Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Where Health Insurance is Headed, a Krugman "gem," Doing Something in Syria and a Canadian Interloper

Google "Adsense," which provides the advertisements which appear on this blog ... and which pays us a pittance when you click on them ... has just sent me a check for the last $100 worth of your clicks.  That money has been donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Keep on "clicking" to see the good deals these ads often contain!  JL
Health Care Needs a Fix
The Affordable Care Act has enabled many millions of Americans to obtain real health insurance for the first time in their lives, enabling them to have real healthcare rather than depending on visits to ERs or worse, ignoring symptoms and going untreated.



Its accomplishments include (1) requiring insurers to provide coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions, (2) enabling dependents up to age 26 to remain on their parent’s health insurance plans, (3) establishing cost guidelines for health care providers and (4) subsidizing the cost of health insurance through state-run Medicaid programs for low income families.

But the ACA has not worked well in other waysIt is dependent on the private health insurance industry to provide policies to individuals, who are mandated to purchase coverages from these private insurance companies or pay a tax penalty.    Many young and healthy individuals have found it less expensive to pay the penalty than to purchase health insurance.  Unfortunately, older and sicker people have purchased it in great numbers.  This “mix” has caused some insurance companies to cease providing policies under the Act’s provisions (through State-run and Federal purchasing exchanges) and many, to keep premiums low, have offered policies with very large deductibles and co-payments.  This, along with unregulated prescription drug costs, have resulted in “sticker shock” when Americans get their bills from health care providers.


But these negatives are not present within the framework of Medicare, which is what most Americans age 65 and older have as their primary health insurance programs.  Of course, Medicare is not free.  Those covered under it pay premiums, usually deducted from Social Security payments, and the Federal government must also subsidize it from tax revenues.
 
The only involvement of private health insurance companies in Medicare is (1) to sell supplementary insurance to fill Medicare’s gaps, (2) to sell a wide a choice of prescription drug plans and (3) to sell Medicare “Advantage” plans where the insureds sacrifice an element of choice in how their health care is delivered for an all-encompassing lower premium, often paid entirely by the Federal government.   Thus, there is a vast difference between Medicare and Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act.  Those on Medicare have a better deal!

Bernie Sanders actually wanted to do away with the Affordable Care Act and make everyone eligible for Medicare.  This would basically wipe out the private health insurance industry, except for the supporting roles described in the preceding paragraph.  We would then have a “single payer” plan, and that payer would be Medicare or whatever the government chose to call it.  This would be a very costly program, although Sanders, and some health insurance economists, claim its total cost would be less than what we are paying for health care through private companies today.  Ultimately, it is inevitable that we will end up with a program approaching, but not quite realizing, Medicare for all.  But don’t hold your breath.  Read on.


Hillary Clinton has proposed making those age 55 and older eligible for Medicare.  Of course, this would be complicated since such individuals are not yet on Social Security.  They would have to purchase the plan and further tax increases certainly would also be necessary.  Most importantly, however, this would take many older, and sicker, people out of the pool of individuals purchasing private insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges.  Taking these age 55 to 64 folks into Medicare would reduce premiums for those remaining to purchase Obamacare private insurance and hopefully, bring still more younger and healthier people into the program.

I foresee that perhaps there might be a periodic change in such a program whereby the age at which the opportunity to select Medicare as one’s health insurance choice would periodically drop, perhaps one year annually, until ultimately, everyone would have the opportunity to opt for and purchase Medicare coverage!  The private health insurance industry, being more expensive since it involves making a profit, would then wither away. 

This leads to the question as to whether health care, in general, should be an area where profit-making, along with providing a service, should even be a factor.  And this includes the pharmaceutical industry.   Is more government regulation of that industry, and the rest of health care, on the horizon, and would that lead to a government takeover of all aspects of health care?  Would that be good or bad?  

There has to be a middle ground, a balance somewhere, and it will be determined, I believe, over the next quarter of a century.  The absence of what used to be the Republican Party, over those years, may make reaching this balance easier. 

 For that, Democrats and others who will back such a "single payer" plan will owe their thanks to one person, Donald Trump.
Jack Lippman

                                                            



Krugman! 

Image result for krugman

Last week, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman concluded one of his columns by stating that “…today’s increasingly multiracial, multicultural society is a nightmare for people who want a white, Christian nation in which lesser breeds know their place.  And those are the people Trump has brought out into the open.”  And I might add that the place out from which “Dangerous” Donald has brought them is the woodwork, where many of them have been hiding, crawling and breeding since the Civil War.
JL
                                             


Now They Have to Import Conservatives! 

I recently received an email captioned "The Donald Trump Video Every Jew MUST Watch!"  So I watched it.  It was a shallow, fifteen minute diatribe by notorious Canadian ultra-conservative Ezra Levant (who comes across as your mild-mannered harmless second cousin) appealing to Jews in the United States to vote for Donald Trump for a variety of reasons, including his Jewish grandchildren, and filled with tired old accusations that Democrats, particularly Clinton and President Obama, were no friends of the Jews nor of Israel. 

Image result for ezra levant

Levant is known for his right-wing Zionist views which is just fine, but that does not entitle him to inject himself into our politics with an emotional message intended to appeal to the very gullible among us who are ready to agree with anything they believe is "kosher" because of the presence of a Magen David, literally or figuratively, in it.   And that's what Levant figuratively does, waving the Israeli flag in the face of American voters!   And it raised a few questions in my mind which I directed to Levant in an email to which I doubt he will reply.  You can watch Levant's message by clicking here.   And here is what I asked him in my email.

1.  If Donald Trump is so good for the Jews, how come he has appointed an anti-Semite like Stephen Bannon, who didn't want his kids going to private school with Jews, to run his campaign?

2.  If Donald Trump is so good for the Jews, how come he hasn't firmly denounced the support of avowed anti-Semites like David Duke and other white supremacists, about whom months ago, he said he didn't know anything.

3.  As someone who isn't even a citizen of the United States, why are you getting involved in our Presidential election?  Really, it's none of your business.

4.  Do you really believe that voters should vote for what they perceive as being good for their personal religious beliefs rather than what is good for their country?  The United States is not the Islamic Middle East.  You seem to be confused about this.
  JL

                        

Humanitarian Action Demanded in Syria 

Image result for syrian child in allepo

It’s time that the political parties in the United States, and their candidates, spoke out about what is going on in Syria.  Too many innocent people, many of them children, are being killed there.  It is time that this slaughter be ended.  Military and political considerations should be put aside and a humanitarian solution given the highest priority.

To start this, an international conference should be assembled.  Mid-level diplomatic representatives from the United States, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Iraq and a major Sunni nation such as Saudi Arabia or Jordan should attend, as well as, of course, the Syrian government.  The Iraqi delegation must include Sunnis and Kurds, even though the government in Baghdad is primarily Shia.   A possible place for such a meeting might be Dubai or Cairo.

The agenda must include (1) the cessation of bombing and shelling of civilian areas, (2) the removal of all military installations from civilian areas and (3) the establishment of refugee centers, schools and hospitals in areas from which all military activity is prohibited.   Failure of any of the participants to agree to this kind of agenda would mark them as enemies of real peace in the Middle East and as deserving of condemnation as is the Islamic State, which all of them ostensibly oppose.

Once such a conference achieves a “humanitarian” victory in Syria, further diplomatic steps should follow in an effort to resolve political issues without resorting to military measures, other than those directed as eradicating the Islamic State … and that too should proceed along the guidelines suggested above.

It might be anticipated that such a “humanitarian” approach might result in unwarranted criticism of Israel, something which is automatic among Muslim states.  It is clear, however, that the military measures resorted to by Israel, only after extensive warnings to civilian populations, were only necessitated by the intentional placement of military targets in the midst of civilian environments.  Should this issue arise at the suggested meeting, it would be the role of Israel’s friends there to point this out.

And while on this subject, the United States has agreed to, and is in the course of accepting, 10,000 throroughly "vetted" immigrants from the carnage in Syria as a humanitarian gesture. European nations, less richly endowed than our country, are doing much more.  These people once had homes and jobs there, and children going to school each day, but all of that has been wiped out.  Other than Native Americans, there is no one in the United States who is not descended from immigrants who came here for similar reasons. There has always been some sort of "Golden Door" in this country. 

Image result for statue of liberty
"I lift my lamp beside the golden door." ... from the famous Emma Lazarus poem

And those who scream to keep them out, fearing they are terrorists, are only repeating what was said about other immigrant groups since the Nation's founding; they forget that Americans themselves are immigrants or their descendants.  Shame on them.
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 clicking on Riart1@aol.com and sending me an Email.  

HOW TO CONTACT ME or CONTRIBUTE MATERIAL TO JACK'S POTPOURRI. 
BY CLICKING ON THAT SAME ADDRESS, Riart1@aol.com   YOU ALSO CAN SEND ME YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO BE PUBLISHED IN THIS BLOG AS WELL AS YOUR COMMENTS.  (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 


Monday, August 22, 2016

Trump's Forthcoming "Call to Arms," Kristof on Meanness, "Our Kids" and a Very Frightening Article

There's a lot of very important material on this posting, information which many people may not be aware of. Please pass this on to your friends, relatives and neighbors.

What's Behind the Trump Team's "Shake-Up"
What is “Dangerous” Donald Trump up to now?  By now you know he again shook up his campaign staff.  In a polite way, he has already said to “apprentices” Corey Lewandowski and Paul Manafort, “You’re fired!”  So where does he go now?

He has put Stephen Bannon of Breitbart News in a joint top campaign leadership role!  Wow!  This is a perfect example of “preaching to the choir,” designed to further strengthen the bond between “Dangerous” Donald and those who enabled him to win the G.O.P.’s Presidential nomination: the vocal far right-wing minority of the Republican Party, those whose lives have been changed by technology and world trade, and those who wish to turn back the nation’s socio-economic clock and tax rates half a century.  It will do nothing whatsoever to improve his standing with the rest of the G.O.P. and even less with Democrats and independent voters.

Image result for Steve bannon
Bannon

Trump is not stupid, although in the eyes of many, he might appear to be.  His appointment of Bannon means that he has given up on any hope of winning the Presidency in 2016, regardless of what he might say Rather, his aim is to strengthen and expand his ego-based movement far beyond the borders of the Republican Party and cultivate and expand the anti-establishment, anti-immigration, covertly racist coalition which got him the G.O.P. nomination.  Right now, embittered by the lukewarm support he is receiving from the rest of the Republican Party, “Dangerous” Donald considers them an impediment to his being elected and wants to be rid of them.  Bannon’s conservatism includes a deep distrust of both Democratic and Republican leadership, and this seems to suit Trump’s purposes just fine.

“Dangerous” Donald’s eyes are already set beyond the impending election of Hillary Clinton.  I suspect that he is planning a four- year campaign of attacks on her on all levels commencing with his concession speech which will figuratively be a "call to arms" directed to all those who oppose Hillary Clinton.  His aim is unite all of the disgruntled in this country, Democrats, Republicans and independents, and recruit them in his campaign to “Make America Great Again.”
 
Whether he will do this within the framework of our existing party structure,or form his own party, intent on running in 2020, is still uncertain.  By then the G.O.P., minus its Trump supporters, will be impotent.  He may choose to ignore it entirely, starting his own party, or decide to build upon its skeleton. Having been their 2016 nominee is the equivalent of his securing an "option" to do that if he so chooses to. 

"Dangerous" Donald Trump is very, very good at this sort of thing; he has been buying properties for years and deciding whether to demolish them and totally rebuild, or make do with what he acquired.   He will paint whatever the Clinton administration will have accomplished as evil, dishonest, un-American and even traitorous.  For four years, on a nationwide basis, he will use the tactics which won him the 2016 nomination: insults and vague half-truths, designed to appeal to the gullible. Stephen Bannon is just the man to do this and it will start right now, continuing until Election Day in 2020.  (For those who are unfamiliar with Breitbart News, I personally consider it somewhere to the right of Rush Limbaugh. Trump has now moved "beyond the fringe" and is now venturing into unknown, uncharted and dangerous waters.)

That’s the way it looks to me, unless “Dangerous” Donald Trump is actually stupid, which I find it very, very hard to believe.  To think that he is would be a huuugh, huuugh mistake!
Jack Lippman
                               


Homework Assignment: For Extra Credit - Read this Article

In October of 2015, long before the Republican primaries, caucuses and Convention,  BloombergBusinessweek published an article with the following headline and lead-in:  "This Man is the Most Dangerous Political Operative in America - Steve Bannon runs the vast right-wing conspiracy - and he wants to take down both Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush."  It was their cover story.



It is imperative that all of you, and that means YOU, take the time to read this frightening article.  Breitbart News, referred to in the article as a haven for those who think Fox News is too restrained and polite, is at the core of Conservative media, and its head, Stephen Bannon, probably has more brains singlehandedly than Trump, Pence, Cllinton and Kaine put together times two!  That's why Businessweek referred to him as "Dangerous." CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE.   
JL

                     


A Column by Kristof

About a week ago, the New York Times (and subsequently other papers nationwide) carried a column by Nicholas Kristof about the meanness Donald Trump is bringing to the American political scene.  It is very moving and well worth a minute or so of your time.  Click here to read it.  You may want to pass it on to others.
JL

                                                       

"Our Kids"

The following article appeared on this blog about a year ago.  It is reprinted because this afternoon, I happened to hear Dr. Putnam on NPR discussing his book.  It is worth reading.  
JL


I recently read a book that I must draw to your attention.  It is probably one of the most important books to come out this year.  I am referring to “Our Kids, The American Dream in Crisis” by Robert D. Putnam.  Get a hold of a copy, read it and I hope, recognize the importance of the issues with which it deals.  Oh, yes.  He does offer solutions … but please read the book.

What is the American Dream?  It may be summed up in one word: Opportunity.  That is what brought waves of immigrants to our shores and sent Americans across the continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific.  It’s what created businesses, families and communities.  Robert D. Putnam, Harvard political scientist, in his book “Our Kids, The American Dream in Crisis,” focuses in on how over the past two or three decades, our society has been increasingly divided into two classes, defined by the interrelated criteria of educational level and income, and how that has closed off that “opportunity” to massive numbers of American children.

The “tracks” that these classes are in effect locked into include where members of each class live, where they go to school, what kind of families they have, when they have children, the nature of the communities in which they live and the way they earn, or fail to earn, their livings.  Mobility between the two classes is next to impossible, and results in the absence of growth opportunities for children in the “lower” class, whose status they inherit from their parents.

It always wasn’t that way.  As recently as the 1960s, rich and poor attended the same high schools, lived in neighborhoods that were not that far from one another, shopped in the same stores, and were considered part of the same community.  People were still able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.  But that world where mobility opened the door to opportunity has disappeared.

Putnam documents that this class division is not a racially determined; it is found equally among Blacks, Latinos and Whites.  We see the result of this class system in our decaying cities, in teenage pregnancy statistics, school dropout rates, drug usage, crime, family disintegration and unemployment.  These problems affect members of the poorer class far more than those who are more affluent and better educated.  And the ones who suffer the most are the “kids,” who in earlier generations had the opportunity for climb a ladder out of their class.  But that opportunity no longer exists.

The book includes detailed case histories of these “kids” which are enough to break one’s heart.  Bottom line:  Economic hardship translated as the inability of a “breadwinner” to get a good job contributes to family disintegration and turns life into a scenario where the struggle to simply survive so saps the energy of the lower classes that the nexus of the American Dream, opportunity, is in danger of permanently fading for them.

If you read one book this year, this should be it.
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 clicking on Riart1@aol.com and sending me an Email.  

HOW TO CONTACT ME or CONTRIBUTE MATERIAL TO JACK'S POTPOURRI. 
BY CLICKING ON THAT SAME ADDRESS, Riart1@aol.com   YOU ALSO CAN SEND ME YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO BE PUBLISHED IN THIS BLOG AS WELL AS YOUR COMMENTS.  (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 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Trump's Imprecise Language, More Reasons to Shun Him (a Tom Friedman Column), Whither Retail, a Baseball Analogy and a Plea for Newspapers

                                 


More Reasons for Americans of All Parties to Shun Trump

Last week “Dangerous Donald” Trump accused Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton of being the founders of the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL).  He has somewhat clarified this by implying that their actions in the Middle East, specifically removing American troops, was tantamount to their being the founders of ISIS. (He ignores the fact that the Shia-dominated Iraqi government would not provide an acceptable “status of forces” agreement for any troops we maintained there, meaning that American troops accused of committing crimes would be tried in Iraqi courts, not American military courts.  Bottom line: The Iranian-backed Iraqi government did not want our troops there.) 

Of course, “Dangerous Donald” is just posturing, hoping this type of phony accusation will get him a few more votes.  He appeals to a constituency which is ready to believe anything negative he might say, truthful or not, about the President and Hillary Clinton. Even something as ridiculous as their being the founders of ISIS! 

And when "Dangerous Donald" recognized (or was finally told, probably by a family member) how transparently phony his accusation was, he ends up claiming that his critics just aren't capable of comprehending his "sarcasm." Late news:  Sarcasm is a quality we should be looking for in choosing a President.  Not in my country!

The danger of such phony accusations (if Obama and Clinton “founded” ISIS, it follows that they would have committed treasonous acts ... that's the conclusion which "Dangerous Donald" wants his supporters to reach.) is that there are enough wackos out there who might believe them.  This kind of accusation, along with his Second Amendment comment, can result in violence.

Image result for donald trump

With that in mind, I offer you Thomas Friedman's August 9 New York Times column where he points out how such subtle or not so subtle inflammatory oratory can have fatal results when it inspires ardent believers to commit violent acts.  That is the scenario that led to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by an individual opposed to Rabin’s willingness to seriously negotiate with the Palestinians.  And that is the road that “Dangerous Donald,” master of imprecise and ambiguous language, is taking!  If you read no further in this blog, you must read Friedman’s column!  To do so, just click right here ! 
Jack Lippman  
                                 

The Intentional Imprecision of Donald Trump

“Dangerous Donald” Trump’s language is often very imprecise, leaving the listener to decide what he is saying, and leaving him an “exit ramp” if he is criticized for what he is saying.  It is akin to a slick salesman’s vaguely smoothing over a contentious point in his pitch by planting an incomplete idea in the customer’s mind, and allowing that customer to make an incorrect assumption.  He might declare that the air conditioner you are buying is guaranteed for five years, but when it breaks down a year later, and you read the fine print, you find that the five year guarantee is filled with exceptions and isn’t what you thought it was.

Look at these examples, and note my comments in red.

          Image result for second amendment
  1. We’ll start with Trump’s recent Second Amendment verbatim comments which are in in blue.
 "Hillary wants to abolish -- essentially abolish the Second Amendment.”  
 Trump knows Hillary doesn’t want to abolish the Second Amendment, and to avoid being called a liar, he modifies his accusation with the non-specific word “essentially,” which his listeners don’t hear.” 
“By the way, if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people,”
He just mentions the “Second Amendment people,” saying nothing about them, leaving the listener to possibly supply a verb. 
"maybe there is, I don't know,"   
Trump’s words “maybe there is” just hanging there certainly apply to the “Second Amendment people” but he goes no further with this line of thought.” Some listeners might go further with them though and in their heads complete the thought to read “maybe there is action they might take.”  But then, the final “I don’t know” disclaimer removes him from responsibility for those who take it that way and dream of violent action.  And he did mumble “maybe” too, taking him still further off of any hook.
"But I tell you what, that will be a horrible day, (pause) if Hillary gets to put her judges in, right now we’re tied."
Does he mean it will be a horrible day if the Second Amendment people take some violent action when Hillary appoints liberal judges, or does he simply mean it will be a horrible day if Hillary gets to appoint judges.  An intentional ambiguity, leaving it to the listener to interpret his words.

           
  1. Now let’s go back a year to a CNN interview in which Trump attacked Fox News’ Megyn Kelly who had moderated a G.O.P debate.  His words are in blue and my comments are in red.  
"You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever." 
Use of the words "you could see" left responsibility for the vulgar sexual connotation which almost all viewers attached to his comment to those viewers, getting him off of the hook.  And because “whatever” is a meaningless word, Trump left it to the viewer to provide a more precise meaning for it.  It could mean anything and in fact, in a subsequent "tweet," he suggested it might refer to her nose as well as elsewhere.  Use of an imprecise word like “whatever” allows Trump to have an “exit ramp.”

    Image result for mrs khan's response to trump       
  1. And in regard to Ghazala Khan, mother of the Muslim United States war hero, Trump was similarly ambiguous in his interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News.  Trump’s words, verbatim, are in blue.  My comments are in red.
“If you look at his wife, she was standing there, she had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say.”
Trump asks the viewer (you) to look at her and draw your own conclusions. When he comments that she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say, an attack on the role of women in some parts of the Islamic world, he includes the words “probably” and ‘maybe.”  This takes him off of the hook and leaves it to the viewer to come to the conclusion Trump has reached but will not himself unequivocally state.  He entirely passes the buck to the viewer with his final three words.
“You tell me.”

This “You tell me” and the “I don’t know” comment in regard to his Second Amendment gaffe are the ways this slick snake oil salesman puts his ideas into the minds of his gullible followers while maintaining his own innocence.  (Same thing goes for his use of “whatever” as cited above.) 

Image result for trump Who me?  I nevah said that!

That “Dangerous Donald” Trump was merely encouraging “Second Amendment people” to get out and vote rather than half-humorously suggesting that they might take some more violent action if Clinton is elected and appoints liberal justices is something only unbelievably na├»ve voters (and paid Trump staffers) would believe. 

His use of the expression “Second Amendment people” is strange too.  It is coded language actually meaning “gun owners” but saying that would put his remarks in a far more ominous light, less easy to slither away from.   

Image result for people with guns
A Second Amendment Person

But did "Dangerous Donald" actually mean to suggest some sort of violent action?  You’ll never know because of the intentionally imprecise language he uses. 

“Dangerous Donald” Trump believes we all are gullible and stupid, like some of the people in the real estate and casino businesses whom he has bilked over the years with his “deals.”  That is not the case.  Every day, thousands of Republicans are waking up to this and deciding to either stay away from the polls on Election Day or even planning on voting for Hillary Clinton.  They put country ahead of party, once they realize that "Dangerous Donald" puts himself ahead of both country and party.

The great mystery which future historians will address is determining what factors in the United States of America in 2015 and 2016, and more specifically, in the Republican Party, resulted in his getting the G.O.P. Presidential nomination.
JL
                         


On Its Way Out - Retail

I recall standing in a check-out line, about five years ago, in a discount department store, probably TJ Maxx or Marshalls.  In front of me was a man in his fifties and a younger woman, probably his adult daughter.  The line was moving slowly, what with some customers having coupons, some presenting merchandise without price tags and still others swiping credit cards that didn’t work.  I overheard the man speaking loudly to his daughter.   ““Look at this. Isn’t it awful. Now, can you see why I’ve always been glad we never were in ‘retail.’ What a mess!”

Image result for line at checkout counter retail
Waiting in line at Target

Obviously, the man’s business did not involve his dealing with the ultimate consumer of his stock in trade, whatever it was.  It was easier to be a distributor or wholesaler, where expenses and receipts were easily calculated from a limited number of clients, than a retailer dealing with the vagaries of thousands of different customers each day.  That’s true today too, and the availability of merchandise on the internet via Amazon and many other sites, has made retailing even more hazardous.

Just recently, Sports Authority has closed all of its stores.  Walmart is planning on closing 243 of theirs and Macy’s recently announced that 100 of its locations will disappear within a year.  Retailing as we have known it over the past half a century, is on its way out.  And many jobs will be lost.

It will be replaced, I suspect, by even more purchases being made on the internet or in discount wholesale operations such as Costco or BJ's.   Hopefully, they, and internet warehouses filling online orders, will be hiring laid off retail store employees.
 
Those stores and chains that survive will be those which deal in very high priced, exclusive and individualized merchandise (Jewelry and high couture designer apparel), extremely inexpensive merchandise of just temporary appeal (H&M, Charming Charlie) or clearance outlets for manufacturers overruns (Marshalls, Bealls, etc.).  Everything else will slowly shift to the internet.
JL
                                             

That's Baseball!

When there is a close call in a baseball game, challenged by the team the umpire’s call went against, the umpiring crew gathers and gets on the phone with an umpiring crew housed in New York City (they actually are at Chelsea Piers on the Hudson River at about 20th Street) which reviews all available videos and comes to a decision, either confirming the game umpire’s call, or overruling it … and that decision is final.  Usually, there is some consternation in the dugout of the team the decision goes against, but they accept it as having gone through an appeal process.  It’s final. That’s baseball.


But politics is different.  Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s involvement in the tragic attack on our Consulate in Behghazi has been reviewed by innumerable panels, including hours of her testimony before a hostile House Committee.  And they have not come up with anything with which to condemn her.  Similarly, the FBI has thoroughly examined her use of a private email server, and while extremely critical of her doing so, had decided that there is nothing there to prosecute her for.  Decisions have been made in both cases after extensive review of the evidence.  But unlike angry baseball players in the dugout after the umpires in New York have ruled against them, who know how to take a decision like men … Republicans do not.  Their anger persists.  They should watch a few baseball games and learn something.  
JL

                                                 

Newspapers Must Survive 

In a recent Washington Post column, Kathleen Parker bemoaned the continuing attrition in the newspaper industry.  She leaned heavily on a recent TV blast by HBO's John Oliver. Without paying subscribers, newspapers will die, despite their efforts to carry on alongside of their internet versions, which soon may be their only access to the public.
   
    
John Oliver and Kathleen Parker

Then, Parker and Oliver ask, where will the supposed news sources on television and on the internet, get their news?  Both news and investigative reporting by newspaper journalists are what TV and internet “news” programs lean heavily upon.  See how often what they are talking about is credited to a “print” newspaper.  What will they do when there are no print newspapers around from which they can absorb information?  The staffs of national networks and local outlets are very limited in size and cannot cover the wide spectrum of news events occurring daily in our country. Newspapers can.   But Parker, quoting Oliver, said it far better than I can so click here to read her column.
Image result for delivering papers

Subscribe to a newspaper!  Have it delivered to your door every day, even if you don’t read it.   Its existence will enable the news you see on TV or online to continue to exist as well.
JL
                                                                     
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