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Trump’s Neshoba visit will face instant scrutiny
by Sid Salter
Jul 24, 2016 | 125 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PHILADELPHIA – From heated races to choose county supervisors or local justices of the peace to the White House, the Neshoba County Fair remains Mississippi’s premier political stump. That fact will be again underscored this week with the scheduled appearance of the son of newly-minted Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump at Neshoba on Tuesday. The Neshoba County Fair as the traditional epicenter of retail politics in Mississippi famously brought Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan to the fairgrounds in a speech that still ranks as the institutions largest single event in 1980. Other presidential candidates – Democrat presidential nominee Michael Dukakis in 1988 and presidential candidates Jack Kemp and John Glenn also campaign at Neshoba. Donald (Don) Trump Jr. will not be the first son of a presidential candidate to make an appearance at Neshoba, either. Neil Bush, the son of President George H.W. Bush and the brother of President George W. Bush, also campaigned for his father at Neshoba in 1988 in a surrogate role. For decades, I’ve been an interested observer of political speeches at Neshoba and despite not always agreeing with content offered by the speakers. My memories gravitate toward the great old stump speakers I heard under the Founder’s Square Pavilion as a kid. Some were outright racists or segregationists. Some were progressives or liberals (but mostly only by Mississippi standards). Others were self-serving charlatans. Many, thank goodness, actually had a sincere desire to serve their fellow man and deserved a shot at public service. Shake them all up in a sack over a half-century and the entertainment factor was high even when the sensible public policy quotient was pretty low. My memory serves up the state’s Hall of Fame stump speakers – names like Ross Barnett, Jimmy Swan, Roy Black, John Arthur Eaves Sr., J.P. Coleman, Bill Waller Sr. and others who taught me to love the theatrics of politics. For my money, the most infamous was longshot candidate Robert "Blowtorch" Mason, a welder who asked voters to elect him governor so he could move his wife into a fancy home with indoor plumbing and electricity. S. Gale Denley, my departed friend and fellow scribe, loved Jim Buck Ross and his fair speech gimmicks – usually an armadillo trap or some such – and like me enjoyed the speakers from both parties who could really “shuck the corn.” Don Trump is not scheduled to speak at Neshoba, but I’m not sure that really matters. Social media has changed political engagement – even in traditional political venues like Neshoba – to the point that a stump speech isn’t required. The optics will be that Trump came to the place some in the media have dubbed “Republican Woodstock” and rubbed elbows with rural Mississippians at a campground fair – a campground fair that has received national political attention before. In 1980, Ronald Reagan told fairgoers: “I believe in state’s rights; I believe in people doing as much as they can for themselves at the community level and at the private level. And I believe that we’ve distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended in the Constitution to that federal establishment.” Reagan’s “state’s rights” line drew withering fire from Democrats and the national media who drew instant parallels between those remarks and the 1964 Ku Klux Klan murders of three civil rights workers near Philadelphia. Interestingly, it took years to find a recording of Reagan’s full 1980 speech and that from a private citizen. Yet today, the social media impact of Don Trump’s visit will be instant, viral, and commentary will ensue before Trump shakes Neshoba’s red clay from his shoes. Social media has forever changed political engagement in a way that stump speeches filtered hours or days later through the traditional news media cannot touch – even at outposts as remote and provincial as Neshoba. Trump, as Reagan did after that 1980 speech, is favored to carry Mississippi and the South. The U.S. Justice Department and the FBI formally closed the “Mississippi Burning” case earlier this year. Presidential politics have been relatively quiet at Neshoba since the Dukakis speech in 1988. While the visit of Don Trump is unlikely to impact the outcome of the race, it does reinforce the reputation of the Neshoba County Fair as center stage in the Mississippi political arena. (Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him sidsalter@sidsalter.com.)
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Ted Cruz and the Trump takeover
by Pat Buchanan
Jul 24, 2016 | 120 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The self-righteousness and smugness of Ted Cruz in refusing to endorse Donald Trump, then walking off stage in Cleveland, smirking amidst the boos, takes the mind back in time. At the Cow Palace in San Francisco in July of 1964, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, having been defeated by Barry Goldwater, took the podium to introduce a platform plank denouncing "extremism." Implication: Goldwater's campaign is saturated with extremists. Purpose: Advertise Rocky's superior morality. Smug and self-righteous, Rocky brayed at the curses and insults, "It's a free country, ladies and gentlemen." Rocky was finished. He would never win the nomination. Richard Nixon took another road, endorsed Goldwater, spoke for him in San Francisco, campaigned for him across America. And in 1968, with Goldwater's backing, Nixon would rout Govs. George Romney and Rockefeller, and win the presidency, twice. Sometimes, loyalty pays off. About Cruz, a prediction: He will not be the nominee in 2020. He will never be the nominee. If Trump wins, Cruz is cooked. If Trump loses, his people will not forget the Brutus who stuck the knife in his back. To any who read Allen Drury's "Advise and Consent" or saw the movie, Ted Cruz is the Senator Fred Van Ackerman of his generation. Yet, beyond the denunciations of Trump and disavowals of his candidacy, something larger is going on here. The Goldwaterites were not only dethroning the East Coast liberal establishment of Rockefeller, but saying goodbye to the Republicanism of President Eisenhower and Vice President Nixon. Something new was being born, and births are not a pretty sight. What was being born was a new Republican Party. It would be dominated, after Nixon, by conservatives, who would seek to dump the Accidental President, Gerald R. Ford, in 1976. They would recapture the party in 1980, and help elect and re-elect Ronald Reagan. Vice President George H. W. Bush won in 1988 through the exploitation of cultural and social issues. His Democratic rival, Gov. Michael Dukakis, opposed the death penalty, opposed public school kids taking the Pledge of Allegiance, and had a progressive program to give weekend passes to convicted killers and rapists like Willie Horton. Once this became known, thanks to Bush campaign manager Lee Atwater, the Little Duke was done. The Dukakis tank ride in that helmet, to show his aptitude to be commander-in-chief, probably did not help. The crisis of today's Republican Party stems from a failure to recognize, after Reagan went home, and during the presidency of George H. W. Bush, that America now faced a new set of challenges. By 1991, America's border was bleeding. Thousands were walking in from Mexico every weekend. The hundreds of thousands arriving legally, the vast majority of them Third World poor, began putting downward pressure on working-class wages. Soon, these immigrants would begin voting for the welfare state on which their families depended, and support the Party of Government. By 1991, free trade had begun to send our factories and jobs overseas and de-industrialize America. By 1991, an epoch in world history had ended. With the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the Cold War was suddenly over. America had prevailed. "As our case is new," said Lincoln, "so we must think anew and act anew." Bush Republicans did not think anew or act anew. They were like football coaches who still swore by the single-wing offense, after George Halas' Chicago Bears, the "Monsters of the Midway," used the T-formation to score 11 touchdowns and beat the Washington Redskins in the 1940 NFL championship game, 73-0. What paralyzed the Republicans of a generation ago? What blinded them from seeing and blocked them from acting on the new realities? Ideology, political correctness, a reflexive recoil against new thinking, and an innate inability to adapt. The ideology was a belief in free trade that borders on the cultic, though free trade had been rejected by America's greatest leaders: Washington, Madison, Hamilton, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. The political correctness stemmed from a fear of being called racist and xenophobic so paralyzing, so overpowering, that some Republicans would ship the entire Third World over here, rather than have it thought they would ever consider the race, ethnicity or religion of those repopulating America. The inability to adapt was seen when our Cold War adversary extended a hand in friendship, and the War Party slapped it away. Rather than shed Cold War alliances and rebuild our country, we looked around for new commitments, new allies, new wars to fight to "end tyranny in our world." These wars had less to do with threats to vital interests, than with providing now-obsolete Cold Warriors with arguments to maintain their claims on national resources and attention, not to mention their lifestyles and jobs. With Trump's triumph, the day of reckoning has arrived. The new GOP is not going to be party of open borders, free trade globalism or reflexive interventionism. The weeping and gnashing of teeth are justified. For these self-righteous folks are all getting eviction notices. They are being dispossessed of their home. (Daily Corinthian columnist Pat Buchanan is an American conservative political commentator, author, syndicated columnist, politician and broadcaster.)
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NE baseball adds Ole Miss signee Wilcher
by H. Lee Smith II
Jul 23, 2016 | 135 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BOONEVILLE -- A three-time state champion has made the decision to stay close to home and anchor the baseball recruiting class at Northeast Mississippi Community College. Former University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) signee Jacob Wilcher has inked his National Letter of Intent (NLI) to become the newest addition to the rising Tiger baseball program. “We’ve always maintained a good relationship with him and just always tried to cheer him on,” said Northeast head coach Richy Harrelson. “We’re really excited that he’s here. It just fit for him. “We feel like he’s one of the better players to come through this area in a while. He’s been a hot name ever since he was a ninth grader. He knows what it feels like to win at a high level.” Wilcher originally signed with the Rebels last November prior to his senior campaign at Kossuth High School. However, after reevaluation he felt that enrolling at Northeast was the best option for him and his family. “I’ve been visiting a lot of schools and it finally feels good to get it off my chest,” Wilcher said. “The coaches are doing great things. I can’t wait to get down here in the fall and start my journey. It’s great to be a Tiger.” Wilcher recently completed a highly decorated career with the Aggies that included three Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 3A championships over a four-year span. The 6-3, 205-pounder was ranked as the second best outfielder and the No. 12 overall prospect in state of Mississippi for the graduating class of 2016 by Perfect Game. He was a five-year starter at Kossuth and compiled an outstanding .448 career batting average. Wilcher added phenomenal numbers of 215 hits, 201 runs, 141 RBIs, 81 stolen bases, 51 doubles, 27 home runs, eight triples and a .550 on-base percentage. Wilcher was named to the MaxPreps Small Schools All-American first-team and the Rawlings-Perfect Game All-American honorable mention team after his final campaign with the Aggies in which he posted career-highs of a .529 batting average, 64 hits, 55 runs, 37 RBIs, 23 stolen bases, 17 doubles and four triples. The outfielder also earned American Family Insurance All-USA and Clarion-Ledger All-State honors following his senior season. Wilcher was the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC) Class 3A Player of the Year as well. He had six multiple hit performances and nine RBIs in 12 playoff games this year to finish his tenure at Kossuth with another state title. Wilcher and the Aggies swept St. Andrews Episcopal School in the MHSAA Class 3A championship series at Trustmark Park in Pearl. “I want to keep on getting better and working harder to be successful at this level too,” said Wilcher. “I’ve got to keep that mindset in order to become a better player and person.” He was recognized as the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal Player of the Year at the conclusion of the 2014 campaign. Wilcher was also a Daily Journal All-Area selection for four consecutive seasons. Wilcher is solid defensively as well. He made only two errors in 97 games between his sophomore and senior years for a .983 fielding percentage in 116 total chances during that incredible stretch. He played for the well-renowned Dulins Dodgers club during the summer and fall. Wilcher, who was also a recipient of the Clarion-Ledger’s prestigious Dandy Dozen award, was committed to Ole Miss since his sophomore campaign.
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Griffey Jr., Piazza set to enter Hall of Fame


by The Associated Press
Jul 23, 2016 | 99 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- When they were drafted nearly three decades ago, one was on everybody's baseball radar, the other a blip at best, picked almost as an afterthought in the final round thanks to a recommendation by an important family friend. That their baseball paths started so differently — the Seattle Mariners made Ken Griffey Jr. the first pick of the 1987 amateur draft and a year later the Dodgers selected Mike Piazza on the 62nd round with the 1,390th pick, ahead of only five other players — in the end didn't matter one bit. Two players who wore their hats backward a lot — one for fun, the other because he had to — and left indelible imprints on the game will be rewarded Sunday with induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. "It's incredibly powerful," said Piazza, by far the lowest draft pick in history elected to the Hall. "This whole year for me has been so euphoric. It's such an honor." Dubbed "The Natural" for his effortless excellence at the plate and in center field, Griffey, the first No. 1 pick to be selected for enshrinement, hasn't followed form since his selection in January. He's been feted in Seattle, which likely still has a major league team because of his tenure there, served as honorary starter for NASCAR's biggest race, the Daytona 500, and played a lot of golf to avoid thinking or talking about his induction. When he visited Cooperstown in late May for a mini-orientation, Griffey chose not to take the customary introductory tour of the Hall that's become sort of a tradition in recent years. He did attend a series of brief meetings with Hall of Fame staff at a separate location in the village and said he wanted his first walk through the front doors of the stately building on Main Street to be with his kids. "I wanted to share the moment with them," Griffey said. "It was important for me to be able to do it with them and not just by myself. I just felt that I wanted to be a member of the Hall of Fame to walk in there." Induction day promises to be an extremely emotional moment for Griffey because his mom, Birdie, and father, former Cincinnati Reds star Ken Sr., both cancer survivors and integral to his rise to stardom, also will be part of the celebration. Griffey played 22 big-league seasons with the Mariners, Reds and White Sox and was named on a record 99.32 percent of ballots cast, an affirmation of sorts for his squeaky-clean performance during baseball's Steroids Era. A 13-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove Award winner, Griffey hit 630 home runs, sixth all-time, and drove in 1,836 runs. Griffey also was named American League MVP in 1997, drove in at least 100 runs in eight seasons, and won seven Silver Slugger Awards. In the 1995 ALDS, he became just the second player in major league history to hit five home runs in a single postseason series (Reggie Jackson of the Yankees in the 1977 World Series is the other). Like Yankees great Mickey Mantle before him, fans are left to wonder what more Griffey might have accomplished had his health not become a hindrance. From 2001-04 he averaged fewer than 80 games played per year while suffering through hamstring tears, knee problems, a dislocated shoulder, and ankle tendon ruptures. Healthy again in 2005, Junior slugged 35 home runs and captured the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award. Two years later, he had his last standout season — 144 games, 30 homers, 93 RBIs — and earned his final All-Star Game selection. He finished his career with the White Sox and Mariners before retiring early in the 2010 season. For Piazza, selection to the Hall is validation of an awful lot of hard work. Taken in the draft after Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, a close friend of Piazza's father, put in a good word, Piazza struggled. He briefly quit the game while in the minor leagues, returned and persevered despite a heavy workload as he switched from first base to catcher and teammates criticized his erratic play. "When I first signed with the Dodgers, I knew it was going to be a very difficult path," Piazza said. "At the time I wasn't having any fun and decided to quit the game. I was just fortunate that I had great coaches and people looking out for me to encourage me to go back. You don't make it to the Hall of Fame alone, you have a lot of people looking out for you along the way." And then it all clicked almost suddenly for Piazza, hitting 52 home runs in the minors before getting called up by the Dodgers in September 1992. He was there to stay after going 3 for 3 in his debut and was named National League Rookie of the Year the following season after hitting .318 with 35 homers and 112 RBIs. Piazza played 16 years with the Dodgers, Marlins, Mets, Padres and Athletics and hit 427 career home runs, including a major league record 396 as a catcher. A 12-time All-Star, Piazza won 10 Silver Slugger Awards and finished in the top five in MVP voting four times. Perhaps even more impressive, Piazza, a .308 career hitter, posted six seasons with at least 30 home runs, 100 RBIs and a .300 batting average. All other catchers in baseball history combined have posted nine such seasons. Though the Dodgers gave him his start, Piazza found a home in New York when he was traded to the Mets in May 1998. He became a bona fide hero to the hometown fans with his walk-off homer in the first game at Shea Stadium after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. "The New York market was a difficult transition for me," Piazza said. "But I knew that there was a reason I was there, and I knew there was a reason I had to see it through." Broadcaster Graham McNamee will be honored posthumously on Saturday with the Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in baseball broadcasting, and Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy will receive the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing.
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