VIN SCULLY

He was a sports icon, a broadcasting legend. Over a 67 year career he developed his own unique style of “calling” a baseball game. More on that later. He “called” in excess of 9,000 baseball games plus 28 World Series, 20 no-hitters and four perfect games. Quite simply, he was the best.

He began his career in 1950 when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn. He “called” games for the “Boys of Summer” of Reese, Robinson, Snider, Hodges and Campanella, among others. In 1958 he accompanied the team to Los Angeles where he “called” games for Koufax, Drysdale, Garvey, Cey and Kershaw, among many, many others. Owners, managers, and players would come and go, but through it all there was one constant – Scully. To generations of fans, he WAS the Dodgers. Even fans at the ballpark would listen to his broadcasts. It was said one could walk through the park and not miss any of the action as Scully’s voice was omnipresent. “Sports Illustrated Magazine” once characterized him as being “as much a part of the Los Angeles scene as the freeways and the smog.”

Vincent Edward Scully was born on November 29, 1927 in The Bronx, NY. When he was only seven his father died, and the family had to move to Brooklyn. Ironically, as a youngster, his favorite team was the NY Giants, which was and is the arch enemy of the Dodgers.

He attended Fordham University where he worked for the school newspaper and played center field on the baseball team. He served in the Navy during WWII. After graduation he worked at a radio station in Washington D. C. where he was “discovered” by another famous broadcaster – Red Barber. At the time, Barber was a broadcaster for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He offered Scully a job as the third man in the booth along with the veteran, Connie Desmond. Scully studied the two veteran announcers assiduously. He often said that one lesson he learned from them was to always “go down the middle” when describing a play, good or bad. They way, you will have credibility with the listeners. In 1954 Barber left to join the NY Yankees broadcasting team, and just like that at the age of just 27 Scully became the lead broadcaster for the Dodgers.

Scully developed a unique style. He generally worked alone. He would describe a play in a reserved manner, rather than over-the-top excited as many announcers tend to do. For example, when the Dodgers won their long-awaited World Series in 1955 he merely said “The Brooklyn Dodgers are the champions of the world.” Then he went silent and let the scene on the field speak for itself.

He became adept at telling stories during the action. His voice was calm and melodic, almost mesmerizing. Often, the stories would last over several batters or even multiple innings. In describing the action on the field one might say he was painting a picture. This was very effective, especially on the radio. (In the early years in LA the games were not on TV for the most part, so Scully’s style was needed and appreciated by the listeners.)

In the big moments Scully would often go silent, letting the action speak for itself. He believed that in moments such as that “less was more.” Take, for example, some of his commentary describing the action during Sandy Koufax’s perfect game: “There’s 29,000 people in the ballpark and a million butterflies.” “A lot of people in the ballpark now are starting to see the pitches with their hearts [hollering for the umpire to call “strikes.”].” He described Koufax “hitching up his belt and “mopping his brow,” and the other Dodgers pitchers “pressing up against the bullpen fence watching intently.” And, when the game ended in perfection, Scully was silent for several seconds as the fans cheered before he said: “On the scoreboard in right field it is 9:46 p. m. in the City of Angels, Los Angeles, California.

In his long career Scully had the privilege of “calling” many famous moments such as Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, Henry Aaron’s career record-breaking homerun in 1974 and Kirk Gibson’s improbable home run in the 1988 WS, always with the same reserved, understated style. No hyperbole. No excessive chatter and shouting. He let the action on the field speak for itself.

Scully was not limited just to “calling” Dodger games. In addition, he appeared on network television “calling” many “Games of the Week”, All-Star games, World Series. NFL games, and even golf tournaments. Moreover, he appeared in the movie “For Love of the Game,” among others.

CONCLUSION

Some quotes describing Scully:

  1. LA Times columnist Jim Murray dubbed him “the Fordham Thrush with the .400 larynx.”
  2. Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax: “It may sound corny, but I enjoy listening to Vin call a game almost more than playing in them.”
  3. Bob Costas marveled at his “command of language, quality of expression [and] the sheer sound of his voice.”
  4. Entertainer Ray Charles: “His broadcasts are almost musical. The sound is what matters to me.” (Costas arranged a meeting between Scully and Charles, and afterwards declared “Ray was over the moon, like a kid meeting his favorite ballplayer.”)
  5. Former baseball commissioner, Bud Selig admitted that whenever he would call the Dodgers he would ask to speak to Scully “because I want to hear [him] for a few minutes.”

Some Scully quotes:

  1. He would open his broadcast thusly: “Hi, everybody, and a pleasant good afternoon to you wherever you may be. Pull up a chair and spend part of the day with us.”
  2. Describing pitcher Bob Gibson and his tendency to work quickly: “He pitches as though he is double-parked.”
  3. Describing Montreal Expos outfielder, Andre Dawson: [He] has a bruised knee and is listed as day-to-day…aren’t we all?”
  4. About a mediocre Dodgers team: “The Dodgers are such a .500 team that if there [were] a way to split a three-game series, they’d find it.”

Scully kept his personal life private. He never talked about personal tribulations such as the death of his first wife due to an accidental overdose of cold and bronchitis medication, the death of his second wife from ALS, and the accidental death of his eldest son.

During the last few years of his career, as a concession to age, Scully lightened his schedule. He stopped traveling to games east of the Rockies.

Scully passed away on August 2, 2022 at his home. The Dodgers announced his passing during their game that night in San Francisco. All the players on both teams as well as many of the fans in the stands saluted him as a show of respect of whom he was and what he meant to the sport.

Rest in peace, Vinnie. You were one of a kind, the best.

JOE BIDEN DOES THE LIMBO

Sadly, President Joe Biden’s performance as president reminds me of that dance called the limbo – “how low can you go?” Joe Biden’s job approval and the public’s confidence in him and his policies have already sunken to record levels, and they will likely continue to sink lower and lower. Like the limbo the question is “how low can they go?” I don’t know, but I would not be surprised if they bottomed out in the low 30’s. See below for my reasons for this prediction.

According to Five Thirty Eight’s latest poll Biden’s job approval rating is 39%, which it reports is the worst of any elected president at this point in his tenure since the end of WWII. (Probably, the only person happy about this is former president Jimmy Carter.) The latest Real Clear Politics poll disclosed that only 18% believe the country is “heading in the right direction.” 18%! Actually, I’m surprised it is even that high. I would like to ask that 18% why they feel that way.

It’s easy to see the reasons for the poll numbers. I have published various blogs describing Biden’s far left (some would say, socialist) policies and predicting that, inevitably, they would ruin the economy (as well as the rest of the country). Anyone with even a basic understanding of economics would have to agree. There is no need to rehash them, in detail, now but below pIease find a few statistics for illustrative purposes. These are not my statistics. I obtained them from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and various media sources (not Fox News).

  1. The current rate of inflation is 9/1%, which is the highest level in over 40 years. Some of you may remember that last November, when the rate was 6.8%, Biden said inflation was “transitory” and had already reached its peak. Well, to no one’s surprise, he was wrong. It is higher and will likely go still higher. Inflation is very tenacious and insidious. It impacts every facet of our lives, and once it takes hold it is extremely hard to root out. If you doubt me, just research the inflation hell we went through in the 1970s. Everybody loses, regardless of color, gender or religion. Hourly workers’ paychecks buy less and less each month even if they get a raise. Retirees on a fixed income watch helplessly as their life savings melt away like a summer snow. Middle age workers seeking to build a nest egg for their future retirement or their kids’ education are thwarted at every turn. Young people just getting started are unable to start a family or buy that first house. In the face of all this, Biden and his supporters have not shown any remorse for having caused this calamity, nor offered any concrete plans to fix it, nor even exhibited any empathy for those who are suffering.
  2. Gas at the pump is has hit record highs. Prices have come down slightly in the last few weeks to around $4.50/gallon for regular, but that reprieve may prove to be “transitory,” pun intended. Moreover, let’s remember that when Biden took office on January 20, 2021 it was around $2.40/gallon, and according to AAA one year ago it was an average of $3.15. This is particularly damaging to Biden as it is “spin-proof.” People are reminded of it every time they “gas up.” Moreover, most people are not being fooled by the Administration’s lame repeated attempts to blame the high prices on Putin, COVID, Trump, or anyone else. It’s all about the Keystone Pipeline shut-down. Remember the first law of prices is supply vs. demand.
  3. For the month of June prices of all goods and services are up substantially from May – for example, groceries, 12%, electricity, 14%, airplane flights, 34%, and lodging, 11%, to name a few examples. We are reminded of it every time we shop. Furthermore, we have been forced to endure periodic and arbitrary shortages due to chronic supply chain issues (e.g. baby formula). Not only are prices up, but package quantities are smaller.
  4. The producer price index increased 11.3% from May to June. This is particularly alarming as the PPI is a portent of future retail prices.
  5. In certain areas of the country, for example, Manhattan, one has difficulty finding affordable places to live The average rental in Manhattan now exceeds $5,000 per month, that is, if one can find a vacancy at all in a decent neighborhood.
  6. According to another BLS release “real” hourly wages (wages adjusted for inflation) declined 1% in June. In other words, the average worker fell even further behind.

Due to all of the foregoing as well as all the Biden Administration’s non-economic failures, which I have also detailed in past blogs, it is no wonder his approval ratings are so low. In addition, many Dem politicians, such as Sheila Jackson Lee and Joaquin Castro, as well as political analysts on left-leaning CNN and MSNBC, and left-leaning media outlets, such as the NY Times and Washington Post, are beginning to criticize him. Finally, some Dem politicians, for instance, Senator Tim Ryan, have declined to have Biden campaign with him even though he (Ryan) is embroiled in a tough re-election battle. These are not good signs. In view of all of the above, I wonder why Biden’s poll numbers aren’t even lower.

There is more bad economic news on the horizon. One of the best ways to cool inflation is for the Fed to raise interest rates. We are long overdue for a rate increase. Comerica Bank’s chief economist, Bill Adams, is predicting the Fed will raise its rate at least 3/4% in July. Some economists are predicting 1/%. That would be an abnormally high increase at one time, but it may be what is needed to tame inflation before it becomes “runaway” inflation. Such an action would surely plunge us into a recession, although many economists believe we are already in one. It would increase the cost of borrowing, another expense increase for both consumers and businesses, and likely devastate the housing market.

CONCLUSION

A few days ago, Biden issued a statement acknowledging that the “economic pain” being felt by Americans was “unsustainable.” On that Biden and I are in rare agreement, however, he failed to put forth any plan to resolve it. That leads one to conclude that his statement of “sympathy” was just empty words, or as he might say, “a bunch of malarkey.” In a similar vein he stated his intention to “urge Congress to act this month on legislation to reduce the cost of everyday expenses.” Again, he failed to put forth any plan to do so. More malarkey.

Furthermore, it is worth noting, that most of those in Biden’s inner circle were chosen for their diversity; few have had any prior practical, business, economic, or financial experience. Not exactly optimal for dealing with the current state of affairs.

As I and many others have been saying, historically, the number 1 issue for voters, absent a war, is the economy. It will almost certainly be so in 2022 and 2024. Yet, Dems have steadfastly avoided the issue. Their focus has been on abortion and the January 6 hearings, which, though important to the far left “wokers” and “tweeters,” are far down on most voters’ lists of issues. Part of that is because Dems have nothing else to run on, no accomplishments, but whose fault is that?

As I said, Biden’s performance is becoming a significant drag on the Dem Party’s prospects in November. Many Dems up for re-election are starting to panic. Some would like to have him removed pursuant to Article 25 of the Constitution. Certainly, there is ample justification for that as anyone can see every night on the news. However, the best thing Biden has going for him is that his replacement would be Kamala Harris, who, based on her performance to date, would be even more incompetent. Yes, the Dems have put themselves firmly between the proverbial “rock and a hard place.” Well earned, and well deserved.

JAMES CAAN

James Caan was the quintessential New Yorker – brash, tough, and in-your-face. His persona was “this is me; here I am. If you don’t like it, tough.” That is the attitude he exhibited in most of his acting roles throughout his 60-plus years career, at least in his most memorable roles. How did he develop that persona? As he told one interviewer a few years ago, “I learned it growing up in New York. You had to be tough to survive.” You had to “know who to push and who not to push.” In addition, he often attributed his success to learning how and when to say “no” at an audition. In other words, if he didn’t feel a part was right for him he had no qualms about turning it down. (As you will see below, this philosophy resulted in him turning down many parts that led to successes for others.)

James Edmund Caan was born on March 26, 1940 in The Bronx, New York City, NY, but he grew up in Queens. He had a brother, Ronnie, and a sister, Barbara. His parents were Jewish working class immigrants who had emigrated from Germany. His father was a butcher.

He attended Michigan State University for two years. His dream was to make the MSU football team, but he wasn’t good enough. He transferred to Hofstra University on Long Island, but he didn’t graduate. It doesn’t sound like he was much of a student. Interestingly, two of his classmates were Lainie Kazan and Francis Ford Coppola who would later play a significant role in Caan’s career.

At some point, he developed an interest in acting. He applied for, was accepted to and enrolled in NYC’s Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. He studied there for five years. “I just fell in love with acting,” he told one interviewer. He added, “of course all my improvs ended in violence.” No surprise there.

Caan began his career in the early 1960s appearing in off-Broadway plays that only real aficionados of the theatre would remember such as La Ronde and Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole. Shortly thereafter, he progressed to Broadway where he starred in The Rain People, which was directed by Coppola. Additionally, he appeared in the usual hit TV shows in which all up-and-coming actors seem to appear, such as Route 66, Dr. Kildare, Combat, and The Untouchables. During this period he also appeared in a series of nondescript movies that few people, if any, saw and fewer remember. The one exception was Howard Hawkes’ movie, El Dorado, starring John Wayne and Robert Mitchum.

According to Wikipedia his first movie role in 1963 was an uncredited role where he played a “soldier with a radio.” I guess an aspiring actor hungry for work and experience has to start somewhere.

His first memorable role was playing terminally-ill (cancer) NFL running back, Brian Piccolo in the TV movie, Brian’s Song (1971), co-starring Billy Dee Williams as NFL superstar running back Gayle Sayers. It was a perfect role for Caan. Early in the movie he portrayed Piccolo as a glib, wise-cracking, undertalented, overachiever who made the team through sheer determination and hard work. As the movie went on and Piccolo’s cancer progressed Caan portrayed his struggles superbly. Viewers were captivated by Piccolo’s/Caan’s battle with the disease and his strong friendship with Sayers. (Don’t forget this was 1971, and Hollywood rarely portrayed such relationships.) Based on a true story it was a huge success, earned Caan an Emmy nomination, and put him on the map as an actor. As frequently happens in Hollywood the story is that, at first, Caan turned down the role without even reading the script, but, luckily for him, he changed his mind after reading it.

The next year came The Godfather. We all know what happened there. Caan got to play the signature role of his career. The Godfather was a mega-hit both critically and at the box office. It won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. According to CBS News it grossed $135 million domestically (equivalent to $711 million today), and $270 million worldwide. It spawned two sequels, one of which, Godfather II, many critics consider to be as good as or better than the original, which is a real rarity. It featured an-all-Star cast led by Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. Originally, Caan was slated to play Michael, but Coppola wanted Al Pacino for that role, so Caan was switched to Sonny. Reportedly, one of the actors he “beat out” for the role was another young actor named Robert De Niro. He was the central figure in two of the more memorable scenes in the movie: (1) being killed at the toll booth (how many bullets does it take to kill someone) and (2) the scene where he beats up Carlo with a garbage can cover (adlibbed). Caan always said that one of the things that made The Godfather successful was that everyone “really enjoyed making it, and that comes off on the screen.” Finally, there were many memorable quotes. See below for my favorites. What are yours?

In the course of his career Caan turned down various starring roles in successful movies that turned out to be successes for others. Some of these movies were M*A*S*H, the French Connection, and Apocalypse Now.

Another of my favorite Caan movies was Misery, based on the Stephen King novel and co-starring Kathy Bates. Caan played a famous author who is kidnapped by a deranged fan (Bates). Many actors had rejected the role because the character spent most of the movie confined in a bed by Bates’ character. But, Caan accepted. It was a different role for him, and it was another hit. In addition, I liked him in Cinderella Liberty where he plays a sailor who meets a woman while on liberty. He falls in love and wants to marry her. His commanding officer refuses to grant him leave to get married. Caan asks why. The quote, which anyone who has served in the military will identify with, is (and I paraphrase): “You may think you’re in the United States; you may think you’re in the State of New York; but what you’re in is the Navy, and the Navy says no leave.”

CONCLUSION

Caan was married four times and had five kids, one of which is the actor Scot Caan (Hawaii Five-0). Caan was an accomplished martial artist, and he liked to participate in rodeos as a steer roper. He would call himself the “only Jewish cowboy from NY on the professional rodeo cowboy circuit.”

Caan passed away on July, 6, 1922 in LA at the age of 82. Jimmy (as he was often called), you entertained us for over 60 years. Rest in peace.

My favorite Godfather quotes:

  1. “I don’t want my brother coming out of that toilet with just his dick in his hands.”
  2. “Revenge is a dish that tastes best when served cold.”
  3. “Lawyers can steal more money with a briefcase than a thousand men with guns and masks.”
  4. “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
  5. And my favorite: “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

BASHING AMERICA ON HER BIRTHDAY

The overwhelming majority of Americans view July 4th, Independence Day, as a festive day, a day to celebrate America’s birthday with family and friends, and an opportunity to honor those who have fought and died so that the rest of us can enjoy the freedoms and privileges that some of us take for granted. Anyone who has even an inkling of America’s history would appreciate that. Yet, there is a small, but vocal, cadre of ungrateful, oblivious persons who choose to ignore the positives and choose use Independence Day to air their grievances about life in the US. They are aided and abetted by a woke social media and a complicit press, many of whom share their warped opinions.

Yes, I know America is not and has not been perfect. I am cognizant of the manner in which we mistreated Indigenous Peoples, slaves and people of color, generally. Also, I recognize that the Bill of Rights entitles the abovementioned malcontents to have their say. I am not suggesting that they should be prevented from speaking their minds, but still it angers me and many others who share my view that they choose to do so on “America’s Birthday.” This bashing appears to be uniquely American. I am not aware of people in other countries acting in this manner.

In my opinion, it is an insult to those who sacrificed to establish and maintain our way of life. Personally, I don’t know anyone who shares their views. Do you? I am not referring to honest political debate, which is healthy and appropriate. More on this later.

Some of the quotes in the media attributable to celebrities, for instance, have been well beyond merely critical and disrespectful. They are downright nasty, thoughtless, inane and disgusting. Moreover, as I said, the press and social media give them the forum to express those opinions. There have been many examples in the last few days, but I will give you just a few:

1. Bette Midler – “4th of July has been canceled due to a shortage of independence.” For the record, “The Divine Miss M,” as she is sometimes called, comes from humble beginnings. Her father was a painter and an employee at a naval base; her mother was a seamstress. America afforded her the opportunity to achieve fame and wealth. If she had been born virtually anywhere else in the world she would likely have not been been able to do so. America is probably the only country that gives someone, anyone, the opportunity to rise above the circumstances of their birth and become successful. We have all seen thousands of examples of this regardless of the person’s gender, religion, or skin color. Yes, some people may have an easier road to success, but everyone has a chance. Rather than being grateful, she has been a constant critic.

2. Michael Moore – “I cannot in good conscience continue to accept ‘full citizenship’ privileges.” (By the way, what does that even mean? Which ones are Moore ready to give up, and which ones does he want to keep? I doubt Moore has thought that through. Typical Moore inanity.) Moore came from a working class family. His dad worked on the assembly line for GM; his mom was a secretary. Even though I don’t agree with his politics, I recognize that he, too, is an American success story. He is also a constant critic of the system that enabled him to succeed.

3. Jessica Chastain – She is a fine actress, but that is where it ends. She has displayed a lack of class as well as disrespect. Her birthday present to America was a picture of herself giving the “double bird” to the country with the caption “Happy Independence Day from me and my reproductive organs.” Obviously, this was a lame protest of the Supreme Court’s decision regarding Roe v Wade. Like many other critics of that decision, she fails to grasp or chooses to ignore how the Constitution applies to abortion. But, that complicated and heavily nuanced topic is best reserved for another blog on another day.

4. Kim Kardashian and Kris Jenner, not wanting to lose out on free publicity, posted the following on Instagram: “4th of July has been canceled due to a shortage of independence. Sincerely, women.”

5. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D CA) tweeted “this Fourth of July is ‘overshadowed by the dark reality of the Supreme Court’s decision that makes half of America less equal.’ ” Oh really? Where’s the half? Abortion is still legal and obtainable in many, if not most, states, including hers. Dumb comment on many levels.

6. ESPN writer Howard Bryant expressed his opinion in a column entitled “baseball, barbecue and losing freedom this Fourth of July.” ESPN would be better off sticking to sports, which they do quite well, rather than venturing into other areas in which their lack of knowledge is embarrassing.

7.. Les Dogg, whom I had never heard of, is apparently an entertainer of some renown. Her imprudent comments on America’s birthday were “not land of the free” and “feels like we’re going back to slavery.” Just a wee bit of an exaggeration.

8. NPR, which is a publicly-funded media outlet. felt it necessary to cancel its customary reading of the Declaration of Independence, claiming the document has “flaws and deeply ingrained hypocrisies,” in favor of a column bemoaning how “America is ‘tearing itself apart.’ ” Again, stick to what you are supposed to do.

9. Last, but not least, there was Joe Biden’s latest faux pas. At the end of his holiday speech he forgot to say “God Bless America.” Was it not written on his cue card? Dr. Jill had to remind him to say it, which she did on an open mic. Embarrassing, but we have come to expect things like that from our president.

I could give many more examples, but I think you get the point. Enough is enough. How do those who fought for this country feel about this? Fox News showed one WWII veteran who was literally moved to tears by all the disrespect. He was wondering, “what did we [his fellow soldiers] die for?” How sad.

My advice to these people is save such criticisms for another day. We may admire your singing, acting or whatever god given talent you possess, but we are not inclined to follow your political “advice.” In fact, most of you are not as smart or well-informed as the average American. You are not aware of the average American’s daily struggles to support their families, especially in these times of “Bidenflation.” You live in a bubble, an ivory tower. All the polls show that the issues you spout off about are way down on the list of the average American’s concerns.

In my experience, the preponderance of everyday Americans shares my view on the US. I have never met a single person who criticizes America to that extent. Sure, we may disagree on political issues, but deep down we realize how lucky we were to have been born in this country. Essentially, we have all won the “birth lottery.” We know it; apparently, you don’t.

CONCLUSION

Social media has many benefits, but it also enables, a small, vocal minority to express themselves over and over again, which gives the impression that their opinions are more representative than they really are. Most Americans are not fooled. As I said, the above celebrity critics are out of touch with the general populace. They don’t speak for us, and we don’t pay any attention to their comments and opinions.

Incidentally, not to beat a dead horse, but according to the latest poll promulgated by The Hill 88% of people think the US is “on the wrong track,” and the latest Gallup Poll reported that only 23% of respondents “have confidence” in the Presidency. In addition, Biden’s approval rating remains in the 30s. It is so bad that many Dems running for election or re-election are avoiding campaigning with him. The latest to do so is Tim Ryan, who is running for the US Senate in Ohio. Lastly, everyone’s favorite uncle, Bernie Sanders, is reportedly considering running again in 2024, and don’t forget Hillary who, despite her protestations, is always lurking. I don’t believe anyone is taking Harris seriously as a viable candidate, but others may emerge as the 2024 elections approach.

INDEPENDENCE DAY QUIZ

Today, July 4th, we will celebrate our nation’s independence. Many of you will celebrate by gathering with family and friends, going to the beach, attending a baseball game, or simply relaxing and enjoying a day off from work.

Many of you have requested a quiz, so In honor of the holiday I have prepared one to test your knowledge, or lack thereof. As usual, no peeking at the internet and do not consult Siri or Alexa.

  1. The primary author of the Declaration of Independence was
    a. George Washington
    b. Henry Lee
    c. Benjamin Franklyn
    d. Thomas Jefferson

2. The oldest continuous Independence Day celebration is in what city?
a. Bristol, RI
b. New York, NY
c. Waterbury, CT
d. Philadelphia, PA

3. The origin of the song, “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” was
a. American troops during the Revolutionary War
b. French troops during the RW
c. British military before the RW
d. Hessians at the battle of Trenton, NJ

4. The movie, “Independence Day” starred
a. Tom Cruise
b. Will Smith
c. Morgan Freeman
d. Daniel Day-Lewis

5. The Statue of Liberty was donated by which country?
a. France

b. Spain

c. Canada

d. England

6. Each of the following was a member of the Committee of Five (assigned to draft the Declaration), except:
a. George Washington
b. Roger Sherman
c. John Adams
d. Benjamin Franklyn

7. Who was the only President to have been born on the 4th of July?
a. John Adams
b. Grover Cleveland
c. Calvin Coolidge
d. James Polk

8. Each of the following Presidents died on July 4th, except:
a. John Adams
b. Thomas Jefferson
c. James Monroe
d. James Madison

9. Each of the following is considered to be a “Founding Father,” EXCEPT:
a. John Adams
b. James Monroe
c. Alexander Hamilton
d. James Madison

10. The “Star Spangled banner” was written by Francis Scott Key during which war?
a. French and Indian War
b. American Revolution
c. Civil War
d. War of 1812

11. The origin of the nick-name “Uncle Sam” is purportedly:
a. The Continental Congress
b. The Sons of Liberty
c. Meat packer who supplied meat to the US Army
d. British troops during the RW

12. Who, along with John Adams, is responsible for designating the bald eagle as the US’s National Bird?
a. George Washington
b. Thomas Jefferson
c. Benjamin Franklyn
d. Patrick Henry

13. Which battle was the turning point of the Revolutionary War?
a. Brooklyn Heights
b. Charleston
c. Baltimore
d. Saratoga

14. How many persons signed the Declaration of Independence?
a. 13
b. 26
c. 40
d. 56

15. Which was the first state to ratify the Constitution?
a. Virginia
b. New York
c. Delaware
d. Massachusetts

16. Purportedly, the Independence Day Nathans Hot Dog Eating Contest was first held in
a. 1876
b. 1930
c. 1945
d. 1916

17. Who was one of only two signers of the Declaration of Independence to be elected President?
a. John Adams
b. Andrew Jackson
c. Alexander Hamilton
d. Aaron Burr

18. Although July 4 is recognized as Independence Day, the Continental Congress approved a “resolution of independence” on this date.
a. June 15
b. July 1
c. July 2
d. July 3

19. The first capital of the US following ratification of the Constitution was
a. Washington DC
b. New York City
c. Philadelphia
d. Boston

20. The 14th state of the union was:
a. Maine
b. Georgia
c. Florida
d. Vermont

21. Independence Day became a federal holiday in:

a. 1776

b. 1783

c. 1870

d. 1916

22. In 1778 George Washington celebrated Independence Day with his troops by:

a. Giving everyone a raise

b. A 21-gun salute

c. Giving a rousing speech

d. giving everyone a double ration of rum

23. Each of the following presidents’ faces is sculpted on Mt. Rushmore, EXCEPT:

a. Franklyn Roosevelt

b. Theodore Roosevelt

c. Thomas Jefferson

e. George Washington

24. George Washington crossed the Delaware River on December 25-26, 1776 to defeat the Hessians at which city.

a. Philadelphia

b. New York

c. Monmouth

d. Trenton

25. Which English general surrendered at Yorktown, VA effectively ending the Revolutionary War?

a. Howe

b. Cornwallis

c. Burgoyne

d. Kensington

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

CONCLUSION

Well, there you have it. Let me know how you did.

Enjoy the holiday whatever you do, wherever you go, and with whomever you spend it. Above all, be safe.

LIBERAL WORLD ORDER

Welcome to the Liberal World Order. Chances are most of you had not heard of this term until this week, much less understood what it means and how it affects us. In my view, it is a fancy term for requiring Americans to sacrifice for the benefit of the rest of the world since we don’t deserve what we have. Or, if you prefer, “America Last.”

Wikipedia defines LWO as “the body of rules, norms and institutions that govern relations between the key players on the international stage.” Got it? I’m not sure what all this gobbledygook means, and I bet few, if any, of the bloviators in the Dem Party or the media do either. To me, it sounds like an expression more relevant to the Stalin-era Soviet Union or present-day Communist China rather than the US.

President Joe Biden and his supporters in the Administration and the media have been continually urging us to support their economic policies in support of the LWO. For example, appearing on CNN, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese stated that “the future of the new world order [is at stake],” and “we have to stand firm.” On the contrary, GOP Senator Roger Marshall argued that “the Biden Administration has forgotten they work for the American people and not the ‘liberal world order.’ “

In my view, the term LWO is being used by the far left to justify why (a) we are being forced to pay (according to AAA) a average of $4.84 per gallon for gas at the pump (up a whopping $1.72 from last July), (b) must allow masses of illegals to cross our non-functioning southern border at will, (c) close our eyes to the probability that some of those seeking “political asylum” are, in reality, terrorists, drug smugglers and/or human traffickers, (d) endure the random, brazen and wanton violence being perpetrated by career criminals who rule our city streets, who are rarely prosecuted by “woke” DAs and who are immediately released from our revolving-door jails to commit more crimes while many of us live in fear, and (e) why many of us cannot afford to buy food, find formula for our babies, or provide for our families. It is why we are told we must sacrifice for the common good. Anyone who dares to complain is branded as a racist. How long can we expect these sacrifices to continue? According to President Biden, “as long as it takes,” whatever that means.

Sounds bleak, right? What can we do? How do we fight back? Well, fortunately this is the USA, not the old Soviet Union, Communist China, or even Venezuela, and there is a simple and obvious solution. In America we have elections, and the next cycle is in just a few months. Unlike those other places, in America we can vote the bas***ds out, so to speak. More on that below.

Thirty-four of the Senate seats and all of the House seats are up for re-election this year. In addition, there are two special elections for the Senate. In the Senate the Dems have three advantages: (1) only 14 of those thirty-four seats are currently held by Dems; (2) none those are in states that Trump won in 2020; and (3) five incumbent GOPers are retiring compared to only one Dem. The quality of the replacement candidates will have a significant affect on whether or not the incumbent Party “holds” the particular seat.

It is a historical fact that, with very few exceptions, the Party in power loses Congressional membership in the off-year elections. The question is how many. In the Senate the most seats lost was 13 in 1932. That year the country was in the throes of the Great Depression, and President Herbert Hoover was extremely unpopular for obvious reasons.

In the House the historical average loss is 23 seats. The most was 63 in 2010 under Obama. Historically, House elections have been more likely to be affected by the current political climate, so that will bear watching. Also, normally, local issues play a bigger role. Remember former Speaker Thomas (“Tip”) O’Neal famously said “all politics is local.”

Back to the Senate. According to Inside Elections the key Senate battleground elections will be in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. As of June IE rated AZ, GA, and NV as toss-ups, FL and NC as leaning GOP, NH as leaning Dem, and PA and WI as toss-ups or leaning GOP. Probably, the most vulnerable Dem Senators are Mark Kelly (AZ), and Ralph Warnock (GA) The most vulnerable GOP seats are probably Catherine Masto (NV), Richard Burr (NC), PA where incumbent Pat Toomey is retiring and Ron Johnson (WI). Obviously, that is all subject to change. The situation is likely to be very fluid due to Biden’s declining popularity and job approval. Even though he is not on any ballot he will cast a shadow on the elections. One thing to watch is the number of candidates who decline to have him campaign with them. Keep in mind that with a current 50-50 split the GOP has only to gain one net seat to claim a majority.

CONCLUSION

It is becoming increasingly clear that the attitudes and opinions of the far lefties who have been making policy decisions for the country do not reflect the will of the people. In many cases, a powerful, vocal minority, supported by a biased media, has been imposing its will on the majority, and the majority is not happy. This has been reflected in poll after poll. For example, according to polls conducted by “Ballotpedia News” and “FiveThirty Eight,” Biden’s latest approval rating is 39%, which is historically low. By comparison, Trump’s was 42%. Furthermore, a recently-published AP poll revealed that 85% of respondents believe America is on the “wrong track.”

Moreover, in the same poll only 28% approved of Biden’s handling of the economy. Historically, absent a war, the economy has proven to be the number one issue for voters on Election Day. Despite all the distractions about January 6 and Roe v Wade I see no reason for it not be so in 2022. Voters will be reminded of the economy every time they buy food or gas up the car. I believe those issues are “spin-proof.”

Incidentally, I have long objected to the far left labeling itself as “progressive.” The term implies a slow, steady, positive change. The current situation has been anything but that. To me, a more apt label would be “radical,” or socialist” But, that’s just my opinion.

Unless things change radically by ED, and I doubt they will, the above does not augur well for the Dems. In my opinion the GOP will “flip” both the Senate and the House.

Stay tuned. More to come.

MY HERO

July 5 will mark the seven-year anniversary of the most horrific day in the lives of my wife and I, a day no parent should have to endure. Eventually, the ordeal had a happy ending, but it was touch and go for a while. Subsequently, I shared our experiences in a blog entitled “My Hero.”

As the aforementioned anniversary approaches I would like to re-publish the blog as I do every year at this time. (Some of you are new followers of my blogs and may not have seen it.) I believe it is as inspirational now as it was then. Perhaps, you could forward it to a friend or relative who has suffered a stroke and might benefit from reading it. So, read and enjoy “My Hero.”

Who is your hero? Who has inspired you by exhibiting extreme courage and achievement in the face of adversity? Is it a historical figure, like George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, or a religious figure, like Moses, Jesus or Muhammed, or maybe, a civil rights icon, like Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela? Or, perhaps, it might be an ordinary person you know or know of who, while not famous, has accomplished something so truly remarkable, against such long odds that you are truly inspired. Not all of us can point to such a person, but I can. It is someone very close to me that I have known all his life. It is my son, Matt.

It all began on July 5, 2015, a day I will never forget. Like the JFK assassination and the 9/11 terrorist attacks I will never forget where I was and what I was doing when I heard the awful news. It was a typical summer’s day in the NY area, bright and sunny. Matt was enjoying a family day with some friends and his lovely wife and two children at a local club. Suddenly, after swimming in the lake he became dizzy, lost vision in one eye and collapsed. He had suffered a dissection of his carotid artery, which had triggered a massive stroke.

Luckily, there was a doctor present. He immediately recognized what was happening and knew exactly what to do. This doctor accompanied Matt in the ambulance and stayed with him at the local hospital to ensure the ER doctors gave him the clot-buster shot and other appropriate treatment, including emergency surgery to remove the clot within the five-six-hour window that is considered to be optimal for treating strokes. This certainly mitigated the effects of the stroke and may even have saved his life.

My wife and I were eating dinner with friends at a local restaurant when we got the shocking telephone call that Matt had suffered a stroke. It seemed impossible. Matt was only 40 and in excellent physical condition. He worked out regularly, ran, and practiced jujitsu. The caller did not know any details, not even if Matt were alive. If you’re a parent, you know that type of telephone call is as bad as it gets. Luckily, our friends insisted on driving us to the hospital in Westchester to which Matt was being transported (the Westchester Trauma Center). I don’t think I was in any condition to drive. We arrived at more or less the same time as Matt. We were able to see him and ascertain that although he was in very serious condition, he was alive. After the surgery he was only able to breathe with the aid of a ventilator, and his skin was the color of white porcelain.

Over the next few days the medical news was very dire. The doctors confirmed that Matt had, indeed, suffered a massive stroke. He was not conscious; he was paralyzed on his right side; he might need a craniotomy; he was blind in his left eye; and he had only partial vision in his right eye. He was in such bad shape that I felt elated a few days later when I squeezed his hand and felt him squeeze mine back.

The doctors told us he was facing a long, arduous recovery, one – two weeks at the hospital followed by six to nine months at a rehab facility. In addition, they said there was a good possibility that he would never recognize us, speak, or be able to walk unassisted. As far as returning to a normal life as a husband and father and resuming his career as a senior research analyst, that was seemingly too unrealistic to even contemplate. (Later, Matt told us that one of the doctors had flat-out told him he would not recover sufficiently to do so. When we asked him if that had bothered him, he said “no, I knew he was wrong.”). I realize that doctors feel compelled to disclose all possibilities, but there is a natural tendency to focus on the most negative ones, and that was an extremely disturbing prognosis.

Over the next year. Matt made a remarkable recovery. He was discharged from the hospital in only six days and transferred to Burke for rehab. Not only did he have to rehabilitate himself physically, but he also had to rehab his mind and his memory. At first, he didn’t even recall very basic elements of his life, such as the names of his wife and children and his current address. He had to relearn how to speak. His rate of progress was beyond anyone’s most optimistic expectations. He attacked his rehab with a vengeance. He attended every session. He never once told them he was in too much pain, too tired, or not in the mood, as many rehab patients do. Many times he would cut short our visit by telling us he had to leave for a rehab session. If they told him to do ten of something, he would do 15. He would complete the most tedious and frustrating of tasks without complaint. His course of rehab included robotics, which helped considerably. Of course, it helped that he was only 40 years old and in excellent physical condition, but, nevertheless, he astounded the doctors, the therapists, and, indeed, even us with his progress. In August 2016, after less than one month at Burke, he was discharged. For a while, he continued to undergo private rehab once a week. Now, he exercises by running.

CONCLUSION

Matt’s astounding recovery included the following accomplishments:

1. He completed his rehab at Burke and returned home to his family well ahead of schedule.
2. The day he was discharged he accompanied his wife and son to Nassau Coliseum, which was over a one-hour drive, to see Billy Joel’s last concert there.
3. He climbed up to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
4. He has resumed his career as a senior research analyst at a Wall Street firm. This is a remarkable achievement since his job is very demanding, requiring many hours of complex analysis, a high level of prolonged concentration, high-level meetings with clients, and travel.
5. He has completed the NYC marathon and various half marathons and works out regularly. How many non-stroke victims can say that?
6. Most importantly, has resumed his role as husband and father, and my wife and I have our son back.

During his recovery period Matt was fond of saying his full-time job was to get better. He applied the same single-minded determination and dedication to that task as he has to everything else in his life. He is not all the way back to where he was, but if you were to meet him today for the first time you would likely not realize that he had suffered a massive stroke only a few years ago.

My wife and I know that Matt was extremely lucky that there was a doctor present who ensured he received the immediate care he needed as well as benefiting from an amazing support system of friends, relatives and colleagues, and, for that, we will be eternally grateful. However, the determination with which he attacked his rehab virtually willing himself to get better was nothing short of amazing!

We have always been very proud of Matt, but, now, he is and will always be, our hero.”

Even now, seven years later, it is hard for me to read this blog without getting emotional. We know we dodged a major bullet. Matt has pretty much returned to normalcy, although he is still blind in one eye and has a weakness in his right hand. However, I remain optimistic that one day medical science will progress to the point that he will regain his sight. Who knows?

We have suggested to Matt that he could become an inspirational speaker to give others the benefit of his experience. Although he has made a couple of appearances with a friend who was also a stroke victim, for now, he has chosen to focus on his family and career.

Alternatively, his experience would make a fine inspirational movie, although Hollywood would probably dismiss it as too unrealistic. In any case, read it and be inspired.

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.