Most Americans only know him as the mystery man with the flamboyant, energetic speaking style and the unusual nickname. Who is Beto O’Rourke? How did he get that unusual nickname? What is his background? What does he stand for, politically? Does he really have a chance to win the Dem nomination? The election? Good questions. Read on, and let’s see.

Robert Francis O’Rourke was born on September 26, 1972 in El Paso, TX. His family was steeped in politics. His father was a local politician in the El Paso area. In addition, he was an associate of former Texas Governor Mark White (1983-87); and he was the state chairman of Jesse Jackson’s 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns. Later, he switched parties and ran for various political offices as a Republican, and lost every race. His mother, who owned a furniture store, is the step-daughter of Fred Korth, who served as Secretary of the Navy under JFK.

The family bestowed the unusual nickname, Beto, on Robert as an infant. It is a short version of “Berto,” a Spanish nickname for Roberto, which is the Spanish translation of Robert. He was called Beto to distinguish him from his grandfather, who was also named Robert.

Beto’s childhood included a couple of unusual events. As a teenager, he became involved in a computer hacking group called “Cult of the Dead Cow.” His “handle” was “Psychedelic Warlord.” More on this later. After two years at the local high school, his family shipped him off to boarding school in Virginia (possibly because of his involvement with the hacking group). He spent the summer following his graduation as an intern on Capitol Hill. He attended college at Columbia and graduated in 1995 with a BA in English.

Also, in 1995 he was arrested for burglary. He and some friends were caught sneaking onto the campus of UTEP for some hijinks. The university declined to press charges and the matter was dropped. In 1998 he was arrested for DWI in connection with a car accident. Those charges were dismissed as well. Youthful indiscretions? Perhaps. But, these matters may be raised by his political opponents if he stays in the race.

After graduation Beto worked at a series of jobs as he was deciding on a career, such as caretaker, proofreader, and writer of short stories and songs. Later on, he co-founded a technology business. In 2012 he entered politics. He ran for Congress and won. After serving three terms, he ran for the Senate against Ted Cruz and lost, albeit narrowly. Based on that narrow loss in a “red” state he has become a “media darling.” How long it will last is anybody’s guess.

As I said, not much is known about Beto, except for his unusual nickname. He is a colorful character, an animated speaker, a prolific fundraiser and has charisma. Politically, he seems to be in the mainstream of the Dem party, which is fine for the nomination, may be too liberal for the general election. For example, he seems to be a proponent of open borders, or, at least, relaxed borders, soft on crime and criminals (against mandatory sentencing) and favors the legalization of marijuana. Moreover, he favors a two-state solution in the Middle East, which may offend some Jews who would normally support Dems.


If Beto is to remain a serious candidate he will likely have to overcome some severe hurdles. For example:

1. As of yet, he does not have the name recognition of, say, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, or Kamala Harris.

2. He will have to develop detailed policies and communicate them to voters. So far, most voters do not know where he stands on major issues, such the economy, terrorism, Iran, healthcare, energy, and many others. He needs to articulate his positions on those and other significant issues better than he has to date.

3. He will have to provide a satisfactory explanation of his participation in the teen-age hacking, burglary and DWI. Apparently, Reuters knew about the hacking before the Senate election, but, inexplicably, did not print it until afterwards. Apparently, the report described some rather disturbing fiction he wrote as “Psychedelic Warlord” that detailed the murder of children. Some political opponents and voters might dismiss those incidents as old news since they occurred 20 or more years ago, but others might not be so forgiving, especially in view of the Reuters matter.

4. Perhaps, his biggest hurdle will be that he is a white male in a political party that is committed to “identity politics” and seems to be determined to nominate a minority and/or female candidate, and moreover, he is not even the preferred white male, trailing Biden and Bernie.

I believe the media is enamored with him at the present time, and that will provide him with a bit of a boost. Right now, he is a fresh face, with considerable charisma. Some see him as the Dems’ “Trump” in terms of personality. (I don’t). But, eventually, the novelty will wear off, and he will have to explain his policies and carve out his niche. The field is getting very crowded. In the 2020 election, as the late Yogi Berra said in a different context: “it [will] get late, early.”

In summary, it’s very early, but, in my opinion, his chances of winning the nomination are very slim. Should he pull off an unlikely upset, I believe his chances of winning the election would be slim and none.



Life is not fair. This is not a revelation. Most of us have heard this mantra our entire lives. First from our parents, when a friend was allowed to do something we weren’t, like stay up late or watch a PG-13 movie. You know the drill. (Child – “No fair. Jim/Jane is allowed to do it.” Parent – “Jim/Jane is not my kid. You are. Life is not fair.”) Then, perhaps, you experienced it when a coach picked someone else for the team instead of you, even though everyone “knew” you were the better player. Or, maybe, you experienced it at work when the promotion you “deserved” went to someone else whom the boss liked better. Now, as a parent, many of you have repeated the mantra to your own kids.

Even the famous and well-worn expression “all men are created equal” is not exactly accurate. The child born into poverty in a third-world country is not really “equal” to one born in the US. Within the US some children are borne into poverty while others, having hit the genetic lottery, are born into wealth and privilege. They don’t start out equal, but, in theory, our system is supposed to provide everyone with at least the opportunity to be successful. Indeed, our history is replete with examples of successful people who began life poor, or even destitute, yet somehow managed to succeed. Equal opportunity is the key, which brings me to the college admissions scandal that is currently inundating our news.

Some would say this is nothing new. It has been going on forever. Perhaps, but I doubt to this extent, and in any event, I see a new twist to this. What really aggravates me is the sheer hypocrisy, the unremitting sense of entitlement. More on this later.

The focal point of this scandal is William Singer, a Newport Beach, CA businessman, who has been charged with several counts of racketeering, money laundering, fraud and obstruction of justice against the US. In his words, he merely provided a “side door” for admission, as opposed to the “front door,” whereby a student gains admission on his own merits, or a “back door,” where the parents donate a building. In order to mitigate his penalties he has been cooperating with federal prosecutors for some six months. He has been providing a virtual treasure trove of information regarding the scandal.

The prosecutors allege this scandal has been going on since 2011, but it may have existed, in some form, for a lot longer. According to the FBI, federal prosecutors, the “NY Times,” and Wikipedia the FBI has alleged the key elements of this scandal are as follows:

1. Bribing SAT and ACT examiners to create inflated scores. It is alleged that Singer was able to arrange for his clients’ children to take their SAT or ACT exams at sites, such as Houston or LA, where he had bribed officials to correct their answers, if necessary, and in some cases, look the other way while “stand-ins” actually took the exams.
2. Bribing college administrators and coaches to “push” unqualified or poorly qualified candidates on the basis of their supposed athletic prowess. In some, cases, these applicants had never even played the sport, in question. Moreover, Singer would create false resumes inflating the applicants’ accomplishments, claiming a disability, or even lying about their ethnicity to boost their credentials. The universities involved read like a “who’s who,” Stanford, Yale, USC and University of Texas, among many others, and the sports are varied, such as soccer, tennis, water polo, and crew. One could almost admire the creativity of some of these parents. For example, one used “photoshop” to create a false record of his son being a football player. In the case that has received the most notoriety so far, actress Lori Loughlin (“Full House”) is alleged to have paid $500,000 to get her daughters into USC as members of the rowing team despite the fact that neither had ever participated in the sport. One of the daughters, Olivia Jade, exhibiting callous indifference to the situation, blithely stated “I don’t really care about school, just the parties and the experience.” Nice, and she took the place of a kid who really needs and wants to go to college.
4. Typically, the payments were funneled through a 501(c)(3) charitable organization in order to conceal the aforementioned bribes. This enabled Singer to avoid income tax on the payments and enabled the parents to deduct the payments as “donations.” Sweet deal.
5. In some cases, the child was complicit; in other cases, he or she was unaware.


The repercussions of this scandal will likely be far-reaching. It appears that it will touch wealthy elites in all walks of life – entertainers, businessmen, athletes and, perhaps, even politicians. I can understand that parents of means will desire to give their children every advantage in life, but it should be legitimate and legal. It should not include bribery, fraud, and other illegalities.

I view this as one more example of the hypocrisy and sense of entitlement of the so-called elites. I am “fed up” with it. Most of these people think the laws and rules of society that apply to the vast majority of people do not apply to them. They talk about helping the less fortunate, but see nothing wrong with their child taking a spot in college that should have gone to a child of a middle class or working class family. Let’s not overlook that aspect of this mess.

These are the same people who spout off about “climate change,” yet travel by private jets. They want to open our borders, yet they live in gated communities with walls and 24X7 security. They support the “Green New Deal,” which would outlaw airplanes and cars to “save the planet,” but don’t consider how people who don’t live in NY or LA are supposed to travel from place to place. For example, OAC, who spouts one inane idea after another on social media and tv, wants to outlaw cars, yet she rides in limos everywhere even though subways and buses are readily available. They even want to control what we eat. For example, the mayor of NYC has imposed “meatless Mondays” in public schools, but he doesn’t realize that many kids may need and want the nutrition, which they may not get at home.

Federal prosecutors advised they are processing indictments against over 50 people so far, so this scandal is likely to touch many more people. Furthermore, several coaches have been fired; some universities, e.g. USC, have announced they are reviewing some of the questionable admissions; and several class action lawsuits have been filed against some of the universities. Undoubtedly, there will be more legal action to follow.

For once, I sort of agree with Elizabeth Warren, who professed to have “zero” sympathy for the perpetrators. By the way, does anyone else see the irony of her statement considering what she has done to falsify her background?


I believe it is always there, just below the surface, like a simmering teapot. It doesn’t take much to set it off. Am I being too sensitive? Am I overreacting to the comments and attitudes of a few outliers? Perhaps, but I have 5,000 years of history to guide my thinking.

History can be a pesky thing. It’s permanent, and its lessons are always available to those who care to learn them. Those who take the time and make the effort to learn from it are all the wiser; those who don’t will likely repeat the same mistakes.

Throughout history, Jews have, on occasion, been welcomed in various countries, in some cases for hundreds of years… until they were not. Rulers found the Jews to be useful for a while as they normally made strong contributions to society. But, then, they could also make handy scapegoats if things went bad, for instance, if there were crop failures or plague or if the rulers wanted to divert the attention of the masses from their miserable daily existence. Some of the more obvious and egregious examples of this occurred in Egypt (in Moses’ time), Spain (the Inquisition), Russia (19th century pogroms) and Poland and Germany (WWII). There are a plethora of other examples, if you care to, as Casey Stengel was fond of saying, “look it up.”

In the US Jews, for the most part, have been able to live their lives in peace and prosperity. What anti-Semitism has existed has been mostly covert (college quotas, hiring practices, closed club memberships, crude jokes and comments) rather than overt (pogroms and other physical violence). Fine and good, but history tells Jews not to be lulled into a false sense of security. It can all change in a “New York minute.” All it needs is a spark.

In evaluating Rep. Omar’s comments my concern is not just what she said last week or last month. I view them as part of her underlying belief system. In addition, I think it is important to view them through the lens of history, as described above.

Her apology not withstanding, I think it’s obvious she said what she meant, and she meant what she said. She has made similar comments before. For example, in 2012 she tweeted that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” The gist of her latest comments was to question the loyalty of those Americans who support Israel. In her opinion, they are demonstrating allegiance to a foreign country (Israel) rather than the US. This kind of comment is very dangerous. It actually reminds me of the concern by some when JFK ran for president in 1960 that, as a Catholic, he would be loyal to the pope, rather than the US. That line of reasoning turned out to be unfounded, and, in retrospect, it seems preposterous. Omar’s line of reasoning is equally so. Someone should remind her that one of, if not the, major reason why the US supports Israel is that it is our only reliable ally in the volatile and strategically-crucial Middle East and the only stable democracy.

Furthermore, she put out a tweet implying that lawmakers’ support for Israel was predicated on contributions from lobbyists, such as AIPAC, (“It’s all about the ‘Benjamins.’ “) as if there are not a plethora of pro-Muslim lobbyists as well. Lobbying is pervasive in DC. Every interest group does it. No one is defending the practice, but it is the way business is done. It’s not right to single out AIPAC.

Clearly, she is anti-Semitic. She’s entitled to her opinion. After all, this is America. I say this not because she is a Muslim. In my observation and experience, few Muslims in the US are anti-Semitic. Like the rest of us they just want to go about their business in peace, enjoy life, provide for themselves and their families. They don’t have the time or inclination to get embroiled in politics.

Moreover, I believe that criticism of Israel is very often “code” for anti-Semitism, not always, but very often. I compare it to some southern politicians of the 1950s championing “states’ rights” as code for segregation.

My primary concern is the wishy-washy language of the resolution condemning hate. It should have been specific to anti-Semitism and named Omar as the culprit, leaving no doubt on where the Dem Party stands on the issue. The original resolution condemning anti-Semitism was watered down to include practically every identity group in existence – Muslims, Asians, Hispanics, LGBT, etal. “It’s not [just] about her [Omar]” said Pelosi. “It’s about all forms of hatred.” No one is averse to condemning all forms of hatred, but the watered down version was so wishy-washy it was almost gratuitous and meaningless. As Rep Douglas Collins intoned, it was something “all of us should have learned in kindergarten.”

A sampling of other comments:

1. Rep. Mo Brooks (perhaps, tongue-in-check)- Why didn’t it include a condemnation of discrimination against “Caucasian Americans and Christians.”
2. Rep. Ted Deutsch (D-FL) “Why are we unable to singularly condemn anti-Semitism? Why can’t we call out anti-Semitism and show we’ve learned the lessons of history?”
3. Rep Liz Cheney (-WY) – Dems are “enabling anti-Semitism [by] failing to explicitly condemn” Omar’s comments. She added that refusing to name her “was really an effort to actually protect [Omar}, to cover up her bigotry and anti-Semitism.” She contrasted this with how Rep. Steve King was treated for his “white nationalist” comments.
4. Rep. Eliot Engel, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, characterized Omar’s comments as a “vile, anti-Semitic slur.”


Where is the Dem leadership? Where are the moderates? Are there any left? Has “Chancy” abdicated their leadership roles? For the moment, Pelosi seems to be content to let the fringe elements of the Party run wild. Schumer has said not a peep. At the very least, Omar should be dismissed from the Foreign Affairs Committee, as some Reps have suggested. In the old days, LBJ or Sam Rayburn would have cracked down hard on her and other fringe members. They would have assigned her to a committee counting pencils, or some such. Instead, Pelosi defended Omar, saying “I do not believe that she understood the full weight of the words. I feel confident that her words were not based on any anti-Semitic attitude.” Yeah, right.

The serious Dem presidential candidates cannot be happy about this development. They will continually be made to answer questions about anti-Semitism and prejudice in their Party. Moderates, like Joe Biden, have to be concerned that their core beliefs are no longer in synch with the mainstream of the Dem Party.

Traditionally, Jews have been staunch supporters of Dems. In some instances, they have voted for Dems blindly and automatically. Perhaps, it is time to rethink that philosophy and be more selective.


Below please find some of the significant events that have occurred in March.

3/1/1932 – In one of the most notorious kidnappings ever, the 20 month-old son of renowned aviator, Charles Lindbergh, was taken from his home. Tragically, the child was later found dead only a few miles away.
3/1/1961 – President JFK established the Peace Corps, which sent volunteers to developing countries to provide healthcare, education, and other basic human needs.
3/1/1974 – Several senior officials of the Nixon administration were indicted for obstruction related to the infamous Watergate break-in.
3/4/1681 – England’s King Charles, II deeded a huge tract of land in the New World to William Penn in settlement of a debt. Appropriately, the area became known as Pennsylvania.
3/4/1789 – The first meeting of the US Congress occurred in NYC.
3/4/1830 – Former President John Quincy Adams returned to Congress as a member of the House of Representatives, the first, and only, ex-President to do so. [Who was the only ex-President to serve in the US Senate? See answer below?]
3/5/1770 – British soldiers opened fire on a group of demonstrating colonials, killing five, including Crispus Attucks, an African-American, who later became celebrated as being the first person to die in the Revolutionary War.
3/5/1946 – The term, “Iron Curtain,” was first used (in a speech by Winston Churchill) to describe the separation between the free countries of Europe and those that were under the domination of the Soviet Union.
3/6/1836 – The Alamo was overrun by Mexican troops, who slaughtered every last defender, including James Bowie and Davy Crockett. “Remember the Alamo” became the inspirational rallying cry for Texans’ fight for independence from Mexico.
3/10/1862 – The US began distributing paper money in denominations of $5, $10 and $20.
3/10/1880 – The Salvation Army was founded in the US.
3/11/1918 – The “Spanish Flu” first appeared in the US. By the end of 1920 it had been responsible for some 22 million deaths worldwide.
3/12/1609 – The British colonized Bermuda (by accident, as a ship headed for Virginia had been blown off-course).
3/12/1888 – The infamous “Great Blizzard of 1888” wreaked havoc on the northeastern US. In NYC it dropped 40 inches of snow over 36 hours and was responsible for some 400 deaths.
3/12/1938 – In the first of many blatant acts of aggression, Germany invaded, and later annexed, Austria.
3/15/44 B.C. – Julius Caesar was assassinated in the Senate by a group that included his friend, Brutus (“Et tu, Brute?”).
3/16/1968 – American soldiers killed 504 Vietnamese men, women and children in what became known as the “My Lai Massacre.”
3/17 – Celebrated in many countries as St. Patrick’s Day to honor the Patron Saint of Ireland, who is credited with converting the Irish to Catholicism in the 5th century.
3/22/1972 – Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender.
3/23/1775 – In a speech before the Virginia House of Burgesses, Patrick Henry intoned his famous words, “give me liberty, or give me death.”
3/24/1934 – President FDR granted independence to the Philippine Islands, which the US had controlled since the Spanish-American War.
3/24/1989 – The oil tanker, Exxon Valdez, ran aground off the coast of Alaska, spewing forth some 11 million gallons of oil over some 45 miles of natural habitat, creating the one of the largest and most devastating ecological disasters in US history.
3/25/1807 – The British Parliament abolished slavery throughout the Commonwealth.
3/25/1911 – A raging fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in NYC killed 123 in just minutes. The tragedy shined a spotlight on the working conditions of immigrant women who were laboring in the garment industry for long hours and low pay.
3/26/1979 – Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David Accord peace treaty, brokered by President Jimmy Carter.
3/28/1979 – An accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant created a controversy over the use of nuclear power that still has not been fully resolved.
3/30/1981- President Ronald Reagan is gravely wounded by a would-be assassin. He recovered shortly to resume his duties and later quipped that he “forgot to duck.”
3/31/1968 – President LBJ, who, for many, had come to symbolize the futility and frustration of the Vietnam War, announced he would not run for re-election.

Birthdays – 3/1/1904 – Glenn Miller, bandleader (“Moonlight Serenade”), in Carilinda, IA; 3/2/1793 – Sam Houston, led the fight for Texas independence, Rockbridge County, VA; 3/3/1831 – George Pullman, invented “Pullman Car,” which improved sleeping accommodations on trains, in Brocton, NY; 3/3/1847 – Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, among others, in Edinburgh, Scotland; 3/4/1747 – Casimir Pulaski, Revolutionary War hero, in Poland; 3/4/1888 – Knute Rockne, football coach, in Voss, Norway; 3/6/1475 – Michelangelo, Renaissance painter, in Caprese, Italy; 3/9/1451 – Amerigo Vespucci, explorer and cartographer for whom America is named; 3/9/1934 – Yuri Gargarin, first cosmonaut in space, in Gzhatsk, Russia; 3/14/1879 – Albert Einstein, physicist who developed the theory of relativity; 3/14/1833 – Lucy Hobbs, first female dentist, in NY; 3/15/1767 – Andrew Jackson, 7th President, war hero in War of 1812, in Waxhaw, SC; 3/16/1751 – James Madison, a Founding Father and 4th US President; 3/18/1837 – Grover Cleveland, 22nd and 24th President (only president to serve two terms non-consecutively), in Caldwell, NJ; 3/19/1813 – David Livingstone, explorer and missionary who famously went missing in Africa. When he was finally found by newsman Henry Stanley, the latter supposedly uttered the famous line, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume,” although that might have been an example of Hollywood hyperbole, in Scotland; 3/19/1848 – Wyatt Earp, Wild West lawman and gunfighter, in Monmouth, IL; 3/19/1860 – William Jennings Bryan, known for “Cross of Gold ” speech and for the dubious honor of being only person to lose three presidential races, in Salem, IL; 3/21/1685 – Johann Sebastian Bach, composer, in Germany; 3/24/1874 – Erik Weisz, aka, Harry Houdini, escape artist, in Hungary; 3/26/1911 – Thomas Lanier “Tennessee” Williams, III, playwright (“A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”), in Columbus, MS; 3/29/1760 – John Tyler, became 10th President upon the death of William Henry Harrison, Charles City County, VA; 3/30/1853 – Vincent Van Gogh, Postimpressionist painter, in Groot Zundert, Holland; 3/31/1731 – Franz Joseph Hayden, composer, considered to be father of the symphony and string quartet, in Austria; 3/31/1878 – Jack Johnson, first AA boxing champion, in Galveston, TX.

Answer to quiz – Andrew Johnson (TN)


I could almost feel sorry for Joe Biden. Almost. I don’t agree with him on most issues, politically, and I don’t think he would be a particularly good president, but I don’t think he is a bad guy. I think he would like to be president. Most politicians in his position would aspire to that job. Unfortunately for him, I believe he has already missed his best chance.

In 2016 Vice President Biden would have been a strong candidate, stronger than Hillary, who had trouble beating back the challenge of a previously obscure socialist, like Uncle Bernie. On top of his long tenure in the Senate, he had the visibility and name recognition that goes with having been VP for eight years. As it turned out, both parties ran unpopular candidates. I believe President Obama would have backed him over Hillary. But, Joe hung back. Perhaps, the wounds of his son’s death were too raw. Perhaps, he bought in to the whole fallacy that “it was Hillary’s turn.” In any event, I think he could have won, and now, it appears that events and time have passed him by. In politics, as in life, timing is crucial.

In 2020 the Democratic Party has moved very far to the left. Already, there are a plethora of far left candidates, such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamila Harris and Corey Booker, who are espousing extreme progressive/socialist ideas who have strong backing within the Party. In addition, there is AOC, who, though only a freshman and too young to run, seems to be the current media darling, and is spouting one crazy idea after another on tv and social media. (Her latest is to threaten Congressmen who vote to support moderate policies with being put on a political “hit” list. She may be of questionable intelligence, but I have to admit, she does have “chutzpah.”) It seems that the party is seeking a diversity candidate, which is code for a woman and/or minority. Biden, as an older, relatively moderate, white guy, seems to be an outcast in his own party.

Furthermore, Biden is not helping his case. His indecisiveness is encouraging others to jump into the fray. At this rate, by the time the primaries begin in early 2020 there could easily be 15 or 20 candidates. What a mess that would be. Entertaining, but a mess.

It looks like Biden’s strategy is to wait, let the various pretenders fight it out and eliminate each other, and then jump in to challenge who’s left. He might be better served by declaring his candidacy and locking up financial funding and political support, rather than hanging back as he has been. Tough call, but I think his current stance makes him appear indecisive, which is not a good quality for a leader.


In my view, Biden did not help himself with the Pence situation. What is wrong with calling another politician from the opposition party a “nice guy?” It doesn’t mean Biden was endorsing his political views. Some twitter morons criticized him, and instead of standing his ground, he tried to apologize. For what? Being respectful toward another politician? Not something a strong, decisive leader does.

I think Biden would be the Dems’ best candidate in a general election. If you’re a Dem you should be rooting for him. He would have an excellent chance of beating President Trump, probably the only Dem who could. But, I don’t know if he can win his own party’s nomination. As they say, we’ll see.


On the surface, the second summit between Messrs. Trump and Kim was unsuccessful. Mr. Trump embarked on a 17 hour plane ride to Vietnam (Kim travelled 60 hours by train.). Nothing substantive was agreed to, and Mr. Trump terminated the discussions abruptly. Abject failure? Perhaps. In my opinion, it depends on one’s point of view.

The negative view, which was widely reported on various media outlets was that, by meeting with Kim as “equals” Mr. Trump elevated Kim’s status as a world leader. Moreover, Mr. Trump failed to get Kim to agree to any concessions, such as disarming his nuclear arsenal, agreeing to inspections, or even agreeing to an official end to the Korean Conflict. It seems that Kim was insisting on complete relief from sanctions as a condition for committing to incremental denuclearization. Mr. Trump viewed that as a complete non-starter, hence the walk-out.

On the other hand, the more optimistic view is that (1) the two leaders are continuing to talk and seek diplomatic solutions, (2) the sanctions are remaining in place, (3) according to Margaret Brennan, who covered the summit for CBS News, the two leaders committed to continue to hold discussions among staff diplomats, and (4) best of all, we are talking, not fighting. I subscribe to the optimistic view. I believe diplomatic interaction with one’s enemies is preferable to ignoring them, which inevitably leads to war.

The sanctions against No Ko are extensive and, by most accounts, very effective. There are widespread food shortages and the country is severely strapped for currency. Kim may not care if his people starve and lack for other basic necessities, but the sanctions include not only weapons-related materials but also luxuries. This is intended to impact the elites, whose support Kim relies on. That is the “stick.” The “carrot” is that Mr. Trump has made it clear to Kim that if we can agree on a satisfactory deal NK’s economy can prosper along the lines of South Korea’s.


I was taken aback by much of the media’s and Dems’ attitude toward this summit. First, they criticized Mr. Trump for agreeing to meet with Kim. They expressed concern he was elevating Kim’s status in the world and would agree to a bad deal just to make a deal. Then, when he walked away from a bad deal, they criticized that as well. Par for the course. It was almost as if they would rather see Mr. Trump fail at securing a peace agreement than get a “win.”

To state the obvious, no deal is better than a bad deal. (I wish the Obama-Kerry-Clinton team would have realized that with respect to the Iran nuclear deal.) In my opinion, walking away was just part of the negotiating process. It demonstrated strength of conviction. The other side will not negotiate seriously unless they know you are willing to walk away. Mr. Trump has already gotten further along toward peace in Korea than any previous president.

At some point, there will be other meetings. I expect we will continue the process until we get NK’s agreement to denuclearize. In the meantime, talking is better than fighting, and there are no “test” rockets flying over Hawaii or California.


Senator – Mr. Cohen, did you go to Prague to meet with Russians on behalf of Donald Trump or his campaign?
Cohen – No, in fact, I’ve never been to Prague. (Uh oh, strike one.)
Senator – Mr. Cohen, did Mr. Trump instruct you to lie to Congress?
Cohen – No. (Whoops, strike two.)
Senator – Mr. Cohen, did you witness any collusion between Mr. Trump or his campaign and the Russians during the 2016 presidential election?
Cohen – No. (Steeriiiick three! You’re out!)

The above is a paraphrasing of the significant moments of the interminable Michael Cohen testimony before the Senate {Un}Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. Cohen, the Dems’ star witness, formerly the President’s personal attorney, who should know where the bodies are buried, who hates Mr. Trump and has no reason to lie for him and every reason to turn against him, fizzled on national tv. Cohen was to be the Dems’ star witness. So, foiled again.

Those of you who think character should “trump” policy, could take solace in that Cohen did confirm that Mr. Trump has had numerous affairs in the past and authorized a payment to Stormy Daniels to avoid the embarrassment of his liaison with her being made public. But, Cohen was unable to refute Mr. Trump’s previous assertions that he did so out of personal funds, which is not a criminal act as opposed to out of campaign funds, which would be, albeit a minor one. Thus, Cohen confirmed what we already knew. Mr. Trump is not a “nice guy.”

But, so what? Mr. Trump’s personal behavior has been well documented. His supporters voted for him anyway. I maintain it is of no consequence, except to Mrs. Trump. Do I have to remind you, again, that previous presidents, such as FDR, JFK, LBJ and Clinton, among many others, were not exactly paragons of virtue. Plus, their peccadilloes continued while they were president, whereas, to my knowledge Mr. Trump’s have not.

Furthermore, it has been well-documented that such behavior is commonplace among those in positions of power, and I include politicians, entertainers, businessmen, and clergy of both genders. Always has been, and always will be. So, in my opinion, attacking Mr. Trump’s personal character is a dead end for Dems. They would be much better off attacking on the issues, if they can find some.

Instead, Dem leaders, such as Corey Booker, Elijah Cummings, “Chancy,” Kamila Harris, and OAC, among others, have promised to continue their relentless search for impeachable offenses. Perhaps, the Southern District of NY, which, currently, is conducting its own “colonoscopy” of Mr. Trump’s business dealings, will come to their rescue. Perhaps, not.


After two years of investigations the “witch hunters” have not turned up anything, demonstrating collusion between Mr. Trump or his campaign and the Russians. And we know, they have tried really, really hard to find something, anything. I believe much of the public is tired of the “dog and pony” show, and now views it as so much “white noise.” We deserve better from our elected officials. How about governing the country?

I have said this before, but it bears repeating. Rather than continuing to tilt, in vain, at the “windmill” of the 2016 election, Dems would be better served to accept they lost, figure out why, and take steps to ensure they don’t repeat the same mistakes in 2020. Otherwise, they will lose again.


February may be the shortest month, but there has been no shortage of significant historical events during the month. For example:

2/2/1848 – The US-Mexican War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The US paid $15 million for a huge swath of land that encompasses parts of present-day CA, AZ, TX, UT, NV, NM, CO and WY.

2/3/1870 – The 15th amendment to the Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing all citizens the right to vote.

2/3/1913 – The 16th amendment to the Constitution was ratified authorizing Congress to collect income taxes.

2/6/1933 – The 20th amendment to the Constitution was ratified, which changed the presidential inauguration date from March 4 to January 20.

2/6/1952 – Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne of the UK with the death of her father, King George VI.

2/8/1010 – The Boy Scouts of America was founded by William Boyce.

2/9/1943 – In one of the bloodiest battles of WWII the US captured Guadalcanal after six months of intense fighting. The KIA included 2,000 Americans and 9,000 Japanese.

2/10/1967 – The 25th amendment to the Constitution was ratified, which clarified the procedures for presidential succession.

2/11/660 BC – The date of the founding of the Japanese nation.

2/11//1990 – Nelson Mandela was released from a SA prison after 27 years.

2/12/1999 – The impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton concluded with a “not guilty” verdict.

2/13/1635 – Boston Latin, the first taxpayer-supported public school in America, was founded in Boston.

2/14 – Celebrated around the world as St. Valentine’s Day.

2/14/1849 – Photographer Mathew Brady took the first photograph of a US President in office (James K. Polk).

2/14/1929 – The infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre occurred in Chicago, as members of Al Capone’s gang, posing as police, gunned down members of the Bugs Moran gang.

2/15/1898 – The USS Battleship Maine blew up under mysterious circumstances while anchored in Havana harbor. Although culpability was not proven, this incident precipitated the War of 1898 with “remember the Maine” as the chief battle cry.

2/15/1933 – A failed assassination attempt on FDR resulted in the death of Chicago mayor Anton Cermak.

2/19/1942 – The US commenced the internment of Japanese Americans.

2/20/1962 – Astronaut John Glenn became the first American to be launched into orbit.

2/21/1965 – Former Black Muslim leader, Malcolm X, was shot and killed in NYC.

2/21/1972 – President Richard Nixon arrived in China for the first State visit with communist China.

2/23/1991 – US ground troops initiated Operation Desert Storm versus Iraq.

2/24/1582 – Pope Gregory XIII replaced the Julian calendar with the Gregorian calendar. The latter has become the standard worldwide.

2/24/1867 – The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Andrew Johnson. The Senate acquitted him by one vote.

2/27/1950 – The 22nd amendment to the Constitution was ratified, which limits the president to a maximum of two terms or ten years in office.

2/27/1991- Operation Desert Storm concluded.

Birthdays – Hattie Caraway, Bakersville, TN – 2/1/1878, first woman elected to US Senate; John Ford – 2/1/1895, Cape Elizabeth, ME, Oscar winning director; Elizabeth Blackwell – 2/3/1821, Bristol, England – first female physician in US; Norman Rockwell – 2/3/1894, NYC – artist and illustrator; Thaddeus Kosciusko – 2/4/1746, Poland, Revolutionary War hero; Charles Lindbergh – 2/4/1902, Detroit, MI, first non-stop solo cross-Atlantic flight; Aaron Burr – 2/6/1756 – killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel; George Herman (“Babe”) Ruth – 2/6/1895, Baltimore, MD, generally considered best baseball player ever; Ronald Reagan – 2/6/1911, Tampico, IL, entertainer, 40th President; Charles Dickens – 2/7/1812, in England, British novelist; Sinclair Lewis – 2/7/1885, Sauk Center, MN, novelist and social critic; William Henry Harrison – 2/9/1773, Berkeley, VA, 9th President (died after having served only 32 days); Thomas Edison – 2/11/1847, Milan, OH, inventor; Abraham Lincoln- 2/12/1809, Hardin County, KY, 16th President, preserved the Union, freed the slaves; Charles Darwin – 2/12/1809, England, author; Galileo Galilei – 2/15/1564, astronomer and physicist; Susan B. Anthony – 2/15/1820, Adams, MA, women’s suffrage pioneer; Sonny Bono – 2/16/1935, Detroit, MI, entertainer; Nicolaus Copernicus – 2/19/1473, Poland, first to declare the sun, not earth, was the center of the solar system; George Washington – 2/22/1732, Westmoreland County, VA – “father” of US, 1st President; W.E.B. DuBois – 2/23/1868, Great Barrington, MA, AA educator; William (“Buffalo Bill”) Cody – 2/26/1846, Scott County, IN, reputedly killed 4,000 buffalo; Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – 2/27/1807, Portland, ME, poet (“Paul Revere’s Ride”).


It is impossible to discuss Black history without discussing the slave trade. Since February has been designated as Black History Month, I thought it appropriate to publish a blog on the topic discussing not only the sordid history of slavery, but also the many significant accomplishments of AAs.

Slave trading is as old as recorded history. Ancient peoples, such as the Egyptians, Arabs and Romans, among others, were active practitioners. Before the industrial revolution took hold, slaves were essential to do the back-breaking physical labor required, such as, for example, building the pyramids, tilling the fields, and rowing the huge warships. Basically, if you lost a war you were either killed or enslaved. Slaves were not viewed as people. They were perceived as property to be bought, sold, raped, beaten, or otherwise mistreated.

Most present-day African-Americans (AAs) are the descendants of slaves that were transported from the west coast areas of Africa to the Americas from the late 16th century through 1865. Most of these slaves were captured in raids conducted by white slave traders, however, it was not uncommon for African chiefs, (for example, those located in Benin and Mali), to sell black prisoners of war to these “slavers.”

The slaves’ passage from Africa to America, which normally took six months, was beyond brutal. Without going into too much graphic detail, the trip, itself, was probably worse than what awaited them at the end. First of all, the slaves were separated by gender. Men were generally put in the ship’s hold where they were so crowded that often they had no space to lie down. Starvation and disease were rampant. Many slaves died enroute and were dumped unceremoniously overboard. Women were kept closer to the crew. Rape was common. Occasionally there would be a rebellion, but these were quickly and brutally suppressed. All in all, some 12 million AAs were transported to America in this manner, but countless never made it.

The first slaves arrived in present-day US in 1619 at the ironically-named Point Comfort near present-day Hampton, VA. This was some 30 miles from Jamestown, which, as some of you will recall, was the first permanent English settlement in the New World. The English settlers treated these early arrivals as indentured servants, rather than slaves, and released them after they had completed their period of indenture. However, before long, this practice was replaced by outright slavery. It is estimated that only about 5% of the slaves were transported to the American colonies. The vast majority went to the West Indies, or even South America, where the working conditions were significantly more brutal (harder work and inferior food and medical care) and the death rates substantially higher.

[Quiz question: What was the first American colony to legalize slavery? Answer below.]

In early America, owning slaves was common. In fact, many, if not most, of the Founding Fathers owned slaves. For example, Thomas Jefferson owned some 200. Before you condemn them for that, however, consider that slave ownership was a symptom of the times in which they lived, and I do not believe it is appropriate to judge them by today’s standards as many are wont to do. It has been documented that even some free blacks owned slaves.

By the early 19th century slavery had become more commonplace in the South than the North. Without going into excessive detail, slaves were an economic necessity to work the vast plantations that produced cotton and other crops on which the South’s economy depended. Meanwhile, the North had become more industrialized and less reliant on slave labor. The two regions were on a collision course that ultimately resulted in the Civil War, followed by Reconstruction, “Jim Crow” laws, and segregation that lasted well into the 20th century.

AAs have distinguished themselves in every war. For example, the first person to give his life for freedom during the Revolutionary War was an AA, Crispus Attucks, who perished at the Boston Massacre. Some 5,000 AAs fought in the Continental Army, side by side with whites. Therefore, technically, the US Army was integrated before it was segregated. Even after the British and their loyalist supporters offered to free any slave who joined their side, many AAs stayed loyal to the Revolution.

During the Civil War approximately 200,000 free blacks and former slaves fought with the Union Army both before and after the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.

During WWI the armed forces were still segregated, and most AA units were relegated to support roles. Even so, a few units, such as the “Harlem Hellfighters,” did see combat. That unit ended up serving on the front lines for six months, longer than any other unit, and 171 of its members were awarded the Legion of Merit. Moreover, Corporal Freddie Stowers of another unit was awarded the Medal of Honor, posthumously. Sadly, somehow, the Army (intentionally or not) “misplaced” his paperwork at the time, but his surviving sisters received it on his behalf from President Bush 41 in 1991.

Nearly 2 million AAs served in the US military during WWII, once again, in segregated units. Many of them, such as the famed Tuskegee Airmen, did so with distinction. Over 700 AAs were killed, and many more were wounded. Undoubtedly, their bravery and patriotism was one of the factors that led President Harry Truman to order the integration of the armed services after the War. AAs have continued to serve with distinction in every war since.


Presently, most people would say the US is divided racially (as well as politically, economically, socially and geographically). That is problematic, but, I maintain we have made significant strides as a society. Critics should try to put things in perspective. We’re not perfect by any means, and we should strive to improve, but name me a country that is better.

AAs have made innumerable contributions to society in all fields of endeavor. Below please find a brief list. Most of these names should be very familiar to you. Due to space limitations I am sure I have omitted some very important people. Feel free to make additional suggestions to the list.

Civil Rights

1. Martin Luther King – In my opinion, the most influential American civil rights leader ever. His espousal of non-violent protest won over many whites as well as blacks. His assassination was a tragedy for the civil rights movement.

2. Rosa Parks – The simple act of refusing to give up her seat on a bus was a landmark event in black civil rights history.

3. Frederick Douglas – Escaped slave who became one of the leading abolitionists of the 19th century.

4. Harriet Tubman – Escaped slave who was an integral “conductor” of the “underground railroad” in the 19th century.

5. Jesse Jackson – Renowned and influential civil rights leader for over 40 years. Ran for President in 1984 and 1988.

6. Sojourner Truth – Influential 19th century abolitionist and women’s rights advocate. Fought for equal rights for women as well as blacks.

7. Ida Wells – Civil rights activist, journalist and newspaper editor. Relentlessly investigated and exposed lynchings, which were all too commonplace in the South at the time.


1. Barack Obama – Served two terms as President of the US. Regardless of your opinion of his political philosophy, he was the first AA president.

2. Shirley Chisholm – First AA congresswoman (1968-1983). Ran for President in 1972.

3. Douglas Wilder – In 1989 became the first AA to be elected governor (Virginia).

4. Carol Moseley-Braun – First AA senator (Illinois).

Presently, there are thousands of AAs holding elected office and dozens who hold or have held significant government positions, such as Supreme Court Justices Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas, Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell, and NSA Head Condolezza Rice. Furthermore, the 2020 presidential campaign features AAs, such as Corey Booker and Kamilla Harris.

Sports and Entertainment –

There are a plethora of examples in this field, but, to my mind, these four stand out.

1. Jesse Owens – “Stuck it” to the Nazis by winning four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics in 1936 demonstrating that AAs were not inferior as many thought at the time.

2. Jackie Robinson – Broke the “color barrier” in major league baseball in 1947, paving the way for thousands who have followed and will follow, prospectively.

3. Muhammed Ali – World champion boxer and an inspiration to blacks worldwide.

4. Oprah Winfrey – Strong media personality and role model to AAs and women, in general.

Answer to quiz question: Massachusetts was the first colony to legalize slavery in 1641. Kudos to you if you got it right.


“He looks just like my Uncle Oscar!” So said Margaret Herrick, the Executive Secretary of the Academy in 1931 when she first laid eyes on the statuette. Fortuitously, columnist Sidney Skolsky was within earshot. He memorialized the comment by including it in his byline, and the moniker “stuck.” To be sure, that sourcing is not universally accepted. For example, according to one of Bette Davis’ biographies, she named the statue after her first husband, band leader Harmon Oscar Nelson. However, the Herrick story sounds like the most plausible, so I am going with it. In any event, the Academy adopted the name officially in 1939.

The Academy Awards, aka the “Oscars,” is hosted annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The winners of AAs are selected by the Academy’s membership. It is the oldest and most prestigious of the awards. This year’s awards, the 91st, will be presented on Sunday, February 24 at the Dolby Theatre in LA. The host will be …… no one.

It was supposed to Kevin Hart, but he ran afoul of the twitter PC Police, and he got the “boot.” Yes, his tweets were years old, and, yes, he apologized. But, that was not good enough for the PC Police, so he had to go. Welcome to modern, progressive America, where one is penalized for what he did or said years ago. Best to monitor your kids’ tweets and Facebook entries verrrry carefully. Anyway, too bad about Hart. He’s very funny, and he likely would have added some much needed spice to the show.

For me, the biggest drawback to the show is its length and pace. It’s supposed to be three hours, but good luck with that. The 2002 show was the worst, lasting 4 hours and 23 minutes, but who’s counting. DVR, anyone?

Some little-known facts about the AAs:

1. The initial AAs were presented in 1929 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel before an audience of approximately 270 persons. This year, by contrast, it is anticipated that the awards will be televised and streamed live to some 30 million people around the globe. Moreover, as has been customary, they will be preceded by a elaborate ceremony, which will feature celebrities parading before their fans, the media, and a television audience on the “Red Carpet.” Some people actually prefer the “Red Carpet” to the show, itself.

2. In 1929 the award winners, 15 in all, were disclosed to the media three months ahead of time. For a few years, beginning in 1930, the winners were disclosed the night before. Since 1941, however, the identitities of the winners have been sealed in envelopes and guarded like the proverbial “crown jewels” until they are disclosed, with much fanfare, at the ceremony.

3. Since 1950 the ownership of the statuettes has not been unencumbered. Legally, neither the winners nor their heirs are free to sell them on the open market without first offering them back to the Academy for $1. Although they are gold plated and only cost about $500 each to manufacture, their value on the open market would be substantial. For example, a few years ago, a pre-1950 statuette sold via on-line auction for $861,542.

4. The voting membership of the academy is not very diverse. It is overwhelmingly Caucasian, male, and elderly. More on that later.

5. In order to be eligible for the Best Picture Award, a film must be a minimum of 40 minutes long and must have opened in LA County by December 31 of the previous year.

6. Other than Best Picture, only the members of each branch vote for the nominees in that category. For example, only directors nominate candidates for Best Director. The entire membership votes for the winners, as well as for Best Picture.

7. For many years, the awards were presented in late March or early April. Beginning in 2004, however, they were moved up to late February or early March. The major reason for this was to shorten the intense lobbying and advertising campaigns of the Oscar season, which had become excessive. In addition, the late February-early March period is devoid of competing extravaganzas, such as the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in late March, which has grown very popular. ABC, which televises the event, receives an additional benefit in that February is a “sweeps” month.

8. From time to time, some critics have accused the Academy of bias, for example:

a. Favoritism toward romantic dramas, historical epics, family melodramas, and historical biographies (“Shakespeare in Love,” “Chariots of Fire,” “The Best Years of Our Lives,” and “Annie Hall”) at the expense of action films or sports films. Often, these so-called “Oscar-bait” movies have won at the expense of more popular and enduring films such as “Star Wars,” “Goodfellas,” “Hoosiers” and “Raging Bull.” I have long felt that there has, at times, been a disconnect between preferences of the Academy voters and the general audience.

b. Sentiment has, sometimes, led to awards for popular entertainers or those who have been denied in the past. Also, some awards have been given more for a distinguished career than for the most recent individual performance. One example would be John Wayne winning for his performance in “True Grit” in 1969. Wayne had been one of the most popular performers for three decades, but he had never won an Oscar.

c. Every so often, charges of racial bias have plagued the Academy. For example, a few years ago, critics decried the absence of nominations such as “Straight Outta Compton” for Best Picture and Will Smith for Best Actor in “Concussion.” These critics have cited the composition of the voting membership, as noted above, as being the cause. I’m not so sure. Through the years there have occasionally been curious snubs, such as Eddie Murphy being passed over (in favor of Alan Arkin) for his superb performance in “Dreamgirls.” I did not see “Compton,” so I can’t comment on that. Smith’s performance was worthy of a nomination (although, which nominee would he have replaced?). However, I don’t believe those omissions are cause for protests and boycotts. I am definitely not in favor of a quota for nominations of minorities. As long as the nominations and Oscar voting are subjective, there will always be some that are overlooked. Our society is too PC as it is. Part of life is dealing with disappointments. Certainly, there is diversity this year, as evidenced by the nominations of “Black Panther” and “BlackkKlansman” for best picture, Spike Lee for best director, and Yalitza Aparicio, Regina King and Mahershala Ali for individual acting awards.

9. I recall a few puzzling choices for Best Picture in past years, cases in which the winning picture was soon forgotten and an also-ran or two became a classic or at least substantially more popular or memorable. For example:

a. 1977 – “Annie Hall” beat “Star Wars.” Unless you’re a big Woody Allen fan chances are you don’t remember “Annie Hall.” “Star Wars” was a mega-hit and spawned several sequels as well as ancillaries such as toys and games.

b. 1941 – “How Green Was My Valley” beat “Citizen Kane.” “Valley” has been long forgotten, and “Kane” is on many “short lists” of the best movies ever.

c. 1990 – “Dances with Wolves” beat “Goodfellas.” I saw “Dances.” It was a nice movie, but “Goodfellas” is a classic gangster film with an all-star cast (DeNiro, Pesce, Liotta) and is on tv frequently.

d. 1940 – “Rebecca” beat “The Grapes of Wrath,” a powerful drama about the Depression-era California migrant workers starring Henry Fonda, among others.

e. 1998- “Shakespeare in Love” beat “Saving Private Ryan.” “Shakespeare” was soon forgotten and is now no more than the answer to a trivia question, whereas “Ryan” was a classic WWII movie with an all-star cast headed by Tom Hanks and Matt Damon). Who can ever forget the classic D-Day landing scene?

f. 1946 – “The Best Years of Our Lives,” which few recall and is never on tv, beat “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which is a Christmas classic starring Jimmy Stewart and which is on tv annually.

I could go on. In fact, I could write an entire blog on just this sub-topic, but you get the idea.

A brief quiz, call it a “quizette:”

1. Who has won the most Academy Awards?
2. Only three movies have swept the much coveted awards for best picture, director, writer, best actor and best actress. Can you name them?
3. Who was the youngest actor/actress to win?
4. Who was the oldest?
5. Can you name the Best Picture winners for the last two years?

See answers below.


I know you are all anxiously awaiting my predictions, so here they are:

Best Picture – “Green Book”
Best Actor – Christian Bale – “Vice”
Best Actress – Lady Gaga – “A Star Is Born”
Supporting Actor – Mahershala Ali – “Green Book”
Supporting Actress – Emma Stone – “The Favourite”

Enjoy the awards show as well as the “Red Carpet,” although I strongly recommend using a DVR to get through the many “dead spots.”

Quizette answers:

1. Walt Disney – 26 (64 nominations).
2. “It Happened One Night” (1935); “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1976); “Silence of the Lambs” (1992).
3. Tatum O’Neal (10) in “Paper Moon”
4. Jessica Tandy (81) in “Driving Miss Daisy”
5. 2017 – “Moonlight;” 2018 – The Shape of Water.”