Tuesday, July 25, 2017

"The Confidence Man" - Herman Melville and Replacing the Affordable Care Act, Sub-Prime Auto Loans, Lies and Misspellings

The "Confidence Man"

Most of us know that Herman Melville wrote a novel, Moby Dick, about a madman who skippered a whale-hunting boat, but was really trying to get even with a God whom he thought had treated him badly.  They’ve made movies of this story several times, with the whale playing the role of God.

A lesser known novel by Melville is “The Confidence Man” which deals with a more earthly subject.  Taking place on a Mississippi riverboat, some of the passengers are out to cheat, fleece and rob anyone they encounter.  But before any of them can pull off such a stunt, they must gain the confidence of their intended victims, who initially view them warily as complete strangers, a significant obstacle to overcome. That’s where the expressions “con man” and “con game” originate.  There are so many con games going on in Melville’s book that it is practically impossible to figure out who’s doing the conning and who is the victim.  

It is not an easy read, filled with sentences which seem to go on forever, but its message is still good today, when we continually confront what amount to “confidence” games carried out in business and in politics.  Before someone can take advantage of a victim, he must get the victim to believe in him, to have confidence in what he is saying.  In the latter portion of “The Confidence Man,” Melville has a prospective victim of a scam, or perhaps the possible perpetrator of a scam (we never know which) speak the following lines:


“What are you?  What am I? Nobody knows who anybody is.  The data which life furnishes, toward forming a true estimate of any being, are as insufficient to that end as in geometry one side given would be to determine the triangle.”    (I take Melville to mean the area of the triangle.)  

Keep the message of “The Confidence Man,” that before someone can take advantage of a victim, he must get the victim to believe in him, to have confidence in what he is saying, in mind when you read the following two postings on this blog.
Jack Lippman


Health Insurance - Ya' Gits Whut Ya' Pays Fer

Anyone who has every purchased any kind of insurance knows that the more benefits the insurance provides, the more it costs.  If your homeowners’ insurance policy covers 100% of your loss, it is going to have a higher premium than one that covers only 60% of your loss.  If your life insurance covers you until the day you die, whenever that occurs, it is going to have a higher premium than a policy which runs out in twenty years or when you are 65, or perhaps has a reduced death benefit after that age. Insurance companies employ actuaries who price policies so that the premiums are at least sufficient to pay the benefits the company anticipates paying. Sooner or later, they get their money. Not doing so would be stupid on their part because they are in business to make a profit, even the companies which participate in the Affordable Care Act.

If someone says they can get you better coverage for a reduced premium, be very, very, careful.  You get what you pay for.  Anyone, including the President of the United States, who says that the Affordable Care Act can be replaced with a plan providing better benefits at a lower cost is probably lying to you because that coverage is provided by insurance companies which are not in business to give anything away.  Just as you watch out for real estate developers offering a great price on a piece of land which they forget to tell you is underwater four months of the year, you must watch out for slippery insurance sales people, even if they call themselves Congressmen and Senators.


Of course, if a lower premium is made possible by a government subsidy to either the insured or to the insurance company (as is the case with the Affordable Care Act), or is paid to a tax-supported governmental agency which is not in business to make a profit (as would be the case if we had a “Single Payor” plan akin to Medicare), the politician might actually be telling the truth.  

That is why the Republicans are having trouble replacing the Affordable Care Act. They can’t bring themselves to accept such facts.  So they, like that real estate developer with underwater estates to sell, prefer to lie about what they are offering to the American public.  To do the job properly, it cannot involve tax reduction; in fact, it must anticipate an increase in taxes somewhere along the line.  Those are the facts. The American public should be wary of having unjustified "confidence" in G.O.P. claims. 
JL


The Constitution Says So!


In Article 2, Section 3, of the United States Constitution, one of the duties of the President is defined as follows: “he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”  All presidents take an oath to do precisely that when they swear or affirm to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”  And the Constitution includes the above quoted duty.  No denying that.  No way.


Because the Affordable Care Act, until repealed, is the law of the land, the President is duty bound to see that it is faithfully executed, and not, as he has said, “be allowed to die.” That would be in violation of his oath of office.  Admittedly, prior presidents have sometimes not enforced existing laws, usually by loosely reinterpreting them, but never before has one boasted out loud about how he would violate his oath of office.  


The Republican Senate is anxious to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and the deliberations in regard to health care which they have voted to continue, will still give them the opportunity to do so, with or without a replacement plan.  (No G.O.P. Senator voted against continuing deliberations because to do so would be construed by their voter base as having voted to continue the Affordable Care Act, something the G.O.P. has been opposing for seven years.) 

Conceivably, "Obamacare" might be repealed but with an expiration date several years in the future.  Until then, the G.O.P. will continue to attack it by refusing to correct its shortcomings and attacking its funding.  Meanwhile, no replacement plan with a chance of passage is on the horizon.  But the President might be happy because “repeal” to take place at some future date, even without “replacement,” would technically still remove an onerous Constitutional burden from from his presidency.  That's why he is willing to accept it either way, "repeal" alone or "repeal with an accompanying replacement."   But whatever they come up with, the American public should be wary of having unjustified "confidence" in G.O.P. claims. 

See footnote below.

Footnote:  If the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party had prevailed in 2010, Obamacare would have included a "single payer" option ... amounting to Medicare for everyone.  But that didn't happen.  The Democrats chose to pass the Affordable Care Act, using the private sector to provide health insurance.  This was the traditional Republican way. If the Democrats had gone with "single payer," the Republicans would have no problem today!  They would just vote to repeal it and replace it with the Affordable Care Act.  As it stands now, just voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act will result in lengthy debate as to what to replace it with!  They have no agreement on a replacement plan.  And it is unlikely they ever will.
JL                                            





Victimizing the Poor



And continuing with things which fall into the category which require someone to have "confidence" in someone who is really out to screw them, look at the sub-prime auto financing racket.  Melville would have loved these guys.

Low income people who need a car, any car, to get them to work or to a doctor, end up purchasing used vehicles.  Often they are unable to keep up with the car payments which are obscenely high because these kinds of buyers usually have horrible credit scores. The cars are then repossessed and sold to someone else with the same kind of problem.  Sometimes, the cars break down or end up needing major repairs which the owner cannot afford.  But the low-income buyers, all poor credit risks, must continue to pay obscenely high payments even after they no longer even have the cars.  Their wages can even be garnished to meet the payments! The dealers really don’t sell cars;  they sell financing.  They run a con-game right out of Melville’s book. 

One of the ugly side stories stemming from this is the practice of major banks, (Santander Bank is a prime example, but there are many others) of packaging these sub-prime auto loans and moving them as bonds into the securities market, just as sub-prime mortgages were bundled and marketed a dozen years ago. And you know where that got us.

Check out a typical story of someone who succumbed to this "con game" by clicking right here.  It could have all started on a Mississippi riverboat.
JL

Icing on the Cake of Lies

The Toronto Star’s Washington Bureau has done a fine job of documenting the lies the “confidence man” in the White House has told over his first six months in office! It’s all there for you to read by just  CLICKING RIGHT HERE.

But there’s icing on this multi-layered cake of lies.  It’s the massive misspelling which permeates the tRump administration.  Hiring a Special Proofreader might be a good move for them.  He or she might share an office with the Special Prosecutor their actions have already brought into play.  

The fact that they make so many spelling errors is a hint as to the profundity of their ignorance.  Even moderately educated people don’t make these kinds of errors.  It’s a clue as to the emptiness of their heads.  They are so intent on "deconstructing" our established, constitutionally-based government that they don't even bother to make their lies look good.  Check out all of the administration’s spelling errors by CLICKING RIGHT HERE!

Remember that a “confidence man” must lie to seduce his victims.  But this one, and his lackeys, can’t even properly spell their lies.

JL






HOW TO BE ALERTED TO FUTURE BLOG POSTINGS.
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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.

HOW TO FORWARD POSTINGS.
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Jack Lippman 




Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Nuclear Deterrence, Gun Contol, Hope (?) for Fox, a Task for Democrats, a New Leukemia Treatment and "Blind Guy"


News from the Bathroom
Heard the other day that people who take showers before they go to work used to vote Republican but now vote Democratic ... and that people who take showers after they come home from work, traditionally Democratic voters, now vote Republican.

Nuclear Deterrence and Gun Control

From the previous posting’s discussion of the problem posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapon and ICBM program, it appears than possession of nuclear weapons and the capability of delivering them has served over the past 65 years as a deterrent to those weapons being used. 


Of course, this kind of balance is a dangerous thing, requiring the mastery of the skill of “brinksmanship,” because it requires the positioning of the participants, and everyone else on the planet, on the brink of destruction.  Other than the ever-present fear of a “rogue” nation or group not playing by the rules, this has worked thus far.  It might even have prevented tragic and costly military conflicts over those years which would have occurred if nuclear weapons never had existed.  Look at the bloodshed which has occurred in Africa and the Middle East, where there is no nuclear deterrent present. 

Okay, let’s change the subject to guns.  Criminals and assorted bad guys have guns, usually illegally, to aid in their breaking the law.  They carry out robberies, murders, extortion and other crimes because they can threaten their victims by pointed a gun at them.   The National Rifle Association and those who hang their hats on the last fourteen words of the Second Amendment to the Constitution believe that the natural deterrent to such criminals with guns in their hands is to put guns in the hands of the potential victims of these criminals, both in and outside of their homes.  If it works with nuclear weapons, it should work with guns as well, right?
 


Originally in the lawless West, everyone carried a gun for exactly this purpose.  When the bad guys rode into town with their guns, the good guys could shoot back at them, or even form an armed posse to chase after them.  And this worked to some extent.  Finally, however, law did come to the West and “lawmen” such as sheriffs and and marshals took on this task, occasionally having to "deputize" those citizens who had hung on to their weapons to assist them by forming a posse.  Ultimately, as law enforcement agencies expanded, even this was no longer necessary.  

In those days, most folks lived close together in towns, and such law enforcement was successful.  But as America spread out, when the suburbs and ex-urbs grew, it took a while for law enforcement to respond to a call miles away.  So many felt it necessary to revert to the old days, and have a gun handy for self-protection.  Farmers, always “out of town,” never gave up their weapons for this reason.  And that, more or less, is where we are today. 

Bottom Line:  If the possession of nuclear weapons is a deterrent to international conflict, why is not gun possession similarly a deterrent to local crime?  No responsible gun owner wants to use their weapon in self-defense any more than any responsible nation wants to have to use their nuclear weapons. 

Present-day restrictions on nuclear weapons are aimed at reducing their number and keeping them out of the hands of irresponsible people.  Restrictions on gun ownership are aimed at reducing their number (an almost impossible task) but primarily are efforts to keep them out of the hands of irresponsible people. 

Some see clear parallels between the deterrence to conflict provided by nations possessing nuclear weapons and the deterrence provided to individuals who possess guns for self-defense.   Others feel that such thinking is not valid because it ignores the harm done by making guns readily available, many of which end up being used for purposes other than self-defense.  What do you think?
Jack Lippman


Blind Guy

 (One of my favorite short stories from my archives)

Jack  Lippman  

 “I’m going to disappoint you. But you knew that already.” 

“Was it really that bad?”

“No, No, it’s a great script,” but no one will ever produce it,” he replied.  “I love your idea of this blind guy who works in a bank and manages to stop a robbery because of the way his other senses have become sharpened to a level those with sight don’t possess.   But the way you’ve written it, it won’t work”

“I’m just telling it from the blind man’s perspective, what’s wrong with that?” I asked.
“That’s what wrong with it.  You can’t expect people to pay to see a movie where the screen is totally black for 85 minutes.”

“Actually, it’s not black. It’s blank.  There’s a difference.  But that’s the way the blind guy sees what is happening.  Or more correctly, doesn’t see what is happening.  But he does hear sounds that no one else in the bank picks up, and he smells things others don’t smell, and he picks up movements taking place there that don’t register with anyone else.  So it doesn’t mean a thing that he can’t see.  All of his other senses are working overtime to make up for that and that’s what the film it about.  The blank screen just accentuates that.”

I knew I wasn’t getting anywhere with him and gathered my papers up and made it clear I was about to get up and leave.

“Joe, stick around a little longer. If I approved pumping out a few million to start funding this property, the studio would have my head.  But if you rewrote it so that at least some of the story is told by people with sight, so it would look like a real movie with scenes and everything, we might give it a shot.  But we can’t live with a black screen.”

“Blank, not black, but anyway, I won’t compromise,” I answered. “We’ve tested it out over at the film school and when we hooked up the spray nozzles misting out what the blind guy smells, juiced up the sound track so it’s like the way he hears things, and got the air moving across the screening room, the kids went wild.”
 
“Okay, okay, Joe.” I understand where you’re coming from, and the studio just can’t go there.  But something just hit me.  Listen for a minute.”

With nowhere to go, I sat back and listened.

“Joe, there’s this screwball billionaire lives down in the Baja.  Made his money in software up in Palo Alto.  I hear he has thrown money at ideas a lot wackier than yours.  He just might like the idea of a full length movie with a blank screen. Here’s his private email address.  Just mention my name if you contact him.   He’s had some dealings with the studio and he knows me.”

I thanked him and left.  The next day, I got to the billionaire who was intrigued with my idea and told me to fly down to Cabo so we could talk.  He wouldn’t fund the whole thing himself, but he thought he might get some of his friends from Dubai and San Paulo to join with him.
 
“You know, Joe,” he said. “The idea of a theatre full of people paying to look at a blank screen for 85 minutes fascinates me.  Probably a lot better than most of the crap they pay to watch every day.”

“Hold on, it’s not just a blank screen, there’s voices, sounds, smells and air moving around.”

“Yeah, I know, but all that stuff doesn’t really matter.  It’s the idea of getting customers to shell out twelve bucks to look at a blank screen for over an hour. That’s what will bring them into the theaters.  I swear, all of the late night hosts will be fighting over getting you first.”

Well, you know the story.  “Blind Guy” was one of the nominees for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards.  What really gets me is it actually won Oscars for Best Film Editing and for Best Achievement by a Cinematographer, quite an accomplishment for 85 minutes of a blank screen.
JL


Reaching the Plain Folks


Mencken

Most followers of this blog are familiar with H.J. Mencken’s famous quote: 

“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 desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

Okay, many of us believe that we have reached that day.  But let’s not ignore how we did it!  The Republican Party managed to entice “the plain folks of the land” with the candidacy of Donald tRump. That is the challenge facing the Democratic Party today. In 2018 and in 2020, how does it reach those “plain folks of the land” of which Mencken wrote? 

They don’t watch MSNBC, CNN, PBS nor read the Washington Post nor the New York Times. They do watch Fox News, however, where many of the anchors (the two laughing gentlemen and the girl poured into a different dress each morning on Fox & Friends … and of course, everybody’s buddy, Sean Hannity) come across as “plain folks” just like them.  No college professors or experts using big words, just plain guys and gals like the ones down at the bar or coffee shop.  And the ones who don’t watch Fox News just get their take on what’s going on from their buddies who do or what they see on the internet.  That’s why the next article is devoted to what we can do about Fox News.

Meanwhile the Democrats must quickly find themselves someone to lead their party who will appeal to those “plain folks” and perhaps be in the running for the presidency in 2020.  Here’s the short list as of today:  Bernie Sanders, Andrew Cuomo, Elizabeth Warren and Al Franken.  

All but Warren will be able to talk effectively to those “plain folks” who are beginning to wonder where those jobs in the factories and mines which were supposed to come back are, what happened to that wall to keep out the immigrants (whose low priced labor keeps our food prices down) and finally, where that better and less costly health care which was promised is.  

Right now, I would say that Sanders or Franken are the ones to step up and take charge of the party, although they are unlikely to be the nominee in three years, Sanders because of age and Franken because he is Jewish. in 2020, look for the Democrats to select either Cuomo or Warren, provided that they develop a strong nationwide public persona by then.  If they do, that might be the ticket.  Watch for Republican attacks on all four of them, the occurrance of which will validate what I have written..   And please read the following article on Fox News.
JL

About Fox News

Anyone who watches CNN, PBS, MSNBC or even the local news on their ABC, CBS and NBC outlets has some idea of what kind of President we elected in 2016: in my opinion the least qualified for the job in the nation’s history.  Each day more and more comes out about what happens when questionable ethics, perhaps acceptable in the business world, are allowed to be applied to government.  Undoubtedly, the investigations directed by Special Prosecutor Mueller will ultimately bring this to a head and lead the Congress into taking action.

But in the meanwhile, millions of Americans still watch Fox News bending over backwards to defend the administration’s lies and constantly devoting their resources to criticizing Obama, Hillary, Comey and Democrats whom they claim are attempting to sabotage the Presidency.  No longer a news source, Fox News is primarily a propaganda outlet for the administration and the Republican Party, both directly and through acts of misdirection and omission.  That would be fine, but only if they labelled themselves as such.  Which they do not.

So, just as the President devotes much of his time to attacking MSM (main stream media) for seeking out and reporting the truth, it’s time for us to take arms against Fox News, the President’s chief enabler.  If you watch Fox News, and it is imperative that those who disagree with its programming spend significant time watching it, you will see some cracks developing in its facade. Change is beginning.  Management saw fit to get rid of O'Reilly.  Megan Kelly left.  Chris Wallace's objectivity is asserting itself.  It is important to exploit any weaknesses at Fox News because many millions of Americans get their news exclusively from that source.  That is why I am sending copies of this to some of the Fox journalists mentioned below.

I heard a “pundit” say the other day that Sean Hannity has more influence on the mass of Republican voters who put Donald Trump in the White House than does House Speaker Paul Ryan, and if the media is to convince the American public of the evil dominating the Presidency and infecting the Republican Party today, Fox News will ultimately have to join with the rest of our news media and start telling the truth.  

(Fox News"roaming correspondent" Geraldo Rivera has claimed that Hannity is the second most powerful person in the country, after the president!  Of interest is that some advertisers, offended by his partisanship, have pulled their ads from his program, a good sign!  Hopefully, Fox management will take notice.) 

Of course, Hannity and others like him (Ann Coulter, Jeanine Pirro, Tucker Carlson) are hopeless cases.  But there are others at Fox who purport to be professional journalists who sooner or later will put what they know to be the truth (and believe me, they know it) ahead of the party line their employer demands. 

The other evening, Fox anchor Martha MacCallum had a very puzzled look on her face when columnist Charles Krauthammer, a Fox regular, would not agree with her that the Russia investigations were witch hunts, and that it looked to him like there actually was something there to investigate.  She thanked him curtly and quickly cut to a commercial.

It is only a matter of time before professional journalists like Chris Wallace, Bret Baier, Howard Kurtz, Brit Hume, Juan Williams, Neil Cavuto and Shepard Smith begin to realize that honesty, truth and the survival of the nation are more important than being mouthpieces for the incompetence and dishonesty which is overtaking the Executive branch of our government. (They are the ones to whom I am sending a copy of this posting.)

If they have consciences, some may leave Fox.  Some may stay but inject more honesty into their words whenever they can.  Anything which improves the news source that far more Americans watch than either CNN and MSNBC would be good, for those are the folks who need to be better informed.  Hopefully, the ownership of Fox News will finally recognize this as well and decide that truth and honesty are more important than Sean Hannity, who can always find employment at Breitbart or working for some foundation funded by the Koch brothers.

Bradlee

Back in 1995, Ben Bradlee, the great editor of the Washington Post, wrote about what newspapers do.  I substitute the words “news media” for “newspapers” in quoting from his autobiography, “A Good Life.” “That’s what news media do: they learn, they report, they verify, they write, and they publish.”  Fox News has to do this.  They owe it to their viewers.  They owe it to America.  They have to stop emulating Josef Goebbels.

JL

New Leukemia Treatment
Over the past week there have been newspaper articles talking about a new treatment for leukemia which will give hope to many with that disease.   Read about it, if you have not done so already, by checking out a recent New York Times article about it. Just click here to read it.

Some of the funding for the research which developed this new treatment came from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation, one of the charities which receives the money Google Ads pays this blog for carrying their advertisements. Every time you click on one of these ads, the blog is credited with a few cents, but it all adds up!
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 JACK'S POTPOURRI. 
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.)

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

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

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 

Monday, July 10, 2017

A Thoughful Charles Blow Column, Thoughts on Government Ethics, Behind the North Korean Problem, Hats and More Hip-Hop

This Article Says It All

If you only have time to read one article critical of the President, the opinion piece by Charles Blow (pictured to left) which appeared last week in the New York Times is the one to read.  It says it all.  Check it out by clicking here.  

Your reaction to this article is important. 

1.   After reading it, will you have lost faith in our democratic process which resulted in the President's election?  

2.   If so, what changes, if any, would you suggest? 

3. Critics have accused other presidents such as Jackson, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Nixon of having dictatorial ambitions.  Would it be fair to similarly criticize President tRump?  

4.  Do you believe what Blow is writing to be both fair and true ... or is his partisanship getting the best of his pen?  

5.   Now put yourself in the mindset of an ardent supporter of the President (some readers of this blog, not many, fit that description).  What would you think of the column?  

Please read it now.  Please. Click here to do so!
Jack Lippman



Hip-Hop Made Comprehensible

In last week’s posting, the article about “hip-hop” featured a link to “The World Turned Upside Down,” where you saw and heard the original Broadway cast of “Hamilton” performing that number on stage.   I suspect most of you who viewed it missed most of the words, as most of the audience in the theatre did that night probably did too.
Lin Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton

Well, here they are for you to listen to again with the actual words flashing before you on your screen as they are sung.  To hear it, and it is beautiful, click right here, right now!

This is what American popular music is about TODAY and we should at least try to get with it.  Serious music (opera, symphonies, concertos, etc) will always be with us to enjoy as will earlier popular genres (swing, jazz, country, rock and B’way shows), but that doesn’t mean we should bury our heads to what is popular TODAY. Click on the link right here and listen to some hip-hop from the stage of the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City where Hamilton is now being performed eight times a week to full houses.  
JL


Headwear Department



Baseball caps are for baseball players.  The visor serves to shade their eyes from the sun while playing.  Similarly, archers and those shooting on gun ranges can benefit from wearing baseball caps.  They also enable wearers to identify with favorite teams or schools.  













But any dermatologist will tell you that they are inadequate in protecting one’s ears, a common site for sun-induced neoplasms, from damaging rays.  They recommend hats with broad enough brims to protect the ears.  Actually, in sunny climes, such as deserts, they should also offer protection to the back of the neck as well. Recall what the French Foreign Legionnaires wore in those old Warner Brothers films?
  













JL

Are Business Ethics Applicable to Governance ?


Is the methodology of the present presidency an indictment of the way America does business?   Donald tRump is doing exactly what he did in promoting his real estate, hotels, golf courses, gambling, TV programs and other ventures.  He was successful at it too, sometimes even making lemonade out of lemons. Read about it in his book, “The Art of the Deal.” 

But as for his hyperbole (fancy word for exaggeration at best or sometimes just plain lying), his attacks on those who criticize him, his superficiality which suffices to make him appear knowledgeable to the gullible, his dependence on meaningless adjectives and adverbs in every pronouncement he makes, some or all of these are part of parcel of the way any business sells whatever it has to sell.  Without these tactics, much of which is bought and sold, including financial products, would not exist.

That’s why otherwise legitimate magazines, TV broadcasts, newspapers and of course, now, the internet are filled with advertisements containing similar hyperbole, criticism of competition (usually very subtle), a superficial attempt at facts (the small print on screen for five seconds in some drug ads) and a truckload of adverbs and adjective.  That’s the way America does business.   Caveat Emptor.  That’s the way Donald tRump has always done business.  If it isn’t illegal, and one has good lawyers, why not do it?   And that is an essential part of the free enterprise system.   When one complains about the man in the White House, one is in effect complaining about the ethics of the system which brought him success in business and brought him to the presidency.

Really, we can’t have it two ways.  If such tactics are not acceptable for a president to use, why should they be acceptable in the business world?  If the White House is to be criticized for its use of “alternate facts,” shouldn’t manufacturers be criticized for questionable boasting about their products, tiny print on warranties and other “normal” sales techniques, and investment banks be criticized for highly-recommended financial instruments which fail to perform as they are supposed to, as sometimes illustrated in in slick descriptive literature. 



Letting the man in the White House get away with what he does may be a good thing in that it brings the highest office in the land down to the level where many businesses operate on a daily basis, replacing utopian illusions with life the way it really is. 

I don’t agree with this, but some others do. I think the presidency should include a vision of life as we envision it becoming.   I think the President and others of his party are looking in the opposite direction.  But in doing things "his way," which strangely might be the American way in the eyes of many in this second decade of this Twenty-first century, the security of our nation must not, I repeat, not, be put at risk.  That is a great danger.
JL

Where Do We Go With Korea?

Here are a pair of recent articles from the Bloomberg View website which explain why, ultimately, we will be doing nothing in regard to the North Korean nuclear threat.  Regardless of what we end up calling it, we will acquiesce to what Kim Jong-Un is doing. 


North Korea is developing nuclear weapons and a delivery capacity as a deterrent to our using, or the threat of our using, our considerably greater nuclear capability against his country.  Kim fears unification of the Korean peninsula, which would quickly drown him in a sea of free enterprise and democracy.  But long range nuclear weapons enable him to play a permanent game of “chicken” with us, leaving him free to do whatever he wants in his “Hermit” kingdom, so long as he can deter threat of a response from us.  A traditional military solution to this problem is not available because of the extensive loss of civilian lives in nearby South Korea which would occur.

Economic sanctions will not work in regard to North Korea because it has little international trade other than with China.  China likes it that way because so long as Kim is in power, they will not have a U.S. ally, South Korea, or even a unified Korea on their border, and therefore, they will be of no help to us in dealing with Kim.  The tRump administration ought to have been aware of that from its onset!  


This situation now falls into the area of nuclear gamesmanship which has been played by major (and some not so major) powers for years.  Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Israel, India, Pakistan, China, Iran and of course the United States have developed considerable skill at this risky game, and thus far, it has worked.  Let’s hope the present administration, as well as the newest player, North Korea, know the unwritten rules of the game. 

To find out more about why China will not pressure Kim Jong-Un, click here.  And to learn about the game of nuclear brinksmanship which has been going on since the middle of the last century, click here as well  .  Read both articles.  They are not lightweight stuff.  But the followers of this blog are not lightweight people.
JL



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