FIRST DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES’ DEBATE

And the winner is….? See below.

The first set of debates among the various Dem candidates is history. I tried to sit through all four hours of it. I really did. Normally, I have a strong interest in politics, but this was too much. I can’t imagine the prospect of being subjected to nine more of these. If you managed to sit through all four hours without falling asleep you win a gold star.

The first debate was particularly boring, and the participants, other than Warren, were irrelevant. The second night was entertaining in spots, but much of what was said was the same old far left wing rhetoric we have been hearing for months, regarding issues such as open borders, tax increase on the rich, including a wealth tax, reparations, free healthcare, college and pre-k, voting for felons while in prison, and unrestricted abortions (including late term and post-term) paid for with federal funds.

Each candidate was trying to outdo the others. Some of the proposals were absurd. I can’t believe any sane person would propose them. I can’t believe none of the moderators challenged them. I don’t know who the candidates thought their constituency was. In my opinion, it was a very smaIl segment of the population – the media and the “tweeters” – most of whom live in the NY-DC-LA bubble. I don’t believe many, if any, moderate Dems would support them. How the eventual nominee will be able to win a general election running on these policies is beyond me.

For example, tell me, would you be in favor of paying for illegal immigrants’ full healthcare when you can barely pay for your own? Do you want to give up your healthcare plan in favor of Medicare for all? Do you want your taxes raised to pay for free college, pre-K, reparations, and a myriad of other goodies? Do you realize what the combination of open borders and all these and other giveaways means? Can you guess where the trillions of dollars will come from to pay for all of this? I’ll tell you. There are not nearly enough “rich” people to begin to pay for all of it. Just look in the mirror.

Some impressions:

1. As I predicted, Biden did not perform well at all. He came across as weak, old, out of touch, and indecisive. I actually felt a little sorry for him. I think he is a decent man, but it seems that time has passed him by. He was repeatedly taken to task on issues by Harris, who smelled blood in the water and took full advantage. She scored big on criticisms of Biden’s record on race and school desegregation. Regarding busing, why didn’t he put Harris in her place by pointing out that busing was a failed program of the 70s and 80s that, according to Gallup polls taken at the time, some 90%, including AAs, opposed.

He allowed other candidates to interrupt his answers, and on more than one occasion he voluntarily stopped his answer stating “my time is up.” In short, he was not the least bit “presidential.” Rather, he looked old, tired, desultory, and out of touch. As sports analyst Walt (Clyde) Frazier might say, Biden was “fumbling, stumbling and bumbling” trying to defend his record. The results of a poll by Morning Consult reflected his subpar performance. According to it, 41% of likely voters supported him before the debates and only 31% afterward.

Biden’s poor evaluation was echoed by many commentators. For example, David Gergen, long-time political analyst at CNN, pointed out he seemed “slow in processing questions, and he spent more time defending his past than envisioning a future.”

2. The moderators did a terrible job of running the debate. Most of their questions were “softballs;” they rarely challenged the candidates’ answers; and rarely asked follow-up questions.

3. All too often, they permitted candidates to interrupt, which turned the debate into a free-for-all. At times, two or three were even speaking at the same time over each other.

4. They did a poor job of equalizing the time for each candidate. As a result, aggressive speakers such as Harris and Sanders, got a lot of time, and others, such Gabbart and Chang got very little.

5. The candidates continued their race to the left. Just when you thought they could not be more radical they came up with a new one. A few of them advocated free healthcare for all illegal immigrants, plus decriminalizing the fact that they had entered the country illegally. That’s right. To them, illegals who entered the country in violation of our immigration laws that Congress passed and past presidents signed into law would be guilty of a civil offense, not a criminal one. They would then be entitled to various benefits, including free healthcare. Do you get free healthcare?

6. In my view, Harris was the big winner. Mark McKinnon, writing for CNN, characterized her as “poised, poignant, and punchy, with the confidence of a chief executive.” He added, she “brought the fireworks, while Biden fizzled.” As I discussed above, she attacked Biden repeatedly all night, and he failed to stand up to her. Moreover, she had, perhaps, the best line of the night. During one of the many “talkovers” she admonished everyone that “America doesn’t want a food fight. They want to know how to put food on the table.”

Most other commentators concurred. Paul Reyes, a contributor for “USA Today,” anointed her the “evening’s star.” Bakari Sellers, a CNN contributor, said she “stole the show” and was “the clear adult in the room.” Paul Begala, Democratic strategist and CNN contributor, said she was “controlled and forceful.” If time and space allowed I could give many more similar examples. Suffice to say, if Harris keeps this up she could very well supplant Biden as the front runner.

CONCLUSION

We can debate who the big winners and losers were, but, in my opinion the hands-down winner was Donald Trump. How can that be, you say? He didn’t even participate. In fact, he was half a world away in Japan at the G-20 Summit. Read on and you will see.

My opinion is based on the observation that all the candidates have continued to move far to the left in response to a misguided perception that that is where the votes are. Don’t just take my word for it. Listen to the following normally Dem supporters/apologists:

1. NBC news anointed Trump the winner, even though he didn’t participate.

2. The front page of the “NY Post,” in its inimitable style, showed a picture of the candidates raising their hands, which they did from time to time in response to a moderator’s question, with the caption, “who wants to lose the election?”

3. David Brooks stated that the Dems “have moved so far to the left they are unelectable.”

4. Joe Scarborough (“Morning Joe”) was even more blunt, opining “last night was a disaster for the Dem Party.”

Like I opined in a previous blog the Dem candidates have moved the party so far to the left the eventual nominee will need a GPS to get back to the center where, as we all know, elections are won. The good news is there is a long way to go – nine more debates and all the primaries. As President Trump is fond of saying, “we’ll see what happens.”

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PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE PREVIEW

Joe Biden should heed the wise words of the late Joe Louis, former heavyweight boxing champion and generally considered to have been one of the greatest fighters ever, who famously intoned regarding an upcoming opponent, “he can run, but he can’t hide.” I say, it’s time for Biden to “come out, come out, wherever you are.” Join the real campaign.

As I said in a previous blog, up until now, Biden’s campaign strategy has been to (1) limit his campaigning to carefully-controlled appearances, such as “soft” interviews with “friendly” journalists on CNN, MSNBC, and other media outlets with similar views, (2) to ignore the other Dem candidates as best he can, and (3) run a general election-type campaign.

I believe his objectives are to (1) minimize chances of gaffes, for which he is known, and (2) burnish his image as the front-runner and best choice to defeat President Trump. One can debate the merits and demerits of that strategy. Personally, I think it has been, on balance, ill-advised. He is coming across as weak and indecisive. Although all the polls still show him to be the front-runner, his margin has been shrinking.

As most of you know, the first debate is scheduled for June 26 and 27 from 9:00 – 11:00 pm. Due to the oversized field the candidates have been split, with half of the qualifying candidates appearing on each date. Supposedly, this format was selected to avoid the oversized debate field that characterized the GOP debates in 2016, in which, you may recall, the lower-polling candidates were relegated to the “kids’ table” debate, which drew a paltry audience. NBC, which is in charge of the arrangements, has selected Savannah Guthrie, Lester Holt, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow, and Jose Diaz Balart to serve as moderators.

The slates were selected randomly, however, four of the top five candidates in the polls – Biden, Sanders, Harris and Buttigieg – will be appearing on Thursday. Warren will be the lone top five candidate to appear on Wednesday. It is unclear whether this will benefit or hurt her.

Hopefully, the moderators will ask questions that deal with the important issues, and not allow the candidates to spend their time trashing each other or President Trump. While that might produce a memorable sound bite for the next day’s news, it would not be beneficial to voters trying to decide for whom to vote. I think most viewers would prefer that they stick to the issues, particularly since most of the candidates have advocated some unusual and innovative (some would say, radical, illogical, overly expensive and impractical) policies, such as a wealth tax, reparations for AAs and gays, open borders with little security, voting rights for convicted felons even while they are still in prison, driver’s licenses for undocumented persons, universal healthcare, free pre-K, free college, forgiveness of student debt, and the Green New Deal. Moreover, I would also like the candidates to discuss their policies on the economy, healthcare, terrorism, Iran, the Hyde Amendment, and late-term and/or post-birth abortion. In many cases, in their attempts to pander to the far left and the media the candidates seem to be engaged in a game of “can you top this.”

Other than Biden, Sanders and, perhaps, Warren, most of the candidates have a very low name recognition. So, as the saying goes, this will be their one chance to make a good first impression. Warren has been coming on strong, and will be seeking to maintain her momentum. In many polls, she is now even with Sanders for second place.

Biden and Sanders will be seeking to halt their recent declines. More on Biden later. Sanders, as an avowed Socialist, has produced strong contrary feelings among voters. According to a recent USA Today/Suffolk University poll, 35% of voters want him to quit the race, by far the highest of all the candidates. On the other hand, 40% say they are “excited” about his candidacy, which is second only to Biden’s 51%. (To me, these contradictory results are a prime example of why one has to take polls with a grain of salt, but that is a subject for another blog on another day.)

The upcoming debate will require Biden to put himself out there for the first time, without a friendly, soft interviewer or a prepared script. He will be addressing not only millions of Americans but also dealing with 19 other candidates who will be seeking to take him down. He will have to be sharp, articulate and knowledgeable, traits which he has not exhibited consistently so far. A poor performance will likely raise serious questions in many voters’ minds regarding his ability to perform as president.

Biden has had a long career. Quiz question: what is Biden’s middle name? See answer below. He was first elected to the Senate in 1972. We can debate the degree of success he has had, but for sure, he has had some controversial moments, which he will have to be prepared to defend. Some of them were acceptable at the time, 20, 30 or more years ago, but are not in the current environment. For example:

1. His dismissive treatment of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas hearings. This might have an adverse effect of his support among women and AAs.
2. His support of the ACA, which most people believe has been a failure.
3. His support of NAFTA and TPP.
4. The Iran nuclear deal.
5. Originally, he voted to authorize the Iraq War, but he has since flip-flopped and speaks out against it.
6. Support for free college, universal kindergarten and pre-K.
7. Support for a bill that required mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses.
8. He has been all over the place on the hot button issue of abortion. He has flip-flopped on the Hyde Amendment. He has voted for it several times in the past, but now he says he is against it. He has steadfastly opposed late-term abortions but now favors using federal funds to pay for them.
9. He has been all over the place on border security. In the past, he voted for the Secure Fence Act, which, among other things, provided funding for walls along the southern border, but now he is strongly critical of President Trump’s attempts to secure the border with a wall and by other means.
10. He will have to deal with the “segregation” issue, which, to me, is a manufactured issue, but one that has been receiving much attention in the media.
11. He needs to clarify his position on reparations for AAs and gays, which some of the candidates have advocated.
12. Potentially, the most damaging issue will be his reputation as a “hands-on” person. Allegations of improper behavior may turn up. In addition, the media may dig up embarrassing episodes from his past.

CONCLUSION

Biden is still the strong favorite based primarily on his name recognition and the perception that he has the best chance to defeat Donald Trump. But, as the front runner, the other candidates will all be gunning for him. Also, the media, which has supported/protected him, will be watching his performance, as will the big donors. If he falters in the debate the race could be thrown wide open. It ought to be verrrrry interesting.

Quiz answer: Robinette

JOE BIDEN’S ENIGMATIC CAMPAIGN

Enigma: Difficult to understand, mysterious, baffling. To a large extent, that has been the essence of Biden’s presidential campaign strategy so far.

First, he couldn’t decide whether or not to run, even though all the polls consistently showed him to be the clear favorite for the Dem nomination and even the election, itself. Then, when he finally did declare his candidacy, his roll-out in Philadelphia drew a crowd that can only be described as disappointing. Some would characterize it as downright sparse, particularly since on the same night President Trump drew a massive crowd in Montoursville, Pa, which, for those of you who are not geography savants, is in the middle of nowhere in Central Pennsylvania.

Since then, Biden’s campaign strategy has been to campaign as little as possible. It’s almost as if he were afraid to appear in public. Some would say that that strategy is appropriate for a frontrunner. Perhaps, but that strategy backfired on Hillary Clinton. In addition, whenever Biden has appeared in public he has come across as uninspiring and even confused. In any case, he won’t be able to ignore his opponents indefinitely; the first debate is next week, and Biden will be forced to confront his opponents (or, at least half of them) live and without a prepared script. They will be laying for him, and he will have to be sharp, articulate, and knowledgeable, traits that, so far, he has not exhibited consistently.

So, why does Biden think he can win the nomination while ignoring his opponents. In my opinion, his focus on attacking Mr. Trump while ignoring the other Dem candidates gives the impression that he is running a general election campaign in the primaries. It’s as if he is “assuming” the nomination is a “given.” He would do well to remember the old joke that when you “assume” you make an ass of you and me. Incidentally, he characterized Mr. Trump as an “existential threat to the country.” I understand he dislikes and disapproves of Mr. Trump’s politics and probably dislikes him, personally, as well, but characterizing him as an “existential threat to our country” is irresponsible and an absurd overstatement. Perhaps, Biden does not know the meaning of the phrase. Mr. Trump may be many things, but a threat to the very existence of our country is not one of them.

It appears to me that most of the media has been loath to criticize Biden in any way, lest they damage his prospects against Mr. Trump. However, recent articles in the “NY Times” and “Washington Post” have raised the same concerns regarding his strange campaign strategy that I just articulated.

Katie Glueck, writing in the “Times” pointed out that rather than focusing on the early primary states, such as Iowa and NH as is traditional, he has spent much of his time in “general election battleground” states, such as PA and Ohio. She opined that Biden is relying on his front-runner status and name recognition in those early primary states, which may prove to be a significant miscalculation.

Let’s face it. Iowa, NH and many of the other early primary states may be insignificant in the general scheme of things, but they hold their primaries early in order to get their moment in the sun. Many of the voters are sensitive and hate to be ignored or taken for granted. Due to his enigmatic campaign strategy Biden runs the risk of losing in Iowa, and Bernie, being from neighboring Vermont, has a big edge in NH. Poor showings in both of those states could do significant damage to Biden’s nomination prospects.

Margaret Sullivan, writing in the “Post,” cites several Iowan political observers who have been questioning Biden’s odd, unconventional campaign strategy. For example, Iowa journalist, Robert Leonard, who is also the head of two radio stations in the state, has admitted to being “baffled” at the media’s portrayal of Biden’s “dominance,” given that many local Dems with whom he has spoken feel Biden’s “time has passed.” Instead, Leonard says voters are excited about fresh faces, such as Warren, Buttigieg, Harris and Booker. Recently, CNN’s morning briefing newsletter labeled Biden the “most formidable threat to President Trump’s re-election.” Leonard questions that conclusion. He says that he and others with whom he has spoken view those aforementioned candidates to be as “formidable” and “electable” as Biden.

Moreover, political writer, Amanda Marcotte, writing for Salon.com, opines “Biden’s centrism, his big mouth, his age and ‘out-of-touchness,’ and his ‘handsiness'” make him very vulnerable from both Mr. Trump and the left in his own party. The fact of the matter is that he has been around a long time, has a long voting record, and makes an easy target. Already, his rivals have been attacking him for “flip-flops” on various issues, such as immigration, the Iraq War, abortion and the Hyde Amendment. He seems to change his opinions depending on the audience, and by trying to please everyone he is pleasing no one. Also, sooner or later, someone will bring up his snide and dismissive treatment of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas hearings, which will likely damage his standing among women and AAs.

CONCLUSION

Biden’s campaign strategy has been more akin to that of a sitting president running for re-election than a frontrunner for the nomination. He would do well to consider the lessons of history. As usual, doing so can enable one to avoid the same pitfalls.

In 1948 Thomas Dewey was a shoo-in, until he lost, in, perhaps, the biggest upset in presidential election history. (Remember the famous post-election picture of Truman holding a copy of the next day’s “Chicago Tribune” with the blaring headline “Dewey Wins?”) Or, more recently, how about Mr. Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton? Few saw that one coming. Hillary was viewed as undefeatable and inevitable. There have been many other examples throughout history, but you get the idea. Early polls are very unreliable, next to useless, except, perhaps, as an amusing post-election punchline.

Furthermore, I haven’t even mentioned the poor reliability of the polls, themselves. Presently, Fox, Rasmussen, Quinnipiac, and Daily Beast all have Mr. Trump losing head-to-head not only to Biden but also to the other major candidates as well. Keep in mind, hypothetical matchups are notoriously unreliable, especially this early in the process, when voters do not possess detailed information about many of the Dem candidates. They know all about Mr. Trump, both good and bad, but not about the others, yet. Whoever wins the Dem nomination will have been bloodied and his or her warts will have been exposed. Then and only then will the polls even approach validity.

I find it very hard to believe that Mr. Trump would lose to any of them, much less ALL of them. Pollsters have been trying to unravel the mystery of their unreliable polling for over two years now. Why do they consistently undervalue Mr. Trump’s support? Everyone has theories. Pew Research has cited the following reasons:

1. Many of his supporters are reticent about admitting it. Pew calls them “shy ‘trumpers.'”

2. Many of his supporters are the type of person who don’t respond to pollsters, so their opinions are not tabulated.

3. Pollsters often do not identify “likely voters” accurately.

I’m not saying I agree with Pew, only that it is a fact that Mr. Trump’s support has been consistently undervalued.

Hang on to your hats. The process has barely gotten started. We haven’t even had the first debate yet. At this point, the only thing we know for sure with respect to the 2020 election is that we have no idea what is going to happen. It ought to be verrrry interesting and entertaining.

SUMMER SOLSTICE

Depending on the particular year, in the northern hemisphere the summer solstice can occur anytime between June 20 and June 22. In 2019 it will occur precisely at 11:54 am on June 21, which will be when the sun will be directly over the Tropic of Cancer (23.5 degrees north latitude).

As most of us know, the ss is the date with the longest period of daylight, and when the sun’s shadow is its shortest. Furthermore, in most of the US it is the date on which the sun appears to be at its highest point in the sky. In extreme northern locales the sun will be “out” the entire day. In the NY area, where I live, we will get about 15 hours of sun.

The word “solstice” is derived from the Latin “sol,” meaning “sun” and “sistere,” meaning “to stand still.” As the seasons progress from winter to summer in the northern hemisphere, the sun appears to move north in the sky. On the date of the ss it has progressed as far north as it will get, and it momentarily “stands still” before it appears to begin to slide southward toward the point of its winter solstice.

In most cultures and countries the summer and winter solstices are intertwined with the seasons. For example, in the US and many other countries the ss marks the commencement of summer. On the other hand, in extreme northern and southern locations the solstices mark the midpoint of summer or winter.

For many ancient cultures the ss was a festive time. Most of them were sun worshippers anyway, and the longest day of the year was a reason to celebrate the renewal of life. The recurrent themes, in various forms, were life, light, femininity, marriage and fertility. (Perhaps, this concept was the derivation of the custom of having weddings in June.)

For example:

1. The pagan holiday, Litha, which is a celebration of light and life, was celebrated on that date.

2. Many archaeologists maintain that the ancient culture that constructed Stonehenge intended it to be a crude calendar used to mark the summer and winter solstices and the vernal and autumnal equinoxes. The stones do seem to have been placed to align with the sunrise on the dates of those events.

3. The ancient Chinese marked the date with celebrations of the femininity, the “Yin” forces, and the Earth, itself. This served as a counterpoint to the winter solstice, which was a celebration of the heavens, masculinity, and the “Yang” forces.

4. Typically, Native Americans held festivals featuring body paint and ritualistic dances.

5. In ancient Gaul (modern-day France) the celebration was called the Feast of Epona after a mare goddess that protected horses and personified fertility.

6. Slavic and Germanic cultures celebrated with huge bonfires.

CONCLUSION

In modern times the ss is a time to celebrate the arrival of summer. In many extreme northern areas, where the people may not see the sun at all for certain parts of the year, such as northern Sweden, Finland and Norway, people spend the entire day outside. Many of them decorate their homes, light bonfires, and dance around Maypoles.

I have always enjoyed a warm summer day as much as the next guy. But, truthfully, to me June 21 is just another day. Depending on the weather I will play golf, play outside with the kids (or grandkids), go to the beach, or, if it’s inclement, just stay inside. Whatever you do, enjoy the day.

One final thought on the date, it has always seemed counterintuitive to me that the beginning of summer also marked the time when the days started to get shorter, and I view shorter days as a harbinger of winter.

FATHER’S DAY

Tomorrow, June 16, the third Sunday of June, many of us will celebrate Father’s Day. In the US, FD is commonly viewed as an opportunity to gather with family for barbecues, picnics, sporting activities (e.g. baseball, golf or fishing), eat at a favorite restaurant, or attend a Broadway show. Generally, it is a fun day with family and friends.

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

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

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

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

United Kingdom – It is also celebrated on the third Sunday of June. It is recognized as a day to honor not only fathers, but also other father figures, such as grandfathers and fathers-in-law. As in the US, typically, people pay a visit and give cards and gifts. Other activities might include male-only outings [golf, football (soccer), or cricket], or trips. One significant difference is that the day is not considered to be a holiday, just a normal Sunday.

Canada – Very similar to the UK. Popular activities would include going to the park, the zoo, or eating out in a restaurant.

Russia – The holiday, celebrated on February 23, is called Defender of the Fatherland Day. All men are honored, not just fathers. It began as a military celebration and is still marked by military parades.

Mexico – Celebrated on the third Sunday of June. It is marked with parties and gifts for dads and a 21 kilometer Father’s Day race.

Brazil – It is celebrated on August 2 in honor of St. Joachim, patron saint of fathers and grandfathers.

Bulgaria celebrates the day in December.

According to The Sun various countries in the Southern Hemisphere, such as Australia and New Zealand, celebrate the holiday in September.
Northern European countries, such as Norway, Sweden and Finland, celebrate the day in November.

CONCLUSION

The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend slightly in excess of $100 per person on FD gifts in 2019. The estimated overall total is $16 billion, which would be a new record, just ahead of the previous record of $15.5 billion. As you might expect, according to the NRF this total pales next to the $25 billion we spent on mothers last month. What are the most popular gifts? According to the NRF #1 is a greeting card. No surprise there, but it is normally accompanied by another gift. #2 is a special outing, such as a sporting event, a trip, a movie, or a show. #3 is clothing.

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

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

US OPEN GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP

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

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

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

The Open is always scheduled for mid-June with the final round on Father’s Day. The Open field includes 156 players from all over the world. Golf has truly become an international sport. The Open includes four rounds of stroke play over four days. Until 2018, if a playoff were required a full 18 holes was played on Monday. If there were still a tie the winner was decided by sudden death. Beginning in 2018 the USGA instituted a new format, which guarantees that the championship will be settled on Sunday. First, there will be a two-hole playoff with the golfer with the lowest aggregate total winning. If there is still a tie, we will go to sudden death. Take one guess as to the architect of this change in format. Hint: the initials are F O X.

This year’s Open will be contested at Pebble Beach Golf Links in the Bay Area on June 13-16. This will mark the sixth time Pebble has hosted. The total purse will be $12.5 million, with the winner garnering $2.25 million. Not a bad payday. There are several interesting storylines, other than the usual. For example:

1. Brooks Koepka is going for his third consecutive title. No one has won three in a row since 1905. Do you know who did it? Probably not, unless you are a golf savant. See the answer below.

2. Tiger Woods is seeking his 16th major title. At one time, he appeared to be likely to beat Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18, but injuries cut short his prime years, and now age is also catching up to him. It is axiomatic in sports that “Father Time” is undefeated. So, time may be running out on Tiger. Still, he did win the PGA in May, and Pebble’s layout does suit his game, so who knows?

3. Sergio Garcia has missed the cut at 7 consecutive majors, hard to believe for a golfer of his caliber. Let’s see if he can make this one.

4. Does Phil have one more run in him? He’s no longer one of the best golfers, but he is one of the most popular, and I, for one, will be rooting for him. He needs the Open to complete the career grand slam, which is a rare feat that has only been achieved by five golfers. Can you name them? See below.

5. First-time winners have become routine at majors. Don’t be surprised if we see one this weekend. The following golfers are ranked in the top 15 in the world and have NOT won a major yet: Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rehm, Matt Kuchar, Tony Finau, and Paul Casey. Any one of them is most capable of breaking through this weekend.

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

1. Winners of the past ten US Opens.
2. Winner and runner-up of the previous year’s US Amateur Championship.
3. Winners of the past five Masters, British Opens or PGA Championships.
4. Winner of the previous year’s Senior Open.
5. Top 60 ranked golfers.
6. Special exemptions granted by the USGA. These are usually top-ranked players who, though past their prime, are deemed worthy.

There are other exemption categories, but I think you get the idea. Those who are required to qualify must survive two stages – Local and Sectional. There is no age requirement, so it not unusual to find a teenager in the field. The youngest qualifier ever was 14 (Andy Zhang of China).

CONCLUSION

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

1. The winner of the inaugural tournament in 1895 was Horace Rawlins, an Englishman.
2. The record score is 268 by Rory McIlroy in 2011.
3. The record for most Open Championships is four and is held by four men. Three of them will be familiar to you – Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan. If you know the fourth, you are either a golf historian or a trivia buff, and my hat’s off to you (even though I don’t wear one). See the answer below.

The USGA rotates the site of the Open among various sites. Next year’s will be at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, NY. Do you know which site has hosted the most Opens? See below.

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

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

Quiz answers:

Other four-time winner – Willie Anderson. He was also the last person to win three consecutively. Anderson was an interesting and tragic story. He was born in Scotland and emigrated to the US at the age of sixteen. He was one of the outstanding golfers of his time. He won the tournament in 1901, 1903, 1904 and 1905. He was an original member of the PGA Hall of Fame and an inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1975. Tragically, he died at the age of 31 from epilepsy.

Most times hosting – Oakmont Country Club – 9.

Career grand slam winners – Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY – JUNE

Below please find a list of the significant historical events that have occurred during the month of June.

6/2/1937 – The Duke of Windsor, who, as Edward VII, had abdicated the throne of England, married Wallis Warfield Simpson, a commoner and a divorcee.
6/3/1972 – Sally Jan Priesand became the first female ordained rabbi in the US.
6/3/1989 – The Ayatollah Khomeini, notorious leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, died.
6/4/1989 – Chinese government troops fired on unarmed demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Upwards of 3,000 were killed, an additional 1,600 were imprisoned and 27 were later executed.
6/5/1968 – Following a campaign speech Robert Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
6/6/1944 – D-Day, one of the most significant battles in WWII. (Please see my previous blog for details.)
6/8/1874 – Cochise, one of the most notorious of Apache Indian leaders, died while living on the Chiricahua Reservation in AZ.
6/9/1898 – Great Britain signed a 99-year lease for Hong Kong. Control of the colony reverted to China at midnight, June 30, 1997.
6/12/1898 – The Philippine Islands declared their independence from Spain leading to the US’s invasion and occupation.
6/12/1963 – Civil rights leader Medgar Evers was assassinated in Jackson, MS, sparking widespread outrage and providing the impetus for comprehensive civil rights laws.
6/13/1966 – In “Miranda v. AZ,” the Supreme Court ruled that the police are required to apprise a suspect of his right to remain silent prior to being questioned.
6/14/1777 – John Adams introduced a resolution to establish an official flag for the 13 colonies. We celebrate this date as “Flag Day.”
6/15/1215 – England’s King John agreed to a charter, known as the Magna Carter, which granted certain rights and liberties to English nobles, and which has served as the basis for all democracies since.
6/17/1972 – Five GOP operatives were caught breaking into the DNC offices in the Watergate Hotel. Eventually, this precipitated a chain of events, which culminated in the resignation of President Nixon.
6/18/1812 – Congress declared war on Great Britain, commencing the War of 1812.
6/18/1815 – England and its allies defeated France decisively in the Battle of Waterloo, which effectively ended Napoleon’s reign as Emperor of France and precipitated his exile.
6/18/1983 – Dr. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space.
6/19/1953 – Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for the crime of selling information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. They were not only the first married couple to be executed together in the US, but also the first US citizens to be executed for espionage.
6/24/1948 – The Soviet Union commenced its blockade of West Berlin. Eventually, the US and its allies broke the blockade with a massive airlift.
6/25/1876 – General George Custer and all soldiers under his command were slaughtered at the Little Bighorn by thousands of Sioux in what became known as “Custer’s Last Stand.”
6/25/1950 – North Korea attacked South Korea beginning the Korean Conflict, which lasted three years.
6/26/1945 – The UN Charter was signed by 50 nations in San Francisco.
6/28/1914 – Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the Crown Price of Austria and his wife, were assassinated in Sarajevo, by a Serbian nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, which set off a chain of events that culminated in WWI.
6/28/1919 – The Treaty of Versailles was signed, which marked the official end of WWI.
6/30/1971 – The 26th Amendment to the Constitution was enacted, which extended the right to vote to all US citizens age 18 and older.

Birthdays – Brigham Young, patriarch of the Mormon church and founder of the state of Utah, 6/1/1801 in Whittingham, VT; Norma Jean Mortensen, aka Marilyn Monroe, 6/1/1926 in Los Angeles; Marquis de Sade, his name is the origin of the word, sadism, due to his penchant for extreme cruelty and violence, 6/2/1740 in Paris; Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, 6/3/1808 in Todd County, KY; King George III, ruler of England during the Revolutionary War, 6/4/1738; Adam Smith, renowned philosopher and economist, 6/5/1723 in Scotland; John Maynard Keynes, renowned British economist, 6/5/1883 in Cambridge, England; Nathan Hale, Revolutionary War patriot hung by Brits as a spy (“I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”), 6/6/1755 in Coventry, CT; Frank Lloyd Wright, renowned architect, 6/8/1867 in Richland Center, WI; Cole Porter, renowned lyricist and composer (“Kiss Me Kate,” “Can Can”), 6/9/1893 in Peru, IN; Hattie McDaniel, actress (‘Mammy’ in “Gone with the Wind”), 6/10/1889 in Wichita, KS; Frances Gumm, aka Judy Garland, renowned singer and actress “Wizard of Oz,” 6/10/1922 in Grand Rapids, MN; Jeanette Rankin, first woman to be elected to Congress, 6/11/1880 in Missoula MT; Jacques Cousteau, undersea explorer, 6/11/1910 in France; Vince Lombardi, renowned football coach 6/11/1913 in Brooklyn, NY; George H. W. Bush, 41st president, 6/12/1924, in Milton, MA; Anne Frank, Holocaust victim, 6/12/1929 in Frankfurt, Germany; Harriet Beecher Stowe, author (“Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” origin of phrases “Uncle Tom” and “Simon Legree”),6/14/1811 in Litchfield, CT; Alois Alzheimer, psychologist and pathologist who discovered degenerative disease named for him, 6/14/1864 in Germany; Stan Laurel, half of renowned comedy team, Laurel and Hardy, 6/16/1890 in England; Lou Gehrig, Hall of Fame baseball player, died from ALS, which is commonly called “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” 6/19/1903 in NYC; Audie Murphy, Medal of Honor WWII American war hero, 6/20/1924 in Kingston, TX; Jack Dempsey, heavyweight boxing champion, aka the “Manassa Mauler,” 6/24/1895 in Manassa, CO; Eric Arthur Blair, aka George Orwell, British satirist and author (“1984”) 6/25/1903 in India; Mildred “Babe” Didrikson, renowned female athlete, in Port Arthur TX; Mildred Hill, composed song that is sung most frequently; do you know the name? See below.), 6/27/1859 in Louisville, KY; William Mayo, surgeon (Mayo Clinic), 6/29/1861 in LeSeuer, MN.

Quiz answer – “Happy Birthday”

Gertrude Bell, the Female Lawrence of Arabia

Most of you are familiar with the story of T. E. Lawrence, whose exploits in the Middle East provided the basis for the 1962 blockbuster movie “Lawrence of Arabia.” Of course, Hollywood fictionalized, altered and exaggerated certain elements of Lawrence’s exploits, but the basic premise was accurate. He was instrumental in instigating an Arab uprising against the Ottoman Empire during WWI, which was of great help to the Allies. Less known, were the exploits of Gertrude Bell. One could argue that her accomplishments were even more impressive than Lawrence’s since she was a female interacting in the highly patriarchal, tribal society of the Middle East in the early 20th century.

Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell was born on July 14, 1868 in County Durham, England. Her family was wealthy and influential. For example, her grandfather, Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell, was a prominent industrialist and a Member of Parliament specializing in foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East. Her father, Sir Hugh Bell, was a liberal-minded mill owner. Due to the family’s wealth and influence Gertrude was able to indulge in her passions, which were education (highly unusual for a female at that time) and a thirst for adventure.

She graduated from Queens College in London and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University. She specialized in Modern History, which, at the time, was one of the few subjects open for women to study. In fact, she was the first woman to graduate from Oxford with a first class honors degree in Modern History.

Upon graduating, she indulged her thirst for adventure by travelling extensively throughout Europe, a highly unusual pursuit for a woman at that time. Thus, she was able to indulge in three of her major passions – mountaineering, archaeology and languages. Additionally, she traveled extensively throughout the Middle East. She became fluent in Arabic, Persian, French and German and conversant in Turkish and Italian. The first two would serve her well, prospectively. She became very knowledgeable of the customs of the many diverse tribes in the area. In particular, she spent a lot of time in Persia, where an uncle was the British minister (ambassador), Palestine and Syria.

During WWI British Intelligence, cognizant of her experience, knowledge and connections in the region recruited her to guide British soldiers through the deserts. One of her tasks was to map the area. She was very successful in this endeavor. She developed an entire network of locals to assist her. Furthermore, she was able to utilize the relationships she had developed with the various tribal leaders in the region over the years. She found that being a female was advantageous in one respect. It gave her entrée to the wives of the tribal leaders who were able to provide her with perspectives and intelligence not available to men. Bell was the only female political officer in the region and earned the title of “Liaison Officer.”

In 1915 she attended a conference in Cairo dealing with England’s Middle East policy. Here she worked with Lawrence, among others. Interestingly, they had similar backgrounds. Lawrence had also earned a first class honors degree in Modern History at Oxford, spoke Arabic, fluently, and had established relationships with tribal leaders in the region. The Arab Bureau utilized them both extensively to advise on Arab policy.

After WWI concluded Britain was tasked with reorganizing the former Ottoman Empire. It was an extremely sensitive undertaking. The Shiites, Sunni and Kurds who populated the area deeply hated and mistrusted each other. The people were loyal to their tribal leaders rather than to any central government, so the all-powerful and influential tribal leaders had to be dealt with. The Ottomans had managed to control all of these factions, at times, with brutal force. Now that they were out of the picture long-festering feuds began to surface.

Due to her knowledge and connections with tribal leaders in the area Bell was a natural choice to analyze the situation and make recommendations to the British hierarchy. Over a ten month period she compiled a thorough report titled “Self Determination in Mesopotamia.” (FYI, the name “Mesopotamia,” from the Greek meaning ‘two rivers,’ was not and is not a particular country. It refers to the region in the area of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, roughly corresponding to modern-day Iraq, Kuwait, and parts of Iran, Turkey and Syria.)

Bell strongly favored Arab self-determination, as did the Arab leaders in the region. However, the British government, adhering to a longstanding colonialist philosophy, felt just as strongly that the Arabs were not yet ready to govern themselves. They favored an Arab government under the influence and control of Britain. I believe this position was influenced by the large oil deposits in the area. Further complicating matters and adding to the turmoil was the “Balfour Declaration,” issued by Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, which, essentially carved out a “national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.” This pleased the Zionists, but the Arab leaders who had understood that their support of the British against the Turks was a quid pro quo for being ceded control of the entire area, felt betrayed.

Of course, eventually, the wishes of the British government prevailed. The Brits utilized Bell as a mediator among the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. It was a difficult and thankless task. Each of these groups was fervently pressing for its own country. It was not to be. Eventually, these disparate factions were combined into what became Iraq. It should have been obvious that this artificial country was doomed to fracture eventually, and, of course, it has. But, I can understand the Brits’ point, strategically. Firstly, there were huge oil deposits in the area that the Brits wanted to control. Secondly, Iraq would serve as a buffer and military counterpoint in the region against Iran, Turkey and Syria.

In 1921 the Brits installed Faisal Bin Hussein, the former commander of the Arab forces that had fought beside the Brits against the Turks in WWI, as the first “King of Iraq.” Faisal relied heavily on Bell as he eased into the role. She helped him interact with certain tribal leaders, and advised him on political appointees and other matters. She became known as “al-Khatun,” roughly “Lady of the Court.” He, in turn, helped her establish an archaeology museum.

CONCLUSION

One could argue that the current turmoil in Iraq can be traced directly to the partitioning in which Bell was heavily involved. But, in fairness, she did point out these potential problems to the Brits, and most historians realize that there was no easy solution at the time. In my opinion, the blame lies more on the Brits and,in particular, on Balfour and his allies.

Eventually, the stress of this job as well as years of arduous travel and heavy smoking had an adverse affect on her health, and Bell returned to Britain in 1925. She soon developed pleurisy. Not only was she plagued by ill health, but also by a decline in the family’s fortunes.

On July 26, 1926 she was discovered dead of an apparent overdose of sleeping pills. Historians are uncertain as to whether or not it was an intentional overdose as she had told her maid she was taking a nap and to wake her up. In any event, it was a sad ending to a life of great accomplishment.

Generally, British government officials held her in very high regard as illustrated by the following excerpt from her obituary penned by one of her peers, D. G. Hogarth:

“No woman in recent time has combined her qualities – her taste for arduous and dangerous adventure with her scientific interest and knowledge, her competence in archaeology and art, her distinguished literary gift, her sympathy for all sorts and condition of men, her political insight and appreciation of human values, her masculine vigour, hard common sense and practical efficiency – all tempered by a feminine charm and a most romantic spirit.”

D-DAY

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

June 6 will mark the 75th anniversary of this epic battle. The Allied Forces included some 156,000 troops from various countries, including the US, UK, Free France, Canada and Norway, among others, 5,000 ships and landing craft, 11,000 planes, 50,000 land vehicles, and coordinated landings over a 50 mile stretch of beaches code-named Juno, Omaha, Utah, Sword and Gold, truly a massive undertaking. Allied and German casualties have been estimated as high as 20,000 killed, wounded, missing and captured. If you were involved in the actual landing, whether you lived or died was largely a matter of luck and happenstance – two men would be sitting side-by-side in an LST and a German bullet would kill one and not the other. Think about that for a minute.

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

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

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

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

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

Accordingly, he increased fortifications in the area, but, luckily for us he was out of favor for political reasons, so some key elements of his plans for defending the area were ignored or overruled. Most notably, some panzer divisions, which he had wanted to place in the Normandy area were, instead, retained in and around Paris.

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

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

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

As we know, the operation was a success. Some of the major reasons for this were:

1. The aforementioned missions to deceive the Germans forced them to spread their defenses over a wide area.

2. The “Atlantic Wall” was only about 20% complete.

3. The Allies achieved air superiority quickly.

4. Much of the transportation infrastructure in France had been damaged by Allied bombings and the French resistance, which hampered the Germans’ ability to move men and material.

5. The German high command was disorganized and indecisive.

CONCLUSION

If, as many historians believe, winning WWII was one America’s greatest achievements, then it can be argued that D-Day was one of our greatest victories. Certainly, its success shortened the war in Europe and, in the process, saved countless lives (combatants and non-combatants alike).
It’s a shame that, with the passage of time, there are so few veterans of this battle still alive. Even the youngest ones are in their 90s.

Each year, thousands of people visit the area to pay their respects to those who gave their lives. Special commemorative events are held not only in Normandy but also at other locations in the US, Canada and the UK, among others.

Since this year marks a special anniversary the American Battle Monuments Commission, which is in charge of the American Cemetery (where some 9,000 Americans are buried) and other monuments in the area, is planning some special activities. For example, Presidents Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron are expected to attend. Also, the ABMC will be rededicating the visitors’ center, which was first dedicated in 2007, and adding items such as a WWII-era jeep and aircraft. Retired Major General William Matz, head of the ABMC has disclosed he expects up 15,000 visitors, including some 100 WWII veterans.

Moreover, there will be a special ceremony involving the remains of two twins. Julius and Ludwig Pieper, age 19, were serving together on a ship, which was sunk off the coast of Normandy on June 19, 1944 by a German underwater mine. Ludwig was buried in the American Cemetery at Normandy, but Julius’ remains had been interred as an “unknown” at a cemetery in Ardennes, Belgium. The family was unaware of the location of his remains. In 2017 the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency was finally able to identify Julius’ remains. They will be re-interred beside those of his twin. Naturally, the twins’ descendants are overjoyed. As Susan Lawrence, their niece, told “USA Today” “It means a lot to our family. It’s beyond words”

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

IMPEACH TRUMP?

To impeach, or not to impeach. That is the question. (Apologies to William Shakespeare.)

When the long-awaited Mueller Report was issued in April he declined to answer any questions regarding it. His attitude to any questions regarding said report was that the report “speaks for itself.” Well, his recent speech that he probably hoped would clarify matters did just the opposite. In essence, he said that (a) his committee could not find enough evidence to charge Mr. Trump with a crime, but, on the other hand, (b) it did not find sufficient evidence to exonerate him either, and (c) Congress had the constitutional right (or maybe duty) to pursue the matter further if it chose to do so.

Huh? I thought that our system of jurisprudence operated on the premise that one was innocent until proven guilty. Until and unless that time, one is not guilty, not innocent, but not guilty. So, following that premise why isn’t Mr. Trump considered to be not guilty? I don’t know, except, perhaps, that his haters won’t acknowledge it under any circumstances.

It appears to me that Mueller was saying that Mr. Trump might, in fact, be guilty of some crime, but his committee just couldn’t find sufficient evidence to prove it. Put another way, according to Mueller Mr. Trump was not not guilty. Confused? Well, you’re not the only one.

The “anti-Trumpers” have interpreted Mueller’s puzzling action as license to pursue impeachment. The far left firebrands, such as Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, CA Representative Adam Schiff, news commentators such as Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo and Chris Matthews, entertainers, such as Robert De Niro and the “View Ladies,” and virtually all the declared Dem presidential candidates are virtually frothing at the mouth to pursue impeachment. TDS is running amok once again.

The only notable Dems who have thus far retained some degree of restraint and sanity regarding this issue are Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. Pelosi, being Speaker, is trying to tread a fine line between the firebrands and the moderate Dems. She is shrewd enough to realize that impeachment is a loser, politically. If you doubt me, just research how it backfired on the GOP when they sought to impeach Bill Clinton, who actually had committed a couple of crimes. Biden, the frontrunner, realizes he is likely the one who will have to defend this action in 2020 to moderates and independents.

For the most part, the politicians who have been making the most noise are those who do not have to be concerned about political repercussions. They are either senators who are not up for re-election in 2020, governors who do not have to vote on impeachment, or representatives from “safe” districts. The newly-elected reps from purple districts that Mr. Trump won in 2016 realize that impeachment is not popular in their districts, and they definitely do not want to be forced to vote on it.

So, what is impeachment? When can it be applied? By whom? What is the process? Read on.

Article I, Section 2, Clause 5 of the Constitution grants the House of Representatives the “sole power of impeachment.” Article I, Section 3, Clause 6 grants the Senate the “sole power to try all impeachments.” An official can be impeached for crimes committed either while in office or prior to taking office. The crimes specified are “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” What the Founding Fathers meant by that last one is unclear. It is not defined in the Constitution or anywhere else.

Officials have been impeached for non-criminal as well as criminal offenses. For example, two of the articles of impeachment against President Andrew Johnson were based on “rude speech” that “reflected badly” on the office of the presidency. Conversely, not all crimes are impeachable. For example, former President Richard Nixon’s alleged tax fraud was considered to be “private conduct” and not an impeachable offense. There was, of course, plenty else to impeach him for. Confusing? Well, former President Gerald Ford cleared it right up. In 1970, as House Minority Leader, he famously opined that an impeachable offense was “whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.” Got it?

When the president is being impeached the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is required to preside. Conviction requires a two-thirds vote of Senators present. How many presidents has the House impeached? Who were they? How many has the Senate found guilty? See answers below.

Basically, the procedure is as follows:

1. The Congress investigates. Generally, any investigations will be commenced by the House Judiciary Committee, but this is not a requirement.

2. The full House must pass, by a simple majority of those present, articles of impeachment. This would be akin to an indictment in criminal cases.

3. The full Senate tries the accused, voting on each article separately. Conviction requires a two-thirds vote of those present and results in removal from office.

CONCLUSION

Whether or not the House proceeds with the impeachment of Mr. Trump and whether or not the Senate convicts him is anybody’s guess. It does appear, however, as if momentum for it is growing. One can debate whether or not Mr. Trump’s conduct, or rather, alleged misconduct, has risen to the appropriate level. You can reach your own conclusion.

But, I feel strongly that a lengthy impeachment trial on the eve of a presidential election would not be beneficial to the country. Firstly, Congress would be distracted from addressing the serious issues afflicting the country, such as healthcare, infrastructure, border security, student debt, and income inequality, among others. That was what they were elected for and what most voters want, not impeachment.

Secondly, as much as the Trump-haters want to “get” him, history has shown it is a loser, politically. Some of you may recall that following the Clinton impeachment the voters punished the GOP severely during the next election.

Thirdly, if Mr. Trump were to be convicted and removed from office the 2016 election would not be negated. Hillary Clinton would not become president. Mike Pence would, and he would be eligible to serve for two additional terms, whereas Mr. Trump is only eligible for one more.

Fourthly, there is an election in 18 months. If the Dems want to remove Mr. Trump from office, here’s a novel idea – WIN THE ELECTION.

Quiz answers: Two presidents have been impeached – Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Both were acquitted, although Johnson survived by only one vote. Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.