V-J DAY TIMES SQUARE KISSER DIES AT 95

Three random people, plus one random kiss. On August 14, 1945 those things combined to make, arguably, one of the most memorable photographic moments of the 20th century. Hyperbole? Perhaps, but not to many of those who had just lived through the horrors of WWII.

August 14, 1945 was a day of unrestrained, spontaneous joy and unfettered celebration. Why? It was the day Japan surrendered, marking the end of WWII. It quickly became known simply as “V-J Day.” As word spread, people began to celebrate. In NYC people gathered in public places, such as Times Square, to share in the momentus occasion.

Alfred Eisenstaedt, a photographer for “Life Magazine,” was patrolling TS. He was hoping to take photographs that would capture the essence of the moment. As he related in his book, “Eisenstaedt on Eisenstaedt,” “I saw a sailor running along the street grabbing any and every girl in sight…. I was running ahead of him with my Leica looking back over my shoulder, but none of the pictures that were possible pleased me. Then, suddenly, in a flash, I saw something white being grabbed. I turned around and clicked the moment the sailor kissed the nurse. I took exactly four pictures. It was done within a few seconds.”

Native New Yorkers might be able to discern the exact location of “The Kiss” based on the background. It was at the confluence of Seventh Avenue and Broadway, just south of 45th Street, looking north.

Eisenstaedt said the contrast in color between the man’s dark uniform and the girl’s white dress “made” the picture. If they had both been in dark or both in white he would not have bothered to snap it. Indeed, there were many other pictures taken that day all over the world, but this one captured the mood and the moment perfectly and, thus, became the enduring symbol of the event. E called it “V-J Day in Times Square.” The caption read “In New York’s Times Square a white-clad girl clutches her purse and skirt as an uninhibited sailor plants his lips squarely on hers.”

Unfortunately, E was unable to obtain any personal information regarding the couple, and neither person’s face is clearly seen. Thus, for many years it was unclear who they were. Various persons have made claims over the years. Some had been the subject of similar pictures, but not “the one.” Others were out and out impostors.

Finally, many years later, their identities were established definitively. The sailor was identified as George Mendonsa. The “nurse,” who actually was a dental assistant, was identified as Greta Zimmer.

Mendonsa was identified conclusively through analysis by personnel from the Naval War College based on identifying scars and tattoos visible in the picture. Apparently, he was on leave from his ship, the “USS Sullivan.” He said, he and his future wife were watching a movie at Radio City when people came bursting into the theatre announcing the end of the war. Immediately, they went outside to join in the celebration. After he had had a few drinks he noticed a woman in a white dress. Assuming she was a military nurse he grabbed her and kissed her.

Greta Zimmer makes for an interesting story independent of the photo. She was born Grete Zimmer in Wiener Neustadt, Austria on June 5, 1924, the second oldest of four sisters. The family was Jewish. In 1939 Grete and two of the sisters managed to emigrate to the US (The eldest emigrated to Palestine.), but the parents remained behind. Unfortunately, they both perished in a concentration camp. Zimmer studied fashion and costuming at the Fashion Institute of Technology and the New School of Social Research’s Dramatic Workshop. She was supporting herself by working as a dental assistant. She would wear white, which was why she was mistaken for a military nurse.

Her version of the event: “It wasn’t my choice to be kissed. The guy just came over and grabbed. That man was very strong. I wasn’t kissing him. He was kissing me. I did not see him approaching, and before I kn[e]w it I was in this tight grip.” Not to be a “killjoy,” but under today’s mores Mendonsa would likely be accused of sexual assault.

Eventually, Zimmer married, adding the surname, Friedman, raised a family and worked as a book restorer.

Eisenstaedt was born in Germany in 1898. After emigrating to the US he established himself as a renowned photographer. During his career at “Life,” he became known for his ability to “capture memorable images.” He published some 2,500 photos, 90 of which were “covers.” Other than “The Kiss,” he is, perhaps, best known for his portraits of the actress, Sophia Loren. The Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Magazine Photography bears his name.

CONCLUSION

As they say, timing is everything. Eisenstaedt just happened to be in the area taking pictures. He just happened to notice Mendonsa. Mendonsa just happened to grab Zimmer and kiss her at that precise moment. They just happened to be wearing contrasting colors and just happened to be of compatible sizes.

All three principals lived long lives. Eisenstaedt died in 1995 at the age of 96. Friedman died in 2016 at the age of 92. Mendonsa died this week at the age of 95.

Finally, for you amateur historians, another historically-significant event occurred on August 14, 1945. Ho Chi Minh commenced an uprising in Vietnam against the French. We all know the end result. The French abandoned Indo-China; and the US entered the arena, eventually becoming embroiled in a long and fruitless war.

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PRESIDENTS’ DAY

Today, February 18, we celebrate Presidents’ Day, or do we? According to Wikipedia, the moniker, “Presidents’ Day,” is actually a colloquialism. The official name of the federal holiday is “Washington’s Birthday.” It is celebrated on the third Monday of February, which, depending on the particular year, can be anywhere between the 15th and the 21st. However, as many of you know, W was actually born on February 22, so the holiday never falls on his actual birthday. Except, the year W was born, 1731, the British Empire, including the American Colonies, was still using the Old Style Julian calendar, which was eleven days behind the modern Gregorian calendar, which became the standard in 1752. So, technically, W was born on February 11, 1732 (Old Style). Confused? Read on; it gets worse.

Congress first promulgated the federal holiday honoring W in 1879. Fittingly, W was the first and only President to be so honored. It was celebrated on February 22. In 1951 a gentleman named Harold Fischer formed a committee with the apt name of the “President’s Day National Committee,” of which he became the National Executive Director, for the purpose of honoring, not a particular president, but the office, itself. There was sentiment for designating March 4 as the date since that was the original presidential inauguration date, and, in point of fact, several states’ did designate that date as President’s Day.

Finally, in 1971 Congress clarified matters with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. It wanted to promulgate a holiday that would honor both W and Abraham Lincoln, whom most historians recognize (as do I) as our two best presidents. The holiday was moved to the third Monday in February, which, as I have said, falls in between L (February 12) and W’s (February 22) birthdays. It has remained there ever since. People liked it because it provided a built-in three-day weekend, and retailers liked it because customers could spend the extra day off shopping in their stores.

Still confused? Almost done, but there’s more. For example:

1. Today, the holiday is widely viewed as a plural (Presidents’ Day) to honor all presidents, not only W.

2. The day is not a universal holiday. It is celebrated as a state holiday in only 38 of the 50 states, plus DC and Puerto Rico.

3. Moreover, these states use 14 different variations of the name of the holiday, such as “President’s Day,” “Presidents’ Day,” “George Washington/Thomas Jefferson Birthday,” “Lincoln/Washington/Presidents Day,” “George Washington’s Birthday,” and “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” (who?), among others.

4. Fourteen states do not celebrate the holiday at all.

5. Other variations:
a. Massachusetts celebrates “Presidents Day” on May 29 in honor of four specific presidents. Can you name them? Three are easy. They were born in the state and were well-accomplished, aside from being president. The fourth, who was more obscure, was born in a neighboring state, but served as MA governor before becoming president. Kudos if you can name all four. See answer below.
b. New Mexico celebrates the holiday on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
c. Georgia celebrates the day on Christmas Eve.
d. Indiana also celebrates it on Christmas Eve, or the previous workday.
e. W’s adopted city of Alexandria, VA holds celebrations throughout the entire month of February, including what is billed as the nation’s “longest-running and largest George Washington Birthday parade.”
f. The city of Eustis, FL boasts a “GeorgeFest” celebration, which dates back to 1902.
g. One popular food that is traditionally consumed on this day is…?
h. Which medal did W create for the “common soldier?”

CONCLUSION

For many of you, today marks the end of winter vacation from school and work. If you have yet to travel home be careful and be safe. If you have already returned, I hope you enjoyed your time off.

I told you this would be confusing, but, now, you are doubtlessly an expert regarding the holiday.

Quiz answers: 1) John Adams, John Quincy Adams, JFK, and Calvin Coolidge
2) Cherry pie, for obvious reasons.
3) The Purple Heart for being wounded in combat.

PS. Daisy Gatson Bates was a civil rights activist who played a leading role in the integration of Arkansas’ public schools in the late 1950s.

PRESIDENT TRUMP SIGNS BORDER DEAL, DECLARES NATIONAL EMERGENCY

With respect to the Border Deal, most of you are aware of the headline, as stated above, but, when it comes to evaluating the deal, remember, “the devil is in the details.” Almost everyone is happy that Congress was able to put together a deal to avert another government shutdown. It would have been very bad on many levels. Wall Street, the most objective arbiter I know, loves it. As I write this at mid-day the DJI is up over 200 points.

But, while you’re busy celebrating remember Congress put the Border Bill, some 1,000+ pages of it, together in a rush, under extreme pressure, and few, if any, have even read it. We have no idea of the fine points, but you can be sure they will surface eventually. For example, it has been reported that there is a provision that sponsors or potential sponsors cannot be deported. Okay. Doesn’t sound too bad, but what is the definition of a “sponsor.” I heard that anyone can declare himself a “potential sponsor.” Theoretically, a gang member, or any other adult migrant for that matter, could convince or intimidate a minor migrant into agreeing to designate him as their “sponsor,” and then he cannot be deported. If that’s true, the GOP got snookered, badly.

As an illustration of a hidden, significant, “detail,” I recall the story I heard about the origin of the 401k. Were it not for this provision, salaried persons, especially those without pensions, would not have been able to accumulate the funds for a comfortable retirement. My understanding is that it was an obscure, last minute, “pork” add-on to a tax bill. Some CPA found it, used it for his clients, and it spread to common usage. Point being, we do not know what’s in the Border Bill, but eventually we will find out, good, bad or indifferent.

The primary point of this blog, however, is the National Emergency. Already, it has provoked an outcry in some quarters, and it is sure to be challenged in court. (1) What, exactly, is a “NE?” (2) Does the president have the constitutional authority to declare one? (3) How many and under what circumstances have they been declared? (4) Do we have any outstanding presently? Good questions, keep reading.

1. According to Wikipedia a NE is “a state of emergency resulting from a danger or threat of danger to a nation.” We can debate whether or not the situation at the southern border, or any particular situation, meets that standard, but Mr. Trump thinks it does, and his is the opinion that counts.

2. Congress passed the NE Act in 1975. It authorizes the president to declare a NE, which triggers a slew of events. In order to undo a NE Congress must pass a joint resolution. Such JR would require either a two-thirds vote or the president’s approval. Neither scenario is likely in this situation. Court challenges are likely. A lower, “friendly” court may rule against Mr. Trump, but, ultimately, he will prevail. In my research, I was unable to find one case where the Supreme Court reversed such an order.

3. According to Wikipedia some 60 NEs have been declared and 32 are active, including today’s. According to Kim Scheppele, a professor at Princeton University’s Center for Human Values, they’re “absolutely common.” Historically, presidents have declared them “for all kinds of things,” even before the passage of the aforementioned NEA. The first recorded one was by none other than George Washington who employed it to take over state militias to put down the Whiskey Rebellion in 1792. During the Civil War President Lincoln declared a NE as authority to blockade certain ports of the Confederacy. More recently, George Bush declared a NE after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and Barack Obama declared one to combat the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009. Very often, Presidents have declared NEs of broad scope and vague duration with little of no Congressional oversight. I am not defending that custom, just pointing out that Congressional griping over this one will likely fall on deaf ears, legally.

4. As I said, Mr. Trump did not invent this tactic. Today’s NE makes 32 outstanding.

CONCLUSION

The NY Times has published an article the gist of which will no doubt be echoed on much of the rest of the news media. It makes for interesting reading, if only to get a liberal opinion. It lists six “takeaways” from Mr. Trump’s action. Of course, they are negative.

1. He will go to “almost any length to appease his base.”
2. Dems cannot stop him, but they can “make it awkward.”
3. Diverting funds from elsewhere could “make new enemies.”
4. Expect court challenges.
5. “Watch how Nancy Pelosi responds.”
6. He provided his challengers with “an argument.”

As I said, Mr. Trump will be criticized by his enemies, but so what? He is used to that, as are all politicians. On the other hand, he will be fulfilling a campaign promise. The people elected him to secure the border, and that is what he is doing. Some of you may not agree with his actions or opinions, regarding border security, which is your right, but he is well within his constitutional authority to take the action he has today.

DEMS’ VERSION OF THE LIMBO

Some of you may be familiar with the dance called the “limbo,” which was popular back in the 1960s. The whole point of the dance was to see “how low you could go” under the limbo bar. Well, the Dems are engaged in a political version of the limbo called “How Far Left Can You Go.” The self-defeating point of this dance seems to be to espouse as many outrageous far left policies as possible to curry favor with the base, even if, in the process, you offend mainstream voters. The primary players of this inane game are not merely fringe members of the party. That would be somewhat understandable. Some, like freshman Congresswoman Ihan Omar (MN) are, but most of them are declared candidates for the 2020 Dem presidential nomination.

Due to space limitations, I will limit this to a few recent examples.

1. Ihan Oman – She has barely gotten her feet wet in Congress, and already she has made one ill advised statement after another. She has embarrassed herself and, more importantly, her Party with her obvious anti-Semitic bias. Her latest was a tweet in which she criticized the pro-Israel lobby group, AIPAC, by tweeting “it’s all about the Benjamins.” Her meaning was clear – Jewish money has cast undue influence on US relations with Israel. Really. How about all the Arab lobbyists? I suppose they don’t try to peddle influence as well. That’s what lobbyists do. Duh.
2. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The media has turned her into a spokeswoman for the Party. This is curious since she only won election in her far left political district because she defeated an overconfident incumbent in a poorly attended primary. (The only reason she isn’t running for president is she is too young, thank God.) AOC proposed a “Green New Deal.” There are many preposterous aspects to this policy, but my favorite ones are eliminating anything that burns combustible fuels, such as cars and airplanes, and rebuilding every building in the country. This would not only destroy the country’s energy, military and farming sectors, among many others, but also bankrupt the country. Did she really think this through? She makes the much-denigrated Sarah Palin look like an Einstein! The NGD was immediately endorsed by much of the progressive wing, including Mazie Horono, the Senator from Hawaii best known for advocating the elimination of the due process provision of the Constitution during the Kavanaugh hearings. That is, until someone asked her how anyone would be able even to travel to Hawaii under the plan. Uh oh. And did I mention the cost? No one knows, including AOC, but it would surely run in the tens of trillions per year and destroy our economy. This is simply too insane to discuss seriously. It will be fun to see the eventual nominee try to defend it.

3. Elizabeth Warren. As most of you know, she is the MA senator best known for her false and ludicrous claim of being Native American and then doubling down by insisting she gained no advantage from that lie. She has issued a veritable plethora of far-out, dumb ideas. Her best (or worst) was take your pick between (a) eliminating private healthcare insurance options and (b) instituting a 2% wealth tax. The former would disenfranchise some 180 million Americans who have such plans presently and like them just fine, thank you very much. The latter, as I blogged recently, has been tried (and abandoned) in many countries. It has not worked anywhere. All it has accomplished was to cause the wealthy to hide/devalue their assets and/or flee to other countries.

4. Kamala Harris has made many outrageous statements, but her latest was to endorse the legalization of marijuana. In an interview on “The Breakfast Club,” she admitted she has tried it and liked it, adding it “gives a lot of people joy.” It also serves to impair them and many view it as a “gateway” drug to other hard drugs, but she either is oblivious to that or chose to gloss over it. Maybe she was lulled by a recent Fox poll that disclosed 66% of Americans favor legalization of pot. Perhaps, but I don’t think her opinion will be popular outside of coastal America

5. What is going on with the Dem pols in Virginia?! First, it was discovered that Governor Ralph Northam posed in “blackface” in his medical school yearbook. Then, at the resultant press conference he had to be restrained by his wife from performing a “Moonwalk” a la Michael Jackson. Later, he tried to deny it was he in the picture, but, come on, who would put another person in “blackface” on his yearbook page. There has been bipartisan demand for his removal from office. Ironically, probably, his best shot at surviving is that his would-be replacement, Lt. Gov Justin Fairfax, has been accused of sexual harassment by two women, and the next person in the line of succession, Attorney General Mark Herring has also been embroiled in a “blackface” controversy. Dems, who mostly favored denying Kavanaugh due process, now have to choose between prejudging those three as well or being accused of hypocrisy. In addition, many AAs will not be happy if Fairfax, who is the only AA of the three turns out to be the one who goes. What a mess, and don’t forget Virginia figures to be a key state in the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

6. The best (or worst) is Governor Northam’s endorsement of infanticide. Yes, not just abortion, but infanticide, aka murder of infants. He went beyond advocating late term abortions, which the latest Gallup poll disclosed 68% of even PRO CHOICE advocates oppose. He described how a delivered, viable baby could be “made comfortable” while the parents and their doctor decided whether or not to abort it. And, this from a licensed physician!

CONCLUSION

Yes, the 2020 election cycle is heating up, and 2019 has just begun. We have nearly a dozen declared Dem candidates, with various others undeclared. So far, the field is being dominated by the far left. Each candidate is trying to “out left” the others. I believe most of them are already to the left of most of the electorate. The debates should be very entertaining with, perhaps, 20 or so people vying for the spotlight.

Ironically, the latest poll by Morning Consultants shows two undeclared candidates, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, who is not even a Dem, in the lead with 29% and 22%, respectively. Biden, who I had always viewed as a moderate to liberal, seems like a staid conservative by comparison. As he contemplates his decision he must wonder if there is even a constituency for him in his own party.

At this rate, the nominee will emerge so bloodied and so far to the left that Mr. Trump will walk to the White House. He has labeled the Dems derisively as the party of open borders, drugs, crime, terrorism, sanctuary cities, and Socialism. Based upon their rhetoric, I would agree, and I think many other people would as well. To me, that is a recipe for defeat, perhaps an historic one.

STATE OF THE UNION

And, the state of the union is ……divided. In my opinion, there is one inescapable fact that applies whether you are a liberal, a moderate or a conservative, a Democrat or a Republican, a Trump supporter or a Trump hater, white, black or Hispanic, young or old, male or female, or rich or poor. Two years into the Trump presidency, this country is DIVIDED, as never before in my lifetime.

Who is to blame? Dems? GOP? Obama? Trump? The media? All of the above? The answer is simple; it depends on one’s political point of view. Watching the president’s SOTU speech Tuesday night and the various rebuttals and political commentators on CNN, MSNBC and Fox, how could one think otherwise?

The Constitution requires the President to inform Congress on the “state of the union” annually. The time of the year is not specified, but traditionally, Presidents have given the address in January or February. This year, the acrimony and the divisiveness over border security and the resulting government shut-down led to the SOTU being delayed. This was not the first time a SOTU was postponed. In 1986 president Reagan postponed the SOTU for one week due to the explosion of the Space Shuttle “Challenger.”

George Washington gave the initial one, in person, in 1790, but that is not a requirement. In fact, during the 19th century most of them were actually delivered to Congress in handwritten form. Apparently, they were not viewed as that significant.

With the advent of radio, however, Presidents began to see an opportunity to disseminate their policies directly to the people. Hence, they were broadcast on the radio and, later, telecast on TV. Down through the years, most of them have been rather mundane, however, a few of the notable announcements were:

1. President Monroe announced the Monroe Doctrine in 1823.
2. FDR described the famous “four freedoms” (freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear) in 1941.
3. LBJ outlined his War on Poverty in 1964.

In my opinion, as is usually the case, the evaluation of this year’s SOTU depends on one’s political preferences. Trump supporters will mostly view it as a positive, unifying speech; his detractors will view it as divisive, self-serving, and disingenuous. I, being a Trump supporter, lean toward the former.

Some general observations:

1. I liked the show of unity of most of the women wearing white. (I’ll have to ask my wife if it was “winter white” or “regular white.”)

2. The audience’s decorum was polite and professional. Not everybody applauded many of Mr. Trump’s points, but that is normal. At least no one booed or walked out that I am aware of. However, it was a little distracting to see Pelosi sitting directly behind the president periodically shuffling papers.

3. Of course, Mr. Trump summarized and defended his policies and accomplishments, such as job growth, low unemployment (particularly among women and minorities), what he called the “unprecedented booming economy,” support for the military, and decimation of ISIS.

4. The two biggest controversial comments were regarding the “lawlessness” of the southern border (I liked his chiding many of the people who criticize his border wall policy while they live behind “walls, gates, and guards,” although those with a different view might consider it to be a low blow.), and late term/partial birth abortions. The latter could be a devastating issue for Dems, prospectively.

5. Without a doubt, the biggest highlights came when Mr. Trump introduced the three D-Day survivors, the Dachau survivor, the military veteran and survivor of the shooting in Pittsburgh, and former astronaut Buzz Aldrin. What were the odds that one of the D-Day survivors would also have been one of the Dachau liberators? Also, the audience singing “Happy Birthday” to the Pittsburgh survivor was a really nice gesture.

CONCLUSION

As I said, one’s opinion of the SOTU is in the eye of the beholder. One may disagree with the substance, but at least Mr. Trump delivered it in a calm, rational, presidential manner, not at all like his normal “stump” speech.

The rebuttal was delivered by Sheri Abrams, who had lost a close race for governor of Georgia. She blamed Mr. Trump for the government shutdown and was generally critical of all things Trump. Dems loved the speech. One commentator on CNN called it the “best rebuttal ever.” Trump supporters, not so much.

Media opinions followed along party lines. CNN commentator, Van Jones, was particularly acerbic, denigrating the speech as “psychologically incoherent.” Remind me where he got his medical degree. Interestingly, Chuck Schumer criticized the speech even before it was given. How prescient. Maybe I should hire him as my new financial advisor.

CNN’s instant poll disclosed that 76% of respondents approved of the SOTU speech. CBS’s poll disclosed 72% approved of the president’s immigration policy, including the wall. I’m not sure what that augurs for the long run as a Rasmussen poll disclosed his approval rating was only 48%, roughly where it’s been.

One final note: Hopefully, independents and moderates who don’t normally get unbiased news from a biased media watched it and will be edified.

As I write this, a conference committee is meeting in an attempt to reach a compromise regarding border security issues. Let’s hope it is successful.

SUPER BOWL LIII (AKA THE PATRIOTS INVITATIONAL)

Another Super Bowl; another appearance by the New England Patriots (yawn). This will be the Patriots third appearance in a row, their 4th in the last five years, and their 11th overall. Maybe, the game should be renamed “The Patriots Invitational.” LOL.

To mark the occasion, I have compiled a quiz. Some of the questions may be too difficult for casual football fans, but I have to challenge the hard core football fans. Remember, no peeking.

1. The first Super Bowl was played in what year?

a. 1966
b. 1967
c. 1968
d. 1969

2. The losing team in the first SB was:

a. Cowboys
b. Raiders
c. Giants
d. Chiefs

3. This will be the third consecutive SB appearance for the Patriots. Which team made four consecutive appearances (and lost them all).

a. Buffalo Bills
b. Dallas Cowboys
c. Philadelphia Eagles
d. Miami Dolphins

4. Which city has hosted the most games (tied with Miami)?

a. New Orleans
b. Dallas
c. Los Angeles
d. Phoenix

5. How many Super Bowls have been decided in overtime?

a. 0
b. 1
c. 2
d. 3

6. Which franchise has won the most SBs?

a. Dallas
b. San Francisco
c. Pittsburg
d. New England

7. Each of the following teams is undefeated in SBs except:

a. Jets
b. Ravens
c. Bucs
d. Green Bay

8. The name “Super Bowl” was derived from:

a. College “bowl” games
b. Fan vote
c. Media feedback
d. Child’s toy

9. Who has won the most SB MVPs?

a. Bart Starr
b. Tom Brady
c. Eli Manning
d. Joe Montana

10. Who was the only MVP from the losing team?

a. Chuck Howley
b. Len Dawson
c. Bruce Smith
d. Icky Woods

11. How many defensive players have been MVP of a SB?

a. Two
b. Five
c. Eight
d. Ten

12. Which of the below cities has never hosted a SB?

a. Santa Clara
b. Jacksonville
c. NY
d. Washington, DC

13. Which of the below networks has not telecast any Super Bowls?

a. ABC
b. CBS
c. Fox
d. ESPN

14. Each of the following has not appeared in a SB, except:

a. Browns
b. Bengals
c. Lions
d. Jaguars

15. Who will be performing at halftime?

a. Beyonce
b. Lady Gaga
c. Gladys Knight
d. Maroon 5

16. How many times has a team played the SB in its home stadium?

a. 0
b. 1
c. 2
d. 3

17. Which team won SB VII to cap an undefeated season?
a. New York
b. Chicago
c. Miami
d. Pittsburgh

18. The coldest temperature for a SB held outdoors was 39 degrees in which city?

a. Houston
b. New Orleans
c. Stanford
d. Cleveland

19. Which of the following coaches has taken more than one team to a SB?

a. Don Shula
b. Tom Landry
c. Bill Belichek
d. Vince Lombardi

20. Which coach has the most SB wins?

a. Don Shula
b. Bill Belichick
c. Mike Shanahan
d. Chuck Noll

21. Which of the below-listed quarterbacks did not win any Super Bowls.

a. Jim Plunkett
b. Dan Marino
c. Joe Namath
d. Terry Bradshaw

22. After whom is the SB trophy named?

a. Pete Rozelle
b. Paul Brown
c. Al Davis
d. Vince Lombardi

23. Which player has won the most SB rings (tied with Tom Brady)?

a. Adam Vinatieri
b. Charles Haley
c. Terry Bradshaw
d. Bob Lilly

24. Which half-time entertainer became (in)famous for a “wardrobe malfunction?”

a. Beyoncé
b. Janet Jackson
c. Madonna
d. Lady Gaga

25. What marginal player became famous for the “helmet catch” in SBXLII (Giants vs. Pats)?

a. Plaxico Burris
b. Randy Moss
c. David Tyree
d. Bob Schnelker

Extra credit: Where did Tom Brady attend college?

ANSWERS: 1. b; 2. d; 3. a; 4. a (10); 5. b; 6. c; 7. d; 8. d; 9. b(4); 10. a (SB V); 11.c; 12. d; 13. d, 14. b; 15. d; 16. a; 17. c; 18. b; 19. a; 20. b(5); 21. b; 22. d; 23. b(5); 24. b; 25. c

Bonus answer: Michigan

My prediction: 31-27 Pats. I hope I’m wrong. What’s yours?

DEMS TAKE A HARD LEFT

In advance of the 2020 presidential election the contenders for the Democratic nomination have taken a sharp left turn. The rapidity with which this has occurred is downright dizzying (and frightening). Some of their positions would have been considered ultra-radical just a few years ago. If you are a traditional moderate or even mildly liberal Democrat your head must be spinning.

For example, let’s look at two of the more prominent candidates – Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. Harris has been a strong advocate of: (a) ending private health insurance and providing free Medicare for everyone, (b) free education from pre-K through college, (c) open borders, (d) sanctuary cities, (e) legalization of recreational marijuana, and (f) imposing a substantial tax increase on corporations and the wealthy while reducing them for everyone else. In particular, her recently-announced healthcare plan made a big splash. [By the way, do you know what the name “Kamala” means? See below.]

In my opinion, these items have two characteristics in common. (1) They sound good, and (2) they won’t work. They sound good, because who doesn’t like free stuff? Who wouldn’t like free education and free healthcare? However, there is one little, teensy, weensy problem. It is the same problem with most liberal ideas. Can you guess what it is? I’ll tell you. How do we pay for it? Tax the rich, you say. Well, do you have any idea how much all this free stuff would cost? No, you don’t, and neither does anyone else, including Harris. I have seen various estimates, and the best guess is $30 TRILLION over a 10-year period. $30 TRILLION! There is not nearly enough additional tax money to be had to begin to pay for it, anyone who thinks there is is delusional.

Her plan is even more inane when you combine it with her open borders policy. So, let me get this straight. We grant anyone who wants it free, unfettered access to our country, and then we pay for their health insurance and education. What do you suppose would happen? I’ll tell you. The current flood of illegals would grow to a never-ending torrent. It would destroy our country. And this is a person who is a serious candidate for president?

Harris’ handlers may come to realize how radical and unworkable her plan is and may prevail upon her to “walk it back,” but don’t be fooled. It is what she really believes and wants. Even worse, I suspect there are many Dems who agree with some or all of it. They just don’t want to say so openly.

Elizabeth Warren has espoused most of the above policies. In addition, she has proposed a wealth tax on the “superrich.” Households with wealth in excess of $50 million would pay a 2% tax annually. Those in excess of $1 billion would pay 3%. That is another inane idea that appeals to the average person but has not been well thought out.

A wealth tax is not a novel idea. It has been tried in several countries, and it has not worked well. Both valuation and collection were shown to be problematic. Invariably, the superrich find ways to hide, transfer, or undervalue their assets and, thus, avoid or minimize the tax. Plus, placing a value on assets such as a business, artwork, real estate and other non-liquid assets is very subjective. Economist Jonathan Gruber points out that “when you tax people’s wealth, they manage to somehow reduce their taxable wealth.” Some, like French actor Gerard Depardieu simply moved a few miles across the border to neighboring Belgium. Hello, Canada.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development the number of nations imposing a wealth tax has decreased from 12 in 1990 to four in 2017. Many of them have realized that it’s easier to tax liquid assets, such as investment and capital gains.

CONCLUSION

It appears that the Dem presidential candidates are in a contest to see who can propose the most liberal/socialist policies. This may be a good strategy for the primaries, but the winner will be so far left, he or she will have trouble getting back to the center in order to win the general. The Dem party has moved so far left that traditional moderates, such as Joe Biden, must be in shock as many of their policies may no longer be in vogue.

All that said, one must remember that it is still very early. History tells us there will be many twists and turns before the 2020 election. Indeed, a recent “Washington Post” poll disclosed that 56% of Dems and Dem-leaning independents, when queried as to whom they would support for the nomination didn’t disclose a preference. Moreover, the leader among those who did express a preference was Joe Biden, who has not yet even declared he is running, with 9%. At this point, many of them probably do not even know who most of the candidates will be.

Stay tuned. 2020 should be a wild ride.

According to Wikipedia, “Kamala” is derived from the Sanskrit word for lotus flower. Her mother is from India.

INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY

On Sunday, January 27, much of the world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day. IHRD is marked (“celebrated” does not seem an appropriate designation) annually on this date to correspond to the date in 1945 on which Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz, the largest and most notorious of the Nazi concentration camps. It is estimated that 1 million Jews plus a goodly number of Poles, gypsies and others were murdered there.

On Sunday, there was a ceremony at the site of the former camp. Some surviving prisoners, wearing striped scarves in memory of the prisoners’ uniforms, placed flowers at an execution wall. Others gave testimonies, and Poland’s chief rabbi read out the names of all the concentration camps in memoriam. Unfortunately, the ceremony was marred by Polish far right demonstrators who protested that there was too much emphasis on the Jewish victims at the expense of the Polish victims.

IHRD is a time of reflection. For many people, it serves as an annual reminder that anti-Semitism is still with us 74 years later. Moreover, it has been escalating, which is a disturbing and foreboding sign. Indeed, it has always been present throughout recorded history, sometimes overtly, as with the infamous pogroms in Poland, Russia and other locales throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and Nazism in the 1930s and 1940s, and, at other times, more covertly. Rulers always found Jews to be a convenient “whipping boy” for the ills of their domain. Failed crops, a plague, not enough jobs, blame the Jews. Throughout history, that particular tactic has always served as a means to divert the attention of the masses from the real problems, which was invariably ineffective or corrupt leadership.

Most disturbingly, a growing number of people, particularly young people, have little or no knowledge of the Holocaust, or, in some cases, deny that it even occurred. I believe this increases the chances that a similar event will recur at some point in the future. I have blogged on this topic before, and space limitations do not permit me to present a detailed reiteration of it at this time.

But, in view of recent developments, I believe a brief summary would be appropriate. Various political leaders have been speaking out about this very disturbing trend. For instance:

1. In a radio address on Saturday, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said “people growing up today must know what people were capable of in the past, and we must work proactively to ensure that it is never repeated.”

2. In a recent op-ed in the German publication, “Welt am Sonntag,” Germany’s Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, cited a wave of “nationalism” is sweeping across Europe. He added that “far right provocateurs” are “downplaying the Holocaust.” Also, he stated that Germany “must continue to teach its young people about the Holocaust.”

3. While laying a wreath at an execution wall Armin Laschet, the premier of Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, opined that “Auschwitz shows what can happen when people’s worst qualities come to bear. The inconceivable crimes of the past must be a warning and an obligation for every new generation.” Over the past year, Germany has been plagued by a rising tide of violent attacks against Jews by neo-Nazi and Muslim groups. This has prompted the government to take the somewhat aggressive step of appointing a commissioner to combat anti-Semitism. Unfortunately, this trend is not limited to Germany. There have been attacks, both verbal and physical, against Jews in Sweden, France, Poland, and even the US, among others.

4. President Donald Trump criticized the Holocaust deniers,” stating “any denial or indifference to the horror of this chapter in the history of humankind diminishes all men and women everywhere and invites repetition of this great evil.”

5. Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, warned that “the threats of violence, xenophobia and anti-Semitism still exist today.”

CONCLUSION

These political leaders and others, are saying the right words, but it appears that their opinions are not permeating to the general public. To illustrate my points regarding the rise of anti-Semitism and misconceptions or unawareness of the Holocaust, please take note of the results of the following surveys and statistics:

1. According to a recent study by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and the Azrieli Foundation 52% of millennials in Canada could not name even one concentration camp or ghetto, and 62% of them were unaware that 6 million Jews had been murdered in the Holocaust.

2. Lest you dismiss that as an aberration, a similar survey in the US yielded similar results. Some 40% of respondents (66% of millennials) were not even cognizant of what Auschwitz was.

3. A recent survey by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust disclosed that 5% of Britons did not believe that the Holocaust actually occurred. Furthermore, almost 2/3 of the respondents either were unaware of how many Jews had been murdered or substantially underestimated the number.

4. Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs reported that 13 Jews were murdered last year, which was the most since the 1990s.

5. In the US, anti-Semitic incidents rose a record 57% from 2016 to 2017, and eleven worshippers were killed in a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Additionally, prominent politicians, such as Dem presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Corey Booker, and newly elected representatives Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have expressed anti-Semitic and anti-Israel sentiments in the recent past and/or have ties to the notorious Louis Farrakhan, Leader of the hate group, Nation of Islam. To me, anti-Israel statements are code for ant-Semitism much like “states’ rights” was code for segregation in the 1950s.

With the passage of time and the inevitable deaths of the few remaining survivors, memory of the horror of the Holocaust has been fading and will inevitably continue to do so, not necessarily among Jews, but among most of the rest of the world. I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but this, combined with the abovementioned sharp upward trend in anti-Semitic incidents and the indifference toward and/or ignorance of the Holocaust, itself, increases the likelihood that it will be repeated in the future. Beware and be vigilant.

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN ENDS. WHO WON, WHO LOST?

As most of you know, after 35 days the government shutdown has ended – temporarily. In retrospect, like most things devised by our government, it was ill-conceived, caused a lot of unnecessary pain and inconvenience to a lot of innocent people, was driven primarily by political expediency, and yielded dubious benefit. Negotiations will be continuing, however, there is a strong probability that on February 15, or thereabouts, we will get to do it all over again.

Like most of us, I felt deeply for the 800,000 or so federal workers who were forced to forego their paychecks during the shutdown. What they were forced to endure was unconscionable. They were unfortunate pawns in the battle between two titans – President Trump and Speaker Pelosi. The effect of the shutdown was beginning to permeate other areas and affect a broader cross-section of people. For example, a sizeable number of air traffic controllers participated in a “sickout,” which wreaked havoc at many airports causing delays and missed flights. As always, in these circumstances, it’s the little guy who gets hurt the most.

So, if you are keeping score, who were the winners, and who were the losers? Permit me to render my opinion with respect to that.

Identifying the winners is somewhat complicated, but I will endeavor to do so:

1. The open borders crowd. We all know who they are. We see them on tv and read their tweets. They favor unrestricted, or at least very loose, immigration policies. They want to let as many immigrants into the US as possible. They are adamantly opposed to a physical wall/barrier. They are advocating technology, such as drones, to secure the border. Well, that is nothing more than an elaborate ruse. Drones may be effective as a supplement to a wall, but not instead of one. They would not prevent anything. All they could do would be to spot migrants who have already breached our border. It would be too late then.

2. The Trump-haters. Anything Trump wants, they oppose. They see a wall/barrier as a symbol of everything Trump. Even though many of them were in favor of a wall/barrier before Trump was elected, they oppose it now simply because he has advocated it. Most Democratic members of Congress, including “Chancy,” and even some Republicans, fall into this category.

3. The elites – Who are the elites? To paraphrase the late Supreme Court Justice, Potter Stewart, I can’t define them, but I know them when I see them. I’ll give you some examples: (a) the bureaucratic swamp dwellers in DC who actually run the government and want to maintain the status quo, which benefits them. They oppose Trump on all matters because he was elected to bring wholesale changes, which they view as a threat to their power and status. (b) their supporters in the media; If one listens to CNN or MSNBC, among others, on any given day the consistency of their comments is remarkable. Often, they even use the same words and phrases as if they were reading from a script of talking points. (c) anyone who would benefit from cheap labor. Who are they? I refer you to my blog of January 10, titled “Open Borders Scam.”

Who are the losers? That’s easy. You and me. Ordinary people. For example, blue collar workers, unskilled or semi-skilled laborers who work in construction, manufacturing, in a warehouse, or at a trade, any middle class person who pays taxes. Again, please see my January 10 blog. We are being scammed by those with a vested interest in open borders and their supporters, most of whom live in gated communities with 24 X 7 security and, yes, walls. Their position is not based on humanitarian feelings for the migrants, but rather, it is rooted in economics and politics.

CONCLUSION

We have not seen the last of this issue. Our government did not resolve anything. All it did was to kick the proverbial can down the road. Our representatives are very good at that. They have been doing it for years and years on various issues. As I said, on or about February 15 the temporary reopening period will likely end, and we will be subjected to this pain all over again.

Mr. Trump lost the battle, but, hopefully, he will win the war. Public opinion was trending against him. In the end, the continued and well-documented suffering of the unpaid federal workers and the spectacle of airport chaos mandated that he agree to a deal to reopen the government.

Democrats and open borders enthusiasts were openly celebratory of Mr. Trump’s “defeat.” Senator Schumer gleefully and snidely said he “hoped Trump has learned his lesson.” Classy. One would think that a senior senator would be above that kind of comment, would exhibit some grace, but I guess not. As I said, the real losers were the ordinary American people, like you and me.

If the open borders crowd continues to block funding for a wall/barrier President Trump may very well invoke emergency powers to close the border or commence building a wall. It appears to be within his purview to do so, but undoubtedly, that would lead to challenges in the courts and God knows what else. Stay tuned.

COVINGTON CATHOLIC STUDENTS INCIDENT

I’m not sure what to make of this story. On the surface it was a confrontation among groups of Hebrew Israelites, indigenous rights activists and high school students on a field trip to DC. But, in a deeper sense, it was about race (as are most things in present-day America) and a typical rush to judgment on social media and by the press.

According to the “Washington Post” and other news accounts:

1. The Covington Catholic students were in DC to attend the annual March for Life. Afterwards, they had gathered in the vicinity of the Lincoln Memorial to wait for their buses, which would transport them back to Kentucky. Some of them were wearing “Make America Great Again” hats.

2. The Hebrew Israelites and a separate group of Native American activists were in the area for the Indigenous Peoples March. By way of background, it should be noted that, contrary to what their name implies, the Hebrew Israelites are not Jewish. In point of fact, the Southern Poverty Law Center has described them as a “black supremacist extremist group” that believes Jews are “devilish impostors” and whites are “evil personified.”

Initial news reports, fueled by a misleading, incomplete video, gave the impression that some of the students were taunting and intimidating one of the Native Americans. For example, the students were falsely accused of chanting “build the wall.” In addition, one of the students appeared to be “smirking” at the NA. Various media outlets and social media castigated the students mercilessly, especially the “smirker.” The twitter police were particularly vicious. The students’ church issued an apology for their behavior. Many of the students and even their families received death threats, and the school was forced to close on Tuesday for security reasons.

Well, as usual, the media got it all wrong. By Sunday, the full video revealed a different perspective. The “Washington Post” admitted that the incident was “more complicated” than it had appeared at first. That’s probably an understatement, but it’s as close to an admission of error as we’re likely to get. If one views the full video it becomes apparent that the HIs instigated the confrontation, perhaps with the intent of causing an incident for the many cameras in the area, which, of course, is exactly what happened.

Perhaps, because they noticed the MAGA hats the HIs began hurling derogatory insults at the students, such as “Donald Trump incest babies,” “white crackers,” faggots,” “incest kids,” and the old standbys “racists” and “bigots. They called an AA student “Kanye West” and said they would “harvest his organs,” (whatever that means). Then, one NA activist approached them playing a drum, again in what appeared to be an attempt to agitate. In the words of one of the students, he came “within inches of my face. He played his drum the entire time he was in my face.” I believe the student showed remarkable restraint. He did not do or say anything to the man. The so-called smirk? Come on. That look could be interpreted many ways. Maybe, he was just amused at the spectacle.

The kids were confused and didn’t know what to do. For the most part, they just stood there staring. After a while they began to chant school songs. They did not retaliate or threaten anyone. These were high school students, mere kids. From what I could see they comported themselves better than the adult protestors. Eventually, the buses arrived, and the kids left.

CONCLUSION

So, what do we have here?

1. We have a hate group taunting a group of high school kids who were waiting for a bus.

2. We have a NA activist apparently trying to incite a reaction for the cameras. (I’m not really sure what his intent was.)

3. Most of all, we have a media and twitter universe mischaracterizing a story because they are too lazy or prejudiced to seek out the truth. Once again, the media, which is supposed to rigorously seek out and report the truth, does the opposite. This was the second incident within a few days. And we wonder why the country is so divided.

4. In my opinion, the real losers are the kids who were tormented for no good reason. As I said, ironically, they had comported themselves better than the adults. Incidentally, how ironic is it that the incident took place at the site of the Lincoln Memorial.

One of my readers suggested to me that it would be a nice gesture if President Trump, in a show of support and goodwill, would invite the students to the White House I concur. Maybe, he could serve them “Big Macs” and “Whoppers.” LOL.