US OPEN GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP

Goodbye Tiger.  The 118th US Open is underway at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club located in eastern Long Island, and once again Tiger has missed the cut at a major.  Thus, once again, we face the controversial question of whether or not he will ever return to his prior dominance, or even compete with the likes of Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, and the various other “young guns.”   These guys outdrive him, out-putt him  and, most of all, are no longer in awe of him.  Tiger used to intimidate other golfers just by his presence.  No more.

How will Tiger’s absence affect the tv ratings for the weekend? That remains to be seen, but the USGA and Fox TV will be holding their collective breaths for a close, suspenseful tournament that will attract the casual golf fans.  (Note: as I write this, Dustin Johnson has a four-stroke lead.  He is certainly capable of running away from the field, and if he does so, the ratings may suffer.)  Despite Woods’ varied issues, both golf-related and personal, he remains the most compelling figure in the sport, particularly with respect to casual fans.

Shinnecock is not easy to get to.  Most of the access roads in the area have one lane, and there have already been major traffic jams.  One golfer missed his practice tee time, and others have come close.  A few players have chosen to commute by boat in order to beat the traffic.  Today and tomorrow should be better due to fewer people commuting to work and the learning curve of the traffic police.

Arguably, the main story the first two days was the course, itself.  On Thursday, it was so windy that many of the pros looked like weekend duffers.  Their drives landed in the deep fescue, their irons missed the greens and their putting was woefully inconsistent.  There were many three-putts, and Tiger, for one, four-putted one hole.  Undoubtedly, many fans watching on tv said, “hey, he looks like me!  I can do that!”

Moreover, Tiger wasn’t the only “name” to miss the cut.  He was joined by Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Jason Day, and Jordan Spieth, among other notables.   In addition, Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson just squeaked through by two strokes.

The Open is one of four “major” championships in golf.   The others are the Masters, which is held in April, the British Open (July), and the PGA (August).  As in tennis, the majors are considered to be so important that players’ legacies are determined, in large part, by the number they have won.

Originally, the majors were generally considered to include the US and British Opens and the US and British Amateurs. Those were the tournaments that Bobby Jones won for his Grand Slam. However, concurrent with the rise of professional golf in the US in the 1940s and 1950s the Masters and the PGA replaced the two amateur tournaments in importance.  After all, it no longer made much sense to include amateur tournaments as majors when most of the best golfers could no longer qualify to compete in them.

The watershed year was 1960.  That year Arnold Palmer, who was the best and most influential golfer at the time, won the Masters and the US Open.  He observed that if he could add the British Open and the PGA he would have completed a “grand slam” equal to that of Mr. Jones.  He failed to do so, but the notion of those four tournaments as the four majors “stuck.”

The Open is always scheduled for mid-June with the final round on Father’s Day. The Open field includes 156 players from all over the world. Golf has truly become an international sport. The Open includes four rounds of stroke play over four days. Until this year, if a playoff were required a full 18 holes was played on Monday. If there were still a tie the winner was decided by sudden death.  This year the USGA has instituted new format, which guarantees that the championship will be settled on Sunday.  First, there will be a two-hole playoff with the golfer with the lowest aggregate total winning.  If there is still a tie, we will go to sudden death.  One guess who the architect of this change in format was. Hint: the initials are F O X.

Do you recall the name of last year’s winner? See below.

Only about half of the players in the field are actually required to qualify. The remainder gain entry by one of many exemptions. Some of the exemption categories include:

Winners of the past ten US Opens.
Winner and runner-up of the previous year’s US Amateur Championship.
Winners of the past five Masters, British Opens or PGA Championships.
Winner of the previous year’s Senior Open.
Top 60 ranked golfers.
Special exemptions granted by the USGA. These are usually top-ranked players who, though past their prime, are deemed worthy.
There are other exemption categories, but I think you get the idea. Those who are required to qualify must survive two stages – Local and Sectional. There is no age requirement, so it not unusual to find a teenager in the field. The youngest qualifier ever was 14 (Andy Zhang of China).

CONCLUSION

Some interesting facts about the Open that only the most knowledgeable golf fans would know:

The winner of the inaugural tournament in 1895 was Horace Rawlins, an Englishman.
The record score is 268 by Rory McIlroy in 2011.

The record for most Open Championships is four and is held by four men. Three of them will be familiar to you – Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan. If you know the fourth, you are either a golf historian or a trivia buff, and my hat’s off to you (even though I don’t wear one).  See answer below.

The USGA rotates the site of the Open among various sites.  Next year’s will be at Pebble Beach Golf Links.  Do you know which site has hosted the most Opens?  See below.

The inaugural Open was contested on a nine-hole course at the Newport Country Club. Only ten professionals and one amateur bothered to enter. They played 36 holes in one day. The winner received $150 out of a total purse of $335 plus a gold medal. By contrast, last year’s winner received $2.16 million out of a total purse of some $12 million. I think we can say the tournament and the sport have grown considerably.

Enjoy the Open. Let’s root for a tight, suspenseful tournament that doesn’t get decided until the last hole.

Quiz answers:

  1.  Last year’s winner – Brooks Koepka
  2.  Other four-time winner – Willie Anderson.   Anderson was an interesting and tragic story. He was born in Scotland and emigrated to the US at the age of sixteen. He was one of the outstanding golfers of his time. He won the tournament in 1901,1903, 1904 and 1905. He was an original member of the PGA Hall of Fame and an inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1975. Tragically, he died at the age of 31 from epilepsy.
  3. Oakmont Country Club – 9.
Advertisements

US – NOKO SUMMIT

Okay, they met.  Many people doubted it would occur, but it did.  So, how did the historic meeting go?  What happened?  What will happen prospectively?

By all accounts, the meeting was cordial; Messrs. Trump and Kim got along well (Mr. Trump was effusive in his praise for Kim, and said he felt a “very special bond”); and they laid the groundwork for more open diplomatic relations prospectively.

So, now what?   Do the US and NOKO build on this summit or do they revert to the same old hostility, name calling, and mistrust that has characterized their relationship for the past 65 years?  Will this be the beginning of meaningful progress or just another in a long list of disappointments?  I hate to say it, but I think the answer is “we’ll see what happens.”

So, what, in my opinion, did each side achieve?

  1. The joint communique was full of “diplomatic-speak,” long on generalities and short on specifics.
  2. One thing, however, was very clear.  Just by meeting one-on-one with the President of the US as equals, Kim, the head of a pariah nation presently under sanctions by both the US and UN, raised his and his country’s international status significantly.  Furthermore, Mr. Trump doubled down by stating he would “absolutely” invite Kim to the White House prospectively.
  3. Clearly, the most controversial item was Mr. Trump’s announcement that the US would unilaterally cease joint military “war games” with SOKO, which he characterized as “very provocative and expensive.”  This had been one of NOKO’s chief goals, and it is not clear what, if anything, Mr. Trump got in return.  More on this later.
  4. NOKO did not provide a firm, irrefutable commitment to denuclearize.  This had been one of the US’s chief goals of the summit.  The joint statement mentions they will “work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” without providing specifics as to how and when, although Mr. Trump later told various reporters and media outlets, including Reuters and Fox News, Kim had “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” and he expected the process to commence “very, very quickly.”
  5. The question of inspection and verification was not resolved.  The US wants/needs to have independent inspection and verification; NOKO is reluctant.  Without it, any agreement to denuclearize would be meaningless.
  6. Both parties agreed to identify and recover the remains of POWs and soldiers MIA from the Korean conflict, so their families could get some closure.
  7. There was no mention of human rights in the joint communique to the dismay of many, such as Paul Ryan, who has labeled NOKO “a brutal regime.”
  8. There was no mention of a formal end to the Korean conflict, another high priority of many.
  9. The sanctions will remain for the time being.

According to Reuters and other media outlets, Mr. Trump’s unilateral commitment to cease joint military exercises with SOKO caught everyone by surprise – Republicans, Democrats, allies, and news analysts.  Critics, mostly on the “left,” are claiming that he gave up a significant bargaining chip for not much in return.

A sampling of responses published in Reuters:

  1. SOKO President Moon was measured and diplomatic, but it was obvious he was taken aback: [We have to] “find out the precise meaning or intentions” of Mr. Trump’s announcement, but we are “willing to explore various measures to help the talks move forward more smoothly.”
  2. Chuck Schumer bluntly criticized Mr. Trump for giving up “substantial leverage” with not enough in return.
  3. Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was more cautious, saying at the present time “it was difficult to assess what had happened at the summit.”
  4. Meanwhile, US spokesperson for forces stations in SOKO, Lt. Colonel Jennifer Lovett offered: “USFK has received no updated guidance on execution or cessation of training exercises.”
  5. As I stated above, the president did qualify the comments somewhat, telling Reuters that the cessation would last “unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should.”  Later, in a one-on-one interview with Sean Hannity, Fox News, Mr. Trump was more specific, stating that the cessation was contingent on Kim’s negotiating in “good faith” and proceeding with the dismantling of his country’s nuclear capabilities. If those conditions are not met, the military exercises could always resume. Again, carrot and stick.
  6. Meanwhile, CBS News correspondent Ed O’Keefe denoted that the military exercises are also important because they send a message to China that we are firmly committed to the region.  I would agree.
  7. Predictably many commentators on the “left,” were particularly harsh, vindictive and “nit picky.”  It was almost like they were hoping for the negotiations to fail even if such a result would hurt the country (and the world) just so Mr. Trump could not have a “win.”  Nicolle Wallace (on the Rachel Maddow show) said “we won’t ever know what happened in the meeting since both men are established liars.”  Chris Matthews characterized Mr. Trump as a “wannabe despot.” Finally, David Linker opined that “even a successful summit would be bad because it would improve [Mr.] Trump’s approval ratings.”

CONCLUSION

On the plus side, the summit actually took place.  Many had their doubts.  Messrs. Trump and Kim talked, appeared to come away with a mutual respect for each other, and established a basis for further talks.

Realistically, no one should have expected all the issues to be resolved in one meeting.  Negotiations such as this are always a process.  First, it is necessary to lay the foundation.  Then, as time goes on, more substantive matters are discussed and, hopefully, resolved.  Some readers will remember the “shuttle diplomacy” from the 1960s and 1970s.  Dr. Kissinger shuttled back and forth countless times between Israel and the Arab states in a vain attempt to forge a peace settlement.

On the negative side, Mr. Trump gave Kim a very big carrot when he unilaterally agreed to halt training exercises.  His critics, which are legion, will roast him for that.  However, like I said the carrot can be removed, and the stick applied, and Kim knows it.

Let’s hope that there are future talks and they are fruitful.  As long as we are talking, we are not fighting, which I think everyone can agree is a positive thing.

The whole world is watching.  SOKO, Japan and our other allies want verification that we “have their back.”  Our enemies and rivals, such as China, Russia and Iran will be evaluating the situation as an indication of how Mr. Trump will be dealing with them prospectively.

In order to evaluate the summit properly and fairly I think it is necessary to consider a little historical perspective.  To paraphrase media reporter Joe Concha (The Hill), think of where we were just ten months ago:

  1. It seemed as if we were on the verge of a nuclear confrontation with NOKO.
  2. Both Guam and parts of the US mainland were under a threat of attack.
  3. NOKO missiles were flying over Japan.
  4. Mr. Trump and Kim were trading insults and threats.

And, look where we are now.

Finally, Mr. Trump has wisely determined that any agreement be ratified by Congress.  Securing Congressional approval may be risky, but it would give any deal the force of law and prevent a future president from negating it by executive order.  Note the contrast between this transparency and inclusiveness with how President Obama handled the Iran nuke deal.

 

FATHER’S DAY

On Sunday, June 17, the third Sunday of June, many of us will celebrate Father’s Day.   In the US, FD is commonly viewed as an opportunity to gather with family for barbecues, picnics, barbecues, sporting activities (e.g. baseball, golf or fishing), eat at a favorite restaurant, or attend a Broadway show. Generally, it is a fun day with family and friends.

The idea of an annual day to recognize fathers was first proposed by Sonora Dodd a resident of Spokane, WA, in 1909. She wanted to honor her own father who had raised her and five siblings as a single parent. In her opinion, mothers had their “day,” so why shouldn’t fathers. At first, she approached her pastor about organizing a special service on her father’s birthday, June 5, but for some reason, perhaps, time constraints, the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June. The initial celebration was held in 1910.

For many years the idea of a “day” for fathers did not catch on with the general public. The major reason was the fear that it would become overly commercialized like Mother’s Day and Christmas. In addition, the media was not behind the concept. Rather than support the idea, they attacked it with sarcastic and cynical articles and cartoons. FD did, however, have its supporters. Congress debated a bill as early as 1913, but it did not pass. Presidents such as Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge spoke out in favor of it.

Margaret Chase Smith, a longtime influential Senator from Maine, criticized the inequity of Congress’ ignoring fathers while honoring mothers. Finally, in 1966 LBJ issued a Presidential proclamation designating the third Sunday in June as FD. It became a permanent holiday in 1972.

FD is celebrated differently in other countries around the world depending on seasons and various traditions and cultures, as follows:

  1. United Kingdom – It is also celebrated on the third Sunday of June. It is recognized as a day to honor not only fathers, but also other father figures, such as grandfathers and fathers-in-law. As in the US, typically, people pay a visit and give cards and gifts. Other activities might include male-only outings [golf, football (soccer), or cricket] or trips. One significant difference is that the day is not considered to be a holiday, just a normal Sunday.
  2. Canada – Very similar to the UK. Popular activities would include going to the park, the zoo, or eating out in a restaurant.
  3. Russia – The holiday, celebrated on February 23, is called Defender of the Fatherland Day. All men are honored, not just fathers. It began as a military celebration and is still marked by military parades.
  4. Mexico – Celebrated on the third Sunday of June. It is marked with parties and gifts for dads and a 21 kilometer Father’s Day race.
  5. Brazil – It is celebrated on August 2 in honor of St. Joachim, patron saint of fathers and grandfathers.
  6. According to The Sun various countries in the Southern Hemisphere, such as Australia and New Zealand, celebrate the holiday in September.
  7. Northern European countries, such as Norway, Sweden and Finland, celebrate the day in November.
  8. Bulgaria celebrates the day in December.

CONCLUSION

The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend an average of about $135 per person on FD gifts in 2018.  The estimated overall total is $15.3 billion, which would be just shy of last year’s record-high of $15.5 billion.   As you might expect, according to the NRF this total pales next to the $23.1 billion we spent on mothers last month.

Sports fans, which, let’s face it, include most dads, will have a variety of choices. In addition to the regular choices of the final round of US Open (held this year at historic Shinnecock Hills Golf Club and MLB baseball many dads (and granddads) will be attending their kids’ (and grandkids’) sporting events.  Some years, the NBA Finals are on tv, but not this year (congratulations to the Golden State Warriors who swept the Cleveland Cavaliers to win their second consecutive title).  My family will be enjoying all of the above.

FD is one of the few days of the year when the wife will not complain (hopefully) when you watch “too much” sports.  Dads, it is your day.  Whatever you decide to do, enjoy it.

MELANIA TRUMP

What is behind the media’s and liberals’ obsession with Melania Trump?  What has she done to invoke their extreme mockery and rancor?  Heck if I know.  As far as I can see, her only “crime” was to marry Donald Trump.  Below please find a few examples:

  1. After President Trump’s inauguration she was criticized for remaining in NY while he moved into the White House.  In point of fact, she had determined that it would better for her young son to complete the school term in NY, then move to D. C.  To me, prioritizing her son’s interests and well-being like that was good parenting.  No more, no less.
  2. Vanity Fair criticized her for “poor fashion choices,” citing the fact that she wore  high heels while touring a hurricane disaster site.  Wow!  Lock her up!
  3. Vanity Fair also mocked her launching a campaign against bullying children.  I say, what is wrong with focusing on such an issue, which happens to be one of the chief issues regarding children and which Melania had identified as her “cause” as early  as 2016?  Well, apparently, in the minds of some people (Mika Brzezinski, MSNBC, Jake Tapper, CNN, and Meghan McCain, Fox News, the fact that some of Donald Trump’s tweets are perceived as bullying (though not towards kids) disqualifies Melania from speaking out about the issue.  Moreover, actress Meryl Streep, when questioned about her silence on the issue deflected it with the same skill she routinely demonstrates in her “day” job, acting, retorting “I don’t want to hear about the silence of me.  I want to hear about the silence of Melania Trump.”  In point of fact, we all know that neither Melania nor anyone else for that matter can control the President consistently. Melania has denoted that, on more than one occasion, she has “rebuked” Trump (for his tweets) but “he will do what he wants to do in the end.”  Anyone who knows the President would have to agree.
  4. In 2016 the Daily Mail published a blatantly false story alleging that Melania had moonlighted as an escort during her modeling days.  She sued them for $150 million.  The newspaper was forced to apologize and retract the article.
  5. Recently, late night entertainer Jimmy Kimmel spent several minutes mocking her accent.  He is not the only person who has done so.  Jimmy, she speaks six languages fluently, and English is not her native tongue.  How many can you speak?
  6. The latest and most ridiculous criticism was centered around her absence following a kidney procedure.  The media speculated wildly that she was seriously ill, had a facelift, left the White House, or, perhaps, had been physically abused by the president.  The wild, unsubstantiated speculation continued even after reporter Eamon Javers tweeted that he had seen Melania walking in the White House with some of her aides.  Fake news at its best (or worst).  If it doesn’t fit “the narrative,” ignore it.

It wasn’t until she appeared with the president at a FEMA hurricane briefing that the inane sniping stopped.

Melania Knavs was born on April 26, 1970 in Novo Mesto, Slovenia, which, at the time, was part of Yugoslavia.  Her father managed a car dealership.  Her mother was a patternmaker for a children’s clothing manufacturer.  She has an older sister and an older step-brother whom she has never even met.

Melania began modeling at the age of five years old, and by sixteen she was doing commercials and posing for fashion magazines.  At 18 she signed with a modeling agency in Milan.  Along the way she changed her last name to its German equivalent, Knauss.  In 1995 she met Paolo Zampolli, co-owner of Metropolitan Models and a friend of Trump’s.  At Zampolli’s suggestion she emigrated to NY, where he represented her.  In 1998 she met Trump at a party hosted by Zampolli.  They began to date and were married in 2005.

Melania is the second foreign-born First Lady.  [Who was the first?  See below.]  In addition, she is the first First Lady to be a naturalized citizen and the first whose native language is not English.  As I said above, she is fluent in six languages – Slovene, Serbo-Croatian, French, English, German and Italian.

She has been very supportive of her husband’s political ambitions, even though she is not very comfortable in the limelight.  She told one reporter “I encouraged him because I know what he will do and what he can do for America.  He loves the American people and wants to help them.”

CONCLUSION

Ask yourself, if Melania were a Democrat, if she were not married to Donald Trump, would she be subjected to all of this abuse?  Or, would she be praised for how far she has come in her life.  Her critics should do a little research.  What were the odds that someone born in a small city in Slovenia would become the First lady of the US?  Long enough, that if you had bet a dollar, you would be set for life.

Predictably, all this criticism has produced a backlash.  Remember, she did not seek the limelight.  She was not an experienced politician.  English is not her native language.

One does not campaign to be First Lady.  She gets there by being married to the person who is elected president.  Voters do not consider the “qualifications” of the prospective First Lady (or even the VP, most of the time for that matter).

Therefore, she should be given the benefit of the doubt, not the back of the hand.  The president is fair game.  He sought the limelight.  Melania should be left alone.

Quiz answer:  Louisa Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams, who was born in 1775 in London to an English mother.

D DAY

D Day. That’s all one has to say. Most everyone knows what it was and what it meant. Just the very name conjures up remembrances and images of one of the bloodiest battles and one of the turning points of WWII. The battle has been memorialized in books and movies, and who can forget the poignant image of countless crosses and Stars of David neatly lined up in military cemeteries in Normandy.

Today, June 6, marks the 74th anniversary of this epic battle. The Allied Forces included 156,000 troops from various countries, including the US, UK, Free France, Canada and Norway, among others, 5,000 ships and landing craft, 11,000 planes, 50,000 land vehicles, and coordinated landings over a 50 mile stretch of beaches code-named Juno, Omaha, Utah, Sword and Gold, truly a massive undertaking. Allied and German casualties have been estimated as high as 20,000 killed, wounded, missing and captured. If you were involved in the actual landing, whether you lived or died was largely a matter of luck and happenstance – two men sitting side-by-side in an LST and the German bullet finds one and not the other. Think about that for a minute.

In addition to the German guns the soldiers had to deal with the rough surf.  Wearing their battle gear made them heavy and unwieldy, and many of them actually drowned.  The movie Saving Private Ryan depicts this grisly scene clearly.

If you were lucky enough to survive the landing, you became a “sitting duck” on the beach. Then, if you managed to fight your way off the beach you had to charge into several thousand heavily-armed German troops, which were placed strategically in fortified bunkers. Once you fought your way past those, you were ready to commence the real battle to liberate France. Keep in mind, many of these soldiers were just kids as young as 17 and, no doubt, scared s***less.

Planning for the operation began as early as 1943. Russia, one of our allies at the time (“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”) had been lobbying strongly for a second front to alleviate some of the pressure from the Russian Front. Military leaders on both sides recognized the significance of a second front and expected the Allies to attempt to open one at some point. The question was where and when. The Allies were not prepared to attempt such a massive landing until early 1944 primarily because they needed time to build up levels of men and material. Remember, the Allies were fighting in the Mediterranean and North Africa as well. Plus, the US was involved in the Pacific War against the Japanese. Finally, the British’s fighting capacity had been severely damaged in the debacle at Dunkirk in 1940.  Only a remarkable evacuation, aided by thousands of civilian small boats, prevented the Germans from capturing or destroying their entire army on the beach.

The Operation was code-named Operation Overlord. The landing, itself, was code-named Operation Neptune. General Eisenhower was in charge. Indeed, he was in charge of the entire Atlantic Theatre. As the story goes, when he was put in charge his orders were very simple – “Win the War.” No confusion; no limited rules of engagement, which hampered us in Viet Nam and other future conflicts.  “Just win, baby.”

The Allies considered four possible landing sites: Brittany, Cotentin Peninsula, Pas de Calais and Normandy. The first two were eliminated primarily because they were located on peninsulas, which would have afforded very narrow fronts that would have enabled the Germans to trap the soldiers in a counterattack. That left Normandy and Calais. Once the Allies decided on Normandy there were many attempts to deceive the Germans into thinking the landings would be at Calais. Historical evidence indicates that the Germans thought Calais the most likely site anyway, possibly because it was closer to England, but both sites were heavily fortified. Indeed, the Germans had planned to fortify the entire coast from Norway to Spain, a so-called “Atlantic Wall.”  This would have included concrete emplacements, barbed wire, booby traps, mines, the removal of ground cover, and, of course, troops and armored equipment. Luckily for us, these fortifications were never completed. Interestingly, although most of the German High Command viewed Calais as the most likely landing site, General Rommel, perhaps the best general on either side, surmised correctly that it would likely be at Normandy.
Accordingly, he increased fortifications in the area, but, luckily for us he was out of favor for political reasons, so some key elements of his plans for defending the area were ignored or overruled. Most notably, some panzer divisions, which he had wanted to place in the Normandy area were, instead, retained in and around Paris.

In addition, the German Army was stretched very thinly. Much of its manpower was committed to the Eastern Front and had been depleted by heavy casualties after five years’ of fighting. Finally, it was relying on captured equipment, which was not of high quality.

One of the biggest unknowns, and one that the Allies could not control, was the weather. Due to the complexity of the operation conditions had to be just so, including the tides, phases of the moon and the time of day. Only a few days of a given month satisfied all criteria. For example, a full moon was preferred to provide maximum illumination for the pilots. Remember, instrumentation then was not what it is now.

Additionally, dawn, which was between low and high tide, was the preferred time of day. That way, as the high tide came in it would carry the LSTs farther in on the beach, and the men could spot obstacles, such as land mines, more easily. High winds, heavy seas and low cloud cover were not favorable. The planners were determined to wait for a day with ideal weather conditions so as to maximize the chances of success for a very risky and dangerous mission. In fact, the operation was postponed several times before June 6.

As we know, the operation was a success. Some of the major reasons for this were:
1. The aforementioned missions to deceive the Germans forced them to spread their defenses over a wide area.
2. The “Atlantic Wall” was only about 20% complete.
3. The Allies achieved air superiority quickly.
4. Much of the transportation infrastructure in France had been damaged by Allied bombings and the French resistance, which hampered the Germans’ ability to move men and material.
5. The German high command was disorganized and indecisive.

CONCLUSION

If, as many historians believe, winning WWII was one America’s greatest achievements, then it can be argued that D Day was one of our greatest victories. Certainly, its success shortened the war in Europe and, in the process, saved countless lives (combatants and non-combatants alike).

It’s a shame that, with the passage of time, there are so few veterans of this battle still alive.  Even the youngest ones are in their 90s.

In WWII we had a clear-cut goal, win the war; the nation was united in support of the war, our government and our troops; we knew who the enemy was; we knew the Axis Powers were evil (Hitler, in particular, was one of the most despicable men ever to walk the face of the earth.); and there was no holding back. Sadly, we have never had such clarity of purpose again, and, perhaps, we never will.

“TRUMPENOMICS”

First, let’s deal with the “500 pound gorilla” in the room.  I will stipulate that, on a personal basis, there is a lot to dislike about President Trump.  He can be inappropriate, arrogant and boorish.  His off-the-cuff tweets can and have been offensive to some.  Sometimes, he will say things tongue-in-check that are meant to be facetious that some people will take literally and misinterpret as offensive and inappropriate.  He definitely rubs some people the wrong way.  All that said, I will repeat what I and many others have been saying since Mr. Trump first declared his candidacy.  PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT HE DOES, NOT WHAT HE SAYS.

With respect to the upcoming mid-term elections the first thing one must realize is I A A T E.  It’s all about the economy.  History shows that most of the time, absent an existential external threat people vote their pocketbooks.  To quote the late Casey Stengel “you could look it up.”  The oft-used expression “are you better or worse off today than you were four years ago” resonates today as well as it did when it was first uttered by Candidate Ronald Reagan in 1984.

So, let’s analyze President Trump’s record with respect to the economy.

Unemployment/Job Creation – According to USA Today and other sources the May unemployment rate declined to 3.8%, a level not seen since 1969.  When Mr. Trump took office the rate was 4.8%.  Moreover, USA Today cited the BLS report for May that the economy added 223,000 jobs in the month.

Unemployment is even shrinking among traditionally hardcore unemployed groups.  For example, the same report revealed that unemployment among AAs had declined to 5.9%, the lowest percentage ever recorded.  The rate for Hispanics declined to 4.9%; for teens, 12.8%.  Reporting in CNNMoney, Nathaniel Meyerson disclosed that the unemployment gap between whites and AAs had shrunk dramatically, and year over year wages were 2.7% higher, a modest increase, to be sure, but better than before.

Moreover, Meyerson characterized the economy as “strong” with a “tight labor market.”  He added that “job openings were at a record high, and businesses were hungry for workers.”

Regarding job growth Josh Wright, chief economist at the software company iCMS, stated that employers are “digging deeper into the pool of [the] unemployed.”  He added, “the US economy has an incredible head of steam.”

Tempering all this good news somewhat, the same USA Today article denoted that the “labor force participation rate,” the percentage of Americans working or looking for work, declined to 62.7%, and cautioned that if the economy’s growth (2.3% in 2017) were to continue to accelerate, inflation could become an issue.  However, I don’t believe inflation is a cause for concern right now, and I should like to denote that we should expect the labor force to decline prospectively as baby boomers retire.

One final point, the areas of greatest growth have been in the blue collar, working class fields of construction, manufacturing and healthcare. Thus, the greatest benefit has been going to the very constituency that Mr. Trump’s critics have been maintaining his policies would hurt.

Stock Market – According to Market Watch the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 32% during 2017.  On January  20, 2017, when Mr. Trump took office it stood at 19,805.  Yesterday, it closed at 24,843.

What is the significance of this for the country?  First of all, some 43 million households, most of them consisting of working class people, own one or more IRAs or other retirement accounts.  So, those results are relevant to the abovementioned “Are you better or worse off…” question.

Secondly, the stock market is a leading economic indicator. Therefore, the investment community is betting on a further improvement in the economy. As the late president JFK famously intoned, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” One could question whether or not this level of optimism is due solely to President Trump’s policies, but, in my opinion he should get the lion’s share of the credit.  You know that if the economic results were different he would get the blame.

Tax Reform – President Trump and his supporters have been extolling the benefits of his tax reform package for months, and his critics have been doing their best to discredit it as a huge giveaway for the rich.  For example, Nancy Pelosi famously, or, perhaps, infamously, denigrated the $1,000 bonuses some employers had paid to their workers as “crumbs.”  This quote illustrated how insensitive and out of touch the Dem leadership is, and I believe Dem candidates will regret it in November.

I urge you not to believe the critics.  By now, many of you have seen tangible evidence of its effect in the form of higher take home pay, a better job, and/or an increase in your retirement accounts.  What amounts to “crumbs” for Ms. Pelosi amounts to real money to most of us.

Perhaps, the most significant part of his tax package was the reduction of the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% (with a special lower rate for repatriated funds).  A recent World Economic Forum survey identified high tax rates as the most problematic factor in doing business.  (One does not have to be a tax expert to realize this, just have common sense.)

I expressed my opinion of the tax package in an earlier blog, and there is no need to repeat myself now. However, an objective person would have to concede that the early returns have been very positive.  Many international companies have announced their intention to repatriate profits currently being held in foreign locations to avoid the onerous 35% corporate tax rate. The Business Insider characterized this as a “tidal wave of internationally-held cash.” According to Citigroup this amounts to some $2.5 trillion. Goldman Sachs estimates that approximately $250 billion of that amount is likely to be repatriated to take advantage of the lower tax rate.

The expectation is that this cash will be used to (a) reinvest in the business, (b) increase employment, (c) pay bonuses, and/or (d) buy back company stock.  Any of these would have a beneficial effect on the economy. Indeed, several major corporations have already weighed in.

For example, Apple, which has reported it has some $250 billion stashed overseas, announced it expects to repatriate most of those funds, expand its physical plant and create 20,000 new jobs; AT&T has paid $1,000 bonuses to in excess of 200,000 employees and pledged to invest $1 billion domestically; Comcast also paid $1,000 bonuses and announced it intends to invest “in excess of $50 billion” on infrastructure over the next five years; Fifth Third BankCorp and Wells Fargo announced they will increase their minimum wage to $15. Workers should already be seeing the benefits of the reduced tax rates for individuals in their paychecks.

CONCLUSION

Based on the foregoing, I believe any objective person would conclude that “Trumpenomics” has been very beneficial to the country.  After all, who wouldn’t be pleased to have a better job and more money in their pocket. Yes, I wish Mr. Trump’s personality were more “presidential,” but assuming you can’t have both, which would you want?

Please answer the following question:  If you had to choose a surgeon to save your life, would you select a nice, polite, professional-appearing doctor who is an average surgeon or a nasty, arrogant, SOB who is an exceptional surgeon?

I think the answer is obvious.  Trump haters, like, for example, the shrill far left harpies on The View, CNN, and MSNBC, (and we all know who they are) should take a figurative “chill pill” and enjoy the fruits of his policies.

And, please, leave his family alone.  Families should be out of bounds, especially children.  You wouldn’t have countenanced criticism of Chelsea, Melania or Sasha.

 

 

HEDY LAMARR

From time to time, I receive requests from one of my readers for a blog on a specific topic.  I am only too happy to oblige.  So, Rich, thanks for the suggestion, and this one’s for you.

Some of you may be familiar with Hedy Lamarr as an old-time actress.  Indeed, she was a sensation in Germany in the early and mid-1930’s and a moderately successful actress in Hollywood from the late 1930’s until 1958, performing in some 30 movies.  Most of them were rather pedestrian.  Perhaps, the best known in the US were Boom Town, with Clark Gable, and Sampson and Delilah, with Victor Mature.  Ironically, she turned down the Ingrid Bergman role in Casablanca, which might have made her a big star.  But, in reality, acting was not Hedy’s greatest contribution to society.  Her greatest success came as an inventor.

Hedwig Eva Maria Kessler was born on November 14, 1914 in Vienna.  Her family was well-to-do.  Her father was a director of a bank, and her mother was a pianist.  Both of her parents were of Jewish ancestry, but Hedy’s mother had converted to Catholicism, and Hedy was raised as a Christian.

As a child, Hedy was drawn to movies.  As a teenager she dropped out of school to pursue a career as an actress.  She performed in a few German productions.  Her most notable role was in the movie entitled Ecstasy (1933), in which she appeared totally nude.  Needless to say, that was extremely shocking in 1933.  It made her world famous, and brought her to the attention of MGM’s chief, Louis B. Mayer, who promptly signed her to a contract.  It was Mayer who changed her last name to Lamarr, supposedly in honor of silent film star Barbara La Marr.

Hedy made her US debut in 1938 and, over the next 20 years, she appeared in some 25 movies, but few of them were successful and resonate at all today.  She had a reputation of being, as she, herself, put it, “difficult.”  The renowned costume designer, Edith Head, considered her one of the most problematic actresses she had to work with in her long and distinguished career.

Many considered her to be among the most beautiful actresses of her era.  Supposedly, in the 1940s her profile was the most frequently requested by women who were having plastic surgery.  Unfortunately, her great beauty did not translate into professional success.  After WWII her career began to wane.  In 1958 she retired from acting.

Hedy was married six times and bore three children – two sons and one daughter.  Her first husband was Friedrich Mandl, a wealthy arms merchant and manufacturer whom she married in 1933.  They were an unlikely pair on many levels – (1) their respective occupations had little in common, (2) their wide age gap, (she was 18; he was 33.), but most of all, (3) Mandl’s close association with Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler.  I don’t know what they thought of her Jewish heritage or what she thought of their Fascism.

In any event, Hedy soon became very unhappy in her marriage.  Mandl was very overbearing and kept her a virtual prisoner in his castle.  As Hedy recalled “I knew very soon that I could never be an actress while I was his wife….  He was the absolute monarch in [our] marriage…. I was like a doll.  I was like a thing, some object of art, which had to be guarded – and imprisoned- having no mind, no life of its own.”  Wow!  Eventually, she ran away disguising herself as her maid.  She fled to Paris and, eventually emigrated to the US.  She became a naturalized citizen in 1953.

Being a woman, she was considered to be an unlikely inventor in those years, and her ideas were dismissed by the contemporary scientific community.  The thinking of the day was how could a woman, and a beautiful one at that, possibly make a meaningful contribution to science.  During WWII she applied for membership in the National Inventors’ Council.  A few of its members dismissively suggested she could be more useful selling war bonds.  In other words, “Go away.  Don’t bother us.  Leave the science to the men.”

As I said, her bigger and more enduring contribution to society was as an inventor. What was the genesis of her ideas?   Perhaps, it was from being around her arms dealer husband, but, more likely she just had a natural gift for it.  Think about it.  She had no formal training.  Essentially, she was self-taught.  She loved to tinker in her spare time.   Two of her early inventions were an improved traffic light and a tablet that would fizz and dissolve in water.  Sound familiar?  Alka Seltzer, anyone?

During WWII she came up with a military application that could have been very useful to the Navy.  Radio-controlled torpedoes, which were a new and effective weapon, were prone to jamming.  Hedy and an associate, composer George Antheil, had the idea for a frequency-hopping signal that would render the torpedoes virtually impervious to jamming.  They even patented it.  However, the Navy expressed no interest.  Probably, they didn’t trust something developed by “outsiders.”  Too bad.  It could very likely have been useful.  As a footnote to this story, the Navy did commence using a version of their invention in the early 1960s.

Incredibly, the principles of this technology contributed to the development of Wi-Fi, cell phones, and Bluetooth.  All this, from an amateur with no formal training who just liked to “tinker.”  Unfortunately, Lamarr and Antheil did not profit from this as their patent had expired.

CONCLUSION

The later years of Hedy’s life were, to put it mildly, not kind to her.

  1. She was arrested for shoplifting twice – in LA and later in Florida.
  2. She became estranged from her sons.
  3. She became addicted to pills.
  4. In a vain attempt to maintain her renowned beauty she turned to plastic  surgery, but the results were, in the words of Wikipedia, “disastrous.”
  5. Hedy valued her privacy.  She lived in virtual exclusion.  Her only means of communication with the outside world was by telephone.  Consequently, she lamented that the 1974 comedy, Blazing Saddles, in which producer Mel Brooks created a character named “Hedley Lamarr” had severely infringed on her privacy.  Brooks, who reportedly was a big fan of Lamarr’s claimed he had done it as an homage to Lamarr and that she Lamarr “never got the joke.”  Nevertheless, the studio issued an apology and settled out of court.

As sometimes happens, recognition came belatedly.

  1. In 1960 she was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
  2. In 1997 she received an award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation for her work in spread-spectrum technology.
  3. In 2008 the lives of Lamarr and Antheil were featured in an off-Broadway play entitled Frequency Hopping.
  4. In 2010 The New York Public Library exhibit, Thirty Years of Photography, featured a topless Hedy Lamarr, circa 1930.
  5. In 2011 the Science Channel featured Lamarr’s and Antheil’s frequency-hopping spread spectrum invention in one of its programs.
  6. According to actress, Anne Hathaway, who played the “Catwoman” in the 2012 movie, The Dark Knight Rises, her character was based on Lamarr.
  7. Hedy was inducted into the National Inventors’ Hall of Fame, posthumously, in 2014.

Hedy passed away on January 19, 2000 in Casselberry, FL.

,

KOREAN SUMMIT

It’s on.  It’s off.  It’s on again.

The Korean Summit, including the US, SOKO and NOKO, is scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.  Despite all the rhetoric, it was never really cancelled.   White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders’ disclosure that an advance team is still planning to travel to Singapore to “make arrangements” should tell you all you need to know.

I maintain Mr. Trump’s “cancellation” was just a way of posturing, part of the negotiations.  It was intended to show Kim that, if Mr. Trump thinks the US is being “played” he is perfectly willing to walk away.  As anyone who has negotiated any kind of deal – a house, a car or a business arrangement – knows, the first rule of a successful negotiation is to convince the other side that you are willing to walk away.    (Incidentally, Messrs. Obama and Kerry would have been advised to employ that strategy when negotiating the Iran nuke deal.  If so, they likely would have gotten a more reasonable deal.)

Anyone paying attention during the presidential campaign would remember Mr. Trump’s constant railing about poor deals made by previous administrations and his claim that he could and would negotiate better ones.  This is consistent with his negotiating style.  Whether or not one likes Mr. Trump’s politics, there is no doubt that he knows how to negotiate a deal.

I find the Dems’ and the mainstream media’s attitude toward this summit most amusing and disingenuous.  Their criticisms have been oxymoronic.  Prior to its being announced they were criticizing Mr. Trump for his open hostility toward Kim, i. e. accusing him of antagonizing a leader who was “clearly unbalanced” and who controlled a nuclear arsenal and referring to him derisively as “little rocket man.”

When the summit was first announced they were critical once again.  The general theme was Mr. Trump was being “played.”  He was being suckered into affording Kim an exalted status he did not deserve.  He was creating false hope for SOKO and the US.   What made him think he could succeed where others had failed for over 60 years.  Mr. Trump, for his part, was consistently even-keeled.  His standard assessment of the summit’s prospects has been variations of “we’ll see.”  Typically, he would balance the “carrot” of the summit with the “stick” of dire consequences that the US could and would visit upon NOKO if it failed to come to pass.  As a footnote, along the way, NOKO unilaterally released three hostages, unharmed, and destroyed at least one of its nuclear sites.

At the Olympics they fawned over Kim’s younger sister, Kim-Yo Jong, as if she were an international celebrity, while, at the same time, being overly critical of Ivanka Trump.  They lost sight of the fact that Kim is a blood relative of the leader of one of the most brutal dictatorships in modern times while Ivanka is the daughter of the president.  Would the press have been as critical of Chelsea Clinton or Sasha or Malia Obama?  I doubt it.

When Mr. Trump announced he was cancelling the summit he was criticized again.  One common theme was he had “counted his chickens before they hatched.”  The far left harpies on The View gleefully decried that he would no longer be in line for the Nobel Peace Prize.  Ha.  Ha.  Too bad.  It was as if these critics were rooting against the US just so that Mr. Trump could fail.

Well, “surprise, surprise” as the late Jim Nabors used to say.  Yesterday, SOKO’s Moon Jae-in and NOKO’s Kim Jong In had their own “impromptu” summit meeting, reportedly at Kim’s request.  Both leaders announced it was very productive, and they repeated their oft-stated wish for a “nuclear-free Korean peninsula.”  Furthermore, they agreed to maintain open lines of communication and meet “frequently,” prospectively.  It is clear that both are highly motivated to hold the summit, as scheduled.

Furthermore, NOKO has issued a press release that Kim is ready to talk to Mr. Trump “at any time.”  Even Aljazeera, definitely not a pro-US media outlet, had something positive to say, quoting Kim as saying the summit could “end decades of war.”

CONCLUSION

How can any objective person think a Korean summit is a bad idea?  I have always believed that even enemies need to maintain lines of communication.  Even at the height of the “Cold War,” for instance, we always had “back channel” communications with Russia.  Talking is always better than fighting.

I think it is clear that, at the moment, the leaders of both Koreas, particularly Kim, are highly motivated to work out some kind of deal.  Perhaps, Mr. Trump’s tough, no-nonsense stance regarding ISIS, the Iran Deal and other matters has laid the groundwork for Kim’s newfound willingness to talk.  Perhaps, China has been pressuring him.  Perhaps, conditions in NOKO are more intolerable than we know.   In any case, as we know, in life timing is everything.  Strike while the iron is hot.  Use any cliché you like.  Perhaps, now the time is right for peace in Korea.

My message to the Dems and the mainstream media is simply put aside your antagonism for Mr. Trump and support the peace effort.  You can’t have it both ways.  You can’t criticize Mr. Trump for (1) antagonizing Kim, (2) agreeing to a summit, (3) cancelling the summit, and then (4) reinstating it.  Once again, you are on the wrong side of an issue on the eve of an election.

Yes, the summit can still be derailed, or it may not be successful.  Lots of things can go wrong.  But, for the first time, we have a real chance for peace in Korea.  Like Mr. Trump says: “We’ll see.”

MEMORIAL DAY

This weekend, millions of Americans will celebrate Memorial Day. To many of them MD is merely a day off from work, a day to gather with friends and relatives, watch sports, barbecue, or maybe go away for a mini-vacation. But, how many of us actually stop and ponder the meaning of MD? What does it mean? What is its derivation? Well, I’m glad you asked. Read on.

According to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs the purpose of MD is to honor veterans who have died in the service of their country. (Some people confuse it with Veterans’ Day, celebrated in November, which is to honor LIVING veterans for their service.) MD is celebrated on the final Monday in May, which this year is May 28. It has also evolved into the unofficial start of summer and Opening Day for beaches, pools and vacation homes.

The original name for MD was “Decoration Day.” The custom of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers is centuries old. Its origins are murky, but after the Civil War it became customary to “decorate” soldiers’ graves with flowers as a way to honor those who had died in that war.

Several cities claim to be the birthplace of MD. Warrenton, Va. claims that the first CW soldier’s grave was decorated there in 1861. Women began decorating soldiers’ graves in Savannah, Ga. as early as 1862. Boalsburg, Pa. and Charleston, SC, among others, have also made claims. NY became the first state to recognize MD as an official holiday in 1873. In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, NY to be the official birthplace of MD.

The basis of Waterloo’s claim is that in 1865 a group of locals, including a pharmacist, Henry Welles, General John Murray, a CW hero, and a group of other veterans, simply marched to the local cemeteries and decorated the soldiers’ graves with flowers. What gave Waterloo an edge in the birthplace battle was that Murray was an acquaintance of General John Logan, the general who issued “Logan’s Order, ” the proclamation that declared “Decoration Day” should be celebrated annually nationwide.

At first, MD was celebrated on May 30 every year. The date seems somewhat arbitrary as it was not the anniversary of any famous battle or military event. Perhaps, it was chosen simply because flowers with which the graves are decorated are in bloom and plentiful at that particular time of the year. The name, “Decoration Day” was gradually replaced by MD beginning in 1882, and in 1887 MD became the official name. In 1968 the Congress moved the holiday to the last Monday in May. This annoyed many traditionalists, but the lure of a three-day weekend overcame any objections, and the Monday date has prevailed.

There are some MD traditions worth noting:

1. Flying the flag at half-staff.

Most of the time one will see the flag flown at half-staff all day; however, technically, this is not proper. The flag should be raised to the top and then lowered to half-staff. This is intended to honor those who have died for their country. At noon, the flag is to be raised again to full staff, where it remains for the rest of the day. This is to recognize that the deceased veterans’ sacrifices were not in vain.

2. Poppies.

Poppies have become the official flower of remembrance, declared as such by the American Legion in 1920. This is derived from WWI and the Battle of Ypres (English pronunciation is “Wipers.”). Apparently, a proliferation of poppies grew on that battlefield around soldiers’ graves. These poppies were featured in a famous poem by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae called “In Flanders Fields.” This poem caught people’s imagination and popularized the custom.

3. Sporting Events.

No American holiday celebration would be complete without a sports connection. MD has the Indianapolis 500 and the Memorial golf tournament, among others. Also, until recently there was the traditional Memorial Day baseball doubleheader. Alas, due to economics, scheduled holiday baseball doubleheaders are all but extinct.

CONCLUSION

I hope the foregoing has increased your understanding and appreciation of MD. As a veteran, myself, I find it most gratifying that, in recent years, most Americans have come to recognize and appreciate the service and sacrifice of our country’s veterans. I can remember a time (the Vietnam War period) when it wasn’t so.

So, whatever you do this weekend, however you celebrate, try to pause for a moment in honor of the many veterans who have given their lives so that the rest of us could enjoy the freedoms we sometimes take for granted.

Below please find an outline of the significant historical events that occurred in the month of May:

May 1 –   Since ancient times, a day for festivals celebrating the arrival of the Spring season.  Today, many socialist countries celebrate May Day on May 1 as a holiday to celebrate workers.

May 1, 1707 –  Scotland was combined with England and Wales to form Great Britain.  The later addition of Northern Ireland formed the UK.

May 1, 1960 –  An American U-2 spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers was shot down over Russia on the eve of a summit between President Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev.   The incident caused the cancellation of the summit and increased Cold War tensions between the two countries.

May 2, 2011 – US Special Forces located and killed Osama bin Laden at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

May 4, 1494 –  Christopher Columbus, still seeking the Northwest Passage, discovered the island of Jamaica.

May 4, 1970 –  Ohio National Guard troops fired into a student demonstration at Kent  State University killing four students.

May 5 –  Mexican holiday celebrating Mexican forces’ defeat of a numerically superior French invasion force in the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

May 5, 1865 –  Celebration of Decoration Day honoring soldiers killed in the Civil War.  Eventually, morphed into Memorial Day.

May 5, 1961 –  Astronaut Alan Shepard completed a 15 minute suborbital flight, thus becoming the first American to fly in space.

May 6, 1937 –  The German blimp, Hindenburg, burst into flames killing 36 of its 97 passengers.

May 7, 1915 – The shocking sinking of the Lusitania, a British passenger ship, by a German U-boat hastened the US’s entry into WWI on the side of the Allies.

May 7, 1954 – The French surrendered at Dien Bien Phu, ending their colonial presence in Indo- China.  Eventually, this event led to the US’s ill-advised involvement in Vietnam.

May 8, 1942 – The Battle of the Coral Sea, which historians consider to be the turning point of WWII in the Pacific, commenced.  US naval forces defeated Japan for the first time and began their inexorable march toward the Japanese mainland.

May 10, 1869 – The Union Pacific and Central Railroads join at Promontory Point, UT (symbolized by driving a golden spike into the roadbed), creating the Transcontinental Railroad, which linked the entire US.

May 10, 1994 – Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as president of South Africa, bringing an official end to Apartheid.

May 12, 1949 – Russia ended its blockade of West Berlin.

May 14, 1607 – The first permanent English settlement was established at Jamestown, VA.

May 14, 1804 – The Lewis and Clark expedition of the northwest, which lasted some 18 months and covered some 6,000 miles, departed St. Louis.

May 14, 1796 – English Dr. Edward Jenner developed the smallpox vaccine.  He coined the term, vaccination, to describe his method of injecting a weakened version of the disease into a healthy person, who would then fight off the disease and develop an immunity.

May 14, 1948 –  The State of Israel declared its independence.

May 15, 1972 – While campaigning for the presidency, George Wallace was shot and paralyzed from the waist down.

May 17, 1792 – Some two dozen brokers and merchants began meeting under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street to buy and sell stocks and bonds.  Eventually, this led to the establishment of the NY Stock Exchange.

May 17, 1875 – The initial running of the Kentucky Derby took place at Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY.

May 17, 1954 –  The Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, Brown vs. The Board of Education (Topeka, KS), ruled that school segregation based on race was unconstitutional.

May 20, 1927 – Aviator, Charles Lindberg took off from Roosevelt Field on Long Island for the first solo non-stop flight between NY and Europe (landing in Paris).

May 20, 1932 – Amelia Earhart became the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.  In 1937, while attempting to fly across the Pacific Ocean, she was lost at sea, and her fate remains shrouded in mystery to this day.

May 21, 1881 – Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross.

May 22, 1947 –  Congress approved the Truman Doctrine, which provided foreign aid to Greece and Turkey, which was necessary to prevent the spread of communism in that region.

May 24, 1844 – Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph, transmitted the first telegram (“What hath God wrought?”).

May 26, 1940 – Great Britain commenced the evacuation of its army trapped at Dunkirk.

May 27, 1937 – The Golden Gate Bridge opened in San Francisco.

May 30, 1783 –  The Pennsylvania Evening Post became the first newspaper to be published in the US on a daily basis.

May 30, 1922 – The Lincoln Memorial, designed by architect Henry Bacon, was dedicated in Washington, D. C.

May 31, 1889 – The infamous Johnstown Flood of 1889 killed some 2,300 persons.

Birthdays – Niccolo Machiavelli – 5/3/1469; Golda Meir – 5/3/1898; Karl Marx – 5/5/1818; Sigmund Freud – 5/6/1856; Harry S. Truman (33rd President) – 5/8/1884; Israel Isidore Baline (aka Irving Berlin – song writer) – 5/11/1888; Florence Nightingale – 5/12/1820; Gabriel Fahrenheit (physicist) – 5/14/1686; Nguyen That Thanh (aka Ho Chi Minh – 5/19/1890; Malcolm Little (aka Malcolm X) – 5/19/1925; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes creator) – 5/22/1859; Laurence Olivier – 5/22/1907; Ralph Waldo Emerson – 5/25/1803; Al Jolson- 5/26/1886; Wild Bill Hickok – 5/27/1837; Hubert Humphrey – 5/27/1911; Jim Thorpe – 5/28/1888; Patrick Henry – 5/29/1736; John Fitzgerald Kennedy 35th President) – 5/29/1917; Walt Whitman – 5/31/1819.