Monday, June 24, 2019

Disgraceful Conditions in Children's Detention Camps on the Border Exposed in Magazine Article

Clint, Texas, facility where children are being detained under horrible conditions.

To read the article in the forthcoming issue of the New Yorker dealing with the horrible conditions under which children are being held in detention camps by our government, CLICK HERE or it that doesn't work, copy and paste on your browser line.

This is the story being discussed at length on TV programs such as Morning Joe and other TV news outlets today.


Jack Lippman

And while on this general subject (Immigration), we see that the President has postponed by two weeks his announced operation to gather up and deport all those living in this country illegally.  Aside from the enormous logistical problems such an action would create, if indeed it were legal, is the emotional effect it has on families which may, or may not, fit into that category.  Children going to school, a spouse going to work or out to shop for groceries ... all live under the fear that on their return their family might not be where it was a few hours earlier.  Try to imagine the emotional stress involved.  On adults, and more so, on children. 

But it all fits in with the President's skill as a negotiator. Keep changing your position.  Be slippery.  And then no opponent will be able to handle you.  That's his game with immigrants, with health care, with Iran, with trade.  People who have been swindled (Trump University students, Casino contractors, etc.) don't know they've been had until it’s too late.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Trump and Iran - "Selfish Socialilsm"

Iran and Donald Trump

The President does not come up with original ideas.  His approach is to denigrate something that is being done, destroy it, and then come up with the same thing with a different label, one identified with his personage.   He did that with NAFTA in regard to trade relationships with Mexico and Canada. It’s now called USMCAN and he claims credit for it as his baby, making him a genius in terms of international trade. But all it amounts to is a few tweaks made in the old NAFTA, which could have been accomplished without his destroying it.  But then, he would not have had NAFTA as a whipping boy to blame for unemployment in certain areas, for which it might not even have been responsible.

The same thing is now going on in regard to Iran.  During the Obama administration, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany joined with the United States to sign a treaty with Iran whereby in exchange for the removal of certain sanctions and the release of Iranian assets being held in the West, Iran would limit their development of uranium refinement to levels below weapons capability.  This treaty was working out well with inspections confirming Iran’s adherence to it, until Trump decided to tear it up and walk away from it, declaring it to be “defective at its core.” 

That is the way this goon operates.  In the real estate business, a big-time developer such as Trump claimed to have been, might have second thoughts on the price he had agreed to accept for a piece of property when he learned that some changes in the neighborhood suddenly made it worth twice as much.  So he would rip up the sales agreement and tell the buyer to “go sue me.”  That’s the way our President believes we should deal with other nations … and that’s what he’s doing with Iran.

Well, it looks like Iran is back in the business of working to develop uranium at weapons capable levels, and that can be blamed on Trump tearing up his copy of the treaty, which, incidentally, the other signatories are still honoring.  The President’s reaction at this moment seems to be vacillating between bellicosity and showing a desire to sit down and talk with Iran’s leaders who in turn are flexing their military muscles. 

Hormuz Straights - Current Flashpoint in Middle East

I suspect that despite some “war hawks” in the White House, like John Bolton, Trump would rather negotiate than go to war.  I believe that talks will happen at some level … and a new treaty will be the result … but just as USMCAN replaced NAFTA with Trump taking the credit, the new treaty with Iran, similar to the old one but with just a few tweaks, will replace the one the Obama administration had signed.  This time, however, it will have Trump’s name on it, and he is willing to risk a war to accomplish that.  This is sort of the way Donald got his name on so many buildings and other enterprises but it is no way to run a nation. 

(Oh well, It’s only about sixteen months until the 2020 elections … or about six weeks to the deadline I have arbitrarily set for starting impeachment proceedings. Incidentally, even though the polls show the President falling behind in crucial states, his backers claim that because Trump voters refuse to participate in polls, their results are meaningless. Proceed with caution.)

Jack Lippman

Why the “Selfish Socialists” Always Vote Republican

Up there somewhere north of Orlando and south of the Ocala horse country in the middle of Florida is a massive retirement community known as “the Villages.”  It is totally self-contained with golf courses, tennis courts, theatres, stores and whatever the 50,000 residents there need as they scoot around the place in their golf carts.  The place always votes solidly Republican and in fact, G.O.P. candidates like to kick off their campaigns there in its friendly environment.  And after whomever they pray to in their houses of worship, Donald Trump comes in a very close second.

Pleasant Scene at the Villages

If a speaker were to ask these benign folks what they thought of “socialism,” they would be greeted by a collection of boos and catcalls.  Yet, almost all these people receive Social Security payments each month and are on Medicare.  Those who end up in nursing homes, and some do, turn to Medicaid after they exhaust their savings.  Many who served our country, on their passing, are buried in VA cemeteries.  Hey folks!  Wake up!  That’s “socialism” in which you are participating.

(Let me make it clear that I understand the actual definition of socialism is “state control of an economy’s means of production and distribution.”  To the folks I am discussing here, however, it is simply reduced to government involvement in their lives and in this piece, I am accepting that vague definition.)

“Yes,” they would respond, “but it is a different kind of “socialism” from what the evil Democrats are peddling!” 

It’s their own brand of “socialism,” one that they cherish and want to keep.  Because they hold it so dear, let’s call it “Selfish Socialism” like the socialism the private sector relishes when the government steps in to save it from destroying itself and the nation’s economy, as it did in 2008.  The Villages people would still want to call it something else, something less radical-sounding, but for the purposes of this piece, I’m sticking with what it truly is, “selfish socialism.”

Villages residents worked hard all their lives, including contributing to Social Security, to be able to afford to retire.  In effect, they feel they have paid their dues, to the government and otherwise, and believe that they are entitled to be selfish about the preservation of what they have, including Social Security and Medicare and other government benefits.

What they object to is for “others,” whom they feel have not “paid their dues,” to share in these benefits.  That’s what the Democrats always want to promote, and in their eyes it’s simply a way for Democrats to go for the votes of those who depend on the “safety net” aspects of “socialism” such as unemployment and disability benefits, nutritional benefits (food stamps), child care, welfare payments, free or subsidized higher education, subsidized health care and tax breaks including refunds when they haven’t even had any taxes withheld, to get by.  That’s the part of “socialism” they’re against. 

They know that the only way the Democrats can afford to provide these things is to increase taxes on almost everyone else, not just the wealthy, and the Villages people probably consider themselves within that target.  They identify it as leftist “wealth redistribution” and not part of the “Selfish Socialism” they adore, but more like “Godless Communism.” They see it as “taking something away from them and giving it to others who never earned it. And that’s why, even though these retired folks depend on “socialist” programs historically initiated and maintained by the Democratic Party’s officeholders, they will always vote Republican. And though the Villages people are reluctant to admit it, those “others” are often members of minority groups, so their selfish approach to socialism sometimes has overtones of racism.

This attitude extends to many of the other smug retirees in Florida, far beyond the Villages, whose allegiance to the Republican Party is based on their unshakeable loyalty to “Selfish Socialism.”  This is one of the reasons why Democrats, who are actually a majority in the Sunshine State, do not win statewide elections.


Thursday, June 20, 2019

Keeping the Mueller Report Alive and Three 'Politicklers'

Congress (and the Media)Please Keep the Mueller Report in the Spotlight

I hate to keep harping on the Mueller Report, but frankly, the Administration’s delaying tactics in responding to the House’s attempts to question witnesses who provided the meat of that document are serving to push it into the background. That is their aim.

Out of the spotlight, out of mind. 

To them, the Attorney General’s whitewash was the end of the story and moved it into history, where any excuse for delay can further push it back.  The Mueller Report contained enough to sooner or later put Donald Trump behind bars.  Nancy Pelosi alluded to this a few weeks ago, but even that is fading away.  That’s why this blog will not ignore the Mueller Report and continue to try to keep it in the spotlight.

I really wish someone would confront the President with the following request asking that he read the Mueller Report aloud, as quoted below, in the questioner’s presence, ideally under oath before a Congressional Committee.  Of course, this will never happen.  An alternative might be to write a kind personal note to the President in which the same request is made.  Such a polite letter might read as follows.  (Feel free to copy it and send it off, if you wish.)

Mr. President: 

I know you are a busy man but it is important that you take the time to read a little bit of the Mueller Report.  Here’s the conclusion drawn at the end of Volume Two of the Mueller Report, dealing with obstruction of justice,.  It reads as follows:

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.  Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgement.  The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.  Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” 

Surprised?  It doesn’t exonerate you, despite what the Attorney General says.  Listening to him can get you into trouble, sir.  Read it for yourself!  If it exonerated you, the Report would have said so!  And it didn’t.  Please, sir, read it yourself.

As for you claiming that it also said that there was “No Collusion,” please next go back to the Introduction to Volume One of the Report, where it deals with Russian interference in our election process. It goes out of the way to clearly state that:

“In evaluating whether evidence about collective action of multiple individuals constituted a crime, we applied the framework of conspiracy law, not the concept of “collusion.” In doing so, the Office recognized that the word “collude” was used in communications with the Acting Attorney General confirming certain aspects of the investigation’s scope and that the term has frequently been invoked in public reporting about the investigation.  But collusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States Code., nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law.  For these reasons, the Office’s focus in analyzing the question of joint criminal liability was on conspiracy as defined in federal law.”

Yes, Mr. President, because there is no such crime as “collusion,” the lawyers who wrote the Mueller report considered the evidence under the closest thing to that in the law, and that is the law regarding “conspiracy.” While the evidence was not bad enough to meet the tough standards that the crime of conspiracy requires, the Report never said that there was “No Collusion.”  In fact, in the sentence preceding the above quote, the Report also states:

“A statement that the investigation did not establish particular facts does not mean that there was no evidence of those facts.”

This means that while the standards required to establish the crime of “conspiracy” were not met, the evidence was still there.

Now that you know what the Mueller Report really said, sir, you at least will be prepared when Congress fulfills its responsibility and points out to you that the Report did not exonerate you of the charge of obstruction and never came out with the verdict of “no collusion” either. 

A Friend

                *  *  *  *  *

 Three “Politicklers”

1.    In his Orlando 2020 campaign kick-off rally, Trump defined his supporters as “a great political movement … that believes a nation must care for its own citizens first.” That reminds me to suggest, if you haven’t done so yet, to check out my recent review of the Okrent book, “The Guarded Gate” on this blog.  Better yet, read the book.

2. Recently, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd reminded us that “The Trump White House may be a clown show and a criminal enterprise.  But it’s also an actual  presidency.  It’s turning out to be a genuinely reactionary administration led by a wannabe authoritarian who refuses to recognize constitutional checks on power.  The real danger is not the antics but the policies.” Friends, this is a warning to us all.  He’s no longer a joke, as other despots throughout history have sometimes been initially viewed by their public, much to their later regret.  That's why I no longer laugh at the amusing cartoons about the President occasionally forwarded to me. Dowd is absolutely correct.  The White House 'clown show' is no longer a laughing matter.

3.   One of the most interesting postings on this blog was the one dated March 1, 2016.   Other than my ultimately disproven conviction that Donald Trump was not electable (I called him a “sure-to-lose” candidate), it was otherwise right on the mark in regard to the cowardice of the Republican Party.  It also dwells upon the significance of the folk song “The Blue Tail Fly.”  Go back and check it out and find out what “Jimmy Crack Corn” REALLY may have meant.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

A Book Review - "The Guarded Gate"

I’ve just read “The Guarded Gate” by Daniel Okrent (Scribners – 2019) which deals with “bigotry, eugenics, and the law that kept two generations of Jews, Italians and other European immigrants out of America.”  There’s enough in this book for all Americans to be ashamed of and for the scientific and academic communities, both of which (with rare exceptions) failed to live up to the standards expected of them for half a century, to share in that shame.  Okrent’s critical perspective is sometimes a bit overwhelming, but the vile nature of the subject matter makes that understandable, making the book more political and social commentary than pure history.

Some of the material in the book clearly resonates even today.  Here’s an example, taken from the period just after World War One, when some Americans feared that an increasing number of immigrants were on their way here:  “One congressman … claimed the Soviet Union was smuggling one hundred Bolshevik agents into the United States from Mexico every day (and) … had become chairman of the House Committee on Immigration.” (pg. 255)
Another example citing communication between two leaders of the immigration restriction movement had one asking the other, “Can we build a wall high enough around the country, so as to keep out these cheaper races or will it only be a feeble dam which will make the flood all the worse when it breaks?” (pg. 256).  

Even more:  In Calvin Coolidge’s first Annual Message to Congress in 1923, the President stated that “America must be kept American.  For this purpose, it is necessary to continue a policy of restricted immigration.” (pg. 336)
"Send These, the Homeless, Tempest-tossed to Me ....

The book concludes, after World War Two had shattered many of the mistaken ideas of the immigration restriction movement and the phony science of eugenics (which Adolf Hitler had adopted), with President Lyndon Johnson signing a new Immigration and Nationality Act in 1965 within sight of the statue of Liberty.  The author closes his work saying that “for believers in the promise of the nearby statue, the future of American immigration policy looked as bright as the brilliant sun overhead.”

Now, 54 years later, I am not so sure.  I suspect that if our 45th President were to read “The Guarded Gate,” he would ally himself with some of its “bad guys.”  And they were truly bad, ranging from the courtly Senator Henry Cabot Lodge to the media gurus at the old Scribner publishing house and at the Saturday Evening Post.

These vicious, usually wealthy, gullible, often misguided, sometimes not very bright and sometimes very selfish, but always very respectable, Ivy-League educated people almost destroyed the American dream in their effort to keep America frozen in the elitist, White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant heritage which they believed was essential for the nation’s "biologic" survival.   Though they were reluctant to publicly admit it, their groundless fears for America's "bloodline" were grounded in antii-Semitism and a abhorrance of Italians, the groups most involved in immigration to the United States.

The restrictive, genetically-designed immigration quotas spawned by half a century of lies, reinforced by pseudo-scientific nonsense, were undeniably perniciously racist, and sadly, the American people bought into them in the 1920’s and 1930's, knowing no better.  In this light, incidents like the refusal of the United States to allow the refugee-carrying vessel, the St. Louis, to land in 1939 become more understandable, although still inexcusable, 
The goals may be a bit different today but you can still see some of these discredited ideas hard at work in slogans like “America First” and “Make America Great Again.” That really means "like it was before 'other' people started getting off the boat, or crossing the border," just as their own forebearers had done years before, but they’ve forgotten about that.

Jack Lippman

Sunday, June 16, 2019

George Will and Some Advice for Democrats

Practicality Versus Ideology!

In a recent column, George Will suggested that “sooner rather than later, even Democrats will come to suspect that denigrating people until they vote for you lacks a certain strategic plausibility.”  He’s talking about people like ME, who in this blog have repeatedly blamed the presence of an incompetent, failed, immoral, business cheat in the White House on the gullibility, if not the stupidity, of the American voter.

In this vein, I have frequently quoted the otherwise reprehensible H.L. Mencken who said that “as democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people.  On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s delight at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

I guess this is not the best way to “win friends and influence people” and more importantly, to get them to vote for your candidates.

Will suggests, if you follow his sophisticated reasoning, that the Democrats had better nominate someone who will attract the votes of those for whom “government is more a practical than an ideological concern.”  Targeting African American voters as a crucial group, he mentions their concern with health care, employment and schools rather than impeachment, abolishing the Electoral College and other “gesture-promises” which to them “probably are distractions.”

Trump’s victory in 2016, Will points out was based on this kind of practical, rather than ideological, appeal when he went after the votes of “non-college whites” part of a faction which “felt itself a casualty of an economic dynamism that had most benefited people who admire this faction least.”

Will’s words are a caution to the Democratic Party, suggesting their candidate should be one who soft-pedals ideological reform and concentrates on what is practical for crucial voting groups.  Keep your eyes and ears open during next week’s Democratic candidates’ “debates,” which are not really debates but rather forums in which they will state their positions.  If Will is correct, polls in crucial states after the debates should favor those whose positions come off as the most practical rather than the most ideologically pure.

Jack Lippman