First, allow me to salute the fine men and women who have risked their lives for this nation on a special day intended to remember all those who served, and especially those who sacrificed.
I have two short military-related stories to share, which aren’t anything on the scale of real veterans who served in the armed forces. But the stories, I think, are poignant. At least for me, they still hold meaning all these years later. I feel the need to write them down and remember.
In high school, I joined a military youth organization called the Civil Air Patrol, which is an active organization within the federal government that closely aligns with the Air Force.
We met and trained weekly at the Dallas Naval Air station, which was a Navy base on the edge of Mountain View Lake, attached to the huge Vought aircraft plant. Vought Industries made Corsairs (I think), which were used in Vietnam. The Vought factory had opened during WW2 and was a huge defense plant. [See the photo below of an actual KENNEDY MOTORCADE in front of the plant, that is now entirely forgotten by history.]
It closed down in the 1980s, but when I was there, it had Navy and Air Force personnel, including my unit of the Civil Air Patrol. I made it all the way to Corporal (about as low as it gets in rank).
I was seriously thinking about a career in the military. We did everything soldiers do so far as training goes. I even got a radio-telephone operator’s license (that was my “specialty”). We marched, saluted, had inspections, and I got a real taste of military life.
One weekend, we got an assignment I will NEVER forget. One weekend per month, we stayed overnight on the military base and did the usual training associated with night security. We had a barracks, just like you see in the movies. Part of the building had not been cleaned in at least 5-10 years.
This was in 1977, and the Vietnam War had ended just a few years earlier (the last American troops left in 1973). There were lots of Vietnam-era hardware around, and that was the basis of our training materials.
As a grunt, that Saturday, I was told to go up to a room in the barracks, one of many, and with my colleagues help to sort through piles, and I mean PILES, of old Air Force uniforms, mostly fatigues, but even a few flight suits. All the fatigues had blue name tags stitched into the green fabric. We were instructed to take knives and REMOVE all the names from the old uniforms. There were hundreds. They were to be sold as scrap to Army-Navy stores as military surplus, which was a thing back then. So, I stick a sharp knife into the cloth and cut the thin threads, and peeled off the last name of a soldier who had served, many in Vietnam.
After you see another Smith, Wallace, Gonzalez, Wilson, Kramer on a uniform, it becomes routine. We were all just dumb 14 and 15-year-old kids, and we began making jokes about some of the last names, especially if they sounded weird. “Hey, look at this one!”
I still remember his name to this day, and it’s been 43 years. His name was Col. Sandbach. He was an Air Force Colonel, retired I think. But he served as our CAP commander. Col. Sandbach was making inspections and heard us laughing. He heard us making a game out of the work we were doing, ripping name tags off of Air Force uniforms.
The colonel walked in and we snapped to attention. Ten-hut!
He asked what we were laughing about, and we told him. Then, Col. Sandbach listened, and then quietly spoke:
“You boys know some of those fatigues you are holding in your hands are from men who didn’t come back, don’t you?”
“Show them some respect.”
With that, he turned and walked out of the room.
I will never, never, never forget the shame of that moment.
In 1986, I was out of college and not sure what to do with my life. I actually enlisted in Marine Corps Officer Candidate School, but when they tested me and found out I was colorblind, they removed me from the flight school and told me I had to go to ground school, which was all fine with me.
I took the PFT, passed all the exams, and then was slated to go to basic training, in San Diego, I think. But then, the USMC ground school, which only had two classes for officers per year, was canceled, and I was told I’d have to wait at least 6 mos, and probably a year to get in. So, I went on with my life and moved to other things.
It’s a curious thing to think about forks in the road and forecast where you might have been and the person you might be had you taken a different path. Sometimes, things are just beyond our control.
Who knows? Perhaps I and many others who took different forks on the path of life might have worn uniforms that years later were inventoried by kids in a barracks, laughing and unaware of the sacrifices of the men (and women) who had once worn the cloth
My thoughts on this Veterans Day 2020 with a salute to those who actually served and sacrificed, in some cases, everything.
Matt Lessinger and Nolan Dalla host the latest edition of “An Intelligent Conversation,” with three terrific guests.
We all watched President-Elect Joe Biden and VP-Elect Kamala’s Harris’ victory speeches and held this roundtable discussion. Guests included Linda Kenney Baden, the famed New York criminal defense attorney. Also, Vin Narayanan, the former USA Today political writer and editor was on the panel. The conversation was spiced up by stand-up comedian and commentator, Joe Stapleton.
This unscripted conversation was recorded on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2020 and runs about 2.5 hours.
Personal Note: For those of you who follow my writings and come here to read my analysis and picks, first let me thank you. I am grateful that you take the time, out of so many options, to spend a few minutes at my website to read what I have to say.
I do take my writings, and my football picks seriously. For the past eight seasons, I have posted more than 1,000 plays, and have won 6 of 8 seasons, with a small overall win. I take pride in this work, and for me, this is an accomplishment. However, sometimes, results aren’t what we hope or predict.
This last week, hell — these last four years, have been an incredible drain of energy. I am certain my handicapping, and certainly, my focus has diminished. I hope to get this back. However, that may take time.
Accordingly, I plan to continue my handicapping and write-ups and learn from mistakes and make adjustments. It’s just that there won’t be anything this weekend. I would be irresponsible to toss up a few plays and have someone bet on them, when I have not at least made an attempt at doing the basic research. Hence, let’s return next week for a fresh re-start and new energy for the rest of the season. I’m happy about the election results and now look forward to new optimism on so much more, including sports.
Ten Questions About Election 2020 (The Morning After)
Note: This post is based on news as of 9 am PST on Wednesday morning.
1. I can’t understand how OHIO ends up Trump +7 (winning by 450,000 votes), yet MICHIGAN and WISCONSIN, which are very similar demographically based on the racial breakdown, urban-rural demographics, common economies, etc., look they will break in Biden’s favor. Someone please explain this to me.
2. Last night, I blamed the FLORIDA Scarface vote (rabid Cuban exiles) for costing Biden a shot to win there. In retrospect, that was an oversimplification. Trump won the state handily (by FLORIDA standards). Anyone who can make a case for Democrats wasting any more time at the presidential level in FLORIDA in future elections based on this red political shift, go ahead. I’m listening.
3. I follow NEVADA politics as closely as anyone, but I still can’t explain why the (apparent) margin is so close. Biden should end up winning the Silver State by a few points. However, this race was far closer than anyone expected, and by contrast, neighboring ARIZONA clearly surpassed Biden’s most optimistic projections. NEVADA has been getting bluer every election, but that hit a wall in 2020, no matter that the final results show. No one could have expected the margin in NV would be smaller than in AZ. Armchair politicking welcome. I’m baffled.
4. Popular vote looks like it will be similar to 2016, though Biden will stretch the “victory” out to more than 3 million votes. I interpret this number cynically. Given Trump’s character and record, many expected he’d lose the popular vote by at least double, and perhaps triple the previous percentages. That apparently won’t happen. Though this next comment is admittedly partisan (whereas most of what’s here is intended to be objective), I’m devastated by the results and the failure of the nation to issue a decisive rebuke to Trumpism. Very disappointing.
5. In the election post-game, pollsters and political pundits will get hammered, with some justification. But I do think much of the intense criticism is unwarranted. If anyone can show me a better method of measuring public opinion, I’d like to hear it. Polling methodology takes on many forms and is adjusted accordingly for new factors. Polling may include interpersonal interviews, automation (“for Trump, press 1”), and various tabulations of online surveys. Not only do I believe there is/was a SIGNIFICANT “Shy trump voter” that was undercounted, but also (more important)…..and listen to this because I have given much thought to this and I think I’m right….there’s what I call the “political wind feathers.” These are fickle voters who blow with the wind. I believe that perhaps 5 percent of voters on election day wake up and aren’t quite sure who they will vote for. Given the passion of Trump voters are clearly higher than Biden voters, peer pressure probably shifts 2-3 percent of spineless low-information voters over into the Republican column. In other words, if they weren’t put off by Trump after 5-6 years of his antics, they weren’t going to suddenly become upset with the incumbent on election day and vote him out. Rallies and parades and other public spectacles *DO* matter in the sense they likely swing a few undecideds and susceptible supporters to go Trump over Biden. I’d be glad to consider plausible alternative explanations.
6. Don’t even get me started on offshore betting markets. There are some dumb MFers out there betting on elections. Trump was -700 at one point last night. What was the pro-Trump market thinking? -200? Sure. -300? Maybe. -700? I wish I wasn’t so vested emotionally in the politics of this election. There’s a ton of money to be made by scoping out the landscape, fading public overreactions to what’s reported early in many states, and even “middling” on multiple occasions. That’s now 4/6 presidential elections which offered live “in-game” bettors significant arbitrage opportunities.
7. It looks like Republicans will keep the Senate. Any chance for Democrats now rests in GEORGIA. For those who want to tackle the GEORGIA runoff early (it will happen in January), please go ahead. How do the two Republican Senate candidates carve-up a 7 point win (combined), yet it looks like the state will be a toss-up in the presidential race? Perdue wins by a higher margin than was expected in one race, and the other (headed to the runoff) defies logic. I’m not familiar with GEORGIA politics and didn’t follow those races, so I’d love to hear my friends offer an explanation.
8. I bashed the networks last night and gave high grades to a few surprises (ABC was unexpectedly strong in every facet of coverage). Credit them for doing a really good job on the overnight desk with the lesser-known talent. After the big names went to bed, I left the TV on and tried to sleep with one eye open, flipping channels and dozing. It reminded me of the time I was watching World Cup games in South Africa at 5 am. Each time they played that music (“breaking news”), like Pavlov’s dog, I salivated. By 6 am, I couldn’t sleep. I’m a wreck. Oh, and I haven’t had a drink in 48 hours. Anyone else shares my predicament?
9. I will try to remain objective. So, let me phrase a comment and question this way. If anyone can justify Trump’s comments at 330 am last night, declaring victory and hurling accusations of fraud, I’d like to hear it. Please state your case, and please skip the wacko conspiracy sites that are churning out anything that might stick as I type. I’d like to hear IN YOUR WORDS any justification for Trump’s words and actions.
10. Republicans maintaining control of the Senate (likely) is a serious blow. Had Democrats won the Senate, Mitch McConnell’s phone calls don’t get returned. He’s treated like a rusted can of spoiled pork and beans at a picnic. Unfortunately, him in charge of the Senate and the legislative calendar sets up yet another Obama impasse scenario where the Kentucky glob can just park himself in his office and stop any bills from passing. Major defeat.
[Note: This post is based on news as of 10 pm PST on election night and is cut and pasted from my Facebook page]
1. The fracking gaffe in the second presidential debate may end up costing Joe Biden the election. It’s doubtful a prospective Biden Administration would actually reduce, let alone eliminate fracking. But that unnecessary blunder at the worst possible moment (just enough time for the Trump campaign to turn it into a major issue) could swing enough voters in Pennsylvania to end up losing that critical state. I listed this #1 because I believe, if Biden loses, it was probably the straw on the political camel’s back that swung the outcome.
2. With several states still uncalled and uncertain, Ohio’s results (looks like Trump winning by 3 percent) is a terrible bellwether for Biden’s chances. One expects the same demographics and turnout to apply to other “rust belt” states, including Michigan and Wisconsin, which are also critical. I don’t see how Biden can lose by perhaps 450,000 votes in Ohio, but somehow make up those numbers in states with similar populations.
3. The Democratic Party ran a smart campaign, nationally speaking. Ads were upbeat and well-targeted. Strategic targeting went after Trump’s numerous and obvious vulnerabilities while staying positive. Unlike 2016, when the DNC and its cohorts ran a horrendous campaign on all levels, no matter what happens, I’m not sure the party and many of the down-ballot candidates could have done much better and improved the numbers.
4. Purely in Machiavellian terms, Trump’s campaign ran a brilliant campaign — wisely targeting just a handful of swing states and blitzing those key semi-rural districts with rallies and other events which generated genuine enthusiasm and motivation to go and vote. The peeling away of some traditional Latino support (especially in South Florida) and Black males (some of whom mistrusted Biden) also proved effective. The Trump campaign knew it had no shot of a landslide, nor even winning the majority of the popular vote. So, instead — they wisely went after several key counties in swing states — WI, MI, OH, NC, OH, and FL — and feasted on the spoils of that enthusiastic support. When I earned a degree in political science 36 years ago, I wrote a thesis titled “political surgery.” Funny, I had not thought of that title in many years. But what Trump (and the campaign) did in this election was “political surgery.”
5. Even if Biden somehow pulls this election out and wins, forget the notion of Republicans tossing Trump onto the ash heap and hitting a reset button. This is now the party of Trump. Whatever faint hopes still lingered about the Republican Party returning to the grace and civility of Bush and Reagan, is now completely shattered. Trump’s victory, or even a narrow defeat, erases any notion that the GOP voter base wants a shakeup. This represents a fundamental shift in American politics. Trump was not an aberration. The consequences of this reality will be monumental, and long-lasting.
6. It’s inconceivable that Trump’s approval numbers hovering at around 38-44 percent nationally have not shifted in four years. Let’s see: We’ve had an impeachment, several scandals, a pandemic that’s killed a quarter-of-a-million, 20 million Americans have lost jobs, and what can only be described as mass “fatigue,” yet Trump’s numbers have not declined. They haven’t really increased, either. So, the election results can only be described as “shy Trump supporters” being under-counted. Again, it appears Democrats will win the popular vote, perhaps by 3-5 million votes. This quandary will drive political scientists crazy for the next 50 years. It’s impossible to figure out an explanation (aside from the ongoing debate about the fairness and utility of the Electoral College)
7. Message to Democrats: Don’t waste a dollar or a second in the state of Florida in future elections. That state is getting redder by the year. It’s a waste of time and money. 2020 results prove this.
8. I was going to credit Trump for being uncharacteristically civil and even presidential on election day, but then he just tweeted out an accusation “they (Democrats) are trying to steal the election.” Winning with grace, or even being ahead and showing a little class was apparently too much to ask.
9. I played the gambit of major networks on election coverage tonight. I was pleasantly surprised at how crisp in terms of content and visuals both CBS and ABC were, and was just as disappointed by CNN’s coverage, which I found very repetitive. It also seemed gutless to not call Florida and Texas sooner in the evening. There was no reason to delay those inevitable results. None. The drag on calling states which were obvious really detracted from the network’s coverage on this night, when they typically are strong. MSNBC was also weak, though some of the map forecasting and analysis was arguably the best of any network. I spent little time on FOX and no time on NBC, which I refuse to watch.
10. It’s hard to predict how long this will go before we know a definitive winner and loser. I would venture a guess, but that would just be a parroted summation of what others are saying. I do think PA is a serious problem for Biden, and am greatly concerned the results in OH will be some indication of similar states, including WI and MI, which Biden almost certainly needs to win. Biden needs major help in those states, and I don’t think he’s got enough support to make up the differences in tallied results, so far.
Two more points:
Betting markets were all over the place on Tuesday night. There’s money to be made exploiting overreactions if you can remain politically neutral.
This could still be a political win for Democrats. But it wasn’t the slap in the face to Trumpism that many Biden supporters hoped for, and so in many ways, no matter what happens, this night will be a tremendous disappointment.
I’ve been asked what I’ll do if Donald Trump wins re-election.
I’ll continue doing what I’ve done my entire adult life, which is to fight for the things I believe in. That’s also true of Joe Biden wins. The fight doesn’t end, no matter who wins or loses. The strategy is just a bit different given who’s in power.
One very cynical (but realistic) way of looking at a Trump victory is as follows: Trump winning would be an absolute bonanza for progressives. It would be the best thing possible for the far-Left. How is this so? That sounds absurd. Here, I’ll explain.
A Trump victory absolutely ensures worsening divisions, graft, cruelty, and hardship. A Trump victory guarantees another economic crash, and probably a depression. Want evidence? Look at history when conservatives get their way — conservative economic policies (deregulation, tax cuts, etc.) ALWAYS fail. Conservative economic policies, when unchecked, ALWAYS crash the economy, at least eventually — proof in 1929, 1987, 2008 (all after long periods of conservative dominance of government and economy).
Even without COVID, most analysts saw a “correction” coming.
Trump’s so-called economic “boom” was due to bust. It was already slowing down. So, add in all the ingredients — including more trade wars and crippling national debt, not to mention (okay, I’ll mention it —– the incalculable cost of COVID nationally and globally, which will be paid by taxpayers at some point) — and the United States economy will certainly CRASH like an egg rolling down a mountain. Slow steady growth (like under Obama-Biden) was the ideal recipe for success. Pumping the patient with steroids — tax cuts, giveaways to the rich — might look good for a short period by inflating markets, but then the real cost of abuse will become evident, and the pain will be real. This was an economy addicted to steroids and hooked on opioids.
The horror of a Donald Trump second term would be so calamitous that the predictable backlash could be political instability and perhaps even a revolution. Part of me welcomes this possibility. Another part of me is terrified of that level of discord and chaotic aftermath. But the bottom line is — it’s inevitable in a post-Trump America. 100 million disenfranchised Americans, their lives in ruin, WILL do something about it. A crashed economy, authoritarian crackdowns on protests, loss of civil liberties, international instability, environmental disasters (which might be inevitable, no matter who wins), staggering levels of corruption for Trump and his cronies, government agencies dominated by Trump-loyalist flunkies, a warped judiciary (especially on corporate crimes), more SCOTUS appointments, expanding corporate power and influence at the expense of the working class, depressed wages (especially for the lower class)…..the list of Trump disasters is endless and incalculable.
Accordingly, if the system can’t take another stress test, it likely means a progressive tidal wave, certainly in 2024 if we make it that far. It fundamentally changes the Democrat Party from a centrist, corporatist, milquetoast coalition into a far more laser-focused party that will champion real progressive causes. If it doesn’t, then progressives will form a new party and Democrats will be left in the dust. And working-class America, the true victims of Trumpism, will largely embrace those Leftists ideals in the same way an entire generation of Americans — black and white and young and old — all flocked to FDR’s New Dealism during the 1930s and became proud lifelong Democrats. America saw what happened when Hoover and Republicans destroyed the economy, ruined millions of lives, and they NEVER forgave that party for it. The same would happen if Trump wins re-election.
Indeed, the best way to win is to lose. Sometimes, letting the other side win and govern proves all our points and gives evidence to our warnings. Then, we come in and pick up the pieces.
My only fear is — there might not be any America that remains, as we know it, *if* Trump wins. That’s the real fear. The disaster might be so catastrophic, that we cannot recover and no ideologically-driven agenda can return us from ruin.
Nonetheless, if this election does not go as we hope, progressive ideas shall continue to endure and thrive as a younger generation gradually takes over and recognizes the arc of history always bends towards advancement, despite the reactionary forces intent to slow the inevitable.
The White House is an entirely joyless and miserable place, engrossed and polluted by a cruel, spiteful, imbecilic occupant.
We can learn a lot about a person and their character based on what they think about animals….and how animals are treated….and how animals are part of their daily routine.
This is true even for presidents and presidential candidates
I made this short 4-minute video reveals which candidate in the 2020 election really values animals versus which candidate does not.
I compiled this from exiting footage on YouTube.
Unattributed quote (author unknown):
There is no literature or poetry in this White House. No music. No Kennedy Center award celebrations. There are no pets in this White House. No man’s best friend. No Socks the family cat. No kid’s science fairs. No times when this president takes off the blue suit-red tie uniform andbecomes human, except when he puts on his white shirt- khaki pants uniform and hides on the golf course. There are no images of the first family enjoying themselves together in a relaxing moment –anywhere. No moments like Obamas on the beach in Hawaii, or Bushes fishing in Kennebunkport, no Reagans on horseback, no Kennedys playing touch football on the Cape. I was thinking of the summer when George H couldn’t catch a fish and all the grandkids made signs and counted the fish-less days. And somehow, even if you didn’t even like GHB, you got caught up in the joy of a family that loved each other and had fun. Where did that country go?
Where did all the fun and joy and expressions of love and happiness go? We used to be a country that did the ice bucket challenge and raised millions for charity. We used to have a president that calmed and soothed the nation instead of dividing it. And a First Lady that planted a garden instead of ripping one out. We are rudderless and joyless. We have lost priceless cultural aspects of society that make America great. We have lost our mojo. Our fun, our happiness. The cheering on of others. The shared experiences of humanity that makes it all worth it. The challenges AND the triumphs that we shared and celebrated. The unique can-do spirit Americans have always been known for. We are lost. We have lost so much In so short a time.
A few months ago, Matt Lessinger and I created “An Intelligent Conversation,” a weekly discussion about issues, ideas, and current events. The goal was to talk about things we think are interesting — without the shouting and divisiveness. We also hoped to have lots of fun.
Well, mission accomplished. We’ve now completed our 7th show.
This special edition runs nearly 3 hours and includes 4 excellent guests. We discuss the 2020 presidential election in some detail, along with our predictions.
We also added some guests on this show. The all-star panel includes Dr. Arthur Reber (former professor of psychology at Brooklyn College); Dr. David Croson (full professor of economics at the University of Minnesota), Larry Greenfield (attorney and investor and former head of the Ronald Reagan Institute and the Claremont Institute); and Vin Narayanan (former USA writer and editor and elections analyst).
The first 45 minutes is a one-on-one face-off discussion of possible election issues. Then, the next 1:15 includes a full round-table conversation about the election. The final 45 minutes or so is a free-for-all, with far more give and take. Our final election predictions are included in the final 15 minutes.
This unscripted conversation was recorded on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, and runs about 2:58 minutes.
NOTE: The U.S. presidential election has kept me busy this past week, so write-ups are temporarily shelved in this report. I’ve also postponed by video breakdown for now. I’ll try to return to normality next week, assuming we have a clear decision. Nonetheless, I’ve still made several wagers which are listed below.
THIS WEEK’S WAGERS (13 BETS):
Detroit +3 (Game) vs. Indianapolis — Risking $230 to win $200
Las Vegas Team Total (First Half) OVER 12.5 — Risking $345 to win $300
Miami +3.5 (Game) vs. LA Rams — Risking $210 to win $200
Miami +3 (First Half) vs. LA Rams — Risking $480 to win $400
Miami Team Total (First Half) OVER 9.5 — Risking $270 to win $200
Pittsburgh +4 (Game) vs. Baltimore — Risking $210 to win $200
Pittsburgh +3 (First Half) vs. Baltimore — Risking $575 to win $500 (BB)
Pittsburgh Team Total (First Half) OVER 9.5 — Risking $280 to win $200
NY Jets +11.5 (First Half) vs. Kansas City — Risking $225 to win $200
NY Jets Team Total (Game) OVER 13.5 — Risking $280 to win $200
NY Jets Team Total (First Half) OVER 6.5 — Risking $280 to win $200
Chicago Team Total (First Half) OVER 9.5 — Risking $230 to win $200
NY Giants Team Total (First Half) OVER 8.5 — Risking $200 to win $230