Friday, March 24, 2017

Two Songs, Two Books, Insight into Bannon, Moral Corruptness and Real Serious Advice to Republicans

Short Vacation Coming Up ... See ya in a couple of weeks.  Meanwhile, read newspapers written by journalists;  keep watching CNN, PBS and MSNBC to keep up on the truth ... and occasionally watch Fox so that you get to know the enemy that is out there, misleading and misguiding the gullible! , Don't let them get away with the lies on which the present Administration is based. Example:  Make it clear that you know despite what the gullible have been told, that the Affordable Care Act is NOT a disaster. Whoever says that is a liar.  Including the President.  It's that simple.


Let's start off with the House Intelligence Committee's hearings in which FBI Director James Comey was the major witness.  

The Republican members of the Committee seemed to think the most important thing on the agenda was to unearth the source of the leak which resulted in the resignation of General Michael Flynn, a possible Russian-paid advocate, who lied in his confirmation hearing, from his position of National Security Advisor after just a few weeks.  

The Democrats seemed to be interested in the Bureau's ongoing investigation of possible connections between persons in the Trump campaign organization and the Russian government which it has been established tried to intervene in our 2016 election. 

Which direction seems more important to you?  A probably illegal leak that ended up removing a highly questionable person, Michael Flynn, from a highly sensitive position or the efforts of a foreign power to undermine our democracy with the support of one of our major political parties?  You can see that both issues are somewhat (ahem) related.  You tell me.  And you might tell your House Representative as well if you are unfortunate enough to have one who is a Republican.

Hey, your house is burning down.  Someone calls 911.  The fire department comes and puts out the fire.  What is more important?  The arson investigation or who made the call.  Was it on their own  phone?  Or someone elses?  Who would even care, other than the arsonist who wants to change the subject and escape the spotlight. Get it?
Jack Lippman

This is My Country

Here’s the lyrics to a 1940 song by Don Raye and Al Jacobs which has managed to stick in my memory over the past 77 years.  Dig deeply into your mind and surely, you will remember the words of the choruses and the ending. 
Verse
What difference if I hail from North or South
Or from the East or West?
My heart is filled with love for all of these
I only know I swell with pride and deep within my breast
I thrill to see Old Glory paint the breeze
Chorus 1
This is my country!  Land of my birth!
This is my country!  Grandest on earth!
I pledge thee my allegiance, America, the bold
For this is my country, to have and to hold
Chorus 2
This is my country!  Land of my choice!
This is my country!  Hear my proud voice!
I pledge thee my allegiance, America, the bold
For this is my country, to have and to hold
Ending
I pledge thee my allegiance, America, the bold
For this is my country, to have... and to hold

All Americans can sing this song with honest praise.  But all Americans are not alike these days.  Today, the differences are more than the geographic ones referred to in the “verse,” differences which are easily overcome.  They are economic and sociological.  All Americans are not like you, reader of these words!  Many are far, far, different from you and yet they are as justified as are you in singing out, “This is My Country.”

Okay, enough philosophizing.  Here’s the point.  Many of us who think we know the economic and sociological answers to today’s problems are ignorant of the views of many other Americans who agree with the title of the song, “This is My Country.” Indeed, it is their country as much as it is ours, yours and mine.

It is up to us to learn where these Americans are coming from, and why they are the way they are.  I recommend two books which came out last year, “White Trash” by Nancy Isenberg (despite its seemingly pejorative title, it is fair and honest history and sociology) and J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy.”  Both are “easy reads.”

There will be a long “on reserve” list for both of these at your public library, so you might want to actually buy them, sharing the cost with a couple of friends. You probably can read them both on line for a reasonable cost, as well.

For an article excerpting some of the ideas expressed in “Hillbilly Elegy,” click right here.  I suspect Vance supported Republicans in 2016, just as I suspect Isenberg was for the Democrats.  Her book is subtitled “The 400 Year Untold History of Class in America” and some excerpts from it can be found by clicking right here. 

I’ve read both books and recommend that before you next sing the words to the song shown above, that you do the same.
Jack Lippman

Ballad of the Gullibles

And pursuing this line of thought further, here’s a song lyric (or poem) I wrote a couple of months ago.  I call it the “Ballad of the Gullibles.” (I may have even put an earlier version on the blog.)



Make up your own tune if you wish. I suggest that when you do so, try to accent the next to last syllable in odd numbered lines, and the syllable before that one in even numbered lines. Just somewhat extend them. Anyone got a guitar handy?  But do with it as you wish:
1 Never shopped in Whole Foods
2 Nor tuned to NPR. 
3 And my idea of heaven
4 Is takin’ in NASCAR.
5 Don’t like reading print books,
6 Nor list’ning to a poem.
7 Got me a Smith and Wesson
8 To fortify my home.
9 Wendy’s or McDonalds,
10 That’s where I choose to dine,
11 And buddy, please believe me,
12 The Donald is just fine.
Seriously for a moment, these are precisely the voters that the Democratic Party failed to reach in the 2016 election.  And don’t forget to read those two books for deeper insight into this problem.  Especially “Hillbilly Elegy.”
JL


What Makes Bannon Tick!
Steve Bannon’s Preposterous ‘Rosebud’ Strategy
Quoting from Bloomberg.com, Donald Trump’s chief strategist traces his fire-breathing populism to a financial calamity his father suffered years ago at the hands of “evil financial types.”  Read this sad story in the words of Bloomberg View’s Francis Wilkinson and learn what supposedly transformed a Goldman Sachs investment banker (oddly enough who gave no investing advice to his dad) with a Harvard MBA into an anti-elitist champion of the common man.   Bloomberg View describes the tale as “What a narrative! What villainy! What bunk!”
Just click on.  Read it now!
If Bannon lived in the real world, his father’s misfortune would have allied him with the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warrens of the world, seeking redress for those who are constantly being hurt by the financial elite.  But no, he became so angered that rather than “construct” solutions to such economic problems, he chose to “deconstruct” the entire system and found Breitbart, and eventually Donald Trump, to be ideal avenues to enable him to do this. Bannon believes that by putting power into the hands of “Big Brother,” a new and better order might be established.  He has little faith in the kind of economic and political systems that our democratic process produces.  Leaving such decision in the hands of the people, democratically, is not Bannon’s way.  Once given power, an autocratic Chief Executive must use it to set things right!  
And the real tragedy is that Steven Bannon may be correct!  Proof of that is the result of the 2016 elections, where many Americans voted for things which anyone with half a brain would recognize were not in their interests, and which have put the Republic and the Constitution at great risk!  Could it be that the voices of practically half of the nation’s voters cannot be trusted any longer?   Do we deserve democracy in this country?  Are we intelligent and knowledgeable enough to handle it?   Bannon says “No”  and thanks the Republicans for putting the ball in his hands.  What do YOU say?  Is the future of the democratic process in the United States a dim one?
Read the article!  Just click on this line.   
And here’s a quote from H.L. Mencken who said a lot of stupid things in his journalistic career, but did get it right when he said (and the comments in red are mine) the following, which sort of validates Steve Bannon’s position:
“As democracy is perfected, (or is “cheapened” as more and more people vote) the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul (not the brains) of the people.  On some great and glorious day (Nov. 8, 2016), the plain (unsophisticated and uneducated) folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire (not their brain’s) and at last, and the White House will be adorned (with a President who merely decorates the place, but doesn’t do the job there he is supposed to do) by a downright moron.”
JL

Mallignant Moral Corruptness
The other evening, feeling that America was on the right track after seeing numerous pundits and talking heads on CNN, PBS and MSNBC explain (1) how the Republican proposed plan to replace the Affordable Care Act could not possibly succeed, and (2) how there was no way the man in the White House could get out of his blatant lies about Barack Obama, or the British, or anybody, tapping his Trump Tower phones and (3) how repeated court decisions were preventing Executive Orders from barring certain people from six Middle East countries from entering the United States, I decided to switch over to Fox News. 
There I saw Sean Hannity and his guest, Ann Coulter, contradict everything everyone else was saying with a barrage of bigoted and inaccurate lies.  As they bleated out their "fake news," they took pains to make sure to tell their gullible viewers that what everyone else in the media was reporting was itself "fake news."  Remember, more people watch Fox than watch any of the other media sources mentioned above.  That is why they are so gullible.  They have been conditioned, many throughout the two terms of Barack Obama’ presidency, into believing that lies are truths if they serve your purposes*.   Think back to the “birther” lies, given unwarranted credibility for years by the present occupant of the White House.  Watch “Judge” Jeanine Pirro on Fox, after which you have my permission to vomit. (She’s on Fox Saturday’s at 9:00 p.m. and also available on line.)  She will explain how “the left is trying to change the law and standards of journalism to fit their agenda.”  Far too many Americans believe such drivel.  Enough to put a scurrilous real estate peddler in the White House! Liberals must follow this cathartic process to understand the depth of the malignant moral corruptness of those now running the government.   RESIST!



*Some years ago, a conservative gentleman in my community posted an email video of some Representatives playing video games in the back rows of the legislative chamber in which they were sitting.  He claimed they were Democrats in the United States House of Representatives.  I investigated the video and determined that while these wrong-doers may have been Democrats, the video was made in the Connecticut State House and not in the Congress of the United States, as his email claimed.  When I pointed this out to him, he explained that his lying was justified since it served the purpose of the point he was making.  I pity this poor fellow, whose letters occasionally appear in the Palm Beach Post, because his moral compass’ needle which should point in the direction of truth is misaligned, and he, like millions of Americans, including the man in the White House, have lost the ability to distinguish lies from truth.  We are going through a major crisis in American history.  It is up to each and every one of us to do something about it.  For starters, go to www.actforward.net.  That site will point you in the right direction, the direction of truth.  
JL




Free Advice Department

I’ve been pretty free with advice to Democrats as to what they must do to regain power in this country.  I’ve told them to concentrate on winning state legislative races, and even Congressional races, where the Republican margin of victory in recent balloting was close, under 5%.  The bigger victories, in the Senate, the governorships and the Presidency will automatically follow.

Well, I am now willing to help those who run the G.O.P.  Down deep, I do have some non-partisan instincts.  


Here is what they must do to get their bogus health insurance program through the House and the Senate to replace the Affordable Care ActOf course, my personal choice would be “Medicare for Everyone,” but perhaps this “back door” approach would appeal to the G.O.P.

First, and this will make them deliriously happy, they can get rid of the “mandate” requiring all individuals to participate or pay a fine.  Then, they must get rid of that burdensome requirement that insurance companies participating in the plan cannot reject people with risky pre-existing conditions.  Insurers will love that!  They could then lower their rates.

To balance these changes, anyone rejected for insurance due to such pre-existing conditions, regardless of age, will immediately be included in Medicare, with the government stepping in as the insurer of last resort.  That’s where they would be at age 65 anyway, and this way, the government gets years more of premium payments.  This just lets them in sooner.   Precedent exists.  This is the same thing now done for individuals, regardless of age, with kidney disease requiring dialysis.

And as for those stupid (or wealthy) enough to choose not to participate in any health insurance plan, and would no longer be subject to a fine for not doing so, any time that they change their minds they may apply to a company for coverage, but with a 30% increase in premium, the price they pay for not opting in initially.  If the insurance company rejects them because of a pre-existing condition, they would be immediately included in Medicare with all the others that insurance companies have turned down, but at a permanent 30% increase in Medicare premiums, forever.  The sunny side of the street for these folks is that if they never apply for health insurance coverage and can remain healthy until the usual Medicare entry age (65), they will have come out far ahead financially. 

Finally, for those who want to participate but who cannot afford a low deductible plan, with low co-payments, because of its cost, a choice of government subsidies (as is the case with the ACA) or a tax credit, whichever is greater, would be available to reduce the premium.  The maximum subsidy or tax credit available would be considerably higher than it is under the Affordable Care Act. (That is the ACA’s greatest shortcoming, in my opinion.)  And if this is not sufficient, Health Savings Accounts, on which contributions would be deductible from taxable income, and on which accruing interest would be tax-free, would be established for help in paying the premiums, if needed.  Even wealthy purchasers of health insurance will like that.

This isn’t as neat and clean as “Medicare for Everyone” but could it be an alternative acceptable to Republicans?
JL



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