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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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



It’s a beautiful Spring-like day in the NY area today, and the extended forecast calls for temperatures in the 50s for the next 10 days, or so. After a long winter of cold and rain, this makes me think of OPENING DAY. And, on March 28, the major league baseball season will commence, officially.  All 30 teams will be in action.  This is the earliest OD in the long history of baseball, beating 2018 by one day. As an added twist, two games were already played on March 20-21 in Tokyo. The Seattle Mariners “hosted” the Oakland A’s. That was not OD. Technically, MLB considers OD to be first day in which a full slate of games is scheduled. Got it?

Usually, the early games are plagued by inclement weather – cold, rain, even snow – especially in the northeast. Not an ideal scenario for MLB and its fans, but that’s the price we pay in order for the World Series to be completed before November.

For many years, MLB had scheduled the very first game of the season in Cincinnati, usually on the first Monday in April, with a full slate of games the next day. This was in recognition of the fact that the Reds were the first professional baseball team. In fact, the Reds are the only team that has always been scheduled to play its first game at home. There have only been two years when they opened on the road – 1966, when the home opener was rained out and 1990 when the season was delayed due to the lockout. The team was formed in 1869 as the Red Stockings. The team has undergone various name changes and is now known as the “Reds.” Incidentally, for you trivia buffs, they went 65-0 that first year, the only perfect season in baseball history.

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

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

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

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

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

Every fan is optimistic on OD. Every team starts with the same 0-0 record. None has lost a game yet. Every team still has a chance to make the playoffs, and as we have seen in recent years, once you make the playoffs anything can happen. For example, in 2016 the Chicago Cubs won it all for the first time since 1908. Think about that for a minute. That means that no present Cubs fan, and virtually none of their fathers, were even born the previous time the Cubs won. In 2017 the Houston Astros won their first WS after having languished near the bottom of the league for many years.

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

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

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

1. In 1907, the NY Giants, forerunner of the San Francisco Giants, orfeited the opener after rowdy fans began throwing snowballs at the players and umpires. There were not enough police on hand to restore order, so the umpires forfeited the game to the visiting Phillies.
2. In 1910 President Taft became the first President to throw out the “first ball.” In 1950 President Truman threw out the “first pitch” twice, as a righty and a lefty. In total, twelve Presidents have thrown out the “first pitch.” Over the years it has evolved from a perfunctory toss from the stands to an more elaborate ceremonial toss from the mound.  Will we see President Trump follow tradition this year? Your guess is as good as mine. Can you imagine him doing the “wave?”
3. In 1940, Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians, known as “Rapid Robert” because of his high velocity, threw the only OD day no-hitter in baseball history. As an aside, there were no radar guns in Feller’s day, so one day some officials attempted to “time” his fastball by having him throw a pitch against a speeding motorcycle.
4. In 1947 Jackie Robinson debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers on OD becoming the first African American to play in the major leagues since the 19th Century.
5. In 1975 Frank Robinson became the first African American to manage in the Major Leagues.
6. In 1996, John McSherry, an umpire, suffered a fatal heart attack near home plate.
7. Early in the 20th Century teams would, on occasion, open with a doubleheader. Doubleheaders used to be quite common, particularly on Sundays and holidays. Now, they are rare, and when they do occur it is usually the result of adding an extra game to make up for a rain-out. The reason? Money, of couse.
8. In 1946 Boston Braves fans attending the game got an unpleasant surprise.  It seems that the Braves’ management had had the stands freshly painted, and the paint had not completely dried.  Many fans got red paint all over their clothes.  The embarrassed management issued a public apology and paid the fans’ cleaning bills.
9. Tom Seaver started the most openers – 16. Walter Johnson pitched the most OD shutouts – nine, including a 1-0 victory in which he pitched 15 innings. No chance of that happening today.
10. In 1974 Henry Aaron clouted his 714th homerun tying Babe Ruth’s all-time record for career homers.
11. In 1968 minor leaguer Greg Washburn became the only pitcher to appear in two OD games in the same year. (He won both 2-0).


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

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

My hope and prediction is for a Yankees-Dodgers World Series. They used to meet on what seemed like a regular basis, but they have not met since 1981. I think fans around the country would be “all-in,” and I know the media would love it. The Dodgers have lost two straight WS, and I’m hoping the third time will be the charm.

What is your favorite OD memory?  Please share.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

However, consider the following:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

      1.  Elimination of needless regulations that discourage business.


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


      3. Aggressively fighting gangs and opioid addiction.


      4. Fighting for fair and reciprocal trade deals.


      5.  Rebuilding infrastructure.


      6.  Paid family leave.


      7.  Success against ISIS.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Below please find some inspiration quotes by leading women:

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

Quiz answer:  Jeanette Rankin






We all have our pet peeves, things that annoy us out of all reasonable proportion.  We shouldn’t let them bother us, but they do.  Below please find some of mine.  Most of them relate to excessive political correctness or courtesy, or lack thereof.  Some bemoan what I consider unnecessary change.  Perhaps, you agree; perhaps, not.  Perhaps, I missed some that annoy you.  Let me know.


  1. Many drivers behave as if they are the only ones on the road.  They are oblivious or ignorant of the rules of the road or, perhaps, they are cognizant of them but too arrogant to concede that they have to obey them.
  2. Driving while texting, emailing, eating, fiddling with the radio or influenced by other distractions.
  3. Driving too slowly in the left lane or HOV lane thereby clogging up the highway.  A good rule of thumb.  If you’re not passing another vehicle, be courteous and move over.
  4. In a parking lot be mindful that people who are backing out of a parking space cannot always see you coming, especially if you are driving too fast.
  5. Don’t walk behind a car that is backing out of a space, especially if you are texting or emailing.  They may not be able to see you, and, obviously, you won’t see them.   Be aware that in a collision between a car and a person, the car will always win.
  6. Learn how to enter and exit a highway properly.  For example, maintain appropriate speed and time your entrance to blend in with the traffic.  Don’t drive to end of the ingress lane and stop to wait for an opening.  You might be waiting there long enough to take a nap.
  7. At four-way-stop intersections if you have the right of way, take it.  When you hesitate to do so, you confuse the other driver(s) as to your intentions.  If you end up in an “Alphonse and Gaston” situation, the chances for an accident increase substantially.
  8. When did slow drivers start driving in the middle lane instead of the right lane?  Again, move over to the far right, and don’t clog the highway.
  9. If another driver signals he or she wants to enter your lane, please allow them to do so.  Don’t speed up to prevent them.  More than likely, they’re not trying to cut in front of you; probably, they need to switch lanes to, for example, make a turn or exit the highway.


  1. What happened to “common courtesy?”  Somewhere along the line it ceased being common.
  2. Women/seniors, do you find that few men hold the door for you, offer to carry a heavy package for you, or offer you their seat on a train or bus?
  3. If you are out with family or friends don’t ignore them in favor of your iPhone or other device.  It is not uncommon to see a family sitting in a restaurant where each member is on his own device the entire meal.  No conversation.  No interaction.  Why even bother to go out together?
  4. If you want to wish a family member or a friend happy birthday or happy anniversary don’t do so by email or text.  I find this trend disturbing.  In my opinion, they are too impersonal, almost like you don’t really care enough to be bothered.  Call them or send a real card.
  5. In an office, if the person to whom you wish to speak is close walk over and talk to them face to face.  Rather than trading several emails or texts, one conversation will normally resolve the issue.  Additionally, if the matter is sensitive we now know it is ill-advised to discuss it in an email or text.


  1. Appropriate grammar seems to be disappearing.  Examples abound.  Too many people say, for example, “I seen him,”  “Me and Joe went shopping,” or “If I was you.”
  2. Virtually no one uses the word “whom” when appropriate.
  3. When did English cease to be the universal language in America?  How come whenever one calls customer service one now has to “press one” for English?   I’m not trying to be politically incorrect.  Just asking.
  4. Many people do not say “please” when making a request, and “your welcome” is disappearing.
  5. When was the last time anyone addressed you as “Sir” or “Ma’am?”

Gender Neutrality

  1. In the last few years a small, but very vocal, group has been engaged in a “war” on male pronouns.  This group has decided that they are indications of misogyny and is demanding that the other 90% or so of us purge them from our vocabulary.
  2. At least one university, Purdue, has advocated using only gender neutral pronouns.  Thus, in their eyes, for example, “waiter” is now “waitperson” or “server.”  “Mailman” is now “mail carrier.” And, so forth.  How far does the PC crowd want to take this?  What should we call a “man-to-man” defense in basketball?  “Woman-to woman” defense?  “Person to person” defense?  In baseball, should we call a “first baseman” a “first baseperson?”
  3. How ridiculous do we want to get.  Perhaps, the investment firm, Goldman Sachs should be forced to change its name to Goldperson Sachs?  Just kidding, or maybe not.


What’s in a name?  Apparently quite a lot.  For several years, self-appointed pc police have been trying to force sports teams, such as the Washington Redskins, the Cleveland Indians and the Atlanta Braves to change their names on the basis that they are demeaning to and biased against Native Americans.  Again, a small but vocal minority is trying to legislate for the rest of us.  The fact of the matter is that (a) at least two polls, one by the Washington Post and the other by the Annenburg Public Policy Center, have found that a clear majority of NAs are NOT offended by the names, (b) as privately owned teams the owner can choose any name he wants, and (c) many high school teams carry the name “Redskins,” including at least two of which are located on NA reservations and have a majority of NA students.  But, those self-appointed arbiters of what is right and appropriate for the rest of us have not given up.   Perhaps, short people should organize protests of the name “Giants.”

Ballpark Names

We all know that money talks.  One annoying example of this is the trend to naming ballparks for corporate sponsors who pony up enough money for the privilege.  For example, take major league baseball.  As recently as 1994 only one ballpark had the name of a corporate sponsor, Busch Stadium, and one could put an asterisk on that, because the Busch family also owned the team that played there – the St. Louis Cardinals.  Conversely, presently, the stadia of all but nine teams are named for a corporate sponsor, and many of them have gone through multiple iterations.  How many of the nine can you name?  Unless you are a big fan, I would say “not many.”  See the answers below.

These corporate name are too non-descript and bear no relation to the teams that play there.  For instance, do White Sox fans identify with Comiskey Park or US Cellular Field.  Do Astros fans identify their team with Minute Maid Park or the Astrodome?  Who plays at Chase Field (Diamondbacks) or Qualcomm Stadium (Padres)?  Would you like to see Yankee Stadium renamed as, say, General Motors Park?


So, there you have it.  Those are the things that bother me.  I’m sure I omitted some annoying things.  What bothers you (besides, perhaps, my blogs)?

I don’t mean to sound like a curmudgeon, but I believe personal interactions and traditions are important.  What’s your opinion.

Quiz answer:  Angel Stadium, Dodger Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Nationals Park, Marlins Park, Kauffman Stadium, and the aforementioned Yankee Stadium.  No need to identify the teams that play there.  The name says it all.





The Academy Awards, aka the Oscars, is hosted annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The winners of AAs are selected by the Academy’s membership. It is the oldest and most prestigious of the awards. This year’s awards will be presented on Sunday, March 4, on ABC TV.  The host will be Jimmy Kimmel.

Quiz question:  Who has hosted the most AA shows?  Answer below.

Some of you may be curious as to the derivation of the name “Oscar.”  In my research I came across two possibilities.  Some people attribute it to actress Bette Davis who, in one of her biographies, named the statuette after her first husband, band leader Harmon Oscar Nelson.   However, most people attribute it to Margaret Herrick, the former Executive Secretary of the Academy.  In 1931 when she first laid eyes on the statuette, she intoned “He looks just like my Uncle Oscar!”  Fortuitously, columnist Sidney Skolsky was within earshot. He memorialized the comment by including it in his byline, and the moniker “stuck.” That version sounds like the most plausible, so I am going with it.  In any event, the Academy adopted the name officially in 1939.

Some little-known facts about the awards:

  1. The initial awards were presented in 1929 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel before an audience of approximately 270 persons.  The host was Douglas Fairbanks.  This year, by contrast, the awards will be internationally televised and streamed live to approximately 40 million people around the globe. Moreover, as has been customary, they will be preceded by a elaborate ceremony, which will feature celebrities parading before their fans, the media, and a television audience on the “Red Carpet.”
  2. In 1929 the award winners, 15 in all, were disclosed to the media three months ahead of time. For a few years, beginning in 1930, the winners were disclosed the night before. Since 1941, however, the identities of the winners have been sealed in envelopes and guarded like the proverbial “crown jewels” until they are disclosed at the ceremony.
  3. Since 1950 the ownership of the statuettes has not been unencumbered. Legally, neither the winners nor their heirs are free to sell them on the open market without first offering them back to the Academy for $1. Their value on the open market would be substantial. For example, a few years ago, a pre-1950 statuette sold via on-line auction for $861,542.
  4. The voting membership of the academy is approximately 5,800, roughly 94% Caucasian, 77% male, and 54% over the age of 60. More on that later.
  5. In order to be eligible for the Best Picture Award, a film must be a minimum of 40 minutes long and must have opened in LA County by December 31 of the previous year.  That is why a movie will frequently debut by December 31 with a very limited distribution and then open to a general audience weeks or even months later.
  6. Other than Best Picture, only the members of each branch vote for the nominees in that category. For example, only directors nominate candidates for Best Director. The entire membership votes for the winners, as well as for Best Picture.  Additionally, according to the New York Times the method for choosing the Best Picture winner is somewhat convoluted.  Basically, voters are required to list their choices in preferential order.  If no movie obtains a majority, then the movie with the fewest first plates is eliminated and there is a re-vote.  This procedure is repeated until one movie gets a majority.
  7. For many years, the awards were presented in late March or early April. Beginning in 2004, however, they were moved up to late February or early March. The major reason for this was to shorten the intense lobbying and advertising campaigns of the Oscar season, which had become excessive. In addition, the late February-early March period is devoid of competing extravaganzas, such as the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in late March, which has grown very popular. ABC receives an additional benefit in that February is a “sweeps” month.
  8. From time to time, some critics have accused the Academy of bias, for example:
    Favoritism toward romantic dramas, historical epics, family melodramas, and historical biographies (Shakespeare in Love, Chariots of Fire, the Best Years of Our Lives, Annie Hall) at the expense of action films or sports films. Often, these so-called “Oscar-bait” movies have won at the expense of more popular films such as Star Wars, Goodfellas, Hoosiers and Raging Bull.  The latter group have become iconic movies that are shown on tv fairly regularly and have stood the test of time.  On the other hand, the same cannot be said for the former group.
  9. I have long felt that there has, at times, been a disconnect between the Academy voters and the general audience.  Often, the winning picture, while critically acclaimed, has not been a box office success.  Furthermore, sentiment has, sometimes, led to awards for popular entertainers or those who have been denied in the past.  Also, some awards have been given more in recognition of a distinguished career than for the most recent individual performance.  One example would be John Wayne winning for his performance in “True Grit” in 1969. Wayne had been one of the most popular performers for three decades, but he had never won an Oscar.
  10. Critics have denoted the composition of the voting membership, as noted above, as being problematic. I’m not sure. Through the years there have occasionally been curious snubs, such as Eddie Murphy being passed over (in favor of Alan Arkin) for his superb performance in “Dreamgirls.”   Furthermore, many felt that 2015’s “Straight Outta of Compton” was short-changed.  Consequently, in recent years, many observers have been “pushing” female and minority nominees. However, I don’t believe, as some do, that those omissions are cause for protests and/or boycotts. I am definitely not in favor of a quota for nominations of minorities as has been proposed by some. As long as the nominations and Oscar voting are subjective, there will always be some that are overlooked. Our society is too PC as it is. Part of life is dealing with disappointments.
  11. Every year, the Academy uses the wide forum of the Oscars to further some political agenda.  Personally, I find some of their shenanigans excessive.  They would do well to remember Michael Jordan’s famous explanation of why he was apolitical publicly: “Republicans buy sneakers too.”  This year, we can expect  tributes, if that is the right word, to the #MeToo movement and curbing gun violence.
  12. I would like to denote few puzzling choices for Best Picture in past years, cases in which the winning picture was soon forgotten and an also-ran or two became a classic or at least substantially more popular or memorable. For example:
    a. 1977 – “Annie Hall” beat “Star Wars.” Unless you’re a big Woody Allen fan chances are you don’t remember “Annie Hall;” “Star Wars” was a mega-hit and spawned several sequels as well as ancillaries such as toys and games.
    b. 1941 – “How Green Was My Valley” beat “Citizen Kane.” “Valley” has been long forgotten, and “Kane” is on many people’s short list of the best movies ever.
    c. 1990 – “Dances with Wolves” beat “Goodfellas.” I saw “Dances.” It was a nice movie, but “Goodfellas” is a classic gangster film with an all-star cast (DeNiro, Pesce, Liotta) and is on tv frequently.
    d. 1940 – “Rebecca” beat “The Grapes of Wrath,” a powerful drama about the Depression-era California migrant workers starring Henry Fonda, among others.
    e. 1998- “Shakespeare in Love” beat “Saving Private Ryan.” “Shakespeare” was soon forgotten and is now no more than the answer to a trivia question, whereas “Ryan” was a classic WWII movie with an all-star cast headed by Tom Hanks and Matt Damon). Who can ever forget the classic D-Day landing scene?
    f. 1946 – “The Best Years of Our Lives,” which few recall and is never on tv, beat “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which is a Christmas classic starring Jimmy Stewart and which is on tv annually.  I could go on. In fact, I could write an entire blog on just this sub-topic, but you get the idea.


Finally, I know you are all anxiously awaiting my predictions, so here they are:

Best Picture – Of the nominated movies, I liked “Darkest Hour,” “Three Billboards,” and “The Post” the best.  “Billboards” seems to be the favorite, but there are frequently surprise, if not nonsensical, choices in this category.  I’ll predict “Billboards.”

Quiz question – Do you remember which movie won last year?

Best Actor – Gary Oldman – “Darkest Hour.”  I didn’t see all the nominated performances, but of those I did see, his was the best.

Best Actress – Frances McDormand.  It would be a travesty if she did not win.

Best Director – Guillermo del Toro – “Shape of Water.”  Appears to be a “sure thing.”  We’ll see.

Enjoy the awards show as well as the “Red Carpet,” although I strongly recommend using a DVR to get through the many “dead spots.”

Quiz answers:  1. Bob Hope – 18, followed by Billy Crystal – 8.

2.  “Moonlight.”  Remember the envelope snafu?