Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Letter to Two Papers, Our Time Warp, Santa's Belt and The Night Before Christmas at Mar-a-Lago

Season's Greetings to All of Our Readers 

                      Christmas Eve Edition      


I Write Letters

Here's the text of a letter which I've sent to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Palm Beach Post.  Hope that at least one of them prints it.

When the democratic process malfunctions, that is, when the people make poor decisions, they may get more than they bargained for. The French Revolution in the final decade of the Eighteenth century, the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the rise of Hitler in Germany in 1932 illustrate this. None of these “popular” changes in government ended well. Essential to the democratic process working as it should, ”in the interest of the people,” are a free press, a well-educated citizenry and respect for a legitimate opposition. Their absence can lead to a malfunction of the democratic process which is what occurred in these examples. This is what we are dealing with today in the United States. 


That is why I am proud to be a Democrat, recognizing the Democratic Party’s understanding of the democratic process, a concept which the President and the Republican Party fail to grasp.




Jack Lippman




Living in a Time Warp

We live in the Twenty-first century.  At least that’s what a glance at the calendar indicates.  In “senior” or “over-55” communities, many of which we have down here in Florida, most folks are still living in the Twentieth century!  Take a look at the entertainment provided in their “clubhouses,” the music they listen to and even the kind of restaurants in which they eat.

Too-Jays, a delicatessen chain, has 27 restaurants in South Florida.  There are numerous other purveyors of pastrami, corned beef, chopped liver and other delicacies, loaded in great quantities between two slices of crisp-crusted yet soft rye bread served with a side of cole slaw or half sour pickles here in the Sunshine State.  But clearly, this is a Twentieth century thing for the Twentieth century people inhabiting much of Palm Beach, Dade and Broward counties.  T'ain't so elsewhere.

The last time I was up in New York, it was difficult to find such delicatessens in the “hipper” regions of lower Manhattan.  There remained a few on the lower East Side and on the upper West Side, but they are far outnumbered by Twenty-first century eateries specializing in Japanese, Indian or Thai cuisine or a mélange known as Asian Fusion.  Strictly Chinese restaurants have become rarities in the Twenty-first century except in South Florida, and even there, they are gradually disappearing.  Long time favorites such as the Carnegie Deli and the Stage Deli are history in the Big Apple, but there is an acceptable delicatessen called the Stage Deli in Naples, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, where there also are many retirees living in the last century.

Rodgers with either Hart or Hammerstein, Jerome Kern, the Gershwin Brothers, Irving Berlin and all the other stalwarts of the Broadway Musical scene in the Twentieth century survive in Florida on innumerable stages, far more than on the Great White Way.  Retirees flock to hear singers who offer “tribute” performances dedicated to, or are attempted imitations of, Sinatra, Streisand, the Beatles, the Four Seasons, the Beach Boys and others who hearken back to the days when Rhythm and Blues gave birth to Rock ‘n Roll. Hip-hop, even the intellectualized version presented in Lin Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton,” have yet to penetrate South Florida’s retirees, who still flock to revivals of “Fiddler on the Roof.” 

The appeal of such nostalgia seems to be useful to seniors in postponing the prospect of growing older, which would come with accepting the fact that the Twentieth century is history.

Armed with Twenty-first century technology, many retirees with Twentieth century habits still limit using their costly “smartphones” to just making telephone calls, and many still have the simpler clam shell type phones which can’t do much more than that.   And if they need a ride somewhere, they are often more likely to call a cab, or try to hail one if they are in a big northern city, rather than order a ride via Uber or Lyft which Twenty-first century people do.

Yes, this even extends to the way they dress.  In the Twentieth century world of South Florida, many men still wear white sneakers (usually New Balance) whereas those elsewhere, living in the Twenty-first century, wear sneakers featuring all of the colors of the rainbow.


Yes, we are living in a time warp down here in Florida, where the Twenty-first century is on the other side of the horizon for many of us, even though the calendar says that right now, it is almost 2018.
JL


At this season each year, Jackspotpourri includes our favorite Christmas story, "Santa's Belt."  Hope you enjoy it again or for the first time.


Santa’s Belt  


Jack Lippman


It was that time of the year when things were getting hectic at the North Pole.  Santa and the elves had been working overtime to make certain that everything would be ready to go on Christmas Eve.  After all, children of all ages throughout the world were waiting for Santa to bring them the gifts which they had been wishing for, gifts to make their dreams come true.

“Rufus,” Santa called out.  “Are all of the presents ready to load into my bag?  Have our helpers down on Earth, the toy manufacturers, gotten their toys and games ready for the kids?  And how about the parents?  You know, they all have to do their part too!  Hey, we only have a few days left!”

“Don’t worry, Mr. Claus,” Rufus replied.  “There won’t be any foul-ups this year.  The toys are all ready to go!”

“And is my sleigh ready?  Are the reindeer in good shape?”

“Don’t worry, Santa,” Rufus reassuringly replied.  “The sleigh has been repainted, the runners greased and the harnesses repaired.  And the reindeer are just fine.  Comet and Cupid are over their colds and the others have even gotten used to Rudolf, who wasn’t even in that poem about us.  Even Donder and Blitzen have calmed down.  Santa, you must stop worrying.  Everything is going to be fine!”

It had been three years since Rufus had been promoted to the position of Chief Elf in Santa’s workshop.  Of course, he had been helping out there for many years but only recently had Santa learned of Rufus’ prior experience working closely with Merlin the Magician centuries ago.  Some of Rufus’ innovations, obviously learned from that apprenticeship with the ancient wizard, had greatly increased the efficiency of Santa’s operation.  For example, it was Rufus who had developed the mathematical formulas which, when put into practice, enabled Santa to defy mere physical laws and be in many different of places at the same time.  Rufus had solved the problem of running out of toys with a procedure which in effect, cloned one toy from another, so Santa’s bag was never empty. And of course, he used a lot of old Merlin’s techniques to ease Santa’s trip up and down chimneys throughout the world, without his red outfit ever getting dirty.  Finally, it was Rufus who convinced Santa to include intangible things such as peace, love, brotherhood and wellbeing among the gifts he left on Earth for those who deserved them.

It was just a few nights before Christmas when Rufus encountered Santa in a state of real panic.

“Santa, what’s the matter?  Why are you holding your waist like that?”

“Can’t you see, you darn fool!  I’m holding my pants up!  If I let go, they’ll fall down.  It happened this morning.  My suspenders snapped and I don’t have a belt big enough to fit around me to hold my pants up.  Rufus, they keep falling down and if we can’t fix them, how can I go out on Christmas Eve?  Rufus, do something to help me!  You must!”

“Now, Mr. Claus” the elf answered, holding back a snicker.  “I can see how this happened.  Come to think of it, I should have seen it coming and done something about it.  I’ve watched the way you’ve been eating all of that delicious food Mrs. Claus prepares for you.  Pies and cakes, chickens and steaks, soups and puddings, pizzas and knishes, pasta and dumplings and on and on.  I’ve seen you put away enough for an army at one sitting and top it off with a banana split and a chocolate bar.   What did you expect?”

“Stop your preaching, Rufus!  What would your Merlin do?  Come on.  Think of something so that I don’t disappoint all the children who’ll be waiting for me on Christmas Eve!  I can’t go out there with my pants falling down!”

“Santa, I don’t think suspenders will do the job for you any more because of the pear shape you’ve developed!  We must to get you a belt big enough to hold up your pants!”

“What do you think I’ve been doing all day?  I’ve been looking for one and there just aren’t any made that big.”

Rufus thought for a minute and stroked his chin.  He then turned his eyes upward and look toward the stars, fixing them on the constellation Orion the Hunter.  In an instant, using a mystic incantation remembered from his days with Merlin, he turned himself into a thunderbolt and flew up into the heavens directly at the strip of stars which formed Orion’s belt.  Grasping as many as he could, Rufus flew back to Earth and fashioned a belt from them for Santa.  The old man, finding for the first time since his suspenders had snapped that he was able to keep his pants up, was ecstatic.   


                                          

                              
                  Star map showing the constellation, Orion the Hunter

A few nights later, Santa was able to travel his appointed rounds delivering gifts to children of all ages throughout the world.  As he headed back toward the North Pole, he smiled up at the constellation Orion the Hunter, whose belt, as you can see on any clear evening when you look up in the sky, consists of only three stars, which was all that Rufus left up there.  

Circling the Earth, Santa made a promise to go on a diet.  He had learned his lesson. Soon, recognizing the welcoming lights of the workshop far below, the reindeer guided the sleigh into a slow descent and the jovial old man once more waved his hand to the world, crying out, “Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night, especially to you, Rufus!”



The Night Before Christmas at Mar-a-Lago


And as a final holiday gift, here's Frank Cerebino's wonderful take-off on "The Night Before Christmas" as it appeared in the Palm Beach Post on Dec. 24.  (If you live in South Florida, you could do a lot worse than subscribing to the Post, either on-lilne or in its traditional "paper" version.  I do.) 

Prepare to laugh at what is probably a unique version of the truth and the funniest thing you've read this year!   JUST CLICK RIGHT HERE FOR SOMETHING I AM SURE YOU WILL FORWARD TO MANY OF YOUR FRIENDS AND RELATIVES!

JL


                      
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Jack Lippman 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Party of Evil, Three Tips for Democrats

Democrats, Listen!

Democrats should NOT be elated by the results of recent victories in Virginia and Alabama and be lulled into thinking that the stigma of being associated with Donald Trump will bring out enough voters to defeat those Republican candidates who still will have the support of the President’s unwavering base, the ones would follow him 


to and through the gates of Hell.



Remember, Hillary Clinton received more votes nationwide than did Donald Trump and he, not she, is in the White House.  The Brookings Institute reported that even though the sum total of all votes for members of the House of Representatives in all States in 2016 split 49.9% for the Republicans and 47.3% for the Democrats, the resulting make-up of the 115th Congress gives the Republicans 55.2% of the seats and Democrats, only 44.8%, a far greater margin than the nationwide balloting would suggest. Just as the Electoral College result is more important than the popular vote in determining who sits in the White House, the boundaries of Congressional Districts are more important than the total national voting results in determining the make-up of Congress.  If we had “proportional representation” in Congress, which we do not, the Democrats would have more seats than they do.  But we do not!   

Therefore, the polls which suggest a nationwide disenchantment with Donald Trump do not mean that the Democrats can automatically turn this into a Congressional majority.  Just as the Electoral College determines the Presidency, the demographics of Congressional districting determine who controls the House of Representatives.  Enormous nationwide Democratic support in places like New York, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington and Illinois, perhaps even approaching a national majority, does not mean that the nation will give the Democrats a majority in the 116th Congress which we will elect in 2018.

Once Democrats recognize this, there are three things they must do. 

(1) They must work to elect more Democrats to State legislatures so that Congressional districts can be redrawn so as not to continue to permit Republican dominance in States which actually have Democratic majorities.  There is no reason why States with Democratic majorities should have mostly Republican Representatives in the House.  This is long term, decades-long project.   (Wealthy supporters of the G.O.P. have for years funded a group called ALEC which works in all 50 states to arm and support Republican majorities in State legislatures. Read more about ALEC by Clicking Here .  Democrats must figure out a way to counter ALEC in State Legislatures throughout the nation, regardless of which party controls them.)

(2)  Every effort should be made to get out the voters who can be counted on to vote Democratic in Congressional and local races across the nation.  This demands great attention to Women’s issues, Black issues and Latino issues with the aim of getting people who prioritize them to the polls.  This is where the money should be spent, rather than in local campaigns for local Democratic Representatives who won in 2016 by sizable margins and can be expected to do so again in 2018. Coordination of this effort cannot be local or state-wide.  It must be a national program for Democrats, keyed to Republican districts nationwide which can be “flipped” because of anti-Trump sentiment as well as the issues.

(3)   All Democratic candidates, from those running for the Senate down to the most insignificant-appearing local position, must demand that their opponent make their position clear as to whether or not they support President Trump.  Regardless of how they respond, it will emphasize the split over Trump in the G.O.P. and lose some Republican voters for that candidate, and resultingly, create a ballot box benefit for Democrats.  Remember, a recount just confirmed that the Democrats took away Republican control of the Virginia House of Delegates (their State Legislature) by just one vote in one district.  Learn how it happened BY CLICKING RIGHT HERE!

This is what is important.  Being misled by polls which show that the nation is turning Democratic can be the downfall of the Democratic Party in 2018.

Jack Lippman


Evil Personified

Let’s get something straight.  I am not talking about the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln, of Theodore Roosevelt, of Dwight Eisenhower, of Ronald Reagan, of both Bush presidencies, nor of Mitt Romney nor of Bob Dole.  I am talking about the Republican Party of today, and without a shred of doubt .....

today’s Republican Party is the Party of Evil.
 
There is no other way to say it.  They represent evil ideas, are supported by the financial resources of evil people with evil objectives and are thoroughly evil in every evil thing they do.  There is no other way to describe them.  And people who vote for them, knowingly or not, are infected with their evilness and become themselves, evil.

Now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest, let’s get on to the tax reform bill being passed by the Party of Evil, which was put into power by the gullibility of the American voters, exercising their Constitutional rights to perpetrate an evil miscarriage of democracy.

Hello!  I do believe that by and large, most Americans will be satisfied with the tax reform bill!  Wow!  

Up front, in its first few years, lower income and middle income Americans will experience reductions in their taxes.  They will be happy, just as they are with NFL football on TV, cheap beer, fast food and unlimited take-out pizza, none of which are any good for them in the long run.

This will blind them to the generous benefits the bill provides to the wealthy, to  businesses, corporations and investors.  They won’t even notice them. 

They will miss the fact that some of the tax reductions benefits for businesses are permanent, contrary to the personal reductions which are only temporary and will morph into tax increases in a few years for lower and middle income tax payers, not to mention the tremendous burden on the national debt, a problem kicked forward for future generations, which the tax reductions for businesses and the wealthy will bring about.  But they will be happy, just as they were gullible in electing Republicans in the first place, at least until the truth dawns on some of them. 

And something else these happy folks will not immediately notice (until it hurts them personally) are decreases in funding for social safety net and environmental programs to which they have become accustomed over the past half century.  

And all that money going to the wealthy and to corporations which is supposed to "trickle down" to create more jobs at higher pay, that will benefit the economy only when pigs fly! 
That has always been the case when the Party of Evil has made that claim, and this time it will be no different.  Don't be surprised if corporations use their newly found resources to repurchase their own stock ... and continue to develop job-destroying robotics, aiming at creating an employee-less economy except in the service areas like making beds in hotels and filling the messier (and lower paying) health care jobs. 

The Republicans couldn’t repeal the Affordable Care Act, but they are managing to cripple it, probably fatally, by a provision of the tax reform bill.  They are doing away with the ACA’s mandate that everyone buy insurance (or pay a tax penalty) with the obvious result that more healthy young people will not participate, leaving the insurance companies with just older and sicker people to insure.  This will result in rate increases causing the ACA’s private insurance (it is “private” insurance, not a “government” plan like Medicare) to become prohibitively expensive.  Many, probably about 13 million presently insured, will have no alternative but to become uninsured.  But that’s a small number compared with the millions of dullards who will be happy with the tax reform bill.

Oh, yes.  There were a few Republicans who saw through all of the smoke and mirrors and initially opposed the tax reform bill.  But each one of these was bought off by the inclusion of something in the bill which they liked.  Senators Murkowski and Collins, who voted against repealing the ACA six months ago, now are in effect voting to repeal it, because of the plums which they demanded and got for their vote.  Senators Corker and Rubio also were similarly bought.  There's a word for people who can be so easily bought, and it isn't "horsetrading."  This is beyond the time-honored "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" tactics which Senators practice all the time.

So, as the 1930’s band leader, Ted Lewis, called out, so the Republicans can call out to the American people, “Is Everybody Happy?”  Most will be.  For a few years anyway, until the proverbial piper must be paid.   But we're not talking proverbial fictions here, we're talking about our government.

But what else can Americans expect when they trust their government to

The Party of Evil.
JL
HOW TO BE ALERTED TO FUTURE BLOG POSTINGS.
Many readers of this blog are alerted by Email every time a new posting appears.  If you wish to be added to that Email list, just let me know by clicking on Riart1@aol.com and sending me an Email.  

HOW TO CONTACT ME or CONTRIBUTE MATERIAL TO JACKSPOTPOURRI.com 
BY CLICKING ON THAT SAME ADDRESS, Riart1@aol.com   YOU ALSO CAN SEND ME YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO BE PUBLISHED IN THIS BLOG AS WELL AS YOUR COMMENTS.  (Comments can also be made by clicking on the "Post a Comment" link at the blog's end.)

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

HOW TO VIEW OLDER POSTINGS.                                                
To view older postings on this blog, just click on the appropriate date in the “Blog Archive” midway down the column off to the right, or scroll down until you see the “Older Posts” notation at the very bottom of this posting.  The “Search Box” in the right side of the posting also may be helpful in locating a posting topic for which you are looking.

HOW TO FORWARD POSTINGS.
To send this posting to a friend, or enemy for that matter, whom you think might be interested in it, just click on the envelope with the arrow on the "Comments" line directly below, enabling you to send them an Email providing a link directly to this posting.  You might also want to let me know their Email address so that they may be alerted to future postings.

Jack Lippman 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Tipping Point, Goodbye "Crypto-Anarchists," Sexual Harassment, Carousel and "The Meeting"





You'll Never Walk Alone

Last week’s rather pessimistic blog concluded with a picture reproduced below, with the caption, “the future.”  Perhaps I should have added Oscar Hammerstein’s famous lyrics from the musical “Carousel.”  Here they are:


When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone

“Carousel” opened on Broadway less that three weeks before much of the dark and the storm of the Second World War ended with Germany’s unconditional surrender.  It was 72 years ago then, when a “golden sky” peeked through the clouds and “the sweet silver song of a lark” might be heard if one listened hard enough. This lyric continues to have universal appeal today, especially today.

Jack Lippman


Playing with Words – “Crypto-Anarchist”

Up until the last posting on this blog I had been using the word “crypto-anarchist” (a word I erroneously believed I had invented) to describe someone who secretly (that’s where ‘crypto’ comes in) believes that we can do without the hierarchy of a governmental structure, which is what anarchy is all about.  Last week, I switched over to calling such folks “almost-anarchists,” people who make it no secret that their desire for very limited government approaches not having any government at all.

It turns out that the word “crypto-anarchist” has actually been around for a while (there actually is a “Crypto-Anarchist Manifesto!) and refers specifically to those who use electronic means, including computer programs involving “encryption,” to get around governments and subvert their activities, particularly those of a regulatory nature.  Julian Assange and his Wikileaks agenda might be considered an example, using encrypted emails to accomplish what governments wouldn’t allow them to do.
 
From now on, when I want to describe a conservative who wants to do away with most government functions, other than national defense, so that business can be carried on in as close to an unregulated manner as possible, I will henceforth use the term “almost-anarchist.”  “Almost-Anarchism” can be considered the extreme right wing of Libertarianism, which is a movement which aims, among other things, at freeing individuals from interference from “government.”
 
One of the Koch brothers, David, ran as the Libertarian candidate for Vice President in 1980 so that should give you some idea of that group’s orientation. Since that time, the Koch brothers (at right) have broken off their relationship with the Libertarian Party, preferring to use their influence (and money) to establish and support groups promulgating the libertarian ideas with which they hope to infuse the Republican Party.  Nevertheless, understanding “Almost-Anarchists” can be made easier by studying some of the elements of the Koch brothers’  activities.   Check out an informative March 2016 article  from the Bill Moyers website on this subject BY CLICKING HERE.
 
While It covers some of the same territory that Jane Mayer’s book, “Dark Money” (a “must” read for anyone who doubts that the United States is in great danger of becoming something other than a democracy), it provides considerable insight of its own as well.  CLICK HERE TO READ IT.

In August of 2011, I included a totally fictitious story (“The Meeting”) on this blog which after reading this article, seems closer to fact than fiction.  That story, for those of you who have not already read it, is included in today’s posting.  I believe that this short story preceded Ms. Mayer's wonderful book by several years.
JL




What is the Tipping Point?

Anyone with half a brain knows that the President’s position regarding moving our embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a bad move, along with our recognition of that city as Israel’s capital.  That is already accepted on a “de facto” basis, but putting it on a “de jure” basis can only serve to arouse Palestinian hostility, foment violence and delay any solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem.




Anyone with half a brain knows that mocking the North Korean leader and threatening military action is not the way to deal with that country’s nuclear aspirations.  If there is to be a solution, it must be a diplomatic one and not one based on military threats.  War is what happens when diplomacy fails.


Anyone with half a brain knows that ignoring histories of sexual harassment is morally reprehensible and that the President’s thoughts, as recorded on that infamous “Access Hollywood” video as well as the numerous accusations made against the Republican nominee for Senator from Alabama cannot be shoved aside for the sake of political expediency.
                                 

It is likely that many Republicans possess far more than half a brain and are beginning to show concern as to what the “tipping point” would be.  When will the President’s behavior prove to be even too much for Republicans in both Houses of Congress who, for the sake of political expediency and to avoid alienating the President’s army of supporters, have up to now supported him?  What will it take for them to rise up and scream “Enough is Enough! We have had it!”

Perhaps it would be best for the President to really shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue to prove his boast that even then his supporters would stick by him if he did that. But believe me, the New York City Police Department and the District Attorney for New York County (Manhattan) would not!  He surely would be arrested, jailed and tried for attempted murder. 


Would that be sufficient to convince Republicans to forget about their "Dopey" in the White House and start putting the welfare of their country and the world ahead of their party and the big money donors to whom it appears it is beholden? 
 
To avoid such bloodshed on Fifth Avenue though, it should be remembered that a President can also be removed from office according to the Twenty-Fifth Amendment if he is “incapacitated.”  The question remains as to how one defines “incapacitated.”  Woodrow Wilson, and possibly even Ronald Reagan, during their second terms in office might have met the dictionary definition of being “incapacitated” (deprived of strength or power, debilitated).  At this moment, unfortunately for the country, it does not clearly fit that high office’s present occupant, regardless of whether or not he has half a brain.  Duhhh.
JL



Does What this Boss Did Qualify as Sexual Harassment?

The lecherous company president and CEO is peering into neighboring apartments through a telescope from the window of his palatial skyscraper abode.  

Through a bathroom window, he spies an attractive woman stepping out of the shower.  He recognizes her as someone he has seen at company functions, possibly the wife of one of his vice-presidents, and immediately, he "wants" her.  The next day, he contacts her,  insisting that she come visit him in his apartment.  Recognizing him and  knowing of his high position in the company, and perhaps awed or frightened, she dutifully complies. They have a sexual encounter resulting in her pregnancy.  After an unsuccessful attempt to make it appear that the husband was the father, the boss decides to make sure he is killed in an industrial accident.  And they live happily ever after.   This is not fiction.  It really happened.  Check it out in the  Bible.  (Prophets - ll Samuel 11, 12)

Even though he ultimately married her, was King David initially guilty of sexual harassment of Bathsheba?  The "Man (?) Upstairs" seemed to think so and sent the Prophet Nathan to let David know of his (her?) displeasure with his behavior.  

Sexual harassment is still with us. And to a greater extent than what is in the headlines.  Others are now playing the role Nathan did with King David.  It is not inconceivable that within a few years, just to be on the safe side, all TV newspeople and anchors, and those holding leadership roles in the entertainment world, will be women and gay men. Perhaps this also will extend into government and ultimately business, but to a somewhat lesser extent.  

The ultimate reaction to sexual harassment may be found in the mythological legend of Hippolyta, warrior Queen of the Amazons, whose followers only allowed their female offspring to survive, slaying the males.  Of course, ultimately this was self-defeating.  But it's only a legend.

JL


And here is the 2011 short story I promised you in the second item on this posting:

The Meeting
Jack Lippman
 

The meeting was held in a secluded and luxurious chalet in the foothills of an isolated mountain range.   A private airstrip was the only access to the place other than a rugged unmarked road used to bring in the staff, food and housekeeping essentials from the nearest town, sixty miles away.  A number of private jets were parked at the end of the runway where the hangar and fuel depot were located.   








The men, all casually dressed as if they were there for a weekend of hunting or fishing, sat around a large conference table.  They shall remain nameless, but suffice it to say, each one represented personal wealth in excess of the 300 billion dollar level, which made their eight figure annual salaries almost meaningless.  These were the wealthiest men in America.   If I were to identify them, you would not recognize one name.  Each had gone to great lengths to preserve their anonymity, a quality common to possessors of wealth of this kind.
“Gentlemen,” intoned a short gray-haired man sitting at the table.  “In order to get to our agenda promptly and tend to business, I want to remind all of you of what our group is all about.  I am sure you all already know this … that is why you are here … but these ideas bear frequent repeating.”  No one said anything.  A few of the men nodded their assent.

"Although we as individuals are clearly the most charitable people in the world, our prime objective is wealth preservation.”

“Not exactly,” someone interjected.  “I am not in the least charitable.  I don’t care if people out there live or die or starve or whatever.  I donate for tax purposes.  If the God damn government took away the deductions I get for what I give, and what my foundations give away, I wouldn’t let loose of a red cent.”
“Thank you, George, for your comments.  But let’s get on with it,” the discussion leader continued. 
“Ideally, it would be wonderful if there were no such thing as taxes.  Some of you, I know, have moved a lot of your wealth to countries where there are practically none, but we all know there are limits to how much of that you can do.  So long as we are Americans, we must do as much as we can to keep taxes here to a minimum and deductions and loopholes at a maximum.  We must have a government, for without one, we would lose the protection it provides to allow us the freedom to do what we want with our money.  And of course, at a minimum, we need an army and navy to provide that protection.”
George raised his hand, was recognized, and spoke up.  “Bull.  We don’t need the government to provide us with a military.  We can hire our own.  It’s cheaper that way.  There’s plenty of mercenaries around and no one gives a shit if they get killed.”
“George, thank you for your comments.  That’s something to consider, but let’s get on.  Even though the maximum tax rate is down to 35%. that's still a big hit.  Even with deductions and shelters, it takes a lot out our wallets.  The Democrats would like to see it go back up to 39%, like it was under Clinton.  I would love it back down to 25% or even lower.  Single digits would be fine.  And paying into Social Security is something we must avoid.  That’s a bottomless pit. We only pay into it on a miniscule fraction of our income but I would hate to see that changed, and there are those out there who want to do exactly that.”
“Look at the numbers, though. There are only ten of us in this room and there are maybe another 100,000 top-bracket taxpayers out there who are almost in the same boat as we are, and we are speaking for them too.  Our task is to make sure the government keeps doing it our way.  We have to get the country behind us.  That Norquist fellow did a fine job getting a lot of Congressmen to pledge never to increase taxes nor get rid of our blessed loopholes, but he’s beginning to lose his credibility.  Bush helped him a lot to connect to the conservatives out there, but that’s history now.”
The discussion leader paused briefly, looked out of the massive picture windows at the spectacular scenery surrounding the chalet and continued.  

“As I see it, we must do everything to promote the idea that tax increases, in any form whatsoever, including removing loopholes and deductions, are extremely bad for the country.  We must drill it into the heads of all Americans that taxation removes incentive to invest and grow the economy at all levels and kills jobs.  That gets them every time.  We have to get that into the schools at all levels, even kindergarten.” 
“Ha,” someone laughed.  “Maybe we should put out an Ayn Rand inspired comic book for kids.”
“Great idea,” the leader chuckled. “But this is no laughing matter.  We must convince America that the Laffer curve, the economic ideas of Milton Friedman and of course, of Frederick Hayek, are irrefutable truths, deserving of as much respect as the Ten Commandments.  And that the Keynesian policies of using government spending and higher taxes as tools with which to manage the economy, and to provide an unearned safety net, are poisonous.”
“The way to do this is to convince a majority of Americans of the validity of our positions.  And this is a great time to continue to do this.  The citizenry is hurting and they, like us, are taxpayers.  We need them on our side. They will buy this argument that taxes are the cause of all of the country’s problems, if we shove it down their throats hard enough and often enough.  Put the blame on the government.  It spends too much.  On anything and everything.  As a wise person out there has said, ‘we have to starve the beast.’"

"If the funding for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and every government spending program out there were cut at least in half, we would never again need to even think about raising taxes.  We might even cut them significantly.   Frankly, I know people would be hurting and some might even die, and things the government does, like roads and dams and research, would have to be eliminated.  But it is far more important that this nation preserve our freedom to accumulate wealth without having to share it with anyone else through excessive taxation.  It’s our money. We cannot have anything that would even hint at the Marxist concept of wealth redistribution.  That’s what high taxes really are. The French cut off Louis XIV’s head to start this God damn leftist ball rolling and we aim to make sure it is stopped right here.” 
All those around the table rose and applauded the speaker.
“Okay, here is the way we do it.  And it has to be done so convincingly that even the Congressmen and local politicians who come aboard actually believe this stuff with all their hearts.  That won’t be easy, because some of them are really smart, but we need to make them believers.” 

1. We must control the media.  We have to have at least one or two major TV networks in our pocket whose programming we can control.  We must dominate talk radio, internet web sites, newspapers, particularly in smaller cities and towns, and magazines.  Once they get our message out, it gets E-mailed all over the country, multiplied ten-fold.  


2. We must fund foundations and institutes which provide legitimate appearing material and documentation, telling our story, to be provided to the media.  Generously endowing a few hard-up colleges or universities can result in strong support for our position from the academic world.  


3. We must ally ourselves with groups who seem susceptible to adopting our ideology because they are already single-mindedly devoted to one cause or another.  This blind devotion can be easily transferred to our cause. This will increase our numbers and believe me, this is very applicable to members of Congress and local legislators.  The groups with which we must ally ourselves are endless.  They include pro-Israel groups, pro-life groups, creationists, anti-fluouride groups, home schooling and pro-educational voucher groups, evangelical Christian groups, anti-immigrant groups, chambers of commerce, some professional societies, sporting groups, bankers associations and Second Amendment groups.


4.  We must repeatedly attack any opposition to our positions.  Innuendo and stretching the truth can be used to discredit any who disagree with us.  Guilt by association and lies, even ones easily disproven, are effective tools since refuting them takes the opposition’s eye off of the ball.  Individuals who are in financial distress can be coerced. Anything questionable in an opponent’s personal life should be capitalized on.
“Gentlemen, to embark on this program, we have established an off-shore funding center with access to all of our accounts in this country.  Everything is cryptographically protected to a degree beyond the capability of any government in the world to decipher.  You will never be identified as being involved in this program. Take a deep breath, gentlemen, for here is the price tag to do this job properly." 

"If any of you are not willing to contribute $200,000,000 to this effort right now and commit to that amount each and every year for the next ten years, you may get up and leave this room right now. All of your jets out there have been refueled and are ready to take off with you if you so choose. Remember though, what I propose  is not only for your good, but for the good of the country as we know it.  You see, I am firmly convinced of the truth of every word that I have said.”  
He rose and looked at all of the men sitting around the table, making eye contact with each of them individually.  None of the nine other men even budged nor made any motion to leave their seats.  He paused for half a minute and only then, smiled.

“Okay, then.  Let’s have lunch and afterwards, I want to introduce you to a few people who will make sure every penny of the two billion dollars that you have just pledged is well spent … and turn over the chair of our group for the next year to whomever is next in alphabetical order.  That’s you, George, right?”                                                                                                                                                 
Everyone leaned back as white-jacketed waiters entered the room, laid down fine bone china and sterling silver table settings and prepared to serve a lunch which did not come from McDonalds.                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                              




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