THANKSGIVING

On Thursday, November 25, we will celebrate Thanksgiving. All things considered, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the food, the football, and the four-day weekend. What I don’t like is the traffic. In my experience, regardless of which day and what time you travel, you can’t avoid the traffic snarls. You just have to hope (or pray) for the best. (I have found you can mitigate traffic delays by relying on a good GPS, such as Waze.)

Traditionally, TG is a time when extended families gather together to celebrate in large groups. People travel to spend the holiday with relatives that they only see a few times a year. They endure congestion on the roads and long lines and crowds at airports, bus terminals and train stations. Many people have Friday, Monday and part of Wednesday off from work, and they are able to make a mini-vacation out of the holiday.

It appears that 2021 will mark a return to normalcy. For example, Paula Twidale, SVP for AAA Travel, opined that in 2021 “… travel is once again high on the list for Americans.” In addition, AAA has projected that some 53 million Americans will be travelling for the TG holiday, including approximately 48 million by auto. These totals would approach normal, pre-pandemic levels and would represent an 80% increase over 2020 when many Americans opted to stay home due to concerns over COVID.

If you must travel, it will behoove you to follow common sense guidelines, such as:

  1. Book your reservations early.
  2. Avoid travelling during peak periods .
  3. Arrive at the airport or train station early.
  4. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Amid all this holiday cheer there was a sobering event. Many of you have seen news reports of a weapon being discharged a few days ago in Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta. The NY Times and multiple other news outlets reported it was accidental. Nevertheless, the incident caused widespread panic in the airport and led to substantial delays. Obviously, this was not what we need on the eve of the busiest travel period of the year with many people already on edge, but that’s life in 2021.

As we enjoy the holiday, few of us will stop to think of its origins and meaning. What are they? Why is it celebrated at this time of the year? Read on for the answers.

Thanksgiving is a national holiday originally celebrated to give thanks for the year’s harvest. It has strong religious and cultural roots. Most people are aware that Thanksgiving is celebrated in the US (4th Thursday in November) and Canada (2nd Monday in October), but few of us are aware that variations of it are observed in other countries as well. In these other countries the holiday has a different meaning and purpose.

For example, in Grenada it is celebrated on October 25, and it marks the date on which the US invaded the island in 1983 in response to the removal and execution of Grenada’s then Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop. Liberia celebrates the holiday on the first Thursday of November, a tradition that was originated by freed American slaves that were transported there. In the Netherlands a Thanksgiving Day service is held on the morning of the US holiday. Its purpose is to commemorate the traditions of the Pilgrims, who resided in the city of Leiden for several years prior to their emigration to the New World. Japan celebrates a “Labor Thanksgiving Day” on November 23 to commemorate labor and production. It has its roots in the period of American occupation after WWII.

Like many of our customs and traditions, Thanksgiving is rooted in English traditions. These date from the English Reformation in the 16th century and the reign of King Henry VIII. Apparently, the Protestant clergy had determined that events of misfortune or good fortune were attributable to God. Thus, unexpected disasters, such as droughts, floods or plagues, were followed by “Days of Fasting.” On the other hand, fortuitous events, such as a good harvest or the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, which actually was largely attributable to storms off the English coast, were to be celebrated by “giving thanks” to Him.

The origin of the Canadian holiday is uncertain, but it is most commonly attributed to the English explorer Martin Frobisher. He had been exploring Northern Canada seeking the infamous and elusive Northwest Passage to Asia. He wanted to give thanks for his party having survived the numerous storms and icebergs it had encountered on the long journey from England. Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated as a statutory holiday in most jurisdictions of Canada.

Most people trace the American Thanksgiving holiday to 1621 in present-day Massachusetts (although some claim that there were earlier celebrations by the Spaniards in present-day Florida circa 1565 and in the colony of Virginia circa 1610). The Pilgrims and Puritans living in MA had enjoyed a bountiful harvest that year and wanted to give thanks. Their harvest had been partly attributable to assistance from Native Americans, so they invited them to share in their celebration. Records indicate that there were 90 Native Americans and 25 colonists in attendance. The actual date is uncertain, but it is believed to have been between September 21 and November 11.

Prior to 1942, Thanksgiving was not celebrated as an official national holiday. Rather, it was celebrated periodically by proclamation. For example, during the Revolutionary War the Continental Congress established days of “prayer, humiliation and thanksgiving” each year. In 1777 George Washington proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving to celebrate the colonists’ victory at Saratoga. Following independence, various Presidents continued the practice of issuing proclamations periodically.

In 1863 President Lincoln proclaimed a national “Thanksgiving Day” to be celebrated on the last Thursday of November. Historians believe that his action was prompted by a series of editorials written by Sarah Josepha Hale, a writer and editor of some renown. (She wrote the popular nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”).

The practice of annual Presidential Proclamations continued until 1939. That year, FDR broke the tradition. November had five Thursdays that year instead of the usual four. FDR figured that if the holiday were celebrated on the 4th Thursday it would provide a much-needed boost to the economy by enabling merchants to sell more goods before Christmas. (Even then, Thanksgiving was the unofficial start of the Christmas holiday shopping season.) Typically, this action precipitated a spat between the GOP and Dems in Congress. GOP congressmen viewed it as an insult to President Lincoln and continued to consider the last Thursday to be the holiday, so there were two Thanksgiving celebrations in 1939, 1940 and 1941, a “Democrat” one on the 4th Thursday and a “Republican” one on the last Thursday. The individual states split the dates (only in America!).

Finally, in 1941 everyone got in sync. On December 26, 1941 FDR signed a bill into law that decreed that Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November, a practice that has continued to this day.

Beginning in 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented a live turkey to the President. Over the years it has become customary for the President to grant a “pardon” to the turkey. This year, President Biden is expected to continue the tradition.

CONCLUSION

Many businesses are closed on Friday as well, which has had the effect, as noted above, of expanding the holiday into a four-day weekend. Similarly, many employees of companies that are open for business on that day take a vacation day or “floating holiday.”

The Friday after the holiday is known as “Black Friday.” It is one of the busiest shopping days of the year and signals the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Many retail stores open early and offer sales. Some even stay open on Thanksgiving. Many shoppers love this and camp out overnight (oblivious to the threats of precipitation or cold weather); others deride it as a “fool’s errand.”

Saturday is known as “Small Business Saturday,” which is an attempt to encourage patronage of small businesses. Some credit card companies have been offering cardholders “points” for patronizing certain small businesses. The Monday after the holiday is known as “Cyber Monday,” which encourages shopping on-line. The Tuesday after is called “Giving Tuesday” to encourage donations to the needy. The holiday is a prime time for charity. Many communities have food and clothing drives to collect items for distribution to the poor.

Many cities hold parades. The traditional Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be back to normal (almost). It features celebrities, high school marching bands, and floats with specific themes, such as Broadway shows and cartoon characters. The last float is traditionally one of Santa Claus, which symbolizes the beginning of the Christmas season. The only concession to COVID will be the absence of kids under 12 years old riding on floats. This will be the 95th iteration of the parade, and for many families it remains a longstanding tradition in which multi-generations attend together. Other examples of cities that normally hold parades include Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Plymouth, MA, and Houston. Sometimes, bad weather, such as high winds, puts a damper on the festivities.

Football fans will be able to enjoy traditional high school and college games, and the NFL will televise three games on TD beginning at 12:30 pm and lasting until nearly midnight. The NFL has staged a football game on Thanksgiving Day every year since 1934. At first, there was only one, which was hosted by the Detroit Lions. In recent years there have been three. Many sports fans consider this to be the best holiday of the year – food, family, friends and football. What could be better?

So, now that you are “experts” on Thanksgiving, relax and enjoy the holiday. In particular, take a minute to give thanks that through a fortuitous twist of fate, you were born in this country.

JFK ASSASSINATION

Few people in history are so recognizable that with the mere mention of their initials one instantly knows about whom you are talking. Such is the case with John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States. He flashed across our lives like a comet, brilliant but brief. He was only president for 1,000 days before he was assassinated, yet, even today, people remember him and recognize his name.

Monday, November 22, will mark the 58th anniversary of his assassination. Almost anyone over the age of 70 remembers vividly where they were and what they were doing when they first heard of it. For example, I, a freshman in college, was walking to a history class. (Yes, I did attend classes, even on a Friday afternoon.) I heard some other students talking about the President having been shot. I wasn’t sure I had heard correctly, but unfortunately, I had.

What was strange about the whole incident was the lack of reliable information. It wasn’t like today when news is known and disseminated instantaneously. It might be hard for you youngsters to believe, but there was no Facebook, no Twitter, no cell phones, no internet.

Communication between New York, where, at the time, all media communications were centered, and Dallas was sketchy. Even worse, Dealey Square, the site of the assassination, was not close to the addresses of the network news’ Dallas offices. Reporters on the scene had to communicate by public telephone, when they could find one. Often, competing reporters ended up sharing telephones. Information was incomplete and contradictory.

Eventually, however, we found out the horrible news. No one will ever forget the grim look on venerable CBS anchor Walter Cronkite’s face as he removed his glasses, stared into the camera, and told a shocked, confused and scared nation that the President was dead. When we heard it from “Uncle Walter,” we knew it was true.

The purpose of this blog is not to relate the details of the day’s events, nor do I wish to get bogged down in the various conspiracy theories, some of which persist to this day. Many books have been written on the subject, and I can’t possibly cover these topics in a short blog. Suffice to say, it was a surreal experience. Many emotions swirled through my head – disbelief, denial, fear and uncertainty. Who did it? Why? Was it a single gunman or a conspiracy? Was it part of a larger plot? Would we go to war? These and other questions came to mind.

Most everyone was glued to their television sets for days while events played out – Lyndon Johnson sworn in as the 36th President of the US on Airforce 1, Jackie Kennedy standing beside him still in shock and wearing the blood and brain-stained pink suit she had been wearing in the limo (which, she had refused to remove, declaring “I want them to see what they have done”), Lee Harvey Oswald arrested, Oswald shot live on national tv while under police escort (How in the world did Jack Ruby get access to that corridor, anyway?), JKF’s funeral procession, the “riderless” horse, young John Jr’s salute. The assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy followed soon after. It was a time of chaos and uncertainty, the end of innocence.

JFK had won the Presidency by the narrowest of margins over Vice President Richard Nixon. He had received 49.7% of the popular vote to Nixon’s 49.5% and won several states by the slimmest of margins. In that relatively primitive era of communications the end result was not known until the next morning. In the wee hours, the networks “called” CA for JFK which finally made him the winner. (Ironically, Nixon ended up winning CA after all the absentee ballots were counted.) Many people, including a 15 year-old girl in Berwick, Pa., caught up in the drama, stayed up all night to await the results.

JFK was young, handsome, bright, vibrant, dynamic, scion of a famous and wealthy family, and a war hero. He and his beautiful, glamorous wife, Jackie, seemed like American royalty to many Americans. He gave us hope and optimism. In the eyes of his supporters he was the one to transform America. During his inaugural address he uttered the famous line that symbolized the great hope that he would lead us to “A New Frontier,” as his campaign had promised (“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”). Unfortunately, today, many people espouse the opposite philosophy.

JFK got off to a rocky start with the Bay of Pigs fiasco. But, he seemed to make up for it when he faced down the Russians and Premier Nikita Khrushchev in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Most of us did not realize how close we had come to nuclear war, but in the end Kennedy won that round and showed he was learning on the job. His administration was dubbed “Camelot” after the description of the mythical King Arthur’s court.

Unfortunately, Kennedy made a lot of powerful enemies. Many Republicans thought he had “stolen” the election (shades of 2020). Indeed, there had been whispers about voting irregularities, notably in Chicago, but, in the end nothing came of that – no media exposes, no court challenges. Yes, times have certainly changed.

Many conservatives thought he was too soft on communism and too aggressive on civil rights issues. He had made powerful enemies among organized crime and at the FBI and CIA, among others. Fidel Castro hated him for the Bay of Pigs attack. On the other hand, many Cuban ex-Pats thought he had betrayed them by failing to intervene militarily to support the invasion when it fell apart. All in all, he had a plethora of powerful enemies with the motive, means, opportunity and funds to plan and execute a Presidential assassination and cover-up. In retrospect, one should not have been surprised.

CONCLUSION

A favorite speculation has been how American and world history would have been different had JFK not been assassinated. Would he have pulled us out of Viet Nam as has been speculated? If so, would there have been an antiwar movement in the 60’s with the attendant protests, turmoil and violence? Would MLK and RFK still have been assassinated? Would the civil rights movement have progressed differently, more peacefully? We will never know. There have been many books written about this topic, including one by Stephen King called “11/22/63” about a fictional time traveler who journeys back to 1963 to try to prevent the assassination, which makes fascinating “what if” reading.

Through it all, a cloud of conspiracy still hangs over the assassination 50+ years later. Books have been written and movies produced dealing with the conspiracy theories. Did Oswald act alone? Was he tied to the KGB or the CIA? How did Ruby get close enough to kill Oswald from point-blank range? Was there an accomplice on the grassy knoll? Why was Ruby killed in prison? What of the roles, if any, of mobsters, like Sam Giancana, Head of the Chicago mob, and Carlos Marcello, Head of the New Orleans mob, as well as the CIA, the FBI, the Russians, and/or Castro? Were the Warren Commission’s findings accurate or part of a cover-up?

At this time, as we mark the passage of another anniversary of JFK’s assassination, we are reminded that these issues, and others, have still not been resolved to many Americans’ satisfaction. As time passes, it seems they probably never will be.

For you readers of a certain age, what are your memories of the assassination and its aftermath? Where were you when you heard the awful news? I would like to know.

THE “WHATEVER” PEOPLE

The latest polls show that President Biden’s approval rating is historically low and sinking fast. For example, the most recent ABC/NY Post poll reported that only 41% of respondents approve of his performance. Perhaps, of greater concern for Dems and their supporters is that the same poll disclosed that if the 2022 congressional elections were to be held today voters would favor the GOP candidate over the Dem candidate 51 – 41%. Bye-bye- House and Senate majorities.

These results are not surprising to me or anyone else who has been paying attention. The real shocker, at least to me, is the 41% who still approve of Biden’s performance to date. I wonder, who are these people? I would love to know the basis upon which they are continuing to support the president. The situation is getting so obviously dire that even many of Biden’s allies in the media are unable to cover for him any more. The empirical evidence is plainly there for anyone and everyone to see. Anyone who buys food, fills their gas tank, heats their home, buys clothes, or orders Christmas gifts, which is virtually everyone, can’t help but see it.

Are they unaware that we slinked out of Afghanistan with our tail between our legs? Are they not aware that we abandoned hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans and “friendlies” who supported us to a fate of torture and death at the hands of the Afghani extremists? Are they unaware that in our hasty and disorganized retreat we abandoned some $80 billion of the most modern and sophisticated weaponry we had? Are they unaware of the increasing boldness of our enemies, such as China, Russia and Iran and the unease and mistrust of our allies, all of whom perceive Biden’s weakness? Did they not see him dozing off at the climate change meetings? Are they unaware of the mess he has made of our economy? Do they not see video evidence of thousands of illegal migrants pouring across our non-existent southern border every day in a steady, unrelenting flood?

So back to my question. Who are the 41%? I have a theory, an opinion. I call them the “whatever” people. They go about their daily lives in a bubble, a bubble of denial. Regardless of what occurs in the world around them they remain unengaged. Inflation? Food shortages? Higher gas prices? Supply chain interruptions? Ho hum. Don’t bother me with all that triviality. I’m busy with my Facebook and Instagram accounts or playing “Call of Duty.” on my iphone. Their attitude is “whatever.” Let someone else deal with it.

Many of these people are so oblivious and tuned out to real life they don’t know basic things like the name of the vice president or when we fought the Revolutionary War. They don’t keep up with the news, have no interest in it, except maybe for the gossip columns or sports. Again, it simply does not concern them. They don’t appreciate that they won the big “birth lottery.” They had the fortune to have been born in the US, rather than one of the many “hell holes” around the world.

CONCLUSION

So, what will get these people to engage in real life? What will get them to focus on the real problems of the world and be interested in solutions? Your guess is as good as mine. Probably, when things get so bad that they simply cannot be ignored any longer. I don’t know when that will be, but I can tell you in my view we are heading in that direction and more rapidly than you might think.

VETERANS DAY QUIZ

This year, Veterans Day will be celebrated on Thursday, November 11.  The holiday is always celebrated on the same date unless it falls on a Sunday, in which case it is celebrated on Monday, November 12.  This is a day on which we celebrate our living veterans as opposed to Memorial Day, which is reserved for those who gave their lives for our country.

Federal offices will be closed, but state and local offices and other businesses may remain open.  There will be no mail; most banks and schools will be closed; but the financial markets will be open.  Many restaurants and golf courses offer special deals for veterans.  Last year, because of COVID, most normal celebrations, such as parades, were cancelled, or at least muted. This year, as I write this, many of those celebrations are expected to return.

Many of you have requested a quiz.  So, here it is, and in honor of Veterans Day it has a military theme. Good luck and no peeking at the internet. No consulting “Alexa” or “Siri.”

1. Who was the US president during the first war against the Barbary Pirates? (a) George Washington, (b) John Adams, (c) Thomas Jefferson, (d James Monroe

2. The WWI battle that inspired the poem “In Flanders Field” took place in (a) Ardennes, (b) Charleroi, (c) Gallipoli, (d) Ypres

3. Each of the following presidents had been renowned generals, EXCEPT: a) Teddy Roosevelt, (b) Andrew Jackson, (c) Zachary Taylor, (d) Franklyn Pierce

4. “Pickett’s Charge” was the turning point of what Civil War battle? (a) Bull Run, (b) Manassas, (c) Gettysburg, (d) Fredericksburg

5. The “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” refers to which Revolutionary War battle? (a) Boston, (b) Lexington, (c) Concord, (d) NY

6. Tripoli, the stronghold of the Barbary Pirates, was located in what present-day country? (a) Libya, (b) Algeria, (c) Tunisia, (d)Egypt

7. The Alamo is located in which city? (a) Houston, (b) San Antonio, (c) Austin, (d) Galveston

8. The US fought the Gulf War against (a) Iran, (b) Syria, (c) Kuwait, (d) Iraq

9. Who said “Damn the torpedoes; full speed ahead.” (a) David Farragut, (b) John Paul Jones, (c) Ethan Allen, (d) Jonathan Eli

10. Which war resulted in the highest number of casualties? (a) WWI, (b) WWII, (c) Korean War, (d) Civil War

11. Fort Sumter is located in which state? (a) North Carolina, (b) South Carolina, (c) Georgia, (d) Alabama

12. Custer’s Last Stand took place in which modern-day state? (a) North Dakota, (b) South Dakota, (c) Montana, (d) Idaho

13. Each of the following was a WWII battle in the Pacific theatre, EXCEPT (a) El Alamein, (b) Guadalcanal, (c) Okinawa, (d) Midway

14. Who was the US President during WWI? (a) Teddy Roosevelt, (b) Woodrow Wilson, (c) William Howard Taft, (d) Warren Harding

15. When General Douglas MacArthur said “I shall return,” to which country was he referring? (a) Australia, (b) New Guinea, (c) Guam, (d) Philippines

16. The Korean War began in (1) 1949, (b) 1950, (c) 1951, (d) 1952

17. Who was president during the Spanish-American War? (a) Grover Cleveland, (b) James Garfield, (c) Rutherford B. Hayes, (d) William McKinley

18. Where is Mt. Suribachi? (a) Iwo Jima, (b) Okinawa, (c) Tarawa, (d) Japan

19. Where is Vicksburg? (a) Alabama, (b) Louisiana, (c) Missouri, (d) Mississippi

20. When was the Veterans Administration founded? (a) 1870, (b) 1930, (c) 1950, (d) 1972

ANSWERS: 1. c; 2. d; 3. a; 4. c; 5. c; 6. a; 7. b; 8. d; 9. a; 10. d; (more than all the other wars combined. 11. b; 12. c; 13. a; 14. b; 15. d; 16. b; 17. d. 18. a; 19. d; 20. b.

Well, there you have it. Tell me how you did, good or (as my grandson used to say) not so good.

THE DEMS WORST NIGHTMARE

Winsome Sears is the Dems’ worst nightmare. You may ask why. You may be wondering, who the heck is Winsome Sears. If you’re not familiar with her, don’t worry. You are not alone. I would guess that until a few days ago very few people knew of her. And even fewer were familiar with her remarkable story. But, they know her now. Read on and be edified.

Winsome Sears is the newly elected lieutenant governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. She is the first woman of color ever to win a statewide election in Virginia. Consequently, she is everything Dems despise and fear. She contradicts and negates their core belief, namely that people of color are born victims. They are victims of a racist society. They are born oppressed and are destined to remain oppressed. Being a black woman and an immigrant she negates the Dems’ “go-to” criticism of any successful GOP politician. They cannot call her a racist, a misogynist, anti-immigrant or a white supremacist. At least not with any credibility. Of course some Dem commentators have tried as you will see below, but all they do is expose themselves as ignorant, biased hypocrites. In my view, many of them, including those that are people of color, are racists, themselves.

In the most recent election most of the attention of the media and the electorate, in general, was focused on the governor’s race and rightly so. Republican Glenn Youngkin won a big upset over the Dem incumbent, Terry McAuliffe. I believe McAuliffe ran a poor campaign. For the most part, he ran on President Biden’s agenda and criticizing Donald Trump, not realizing or, perhaps ignoring, the fact that Biden and his agenda were growing increasingly unpopular. Poor strategy. Even 11th hour appearances of Dem heavyweights such as Biden, Harris and Obama couldn’t save him. The failure of Biden’s Administration cast a pallor over his campaign that could not be overcome. That said, I believe that McAuliffe’s fatal mistake was his support of critical race theory accompanied by his opposing the right of parents to have a say in their children’s education program. Instead, he expressed strong support of the local Boards of Education and the teachers’ union to maintain control of the state’s school curricula.

Despite McAuliffe’s denials it became apparent the schools were teaching critical race theory to young kids. Most parents were horrified and a tug of war developed over who should have control over the school curricula, parents or teachers. Also, many parents were incensed when a boy dressed as a girl entered the girls bathroom in one school and raped a girl, and the school covered it up. 

As controversy swirled rather than trying to defuse matters by moderating his position McAuliffe chose to “double down” by proclaiming “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” To make matters even worse it was later revealed that four of his five children were attending private schools.

On the other hand, Youngkin in addition to the foregoing education/CRT issue, recognized that voters were angry and frustrated with President Biden’s failed and inept policies and results. Thus, the election became a referendum on Biden. As a result, Youngkin’s campaign took off, and in a short period of time a McAuliffe runaway turned into a cliffhanger and then a loss, His strong support of parents’ on the CRT/education issue probably put him over the top. According to exit polls a majority of voters opined that parents should have “a lot” of input into their child’s education curriculum.

Back to Sears. In my opinion, She is a true American success story. She was born into poverty in Kingston, Jamaica on March 11, 1964. When she was six her family emigrated to the US. Her father arrived with only $1.75 in his pocket. The family settled in The Bronx, NY. Rather than bemoaning that he was poor and disadvantaged and using those circumstances as a “crutch” he embraced the American Dream. He believed strongly in education and self sufficiency as means to lift oneself up. He worked at a succession of menial jobs while continuing his education. He passed these attributes on to Winsome. She attended community college, then earned a BA in English with a minor in economics from Old Dominion University and an MA in organizational leadership from Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA.

She has had a varied career. She served in the marines. She ran a homeless shelter. She runs a small appliance and plumbing business. She entered politics in 2002 serving in the Virginia House of Delegates. She served on the VA Board of Education and has worked for the Census Bureau and Department of Veterans Affairs.  She is married with two children. Many politicians who claim they came from disadvantaged backgrounds and hold themselves out as champions of the downtrodden actually came from privileged backgrounds. Not Sears. As you can see she was truly disadvantaged and yet rose above it. If she were a Democrat she would be being celebrated far and wide.

Sears’ background and accomplishments have not stopped Dem critics. She has already been subjected to criticism from race baiters such as Jamele Hill and Joy Reid. Hill ascribed her victory to ”white supremacy,” which is an inane comment given Sears’ background.  Reid also played the race/white supremacy card. These days it seems that that is all the Dems can say. They can’t run on real issues or point to actual accomplishments so they try that. I don’t think too many voters still “buy” it. Sears fired back telling Reid to “get her facts straight” and “invite me on your show” for a “real discussion.” I doubt that will ever happen. Sears also accused Reid of “stoking… soft white nationalism.”

CONCLUSION

Youngkin’s victory was all the more impressive because he captured 32% of the Hispanic vote and 12% of the Black vote, great results for a Republican. GOP supporters were generally exultant over the win in VA and near-win in NJ. Both have been viewed as deep blue states that Biden won handily just one year ago. The sharp shift is widely seen as a rebuttal of the Biden presidency and a harbinger of the 2022 and 2024 elections. Even news outlets such as CBS news acknowledged that the results could be a “preview” of 2022. House minority leader Kevin McCarthy called it a “wake-up call” for Dems. Voters want them to “abandon the partisanship extremist agenda….. that is costing trillions of dollars and that nobody even wants.” He predicted that some 70 House races will be “competitive” in 2022.

As I write this blog, many of the Dems still appear to be in denial. Rather than acknowledging that the electorate is not in favor of their radical left agenda they are making excuses for the VA and NJ results. They seem to view them as aberrations rather than advance warnings. The leadership is still pushing their radical agenda. Moderate Dems and those up for re-election in 2022 are caught between the proverbial “rock and a hard place.” Do they continue to follow their leadership off a cliff or do they heed the warnings of this week’s elections? I believe that there are many Dem congresspersons who disagree with the administration’s policies but are reluctant to go against their leadership. They are relying on Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to provide “cover.”

In any event the VA and NJ election results may cause Biden’s signature bills to fail or at least be heavily modified. We shall see. As I write this negotiations are ongoing. If I were a Dem up for re-election in 2022 I would be worried for my political survival, very worried. I would not be surprised if the GOP “flips” both the Senate and the House in 2022 and wins the presidency in 2024.

BIDENOMICS

Welcome to the twisted world of “Bidenomincs.” Welcome to a world where left is right and right is left. Welcome to a world where up is down and down is up. Welcome to a world where you can spend trillions of dollars, and it won’t cost you a cent, not a red cent. Welcome to a world where our esteemed president shuts down a perfectly viable pipeline which is supplying us with copious amounts of oil and gas, which has made us energy independent for the first time in some 75 years, creates a critical shortage of same, and then turns arounds and endorses Russia’s plan to build a pipeline to provide oil to our European allies thus enriching our enemy and permitting it to control the energy supply of our European allies. Why is Russia’s pipeline different that ours? Can’t answer that one. You’ll have to ask “Sleepy Joe,” if he ever were to answer questions, that is. Wait, there’s more. He then goes to the oil barons of the Middle East begging them to please, please, pretty please produce more oil so that he can solve the shortage he created.

He spends money like a drunken sailor, money we don’t have. The Fed keeps printing money to pay for his folly. His actions have caused severe shortages. Every night on the news we are treated to the sight of hundreds of cargo ships standing offshore waiting to be unloaded. I didn’t go to “Hahvad,” but I know basic economics, the law of supply and demand. I know these actions will cause inflation. Lots of it. Remember the 1970s? Runaway inflation, high interest rates, gas lines. Don’t be surprised if we see that again.

And now for the “coup de grace,” the cherry on top. According to Fox News, deeply embedded in the Build Back Better multi-trillion dollar Dem spending package pending before Congress is a proposal to provide illegal aliens who were separated from their families at the border with a reparations payment of up to $450,000. So, let me get this straight. You enter the country illegally, and your “punishment” is a payment of $450,000. And who will be paying for all this? Take one guess. This is part of the aid package that Biden insists won’t cost “one red cent.” I don’t know about you, but I’m considering flying to Mexico City, embedding myself into the next migrant caravan, crossing the border illegally without my family, and then applying for that windfall.

Some of my critics have accused me of bias, exaggeration, and twisting the facts. Maybe, at times, I have been overzealous in my opinions. But, this is still America. I am still entitled to my opinion. In this case, however, the only proof I need is right in front of you, in the grocery store, at the gas pump, in your shrinking paycheck. Just wait until the really cold weather comes, and your heating bill jumps some $100 per month over last year’s total. Moreover, try explaining to your children why their Christmas gifts did not arrive on time.

CONCLUSION

The “fun” has just begun. The far left wing idealogues that are controlling the Biden Administration are in a race with the calendar. They will be trying to create as much havoc and destruction as they can before the 2022 elections. They will blame Donald Trump. If you question them, they will call you a “racist.”

This mess is not Trump’s fault. It is the fault of those voters who weren’t paying close attention, who were blinded by their irrational hatred of Donald Trump, who drank the “Kool-Aid,” who believed the fantasy that Biden was still in full possession of his faculties, and who believed he would govern as a “moderate.” Ultimately, you “get the government you deserve.” I don’t want to offend anyone, but the honest truth is if you want to know whose fault this disastrous presidency is, look in the mirror.

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO AND THE COVID VACCINE CONTROVERSY

From time to time I get special requests from readers to write a blog on a particular topic. I always try to honor such requests. The following is a request from my friend and loyal reader, Kevin.

As you all know, at the present time one of the most contentious issues in America revolves around the COVID vaccines and the relationship between the vaccinated and the non-vaccinated. President Biden’s mandate has added fuel to the fire. Each group feels it has valid reasons for its position and has dug in its heels. Although I am fully vaccinated I have not taken sides, and I will not at this time.

Suffice to say, in my opinion, there are legitimate questions with respect to the subject. For example, should they be mandatory for everyone? To what extent do they help? Should people who refuse be fired from their jobs? Should those who have antibodies either naturally or from having survived a bout with the virus be exempt? Are there legitimate religious or medical reasons to refuse? The purpose of this blog is not to takes sides. My objective is to try to inject a little humor into a tense and contentious situation. So, below please find how the late comedy duo, Abbott and Costello might have handled this situation. Read and enjoy.

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO’S “WHO’S BEEN VACCINATED?” 

Bud: ‘You can’t come in here!’

Lou: ‘Why not?’

Bud: ‘Well because you’re unvaccinated.’ 

Lou: ‘But I’m not sick.’

Bud: ‘It doesn’t matter.’

Lou: ‘Well, why does that guy get to go in?’

Bud: ‘Because he’s vaccinated.’

Lou: ‘But he’s sick!’

Bud: ‘It’s alright. Everyone in here is vaccinated.’

Lou: ‘Wait a minute. Are you saying everyone in there is vaccinated?’

Bud: ‘Yes.’

Lou: ‘So then why can’t I go in there if everyone is vaccinated?’

Bud: ‘Because you’ll make them sick.’

Lou: ‘How will I make them sick if I’m NOT sick and they’re vaccinated?’ 

Bud: ‘Because you’re unvaccinated.’ 

Lou: ‘But they’re vaccinated.’

Bud: ‘But they can still get sick.’ 

Lou: ‘So what the heck does the vaccine do?’

Bud: ‘It vaccinates.’ 

Lou: ‘So vaccinated people can’t spread COVID?’

Bud: ‘Oh no. They can spread COVID just as easily as an unvaccinated person.’

Lou: ‘I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore. Look. I’m not sick. 

Bud: ‘Ok.’

Lou: ‘And the guy you let in IS

Bud: ‘That’s right.’

Lou: ‘And everybody in there can still get sick even though they’re vaccinated.’

Bud: ‘Certainly.’

Lou: ‘So why can’t I go in again?’

Bud: ‘Because you’re unvaccinated.’

Lou: ‘I’m not asking who’s vaccinated or not!’

Bud: ‘I’m just telling you how it is.’

Lou: ‘Never mind. I’ll just put on my mask.’

Bud: ‘That’s fine.’

Lou: ‘Now I can go in?’

Bud: ‘Absolutely not?’

Lou: ‘But I have a mask!’

Bud: ‘Doesn’t matter.’

Lou: ‘I was able to come in here yesterday with a mask.’

Bud: ‘I know.’ 

Lou: So why can’t I come in here today with a mask? ….If you say ‘because I’m unvaccinated’ again, I’ll break your arm.’

Bud: ‘Take it easy buddy.’

Lou: ‘So the mask is no good anymore.’

Bud: ‘No, it’s still good.’

Lou: ‘But I can’t come in?’

Bud: ‘Correct.’

Lou: ‘Why not?’

Bud: ‘Because you’re unvaccinated.’ 

Lou: ‘But the mask prevents the germs from getting out.’

Bud: ‘Yes, but people can still catch your germs.’

Lou: ‘But they’re all vaccinated.’

Bud: ‘Yes, but they can still get sick.’

Lou: ‘But I’m not sick!!’

Bud: ‘You can still get them sick.’

Lou: ‘So then masks don’t work!’

Bud: ‘Masks work quite well.’

Lou: ‘So how in the heck can I get vaccinated people sick if I’m not sick and masks work?’

Bud: ‘Third base.’

CONCLUSION

For the uninitiated, Abbott and Costello were one of the most famous and successful comedy duos in the 1940s and 1950s. They joined forces in 1935 by accident when Costello’s partner was unable to perform due to illness and Abbott had to step in. They were an immediate success. Abbott was the “straight man,” and Costello was the “fall guy.” Their career spanned vaudeville, radio, television and the movies. At their peak in the 1940s they were the highest paid entertainers in the world. They are best known for the comedy routine “Who’s on First,” which, to me, is one of the most famous and funniest routines ever. If you’re not familiar with it you can find it on U-Tube or at the Baseball Hall of Fame where it is played on a continuous loop.

Their “run” came to an abrupt end when Costello died of a heart attack in 1957 at the age of 57. Abbott died in 1974 of cancer. Perhaps, the “PC” crowd would not appreciate their brand of humor, but to their many fans it will live forever.

HALLOWEEN

On Sunday, October 31, many of us will celebrate Halloween. We will dress up in costumes and attend parties. Children will go door-to-door “trick or treating.” Of course, some will use the holiday as an excuse to create mischief or even mayhem, but for most of us it will be a day of fun and games and an opportunity to gorge ourselves on candy. But, few, if any, of us will bother to stop and think about the origins of the holiday. When and where did it begin? How did it evolve? Why do we dress up in costumes? Why do we go “trick or treating?” Glad you asked. Read on.

The origin of Halloween is a Celtic holiday dedicated to the dead. Although the Celts were interspersed in many areas of Europe, they were concentrated in what is now, England, Ireland and Scotland. The Celts divided the year into four sections, each of which was marked by a major holiday. The beginning of the winter season was November 1, which was celebrated by a festival called “Samhein,” pronounced “Sah-ween,” which means “end of summer” in old Irish. The word “Halloween” can be traced back as far as 1745. It means “hallowed evening” or “holy evening.” It is derived from a Scottish term for “All Hallows Eve,” the evening before “All Hallows Day,” aka “All Saints Day.” Over time, the word “evening” was contracted to “e’en,” thus Halloween.

The Celts were a pagan people and very superstitious. They believed that the ghosts of those who had died during the year had not yet completed their journey to the “otherworld,” and at Samhein they were able to mingle with the living. Accordingly, to placate these ghosts and other spirits the Celts offered sacrifices and lit bonfires to aid them on their journey. It has been suggested that the origin of wearing costumes was to disguise oneself from any lost soul that might be seeking vengeance on the living before moving on the next world. Some, believing that the souls of those who had died recently were still wandering in a sort of purgatory, set a place for them at dinner. Many of these ancient traditions have persisted to this day in some locales.

In 601 Pope Gregory I issued an edict, the gist of which was that missionaries were to combine Christian holidays and festivals with existing pagan holidays and festivals and, hopefully, eventually supersede them. The ultimate objective was to foster the conversion of pagans to Christianity. As a result, All Saints Day, aka All Hallows Day, was moved to November 1 to coincide with Samhein.

By the end of the 12th century other Halloween traditions had developed. For example, the clergy would ring church bells for the souls stuck in purgatory; and “criers,” dressed in black, would parade through towns reminding the citizens to remember these poor souls. In about the 15th century people began to bake “soul cakes,” which are small round cakes, a practice called “souling,” which is believed to be a forerunner of “trick or treating.” Poor people would go door-to-door and collect these cakes in exchange for saying prayers for the dead. Interestingly, Shakespeare mentioned “souling” in “The Two Gentlemen of Varona” in 1593. Over time, celebrations of All Hallows Day began to include additional customs, such as “trick or treating,” lighting bonfires, attending costume parties, carving “jack-o’-lanterns, apple “bobbing,” and attending church services.

As mentioned above, it is believed that the practice of “trick-or-treating” was derived from “souling” or “mumming,” which is going house-to-house in disguise singing songs in exchange for food. This was believed to have originated in Scotland and Wales in the 16th century. Sometimes people would paint their faces and threaten mischief if they were not welcomed. This evolved into the customs of wearing costumes and playing pranks. Nocturnal pranksters needed illumination, hence the development of jack-o-lanterns. In England, people would fashion them out of turnips or mangel wurzels, which are large, thick roots suitable for carving. In America, pumpkins were used, because they were plentiful and better suited for carving anyway. Jack-o-lanterns are believed to frighten evil spirits. In France, people believed that the dead buried in cemeteries would rise up and participate in a wild carnival-like celebration known as the “Danse Macabre,” or “Dance of Death.”

“Trick or treating,” as such, is a relatively modern development. As I said, it is believed to have evolved from “souling” or “mumming.” The earliest mention of it in print was in 1927, and it did not become widespread until the 1930s in the US. Also, costuming has evolved. Popular fictional characters have been added to the traditional skeletons, ghosts and ghouls. Basically, now, anything goes. As I said celebrating the day is no longer exclusively limited to children. Many adults also wear costumes and attend Halloween parties.

CONCLUSION

At the present time, Halloween, like other holidays, has become highly commercialized. Selling costumes and other related paraphernalia has become big business. Several movie franchises, such as Halloween and Friday the 13th have become very popular, especially at this time of the year. The actress, Jamie Lee Curtis has made a career of starring in six Halloween movies over the years beginning in 1978.

The original religious significance of the holiday has been eclipsed and forgotten by most people. Yes, some people still attend church, but many more attend parties. Many if not most people, especially children, know Halloween merely as a day to dress in costumes and go “trick or treating.” We do love our candy. Speaking of which, special kudos to my grandkids who, aware of my fondness for Snickers, remember to save a bar for me every year.

Last year, due to COVID concerns, “trick or treating” and other Halloween traditions were generally somewhat muted. In 2021 I expect a return to normalcy. Approximately 60% of Americans are vaccinated. Moreover, Halloween costumes do include masks, which provide further protection and should give concerned parents additional comfort.

In the last few years, the “PC Police” have inserted themselves into the holiday. Some of them have maintained that certain costumes are “racist” and should be avoided. I think we can all agree that a Caucasian should not dress up in “blackface.” But, the PC Police go much further. They also disapprove of any costumes that could be perceived by anyone as mocking or derogatory. Some examples would likely include Disney’s Moana, Aztec Indians, Tom Thumb, or Pancho Villa, which, in their minds, could be objectionable to Polynesians, Indigenous People, short people (or should I say “vertically challenged?” I have trouble keeping up with all the PC buzzwords.), or Hispanics, respectively. I say, if your five year-old loves Moana and wants to dress up like her, go for it. Is that really being insensitive or racist? Really? Do the people who are marketing Moana costumes really expect to sell them only to Polynesians? I think not! To me, these objections are just another example of some people who want to dictate to others how to act and live.

Hopefully, after reading this blog you will have gained some knowledge of and perspective as to the origin and meaning of the holiday. Enjoy, and stay safe!

COLIN POWELL

Despite humble beginnings Colin Powell led a very accomplished life.

Colin Luther Powell was born in The Bronx, NYC on April 5, 1937. His parents were first-generation immigrants from the island of Jamaica of mixed Scottish and African heritage. His father, Luther, worked as a shipping clerk, and his mother, Maud, was a seamstress. He attended NYC public schools and graduated from City College of NY with a degree in geology. He described himself as a “C” student (probably due to a lack of motivation rather than intelligence). In 1971 He followed up with an MBA from GW University.

As a youngster one of his jobs was in a local furniture store, which was owned by Eastern European Jews. As the story goes he picked up bits of Yiddish from the employees and customers, and, later in life, at one point he shocked a Jewish reporter by addressing him in Yiddish. In addition, he served as a “Shabbos goy,” one who performed certain tasks, such as lighting the stove, for Orthodox Jews who were forbidden to do so on the Sabbath.

In college he joined ROTC and upon graduation was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the Army. In a long and distinguished military career (35 years) he rose through the ranks to become a four-star general and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, only the 12th person to hold that office. Moreover, he was a diplomat and a statesman, serving as national security advisor and Secretary of State. Finally, in 2008 he was in the conversation as a GOP candidate for the vice presidency under John McCain. Although he declined to run his endorsement was actively sought after by both political parties. In the 2016 election he received three electoral votes (Washington Sate) even though he was not on the ballot. In my opinion, his career was marred by one significant “blip,” which I will described below.

In the eyes of some, there was one significant blemish on his career – his speech at the UN in support of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. At the time, the decision was very controversial. The George W. Bush administration justified the invasion based on intelligence reports, later determined to be inaccurate, if not intentionally misleading, that Iraq possessed “weapons of mass destruction.” Powell, as Secretary of State, gave the aforementioned speech at the UN in which he attempted to justify the invasion, When no such weapons were ever found his reputation “took a big hit.” In 2005 he was forced to resign.

Later, Powell admitted that his speech had contained various “inaccuracies.” Furthermore, he explained that he had been strongly in favor of trying diplomatic measures before resorting to an invasion. In point of fact, he revealed that he spent hours with Bush outlining the ill-advised consequences of “going into an Arab country and becoming the occupiers.” Bush was not swayed. Ultimately, Powell told Bush that he would respect and support whatever decision he made, and he did. The implication is that he gave the speech as a “good soldier” who was following the dictates of his boss. Years later, Powell disclosed that VP Dick Cheney had told him “you’ve got high poll ratings; you can afford to lose a few points.”

CONCLUSION

During his career Powell received innumerable awards and decorations, such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and the Presidential Citizens Medal.

Powell passed away on October 18, 2021 from COVID-19-related complications and multiple myeloma, which compromised his immune system. Despite his one above-described “blip” he remained a hero to many. My personal opinion is that the one “blip” should not override all the good Powell did in his life as a military leader, diplomat and statesman, particularly since he was operating as a loyal subordinate who was “taking one for the team.” Additionally, I think he would have made a good president.

DEMOCRATS’ MASSIVE SPENDING BILL

Most of you have heard about the massive, comprehensive $3.5 trillion or so spending bill that is being debated in Congress (the “Build Back Better Act”). It is supported by President Biden, virtually all Dem lawmakers, and most of the media. Conversely, it is opposed by all GOP lawmakers and two moderate Dem senators. At the moment, the bill is stalled in the Senate. The Dems’ margin in the Senate is so small that they need the support of all 50 Dem senators in order for it to pass. It is generally accepted that this omnibus bill is the centerpiece of Biden’s legislative agenda, and if it fails to pass, his presidency will have been dealt a severe blow.

The purpose of this blog is not to debate the pros and cons of the bill’s provisions. Rather, it is to point out that it is some 2,500 pages long, chock full of hidden clauses, fine print, and “pork,” and virtually none of the congressmen and women who will be voting on it have read it. I repeat, this massive bill will cost roughly $3.5 trillion, will likely remake our way of life, will affect our children, grandchildren, and generations yet unborn, and virtually no one knows all of what’s in it! I don’t know about you, but I find that downright scary and borderline congressional malpractice (if there is such a thing). I admit I have not read the bill, but then it is not my job to do so. However, I can assure you that if I were a member of congress I would make sure my staff had read it and analyzed it before I cast my vote.

Based on my research of summaries provided by various sources, such as CNN, CBS News, Fox News and others the following is a list of what I consider to be the major provisions of this bill Again, I am not offering an opinion, just the facts as I see them. I encourage you to decide for yourself if this is what we want, need and can afford.

  1. $400 billion to enhance child care and universal “pre-k” as part of the Dems’ “cradle to grave” plan.
  2. Two free years of community college regardless of income.
  3. Expand Medicare to include dental, hearing and vision services.
  4. Extend expanded child care credit through 2025.
  5. Comprehensive paid family leave.
  6. Expand eligibility for child nutrition programs.
  7. Invest in affordable housing.
  8. Increase significantly the number of IRS tax agents and expand its tax enforcement mandate.
  9. Various climate change and Green New Deal provisions.
  10. Block oil/gas exploration.
  11. $25 million each for butterflies, “desert pupfish,” and mussels.
  12. $4 billion to remove “racist infrastructure.”
  13. $100 billion to provide amnesty, free college and welfare for illegal aliens.
  14. $500 million for “culturally appropriate” school lunches. (Bagels and lox?)
  15. Free housing for convicted felons.
  16. Taxpayer-funded abortions.
  17. Grants to treat “loneliness.”
  18. $7 billion to universities to provide “equity” training and teach “critical race theory”).
  19. Increase the corporate tax rate from 21% to 26%. This would make it among the highest in the world.
  20. Increase taxes on small businesses.
  21. Increases to the “death tax.”
  22. Increase the top personal tax rate from 37% to 39.6%.
  23. Increase the top capital gains rate from 20% to 25%.

CONCLUSION

One telling fact is that the Dems are trying to pass this bill as a “reconciliation” item. That is, they are claiming it only needs a simple majority to pass the Senate, not a supermajority of 60 votes like non-reconciliation bills. They know they would never get 60 votes, but they could get a simple majority since VP Harris could break a tie in their favor. It is questionable whether or not this bill as it is currently written would qualify. Reconciliation bills are required to be budget-related. Even so, presently the Dems are two votes “short” of a simple majority. Two moderate Dem senators, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, have expressed reservations about supporting it. In fact, Manchin has called for a “pause” in spending for the moment.

Many of the above provisions are part of the radical/progressive wish list, and have already been proposed (and rejected by most Americans) as part of the “Green New Deal.” The radical Dems are now trying to sneak them in under the radar in this massive bill that few will read. Others sound good and make some sense, but they are too expensive and inflationary. Many believe the tax provisions will strangle the economy, drive businesses overseas, and feed inflation. The economy has already been exhibiting signs of inflation. Anyone who has bought groceries, gassed up their car, or bought clothes recently has experienced this. Inflation hurts everyone. Some of us are old enough to remember the 1970s, which were characterized by high inflation and long gas lines. You have to ask yourself if we can afford the bill, and if the provisions are worth the cost.

The Dem leaders are trying to convince us that we need this bill. Pelosi has repeated her famous line that “you have to pass it to know what’s in it.” Unfortunately, that inane line worked with respect to the Affordable Care Act, but hopefully, it will not work now.