Sunday, October 14, 2018

MSNBC & CNN Don't Get It, Newspapers, a 2009 Idea Revisited, Feminist Dystopian Fiction, Weather, and a Bit of Electioneering and Geopolitickling

A Message to My Friends at MSNBC and CNN

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow
I watch cable news channels on TV quite a bit.  I mostly watch MSNBC but I don’t neglect CNN either.  I even tune into Fox to see what those with whom I generally disagree are saying.  But really, it’s the guys and gals with whom I agree that I want to address right now!

You guys don’t get it!

Of course, Donald Trump tells lies.  All the time, and the documentation is there.  He breaks the law all the time and the evidence is right there.  His hotel in Washington is a good example.  His financial history is a disaster, an epitome of failure and finagling, and he has good reason to hide his tax returns because they would reveal, if open to public scrutiny, what a scoundrel he is.  New York State is investigating his foundation which they believe to be crooked.  He had no respect for women, is an admitted adulterer and is semi-literate.  He doesn’t read books nor newspapers and a close investigation of his alleged academic history would probably cause both Fordham and the University of Pennsylvania to hide their heads in shame.  He spells like a fifth grader and probably is a lousy golfer too, despite all the time he spends on the course. Probably one “mulligan” per hole.

He insulted his Republican competitors for the presidential nomination and he daily insults those with whom he disagrees.  He demeans the office of the President during all his waking hours.  Foreign heads of state consider him, as do many of those with whom he works, to be a boor, an idiot, a moron or worse.  Take your choice. Some of his erstwhile colleagues, to get a better deal for themselves, are now willing to “cop a plea” and talk about his dark past.  In future years, we might learn what his current wife thinks of him.  She’ll probably write a book.  He is like the carnival barker convincing the rubes to plunk down their money to come into the darkened tent to see the two-headed dog.  That’s his skill level.  He also claims to be good in bed.

But you know all of that, don’t you?  And you all talk about it incessantly and bring on panels of experts who agree that he’s the worst President we’ve ever had and is destroying democracy in our country.  Hey, I agree with you.

What you don’t get is the reason why Donald Trump was legally elected to the Presidency of the United States!  If Russia gamed social media on the internet to help in accomplishing that, it is only because there were enough Americans out there ready to believe whatever misleading information was fed into their eyes and ears, and the Russians weren’t the only people doing that.  We have our own domestic charlatans, like the low life who claim on the sewer of talk radio that the Newtown massacre was staged.  And people believe them.  You and I know that the moon is not made of green cheese, but there are many who aren’t so sure about that, and if someone with a phony authoritative label says that it really is, enough of them believe it and that “enough number” is sufficient to change history.

Down deep, many Americans dislike people of color (all colors), immigrants and those who talk and look and pray differently.  Really, they are afraid of them and fear they may end up with what they themselves already possess, of which there isn’t quite enough, in their little minds, to go around.  Some are still fighting the Civil War. They say they love their freedom and liberty, great words for Americans since 1776.  But they take that freedom and liberty to mean they are free to do any damn thing they want, and any government which tries to put a lid on that or take money out of their pocket to help those damn immigrants and lazy descendants of slaves, is no good.  And that goes for taking away guns too! 

We should have elected John Wayne as President years ago, they think.  To them, the “reality” of his World War Two films and western movies has merged with true reality.  Trump capitalizes on their confusion over this too.  That’s why building walls and draining swamps sounds good to them.  Their perception of everything is barely skin deep. And they don’t read books, magazines nor newspapers either.  Just TV and the internet.

But you guys don’t get it.  All you’re doing is preaching to the choir.  You can never convince these people to change. The Republicans have proven themselves to be scared stiff of them, knowing that if they acknowledged the truth about the President, the real truths you talk about every day, these folks would replace them in an instant with someone who was a true believer in all that phony baloney stuff about freedom and liberty in which they believe.  It happened to Congressman Mark Sandford from South Carolina.
Years of watching junk on TV, attending dumbed-down schools, going to supposed colleges where learning is secondary to football and partying, listening to Rush Limbaugh (who has more followers than you have viewers), going to houses of worship which are sometimes more businesses than churches, and constantly looking back, never forward, have made them that way.  And anyone who disagrees with them is an elitist or a globalist, which to them is un-American.  

They talk a good game about the Constitution, but none of them have ever read it, and if they did, they wouldn’t understand it.  They equate anything “government” does with socialism or communism (they don’t know the difference) where the government supposedly owns everything and as one of their prophets once said, agree that it should be drowned in a bathtub.  Private is good.  Public is bad.  Smells of those “other” people.  Just look who is behind the counter in those government offices. That they understand.

But I still don’t think you guys and gals get it.   You’re beating your heads against the wall.  America has turned into a country which doesn’t have the brains to function as a democracy any longer.  That Donald Trump is not wearing an orange suit in a jail somewhere is proof of that!   I guess he had better lawyers than his son-in-law's father.

If by some miracle, the Democrats win the House of Representatives in November (the Senate would be too much to hope for), a lot of these issues will come to a head. Resolving them peacefully, so long as Trump is still President, will be difficult.  I hope there is no bloodshed and that any revolution we have will be within the framework of the Constitution of the United States.

Jack Lippman


I grew up reading at least one newspaper every day.  My father brought the Newark Evening News home from work every evening and it was read from cover to cover.  Occasionally, the late-night edition of the next morning’s New York Daily Mirror or the morning Newark Star Ledger found their way into our home, but that was it.  Radio news was no more than headlines and TV didn’t exist then.  (Of these papers, only the Star Ledger survives today.)

Today, most people get their news from TV or the internet.   Neither can hold a candle to the in-depth coverage, and the local, national and world-wide scope of news provided by most newspapers today.  But one need not read the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal nor the Washington Post to keep up with what is occurring. 

Good local papers (I have subscribed to the Palm Beach Post for eighteen years)
provide you with more information than you can handle on any day of the week.  And I haven’t even mentioned (of course, I now will) the mental exercise provided by the crosswords and other puzzles plus the insights provided by the comic strips, many of which, such as Doonesbury, Dilbert and Non-Sequitur, are aimed at adults.   

I guarantee you that anyone who sits down with a good local paper, like the Post, and spends thirty minutes reading it while sipping their morning coffee, will be better informed than someone who gets their daily news fix from the internet or any cable news channel or even worse, the “regular” TV channels which like radio in the old days, offer little more than headlines, without any depth. 

Read books, read magazines but most importantly, read a good newspaper every day.  Once you get the habit, you’ll recognize how little those who don’t read a daily newspaper really know and understand.  And to borrow a biblical injunction (Deuteronomy 11:19 ), “teach this to your children.”


 Health Care is the Key to Solving Economic Problems

Back in 2009, I included this original piece in an early posting of this blog.  We were going into a recession at that time, brought about by an unregulated Wall Street investing in sub-prime mortgage-based derivatives.  Barack Obama’s economic policies rescued failing banks and insurers from disaster and saved us from an even worse economic crisis at the time.  This piece shows how little things have changed since then.  This was written in 2009.

The more I look at our economic crisis, the more I am convinced that the cost of health care is at its core.  We do not have enough jobs in this country to provide our workers with the money they must spend, as consumers, to nourish our economy.  No jobs, no money, no consuming, retail stores close, service businesses close, the few remaining manufacturers close, more people are laid off … and bingo, the economy is destroyed.

This vicious cycle starts with the lack of jobs and considering that our workers compete with workers all over the world, there is no reason why any sane businessman would offer a job calling for a benefit package including health care to an American worker when he could hire a worker somewhere else in our global economy for whom he does not have to provide that benefit.  That explains the lack of jobs in this country.

Okay then, if employers are to be relieved of providing health care (and other benefits) to American workers in order for the cost of labor in the U.S.A. to be competitive with the rest of the globe, who then is going to provide it?

Well, workers pay for their own homeowners or renters’ insurance, their own life insurance to protect their families, their own automobile insurance so why shouldn’t they pay for their own health insurance?  The answer is simple:  life insurance is a wise investment, but not a necessity… automobile insurance is required if you own a car, but you can always rely on public transportation and you can do without homeowners or renters’ insurance, moving in with a friend or relative and getting clothing at the Goodwill Store if your home burns down.  But the alternative to having health insurance is untreated sicknesses or death or turning to the government for help.  Because we are talking about employed people, hopefully with decent jobs (which they were able to get only because their employer ditched his health insurance program, thereby remaining competitive), we are not talking about dumping them into the Medicaid program. And today, our government is not financially set up to provide the health insurance American employers must stop providing to employees if they are to remain competitive.  (Chinese employers, incidentally, do not provide health insurance for their workers and surprisingly, their government does not either.  The responsibility is shifted to the family!  That is one of the reasons the cost of labor is low there.)

So long as health insurance is tied to employment (as it has been in this country since World War Two), that arrangement should be disturbed as little as possible.  The employer, however, should be reimbursed by the government for providing any such health insurance.  If an employer does not provide health insurance or if the worker is “self-employed,” access to one of the established government health insurance programs (Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans’ Administration, Government employee plans) should be made available to these workers.  This will necessitate a tax increase for all Americans, bringing the percentage of our income in various kinds of taxes we pay up to the level which people pay in other Western nations.  This increase, however, may be less than the amount of money paid for health insurance by employers and individuals in this country today. 

There will be those who will scream, “Socialism!” when ideas like these are presented.  But this is no more socialistic than having government financed police and fire departments, public schools and military services.  I envision a campaign involving billboards and bumper stickers asking:


Once you stop to think about it, there is only one answer.  And I hope that should even be clear to conservatives.

Feminist Dystopian Fiction or the "Handmaid" Strikes Back

Fiction is usually more than just an interesting, often captivating, story.  It can be allegorical, philosophical or political, as well as “just a story.    Think of “Farenheit 411,” “1984,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” or even “Crime and Punishment.”  Science fiction (which the first two just mentioned are) allows the author to escape the boundaries of reality, at least today’s reality, and soar into the realm of ideas.

In today’s world, headlines focusing on women’s rights, sexual harassment and most recently, the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, are inescapable.  The role of women in today’s world has become a common topic of discussion.  (One posting back, this blog discussed “sexual drive,” a not unrelated subject.) 

Lately, science fiction taking place in a dystopian (imaginary, futuristic and unpleasant) society seems to a tool used in addressing the question of the changing role of the sexes.  Alexandra Alter, who covers publishing and literary matters for the New York Times, recently wrote a very interesting article on the subject, reprinted a few days later in the Palm Beach Post.  Plan to spend a few minutes reading this article and much more time reading and discussing the books she mentions. This is important stuff!  Start by clicking  RIGHT HERE.


Weather Report

An almost category five hurricane hit the Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday, creating massive flooding and bringing hurricane level winds far inland as it sped northward through Georgia and the Carolinas, hitting places which had never experienced anything like it before.  This was an major emergency, but not a big enough  one to warrant the immediate attention of the P.O.S. (see earlier blogs for what these letters stand for, but here’s a clue … the first word is “piece.”) occupying the White House who was busy heading for a rally in Pennsylvania to speak to his loyal followers there.  A good campaigner, a terrible President, he really couldn’t care less.  Nor could his gullible, stupid and deplorable (there I said it!) base which is carefully described in the lead article on this posting.  We don’t have to relive Roman times to know what it was like as Nero fiddled while Rome burned.  At least Nero could play the violin.  All Trump can play is golf.

A Little Electioneering

Only four states do not restore the right to vote to convicted felons after they have served their time in prison or on probation.  Florida is one of them.  An Amendment (Number Four) will remedy this, restoring the right to vote to felons who have fully paid their debt to society (except murderers and sexual offenders).  

At present, there is a circuitous and complicated procedure in effect, usually taking years to navigate and ultimately requiring the Governor’s signature which does address this situation.  Understandably, only a miniscule number of felons have benefited from it.  Republicans Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott, running for the governorship and for the Senate respectively, oppose this Amendment as being too lenient.  That is why most thinking Floridians will be voting “Yes” on Amendment Four next month as they also make Scott and DeSantis available in the job market for any lobbying firm which wants to hire them.

A Little Geopolitics

Since the demise of the Ottoman Empire after World War One, there has been a conflict among Muslims as to who would be the dominant Islamic power in the Middle East.  Would it be the extremist Shia Muslims centered in the land that was ancient Persia or would it be the Sunni Muslims, everywhere else in the Middle East, but becoming increasingly dominated by the influence of the extremist Wahabi clergy on the Arabian peninsula?

The Persians, or Iran, at least had a historic identification with “nationhood.”  The others were no more than Arab nomads, with no basis for a common identity other than the artificial states, like Saudi Arabia, which were carved out of the sand (which turned out to be covering vast petroleum deposits) after World War One.

The Shah was our puppet in Iran since after World War Two when we helped defeat a Russian-backed Communist takeover there.  Shia Muslim extremists overthrew him in 1979, eradicating whatever influence we had there, and since then, the United States has leaned more toward friendship with the Sunni Muslims whose center of power is Saudi Arabia, a relative newcomer to the family of nations, not even existing until after World War One.

Once one thinks beyond the religious aspects of a choice between Saudi Arabia and Iran, it becomes clear that the Persian people of Iran are more western-oriented than the Arabs throughout the rest of the Middle East, still evolving from their nomadic state of a century ago.   But Iran’s extremist leadership, their expansionist plans, their hostility toward Israel and their nuclear ambitions clearly make a normal relationship with Iran impossible for the United States at present.  This leaves us with the Arabs as our best Muslim friends in the Middle East.  Even Israel favors them over Iran.  Few remember that prior to 1979, Israel was actually more friendly with Iran, even arming them in their war with Iraq!

Similarly, prior to 1979, Iran had a closer relationship with the United States than any other state in the Middle East did, excluding Israel.  Indeed, this was advantageous to us because the geographic position of Iran served as a buffer between Russia, always looking for an outlet to the sea, and the Middle East.  Right now, Iran and Russia are uncomfortably close politically, to our disadvantage.

The assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a legal resident of the United States, brings into question some realities concerning our relationship with Saudi Arabia, and where are alliances should be placed.  Certainly, the present Administration does not favor Iran, primarily because efforts to better our relationship with that country through the Nuclear agreement signed onto by half a dozen other major powers, was the product of the Obama Administration, none of whose actions the present Administration approves. 

But Middle East alliances, economic and political, are not permanent nor immutable things.  Everything is always in flux.  Russia, Syria, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the rest of the Middle East are involved in intertwining and changing relationships, which ultimately affect these nations’ relationships with the United States.  It is not inconceivable that someday our Muslim friends in the Middle East will be in Teheran, once the extremist Shia clergy lose power there, which they someday will, and reduced worldwide dependence upon petroleum has left the Saudis as just a desert kingdom run by a family of extremely wealthy nomads.

Many readers of this blog are alerted by Email every time a new posting appears.  If you wish to be added to that Email list, just let me know by sending me an email at

Contact me by email at   YOU ALSO CAN SEND ME YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO BE PUBLISHED IN THIS BLOG AS WELL AS YOUR COMMENTS AT THAT ADDRESS.  (Comments can also be made by clicking on the "Post a Comment" link at the blog's end, though few followers of the blog have done that lately.)


HOW TO VIEW OLDER POSTINGS.                                                
To view older postings on this blog, just click on the appropriate date in the “Blog Archive” midway down the column off to the right or scroll down until you see the “Older Posts” notation at the very bottom of this posting.  The “Search Box” in the right side of the posting also may be helpful in locating a posting topic for which you are looking.

To send this posting to a friend, or enemy for that matter, whom you think might be interested in it, just click on the envelope with the arrow on the "Comments" line directly below, enabling you to send them an Email providing a link directly to this posting.  You might also want to let me know their Email address so that they may be alerted to future postings.

Jack Lippman 

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Wisdom of Retired Justice Stevens, the Price of Questionable Tax Avoidance, a Robo-call Letter, Red Flags and the Mess that is the Marlins

The Wisdom of Justice Stevens

John Paul Stevens, appointed to the Supreme Court by Gerald Ford, retired in 2010 at age 90 and was replaced by Justice Elena Kagan.  Steven wrote some magnificent opinions, often dissents, when he was on the Court.  He opposed the obscene Citizens United decision which extended the First Amendment’s free speech guarantees to corporations. Here is some of his lengthy dissent to that decision.

“At bottom, the Court’s opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt … It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense.  While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.”

After the February 2018 shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Stevens (a Broward County, Florida resident) advocated the repeal of the Second Amendment in a New York Times op-ed piece which included these thoughts:

“Concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states led to the adoption of that amendment, which provides that ‘a well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.'  Today that concern is a relic of the 18th century.”
(The source of much of the above information was Frank Cerabino’s Oct. 2 column in the Palm Beach Post.)

As I have said in earlier postings on this blog, the threat that some states feared at the time was that a national standing army might be used to abolish slavery, taking away their residents’ “property” and they wanted the ability to be able to raise an army to fight to preserve that nefarious economic institution.

Stevens was appointed by a Republican President back in the days when the Supreme Court was thought to be above the level of politicization present in today’s Court, for which responsibility rests with the Republican Party, whose power is reinforced by the Citizens United decision referred to above.  There is only one solution to this problem, and if you agree with Justice Stevens, who is still alive and kicking, you should vote to bring that solution about.
 Jack Lippman  

How You Subsidize Tax Cheats

Tax evasion is illegal.   Tax avoidance, if one can afford the lawyers and accountants to structure doing it within the framework of our tax laws, is perfectly legal. 

Sometimes, questionable strategies are involved in tax avoidance which escape notice by the taxing authorities.  The tax payer succeeds in “getting away with something,” possibly, but not necessarily, forever. 

In any event, of course, the revenue lost to our government from the taxes not paid because of tax evasion or questionable tax avoidance must be made up by the taxes paid by everyone else! So YOU are the one who is being penalized. Tax cheats pick your pocket!

Rather than admire people who get away with doing this, they should be condemned and even shunned.  Only idiots would vote for them if they ever run for public office.  Their hand has always been in your pocket, tax-wise, and letting them get into elective office would be stupid. 

If this is all true, there must be millions of stupid idiots in this country because they voted for a President who refused to open up his tax records, which we now know was due to his earlier use of highly questionable tax avoidance strategies revealed last week in a detailed New York Times article.

No One On The Line ... Again

Many people, including senior citizens, depend on landline and mobile telephone service to maintain contact with families, financial institutions and businesses.  This entire communications system is being corrupted by robo-calls and similar telemarketing techniques, including the capturing of telephone numbers, to do what ostensibly is permissible as a marketing tool.  It is, or should be, a crime.  

Fines are not enough to put a stop to this.  Strong legislation making such activities a felony calling for lengthy mandatory incarceration for those convicted is necessary.  In fact, making it part of the Florida Constitution via an amendment might be a good idea.  It is a much more serious concern to Floridians than some of the trivia we are currently being asked to consider as Constitutional amendments.  Otherwise, we soon will have to revert to smoke signals to talk to one another.  (This is the text of a letter, submitted by me and recently published in the Palm Beach Post.)

 Red Flags and Alarm Bells

The elevation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is a red flag.  The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency was another. If the Republicans maintain control of both the House and the Senate on November 6, alarm bells should be ringing all over the place.  In addition to the likely reversal of the 60 year old progressive orientation of the Supreme Court which Kavanaugh will bring about, it will expose and widen  some serious cracks in American democracy. Let’s not let America sink to a point where thinking people begin to consider alternatives such as emigration or going underground.  Get out there and work for what you believe in.  Remain energized!

The Mess that is the Miami Marlins and a one Fan's Solution 

No matter how good a farm system and team the Miami Marlins develop in the future, they will never be a successful major league baseball franchise.   Their team was not good this year because of the excellent players they sold off to enable their future to be brighter.   But there have been many bad teams in major league baseball in recent years, and none of them drew the pathetic average of 10,000 fans per home game that the Marlins drew in 2018.  That is a good minor league number, not a major league number. 

Lonely Fans at Marlins Park
The Kansas City Royals, the Chicago White Sox and the Baltimore Orioles, all with worse 2018 records on the field than the Marlins, all drew about double the Marlins’ average attendance at home games.

Ownership of the Marlins over the years has been near-sighted and only interested in making money.  Their philosophy has been to take the money and run.  Within a few years, Derek Jeter will see the light and the Marlins will be playing in Montreal, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Las Vegas or New Orleans, all potentially major league cities.   With dramatic political and economic changes, San Juan and Havana might be added to that list.  

That would leave the league, however, embarrassed about the beautiful stadium former Marlin ownership suckered Miami-Dade County into building in an inaccessible part of the city, and changing the Florida Marlins, who had a chance of success, into the Miami Marlins, who never had one.  There is no major league fan base in Miami and there never will be.  What fans there might be there can't afford the tickets!  They can't afford to go to Dolphin nor Heat games either, but those teams play in better located venues and draw fans from beyond Miami.  The Miami business community ignores the Marlins, satisfied with the more accessible venues of the Heat and Dolphins for hosting their clients. The minor league team that once played in Miami did not set the world on fire attendance-wise either.  And when the former Marlins ownership put the stadium where it is, in the middle of Little Havana, they gave up on its real potential fan base, which really is north of Miami.

Somehow, major league baseball is responsible for this mess in Miami, which they allowed to happen. They have the responsibility of doing something about it.  Here is my solution, which should be acted on as a condition for their permitting the Marlins to be moved elsewhere.  They owe it to the sport and to Miami Dade County.

Because of the transient nature of its population, baseball fans in South Florida (forget Miami) have loyalties to the places from which they come.   South Florida is loaded with New York Met, New York Yankee, Philadelphia Philly and Boston Red Sox fans.  The eighteen appearances of the Phillies and Mets at the Marlins’ ballpark in 2018 served to keep the average from falling below 10,000.  Interleague appearances of the Yankees and Red Sox, when they occur, have a similar effect.

These four teams should each be required to transfer a regular season three game home series to Marlins Park.  Properly publicized, with tickets fairly priced, each of these dozen games should come close to filling Marlins’ Park to its 36,000 seat capacity.  These four teams have the fans here and each three game series would be a welcome gift to them.  These series should be played in May, June, July and August and would probably draw a total of 420,000 fans.  The rest of the time, the stadium could be used for concerts, soccer and other attractions.
Gate receipts would be split between these four teams and Miami Dade County, still stuck with owning the place. But their only having to maintain a ballpark for 12 well-attended evenings rather than 81 shamefully empty ones ought to provide some relief.  Major league baseball should subsidize the four “contributing teams” for any financial losses they incur for the first few years of this arrangement.  That would be the price they pay for allowing the Marlin tragedy to take place.

South Florida would then have enough major league baseball to fill its modest appetite for seeing the sport in person.  Those who want more can always drive to Tampa and watch the Rays, so long as they remain playing there. They have problems too.


Many readers of this blog are alerted by Email every time a new posting appears.  If you wish to be added to that Email list, just let me know by sending me an email at

Contact me by email at   YOU ALSO CAN SEND ME YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO BE PUBLISHED IN THIS BLOG AS WELL AS YOUR COMMENTS AT THAT ADDRESS.  (Comments can also be made by clicking on the "Post a Comment" link at the blog's end, though few followers of the blog have done that lately.)


HOW TO VIEW OLDER POSTINGS.                                                
To view older postings on this blog, just click on the appropriate date in the “Blog Archive” midway down the column off to the right or scroll down until you see the “Older Posts” notation at the very bottom of this posting.  The “Search Box” in the right side of the posting also may be helpful in locating a posting topic for which you are looking.

To send this posting to a friend, or enemy for that matter, whom you think might be interested in it, just click on the envelope with the arrow on the "Comments" line directly below, enabling you to send them an Email providing a link directly to this posting.  You might also want to let me know their Email address so that they may be alerted to future postings.

Jack Lippman