Many significant events have occurred in April.  Below please find some of them:

April 2, 1513 – Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon landed at present-day St. Augustine, and claimed FL on behalf of Spain.  St. Augustine is the oldest city in the continental US.

April 2, 1982 – Argentinian troops seized the Falkland Islands, a British territory just off the Argentinian coast, thus beginning the Falkland Islands War.    Britain recaptured the islands on June 15.

April 3, 1860 – Pony Express mail service commenced in St. Joseph, MO.

April 3, 1865 – Richmond. the capital of the Confederacy, surrendered.

April 3, 1948 –  President Truman signed the Marshall Plan, an economic aid package that is largely credited with halting the spread of communism in post-War Europe.

April 3, 1995 –  Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female Justice of the Supreme Court.

April 4, 1949 – NATO was created.

April 4, 1968 – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated.

April 6, 1896 – The first “modern” Olympics was held in Athens.

April 6, 1917 –  The US entered WWI.

April 8, 563BC – Celebrated as Bhudda’s birthday.

April 8, 1913 – The US ratified the 17th Amendment to the Constitution mandating the election of US senators by direct popular vote instead of appointment by State legislatures.

April 9, 1865 – Robert E. Lee formally surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant ending the Civil War.

April 9, 1866 –  The US passed the Civil Rights Bill of 1866, which granted AAs the rights and privileges of US citizenship.

April 10, 1942 – The Bataan Death March began.

April 10, 1945 – The Buchenwald concentration camp was liberated by US troops.

April 11, 1968 –  The US adopted the Civil Rights Act of 1968.

April 12, 1861 – The Civil War commenced as Confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter.

April 12, 1945 – FDR died in Warm Springs, GA of a cerebral hemorrhage.

April 12, 1961 – Russian cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, became the first human in space.

April 14, 1828 – Noah Webster published the first American-style dictionary.

April 14, 1865 – President Abraham Lincoln was mortally wounded by assassin John Wilkes Booth at Ford Theatre.  He died the next day.

April 15, 1912 – The “unsinkable” Titanic, which had struck an iceberg the previous night, sunk.  Some 1,500 of the 2,224 persons on board perished.

April 17, 1961 – The so-called Bay of Pigs invasion, which was intended to precipitate the overthrow of Fidel Castro, failed disastrously.

April 18, 1775 –  Paul Revere embarked on his famous “Midnight Ride” to warn the Patriots that “the British [were] coming.”

April 18, 1906 – The infamous San Francisco Earthquake and fire began.

April 18,1942 – A squadron of airplanes led by General James Doolittle successfully bombed Tokyo, providing a much-needed morale boost to Americans by demonstrating that Japan was not invulnerable.

April 19, 1775 – Patriots fire the “shot heard ’round the world” at Lexington, which marked the commencement of the Revolutionary War.

April 19, 1943 – The Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto began armed an insurrection against their Nazi captors.

April 20, 1999 – The “Columbine Massacre” occurred in Littleton, CO, leaving 13 dead and 20 more wounded.

April 21, 1836 – Texans under the command of Sam Houston decisively defeated a Mexican force at San Jacinto (near present-day Houston), which led to Texas’ independence from Mexico.

April 21, 1918 – Baron Manfred von Richtofen, the infamous “Red Baron” who was credited with some 80 kills, was shot down over France.

April 22, 1889 –  The “Oklahoma land rush” began.

April 24, 1800 – The Library of Congress, the world’s largest library, housing some 145 million items, was established.

April 26, 1986 – The nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, Ukraine, exploded, spreading a radioactive cloud extending over much of Europe.

April 26, 1994 – Apartheid in South Africa officially ended as the country held its first multiracial elections with some 18 million blacks participating.  Nelson Mandela was elected President.

April 28, 1789 –  Led by Fletcher Christian, the crew of the HMS Bounty mutinied against Captain William Bligh.

April 30, 1789 –  George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the US.

April 30, 1948 – Palestinian Jews declared their independence from the British and established the State of Israel.

Birthdays – 4/2/1805 – Hans Christian Anderson (Danish fairy tale author); 4/5/1856 – Booker T. Washington (AA educator); 4/10/1847 – Joseph Pulitzer (publisher); 4/13/1743 – Thomas Jefferson; 4/16/1867 – Wilbur Wright (aviator pioneer); 4/16/1889 – Charlie Chaplin (silent film comedian); 4/17/1837 – John Pierpont Morgan (financier); 4/18/1857 – Clarence Darrow (renowned attorney); April 20, 1889 – Adolph Hitler; 4/22/1870 – Vladimir Lenin; 4/23/1564 – William Shakespeare (writer); 4/23/1791 – James Buchanan (15th US President; 4/25/1874 – Guglielmo Marconi (invented the radio; 4/27/1791 – Samuel F. B. Morse (telegraph inventor); 4/27/1822 – Ulysses S. Grant (civil war commanding general and 18th US President); 4/28/1758 – James Monroe (Founding Father and 5th US President); 4/29/1863 – William Randolph Hearst (publisher).







Barbara Bush was one of the most popular and respected First Ladies in recent times.  She was known for her complete lack of pretense, glamor and vanity.  For example, she made no effort to color her hair or wear fancy designer clothes.  Moreover, she freely admitted her passions were gardening, the church and her family.  I never heard anyone utter a negative comment about her.  She brought dignity to the office of First Lady.  To me, she was everyone’s grandma (and I mean that in the nicest, most respectful way).  What you saw was what you got.  At times, it appeared that she was more popular than George.

Barbara Pierce was born on June 8, 1925 in New York City.  She was raised in the affluent suburban town of Rye in Westchester County, which is just north of the City.  Her father was the president of McCall Corporation, which published the popular women’s magazines McCall’s and Redbook.  Barbara was a distant cousin of Franklyn Pierce, the 14th president of the US, and the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

She met George at a dance when she was but 16.  They had a whirlwind romance, not uncommon in wartime.  Just 18 months later they were engaged and he was off to war as a navy bomber pilot. They were married on January 6, 1945 while George was on “leave.”

Bush family members readily identify Barbara as the glue of the family.  Like most husbands of that generation George was busy with his careers – Navy pilot, oilman, corporate executive and, of course, politician.  Meanwhile, Barbara raised the family.  Apparently, their respective areas of responsibility and authority were well defined.  “I don’t fool around with his office,” she once said, “and he doesn’t fool around with my household.”

It seemed like the family was never in one place long enough to establish roots.  They moved some 30 times during their 73 years of marriage.  Through it all, Barbara raised their six children.  The family also included 14 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

George entered politics in 1963 as Harris County (TX) Republican Party Chairman.  As he worked his way up the political ladder over the next 30 years Barbara had to adjust to life as a public figure.  She did so with aplomb, immersing herself in various charities and women’s groups.

At times, her political views diverged from those of her husband’s and many of his key supporters. For example, She was pro-choice on abortion, opposed the sale of assault weapons, and supported the Equal Rights Amendment. On one occasion her forthright manner did get her into some difficulty.  During the 1984 campaign she referred to Geraldine Ferraro, VP candidate on the Dem ticket against George, as “that $4 million – I can’t say it, but it rhymes with ‘rich.’ ”  She apologized to Ferraro, and the matter blew over.

As Second Lady she adopted the cause of literacy.  Using the power and influence of her office, she worked tirelessly with various literacy organizations giving speeches, researching the causes and publicizing the issue.  To her, literacy was “the most important issue we have.”  Probably, she was influenced, in part, by the fact that her son, Neil, was struggling with dyslexia.

Barbara did not seek the limelight, but she could be a very effective speaker, and she was not afraid to speak her own mind.  For example, when George announced his candidacy for president in 1988 Barbara became only the second candidate’s wife to address the convention.  [Can you guess who was the first?  See below.]  One of the highlights of her speech came when she forthrightly told the assembled delegates “what you see with me is what you get.  I’m not running for president – George is.”  In addition, when she gave the commencement speech for Wellesley College’s graduating class of 1990 “American Rhetoric” ranked it as number 45 on its list of the Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century.

The Bushes 73 years of marriage was the longest of any presidential couple.  Furthermore, Barbara was only the second First Lady to bear a son who was also elected president.  [Can you name the other one?]


Barbara was the recipient of several awards and honorariums.  For example, she was a longstanding member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the recipient of the DAR Medal of Honor.  In addition, she was the recipient of honorary degrees from some 30 colleges and universities.

In recent years Barbara was in ill health.  In 2008 she was hospitalized for abdominal pains and underwent surgery on her small intestine.  In 2009 she had an aortic valve replacement.  In 2013 she was hospitalized for pneumonia.  In addition, she was suffering from congestive heart failure, pulmonary disease and Graves’ disease.

Finally, on April 15 she chose to cease further treatment, except for “comfort care.”  She passed away on April 17.  Barbara was one of those few people who truly made a difference.

Rest in peace Barbara.  You will be sorely missed.

Quiz answers: (1) Eleanor Roosevelt (1940).  (2) Abigail Adams (husband of John; mother of John Quincy)


Number 42. Does that have any special meaning for you, or is it just another number? Baseball fans, civil rights advocates, and students of history will recognize it as the uniform number worn by Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers. It should be noted that that uniform number has two other major significances:

It is the only number to have been retired by every major league baseball team (1997); and since 2004, every year on April 15 on what is known as “Jackie Robinson Day,” every player wears that number in tribute to Jackie Robinson in recognition of the anniversary of his debut in the major leagues in 1947. On that historic date Jackie became the first African American to play in the major leagues since the 1880s.

In order to put this in its proper perspective one must realize the racial situation in 1947.

  1.  Segregation was the law of the land. “Jim Crow” was alive and well.
  2. The Brown Supreme Court decision integrating public schools would not come until 1954.
  3. Even the armed forces would not be integrated until 1948.
  4. A disproportionate percentage of MLB players were from the South and espoused all the values, attitudes and experiences of the region regarding AAs.  Most of them had never played ball with an AA.  Many had rarely even associated with one as peers.
  5. The prevailing attitude among players, sports writers, and fans was that AAs were not good enough and did not have the “temperament” to succeed in MLB.
  6. Very few of us lived through that era, and consequently, we cannot imagine the circumstances Jackie had to overcome.

Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born on January 31, 1919 in Cairo, Georgia. His parents chose his middle name in honor of President Teddy Roosevelt, who had recently died. He was the youngest of five children. One of his older brothers, Mack, would later earn some notoriety by winning the silver medal in the 100 meter dash in the 1936 Olympics, (the Games held in Berlin at which Jesse Owens embarrassed Adolph Hitler and the Nazis by winning four gold medals).

Jackie’s parents were sharecroppers and barely scraping by, so in 1920 they moved to Pasadena, California seeking a better life.  In high school and college Jackie excelled in five sports – baseball, basketball, football, track and tennis. Basically, he was an all-around athlete who excelled in any sport he tried. At UCLA he became the school’s first athlete to “letter” in four sports (all of the above except tennis). One of his teammates on the 1939 UCLA football team was the future actor, Woody Strode. Ironically, statistically, at least, baseball was his worst sport of the four.

In 1941 Jackie left UCLA just shy of graduating to play semi-pro football, but in early 1942 he was drafted and stationed at Fort Riley in Texas. He applied for admission to OCS. Initially, his application was rejected as few blacks were accepted at the time, but following a personal appeal from Joe Louis, the reigning heavyweight boxing champ, he was accepted.

Jackie’s tenure in the army was marred by one unfortunate incident in which his fiery temperament got him in trouble. While riding an Army bus one day the driver told him to move to the back. Jackie refused. As a result he was nearly court-martialed for insubordination and other trumped up offenses. A conviction would have changed the course of his life and, possibly, the country’s as well, but he was acquitted.

In 1945 Jackie signed to play for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro leagues. Unbeknownst to him, Branch Rickey, President of the Brooklyn Dodgers, was looking for a Negro to break the major leagues’ “color barrier,” which had been in place since the 1880s. He had compiled a list of the best players in the Negro leagues and was evaluating them for suitability. There were many players better than Jackie, notably Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson, but due to age, temperament and other factors, they were all eliminated in favor of Jackie. Rickey knew the first AA player would have to “turn the other cheek” to a great deal of verbal, physical and emotional abuse. Otherwise, it might be many more years before the next one got a chance. When he told Jackie this, Jackie was shocked and replied “Are you looking for a Negro who is afraid to fight back?” Rickey’s famous reply was that he was seeking a Negro “with guts enough not to fight back.”

To make a long story short, Rickey signed Jackie. He played for the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers AAA minor league affiliate in the International League, in 1946. He “tore up” the league, winning the MVP award. The next year he made his debut in the major leagues.

To me, his debut was one of the most significant events not only in baseball history, but also in the country’s history.  There was tremendous resistance not only from other Dodgers, but from players on other teams as well. Luckily, Dodger management was behind Jackie 100%. When some Dodgers players threatened to quit, strike or demand a trade, the team’s manager, Leo Durocher, a fiery, no nonsense person himself, nipped the rebellion in the bud. He declared: “I do not care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a f****** zebra. I’m the manager of this team, and I say he plays.”

Players on other teams also threatened to strike, but MLB Commissioner “Happy” Chandler quelled that rebellion quickly as well. Nevertheless, Jackie had to endure a tremendous amount of prejudice and abuse on and off the field (name calling, spiking, being hit by pitches, separate lodging and restaurants on the road, etc.). Eventually, other blacks would join him in the majors. Their life was very difficult, and some could not survive, but many more did.


Rickey chose well with Jackie. In baseball parlance, he “knocked it out of the park.” Attendance soared and not just in Brooklyn but in every other city as well. Black people came in droves to see their hero, Jackie Robinson, play. In those days, attendance was the primary source of ball clubs’ revenue, so Jackie made money for everyone.

Not only did Jackie “take” all the abuse without incident, he starred on the field and became an integral part of one of the most storied teams in baseball history, the “Boys of Summer.” In a ten-year period from 1947-1956 that team dominated the National League. It won six pennants, lost another in a playoff and lost another by one game.

Among Jackie’s many MLB accomplishments:

  1. Rookie of the year in 1947 (the first one).
  2. National League MVP in 1949.
  3. Appeared in six World Series.
  4. World champion in 1955.
  5. First ballot hall of famer in 1962.
  6. Member of the MLB All-Century team.

Jackie was extremely versatile, Although he came up as a second baseman, he also played first, third and the outfield. Many times, he was among the league leaders in fielding at his position. He was one of the best “clutch” players I have ever observed. He could beat you with the bat, the glove or on the bases. I have never seen a better baserunner or a tougher competitor. When on base, he would drive the opposing pitcher crazy with his antics. He was always a threat to steal a base. I saw him steal home in the 1955 World Series. When caught in a rundown he often escaped, which, generally, was a rarity. His aggressive style of play was unique for the 1940s and 1950s.

As an example of his extreme competitive nature, one story will suffice. In the decisive third game of the 1951 playoff with the NY Giants, when the Giants’ Bobby Thompson hit the game winning home run, all the Dodgers left the field immediately with their heads down in defeat. All except for Jackie. He watched and made sure that Thompson touched all the bases on his home run trot. He would not accept defeat until Thompson had completed his circuit.

Jackie retired from baseball after the 1956 season worn down by age and diabetes, but he did not retire from life. For example, he became very active in the civil rights movement; he became the first black to serve as vp of a major corporation (Chock Full O’Nuts); he went into broadcasting; and he acted in a movie of his own life story.

Ultimately, however, his fierce competitiveness could not overcome ill health. Jackie died on October 24, 1972 at the relatively young age of 53 from complications of heart disease and diabetes. I’m sure that all the stress he had to endure on the playing field also contributed to his early demise.

Jackie’s legacy, however, lives on. There are countless, statues, schools, parks and roads named in his honor. Moreover, every time a black or other minority takes the field in the major leagues, the NFL or the NBA, he owes a debt to the pioneer who made it all possible.  So, today, as you watch your favorite team play with all players on both teams wearing “42” take a minute to appreciate the special achievement of one Jack Roosevelt Robinson.


I’m baaack!  Perhaps, you didn’t know or care that I was “gone” for a while, but I was out of commission for a couple of weeks due to surgery.  At this point, I feel compelled to catch up on a few items at once by opining on what I consider to be a few particularly troublesome matters that developed during my absence.  As you can glean from the title of this blog I have taken the liberty of combining three separate topics into one blog.

Firstly is the misplaced values of the media.  In order for our system of government to function as the Founding Fathers intended the media must be objective, fair and skeptical.

Unfortunately, much, if not most, of the media has been so blinded by its irrational hatred of President Trump that it has become substantially out of touch with the pulse of the public.  I’m not only referring to what some have labeled “fake news.”  I realize that characterization is debatable depending on one’s political leanings.  Rather, I am referring to the media’s “pushing” stories they feel cast President Trump in a negative light and downplaying other more significant issues.

There have been innumerable examples of this over the last 18 months, which, due to space and time limitations, I will not reiterate here.  Consider, however, the latest example –  the treatment of the Stormy Daniels matter.

What do you think the most significant issue is for the US at the present time, Stormy Daniels’ salacious accusations regarding President Trump, or the war in Syria, or, perhaps, the erosion of due process?

On the one hand, we have a woman rather generously described as an “adult film actress” revealing she had a relationship with President Trump before he even began to campaign for office.  Somehow, her salacious and rather irrelevant story merits extensive news coverage, including slots on 60 Minutes and Anderson Cooper.  Big yawn!  I say, who cares what Mr. Trump did or did not do with Daniels before he even thought about running for President?   Hello!  He was a billionaire businessman with an ego and a libido.  Private matter.

Do you really  care about this story?  I don’t, and according to the latest Quinnipiac survey, neither do 77% of the American public.  We did not elect Mr. Trump for his moral character.  Additionally, the story has not affected the President’s approval ratings.  The only person this story hurts is Melania, who unfortunately, has become collateral damage.

Secondly, most of the media is overlooking the significance of the FBI’s raid on Michael Cohen’s law office.  Cohen is Mr. Trump’s personal attorney on the Daniels case.  Ostensibly, the FBI was seeking evidence relating to the Daniels case, but it also seized other records as well.  Moreover, Politico reports that the FBI ordered Cohen to disclose his full client list.  Many lawyers, such as the renowned Alan Deshowitz, are concerned that this action constituted a blatant attack on attorney-client privilege as guaranteed by the due process provision of the Bill of Rights.  I am not an attorney, but it concerns me.  It should concern everyone regardless of one’s political leanings, because it creates a slippery slope that could affect anyone of us next.

Last, but not least, is Syria.  We are faced with a rapidly escalating war in the most volatile region in the world in which innocent women and children are being gassed and which has a realistic potential of escalating into a direct confrontation between the US and Russia.  Most of us would agree that the use of chemical weapons is intolerable, but there is disagreement as to what to do about it.  Some even doubt that Assad was the perpetrator.  The choices appear to be (1) do nothing, it’s not our fight; or (2) retaliate with bombardment or some other military or economic action of varying severity.  There are plusses and minuses and room for legitimate debate regarding any action or non-action.

Anyway you slice it, however, Cohen and Syria are far more significant than Daniels and yet until yesterday had been receiving far less media coverage.  The Cohen matter chips away at the constitutionally-guaranteed civil rights of ALL of us, and the Syria situation has the potential to bring us closer to nuclear war that at any time since the 1961 Cuban Missile Crisis.  (It would not surprise me if half of Americans do not even know where Syria is.)


Last night the US carried out a targeted, surgical strike against various of Syria’s chemical weapons facilities.  Mr. Trump acted in the best way he could under the circumstances..

  1. He made sure he had the moral high ground.
  2. It was a surgical, targeted strike with no or minimal collateral damage.
  3. He acted with the concurrence of our European and Middle East allies.
  4. It was not a solo action.  Other countries, such as the UK and France actively participated.
  5. He sent the best message to Assad and others of his ilk that certain heinous actions will not be tolerated.
  6. Now, we await Russia’s response and hope that cooler heads prevail.
  7. The situation is very fluid.  Stay tuned.


I was disappointed in the $1.3 trillion budget bill that was hammered out late Friday between the Congress and President Trump.  First of all, it was another last minute, haphazard deal, which, sadly, appears to be the only way our government can function.  Secondly, it featured a $60 billion increase for the military, which, for the most part, I support, and a plethora of other “goodies” (some legitimate, some not), but nothing for DACA and a puny couple of million for the border wall.  Moreover, how many legislators do you think actually read the 2,000+ page opus?  How many do you suppose are actually cognizant of what is in the bill?  If I had to bet, I would guess “very few.”  I hate to quote Nancy Pelosi, but I believe she was correct when she said of the ACA “you have to read it to know what’s in it.”

Afterwards, at the post-signing press conference, the President admitted he was not happy with the deal.  “I will never sign another bill like this again,” he blustered, as he stood beside a sizeable stack of paper representing a printed copy of the bill . There was a goodly amount of “pork” in the bill, but, in reality, he was stuck between the proverbial “rock and hard place.” If he had vetoed the bill, a government shut-down would have been likely for which he would have been blamed by the Congress, the media and the public.

One might say that a deal in which everyone gets some, but not all, of what they want, and no one is completely satisfied or dissatisfied is a good deal.  After all, that is the essence of compromise.  Trump got his increase in military spending, the Dems got money for their domestic programs, and many congressmen got some “pork” in an election year.

Fine and good, but border security and DACA were left out in the cold, which befuddled me.  DACA was a “no-show, and border security got a pittance, barely a down payment on the $25 billion the President had sought.   The DACAs were not the only losers in this deal.  All Americans will be more vulnerable from terrorism, crime and illegal drugs.  And, don’t forget, the politicians who continually perpetuate this situation are protected behind their walled-in communities (How ironic is that?) and 24/7 security.

According to CNN the Dems were “fuming” at the GOP and Mr. Trump.  Illinois Representative Luis Gutierrez, a strong advocate of immigration reform, opined “anyone who vote[d] for the Senate budget deal is colluding with this President and this administration to deport Dreamers.”  The absurdity of this statement aside, this is a prime example of how Mr. Trump gets blamed for things not of his own doing.  He wanted to include the law-abiding Dreamers in this bill, 1.8 million of them, in fact, which is more than  the number identified by DACA supporters.  Also, according to a recent CBS poll, nearly 90% of Americans support allowing law-abiding DACAs to stay.  That’s pretty decisive, as it is virtually impossible to get 90% of Americans to agree on ANYTHING.  But, the Dems did not support their inclusion because, in exchange, it would have meant funding for the border wall.  Apparently, they would rather see both programs fail than both succeed.


So, the DACA and border wall issues will remain in limbo for the foreseeable future, and the administration will keep trying.  Some personal observations regarding DACA:

  1. I believe the Dems legitimately want to allow the DACA people to remain, but they want to keep them in limbo as they perceive it to be a viable campaign issue for the 2018 mid-term elections and beyond.  They will seek to blame the GOP and Mr. Trump for their plight.
  2. The Dems are anticipating that, eventually, the DACAs will become loyal Democratic voters, either when they attain citizenship or before then. (I suspect that, in some states, some of them have already been voting.)
  3. Some employers, both GOP and Dem, prefer to keep the DACA people around to serve as cheap labor.

As we know, in politics, things are rarely as they appear to be.


God has a sense of humor.  Here in the NY area we just had a nor’easter that dropped 14 inches of snow.  In addition, temperatures in much of the Midwest have been in the 40s.  And, on March 29, less than one week from today, the baseball season will commence.  All 30 teams will be in action.  Not exactly an ideal scenario for MLB and its fans.

For many years, MLB had scheduled the very first game of the season in Cincinnati, usually on the first Monday in April. This was in recognition of the fact that the Reds were the first professional baseball team. The team was formed in 1869 as the Red Stockings. The team has undergone various name changes and is now known as the “Reds.” Incidentally, for you trivia buffs, they went 65-0 that year, the only perfect season in baseball history.

The National League was organized in 1876, and the American League in 1901.   For many years there were 16 teams – eight teams in each league, all in the northeast, with no team being located west of St. Louis.  With the advent of air travel in the late 1950s it became feasible to add franchises in other sectors of the country.  Presently, there are 30 teams – 15 in each league.

Fans have been complaining that the season starts too early; the weather in early April is too cold in many cities.  So, what does MLB do to resolve the problem?  This year, it moved Opening Day up to its earliest date ever!  Brilliant!  Furthermore, rather than scheduling OD games in warm weather sites and dome stadiums, MLB has compounded this idiocy by scheduling games in venues, such as Chicago, NY, Denver, Pittsburgh and Seattle, and many early season games will be played at night.  Yes, MLB is always thinking of the fans.

Despite the inclement weather, OD holds a special meaning.  Mention those words to any sports fan, and, immediately, he knows what it means and to which sport it pertains. Not football, not basketball, not hockey. OD means that another season of Major League Baseball is beginning. Baseball fans look forward to OD every year. Local newspapers step up their coverage of the local team in anticipation. Many of them even print a daily countdown of the number of days remaining until OD. In addition, OD occurs in the Spring, a season that symbolizes a new beginning and one which most people anticipate every year.

Most fans will acknowledge that baseball is no longer the most popular sport. In fact, according to TV ratings, betting interest and most fan polls, football has superseded baseball. However, baseball, which has been played in the US in some form since the 1840s, is part of the social fabric of America.

Most men remember their first game of “catch” with their father or their first baseball game. For most boys it is a “rite of passage” as uniquely American as the flag.  In fact, I have a more detailed recall of a World Series game I saw with my father in 1956 than I do of ballgames I saw last year.

Every fan is optimistic on OD. Every team starts with the same 0-0 record. None has lost a game yet. Every team still has a chance to make the playoffs, and as we have seen in recent years, once you make the playoffs anything can happen. For example, in 2016 the Chicago Cubs won it all for the first time since 1908. Think about that for a minute. That means that no present Cubs fan, and virtually none of their fathers, were even born the previous time the Cubs won.  Last year the Houston Astros won their first WS after having languished near the bottom of the league for many years.

Many fans, and even some reporters, place undue emphasis on the opener forgetting or ignoring the fact that the season consists of 162 games. Over the course of a baseball season even the best teams will lose approximately 60 games. To many fans, a win OD means the season will be outstanding; a loss means the team “stinks.”

MLB has been trying to develop its international presence. One way has been to schedule OD contests in various foreign venues. The first one was in 1999 in Monterrey, Mexico. For the record, the Colorado Rockies beat the San Diego Padres. Since then, there have been eleven season openers held in international venues. Tokyo has hosted the most, eight. Sydney has hosted two and San Juan one.  This year, the Yankees and Red Sox will play two games in London (although not on OD).

Down through the years, OD has produced some memorable events, such as:

1. In 1907, the NY Giants, forerunner of the San Francisco Giants, forfeited the opener after rowdy fans began throwing snowballs at the players and umpires. There were not enough police on hand to restore order, so the umpires forfeited the game to the visiting Phillies.
2. In 1910 President Taft became the first President to throw out the “first ball.” In 1950 President Truman threw out the “first pitch” twice, as a righty and a lefty. In total, twelve Presidents have thrown out the “first pitch.” Over the years it has evolved from a perfunctory toss from the stands to an more elaborate ceremonial toss from the mound.  Will we see President Trump follow tradition this year? Your guess is as good as mine. Can you imagine him doing the “wave?”
3. In 1940, Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians, known as “Rapid Robert” because of his high velocity, threw the only OD day no-hitter in baseball history. As an aside, there were no radar guns in Feller’s day, so one day some officials attempted to “time” his fastball by having him throw a pitch against a speeding motor cycle.
4. In 1947 Jackie Robinson debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers on OD becoming the first African American to play in the major leagues since the 19th Century.
5. In 1975 Frank Robinson became the first African American to manage in the Major Leagues.
6. In 1996, John McSherry, an umpire, suffered a fatal heart attack near home plate.
7. Early in the 20th Century teams would, on occasion, open with a doubleheader. Doubleheaders used to be quite common, particularly on Sundays and holidays. Now, they are rare, and when they do occur it is usually the result of adding an extra game to make up for a rain-out. The reason? Money, of couse.
8. In 1946 Boston Braves fans attending the game got an unpleasant surprise.  It seems that the Braves’ management had had the stands freshly painted, and the paint had not completely dried.  Many fans got red paint all over their clothes.  The embarrassed management issued a public apology and paid the fans’ cleaning bills.

9. Tom Seaver started the most openers – 16. Walter Johnson pitched the most OD shutouts – nine.
10. In 1974 Henry Aaron clouted his 714th homerun tying Babe Ruth’s all-time record for career homers.


As I said, weather is often an issue on OD, especially in the northern cities where it is not unusual to have cold, damp, rainy weather in early April that is more suitable to football than baseball.  It reminds me of one of the major criticisms of baseball, that the season is too long. We all know the reason – tv money. The owners like it, because it makes them rich and less dependent on attendance for revenues. The players tolerate it, because it fuels their astronomic salaries. As for the fans, well, they will just have to grin and bear it.

Hall of Fame pitcher, Early Wynn summed up the essence of OD thusly: “An opener is not like any other game. You have that anxiety to get off to a good start, for yourself and for the team. You know that when you win the first one you can’t lose them all.” Finally, I am reminded of that renowned philosopher Yogi Berra, who could turn a phrase with the best of them, who is reputed to have said: “A home opener is always exciting, no matter if it’s home or on the road.”

What is your favorite OD memory?  Please share.



Sometimes, I think I am living in an alternate universe. “Logic” has left the building. “Left” is “right,” and “right” is “left.” “Up” is “down,” and “down” is “up.” “Black” is “white,” and “white” is “black.” “Night” is “day,” and “day” is “night.” In some cities, illegal immigrants have more rights and are protected better than citizens

There is no doubt that the issue of sanctuary cities and their relationship to the US’s immigration policies has become very emotional. Many people have very strong opinions either in support or in opposition. In fact, for some people it has become the most important issue, and it will likely be a major issue in the 2018 elections and beyond.
Presently, all across the US certain cities are blatantly ignoring or even working to undermine federal law in direct defiance of the federal government. I am not an immigration lawyer, but, legally, the Constitution seems to be clearly on the side of the Feds. According to the Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 the commission of even minor crimes is grounds for deportation. Moreover, the Act precludes localities from passing laws that prohibit municipal employees from reporting a person’s immigration status to federal authorities. Furthermore, in January 2017 President Trump signed an Executive Order directing the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General to defund sanctuary cities that defy federal immigration law. (I and many others predicted that President Obama’s liberal use of EOs was a double-edged sword, and now as Reverend Wright famously intoned “the chickens have come home to roost.”).

It is well settled that federal law trumps local law. Indeed, the Supreme Court has, on numerous occasions, upheld the so-called Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. Most of you are cognizant that we fought a civil war in the 1860s. Historians agree that according to President Abraham Lincoln, the primary point of this war was not to abolish slavery (although that was a key result), but to maintain the authority of the federal government over individual states. More recently the same principle was used to enforce integration laws in the South.

Proponents of sanctuary are becoming more aggressive. They have no solid basis for their actions, so they claim deporting illegals are racist or a danger to public safety. Those claims are beyond ridiculous.

Many localities have passed laws that go beyond mere non-cooperation; they encourage or even mandate non-compliance, such as limiting the ability of police officers to stop and question persons, or employers or citizens from reporting suspected illegal status. Last week the Justice Department finally took action. It filed suit against the State of California and certain of its elected officials claiming some of its recently-enacted laws made it “impossible” for ICE agents to do their jobs effectively. In connection with this lawsuit, the JD is seeking to withhold federal funding to sanctuary cities. Ultimately, the Supreme Court will probably have to decide the matter.

My research indicated that the idea of a sanctuary city goes back to the Bible. They are mentioned in Numbers as a safe haven to protect perpetrators from “revenge killings,” which otherwise, were legal. In more modern times the concept of sanctuary cropped up in the US in the early 1980s. Refugees from war-torn Central American countries came to the US seeking asylum. John Fife, a Presbyterian minister based in Tuscon, AZ, is credited with leading the effort to provide them sanctuary. Some refugees were ensconced in churches; others were transported to safety by means of a modern version of the “underground railroad.” The movement spread to many other areas of the country.
In the last several years the sanctuary movement has been gaining more steam and becoming more controversial. The Center for Immigration Studies estimates that there are currently some 300 localities, including cities, counties, towns and states that are following sanctuary policies. On the other hand, some 30 states have introduced or enacted laws requiring law local enforcement to cooperate with federal officials.

Sanctuary proponents deny that sanctuary cities have more crime due to illegals. On the other hand, opponents denote several high-profile crimes committed by illegals, notably the brutal murder of Kate Steinle by an illegal who had been deported several times and re-entered illegally each time.


As I said, the issue of sanctuary cities and the related broader issue of immigration has become an emotional and controversial issue. From the outset of his campaign for the presidency Mr. Trump co-opted it as his primary issue. I believe his stance on it was a major reason why he won. He is committed to fulfilling his campaign promise to secure our borders, which includes curbing sanctuary cities. Polls show that a clear majority of voters agree.  In fact, a recent survey conducted by Cal Berkeley found that in California, the hotbed of sanctuary cities, 73% of Dems, 65% of Hispanics and 74% of Californians, overall, opposed them.

I believe that those who support sanctuary cities are on the wrong side of the issue. For example:

A country has every right to secure its borders. It’s not about keeping out people who want a better life or deporting law-abiding “dreamers”; it’s about keeping out terrorists and controlling the flow of illegal drugs. Look no further than the chaos in Europe, where the EU countries have had an open border policy for years. As Mr. Trump has often said: either you have a country, or you don’t.

Those who cite the issue as “proof” that Mr. Trump is a racist are being disingenuous at best. First of all, when someone drops the “R” label it a sure sign that they are desperate because they have no logical argument to present. Secondly, as I discussed above, he is merely enforcing existing law. That is his job. That is what he was elected to do. If one does not like the law, elect representatives who will change it. Don’t complain, criticize and refuse to obey it.

Elected officials have a duty to protect the citizens that elected them. Ironically, many of those who advocate a borderless country are the same ones who advocate tighter gun control.  Does that make sense? Also, many of them enjoy 24/7 personal security and live in secure, gated communities.

I believe that many Dems that support sanctuary cities and open borders are doing so for an insidious reason. They are hoping that these illegals will eventually vote for them. (Many states’ voter registration laws are so lax that persons who are ineligible to vote, such as felons and illegals, are able to do so.)

Finally, as I said, these politicians give the distinct impression that are more attuned to the rights of illegals than their own constituency. That was true in the Steinle case, among others. I hope that voters will realize that and take it into account in November.


I do not believe in revisionist history.  It reminds me of the plot of George Orwell’s famous novel, 1984.  I firmly believe that people’s actions should be judged within the context of the period in which they lived and acted.  No second-guessing, no Monday-morning quarterbacking.  For example, preposterous as it may be, some people have been accusing some of the Founding Fathers, such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, of being racist because they owned slaves.  I am not condoning slavery, but we all know that during the 17th through 19th centuries slavery was a way of life in the South.  Anyone who owned property owned slaves to work the land.  Even some black families owned slaves.  So, it is not appropriate or fair to judge them by today’s standards and mores.

The same applies to Gina Haspel, President Trump’s nominee for CIA Director.  Haspel has been in the CIA for in excess of 30 years, and, undoubtedly, she has participated in various questionable practices during that time, which were appropriate, approved, legal, and even necessary at the time, but which may be objectionable, or even abhorrent, in retrospect.

For example, in the immediate aftermath of “9/11” she managed a notorious black site, code-named “Cat’s Eye,” in Thailand .  Apparently, prisoners at this facility were subjected to “enhanced” interrogation, including “water boarding.”  Not only did she manage this black site it appears she also was involved in or directed the destruction of  the video tapes of certain interrogations.  (Incidentally, Dems do not have any gripe about the destruction of tapes as “you know who” destroyed emails that had been requested under a subpoena.)  In the minds of some, these actions should disqualify her, or at least call into question, her suitability for the directorship position.

However, consider the following:

  1. We all need to remind ourselves of the state of the country in 2001.  Those of us who were too young to remember or not even born yet, (a surprising number) need to educate themselves to appreciate the physical, mental and emotional toll of the 9/11 attacks on the US and its citizens.
  2. We were brutally, wantonly, and cowardly attacked.
  3. The victims were not members of the armed forces; they were innocent civilians, kids in many cases.
  4. Thousands died horrible deaths, by fire, airplane crash, or from jumping out of the WTC towers.
  5. Tens of thousands more have been afflicted with cancers or respiratory illnesses directly related to the attacks.  Almost everyone living in the NY area knows or knows of someone who was either killed on that day or who has suffered in the aftermath.
  6. Among other things, the country wanted revenge, payback.  We wanted to find those responsible and kill them, and most of us were not too particular about how it was done.  President Bush, 43, and his successor, Barack Obama, both made it a top priority of their respective administrations.  An intense, global manhunt was underway for many years until we located and killed bin Laden.
  7. Most people realized we were at war with radical Islamic terrorism.  The attitude of most people was we needed information, and we needed to obtain it by any means possible. That was the backdrop under which enhanced interrogation occurred.

In addition, at that time, as far as I can tell EI was not considered illegal.  Controversial, yes, but not illegal.  It was not until 2009 that President Obama issued an Executive Order banning torture.  In 2015 Congress followed up with its own ban.  But, these actions do not apply to Haspel’s abovementioned actions.  Indeed, afterwards, the Justice Department conducted various investigations, and no one was adjudged guilty of any crimes.  It would be healthy to have a national debate with respect to the appropriateness of waterboarding, which, incidentally, not everyone agrees meets the legal definition of “torture,” but let’s not engage in revisionist history.

Not much else is known about Haspel’s career as she has spent much of it undercover.  What we do know is very impressive.  She has managed to rise to the upper echelon of a male-dominated company.  She has been posted to Europe, Turkey and Central Asia.   She was the head of the London Station for a time, and most recently she has been Deputy Director (for which she did not require Senate approval).  She is 61, and would be the first female to head the CIA.  She has drawn kudos from Senator Dianne Feinstein, former chairwoman of  the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who, although concerned about the EI issue, has praised her as a “good” deputy director.

Additionally, Amy Jeffers, former national security aide to Eric Holder who worked with her in London opined that Haspel would be a “thoughtful and conscientious leader.”  According to my research various former agency operatives and other members of the intelligence community consider her a tough and direct, but collegial operative.  Under normal circumstances the feminists and liberals would be touting her candidacy from the rooftops.  (Can we label her detractors as “misogynists?”)  Just asking.


Some of Haspel’s actions, have drawn the ire of various senators and members of the media.  For example, Senator John McCain, himself a victim of extensive torture during the Vietnam War, characterized the torture of prisoners in black sites as “one of the darkest chapters in American history” and stated that the Senate “must do its job in scrutinizing the record and involvement of Gina Haspel in this disgraceful program.”  Also, Senator Rand Paul has stated his opposition most vociferously.  Many media outlets have also weighed in against her.

In my opinion, it would be fair and appropriate to make Haspel’s background an issue in her confirmation hearings and clarify what she did or directed done.  But, from what I know presently, her record should not disqualify her.  All of her actions, including the water boarding, appear to have been done under the direction of her superiors, and they were not illegal at the time.  It is only now, as the memory of “9/11” fades and with the shift in public opinion against water boarding, that the outcry against her has arisen.

Although President Trump has indicated he would like to “bring back” waterboarding, it is not likely to happen.  Many in the military and intelligence communities, Congress and even in his own administration are on record against it, and it would require Congressional approval.

In summary, the Senate is entitled and obligated to perform its due diligence, but Haspel appears to be a fine choice and should be confirmed.




When will people realize that one has to focus on what President Trump does, not on what he says.  I don’t know the man, personally, but based on what I have read and been told, in his previous life as a businessman he was not exactly a nice man.  Also, his incessant tweeting is annoying, inappropriate and unpresidential, and White House personnel have turning over at a high rate.  I say, so what?  Previously, he was not in politics, where one has to be skilled in lying, cheating and obfuscation, where one has to be polite to those he loathes, and say one thing and do another.  He was from the rough and tumble ruthless world of NY real estate where one has to scratch and claw to succeed, where people tend to be brutally direct, and where they say what they mean and mean what they say.

I did not vote for a nice guy with whom I would like to “hang out” on Friday nights.  I voted for a president who was tough enough and ruthless enough to deal with Putin and China and North Korea and Iran and ISIS and the DC political “swamp.”  I voted for someone who could and would solve America’s problems, of which there are many at the moment.  I did not want “nice.”  I have had “nice” for the past eight years, and I did not like the results. Enough “nice,” already!  Arguably, the two “nicest” presidents in my lifetime have been Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, but I firmly believe that they were also the worst presidents during that period.

I ask you, if you were seriously ill and needed an operation to save your life, which surgeon would you want, the nice, polite one of average competence or the arrogant, nasty SOB who was the most highly skilled?  I know which one I would choose. That’s also whom the voters chose.

So far, President Trump has done, or is trying to do exactly what he promised in his campaign.  How refreshing.  (Remember Bush 41’s phony campaign pledge: “read my lips.  No new taxes?)  Remember how that worked out?

Let’s review  Mr. Trump’s report card, briefly:

      1.  Elimination of needless regulations that discourage business.


      2.  Proposed immigration bill, including border security and a path to citizenship for law-abiding “dreamers.”


      3. Aggressively fighting gangs and opioid addiction.


      4. Fighting for fair and reciprocal trade deals.


      5.  Rebuilding infrastructure.


      6.  Paid family leave.


      7.  Success against ISIS.


    8.  Necessity to retain Guantanamo.
    9.  Strong support of Israel, including recognition of Jerusalem as its capital.
    10. Strong support for veterans.
    11. Sustained low unemployment, including record lows for blacks and Hispanics.
    12.  Job creation, including new plants being built.
    13. A moderate justice appointed to the Supreme Court.
    14. Record-breaking stock market.
    15. Tax reform, which has already encouraged several companies to hire additional workers and pay out employee bonuses.
    16. Respect for the flag.
    17. Heroism by “ordinary” Americans during natural disasters.
    18. Energy independence.
    19.  North Korea’s Kim has requested a face-to-face meeting with Mr. Trump (and South Korea).  The President has agreed but only to discuss NK’s denuclearization.  Meanwhile, the sanctions are remaining in place.  Many have compared this breakthrough to President Nixon’s visit to China, which ushered in a whole new relationship with that country.  This development is most encouraging, but, for now, let’s be cautiously optimistic.
    Remember, all this has been accomplished in just a little over one year in office and with sustained opposition not only from the Dems, but also many in his own party, not to mention a largely hostile media.
    And, now to the current issue – tariffs.
    As we all know, yesterday, President Trump announced the imposition of a 25% tariff on imported steel and 10% on imported aluminum for which he was roundly criticized. That was the headline.  But, as they say, the devil is in the details.  Just to back up, we all know that tariffs are a double-edged sword.  History has shown that, generally, they backfire as trading partners retaliate in kind.
    Perhaps, the most infamous example of this was the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 sponsored by Senator Reed Smoot and Representative Willis Hawley.   The ill-advised protectionist act imposed tariffs on some 20,000 imported products.  America’s trading partners quickly and predictably retaliated. The conventional wisdom among economists and historians is that this contributed to and greatly exacerbated the effects of the Great Depression.  I agree.
    However, before you rush to sell your securities and stock up on gold and silver consider the aforementioned details and remember President Trump’s penchant for using hardline policies as a negotiating tool.  Don’t forget, he built a fortune on the “Art of the Deal.”
    Lost in the headline was President Trump’s statement that he was exempting certain allies, such as Mexico and Canada, and, moreover, that he would be “very flexible” about exempting other allies.  So, I think that our allies in Europe and the Pacific rim can probably rest easy as well.  It is very clear to me that he is sending a message to certain countries, such as China, that have been engaging in unfair trade practices, such as “dumping .”  You will recall that re-negotiating unfair trade practices was one of his campaign pledges.   I view this as consistent with, for example, his actions regarding our NATO partners who had not been paying their fair share for defense.
    Additionally, I think this action was triggered, in part, by a recent Department of Commerce report that the substantial influx of foreign aluminum and steel was decimating our own manufacturers of these products.  The obvious result of this has been loss of manufacturing jobs.  The more subtle result is that in the interest of national security we need these industries to be healthy in the event of war.  In that event, we cannot allow ourselves to be at the mercy of foreign powers who might turn adversarial, such as China or even those who are currently friendly, such as Canada and Brazil.
    I suspect the President’s “endgame” is not to start a trade war.  I’m sure he knows the ramifications as well as we do, if not better.  His aim is to renegotiate certain unfair trade practices, which have been highly disadvantageous to America.
    Don’t forget another detail, namely that these tariffs will not take effect for 15 days, which leaves plenty of time to negotiate.  Along those lines, today, the Huffington Post reported that many of our trading partners are “lining up” to apply for exemptions.  These include various EU countries as well as Brazil, our second largest supplier of steel behind Canada, Japan, South Korea, and Argentina.  I expect that most, if not all of them will receive exemptions, leaving only the 500- pound gorilla, China.
    As I said, the Chinese have not been playing fair, and Trump intends to rectify that.  Given his stellar track record to date, he deserves the benefit of the doubt in this instance.  Like I said, don’t sell your securities and buy gold and silver just yet.


Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day.  Moreover, the entire month of March has been designated as Women’s History Month.  As one can discern from the foregoing, the purpose of IWD and WHM is to recognize and honor the contributions of women to society in various countries throughout history and to promote gender equality.  This year, the focus is on women in the workplace.

The first WHM took place in 1911.   Over the years the celebration was expanded to encompass the entire week of March 8.  In 1980 President Carter issued a proclamation designating the month of March as WHM.  Over the next several years various states followed suit.  Finally, in 1987 Congress formally designated March as WHM, and it became an annual event.

In my opinion women have not yet achieved gender equality, but, to paraphrase that old slogan, “they’ve come a long way” from the days, only a couple of generations ago, when society believed “a woman’s place was in the home.”  For example, according to a study by Statistica beginning in 2014 a higher percentage of women than men have completed four years of college.  In 2016 the percentage was 33.7% for women, slightly ahead of men.  Furthermore, women have been increasingly making their mark in all fields of endeavor, including business, finance, entertainment and politics.

Women who graduated college in the 1970s and earlier basically had three career paths: nurse, teacher and secretary.  I remember one of my high school teachers disparagingly telling a group of girls in my class that the college degree for them was “MRS.”  Today, for example, women are attending law school and medical school in record numbers.  Moreover, 20% of the members of Congress are female (106 of 535).

Quiz question: the first female was elected to Congress in 1916 from the State of Montana.  She was a pacifist, a women’s rights advocate, and an isolationist and in 1941 was the only member of Congress to vote against the declaration of war against Japan after they had bombed Pearl Harbor.  Who was she?  See below.

Below please find a brief thumbnail sketch of some of the women who, throughout history, have exemplified the spirit of WHM.  Some are famous; others are known only to  students of history.

  1. Eleanor Roosevelt –  Former First Lady, social activist.
  2. Sojourner Truth – Born a slave named Isabella circa 1775, escaped to the North in 1827, could not read or write, but was a very effective speaker, travelled throughout the US preaching abolition, temperance and women’s rights.
  3. Rosa Parks – Arguably ignited the modern civil rights movement when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man.
  4. Susan B. Anthony – leading 19th century advocate for women’s suffrage.
  5. Elizabeth Cady Stanton – leading 19th century activist for women’s suffrage and abolitionist.


Below please find some inspiration quotes by leading women:

  1. “We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.” – Margaret Atwood
  2. “I was surrounded by extraordinary women in my life who taught me about quiet strength and dignity.” – Michelle Obama
  3. “I just love bossy women. …To me, bossy is not a pejorative term.  It means somebody’s passionate and engaged and ambitious and doesn’t mind learning.” – Amy Poehler
  4. “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” – Rosa Parks
  5. “I don’t want other people to decide who I am.  I want to decide that for myself.” – Emma Watson
  6. “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker (Pulitzer Prize-winning author- The Color Purple)

Quiz answer:  Jeanette Rankin