Sunday, July 8, 2018

"Illegal" Immigrants and the "Child-Snatchers," a Fourth of July Story, a Maureen Dowd Column, the Democratic Future, Henry Clay Speaks Out (against Trump?) in 1837, Advice for Republicans and a Wiley Comic Strip

Readers:  If are NOT among those who got to this page because you received an email alert announcing the posting, you can be added to the list of those that do get such alerts by simply sending me your email address for that purpose (and none other). JUST CLICK HERE TO DO SO . (If that doesn't work, just send the email to Riart1@aol.com.) Additional blog contact information may be found at the bottom of the posting.
JL


A follower of the blog recently commented that it is getting repetitive.  I suppose he is correct, but the overarching political issues of the day cannot be ignored.  As always, the blog will include your comments (send them to me at Riart1@aol.com) particularly if they disagree with what I write.  And “non-political” articles are always welcome.  If you have something “different” to say, please do!   So, let’s skip politics for a few minutes and start off with what has become the blog’s annual Fourth of July short story from  my "archives."
Jack Lippman



Agricultural Usage

“In the good old summertime,” cousin Mike, “we have lots of fun down here in Florida ... barbecues, beer drinking, swimming at the beach, and fireworks right in the backyard too, ‘specially for the Fourth of July. Betcha don’t have all that kind of good stuff up north in New York, right?”

“I guess not,” Mike replied.  “In fact, fireworks are illegal in New York, except for the big displays like Macy’s and what some towns do in the parks.  You know, handling fireworks is dangerous.  You can blow a finger off.  I read about some kid doing that in the papers every year.”

“I know, I know.  They’re illegal the same way here in Florida too!  But anyone can get them from places like the Fireworks Queen over on 441.  All ya gotta do is sign a form saying they’re for agricultural use.  You know, stuff like for scaring the birds away from crops.”

“Is that how you got the stuff you told me you shot off for the Fourth of July?”

“Yesiree!  I just signed the form and came home with a carload of rockets, pinwheels, shootin’ stars and whatever.  You should have been here to see it.  It was great!”

A ringing of the doorbell interrupted the conversation. Miltie got up to answer it and came back into the living room a minute or so later with a piece of paper in his hand and a confused look on his face.

“Mike, there was a guy at the door says he’s a volunteer from the County Fireworks Watch Bureau.  He had that damn piece of paper that I signed over at the Fireworks Queen when I bought the stuff I just told you about.  Wanted to know where my farm was.  I gotta fill out this form telling him where or I’m subject to a $2000 fine or thirty days in jail.  Told me to mail it back to him by next Thursday or he’ll be back with a Sheriff’s Deputy to take me in.  Do you know any farmers around here?

“Miltie, we don’t have this kind of crap up in New York and I don’t know any farmers in New York, let alone down here in Florida, but I have an idea.  Let me get on your computer and maybe I can come up with something.”

Twenty minutes later, after doing some Google searching, Mike smiled.

“Miltie, look what I just came up with on the internet.”  Both of them leaned over looking at the laptop’s screen, where they read the following: 

“Fertile Swamp Farm – 300 acres of farmland growing vegetables all year round.  You can experience the pleasures of being a ‘gentleman farmer’ by renting a few acres of our land for a month or by the year.  Call us at 1-800-555-7226 for info.”

“I get the idea, Mike.  We can rent a little bit of this guy’s farm, and maybe he’ll backdate the papers, and we can say that’s where we used the fireworks.   You are a genius!  I’m going to call him right now.”

The next day Mike and Miltie drove out State Road 80, way past Belle Glade and Clewiston at the bottom of Lake Okeechobee into the heart of Hendry County.  Finally they saw a sign reading “Fertile Swamp Farm – Next Left – 500 Yards.” 


Following the directions, they turned into a one-way dirt road with two well-worn tire ruts leading to a ramshackle farmhouse next to which there was a gravel parking area in which about a dozen cars and pick-ups were parked.  A teen age boy waved them into a spot and pointed to the farmhouse door.  Once inside, they found themselves among a bunch of people who from their attire, obviously didn’t have anything to do with farming.  A bald middle-aged man, seated at a table, greeted them and checked off Miltie’s name from a list before him.

“Glad you could make it.  Let me explain the deal to you,” he said.

“Hold on a minute, we really don’t want to become ‘gentlemen farmers.’ We just schlepped out here because we figured we could rent some farmland from you for a while.  All we want to do is make our use of fireworks for agricultural purposes legal.”

“I know, I know,” said the man.  “Look around you.  Why do you think all these other guys are here?  Can’t grow anything but weeds in this frigging swamp anyway.  It’s all polluted mud.   But I manage to squeeze out a living off of guys like you.  The going rate is $100 an acre a month, minimum two acres for three months, discounted to $500 if you pay in cash, which is the only way I do business anyway.  Okay?  Make up your mind.  There’s a line behind you.  And before you ask, sure, I’ll backdate the deal. It’s quarter the price of the fine they’ll hit you with.  Sign right here.”

Miltie signed and forked over $500 to the farmer.  They got into their car and quickly fell in behind the line of vehicles crawling back down the rutted road leading to State Road 80.  Once the cars cleared the dirt road and were back on the highway, three or four cars which had been impatiently waiting there made the turn onto the dirt road leading up to the farmhouse. Business was good at Fertile Swamp Farm that day!

Meanwhile, the bald-headed farmer was talking on the phone to his brother.

“Bennie, I know the fireworks stores are slowing down now that the Fourth is over, but you gotta keep pushing them.  Tell them we’ll up it to $25 for each one of those Agricultural Usage forms they copy and give to you.  And wait until you see the neat uniform shirt I got for you to use.  It comes with a “smokie” hat so you’ll almost look like a state trooper when you knock on their doors.”
Jack Lippman


Immigration - Zero Tolerance - Profound Ignorance

It is not illegal for citizens of other countries, either at our border or already in our country, to seek asylum for a variety of reasons.  People doing so are not criminals and are entitled to the "due process" our legal system provides.  Those treating them as criminals are acting in defiance of our legal system and are themselves breaking the law.  This includes the profoundly ignorant person sitting in the White House, thanks to the gullibility of many American voters, many of whom are equally profoundly ignorant.  That is a problem.

When, however, the lines for normal entry to our country to claim asylum are prohibitively long, committing the crime of crossing the border illegally with the intention of claiming asylum immediately when stopped there is perfectly understandable and should not be treated with “zero tolerance.”  Were more facilities available to legally enter the country for the purpose of claiming asylum, many of such illegal entries would not occur.  “Zero Tolerance” is not the American way!

The separation of children from such parents who enter the country illegally in order to seek asylum as well as children of legal asylum seekers who are being held while their requests for asylum are being processed is an act which will blacken American history permanently.  


                                                "Making America Great Again"

And if any of those children fail to be re-united with their parents, regardless of whether or not asylum is granted, those Americans who permitted it to happen, including the President, should be treated as the criminal child-snatchers they are.  The profound ignorance of the *P.O.S. occupying the White House, along with his arrogance, permits this to happen as some in government proceed to follow his direction in defiance of our legal system.   Ignorance, even as profound as that of the President, is not a legal defense.

It is understandable that someone whose career had been in a field where getting away with everything that wasn’t illegal was the usual way of doing business, and where one of the purposes of hiring lawyers was to find a way to legitimize illegal actions, would act this way.  The *P.O.S. doesn’t know any better.

This profound ignorance, sadly and unfortunately for the nation, has spread to the way he handles foreign relations, trade with other nations and most aspects of domestic policy.   Those of you who read last week's posting ("Playing Ping-Pong with Tariffs") read of the danger to our economy posed by the ignorance-based tariffs the President is imposing.  Well, it's happening right now Meanwhile I am sure the *P.O.S. is groping around to find someone to blame for the impending economic disaster he is causing.

But getting back to where this posting started, please remember that it is not illegal for citizens of other countries, either at our border or already in our country, to seek asylum for a variety of reasons.  Never vote for anyone who believes otherwise.

*Recheck out earlier blog postings for definition of P.O.S.
JL

Surprise Upset in NYC Primary and What it Means

Read Maureen Dowd’s recent column about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ victory in a New York Democratic Congressional primary.   CHECK IT OUT RIGHT NOW BY CLICKING HERE(For more than brief excerpts, the blog usually provides "links" to copyrighted articles rather than reproducing them.)

Could this leftward, socialist, Democratic direction be the real answer to the problem Democrats face?  

Ocasio-Cortez is unlike the “Republican-lite” Democratic candidates running outside of historic Democratic urban bastions.  She doesn't need an "independent middle" from which to seek votes.  Most Democratic activists probably quietly agree with her politically but feel that committing the party to the kind of programs she endorses will not be a winning strategy nationally this year nor in 2020.  But, on the other hand, remaining to her right may have the same disastrous results for the Democratic Party as it did in 2016.  That is the Democratic dilemma.

So, should Democrats be honest with themselves and swing leftward?  (More about this, and the damage a third party candidate would have in this age of polarization will appear in the next few postings. These will be the the determining issues in the 2018 and 2020 elections.)
 JL

 
Historical Note – Henry Clay on a Presidency Run Wild 

Henry Clay was never elected to the Presidency although he ran for the office threel times.  He was known to many as the “Great Compromiser” during the turbulent years from 1820 until 1850 when the issue of the expansion of slavery into the Nation’s new, western areas was growing into the crisis which would culminate in the Civil War.  Clay’s compromises postponed that war for several decades.

Never a believer in strong Presidential leadership,  Clay represented the supremacy of Congress over the Executive Branch and of course, was a foe of Andrew Jackson who was our first really powerful President.  Early in 1837, the Senate voted to expunge its earlier censure of President Jackson for his removal of Federal deposits from the private Bank of the United States.  In opposition, Clay spoke these words in the Senate, making it clear that he strongly felt the Senators did not fulfill their duties when they cleared President Jackson. 

Whether Jackson’s censure and its eventual "expunging" were justified is not the point at issue today.  The point being made is that here we have a Senator addressing his colleagues about a President breaking the law and the Senate letting him get away with it, doing nothing about it.  Does this sound familiar in 2018?  Read Henry Clay’s 1837 words. Were such courage present in the halls of Congress today!

“Tell them (the people) … that henceforward, no matter what daring or outrageous act any President may perform, you have forever hermetically sealed the mouth of the Senate.  Tell them that he may fearlessly assume what powers he pleases, snatch from its lawful custody the public purse, command a military detachment to enter the halls of the Capitol, overawe Congress, trample down the Constitution, raze every bulwark of freedom; but that the Senate must stand mute, in silent submission, and not dare to raise its opposing voice … And, if the people do not pour out their indignation and imprecations, I have yet to learn the character of American freemen.”
JL


Advice for Republicans

If Republicans don’t want to be identified …
1.    as members of the party of “child snatchers,”
2.    as members of the party that attacks our world-wide partners in trade and security whose friendship has enabled us to prosper for almost three-quarters of a century,
3.     as members of the party which ignores constitutionally guaranteed rights and
4. as members of the party that fights to reduce health care for millions of Americans,

all that they have to do is recognize that the President must be impeached, convicted and exiled.  It’s that simple.  Then they would have their party back.



                                                       
And wrapping it up for the day, here's a unbelievably creative Wiley cartoon strip from today's papers.   CLICK RIGHT HERE  to learn what to believe and what not to believe.  

JL




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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 Riart1@aol.com or by CLICKING RIGHT HERE.

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Contact me by email at Riart1@aol.com.   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.)

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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.

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Jack Lippman 

Monday, July 2, 2018

What Democrats MUST Do, Butterfly Gardens, a Reality Check, Gun Violence Poetry, Tariffs, Gerson's Thoughts and the, Supreme Court's Future


Advice for Those who Dislike Trump

At this point it is senseless for Democrats and those Republicans who want their party back to talk in a energy-consuming endless circle about issues like immigration, tariffs, Supreme Court vacancies, women’s rights, abortion, voter suppression, gerrymandering, world trade, the Middle East, NATO, gun violence, foreign policy, Russian involvement in our elections and the President’s highly suspicious business connections.
 
The bad guys, and they are bad, control both Houses of Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court. They are going to call the shots and get their way.  They can, do, and will, lie with impunity.  That is because a sufficient number of voters, deeply involved in "narishkeit,"  (google that if you don't know its meaning) don’t know their ass from a h_ _e in the gr_ _ nd and these are the scoundrels they voted into office.  In the last posting I addressed the Founding Fathers’ concern with this ever happening.  Go back and read it. 

So, Democrats and sane Republicans, don’t waste any time arguing about issues.  Right may be on your side but it will not triumph so long as the government is in the hands of the bad guys.  They have what amounts to a royal flush and you have a pair of deuces.  So, don’t raise the stakes.  They are high enough.  
(Pictured to right: "McCarthy-reborn" Congressman Jim Jordan grilling Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein) 

                                                                                                 
So, what do you do?  You must wholeheartedly devote yourself to making the November elections the tool of change.  No more talking politics.  Know the issues if someone asks you about them but the only thing you should have time for are voter registration programs, phone banks and volunteering to work in candidates’ offices.

Get up extra early and go to bed extra late and work hard between times.  Knock on doors when necessary.  This is not only a dictum for candidates but for anyone who wants to retake control of America’s destiny from the worst gang of bad people in American politics since the Tory Loyalists in 1776 and the secessionists of 1860.   So, shut up and get to work.  If you will be seeing less of this blog in the future, that’s the reason why.   I will be taking my advice.
Jack Lippman





You Can Have a Butterfly Garden !


Bring a little cheer into your life and that of your neighbors.  Plant a milkweed in your yard, or leave it potted outside of your home.  Water it regularly.  No other care required.  Monarch butterflies will lay their eggs on the leaves, larvae will form, caterpillars will hatch from them, nibbling the leaves and eventually find  spots nearby in which to molt into hanging cocoons from which new butterflies will emerge.  You can purchase milkweed at most garden stores, including Home Depot.   (When the flowers, which will attract the butterflies to your plant, dry up and seed pods appear, make sure they get planted too and you’ll be on your way to a butterfly jungle.)  Guaranteed!
JL




Supreme Court: What Did You Expect?

(Note:  Usually I prepare blog postings bit by bit during the preceding week.  This item was written after the Supreme Court decision supporting the banning of immigration from seven countries, only five of which were “Muslim,” [a transparent ploy to dupe the Court’s political appointees into ignoring the President’s antipathy to Muslim immigration] but before the announced resignation of Justice Kennedy, pictured below. He is certain to be replaced by a Justice on the list recommended by the Federalist Society, all of whom are Pro-Life.  My comments were timely and are right on the mark.)



When Antonin Scalia passed away during the administration of Barack Obama, conniving, slimy Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell spent a year refusing to consider the President’s nominee for the empty Supreme Court seat.  Finally, when the *P.O.S. was elected President in 2016, McConnell was willing to consider a nominee, and so we ended up with Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court.  Gorsuch is not a bad man but he is not an old man either and that appears to guarantee a lengthy conservative majority on the Supreme Court.  Because Court nominees must be approved by the Senate, and the likelihood of several vacancies occurring over the next few years, it is crucial that the Democrats regain control of that body in November and maintain that control for at least a decade.  If that doesn’t happen, regardless of who controls the House of Representatives, there will be what amounts to a permanent judicial brake on liberal, progressive legislation until well after the middle of this century.  Without a Democratic Senate majority, even a Democratic President’s nominees will be stymied and conversely, the nominees of any Republican President will have no problem.  That’s why the 2016 Senate elections are more important than the House races, the governorship races or even the Presidency in 2020.

*see the prior posting for definition of P.O.S.
 JL




From a Michael Gerson Column:

Last week, Republican Michael Gerson’s Washington Post column was headed “Values-based conservatives can conquer Trumpism.”    In the column, after a discussion of Christian values (love thy neighbor, etc.), Gerson concludes with these words: “If you believe (as I do) that opposing ethno-nationalist dehumanization is the nation’s central moral and political challenge – and believe (as I do) that the battle will be won or lost on the right – who can most effectively carry this? Not business interests.  Not foreign policy experts.  Not libertarians.  If effective resistance happens, it will come from values-based, religiously motivated conservatives who can no longer stomach the moral putridity of Trumpism.”

Followers of this blog should go back to its last posting where I laid this problem before Evangelical Christian and Orthodox Jewish Trump supporters who should be troubled by the contradictions between their deeply held religious beliefs and all that the President stands for.  (Access Hollywood excerpt to right.  Remember that one, Evangelicals?)  Go back to that posting and read the part right above the picture of the Israelites worshipping a golden calf.  The most frightening words in Gerson’s conclusion are “If effective resistance  happens.”  And what if it doesn’t?
JL

Justify -  One Smart Horse

One of you sent me this “joke” the other day.  Usually we don’t include things like this in the blog, but since I am a fan of horseracing, and not so much a fan of the President, let’s make an exception.  


 
Did you know that Triple Crown winner Justify was invited to the White House to be congratulated by its occupant?  Surprisingly, he turned down the invitation, commenting that “If I wanted to see an asshole, I could have come in second in any one of those three races."  
JL

Playing Ping-Pong with Tariffs 

Bloomberg Business Week (to which I subscribe and recommend to others) provides insightful commentary on almost everything that is going on.  As for the “trade war” that is simmering between the United States and China, they make some cogent comments about the back and forth escalation of tariffs going on between the two countries.  “The problem with ‘tit for tat’ is not irrationality, but miscalculation.  If each country keeps escalating in the mistaken expectation that the other side will eventually back down, the result will be high tariff barriers and a reduction in cross-border commerce that leaves both sides worse off,” their experts write in their June 25 issue.

They see four scenarios as to how the U.S. – China trade conflict will be resolved. 1. Both sides back down (Unlikely), 2. China “blinks” (China fears a downturn in their underperforming economy so they stop raising tariffs), 3. The U.S. “blinks” (Losses suffered by American farmers and a weakening of the U.S. economy and stock market due to tariffs will force the U.S. to stop raising them) and 4. Neither side “blinks” (Resulting in great damage to both nations’ economies as tariffs keep rising).  Their experts point out that “the World Trade Organization was created to prevent exactly this kind of bluffing and brinksmanship.”

Map of counties in the U.S. which will be hurt by Chinese tariffs on our soybeans, their reaction to our tariffs on their steel and aluminum.  These areas include many supporters of the P.O.S., whose idea these tariffs were.  

                                   *     *     *
Rumors persist that the P.O.S. in the White House wants the United States to withdraw from the World Trade Organization which certainly won’t help things for either nation.  He is very good at withdrawals, or threatening them anyway as a tool, as witnessed by his actions on climate change, the Iran Treaty, and his numerous destructive comments in regard to NATO and NAFTA.  (Ask Stormy Daniels about his withdrawals as well.) Bottom line is that when our P.O.S. sits down with Vladimir Putin, he may get his lunch eaten as well as further weakening our tottering relationship with our friends and allies.  (This last paragraph was not based upon the Bloomberg article).
JL 

  

Gun Violence Won't Go Away Until ...

At a recent meeting of politically active friends, a question was raised about how viable the issue of reducing gun violence would be in the 2016 elections since there really hadn’t been any major incidents since the Parkland shooting.  “Wait,” I said, “There’s sure to be another one soon.  Halfway measures are still no solution.”  The Annapolis, MD newpaper office shooting the other day proves the point.  Anyway, it inspired me to write a poem.

Gun Violence Poem

Your thoughts and prayers, they do no good,                                             
Background checks don’t do what they should,                             
Keeping track of cases mental
Seen each day, they’re incremental,                           
And in the long run just a waste                                              
And nowhere for hopes to be placed.                                     
Outlawing the assault rifle
Will help a bit, just a trifle,                                              
But there remains that old shotgun,                           
A fine weapon if you got one.
Lead your life behind steel walls?                   
With armed guards out in the halls?   
There is just one thing to do,                
Change Amendment Number Two.   
JL   


A Reality Check and Passing on the Torch

America, during the seventy years since the end of the Second World War, has made tremendous progress in terms of economic growth and guaranteeing the liberties of its citizens.  Many people worked hard for these things, and some have died for them.  Today, many of us take what we have for granted and even worse, some are even willing to throw them away. That is a mistake. 

Here is a copy of the things I listed in the previous posting which I believe may have contributed to our democracy going off its tracks and teetering on the brink of a precipice, below which is the dark, authoritarian world envisioned in such novels as George Orwell’s novel, “1984” and Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.” 

Theme of  Orwell's "1984"
Are these the reasons many Americans have lost touch with reality and accept horrendous things as normal?  How did this come about?  Here is that list from the last posting:

1. Did economic pressures and changes in how people earned their living push them in that direction?  Hence, are technology and globalization the culprits?  
2. Did “tribalism,” based on skin color, social agendas and ethnic background do it? 

3. Could it be the still smoldering original differences among people in this nation, starting with the thirteen original states, slavery, the Civil War, reconstruction after it, and the civil rights struggle, in which certain people lost what they believed were rights guaranteed only to them be the cause?  
4. Could the always present relationship between religion and politics, despite the First Amendment, be the cause?  
5. Could the First Amendment itself be the cause, allowing lies to have as much credibility as truth, contaminating the concept of a free press?  
6. Could our popular culture (movies, TV, video games, social media) have so disoriented the public that these platforms too share the blame? 
7. Is our educational system to blame?  
8. Is the socialistic idea of the government providing an economic and social safety net for those who cannot make it on their own to blame? 
9. Is our free enterprise capitalistic system to blame where business profits are supposed to benefit all of us, but usually benefit some much, much more than others?

I don’t have the answers, but serious Americans must seek them out and try to strengthen democracy in our country.  It is not an overnight job.  It isn’t a matter of politics although an unavoidable conclusion is that what used to be the Republican Party has sold its soul to the devil in exchange for votes and is at the heart of the problem.  The party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and spiritually the heirs of Alexander Hamilton and Presidents Madison, Monroe and both Adamses is unrecognizable today.

I have been a registered voter for 65 years. The votes I cast over the years helped, in many instances, to elect people who helped build the great nation we live in and enabled it to survive.  It is up to younger voters to take on the responsibility of restoring what is left of democracy in the United States.  If they do not, they will have to live with the looming disaster and it will not be pleasant.  

 Older Americans must pass this message on to their children and grandchildren so that the work past generations started may be conserved (that’s what true conservatism is about) and further progress made (that’s what true progressivism is about) despite any interruption in this process, as we are presently experiencing.  The United States of America is not a reality TV series. It is reality!
JL


HOW TO BE ALERTED TO FUTURE BLOG POSTINGS.
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 Riart1@aol.com.

HOW TO CONTACT ME or CONTRIBUTE MATERIAL TO JACKSPOTPOURRI.com 
Just send it to me by email at Riart1@aol.com.   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.)

MOBILE DEVICE ACCESS.
DID YOU KNOW THAT www.jackspotpourri.com IS ALSO AVAILABLE ON YOUR MOBILE DEVICES IN A MODIFIED, EASY-TO-READ, FORMAT?   

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.

HOW TO FORWARD POSTINGS.
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