HisTory, HerStory & Irreverence in time

THEY WERE BORN, DID STUFF AND DIED

MARCH 4-10 GETS THE ONCE OVER LITE

322 BC, March 4 — You won’t find any revisionist BCE and CE crap here, just a death notice for Aristotle who, unlike Aristides, did not win the first Kentucky Derby. He was, nonetheless, a pretty fast thinker.

1875 Kentucky Derby winner Aristides with winning jockey Oliver Lewis.

1475, March 6 — He did everything but beat Columbus to North America and needs only one name to be remembered: Michelangelo was a poet and architect when not busy as one of history’s greatest painters and sculptors.

1595, March 4 — Man, this is harsh! English poet Robert Southwell was hanged on March 4. His crime? Ordination as a Catholic priest. Henry VIII died in 1547, but Queen Elizabeth I still apparently took his Church of England thing seriously.

1747, March 6 — The Marquis de Lafayette wasn’t the only European to play a role in American independence. Polish military genius Casimir Pulaski served George Washington, Father of Our Country, and is widely known as the Father of American Cavalry.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

1806, March 6 — Elizabeth Barrett Browning is revered for her poetry, and made it a family affair by marrying poet and playwright Robert Browning. Born this date, her prolific work was popular during her lifetime, with the exception of a controversial dip into political waters. Frail much of her life, she died in Italy at age 55. Quote: Light tomorrow with today.

1836, March 6 — After a two-week siege, remaining defenders and noncombatant occupants of the Texian Alamo in San Antonio were slaughtered. Co-commanders William Travis and Jim Bowie, along with the legendary Davy Crockett, were among those killed. General Sam Houston would made Generalisimo Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna rue the day he entered Texas at the Battle of San Jacinto.

William Travis (above) defended the Alamo against the overwhelmingly powerful army of ruthless Mexican General Santa Anna.

1841 March 8 — Jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes, no relation to Sherlock, is born. Will be 59th Supreme Court Justice and rock a moustache.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

1888, March 6 — A sad day for fans of Jo, Beth and Meg March. Little Women author Louisa May Alcott passes at 55 after suffering a stroke.

1890, March 9 — Cocktails, anyone? Vyacheslav Molotov is credited with creating the Molotov cocktail, perfecting it in resistance to German invaders in World War II. He became Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs. Born this date in 1890, he lived well into his 90s.

1897, March 5 — Soong Mei-Ling, better known as Madame Chiang Kai-shek, is born. She will live, remarkably, in three centuries. Between her 1897 birth and death at age 105, she was a would-be empire builder, not only with the Chinese leader, but according to rumor with American politician Wendell Willkie. The beauty’s alleged seduction of Willkie did not lead to western power, however. Willkie lost the 1940 presidential election to the incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt and died four years later.

Just pals? FDR emissary and political rival Wendell Willkie seems
oh-so-happy to greet Madam Chiang.

1898, March 5 — Ironically Zhou Enlai — future Premier of the People’s Republic of China — shared a birthday with Madam Chiang.

Gottlieb Daimler’s 1885 Reitwagon.

1900, March 4 — Gottlieb Daimler‘s name remains prominent in the auto industry, but bikers remember him for designing the first motorcycle, an ungainly 1885 creation that bears closer resemblance to a Panzer tank than modern motorcycles.

1900, March 6 — A member of the exclusive club of 300-game winners, baseball pitcher Robert “Lefty” Grove was born. He and Early Wynn ended their careers with exactly 300 wins, surpassed by only 22 hurlers in baseball history.

Lefty Grove pitched for the Philadelphia Athletics (1925-33) and Boston Red Sox (1934-41), winning 300 games and enshrinement in Cooperstown.

1904, March 7 — Not to suggest there were good Nazis, but Reinhard Heydrich was a particularly evil one. When Adolf Hitler calls you “The man with the iron heart,” well, it speaks volumes. After surviving a 1942 assassination attempt by Czech soldiers, Heydrich appropriately enough rotted to death, dying of sepsis brought on by his injuries. He was only 38, and as a key figure in Hitler’s Final Solution presumably had a lot of explaining to do en route to hell.

1908, March 5 — The marvelous Dr. Doolittle, aka Pope Julius, aka Henry Higgins, aka Rex Harrison, was born in Huyton, England. He won the Best Actor Academy Award of 1964 for My Fair Lady, which is patently absurd. As Professor Henry Higgins, he transformed Audrey Hepburn into a lady. Now, seriously. How hard could that have been?


Hollywood once had class to spare: Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn.

1918, March 9 — Detective/mystery novelist Mickey Spillane would be 101 this week. He dabbled with acting and sold more than 200 million books featuring private eye Mike Hammer. Stacy Keach is the best-remembered Hammer, but others, including Spillane himself, also tackled the role.

1928, March 4 — James Earl Ray, White Supremacist and future assassin of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was born in Illinois. Despicable comes to mind.

1934, March 9 — Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who will beat astronaut Alan Shepard in the race to become the first man in space, is born. Shepard eventually flew to the Moon. Gagarin tragically perished in a jet-fighter crash at age 34. His ashes are entombed in the walls of the Kremlin. Launchpad quote: Poyekhali! (Let’s Go!)

Yuri Gararin – Vostok 1
Alan Shepard – Freedom 7
Valentina Tereshkova – Vostok 6

1937, March 6 — Remember Vostok 6? If not, how about Valentina Tereshkova? In 1963, the Russian Cosmonaut became the first woman in space. Her 48 Earth orbits during the solo mission exceeded the time in space by all American astronauts combined at the time. At 26, she was 10 years younger than Gordon Cooper, the youngest member of America’s Mercury 7 program. Tereshkova never flew again and today is a member of the Russian Duma. There’s a striking parallel to Freedom 7 pilot John Glenn, who became a U.S. Senator years after his only space flight. That is, his only space flight until 1998, when he flew the Space Shuttle. At age 77. Tereshkova turns 82 this week. Just sayin … it would be a heck of a story.

1938, March 7 — Janet Guthrie, the first woman to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, is born.

Janet Guthrie with her Bryant Heating & Cooling Special at Indy.

1940, March 4 — Champion martial artist — turned actor, turned fitness equipment huckster — Chuck Norris was born in Illinois.

1940, March 4 — Dean Torrence isn’t as tough as Chuck Norris, but he sings quite a bit better. His fame came as half of the Jan and Dean rock and roll recording juggernaut. He’s now 79.

1943, March 9 — Enigmatic World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer is born in Chicago. Best known for his bitter rivalry with Russian Boris Spassky and his eccentricity, Bobby was one of those rare people who truly was too smart for his own good. He lived in exile in Iceland and died at 64.

Bobby Fischer (right) doing battle with archrival Boris Spassky.

1944, March 7 — Thinning the Mafia herd: Louis Capone was not related to famed Chicago mobster Al Capone, but he chose the same career path and was a lieutenant in New York’s Murder Incorporated. Al, who died in prison, apparently had better lawyers than ol’ Louie. Louie was executed on this date in Sing Sing’s electric chair, along with mafia boss Louie Buchalter and hitman Emanuel ‘Mendy’ Weiss.

Busy day at Sing Sing: Louis Capone died first.
Hitman ‘Mendy’ Weiss said he was framed.
Lepke’ Buchalter: Murder Inc. boss went defiantly.

1945, March 8 — Mickey Dolenz, who along with Mike Nesmith is a surviving member of The Monkees, turns 74 this week.

1946, March 8 — I never skip an opportunity to mention country-rock pioneers Poco, and bassist/vocalist Randy Meisner was there on the the ground floor. After Poco, he hit it big with the Eagles. His soaring high vocals are displayed to full effect in Take it to the Limit. Randy’s 73.

1947, March 6 — Dick Fosbury, born this date, reinvented the high jump with his famed Fosbury Flop and won 1968 Olympic Gold in Mexico City.

Fosbury no Flop: Revolutionary style wins gold in Mexico.

1954, March 9 — How ugly can political impasses become? Perhaps no more so than the 1980-81 hunger strikes among Provisional IRA prisoners in Belfast, Northern Ireland’s infamous Prison Maze. None of the men, who demanded political prisoner status and were dedicated to Irish independence at any cost, gained more international attention than Bobby Sands, born this date in 1954. Sands was the first of 10 prisoners to starve himself to death in a ghastly standoff with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who refused to intervene. Sands went without food for 66 days, slipping into a coma several days before he passed. “The Troubles” continued for nearly 20 more years before the Good Friday Accords and the uneasy peace that has followed.

Bobby Sands, IRA martyr.

1957, March 4 — Until he was taken out by Seal Team 6, Osama bin Laden was the most hated and most wanted terrorist in human history. In the end, he was fish food.

1959, March 7 — Hinsdale Smith has never received his due as creator of distracted driving. He invented roll-down automobile windows and inspired a failed safety campaign: Don’t Roll When You Roll.

1959, March 9 — Kato Kaelin is born. With friends like O.J. Simpson, who needs enemies?

Kato’s 15 minutes of fame.

1980, March 5 — Harold J. Smith was the Canadian actor who played The Lone Ranger’s Native American television sidekick Tonto, alongside Clayton Moore. You probably remember him as Jay Silverheels. And you probably remember the Lone Ranger’s horse was named Silver. If you also remember Tonto’s trusty mount, Scout, advance to go. A Mohawk Indian, Silverheels was a gifted athlete and star lacrosse player. He was cast at one time or another with virtually all the top studio stars of the 1940s, 50s and 60s. His death in 1980 came four years after a major stroke. His ashes were taken to Ontario’s Six Nations Reserve.

Jay ‘Tonto’ Silverheels with
Clayton Moore and Silver.

1973, March 6 — Winner of the 1938 Nobel Prize for Literature, Pearl S. Buck created quite a ripple with The Good Earth. She’s a hero to conservationists and a thorn in the side of those who think ecological activism has gone to extremes. Buck lived long enough to see plastic drinking straws, now a prime target of eco-protectors, dominate the market.

1981, March 7 — John Gnagy peddled millions of Learn to Draw kits on television to gullible all-thumbs kids like me. I bought the kit, but never advanced beyond a barely passable profile of Woody Woodpecker. He died this date at age 73. Not to speak ill of the dead, but to me Learn to Draw stands in marketing infamy with Anyone Can Play Guitar, Anyone Can Cook and the Kama Sutra.

1982, March 5 — Drugs suck. Using them is stupid. Legalizing them is more stupid. John Belushi, the brilliant comedian, passable actor and hard-core addict, turned 33 forever on this date.

John Belushi:
Troubled genius.

1994, March 4 — Yet another superstar of comedy, John Candy parlayed self-destructive eating habits into a 59-inch waste (pun intended) and a fatal heart attack at 43.

1996, March 9 — Yet another superstar of comedy, George Burns parlayed a self-destructive smoking habit into an early death. OK, granted, he was 100. But he should have lived to at least 102, and smoking still sucks.

George Burns and John Candy. The long and short of showbiz.

2013, March 5 — Never speak ill of the dead, Mama said. But I make an exception for Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, who stands among socialist greats like those zany, lovable, mass-murdering Castro Brothers. Chavez had the decency to die young, but he cruelly left Nicolas Maduro to carry on with the dismantling of a proud nation.

Sir John Surtees: First to win Isle of Man Senior TT 3 years running; only man to win world road racing championships on cycles and in Formula 1 cars.

2017, March 10 — If you don’t know who Sir John Surtees was, you should. There may never be another racer so gifted and versatile as to win FIM World Motorcycling Championships (four in all) as well as a Formula 1 Grand Prix title on four wheels. He was a consummate sportsman, complete gentleman and unassuming hero. Sir John died two years ago at age 83.

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HisStory, HerStory & Stuff Weekend Edition

BIRTHS, DEATHS AND OTHER STUFF THAT HAPPENED ON MARCH 1-3

743, March 1 — Transport of slaves by Christians to “heathen lands” is forbidden. It only took 11 centuries to bring the decree in force.

1565, March 1 — Anyone seen the Girl from Ipanema? Portuguese soldier
Estácio de Sá established Rio de Janeiro in one of the world’s most spectacular settings.

1781, March 1 — Continental Congress adopts Articles of Confederation as Maryland becomes 13th signatory.

1791, March 2 — John Wesley, founder of Methodism, dies at 87.

1792, March 1 — Presidential Succession Act is enacted. Nancy Pelosi protests.  

1793, March 2 — Sam Houston, future hero of San Jacinto and President of Texas, is born. Some say he avenged The Alamo, others say he abandoned it.

Sam Houston

1810, March 1 — Composer and piano virtuoso Frederic Chopin arrives on earth with spectacular artistic genes, but sadly lives only 39 years. If you visit his Paris gravesite, some say you can faintly hear him decomposing.

1847, March 3 — In the absence of tiny circuit boards from Silicon Valley, Alexander Graham Bell, born this date, had to settle for inventing the dumb phone.

All things considered, they’d rather have been in Philadelphia. SS City of Glasgow and 500 souls perished somewhere in the Atlantic between Liverpool and Philly.

1854, March 1 — SS City of Glasgow departs Liverpool en route to eternity. This ship and all aboard were never heard from or seen again.

1896, March 1 — Henri Becquerel dies. Once received glowing reviews for discovery of radioactivity.

1904, March 1 — Ill-fated Glenn Miller is born. Big Band legend will perish in mysterious World War II air incident.

Glenn Miller and his mellow trombone front the Glenn Miller Orchestra. His music lives on.

1904, March 3 — Theodor Geisel born in Massachusetts. You know him as Dr. Green Eggs and Ham Seuss.

1917, March 1 — See the USA in a Chevrolet: Dinah Shore is born.

1920, March 3 — If only Trekkies could beam him back to the Starship Enterprise, Chief Engineer Scott, aka James Doohan, would be 99.

Captain, she can’t take anymore!

1926, March 1 — Future NFL exec Pete Rozelle is born.

1930, March 3 — Lady Chatterley goes solo. D.H. Lawrence succumbs to tuberculosis at age 44.

1935, March 3 — That’s All, Folks! Looney Tunes introduces Porky Pig
84 years ago this week.

1952, March 3 — DEE-FENCE!!! Philadelphia center Wilt Chamberlain is limited to 100 points during 169-147 Warrior win over NY Knicks.

Above: King Tut’s Tomb, discovered by Howard Carter.
Below: King Tut descendant, discovered by NBC.

1939, March 2 — Howard Carter is credited as the archeologist who not only walked like an Egyptian, but discovered King Tut’s tomb. He died this date at age 65.

1944, March 1 — Talkin’ Bout The Who Generation, rocker Roger Daltrey was born during World War II with a golden microphone in his paws.


Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca.

1944, March 2 — Casablanca wins Best Picture Oscar, beginning a wonderful friendship between movie buffs and an ageless flick.

1946, March 2 — Ho Chi Minh becomes North Vietnamese President. Will be a thorn in the side of France, the United Nations and five US Presidents, among others.

1953, March 1 — Four-day death watch begins as Russian dictator Joseph Stalin suffers stroke. He gave Adolf Hitler a run for his money in race to be the 20th century’s sorriest excuse of a human being.

1953, March 3 — Former Heavyweight Champion James Jeffries dies at 77. He’s highly regarded but didn’t know when to quit.

Two legends of the ring: Jack Johnson (left) spoiled James Jeffries’
return to the ring after six years in retirement with a 1910 TKO.

1959, March 3 — Gone much too young. Funny man Lou Costello has heart attack and dies at 52.

1962, March 2 — Let’s Go, DEE-FENCE! Wilt Chamberlain of Philly Warriors held to just 100 points in 169-147 NBA win over New York Knicks.

1982, March 3 — Had to include birthday girl Jessica Biel in order to justify using her picture.

Jessica Biel and hubby Justin Timberlake.
Kesha: Parental advisory on crude lyrics.

1987, March 1 — Pop singer Kesha is born so poor her family can’t afford a middle name.

1999, March 2 — Why was British pop star Dusty (You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me) Springfield known as Dusty? Maybe because she was christened Mary Isabel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien, and her name wouldn’t fit on 45 or 33 platters. She died at 60 in 1999 from cancer.

2018, March 3 – Sir Roger Bannister ran the world’s first sub-four-minute mile. Parkinson’s claimed him last year at age 88.

Roger Bannister eclipses four-minute barrier in 1954 mile run.

Transsexual athletes follow up

On Feb. 28, a story was posted here under the heading “LGBTQ Runs Amok in Connecticut. The premise of the story was that men are bigger, faster and stronger than women, and that it’s unfair to expect females to compete against transsexual athletes who were male at birth and have transitioned to female.

In the meantime, I was asked by readers to cite the “mountain of evidence” that helped me reach that conclusion. I will repeat that your eyes are all you really need to see there are reasons women compete against other women and men against men in almost all sports.

Without digging into the science of the matter, citing exceptions to the rule, or delving into questions of sexism, I would suggest that the numbers don’t lie. I’ll spare you a mountain of evidence, but will simply cite enough statistics from professional basketball, Olympic sports and high school sports to substantiate my conclusions.

Note: In some cases these may not be the most current statistics, but they are representative of the matter at hand.

Professional Basketball

Height: The average NBA player is just under 6-foot-8 in height; the average WNBA player is 6-0.

Vertical leap: Vertical leap of the average players are 28″ for men and 19″ for women.

Dunking: Ho-hum in NBA, extremely rare in WNBA.

Olympic Track Event Records

100 meter dash: Men, 9.63 seconds; Women, 10.62 seconds

400 meters: Men, 43.03; Women, 48.25.

10,000 meters: Men 27:01, Women 29:17

Marathon: Men 2:06.32, Women 2:23.07

Usain Bolt and Elaine Thompson have placed Jamaica on top of the sprinting world as Olympic Champions. Usain is faster, but that doesn’t make him better.

Olympic Field Event Records

High jump: Men 2.39 meters, Women 2.06

Long jump: Men 8.9, Women 7.4

Shot put: Men (16 pounds) 22.52, Women (9 pounds) 22.41

Discus: Men (4.4 pounds) 59.89, Women (2.2 pounds) 72.30

Javelin throw: Men (28 ounce) 90.57, Women ( 21 ounce) 71.53

Pole vault: Men 6.03, Women 5:05

High School Track Event National Records

100 Meters: Boys 10.15 seconds, Girls 11.14

400 meters: Boys 46.69, Girls 50.69

1500 Meters: Boys 3:51, Girls 4:04

Marathon: Boys 2:23.47, Girls 2:34.24

High School Field Event National Records

High jump: Boys 2.31 meters, Girls 1.94

Long jump: Boys 8.04 Girls 6.75

Shot put: Boys (12 pounds) 24.77, Girls (9 pounds) 17.27

Discus: Boys (3.5 pounds) 72.07, Girls (2.2 pounds) 60.59

Javelin throw: Boys (28 ounce) 77.83, Girls ( 21 ounce) 55.67

Pole vault: Men 5.93, Women 4.46

Conclusion

A person reviewing these statistics could easily conclude that men are superior to women in athletics. One problem: That person would be a pinhead. At a given time, the arbitrary title of World’s Greatest Athlete is just as likely to be bestowed on a woman as a man. Sports are all about performing to the best of your ability against rival athletes, the clock, or gravity.

There is joy in watching elite athletes, just as there is joy in gazing at a Renoir or O’Keefe, listening to Ludwig, or marveling at a Kathryn Hepburn soliloquy. Witnessing an athlete doing something never before achieved is magic.

Like plantiffs and defendants, athletes are entitled to a level playing field. Nothing more, nothing less. When girls and women are forced to compete against women who have transitioned from male, the field is not level. Not even close.

White House baker’s dozen

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.

Dwight David Eisenhower

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.

Richard Nixon (right) and Spiro Agnew in happy times.

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.

Geraldine Ferraro

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.

Sarah Palin waves at Russia from her back yard.

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.

45th United States President, Donald J Teump

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.

LGBTQ Runs AMOK in CT

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.

Bruce Jenner, 1976: World’s Greatest Athlete wins decathlon gold in Montreal. Today, Caitlyn Jenner is the highest profile transsexual female in sports, if not the world.,

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.

Billie Jean King put the hurt on Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes. An aging male of modest talent, Riggs was shunked by Billie Jean King at the top of her game.

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.

HisTory, HerStory and Stuff

  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.

Founder of Methodism John Wesley.

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.

Early Colt revolver.

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).

Walter “Dub” Taylo: 1907 – 1994

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.

The Man in Black

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!

There’s just a little bit of magic in the country music they’re singing: Paul Cotton and
Richie Furay of Poco.

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.

Bugs Moran

 

 

Melvin Purvis

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.

            Jake the Snake Plante: Helluva way to earn a living.

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.

Jane Russell’s risque film debut: Howard Hughes’ The Outlaw.

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.

 

Judge Joseph Wapner: Jurist and war vet.

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!

Self-identifiers

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!

Sean Penn and Hugo Chavez: Hollywood pinhead meets jolly murderer.

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.

Has it come to this?

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?

Musings 2-22-2019

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.

Don’t take any 8-cent nickels
Franklin, can you spare me a dime?

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.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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.

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