They’re Breaking Up That Old Game of Mine

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Gotham Baseball Club of New York Playing on Governors Island June, 2014

WPCNR VIEW FROM THE UPPER DECK. By “Bull Allen” February 26, 2017:

Spring Training for baseball players started this week. (Spring Training for new Presidents started a month ago.)

These are the times that try baseball fans’ souls. It is the best of times, it is the worst of times. Baseball has never been more popular.

More people attend Major League baseball games than any other professional sport except auto racing. Baseball ratings on television are not the best, however, and they want to fix that.

But the business people who run baseball are not happy. They want to speed up the game. Rob Manfred, Bud Selig’s pick to head major league baseball and Joe Torre, Chief Baseball Officer,who weighs in on competition issues have done it again and are starting to tinker with The Game.

This week Manfred, with Joe Torre’s agreement, arbitrarily eliminated the need to pitch 4 four balls in live action when a baseball manager orders an intentional walk. The rationale: it would speed up the game. They feel is a problem with baseball’s pace.

In the past, during a 4-wide one  sequence, anything can happen because the ball is live. The pitcher can throw a wild pitch might wing it  over off the catcher’s glove, allowing say the runner on second to steal third. Now, the pitcher might not want to walk the batter at the plate. But if you make the intentional walk automatic, you won’t have that option. Possibility of unexpected consequences is eliminated.

Another defensive advantage is provided by the straight 4-ball intentional walk: the possibility of a pick-off play of the runner on first or second on the 1st, 2nd or 3rd pitch, thus instantly removing the need for the intentional walk (usually an intentional walk is given to set up the double play, usually with a runner on second).

There’s also the possibility of passed ball, or the hitter flinging his bat at the pitch and putting it in play with a hit and run or a bunt and run on (far-fetched, but something a John McGraw might like).

There is another subtle liability to the newly instituted automatic intentional walk: It gives a real advantage to the pitcher and the defense.

Here’s why: Often when an intentional walks are executed the old-fashioned way, not every pitcher can instantly go back to throwing strikes. Sudden loss of the strike zone by the pitcher,after issuing an intentional pass (I love those words, don’t you), is not uncommon.Now with no requirement to throw 4 wide pitches, the pitcher does not have to break his pitching rhythm by tossing 4 balls way off the strike zone. This is distinctly an advantage for the pitcher.

There’s also the delayed steal play that can be executed by a runner on second  during the course of an intentional walk. As the catcher leisurely tosses the ball back to the pitcher, the runner on second who has casually ambled a third of the way to third, high tails it for third as the ball is half way being lobbed to the catcher, or just as he is leaping or reaching for the tossed pitch. Timing has to be precise. Catcher has to fire that ball across the diamond to third, maybe wildly, and maybe the third base person is flatfooted and drops the ball or misses it and BOOM—the runner on second steals third and home on one pitch. You will never see that play ever now that Manfred and Torre have eliminated the 4-pitch intentional walk.

What a minute though, have these evil scientists forgotten something? Puffing on a White Owl Wallop looking out of the empty press box on the immense green, I thought — hey is the ball dead after the intentional walk is signalled?

If after the intentional walk is signaled, and the ball is not immediately dead,  the umpire says “take your base” the runner (in the great Pete Rose style) can sprint to first and keep on going with the runner on second delaying steal until the pitcher is duped into throwing to cut off the runner hell bent for second, perhaps throwing it wildly. If the ball is not dead immediately after the manager tells the umpire I want to intentionally walk this guy,  a rundown could ensue, with a good base runner stopping between first and second, confusing the pitcher,  allowing the runner rounding third possibly to score if the rundown lasts long enough. What do you think baseball mad scientists? is the ball dead after the automatic intentional walk, or not? It’s dead after a hit batsmen. What’s the call?

Baseball is doing this to attract more television and fan appeal because the games are too long, they say.

However the fans like to go to baseball games. Though the NFL has the best average attendance of professional leagues in this country, 69,487, the NFL plays a game once a week and over 256 games in 2016, the league drew 17,788,671.

Baseball kills the NFL on total attendance, because instead of playing 256 games Major League Baseball plays 2,428 games, averages 30,131 a game and drew 73,159,044 fans last year.

The place where baseball would like to be is to have more fans watch baseball on television.

The NFL and the NBA (pro basketball)  punish baseball in the television revenue league. The NFL  is a 10—16.6m aggregate; the NBA with 144 games gets a 4.5 Rating, 2.2m aggregate, and baseball with 71 games on four networks gets a 2.7,3.9 aggregate.

Baseball’s prevailing wisdom is they have to make the game faster to attract the younger fans who like action. So they are starting with eliminating the intentional walk. What they do not realize is that when you cannot stay up to see a big game as a kid past 10 PM, you are not hooking the young fans. The geniuses who run Major League Baseball do not realize this.

Their next ideas really strike at the heart of the game:

The pitch clock: this may be coming. I totally hate this. Nothing was better than a fidgety, edgy pitcher, (Lou Burdette comes to mind), making the batter get impatient. It was a strategy. I still remember a classic doubleheader at the big ball park when Gene Bradender of the Seattle Pilots pitched the nightcap, went 3-2 on every hitter, and took a minute between each pitch. There were other slow motion pitchers (Vinegar Bend Mizell, Luis Tiant, Big Newk, Warren Spahn (We still remember you Spahnie) The fans were really getting on Brabender in that doubleheader.

Pitching clocks would have to require standard motions. Well anyway, it might make the game go faster, but it will hurt the pitcher. It would make baseball mechanical, like the NBA. You like to think out a pitch in a big spot. Would the pitch clock stop and start again when a catcher goes to the mount to workout signals when there’s a runner on second? Lotta questions kemo sabe.

Higher, narrower strike zone: The Major League Players Association said no to this one and Mr. Manfred was not happy. What this will do is take away the corner strike low across the knees, I think and force more pitches down the middle belt high and at the letters—major league hitters love them down Broadway over the plate. This would mean more hits, more runs and run-a-minute baseball like the NBA. Well there’s one difference, baseball is timeless. The way I watch a Knick game is wait and turn it on in the last two minutes. I only do this once in a great while.

Lower Mound: Again this may improve hitting and action. But more runs will create longer games.

Has instant replay review really made the game better?

No. There are no arguments any more. My favorite baseball moments were when Casey or Ralph (Houk) or Billy leapt out of the dogout, and confronted Augie Donatelli, Jim Honochick, Jocko Conlon, and the tough Italian umpire, Frank Dascoli. Classics. Ralph would end up kicking dirt on the ump’s shoes, then dropkicking his hat. I miss that.

Now, the reason baseball ratings are not too good is the games are played at night and last about 3-1/2 hours. Now, I have a suggestion:less commercial time between innings.

If you have 3 minutes of commercials between every half inning, that is 6 minutes an inning, 54 minutes of commercial time during a 9 inning game, which may last 3 and a half hours. Plus the 10 second sponsored I.D.s.

If you want to cut the time of games for television, cut the spots. World series and postseason games often are decided at midnight when few are watching. The Super is over by10 PM. Baseball might take a lesson from that simple fact.

Some other good things about the intentional walk: You can get a couple of dogs and a beer from vendor while you are anticipating the next possibilities, a well-timed “Beah heah!” is an art by the stadium vendors.

If you wanted to really speed the action you could change the rule that the pitcher charged with an intentional walk has to face the next batter. A lot of times, there is a pitching change made right after the intentional walk. But because the pitching is so lousy beyond today’s starters, the new pitcher is as likely to waste time throwing gasoline on the fire than as not.

Oh, and another thing—Skip the warmup pitches from the mound after a reliever is waved in. This of course would cost a commercial or two if you did that.  But, this too adds color to the game. As a fan you like putting glasses on the reliever and pretend to evaluate his motion, (it’s a fantasy, but it’s what fans do).

The answer is do not sell that many spots.

In the old days, teams had one sponsor or two. The Bronx Bombers had Ballantine and Winston, the Dodgers Old Gold and Schaeffer, the Giants, Knickerbocker Beer and Chesterfield. Now you have all kinds of spots, plugs, tags, sponsorships of the game time temperature. It’s machine gun selling on the air on TV and radio.

What major league baseball might do is make it easier to buy tickets.

I went online to buy Yankee tickets for the Opener. The windows to pick your cost of seats did not come up; the section diagrams were not instantly readable; you could not select how many tickets you wanted. It was obviously overwhelmed. Websites supposedly make it easy. I don’t think they do.

I was going to make my peace with baseball then the numbers people eliminated the intentional walk, and next season God knows what else.

Numbers crunchers are breaking up that old game of mine.

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Milagros Lecuona: City Has Quietly Hired 12 New Firefighters. Coming Aboard the rigs, March 10.


WPCNR HOMELAND SECURITY NEWS. By John F. Bailey. February 25, 2017 UPDATED  3 P.M. E.S.T.:

In a news conference this morning at Fire Headquarters on Mamaroneck Avenue, Councilwoman Milagros Lecuona  candidate for Mayor, and firefighters in attendance said the city has agreed to hire 12 new firefighters bringing the department up to full strength.

A fireman present at the event, confirmed to WPCNR the new firefighters will soon be sworn in, and would be on staff by March 10 and attending fire training after that date. Lecuona said she learned about the hires at the last Council work session. Ms Lecuona in her announcement  she  was going to primary Mayor Tom Roach in January has been critical of the city for the fire department personnel shortage the fire department has been drawing attention to around the city.

Asked about the status of negotiations, the firefighter WPCNR interviewed said the negotiations with the city were still going on, that he could not comment on the salary issues or the mandatory drug, alcohol and substance abuse issue, one of the contentions under discussion. The firemen will be sworn in March 2 and come on duty for training March 10

The announcement of the additional hires is the first time the city decision, which Lecuona said in the news conference would cost the city an additional approximate 1-1/2 Million dollars,

In a handout to the press, Ms. Lecuona commented:

“The current mayor has maintained numbers of firefighters at dangerously low levels. Ladder truck 34 is almost always out of service, leaving our children at White Plains High School, Ridgeway Elementary, the YWCA, the German School, and Ridgeway Alliance without all their own neighborhood equipment.  Yet today’s synthetic building and furniture materials burst into hotter flames 5 X faster than old materials, so whole rooms or buildings can be engulfed in flames before a crucial truck arrives from another neighborhood.

The firefighters have tried repeatedly over recent years to get the Mayor to respond to their concerns.  But “as is symptomatic of our current administration,” said Lecuona, “the firefighters have been continuously stonewalled and ignored.  This is typical of the way this administration functions, and why I am running to change it.”

Now entering his seventh year as mayor, Mr Roach has slipped raises for himself and some of his senior staff members into the budget. “Our firefighters have expressed a need for additional manpower, training and preparedness funding. What does the Mayor do? He ignores them, and gives raises to himself and his staff,” said Lecuona. “The ongoing lack of vision, process, and leadership have placed White Plains on a dangerous path.”



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Councilwoman Milagros Lecuona Holds News Conference Today on WP Fire Department Conditions

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Milagros Lecuona, Councilwoman, White Plains, is shown with her daughter, far left, and well-wishers at her announcement of her candidacy for the Mayor of White Plains in January.

Today, at 11 A.M.  she continues her campaign with a news conference at White Plains Fire Department Headquarters at Mamaroneck Avenue and Maple Avenues, calling for reviews of city Fire Department practices.

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Cuomo to Democrats: Fight Now

I have a message for Democrats in Congress: stand up and fight.

Earlier today, I joined President of 1199 SEIU George Gresham and hundreds of healthcare workers in the Bronx to rally against the Trump administration’s absurd attempts to derail the progress we have achieved in securing quality, affordable healthcare for millions of Americans.

As New Yorkers, we are not going to let nearly three million people who are now insured lose their healthcare coverage. Today, one out of every six New Yorkers has been given insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Enough. We’re not going backwards – we are going forward.

Watch what I said here and share it with your friends.

Democrats need to take a page out of the Republican Party’s book from when they disagreed with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. We need fight Trump every step of the way.

We are not going to let them undo the progress that President Obama made and was upheld by the courts.

Right now is not a time to make a deal. It’s not a time to get political. It’s time to get principled and remember who you are, who you represent, and who you’re fighting for. That’s what Democrats are all about.

That’s what the people of the state demand, and what the people of this nation deserve.

Andrew Cuomo

Governor, State of New York

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George Washington: The First and the Role Model for an American President. Apprentices, Take Notes!

WPCNR MILESTONES. Reprinted from the WPCNR ARCHIVES. February 22, 2017:

Today is George Washington’s Birthday again. The time when we remember the first leader and the best. It is instructive to look at our first leader, George Washington, the father of our nation.

One cannot help be reminded of the snowy winter at Valley Forge, when the bedraggled, poorly equipped rebel army suffered but held together, and attacked the Hessians in Trenton on Christmas Eve, 1776, crossing the Delaware River at night. What kind of man was he that George Washington could inspire his troops against all odds?

Washington was a man of tremendous character. Of principle.

Where did he get this character?

He specialized in self-control at an early age. That congressmen, lobbyists, and pundits and yes, Presidents,  means mind-control, reason and responsibility.

According to  the book, The American President, Washington, at sixteen, had formed a code of conduct. He had written a book of etiquette with 110 “maxims” to guide his conduct in matters. In this etiquette book he had written,

Every action done in company ought to be done with a sign of respect to those who are not present. Sleep not when others speak; sit not when others stand; speak not when you should hold your peace; walk not when others stop;…Let your countenance be pleasant but in serious matters somewhat grave…Undertake not what you cannot perform but be careful to keep your promise.

The character sketch provided by the authors of The American President, indicates this personal “rulebook” was a book that Washington wrote over the years and referred to it often, for, they write, for the following reasons:

“for self-control, to avoid temptation, to elude greed, to control his temper. Reputation was everything to him. It had to do with his strength, his size, his courage, his horsemanship, his precise dress, his thorough mind, his manners, his compassion. He protected that reputation at any cost.”

Earning respect by example. Quelling rebellion with a few words.

Washington inspired by example. He lived with his troops. He shared hardships with them, and there was so much respect for him that he was able to talk them out of armed rebellion at the end of the American Revolution.

Washington had been asked by the army to join them to overthrow the Continental Congress, and make himself King.

Washington had been asked by one of the officers of the rebels to join them, and he wrote them,

You could not have found a person to whom your schemes are more disagreeable. Banish these thoughts from your mind.

Hearing that the rebels who were planning insurrection against the new country due to not having been paid by the Continental Congress, Washington rode to Newburgh, New York, on March 15, 1783, to meet with the dissident insurgents. Washington spoke to the rebellious group, saying,

“Gentlemen, as I was among the first who embarked in the cause of our common Country; as I never left your side one moment, but when called from you on public duty; as I have been the constant companion and witness of your Distresses…it can scarcely be supposed …that I am indifferent to your interests. But…this dreadful alternative, of either deserting our Country in the extremest hour of her distress, or turning our Arms against it…has something so shocking in it that humanity revolts from the idea…I spurn it, as every Man who regards liberty…undoubtedly must.”

The would-be rebels fell silent, digesting what he had said. Then Washington withdrew a letter from Congress, but could not read the text, withdrawing some eyeglasses from his tunic, remarking,

“Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country.”

The men present were reported to have tears in their eyes at this gesture of Washington’s and abandoned their plot out of respect for their leader.

Washington retired from the military, surprising the entire new country. His action surprised King George III of England, who was astonished that Washington had refused to hold on to his military authority and use it for political or financial gain. The defeated King of England, remarked, “If true, then he is the greatest man in the world.”

Seeker of Diverse Views. How to pick a cabinet.

As President, George Washington invented the Presidential Cabinet, whom he referred to as “the first Characters,” persons who possessed the best reputations in fields and areas of the jobs he was filling. Washington said on political appointments, “My political conduct and nominations must be exceedingly circumspect. No slip into partiality will pass unnoticed…”

Washington tolerated the relentless clashes between Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State, and Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, but lectured them on the necessity for tolerance and moving beyond partisanship:

“I believe the view of both of you are pure, and well meant. Why then, when some of the best Citizens in the United States, Men…who have no sinister view to promote, are to be found, some on one side, some on the other…should either of you be so tenacious of your opinions as to make no allowances for those of the other? I have great esteem for you both, and ardently wish that some line could be marked out by which both of you could walk.”

The Constitution Should be Protected

When George Washington left office after two terms, he made a farewell address which warned future generations of Americans about foreign entanglements and partisanship in the republic:

I shall carry to my grave the hope that your Union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the Constitution may be sacredly maintained; and that free government…the ever favorite object of my heart…will be the happy reward of our mutual cares, labors and dangers.”

Washington died in 1800, three years after leaving office in 1797. He was saluted on the floor of congress as being “First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

He was the first and best. The ultimate role model for any leader.

Note: The American President By Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr., Philip B. Kunhardt III, and Peter W. Kunhardt (Riverhead Books. Penguin-Putnam, Inc.,1999) is the source for this information on George Washington.

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Selling of the Airport Will Be Number 1 Westchester County Issue, Columnist Predicts.

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Westchester County Airport–Issue of the Year-2017

Conservationist worries over Environment, Loss of  County Control, if Airport Privatized


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David McKay-Wilson, the Journal News columnist and Carolyn Cunningham, Co-Treasurer of the Federated Conservationists of Westchester County gave about 70 persons a comprehensive overview of the issues at stake as Westchester County prepares to lease its airport for 40 years.

The hour and a half comprehensive update unfolded at SUNY Purchase last night just as the county voted last week to hire a consultant for $550,000 to draft a new Request for Proposals for operation of the Westchester County Airport  to attract firms that  might offer the county “a better deal,” (as County Legislator Mary Jane Shimsky told WPCNR after the meeting).

Oaktree the giant investment firm the county originally negotiated a lease of the airport last fall has had the deal temporarily on hold by the Board of Legislators.

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Ms. Cunningham (above) gave a comprehensive overview of the growth of the airport since 1984 when the limit of 240 passengers per half hour and voluntary curfews and noise control was put into effect through the efforts of the County Board of Legislators.

She said that Oaktree had proposed building a sewage treatment plant on the airport property. Currently the effluent (which includes the de-icing runoff used for removing ice from aircraft), is moved offsite by truck. She said she could not imagine building a sewage treatment plant adjacent the Kensico Reservoir.

Ms. Cunningham expressed concern that the county could lose the right of approval of hours and traffic limitations in any new agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration, (the limitations have been in effect since 1984). She cautioned, “There is pressure today” (to increase air traffic) and changing any part of the law could be disasterous and it was in the county’s best interest “to keep direct control of the airport.”

Cunningham said the deal has been introduced without the County having completed their master plan for the Westchester County Airport. “To do anything (before the airport master plan is complete) doesn’t make any sense at all. It is bad policy.”

The Astorino Secret Deal to balance his $15 Million shortfall

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David McKay-Wilson, (above) the “Tax WatchDog” Columinist for The Journal News has been following the County Executive Robert Astorino-Oaktree deal since it was sprung on the County Board of Legislators last fall and informed the audience where the issue is now.

“The airport will be Westchester County’s Top Issue of 2017,” McKay-Wilson began. He said that Ms. Cunningham’s concerns about the environment and the 240 passengers a half hour restriction were legitimate concerns, but he focused on “how much money is at stake here. (The deal) is a boon to investors, wallet-emptying for travelers. It is selling a  public asset to keep his (Astorino’s) no tax increase “brand” intact. It also allows the county to get its hands on airport revenues (which stay with the airport under FAA rules).”

McKay-Wilson described Oaktree (the lone airport suitor so far) as a giant fund that specialized in “distressed debt,” purchasing troubled companies at a low price, and “flipping” them at the first opportunity. He said Oaktree received funds from 75 of the top 100 pension funds; 350 Endowment Funds; 400 corporations; and  38 of 50 state pension funds. (It is big).

He said, “Westchester Airport is not distressed, why are they interested in it?”

He said the Oaktree-Astorino deal was “a secret deal. It was not determined in an open process. It is front-loaded: $15 Million to the county in the first year; $5 million to the county each year for 4 years and $2 Million for 35 years. ($105 millon total).”

He pointed out that the $15 Million Astorino budget shortfall could have been fixed by a 3% tax increase

He theorized that if you paid $10,000 in county property taxes that would be a $300 increase. For the more realistic view, WPCNR points out if you pay $2,400 in county taxes as you do if you own a $650,000 median valued home in White Plains, and the county legislature raised the county tax 3%, this computes to a $72 tax increase.

He said the county has now hired a consultant for $550,000 to vet possible new applicants to lease the airport. The consultant is now formulating a new request for proposals.

McKay-Wilson noted that he has been informed the County Master Plan for the airport is now due in April. It was supposed to be in to the Federal Aviation Administration by December 31. His requests for a copy of the interim stages of the plan has not been met yet after numerous Freedom of Information Requests. Wilson said public input has not yet been taken for formulation of the plan though airlines and professional parties and government entities have been consulted. He believes that public comment would be taken in April.

McKay-Wilson said that Oaktree has plans to upgrade the airport with restaurants, which he questioned the need for.

Mr. McKay-Wilson pointed out that the big prize at the airport is the parking garage, which generates $10 Million in annual revenue.

The parking “take” is parceled out as follows: $4 Million is paid for debt service; $3 Million is paid to the county; and $3 Million to the owners of the garage. In 2024 the garage is supposed to go over to Westchester County. McKay-Wilson noted that once the garage goes over to Oaktree there is no telling what will happen to the parking rates. He observed the airport parking garage when it opened charged $11 a day in 1994. Today, twenty-three years later, it is $30 a day ($7.20 an hour).

McKay-Wilson noted that the $105 Million the county receives in the deal over 40 years paled in comparison to the $10 Million (and up)  the parking garage would generate over 40 years, ($400 Millon) and (potentially much more with parking rate increases).

McKay-Wilson advised Westchester to “fasten your seatbelts, make sure your gear is comfortably stowed beneath your seats, or the above storage racks, and enjoy your flight.”

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Mary Jane Shimsky, (above)of Hastings-on-Hudson of the County District 12, asked by WPCNR if the county board was willing to sell the airport, said that Oaktree had not provided all information the Board of Legislators had asked for, and therefore the board opted to furnish a new request for proposals to take over the airport to get a better deal.


During the meeting, she said the county was very concerned that the curtailment of flights (240 passengers able to load per half hour) covenant in effect since 1994 be agreed to in any final agreement approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, no matter what company leases the airport, if it is leased at all.








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The Trump Report After One Month

WPCNR WHITE HOUSE WIRE. From the White House. February 21, 2017:

We are officially one month into President Donald J. Trump’s Administration, and it has been a very successful start.

President Trump has focused on jumpstarting job creation and saving taxpayers money, by withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and clearing roadblocks delaying the Keystone Pipeline’s construction. Along with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, President Trump created the United States-Canada Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders, to ensure that all Americans have ample opportunities in the workforce.

In a first step to unraveling the Obama-era regulations, President Trump signed two bills to roll back regulations and issued an executive order requiring that for every new regulation created, two must be eliminated.

President Trump has successfully coordinated with several companies to bring thousands of jobs back to America, and saved Americans over $700 million by negotiating lower costs for the F-35 fighters.

President Trump has also taken great strides in domestic security by signing executive orders that focus on reducing crime, restoring public safety, dismantling transnational criminal organizations and protecting our brave law enforcement officials.

Looking to national security, President Trump has directed his Secretary of Defense to devise a strategy to defeat ISIS, overseen the imposition of sanctions on more than 25 individuals and entities that threaten America’s national security, and strategized with more than 30 foreign leaders about our shared security concerns.

Lastly, following on the legacy of Justice Antonin Scalia, President Trump nominated the brilliant Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

President Donald J. Trump has spent the last month fulfilling promises and helping the American people. He’s looking forward to the many more successful months and years of action to come.

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