NICHOLAS MUDD DEBUT ALBUM — COME WITH ME TONIGHT — IS GOING TO MAKE WAVES.
CHECK IT OUT!
NICHOLAS MUDD DEBUT ALBUM — COME WITH ME TONIGHT — IS GOING TO MAKE WAVES.
CHECK IT OUT!
I was born 17 presidential elections and 13 United States Presidents ago, in 1951. “Give ’em Hell” Harry Truman was president, but I was busy filling diapers and oblivious to that fact. My first recollection of national politics comes from the 1956 Republican National Convention in San Francisco. Dwight Eisenhower and Vice President Richard Nixon were renominated to seek second four-year terms, which they would win handily over Adlai Stevenson and Estes Kefauver. I remember marching around the house during the anticlimactic but still dramatic roll call, chanting “I Like Ike!”
I still like Ike. He won WWII in Europe. He ended the shooting phase of the Korean Conflict, which would have officially ended this week if either The Donald or Rocket Man had blinked. Ike also began the Interstate Highway System, and presciently warned us to be wary of the military-industrial complex. He also gave us Richard Nixon. No one’s perfect.
With the 2020 election already making headlines — the political equivalent to Christmas sales in September — I reflected on living during roughly three in 10 of the 45 presidencies since George Washington took office in 1789.
Can’t speak for you, but I enjoy trivia and talking about things I know less about that I’d should. So I thought I’d indulge myself, and hopefully amuse you, with a retrospective on 17 elections, followed by my ranking of the baker’s dozen Commanders in Chief of my lifetime. Let us know your favorites.
FIRST TUESDAYS IN NOVEMBER
1948 — Harry Truman (D) is elected to his first and only full term, having taken over the White House upon FDR’s death in 1945. Best remembered for unleashing atomic might on Japan, his running mate is Alben Barkley. They score an upset over favorite Thomas Dewey. (R).
1952 — Dwight Eisenhower (R) and Richard Nixon are elected. Ike is the last veteran of World War I to serve as president. He also joins Martin Van Buren and John Quincy Adams in the exclusive Hair Club for Presidents Club.
1956 — Same result as 1952, as Ike and Nixon win handily over a bald Adlai Stevenson (D) and Estes Kefauver. This is the nation’s last election as a 48-state union. By 1960, Alaska and Hawaii will add two stars to the flag.
1960 — John F. Kennedy (D) and Lyndon Johnson win a very close race over Nixon (R) and Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. Kennedy becomes the first Roman Catholic president, and in 1963 will become the fourth killed by an assassin … or assassins plural for our grassy knoll conspiracy theorists.
1964 — Lyndon Johnson (D) and Hubert Humphrey win in a landslide over the conservative ticket of Barry Goldwater (R) and William Miller. (I shook Goldwater’s hand at a rally in Louisville, but was too young to vote for him. It wouldn’t have helped.)
1968 — Contender Bobby Kennedy is killed by an assassin, and the Democrat ticket is Hubert Humphrey and Edmund Muskie. Back from the political junkyard, Richard Nixon (R) wins, but he and his VP, Spiro Agnew, will soon fall from hero to zero.
1972 — Nixon and Agnew again nominated by Republicans, and it’s an easy win over anti-war Democrat George McGovern and Sargent Shriver. Remembered more for not running was Thomas Eagleton, McGovern’s first Veep choice. In my first election as a voter, left winger McGovern makes it easy to vote for Nixon.
1976 — Agnew (1973) and Nixon (1974) have been chased from office in disgrace. That leaves Agnew’s replacement, influential congressman Gerald Ford, in the top job. He pardons “I am not a crook” Nixon, which plays into his loss to Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter (D). Fritz Mondale becomes Vice President, while Ford goes down to defeat with running mate and war hero Bob Dole.
1980 — The only things more embarrassing than Jimmy Carter’s economy were the Iranian hostage crisis and his beer-drinking brother Billy. If there had been Twitter in 1980, Billy might have gotten the Democrat nomination, but Jimmy ran for re-election with Mondale. They were spanked by former actor and California Governor Ronald Reagan and running mate George H.W. Bush. Twelve years after his first White House bid, Reagan and wife Nancy take up residence on Pennsylvania Avenue.
1984 — Landslide for Reagan and Bush over Democrat Mondale and the first woman ever on a national ticket, Geraldine Ferraro. Mondale won only his home state of Minnesota and the solid blue District oi Columbia.
1988 — George H.W. Bush rides Reagan-era popularity to victory with Dan Quayle over Democrats Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen. Bush is the last World War II veteran to serve as President.
1992 — President Bush reneged on his “No New Taxes” promise of 1988, and that opens the door for national newcomers Bill Clinton (D) and Al Gore. They defeat the incumbent Bush and a stout third-party run (Reform) by Ross Perot. In retirement, Bush would put the Iran-Contra scandal behind and become the most popular ex-president in many years. Clinton, born in 1947, is the first Baby Boom president.
1996 — Third and fourth party candidates Ross Perot (Reform) and Ralph “Unsafe at Any Speed” Nader (Green) make the 1996 election unique. Clinton wins re-election and easily outdistances Bob Dole (R) in the all-important Electoral College. Clinton was on a roll, but his second term would be marred by the Monica Lewinski scandal. He was disbarred and impeached, but clung to power when the Senate refused to convict him of “High crimes and misdemeanors.”.
2000 — A new century and an old name: George W. Bush (R) wins the Republican nomination and adds veteran Washington insider Dick Cheney to the ticket. They win a razor thin and controversial election over two-term Vice President Gore and Joe Lieberman. Bush is the second son of a president (John Quincy Adams was John Adams’ son) to earn the White House.
2004 — The Democrats run Senator John Kerry and John Edwards against incumbents Bush and Cheney, and give them a run for their money. Bush prevails, however, carrying 31 states and 51 percent of the popular vote.
2008 — It’s supposed to be Hillary Clinton’s turn, but somebody forgets to inform Illinois Senator Barack Obama (D), a charismatic speaker and the first person of color on a national ticket. Obama balances his youth by choosing veteran legislator Joe Biden as his running mate. Republicans counter with Bob Dole and Jack Kemp, a ticket some wish had been reversed. Obama won in an historic election that promised but failed to deliver on creating a post-racial America.
2012 — The incumbents stand pat and are challenged by John McCain (R) and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. An anticipated close race doesn’t really develop, and Obama gots his second term handily.
2016 — Hillary’s turn. Again. Or not. The former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State has to overcome a stiff challenge from Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders to win the Democrat nomination, and chooses Tim Kaine as her running mate. A 17-candidate Republican primary season leaves business mogul Donald Trump as last man standing atop the ticket. Indiana Governor Mike Pence signs on for vice president, and the Trump-Pence duo wins a heated election with 30 states in their column but fewer popular votes than Mrs. Clinton.
2020 — Looks like the logjam is on the the Democratic side this time, and Trump-Pence are thus far not challenged for the Republican nominations. There seems to be a great opportunity for the Dems, but are they in danger of repeating the Republican miscalculation of 1964, when a too-conservative Barry Goldwater was routed by Lyndon Johnson. With more than a dozen candidates trying to run to the left of Bernie Sanders, could the Dem ticket prove too liberal for middle America?
HOW I RANK THEM
1. Ronald Reagan. Pundits despised him. Voters didn’t.
2. Dwight Eisenhower. Greatest accomplishment may have been holding the Allies, with several big-headed heads of state, together
3. John F. Kennedy. Legit charisma and a smart dude. Media ignored his personal indiscretions. What would have been …
4. Bill Clinton: Solid president. Sleazy person. What could have been …
5. Harry Truman. A common man, not a crude one like so many modern-era presidents.
6. George W. Bush. Last U.S. President who knew the office is bigger than the man? History will treat him well.
7. George H.W. Bush. Unequalled record of service with humility.
8. Donald J. Trump. I arbitrarily stuck him in the middle. He’ll end up near the top in spite of himself … if he doesn’t end up last because of himself.
9. Richard Nixon. Run away ego before it became a job requirement. What should have been …
10. Lyndon Johnson. Good intentions? Maybe. But the Great Society was a futile mindset of feeling good while squandering money, and there was nothing to feel good about in Vietnam.
11. Barack Obama. The only negative aspect to having the first black president is having it be Barack Obama. Progressive dream. Conservative nightmare.
12. Gerald Ford. Did OK as a space holder.
13. Jimmy Carter. Very nice man. Pretty good ex-President. Lousy chief executive and worse hostage negotiator.
I’ve been a fan of motorsports, sticks-and-balls, slam dunks and run-jump-throw-athons all of my life. My first real job was as a sports writer. I probably know more about sports that the average Joe or Jane, though much less than walking encyclopedias like my Baby Sister Jean and Nephew Mark.
New England brings us a story this week that got me fired up. It blurs the line between sports contests and the battle of sexes. It’s getting a lot of deep thought and scholarly consideration. But it shouldn’t. When young men transitioning to female are allowed to compete as girls in high school sports, we have indeed crossed into the Twilight Zone. Roberta Serling would probably be amused if the situation wasn’t so patently stupid and unfair. Elements of our society are trying so hard to be inclusive and empathetic that they’re embracing absurd positions.
I’m a bit of a science denier. I don’t bow at the carbon footprint of Al Gore, and I’m mindful that Charles Darwin’s theory is, indeed, a theory. I fret about a modern-day Dr. Frankenstein playing petri-dish cloning god. But this time, by golly, I’ve got the science on my side. Here’s a news flash: Men and women are created equal, but for heaven’s sakes we are not created the same. I present Exhibits A, B, C and D, Your Honors.
Exhibit A– Remember when you were five and walked in on your brother or sister in the bathroom, or when you took Dixie Lee or Jimmy Joe up on their “I’ll show you mine” challenge? That was about the time you began to understand why urinals are only in the rooms marked Gents. It was about the time moms and aunts and sisters first asserted their God-given right to expect “down and dry” toilet seats. Common sense conclusion: Both our toilets and our bio plumbing come in two styles. We look different.
Exhibit B: Science and biology are not my thing. But I’ve learned a few basic facts along the way, and I’ve marveled at athletes from Willie Mays to Nancy Lopez … from Kareem Abdul Jabbar to Chris Everts … from Jim Brown to Shirley Muldowny … from Billy Jean King to (not so much) Bobby Riggs … from Nadia Comaneci to Wayne Gretzky … from Lindsey Vonn to Tiger Woods. I never showed them mine (or saw theirs) but I can say with absolute confidence that a cursory peek would reveal exactly what Dixie Lee and Jimmy Joe would expect. Our biologies differ in fundamental ways, some of which are tied to physical capacity. We are constructed differently.
Exhibit C: The Old Testament tells us that God knew us before he knitted us in the womb. Sure enough, one sperm and one egg are all it takes to set the plan in motion. Every baby develops differently, and we are all unique individuals, but our sex is determined at conception. We get 10 fingers and 10 toes and 23 pair of chromosomes. Girls’ are of the XX variety and boys get an X and a Y. Equal? Absolutely. The same? Absolutely not. We are different.
Exhibit D: Small boys and girls are often of comparable athletic ability, but at puberty the worm turns. Girls sprout breasts and begin to menstruate. Boys become more hairy and their voices change. Girls grow incrementally, boys in sometimes explosive spurts. Once equal abilities are soon a mile apart. In their prime men are bigger, stronger and faster than women. In most (but not all) sports, elite males will easily defeat elite females. There’s a mountain of data to support this, but two eyes are all that’s needed: Two eyes, and two record books. Our performance pinnacles are different.
Enter Connecticut’s State Off-The-Tracks Meet
Young men who transition to female deserve love, respect and emotional support. They have both human and legal rights. For them to be allowed to compete against girls in high school track meets, however, is patently unfair. Many things change in transsexual individuals, but the innate “bigger, faster, stronger” combination endures. I won’t name the athletes in question. They combined for two championships and one runner-up finish in sprint events. I can assure you that many of the girls they defeated were better athletes. Taint fair.
A transgender female of above average XY-variety ability will consistently and decisively defeat elite XX girls. I sympathize with the kid who identifies as female, I truly do. But I sympathize much more with girls from birth who have championship hopes unfairly trampled in the name of political-gender correctness run amok.
FEBRUARY 25-29 IN TIME
SOME WERE BORN, SOME DIED, STUFF HAPPENED
Feb. 26, 1616 — Galileo is told to stand down on ridiculous claim that world is round. He flatly refuses.
Feb. 29, 1692 — Salem Witch Trials begin a tradition that continues to this day.
Feb. 26, 1733 — Composer Johann Birkenstock dies and is laid to rest in groovy designer sandals.
Feb. 29, 1736 — Ann Lee, early leader of the Shaker religious movement in America, was born in 1736. Through the magic of Leap Year she would now be in her 70s if she hadn’t died in her 40s. Shakers preached complete separation of the sexes, and were evidently faithful: Met any Shakers lately?
Feb. 28, 1784 — Methodist Church chartered by John Wesley. Today, the church he founded faces a major rift over issues of human sexuality.
Feb. 25, 1793 — George Washington hosts the nation’s first-ever Cabinet meeting in his home, Newspapers do not accuse him of padding the catering budget or profiteering.
Feb. 27, 1795 — Revolutionary War officer Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion dies. Many say his heroic reputation exceeds his virtue.
Feb. 26, 1802 — The arts would be Les Mis without Victor Hugo, born without a hunchback in 1802.
Feb. 25, 1836 — Samuel Colt patents his revolver. Washington Post demands common-sense gun control laws and a ban on quick-draw holsters.
Feb, 25, 1841 — Pierre Auguste Renoir made the first of many great first impressions on this, his birthday.
Feb. 27, 1892 — Paper, plastic or designer? Louis Vuitton dies at 70. Bag-maker had no idea he’d be remembered, much less a “brand.”
Feb. 28, 1905 — French Dr. Joseph (He’s So Vein) Juglar dies.
Feb. 28, 1906 — One of many gangsters suffering from PE, Benjamin “Don’t call me Bugsy” Siegel was born in 1906. He succumbed to Premature Extermination in 1947.
Feb. 26, 1907 — Dub Taylor appeared in every western ever made (except All’s Quiet on the Western Front).
Feb. 29, 1908 — Old West lawman Pat Garrett’s cause of death was the same as his victim Billy the Kid’s: lead poisoning. Garrett’s shooter was never clearly established, and Pat wasn’t saying..
Feb. 26, 1917 — Tsar Nicolas II orders army to quell civil unrest. In less than a month he is forced to abdicate, and in less than a year he is quelled with prejudice along with his entire family.
Feb. 25, 1919 — Oregon introduces penny-a-gallon gasoline tax. Today it’s 31 cents, relatively modest at a No. 21 state ranking.
Feb. 25, 1932 — Adolf Hitler is granted German citizenship. With legal immigrants like that, who needs illegal ones?
Feb. 26, 1932 — Arkansas birthplace, Nashville soul: An American music giant, Johnny Cash, born this date.
Feb. 27, 1932 — Elizabeth Taylor took a husband (on average) once every 9.8 years. Clearly her favorite was Richard Burton, who bought two of her eight wedding rings. She died at 79 in 2011.
Feb. 27, 1936 — Dr. Ivan Pavlov of the FidoRex Institution of Indogtrination dies age 86.
Feb. 27, 1938 — Appeasement? We don’t need no stinkin’ appeasement:
Britain and France recognize Franco government in Spain, providing Hitler with a venue to rehearse for World War II.
Feb. 28, 1940 — Mario Andretti, one of the most versatile and accomplished auto racers ever, oft referenced by traffic cops: “Whoudya think you are, Mario Andretti?” Born in Italy, lives in Pennsylvania, man of the world.
Feb. 26, 1943 — Paul Cotton is not the most famous musician ever, but he helped make Poco not only a great and enduring band, but my favorite. This is my blog and we share a birthday, so Happy Birthday, Pablo!
Feb. 27, 1950 — How’d that work out? General Chiang Kai-shek elected president of Nationalist China. Hires Chuck Norris as personal trainer.
Feb. 28, 1953 — New York Times economics writer Paul Krugman, born in 1953, was the most clueless Nobel Prize winner in history until Barack Obama knocked him off his pedestal in 2009.
Feb. 25, 1957 — Like his archrival Al Capone, gangster Bugs Moran survived the mean streets of Chicago but died in prison.
Feb. 29, 1960 — Famed FIBbie Melvin Purvis was known for taking down John Dillinger and shooting Fay Dunaway, but sadly he also shot himself.
Feb. 28, 1961 — John F. Kennedy names Henry Kissinger as special advisor.
Feb. 25, 1966 — Secretary of State Tea Leoni is born in New York City.
Feb. 29 1984 — Pierre Trudeau announces he will step down after 15 years as Canadian Prime Minister; names his 3-year-old son Justin as successor.
Feb. 27, 1986 — Think Jake the Snake was a pro wrestler? Before Jake Roberts came pro hockey’s first goalie to don a protective mask: Canadian Jacques “Jake the Snake” Plante. With seven Vezina Trophies and Hall of Fame credentials, Jacques was the real deal.
Feb. 28, 1986 — Swedish Prime Minister Olaf Palme is murdered … shot in the back by an assassin who is never caught.
Feb. 26, 1993 — Days of Future Past: Six killed as truck bomb explodes in parking garage of World Trade Center.
Feb. 27, 2003 — So long, Neighbor. Fred Rogers passes at 74. The man could rock a sweater.
Feb. 28, 2011 — Jane Russell lived to see her wardrobe in 1943’s The Outlaw, considered scandalous at the time, become standard fare. She died at age 89.
Feb. 29, 2012 — Almost seven years to the day before his bandmate Peter Tork’s recent passing, Monkee Davy Jones died suddenly, aged 64.
Feb. 27, 2013 — Jumping ship? Pope Benedict XVI makes farewell address and eases into retirement. Looking more like a good move every day.
February 26, 2017 — Judge Joe Wapner of The People’s Court fame left his earthly bench at a spry 97 to face THE judge.
February 26, 2019 — That’s all, folks!
I absolutely love people who are not politically correct. I might, in fact, adore them, but for the strictures of the 2nd Commandment. The politically incorrect allow us to more efficiently sort through the myriad errata that float across the airwaves, occupy screen pixels and litter column inches.
In short, the politically incorrect can often be counted on to self-identify as bigots, fools, zealots and wingnuts. They save us the effort of reading between the lines. They check off jackass boxes faster than we can discount whatever crap they are purveying. And they help us indulge our own self importance as we revel in our comparative brilliance.
I’m nicer than David Duke and most of the ladies on The View, and smarter than your average Grand Wizard or Sean Penn. Now, there’s something to write home about!
All of this demands one big caveat: Political correctness can in fact be a virtue. I deeply admire people who consider the truth more important than political correctness; who say what needs to be said, mindful of but not cowed by those who might take offense; and who don’t care what the political implications might be.
I want to be one of those people when I grow up.
There’s a lot of buzz lately about an issue Planned Parenthood and the radical fringe would prefer be kept out of mind, and at all cost, out of sight.
I have strong opinions about abortion, and especially so-called late-term and full-term “procedures” that render unborn, about to be born or just born infants no-longer-inconvenient. But this runs deeper than some Pro-Life, Pro-Choice debate. Much deeper.
Presently, legislators in Washington and many states are pushing laws that would require life-saving medical care for infants who survive botched abortions. Yes, it happens. More often than some would like us to know.
When I ponder this, my first thought is not whether I favor such laws, but whether I should simply give up on our species altogether. How in the world has our society arrived at a point that this is even questioned?
When we kill infants we aren’t playing God … we are defying Him. We aren’t using our God-given talents … we are defiling them. We aren’t a society proudly moving forward … we are drowning in spiritual quicksand.
There are many things we have learned to do that come down to Cain and Abel on a grand scale. We can plow down a bunch of children with a van. We can bump-stock a church. We can take a pill and abort a fetus, or dispense a pill and dispatch Granny. We can erase a city, or nation, or civilization, with WMDs.
I used to rest more comfortably knowing that we know better than to do things just because we can. But the 21st century is starting to feel like a place where only we can be victims … the other guy? Just a means to an end.
I pray that more and more Pro Life legislation will be proposed and enacted, but at times I’m hard pressed to believe it matters. Can a society be saved in which the right to life of an infant or a geriatric patient is an open question? Does it deserve to be saved?
WHERE ARE THE NICKELS?
The raw materials and minting of a shiny new Thomas Jefferson nickel, still worth half a dime despite inflation and global warming, come to $.08. That means the U.S. Government can strike 100 million five-cent pieces with face value of $5 million for a bargain-basement price of a mere $8 million. And we wonder why the national debt is an obscene $22 trillion?
Government waste aside, is it just me or have nickels become almost as rare as Interstate bridges in good repair? In our not quite cashless society, it seems like most cash transactions I conduct are of the $1.07 McDonald’s Diet Coke variety. Yeah, yeah, there’s also the occasional $2.19 Wendy’s Frosty or four-buck Dairy Queen Blizzard. But my cavities are not the topic. Nickels are.
Every week or so, I empty jacket pockets and change cups and toss my fistful of dollars into a handy repurposed Metamucil Jar Retirement Account. A while back, I noticed there seemed to be fewer nickels, and more dimes, than I expected. There was absolutely nothing scientific about my observation, but Peter Paul & Mary were suddenly stuck in my mind: “Where Have All the Nickels Gone, Long Time passing …”
So, help! I have to stop the stupid music. Have quick-vittle prices or sales tax adjustments thrown the coin universe out of balance? I like dimes as well as the next guy, even though I’m not a big FDR fan. But I kind of miss my 20 to the buck Tommy J’s.
LOSE THE PHONES
North Fork Schools are a small education district in the small town of Utica, Ohio, straddling the small counties of Knox and Licking. Utica’s claims to fame, besides being a wholesome place to raise a family, are the Velvet Ice Cream Factory and Utica Ice Cream Festival.
Journalist/author Patt Morrison and former New York Giant Todd Londot are perhaps the best-known people from the village of 2,000.
Today, North Fork Schools are attempting the near impossible: They want to separate students and their smart phones. School Board members will weigh a rule mandating that phones be kept in students’ lockers. Sounds to me like an idea way too logical to fly.
On one hand, you have a powerful computer, camera, recording device and telephone in every backpack and pocket. What could possibly go wrong? Off the top of my head, smart phones assist, if not encourage, cheating, invasion of privacy, bullying and inattentiveness.
On the other hand, you have kids and parents lamenting possible consequences, however fanciful, of possible occurrences, however fanciful, that might take place on the one day teachers forget their phones.
News of Timmy Lee’s broken collarbone, Janey’s lost pooch, Marty’s hilarious Facebook post, and even Aunt Polly’s embolism will keep until 3 o’clock or can be relayed from the school office. There was, after all, life before Apple.
Go for it, North Fork. Bring back learning in your schools. How’s that for a novel idea?
AOC DOING AMAZ(ON)ING WORK FOR CONSTITUEN
While celebrating defeat of big-bad Amazon’s brazen attempt to deliver 25,000 jobs to her congressional district in Queens and the Bronx, Democrat freshman Member of Congress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez left one question on the lips of thinking people: Did she really major in economics at Boston University? And if so, have any of her professors had their tenure revoked?
In a softball NBC interview, AOC not only kept a straight face, but smiled broadly as she explained the triumph of diverting Amazon’s jobs and $3 billion-plus annual payroll elsewhere.
She had vehemently opposed the agreement hammered out by Amazon, Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio. It would have given $3 billion in tax breaks over 10 years to Jeff Bezos and his Amazon empire. With that break eliminated, AOC was giddy with ideas for spending the $3 billion in her district.
One problem, Congresswoman. There is no $3 billion. That was a planned reduction in what Amazon would pay while establishing its new headquarters. With the project now going somewhere people can add and subtract, Amazon will pay precisely nothing and hire precisely no one. And that makes you a hero how?
Let’s sum up: Thousands of construction jobs? Never mind.
25,000 permanent Amazon jobs? Gone.
Cavalier sacrifice of millions in new revenue to hundreds of small businesses? No worries. That guy with the bodega and his neighbors with the dry-cleaning business are probably fat-cat one percenters anyway.
All that, plus no Christmas cards from the Cuomos or DiBlasios. Nice work, there, AOC. Really nice work.
Isn’t it about time we give our priorities a critical look?
Today, military goons under the control of Socialist President Nicolas Maduro fired on folks because they were trying to deliver humanitarian aid packages to Venezuela’s starving population. Under the oppressive and inept Maduro government — the legacy of gone and not missed strongman Hugo Chavez — Feed the Poor has become a capital offense in Caracas rather than a moral imperative. AP reports one death and a dozen injuries … if you can find the story.
News of Venezuela was squeezed somewhat stingily into media story budgets because it is a huge news day in the United States. After all, the people need every last detail of Jusse Smollett’s ‘s alleged con in Chicago. He’s in, then out, then in, now out again at “Empire,” which is watched by almost one percent of Americans. News doesn’t get much bigger than that, unless you hear that …
Robert Kraft may have been hanging out with hookers when he should have been hanging up his jacket at home. His bust for solicitation makes the 77-year-old NFL team owner fair game for the media. But is it legitimately a big story?
Prediction: Kraft will cop to a lesser offense, take probation and a fine, then sign a $77 million endorsement deal with Pfizer’s little blue pill.
Don’t forget R Kelly, that paragon of virtuous rap lyrics and acclaimed role model for would-be gangstas and rapists. He stands accused of 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse of four victims, but the charges may be overblown. After all, only three of the alleged victims were under 17. Yup, good old R Kelly: Another blockbuster story to discuss with our grandchildren while their Venezuelan counterparts are chowing down on several meals a week.
Dozens of nations have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as rightful president of Venezuela, and are demanding that Maduro step down. US President Donald Trump is leading that movement, which would be newsworthy if there was not bigger news: Rumors are circulating that there was a recent screening of Dr. Zhivago at the White House, and that First Lady Melania was cheering for the Russians. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, may have ordered an English-Russian dictionary from Babbel.
God bless freedom of the press, even when it’s abused. And God bless Venezuela.
CROSBY, TORK, NASH AND YOUNG?
What would have happened if starmakers had cast the Monkees differently when the made-for-tv group debuted in 1966? Those of us old enough to recall know that the reluctant Monkee, Michael Nesmith, teamed up with zany vocalist Micky Dolenz, token Brit Davy Jones and scatter-brained Peter Tork for an unlikely but meteoric musical comedy success story.
Tork passed away yesterday at age 77. He was and remains the most under-rated member of the group, and was a terrific bassist and lead guitar player. After the Monkees, his session playing included recording with Beatle George Harrison. Enough said? The kid could flat play.
Tork was brought to the attention of Monkee creators/producers by Stephen Stills, another aspiring artist and future superstar. Stills wasn’t picked, but Tork was cast as a Monkee and with Nesmith, Dolenz and Jones would tape 50-plus Emmy Award-winning episodes of their 30-minute program in 1966 and 1967.
Allowed only to sing on their first two studio albums, the Monkees soon acquired creative control. They turned out some outstanding tracks on critically praised LPs, but a “manufactured group” reputation followed them. They released eight albums in he ’60s, then several more in later years that included a live concert and a Christmas album.
If put to a popular fan vote, the Monkees would be hands-down locks for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But they have thus far been denied by judges with noses to the sky and deaf ears. Davy Jones passed away in 2012, and now Peter Tork is gone. OK, they weren’t the Beatles or Stones or Eagles. But the Monkees were reliably strong on stage, enormously influential on the small screen, and undeniably popular with record-buying fans, if not with snooty Rolling Stone editors.
While the Monkees have been overlooked by the Rock Hall of Fame, the same is not true of that guy who was overlooked by the Monkees, Stephen Stills. He’s been enshrined three times and counting — with Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash & (sometimes) Young, and as an individual — and is deserving of a fourth with Manassas.
Peter Tork death was caused by complications of a long battle with a rare salivary-gland cancer. Rest in peace.
A look at famous folks born between February 22 and 24 … Choices are entirely subjective, so if you’re famous and we missed you, take solice: You’re not on our famous death list, either.
Feb. 23, 1685 — Composer G.F. Handel, whose masterpiece “The Messiah,” with its unforgettable “Hallelujah Chorus.” is a staple of any classical Christmas.
Feb. 24, 1723 — General John Burgoyne, British commander who surrendered to American rebels at the Battle of Saratoga.
Feb. 22, 1732 — George Washington: The man who, God bless him, would not be king.
Feb. 24, 1836 — Celebrated American painter Winslow Homer.
Feb. 23, 1868 — Born three years after the Civil War’s end and Lincoln’s assassination, W.E.B. DuBois pioneered civil rights and wrote eloquently of The Struggle.
Feb. 22, 1874 — The man in black. Not Johnny Cash, but noted baseball umpire Bill Klem.
Feb. 24, 1874 — Hall of Famer Honus Wagner, turn of the century baseball star. 1906 Wagner collectible card is valued at $2.1 million.
Feb. 23, 1889 — Directing either “The Wizard of Oz” or “Gone With the Wind” would be plenty to assure a forever legacy in film making. Victor Fleming directed both.
Feb. 22, 1892 — She said, “Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies. Nobody that matters, that is.” Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Feb. 22, 1896 — He Tarzan, Her Jane: Enid Markey was the first actress cast as Jane (opposite Elmo Lincoln), in a 1918 Tarzan saga.
Feb. 22, 1907 — Sheldon Leonard was Norman Lear before Norman Lear. Big-time TV producer of shows you could watch with your pastor’s kids.
Feb. 22, 1908 –– “Live from New York” … TV announcer Don Pardo. Also, consummate baseball man and huckster, Charlie Finley.
Feb. 23, 1915 –– American aviator Paul Tibbets and the crew of the Enola Gay released the atomic bomb Little Boy into the skies above Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945, altering world history and speeding the end of World War II.
Feb. 22, 1921 — Central African Republic strongman Jean-Bedel Bokassa.
Feb. 22, 1932 — Failed driving instructor and presidential candidate Ted Kennedy.
Feb. 24, 1932 — Actor John “Double Secret Probation” Vernon.
Feb. 22, 1934 –– Play ball! Cincinnati Big Red Machine managerial legend Sparky Anderson.
Feb. 24, 1938 — Nike co-founder Phil Knight.
Feb. 23, 1937 — Nebraska Cornhuskers’ Hall of Fame head football coach Tom Osborne.
Feb. 23, 1940 — Henry’s boy and Jane’s sib, Peter Fonda. Best known for “Easy Rider,” his best work was not as a biker, but as a bee keeper in “Ulee’s Gold.”.
Feb. 24, 1940 — The other heavyweight champion from Louisville, Jimmy Ellis, who labored in the larger-than-life shadow of Muhammad Ali.
Feb. 24, 1942 — Joe Lieberman, Democrat Senator, statesman and vice presidential candidate.
Feb. 22, 1943 — Who’s who? Twin brothers and Hoosier hardwood favorites Tom and Dick Van Arsdale.
Feb. 23, 1946 — Rusty Young, founding member of pioneering country-rock group Poco.
Feb. 22, 1949 — Formula I Champion driver and airline entrepreneur Niki Lauda: Austria’s best product since the Viennese Waltz.
Feb. 23, 1949 –– Marc Garneau, native of Quebec who became the first Canadian in space in 1984.
Feb. 23, 1951 — NFL star Ed “Too Tall” Jones.
Feb. 23. 1954 — Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.
Feb. 24, 1955 — Steve Jobs, the Apple of Silicon Valley’s eye.
Feb. 24, 1958 — Colorful zydeco mainstay Sammy Kershaw.
Feb. 22, 1962 — Steve Irwin, the late great gator man and patron of nature.
Feb. 23, 1965 — Dell Computer founder Michael Dell.
Feb. 23, 1967 — Steve Stricker, accompished pro golfer and captain of 2020 American Ryder Cup team.
Feb. 22, 1968 — Every list needs a pretty and accomplished woman like actress Jeri Ryan.Feb. 24, 1977 — Most versatile fighter of all-time? Multi-times champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. features in any such discussion.
Feb. 23, 1994 — Child actor Dakota Fanning, all grown up.