WAR ON WOMEN MUSLIM STYLE

For months I have been maintaining that the real war on women is being waged by Muslim men against Muslim women primarily through the strict application of Sharia law. One of the oddest and most preposterous applications of Sharia law to Muslim women is the case of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag. Meriam was born in Sudan in 1987. Her father is a Sudanese Muslim, but he abandoned the family when Meriam was 5 years old. She was raised by her Catholic mother. Catholicism is the only religion she has ever known. She married Daniel Wani, an American citizen living in Khartoum in 2011 and joined the Catholic church. For all intents and purposes, she was Catholic, not Muslim.

Nevertheless, and despite the fact that she was pregnant with her second child, she was tried and convicted under a Sharia law that prohibits apostasy under penalty of death. The case against her had been brought by a group of men that she had never seen before who claimed to be her relatives. One of them, who claimed to be her brother, threatened to carry out the death sentence even if she were acquitted. She was convicted and sentenced to death. She was imprisoned along with her one year old son.

Her case caught the imagination of the world. Almost 1 million persons petitioned to save her life through an online web site. Additionally, foreign officials from various countries, including the US, assisted by bringing pressure on the Sudanese government. At one point she was released from prison, but then on June 24 she and her husband were re-arrested at the Khartoum Airport for attempting to use forged documents to leave the country. Now, she is free again but still in fear for her life. Even in the US she will not be completely safe from retribution by her male relatives.

CONCLUSION AND PREDICTION

This is but the latest example of Muslims’ harsh treatment of women – second-class status, kidnapping children, rape, honor killings. The list goes on and on. We have even seen examples of this in the US. I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to maintain that many Muslim men value their camels more highly than their women. This is the real war on women. Although conditions may not be as consistently extreme as they were in the past, I do not this second-class status to disappear entirely.

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POLITICAL CORRECTNESS RUN AMOK

You cannot make this up! If someone were to submit this story to Hollywood as a script for a movie they would be laughed out of town. Political correctness and being polite is one thing, but the following story goes way beyond that. In my opinion, it progresses or, more accurately, regresses, from PC to absurdity.

There is a fish, called the “Asian carp.” It was imported to the US from Asia in the 1970s, hence the name Asian carp to distinguish it from native carp. The intent was to utilize the fish to alleviate pollution in fish farms, which it did. The unintended consequence of this, however, is that these fish have escaped from the fish farms where they were intended to be contained, have reproduced prolifically and have thrived in the cold waters of the Upper Mississippi and Great Lakes. Not only that, apparently this fish is extremely invasive; it has been feeding on plankton to such an extent that the supply of plankton in the area has been severely diminished. Since plankton is very low in the food chain, its destruction has been very damaging to the entire ecosystem in the area. As a result, many consider the Asian Carp to be the greatest threat to the area’s ecosystem.

Consequently, the name “Asian carp” has developed a very negative connotation. Many in the Minnesota legislature viewed it as an insult to Asians and wanted it changed to a more PC name. The legislature actually introduced and passed a bill to change the name to “invasive carp.” (I would like to denote that the sponsors of the bill were Caucasian, not Asians.) The bill was signed into law by the governor. (That’s not a joke; it’s the real name. Inane, but true.)

You might wonder why, with all the serious issues in the world, the Minnesota state elected officials would find it necessary to waste time and effort on Asian carp. Well, you would not be alone. All I can say is that it is symptomatic of the nature of our government these days. PC running amok indeed. I ask you, why stop there. As long as we’re being absurd, why not empower a new Cabinet-level Department, called the “PC Police?” They could cull through the dictionary and eliminate all other similarly pseudo offensive words, phrases and colloquialisms? There are plenty of them. Consider a few examples:

1. The Asian flu, which makes people sick, could be viewed as an insult to Asians. Just call it the “flu.” Similarly, isn’t the term “yellow fever” insulting to Asians as well? Why not call it “acute tropical viral disease?”
2. German measles, which is primarily a childhood disease but could be serious when contracted as an adult, could be viewed as an insult to Germans. Just call it “mild measles,” or “thank God I didn’t get the real measles, measles.”
3. The terms “black death,” which connotes a plague, “black ice,” which is dangerous and causes car accidents, often fatal, “black mark,” and “black comedy” could be viewed as offensive to blacks. Why not rename them “plague,” “dangerous ice,” and “serious comedies?”
4. The term “left-handed compliment,” which is not a compliment at all, is certainly a slap in the face to left-handed people who comprise approximately 10% of the population. The obvious PC solution is to outlaw its use altogether.
5. One of the worst phrases is “Indian giver,” which connotes dishonesty. It seems to me to be a greater affront to native Americans than “redskins,” which has caused such indignation of late, especially among certain non-native Americans. The latest polls show that an overwhelming majority of Native Americans are not insulted by the term, “redskins.” In fact the Wellpinit (WA) Redskins are very proud of their school’s nick-name, and, oh yes, the student body of the school is 90% Native American.
6. And, while were at it, the PC police must change the name of Oklahoma as the name means “red people” in Choctaw. Talk about an insult. (“Where are you from? I’m from the ‘red people’ state.”)

CONCLUSION AND PREDICTION

The foregoing are but a few of the many examples one could site. Most sane people know that these names and labels are not meant to be derogatory. Obviously, I have used sarcasm to illustrate a point. Hasn’t our mania for PC gone a bit too far?

Furthermore, enough of this apologizing already. A lot of people are way too sensitive. It seems that every day some public figure is apologizing for some perceived insult. The latest is Gary Oldman, but there has been a long line of them, too many to mention. For once, I would like to extend kudos to that noted philosopher, Charles Barkley, who refused to apologize for his comments about people from San Antonio, basically saying “If you don’t like what I said, too bad. Don’t watch me on tv.”

Often the apology gets more attention that the perceived insult. Enough of this nonsense. Instead, let’s focus on more important issues, both domestic and foreign, that desperately need our attention and have a real effect on our lives.

What pseudo non-PC words or phrases can you come up with? I’d like to hear them. I could use a good laugh.

WORLD CUP

Quickly, what is the most popular sport in the world? If you said baseball, basketball or hockey, you would be wrong, not even close. According to a survey conducted by Sporteology, the most popular sport, i. e. most watched, by a wide margin, is soccer, or, as it is commonly called – football. It is estimated that soccer has 3.5 billion fans worldwide, approximately one-half of the world’s population, and is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries. Incidentally, cricket is number 2, and basketball, baseball and (American) football, the most popular American sports, are ranked 3rd, 8th, and 9th, respectively. Why is soccer so popular? There are many theories, however, consider (1) it is easily played on virtually any surface, even a vacant lot or open field; (2) it requires few pieces of equipment, really, just a ball; and (3) it is easy to learn at a young age. For most kids, soccer is the first organized sport to which they are exposed, as early as the age of five. Kicking a ball comes naturally to young kids, and they don’t need to have the coordination, size and strength required to play other sports, such as baseball, American football or basketball.

Soccer has been played for a long time. The first international soccer match was between Scotland and England in 1872. It ended in a 0-0 tie. Soccer became part of the Olympics in 1900 as a demonstration sport. It became an official Olympic competition in 1908. The sport’s governing body the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was founded in 1904.

At the present time, the 2014 WC is being contested in Brazil to determine the World Champion. The World Cup Championship has been held every four years since 1930 (in Uruguay), except for 1942 and 1946. There are 32 teams in the tournament, although there is discussion of expanding it to 40 teams. Each team consists of 23 players three of which must be goalies. Replacement players are permitted under certain circumstances, such as serious injury, but the procedures for replacing a player are strictly regulated.

The WC takes about one month to complete and consists of two phases. First is the group stage. The 32 teams are divided into eight groups of four each. Eight teams, the seven highest-rated and the host nation, are seeded. The teams in each group play each other round-robin style. Points are awarded for each match – three for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss. The two teams in each group with the most points advance to the knockout round. The knockout round is single elimination. One loss and you’re out. The two survivors will meet in the final on July 13.

These 32 teams have survived three years of qualifying tournaments, so, in a sense, the World Cup is virtually a continuous event. Almost as soon as one tournament ends the qualifying matches for the next one begin. The World Cup is the most widely watched and followed sporting event with a total audience approaching 30 million (the second being the Olympics). In most competing countries the entire populace gets caught up in the spirit of the tournament. Generally, soccer fans are extremely passionate. They are literally “fanatic” about their team, which becomes a tremendous source of pride and nationalistic spirit.

CONCLUSION AND PREDICTION

The US is in a group consisting of Germany, Portugal and Ghana. Each of the three is a quality team. The US has already won its first match against Ghana, which is fine, but the next two opponents figure to be tougher. My prediction is that the US will beat Portugal, lose to Germany and advance to the knockout round where it will lose in the quarter-finals.

Winning the WC would be a great accomplishment, but it is not realistic. A more realistic outcome would be for the team to capture the imagination of the country so that the sport continues to grow in popularity in the US.

ISRAEL’S DILEMMA

The situation in the Middle East is, perhaps, the most exigent in the last 50 years. Syria is engaged in a civil war; Egypt is under the control of the Muslim Brotherhood; Iraq is being ravaged by ISIS, which is a very militant branch of Al Qaeda; and Iran is on the verge of becoming a nuclear power. All of this violence and instability poses a very real threat to the security of moderate Muslim states, such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and to Israel, our one reliable ally in the region.

The US has done nothing to defuse these crises. For the past six years, its policy in the region, indeed all over the world, has been characterized by indecisiveness, appeasement and leading from behind. In trying to make everyone our friend we have succeeded in making no one our friend. No country fears or respects us. Our enemies continue to hate us and seek to destroy us regardless of how many concessions we grant. They feel they can do what they want with no fear of repercussions, and our allies have become fearful and mistrustful. With respect to the Middle East, by withdrawing from the area, both militarily and politically, we have exacerbated the situation by emboldening militants, such as Syria, Iran and ISIS.

I believe that the biggest loser in all of this will be Israel. From its very birth as a nation in 1948 Israel has existed under the constant threat of attack by its Arab neighbors. They deny its very right to exist, and they would annihilate it if they could. Indeed, in the last 66 years Israel has been engaged in constant conflict. It has only survived through its own determination and fighting prowess and the strong, unwavering support of the US. In 1948 the US was one the first countries to recognize Israel as a State. It took President Truman all of 11 hours to do so. The US has continued to provide money, material and encouragement. Virtually, every serious US politician has been on board with this policy. Israel and the US have a symbiotic relationship. Israel has relied on the US’s support, and, in turn, it has provided the US with its only reliable ally in the region.

At this point, I would think that Mr. Netanyahu and his ministers are wondering just how “strong” and “unwavering” the US’s support will continue to be. Mr. Obama has been neutral, at best, and, arguably, downright hostile toward Israel with respect to the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. I am reminded of the interchange between Golda Meir and President Nixon in the early 1970’s. Supposedly, during one of the times when Israel was negotiating to buy weapons from the US, President Nixon asked Ms. Meir why Israel needed so many weapons since the US has always provided Israel with its unwavering support? Ms. Meir replied something like “Mr. President, in the future we just want to make sure that we can survive until you decide to provide that support.” It is well-known that the current administration’s support has not been nearly as strong and unwavering as that of every other administration since 1948. According to the Washington Post, Mr. Obama has been laying the groundwork to blame Israel if the peace process talks were to fail. He has been attacking Israel for what he views as its intransigence. Furthermore, he has characterized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as “a man of peace,” and he warned Mr. Netanyahu that the US could no longer “protect Israel” were the talks to fail. Evidently, Mr. Obama is too blinded by his antipathy towards Israel and, perhaps, Jews as well, to realize that a negotiation is a two-sided affair. If I were Israel I would doubt just how reliable a supporter the US will continue to be prospectively.

CONCLUSION AND PREDICTION

It is well-known that Israel has considered a pre-emptive strike against Iran to diminish its nuclear capabilities and the threat they represent both to it and the region as a whole. They have executed pre-emptive strikes before, and it is the smart thing to do, militarily. It is in their nature to act decisively rather than to dither, which is what Mr. Obama’s modus operandi is. Of course, there would be political repercussions, but, traditionally, Israel has not let that stop it when it believed its national security was being threatened. I believe that the Administration has been restraining them by promising to “handle the situation.” Well, the US has not “handled” the Iran situation, and, now, the ISIS invasion of Iraq has heightened the threat to destabilize the entire region.

So, that is Israel’s dilemma. What does it do? Does it follow its natural inclination and make a preemptive strike while it can and risk angering its one ally? Or, does it continue to trust the US and let things play out with the risk that matters will deteriorate beyond anyone’s ability to resolve them? It is not an easy answer, a “Hobson’s Choice,” if you will. Quite possibly, Israel’s very survival depends on the answer.

FATHER’S DAY

On Sunday, June 15, families throughout the US and in much of the world will celebrate Father’s Day. (As is the case with Mother’s Day, the singular, although grammatically incorrect, is the official spelling as the bill approving the holiday was written that way.) The idea of FD was to have a holiday for fathers to complement Mother’s Day. It is a day to recognize and honor fathers and their influence in the family and in society, in general. In this blog I will not only outline the history of the holiday and its manner of celebration throughout the world, but also profile a few of the more famous father-son duos.

The first FD celebration was in Spokane, WA in 1910. The driving force behind it was Sonora Smart Dodd, who wanted to honor her father, a Civil War veteran and single parent who had raised six children. As one would expect, her cause was aided and abetted by certain trade groups, such as manufacturers of tobacco, pipes, ties and similar groups that would be logical sources of presents for fathers. Interestingly, many Americans resisted the idea of FD, viewing it as a thinly veiled attempt by these trade groups to replicate the commercial success of Mother’s Day for their own benefit. For example, the media portrayed it cynically and sarcastically, even making it the subject of humorous cartoons, and for many years Congress, despite the urgings of various Presidents, refused to make it an official holiday. Finally, in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a Presidential Proclamation designating the 3rd Sunday in June as FD. The law making the holiday permanent was passed in 1972 and signed by President Richard Nixon.

FD is celebrated on various dates throughout the world. About 60 countries, including Canada, Cuba, Greece, Hong Kong and the UK, among others, celebrate it on the 3rd Sunday of June. Some countries, such as Russia (February 23 – Defender of the Fatherland Day), Germany (Ascension Day), and South Korea (May 8 – Parents’ Day), celebrate it in conjunction with another holiday. In addition, FD is not designated as a public holiday in many countries, such as Canada, Hong Kong and Japan, among others. The most common method of celebration is family gatherings, although father-son/daughter outings, such as ballgames, fishing, or golf, are also common. Unlike Mother’s Day when families tend to eat out (Many restauranteurs claim MD is their busiest day of the year.), FD seems to be a day for family barbecues, where the father does most of the work even though it is his day.

There are and have been hundreds of famous father-son duos in politics, sports and entertainment. In baseball alone, over 100 father-son duos, and two grandfather-father-son trios have played in the major leagues. In the interest of time and space, I will profile only a few.

POLITICS – We are all familiar with the Kennedy and Bush families. In the Kennedy family, Joe, the Patriarch, was Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Head of the SEC, and very influential in politics, both locally and nationally. Three of his sons were also very active, to say the least. John was a Senator and President; Robert was a Senator, Attorney General and a viable candidate for President until he was assassinated; Ted was a longtime Senator; and various other cousins have been and are active in politics. The Bush Family is one of two families to boast two Presidents, George and George W., and Jeb Bush has been Governor of Florida and is a possible candidate for President. But, many are not aware of the Adams family (no, not the TV show). John was the first VP and second President of the US. He was also one of the Founding Fathers of the country and a leading advocate of freedom from England. John Quincy, his son, was the sixth President of the US. In addition, he was a diplomat for many years. One of his accomplishments was to negotiate the Treaty of Ghent with England, which ratified the end of the War of 1812.

SPORTS – As I mentioned earlier there have been a plethora of father-son duos. There have been over a hundred in baseball alone. However, there have been two grandfather-father-son trios in the major leagues. Ray Boone was an infielder who played in the 1940s and 1950s mostly for the Cleveland Indians. Bob was a catcher in the 1970s and 1980s for the Phillies. Aaron and Bret were infielders who played for various teams in the 2000s. The Bell Family also boasts four major leaguers over three generations. David Russell (Gus) Bell was an outfielder for various teams, mostly Cincinnati, in the 1950s and 1960s. David Gus (Buddy) Bell was a third baseman for various teams in the 1970s and 1980s. His sons, David and Michael were also major league third basemen. David played for various teams in the 2000s, and Michael had a very brief career (called a “cup of coffee”) with the Reds in 2000. I would also like to give honorable mention to the Manning Family, Archie, Peyton and Eli, all of whom played or currently play quarterback in the NFL with different levels of success and achievement. Additionally, I should mention the Albert Family, probably the most successful family of announcers. Marv was the voice of the NY Knicks from 1967 – 2004 (“yes!). He has been called the “voice of basketball” and is in the Basketball Hall of Fame. His son, Kenny, is currently one of the lead announcers for the NBA and NHL, and brothers Steve and Al have also been announcers.

ENTERTAINMENT – There are many famous father-son duos in the field of entertainment. However, in my opinion, the most famous, talented and successful of the group is the Barrymore Family. The best of the group were Lionel, Ethel, and John, who were siblings, however, numerous other members of the extended Barrymore Family, including, among others parents Maurice and Georgiana, John’s son, John, Jr., and granddaughter Drew, John’s granddaughter, also achieved success in the theatre and/or in movies. Lionel was very successful in movies, on the stage, on radio and as a director over a 60 year period from the 1890s to the 1950s. Ethel and John were also very successful on the stage and in movies during roughly the same period. Drew is known as an actress and screenwriter.

CONCLUSION AND PREDICTION

The weather today is perfect, at least in the NY area. Enjoy your holiday. Do something special with your father. Remember, you only have one.

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION CRISIS

The subject matter of this blog should carry a “warning label.” It should shock and, perhaps, anger you. I know those were my reactions when I first learned of the story. You will not believe that this is occurring in the US, and to make matters worse, the story is being severely underreported. The only place I have seen it is on Fox News. I will try to report it in a non-partisan manner and let the facts speak for themselves.

As many of us know, the US government has been attempting to formulate a coherent, comprehensive immigration policy. It is a complicated, emotional issue with many aspects, including, among others, how to secure our borders and resolve the matter of millions of illegal immigrants that are already living in the US. Republican, Democratic, liberal and conservative politicians have not been able to agree on a bill, although most everyone concedes that we need one. However, the purpose of this blog is not to debate the pros and cons of immigration, in general. As I stated, that is too complicated and emotional an issue with too many disparate points of view.

The subject of this blog is the tidal wave of immigrant children from Mexico and Central America that has been entering the US in recent months. The number has been estimated at 6,500 per month, and it has been accelerating. At the current pace, as many as 150,000 such children will be entering the US this year. The southern border has become a sieve. The Border Patrol has been overwhelmed and has been powerless to stop the influx. The following has been reported by Fox and is supported by interviews with current and former border patrol agents, Shawn Moran, vice president and spokesman for the National Border Patrol Council, persons from humane organizations who have gained access to the detention centers in question, and photographic evidence provided by Border Patrol personnel who have been working in those centers.

1. Many, if not most of these children have been smuggled in by organized rings called “coyotes.” These smugglers simply deposit them at various locations, such as bus stops, or even the side of a road. The lucky ones are met by “relatives.” It has been reported that sometimes these relatives are legitimate, but all too often they are not. Who’s to know? Some children even seek out Border Patrol agents and “surrender” to them. Evasion has morphed into seek out and surrender. They know that once they’re physically in the US they cannot or will not be deported.

2. To be sure, these children are chasing the “American Dream.” In most cases, their parents have entrusted them to these smuggling rings willingly and paid handsomely for the privilege. Like any parent, they desperately want a better life for their children. I cannot fault them for that.

3. Because of their sheer numbers they cannot be processed efficiently. Therefore, they are being held in what amounts to makeshift detention centers, really pens, which lack adequate food, beds, toilet facilities, medical care, etc. Disease is a real threat. Many of the children have lice, chicken pox, MRSA and other infectious diseases. In the photos one can see many of the guards wearing masks. It looks like a refugee camp in a war zone in a third-world country. I ask again: is this really America?

4. Facilities in Texas are so overwhelmed that government officials have been transporting some of the immigrants to other locales, such as Phoenix, by charter airplanes and buses. It is not clear what happens once they arrive there. Are they then transported to another detention center or just left to “hang out” at the bus stop?

5. Approximately, 40% of the Border Patrol agents have been diverted from their normal duties of patrolling the border to administer to these children. This has reduced border security even more.

6. I have seen pictures of these facilities. They are a heart-wrenching horror. They conjure up memories of the Superdome, post Katrina. The difference, of course, that Katrina was the result of a natural disaster; this is essentially a man-made crisis.

7. The vetting process is haphazard, at best. In addition to the health issue, identification and record keeping is often inadequate. How do we verify a person’s identity or ascertain if, for example, they are a criminal or a terrorist? According to the law anyone under 18 is considered a “child,” and, in any event, how could we even verify that someone who claims to be, say, 16 is not, in fact, over 18?

8. Most upsetting of all is that the media has been denied access. This is unprecedented to my knowledge, except in matters of national security. As I said, the only photographic evidence I have seen is from cell phone cameras of border patrol agents on location. Reportedly, these agents have been forbidden to bring cell phones into the detention centers. Reportedly, they have been warned that if they are caught taking pictures they will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including to termination.

CONCLUSION AND PREDICTION

Why is this happening now? How come these people in Central America are aware of the US’s immigration policy and its current non-enforcement stance and know how to “work” the system? It has been reported that the media in Central America has been advertising. Basically, the message is that this is a golden opportunity to emigrate. The US is not policing its border adequately. It is not enforcing its own immigration policies and procedures. If you can make it here you will be able to stay. This is a powerful and irresistible message.

This situation is a crisis of the highest order. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the sheer number of these immigrants will overwhelm our social, medical and educational services. This is already happening in border states such as Texas, Arizona and California. Guess who will be paying for this?

They will flood the job market, competing with American citizens, many of whom are unemployed as it is. Yes, we feel sorry for them. But, how about our own citizens? It demands the immediate attention of the Administration and the Congress. State officials, such as Jan Brewer, Governor of Arizona, have been practically begging the Federal government to act. Once again, I ask the same question I have asked many, many times before. Where is our elected leadership? What are they doing to resolve this? Why do they continue to play politics, each side blaming the other, instead of working in concert to resolve the situation?

The Administration and other government officials have told us emphatically that the border is secure. Obviously, that is not the case. Federal money will be needed to pay for the care of these people. But, more money is not the ultimate answer. Rather, we have to figure out how to secure the border. Most people appear to be in favor of some type of immigration bill, but many, including me, have argued that in order to achieve a lasting solution we must secure the border before passing any comprehensive bill. Not afterwards, not concurrently, BEFORE.

My prediction is that a comprehensive immigration bill will not be passed this year. If we’re lucky, the Federal government will act to alleviate the current crisis by tightening its procedures and enforcing existing immigration laws, policies and procedures.

POP CULTURE QUIZ

It’s been a while since I posted my last quiz, and many of my readers are ardent pop culture enthusiasts (including my wife). In addition, with all the heavy problems and issues currently in our lives I thought a little diversion would be welcome. So, here we go. Answers appear below. No peeking at the internet. This is not an “open book” quiz.

1. Name the highest grossing movie of all time.

a. Gone with the Wind
b. Avatar
c. ET
d. Titanic

2. Which author is the biggest seller of fiction books?

a. Agatha Christie
b. Stephen King
c. Danielle Steel
d. Sidney Sheldon

3. In what year were the first Emmy Awards given?

a. 1947
b. 1949
c. 1951
d. 1952

4. Kim Kardashian was married to which NBA player?

a. Kobe Bryant
b. Kevin Love
c. Tony Parker
d. Kris Humphries

5. Which pro has the most wins on “Dancing with the Stars?”

a. Derek Hough
b. Cheryl Burke
c. Kim Johnson
d. Mark Ballas

6. What show won the 2013 Emmy for Best Drama?

a. Breaking Bad
b. Homeland
c. Suits
d. Mad Men

7. Which play won the 2014 Tony for Best Play?

a. Casa Valentina
b. Mothers and Sons
c. All the Way
d. Act One

8. Who was the sex symbol on the “Mouseketeers” in the 1950s?

a. Candice Bergen
b. Sharon Baird
c. Annette Funicello
d. Marilyn Monroe

9. In the 1950s Clint Eastwood was featured in which television “Western?”

a. Sugarfoot
b. Rawhide
c. Wagon Train
d. Nine Guns West

10. Name the female lead in “Casablanca.”

a. Claudette Colbert
b. Katherine Hepburn
c. Rita Hayworth
d. Ingrid Bergman

11. Which show won the 2014 Tony for Best Musical?

a. Aladdin
b. Kinky Boots
c. A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder
d. Rocky

12. Which television show has won the most Emmys?

a. All in the Family
b. Cheers
c. The Simpsons
d. Saturday Night Live

13. Who has the most Emmys?

a. Sheila Nevins
b. Mary Tyler Moore
c. Carroll O’Connor
d. Roone Arledge

14. Who played “Michael” in “All in the Family?”

a. Norris Selkirk
b. Rob Reiner
c. Jerry Mathers
d. Robert Klinghofer

15. What Ford car was named after Henry Ford’s son?

a. Fairlane
b. Mustang
c. Henry
d. Edsel

16. What was Lindsay Lohan’s first gig?

a. Actress
b. Television performer
c. Model
d. Author

17. Each of the following “Dancing with the Stars” amateurs have won EXCEPT:

a. Emmitt Smith
b. Jason Taylor
c. Shawn Johnson
d. Kelly Burke

18. The following appeared in “Cheers” EXCEPT:

a. Eric Palladino
b. George Wendt
c. Ted Danson
d. Tom Skerritt

19. Who played “The Rifleman?”

a. James Garner
b. Andy Devine
c. Chuck Connors
d. Fred Dryer

20. The movie “School Ties” featured future stars Brendan Frazier, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. What future television show star was also featured in the film?

a. Jon Hamm
b. Kevin Bacon
c. Bill Murray
d. Chris O’Donnell

21. Each of the following is a Canadian actor EXCEPT:

a. A. J. Cook
b. Raymond Burr
c. Sam Worthington
d. William Shatner

22. Each of the following is an Australian actor EXCEPT”:

a. John Vernon
b. Cate Blanchette
c. Toni Collette
d. Chris Hemsworth

23. Each of the following is a British actor EXCEPT:

a. Daniel Day-Lewis
b. John Hurt
c. Terence Stamp
d. Eric Bana

24. Regis Philbin got his start working as a page for which late night talk show host?

a. Joey Bishop
b. Merv Griffin
c. Jack Paar
d. Johnny Carson

25. Who was born Marion Robert Morrison?

a. Randolph Scott
b. Tony Curtis
c. John Wayne
d. Edward G. Robinson

Answers: 1. (b); 2. (a) (approx. 2 billion); 3. (b); 4. (d); 5. (a); 6. (a); 7. (c); 8. (c); 9. (b); 10. (d); 11. (c); 12. (d) (40); 13. (a)(27); 14. (b); 15. (d); 16. (c); 17. (b); 18. (a); 19. (c); 20. (d); 21. (c); 22. (a); 23. (d); 24. (d); 25. (c)

CONCLUSION

For all you pop culture fiends who are addicted to reality and celebrity shows, this is your chance to show off your knowledge. Let me know your score.

D DAY

D Day. That’s all one has to say. Most everyone knows what it was, 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.

June 6 will mark the 70th 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. The movie “Saving Private Ryan” depicts this fact clearly.

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 evacuation at Dunkirk in 1940, when they were lucky that the Germans had not captured or destroyed 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.

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 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 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 AND PREDICTION

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). 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; and there was no holding back. Sadly, we have never had such clarity again, and perhaps, we never will.

TERRORIST PRISONER EXCHANGE

Our mantra has always been “we don’t negotiate with terrorists. That only encourages further terrorists’ acts, which endangers American lives both at home and abroad.” That philosophy makes a lot of sense to me, and I suspect most Americans would agree. Why, then, has the Administration negotiated a prisoner exchange with the Taliban – one soldier for five of the most dangerous prisoners in Gitmo? Arrogance? Stupidity? Politics? A diversion from the VA scandal? Take your pick. Yes, it’s nice that we are bringing home a captured soldier. That said, there have been reports that Bowe Bergdahl is a Taliban sympathizer and, possibly, a collaborator and/or deserter.

Bowe Robert Bergdahl was born on March 28, 1986 in Sun Valley, Idaho. He completed his infantry training in 2008 and was deployed to Afghanistan. According to emails he had sent to his parents he was disaffected with the war and the American way of life. In addition, two members of his platoon have stated that some of his actions before he left his unit indicated that he was planning to desert. For example:

1. Before his unit even deployed to Afghanistan, he confided to one of his fellow soldiers, Specialist Jason Fry, that “if this deployment is lame, I’m just going to walk off into the mountains of Pakistan.”

2. He demonstrated an uncommonly keen interest in the geography and terrain in the area.

3. He learned Pashto and was reputed to be more comfortable spending time with the Afghans rather than his fellow soldiers.

4. Shortly before he went missing he mailed all of his belongings home.

These actions indicate some premeditation. This does not exactly make him a person for whom the US should have deviated from its “non-negotiation” policy.

Moreover, lets look at the terrorists we released – Mohammed Nabi, Mullah Norullah Noori, Abdul Hag Wasig, Khalrullah Khairkawa and Mohammed Fazi. These men have been identified by James Clapper, former Deputy National Security Advisor, and others, as very high-ranking members of the Taliban. Senator Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has characterized them as the five most dangerous prisoners at Gitmo. In addition, the Administration has arguably broken the law by releasing these prisoners without giving Congress the required 30 days’ notice.

Does anybody doubt that they will resume planning and executing terrorist activities asap. Remember those names. You will likely hear from them again.

These men have been returned to Qatar. In response to questions from the media, Tony Blinken, current Deputy National Security Advisor, stated that Qatar has provided assurances that it will monitor these men for one year. How? What person or agency will be responsible? What does that even mean? Is that supposed to make us sleep better at night? Furthermore, what happens after one year? Neither Jay Carney nor the NSA spokesperson who disclosed this information to the public was able to provide additional details. This is beyond preposterous. In the words of Desi Arnaz, the Administration has some “‘splaining” to do.

CONCLUSION AND PREDICTION

I am trying to be fair and open-minded toward the Administration about this situation. I am trying to refrain from Obama-bashing, which I have been accused of in the past. But, I cannot see any possible way in which negotiating with terrorists and releasing five of the most dangerous of them benefits the American people. I welcome your thoughts and opinions as to how it does.

By the way, does anybody else see a parallel between the Bergdahl situation and the television series, Homeland, in which the Damian Lewis character is rescued and returns home as a hero? He turns out to be a traitor rather than a hero. I’m not suggesting Bergdahl will do what the Damian Lewis character did in the television show, but the parallel is interesting. A case of life imitating art?

Bowe Bergdahl should be investigated and tried in accordance with the Code of Military Justice. Let’s not make him into a hero just yet. Let us not forget that six fellow soldiers died in missions to find and rescue him. In addition, after he went missing Taliban attacks in the area increased, possibly due to information that Bergdahl had supplied. If he is found to be a traitor and/or a deserter he should face appropriate punishment.

I predict that the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold hearings to try to get to the bottom of this. Whether the Committee will get the answers the public wants and needs remains to be seen. Based on past experience with Congressional hearings I have my doubts. In the meantime, let’s not forget the VA scandal nor the other ones, which remain unresolved.