Sunday, May 19, 2019

Cuban Reflections, the Future of Democracy and Words from Baltasar Gracian






Cuba

Been away for a few days to a country where everyone gets “free” health care (including abortions) and all education, including college and graduate programs are “free,” where no one (other than the police) have guns and religion is totally a personal matter.  Of course, Cuba is a communist nation, with the resulting lack of the personal freedoms we have in the United States. Sixty percent of the population is, in some way, on the government payroll and private enterprise is very limited. Despite government programs including free housing, poverty and hunger are common.  This is not good.



Just 90 Miles South of Florida
There is no great abundance of natural resources, like oil, to create wealth, and the contributions of rum, cigars and tourism (Americans can visit only for educational, cultural and humanitarian purposes.) to the Cuban economy are limited.  Yet the people seem to be content.  Their infrastructure, often centuries-old, is crumbling and in some places beyond repair.  Cuba is ripe for change.  The Russians and the Chinese are well-aware of this and have economic footholds there.  Our failure to act similarly will ultimately turn the Monroe Doctrine into a worthless bit of history, unless we better our political and economic relationships with that country, only 90 miles from our shores.
  

Note:  Seventy percent of the local commuter buses used in Cuba as well as the sleek, deluxe, modern, air-conditioned tour buses used there were manufactured in China. Since 2005, Cuba has purchased 6,800 of these vehicles from China.  (In my opinion, Cuba couldn't afford to buy them without financial aid from China, possibly via a bond issue which was totally subscribed to by Beijing?)   There’s a message there, Donald.


Jack Lippman






Democracy


The Glory that was Greece
Democracy ran its course and did not survive in ancient Greece nor in the Roman Empire.  Historically, democracies throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and South America, when encountering economic and social problems, have failed and been replaced by more authoritarian regimes.  The heyday of democracy in the United States, the periods that those longing to “Make America Great Again” seek to regenerate, were fueled by Nineteenth century expansion westward in our 

Wagons Westward
 

country and more recently, by tremendous technological and economic growth here once the pressures of the Great Depression and the Second World War were history.  They just did not “happen.”  They were “caused.” But those motivations are not necessarily present today.  Without them, can democracy survive in the United States or will we share the fate of Greece, Rome and so many failed nations throughout the world? 

What do you think?
JL 





Wisdom


Quoting from the cover notes of a book to be described shortly, “Throughout the centuries, mankind has produced three great, timeless “wisdom” books:  Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” Sun-Tzu’s “The Art of War” and Baltasar Gracian’s “The Art of Worldly Wisdom: A Pocket Oracle.”  The last two are far easier reading than “The Prince,” but I recommend that followers of the blog to try to at least taste all three.

Gracian
Gracian’s book consists of 300 paragraphs (Aphorisms) offering words of advice.  Here are two of them.  Read them and try to relate them to things going on today, politically or otherwise.  Gracian, a worldly Jesuit priest, was ultimately given a less public assignment by the Church after publishing this kind of material in mid-Seventeenth century Spain.


  •  #130: Do but also seem: “Things do not pass for what they are, but for what they seem.  To excel and to know how to show it is to excel twice.  What is invisible might as well not exist.  Reason itself is not venerated when it does not wear a reasonable face.  Those easily duped outnumber the prudent.  Deceit reigns, and things are judged from without, and are seldom what they seem.  A fine exterior is the best recommendation of inner perfection.”
  • #159: Know how to suffer fools: “The wise are the least tolerant, for learning has diminished their patience.  Wide knowledge is hard to please.  Epictetus* tells us that the most important rule for living lies in knowing how to bear all things: to this he reduced half of wisdom.  To tolerate foolishness much patience is needed.  Sometimes we suffer most from those we most depend upon, and this helps us conquer ourselves.  Patience leads to an inestimable inner peace, which is bliss on earth.  And the person who does not know how to put up with others should retire into himself, if indeed he can suffer even himself.”

          *Greek philosopher who advocated “stoicism.”
JL
   



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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. THESE FEATURES, ALONG WITH OTHER VALUABLE “SIDEBAR” ITEMS, INCLUDING ADVERTISEMENTS, MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE ON ALL MOBILE DEVICES.  CHECK THEM OUT ON YOUR DESKTOP OR LAPTOP COMPUTERS.

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Jack Lippman 


Sunday, May 12, 2019

A Healthier Democracy, "Cheatin' Donald's" Sister, the "Fumfer" Index, Robert E. Lee, Two Worthwhile Columns and my Latest Letter.



Tax Returns Not Released.
Subpoenas Ignored.
Muzzling Witnesses.
What does He Have to Hide?

Those of you who have read the previous posting on this blog  were aware of  the "finagling" the tax laws allow real estated developers and investors to do, tactics which are unavailable to any other indusrty, and which enabled Donald Trump, if it ever comes out, to be shown to not have paid any income taxes in many recent years.  This was apparent to me, and the sources I quoted on the posting, BEFORE the New York Times turned it into a front page story.  Stick with this blog, and keep up with the times.  And today, this is probably the first place where you can read about how our democratic rights will have to be reduced if our democracy is to survive.  Read on.


Tax Returns Not Released.
Subpoenas Ignored.
Muzzling Witnesses.
What does He Have to Hide?


Toward a Healthier Democracy - Correcting the Harm that has been Done


Great harm has been done to the nation by

(1) the legitimate election of an unfit individual to the Presidency, accomplished within the guidelines set down in our Constitution,

(2) the ignorance of many of the voters who cast their ballots for him giving him crucial electoral votes,

(3) the blind subservience of most of the Republican Party’s elected Representatives and Senators to the President’s wishes out of fear of losing his supporters’ votes,

(4) the permanent appointment of Federal Judges at all levels, including the Supreme Court, representing unpopular, conservative, if not reactionary, legal philosophies,

(5) the administrative relaxing of regulations intended to protect the health and welfare of all citizens in favor of letting businesses do what they wish and

(6) the disturbing of the delicate world-wide political and economic connections that had enabled the nation to prosper and maintain world peace for more than half a century.

The harm has been done.  Even the ascendency of a Democrat to the White House and Democratic control of both Houses of Congress would not be enough to quickly undo the evils brought about by the election of an unfit individual to the presidency in 2016.  It will take decades to undo this harm, but it will be done. 

The America which will emerge at that point, distantly down the road, will be a different nation from what it was before 2016.  It will recognize the flaws in our democracy which permitted the election of Donald Trump to the presidency. 

The Constitution will have to be amended to address these flaws and this will take many years to accomplish.  In addition to involving the way we select our President, they may include modification of both the First and the Second Amendments to the Constitution. 

Unfortunately, these will result in losses of some of the freedoms Americans have always cherished, because some of those very freedoms have been the cause of the malignancy which afflicted the nation in 2016

Those who created our Constitution and its Bill of Rights envisioned a limited, educated, property-owning, electorate in each of the thirteen new States comprising our nation in 1789.  But what was true then, demographically, quickly changed.  In short order, voters no longer had to be property-owners, educated nor even literate.  And their numbers increased massively, with power shifting gradually from the States to the Federal government.  As a result, Presidents were elected who “stretched the rules” in a way the Founding Fathers had not anticipated.  Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and to some extent, subsequent Presidents, have not hesitated to do so. 

This “elasticity” in the words of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights may have well served the nation, particularly in regard to the interrelation of the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of our government, at least up until now.  But currently that balance is in disarray, primarily because of the harm done by the election of 2016.
 
The President, through of a combination of his selfish, if not evil, intent and a basic ignorance of the office he holds, has gone too far.  That’s why there will have to be changes in our Constitution to guarantee the survival of the United States of America as a healthier, but more limited, democracy than we have at present.  This may take more than several generations to accomplish, but the 2020 election is when and where it must start.  Othewise, we will no longer be a democracy in any sense of the word very much longer.
Jack Lippman

                                                        *   *   *   *   *

A quick comment regarding "impeachment" - - - Those still tallking about impeachment should be well aware that would be an absolutely disasterous move for Democrats unless and until they are guaranteed at least twenty votes from the Republicans in the Senate - - - and that just won't happen!  The chance of that happening are less than the chances of the Miami Marlins winning the World Series this year.

                       
                                                *   *   *   *   *



Tax Returns Not Released.
Subpoenas Ignored.
Muzzling Witnesses.
What does He Have to Hide?






The "Fumfer" Index


“Fumfer” is a Yiddish word meaning “to mumble” which has crept into English usage.  In addition to “mumbling,” it also might include speaking aimlessly, possibly incoherently or ungrammatically as well as pausing unnecessarily, injecting frequent “uh’s” into sentences or even correcting oneself awkwardly after an accidental misstatement.  Sometimes “fumferring” is an evasive tactic, to avoid addressing an issue squarely.  More often it is just sloppiness on the part of the speaker.  Fumferrers rarely recognize that they are fumferring.

With that in mind, I am establishing a “Fumfer Index” and applying it to some of the potential Democratic candidates for the presidency in 2020.   This is highly subjective and subject to change.  Ratings are in the traditional “A” to “F” marking scale, with “A” going to the candidates who fumfers the least.  In choosing a Democratic candidate to oppose Donald Trump in the 2020 election, the “Fumfer Index” will be important, particularly in TV debates.

Candidate                    "Fumfer" Index

Joe Biden                            C
Bernie Sanders                   B
Elizabeth Warren                A
Kamala Harris                     A
Beto O’Rourke                     B
Pete Guttigieg                      A
Amy Kolbuchar                   B
Cory Booker                        D
Kristen Gillibrand                B
Julian Castro                       B

JL

Tax Returns Not Released.
Subpoenas Ignored.
Muzzling Witnesses.
What does He Have to Hide?
                                                     


"Cheatin' Don's" Sister Resigns

Judge Barry

Last month, Donald Trump’s older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, who was still a Federal judge in New York, although on limited duty on the bench because of her age, turned in her resignation.  Because of an article in the New York Times, an investigation was being conducted into her involvement in some of her family’s financial dealings in the 1990s.  With her resignation, the investigation was terminated.  

This of course was much to the relief of her brother.



JL





Tax Returns Not Released.
Subpoenas Ignored.
Muzzling Witnesses.
What does He Have to Hide?



Dog Whistles


The President and his true believers now claim his Charlottesville “good people on both sides” remarks actually were spoken in regard to the removal of Confederate statues, such as the many such monuments to Robert E. Lee.  Even if that were the case, such comments are taken by white nationalist anti-Semites as “dog whistles” tacitly encouraging them. 


Lee Stature
Defending Confederate statuary was only incidental to the reason these evil people came to Charlottesville.  The President should remember that Robert E. Lee, in leading an insurrection against the government of the United States of America, broke the oath of loyalty to that nation and to its Constitution which he had sworn to defend as an officer in the United States Army.  Such statues belong in historical museums, not in public parks.
                                                               JL




Tax Returns Not Released.
Subpoenas Ignored.
Muzzling Witnesses.

What does He Have to Hide?






Defeating Trump in 2020 Will Not Be Easy


Thiessen
Not all Trump supporters and not all Republicans are ignorant, stupid, gullible or any combination of these adjectives.  No, some think rationally.  I don’t agree with them, but it would be delusional for Democrats to ignore them.  Here is a column by Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen (No, they are not all liberals at the Post) which represents the kind of thinking with which Democrats will have to deal if they are to win in 2020.  

Sometimes preserving what has always made America great, the Constitution of the United States, matters more than what may be transient economic numbers.  I urge all Democrats, especially the ones who are sure Trump’s evil nature and abysmal poll numbers will defeat him in 2020, to CLICK HERE to read this column.  
JL





Tax Returns Not Released.
Subpoenas Ignored.
Muzzling Witnesses.
What does He Have to Hide?





The End of Everything?



Parker
The Washington Post's Kathleen Parker wrote last week about the same general subject which I entertained on this blog a few weeks ago.  I had pointed out that “homo sapiens” is only a tenant on the planet Earth and that our lease may be running out. 

Parker suggests that this prospective “end of everything” might be the only thing left to unify us.  (To read her column, CLICK HERE.)   

 

Let me add, as I pointed out in my April 20 posting (the one with the ants crawling all  over it), that this will require drastic political steps and technological actions on our part.  Go back and read it.
                                                            JL





Tax Returns Not Released.
Subpoenas Ignored.
Muzzling Witnesses.
What does He Have to Hide?




A Letter to the "Post"

Here's the text of a letter I submitted to the Palm Beach Post last week.


Thursday’s “Neighborhood Post” section (at least the South County version I received) included a picture of three high school students honored for their first-place finish in a competition run by the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience. Congratulations to them!  Those who oppose a liberal immigration policy should take note from the winners’ last names that their parents or grandparents probably were relatively recent immigrants to this country.  That’s why we should continue to make certain that “the lamp beside the golden door” continues to burn brightly.

JL



Tax Returns Not Released.
Subpoenas Ignored.
Muzzling Witnesses.
What does He Have to Hide?



                                                             *  *  *  *  *  *  *


Commercial Recently Seen on TV:



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Scientific research has shown that “air” is composed of such gases as nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%) and minute portions (1%) of gases such as argon, carbon dioxide and methane,  (The latter is a component of the reaction which creates the "sewer gas" aroma commonly associated with "rotten eggs.") 

Recent medical statistics show that all people who die have during their lifetimes breathed in “air” containing these gases to some extent on a daily basis and therefore it cannot be dismissed as a causative factor in their deaths. A class action lawsuit is in the process of being prepared in which you or any of your loved ones who have breathed in “air” during the past six years can participate.  If you feel that you qualify,

CALL 1-800-555-5555 RIGHT NOW


Weelove, Twosou and Fleasum, Esqs.  (Members of the Redacted Bar Association, but with a Florida license purchased at the the big Flea Market in on Sample Road in Broward County, Florida.)

*  *  *  *  *  *  *



Tax Returns Not Released.
Subpoenas Ignored.
Muzzling Witnesses.
What does He Have to Hide?




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 
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.)

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. THESE FEATURES, ALONG WITH OTHER VALUABLE “SIDEBAR” ITEMS, INCLUDING ADVERTISEMENTS, MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE ON ALL MOBILE DEVICES.  CHECK THEM OUT ON YOUR DESKTOP OR LAPTOP COMPUTERS.

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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 


Friday, May 3, 2019

Mueller Report Thoughts, How to Make a Lot of Money, Tying it All Together, Two Great Columns and a New Poem




Tying It All Together: Another Synagogue Shooting, the President’s Role, Republican Cowardice, the Second Amendment, the Supreme Court’s “Misinterpretation,” a History of Gun Violence, Foolish Jews, White Nationalists and the Only Solution


Sometimes, seemingly disparate issues come together and really end up constituting a single problem.  That’s what the lead off item on today’s posting is all about.

The President, by his equivocal comments (“There were good people on both sides”)  last year at the time of the Charlottesville White Nationalist demonstration has encouraged criminals to perpetrate hate crimes.  He shares their guilt.

Unfortunately, the Republicans in the Senate will prevent his well-deserved impeachment, an event which would take place in short order if they chose to put country over party, which they do not.  They are a disgrace to their party and to the country.  Hopefully, it would be a heaven-sent blessing if all 22 Republican Senate seats which will be contested in 2020 would turn Democratic.  There is no reason for real Americans to vote Republican any longer, so long as cowardice, bigotry and party loyalty dominate that sick party.

And as for the Second Amendment, it is time for its repeal.  Republican justices on the Supreme Court, again putting party over judicial precedent and the Amendment’s clear language, have permitted its gross misinterpretation and allowed the country to be flooded with 300,000,000 dangerous weapons in civilian hands. 

Any sixth grader can make sense out of what the Second Amendment says. Read it: "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.”

In 2008, in D.C vs Heller, the Supreme Court chose to criminally separate its first thirteen words from the Second Amendment’s concluding fourteen words.  (I say “criminally” because people have been murdered because of the Supreme Court’s “misinterpretation,” making them accessories to those crimes.) The first thirteen words precisely lay out a specific limit upon the right provided by the following fourteen words, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” They describe the purpose of that “right,” which is clearly the necessity of having a well regulated militia.”  That was the way the Court viewed the Second Amendment until 2008.

It would be charitable and naïve to say that the late Justice Antonin Scalia
Justice Scalia
and those who voted with him on this issue in 2008 were too dumb to understand this language.  The only explanation is that they were Republicans, and that party gets a lot of support from gun manufacturers and the National Rifle Association, which should be considered a subversive, un-American organization.

Along with the President, the hands of these Supreme Court Justices are soaked in blood.  All of them should be punished.  But they won’t be, but at least the President can be voted out of office.  Sadly, the Supreme Court Justices are there for life, unless they choose to resign in shame over the horrors for which they are responsible.

The Poway, California synagogue shooting which fortunately only involved one death, joins these other tragedies, all of which took at least ten lives: the Las Vegas hotel, the Orlando nightclub, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Sutherland Springs church, Luby’s restaurant, the University of Texas tower, Stoneman-Douglas High School, the San Bernardino office, Fort Hood, Columbine High School, the Aurora movie theatre, the Pittsburgh synagogue … and the list goes on. 


What does it take to wake up America?  How dumb are its citizens? 




                                                                                            
It cannot be ignored that the marchers in Charlottesville were undeniably anti-Semitic and that two of the recent attacks were made upon synagogues. 


Some of the "good people" marching in Charlottesville referred to by Trump

Other faiths have been attacked as well, but it is the anti-Semitic attacks that I address now. Some Jews give the President a pass on his responsibility for these acts because of his opposition to Israel’s implacable menace, Iran, his questionable withdrawal from the multi-nation agreement to reduce that country’s nuclear program, his unwavering support of Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel and finally, his moving of the American embassy to Jerusalem.  They are fools.  Let me repeat that.  Such Jews are fools. What Trump has given to them cost him nothing and blinded them to the far greater danger which his non-critical acknowledgement of White Nationalism presents to them.

You should be aware that because of the freedoms allowed by the First Amendment, there are social media apps and websites where murderous White Nationalists contact one another and plan their heinous deeds. And they are not limited to the United States.  I would hope they are being closely monitored by law enforcement agencies on all levels all over the world. Their access to weapons must be blocked.  Really, there is no solution to this problem other than repeal of the Second Amendment in this country and the turning in of dangerous weapons, as was done in Australia, presently in the hands of civilians for no good reason.  But that will be difficult to accomplish on a voluntary basis.

This problem is so serious that it is not inconceivable that it could lead to a second Civil War in this country.  The issue of slavery simmered for seventy-one years before tearing the country apart in 1860.  
Gettysburg Bloodshed


The misinterpretation of the Second Amendment, leading to repeated murderous shootings, can tear the nation apart again.  The clock is ticking.  The issue of bringing an end to gun violence continues to simmer.   Most of us will not live to see its resolution, but there is hope that your children might.

Jack Lippman



Advice on How to Make a Lot of Money


There’s a fascinating article in the April 29 issue of BloombergBusinessweek which leads me to conclude that if we ever get to look at Donald Trump’s tax returns, they will show that he paid less taxes than anyone of you reading this!  That’s why he is ashamed to let America see those returns.  They would destroy his image and reinforce a new one, that of “Cheatin’ Donald.”

Macklowe
But Donald isn’t alone.  As the article, which concentrates on Harry Macklowe, a recently divorced Manhattan real estate tycoon (the divorce proceedings brought a lot of this information into the public eye) points out, “real estate tycoons get a host of special breaks not available to most other investors.”

Steven Rosenthal, a fellow with the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, is quoted as saying that “The real estate industry is notorious for throwing off lots of deductions, and real estate developers are notorious for paying very few taxes.  Years ago, you might recall, Leona Helmsley (who served time in prison for tax evasion and other offenses) said, “Only the little people pay taxes.”

Quoting the BloombergBusinessweek article which pointed out that Macklowe’s fortune would not have been accumulated in an industry other than real estate, “the U.S. tax code is designed to measure profitability over time, allowing businesses to write off losses in one year against income in the next.  For most companies, that provision is limited to losses on their own capital as opposed to losses on borrowed money.” Businessweek goes on to quote Steve Wamhoff, director of federal tax policy at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, “a left-leaning” think tank as pointing out, “Real Estate is the exception.”  That means that when a real estate developer loses the money gotten from banks or other investors, they can claim a loss.  The money was never theirs to start with!  No other industry has this advantage, tax-wise.




In a debate with Hillary Clinton in 2016, Trump was asked if he used a $916,000,000 loss from his casino business to defer taxes.  “Of course I do,” he answered.  Do you believe that $916,000,000 was his to start with?  Sure, when pigs fly!  It was “other people’s money,” coming from investors in his casinos.   Great formula:  Borrow money, lose it, get a tax-deduction on your other income.  Smell it, folks?  If it were a perfume, it could be called “Eau de Trump.”

Trump is also quoted as citing “depreciation rules” as a way to reduce taxes.  “I love depreciation,” he said.  Bear in mind that “depreciation” of farm or factory equipment … which does not increase in value with the passage of time … differs from the increasing value of office buildings in places like midtown Manhattan, making depreciation deductions much more valuable to those in real estate, as contrasted with agriculture or manufacturing.

There's lots of ways to make money in that business  ... More than in most other businesses

There were a few additional goodies for the real estate industry included in the 2017 Tax Reform bill. It provided a 20 percent deduction for real estate investors who reported business income on their personal tax returns, while excluding it for other businesses.  It also established “opportunity” zones, supposedly in poor areas, where real estate investors might reduce or eliminate capital gains taxation by putting their money there.  Legislation which favors the real estate industry on both the national and more local levels is common, of course, because real estate “tycoons” all are extremely generous in their political donations.

If you personally want to make a lot of money, I have two words of advice for you.  (1) Find a bookie and place a bet that if and when Donald J. Trump’s tax returns are ever released, they will show that he hasn’t paid any taxes for years and (2) whatever you’re doing for a living right now, “fuhgeddaboudit” and go in the real estate business in New York City or some other major urban area.
JL


Two Great Columns to Check Out

It is understandable that conservatives, usually Republicans, running for office are unwilling to alienate Trump supporters because they would not be electable without their votes, even though in their hearts, many recognize the awful truth about the President.

Such is not the case, however, with conservatives who are not involved in running for elective office.  Some of them recognize what truth is and are not afraid to speak out especially journalists.   In addition to Kathleen Parker, Michael Gerson and David Brooks, I cite as an example right-wing columnist Mona Charen, whose credentials are at least the equivalent of those of the obstinately conservative Cal Thomas, whose regular appearances on the Palm Beach Post’s Opinion page were replaced a few years back by Charen’s column.  Here is what she had to say last week.  CLICK HERE   to share her wisdom.

Sanchez
And here’s another column to check out.  The Kansas City Star’s Mary Sanchez recently wrote on the failure of the United Nations to pass a resolution to aid victims of “military rape” by ISIS forces in the Middle East.  Because abortion was involved, the United States led the opposition to the measure.  For those who believe in an afterlife, feel sure that this guarantees Donald Trump and Michael Pence an eternal place in the warmest part of Hell, if their other deeds have not already done so.  Read her column by CLICKING HERE.





JL


Proposed Constitutional Amendment: “It’s Okay to Lie Just so Long as your Lies Don’t Amount to Crimes or My Thoughts on the Aftermath of the Mueller Report 

Imagine a teacher asking the class to submit their thoughts about a book he or she assigns them to read.  Otherwise too busy or perhaps too lazy to bother to read the book, a student finds a review of the book, reads that instead and completes the assignment based on the review, which happens to include the reviewer’s ideas and prejudices, not those of the student, who hasn’t even read the book.  The teacher, also having read that review as well as the book, recognizes the fraudulent nature of the student’s work.

Barr
This kind of chicanery is what America was asked to accept when presented with Attorney General Barr’s four-page summary of Special Counsel Mueller’s report concerning his investigation of Russian interference with our election process in 2016 and the President’s possible obstruction of that process.

Attorney General Barr provided an opinionated summary of the report and reaffirmed those opinions with an unprecedented press conference just before its public release because he presumed, probably correctly, that the American public would be too lazy or otherwise preoccupied to read Special Counsel Mueller’s actual report for themselves, once its full, although somewhat redacted, text became available. The manner in which Barr did this was intended to obfuscate the actual findings of the report which were:

(1)  Russia definitely interfered in our 2016 presidential election and tried very hard, apparently without success, to act in concert with the Republican party in doing so, and

(2) President Trump clearly attempted to obstruct the Special Counsel’s investigation, but in a manner which did not extend to indictable criminal actions, which didn’t really matter because the Department of Justice feels a sitting President cannot be indicted anyway.

Mueller
Just as that teacher might recognize the fraudulent work of the student and take him or her to task, so Special Counsel Mueller recognized the fraudulent, opinionated four-page summary of his team’s work which Attorney General Barr released.  He both corresponded to him about it and spoke to him by telephone, pointing out that "the summmary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office's work and conclusions," and then added that "there is now confusion about critical aspects of the result of our investigation."

During a House Appropriations Committee hearing on April 9, Florida Congressman
Crist
Charlie Crist alluded to this when he asked the Attorney General: “Reports have emerged recently that members of the Special Counsel’s team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your March 24th letter, that it does not adequately or accurately necessarily portray the report’s findings. Do you know what they’re referencing with that?”  Barr answered: “No, I don’t,” and then added “I suspect that they probably wanted more put out, but in my view, I was not interested in putting out summaries or trying to summarize.” 
Apparently, he had by then forgotten about Mueller's letter and phone call, cited above.  Traditionally, liars have bad memories in court ... or before committees ... but God, this was our friggin' Attorney General! 
 

This week, Crist said that “There will be consequences” if Barr was not honest. Because lies told before a Congressional hearing under oath do not have to reach the level of being indictable, as they do in criminal DOJ matters, there indeed may be.  Barr, a master lawyer, had replied obliquely to Crist's question, carefully avoided telling a downright, clear cut, lie.  

After hearing Barr's answer to a question similar to Crist's asked in last week's Senate hearing, Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse commented, "I can't even follow that down the road.  I mean, boy, that's masterful hairsplitting."  The facts clearly show that Barr lied.  But so what, Trump does so every day.  


Barr believes, as do the President and Congressional Republicans (you can hear this view voiced on Fox News all day long) that if the Department of Justice, the branch of government under which Robert Mueller’s team worked, does not find grounds for criminal indictment in a case, it is to be closed.

Actually, this was the situation which former FBI head James Comey faced with the results of his investigation of Hillary Clinton’s supposed unauthorized Email servers.
Comey
Although he concluded that there was no basis of indicting Clinton and the Department of Justice was not pursuing it further, his releasing this information damaged her chances in the 2016 election and of course, despite the conclusion that nothing indictable occurred, the Republicans in Congress would not let go of that issue. To this day, the cry of “Lock Her Up” is still heard at Trump rallies. Of course, the Republican Party now hypocritically wants “Cheatin’ Donald’s” unindictable misdeeds regarding obstruction to be forgotten and erased from all discourse, a step which to this day Republicans will not take in regard to Clinton.

Michael Cohen
The DOJ position justifies the slimy way scoundrels in the business world, especially in the area of real estate investing and development, from which Trump comes, have operated for years.  If one can get away with something without being indicted for their misdeeds, those activities are perfectly okay.  Paying fines for violations is a legitimate cost of doing business and so long as a crime is not committed, everything is proper and legal.  They believe that is what lawyers are for. 
Roy Cohn
The late Roy Cohn, Senator Joe McCarthy's sidekick during the 1950's, taught this to Trump.  Years later, Michael Cohen became Trump’s “fixer.”  Trump, of course, is happy with the Mueller report because of the slanted way Barr presented it.  


Barr, who once served honorably as George H. W. Bush’s Attorney General has sunk to the gutter of the legal profession exemplified by the late Roy Cohn and “fixer” Michael Cohen, both of whom were disbarred. Ultimately, he may follow that path. John Mitchell, Richard Nixon's "Watergate" Attorney General, did and was also jailed for his misdeeds in the President's service.  William Barr should take note.

Democrats must avoid becoming deeply entangled in this morass. Republicans would be overjoyed if Democrats expended their energies between now and Election Day in 2020 endlessly battling this issue in the halls of Congress and in the succeeding levels of the court system, rather than concentrate on the issues which would benefit almost all Americans, making life better for them, and which the G.O.P. and the President prefer to ignore or temporarily paper over. 

     


      These issues are
1.  better health care,
2.  better educational opportunities,
3.    better job opportunities,
4.    better consumer protection,
5.    better financial oversight of money matters,
6.    tax reform to preserve Social Security and Medicare,
7. preserving and protecting our environment, 
8. repairing and improving our nation’s infrastructure to provide better transportation, roads, power, water and recreational options, and
9. recognizing and dealing with world-wide climage change.

This is the best way to get rid of "Cheatin' Donald" and his Republican followers and to work toward rejuvenating the presently politically corrupted Supreme Court as vacancies occur there.  

Get it?

JL



Gold’s Horseradish


Gold’s Horseradish kosher for Passover               
The red kind with beets not the white version    
To serve with gefilte fish without which               
The Seder meal would not be Passover                 
But just another holiday when Jews sit down to eat.        

There’s always half a bottle left over    
In the fridge to someday mix with catsup   
Fifty-fifty to make a cocktail sauce        
Around which to place plump and tasty shrimp   
Not kosher for Passover or ever for that matter.   

Months go by, you bring home a pound of shrimp
And find the bottle on the fridge’s door      
Has lost its color and looks a bit tired             
So you throw it out because quite clearly
It resents being used with shrimp after Passover’s done.

JL

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