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 Carta, 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 the 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 Le Sueur, MN.

Quiz answer – “Happy Birthday”

SUMMER SOLSTICE

What is the summer solstice?  What does it mean?  When does it occur?  Good questions.  Read on for the answers.

As many of you 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.

Depending on the particular year, in the northern hemisphere the summer solstice can occur anytime between June 20 and June 22.  According to Wikipedia and the Farmer’s Almanac in 2022 it will occur precisely on June 21, at 5:14 AM, which will be when the sun will be directly over the Tropic of Cancer (23.5 degrees north latitude).

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. According to English Heritage, a charity that acts as caretaker for over 400 historic buildings, monuments, and sites, the ancient culture that constructed Stonehenge in about 2,500 BC 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, such as northern Sweden, Finland and Norway, where the people may not see the sun at all for certain parts of the year, people spend the entire day outside to “reconnect with nature.” 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 the day of the ss is just another day. Rest assured, I will NOT be lighting any bonfires or dancing around any maypoles. (Wouldn’t that be a scary image.) 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 contradictory 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.

WHO IS MAYRA FLORES AND WHY IS SHE IMPORTANT?

In all likelihood you have no idea who Mayra Flores is. It’s understandable. Few people outside of South Texas politics have heard of her. I confess that I hadn’t until this week. Last Tuesday, she defeated the Democrat candidate 51-43% in a special election to fill the remaining six months of the vacancy created by the resignation of the Democrat incumbent, Filemon Vela, Jr. It was an historic win. She will have to defend the seat in November as part of the general election.

So, one might say, what’s the big deal. It’s only a short-term victory, and the Dems could very well win back the seat in November as due to redistricting the redrawn district will be “bluer” than the current one. However, I contend that the victory is VERY significant. Read on, and I will explain why.

But, first , a little background about Mayra Flores. Flores was born in 1985 in Mexico. Her parents were poor migrant farmworkers. The family emigrated to America when Mayra was six. Mayra became a citizen in 1999 at the age of 14. Like most Hispanics, the Flores’ habitually voted Democrat, but they believed in conservative values, which they imparted to their daughter. Mayra graduated from South Texas College in 2019. She worked for a bit in the healthcare industry, but her real passion was politics. She took a job in the office of the Hidalgo County Republican Party where she was responsible for outreach to the Hispanic community. She is married to a US Border Patrol agent, and they have four children. She is very much tied into the Hispanic Community in her district.

Like many Hispanics she became disillusioned with the Dem Party. She felt the Dem politicians were taking Hispanics for granted and were not doing enough to help them. So, when Vela resigned his seat she quickly filed to run in the special election. She focused her campaign on the issues that most concern Hispanics – family, border security/immigration, inflation and the economy.

The congressional district in question encompasses the area south and east of San Antonio down to the Mexican border. Historically, it has been heavily Democrat (as has most of the region). For example, both Obama and Hillary Clinton had won the district by double digits. But, Biden only carried it by 4 points in 2020. This had shocked local politicians. The district, along with other ones in Texas, Arizona and California that are heavily Hispanic, is on the GOP’s list of vulnerable seats it hopes to “flip” in November.

According to the Texas Tribune the victory established Flores as the first Mexican-born woman to serve in Congress. Furthermore, she accomplished this feat as a Republican in a perennially heavily Democrat district. This will likely have a significant impact on the political landscape not only of South Texas, but also the entire State of Texas and perhaps the country as a whole. It signals loudly and clearly that Dems can no longer take the support of Hispanics for granted.

According to Politico GOP politicians feel the Dems misread the electorate badly. According to a GOP- ordered poll conducted by Meeting Street Insights last month the most important issues for voters in the district were border security, immigration and inflation. GOP Rep Tom Emmer, who is the head of the GOP House campaign effort told the Politico reporter “our [candidates] were talking about inflation and the economy and crime and the border. [They were talking about] January 6.”

Flores’ victory is widely seen by many political observers as a portent of what could happen in November. GOPers are “giddy” over the prospects, particularly with respect to Hispanic voters. On the other hand, the very next day members of the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee were besieged by Dem reps who now realize the extent of their vulnerability. For example, Rep Vincente Gonzalez, who will face Flores in November, lamented “they [the Dem Party] ha[s] just forgotten about the brown people on the border. … They are taking Latinos in South Texas for granted.” Other Dem Reps, such as Sylvia Garcia, Veronica Escobar, Henry Cuellar and Joaquin Castro, who also represent heavily Hispanic districts, expressed grave concern and demanded a meeting to discuss strategy. Cuellar hit the nail on the head saying “the DCCC needs to sit down and look at South Texas seriously. …. You can’t take Hispanics for granted [anymore], which they always do.” Escobar fumed “there is no logical reason why we should be losing any of these seats.” Garcia predicted the meeting will be a “hard talk.” Reading between the lines, I would characterize those reps as “scared sh**less.”

CONCLUSION

The Dems are “putting on a brave face.” They are spinning Flores’ victory as largely symbolic. Most of them believe Gonzalez will win back the seat in November. For instance DCCC head Sean Patrick Maloney denotes that Flores’ district is being redrawn into an even “bluer” district, and she will probably lose it in November. “The Republicans spent millions of dollars to win a seat that’s going away. We’re going to win [it] when it matters.” He may be right. Maybe Flores’ win is the “wakeup call the Dems need. Time will tell. Personally, I don’t think so. I think many of them, particularly those up for re-election, are close to panic. Ultimately, some may squeak by based on the demographic make-up of their district; others will likely lose.

Meanwhile, the GOPers are calling it a portent of the general election in November. Senator Ted Cruz characterized it as a “seismic shift.” Others have denoted that it is the continuation of a trend that began with Donald Trump’s election in 2016.

In my view, Flores’ win provides real evidence that voters are dissatisfied with Biden and the Dem Party. I see it as a continuation and reaffirmation of the various polls we have seen over the last several months. Polls may be subjective, theoretical and open to interpretation and “spin,” but an actual election is a real, irrefutable result. Dems would be advised not to dismiss Flores’ victory as a “fluke” or as a product of Dem overconfidence or the GOP “pulling out all the stops.” Rather they should view it as a legitimate warning shot, a portent. They ignore it at their own risk.

FATHER’S DAY

On Sunday, June 19, the third Sunday of June, many of us will celebrate Father’s Day.   According to the British Broadcasting Corporation FD is celebrated in some 70 countries around the world.

In the US, FD is commonly viewed as an opportunity to gather with family and friends 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.  In view of all the negativity we have suffered through this year such a day will be most welcome.

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 supported it publicly.

Some years later, 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.

According to the British Broadcasting Corporation FD is celebrated in some 70 countries around the world. The timing and characteristics of the celebrations differ depending on seasons and various traditions and cultures, as follows:

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

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.

Some years later, 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.

CONCLUSION

The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend about $172 per person on FD gifts in 2021 The NRF estimates the overall total will be some $20 billion, which would be roughly the same as in 2021.

As you might expect, according to the NRF this total pales next to the $28 billion we spent on mothers last month.  Why do we spend so much more money on our mothers than on our fathers?  There are many theories, but no one knows for sure?

Generally, we don’t take our dads to restaurants as we do our moms. Instead, we put them work barbecuing. The National Restaurant Association reports that FD is one of the slowest days of the year whereas MD is the busiest. Not surprising.

What are the most popular FD gifts?  According to the NRF #1 is a greeting card.   #2 is a special family outing, for example, taking a trip or attending a sporting event. Other popular gifts include clothes, tools, appliances and “personal care” items.

Dads, remember it is your day.  Whatever you decide to do, enjoy it.

GAS AT THE PUMP

Today, I officially became a (not so) proud member of the “Five Dollar Club.” I paid over $5.00 a gallon to gas up my car at my favorite service station. Note, that price was to pay cash for unleaded regular. God forbid I should need to use premium, diesel, or pay with a credit card. Actually, I was lucky, because as I was pumping the attendant was busy raising the prices at the other pumps. Good thing I’m an early riser. By this afternoon the price could be over $6. (Just kidding, maybe).

Of course the price of gas at the pump is not the only thing that is rising precipitously. It is merely the most visible. Everything is up – food, rent, interest rates, airline tickets, clothing, etc. You don’t need me to tell you that. Anyone paying attention is fully and painfully aware. Putting it another way, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has disclosed that the average family is currently paying $460 per month more to support itself. Since many if, not most, families have been living paycheck to paycheck that is devastating news. As always, the hardest hit are the middle class, the poor and those living on a fixed income.

According to consumer advocate, Edgar Dworsky, food manufacturers have a new trick to hide price increases. In many cases they retain old the price but reduce the quantity in the package. For example, Pringles has reduced the size of its chips; Cascade has reduced the number of pods in the dishwasher package; Cottonelle has reduced the number of sheets in its rolls of toilet paper. Even restaurants have gotten into the act by reducing portions. Most people may not notice, which, of course, is the point. Welcome to the new wonderful world of “shrinkflation.”

The Biden administration has not shown it has the foggiest idea of how to resolve this massive problem. Even worse, it will not even acknowledge one exists. The first step toward resolving a problem is to admit it exists, and so far the Biden Administration refuses to acknowledge the gravity of the problem. It has steadfastly maintained that inflation is “temporary” and has “peaked.” On the contrary, numbers don’t lie. Our own eyes don’t lie. To paraphrase the late comedian Groucho Marx, “are you going to believe what I tell you or what you see with you own eyes?”

In addition, multiple news outlets are reporting that inflation increased to 8.6% for the month of May, and it is expected to accelerate further. Most business analysts and economists, such as Larry Kudlow, have opined that this is merely the beginning, not the peak, nor the end. Some of us will recall the pain of the runaway inflation and interest rates of the 1970’s. Once inflation takes hold, as it has now, it is pervasive and tenacious. Getting rid of it is very painful. In short, I fear we are “in for it.”

So far, rather than assuring us it has a plan to combat inflation, to get us out of this mess, the Biden Administration has been focusing on ascribing blame. It has blamed Putin, food manufacturers, “greedy” big businesses, Republicans, COVID, Donald Trump, and Fox News, among others. In short, it has blamed everyone but those in charge, those who have made the decisions that got us into this situation. Former president Harry Truman was famous for the saying “the buck stops here,” meaning that he, as president, was responsible. Biden’s attitude has been to “pass the buck.” Americans should not and will not be fooled.

Their favorite tactic has been to create distractions to divert the attention of voters. For example, we are now being bombarded with the “Insurrection” hearings. I refuse to watch one second of this one-sided, phony sham-show, which is reminiscent of the Salem witch trials and the Stalin-era Soviet Union “show trials” where the verdict was a foregone conclusion. This is further evidence of how out of touch with reality the Dems are. Few people care about this issue now when they are mainly concerned with real life issues like putting food on the table and paying the rent. As Hilary Clinton infamously intoned in another context: “what difference at this point does it matter.”

CONCLUSION

How bad will it get? How high will prices rise? No one really knows. But, in my opinion, we do know two things. (1) It will get worse before it gets better. (2) Biden and his cronies are NOT the ones who have the capabilities to resolve it.

The latest Quinnipiac Poll reported Biden’s approval rating to be 33%, which is a new low. Moreover, every poll is predicting that the Dems are heading for a (well deserved) disaster at the only poll that counts – the one in November. Unfortunately, we are stuck with Biden for two more years. (In my opinion, impeaching him and replacing him with Kamala Harris would be worse.) But, we can (and in my opinion, will) “flip” both houses of Congress on Election Day.. More on this in future blogs.