THE “SQUAD”

They call themselves “the Squad,” but I think a more apt name would be “The Four Horsewomen of the Apocalypse.” For those of you who don’t get the reference check the Bible, which identifies them as “Conquest,” “War,” Pestilence,” and “Death.” This version is “OAC,” “Omar,” “Pressley” and “Tlaib.”

For purposes of this blog I don’t think it would be productive to get bogged down in the appropriateness or lack thereof of President Trump’s recent tweets to the “Four Horsewomen” (“4-H”). We could debate that until “cows come home.” Trump haters are critical of them; Trump supporters see nothing wrong with them, or, perhaps even agree with them. To me, the relevant part of this is the anti-American words, actions, beliefs and attitude of the 4-H.

The 4-H have only been in Congress for a few months, yet during that time they have promulgated a long list of prejudicial, racist and inane statements and actions. On an almost daily basis, one or more of them has come up with something that makes you shake your head. What’s more, they have been aided and abetted by a media that has repeatedly demonstrated its largely ultraliberal bias. Below please find a list of the highlights (or lowlights):

1. They have called Mr. Trump a “racist” and a “Nazi.” This is wrong on so many levels. Firstly, to call anyone a Nazi minimizes the Holocaust, which was horrendous and inhumane beyond belief. Anyone with a smidgeon of historical knowledge and compassion for their fellow man would know that and would refrain from calling anyone that name. Also, as soon as someone calls another person those names all sensible discourse ceases, and nothing gets settled. Secondly, most everyone realizes President Trump is neither a racist nor a Nazi. For example, former presidential candidate and cabinet member Ben Carson categorically denies that he is. He doesn’t just criticize “protected” classes of people. He criticizes anyone and everyone whom he feels deserves it. He is an “equal opportunity critic.” He has a Jewish son-in-law, for God’s sake. Moreover, many of his policies have done more to help women, AAs and Hispanics than those of any other president in my lifetime, if not ever. For example, we are now enjoying record low unemployment among, women, AAs and Hispanics. Moreover, he was a staunch advocate of prison reform. The 4-Hers have even called Nancy Pelosi, their Party’s leader, a racist.

2. They have labeled ICE and CBP agents racists and Nazis. Apparently, they are unaware that many of these agents are women, AAs, Hispanics, and, perhaps, even Jewish. Also, they are just doing their job, enforcing laws that have been passed by past Congresses, signed by past presidents and upheld by the Supreme Court. Again, the 4-H are showing their ignorance.

3. Omar has repeatedly referred to the heinous “9/11” attacks as “some people did something,” rather than identifying the perpetrators as Muslim terrorists and condemning their actions.

4. They refuse to acknowledge Mr. Trump as the duly elected president, calling him the “occupant of the White House.” This is a disrespectful slap in the face to all Americans and the system that elected him.

5. They have objected to illegals being put in “cages,” yet they have refused to vote for more funding to improve the conditions. AOC even had the gall to claim people were drinking water out of toilets, which was a gross and inflammatory lie.

6. They have made many bigoted statements with respect to both Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and Jewish supposed undue influence on the US government (“It’s all about the ‘Benjamins.’ “) They are allied with and supported by the likes of Louis Farrakhan, possibly the biggest bigot of them all.

7. They support ANTIFA, which is nothing more than a bunch of violent thugs. Just a few days ago one of them firebombed an ICE facility. Was the maniacal perpetrator influenced by CNN and the 4-H? Well, CNN has long been a defender of and apologist for ANTIFA, and the perp did have a manifesto of OAC’s policies in his possession.

8. They have advocated the ridiculous Green New Deal, which would tear down our institutions, put tens of millions out of work, and bankrupt the country in the process. OAC claimed that “experts” have predicted the world will end in 12 years and called the battle over climate change “our WWII.” Dumb and dumber.

9. They support those who disrespect our flag, like Colin Kaepernick.

I have just about had enough of the excessive pc that has been taking over our country. Caucasians and GOPers are not allowed to criticize or disagree with anyone who is Black, Hispanic, Muslim, female, gay, transgender, or a Dem. (Did I leave anyone out?) If they do, they are immediately labeled as a bigot, a racist or a Nazi.” On the other hand, any member of those groups is free to criticize them. The effect of this is to cut off all discourse of the issues. What we end up with is divisiveness and violence.

I believe President Trump’s tweets, though sometimes somewhat crude in tone, are consistent with how a majority of Americans feel. For example, take the current case. Presently, patriotism is at a high point. People, like the 4-H, who criticize and disrespect our anthem, flag, military, law enforcement personnel, and/or our system of government, who don’t offer constructive criticism, won’t tolerate even minor dissent, and want to tear it all down are not going to be very popular.

The last few days President Trump clarified his tweet somewhat. He said they can “say and do what they want. They can leave or stay, [but they] “should love our country.” Furthermore, he stated he had copies of their most vicious, vile comments concerning the above-listed items. Most of us who have been paying attention are familiar with them.

Moreover, a majority of Americans are fed up with the fake news media outlets, like CNN and MSNBC, that support them, exaggerate their influence and popularity, and seek to foment controversy and violence. According to “The Hill” CNN and MSNBC have used the word “racist” some 1,100 times in covering this story from Sunday through Monday. 1,100 times! In just two days! Enough said.

In fact, I consider the aforementioned to be opinion outlets, not legitimate news organizations. They don’t separate commentary and opinion from real news. Recently, a CNN contributor was actually, admiring certain ANTIFA weapons and also soliciting contributions for them from viewers on the air. Disgusting. Anyone who gets all of their “news” from them is being grossly misled and seriously misinformed.

In my opinion, the House’s condemnation of President Trump and possible impeachment will go nowhere. The former is an empty gesture as most people agree with the substance of what he said and know he is not a racist; history tells us the latter will fail and only serve to boost Mr. Trump’s standing among the electorate.

President Trump is being criticized for “elevating” the 4-H by his tweets. Perhaps, but he also has brilliantly succeeded in maneuvering the entire Dem Party, including the 2020 candidates, to defend the highly unpopular 4-H even though most of them probably don’t agree with their policies. This is in addition to other unpopular policies, such as Socialism, open borders, illegal immigration and MS-13. It may not have been his intention, but there it is.

Douglas Perry, writing in the “Oregonian” reported that Nancy Pelosi has been trying to denigrate the 4-Hers’ influence. She said “they’re four people, and that’s how many votes they’ve got.” But, it’s not working. “Axios” has disclosed the results of an internal Dem Party poll among swing voters in which OAC was identified as the “definitional face” of the Dem Party. Another Dem Party poll of 1,000 likely voters in midwestern swing states disclosed OAC’s approval rating to be a mere 22%. The other 4-Hers had lower approval ratings.

CONCLUSION

How can the Dems win the White House by being tied to these people and the policies they espouse? The answer is, they likely won’t. Stay tuned.

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THIS MONTH IN HISTORY – JULY

Historically, July has been a very active month. Below please find a list of significant historical events that have occurred during the month. Read on, and be edified.

July 1 – Canada Day is celebrated commemorating the union of Upper and Lower Canada and certain of the Maritime Provinces to form the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867.

July 1, 1862 – President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill authorizing the first income tax levy (3%).

July 1, 1863 – The decisive Civil War Battle of Gettysburg commenced.

July 1, 1963 – The US Postal Service commenced using zip codes.

July 2, 1776 – The Continental Congress adopted a resolution declaring that “these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.”

July 2, 1788 – Congress announced that the US Constitution had been ratified by the requisite nine states.

July 2, 1881– President James Garfield was shot and mortally wounded. He died on September 19.

July 2, 1937 – Pilot Amelia Earhart went missing.

July 2, 1964 – President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

July 3, 1775 – George Washington took command of the Continental Army at Cambridge, MA.

July 3, 1976 – Israeli commandos rescued 103 hostages being held by pro-Palestinian guerrillas on a hijacked airliner at Entebbe airport in Uganda.

July 4, 1776 – The Continental Congress formally approved the Declaration of Independence, making this date the US’s official Independence Day, even though many of the 56 signatories signed the document later. (The exact dates are in dispute to this day.)

July 4, 1863 – The city of Vicksburg, MS surrendered to General Grant giving the Union control of the vital Mississippi River.

July 4, 1959 – A 49th star, representing Alaska, was added to the flag.

July 4, 1960 – A 50th star, representing Hawaii, was added to the flag.

July 5, 1946 – The bikini, named by creator Louis Reard for the Bikini Atoll where the atomic bomb was tested, was introduced in Paris.

July 6, 1885 – Louis Pasteur administered the first successful rabies shot (to a boy who had been bitten by a rabid dog).

July 6, 1942 – Holocaust victim, Anne Frank, and her family began hiding in a sealed-off room in Amsterdam in an ultimately futile attempt to avoid being captured by the Nazis.

July 7, 1898 – President McKinley signed a resolution annexing Hawaii.

July 8, 1889 – The Wall Street Journal began publication.

July 10, 1940 – The German Luftwaffe commenced bombing raids against Great Britain.

July 10, 1943 – The Allies commenced their invasion of Europe by landing in Sicily.

July 10, 1973 – The Bahamas gained their independence after 250 years of British rule.

July 13, 1977 – Two lightening strikes caused a 25-hour blackout in the NYC area. (Did the local birth rate spike in April, 1978?)

July 14, 1789 – A mob of protesters successfully stormed the Bastille Saint-Antoine in Paris, a fortress, a prison and a hated symbol of aristocratic repression. The Bastille’s fall shocked the aristocratic world and signaled the beginning of the French Revolution.

July 16, 1769 – Father Junipero Serra founded the mission of San Diego de Alcala (present-day San Diego), one of many he founded throughout current-day California.

July 16, 1969 – The Apollo 11 mission took off for the moon.

July 17, 1918 – Bolshevik rebels murdered Czar Nicholas II and his family in Ekaterinburg, Siberia.

July 17, 1955 – Disneyland, in Anaheim, CA, opened to the public.

July 17, 1996 – TWA Flight 800 blew up shortly after takeoff off the coast of Long Island.

July 18, 1936 – The Spanish civil war began as a revolt by right wing army officers stationed in Morocco.

July 18, 1947 – President Truman, who had succeeded to the presidency following FDR’s death, signed an Executive Order that laid out the order of succession in the event a president were to die or become incapacitated (vp, speaker of the house, etc.). This order became the basis for the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which was ratified on February 10, 1967.
July 18, 1969 – Senator Ted Kennedy drove his car off a wooden bridge on Chappaquiddick Island killing aide Mary Jo Kopechne and ending his chances for the presidency.

July 20, 1969 – Billions of people watched live on tv as Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. (Famous quote – “One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.”)

July 27, 1953 – The US and Korea signed an armistice ending the Korean Conflict, which had raged on for three years.

July 27, 1974 – The House of Representatives charged President Nixon with the first of three articles of impeachment for obstruction of justice, eventually culminating in his resignation.

July 29, 1976 – David Berkowitz, aka “Son of Sam,” began his murderous reign of terror in NYC, which lasted until August 10, 1977.

July 29, 1981 – England’s Prince Charles and Lady Diana were married at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

July 30, 1965 – President Lyndon Johnson signed the Social Security Act of 1965, which established the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

July 31, 1798 – The US Patent Office opened and issued its first patent (for a new method of making potash and pearl ash).

Birthdays – Thurgood Marshall – 7/2/1908; Stephen Foster (wrote some 200 songs, including Oh Susanna, Camptown Races and Swanee River) – 7/4/1826; Calvin Coolidge (30th President) – 7/4/1872; David Farragut (Civil War admiral, famous quote: “Damn the torpedoes; full speed ahead”) – 7/5/1801; PT Barnum (promoter, showman and co-founder of the circus) – 7/5/1810; Cecil Rhodes (his will established Rhodes Scholarship) – 7/5/1863; John Paul Jones (father of US Navy, famous quote: “I have not yet begun to fight!”) – 7/6/1747; Leroy “Satchel” Page (AA Hall of Fame pitcher) – 7/7/1906; Nelson Rockefeller – 7/8/1908; John Calvin (founded Presbyterianism) – 7/10/1509; Arthur Ashe (tennis champion) – 7/10/1943; John Quincy Adams (6th president and son of #2, John Adams) – 7/11/1767; Gerald Ford ( 38th president) – 7/14/1913; Rembrandt van Rijn (famous Dutch painter) – 7/15/1606; Nelson Mandela – 7/18/1918; Edmund Hillary (first to ascend Mt. Everest) – 7/20/1919; Ernest Hemingway (Nobel Prize-winning author) – 7/21/1899; Simon Bolivar (aka “The Liberator” or “The George Washington of South America” for his successful efforts to liberate the nations of Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Venezuela from Spain) – 7/24/1783; Amelia Earhart (pioneer female pilot) – 7/24/1898; George Bernard Shaw (playwright) – 7/26/1856; Jacqueline Bouvier (JFK widow) – 7/28/1929; Benito Mussolini – 7/29/1883; Henry Ford – 7/30/1863;

THE HOMELESS CRISIS IN AMERICA

As you read this blog prepare to be appalled, frightened and ashamed. Simply put, in many areas of the country people are living (and dying) as they did in the Middle Ages. Many news outlets have begun reporting outbreaks of diseases such as typhus, typhoid fever, hepatitis, shigella (spread via feces), trench fever (spread through lice), and the plague in CA and other areas. Delightful!

Vantage News has characterized it as the “return of ‘medieval diseases.’ ” Furthermore, don’t assume that these diseases will remain solely in the homeless population. Public health officials have warned it would not be difficult for these diseases to “jump” into the general population. Already, there have been reports of police officers on the beat being infected. In addition, LA Deputy City Attorney Liz Greenwood reported she contracted typhus in City Hall, where she works, and which is infested with rats, last year. The situation was so dire that City Council President Herb Wesson had to close down his office, rip up the carpeting and authorize a thorough cleaning.

We have long had a homeless crisis in America, but now it is approaching existential threat levels. We can debate the causes, who is to blame, and how to fight the problem, but the overriding problem is that so far the politicians in charge, who should have been dealing with this problem, have failed miserably to do so. The US, the richest, most advanced country the world has ever seen, has some 16% of its population living in conditions that characterize the Middle Ages, and we seem powerless to do anything about it.

In this blog I am not going to attempt to solve the homeless problem. The origins and solutions are far too complex for me, an ordinary citizen, to do that. My main objective is to report the gravity of the problem, which, as I said, has reached crisis levels. The resolution lies in the hands of the politicians who run these cities, who heretofore, have been incompetent and ineffective, and who need to take corrective action NOW.

For purposes of this blog I will focus on California, which seems to have the dubious honor of being the poster boy for the problem. Health officials report that about 1/4 of the country’s 550,000 homeless are in CA. But, don’t think that the problem is limited to CA. It’s present, to varying degrees, in cities in Oregon, Washington, NY, Washington, DC., and elsewhere, as well.

Every night the news programs show pictures of tents set up on sidewalks, in CA’s major cities, such as LA, SF and Sacramento, trash in the streets, homeless shooting up and using the sidewalks as toilets, and used needles lying in the streets. Worse, there have been reports of vermin, such as rats, and various health-related communicable diseases, as noted above. Glenn Lopez, a physician with St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, who treats homeless patients in LA, calls the streets a “Third World environment.” Welcome to the 14th century.

According to CNN there are some 60,000 homeless in LA County. (I question the validity of any statistic relating to homelessness, since I don’t believe anyone has ever conducted a reliable census of them, but I will work with that number.) Moreover, according to CNN, although the county has spent “hundreds of millions” of dollars on the problem in just the past year (on what, I can’t imagine) nevertheless, the total has risen 12% during that time. Homeless people just keep pouring in. To be sure, many of them are illegals, who are attracted to the area because of the mild climate, free social services, sanctuary policies and permissive government, but a goodly number are also from other sections of the US, even other parts of CA. No one knows the actual numbers, which is part of the problem. We just know they are there.

CNN has reported the following:

1. In LA’s Skid Row tents line the sidewalks for block after block.
2. Some homeless have even tethered their tents to buildings and fences.
3. Pet owners have created dog parks for their pets.
4. One of their reporters observed some women washing their hair and laundry under a fire hydrant.
5. These are indications of permanent, not transient, residence.
6. There are reports that many of these people have resisted moving into public housing. Inexplicably, they prefer to remain where they are.
7. Police report that the elaborate set up of tents has hindered their ability to detect crimes, such as drug dealing, human trafficking, assault, and rape. As one might expect, the most vulnerable are women, children and the elderly, who are easy marks. Moreover, criminals have been charging “rent” to live on certain blocks.
8. The sanitation Department claims its ability to collect trash is being hindered, because its men cannot always discern trash from someone’s belongings.
9. Many who have mental and emotional health issues cannot be identified and treated.
10. Politicians, notably the Dem presidential candidates, have been touting grandiose plans to deal with the issue, but little or nothing has been and is being actually accomplished.

So, what causes one to become homeless? Contrary to popular thought, the homeless are not all lazy bums who just want to hang out and mooch off society. For the most part, the homeless do not get that way by choice. The most common reasons are job loss, drug or alcohol addiction, a serious illness not covered by healthcare (or a lack thereof), divorce and/or a dispute with a family member who basically kicks them out of where they are living. As you can see, these circumstances can befall anyone. Most Americans live paycheck to paycheck and do not have a sizeable financial cushion to deal with hard times.

One group of people that has been affected adversely by the homeless crisis that has not gotten a lot of notice are the small business owners whose establishments are in the areas of these tent cities. These homeless camps have been destroying their businesses. Who would want to pick their way through the encampments to patronize their businesses? Essentially, they have been powerless to do anything. The local politicians have been no help. In fact, they have deemed that the homeless are entitled to camp on the public sidewalks, and they cannot be removed forcibly. Lately, some of them have taken matters into their own hands. Some of the “outside the box” deterrents, include putting up barriers, such as fences and walls, and planting cacti and other thorny bushes.

CONCLUSION

In my opinion, the homeless problem, at least in the various CA cities, has been exacerbated by the misplaced priorities of the politicians who control the state and those cities. As it happens, the Democrats have been in total control for a long time, but I would feel the same way regardless of who was in charge. Apparently, the governor and the mayors are more concerned with issues of lesser importance to most voters, such as climate change, political correctness, and Governor Gavin Newsome’s longshot/no shot presidential campaign than in implementing the hard, decisive choices necessary to deal with this existential issue. For example, NBC News has reported that LA Mayor Garcetti cannot even handle the simple, mundane task of collecting the garbage. It has been piling up in the streets for months.

Furthermore, the politicians need to rethink their sanctuary policy and other permissive, pc policies, which I maintain have attracted many homeless. There are simply too many people in need of social services, and they are overwhelming the system. There is not sufficient infrastructure or money to accommodate all of them.

Once again, we see an example of the failure of socialist policies. They sound good, but, ultimately, they don’t work. Never have; never will.

Remember my opening line? Are you appalled, frightened and ashamed? If not, you should be. This is supposed to be America, but, for some, it is the Third World. The calendar says it is the 21st century; but, for some, it is the 14th century.

HAS (“SLO”) JOE LOST HIS “MOJO”

Joe Biden’s enigmatic campaign is continuing on a most rocky road. Let’s review. First, he had trouble deciding whether or not to run. Then, his much-balleyhooed roll-out drew a relatively sparse crowd, in Philadelphia, no less. You may recall, on that same night President Trump outdrew him substantially at a routine rally in Montoursville, PA, which is in the middle of nowhere.

Then, he stubbed his toe at the first debate, and Harris made him look old, uncertain, weak, and out of touch. Then, he made an unfortunate slip-up with his comments about working together with segregationist Senators and was immediately taken to task by Cory Booker. Immediately, much of the media, sensing a “hot” story, and most of the other candidates, smelling blood in the water, piled on. Then, he issued an apology for the latter comments, which, I believe, rather than resolving the matter, made it worse.

Along the way he has flip-flopped on so many policies that I have lost track, such as border security and enforcement, the Hyde amendment, late and post-term abortion, healthcare, and many others. His endorsement of free healthcare for all, including illegal aliens, seems to be particularly ill-advised and irresponsible. It seems like every day brings another Biden issue, either a flip-flop, an ill-advised comment, an apology, or a combination of the above.

Biden has appeared to be unprepared for the reality that, as the front runner, everyone will be out to “get” him. He reminds me of a zebra on the Serengeti plain in Africa being besieged by a pack of hyenas, nipping at him here and there with the expectation that, eventually, he will wear down and give up the fight. He is spending all his time on the defensive rather than doing any real campaigning.

What does he stand for at this stage of his career? I don’t know. Do you? Does he?

He is supposed to be the moderate in the race, the voice of experience, the steady hand at the helm of the ship. So, far he has been anything but those things. He has allowed himself to be dragged so far to the left that if he does get to the general election as the nominee he will need a GPS to find the middle where most Americans reside.

All that said, despite his continuous fumbling, bumbling and stumbling, according to the latest polls he is still the front runner for the nomination and the best bet to defeat President Trump in the general election. As of July 7 the ABC/Washington Post poll has him defeating Mr. Trump 53-43. (That same poll showed Harris, Sanders and Warren each either tied with Mr. Trump or ahead of him within the margin of error.)

One might consider that puzzling, but I attribute it to a combination of Biden’s name recognition, the recognition that each of the other candidates is flawed in some way, and the questionable reliability of polls, particularly this early in the process.

CONCLUSION

The conventional wisdom among Democratic campaign strategists, and even among the candidates, themselves, is that the current field is too crowded and unwieldy, and that it will be winnowed considerably before the Iowa caucuses. Those whose campaigns have failed to catch on by then will see their fundraising dry up, and they will be left with no choice but to withdraw. Already we have seen the first shoe to drop – Eric Swalwell. Others will soon follow.

For instance:

1. Mike McCauley, a South Carolina-based strategist who worked on Kerry’s and Obama’s campaigns, is even more aggressive. In his opinion, the winnowing will occur by Thanksgiving. He adds that any of the lesser candidates still hanging on after Iowa will be doing so out of “vanity” or for a “cabinet tryout.”

2. “Politico” reports that it has polled several campaign officials, party operatives and officials, as well as Dem activists. Although no one would speak on the record, the consensus was that the winnowing would commence after the next debate scheduled for the end of July. Longshot candidates, such Hickenlooper, Delaney, de Blasio, Gillebrand and Messam, will likely begin to see their financing dry up and be forced to bow to the reality of the situation.

3. According to a recent Hill-HarrisX Poll some 3/4 of Dems and left-leaning independents were of the opinion that there were currently “too many” presidential candidates.

4. Jed Ober, former deputy director of delegate operations for Clinton in 2016, opines that “the reality is there won’t be [even] 12 that [will be] really in the running come Iowa. Max, it [will be] six or seven and it [will] come down to fundraising by that point.”

5. Many observers feel that “Super Tuesday” will be the death knell for any fringe candidates that have managed to hang on through the early primaries. These candidates will simply not be able to mount effective campaigns in so many states simultaneously, and National Committee member Bob Mulholland predicts they “will never get [even a single] delegate.”

Personally, I believe that, shortly, candidates will commence dropping out for the reasons cited above. Many, if not most, of them had no business being in the race anyway. By the end of the primary season, I can see the field being reduced to two or three as we separate the pretenders from the contenders. Who will be the survivors? Your guess is as good as mine. The more intriguing question is will Joe Biden be among them?

INDEPENDENCE DAY

Today, July 4th, we celebrate our independence. There will be family gatherings, parades, carnivals, barbecues, fireworks, and, of course, political speeches. Many of us will go to the beach or play golf (weather permitting) or attend concerts, plays or baseball games. Many of us remember, with nostalgia when MLB celebrated Independence Day with a doubleheader, but those days appear to be gone for good.

The Automobile Club and the TSA have both predicted that this extended holiday weekend will be among the busiest travel periods of the year. This year the 4th has fallen on a Thursday, so many of us will make the holiday into a four-day mini-vacation. If you will be travelling, good luck at the airport or on the roads.

Hopefully, some of us will take a few minutes to reflect on how our country was “born.” Who were the “founding fathers” we hear so much about? Who were the heroes of the revolution? How much do you know? Let’s find out. As always, no peeking at the internet, and don’t ask “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 first person to sign the Declaration of Independence (and the only one to do so on July 4) was
a. Thomas Jefferson
b. Patrick Henry
c. Benjamin Franklyn
d. John Hancock

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. Andrew Jackson
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 state was the last of the “lower 48” to join the Union?
a. New Mexico
b. Oregon
c. Hawaii
d. Arizona

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. Washington, DC became the capital in
a. 1776
b. 1800
c. 1820
d. 1920

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

ANSWERS: 1. (d); 2. (a); 3. (c); 4. (b); 5. (d); 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)

CONCLUSION

Well, how did you do? I’d like to know.

Now, some Independence Day-related trivia with which you can impress your friends:

1. Although we consider July 4th to be the official date of our independence, most historians now agree that the Declaration was not actually signed until August 2.

2. On July 4, 1777, the city of Bristol, RI celebrated the first anniversary of ID with a thirteen-gun salute. The city’s annual ID parade, which was first held in 1785, is the oldest continuous ID celebration in the US.

3. In 1778, to mark the second anniversary, George Washington issued double rations of rum to the Continental Army troops.

4. By the end of the 18th century many major cities were marking the day with various celebrations and parades. Today, many major cities hold massive and elaborate fireworks displays. In addition, many private organizations, for example, Macys, the Boston Pops, and many baseball clubs, entertain the public with fireworks displays. Macy’s fireworks celebration, generally considered to be the most famous, has been nationally televised every year since 1976.

Sadly, many private citizens, who are not properly trained, set off their own fireworks, sometimes with unfortunate results. Every year we read or hear about some tragic accidents involving loss of limbs or even death. Remember the case of NY Giants defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul? He lost part of few fingers (and nearly his life) and almost ended a most promising football career.

5. In 1870 Congress designated ID as a federal holiday. In 1938 it granted federal employees a day off with pay on that day.

6. With respect to the “Star-Spangled Banner:

a. It was composed by Francis Scott Key from a British prisoner ship in Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812. (Key was not a prisoner, himself. He was on the ship to negotiate the release of a prisoner.)
b. He wrote it as a poem named “The Defence of Fort McHenry.” Later, it was set to a tune, which, ironically, is an English drinking song, with the strange name of “To Anacreon in Heaven.” In case you’re wondering, the song was the official song of a gentlemen’s club in 18th century London.
c. Key wrote four verses and a fifth verse was added later, but, of course, we only sing the first. Does anyone know the words of the others? I don’t, but I will say that all five verses end with “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
d. In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson declared that it should be played at all official events.
e. The “Star-Spangled Banner” became the national anthem in 1931.

7. This year, President Trump will be initiating a special celebration, “Salute to America” to be held in Washington DC. It will include, among other events, a parade of military vehicles, speeches, fireworks, and a flyover by the Blue Angels. It is intended to be a celebration of America on its “birthday,” but some have objected to it as political theatre and an unnecessary expense.

8. Some notable events that occurred on this day:

a. 1802 – The US Military Academy at West Point opened.
b. 1817 – The ground was broken for the Erie Canal in Rome, NY.
c. 1826 – Former Presidents and Founding Fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both die.
d. 1939 – Baseball legend Lou Gehrig delivered his famous “luckiest man” speech before a packed house at Yankee Stadium.

9. Finally, a development that I and many others find most disturbing. Suddenly, a small, but vociferous, segment of the PC/twitter crowd has decided, for reasons known only to them, that the original flag, aka the “Betsy Ross” flag, is racist. Why? Not sure, except, perhaps, because it was conceived during a period when people owned slaves. Personally, I think they have lost their minds. In any event, Nike had intended to honor our country’s birth with a special sneaker with a likeness of this flag on it, but apparently, the company has been cowed by these protesters into withdrawing the special sneaker. Too bad. It would have been a nice gesture. Once again, a small segment of the population is dictating to the rest of us.

Enjoy yourself on the 4th, but, above all, be safe. If you travel, drive defensively and if you must handle fireworks, BE VERY CAREFUL!

MY HERO

July 5 will mark the four-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 at this time. (Some of you were not following my blog four years ago 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 various half marathons. 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 yet all the way back, 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 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, four years later, it is hard for me to read that 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.

FIRST DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES’ DEBATE

And the winner is….? See below.

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

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

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

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

Some impressions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE PREVIEW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

Quiz answer: Robinette

JOE BIDEN’S ENIGMATIC CAMPAIGN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUMMER SOLSTICE

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

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

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

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

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

For example:

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

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

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

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

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

6. Slavic and Germanic cultures celebrated with huge bonfires.

CONCLUSION

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

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

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