Sunday Political Brunch - July 4th Trivia


(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 former "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, 2016,2017 MarkCurtisMedia, LLC.

Photo courtesy: CBS News

Sunday Political Brunch: A Political Potluck – June 25, 2017


(Charleston, West Virginia) – A lot of disjointed and seemingly unrelated things happened in the world of politics this past week. It’s a hodgepodge I call “political potluck.” Let's “brunch” on that this week.

“Fake News Facilitator” – President Trump went on Twitter to announce that he’s now officially under investigation. Then one of his lawyers – the well-known Jay Sekulow – went on several network talk shows to deny Mr. Trump was under investigation. Well, which is it? It can’t be both. In either case, does this mean President Trump is now his own source for “fake news?” I would say maybe!

“The Comey Tapes” – Trump has a way of playing the media, and he’s good at it. A few weeks back, after he hinted there might be recordings of conversations between him and then FBI Director James Comey, Trump said, “Oh, you're going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer.” I believed that you could take his answer two ways: 1) The media would be disappointed there were no tapes; or 2) there were tapes that supported Trump’s claims about Comey (which might disappoint media members who dislike Trump.) Either way, he made big headlines and perpetuated speculation about the existence of the tapes for two weeks.
“Georgia on My Mind” – Like many of you, I have been following Georgia’s special Congressional election for weeks. It turned out to be the most expensive race for the House of Representatives in U.S. history. I consider it also the most over-hyped race ever. If I hear one more network commentator say, “It’s being viewed as a referendum on the Trump Presidency,” I will scream. One lone Congressional race is not a national bellwether. Yes, the Democrats fielded a very competitive, well-funded candidate; but he lost. There have now been four special elections since Trump took office, and Republicans won them all. However, these wins are not positive referendums for Trump’s policies either. Let's stop exaggerating the importance of what are predominantly local contests!

“Obamacare Repeal” – This agenda item is in trouble, and could be a big loss for President Trump and the Republican-led Congress. The House passed its repeal with two votes to spare. Let’s assume the Senate makes amendments that will help its bill regain a majority vote in the upper chamber. The biggest problem is that the House and Senate have two very different bills. Right now, it’s hard to fathom they can craft a single bill that will be acceptable to majorities in both chambers. To use a medical term, the Obamacare repeal is on “life support.”

“Spotting Trends” – There are 535 seats in the U.S. Congress. As mentioned above, four very distant and unique special elections in the House are hardly a prediction of anything. There’s no trend you can gauge. On the other hand, when five Republican members of the U.S. Senate say they can’t support the pending replacement of Obamacare, that’s a measurable trend. Why? Because you need 50 votes, plus the Vice President’s tie-breaker, to win. Right now, the GOP has only 47 votes for repeal. Do the math! As I always say, “Politics is as much about math, as it is about ideology.”

“Strange Bedfellows” – I am always amazed at how different factions can line up and work together, often creating a patchwork – if not successful - legislation. West Virginia finally passed a long-overdue state budget this week. The sides were odd. The Democratic Governor teamed with the Republicans who control the State Senate. On the other side, Senate Democrats joined the House Republicans (the big majority) and the House Democrats. It was far from a perfect budget. Everyone got something, but no one got everything they wanted. We’ll see whether it works; but, as always, politics can make for some strange bedfellows.

“Russia” – This week, we learned that the Obama Administration had evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin had direct knowledge of and ordered the cyberattacks on the U.S. electoral process, and also that some potentially retaliatory measures were put in place. While I know that the focus will continue to be on what, if anything, the Trump campaign knew and did about Russia's interference, I think there’s a bigger picture here. A foreign and unfriendly government tried to interfere with our election. Maybe it helped Republicans this time; maybe it will benefit Democrats next time; but we, as a nation, should be outraged. This should not be a partisan issue. It’s equal to enemy troops landing on our shore.

“North Korea” – One of the big questions of the week revolves around the death of Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia student who was tortured (and perhaps poisoned) at the hands of the North Korean government. How will the U.S. respond beyond the tough sanctions already in place against North Korea, a hostile nation which continues to test-launch potentially nuclear missiles? Forget the Obamacare repeal and the FBI investigation! This will be the real true test of the Trump Administration.

What should President Trump do about North Korea? Just click the comment button at

© 2017, Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo Courtesy: CBS News

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