TUSKEGEE AIRMEN

Since February has been designated as Black History month, I thought it appropriate to publish a series of blogs featuring outstanding contributions by African Americans. This blog features the Tuskegee Airmen.

AAs have fought with distinction in every war beginning with the Revolutionary War. In fact, the first colonist to be killed in battle is generally acknowledged to have been an AA, Crispus Attucks, who was slain during the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770. Ironically, during the RW AAs fought side-by-side with whites, so technically the American Army was integrated before it was segregated. Moreover, although some AAs fought on the side of the British due to promises of freedom most of them resisted that siren song and remained loyal to the colonies.

At the advent of WWII the military, like much of Americana, was segregated. Racial discrimination was a way of life. It may be incomprehensible to us now, especially the younger among us, but AAs were generally perceived by white America as inferior and not suitable for serving in certain capacities, such as piloting airplanes. This view was fostered and supported by a study by the Army War College in 1925. Moreover, AAs were required to live, train and fight separately from whites, and their units were under the command of white officers. (Ironically, although AAs were required to sit in a separate area in the back of a bus they were required to sit in the front passenger section of trains. The reason was that the steam locomotives of the day belched copious amounts of soot and ash, which made riding uncomfortable in the forward seating areas, particularly during the warm weather when windows were open.)

In spite of the foregoing, a group of AAs had the desire to pilot airplanes. Between 1941 and 1946 some 3,000 of them trained at the Tuskegee Institute, which was located in Tuskegee, Alabama. The Tuskegee Airmen became the first AAs to qualify as pilots. Up to then there had not been any AA pilots in the US. Their ambitious goal was to qualify as pilots and fight for their country. They became known as the Tuskegee Airmen. The program was initiated and supported by the FDR Administration, which reasoned that with the likelihood of a war the country would require the services of ALL Americans. About 1,000 of that original group survived the rigorous training program and ultimately graduated. By the time the program was concluded some 14,000 pilots and support personnel had been trained. In addition to the rigorous training, they had to endure the aforementioned discrimination and preconceptions of inferiority among Army personnel.

The program received a significant public relations boost from the First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1941 she famously flew with an AA flight instructor, C. Alfred Anderson. Upon landing safely she proclaimed to him “well, you can fly, all right.”

Initially, Tuskegee graduates were afforded very little respect by the powers-that-be. Typically, they were deployed to North Africa rather than Europe and designated to fly the more obsolete equipment. Later, they were permitted to fly the more advanced fighters, such as P51 Mustangs. At first, they were tasked with escorting bombers, which was generally perceived to be less risky than flying sorties. Whether by accident or design, most of the bombing crews were unaware that they were being protected by AA crews. There were some losses, but Army records disclosed that their “protection rate” was as good as that of white pilots. The TAs became known as “Red Tails” owing to their habit of painting the tail sections of their planes red.

The Army carefully restricted where the TAs were assigned and what they were permitted to do. For instance, as I said, at first, they were discouraged from directly engaging the enemy in “dogfights,” but eventually they did so and with distinction. Tuskegee Airmen recorded 112 confirmed kills. Eighty-four TAs were killed in battle, and 30 others were captured. In addition, they were permitted to bomb the Japanese but not white Europeans. Apparently, the Army was more concerned with offending the sensibilities of the Nazis and fascists than with its own people.

CONCLUSION

The TA pilots served with distinction, and, as a result, paved the way for all people of color who would follow. Many historians credit them, in part, for the US’s integrating the Armed Services, which President Truman mandated by Executive Order in 1948.

Some of their accomplishment were:

  1. Flying 1,578 combat missions.
  2. Flying 179 bomber escort missions.
  3. Destroying 112 enemy aircraft.
  4. Earning various medals, including one Silver Star, 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 14 Bronze Stars , 744 Air Medals and eight Purple Hearts.
  5. Collectively, being awarded a Congressional Gold Medal.
  6. Four have become generals, and many others have gone on to be successful in other endeavors.

Despite this stellar record of accomplishments old habits die hard, and the TAs continued to bear the brunt of racism and discrimination for years afterward. Today, many consider the US military to be the ultimate meritocracy. I believe that is due, in no small part, to the achievements of the Tuskegee Airmen.

BIDEN’S COVID RELIEF BILL AND OTHER ACCOMPLISHMENTS

President Biden has been in office for approximately one month. At this point, I think it is fair to evaluate his performance to date. Up to now, I have restrained myself and refrained from commenting on Biden’s performance, but at this point I can no longer do so. What follows is strictly my opinion. Some of you will agree; others of you will not. That’s okay. It’s a free country and all of us are entitled to our own opinions (at least I think that is still the case).

Below please find a list of his positive accomplishments:

1.

2.

3.

You will note the space is blank. That is not an oversight. That is not a typing or software glitch. Rather, in my opinion he has had no positive accomplishments. I challenge you to tell me I’m wrong. Give me one positive accomplishment. One that will benefit the country, not special interests, and not foreign countries. Just one.

Now, for the negative ones. There have been many, but time and space only allow me to list the most egregious ones.

  1. Wasting weeks on another impeachment and trial of former President Trump. We can argue whether or not Trump incited an insurrection or violated any other impeachable laws, but most legal scholars agree that the Constitution does not give Congress the authority to impeach and remove a president who is no longer in office. Legalities aside, it’s nonsensical, a contradiction in terms. Ball game over on that one. Moreover, I’m sure Congress had other more pressing matters it could have been addressing, such as, for instance, dealing with COVID and the economy.
  2. Halting the Keystone Pipeline. Not only did this eliminate thousands of good paying jobs that are irreplaceable, it, once again, makes us dependent on other countries for our energy, and it will raise energy costs for all Americans. We can see evidence of this at the pumps already.
  3. Rejoining the Paris peace accords. We could debate the pros and cons of that, but in my view it benefits “energy wasters” and “environmental polluters,” such as China and India, not us.
  4. He has presented a “soft” approach to Iran and its nuclear aspirations. Does anyone REALLY believe Iran will live up to its end of the deal? If you do, I have a bridge I can sell you.
  5. He has signaled that our southern border is once again, open. It’s “come one, come all,” no waiting, no restrictions, qualify for a path to amnesty, get free healthcare and other benefits, and in the midst of a pandemic, no less.

These are bad enough, but the “topper” is the proposed COVID relief bill. The bill contains a minimal amount for COVID-related relief, such as small stimulus checks and some relief for small businesses. Fine. But, on the other hand, it is loaded with “pork” for special interests, primarily Biden supporters. In a recent news conference Biden defended the bill challenging reporters with “what would you have me eliminate [from the bill]!?” His implication was that there was nothing. Everything in the bill was essential.

Okay Joe I’m going to do you a favor. Here is a list of what you can eliminate. I provide this to you free of charge. A gift from me to you. Again, I challenge you, the reader, to defend any of these as beneficial to any but a particular special interest group.

  1. Billions and billions for education, such as preparing schools to reopen. Keep in mind that public schools in many states have been open; private schools have been open, and schools in many other countries have been open, all with few, if any, cases of COVID. Most everyone knows that the teachers’ unions’ hardline refusal to go back to work is uncalled for and does a disservice to the children. The Biden administration’s refusal to pressure the teachers’ unions is nothing more than a payback for their campaign contributions.
  2. $270 million for “arts and endowments.”
  3. $200 million for museums and libraries.
  4. $100 million for silicon valley transit (whatever that is).
  5. Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
  6. A bridge from NY to Canada (pork for Schumer).
  7. And my favorite, a “Blue States Bailout.” The fiscally-responsible states will be paying for the financial misdeeds of the profligate states.

CONCLUSION

Some of the foregoing may have some merit. Those items can and should be debated. But, they do not belong in a COVID relief bill. It’s just a cheap Dem trick to conflate the special interest pork with the legitimate COVID relief to force the GOP to vote for it. This is why the Dems delayed this bill until after the election in the hopes that they would win the presidency and have a majority in Congress.

Anyone who objects to the bill will doubtless be branded by the Dems and the media as callous toward the needy. Keep in mind that some $1.4 billion approved in previous COVID-relief bills remains unspent.

In my opinion, this bill, as written, is excessive and inflationary. We cannot continue to print money ad infinitum without consequences. The prudent and fiscally responsible course of action would be to pass the portions truly earmarked for COVID relief and table the other areas to a later date. Unfortunately, “prudent” and “fiscally responsible” will never be found in the same sentence with Congress.

Biden’s foregoing actions should not have come as a surprise to anyone who was paying attention for the past year. Unfortunately, many voters were getting their news from the “fake news” media outlets. For them, this has been a rude awakening. Unfortunately there will likely be additional bombshells prospectively.

RUSH LIMBAUGH

To his supporters, people like Sean Hannity, Glen Beck, Mark Levin and Newt Gingrich, he was an idol, a demigod of talk radio. For 30 some years he hosted a nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Rush Limbaugh Show. In addition, from 1992 to 1996 he hosted a tv talk show. In 2019 Talkers Magazine reported that his radio program was the most popular show in the country, reaching an audience of approximately 15.5 million persons.

Many of his supporters listened to his show religiously to ascertain his opinion on political events. They considered him to be the bellwether of conservatism and conservative views. Whenever serious or controversial issues arose their initial reaction was “what does Rush think?” To them, his opinions were “gospel.” On the other hand, to his detractors he was a bombastic, acerbic, derisive, sarcastic, sardonic, opinionated bigot, public enemy number one, if you will. He was a lightning rod for criticism, which bothered him not in the least. In his opinion, it was a badge of honor. It came with the territory. It was a consequence of being the primary conservative voice in a field dominated by liberals.

You could love him; you could hate him. But, one thing you could NOT do was ignore him. As I said, for over 30 years he was the number one voice on political talk radio. Heck, he virtually invented the genre. In 1988 when his show began there were only 200 or so talk radio programs in the entire country; now there are in excess of 4,000. That development was not entirely due to Limbaugh, but there is no denying he was a major factor.

Rush Hudson Limbaugh, III was born on January 12, 1951 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. His father was a lawyer who had served as a fighter pilot in the South Pacific during WWII. The Limbaughs were a distinguished family in Missouri. Several of Limbaugh’s relatives were also lawyers, including a few federal judges. Limbaugh’s unusual first name was originally bestowed upon his grandfather to honor the maiden name of a relative, and it was passed down to his father and him.

In high school Rush was a decent, though not outstanding, student. He played football, but his primary interest was working in radio. Upon graduation he briefly attended Southeast Missouri State University mainly to placate his parents, but he dropped out after just two semesters to pursue his true love. According to his mother Rush “flunked everything…. he just didn’t seem interested in anything except radio.”

Based on my research I would characterize Rush’s early career as aimless and a study in failure to accept authority. He bounced from job to job in radio. In every case, he left after a short time due to a “personality conflict” or a “difference of opinion” with his supervisor. For example:

  1. His first job after dropping out of college was as a DJ at a station in McKeesport, PA. He used an “airname” of “Bachelor Jeff Christie.” He was fired after 18 months due to a “personality conflict” with the program director. Perhaps, a clue as to the nature of the conflict could be explained by the station manager’s characterization of his style as “early Imus.” Those of you who are familiar with Don Imus’ early career and shenanigans will understand.
  2. Rush landed a job as host of a morning weekend public affairs talk program. That, also, was short-lived.
  3. He took a job hosting an evening talk show in Kansas City. That lasted but a few weeks due to “disagreements with management.”
  4. Next, he decided to abandon radio and transition into sales. He landed a job in group sales with the Kansas City Royals Baseball Team. This job had two significant occurrences. He became friends with future Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett, and his extensive business trips to other countries honed his conservative values and views.
  5. Shortly thereafter he returned to radio, still in KC. Again, he was fired in short order.
  6. He moved to Sacramento for another talk radio gig. Finally, he met with some success.
  7. The turning point in Rush’s career came in July 1988 when he moved to NY and started his talk radio show on WABC. In 2014 he moved his show to WOR, also in NY. Thus, began his meteoric rise and the development of the Rush Limbaugh style with which we are all familiar.

In short order his show was being carried by over 650 radio stations. In 1990 NY Times journalist Lewis Grossberger wrote that Rush has “more listeners than any other talk show host.” Rush’s show aired for three hours each and every day nationally on both AM and FM radio as well as worldwide on the Armed Forces radio. Think of the amount of influence he would have wielded with that extensive an audience. Furthermore, imagine the challenge of talking for three hours a day, day after day and still managing to hold the interest of a national audience. Any host will tell you it is not easy. Rush succeeded beyond all expectations. Furthermore, his success paved the way for generations of conservative talk show hosts to follow, such as Bill O’Reilly and the aforementioned Messrs. Beck, Hannity and Levin as they freely admit. In 2007 Talkers Magazine recognized Rush’s success by including him in its “Heavy Hundred” list of most significant talk show hosts. In 2018 Rush was recognized as the second highest paid talk show host. Can you guess who was #1? See answer below.

Rush was not afraid of expressing his opinions freely. He said what he meant, and he meant what he said. He seemed to relish the controversy he regularly created. Some highlights (or perhaps rather lowlights):

  1. He was an ardent supporter of the Gulf War. He criticized peace advocates relentlessly.
  2. He was sharply critical of President Bill Clinton’s policies and First Lady, Hillary.
  3. He attacked Dem policies relentlessly, and many credit him with helping the GOP regain control of Congress in 1994.
  4. He once quipped that “all newspaper composite pictures of wanted criminals resembled Jesse Jackson.”
  5. He compared NFL football games to a “contest between the Crips and the Bloods (two LA street gangs) without weapons.”
  6. He sharply and frequently criticized liberal politicians’ positions on immigration.
  7. He was an ardent critic of President Obama’s policies and resented that those who criticized him or his policies were accused of racism. He was one of those who advanced the “birther” issue.
  8. He was an early and ardent supporter of Donald Trump.
  9. He was a severe critic of lenient treatment of drug dealers and users (which was ironic due to his later issues with oxy).
  10. He was a strong critic of the Green New Deal and its advocates.
  11. He mocked the actor Michael J. Fox’s struggles with Parkinson’s disease, accusing him of exaggerating its effects while recording a political commercial.
  12. He was slow to recognize the existential danger of the coronavirus, likening it to the “common cold” (although, in fairness, he was not the only one to underestimate the disease early on).

CONCLUSION

Rush’s personal life was not without controversy.

  1. He was married four times and thrice divorced.
  2. As I mentioned above he became addicted to oxycodone and hydrocodone, which he admitted on air and for which he sought treatment.
  3. When returning from a trip to the Dominican Republic he was caught at the airport with copious amounts of Viagra (and no valid prescription).
  4. He became, in his words, “100%, totally deaf,” which necessitated cochlear implant surgery.

Rush was the recipient of numerous awards, too many to list them all here. I have already mentioned some of them. Perhaps, the highlight was the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was presented to him by First Lady, Melania Trump at the 2020 State of the Union address. The PMF is the highest civilian award. In addition, he appeared in the 1995 movie, Forget Paris, with Billy Crystal, was a frequent guest on tv shows, such as the Late Show with David Letterman, and the author of several books.

In short, Rush was a complicated and controversial man. However, in my view, his status as the premier conservative voice of his time cannot be denied. Moreover, many consider him to have been the father of talk radio as we know it today.

In the last year or so of his life Rush’s public battle with lung cancer was heart-wrenching to follow. He fought bravely and continued to work, but he finally succumbed on February 17. His fourth wife, Kathryn, was at his side at the end.

Rest in peace Rush. You had your faults (like all of us) and you had your detractors, (like most of us) but the significance of your contributions to society cannot be denied. Your name will live on, and you will be sorely missed.

Quiz answer: Howard Stern

BLACK HISTORY MONTH

It is impossible to discuss Black history without discussing the slave trade. Since February has been designated as Black History Month,  I thought it appropriate to publish a blog on the topic discussing not only the sordid history of slavery, but also the many significant accomplishments of AAs.

Slave trading is as old as recorded history.  Ancient peoples, such as the Egyptians, Arabs and Romans, among others, were active practitioners.  Before the industrial revolution took hold, slaves were essential to do the back-breaking physical labor required, such as, for example, building the pyramids, tilling the fields, and rowing the huge warships. Basically, if you lost a war you were either killed or enslaved.  Slaves were not viewed as people.  They were perceived as property to be bought, sold, raped, beaten, or otherwise mistreated.

Most present-day African-Americans (AAs) are the descendants of slaves that were transported from the west coast areas of Africa to the Americas from the late 16th century through 1865.  Most of these slaves were captured in raids conducted by white slave traders, however, it was not uncommon for African chiefs, (for example, those located in Benin and Mali), to sell black prisoners of war to these “slavers.”

The slaves’ passage from Africa to America, which normally took six months, was beyond brutal. Without going into too much graphic detail, the trip, itself, was probably worse than what awaited them at the end.  First of all, the slaves were separated by gender.  Men were generally put in the ship’s hold where they were so crowded that often they had no space to lie down.  Starvation and disease were rampant.  Many slaves died en route and were dumped unceremoniously overboard.  Women were kept closer to the crew.  Rape was common.  Occasionally there would be a rebellion, but these were quickly and brutally suppressed.  All in all, some 12 million AAs were transported to America in this manner, but countless others never made it.

The first slaves arrived in present-day US in 1619 at the ironically-named Point Comfort near present-day Hampton, VA.  This was some 30 miles from Jamestown, which, as some of you will recall, was the first permanent English settlement in the New World.  The English settlers treated these early arrivals as indentured servants, rather than slaves, and released them after they had completed their period of indenture.  However, before long, this practice was replaced by outright slavery.  It is estimated that only about 5% of the slaves were transported to the American colonies.  The vast majority were shipped to the West Indies, or even South America, where the working conditions were significantly more brutal (harder work and inferior food and medical care) and the death rates substantially higher.

Quiz question: What was the first American colony to legalize slavery? Answer below.

In early America, owning slaves was common.  Many, if not most, of the Founding Fathers owned slaves. For example, Thomas Jefferson owned some 200.  Before you condemn them for that, however, consider that slave ownership was a symptom of the times in which they lived, and I do not believe it is appropriate to judge them by today’s standards as many are wont to do. It has been documented that even some free blacks owned slaves.

By the early 19th century slavery had become more commonplace in the South than the North. Without going into excessive detail, slaves were an economic necessity to work the vast plantations that produced cotton and other crops on which the South’s economy depended. Meanwhile, the North had become more industrialized and less reliant on slave labor. The two regions were on a collision course that ultimately resulted in the Civil War, followed by Reconstruction, “Jim Crow” laws, and segregation that lasted well into the 20th century.

AAs have distinguished themselves in every war. For example, the first person to give his life for freedom during the Revolutionary War was an AA, Crispus Attucks, who perished at the Boston Massacre in 1775.  Some 5,000 AAs fought in the Continental Army, side by side with whites. Therefore, technically, the US Army was integrated before it was segregated.  Even after the British and their loyalist supporters offered to free any slave who joined their side, many AAs stayed loyal to the Revolution.

During the Civil War approximately 200,000 free blacks and former slaves fought with the Union Army both before and after the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.  During WWI the armed forces were still segregated, and most AA units were relegated to support roles.  Even so, a few units, such as the “Harlem Hellfighters,” did see combat. That unit ended up serving on the front lines for six months, longer than any other unit, and 171 of its members were awarded the Legion of Merit. Moreover, Corporal Freddie Stowers of another unit was awarded the Medal of Honor, posthumously.  Sadly, somehow, the Army (intentionally or not) “misplaced” his paperwork at the time, but his surviving sisters received it on his behalf from President Bush 41 in 1991.

Nearly 2 million AAs served in the US military during WWII, once again, in segregated units. Many of them, such as the famed Tuskegee Airmen, did so with distinction.  Over 700 AAs were killed, and many more were wounded.  Undoubtedly, their bravery and patriotism was one of the factors that led President Harry Truman to order the integration of the armed services after the War.  AAs have continued to serve with distinction in every war since.

CONCLUSION

Presently, most people would say the US is divided racially (as well as politically, economically, socially and geographically).  That is problematic, but, I maintain we have made significant strides as a society.  Critics should try to put things in perspective.  We’re not perfect by any means, and we should strive to improve, but name me a country that is better.

AAs have made innumerable contributions to society in all fields of endeavor.  Below please find a brief list.  Most of these names will be very familiar to you.  Some of them are not, but should be.  Due to space limitations I am sure I have omitted some very important people.  Feel free to make additional suggestions to the list.

Civil Rights

1. Martin Luther King – In my opinion, the most influential American civil rights leader ever. His espousal of non-violent protest won over many whites as well as blacks. His assassination was a tragedy for the civil rights movement.
2. Rosa Parks – The simple act of refusing to give up her seat on a bus was a landmark event in black civil rights history.
3. Frederick Douglas – Escaped slave who became one of the leading abolitionists of the 19th century.
4. Harriet Tubman – Escaped slave who was an integral “conductor” of the “underground railroad” in the 19th century.  She made in excess of a dozen trips and rescued an estimated 70 slaves without losing any of them.
5. Jesse Jackson – Renowned and influential civil rights leader for over 40 years. Ran for President in 1984 and 1988.
6. Sojourner Truth – Influential 19th century abolitionist and women’s rights advocate. Fought for equal rights for women as well as blacks.
7. Ida Wells – Civil rights activist, journalist and newspaper editor. Relentlessly investigated and exposed lynchings, which were all too commonplace in the South at the time.

Politics

1. Barack Obama – Served two terms as President of the US. Regardless of your opinion of his political philosophy, he was the first AA president.

2. Kamala Harris – First female vice president.
3. Shirley Chisholm – First AA congresswoman (1968-1983). Ran for President in 1972.
4 Douglas Wilder – In 1989 became the first AA to be elected governor (Virginia).
5. Carol Moseley-Braun – First AA senator (Illinois).

Presently, there are thousands of AAs holding elected office at the federal, state and local levels and dozens who hold or have held significant government positions, such as Supreme Court Justices Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas, Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell, and NSA Head Condoleezza Rice.    Others will likely follow.

Sports and Entertainment –

There are a plethora of examples in this field, but, to my mind, these stand out.

1. Jesse Owens – “Stuck it” to the Nazis by winning four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics in 1936 demonstrating that AAs were not inferior as many thought at the time.
2. Jackie Robinson – Broke the “color barrier” in major league baseball in 1947, paving the way for thousands who have followed and will follow, prospectively.
3. Muhammed Ali – World champion boxer and an inspiration to blacks worldwide.  His renown and influence superseded boxing and sports, in general.
4. Oprah Winfrey – Strong media personality and role model to AAs and women, in general.

5. Billy Porter – Grammy and Emmy Award winner, Golden Globe nominee; first openly-gay AA to win Primetime Emmy in lead acting category; one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in 2020.

As I said, America is not a perfect society with respect to race relations (or anything else), but we have come a long way, and we are far ahead of any other country.  This is not merely my opinion; it is supported by historical and contemporary FACTS and the empirical evidence of thousands vying to come hear by any means possible – legally and illegally.

Answer to quiz question: Massachusetts was the first colony to legalize slavery in 1641. Kudos to you if you got it right.

WHAT HAPPENED TO MODERATE JOE?

In the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election many of my Democrat friends told me they were voting for Biden because he was a “moderate.” Of course, I disagreed. In my opinion, the moderate Biden of the 1980’s and 1990’s was long gone. He had been replaced by “malleable Joe.” Based on what he and his supporters were saying it was obvious to me and to anyone else who had been paying attention that Joe was under the control of the far left wing of the Dem Party. Moreover, it was equally obvious that, as president, he would agree to enact their policies and programs.

Well, as we all know, Biden won the election, and now we are seeing the results. He has pledged to be the president of “all the people.” He has claimed he wants to unify the country, but so far his actions have belied his words. I suspect that some of the moderate Dems, having seen what he has done and is likely to do prospectively, are now having “buyer’s remorse.” If they aren’t, they should be.

Biden has moved fast, faster than one could have imagined. In just one week he has signed dozens of Executive Orders with many more to come. Some of them appear to be benign, although their true impact may be felt later. Others, in my view, appear to be vague, perplexing, distressing and not in the best interest of the country. It appears that they have been rushed through, and their ramifications have not been fully analyzed.

For example:

  1. He is supporting the ill-conceived and unconstitutional impeachment of Donald Trump. In the opinion of most constitutional lawyers the Constitution does not permit Congress to impeach a president who has left the office and is now a private citizen. Moreover, this impeachment makes no sense. The purpose of impeachment is to remove the person from office. News flash to the Dems. Trump is already gone. This has no chance of success. It is a fool’s errand, a distraction, and a big waste of time and money. The country has many other more pressing matters to address, such as COVID, which is actually killing thousands of people, and the economy, which for many middle class people has been disastrous.
  2. He cancelled funding for the Keystone XL Pipeline. Thus, with the stroke of a pen he eliminated over 11,000 jobs. These were good-paying middle class jobs, which cannot be easily replaced. About 8,000 of them were union jobs. I thought Biden was a strong supporter of unions. Furthermore, the effect of this ill-conceived action will certainly ripple through the economy and ultimately cost many more jobs. This EO also terminated the country’s energy independence, which had taken us some 70 years to achieve. Once again, we will be dependent on the whims of OPEC and Russia for our energy. All this for a dubious benefit to the climate.
  3. He rejoined the Paris climate change accord. As I have discussed in previous blogs on this last year, this is an ill-conceived, one-sided deal not in our favor. The main beneficiary will likely be China, the Biden family’s benefactor.
  4. He terminated the funding for and construction of the southern border wall. I know immigration is a complicated and emotional issue. But, now, in the midst of a pandemic and with thousands of Americans out of work is the worst time to open our borders to persons who have not been tested for COVID and will flood the job market.
  5. He guaranteed unemployment insurance for those who refuse to work due to concerns over COVID-19. This is nonsensical to me. There is great potential for fraud and dishonesty. It will be easy for one who just doesn’t want to work to claim he or she is concerned about catching COVID and be paid indefinitely not to work.
  6. He committed to promoting “racial equity,” not “equality, equity.” This strikes me as a typical liberal policy. It sounds good, but no one knows what it means, how it will work, or how much it will cost.

CONCLUSION

Will someone please explain to me why there are thousands of National Guard troops still in DC. The number of troops exceeds that which we have deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. The inauguration is over. There have not been any demonstrations, much less any violence, since January 6. There is no justifiable reason for the troops to remain, particularly given their third-world-style accommodations. They are being forced to sleep in a parking garage on the cold floor with inadequate toilet facilities packed in like sardines. So much for social distancing in the midst of a pandemic. How come Biden and his alllies have not complained about that?

Furthermore, who authorized their deployment, and who has decreed that they remain? No one seems to know, or rather, admit they know. These are the same people who last summer strenuously objected to deploying the NG to cities that were being destroyed by far left, lawless radicals.

Some rational governors have recalled their state’s troops, but many have not. It seems to me that the objective is to display power and to intimidate, which is not appropriate in a democratic society. We are still living in a democratic society, aren’t we? I wonder.

LARRY KING

To most of us he was known primarily as a celebrity interviewer on his Larry King Live show, which aired on CNN for 25 years from 1985 – 2010. In a career that spanned some 60 years it has been estimated that he conducted as many as 60,000 interviews, but, as you will see, he was involved in many other pursuits as well.

Lawrence Harvey Ziegler was born on November 19, 1933 in Brooklyn, NY. His parents were Orthodox Jews who had immigrated to the US in the 1930s. His father, who worked in a defense plant and owned a restaurant was a first-generation immigrant from Austria-Hungary; his mother was a garment worker who had been born in Russia.

His father died from a coronary when Larry was only nine years old. This had a profound impact on Larry. The family went on welfare, and Larry lost interest in school, although he did manage to complete high school. Upon graduation rather than attending college Larry began to work to support his family.

Larry had always had a desire to work in the broadcasting business. At the suggestion of a friend he decided to try his luck in Florida, which, at the time, was reputed to be a growing market with a plethora of opportunities. His first job was at WAHR, a small station in Miami Beach. He started at the very bottom as a janitor and errand boy.. When one of the announcers abruptly quit he was pressed into service as a disc jockey, newscaster and sportscaster. He was paid the princely sum of $50 per week.

The station manager told Larry he had to change his name because “Ziegler” was “too ethnic.” Nowadays that would have been viewed as racist, but in the 1950s changing names was not uncommon in the entertainment field. Supposedly, Larry chose the surname “King” from an advertisement he had seen for “King’s Wholesale Liquor.” Eventually, he changed his name legally.

Even back then, Larry would interview anyone at anytime. For example, he hosted a show at a local restaurant in which he would interview anyone who happened by. His first interview was of a waiter at the restaurant. His first celebrity interviewee was singer, Bobby Darin, who while in town for an engagement, just happened to enter the restaurant for a meal.

King first big break came when he met Jackie Gleason (aka the Great One”) in the mid 1960s. As some of you may remember Gleason’s weekly variety show was broadcast from Miami. Gleason took a liking to King and became very supportive. In King’s words, Gleason “became a mentor of mine.”

In 1970-71 King worked as a color commentator for the Miami Dolphins. Sports fans will recall that during that period the Dolphins had an excellent team and even went to the Super Bowl in January 1972. Unfortunately for King he missed the game. He was fired when he was arrested when a former business partner accused him of grand larceny. Ultimately, the charges were dropped.

During the 1970s King hosted a sports show with the moniker “Sports-a-la-King,” which featured the soon-to-be-familiar format of guests and callers-in. In 1978 King landed a gig with the Mutual Broadcasting System in which he broadcasted a nightly talk show coast to coast. The show continued in different formats until December 31, 2009.

King’s signature show, Larry King Live, commenced on CNN in June 1985. In his distinctive, gravelly voice he would interview anyone from politicians and celebrities to authors and sports figures to psychics and conspiracy theorists. Then, he would take call-ins identifying them by their hometown (“Hello Minneapolis!”). He was an excellent interviewer. His style, honed by decades of experience, was easy and non-confrontational. Frequently, he would ask open-ended questions that allowed his subjects to express their views freely. Concurrently, he wrote a newspaper column for USA Today from 1982 – 2001.

Curiously, King always said that he never liked to read an author’s book in advance, because he “didn’t want to know more [about the book] than his audience.” Perhaps, his best-known interviewee was Ross Perot. In 1992 Perot, an extremely successful businessman and a colorful character with what some would characterize as far “right” political views, announced his candidacy for the presidency as a third-party candidate on King’s show. Later King hosted a debate between Perot and Democrat nominee Al Gore.

Larry King Live was so successful that the Guinness Book of World Records recognized it as the “longest running television show hosted by the same person on the same network and in the same time slot.” By the time he retired from the show in 2010 he had taped some 6,000 episodes. King’s final show aired on December 16, 2010. At the end he thanked the audience for watching all those years. His final words : “instead of goodbye, how about so long.” King retired from the show but not from life. He continued to host specials on CNN.

As I said above, King was more than just a talk show host and interviewer. In addition to his sports commentary he appeared in various movies, such as Arthur, Ghostbusters and Shrek 2, and television shows such as Law and Order and In View with Larry King. Most of the time, he played himself. He also made tv infomercials, such as when he discussed products such as Omega-3, a fatty acid dietary supplement.

CONCLUSION

King led a very colorful personal life. He was married eight times to seven different women. His first marriage was to his high school sweet-heart at the age of 19. That one was later annulled by the couple’s parents. He had five children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He was an avid Dodgers fan (Brooklyn and LA) (yes!!!), and often could be seen sitting behind home plate at the games.

King was the recipient of numerous awards, too many to enumerate them all here. Among them were ten Cable ACE Awards, two Peabodys, an Emmy, and the Scopus Award. In addition he was inducted into the National Radio and the Broadcasters’ Halls of Fame.

In a 2005 interview King described himself as a “Jewish agnostic,” (not sure what that means). However, in 2017 he told a reporter “I love being Jewish. I am proud of my Jewishness, and I love Israel.”

King was not in the best of health. In 1987 he suffered a major coronary, which necessitated a quintuple bypass. In 2009 he underwent an angioplasty operation and had various stents inserted. In 2017 he had a cancerous tumor removed from his lung. This past year he had a stroke. Finally on January 2, 2021 he was hospitalized after having tested positive for the coronavirus. He passed away on January 23.

As an aside, I met Larry King once, in Las Vegas at the pool of the hotel in which my wife and I were staying. What was odd was that I didn’t recognize him. I walked right by him. But, then I heard him speak. There was no mistaking that distinctive, gravelly voice.

Rest in peace, Larry. You entertained us for 60 plus years, and you will be sorely missed.

HENRY AARON

In my view, Henry Aaron was, quite simply, one of the best baseball players ever to play the game. He was what is known as a “five tool player.” That is, he could hit, hit for power, run, field and throw. He was aptly known as “Hammerin Hank” or simply the “Hammer.”

In my 65 years of following the sport he was one of the best ballplayers I ever saw (slightly behind only Willie Mays). I am not the only one who holds such an exalted opinion. In 1999 The Sporting News , the unofficial “bible” of the sport, ranked him fifth on its list of the “100 Greatest Baseball Players.” Can you guess the names of the top four? See the answer below. That same year Hank was named to the “All Century” team by a panel of baseball experts.

More than any other sport baseball is measured by statistics. If you are not familiar with Hank’s accomplishments or you question his exalted ranking, just take a look at the following. 755 homeruns (2nd all-time), 2,297 RBIs (1st), 3,771 hits (3rd), 2,174 runs 4th), 6,856 total bases (1st) and 25 all-star games (1st). And, to top it off he was a superb fielder. Like I said above, truly a five-tool player. Remarkable. Truly remarkable. Moreover, throughout his long career not a hint of bad behavior or scandal as we see with so many other professional athletes.

Hank exhibited a quiet, laid back personality and playing style. He was not a flamboyant or controversial ballplayer as were so many other of the superstars of the sport. He wasn’t larger than life like Babe Ruth; he wasn’t mean and aggressive like Ty Cobb, who was known to spike opposing players and fight with anyone, even his own teammates; his baseball cap didn’t fly off his head whenever he pursued a fly ball nor did he employ a unique “basket” catch like Willie Mays; and he didn’t feud incessantly with sportswriters like Ted Williams. He just went about his business quietly and consistently, day after day, year after year. In fact, despite his exceptional talent and achievements one could make a case that throughout much of his career he was actually underrated and underappreciated by the casual fan.

The main focus of this piece, however, will not be on Hank’s baseball achievements. His record speaks for itself. The primary focus will be on the prejudices he had to endure, particularly as he pursued what was probably the most hallowed record in the sport at the time.

Henry Louis Aaron was born on February 5, 1934 in Mobile, Alabama. This was the Deep South in the midst of the “Jim Crow” era. He had seven siblings, one of whom, Tommie, also made it to the major leagues. The family was very poor. Money was scarce. Henry’s father worked as a boilermaker’s assistant and ran a tavern.

Racial slurs were commonplace, virtually a way of life. At times, they manifested themselves subtly, such as the times that Hank observed his father having to yield his place in line in stores in favor of a white person. Other times it would be a matter of life and death as exhibited by the times the family had to hide under their beds in fear whenever the KKK was marching in their neighborhood.

Henry always related how, as a youngster, he would make his baseball equipment out of materials he would find lying around on the street. For instance, he would practice batting by hitting bottle caps with sticks. For some reason, he began hitting cross-handed. Like most Black youths he idolized Jackie Robinson and no doubt fantasized about following in his footsteps. His high school did not have a baseball team, so he began playing on semipro teams, such as the Mobile Black Barons, as a teenager. He excelled to such an extent that at the tender age of 15 he had a tryout with the Brooklyn Dodgers. They didn’t sign him, so he returned to high school.

In 1951 at the age of 17 he signed with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League as a shortstop for the princely sum of $200/month. Henry’s experiences with racism continued when he began to play professionally. In addition to the many indignities suffered while seeking lodging, restaurants and bathrooms throughout the South, Henry recalled one particular incident when the Clowns were in Washington, DC. The team had eaten in a restaurant, and when they had finished the meal they could hear the kitchen help smashing all of their dishes so no one else would have to eat from them. What made that worse, Henry thought, was that if a dog had eaten off those plates they would merely have washed them and reused them.

When he played in Jacksonville Hank and his teammates of color were frequently subjected to taunts, rock and bottle throwing, and racial slurs. Then, there was the time when his first big league manager, Charlie Grimm, nicknamed him “Stepin Fetchit.” Grim, a baseball lifer from St. Louis was nicknamed “Jolly Cholly,” but he wasn’t being so jolly in that case. At the time, Aaron was a shy rookie, so he just “took” the slur.

Henry came very close to being in the same outfield with Willie Mays on the NY Giants. After a standout season with the Clowns he received offers from both the Braves and the Giants. Ultimately, he signed with the Braves because they offered $50 more. Fifty dollars! Just think of how baseball history changed because of a measly $50.

Henry got his big break due to one of those twists of fate that seem to occur from time to time not only in sports but in life as well. In 1954 despite a standout minor league season the previous year Henry seemed destined to spend another year in the minors as the Braves had an established outfield and no room for him. Then, fate intervened. Leftfielder Bobby Thomson broke his ankle during a spring training game. Henry took his place, and the rest is history. So began one of the most outstanding careers in baseball history.

Things were not too bad in Milwaukee. But, as soon as the team relocated to Atlanta, it was a different story. Even in the 1960’s Atlanta was very much a southern town with southern attitudes towards race. The racial taunts and slurs began right away. His wife would hear them in the stands. Hank always said he actually preferred to play on the road.

However, the foregoing was merely a prelude, an appetizer for what was to come later when Henry approached Ruth’s homerun record. Henry had his usual stellar season in 1973, and he ended the year one homer shy of Ruth’s record. It was obvious that he would break the record in 1974. It was just a matter of when. During the off-season the hate mail, which had been brutal, accelerated. For example, one “fan” sent the following letter: “You are not going to break his [Ruth’s] record if I can help it. Whites are far more superior than N…..s. My gun is watching your every black move.” There were boxes and boxes of letters similar to that one. Hank always said the path to breaking the homerun record, which should have been joyful, was “filled with anguish.” Hank kept many of the letters and stored them in his attic. Jim Auchmutey, former reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, recalled for years Hank would occasionally read some of them as if to remind himself of the torment he suffered. There was concern in some quarters that Hank would not live to see the 1974 season. I can only imagine the stress, tension and pressure Hank and his family endured as they waited for the 1974 season.

The fear was real, very real. The FBI was investigating. Hank had bodyguards, as did his family members. Law enforcement officers characterized the letters as “cranks.” Perhaps, most of them were, but who really knew. It only takes one. Hank’s family was also affected. He had to send his children to private schools. His college-age daughter was afraid to leave her dorm. Often, Hank had to stay in a separate hotel from the rest of the team. Sometimes, he slept at the ballpark. All in all, it was an extremely stressful time, which makes the fact that he was able to concentrate on his baseball and break the record even more remarkable.

Many of his former teammates recalled how it was. For example, Davey Johnson was taken aback by all the racial hate. “We [the Braves] didn’t see color. We saw talent. As a ballplayer you never see color. You see talent and teammates.” Frank Tepedino remembered “he never made anything out of it [the pressure]. He kept everything to himself.” Dusty Baker recalled how he would watch Hank open his mail. “I could see when he got a bad letter. He would drop it and go into the trainer’s [room].” He coped by being a “strong man.” The situation made him even “stronger and more determined, and he concentrated harder.” Another supporter was Claire Hodgson, Ruth’s widow. She denounced the racism and made a point to say that Babe would have “enthusiastically cheered” Hank’s pursuit of the record.

Finally the 1974 season began, and another issue arose. The Braves were to open the season with three games in Cincinnati. The organization wanted Hank to sit out those games so he could break the record at home. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn intervened and ruled he had to play in at least two of the three games. As most fans know, he did play and fortuitously hit only one homer to tie the record giving him the chance to break it at home, which he did.

CONCLUSION

Hank broke the record on a Monday night, April 8, 1974, at Fulton County Stadium before the hometown fans in a game that was televised nationally. He hit it in his second at-bat. The bullpens were located just over the leftfield and rightfield walls. I remember that all the players in those bullpens were lined up with their gloves on in anticipation of catching the milestone homer. Do you remember the name of the pitcher? Do you remember who caught it? See below.

I also remember that young two fans jumped out of the stands to join Hank in his homerun trot. Their intentions were not clear. Were they planning to congratulate him or attack him? No one knew for sure. Supposedly, Hank’s bodyguards, sitting in the stands next to his family, were ready to draw their guns and shoot, but they merely wanted to celebrate with Hank. The great Vin Scully “called” the shot on tv. His post-homer description of the moment was priceless. He said, “What a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A Black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking the record of an all-time baseball idol.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Hank was the recipient of numerous awards, among them the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. Additionally, he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982, his first year of eligibility, with 97.8% of the votes. Upon his retirement he worked as an executive in the Braves’ front office for many years.

Sadly, due to the foregoing Hank always said he got “no enjoyment at all” out of pursuing and breaking the record. That, I think, was a shame. On the positive side, as time has gone on the country’s attitude toward minorities in general and Hank, in particular, have changed for the better. Even Hank acknowledged that “people respect me more now than they did even 20 years ago.” Even though his record has since been broken many people, including former commissioner Bud Selig, still consider him the “rightful recordholder.”

In his later years Hank suffered from arthritis, and in 2014 he underwent a hip replacement. Hank died in his sleep on January 22, 2021.

Rest in peace, Hammer . You carried yourself with dignity and class, and you will be sorely missed.

Quiz answers: #1. Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, and Walter Johnson. Hard to quibble with those choices.

2. Al Downing

3. Tom House

BIDEN INAUGURATION

At last the big day, the day the Trump-haters have longed for since the 2016 election, has arrived. Trump is out, and Biden is in. The anti-Trump coalition – the Dems (and a few GOPers), the “elites,” the media, the tech moguls, Big Pharma, the DC establishment, the Hollywood liberals, the swamp dwellers, et al – can all exhale. Things are back to normal. The world has returned to spinning on its axis. All is well once again. Order has been restored. Right? Uh, not so fast as I will explain below.

First, a brief commentary on the inauguration, itself. Once again, America has demonstrated that despite our differences we have effected a peaceful, orderly transfer of power. I agree with those who say that Trump should have attended. Even though Biden said he didn’t want him there, and his presence would likely have overshadowed the proceedings, it is customary for a former president to attend. Every one has done so since the Civil War. Despite the biased manner in which he has been treated for the past four years and the obvious antipathy between Biden and Trump, it would have been the right thing to do.

That said, I thought Biden’s acceptance speech was okay, not great, not inspiring, but okay. Fox anchor Chris Wallace gushed that it was the best inauguration speech he has ever seen. He is entitled to his opinion, but I don’t agree. I think he was a little carried away by the moment. He and I are about the same age. I’m sure he remembers JFK’s inauguration speech. Now, that was inspiring. Biden’s, by comparison, was desultory, almost boring.

The central theme of Biden’s speech was a desire to unite the country, “bring America together.” Biden vowed to be the president of all the people, not just the ones who voted for him. If only! Biden didn’t explain how he will accomplish it. In summary, he offered platitudes, not policy. Talk is cheap; it’s actions that count. In the interest of fairness, I will reserve judgment until I can assess his actions. However, as I have outlined below, I don’t think he is off to a good start.

The inflammatory rhetoric on the left has been accelerating in the last few weeks. It is clear that the far left wing of the Dem Party has no interest in uniting the country. The “cancel culture” is in full swing. Revenge and vindictiveness are in the air. For example:

  1. The House Dems pushed through a rush impeachment of Trump in one day. One day! The constitution contemplates that impeachment should be a deliberate, carefully thought-out process with witnesses, debate, and counsel for the accused. It should not be done on the spur of the moment. It should not be marred by emotion. This impeachment violated all of the above guidelines. Moreover, President Trump’s term in office was virtually over anyway, and many constitutional legal scholars have opined that Congress does not have the constitutional authority to impeach a private citizen. The House’s action was ludicrous on its face. The purpose of impeachment is to remove someone from office. How can you do that when the person is no longer in office?
  2. Biden has issued a slew of provocative Executive Orders. Of course, it is his right, but some of them, such as inviting migrants to enter the country, halting construction of the southern border wall in the midst of a pandemic, no less, ending the “travel ban,” rejoining the Paris accords and WHO, broadening protections against “discrimination in the workplace,” and closing the Keystone X L Pipeline, will be deleterious to the country and make no sense except to enhance divisions among the populace.
  3. Leftist radicals, such as the “squad” and certain news commentators, have been advocating extreme programs such as banning “unacceptable and “inflammatory” comments (from conservatives) from social media, blacklisting Trump supporters in the job market, banning books with a conservative viewpoint, voiding college degrees of certain senators, and sending Trump voters’ children to “re-education” camps. I kid you not.
  4. Many of them, including Biden, believe and have stated that the country is infested with “white supremacists,” and “domestic terrorists” that must be “rooted out” and “defeated.” That, my friends, is code for Trump supporters, all 75 million of them, indeed, anyone who doesn’t share their political opinions. No dissenting opinions will be allowed. How are comments like that supposed to unite us all? I don’t know any white supremacists nor, to my knowledge have I ever met one. Have you? I doubt it. There are very few in the US.
  5. In previous blogs I have discussed the Dems’ radical programs, such as the Green New Deal, statehood for Puerto Rico and DC, a huge tax increase, ending the filibuster in the Senate, and packing the Supreme Court. These “hot-button issues, which the Dems have vowed to pursue, will be very damaging to the country and certainly will not unify it.

CONCLUSION

If Biden is serious about unifying the country, he will have to start by reining in the radicals in his Party. I fear he doesn’t have the “stomach” to do it, but, I am willing to “wait and see.” As I said, actions speak louder than words.

By the way, it is an “open secret” that Biden is not well, physically and mentally. His supporters know it; the opposition knows it; the media knows it; anyone that has been paying attention the last few years knows it. However, no one has wanted to say it publicly. It is like the children’s story “The Emperor Has No Clothes.” Now that Biden has won, how long will it be until it leaks out? My guess is not long.

I fear the country is in a bad place, very bad. As a student of history, I see some scary parallels with Soviet Russia of the early 20th century and 1930’s Nazi Germany. Then, as now, the signs of autocracy are being advanced by a small, vocal, well-organized group, but they are being ignored. Our Bill of Rights is under attack, and few people seem willing and able to do anything about it. I hope we can survive until 2022.

A TALE OF TWO STATES

As everyone has seen, the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has been fraught with problems. The apt description that comes to mind is “FUBAR.” For those of you who are not familiar with the acronym it stands for “Fouled up beyond all recognition.” (For those of you who favor more colorful language feel free to substitute another word for “fouled.”)

From what I can discern based on various news reports the success or failure of the rollout has varied from state to state depending on the adequacy of that state’s planning, organization and leadership. Every state has had to cope with a shortfall of supply to some extent, but some have dealt with the problem better than others. One common theme is that politicians at all levels – federal, state, county and local – have been doing what they do best: blame someone else. It’s so typical and expected, but no less annoying.

Rather than trying to analyze the experiences of all 50 states, with apologies to Charles Dickens I will compare the experiences of two states – New York and Florida.

NYS’s rollout has been problematic from the start. For instance:

  1. Apparently, Governor Cuomo is unaware of or has forgotten that old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” NY has proven to be as ill prepared for the rollout as it was last summer for the pandemic, itself. As a result, it has been scrambling to catch up. NYS State Senator Phil Boyle opined that the state should have had a distribution plan in place and ready to go prior to the arrival of the vaccines. Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia University echoed that sentiment. “We had the the time to engage the [local] communities, engage the leaders, [and] educate them. We lost that opportunity.” I agree. It’s not as if we were taken by surprise. Everyone knew months ago that the vaccines would be ready eventually, and that when they arrived time would be of the essence.
  2. In my view, NY has been one of the many states guilty of “micromanaging.” NY officials from the governor on down have been trying to exert too much control at the state level instead of delegating the rollout to local authorities who, obviously, are more cognizant of the needs of their communities. When asked to comment on this issue Nassau County Chief Executive Laura Curran tried to be diplomatic, but her frustration came through anyway. “We communicated to them [the state]….that we were ready to be helpful. ….”I think the state is now seeing how valuable we can be on the local level.” The cruelest irony of all, as pointed out by Alex Azar, HHS Secretary, is that while many people were unable to arrange appointments thousands of doses were lying in warehouses undistributed. There were reports of some that had to be destroyed.
  3. The vendors have been unable to deliver sufficient supplies of the vaccine. There are various reasons for this. All states have had to figure out how to deal with this issue.
  4. In addition, there have been reports of shortages of necessary supplies such as needles, vials and swabs
  5. Some states have coped better than others. Florida is one of the states that has been able to adapt; NY, not so much.
  6. Cuomo has been complaining that the Feds have “shorted” NY by tens of thousands of doses. Cuomo spokesman, Jack Sterne, tried to deflect responsibility stating that “every state had trouble in the beginning due to a lack of support and planning from an incompetent federal administration.” Yes, but as I said, some states have handled it and adapted to it better than others. Like I said, every state is being forced to deal with the same issue. I say, Andy, put on your “big boy pants” and deal with it. Take responsibility. Show some initiative and some leadership. Instead of griping, find a solution.
  7. NYS failed to delineate clearly the order of priority of different groups of people. For example, the second group to receive the vaccine was “essential” workers and people over 75, but before all of them could be inoculated the next group was authorized to and began to receive the vaccine. Thus, in one fell swoop the state tripled the number of persons eligible to receive the vaccine. Millions of persons were vying for appointments at the same time, which overwhelmed an already taxed system. Also, some people in the third category have been vaccinated ahead of those in groups 1 and 2.
  8. Making appointments has been plagued by computer glitches. Predictably the system has malfunctioned and “crashed” on multiple occasions. It became routine to spend hours on line trying, in vain, to get an appointment. Often, people would continually get error messages. Try to imagine the frustration and stress of an 80 year old person trying to navigate through such a situation. Also, many people don’t have access to a computer, or are homebound. What do they do? How is a nursing home patient, who is likely immobile, supposed to get to an inoculation site? The worst situation occurred with respect to the facility at Stonybrook. Some 20,000 persons had their appointments voided. Melissa DeRosa, a senior aide to Governor Cuomo ascribed that to that old standby excuse, a computer “hack.” But, Perry Halkitis, dean of the Rutgers School of Pubic Health, has ascribed the malfunctioning computer system to a “lack of preparation.” I believe that is the more likely explanation.
  9. Trying to get an appointment by telephone has been no better. If one were lucky enough to get through it was common to wait on hold for long periods and then either get cut off or be told their were no appointments available.
  10. According to Newsday NYS’s rigidity as to who was eligible to be vaccinated has contributed to the problem. Governor Cuomo’s defense was that he was merely following CDC guidelines.
  11. Newsday reported that additional sites have been needed to cope with the demand, and some are scheduled to open up over the next few weeks. Fine, better late than never, but the state will be playing catch-up. It will also have to resolve the other abovementioned issues.
  12. Even these new sites have proven to be inadequate. For example, last week a new site opened at Jones Beach. There were 55,200 slots available. They were filled within two days, and the dates were months away. How many more people will die before they can get their vaccines.
  13. On the other hand, Florida appears to have been better prepared and better organized. It should be noted that FL’s population has a higher risk profile than that of NY in terms of COVID. According to the latest US Census Bureau figures available it is the third largest state in terms of population with 21.9 million and ranks second in percentage of residents in the high risk category of 65 and over (20.5%). Do you know which state is first? See answer below. It will surprise you. By comparison, NY is the fourth largest state with 19.4 million and ranks 26th in percent of elderly (16%).
  14. FL’s Governor Ron DeSantis has affirmed that the elderly and healthcare workers and patients have been and will continue to receive top priority.
  15. FL has been utilizing the local infrastructure of its individual counties. Vaccines have already been shipped to all 67 FL counties for distribution. People I know who live in FL have had a much easier getting vaccinated than New Yorkers. FL appears to be well ahead of NY in distributing the vaccine to those who need it.
  16. According to Florida Health Carlos Montoya, president and CEO of Jackson Health System, praised Governor DeSantis for his “planning ahead” and exhibiting “tremendous leadership in getting the vaccine out into our community quickly.” FH noted that from the very outset DeSantis ensured that those at the greatest risk were given top priority. He “prioritized frontline healthcare workers as well as residents and staff of long-term care facilities.”
  17. According to Business Insider since FL is not requiring proof of residency many “snowbirds” have been flying down there to be vaccinated. Many of them stay for a while and enjoy a mini-vacation while they wait for the booster shot. DeSantis called the practice “vaccine tourism.” According to the Wall Street Journal FL health official explained this policy thusly: “If [people] are spending time in our community….they can be spreaders.” In addition, people have come from as far away as Argentina.

CONCLUSION

NY is continuing to be plagued by a resurgence in COVID cases, hospitalizations and fatalities. According to various news sources total hospitalizations have exceeded 8,800 for several days running, a total not seen since last May. At the same time, as discussed above thousands of elderly and immunocompromised persons have been unable to get vaccinated.

This is a chance for president-elect Biden to show some leadership. He made COVID the central issue of his campaign. He has said he will direct the feds to establish mass inoculation sites and mobile clinics, provide billions of dollars in additional funding, and pressure the manufacturers to step up production not only of the vaccine but also of related supplies such as vials, needles and swabs. Talk is cheap. Let’s see if he can pull it off. I, for one, will remain skeptical until and unless he does so.

Quiz answer: Maine (20.6%).

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS RUN AMOK

We shouldn’t be surprised. It’s not as if the Dems didn’t give advance warning. The signs have been there in plain sight for those of us who were paying attention. They have been planning this for months, if not years. Now that they have gained control of all three branches of government they can act with impunity, and they know it, and they are doing so. The Dems, the social media outlets and the media have formed an unholy alliance to control the country. Anyone who does not toe the far left line, who dares to offer a dissenting opinion, who does not submit will be crushed. If they can do all this to the president think what they can do to you and me. As Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, giddily predicted months ago “everything will be on the table.” Those of you who are silent now think of the song “Bad Boys.” “Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?”

I see parallels between the current situation and Nazi Germany of the 1930s and Soviet Russia. Make no mistake about it. This is a very scary time for us all.

The demonstration at the Capitol last week was just an excuse. Yes, it was wrong; it was dangerous; it was extreme; and people died. Everyone agrees. I have not heard one person defend it. There is no defense. But, is it grounds for impeaching a president who is leaving office in one week? Is it grounds for the runaway PC that has followed and, in all likelihood, will continue to follow? More on that later.

Keep in mind, we are talking about one incident that got out of hand. I submit that it was a far cry from all the rioting, looting and lawlessness that the Dems, BLM, ANTIFA and their sympathizers perpetrated in many cities throughout the summer and fall. As anyone who followed the news knows, people were killed; their businesses were destroyed; churches and government buildings were burned; police were attacked, injured and killed; and alternative “countries” were established in the middle of Portland and Seattle. Harris, Pelosi and other Dems openly supported these riots and even helped provide bail money to put those arrested back on the street. Why weren’t they charged with insurrection and sedition? Biden and the mainstream media stayed silent throughout. I didn’t hear all the widespread outrage we are hearing now.

That said, let’s examine the current extreme, over-the-top reactions by the PC crowd. I will cite just a few examples courtesy of Fox News. You decide if they are appropriate or extreme. You decide if they are examples of suppression of free speech guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Keep an open mind.

  1. Today, the House led by Speaker Pelosi voted to impeach President Trump for a second time. This was truly an ill-advised and time-wasting endeavor. The Constitution views impeachment as a very serious and deliberative process, not a snap judgment to be completed in one day. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, has stated that there is simply not enough time for the Senate to conduct a trial before the President leaves office on January 20. Furthermore, according to renowned attorney, Alan Dershowitz and others the Constitution does not permit the impeachment of a former President, so the Senate cannot act after January 20 either. Therefore, this impeachment, like the one earlier this year, will not result in a conviction. Jesse Watters commenting on Fox News reported a poll by the McLaughlin Group that 77% of voters in the battleground states think it was a protest that got out of control, not an insurrection. They consider impeachment to be divisive and a waste of time and money. They would rather the Congress focus on COVID. In my view, Pelosi is grandstanding for the left wing of her Party. Hello, Nancy, we are in the middle of a pandemic. People are suffering; people are frightened; people are dying. Why not focus on that instead of acting like a modern-day Nero.
  2. A Newsweek reporter named Darragh Roche has advocated putting Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley on the “no fly list.” Keep in mind that this list is reserved for terrorists and other dangerous criminals. Cruz and Hawley are far from that. They elected sitting US Senators. What was their “heinous crime?” Advocating for an an audit of the 2020 election results in a few states. This was not unique. Historically, such audits and investigations have not been uncommon.
  3. Simon and Schuster, who are they publishers of Hawley’s new book, have dropped representation. On what legitimate basis? Who pressured them to do so?
  4. Senator Dick Durbin has introduced a bill to classify Trump rallies as domestic terrorism. What rallies? He will leaving the presidency in one week. To me, this is inane grandstanding. Durbin should know better.
  5. Forbes magazine has proposed blacklisting former White House staffers who might apply for a job prospectively. Why punish staffers just because you hate Trump?
  6. The major social media outlets have conspired to silence and destroy Parler, a new media outlet that had the audacity to publish conservative opinions. Unknown forces went so far as to pressure Parler’s attorneys to resign. I thought in America everyone had the right to legal representation. Even terrorists and the worst criminals do.
  7. The Bar Association is considering taking action against Rudy Giuliani because he was working on behalf of President Trump.
  8. The PGA has announced it will not sponsor any events at a Trump-owned facility.
  9. And my favorite, a PBS attorney has advocated putting children of Trump supporters in “re-education ” camps. I kid you not. (I understand his employment has since been terminated.)

CONCLUSION

Even if you hate President Trump, even if you think he has been the worst president ever, that is still not justification for the above measures. The “left” and its PC have truly run amok. These measures are un-American. They are akin to those imposed by Soviet Russia and other autocracies back in the day. And they’re just getting started. What’s next? Denying Trump supporters a mortgage, a car loan, admission to a college, the right to fly? The possibilities are endless. The country is heading down a slippery slope. It will not stop with President Trump. Who knows where it will end.

President-elect Joe Biden has been proclaiming he wants to unite the country. Sounds good, but actions speak louder than words. Joe, this is your chance to reach out to the other half who did not vote for you. How about showing some leadership by telling the Dems to “stand down.” You won. Rather than being vindictive, how about being gracious in victory. How about thinking of the country for a change.

This is a very dangerous time for America. We are divided as never before, with the possible exception of the 1960’s. Division weakens us. Our enemies are always looking to exploit a weakness. You can be sure they are paying very close attention. Are our leaders?