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"The Sunday Political Brunch" -- July 3, 2016


(Charleston, West Virginia) – It is the long Fourth of July weekend, so we we’ll dispense with the serious politics today. Instead, we’ll share some fun facts and trivia about our country’s birthday and heritage. I first published this on July 4, 2013, and it's one of my most popular columns! Enjoy!

“Double Vision” – Not only did both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson sign the Declaration of Independence, they both also later became President of the United States. But the most interesting coincidence they shared is that they both died within hours of each other on July 4th, 1826. The two were bitter rivals, who did not like each other at all. Legend has it that Adams's last words were, “Thomas Jefferson still survives.” But it wasn’t true. His archrival beat him to the punch, having died five hours before Adams.

“Three's a Crowd?” – Oddly enough, Adams and Jefferson were not the only Presidents to die on the 4th of July. James Monroe, our nation’s fifth President, died on July 4, 1831. So the second, third, and fifth Presidents all died on the 4th, and all are counted among our "Founding Fathers.” What are the odds?

“Happy 2nd of July!” – In truth, the Declaration of Independence was actually approved on July 2, 1776, but was not published in the newspaper until July 4. John Adams still wanted all the celebrations on the 2nd, but was overruled.

“A Signature Moment” – Everyone knows John Hancock’s famous bold signature. In truth, he was the first and only one actually to sign the document on July 4th. It took another month to collect the signatures of the other 56 people who approved it.

“Around the Globe” – July 4th is not just a tradition in the U.S. People have celebrated it, in one way or another, on every continent. In 1934, American explorer Richard Byrd and his crew set off fireworks in Antarctica, even though it was 34 degrees below zero!

“Paint the Town Green!” – For many of the early years, red, white and blue were not the tradition. Colored fabric was rare and expensive in the early days of our nation, so there weren’t many flags. Instead people used greenery to decorate their homes and towns in celebration.

“Happy Birthday, America, and…” – The nation may celebrate its birthday on the Fourth of July, but also born on July 4th were our 30th President, Calvin Coolidge, and today's "First Daughter," Malia Obama.

“God Bless…Kate Smith?” – Famed songwriter Irving Berlin wrote “God Bless America” for a play he was scoring in 1918, but the tune was dropped from the production. It sat on his shelf collecting dust for the next 20 years. In 1938, singer Kate Smith asked Berlin if he had any patriotic songs she could sing for Armistice Day (now Veterans Day). Berlin handed her “God Bless America! The rest, they say, is history!

As always, I welcome your thoughts! Click the comment button at

© 2013, 2016, MarkCurtisMedia, LLC.

“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- June 26, 2016


(Charleston, West Virginia) – Last week we spoke of third-party candidates, and I don’t think we can stop at one. There are more potential spoilers this week. I also mentioned a couple of weeks ago that unforeseen issues could be spoilers in Campaign 2016, and we’ve had some of them, too, this week! Let’s “brunch” on all of this:

“Green is Organic” – Jill Stein, M.D., the Green Party Presidential nominee has been polling anywhere from three to seven percent in the past month (photo above). As mentioned last week, the Libertarian Party has been polling anywhere from four to eleven percent. I make no presumptions about either the Green or Libertarian Party winning the White House, but - collectively - if they poll in double digits, it could cost either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump the Presidency. Third-party candidates “pull” votes from others; they don’t “push” the public to an alternative candidate. That’s important to remember.

“High Profile” – Wednesday night, CNN hosted a Libertarian town hall forum, with the ticket of Gary Johnson and William Weld. The audience reached almost one million viewers on CNN, much higher than normal programming. One third of the audience was in the key 25-to-54 age demographic, which includes a lot of millennials. By and large, these are the young, disaffected voters who supported Bernie Sanders in droves over Hillary Clinton. Will they vote Trump, Johnson, or Stein? It remains to be seen, but many have no taste for Mrs. Clinton. This could be a huge factor come November.

“’Sincere’ Analysis” – It’s amazing the connections you make in a lifetime of covering and dissecting politics. (My own lifelong fascination with politics began in 1963, when I was four and a half years old, on the heels of President Kennedy's assassination.) One of my most astute classmates at Marquette University High School – Class of 1977 – was Rick Sincere, who later became Chairman of the Virginia Libertarian Party. We’ve chatted a bit in the last week.

“The Libertarian Presidential and Vice-presidential candidates complement each other and stand in stark contrast to their Democratic and Republican opponents. Johnson, a triathlete who has climbed Mount Everest, is warm and unassuming, unlike the abrasive Donald Trump and chilly Hillary Clinton,” wrote Sincere. Interesting insight!

“Looking” – Last week I pointed out a Monmouth University Poll showing Libertarian Gary Johnson at 11 percent on March 24, 2016. Yes, maybe it’s “pie in the sky,” but some newer polls suggest there is something significant going on. The latest Real Clear Politics Composite Poll has it 42 percent Clinton, 37 percent Trump, 7 percent Johnson, and 5 percent Stein. That leaves 9 percent undecided. Third parties are showing strength.

“Immigration Ruling” – This week, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively blocked President Obama’s Executive Order on immigration, essentially defeating his efforts to allow four million illegal immigrants to remain in this country. Hillary Clinton criticized the high-court ruling, while Donald Trump called the Obama immigration plan a “fantasy.” The battle lines are now drawn on one of the “Top Three” campaign issues in this election cycle.

“Sit-In” – Another issue that has cropped up is gun control in the wake of the Pulse nightclub killings in Orlando. Representative John Lewis (D-GA) – a civil rights icon whom I have interviewed many times over the years – staged a sit-in with Democratic colleagues on the House floor. After two days, the protest faded, but the issue will live on. The dimensions are fascinating, as a pro-gun-control faction takes on gun-rights defenders - this, after an apparently Islamic-inspired, anti-gay attack in Orlando. What will a traditionally Democratic constituency have to say in November? And will the Second Amendment have greater appeal to an LGBT community wanting to defend itself?

“GB leaves EU” – The people of Great Britain have voted to exit the European Union. World financial markets – including the Dow Jones in the U.S. – plummeted. Are we on the brink of another world financial turmoil? I ask because a few weeks ago I was talking about how global financial instability could turn Campaign 2016. I’ve just mentioned three issues that were not on anyone’s radar screen on June 1, just over three weeks ago. Political fame and fortune can change in a flash, like a bolt of lightning.

“Why All of This Matters” – The electorate is volatile! This race is anyone’s to win; and potential spoilers abound – whether they be candidates or issues that suddenly crop up. This race has a lot of wild cards, and should be assessed with them in mind!

“Prayers for West Virginia” – Politics seems petty and small after 23 West Virginians lost their lives in massive flooding this week. No matter whom we elect as our leaders, they are tasked with helping us all after natural disasters. Please send prayers; and if you are inclined to make donations to various relief efforts, you can find more at

As always, your comments on all topics are welcome at

© 2016, Mark Curtis media, LLC.

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