Saturday, April 20, 2019

Insulting Names, an Early Warning, the Mueller Report, Impeachment, Looking Forward to 2020, Kathleen Parker on Trump and Notre Dame and the Survival of our Planet





Name Calling Ain't Nice

Most of you are aware that the President takes pleasure in adding insulting adjectives to the names of people he dislikes.  Examples are “Crooked Hillary,” “Crazy Bernie” and “Little Marco.”  Conversely, most Democrats are too civil to start referring to the President as “Cheatin’ Donald,” which I will do throughout this posting.  That would be totally accurate in view of his repeated marital infidelities. 

Remember that while Hillary Clinton is not a “crook,”  that while Bernie Sanders has all of his wits about him and that while Marco Rubio is 5’9” tall, “Cheatin’ Donald” was actually sleeping with Marla while married to Ivana, and has committed adultery with both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. “Cheatin’ Donald” should learn to keep his mouth shut.
Jack Lippman
  



Early Warning and Not About Hurricanes

It will be too late to save democracy in the United States if we reach the point where a Trumpian Executive branch has so manipulated the Department of Justice and its Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other Federal law enforcement agencies, that they become tools of the Administration’s political agenda.  Such an occurrence would amount to a disregard of our Constitution and would be possible only with the acquiescence or impotency of the Legislative and Judicial branches of our government.  If this politized control ever extended even further and involved the armed forces, the game would be over … and Americans would be wise to consider emigration, if it were still possible, to friendlier democratic nations where they might seek asylum.  Scary, isn’t it.  That’s why your political involvement is necessary today to prevent this from happening.
JL



Mueller Report and the Thought of Impeachment

Barr, Who Violated his Oath of Office
Attorney General Barr forgot that his oath of office was to the Constitution and not to “Cheatin’ Donald.” He provided a cushion for the Mueller report which despite its heavy redactions was loaded with evidence of the pitiful level to which the President had sunk, but nevertheless which would not meet the exacting standards required in a court of law to convict any defendant who had hired a half-way competent attorney.  Those high standards, however, will not apply in the ultimate court of jurisdiction in this action, the voice of the American voter in 2020.

The real question, now, is whether they will be able to see enough of Mueller’s actual findings to counteract the sanitized version of which the President’s hand-picked Attorney General spoke before the redacted documents were released last Thursday.

Many voters will not be capable of seeing beyond that.  That’s why, as I recommended in earlier postings, that the Democrats not focus on “Cheatin’ Donald” in 2020 and concentrate on bread and butter issues like health care, real jobs to replace those lost to technology and cheap overseas labor and tax relief for other than the wealthy.

                                                            *   *   *


As for the question of impeachment, right now, many Democrats feel that there is enough in the Mueller Report, despite its redactions, to establish a pathway to impeachment of the President.  Although I have endorsed impeachment in the past,  I now disagree.  There is no doubt that the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives can pass Articles of Impeachment, but it is very doubtful that the two-thirds vote needed to convict in the Senate can be reached.  Remember, the Republicans nominated and have, by and large, stood by “Cheatin’ Donald.”  

Failure to convict in the Senate will only give the Republicans an opportunity to scream out to America that the true “facts’ are those broadcast daily on Fox News and the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC just represent “fake news.” (In 1998, failure by the Senate to convict Bill Clinton of the House-passed Articles of Impeachment served to strengthen his position among the population.)

So long as Republican Senators are beholden to “Cheatin’ Donald” to avoid primary challenges from the right, and insure the support of his base on Election Day, the issue of impeachment should be avoided by Democrats.  Remember, many an election has been lost in this country by candidates who overestimated the intelligence of the American people.  So it goes with impeachment.  

The issues laid out above along with the grim shadow the Mueller Report sheds on the President are sufficient to get him out of office in 2020.   Impeachment is too great a risk to take.  Its likely defeat in the Senate would hand the Republicans a potent weapon.

JL





Looking Forward to 2020

And speaking of that election, the major 2020 strategy of “Cheatin’ Donald” and his dutiful Republican followers includes three specific tactics at this point:

Look for more of this
(1) continued emphasis on the danger to the nation’s security and economy posed by immigrants being allowed to try to enter the United States under the guise of seeking asylum under our existing laws,

(2) trying to sow dissention in the Democratic Party, specifically by questioning the patriotism of progressive Democrats, particularly those with Muslim backgrounds, and by reducing the traditional support of Jews for that party by unrealistic endorsement of anything Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu does, and

(3) continued attacking of the press and media which he had specifically accused of being an “enemy of the people.”  "Cheatin' Donald," of course, excludes Fox News from this label.

To blunt these tactics, and defeat the strategy of “Cheatin’ Donald,” the Democrats have one weapon.  That is the “truth.”  Truth is an absolute, not a relative thing.  Failing to recognize it as such results in events such as the current spread of measles among the unvaccinated, who chose to believe in internet-spread fictions rather than scientifically proven truths.  

There may be many “truths” in religion, for example, where different people may have varying beliefs in the nature of the Deity, or even denying that one exists, but that is a matter of faith, which takes over when truth is unprovable.  But this does not extend to politics where "truths" cannot be as ambivalent as they are in matters of faith.  “Cheatin’ Donald’s” strategy also includes the tactic of undermining truth by confusing it with “alternate facts.”  (Donald, the world is not flat, although there may be a significant number of its inhabitants who believe it is.  Some of them will also contract measles.)

All the more, this emphasizes the need for Democrats to concentrate their efforts on bread and butter issues, as described in the article directly above this one, rather than on "Cheatin' Donald."  Attacking him is like punching a pillow.
JL







 
Survival of our Planet – Survival of Democracy

Now let’s get serious … and in fact, frighteningly so.  Planet Earth has been around for a very long time.  And it has been hospitable to life forms for only a tiny portion of that time. Its environment has changed many times over uncountable revolutions around the sun. It took a very, very, very long time for a single cell life form such as an amoeba to appear, for plant and animal species to evolve, develop, flourish, and usually become extinct for a variety of reasons such as climate changes, cataclysmic disasters and natural predators.  Animal life in the form of man, homo sapiens, has dominated Planet Earth for only an infinitesimally minute portion of the tiny portion of its history during which any form of life whatsoever has been present. 

We live here as tenants.  We do not own the place.
All that mankind has created over that very brief period, our literature, music, art, philosophy, history, technology and even our belief in a “divine” power, is miniscule and insignificant when viewed in the context of the apparently limitless universe where time and space merge and of which “our” planet is but a part.  It would be presumptuous to assume that our presence here and our dominance over the planet will last forever.  The dinosaurs were around for longer than mankind has been here, and they are long gone.  Someday, we will be too. We might be subject to a planet-wide flood or fire, be struck by a giant asteroid, we may lose the ability to feed ourselves or we may blow ourselves up.  Don’t kid yourself.  Homo sapiens is not the ultimate species.  (Some say ants might be.)

Nevertheless, it would be wise for those inhabiting our planet to take steps to guarantee the human race’s survival for as long as possible. To survive another ten thousand centuries, a mere droplet in the history of Planet Earth, would be great!  (That would be about 40,000 generations.) It probably will be much less.

Unfortunately, the steps necessary for such survival cannot be taken by a planet which is infatuated with the very, very recent and glorious idea of democracy!  With survival on the line, we cannot afford the luxury of preserving individual rights and making decisions after logical debate by thinking individuals. Democracy, while satisfying to the soul, is not well suited for taking the kinds of actions, possibly very unpleasant and costly ones, needed to prolong the survival of the human race.

To accomplish that, we will need to evolve politically into having one all-powerful technological authority in control of the entire planet, making all the rules, decisions, and taking the steps necessary to continue the efforts necessary to extend the existence and control of our planet by the human race for as long as possible.  The tool to accomplish this might take the form of some kind of artificial intelligence. Doesn’t sound nice, but that’s the way it is going to be over the next few thousand years.  Whatever happens, the ants, or someone or something, will be waiting to take over.

The following time line is approximate, but it should make it clear that we are merely the most recent tenants of this planet.

 __1_______________________2________________________________________________________________________3__4_5.  

   1. Creation of Planet Earth – 4.5 Billion Years ago    
   2. First Appearance of living cells on Earth – 3.5 Billion Years ago
   3. First Appearance of Dinosaurs on Earth – 230 Million years ago
   4. First Appearance of early Human-like Creatures – 66 Million years ago
   5. End of Stone Age – 15,000 years ago, Beginning of recorded history – 5,000 years ago.

JL


A Great Kathleen Parker Column

Parker


Tragic File at Notre Dame
Last week Kathleen Parker wrote in the Washington Post about the President of the United States and the tragic fire which destroyed most of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.  If you missed this terrific column, CLICK HERE to read it.  



(It is often difficult to set up links to Washington Post columns … they want you to subscribe … but it is indeed possible to access their columns when they are reprinted in other papers, as we’ve done here.  The same thing goes for the New York Times.  As for reproducing the columns in their entirety on the blog, I have been advised by someone at the Palm Beach Post that doing so is actually illegal, and to use links where possible instead, so that is what I do.)
 JL





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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Hip-Hop, Avoiding the Lawn Mower and Some Resemblances


Facing the Music - Musically

The music the Millennials, Generation X, the Baby Boomers and what’s left of the “Greatest” Generation enjoy is ancient.  Rogers, Hart, Hammerstein, Gershwin, Kern, Porter, Lerner, Lowe, Andrew Lloyd Weber, Sondheim, Springsteen, Billy Joel,
Frank Sinatra
Sinatra, Streisand, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones and even the Beatles are, to today’s listeners, out of the distant past.  They don’t communicate with 2019 other than from a nostalgic or historic standpoint.  They were popular before most of  today’s listeners were born.  







Beethoven
To them, they’re back there with the likes of Mozart, Beethoven and Verdi of whom, surprisingly, some may have heard.  Contrary to what listening to the music they like might suggest, they are not dumb.  


But with that in mind, I frequently listen to a local (Miami) FM hip-hop station, “The Beat” at 103.5.  What they play reflects what’s going on today in the music business.  Lin Manuel Miranda drew upon it modestly in “Hamilton,” but its real mainstream is in expressing the emotions of the Black and Latino community, from which most hip-hop artists come.


To my ear, other than a strong background beat, hip-hop is tuneless.  It cannot be hummed.  It isn’t really sung.  It is usually recited in a rhythmic monotone.  It will survive but not as music, but as poetry, which is what it really is.  There cannot be an instrumental version of a hip-hop hit.  The lyrics, the poetry, are its essence.


21Savage
With that in mind, here are some excerpts from a current (released in 2018) hip-hop hit, “A Lot,” as sung by 21Savage and J.Cole.  Read it as poetry even though millions of younger Americans accept it as a song.  (Accept the fact that to this poet, words like ‘beast,’ ‘streets’ and ‘beats’ rhyme.  In his world, and in that of his tuned-in listeners, they do.)

A Lot

How much money you got? (A lot)
How much money you got? (A lot)
How many problems you got? (A lot)
How many people done doubted you? (A lot)
Left you out to rot? (A lot)
How many pray that you flop? (A lot)
How many lawyers you got? (A lot)
How many times you got shot? (A lot)
How many niggas you shot? (A lot)
How many times did you ride? (A lot)
How many niggas done died? (A lot)
How many times did you cheat? (A lot)
How many times did you lie? (A lot)
How many times did she leave? (A lot)
How many times did she cry? (A lot)
How many chances she done gave you?
Fuck around with these thots (A lot)

Every day that I'm alive, I'ma ride with the stick
I'd rather be broke in jail than be dead and rich
Told my brothers take my breath if I turn to a snitch
But I'm 21 4L, ain't no way I'ma switch
Break it down, I break it down
I break it down, I break it down
I break it down, I break it down
I break it down, I break it down
Penitentiary chances just to make a couple bucks
My heart so cold I could put it in my cup
Gang vs. the world, me and my dawg, it was us
Then you went and wrote a statement, and that really fucked me up
My brother lost his life and it turned me to a beast
My brother got life and it turned me to the streets
I been through the storm and it turned me to a G
But the other side was sunny, I get paid to rap on beats

How much money you got? (A lot)
How many problems you got? (A lot)
How many people done doubted you? (A lot)
Left you out to rot? (A lot)
How many pray that you flop? (A lot)
How many lawyers you got? (A lot)
How many times you got shot? (A lot)
How many niggas you shot? (A lot)
How many times did you ride? (A lot)
How many niggas done died? (A lot)
How many times did you cheat? (A lot)
How many times did you lie? (A lot)
How many times did she leave? (A lot)
How many times did she cry? (A lot)
How many chances she done gave you?
Fuck around with these thots (A lot)

Songwriters: Anthony White / Dacoury Natche / Jermaine Cole / She'yaa Abraham-Joseph / Sheila Young
A Lot lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Universal Music Publishing Group


If you want to hear the full version spoken (it really is not sung), it is available on many online music sources such as Spotify.com, but you can always hear it on old fashioned radio where stations featuring Hip-hop are playing it repeatedly each day.


To give you an idea of where I am coming from, according to a quick visit to the internet, the three top song hits from the year in the distant past when I was born were “Night and Day  (Fred Astaire and Leo Reisman),” “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime” (Bing Crosby) and “All of Me (Louis Armstrong).”   Moving thirteen years up to the year of my Bar Mitzvah, the top three were “Sentimental Journey” (Les Brown and Doris Day), Rum and Coca Cola (the Andrews Sisters) and “Till the End of Time (Perry Como).”  I still like all of them but I try to listen to today's music as well.


Les Brown and Doris Day

  
And speaking of today’s music, according to Billboard, the top three songs right now (and these include more than Hip-hop) are “Old Town Road” (Lil Nas X), “Sunflower” (from the film ‘Spiderman’ – Post Malone and Swae Lee) and “7 Rings” (Ariana Grande). I have not heard any of them.  By the way, “A Lot” is number 22.


Jacj Lippman


Facing the Music Politically - Bad News, Good News and a Lawn Mower

What’s up with Donald?  (Trump not Duck).   Well, accept the fact that we are not going to see his tax returns.  You can see mine anytime you want.  I have nothing to hide.   If we saw his, however, we might see some things Donald might be wanting to hide.  And I do not know what those things might be.  (The claim that they are “under audit” is bull.)  Perhaps they would show he is not so rich as he claims to be?  Perhaps they would show to whom he owes money?  These are not criminal acts, but they certainly would attack Trump’s vanity. We just don’t know.  If Congress subpoenas them, it might end up in Court, even eventually going to the Supreme Court where, incidentally, two Trump appointees sit.  Such litigation can stretch out for a long, long time.


As far as the Mueller Report goes, whatever is finally released to Congress and to the public by Mueller’s boss, the Attorney General,
Attorney General Barr
will be so heavily redacted that the basis for Mueller’s decision, whatever it actually might be, and not as reported in Trump’s skillful Attorney-General’s two letters, will be unavailable.  That’s the reason Barr came out of retirement to be the Attorney-General, to save Trump’s butt. Collusion (actually conspiracy) and obstruction are extremely difficult charges to prove.  Strong evidence alone is insufficient for that purpose.  There must be something ironclad, such as Nixon’s Watergate tapes which did him in, regardless of other evidence.  But such evidence might be more than sufficient to convict of lesser crimes.  And just as with the tax returns, if Congress subpoenas the un-redacted Report, the matter might end up in Court, even eventually going to the Supreme Court where, incidentally, two Trump appointees sit.  As I said in regard to the tax returns, litigation can stretch out for a long, long time. 


The point of all of this is that Trump and those Republicans who depend on his base of support to avoid primary challenges and to get re-elected want to keep this information under wraps until after the 2020 election.  Litigation can easily be stretched far beyond that date.  Why?  Because Donald knows that if he loses in 2020, and a Democratic President and Congress take over, the tax information and Mueller Report will come out and he knows that, in street language, his ass will be grass (and guess who will be driving the lawn mower?).  Donald needs to win re-election to postpone that day of reckoning.  


 

That is why he is actively cementing the loyalty of his base, chiefly comprised of economically threatened older white voters whose jobs have been changed by technology and low-cost overseas labor, and who voted for him in 2016.  He is doing this every day. They see new immigrants around them working for minimum wages, low enough for them to also qualify for “welfare” and believe they are the cause of their misery, and Donald uses this as his tool to keep their loyalty.


This is why Trump is increasing his usual attacks on immigrants, his insistence on a wall on our Southern border and his diverting the United States Army and the Department of Homeland Security from their full responsibilities to become part of his election campaign.  That’s why the “Generals” and most recently the top officials of Homeland Security have disappeared from his Administration, leaving him personally in charge, his finger frozen on the panic button.


Here’s some good news and some bad news.  The good news is that Donald will not get away with it.  History is not on his side. Americans know better. The bad news is that it will take the 2020 elections for America to get him out of office, and subject him to the actions of our judicial system.  It won’t happen any sooner.


And reminding the Democrats:  They must register voters, recruit workers and offer programs which will create jobs for those economically threatened older white voters and provide reasonably priced health care for all.  That is the only way to succeed.  Attacking Trump is a waste of time.  It’s like punching a pillow.  With that in mind, be sure to read Charles Blow’s recent New York Times column about the “legend” Trump has become to his followers (Read it by clicking right here) and the National Review’s senior editor Jonah Goldberg’s column on Trump’s “good cop – bad cop“ tactics, which you can read by CLICKING RIGHT HERE.   Both point out the futility of attacking Trump personally.

JL


Joe, Roy, Donald and Stephen 

Joe McCarthy, G.O.P. Senator from Wisconsin during the 1940's amd 50's, made a career of viciously attacking Communists whom he linked not only to the Democrats, but to the U.S. Army as well.  He went down in flames, a disgrace to the Senate and to his country, except in the eyes of those on the extreme right.  At his side during his Senate hearings was the late Roy Cohn, an unscrupulous attorney who constantly fed Joe the fuel of his vituperation.  Later on, before his death, Cohn became a personal adviser and attorney to Donald Trump, preceding Michael Cohen, prescribing the shady tactics he followed in his rise in the real estate world and his entry into politics.    

       
McCarthy and Cohn - in the Fifties




Years later, an older Cohn with a younger Trump





Trump and Miller today



















Today, the President seems to be getting advice from unscrupulous right-winger Stephen Miller, who prescribes Donald's authoritarian approach to immigration.  Has Miller, in Trump's mind,  even sub-consciously, replaced Roy Cohn?  They certainly look alike.
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 
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.
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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.

HOW TO FORWARD POSTINGS.
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Jack Lippman 


Saturday, April 6, 2019

Democratic Recipe for Success, Pillow Talk, Security Clearances, Bradlee's Book, Historic American Battles, Baseball in Miami and Gettin' Affectionate over Brahm's 2nd Piano Concerto


                                                                    * * * * *


Remembering Iwo Jima

                                             * * * * *


Brahms and Biden

Falletta
Amidst thunderous applause after pianist Fabio Bidini finished a magnificent performance of Brahm’s Second Piano Concerto at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach last week, he leapt to the podium to warmly embrace Grammy-winning conductor JoAnn Falletta, who had led the Buffalo Philharmonic in its accompaniment of the soloist.  There was nothing sexual nor suggestive in the embrace.  It was his way of saying, “How wonderful; we performed this beautiful music together! Thank you, thank you.”
 
Touching, and even embracing, even if unsolicited (I don’t know if Ms. Falletta expected it to happen) is nothing to be ashamed of.  Actually, Ms. Falletta’s husband, a musician in the orchestra, was sitting right there applauding along with the rest of us.  What counts is the reason for such overt signs of affection.  What is its motivation?


Biden
Which brings us to Joe Biden.  His touching, or even kissing, of which he is presently being accused seems always to have been of a benign, if not paternalistic, nature, even if it took the recipient by surprise.  It never involved a hidden message like, “Stick around, baby.  I got a suite upstairs in the hotel.”  

Such accusations come nowhere near those made of the thrice-married, adulterous President of the United States who prides himself on his sexual prowess (check out affairs with Stormy and Karen, not to mention Marla … whom he was bedding while he was still married to Ivana) and from whom it is said that a friendly pat on the back sometimes dropped down a few inches becoming a squeeze of the butt. 

(As of this moment, I have not made up my mind as to whom I favor for the Democratic presidential nomination ... but for reasons other than those discussed above, I am not leaning in Joe's direction.)

Jack Lippman

                                                                * * * * *

Remembering Gettysburg
                                                                       * * * * *

Pillow Talk Amongst the Conways 

In George T. Conway’s op-ed piece in the Washington Post, appearing a few days after the Attorney General’s four-page summary of the Mueller Report was published, he wrote that “whether the Mueller report ever sees the light of day, there is one charge that can be resolved now. Americans should expect far more from a president than merely that he not be provably a criminal. They should expect a president to comport himself in accordance with the high duties of his office.”  

Conway concluded his op-ed by declaring that “if the charge were unfitness for office, the verdict would already be in: guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”  He also said that "if Mueller’s report doesn’t exonerate the president (from charges of obstruction), there must be something pretty damning in it about him, even if it might not suffice to prove a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.”  You MUST read the entire op-ed piece. 

(George T. Conway, III is a prominent and highly respected lawyer, practicing in New York.)

Loving Couple
Because George’s wife, Kellyanne, is a senior advisor to the President, any “pillow talk” that might ensue between them would be priceless.  Expect a book after Trump is out of office. 

CLICK RIGHT HERE  to read Conway's Washington Post op-ed in full as reproduced last week in the Palm Beach Post. 

JL


                                                                     * * * * *
 Remembering Yorktown

                                                                         * * * * *

 
The Roadmap to Democratic Success in 2020

As my last blog posting made very clear, despite opinions like that of George Conway addressed above, no matter how the pending court cases are resolved and whatever the Democratic Congressional investigations produce, the only real pathway to success for Democrats is to register voters and work to win every election possible at all levels.   The Mueller Report is not sufficient ammunition. Attacking President Trump’s many obvious shortcomings will be self-defeating because, as you will see,  all those who support him are well aware of them and are immune to criticism for believing as they do.  No, the key is working to register as many Democratic voters as possible, nationwide.

And once those voters are registered, here is how the job of winning elections in 2020 must be accomplished.  Giving such advice may seem highly presumptuous on my part, but after the Democratic nomination of Hillary Clinton in 2016 (when asked back then if I was for her, I ended up replying “Yes, but not comfortably so.”) and their managing to lose both the Senate and Governorship races in Florida in 2018, I wonder if the Party’s leaders really understand.   Well, here’s how the job must be done.  It takes a lot of effort to get your hands and arms around the problem, and your head into it, but please try.

It starts with Ben Bradlee’s book, “The Forgotten,” which explains how Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, long a strong bastion of unionism and the Democratic Party, went overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in 2016, providing enough of a margin of victory to give all of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes to Trump.  That was it.  The game and the election were lost there and then.  The same sort of thing happened in Michigan and Wisconsin as well, but Bradlee dissected how it happened in Luzerne County with numerous readable and sometimes frightening interviews.  There are three requirements to which I suggest all Democrats adhere in order to win in 2020.

Requirement One: Every Democratic candidate for office at all levels, and all members of the Democratic National Committee and all precinct leaders, nationwide, MUST be required to read Bradlee’s book.  Otherwise, they’re out of a job.

Now let’s get to the book, which should be their primer on how Democrats can win big in 2020.  You can read the opening sections of "The Forgotten's" Kindle version, if you wish, by CLICKING RIGHT HERE.  That ought to whet your appetite for a trip to a bookstore, a book ordering site online or your nearest public library.  Read the whole book!

In the Introduction section of his book, which chronicles in detail why a county which had always been strongly Democratic turned to Donald Trump, not narrowly, but by big, big, numbers in 2016, Bradlee writes, “Some of the motivating factors behind Trump’s appeal could be found in an anonymous, post-election (2016) email circulating among his voters in Luzerne County and elsewhere, its candid sentiments amount to a Trump voters’ creed.”  Its full text follows:

‘I haven’t said too much about this election since the start … but this is how I feel … I’m noticing that a lot of you aren’t graciously accepting the fact that your candidate lost.  In fact, you seem to be posting even more hateful things about those of us who voted for Trump.  Some of you are apparently “triggered” because you are posting how “sick” you feel about the results.  How did this happen, you ask?

   You created “us” when you attacked our freedom of speech.
   You created “us” when you attacked our right to bear arms.
   You created “us” when you attacked our Christian beliefs.
   You created “us” when you constantly referred to us as racists.
   You created “us” when you constantly called xenophobic.
   You created “us” when you told us to get on board or get out of the way.
   You created “us” when you attacked our flag.
   You created “us” when you took God out of our schools.
   You created “us” when you confused women’s rights with feminism.
   You created “us” when you began to emasculate men.
   You created “us” when you decided to make our children soft.
   You created “us” when you decided to vote for progressive ideals.
   You created “us” when you attacked our way of life.
   You created “us” when you decided to let our government get out of control.
   You created “us,” the silent majority.
   You created “us” when you began murdering innocent law enforcement officers.
   You created “us” when you lied and said we could keep our insurance plans and our    doctors.
   You created “us” when you allowed our jobs to continue to leave our country.
   You created “us” when you took a knee or stayed seated or didn’t remove your hat during our national anthem.
   You created “us” when you forced us to buy health care and then financially penalized us for not participating.

And we became fed up and we pushed back and spoke up.  And we did it
   With ballots, not bullets. 
   With ballots, not riots. 
   With ballots, not looting. 
   With ballots, not blocking traffic,
   With ballots, not fires, except the one you started inside of “us.”

YOU created “US.”  It really is just that simple.’

Most of these voters had been life-long Democrats, living in a once-heavily unionized county, but in 2016, they turned to Trump, and along with him, the Republican Party.  In prior years, many felt the Republicans were “for the rich” and the Democrats were “for the working people.”  In Luzerne County, they switched sides in 2016 and voted for Donald Trump for the reasons listed above.  Today, Democrats ignore this at their peril … in Luzerne County and elsewhere in the nation!  Read it and heed it.

When you look at the litany of supposed provocations in the email reproduced above, some (support of the Second Amendment, opposition to Government involvement in health care,) can be taken as traditional Republican positions, while others relate to what specifically happened over the past few decades in Luzerne County and manifest social and cultural issues as well as economic ones. But they are all interrelated.  

The coal mines closed, the manufacturing that replaced some of the lost mining jobs eventually moved overseas, the unions left (check out lyrics to Billy Joel’s song “Allentown” on this subject), unemployment was rampant, mortgages were foreclosed, those who could afford to left the area, retail businesses closed, housing deteriorated, and what low level jobs remained were taken by non-white immigrants who were willing to work for the minimum wage while still qualifying for public assistance, and who rented housing at bargain prices.  In this environment, crime and corruption (always present in Luzerne County) flourished. One resident commented that “the Italian Mafia was replaced by the Latino Mafia.”

It was not a matter of Republicans offering solutions to these problems. They had none. The Democratic Party, once the voters' salvation, had none either in 2016.  And the emphasis which the Democrats placed on progressive agenda items such as healthcare, climate change, the nation’s infrastructure, women’s rights, LGBT rights, the environment, world trade, gun violence, public education as well as civil, voting and minority rights did not resonate in Luzerne County. These issues did not directly address their problems.  The voters there, including Democrats, felt that thier parties had "forgotten them," and hence, the title of Bradlee's book.

Some Democrats felt that they were not leaving their party, but that it was the Democratic Party that had "forgotten them" and was leaving them.  

And in comes Donald Trump with the Republican nomination in hand, promising, in their folksy and earthy language, to shake things up, and Luzerne County was glad to embrace him, even though the Republican Party, long a bastion of backward-looking conservatism, had no solutions either. 


The good citizens of Luzerne County were looking around for someone on whom to place the blame for their sorry state of affairs, and Donald Trump was giving them a broad choice of people, or groups, to blame, among others, immigrants and those on "welfare,' both helpless and easy targets.   What was once an almost entirely white county now had a large, and growing, minority population.  

Latino Softball League Flourishes  in Wilkes-Barre
 

But I am getting ahead of myself.  Read the book!  (Remember, that was "Requirement One.") 











Requirement Two:   In 2020, Democrats must not run against Donald Trump.  We all know he is, was and always will be bad news.  But many, many, others support him, despite all his faults.  Arguing with his positions or what he says is impossible since he relies on lies, hyperbole, imprecise language and insults.  Were such a contest being held in an academic debate environment, things would be different, but that is not an arena into which Trump, nor his Republican supporters, choose to enter.  The same goes for rational journalists’ opinions, as voiced in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, PBS, CNN and MSNBC.  They are worthless in debating Trump, who prefers the National Enquirer or brief twitter outpourings.

Requirement Three:   Here’s what MUST be done.  This is the clincher. The bottom line. The Democratic Party must strongly stress what its programs can do, specifically, to benefit voters in distressed places like Luzerne County, Pennsylvania and the hundreds of similar places throughout the country, particularly in states which narrowly gave their electoral votes to Donald Trump in 2016, states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and of course, Pennsylvania. 


This should take the form of a three-pronged effort directed at removing the reasons why these good people turned to a fraud like Donald Trump in desperation in the first place.  They attack the cause.




 Prong One - It should include a massive program to repair and update infrastructure, including water and power supplies, public buildings, schools, parks, highways, city streets and other means of transportation. (Sounds a lot like FDR’s “New Deal,” which it is, but calling it something like that isn’t a good idea.) 


Well paying, permanent jobs rebuilding and maintaining the nation's infrastructure are the answer, not burger flipping jobs at Wendy's
                                                                                                                                       
     The program should provide enough employment in both the public and private sectors, on a continuing basis, at good salaries, to replace the jobs that were lost in places like Luzerne County over the past thirty years. It must provide jobs over the broad spectrum of workers, including all ethnic groups, a factor which cannot be ignored. Income  from these "infrastructure-related" jobs will filter down to the entire community as these dollars are spent.

  Such economic rejuvenation, I believe, will sufficiently (although not entirely) erase the racism and bigotry which feeds on economic distress, and which Donald Trump harvested.  It will lessen cultural differences, reducing the number of people "on welfare" and change the nature of those choosing to emigrate to what will be a no longer "distressed" Luzerne County. It won't be inexpensive, but funding for such programs can come from significantly increased taxes on the wealthy, involving a reversal of the tax cuts given them by Republicans in 2017.

The modest unemployment rate in the country, about which Republicans and the President boast, is an illusion because many of the jobs it reflects are minimum wage service jobs paying far less than is needed to support a family.  Jobs at Burger King are not the answer.

     
The Healthcare Crisis Must be Resolved
    Prong Two -  Secondly, the question of health care must be resolved in a manner which enables everyone to be guaranteed health care at a reasonable price, preferably through traditional private sources (as is the case with ‘Obamacare’) but with a flexible total cost cap (perhaps a ceiling of 5% for annual family incomes below 75K) – increasing with income, in excess of which the government will subsidize the rest, again paying for it with a reversal of the 2017 tax cuts.  Should this not work, the more expensive “Medicare for All” should be considered.

   Prong 3 -   Finally, the more progressive aspects of the Democratic platform such as climate change, women’s rights, LGBT rights, the environment, world trade, gun violence, public education as well as civil, voting and minority rights should be pushed to the background in areas like Luzerne County.   

Demonstrations Like This Will  Not Help Return Places Like
Luzerne County to the Democratic Party. They Love their Guns too Much!



       They should be mentioned, of course, but only secondary to the two “prongs” mentioned directly above, infrastructure jobs and health care.  They will not attract voters in places like Luzerne County.  They might even provide ammunition to Republicans.  Why give them a target?  As potent as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives might be as vote-getters in some areas, Democrats would be foolish to send her to Wilkes-Barre to speak.
                                                                      

That’s it, Democrats.   Once again, recapitulating those three "requirements" ....

1. Read the book (“The Forgotten”).  (Okay, if you're too busy to do that,  at least CLICK HERE to read the Kindle sample mentioned above.  It might change your mind.)

2.  Forget about Donald Trump.  Attacking him is like punching a pillow.

3.  The Three "Prongs" - (1) Create good jobs by massively rebuilding infrastructure and (2) providing reasonably priced health care, both funded by reversing the 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy, all the while (3) soft-pedalling, but not ignoring, other progressive Democratic priorities in areas such as Luzerne County where their impact is questionable.

Then, and only then, will places like Luzerne County no longer be among "The Forgotten."

 JL
                                                                  * * * * *
Remembering Battle of Midway

                                                                       * * * * *

On Security Clearances (with apologies to Jared K.)


This is the original
crest of the REDACTED
Back in the 1950’s when I was in the service serving in the Army Security Agency (which reported to the NSA), we all had to have relatively high security clearances.  Mine was at a level known as “REDACTED" which related to some of the work we did.  I recall an incident where someone in my platoon at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, was transferred out of the outfit because his security clearance was being taken away.  Apparently, someone in the Defense Department had caught the fact that one of his parents had immigrated to the United States from Russia during the 1920’s, and since it was entirely possible that he might have relatives in that country, he lost his security clearance and ended up in the plain old Signal Corps.  

Such connections, familial or business-wise, make one vulnerable to being compromised or blackmailed.  That’s the way these things are supposed to be handled, unless you work for the Executive Branch of our government headed by Donald Trump, who probably, once he is out of office, would not himself qualify for the minimal security clearance needed to get a job sweeping the floors in a government building somewhere.
 JL

                                                                 * * * * *
Remembering the Battle of the Bulge

                                                                        * * * * *

Lonely in the Ballpark  

Empty Seats in Miami

I suspect that the days of the Miami Marlins in Florida are numbered.  The only problems would be how to get out of their deal with Miami-Dade County for use of Marlins Park and where to move the team.  (Stuck with a baseball-less stadium, they probably would convert it to a soccer venue.)  Believe me, owners Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman are businessmen, not philanthropists, and must be thinking about this right now. 


Based on attendance at the first seven home games, I project the Marlins will be fortunate if their total attendance for 2019 is as high as 600,000 for their 82 home games.  (Their current ownership is honest about attendance numbers.  The previous owners were not.)   In 2018, even with ten less home games on their schedule, four minor league teams, Indianapolis, Columbus, Nashville and Round Rock (Austin, TX area) drew more than 600,000 for the season! 

To put in context how abysmal things have been at Marlins Park, through seven games, paid attendance has averaged 9,577 per game. But if we remove the 25,423 that came on Opening Day, the Marlins have seen an average of less than 7,000 per game (6,936). 

Attendance is down throughout major league baseball, but nowhere is it as bad as it is in Miami.  I predict, assuming attendance remains at present levels, that the Marlins will be out of Florida by 2022.
JL

                                                                   


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