TRUMP VS. BIDEN

I know it’s early. The 2020 election is more than 17 months away. History tells us that the current situation is very likely to change. Anything can happen and usually does. Some would say it’s useless to speculate at this early stage of the campaign. There are several debates yet to come, and the first primary, Iowa, will not take place until February. Nine months is a lifetime in politics. But, it’s fun to speculate. Therefore, I will do so.

In my opinion, the 2020 election will be pivotal to the country’s direction prospectively – politically, economically, and socially. Among the contenders are a Socialist, people of color, and women. Perhaps, one of them will make history as Barack Obama did in 2008. Furthermore, with Donald Trump in the picture the election will certainly be entertaining.

At the present time, there are 24 announced candidates for the Democratic nomination. 24! I don’t recall an election with even half of that amount. In my opinion only four of the 24 have any chance to win the nomination – Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris – and Warren and Harris are very long shots.

Presently, according to all the polls, Biden is the clear frontrunner. Bernie Sanders is a distant second followed by Warren and Harris. The other candidates are far behind, and some of their campaigns are on life support. According to the four most recent major polls – Monmouth University, Fox, Quinnipiac, and Morning Consult – Biden has a 2:1 lead on Sanders. Moreover, donors have been flocking to him. According to “The Hill,” he raised $6.3 million in the first 24 hours after he announced. What is his appeal? Simple. As a relative centrist with extensive experience his appeal is broad, especially among independents. Furthermore, AAs like him for his loyal support of Obama as his VP. Additionally, he is perceived to have the best chance to defeat Donald Trump. I maintain that the Dems are so desperate to defeat Mr. Trump they would even nominate Kim Jong-un if they thought he could do so.

Biden has some negatives, however, which could prove problematic:

1. His long career contains some vulnerabilities, which his opponents are sure to bring up, such as his support for the Crime Bill of 1994, his treatment of Anita Hill and his propensity for being “handsy” with women.

2. He has a propensity for verbal gaffes, such as his recent identification of “Margaret Thatcher,” instead of Theresa May, as the prime minister of the UK. Supporters will try to downplay these gaffes, but opponents will attempt to tie them to his age and infer he is not competent to serve.

3. His rallies have drawn small crowds. This is puzzlingly inconsistent with his strong showing in the polls. For example, recently he drew a small crowd to a rally in Philadelphia (some estimates put the total attendance at under 1,000), whereas Mr. Trump drew a substantial crowd in Montoursville, a small town in the middle of nowhere.

In a recent rally in Iowa he drew fewer people than Warren. His crowds have been significantly smaller than Sanders’ and Harris’ as well. This has generated some concern among supporters. For instance, recently, Aimee Allison, president of “She the People,” a national group that supports women of color, told reporters “I started to think the polls were wrong about Biden because it’s not what we’re seeing on the ground.”

I think the size and enthusiasm of crowds is a reliable indicator, but others disagree. Supporters say there is no cause for concern. They say the small crowds are a reflection of the make-up of his supporters – older and moderate. Moreover, they point out that voters “know” him already. I’m not sure I buy that argument. Time will tell.

4. So far, Biden’s campaign schedule has been light, especially compared to that of Mr. Trump. Some observers, such as FL Republican Representative Matt Getz, question whether Biden has the “energy” for an intense 18 month campaign. He characterizes Biden’s campaign schedule to date as a “French workweek campaign.”

With respect to Sanders I feel he has a small hardcore following, but his Socialist program will not engender enough broad support for him to win the nomination, much less the election. Socialism may sound good at first glance (Who doesn’t like free stuff?), but eventually people will realize most of the programs are unrealistic and unworkable. Moreover, we have no way to pay for all his programs. He will, however, likely generate enough support to influence the Dem platform, dragging Biden so far to the left that he will need a GPS to find the middle to attract the moderate support he will need to win the election.

As I said, I don’t think Warren, Harris and the rest have much of a chance. Each of them has espoused far left/Socialist programs that do not have mainstream support, which I have discussed in previous blogs, and I can’t see them generating any significant support among the electorate. I think it is more likely that they will fall back into the pack after the early primaries, if not before.

CONCLUSION

“The Hill” has cited an editorial in the “NY Times” by Yale professor Steven Rattner that predicts Mr. Trump will win handily, based on two factors – his incumbency and the surging economy. History tells that absent an unusual situation, such as a war, people almost always vote their “pocketbooks.” The question, “are you better off today than you were four years ago” really resonates with voters. Rightly or wrongly, the current president always gets the credit or blame for the state of the economy on election day.

Although one-term presidencies were not unusual during the 19th century, it should be noted that only two elected presidents have lost re-election bids since 1932. Can you name them? (See answer below.) Moody’s Analytics chief economist, Mark Zandi, agrees that incumbency is a significant advantage. He cites the combined conclusions of a dozen models. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, most of the major polls show Mr. Trump narrowly trailing Biden, Sanders and even Warren. Interesting, but keep in mind these are popular vote polls, which are probably being skewed by the Dems’ wide margin in a few large states, such as NY, IL and CA. Of course, the election will be decided by the electoral college where Mr. Trump is likely to have an edge. Like I said, this election cycle is likely to be very interesting and entertaining.

Answer to quiz question: Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush.

Advertisements

US HISTORY QUIZ

Some of you have requested another quiz, so here it is. Be careful what you wish for. You know the drill. No peeking at the internet, and no consulting with “Alexa.” Good luck.

1. The first president who was born in the US was (a) Andrew Jackson, (b) George Washington, (c) Millard Fillmore, (d) Martin Van Buren.

2. What city was the first capital of the US? (a) NYC, (b) Boston, (c) Philadelphia, (d) Baltimore

3. The first European settlement in North America was in which state? (a) Virginia, (b) NY, (c) Florida, (d) Massachusetts

4. In which city was Francis Scott Key when he composed the Star Spangled Banner? (a) Washington DC, (b) Baltimore, (c) NYC, (d) Philadelphia

5. Each of the following presidents was assassinated in office, EXCEPT: (a) William Henry Harrison, (b) JFK, (c) William McKinley, (d) James A. Garfield

6. During which war was the White House burned? (a) Civil War, (b) Revolutionary War, (c) War of 1812, (d) WWII

7. Who was president at the beginning of the Great Depression? (a) Calvin Coolidge, (b) FDR, (c) Warren Harding, (d) Herbert Hoover

8. Which president was known as “Old Hickory?” (a) Zachary Taylor, (b) Andrew Jackson; (c) Teddy Roosevelt; (d) US Grant

9. Which war was precipitated by the sinking of the “USS Maine?” (a) Civil War, (b) War of 1812, (c) Spanish-American War, (d) WWI

10. Each of the following presidents died in office, EXCEPT (a) James K. Polk, (b) Warren G. Harding, (c) William Henry Harrison, (d) Zachary Taylor

11. Which state was the 14th to join the Union? (a) Missouri, (b) Maine, (c) Florida, (d) Vermont

12. Who was the first black to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court? (a) Potter Stewart, (b) Thurgood Marshall, (c) Clarence Thomas, (d) Jethro Folk

13. Which was the first state to ratify the US constitution? (a) Delaware, (b) NY, (c) Virginia, (d) Maryland

14. Which state was the first to secede from the union at the start of the Civil War? (a) North Carolina, (b) Mississippi, (c) South Carolina, (d) Alabama

15. When was the Women’s Suffrage amendment ratified? (a) 1910, (b) 1918, (c) 1920, (d) 1925

16. Who was the only president to serve two terms non-consecutively? (a) Teddy Roosevelt, (b) James Monroe, (c) Grover Cleveland, (d) Lyndon Johnson

17. Which president completed the Louisiana Purchase? (a) Thomas Jefferson, (b) George Washington, (c) James Monroe, (d) Andrew Jackson

18. Which state was the 48th to join the Union? (a) Alaska, (b) Arizona, (c) Hawaii, (d) New Mexico

19. When did the California Gold Rush commence? (a) 1840, (b) 1940, (c) 1848, (d) 1901

20. Which two former US presidents died on the same day? (a) Franklyn Pierce and Millard Fillmore, (b) Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams, (c) James Monroe and Andrew Jackson, (d) John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

ANSWERS: 1. (d) (The earlier presidents were born in the colonies.); 2. (a) (Philadelphia was the capital of the colonies from 1774-1776.); 3. (c) (St. Augustine 1565; 4.(b); 5. (a); 6. (c); 7. (d); 8. (b); 9. (c); 10.(a); 11. (d); 12. (b); 13. (a); 14. (c); 15. (c); 16. (c); 17. (a); 18. (b); 19. (c); 20. (d) (7/4/1826).

Well, how did you do. Too hard? Too easy? Let me know.

MEMORIAL DAY

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

According to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs the purpose of MD is to honor veterans who have died in the service of their country. (Some people confuse it with Veterans’ Day, celebrated in November, which is to honor LIVING veterans for their service.) MD is celebrated on the final Monday in May, which this year is May 27. According to the Farmer’s Almanac there will be a national moment of remembrance at 3:00 pm local time. MD has also evolved into the unofficial start of summer and Opening Day for beaches, pools and vacation homes.

According to AAA some 43 million Americans will be travelling by auto this holiday weekend, a 1.5 million increase over last year. So, if you have to be on the road, when are the best and worst times to travel? AAA advises us to avoid the late afternoons on Thursday and Friday, say 4:30 – 6:00 pm. At those times vacationers will be augmented by commuters who are merely trying to get home. When is a good time to brave the roads? I’m not sure there is one, except during the middle of the night when most people have already reached their destination. My best advice is to use a navigation system, such as Waze, to help you work around congestion and then pray there is not an unforeseen event, such as accident.

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

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

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

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

There are some MD traditions worth noting:

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

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

IRENA SENDLER – HOLOCAUST HERO

Every so often, we learn the story of another unheralded hero of the Holocaust. Often these people’s stories are only publicized after their death. When I become cognizant of their exploits I am continually amazed at the bravery of ordinary citizens in the face of extreme danger. It makes me wonder if, given the same circumstances, I would have the courage to put my life on the line as they did. I would hope so, but you never know until the situation arises. One such story appears below.

Irena Krzyzanowska was born on February 10, 1910 in Warsaw, Poland. Her father was a doctor, but he was also a humanitarian. Frequently, he would treat poor patients for free. Sadly, he died when Irena was very young from typhus, which he had caught from one of his patients. Following secondary school Irena attended the University of Warsaw where she studied law and literature. During the war she joined the Polish Socialist Party.

When war broke out Irena was working at the Warsaw Municipal Social Welfare Department. At first, she and several of her colleagues were assisting wounded and sick Polish soldiers to receive medical care that they otherwise could not afford. Often, this involved supplying false documents. Later, Irena also began to provide these to Jews, which, of course, was prohibited by the Germans. Irena’s job status enabled her to freely enter the Warsaw ghetto. You may recall that the Germans had crammed some 400,000 Jews into a small portion of the city and sealed it in November 1940.

The Germans were very concerned that typhus and other communicable diseases, which were rampant in the ghetto, would spread to other parts of the city. Therefore, they allowed Irena and her co-workers special access to the ghetto in order to conduct sanitary inspections. Irena also worked as a plumber/sewer specialist. This special access enabled Irena and others to surreptitiously provide food, clothing and medicines to the inhabitants. Obviously, this was strictly forbidden, and those caught were summarily imprisoned and tortured or executed. In addition, for a time Irena worked as a nurse in a field hospital, where, of course, many Jews were hidden among the patients. One day, while searching for food, she was shot by a German soldier, but she recovered.

Irena became more and more bold. In the summer of 1942, as conditions worsened, Irena and others began smuggling Jews out of the ghetto, particularly children and babies. Her methods were quite inventive. For instance, she hid babies in the bottom of a large tool box that she always carried; she hid small children in a large burlap sack that she kept in her truck; and she kept a large dog in the truck that would continually bark. This not only dissuaded the German soldiers from inspecting the truck too closely, but it also masked any noise made by the babies and small children.

To the extent possible she placed these children in convents, with sympathetic Polish families, orphanages and other charitable institutions. Moreover, she and her group utilized residences of sympathizers as temporary shelters until more permanent locations could be found. The children were given Christian names and even taught Christian prayers in case they were “tested” by the Germans.

According to historian Deborah Dwork Irena was the “inspiration and prime mover” of this network. The organizational skills necessary to maintain this massive rescue operation right under the noses of the Germans for so many years cannot be overstated. It is estimated that she and her network saved some 2,500 children.

Irena was hoping to be able to reunite these children with their families after the war. Consequently, she kept meticulous records. She made a list of the children’s names, both Jewish and Christian, and where they had been placed and buried it in a large jar in her yard. Alas, after the war she discovered that most of the families had perished in the camps.

Irena was very modest with respect to her heroism. To her, “every child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this earth and not a title to glory.”

In 1943 Irena was caught by the Gestapo. She was beaten and tortured, but she revealed nothing. The Gestapo marked her for execution, but her German guards were bribed, and she was rescued.

CONCLUSION

Irena was married three times, twice to the same man – Mieczyslaw Sendler. They were divorced both times. In between she married and divorced Stefan Zgrzembski, by whom she had three children.

Irena was the recipient of numerous awards and citations. Poland awarded her six, including, among others, the Knight’s Cross, two Gold Crosses of Merit, and the Order of the White Eagle, the country’s highest civilian award. Yad Yeshem recognized her as one of the Polish Righteous Among the Nations. Also, in 1991 she was made an honorary citizen of Israel. In 2003 Pope John Paul II sent her a letter praising her accomplishments during the war. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 and 2008, but, unfortunately, she was not selected either time. Finally, her story has been the subject of a play, a book and a movie.

Irena passed away on May 12, 2008 at the age of 98. She was an example of the saying that the best revenge against the Nazis is to survive and live a long productive life.

SOCIALISM VS. CAPITALISM

The US is a capitalist society. Always has been; always will be. It is based on free will, self-determination and free enterprise. If you work hard, you will be rewarded. If not, you won’t be. Do some people start life with an advantage over some others. Absolutely. Is that fair? No, but that’s the way of the world, and it will never change. As a wise teacher once said: “you get what you get, and you don’t get upset.” What our system affords is not equality so much as EQUAL OPPORTUNITY. If you think your lot in life is unfair, take a trip to a third-world country and see how the other 90% lives.

Some people think we would be better off under a Socialist system. Ask the people in Venezuela or Cuba how it has been working out for them. Moreover, if our capitalist system is so flawed, why are thousands of people travelling hundreds of miles and enduring severe hardship to get here?

According to Wikipedia Socialism is defined as a “system in which the production and distribution of goods and services is a shared responsibility of a group of people.” There is “no privately owned property; everything is owned collectively.” Simply put, it is “share and share alike.” In theory, everyone is equal, but it never actually works that way in practice. In every socialist system there have been a class of elites who lived “high off the hog” at the expense of the majority. Socialism has never been successful anywhere. Think of the old USSR, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela, the latest poster boy for Socialism.

Socialism does have a certain allure to the uninitiated. It sounds attractive. Who wouldn’t want free stuff – free medical care, free college, cradle to grave government support. Sign me up. But, wait. All that stuff is not really free. Somehow, it has to be paid for by someone. How do we pay for all these goodies without bankrupting the country? Raise taxes? Let the rich pay for it? We can argue whether or not that would benefit or hurt the economy, but these proposed programs would cost many trillions of dollars a year. No one even knows how much. There are simply not enough rich people to pay for it all. That’s why I say these socialist programs sound good, but they don’t really work. Never have; never will.

The 2020 presidential election is shaping up as a contest between Socialism and Capitalism. The Dem field has become ridiculously crowded. It seems like everybody and their mother is running for the Democratic nomination for president. Just in the last few days, NYC mayor, Bill De Blasio became the latest to declare, despite the fact that it is difficult to find even one supporter of his candidacy or of the job he has done as mayor. The mainstream media and talk show hosts, such as the ladies of “The View,” which generally are very supportive of Dem candidates, have mocked him incessantly. My favorite sarcastic headline was that of the “NY Post.” Check it out. However, the purpose of this blog is not to mock De Blasio. His candidacy is a joke, and not worth the time, yours or mine.

In my opinion, in an effort to distinguish themselves from the rest of the crowded field, most of the 20 or so serious candidates have been espousing far left, some would say socialist, policies. It seems to me that they are all trying to outdo Bernie Sanders, who is at least an admitted Socialist. In this regard, they are under the mistaken impression that the opinions of a few media outlets and tweeters represent those of the electorate. They seem to be unaware that approximately 80% of the tweets are published by only some 10% of the tweeters. This small, but vocal, minority have had a disproportionate influence.

For example, below please find a partial list of the policies that some or all of these candidates have been supporting. In my view, each of them is extremely radical or Socialist, not well thought out, not practical, and/or ridiculously expensive. I have analyzed these n previous blogs. See how many of them you would support.

1. Single payer healthcare run by the feds. No more private insurance, which is presently enjoyed by about one-half of the populace.
2. Allow convicted felons, including rapists, murders and terrorists, to vote WHILE STILL IN PRISON.
3. Extend suffrage to those as young as 16.
4. Increase the number of Supreme Court justices. Already been tried; didn’t work.
5. Abolish the electoral college.
6. Abolish ICE.
7. Open/relaxed borders.
8. Green New Deal (ludicrous on its face).
9. Ban, or severely restrict travel by cars, trucks and airplanes.
10. Permit abortions up to and even immediately after birth.
11. Pay reparations to “oppressed” people based on race.

I don’t think any of the foregoing is supported by a majority of voters, even Dems. If the eventual Dem nominee has to run on these policies it would not go well for him or her.

CONCLUSION

Many people believe that the 2020 election will be a referendum on President Trump. I think that is true to an extent, however, as I said above, it appears to me that it will also come down to a referendum between Socialism and Capitalism. I would characterize it as nothing less than a fight for the very soul of America.

The Dems are espousing Socialism, although they call it Progressivism. The GOP is pushing the traditional Capitalism. In order to secure the Dem nomination the nominee will have tracked so far to the left he or she will need a GPS to get back to the middle where most of the voters reside. In such a referendum, Capitalism will almost assuredly prevail.

This is illustrated by the results of a recent poll by Monmouth University, which disclosed that 57% of those surveyed agreed that Socialism is “not compatible” with American values. Furthermore, only 10% had a positive opinion of Socialism. Socialism was more popular among Dems and young people, but I would argue that many of those people do not fully understand the ramifications of that system. If they fully understood it, they would likely reconsider.

Perhaps, I can demonstrate the fallacy of Socialism with two examples. They may be somewhat simplistic, but I think they illustrate the point nonetheless.

1. Consider two farmers, who live next to each other. Farmer A is a self-starter. He works from dawn to dusk, diligently planting, nurturing, harvesting, and marketing his crops. With the advent of winter he is flush with cash and food. Farmer B, is lazy. He does not tend to his business, preferring to lay about all day. He has a very poor crop. With the advent of winter he has insufficient food to eat and little cash on hand. Under a Socialist system Farmer A would be expected to share his food and cash equally with farmer B. How do you think he would feel about that?

2. Consider two students. They are in the same class. Student A studies hard, does his homework and projects and goes to class diligently. Student B does none of those things. Student A aces the final, whereas student B fails. Yet, under a Socialist system in order to spare the feelings of student B they would both get the same grade. How do you think student A would feel about that.

So, the next time someone advocates Socialism to you, think of these two examples.

DORIS DAY

Young people may not be familiar with Doris Day. That’s understandable since her peak occurred during the 1950s and 1960s, and she retired in 1994. But those of us of a certain age remember her very well.

Doris Day was one of the most versatile and successful entertainers of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, although her career spanned seven decades, from 1939 to 1994. During this time she made 39 movies, recorded some 600 songs and starred in her own tv show. At her peak, she topped both the billboard and box office charts. In the early 1960s she was the #1 box office star in the world four times. Her acting versatility was extraordinary. She starred in comedies, dramas and musicals. She co-starred with a virtual Who’s Who list of the male film stars of the time, such as Rock Hudson, Kirk Douglas, Jack Lemmon, Frank Sinatra, James Garner, Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, and Ronald Reagan, to name a few. She received a plethora of awards, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a Legend Award from the Society of Singers, The Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in motion pictures, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association Career Achievement Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff was born on April 3, 1922 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her mother was a housewife, and her father was a music teacher and choir master. Her parents soon separated due to her father’s chronic infidelity, and Doris was raised by her mother. She had two older brothers, one of whom had died before she was born. Oddly, for years she was under the impression that she had been born in 1924, until the Associated Press discovered the error. As a youngster she became interested in dancing, and as a teenager she performed in local venues in the Cincinnati area. She had hopes of becoming a professional dancer, but a serious car accident when she was 15 ended that dream.

However, one might say that the car accident proved to be a blessing in disguise. As Doris told one of her biographers, A. E. Hotchner, “during this long, boring period [when she was recuperating] I used to while away a lot of time listening to the radio sometimes singing along with the likes of Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller.” Her favorite, however, was Ella Fitzgerald, whom she admired for the “quality [of] her voice” and the “subtle ways she shaded her voice.”

During this time her mother, recognizing Doris’ ability and potential, arranged for singing lessons. Her teacher, Grace Raine, quickly recognized Doris’ “tremendous potential.” Doris always credited Raine with having “the biggest effect on her singing style and career.”

In the late 1930s Doris was singing on the radio when she got her first big break. Orchestra leader, Barney Rapp, was looking for a female vocalist. After hearing Day sing he auditioned her, and she beat out some 200 other girls for the job. It was Rapp who prevailed upon Doris to change her name. Rapp felt that “Kappelhoff” was too long for marquees. Furthermore, he had liked Doris’ rendition of the song, “Day After Day,” so, voila, “Doris Day” was born.

In the early 1940s Day moved on to sing for other bandleaders, such as Jimmy James, Bob Crosby and Les Brown. In 1945, while working with Brown, she recorded her first “hit” record, “Sentimental Journey.” This song came to symbolize soldiers’ desire to return home after the war.

Day’s next big break came in 1948. Betty Hutton, who was set to star in the Mike Curtiz film “Romance on the High Seas,” became pregnant and had to withdraw at the last minute. After a frantic search, Curtiz ended up hiring Day, despite her lack of acting experience, because she “looked like the All-American Girl.” Curtiz always said that his discovery of Doris Day was one of the proudest moments of his career.

Day was now on her way to being a megastar. Movie roles came in quick succession, as Hollywood played up her image of the “All-American Girl next door.” In 1950 US servicemen in Korea voted her their favorite star. In 1952 she got her own show on the radio.

Probably, my favorite movie of hers was “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” a spy thriller directed by the great Alfred Hitchcock and co-starring Jimmy Stewart. I remember seeing it as an 11 year old and again recently on tv. In my opinion, it holds up very well. One of the songs Day sang in the movie, “Que Sera, Sera,” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song” and became one of her biggest “hits.”

Perhaps, Day is best known for her roles in romantic comedies. She starred in a series of them beginning in 1959 with “Pillow Talk” starring Rock Hudson. She received an Oscar nomination for her role in that film. Additional romantic comedies came in quick succession, including “Lover Come Back” (1961), “That Touch of Mink” (1962), “The Thrill of It All” (1963), and “Send Me No Flowers” (1964), among many others. Each of these was highly successful, but “Mink” became the first film in history to gross $1 million in one theatre (Radio City). These movies had various male leads, but Day was the common denominator.

This period was her golden age. From 1960 to 1964 she ranked number one at the box office four times. During this period her box office success began to overshadow her renown as a singer, even though “Billboard’s” annual poll of disc jockeys ranked her the number one female vocalist nine times during the ten year period from 1949 – 1958. Based on her image, movie critics referred to her as the “World’s Oldest Virgin.”

In stark contrast to her successful professional career, her personal life was plagued with problems and misfortune. Day was married four times. Her first husband, trombonist Al Jorden, beat her. Her third husband, Martin Melcher, squandered her money, leaving her bankrupt. Her one child, Terry Melcher, was believed, by some, to have been the actual target of Charles Manson and his followers when they raided the house occupied by Sharon Tate. Apparently Melcher had lived in that house before Tate and had had a disagreement with Manson.

CONCLUSION

In 1994 Day retired from films and withdrew from public life. She set up residence in Carmel-by-the-Sea in CA. She became an animal activist. She adopted stray animals, co-founded various charitable foundations dedicated to animals, and spoke out against the wearing of furs.

According to David Kaufman, one of her biographers, Day’s private life was in sharp contrast to her public persona as the wholesome, virginal, “All-American girl next door.” He described her as a “very sensual woman” who “had affairs with a number of people. She was never happily married. She had a son but was never really a mother; he was more like a brother to her. She was in many ways the opposite [of] the girl next door.”

Throughout her long career, Day has received many testimonials from her fellow entertainers and critics. For example, “The Atlantic” called her “the people’s actor;” Helen Mirren said she “admired her acting,” (high praise from an actress of Mirren’s caliber), Bob Hope, who knew a thing or two about comedy, praised her “natural comic timing;” and James Garner called her the “sexiest sort of co-star.”

Day passed away on May 13 at 97 from pneumonia. Rest in peace Doris. You entertained us and made us laugh for seven decades. You will be sorely missed.

MOTHER’S DAY

Sunday, May 12, most Americans will celebrate Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is celebrated all over the world in some form. Different countries have their own way of celebrating the day and even celebrate on different dates. Some countries have replicated the US traditions – hallmark [or email (tacky)] card, flowers, chocolates, and family gatherings; others have incorporated it into other holidays honoring women or mothers; and in still others, a combination of the two has evolved.

Restauranteurs claim that Mother’s Day is their busiest day of the year. Evidently, one of the perks for mothers on MD is a day off from cooking. And why not? (On the other hand, on Father’s Day the restaurants are relatively empty as many fathers are put to work barbecuing.

Babysitters do very well on MD. After all, someone has to watch the kiddies while the husband ponies up for a nice day/evening. In that regard, Kraft Foods has come up with a unique marketing gimmick. It is offering to reimburse consumers for the cost of babysitting on MD. All you have to do is send proof of payment to a dedicated email address. Kraft has allocated a total of $50,000 to fund this promotion.

In the US MD was first celebrated in 1908 when a lady named Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother. Ms. Jarvis had been campaigning for the country to recognize a day to honor mothers since 1905 when her mother had passed away. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed an official proclamation establishing the second Sunday in May as MD. It was to be a day to honor mothers and the concept of motherhood and their contributions to society.

Eventually, Ms. Jarvis became disillusioned with the commercialization of the holiday. By the 1920’s the greeting card, candy and flower industries were marketing their products aggressively to take advantage of the holiday. Jarvis strongly advocated that people should demonstrate their love and respect for their mothers through personalized, handwritten letters instead. Being a person of action she organized protests and threatened boycotts of these industries. At one point, she was arrested for disturbing the peace at a candy manufacturers’ convention.

Despite her efforts, commercialization of the day has continued to grow. Americans, in particular, tend to demonstrate their love in tangible, material ways through the giving of gifts. Today, MD is one of the biggest days for the sale of flowers, candy and greeting cards. According to Wikipedia this year Americans will spend an average of $162 on their mothers for the holiday, slightly less than last year. The overall total is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $20 billion. Yes, we do love our mothers. In addition, it is the third-biggest day for church attendance behind Christmas Eve and Easter.

As I stated, MD is celebrated in many countries in different ways and at different dates. For example:

1. The most common date is the second Sunday in May, which is May 12 this year. Besides the US, some of the countries that celebrate it on this date are Canada, Italy the Peoples Republic of China and Turkey.

2. Some countries, such as the UK, Ireland and Nigeria, celebrate it on the fourth Sunday of Lent. The UK incorporated it into a previously existing holiday called “Mothering Sunday.” ” Mothering Sunday” dates from the 16th Century.

3. Many Arab countries, such as Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia celebrate it on the vernal equinox (March 20 in 2019).

4. Russia used to celebrate MD on March 8 in conjunction with International Women’s Day, but in 1998 the date was changed, by law, to the last Sunday in November.

5. Bolivia celebrates it on May 27, which is the date of an historically significant battle in which women played a key role.

6. Since 1950 France has celebrated MD on the fourth Sunday in May, except when the date conflicts with Pentecost in which case it is delayed to the next Sunday.

7. Hindus celebrate MD on the new moon day in the month of Baisakh (April/May).

CONCLUSION

Some of you may have noted that I spelled MD as Mother’s Day. This was not an error. The official holiday is spelled in the singular tense. According to Ms. Jarvis the day is intended to honor “the best mother who ever lived, yours.”
MD is one of the few truly internationally recognized holidays. One of the charming features of the day is the variety of ways and dates on which it is celebrated. This is derived from the differences in customs and cultures around the world.

One thing is certain now and will remain so prospectively: on this day the mother/wife is truly in charge. Men, as you plan this year’s MD, remember the adage “happy wife, happy life.”

Finally, men, all together now, let’s repeat the two-word mantra for a successful marriage:

“YES, DEAR!”

CINCO DE MAYO

Tomorrow, May 5, many of us will eat tacos and enchiladas and drink margaritas in celebration of Cinco de Mayo. Typically, most Americans have no idea of the significance of the holiday. They may assume that it is some religious festival or has something to do with Mexico’s independence from Spain. That would be wrong and wrong.

In 1861 France invaded Mexico. Napoleon III, the ruler of France at the time, correctly perceived that Mexico was “ripe for the picking.” The Mexican-American War of 1846-48 had virtually bankrupted the country. The US was distracted by its impending Civil War and thus, unable to oppose France in Mexico. The other European powers, notably Spain and England, were not in the picture.

At first, the French, with their superior numbers, equipment and training, routed the Mexicans, but on May 5, 1862 the Mexicans surprisingly defeated the French decisively in a major battle near Puebla, halting their advance. The Civil War ended in 1865, and, thereafter, the US was able to assist Mexico. Eventually, the French needed their military assets at home to prepare to fight the Prussians [in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71)], so they abandoned their plans to conquer Mexico and withdrew.

The battle at Puebla was significant for several reasons:

1. Though largely symbolic, this victory gave the Mexicans a much-needed infusion of patriotism and national pride.
2. Since then, no country in the Americas has been invaded successfully by a European country.
3. Most importantly for the US, many historians believe that France’s ultimate goal was to enable the South to break away from the North. Mexico could have been used as a military base from which France could have funneled men and equipment to the Confederacy. If they had not been defeated at Puebla, who knows how far north their army would have pushed and who knows what military and political pressure they would have brought to bear against the US. Consequently, it can be posited that that victory helped preserve the Union.

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated not only in Mexico, but also in many other countries. Cities in the US, Canada, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Australia, New Zealand and Japan hold festivals featuring Mexican music, food and drink and celebrating Mexican culture. Technically, Cinco de Mayo, though recognized as a day of celebration throughout Mexico, is not a national holiday, although it is a holiday in the State of Puebla. Throughout the country, the public schools are closed and many towns hold parades or re-enactments of the battle of Puebla. It should be noted that Cinco de Mayo is NOT to be confused with Mexican Independence Day, which is September 16.

Additionally, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in many areas of the US, particularly in locales where there is a sizeable Mexican population, such as Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Events include parades, festivals, mariachi bands, and parties.

CONCLUSION

Cinco de Mayo is supposed to be a joyous holiday, as it celebrates a heroic occasion. Many non-Mexicans also get into the spirit of the holiday and participate in the above celebrations. They dress in Mexican clothing, such as ponchos and sombreros, participate in parades and patronize Mexican restaurants. In past years, some so-called pc police have objected to this, calling it mocking a culture and even racist. Some colleges, such as New Hampshire University, have attempted to restrict their students’ celebrations, even going so far as to ban using the name “Cinco de Mayo.”

Personally, I find these restrictive actions offensive and a violation of the First Amendment. It’s not as if the celebrants painted offensive sayings or mocking cartoons. Wearing ponchos and sombreros and dancing the “Mexican Hat Dance” do not rise to the level of, say, anti-Semitic scribblings on walls or fire-bombing synagogues. THOSE are offensive, or worse. This merely strikes me as getting into the holiday spirit, not being mean-spirited.

Once again, we are all being subjected to the tyranny of the vocal minority. Remember, approximately 80% of the tweets are posted by only 10% of the people, so don’t be fooled by the vocal minority. As an aside, I have to say that in my youth we would have dealt with the pc crowd differently. Rather than kowtow, we would have paraded down main street wearing sombreros and ponchos dancing the Mexican hat dance. Times have sure changed, and not for the better.

As I delineated above, Cinco de Mayo is a great source of pride for people of Mexican descent, as well it should be. It commemorates a significant military victory over a better-equipped, numerically superior force. The victory held historical significance not only for Mexico but for the US as well.

So, tomorrow, when you raise a glass of Tequila or dig into an order of guacamole give a toast to the brave men of Puebla. And, if you want to wear a sombrero or a poncho, by all means, do so.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY – MAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION QUIZ

It’s been a while since my last quiz. Some of you have been asking for one, so here it is. Be careful what you wish for. As always, no peeking at the internet and no referencing “Alexa.” Good luck.

1. In 1912 Theodore Roosevelt ran for president as a third-party candidate. What was the name of this party? (a) Rough Riders, (b) Whig, (c) Bull Moose, (d) Green.

2. Who was the first president to actually reside in the White House? (a) George Washington, (b) John Adams, (c) Thomas Jefferson, (d) James Madison.

3. Which President won with the highest number of electoral votes? (a) Ronald Reagan, (b) FDR, (c) Dwight Eisenhower, (d) Richard Nixon

4. Which president ran under the slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler too?” (a) U S Grant, (b) Franklyn Pierce, (c) James Polk, (d) William Henry Harrison

5. Following his election Harry Truman was photographed holding aloft a newspaper that had “reported” Dewey had defeated him, perhaps, one of the most embarrassing newspaper headlines in history. What was the name of the newspaper? (a) NY Times, (b) Pittsburgh Gazette, (c) Detroit Free Press, (d) Chicago Daily Tribune

6. Who was the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms? (a) Millard Fillmore, (b) Grover Cleveland, (c) Theodore Roosevelt, (d) Samuel Tilden

7. Who was the first president to be elected as a Republican? (a) Zachary Taylor, (b) Benjamin Harrison, (c) Abraham Lincoln, (d) William Henry Harrison

8. Who was the first president to have been born as an American citizen (as opposed to a British subject)? (a) James K. Polk, (b) Andrew Jackson, (c) Zachary Taylor, (d) Martin Van Buren

9. Which president ran under the slogan “a chicken in every pot, and a car in every garage.” (a) FDR, (b) Woodrow Wilson, (c) Dwight Eisenhower, (d) Herbert Hoover.

10. FDR was elected to four terms. How many different VPs served under him? (a) 1, (b) 2, (c) 3, (d) 4

11. Four presidents were members of the Whig Party, including each of the following, EXCEPT: (a) William McKinley, (b) John Tyler, (c) Millard Fillmore, (d) William Henry Harrison.

12. Five presidents have been elected despite having lost the popular vote. This includes each of the following, EXCEPT: (a) John Quincy Adams, (b) Benjamin Harrison, (c) John Kennedy, (d) Rutherford B. Hayes.

13. Who was known for the slogan, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” (a) Teddy Roosevelt, (b) Dwight Eisenhower, (c) James Monroe, (d) Andrew Jackson.

14. Who was the only person to serve as both president and vice president without having been elected to either office? (a) James Madison, (b) Gerald Ford, (c) Warren Harding, (d) John Tyler.

15. Which president was elected with the highest percentage of available electoral votes? (a) John Adams, (b) John Quincy Adams, (c) Lyndon Johnson, (d) FDR.

16. Which state is the birthplace of the highest number of presidents? (a) NY, (b) California, (c) Ohio, (d) Virginia.

ANSWERS: 1. (c); 2. (b); 3. (a) (525); 4. (d); 5; (d), 6.(b); 7. (c); 8. (d); 9. (d); 10. (c) (John Nance Garner, Henry Wallace and Harry Truman); 11. (a)
12. (c); 13. (a); 14.(b); 15. (d) (98.5%); 16. (d)(8).

Let me know how you did.