been a horrible defensive backfield and making it one of the team’s strengths. Wow.

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Oh wait. There’s more. He drafts arguably the best player in last year’s draft, Leonard Williams when he falls into the Jet’s lap at number six. The kid goes on to have a solid rookie season and is expected to develop into a star in the years to come. He takes linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin who showed some flashes during the year and lastly picks up speedy wide out Devon Smith. Though he had a rocky start to his career, Smith should be a great addition to the offense after a year in the system. He has the speed the offense desperately needs. Mike Maccagnan had an awesome first season with the New York JETS and apparently the Pro Football Writers Association agrees as they voted him the NFL Executive of the Year. Jets owner Woody Johnson has taken a lot of crap the last few years from the likes of Mike Francesca and others in the media. He deserves to be lauded and applauded for making this choice to run the franchise. Thanks also goes to Ron Wolf and Charlie Casserly as well for their invaluable input and guidance. This time the JETS got it right. Very right.

Todd Bowles

But there is also an important part two to this successful Jet equation in the person of first year head coach Todd Bowles, a no-nonsense no drama tough guy who speaks very softly and carries a large stick. Bowles is a former player and Super Bowl champion with the Washington Redskins, a Parcells disciple and confidante. He was an acknowledged standout as the Defensive Coordinator in Arizona last season.

Bowles also brought a tough minded calm to the team in his first season. He made it clear that the players would be accountable. I was a fan of Wrecks Ryan but he failed in a couple of BIG ways that spelled the end of his reign here. First off was accountability. It’s my opinion his close relationship with the players was maybe too close. He talked a mean game and continually took the blame for his players failures. Bowles approach was more “us” and “we” rather than I. Wrecks other big fault was putting the entire offensive scheme into his assistant coach’s hands. He needed to be more involved with strategy, clock management and just general awareness of what the offense was doing. In a league that has increasingly become throw throw throw run, his insistence on run run run throw was part of his undoing.   In fairness Coach Ryan did not have the team that was handed to Todd Bowles. The secondary he was forced to play with by John Idzik was really atrocious. The offensive skill players were nowhere to be found, and Geno Smith just couldn’t carry the team on his back. Idzik’s austerity budget did nothing for him or Coach Ryan but it certainly put Mike Maccagnan in an enviable position. One that he took full advantage of.

So where are the Jets headed this off season? I would make an educated guess that they want to bring back Ryan Fitzpatrick to hold the seat while they either look for a long term franchise answer at QB or continue to groom Bryce Petty. Geno Smith? I can honestly say I have no idea what they are going to do about Smith. Coach Bowles said he likes the player after the season ended and would have no problem with Smith as the backup. I’m sure Smith has other ideas. Is Smith a better option than Petty? Another question I have no answer for. I saw Smith start for two years and though he had little to work with as far as offensive talent, he really didn’t show me much in the smarts department. Another problem on the offensive side of the ball is the tight end position or lack thereof. This was the year Jace Amaro was going to bloom into the major force they thought he would be when he was drafted. Bitten by the injury bug we’ll have to wait till next season to see if he can perform as expected. “Baby Gronk” Zach Sudfeld was supposed to be the “other” tight end. He too saw injuries short circuit his season. One wonders how much more dynamic the Jet offense would have been with these two guys lining up for Fitzpatrick. Amaro as the pass catcher and Sudfeld the big time blocker. It’s obvious Chan Gailey was too thrilled with his tight ends seeing how Jeff Cumberland did little this year. The offensive line is solid but it’s probably time to go looking for quality depth. They are pretty long in the tooth at left tackle and center. Mangold is an awesome force but he’s going to break down sooner or later. His injuries this year were a forewarning of what’s ahead. The running back situation seems fairly stable with Ivory, Powell, Stacy and Ridley but none of these guys are home run hitters. Should a burner with moves become available in the second or third round maybe the Jets should grab him.

Moving to the defensive side of the ball there are some serious questions that GM Maccagnan will have to address. Franchise tag Mo Wilkerson? Seems logical. What do you do about Damon Harrison who has become one of the top three nose tackles in the league? If he goes free agent the patriots, The Giants, The Dolphins or the Bills would swallow him up in a flash. Is Demario Davis the answer at linebacker? A force against the run…a liability in pass coverage. What about an edge pass rusher? Bowles defense is sorely lacking a pass rusher with speed who can disrupt things from the outside (just look at what DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller did to The Patriot offense yesterday) His defensive line is formidable but they just don’t get enough pressure and sacks on the QB. The secondary looks pretty good but questions here as well. Do they continue with Cromartie or do they promote Marcus Williams or Dexter MacDougal?

I can say that for the first time in a long time I am comfortable and confident that Mike Mccaganan will make the right decisions and keep the Jets on an upward trajectory. A move here or there and this team could be playing serious January football next season. We can only hope.

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2015 NEW YORK JETS – A PLAYOFF RUN?

I’ve been quiet about this JET season for several weeks. They came out of the gate 4-1 and it seemed like something special was about to happen with several very winnable games. Those games slipped away and before you knew it the JETS were5-4 and seemingly headed for disaster.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 12.40.57 PM

What were the reasons for the erosion of the great start? I believe the injury to Chris Ivory was the key factor in the decline. An impressive power running game all but disappeared with his hamstring problems. Another obvious problem was key injuries to Willie Colon and Nick Mangold seriously hampering the veteran offensive line.

IvoryColon Mangold

After beating up the hapless Dolphins the JETS found themselves just on the fringe of the playoff chase at 6-5. The losses to Oakland, Buffalo and Houston have been particularly damaging. All of these teams are also in the hunt for a wildcard spot and the JETS handed the tie breakers to teams they are competing with.

The next stop? METLIFE STADIUM for a battle with an equally desperate and inconsistent GIANT team also struggling to get to second season. Most of the pundits made the JETS a slight 2 point favorite in the game. Surprising seeing how the game was officially a GIANT home game, and the JET’S long slow decline in the previous month. I was expecting a knock down drag out fight and that’s exactly what we got.

Was I expecting a JET win? Well when it started I thought they were the better team everywhere but at QB. I must admit in the fourth quarter I didn’t see a win looming.

My GIANT fan nephew watching the game with me remarked that the JETS had the GIANTS right where they wanted them. Up 10 in the with about 12 minutes to go. He assured me that the JETS were going to win the game based on the numerous GIANT collapses he had witnessed all season long. I wasn’t too sure of his prediction but when Coach Coughlin passed on the field goal try with about minutes to go, and Manning was intercepted, I was feeling his pain. Hmmmm. Maybe the JETS had a comeback in them after all. Decker over the middle. Decker over the middle and then Decker over the middle. The long JET drive ended in a made field goal cutting the GIANT lead to 7. My nephew shook his head knowingly. “No way the JETS lose this game” he said.

Decker

The JETS kick off and Inexplicably the GIANTS decided to try and pound their non-existent run game against the number run defense in the league. The result was predictable. They gained nada, zippo, zilch, nothing and the JETS got the ball back with a comfortable 2:43, 3 times out plus the 2 minute warning. Wow I thought to myself. The JETS are going to at least tie the game and then who knows? I was thinking about Herm’s legendary “You play to win the game” quote. Maybe.

Herm

Ryan Fitzpatrick has been sort of maligned all season. By and large I’ve been happy with his play. His decisions seem good. His arm strength is acceptable.

Fitzpatrick

He has a poise and calm about him that I have not seen since Chad Pennington. He’s in control. After his amazing fourth down run that gave the JETS a first down deep in GIANT territory, even I was believing the JETS were going to win. Ah yes but with all the tricky overtime rules I figured the odds were still long what with Eli and Beckham on the case.

Eli-Manning   Beckham

So the JETS marched down the field and scored a TD on a power move and catch by Brandon Marshall. Nice. On to overtime.

Marshall

The Jets march down the field once again and kick the go ahead field goal. The GIANTS get the ball and start moving the ball. Unfortunately for them their chances die on an incomplete fourth down play. For the GIANTS another miserable late loss. For the JETS a stirring comeback that may yet propel them into the playoffs.

Four games to go. Tennessee…Dallas…New England…Buffalo. If they play like they did the last couple of weeks maybe the playoffs can be a reality in 2015. I’m thinking they can take care of the Titans but the remaining three games against Belicheat , Dem Boys and Wrecks Ryan’s Bulls ain’t gonna be easy. But they are in the thick of serious December football and that’s all you can ask.

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