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Kurt Leggard

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Hamptons Teen: CALL ME OLD-FASHIONED, but I’m Just a DAD
I have become increasingly aware and worried about the relaxed attitude of illicit drug use among teens in the Hamptons and beyond. But what are our teenagers to think? They see a more relaxed and accepting attitude regarding the use of marijuana due to the reduction of legal penalties and the sale of marijuana for recreational use in multiple states. This is in the news and has become a part of their realities.Happy Group Of People
What our teenagers do not realize is the increased documentation about the effects of marijuana on the teenage brain. We know that the development of the brain is very fluid until or between the ages of 21-25 years old. The way in which the brain is wired is open to impact by this and other drugs. I am not a prude nor am I unaware of the opportunities, interest, curiosity and pressure to smoke weed. A lot of us did it when we were young. But this isn’t our father’s (and mother’s) weed no more. The THC (active ingredient that produces the high) content is many times more concentrated in today’s marijuana than in the weed our generation smoked. Many ‘brands’ of weed are genetically improved to the form of designer status. Consenting adults should have the option of doing whatever they want to do but it is imperative to fully inform our teenagers of the risks inherent in smoking pot.
I have the same concerns about smoking cigarettes and underage drinking that I have towards smoking weed and I feel to some extent, these are a more insidious and risky behavior that is impacting our teenagers. I cannot tell you what is the percentage of teenagers smoking and drinking but I feel it is over 50% of the population. Maybe I’m old-fashioned but if you were to ask both of my daughters (18 and 25), I still harp on the need to show restraint and to use some forward thinking concerning their future plans and how use and abuse can derail their goals. Believe me, they get tired of ‘the talk’ but I continue just the same. Am I being successful… I don’t know but I hope so. They lead their own lives, much of the time out of my view but I do what I do anyways because I must! I have no illusions, I can’t protect them all the time, nor should I or will I try. I will tell them the real deal, give them the tools to make good decisions and pray for the best.
EVERYONE has my permission to warn me if they think my child’s behavior is a risk to them and I do not care if they don’t like it. If your kids have come to my house, they may have heard some rendition of ‘the talk’ as a natural inclination of mine to be protective and proactive towards the friends of my children. My kids have probably warned them to expect it sometimes. AGAIN, I don’t care. I will not preach or teach but this is a part of the way we conduct business in our home. I will not stop!
Now don’t get me wrong, I remember being a teenager and doing LOTS OF STUFF. I will not be a hypocrite and tell them to ‘do as I say and not as I do’. But the risks of life long impacts secondary to social media and ‘selfies’ of illicit behavior that can follow them FOREVER…there are no do-overs anymore. Society can be very unforgiving. We did not have to face these risks. Remember, the definition of a teenager is filled with doing DUMB THINGS. But it is this risk taking and feelings of invincibility that makes them so powerful and dynamic. It will be hard to convince them of the dangers because they LIKE danger!
One more trend that I am seeing; the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs (PED’s). The use of Human Growth Hormone and steroids among teenage athletes has increased exponentially. Kids want to look better and perform better and they are getting access to and using these drugs more and more. The lifelong effects of these PED’s and the health impacts are so pronounced and damaging that it is imperative that parents and adults of teenage athletes inform them of the risks. Encourage your school teams to educate their athletes of the dangers and make it part of their athletic curriculum.
From me to you….JUST BEING A DAD

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Political Opinion: Donald Trump’s Exit Strategy

I think everyone has it wrong, Donald Trump has an Exit Strategy. Donald Trump has never wanted to be president. He has wanted the notoriety of running for the presidency but never the responsibility of the office. He has wanted the attention and to be placed on the same stage as those who would assume the office but he never assumed that he could win the office. Donald Trump’s ego forces him to seek the stage, the limelight but he could never risk not winning. If Donald Trump loses in a ‘fair’ fight or election, it would diminish his brand. Donald Trump could never have that.
Indeed, Donald Trump has expanded his domain. He has expanded the Trump brand. His brand is bombast, entitlement, pugnacious temperament and an air of never retreating from a fight. He has acquired a constituency of older white men who will forever be in his debt for making them feel empowered and in the right, as they see ‘their America’ fading due to a relentless demographic change in the American landscape. They will forever buy the Trump brand of goods for the ‘virile,’‘powerful’ man. Trump Cologne, Trump clothing, Trump real estate, golf course membership and so on.
Donald Trump has succeeded in positioning his business interests among those who he feels will continue to support him and purchase his goods and services for the foreseeable future. The Trump business empire will expand. Watch for the announcement of his next reality television show and see how the networks and cable television executives will fawn over him and enter into armed combat with each other for the ‘privilege’ of producing his show. The network executives will assume that his ratings will be beyond belief because, that older white male demographic will be sure to tune in. The ratings will be ‘HUGE.” Brilliant!
Trump has succeeded in capturing an entire constituency of the Republican Party. Notice you don’t hear much about the Tea party these days, to the chagrin of Ted Cruz and others. We now have the Trump wing of the Republican Party. He could be a Kingmaker. He now has political power to go along with his considerable social media and traditional media acumen. Trump knows how to manipulate the media and expertly leverage the combination of media and political power. We have all been seduced and co-opted by his magnificent illusion. Watch how many of the Republican candidates come to kiss his ring as they mount a bid to become the 45th President of the United States. Trump has won! Regardless of which party wins the White House, Trump will have a voice and a seat at the table because he has his following. I repeat, Trump has won.
Now he has to escape the birdcage of campaigning. Trump has repeatedly stated that he would consider running as an Independent if the Republican Party did not “treat him fairly.” He has now artificially created a crisis of American identity by proposing the unfair and unconstitutional premise of barring Muslims from entering the country. Trump in one fell swoop has coalesced the opposition to him by every candidate and the entire Republican leadership establishment. I guess he will consider this as ‘unfair treatment’ and decide to pick up his marbles and leave the candidate stage. white-blank-space
The Exit Strategy is revealed. He will threaten an Independent run but will decide against this for the ‘good’ of the party; only to remain in the conversation as an outside element. A VERY powerful position that he will be able to continue to drive the conversation and terms of this election. If the Democrats win he will assume no blame because it will be another candidate’s loss. If the Republicans win, he will assume some of the responsibility for victory for having the ‘brass appendages’ for creating the environment for success. The Republican president will owe him favors and he will have unprecedented access. Trump wins.
We have all been witness to the genius of Donald trump. I am very impressed.

Hamptons Teen :The Future is bright for the Lady Whalers Field Hockey Team
The Pierson-Bridgehampton Lady Whalers were defeated on Saturday, November 14, 2015 by the Cazenovia Lakers. The 2-1 score was indicative of the tightly contested game; only finally settled in the second half. Cazenovia scored their first goal after a penalty stroke was awarded to the Lakers due to an infraction of the rules by a Lady Whaler. The penalty shot just escaped the outstretched leg of the goalie, Freshman Charlotte Johnson and the goal was scored by Cazenovia player, Zoe Shephard. 1-0, Cazenovia.

Penalty stroke goal defended by Whaler goalie Charlotte Johnson #89
Penalty stroke goal defended by Whaler goalie Charlotte Johnson #89

The Whalers came back to tie the score 1-1 at 23:50, at the beginning of the second half on a goal by Sophomore, Claudia Patterson. This was Patterson’s first career goal and it couldn’t have come at a better time. There was a very physical scrum in the goal area but Patterson successfully scored.
Pierson-Bridghampton score goal by Claudia Patterson #13 (1st career goal)
Pierson-Bridghampton score goal by Claudia Patterson #13 (1st career goal)

Cazenovia showed their championship pedigree by forcing the Whalers into multiple corner penalties in the first half. The Whalers successfully defended these corners and some credit must be given to Junior, Allura Leggard for disrupting the corner offensive sets of the Lakers by flying out with impressive speed. The Whalers played excellent team defense preventing goal after goal as the Lakers applied constant offensive pressure.
Pierson/BH Team
Pierson/BH Team

The Whaler’s however, have a championship pedigree too and Junior, Ana Sherwood was incredible, showing her grit, determination and skill by moving the ball up the field against a determined Cazenovia defense. Sherwood attempted some shots on goal but the Cazenovia defenders were determined to prevent any uncontested shots. Sherwood and Leggard are Captains and they lead their team by example. Not to be outdone, Senior, Kerrie Vila, the third Whaler Captain was fantastic in defense from the sweeper position. She incredibly defended a shot headed toward the goal that was shot from the right side at a difficult angle. This kept the second half score tied going into the final 7 minutes of the game. Vila was a very active defender in what would turn out to be her final game as a Whaler.
Annabelle Schroeder #23, Hollie Schleicher #7, Kerrie Vila #3
Annabelle Schroeder #23, Hollie Schleicher #7, Kerrie Vila #3

Goalie, Charlotte Johnson was at it again, giving her body up defending the goal. She showed no hesitation to dive at shots making save after save. Unfortunately the Whaler’s season would be determined by a goal by Cazenovia Laker, Zoe Shephard with 7:10 seconds left in the second half. The whalers appeared stunned for a moment but they quickly regrouped and for the remainder of the game, applied constant pressure on Cazenovia setting up some shots on goal by Freshman, Hollie Schleicher, Sherwood and Junior Calista Cafiero until the final second.
Allura Leggard #6, on defense
Allura Leggard #6, on defense

The Whalers were emotional but proud in defeat. This is a very young team with only one Senior starter graduating; so the future is bright. First year, Head coach, Bethany Semlear is looking forward to next year’s championship campaign.
Ana Sherwood #14, on offense
Ana Sherwood #14, on offense

- NYSPHSAA Field Hockey Class “C” Semi-FINALIST Plaque.   Bethany Semlear, Head Coach,  CAPTAINS(3)  Kerrie Vila #3, Ana Sherwood #14, Allura Leggard #6, Kayla Yardley, Assistant Coach
– NYSPHSAA Field Hockey Class “C” Semi-FINALIST Plaque.
Bethany Semlear, Head Coach, CAPTAINS(3) Kerrie Vila #3, Ana Sherwood #14, Allura Leggard #6, Kayla Yardley, Assistant Coach

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WEBSITE LINK:
http://www.photographybykurt.net/Sports/Field-Hockey/NYSPHSAA-Championship-Semi/

Opinion: Democrats beware. There is a Republican Making Sense and he is a Threat

Governor_John_Kasich. .Wikipedia public domain
Governor_John_Kasich.
.Wikipedia public domain
Democrats beware. There is a Republican making sense and he is a threat His name is…John Kasich. This Ohio Governor made his mark during the recent Republican debate and his poll numbers are showing it. OK, self-disclosure time. I would describe myself as a center right democrat. I believe in a women’s right to choose and I abhor abortion. I am a supporter of the ACA, fondly known as Obamacare but I feel there should be reforms in the law for bringing malpractice suits against healthcare professionals. The government should be able to exert some controls concerning the purchase and costs of drugs. There must be cost containment in healthcare. I believe in the right to bare arms but come on; does anyone need to have 20 AK-47s in their closet??? Now that 50 percent of you hate me and the other 50% can barely stand me, let me tell you why Governor Kasich is such a threat to the Democrats. It is because he appeals to me. He has staked a position that speaks of his approach to governance. COMPROMISE. He is neither a flame-thrower nor a marshmallow. He has a temper that he has actively learned to control in public but he shows some spirit and passion when he explains his positions. He has not run away from the fact that his state accepted and utilized Obamacare to provide the uninsured population in his state with the opportunity for healthcare. He has addressed the incarcerated, drug dependent felon by not further punishing them for their drug related crimes but by providing resources to address their drug dependence. He has actively worked to rehabilitate them. The recidivism rate in his state is among the lowest in the country. Something is working. John Kasich is Pro-Life but he states he respects that others have the right to their position for a women’s right to choose.
I think Kasich has gotten a free pass from the media’s scrutiny because he was not considered a top tiered candidate (watch out Governor, some fastballs are coming your way, high and tight, a little chin music). His Republican rivals have not targeted him because he was not seen as a threat. He deftly co-opted Trump’s positions and did not antagonize him. He did not create an early enemy (Trump will be after him soon enough). The Democrats have not put him on their radar because of the confusion caused by the Trump phenomenon, Bush’s political malfeasance and Carly Fiorina’s slow start. I think that Trump will last for a long time because he has his own money, is not afraid of saying what everyone is thinking and has enough time to hire the right consultants to sharpen his message until he develops some political chops of his own. What do they say? Fake it until you can make it! Trump’s brash tone and take no prisoners attitude has capture the imagination of a portion of the Republican base that will support him until they think he is not electable (I think that Trump’s endgame is to be a King or Queen maker to gain access, leverage and influence from whoever wins the White House). Politically, someone will have to challenge Trump, not back down and take him out. I think that George… uh, Jeb Bush will go on the attack because he has to do something to show those who want to support him that he has the fire in the belly to go the distance. The Democratic standard barer will show Republicans no quarter and Jeb must get prepared to show some toughness by going through Trump. Kasich will be waiting in the wings. I don’t think that Rubio is ready yet. He is polished, very smart and a good politician. I just don’t think he is a great politician, just yet. Some more seasoning is required here. His message is still muddled (although that may change as the primary season gets into gear and he naturally sharpens his attack). Rubio does not yet represent the wider Hispanic voter, so his natural advantage is not yet fully formed but his appeal could broaden to capture a vice-presidential pick. Rubio has money to spend and backers willing to front him some more.
carlyforamerica.com
carlyforamerica.com
Carly Fiorina is a compelling figure. She is incredibly smart and knows how to position an argument. She must break through during the next few debates to show her ability to appear as a commander-in-chief. I have not heard her discuss topics concerning military engagement and geopolitical concerns. How will she illustrate that she can lead the military as well as she lead in the boardroom. Mr. Trump as well as Jeb Bush will test her bona fides. How will she react and respond to the pressure. She too, is an option for vice-presidential consideration.
Ben Carson,  (Wikipedia public domain)
Ben Carson,
(Wikipedia public domain)
I do not know what to think of Dr. Ben Carson. His lack of political background would expose him to some ridicule if this weren’t the Republican brand of politics (inquisition?). He is a very quick study and his appeal to the Republican base and the Tea-party insurgents will provide him with the cover he will need to last until the first of the primaries are over. I predict that he will fade and be gone from this political stage in a relatively short time. The rest of the gang of 17 will not make the top six candidates sweat for very long but I promise you it will be very entertaining.
That brings me back to Kasich. I think he is the greatest threat to any Democrat opponent who will be standing at the end of silly season. He is the real deal. Bush has a ton of money, so he will be around to test Kasich, as will Trump. Both of them will fall to the wayside. In a general election, I think that Kasich will be the most nimble of the Republicans, ready to pivot to the center and challenge for the White House. He is already in the center and he will be formidable. He strikes me as reasonable (I am really concerned now). This represents his worst quality and greatest liability as far as the far right is concerned. His very tangible qualities allowing for electability may prevent him from getting out of the Republican primaries; his ability to reason and be reasonable with Democrats. But if the GOP truly wants to recapture the presidency, they must have as a candidate, someone who is acceptable to the Independent voter and someone who does not totally scare Democrats and their base. Blacks, Hispanics, the LGBT community, people who don’t want to lose their ACA healthcare could potentially support and vote for this man. Kasich fits the bill unless he reveals a hidden, ultra-conservative, crazy rightwing agenda. He can beat Hillary, Biden or Sanders. Imagine a Kasich-Rubio ticket. The sound you hear is the RNC leadership salivating. Hillary better get on the phone (no email please) to call Julian Castro, she’s going to need the help.
Democrats beware. There is a Republican making sense and he is a Threat!

Prediction: Kasich/Rubio vs. Clinton/Castro

Wikipedia public domain
Wikipedia public domain

Opinion: America, Post Obama…You Are Going To Miss Him When He Is Gone!
America, Post Obama. Let’s see… 2008, America in financial ruin and entering into the great recession, maybe the next great depression and faced with a Congress that wants Obama to be a one term president (thank you Senator McConnell…how did that work out?). Result…a nation now on the brink of a historic financial rebound. Problems still exist, underemployment, women making less salary than men while doing the same job, salary stagnation, race-relations’ cognition, minimum wages that cannot allow people to rise out of poverty or into the middle class. What are the results of Obama’s interventions? A stock market that has rebounded and improved, showing signs of stability. Unemployment down to historic levels not seen since the1970’s. An economy that is robust, an improving housing market and consumer spending that shows confidence in America’s economic future. The Republicans want to demean the successes but you can bet your bottom dollar, if Romney had been elected, republicans would have been touting this recovery as some kind of miracle formula; a magic act that Romney had performed, upon the ouster of Obama. Why isn’t Obama afforded the same platitudes? Damn I hate politics sometimes…
To show his vision, the first bill Obama passed upon earning and winning the presidency was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. This law amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (another historic law that was opposed). A law that requires equal pay for women providing the same services as men. A law protecting women who had been discriminated against earning an equal wage. As a father of two daughters, this resonated with me and so the President had me on his side from the time he said Hello.
ASC_2170Obama promised to end two wars that had taken the treasure and lives of thousands of America’s finest and left countless thousands of soldiers, broken from physical and psychological damages, far too many. Were some of Obama’s decisions on how to extricate America from these wars coordinated and orchestrated in less than perfect ways. Yes. But you tell me how you remove over 100,000 men and women from two theaters of war without it becoming a very messy affair. I hold Obama accountable for the missteps and I am sure he holds himself accountable too but the reduction of forces in these two theaters of war has saved countless lives and prevented additional injury. Make no mistake; America will be caring for our veterans who have suffered injury, both physical and mental for over a generation. The financial impact on the healthcare system will be in the hundreds of billions of dollars and every American will be impacted, none more so, than the veterans and their families. All the more reason to have ended these wars. But we all know that the Middle East will continue to be an evolving problem.
This was part of the reason for the overture that Obama made to the Muslim world. Again, his speech was ridiculed for being naive and ineffective. During the Arab spring when there were changes and upheaval in the Muslim world, too many stated that Obama was caught unawares. Well… no excuses but could anyone have guessed what would evolve and what is still evolving. Obama was blamed for the rise of ISIS (ISIL) because he removed too many troops from Iraq and left that country unprotected. Should he have left the troops there? Wouldn’t both his constituent base and political enemies attack Obama for not keeping his word? This was one of the reasons why he was elected, to get the troops out! The hypothesis is, that Obama created a power vacuum in Iraq that gave rise to ISIS. I would submit that the vacuum was created when Saddam Hussein was overthrown in our original miscalculation. This act created a cascading effect, which changed the landscape of the region. I will not blame the Bush administration for their actions; history will be the judge of that. Obama, as the current President, as all presidents must do, would have to act on the events of the day, not what he would have wanted them to be. I will say this, regarding the current events in the Middle East in relationship to ISIS; in absence of stronger Arab governments, war between Sunni and Shiite Muslims was going to happen eventually. Without Obama forcing the neighboring Arab, Persian, Kurds, Turks, Sunni and Shiite participants into having some ‘skin in the game’ by not having American soldiers fighting their battles for them, the Muslim governments have now had to provide their own troops (when had this happened in the last 10 years or EVER?) fighting their own battles against ISIS. This is a good thing and it does not occur unless Obama changed the paradigm, the way in which we conducted our foreign policy among these Muslim leaders.
Obama’s foreign policy has been skewered for its inconsistency and purported lack of a muscular response to adversarial leaders, most notably, Vladimir Putin. Supposedly, Obama was playing checkers while Putin was playing chess. It is interesting to note, that Obama was able to cobble together a meaningful and strong response to Russian incursions and military adventures utilizing a coalition of allies to impose sanctions that have impacted the Russian economy. Russia is now seeking a way out. Russia will not relinquish the Crimean port in Ukraine, because the impending deal with Iran will put more oil into the world’s petroleum market, further reducing Russia’s global strength and could collapse her economy. Russia needs this port to cheaply export her oil, all the while getting a diminished return on this most costly investment. Is Obama playing a global game of checkers or chess? Can anyone one say Checkmate?
I would submit that there are better ways to project strength than implementing a military response. Once power is used it loses its force, it is the strength of the threat of power, unused and inferred that keeps regimes like Russia in check. That is the power that sanctions impose. Sanctions can always be increased, providing a fear that the worst is still yet to come. This is why Russia is now seeking compromise and cooperation with the Obama administration. This is why Iran came to the bargaining table. America has led by putting together an effective sanctions regime in which both China and Russia are playing an important part, impacting Iran.
The Iran nuclear deal is a game changer. The prospect of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East is daunting and unacceptable. The fundamental change in the Middle East upon acceptance of the Iran nuclear deal will be profound (whatever that means). With the possible entry of Iran into the Middle East’s economy, everyone in the neighborhood will have to up their economic game. Competition will hopefully breed cooperation as well as integration of societies. It is apparent to me that people often get along if they are accepting of their neighbors, they trade, their children get to know each other, they break bread together; it is governments that disagree. At this time, it appears that Saudi Arabia is warming to the deal. I am empathetic with the concerns of Israel and her people and their leadership. To live with a pointed gun to your head is an untenable position. To those in Israel who disagree with Obama’s position, if you do not understand their historical perspectives as well as the real world issues of having a nuclear powered Iran on your doorstep, this could be considered an unforgivable transgression on the part an ally. What could be viewed as a betrayal! We should not forget that the Obama administration has provided the Israeli government with more military aid than any American administration in the history of our historic partnership. Many in Israel agree with the Obama administration about the proposed Iran nuclear agreement and have broken with the Netanyahu government’s position. From a foreign policy perspective, President Obama is the president of the United States and his decisions must be based on what he considers is in the best interests of America. Obama does not want to go to war with Iran. Now many people feel that this is a false narrative and that war is not the only alternative to a nuclear deal with Iran but it is a viable risk. IF…the nuclear deal is done AND it works the way it is meant to, the logic being presented is that Iran would be integrated into the world economy. With a population consisting of 2/3’s of its people under the age of 30 wanting to work and thrive, the popular sentiment would be disinclined to want to lose the benefits of global integration. Why go to war when peace is so beneficial? The current theocracy in power in Iran will not want an Arab Spring on its hands but it is hopeful that the leadership and politics in Iran will change during the duration of the agreement. I believe that this is the Obama calculation. I further believe that the deal will get done. I do not believe that Congress will be able to override the President’s expected Veto, not withstanding the Senate and Senator Chuck Schumer’s decision to not support the agreement (a matter of conscience because he is the only one with a leadership position to lose to Dick Durbin). I personally think that the Veto will be sustained by Nancy Pelosi’s control of the lower house. In terms of whether the Iran nuclear deal is good for the country and the world, only time and history will tell.
For a president that many had written off as a LAME DUCK and being a non-factor after the Senate and House of Representatives was captured by the Republicans, I think that more people were concerned with what they perceive as Obama’s obsession with his place in history than in his ability to set the agenda for Congress and the country, becoming arguably a more effective leader than at any time in his presidency; that his concerns are that an Iran deal will provide him with a foreign policy legacy, that the Affordability Care Act will provide him with a domestic legacy. I think that President Obama is more concerned with leaving America strong, safe and protected. I think that America represents motherhood to the president (Ok, I am not a psychoanalyst, I only act like I think I am). President Obama sees that America, like a mother, feeds and nourishes us all. I think that like a protective son, Barack Obama, who watched his mother die and was helpless to prevent it, vowed to protect all the women in his life, especially, the mothers. I think that President Obama will not let America wither and die in a similar manner that his mother died (sons relive the death of a mother and it shapes the way we respond to the world). The Affordable Care Act will protect all the mothers, women and children in our society from being unprotected from an unseen, undetected healthcare disaster waiting to happen. This was his vow. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 will protect the mothers and daughters in our society from being marginalized and treated like second-class citizens. This was his vow. He will try to keep the waters from rising by protecting the environment. Romney disparagingly joked that he wouldn’t do that, that he would just bring jobs to America. The current unemployment rate is 5.3, the best in a very, very long time. I guess this president has shown that he can walk and chew bubblegum at the same time. Has President Obama been a perfect president, not even close. He still has infrastructure reform to do; he still has wage reform to do; he still has African trade to do… But in an attempt to form a more perfect union…this LAME DUCK hasn’t been half baked or half bad!
You are going to miss him when he is gone.

photo courtesy: Kurt H. Leggard