IRENA SENDLER – HOLOCAUST HERO

Every so often, we learn the story of another unheralded hero of the Holocaust. Often these people’s stories are only publicized after their death. When I become cognizant of their exploits I am continually amazed at the bravery of ordinary citizens in the face of extreme danger. It makes me wonder if, given the same circumstances, I would have the courage to put my life on the line as they did. I would hope so, but you never know until the situation arises. One such story appears below.

Irena Krzyzanowska was born on February 10, 1910 in Warsaw, Poland. Her father was a doctor, but he was also a humanitarian. Frequently, he would treat poor patients for free. Sadly, he died when Irena was very young from typhus, which he had caught from one of his patients. Following secondary school Irena attended the University of Warsaw where she studied law and literature. During the war she joined the Polish Socialist Party.

When war broke out Irena was working at the Warsaw Municipal Social Welfare Department. At first, she and several of her colleagues were assisting wounded and sick Polish soldiers to receive medical care that they otherwise could not afford. Often, this involved supplying false documents. Later, Irena also began to provide these to Jews, which, of course, was prohibited by the Germans. Irena’s job status enabled her to freely enter the Warsaw ghetto. You may recall that the Germans had crammed some 400,000 Jews into a small portion of the city and sealed it in November 1940.

The Germans were very concerned that typhus and other communicable diseases, which were rampant in the ghetto, would spread to other parts of the city. Therefore, they allowed Irena and her co-workers special access to the ghetto in order to conduct sanitary inspections. Irena also worked as a plumber/sewer specialist. This special access enabled Irena and others to surreptitiously provide food, clothing and medicines to the inhabitants. Obviously, this was strictly forbidden, and those caught were summarily imprisoned and tortured or executed. In addition, for a time Irena worked as a nurse in a field hospital, where, of course, many Jews were hidden among the patients. One day, while searching for food, she was shot by a German soldier, but she recovered.

Irena became more and more bold. In the summer of 1942, as conditions worsened, Irena and others began smuggling Jews out of the ghetto, particularly children and babies. Her methods were quite inventive. For instance, she hid babies in the bottom of a large tool box that she always carried; she hid small children in a large burlap sack that she kept in her truck; and she kept a large dog in the truck that would continually bark. This not only dissuaded the German soldiers from inspecting the truck too closely, but it also masked any noise made by the babies and small children.

To the extent possible she placed these children in convents, with sympathetic Polish families, orphanages and other charitable institutions. Moreover, she and her group utilized residences of sympathizers as temporary shelters until more permanent locations could be found. The children were given Christian names and even taught Christian prayers in case they were “tested” by the Germans.

According to historian Deborah Dwork Irena was the “inspiration and prime mover” of this network. The organizational skills necessary to maintain this massive rescue operation right under the noses of the Germans for so many years cannot be overstated. It is estimated that she and her network saved some 2,500 children.

Irena was hoping to be able to reunite these children with their families after the war. Consequently, she kept meticulous records. She made a list of the children’s names, both Jewish and Christian, and where they had been placed and buried it in a large jar in her yard. Alas, after the war she discovered that most of the families had perished in the camps.

Irena was very modest with respect to her heroism. To her, “every child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this earth and not a title to glory.”

In 1943 Irena was caught by the Gestapo. She was beaten and tortured, but she revealed nothing. The Gestapo marked her for execution, but her German guards were bribed, and she was rescued.

CONCLUSION

Irena was married three times, twice to the same man – Mieczyslaw Sendler. They were divorced both times. In between she married and divorced Stefan Zgrzembski, by whom she had three children.

Irena was the recipient of numerous awards and citations. Poland awarded her six, including, among others, the Knight’s Cross, two Gold Crosses of Merit, and the Order of the White Eagle, the country’s highest civilian award. Yad Yeshem recognized her as one of the Polish Righteous Among the Nations. Also, in 1991 she was made an honorary citizen of Israel. In 2003 Pope John Paul II sent her a letter praising her accomplishments during the war. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 and 2008, but, unfortunately, she was not selected either time. Finally, her story has been the subject of a play, a book and a movie.

Irena passed away on May 12, 2008 at the age of 98. She was an example of the saying that the best revenge against the Nazis is to survive and live a long productive life.

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SOCIALISM VS. CAPITALISM

The US is a capitalist society. Always has been; always will be. It is based on free will, self-determination and free enterprise. If you work hard, you will be rewarded. If not, you won’t be. Do some people start life with an advantage over some others. Absolutely. Is that fair? No, but that’s the way of the world, and it will never change. As a wise teacher once said: “you get what you get, and you don’t get upset.” What our system affords is not equality so much as EQUAL OPPORTUNITY. If you think your lot in life is unfair, take a trip to a third-world country and see how the other 90% lives.

Some people think we would be better off under a Socialist system. Ask the people in Venezuela or Cuba how it has been working out for them. Moreover, if our capitalist system is so flawed, why are thousands of people travelling hundreds of miles and enduring severe hardship to get here?

According to Wikipedia Socialism is defined as a “system in which the production and distribution of goods and services is a shared responsibility of a group of people.” There is “no privately owned property; everything is owned collectively.” Simply put, it is “share and share alike.” In theory, everyone is equal, but it never actually works that way in practice. In every socialist system there have been a class of elites who lived “high off the hog” at the expense of the majority. Socialism has never been successful anywhere. Think of the old USSR, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela, the latest poster boy for Socialism.

Socialism does have a certain allure to the uninitiated. It sounds attractive. Who wouldn’t want free stuff – free medical care, free college, cradle to grave government support. Sign me up. But, wait. All that stuff is not really free. Somehow, it has to be paid for by someone. How do we pay for all these goodies without bankrupting the country? Raise taxes? Let the rich pay for it? We can argue whether or not that would benefit or hurt the economy, but these proposed programs would cost many trillions of dollars a year. No one even knows how much. There are simply not enough rich people to pay for it all. That’s why I say these socialist programs sound good, but they don’t really work. Never have; never will.

The 2020 presidential election is shaping up as a contest between Socialism and Capitalism. The Dem field has become ridiculously crowded. It seems like everybody and their mother is running for the Democratic nomination for president. Just in the last few days, NYC mayor, Bill De Blasio became the latest to declare, despite the fact that it is difficult to find even one supporter of his candidacy or of the job he has done as mayor. The mainstream media and talk show hosts, such as the ladies of “The View,” which generally are very supportive of Dem candidates, have mocked him incessantly. My favorite sarcastic headline was that of the “NY Post.” Check it out. However, the purpose of this blog is not to mock De Blasio. His candidacy is a joke, and not worth the time, yours or mine.

In my opinion, in an effort to distinguish themselves from the rest of the crowded field, most of the 20 or so serious candidates have been espousing far left, some would say socialist, policies. It seems to me that they are all trying to outdo Bernie Sanders, who is at least an admitted Socialist. In this regard, they are under the mistaken impression that the opinions of a few media outlets and tweeters represent those of the electorate. They seem to be unaware that approximately 80% of the tweets are published by only some 10% of the tweeters. This small, but vocal, minority have had a disproportionate influence.

For example, below please find a partial list of the policies that some or all of these candidates have been supporting. In my view, each of them is extremely radical or Socialist, not well thought out, not practical, and/or ridiculously expensive. I have analyzed these n previous blogs. See how many of them you would support.

1. Single payer healthcare run by the feds. No more private insurance, which is presently enjoyed by about one-half of the populace.
2. Allow convicted felons, including rapists, murders and terrorists, to vote WHILE STILL IN PRISON.
3. Extend suffrage to those as young as 16.
4. Increase the number of Supreme Court justices. Already been tried; didn’t work.
5. Abolish the electoral college.
6. Abolish ICE.
7. Open/relaxed borders.
8. Green New Deal (ludicrous on its face).
9. Ban, or severely restrict travel by cars, trucks and airplanes.
10. Permit abortions up to and even immediately after birth.
11. Pay reparations to “oppressed” people based on race.

I don’t think any of the foregoing is supported by a majority of voters, even Dems. If the eventual Dem nominee has to run on these policies it would not go well for him or her.

CONCLUSION

Many people believe that the 2020 election will be a referendum on President Trump. I think that is true to an extent, however, as I said above, it appears to me that it will also come down to a referendum between Socialism and Capitalism. I would characterize it as nothing less than a fight for the very soul of America.

The Dems are espousing Socialism, although they call it Progressivism. The GOP is pushing the traditional Capitalism. In order to secure the Dem nomination the nominee will have tracked so far to the left he or she will need a GPS to get back to the middle where most of the voters reside. In such a referendum, Capitalism will almost assuredly prevail.

This is illustrated by the results of a recent poll by Monmouth University, which disclosed that 57% of those surveyed agreed that Socialism is “not compatible” with American values. Furthermore, only 10% had a positive opinion of Socialism. Socialism was more popular among Dems and young people, but I would argue that many of those people do not fully understand the ramifications of that system. If they fully understood it, they would likely reconsider.

Perhaps, I can demonstrate the fallacy of Socialism with two examples. They may be somewhat simplistic, but I think they illustrate the point nonetheless.

1. Consider two farmers, who live next to each other. Farmer A is a self-starter. He works from dawn to dusk, diligently planting, nurturing, harvesting, and marketing his crops. With the advent of winter he is flush with cash and food. Farmer B, is lazy. He does not tend to his business, preferring to lay about all day. He has a very poor crop. With the advent of winter he has insufficient food to eat and little cash on hand. Under a Socialist system Farmer A would be expected to share his food and cash equally with farmer B. How do you think he would feel about that?

2. Consider two students. They are in the same class. Student A studies hard, does his homework and projects and goes to class diligently. Student B does none of those things. Student A aces the final, whereas student B fails. Yet, under a Socialist system in order to spare the feelings of student B they would both get the same grade. How do you think student A would feel about that.

So, the next time someone advocates Socialism to you, think of these two examples.

DORIS DAY

Young people may not be familiar with Doris Day. That’s understandable since her peak occurred during the 1950s and 1960s, and she retired in 1994. But those of us of a certain age remember her very well.

Doris Day was one of the most versatile and successful entertainers of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, although her career spanned seven decades, from 1939 to 1994. During this time she made 39 movies, recorded some 600 songs and starred in her own tv show. At her peak, she topped both the billboard and box office charts. In the early 1960s she was the #1 box office star in the world four times. Her acting versatility was extraordinary. She starred in comedies, dramas and musicals. She co-starred with a virtual Who’s Who list of the male film stars of the time, such as Rock Hudson, Kirk Douglas, Jack Lemmon, Frank Sinatra, James Garner, Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, and Ronald Reagan, to name a few. She received a plethora of awards, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a Legend Award from the Society of Singers, The Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in motion pictures, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association Career Achievement Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff was born on April 3, 1922 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her mother was a housewife, and her father was a music teacher and choir master. Her parents soon separated due to her father’s chronic infidelity, and Doris was raised by her mother. She had two older brothers, one of whom had died before she was born. Oddly, for years she was under the impression that she had been born in 1924, until the Associated Press discovered the error. As a youngster she became interested in dancing, and as a teenager she performed in local venues in the Cincinnati area. She had hopes of becoming a professional dancer, but a serious car accident when she was 15 ended that dream.

However, one might say that the car accident proved to be a blessing in disguise. As Doris told one of her biographers, A. E. Hotchner, “during this long, boring period [when she was recuperating] I used to while away a lot of time listening to the radio sometimes singing along with the likes of Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller.” Her favorite, however, was Ella Fitzgerald, whom she admired for the “quality [of] her voice” and the “subtle ways she shaded her voice.”

During this time her mother, recognizing Doris’ ability and potential, arranged for singing lessons. Her teacher, Grace Raine, quickly recognized Doris’ “tremendous potential.” Doris always credited Raine with having “the biggest effect on her singing style and career.”

In the late 1930s Doris was singing on the radio when she got her first big break. Orchestra leader, Barney Rapp, was looking for a female vocalist. After hearing Day sing he auditioned her, and she beat out some 200 other girls for the job. It was Rapp who prevailed upon Doris to change her name. Rapp felt that “Kappelhoff” was too long for marquees. Furthermore, he had liked Doris’ rendition of the song, “Day After Day,” so, voila, “Doris Day” was born.

In the early 1940s Day moved on to sing for other bandleaders, such as Jimmy James, Bob Crosby and Les Brown. In 1945, while working with Brown, she recorded her first “hit” record, “Sentimental Journey.” This song came to symbolize soldiers’ desire to return home after the war.

Day’s next big break came in 1948. Betty Hutton, who was set to star in the Mike Curtiz film “Romance on the High Seas,” became pregnant and had to withdraw at the last minute. After a frantic search, Curtiz ended up hiring Day, despite her lack of acting experience, because she “looked like the All-American Girl.” Curtiz always said that his discovery of Doris Day was one of the proudest moments of his career.

Day was now on her way to being a megastar. Movie roles came in quick succession, as Hollywood played up her image of the “All-American Girl next door.” In 1950 US servicemen in Korea voted her their favorite star. In 1952 she got her own show on the radio.

Probably, my favorite movie of hers was “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” a spy thriller directed by the great Alfred Hitchcock and co-starring Jimmy Stewart. I remember seeing it as an 11 year old and again recently on tv. In my opinion, it holds up very well. One of the songs Day sang in the movie, “Que Sera, Sera,” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song” and became one of her biggest “hits.”

Perhaps, Day is best known for her roles in romantic comedies. She starred in a series of them beginning in 1959 with “Pillow Talk” starring Rock Hudson. She received an Oscar nomination for her role in that film. Additional romantic comedies came in quick succession, including “Lover Come Back” (1961), “That Touch of Mink” (1962), “The Thrill of It All” (1963), and “Send Me No Flowers” (1964), among many others. Each of these was highly successful, but “Mink” became the first film in history to gross $1 million in one theatre (Radio City). These movies had various male leads, but Day was the common denominator.

This period was her golden age. From 1960 to 1964 she ranked number one at the box office four times. During this period her box office success began to overshadow her renown as a singer, even though “Billboard’s” annual poll of disc jockeys ranked her the number one female vocalist nine times during the ten year period from 1949 – 1958. Based on her image, movie critics referred to her as the “World’s Oldest Virgin.”

In stark contrast to her successful professional career, her personal life was plagued with problems and misfortune. Day was married four times. Her first husband, trombonist Al Jorden, beat her. Her third husband, Martin Melcher, squandered her money, leaving her bankrupt. Her one child, Terry Melcher, was believed, by some, to have been the actual target of Charles Manson and his followers when they raided the house occupied by Sharon Tate. Apparently Melcher had lived in that house before Tate and had had a disagreement with Manson.

CONCLUSION

In 1994 Day retired from films and withdrew from public life. She set up residence in Carmel-by-the-Sea in CA. She became an animal activist. She adopted stray animals, co-founded various charitable foundations dedicated to animals, and spoke out against the wearing of furs.

According to David Kaufman, one of her biographers, Day’s private life was in sharp contrast to her public persona as the wholesome, virginal, “All-American girl next door.” He described her as a “very sensual woman” who “had affairs with a number of people. She was never happily married. She had a son but was never really a mother; he was more like a brother to her. She was in many ways the opposite [of] the girl next door.”

Throughout her long career, Day has received many testimonials from her fellow entertainers and critics. For example, “The Atlantic” called her “the people’s actor;” Helen Mirren said she “admired her acting,” (high praise from an actress of Mirren’s caliber), Bob Hope, who knew a thing or two about comedy, praised her “natural comic timing;” and James Garner called her the “sexiest sort of co-star.”

Day passed away on May 13 at 97 from pneumonia. Rest in peace Doris. You entertained us and made us laugh for seven decades. You will be sorely missed.

MOTHER’S DAY

Sunday, May 12, most Americans will celebrate Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is celebrated all over the world in some form. Different countries have their own way of celebrating the day and even celebrate on different dates. Some countries have replicated the US traditions – hallmark [or email (tacky)] card, flowers, chocolates, and family gatherings; others have incorporated it into other holidays honoring women or mothers; and in still others, a combination of the two has evolved.

Restauranteurs claim that Mother’s Day is their busiest day of the year. Evidently, one of the perks for mothers on MD is a day off from cooking. And why not? (On the other hand, on Father’s Day the restaurants are relatively empty as many fathers are put to work barbecuing.

Babysitters do very well on MD. After all, someone has to watch the kiddies while the husband ponies up for a nice day/evening. In that regard, Kraft Foods has come up with a unique marketing gimmick. It is offering to reimburse consumers for the cost of babysitting on MD. All you have to do is send proof of payment to a dedicated email address. Kraft has allocated a total of $50,000 to fund this promotion.

In the US MD was first celebrated in 1908 when a lady named Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother. Ms. Jarvis had been campaigning for the country to recognize a day to honor mothers since 1905 when her mother had passed away. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed an official proclamation establishing the second Sunday in May as MD. It was to be a day to honor mothers and the concept of motherhood and their contributions to society.

Eventually, Ms. Jarvis became disillusioned with the commercialization of the holiday. By the 1920’s the greeting card, candy and flower industries were marketing their products aggressively to take advantage of the holiday. Jarvis strongly advocated that people should demonstrate their love and respect for their mothers through personalized, handwritten letters instead. Being a person of action she organized protests and threatened boycotts of these industries. At one point, she was arrested for disturbing the peace at a candy manufacturers’ convention.

Despite her efforts, commercialization of the day has continued to grow. Americans, in particular, tend to demonstrate their love in tangible, material ways through the giving of gifts. Today, MD is one of the biggest days for the sale of flowers, candy and greeting cards. According to Wikipedia this year Americans will spend an average of $162 on their mothers for the holiday, slightly less than last year. The overall total is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $20 billion. Yes, we do love our mothers. In addition, it is the third-biggest day for church attendance behind Christmas Eve and Easter.

As I stated, MD is celebrated in many countries in different ways and at different dates. For example:

1. The most common date is the second Sunday in May, which is May 12 this year. Besides the US, some of the countries that celebrate it on this date are Canada, Italy the Peoples Republic of China and Turkey.

2. Some countries, such as the UK, Ireland and Nigeria, celebrate it on the fourth Sunday of Lent. The UK incorporated it into a previously existing holiday called “Mothering Sunday.” ” Mothering Sunday” dates from the 16th Century.

3. Many Arab countries, such as Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia celebrate it on the vernal equinox (March 20 in 2019).

4. Russia used to celebrate MD on March 8 in conjunction with International Women’s Day, but in 1998 the date was changed, by law, to the last Sunday in November.

5. Bolivia celebrates it on May 27, which is the date of an historically significant battle in which women played a key role.

6. Since 1950 France has celebrated MD on the fourth Sunday in May, except when the date conflicts with Pentecost in which case it is delayed to the next Sunday.

7. Hindus celebrate MD on the new moon day in the month of Baisakh (April/May).

CONCLUSION

Some of you may have noted that I spelled MD as Mother’s Day. This was not an error. The official holiday is spelled in the singular tense. According to Ms. Jarvis the day is intended to honor “the best mother who ever lived, yours.”
MD is one of the few truly internationally recognized holidays. One of the charming features of the day is the variety of ways and dates on which it is celebrated. This is derived from the differences in customs and cultures around the world.

One thing is certain now and will remain so prospectively: on this day the mother/wife is truly in charge. Men, as you plan this year’s MD, remember the adage “happy wife, happy life.”

Finally, men, all together now, let’s repeat the two-word mantra for a successful marriage:

“YES, DEAR!”

CINCO DE MAYO

Tomorrow, May 5, many of us will eat tacos and enchiladas and drink margaritas in celebration of Cinco de Mayo. Typically, most Americans have no idea of the significance of the holiday. They may assume that it is some religious festival or has something to do with Mexico’s independence from Spain. That would be wrong and wrong.

In 1861 France invaded Mexico. Napoleon III, the ruler of France at the time, correctly perceived that Mexico was “ripe for the picking.” The Mexican-American War of 1846-48 had virtually bankrupted the country. The US was distracted by its impending Civil War and thus, unable to oppose France in Mexico. The other European powers, notably Spain and England, were not in the picture.

At first, the French, with their superior numbers, equipment and training, routed the Mexicans, but on May 5, 1862 the Mexicans surprisingly defeated the French decisively in a major battle near Puebla, halting their advance. The Civil War ended in 1865, and, thereafter, the US was able to assist Mexico. Eventually, the French needed their military assets at home to prepare to fight the Prussians [in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71)], so they abandoned their plans to conquer Mexico and withdrew.

The battle at Puebla was significant for several reasons:

1. Though largely symbolic, this victory gave the Mexicans a much-needed infusion of patriotism and national pride.
2. Since then, no country in the Americas has been invaded successfully by a European country.
3. Most importantly for the US, many historians believe that France’s ultimate goal was to enable the South to break away from the North. Mexico could have been used as a military base from which France could have funneled men and equipment to the Confederacy. If they had not been defeated at Puebla, who knows how far north their army would have pushed and who knows what military and political pressure they would have brought to bear against the US. Consequently, it can be posited that that victory helped preserve the Union.

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated not only in Mexico, but also in many other countries. Cities in the US, Canada, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Australia, New Zealand and Japan hold festivals featuring Mexican music, food and drink and celebrating Mexican culture. Technically, Cinco de Mayo, though recognized as a day of celebration throughout Mexico, is not a national holiday, although it is a holiday in the State of Puebla. Throughout the country, the public schools are closed and many towns hold parades or re-enactments of the battle of Puebla. It should be noted that Cinco de Mayo is NOT to be confused with Mexican Independence Day, which is September 16.

Additionally, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in many areas of the US, particularly in locales where there is a sizeable Mexican population, such as Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Events include parades, festivals, mariachi bands, and parties.

CONCLUSION

Cinco de Mayo is supposed to be a joyous holiday, as it celebrates a heroic occasion. Many non-Mexicans also get into the spirit of the holiday and participate in the above celebrations. They dress in Mexican clothing, such as ponchos and sombreros, participate in parades and patronize Mexican restaurants. In past years, some so-called pc police have objected to this, calling it mocking a culture and even racist. Some colleges, such as New Hampshire University, have attempted to restrict their students’ celebrations, even going so far as to ban using the name “Cinco de Mayo.”

Personally, I find these restrictive actions offensive and a violation of the First Amendment. It’s not as if the celebrants painted offensive sayings or mocking cartoons. Wearing ponchos and sombreros and dancing the “Mexican Hat Dance” do not rise to the level of, say, anti-Semitic scribblings on walls or fire-bombing synagogues. THOSE are offensive, or worse. This merely strikes me as getting into the holiday spirit, not being mean-spirited.

Once again, we are all being subjected to the tyranny of the vocal minority. Remember, approximately 80% of the tweets are posted by only 10% of the people, so don’t be fooled by the vocal minority. As an aside, I have to say that in my youth we would have dealt with the pc crowd differently. Rather than kowtow, we would have paraded down main street wearing sombreros and ponchos dancing the Mexican hat dance. Times have sure changed, and not for the better.

As I delineated above, Cinco de Mayo is a great source of pride for people of Mexican descent, as well it should be. It commemorates a significant military victory over a better-equipped, numerically superior force. The victory held historical significance not only for Mexico but for the US as well.

So, tomorrow, when you raise a glass of Tequila or dig into an order of guacamole give a toast to the brave men of Puebla. And, if you want to wear a sombrero or a poncho, by all means, do so.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY – MAY

Below please find an outline of the significant historical events that occurred in the month of May:

May 1 – Since ancient times, a day for festivals celebrating the arrival of the Spring season. Today, many socialist countries celebrate May Day on May 1 as a holiday to celebrate workers.

May 1, 1707 – Scotland was combined with England and Wales to form Great Britain. The later addition of Northern Ireland formed the UK.

May 1, 1960 – An American U-2 spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers was shot down over Russia on the eve of a summit between President Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev. The incident caused the cancellation of the summit and increased Cold War tensions between the two countries.

May 2, 2011 – US Special Forces located and killed Osama bin Laden at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

May 4, 1494 – Christopher Columbus, still seeking the Northwest Passage, discovered the island of Jamaica.

May 4, 1970 – Ohio National Guard troops fired into a student demonstration at Kent State University killing four students.

May 5 – Mexican holiday celebrating Mexican forces’ defeat of a numerically superior French invasion force in the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

May 5, 1865 – Celebration of Decoration Day honoring soldiers killed in the Civil War. Eventually, morphed into Memorial Day.

May 5, 1961 – Astronaut Alan Shepard completed a 15 minute suborbital flight, thus becoming the first American to fly in space.

May 6, 1937 – The German blimp, Hindenburg, burst into flames killing 36 of its 97 passengers.

May 7, 1915 – The shocking sinking of the Lusitania, a British passenger ship, by a German U-boat hastened the US’s entry into WWI on the side of the Allies.

May 7, 1954 – The French surrendered at Dien Bien Phu, ending their colonial presence in Indo-China. Eventually, this event led to the US’s ill-advised involvement in Vietnam.

May 8, 1942 – The Battle of the Coral Sea, which historians consider to be the turning point of WWII in the Pacific, commenced. US naval forces defeated Japan for the first time and began their inexorable march toward the Japanese mainland.

May 10, 1869 – The Union Pacific and Central Railroads join at Promontory Point, UT (symbolized by driving a golden spike into the roadbed), creating the Transcontinental Railroad, which linked the entire US.

May 10, 1994 – Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as president of South Africa, bringing an official end to Apartheid.

May 12, 1949 – Russia ended its blockade of West Berlin.

May 14, 1607 – The first permanent English settlement was established at Jamestown, VA.

May 14, 1804 – The Lewis and Clark expedition of the northwest, which lasted some 18 months and covered some 6,000 miles, departed St. Louis.

May 14, 1796 – English Dr. Edward Jenner developed the smallpox vaccine. He coined the term, vaccination, to describe his method of injecting a weakened version of the disease into a healthy person, who would then fight off the disease and develop an immunity.

May 14, 1948 – The State of Israel declared its independence.

May 15, 1972 – While campaigning for the presidency, George Wallace was shot and paralyzed from the waist down.

May 17, 1792 – Some two dozen brokers and merchants began meeting under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street to buy and sell stocks and bonds. Eventually, this led to the establishment of the NY Stock Exchange.

May 17, 1875 – The initial running of the Kentucky Derby took place at Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY.

May 17, 1954 – The Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, Brown vs. The Board of Education (Topeka, KS), ruled that school segregation based on race was unconstitutional.

May 20, 1927 – Aviator, Charles Lindberg took off from Roosevelt Field on Long Island for the first solo non-stop flight between NY and Europe (landing in Paris).

May 20, 1932 – Amelia Earhart became the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. In 1937, while attempting to fly across the Pacific Ocean, she was lost at sea, and her fate remains shrouded in mystery to this day.

May 21, 1881 – Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross.

May 22, 1947 – Congress approved the Truman Doctrine, which provided foreign aid to Greece and Turkey, which was necessary to prevent the spread of communism in that region.

May 24, 1844 – Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph, transmitted the first telegram (“What hath God wrought?”).

May 26, 1940 – Great Britain commenced the evacuation of its army trapped at Dunkirk.

May 27, 1937 – The Golden Gate Bridge opened in San Francisco.

May 30, 1783 – The Pennsylvania Evening Post became the first newspaper to be published in the US on a daily basis.

May 30, 1922 – The Lincoln Memorial, designed by architect Henry Bacon, was dedicated in Washington, D. C.

May 31, 1889 – The infamous Johnstown Flood of 1889 killed some 2,300 persons.

Birthdays – Niccolo Machiavelli – 5/3/1469; Golda Meir – 5/3/1898; Karl Marx – 5/5/1818; Sigmund Freud – 5/6/1856; Harry S. Truman (33rd President) – 5/8/1884; Israel Isidore Baline (aka Irving Berlin – song writer) – 5/11/1888; Florence Nightingale – 5/12/1820; Gabriel Fahrenheit (physicist) – 5/14/1686; Nguyen That Thanh (aka Ho Chi Minh – 5/19/1890; Malcolm Little (aka Malcolm X) – 5/19/1925; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes creator) – 5/22/1859; Laurence Olivier – 5/22/1907; Ralph Waldo Emerson – 5/25/1803; Al Jolson- 5/26/1886; Wild Bill Hickok – 5/27/1837; Hubert Humphrey – 5/27/1911; Jim Thorpe – 5/28/1888; Patrick Henry – 5/29/1736; John Fitzgerald Kennedy 35th President) – 5/29/1917; Walt Whitman – 5/31/1819.

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION QUIZ

It’s been a while since my last quiz. Some of you have been asking for one, so here it is. Be careful what you wish for. As always, no peeking at the internet and no referencing “Alexa.” Good luck.

1. In 1912 Theodore Roosevelt ran for president as a third-party candidate. What was the name of this party? (a) Rough Riders, (b) Whig, (c) Bull Moose, (d) Green.

2. Who was the first president to actually reside in the White House? (a) George Washington, (b) John Adams, (c) Thomas Jefferson, (d) James Madison.

3. Which President won with the highest number of electoral votes? (a) Ronald Reagan, (b) FDR, (c) Dwight Eisenhower, (d) Richard Nixon

4. Which president ran under the slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler too?” (a) U S Grant, (b) Franklyn Pierce, (c) James Polk, (d) William Henry Harrison

5. Following his election Harry Truman was photographed holding aloft a newspaper that had “reported” Dewey had defeated him, perhaps, one of the most embarrassing newspaper headlines in history. What was the name of the newspaper? (a) NY Times, (b) Pittsburgh Gazette, (c) Detroit Free Press, (d) Chicago Daily Tribune

6. Who was the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms? (a) Millard Fillmore, (b) Grover Cleveland, (c) Theodore Roosevelt, (d) Samuel Tilden

7. Who was the first president to be elected as a Republican? (a) Zachary Taylor, (b) Benjamin Harrison, (c) Abraham Lincoln, (d) William Henry Harrison

8. Who was the first president to have been born as an American citizen (as opposed to a British subject)? (a) James K. Polk, (b) Andrew Jackson, (c) Zachary Taylor, (d) Martin Van Buren

9. Which president ran under the slogan “a chicken in every pot, and a car in every garage.” (a) FDR, (b) Woodrow Wilson, (c) Dwight Eisenhower, (d) Herbert Hoover.

10. FDR was elected to four terms. How many different VPs served under him? (a) 1, (b) 2, (c) 3, (d) 4

11. Four presidents were members of the Whig Party, including each of the following, EXCEPT: (a) William McKinley, (b) John Tyler, (c) Millard Fillmore, (d) William Henry Harrison.

12. Five presidents have been elected despite having lost the popular vote. This includes each of the following, EXCEPT: (a) John Quincy Adams, (b) Benjamin Harrison, (c) John Kennedy, (d) Rutherford B. Hayes.

13. Who was known for the slogan, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” (a) Teddy Roosevelt, (b) Dwight Eisenhower, (c) James Monroe, (d) Andrew Jackson.

14. Who was the only person to serve as both president and vice president without having been elected to either office? (a) James Madison, (b) Gerald Ford, (c) Warren Harding, (d) John Tyler.

15. Which president was elected with the highest percentage of available electoral votes? (a) John Adams, (b) John Quincy Adams, (c) Lyndon Johnson, (d) FDR.

16. Which state is the birthplace of the highest number of presidents? (a) NY, (b) California, (c) Ohio, (d) Virginia.

ANSWERS: 1. (c); 2. (b); 3. (a) (525); 4. (d); 5; (d), 6.(b); 7. (c); 8. (d); 9. (d); 10. (c) (John Nance Garner, Henry Wallace and Harry Truman); 11. (a)
12. (c); 13. (a); 14.(b); 15. (d) (98.5%); 16. (d)(8).

Let me know how you did.

BIDEN ENTERS THE FRAY

Joe Biden has finally announced his candidacy for president. He joins a field of some 20 candidates. According to virtually every poll, he is the Dem front-runner with between 25% and 30% of the vote. Additionally, these same polls show him beating President Trump. For example, the Harris poll, taken April 25 – 26 shows him with a 43-37% edge over the president.

I wouldn’t put much credence in these early polls. In my opinion, they are primarily about name recognition. He has a lot of it based on his long career in the Senate and eight years as VP. Other than Uncle Bernie, the other candidates have little to none. In addition, most voters have not focused on the political positions of these candidates yet. That will change once campaigning begins in earnest and the debates and primaries begin. No one knows who will ultimately win the Dem nomination and, afterwards, the election. However, one thing is certain: It will be a very interesting campaign.

Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. was born on November 20, 1942 in Scranton, PA. His family moved to Delaware when Joe was ten. He is well-known to the public, having served in the Senate representing the State of Delaware for 38 years and as VP for eight. When he was first elected in 1972 he was the sixth-youngest Senator in history; he was subsequently re-elected six times, and when he resigned his seat to become VP he was the fourth most senior Senator.

Biden was a very influential Senator. During his tenure he held many positions, including, among others, chairman of the Foreign Relations and Judiciary Committees. Biden has been involved in several controversial events, but, perhaps, the most contentious was the Clarence Thomas hearing in 1991 over which he presided as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. At the time, various liberals and women’s advocacy groups objected to his treatment of Anita Hill, who had accused Mr. Thomas of sexual misconduct. It appeared that he favored Mr. Thomas. Biden was unapologetic at the time and since, until this month. Recently, he issued what some have characterized as a “half-hearted” apology, which Ms. Hill described as “deeply unsatisfactory.” This issue may continue to “dog” him during the campaign.

In addition, Biden has developed a reputation for (1) saying “inappropriate” things, and (2) invading personal space. For example, a recent article in the NY Times noted he has “weak filters” and has a tendency to “blurt out pretty much anything.” Similarly, political analyst Mark Halprin noted he has had “a persistent tendency to say silly, offensive, and off-putting things.” Moreover, recently, Fox cable news ran a collage of instances in which he placed his hands on a female or sniffed their hair in what he may have meant as a friendly manner, yet, some have interpreted as “creepy” or “sleazy.” I expect these issues will be explored by the other Dem candidates and, if he wins the nomination, by President Trump. Biden will have to neutralize these issues.

Biden joins a very crowded field of some 20 candidates, all of whom are competing for funding from the same donors and the attention of the media and voters. In order to break out from the pack these candidates have been trying to “out-liberal” each other. They have been espousing some policies that strike me as “off the charts” impractical, unworkable, unaffordable, and inane. Below please find a partial list. Each of these has been suggested by one or more of the Dem candidates. Do they really believe them or are they just trying to curry favor? Who knows, but since they’re out there the candidates, including Biden, will have to either defend them or refute them.

1. Single-payer healthcare, Medicare for all, eliminate private health insurance currently used by roughly 1/2 of the populace.
2. Allow convicted felons, including rapists, murderers and terrorists, to vote WHILE STILL IN PRISON.
3. Extend the right to vote to those as young as 16 years of age.
4. Increase the number of Supreme Court justices.
5. Abolish the electoral college.
6. Abolish ICE.
7. Open/relaxed borders.
8. Green New Deal.
9. Ban cars, trucks, and airplanes.
10. Pay reparations based on race.

I don’t believe that a majority of voters, even Dem voters, are in favor of any of these, and most who are have not analyzed them sufficiently. Some or all of these are being touted by a small but vocal minority in the media or on twitter. The candidates don’t realize that some 80% of the tweets are published by only some 10% of the people. Their views are grossly exaggerated, do not always coincide with the majority of Americans who are too busy working and providing for their families to spend their life tweeting on social media. They are misreading the electorate and will pay for it at the ballot box.

CONCLUSION

Does anyone else appreciate the irony that the Dems, the self-proclaimed political party of diversity, currently has two old white men as their front runners? Where are the females and the candidates of color? There are several, but, as yet, none has gained a foothold.

As I said, for now, Biden is the front runner. But, it is so early that any polls should taken with a big grain of salt. Once the primaries and debates commence, the field will be culled drastically, and a clearer picture will emerge.

The other candidates, particularly Uncle Bernie, have been and I believe will continue to push far left policies. In my view, the Dem party is split between traditional Dems and young aggressive far-left advocates, who don’t support Biden and who appear to be supported and encouraged by most of the media. Perhaps, Biden, who is generally perceived as having the best chance of defeating Mr. Trump, can unite these factions, but he will have to use all his political skills to do so. He has to hope that their desire to defeat Mr. Trump overrides their dislike for him. Like I said, 2020 should be verrrry interesting.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY – APRIL

Many significant events have occurred in April. Below please find some of them:

April 2, 1513 – Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon landed at present-day St. Augustine, and claimed FL on behalf of Spain. St. Augustine is the oldest city in the continental US.

April 2, 1982 – Argentinian troops seized the Falkland Islands, a British territory just off the Argentinian coast, thus beginning the Falkland Islands War. Britain recaptured the islands on June 15.

April 3, 1860 – The Pony Express mail service commenced in St. Joseph, MO.

April 3, 1865 – Richmond. the capital of the Confederacy, surrendered.

April 3, 1948 – President Truman signed the Marshall Plan, an economic aid package that is largely credited with halting the spread of communism in post-War Europe.

April 3, 1995 – Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female Justice of the Supreme Court.

April 4, 1949 – NATO was created.

April 4, 1968 – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated.

April 6, 1896 – The first “modern” Olympics was held in Athens.

April 6, 1917 – The US entered WWI.

April 8, 563BC – Celebrated as Bhudda’s birthday.

April 8, 1913 – The US ratified the 17th Amendment to the Constitution mandating the election of US senators by direct popular vote instead of appointment by State legislatures as had been the procedure.

April 9, 1865 – Robert E. Lee formally surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant ending the Civil War.

April 9, 1866 – The US passed the Civil Rights Bill of 1866, which granted AAs the rights and privileges of US citizenship.

April 10, 1942 – The Bataan Death March began.

April 10, 1945 – The Buchenwald concentration camp was liberated by US troops.

April 11, 1968 – The US adopted the Civil Rights Act of 1968.

April 12, 1861 – The Civil War commenced as Confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter.

April 12, 1945 – FDR died in Warm Springs, GA of a cerebral hemorrhage.

April 12, 1961 – Russian cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, became the first human in space.

April 14, 1828 – Noah Webster published the first American-style dictionary.

April 14, 1865 – President Abraham Lincoln was mortally wounded by assassin John Wilkes Booth at Ford Theatre. He died the next day.

April 15, 1912 – The “unsinkable” Titanic, which had struck an iceberg the previous night, sunk. Some 1,500 of the 2,224 persons on board perished.

April 17, 1961 – The so-called Bay of Pigs invasion, which was intended to precipitate the overthrow of Fidel Castro, failed disastrously.

April 18, 1775 – Paul Revere embarked on his famous “Midnight Ride” to warn the Patriots that “the British [were] coming.”

April 18, 1906 – The infamous San Francisco Earthquake and fire began.

April 18, 1942 – A squadron of airplanes led by General James Doolittle successfully bombed Tokyo, providing a much-needed morale boost to Americans by demonstrating that Japan was not invulnerable.

April 19, 1775 – Patriots fire the “shot heard ’round the world” at Lexington, MA, which marked the commencement of the Revolutionary War.

April 19, 1943 – The Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto began an armed insurrection against their Nazi captors.

April 20, 1999 – The “Columbine Massacre” occurred in Littleton, CO, leaving 13 dead and 20 more wounded.

April 21, 1836 – Texans, under the command of Sam Houston, decisively defeated a Mexican force at San Jacinto (near present-day Houston), which led to Texas’ independence from Mexico.

April 21, 1918 – Baron Manfred von Richtofen, the infamous “Red Baron” who was credited with some 80 kills, was shot down over France.

April 22, 1889 – The “Oklahoma land rush” began.

April 24, 1800 – The Library of Congress, the world’s largest library, housing some 145 million items, was established.

April 26, 1986 – The nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, Ukraine, exploded, spreading a radioactive cloud extending over much of Europe.

April 26, 1994 – Apartheid in South Africa officially ended as the country held its first multiracial elections with some 18 million blacks participating. Nelson Mandela was elected President.

April 28, 1789 – Led by Fletcher Christian, the crew of the HMS Bounty mutinied against Captain William Bligh.

April 30, 1789 – George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the US.

April 30, 1948 – Palestinian Jews declared their independence from the British and established the State of Israel.

Birthdays – 4/2/1805 – Hans Christian Anderson (Danish fairytale author); 4/5/1856 – Booker T. Washington (AA educator); 4/10/1847 – Joseph Pulitzer (publisher); 4/13/1743 – Thomas Jefferson (3rd President); 4/16/1867 – Wilbur Wright (aviator pioneer); 4/16/1889 – Charlie Chaplin (silent film comedian); 4/17/1837 – John Pierpont Morgan (financier); 4/18/1857 – Clarence Darrow (renowned attorney); 4/20/1889 – Adolph Hitler; 4/22/1870 – Vladimir Lenin; 4/23/1564 – William Shakespeare (writer); 4/23/1791 – James Buchanan (15th US President; 4/25/1874 – Guglielmo Marconi (invented the radio; 4/27/1791 – Samuel F. B. Morse (telegraph inventor); 4/27/1822 – Ulysses S. Grant (civil war commanding general and 18th US President); 4/28/1758 – James Monroe (Founding Father and 5th US President); 4/29/1863 – William Randolph Hearst (publisher).

THE FULL MUELLER REPORT RELEASED – WHAT NOW FOR DEMS?

For more than two years the Dems and most of the media have told us that the Mueller Report would, once and for all, demonstrate conclusively that President Trump and members of his campaign staff colluded with the Russians to “steal” the 2016 presidential election. President Trump was a traitor, a Russian spy, and/or a dupe of Vladimir Putin. Members of his campaign, his family, or, perhaps, President Trump, himself, would be indicted and go to prison. Mr. Trump would likely be impeached and maybe removed from office. Furthermore, we were told Mueller was doing a thorough, excellent job. Just wait, they said.

Let’s not forget the infamous statements of many of our elected officials, who were relentless in their criticisms of Mr. Trump. A sampling:

1. Adam Schiff promised us he was in possession of a “stream of evidence.”
2. Tom Perez claimed there was a “mountain of evidence” against Mr. Trump.
3. Jerry Nadler assured us “we know there was collusion.”
4. Richard Blumenthal pontificated that “the evidence is pretty clear.”

These comments and those of many others were misleading, irresponsible and, perhaps, even seditious. Their sole purpose was to destroy the Trump presidency. All they succeeded in doing, however, was to divide the country and distract the government from dealing with real issues, such as healthcare, border security and infrastructure.

Last month AG William Barr and his assistant, Rod Rosenstein, issued a summary report that did not indict anyone or demonstrate any collusion. This failed to satisfy the aforementioned critics. They demanded Barr release the full report. Now, the full report has been released, and, guess what, it, too, did not reveal what the Dems and media had expected and virtually assured the American people it would. The 448 page report, which few people will bother to read in its entirety, can be boiled down succinctly to the following conclusion:

1. Russia did, indeed, interfere with the 2016 presidential election, but there was no indication that it managed to alter a single vote, let alone affect the outcome.

2. The investigation did not establish that Mr. Trump or members of his campaign had colluded with the Russians.

3. The Report enumerated “multiple acts,” however, that were possibly capable of “exerting undue influence” over the investigation, but the evidence was not sufficient to make a case for obstruction.

So, it can be concluded that the report (a) cleared Mr. Trump and his campaign of collusion, but, (b) regarding obstruction, it was inconclusive. It did not find the president guilty, but, on the other hand, it did not fully exonerate him either. To me, that is “lawyer-speak” for saying the president was “not guilty.” Not “innocent,” but “not guilty,” similar to a jury verdict in a trial. After spending two years, $400 million, issuing 2,800 subpoenas, reviewing thousands of pages of testimony, and interviewing 500 witnesses a crack team of lawyers, most of whom had a strong political bias against Mr. Trump and had no reason to go easy on him, and had carte blanche to do whatever they saw fit, was unable to find enough evidence to charge Mr. Trump or any member of his campaign with any crime.

Unfortunately, the vague language cited above has provided critics with an opening to claim that further investigation could/should/would find the elusive conclusive evidence of a crime.

It should be noted that, according to a recent Reuters Poll, an astonishing 70% said the report had not changed their mind, and 50% still believe that Mr. Trump or a member of his campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Honestly, I don’t know what to make of those numbers. I believe they fly in the face of reality.

Trump’s critics have refused to accept the conclusions of the report. In their eyes, Mueller has failed to deliver the goods, i.e. evidence of treason, or, at least, collusion. In their eyes, he has transformed from a “hero” to a “zero.”

The issuance of the Mueller Report should have been the end of the investigation. Instead, it appears to be merely another step on a road to nowhere. Staunch Trump-haters, such as Nadler and Schiff, are not satisfied and have stated their intention to commence their own investigations. The conclusions of the Report did not conform to their preconceived narrative. They have already issued dozens of subpoenas. It is within their constitutional purview to do so, but I don’t know what they expect to uncover that a comprehensive two-year special council investigation did not. It looks like these investigations will continue up until the 2020 election or even beyond. What a waste of time, money and resources.

Personally, I fail to see how Mr. Trump can be guilty of obstruction when he freely turned over millions of pages of documents upon request, and he did not invoke “executive privilege” even once. Contrast that with the Obama Administration, which invoked EP many times, and whose Attorney General, Eric Holder, refused to hand over documents relating to “Fast and Furious” and refused to appear before Congress when subpoenaed (for which he was cited for contempt). Contrast that with Bill Clinton’s mysterious meeting with Loretta Lynch on the tarmac when the Justice Department was in the midst of investigating Hillary. Contrast that with Hillary destroying some 35,000 emails and the accompanying hard drive. I am not an attorney, but common sense tells me that those actions constitute obstruction.

Media outlets, such as CNN and MSNBC, have, for the most part, expressed a uniformly negative opinion of Mr. Trump regarding the special counsel investigation. Often, when I watched news reports on those stations I have observed panels of several commentators all of whom think alike and express the same opinions. No diversity, no fair and balanced commentary. They just reinforce their own preconceived opinions by associating only with others who think as they do. Once, I observed a nine-person panel on CNN arranged in a semi-circle all parroting similar views. Talk about a “circular firing squad! No wonder the Mueller Report freaked them out.

Additionally, many Dems and their supporters in the media have commenced attacking AG William Barr. They are accusing him of bias toward the president. Some of the kinder characterizations of him are “toady and “lackey.” Some other examples by our media’s “crack” reporters and commentators:

1. Chris Matthews (MSNBC)- [This was] “an inside job.”
2. Chris Cuomo (CNN) – “Barr is the president’s ‘fixer.'”
3. Michele Goldberg (NYT) – “The US is being ruled by a military junta.”

This is totally inappropriate, irresponsible and dangerous. Let’s not forget that Rod Rosenstein, no friend of Mr. Trump’s, assisted Barr in reviewing and releasing the report.

CONCLUSION

For two years most of the media has vilified Mr. Trump. It has repeatedly told the American people he was a spy, a Nazi, a racist a tool of the Russians. He “stole” the election. Etc. They have lied to and misled the American people. They have assumed guilt without due process (similar to their treatment of Justice Kavanaugh and the Covington kids). Now, that they have been proven wrong, they should offer an apology or, at the very least, acknowledge their misdeeds. But, don’t count on it. Instead, they are doubling down, in effect, by encouraging the Dems to conduct their own investigations and talking of impeachment.

Time to let it go, people, and get to the business of governing the country. That was what you were elected to do. As stated above, the Mueller Report did not put forth any evidence that Russia’s interference changed one vote. Mr. Trump won fair and square. He is the legitimate president. Cease trying to overthrow the will of the people. Stop this nonsense of impeachment. It’s a loser, politically. You hate Mr. Trump. I get it. So, do it the right way. Nominate a better candidate in 2020, and win the next election.