COVID AND SMALL BUSINESSES

All of us have had to make sacrifices and adjustments to our lifestyles due to the COVID pandemic. Some of us have endured the pain of the virus firsthand. A lucky few of those have had a mild case, but most of those who have contracted it say it was a horrific experience. Many of those who have remained healthy have suffered in other ways. For example, they have been forced to stand by helplessly while loved ones got sick and passed away, sometimes alone and neglected. Others have lost their jobs or businesses and/or have been confined to their homes, precluded from spending time with family and friends. To be sure, those things are devastating, but the focus of this blog will be on the impact of the virus and the government’s policies on small businesses.

In many ways, small businesses are the essence of America. They embody many of the characteristics that define us – entrepreneurship, free enterprise, independence, risk-taking, being one’s own boss. Being a small business owner entails financial risk, long hours, and sacrifices relative to one’s family. According to the SBA the failure rate is high. About one-half fail within five years, and the resultant fall-out can be severe, such as personal bankruptcy or divorce. However, if one is successful the rewards are substantial. Growing up, my father owned a small pharmacy, and I experienced the various ups and downs firsthand. For some, the experience is not unlike the children’s game of Chutes and Ladders.

The Small Business Association generally defines a small business as one having fewer than 500 employees and generating less than $7.5 million in annual sales. Furthermore, according to the SBA there are currently approximately 30.7 million of them in the US, and they account for 99.9% of all businesses. According to the latest statistics available they account for 62% of all new jobs. Yes, the large businesses are more well-known, but small businesses are the lifeblood of the US economy. Additionally, they provide a livelihood for much of the middle class, immigrants and the working class.

As I said, owning a small business is a high-risk endeavor. However, it is bad enough if one fails due to one’s own actions or inactions, such as a poor product, poor management or lack of sufficient financing. It is much worse to be tripped up by outside events which you could not have foreseen and over which you have no control, such as the events of 2020. First, there was the COVID pandemic, which originated in China and which no one could have foreseen. Then, to combat the pandemic the government was forced to impose a general shutdown of all but what it arbitrarily and unilaterally deemed to be “essential” businesses. Next, the government failed to provide sufficient relief to those affected. Finally, it extended the shutdown of certain businesses based on questionable facts and motivations. More on that last one later.

As I write this we are nine months into the pandemic. Thousands of businesses have already failed, and more failures will be forthcoming. The hardest hit have been the service industries, which are based on person-to-person contact, such as restaurants, catering, beauty salons and gyms. In many states the politicians have deemed these to be “high-risk” enterprises and have imposed stringent restrictions on them, which for all intents and purposes have forced them to shut down.

Many of these restrictions are arbitrary, and punitive. Contradictions, inequities and inanities abound. For example, in many states one is precluded from attending religious services, even if one remains in one’s car, yet one can buy liquor or a lotto ticket.

Our political leaders often ignore their own rules and flout it as if they are above the laws they themselves have instituted. (“Good for thee, but not for me.”) For instance, Nancy Pelosi goes to a closed beauty salon to get her hair done; Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot gets a haircut when the rest of Chicagoans are forbidden to do so; NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo makes plans to fly to his mother’s on Thanksgiving (until he was found out and forced to cancel); his brother, Chris Cuomo, goes jogging when he was supposed to be in isolation and then berates a passerby who questions him; and CA governor Gavin Newsome ignores his own rules and dines in an exclusive restaurant with over a dozen family members, friends and donors without masks or social distancing. These “in your face” demonstrations of entitlement only serve to frustrate and anger people. who are forced to sacrifice.

In states such as NY and CA the rules on restaurant dining have changed several times, often without science or logic. First, only takeout was permitted, then takeout plus dining outside, then dining inside was all right with restrictions, then only outside, then not at all. Often, these restrictions would vary from locale to locale as if the virus could not cross the street from one area to another. This continual moving of the goalposts is enough to make one dizzy. In some states restaurant dining is prohibited, but one can go to a strip club where, presumably one can eat and drink. Maybe if an enterprising restaurant owner were to have his waitstaff wear “G-strings” they would be allowed to open up. These ever-changing health and safety standards merely add an extra layer of stress, frustration and anger to an already-difficult situation. Furthermore, they are being imposed by self-righteous, self-important politicians who exhibit indifference, if not callousness, to their constituents who elected them to protect them and who are struggling. Meanwhile, these same politicians remain insulated from the pain and suffering they have caused and continue to draw paychecks. As I said, “good for thee, but not for me.”

There have been many instances where a restaurant, a gym or a salon is prohibited from operating, but a few blocks away a competitor in a bordering county, zip code or state is permitted to open. Try explaining the logic behind that to the exasperated business owner who is forced to watch his clientele move a few blocks to said competitor. Some states have been imposing a 10:00 pm curfew, as if the virus were dormant all day and only came out after 10 pm. Even more unjust was the case of the LA restauranteur who was required to close down her outdoor dining facility when literally next door a movie company was permitted to open and operate an identical outdoor dining setup for its cast and crew. Go figure.

It is instructive to compare the situations in NY and FL. I could write an entire blog on this, but suffice to say the two states are a study in sharp contrasts. Last summer the NY governor required nursing homes to accept COVID patients. Predictably, over 10,000 nursing home patients caught the virus and died. FL kept COVID patients out of nursing homes, and has had fewer deaths even though it has a higher population and an older demographic. NY has shut down many businesses and schools. The NYS Restaurant Association has disclosed that since March some 1,000 NYC restaurants have closed permanently, and many more are anticipated. Moreover, as many as 2/3 of NYS’s restaurants could close by year-end if they don’t receive additional government aid, which, as I write this has not been passed. According to Yelp nationwide about 100,000 small businesses have closed since the advent of the pandemic. The NY governor seems indifferent to the plight of the people; he appears to be more focused on his public image and self-perceived “celebrity.” On the other hand, Fl has encouraged businesses and schools to remain open. Recently, the FL governor has reiterated to the people that he “has their back.” Is it no wonder that many NY residents are fleeing the state for FL?

During the summer, many cities were being victimized by “protests,” which, in reality, were riots and convenient excuses to loot and destroy businesses. Social distancing guidelines were ignored. The politicians directed the police to stand down and ignore those crimes. The final indignity was that in some states, such as NY, the few rioters that were arrested were immediately released to riot again thanks to the state’s illogical and inane “no-bail” policy. Yet, many business owners who dared to open up in defiance of the mayor’s or governor’s order were hounded, jailed and lost their license.

CONCLUSION

I understand the desire to keep people safe from a deadly pandemic. However, in my opinion, one must find a balance between safety and economic well-being. Shutting down the economy has fostered social and economic problems and exacerbated political divisions within the populace.. Virtually, every physician I have heard has denoted that isolation in and of itself leads to various health hazards, such as depression, alcoholism, drug use and domestic violence. Destroying businesses that people have spent years building is unconscionable. What benefit is it to defeat the virus and, in the process, destroy the country?

As we know, help is on the way. The FDA has approved one vaccine and more are on the way. Inoculations have already commenced for healthcare workers and will soon expand to other groups. It is expected that millions of doses will be available by late Spring/early Summer. There is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. As I said, let’s hope that after the virus has been defeated there is still an economy and a country left.

COVID VACCINATIONS COMMENCE

Yesterday, December 14, 2020 was truly an historic day as the first doses of the anxiously-awaited COVID vaccination arrived at various hospitals and other venues throughout the country. These initial doses were given to high-risk workers. The recipients were grateful and upbeat. The general feelings were of pride to have played a major role in coping with the virus and relief that the vaccine is providing tangible evidence that we have turned the corner in our fight to defeat it.

A few examples:

  1. Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse in a Long Island hospital, opined “I’ve seen too much pain, too much death….. I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history.” Amen to that.
  2. Dr. Aharon Sareli, head of critical care at a Florida hospital, characterized the vaccine as the “first real hope in changing the epidemiology of the virus.”
  3. In Columbus, OH Phillip Grudowski, a critical care nurse in an area hospital said he felt “privileged” to be one of the first recipients. He and his coworkers recounted the many patients who suffered greatly with the virus, which viciously attacked their major organs and put them through agonizing pain before killing them.
  4. In Santa Fe, NM Yvonne Bieg-Cordova, a radiologist at a local hospital, was very grateful to be one of the first recipients. “I’ve worked in healthcare since I was 18,” she said. “I seen a lot of people die… but over the last nine months the amount of people who have died from COVID has been horrendous.”
  5. In Iowa Dr. Patricia Winokur, an investigator for one of the clinical trials for the vaccine gushed “Our team worked so hard, and I am so proud to have been a part of it.”

These reactions were repeated thousands of times all over the country.

Millions more doses are slated to follow in the coming days. There are several vaccines in various stages of development. These vaccines have been researched, developed, tested, with 95% efficacy, and brought to market in just nine months. Nine months! This is a remarkable achievement.

Many of you will recall that back in March all the medical and epidemiology “experts” were emphatically telling us it would take several years to accomplish this. They lectured us that the most optimistic timetable was five years. Commentators on the “fake news” outlets as well as Dem politicians and Trump-haters were openly mocking the Administration for its “unrealistic” predictions.

Of course, as with most everything else COVID-related, the “experts” were wrong. Few people will acknowledge it now, but this achievement was primarily the result of the leadership of President Trump. It was his vision and acumen as a problem-solver that poked, prodded and cajoled everyone from the scientists, the drug company executives, the people who provide swabs, needles and other support products, and logistics experts to put this all together. In my view, he has been unfairly criticized and accused of exacerbating the pandemic by his various perceived policies of omission and commission and causing thousands of fatalities. Let’s see if he is now given the credit for saving millions of lives for this achievement. I won’t be holding my breath.

Remarkably, according to a recent Fox News poll only 61% of the public is planning to take the vaccination. In addition, a poll released by the Kaiser Family Foundation disclosed that in excess of 25% of respondents said they would “probably or definitely not” take the vaccine. My question is what the heck are these people thinking? A few may have legitimate reasons for demurring, such as an allergy, but most of them are, quite frankly, not thinking clearly and rationally. This is America. We can’t make them take it, but their refusal will put themselves and others with whom they interact at grave risk for contracting the virus.

I believe that in many cases their disinclination or outright fears have been influenced by negative comments of many in the “fake news” media and certain Dem politicians, such as Biden, Harris, Schumer, Pelosi and Cuomo that were pushing their own anti-Trump agenda. They were intent on depriving Mr. Trump of a “win” on the eve of the election even if it had a negative impact on the country. An apt analogy would be if you were surrounded by an enemy bent on killing you, the cavalry comes riding over the hill to rescue you, and rather than embracing your good fortune at being rescued, you tell them: “That’s okay. I don’t need you; I’m fine.”

CONCLUSION

Incredibly, amid all this optimism certain clueless state governors, such as NY’s Como and CA’s Gavin Newsome are planning to re-institute the shutdown of indoor restaurant dining, just in time for the winter. I have yet to see any scientific evidence that indoor dining has been a significant spreader of the virus. Yes, some establishments have ignored social distancing guidelines, but these have been few and far between. So, why punish every establishment? Why not just target specific violators, enhance inspections? These governors, and others like them, are being unduly arbitrary and authoritarian. They seem bound and determined to kill the restaurant industry and the small businesses that support it. It’s unconscionable.

Sadly, the vaccines have come too late for many people. Over 300,000 Americans have died from the virus and millions more worldwide. The NY Times has reported that some 2,400 Americans are now dying each day. Many of us have lost loved ones, and probably many more of us will in the months to come. It is incumbent upon everyone to take the vaccination as soon as it is offered. In particular, if you have a family member or friend who is an “at risk” person due to age or pre-existing condition who is reluctant please convince them to take it as well. It is literally a matter of life and death! After months of pain, suffering and sacrifice we are nearing the goal line. Let’s cross over it together!

2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION LEGAL CHALLENGES UPDATE

So, where do we go from here? As most of you know by now, SCOTUS has declined to hear the lawsuit initiated by the State of Texas, (and joined by some 16 other states) against GA, MI, PA and WI that alleged fraud and other voting irregularities with respect to the 2020 presidential election. I have detailed these irregularities in previous blogs, and there is no need to repeat them here. Unless one has been living in a cave or getting their news exclusively from MSNBC or CNN you know what I am talking about.

As I understand it, SCOTUS’s reason was that these states lack the “standing” to sue other states over the election. So, what is “standing?” With respect to this case who, if anyone, would have it? I am not a constitutional lawyer, but I will give it my best shot. According to Wikipedia to have standing (or “locus standi”) one must have “sufficient connection to a harm from the law or action challenged.” The three elements of standing are (1) the plaintiff suffered a “concrete” injury; (2) the injury is traceable to the defendant’s or defendants’ actions; and (3) the injury would likely be redressed by a favorable decision.

What SCOTUS has ruled is that these states do not meet the above criteria. So, who, if anyone, would? More on that later.

Note to Trump-haters. Yes, you have won a significant victory, but before you celebrate you should be cognizant of the fine print. SCOTUS did not opine on the merits. In other words, it did not opine that there was not fraud. It just stated that Texas, et al. did not have the right to bring the case, leaving the possibility that some other party that meets the “standing” requirements, as denoted above, could. Whom would that be?

According to Rudy Giuliani and other attorneys I have heard the next step would be to present complaints of certain individuals whom it is believed do have standing to the attention of SCOTUS, such as the over 1,000 affiants and perhaps even President Trump and the electors in those states. This is a long shot to be sure, but it is a shot. Can SCOTUS ignore all of that? I don’t know, but I would like to find out.

CONCLUSION

I understand SCOTUS’ decision from purely a legal point of view. I don’t like it, but I understand it, and I accept that it may be the proper one. But, from a common sense point of view I think it was the worst possible decision. I would have almost preferred that SCOTUS had taken the case and decided there had not been any fraud or that the level of fraud had not risen to a significant enough level to reverse the election. This decision leaves open the possibility that there was fraud, but the perpetrators got away with it on a technicality.

Thus, the election will be plagued with uncertainty prospectively. Remember, according to the latest Fox News poll some 68% of GOP voters and 36% of all voters think the election was “stolen” from President Trump. SCOTUS’ decision will do nothing to resolve that. In fact, I think it will enhance it. I maintain that the people deserve a definitive answer, not one that will feed conspiracy theories and divide an already divided country even further.

Are the Trump campaign and its supporters “running out of road?” Is this the “end of the line?” Is the “fat lady” getting ready to sing? Probably. Unfortunately, I think the ramifications of this election will affect the country for some time.

HIDDEN NAZI DOCUMENTS REVEAL A PORTRAIT OF AN “ORDINARY” SS OFFICER

This is a remarkable story of Holocaust-era documents that remained hidden inside the cushion of a chair for some 70 years after WWII before being discovered. These documents provided insights into the life of an “ordinary” SS officer. Much of the credit for this amazing story belongs to the historian/author, Dr. Daniel Lee, who devoted several years of his life to research the story and bring it to life.

The story began in 2011 when a Dutch upholsterer found a batch of documents that had been sewn into the cushion of a chair she was repairing. Ironically, the chair had been in her family for many years. Her mother had purchased it in Prague in 1968. She had habitually sat in the chair as a child and young woman while reading or doing schoolwork without any inkling of what was hidden within.

The woman contacted Dr. Daniel Lee who was a renowned Senior Lecturer in modern history at Queen Mary University of London. Dr. Lee is a recognized expert in WWII-era French history with a specialty in the plight of the Jews during the Holocaust. He has published various books on that particular subject matter. However, it is his second book, The SS Officer’s Armchair, that is the subject of this blog. He was intrigued by the discovery and was determined to unravel the mystery of the documents.

The documents were emblazoned with swastikas, which clearly identified them as WWII-era Nazi documents. Initially, Dr. Lee was able to ascertain that the documents, which consisted primarily of personal items such as passports, diplomas, and stock certificates, belonged to Robert Griesinger, a minor SS official, who had been based in Prague and other places during WWII. After further research, however, he discovered that Griesinger was a lawyer and a member of the Nazi party who had been assigned for a time to the Protectorate of Bohemia and Slovenia. He had died in 1945 at the age of 38 during the Prague Uprising. Little else was known about him, even among his surviving family members. It appeared that he was not famous. His name did not have the cache of the more notorious Nazis such as Rudolf Hess, Adolph Eichmann, or Josef Mengele, for example. He was a small cog who, for the most part, had lived his life under the radar, so to speak.

Dr. Lee was intrigued and was determined to find out more about this seemingly “nondescript” and “ordinary” functionary, “one of the masses of administrators without whom the Third Reich could not have functioned.” Next to nothing is known about these people, how they lived from day to day, both personally and professionally. There is virtually no trace of them in the history books or even the internet. It’s as if they never existed, but we know they did. Somebody had to have kept the Nazi administrative machine running.

Dr. Lee wrote, “I was hooked when I saw for the first time his name and SS number on the SS officer[s’] list. This guy was obviously committed to the Nazi project. That’s when I decided I had to find out more about him.” As a historian, Dr. Lee viewed G as a mystery and a challenge he was determined to solve. He spent the better part of five years doing so.

Eventually, Dr. Lee determined that G was a prime example of how ordinary people could be and were “poisoned by a combination of ideology and professional opportunism.” Even though Dr. Lee does not present any evidence that G personally tortured and murdered any Jews directly as so many other Nazis did, he points out that nevertheless, he was often in the vicinity when such atrocities occurred, and he “did horrible things, destroying families from behind his desk” like many other “functionaries.”

At first, Dr. Lee was reluctant to contact G’s surviving family members fearing that they would be uncooperative, at best, and possibly downright defensive or hostile. But, to his pleasant surprise that was not the case. It turned out that they knew little about their infamous ancestor and were eager to hear what Dr. Lee had discovered about him.

G was born in 1906. Surprisingly, he was not a pure-bred German. His father was an American, born in New Orleans. Dr. Lee was able to trace G’s paternal ancestors back to 1720s Louisiana. As one might expect being Southerners, the family had owned slaves back in the day. G grew up in a conservative, nationalist, military family with strong anti-Semitic leanings. Not surprisingly, like many Germans, G’s family blamed the Jews for having started WW1.

G was part of the so-called War Youth Generation, that is, born too late to fight during WW1, yet old enough to have witnessed firsthand the post-war destruction and humiliation of its aftermath. Students of history know that the seeds of the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party were sown during this period, which was characterized by runaway inflation, unemployment, suffocating war reparations, loss of territory, a feeling of despair, hopelessness and anger, and an intense desire for revenge. Much like others of his generation, G was extremely fearful of communism, resentful of the ineffectual Weimar Republic, and ripe to be influenced by a radical, nationalistic group such as the Nazis.

Originally, the SS was formed as an elite group whose function was to serve as bodyguards for Hitler and other senior party officials. Upper and middle class Germans were attracted to it by its prestige and rigorous selection process and training. The SS wanted well-educated persons of good backgrounds who would be capable of administering the affairs of the captured territories as opposed to the uneducated rabble that was to comprise much of the regular army. The SS’s membership grew exponentially. G was one of thousands who joined up. By the early 1930s it boasted over 40,000 members. G joined up during this period.

Dr. Lee debunks a common stereotype of the SS. Thanks to Hollywood, which normally distorts history for the sake of its movies, most people have the impression that the SS consisted entirely of armed sadistic, psychopathic brutes who enjoyed torturing, intimidating, beating up and murdering Jews and others. There are many examples of this type of character, such as Christoph Waltz’s character in Inglorious Basterds and Ralph Fiennes’ character in Schindler’s List. In reality, says Dr. Lee, the SS was not a homogeneous group. There were some Waffen SS, as these men were called, who exhibited the above characteristics, but about 90% of the SS served in the Allgemeine, or non-military SS. The Waffen SS were employed as concentration camp guards and members of the death squads, for example. On the other hand, the Allgemeine were responsible for the security of the Nazi party leaders and various administrative tasks.

According to Dr. Lee some 90% of the SS were part of this latter group, including G. For many of them, the SS was a part-time job. Their primary jobs might be as a lawyer, accountant, teacher or some other professional. Remember, most of them were highly educated. Moreover, they did not wear the dreaded SS uniform every day, just when attending official functions. They also spent time training, marching and participating in athletic contests against other SS units. As I said, this is contrary to the impression most of us have of them. In Dr. Lee’s opinion, G viewed his membership as one of enhanced prestige and a means to career advancement.

That said, there is evidence that G, like most Allgemeine, could and at times did, switch from a kind and gentle husband, friend and co-worker to a ruthless, murderous monster. As I said, in his book Dr. Lee does denote that G was present and likely an active participant in terrorizing Jews and other prisoners in the Ukraine, Prague and, perhaps, in other places as well.

CONCLUSION

In the course of his research Dr. Lee discovered the strong possibility that while in Ukraine in 1941 G may have passed through the same town in which Dr. Lee’s ancestors lived. Although Dr. Lee found no evidence that they had some interaction, it’s certainly possible, if not likely that they did. Dr. Lee’s reaction upon that discovery? “Oh my God, this is much closer to home than I could have imagined.” Indeed.

My guess is that the book would make fascinating reading.

2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION – THE AFTERMATH

As any trial lawyer knows, there is a significant difference between suspecting or even “knowing” something to be true and being able to prove it in a court of law. Often, there are unmistakable suspicions or signs that something occurred, but any actual proof has been obscured or destroyed. Such is the case in the 2020 presidential election.

During the election and in its aftermath several obvious anomalies surfaced. Some of them appear to have risen to the level of actual fraud. I have outlined these anomalies in previous post-election blogs, and I see no need to repeat them now. Suffice to say that these anomalies have motivated the Trump Team to challenge the results in several battleground states, which they have done and are continuing to do. Let’s be clear. Even if one despises Trump one should not and cannot deny his constitutional right to pursue these claims.

The Trump Team has gathered hundreds of affidavits from election workers, observers, checkers, and other witnesses and presented them to various elections officials and courts. No one is seeking to disenfranchise anyone who has voted legally. It is the illegal votes that they are seeking to have thrown out.

As of yet, none of those venues has seen fit to give the Trump Team’s proof any credibility. Generally, their response has been some version of “where is the proof” as if a sworn affidavit under penalty of perjury is not “proof.” Don’t they realize these aforementioned affiants have put their credibility, their reputation, and even their physical safety on the line? Do they even care, or are they just bound and determined to ignore any information that would cast doubt on the election results? I hesitate to accuse these election officials and local judges of being corrupt, but it certainly seems that they are at least biased or incompetent.

Yes, it is true that the states in question have authorized and, in some cases, have completed recounts. It is also true that none of those recounts has “flipped” any states. Of course, not. These recounts were merely window-dressing. The core issues were not addressed. The same duplicate votes, votes of deceased people, late votes and improperly/incomplete/fraudulent mail-in ballots that were counted originally, were recounted. Why wouldn’t the results be unchanged? What was needed, what is needed, is a forensic audit of the ballots that would identify and eliminate the fraudulent ones. That has not happened and likely never will. By now, much of the incriminating evidence has been destroyed.

Post-election observation and analysis has disclosed various additional anomalies, which, though not proof that would stand up in a court of law, are suspicious and strain credulity, such as:

  1. According to the Federalist Trump would be the first incumbent president to gain votes and lose re-election since Grover Cleveland in 1892.
  2. The Federalist also reported that Biden would be the first winner to lose both Ohio and Florida in 60 years.
  3. The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump won 18 of 19 bellwether counties across the US that have “picked” every president since 1980.
  4. Biden underperformed Clinton in various Dem strongholds, such as NYC, Chicago and LA, yet he exceeded her vote total in cities such as Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Detroit and Milwaukee located in swing states. Overall, he received 80 million votes, which exceeded Obama’s and Clinton’s totals by some 15 million.
  5. Biden underperformed Clinton among AA voters, except in swing states.
  6. The GOP won all the down-ballot House races that had been rated as toss-ups plus some others.
  7. According to Blaze in PA the rejection rate on mail-in ballots due to questionable signatures was .38% compared to 1% in 2016.
  8. Last, but not least, there are many questions surrounding the reliability of the Dominion voting machines, which had led several states not to use them.

CONCLUSION

The end-game for the Trump Team has always been to get a hearing before the Supreme Court. The SC has weighed in on previous elections, such as the 2000 contest between Gore and Bush. Hopefully, it will do so again. Even if the SC is not able or does not care to correct the anomalies and fraud that many believe characterized the 2020 election, perhaps, it will require the state legislatures to implement changes that will render future elections more equitable. Otherwise, we may never have another free and fair national election again.

Unfortunately, the real loser will not be Mr. Trump. It will not be the millions of supporters who voted for him. It will be the country, itself. As I have said many times, the cornerstone of America is the belief that our elections are free, fair and legitimate. Historically, there have been many controversial elections, but the people have always accepted the results and moved on.

That may not happen this year. This year there are too many anomalies. Taken individually, these anomalies may be explainable. But, when viewed in their entirety they demonstrate a compelling pattern.

Post-election polls have demonstrated that an already divided country has been seriously fractured. Some 73 million people voted for Trump. That is a huge number. In fact, it is more votes than any previous WINNER. A recently-released CNBC/Change Research poll has disclosed that 73% of them think that Trump was the actual winner and the election was somehow “stolen” from him. Approximately, 66% of those voters think Trump should “never concede” to Biden, and 81% of them say they are “not willing to give Biden a chance as president.”

Folks, that is a deep and serious divide. As usual, the press has been mindlessly biased against Trump. It has refused to recognize his right to pursue these legal venues. It has accused him of failing to recognize the “reality” of the situation – that he lost. It has even blamed him for the current post-election controversy and deep divide. In my view, that is very destructive.

I believe that if this matter is not resolved fairly and legally, if half of the electorate remains convinced that Biden was not the legitimate winner it will seriously hamper his Administration’s ability to govern. It should not be discounted just because Trump supporters are not rioting in the streets and destroying property. I say, cease mocking and belittling the dissatisfied Trump voters and at least let the legal process play out. Give them their “day in court.” Even then, the matter may never be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, but hopefully, eventually, the nation will be able to get past this and move on.

THANKSGIVING

On Thursday, November 26, 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.

Travel and Leisure Magazine reports that the period from the Wednesday before TG to the following Sunday is typically the busiest travel period of the year, with Wednesday being the single busiest day. Most travelers usually return on Sunday or Monday. Similarly, AAA advises that normally Thursday, Friday or Saturday are the best days to drive. Of course, if you are hosting, you can avoid the traffic, but you have to buy the food, cook and clean up. Pick your poison. You can’t have everything.

According to USA Today over the past weekend (Friday-Sunday) in excess of 1 million persons per day passed through security checkpoints at US airports. Furthermore, Sunday’s total was the highest since the advent of the pandemic in March. Although this total is estimated to be only 42% of last year’s total, it is still cause for concern, particularly since the pandemic has been resurging. According to Johns Hopkins University this past Friday some 195,000 new cases were reported in the US.

AAA has projected that some 50 million Americans will still be travelling for the TG holiday, which, though considerably fewer than in prior years, is still cause for concern healthwise. Clearly, for many people, the desire to see family outweighs the health risks presented by COVID.

This year, due to the pandemic, Thanksgiving will be celebrated differently. Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 Incident Manager, issued a statement cautioning “against travel during the Thanksgiving period.” Most medical professionals have also cautioned Americans to limit their traditional travels plans, or, better yet, stay home. They have cited the risks of spreading COVID at crowded airports and on the airplanes, themselves, (although air carriers insist they have taken extra precautions to protect passengers). However, of bigger concern is the risk of family gatherings turning into super-spreaders. Many guests will be visiting from far flung locations without having quarantined, and there is no telling with whom they have been in contact beforehand. On the other hand, many people have developed “COVIT-fatigue” after having been cooped up in their homes for months. Simply put, they want to celebrate the holiday, and they feel they can do so safely despite what the “experts” are recommending.

The CDC has recommended additional safety tips with respect to TG holiday gatherings, for example:

  1. Limit the number of guests.
  2. Restrict guests to those within your “nuclear family” or “bubble.”
  3. Wear masks whenever possible.
  4. Social distance to the extent possible.
  5. If weather permits stay outside
  6. Encourage guests to bring their own food, beverages, and supplies such as utensils and cups.
  7. Use single-use packets for items such as condiments and salad dressings.
  8. Limit guests from entering the kitchen or other areas where food is prepared.
  9. Limit alcohol consumption.
  10. Restrict loud conversation or singing.

In the name of public safety many states have enacted rules, some of which are viewed by many as draconian, restricting the manner in which people may gather to celebrate. Some of us will adhere to these restrictions; others will not.

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 “Democratic” 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 Trump is expected to continue the tradition.

CONCLUSION

Many businesses are closed on Friday as well, which has had the effect 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.”

Like everything else Black Friday 2020 will be different.

  1. Some stores will be closed or have limited hours. Best to call ahead or check on-line before you go.
  2. Those that are open will have COVID safety protocols in place, such as requiring masks, limiting the number of shoppers at one time and eliminating the traditional “stampedes.”
  3. Many businesses have encouraged Black Friday shoppers to shop on-line and have expanded BF to include the pre and post-Thanksgiving period. This has the added benefits of convenience and mitigating health risk.

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. Again, check within your local area to ascertain any modifications for 2020.

Many cities hold parades. The NYC “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” is a longstanding tradition. Many families have attended this event every year for generations. 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. Other examples of cities that normally hold parades are Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Plymouth, MA, and Houston. Sometimes, bad weather, such as high winds, puts a damper on the festivities. As I write this the Macy’s 2020 parade is still scheduled, but expect modifications due to COVID.

Many of us watch football on TG. High schools and colleges play traditional games against their chief rivals. 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. In 2020 there are no college games scheduled to be played on TG, itself, but some are scheduled to be played over the weekend. In addition, many traditional high games have been cancelled or rescheduled.

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.

POST-ELECTION COMMENTS

As I write this, it has been more than two weeks since Election Day, and nearly half of the country remains convinced that Joe Biden did not win legitimately. The pro-Trumpers have been pursuing various remedies, which I will discuss below.

First, however, I would like to address the vituperative criticism that the Dems and their allies in the media have been heaping on Mr. Trump and his voters for daring to question/challenge the results in various states. I agree with one criticism that Mr. Trump should have given Biden access to whatever information a President-elect is entitled to receive. But, in my view, his denial to do so is not the primary post-election issue. The questionable manner in which many of the votes were tabulated in some of the swing states is far more serious.

According to the Constitution Mr. Trump has the absolute right to demand recounts and even redress in the courts. Moreover, in my opinion, he has an obligation to all those who voted for him to do so. One is free to disagree with Mr. Trump’s policies; one is free to hate him; one is free to support and vote for whomever. But, one is NOT free to deny him and his supporters their right to seek redress for what they perceive to have been unfair or illegal election tactics, nor to belittle, mock, or disparage them when they do so.

We all know that if the shoe had been on the other foot, so to speak, the Dems would be doing the same thing. Worse, the radical elements of the Party would have been rioting and looting in protest. Before the election, sore loser Hillary had urged Biden to “never concede,” so, anti-Trumpers, spare us the indignation, come off your “high horse,” and be patient while the legal process plays out. Don’t listen to the biased fake news “know-nothings” on CNN, MSNBC, and other media outlets or The Washington Post and the NY Times, among other print media outlets. Many of them know less and are less intelligent than the average voter anyway.

Remember, the anti-Trumpers are the ones who refused to acknowledge their defeat in 2016. They spent four years attributing their loss to various conspiracy theories, all of which turned out to be without merit. They are the ones who distracted the country with “trumped up” impeachment proceedings while the Coronavirus gained a foothold in the US. So, everyone stand down and let that pesky little document called the Constitution play out.

If you have been paying attention, you are aware of several voting anomalies, particularly with respect to mail-in ballots, in various states such as Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that have been exposed and are being investigated, to wit:

  1. Voting by people who are dead, have moved out of the state, or have voted multiple times.
  2. Refusing GOP “checkers” access to enable them to monitor those counting the ballots as authorized pursuant to states’ voting laws.
  3. Lost or misplaced ballots, some of which have been found, others, perhaps, not.
  4. Batches of votes, numbering in the thousands, being delivered in the dead of night under mysterious circumstances when independent “checkers” were not present.
  5. Software anomalies that have cast doubt on the accuracy of the count.
  6. Hundreds of signed affidavits that describe voting anomalies and/or illegalities.
  7. Arbitrary and unilateral changes to the rules by Secretaries of State or judges in PA, GA, and others to validate mail-in ballots received late or containing disqualifying errors. Pursuant to the Constitution only the state legislatures have the authority to enact and modify that state’s voting rules and procedures.

It is not the purpose of this blog to delve into the weeds regarding these issues. Suffice to say that these claims are legitimate, and Trump’s legal team is within its legal rights to pursue them. Rather than criticize without knowledge of the facts we all need to step back and let the process play out in accordance with the Constitution.

Don’t be surprised if these matters are finally decided by the Supreme Court. After all, the Constitution did promulgate a system of checks and balances in which all three branches of government are of equal power and importance. Perhaps, it will turn out that any transgressions were minor. The point is we don’t know, and we must find out.

CONCLUSION

I have discussed the history of election recounts and challenges in previous blogs, and I see no need to repeat it all at this time. Suffice to say, historically, recounts and challenges have been fairly commonplace, but they have rarely been successful in actually overturning statewide or national elections. In fact, there have only been three such instances in the last 50 years. So, in this case, the likelihood is that even though anomalies, errors or even instances of fraud may be discovered they will probably not be substantial enough to overturn the election results.

Even so, the results of these investigations should help us to improve procedures for future elections. This was the first election to feature massive mail-in voting, but it will not be the last.

As I said, the point is that currently none of us knows for sure, and we must find out. The critical point is that regardless of who is ultimately declared the winner the public must be satisfied that the election was fair and the results are valid. We cannot have a situation where half the country has been bullied into submission. Only when the process has been completed will all voters accept the results. Only then will the winner be able to govern effectively. Otherwise, our system of government will break down, and we will be no better off than the typical third-world 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.

Sunday, November 22, will mark the 57th anniversary of his assassination. Almost anyone over the age of 65 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.”). Those words still resonate today.

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.

SOUNDS OF SILENCE

Do you hear it? Do you see it? Of course, I’m referring to post-election violence, rioting and destruction. No, you don’t, and neither do I.

As one political commentator said on election-eve if they lose the election the Dems will riot, pillage and destroy. It will be live on national tv for all to see, except maybe on the fake-news channels. On the other hand, if the GOP were to lose the people would just “wake up the next day and go to work.” Hyperbole? Perhaps, just a little, but we have been witnessing such actions by the radical left all year.

In the days prior to Election Day we saw the images of businesses locking up and putting up plywood over their windows in anticipation of post-election rioting. What do you suppose that was for? Redecorating? When it appeared as if the Dems had won, all the plywood came down immediately. Coincidence? I think not.

Legally, the Trump campaign was perfectly within its rights to seek recounts in certain states. It does not make President Trump a “sore loser.” It does not signal that he “will not accept the outcome of the election” or “defy the will” of the electorate. It does not mean he will “refuse to leave” office. Those are just more absurdities promulgated by know-nothing, biased media commentators.

How about some facts to set the record straight. My research has disclosed the following with respect to recounts:

  1. Recounts are rare. According to NBC in the last 50 years or so there have been few recounts, and they have rarely succeeded.
  2. For example, between 2000 and 2015, of the nearly 4,700 statewide elections there have been 27 recounts.
  3. Would you care to guess how many of them have actually succeeded in flipping the results of the original election? The answer is three. That’s all – three. The last one was the Senate race in MN in 2008 when Dem Al Franken prevailed over GOPer Norm Coleman.
  4. There are two kinds of recounts – automatic and requested. Currently, 27 states have statutory procedures for an automatic recount. They are triggered if an election is close enough to warrant one. How close? It depends on the individual state. 43 states have statutory provisions for requested recounts. Again, they vary according to the state. Only two states – MS and TN – do not have any statutory provisions for a recount.
  5. In any event one can always make a recount request or dispute the outcome of an election through the judicial system. Typically, such requests are made through the applicable state court first, then the federal courts. Theoretically, they can proceed all the way to the Supreme Court, although that is very rare.
  6. With respect to current disputes, so far the Trump campaign has not met with much success. On the plus side, it has managed to gather hundreds of affidavits from individuals who have alleged to have witnessed irregularities and possible fraud. These have included computer glitches, duplicate ballots, late-arriving ballots, dead people voting, non-residents voting, and incomplete/inaccurate ballots being counted. On the other hand, so far its efforts have been rejected by various courts.
  7. In PA the state Supreme Court ruled to accept late arriving ballots due to the “vast disruption” and “unprecedented challenges” presented by the COVID pandemic. The court also noted that the votes in question were not sufficient in number to make up Trump’s deficit.
  8. In MI a judge rejected claims that the City of Detroit had committed fraud in its processing of absentee ballots.
  9. In AZ the campaign’s own lawyers withdrew their petition for a manual inspection of votes in the Phoenix area as it had become apparent that the number of votes in question were not sufficient to flip the state.

CONCLUSION

As I said, the Trump campaign is acting within its rights. Its critics are so intent on criticizing and demonizing Mr. Trump that they are missing the larger point. The paramount issue is the perceived integrity of the election, itself. Free, fair, and legitimate elections are the cornerstone of our republic. Every legal vote, and only legal votes, should be counted. The country cannot function otherwise.

Right now, nearly one-half of the country has suspicions that the election was “stolen” from Mr. Trump. We either need to satisfy those voters that it was not, or, if the facts dictate, declare Mr. Trump the true winner. I maintain that we all need to sit back, shut up, be patient, and let the legal matters play out. Regardless of the outcome, we should analyze how this election was conducted and use it as a learning tool for future elections.

Massive mail-in voting will likely become the new normal, prospectively. It is vital that we correct the weaknesses of this election so that they are not repeated. Some states, such as FL, handled the process really well. We should study those states’ procedures and adopt them universally. It has nothing to do with Dem or GOP, just fairness.

At the end of the process, whoever ends up the winner should be recognized as such by all. This will actually be to his benefit. The ultimate winner, whomever it may be, cannot lead effectively as long as half the country thinks his presidency is illegitimate.

ALEX TREBEK

Most people knew him as the host of the popular game show, Jeopardy, but that barely scratched the surface of what he was. To identify him merely as a game show host was akin to labeling Michael Jordan as just a basketball player. Technically, it was true, but, as you will see, he was so much more.

George Alexander Trebek was born on July 22, 1940 in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. His father had emigrated from Ukraine as a child; his mother was a native-born French-Canadian. The family was bi-lingual, French and English. The original family name was Terebeychuk. Like many immigrant families the name was shortened at some point in order to facilitate their assimilation into their new home country. New country, new start, new name.

Alex was an industrious child. He began working at the age of 13. His first job was as a bellhop at a local hotel where his father was employed as a chef. After high school he attended the University of Ottawa from which he graduated in 1961 with a degree in philosophy. At that time his career goal was to work in broadcast news, a difficult field to break into. Actually, Alex began his career even before he earned his degree. In his words, “I went to school in the mornings, and worked at nights. I did everything … every possible job.” His first job in his chosen field was in 1963 on a Canadian music program called Music Hop.

In 1973 Alex emigrated to the US. (He became a naturalized citizen in 1996.) He secured a job with NBC as host of a new game show called The Wizard of Odds. That was soon followed by a bunch of other shows. For example, how many of these old and largely forgotten shows do you remember: High Rollers, Double Dare, the 128,000 Question, and Battlestars? Alex was very prolific. At one point, he was one of only two persons to be hosting shows in both the US and Canada, simultaneously. (The other was Jim Perry.) In 1991 he went one better, becoming the only person to host three game shows simultaneously.

Alex’s big break came in 1984. The game show, Jeopardy, was being revived as a daily syndicated show. The original daytime iteration of Jeopardy aired from 1964 to 1973. Art Fleming, the original host, had declined to emcee the show due to “creative differences.” Alex auditioned for the role and got it, and, as they say, the rest is history.

Alex remained the host until his death – 36 years. Contestants came and went. The show endured. The one constant was Alex. To many viewers, he was the show. Its popularity was astounding for a game show. Renowned author Linda Fairstein wrote it into each of her novels. Regardless of where they were, the main characters would make it a point to seek out a tv to watch the Final Jeopardy question. In the movie Rainman Dustin Hoffman’s character just had to watch it, and he drove Tom Cruise’s character crazy looking for a tv. In 2013 TV Guide published a list of the greatest American tv shows. Jeopardy ranked #45.

Like many other game show hosts Alex made a slew of guest appearances on other tv shows. But, Alex took it to another level. All told, he appeared on over thirty game shows and in over 50 movies and tv shows. There’s more. In 1996 he was honored as an Olympic torch bearer for part of the torch’s journey through FL In 2014 Guinness World Records recognized Alex as the record holder for hosting the most episodes of a game show – 6,829. Obviously, at the time of his death he had added to that record considerably. In 2018 he served as moderator in a debate between two candidates for the governorship of PA. He probably did a better job than some of the debate moderators we have suffered through this year.

Alex married twice. His first marriage ended in divorce. He had two children with his second wife, Jean. He owned a 700-acre ranch in CA on which he bred and trained thoroughbred racehorses.

CONCLUSION

As I said, Alex was much more than just one of the most successful game show hosts ever. He was a huge philanthropist and activist. For example, over his lifetime he donated some $10 million to his alma mater, the University of Ottawa, which honored him by naming its alumni hall in his honor. In addition, he donated $100,000 to Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter in LA. Furthermore, he was very active in other charities such as World Vision Canada and the US Service Organization for World Trade, which focus on the needs of people in developing nations, particularly children.

Alex was the recipient of numerous awards and honoraria. For example, he was honored with a star on both Canada’s and Hollywood’s Walks of Fame; he won seven Emmys for “Outstanding Game Show Host;” and he was the recipient of a Daily Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Alex bravely fought through various health problems. In 2007 he suffered a “minor” heart attack; in 2011 he injured his Achilles tendon while chasing a burglar who had broken into his hotel room; in 2017 he developed a subdural hematoma, which required him to undergo brain surgery to remove some blood lots from his brain; and in January 2019 came the big one, pancreatic cancer. The initial symptom had been fairly innocuous, a persistent stomach ache. Alex fought bravely and hard, undergoing chemotherapy and surgery, but to no avail. Eventually, the cancer won.

Alex passed away on November 8 after a nearly two-year battle with the dreaded disease. Rest in peace, Alex. You lived your life with class and dignity, right to the end. As I said at the outset, many of us knew you as a game show host, but you were much, much more than that, and you will be sorely missed.