Monday, August 28, 2017

Afghanistan, the "BMOC" in NYC, Checks & Balances, Democratic Victories, Campaign Rallies and the Mitch/Ed Parallel

The next posting on Jackspotpourri will include commentary on the reactions of the Administration and the Congress to the human tragedy in Texas.  Will they, as they must, be bi-partisan and rise above political considerations?  Will existing positions on spending Federal funds and on climate change enter the discussions?  Your comments for inclusion in the blog are welcome.

Democratic Victories in 2018 and 2020 are Possible

I cannot repeat this too often because I firmly believe it.  Donald Trump is quite right in claiming that his followers would not desert him, even if he shot someone in broad daylight on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
  
Many, if not most, Americans see Trump as the incompetent fraud that he is and recognize that he is not fit to serve as President.  While this includes many Republicans, it does not include his solid base of supporters.  They will stick with him through thick and thin.  While not a majority, these supporters are sufficient in number to significantly influence the Republican Party and produce critical electoral votes for a candidate, as they did for Trump in 2016.  I do not see this changing, regardless of the results of the Russia investigation, Trump’s inability to live up to most of his promises and whatever realistic alternatives to meet the nation’s challenges the Democratic Party might present.  Whatever the Kool-Aid Trump served up to them contained, his base still is and will remain under his spell.  So what are the Democrats to do?

In every election, from dog catcher on up, throughout the country, Democrats must force their Republican opponents to take a stand on Donald Trump’s presidency.  They must not be allowed to sit on the fence.  They must either oppose him, or stand with him.  This should be the crucial issue in any election!  

If a Republican candidate says he supports the President, some of those Republicans who are sick of him will not support that candidate.  If a Republican candidate says he opposes the President, some of those who are still loyal to him will not support that candidate.  Either way, the Republicans will lose votes and the Democratic candidate will benefit.  

Example:  The Presidents's pardoning of Arizona ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio, even before he was sentenced, puts him on the side of ignoring the laws and the courts, as well as with the nation's bigots by standing up for an acknowledged criminal (accepting a pardon is an admission of guilt) whose racism influenced his  duties. Republicans should be asked whether they support the President's pardon or think it was wrong. They should not be allowed, at all levels, to dodge this question.

This is, in my opinion, the best and perhaps the only way for Democrats to win elections in 2018 and 2020.  They must thoroughly exploit this schism in the Republican party at every level and in every election.  No Republican candidate should get away without being pushed to the limit as to whether or not he supports Donald Trump.  2018's election debate should not focus upon issues like health care or taxation.  The only issue should be loyalty of Republicans to the least qualified President the country has ever had the misfortune to elect.
JL


All You Need to Know About Afghanistan

Afghanistani history reveals many centuries of attempted control by outside forces.  In the Nineteenth century, the British fought two wars there, one in the 1840’s and one in the 1880’s.  In the last century, the Russians fought a losing battle to control the country.  Most recently, the United States has been involved in a similar struggle which our President has just committed us to continue. Once an outside nation leaves, hoping to have established some stability there, Afghanistan reverts to the infighting between the many tribes and variations of religious faith with which the people of this cruelly mountainous country identify.  

Liken Afghanistan to what used to be rural Appalachia, where families who lived in one “holler” considered those over the mountain in the next valley to be their enemies, and with whom they often feuded for generations.  Afghanistan is filled with many Hatfields and McCoys.

Why do outside nations even bother?  In the past, I had been an advocate of troop withdrawal there.  Now, however, I have given it a second thought.  It’s a matter of geopolitics. Just look at some maps

When Western trade with China opened up over two thousand years ago, the area we know as Afghanistan was at the crossroads of the overland trade routes to China from Europe and from India. 


Today that still is true, but more from a political and strategic standpoint than from an economic one.  China would love to directly access the Indian Ocean through Afghanistan and Pakistan. And over the mountains, just to the north sits a nervous Russian presence in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, as well as Iran on Afghanistan’s western border. Who controls Afghanistan controls the fulcrum of south-central Asia (where three of the countries shown on the adjacent map already have nuclear weapons, not including Iran nor the Russian-related "stan" nations to Afghanistan's north) and that is a concern to the United States.  That is why we would like to see an independent, stable and neutral Afghanistan. 

The problem that remains is how to acheive this goal with as little sacrifice of American lives and resources as possible.  Nations have been trying to solve this problem for many centuries.
Jack Lippman


Why the President Attacked Mitch McConnell

The United States government is based on a system of checks and balances outlined in our Constitution. The Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch balance each other and possess checks which prevent unwise excesses from being carried out by either one.  Less formally outlined but nevertheless still real are the checks and balances within each of these two branches of our government. 

In the White House, a President should be able to weigh and balance different recommendations from his advisors.  In Congress, the presence of representatives of both parties, each of which may include many voices, brings checks and balances into play.

When a President demands an Executive branch whose leaders can be counted upon to always agree with and support him, he is throwing away the safety valve provided by those who might not always agree with him.   And the same thing is even more true of the give and take of the various factions and parties in Congress.  But fortunately, by virtue of their very design, neither house of Congress can be monolithic.  
Mitch McConnell, Latest Victim of Presidents Anger

The revolving door which has been characteristic of this White House and the President’s criticism of his own party’s leaders in Congress clearly indicates that he neither understands nor wants to understand this system of checks and balances.  

Buildings at Fordham (left) and at Wharton (right) 

The President’s higher education started with two years at Fordham University.  Most colleges do not provide courses in our Constitution nor advanced political science courses before the junior and senior years.  By then, Trump had left Fordham and transferred to the University of Pennsylvania where he took business courses at the Wharton School for his final two years of undergraduate education.  So, it is understandable that the President of the United States may not understand the checks and balances provided by our Constitution.  It was not part of his education.

The conniving, bluffing, bribing, brow-beating world of real estate development is where he learned his skills.  In that “school,” getting around the law rather than adhering to it is what is taught.  And its leading campus was New York City, and guess who proceeded to act as if he were the “big man on campus” there, which he wasn't.  Could it be that the President is well described by the old Texas rancher's expression of disdain, "Big Hat, Few Cattle."  (See the following piece.)

This is why he is frustrated with Congress and appears to be taking it out on Mitch McConnell.   
JL

Mitch and Ed - Deja Vu

The late Ed Koch, former NYC Mayor 
And while on the subject of Mitch McConnell, last week, Bloomberg View (which you can access on the internet) carried a revealing tale of how Donald Trump wasn’t successful in working with Ed Koch whose cooperation he needed to pull off a giant real estate deal he was developing. Bluster and intimidation only goes so far and it didn’t work with Koch. Similarly, the President is blowing a relationship with Mitch McConnell which he sorely needs.  It seems that Trump really isn’t very good practicing the “art of the deal.”  Read this incisive piece BY CLICKING RIGHT HERE! 
JL
                         

Our Insecure President's Campaign Rallies

When someone is running for political office, it is not unusual, in fact it is common, for such candidates to have campaign rallies. Attendance at campaign rallies is usually composed of their supporters.

Once elected to office, campaign rallies become unnecessary and detract enormously from the time needed to carry out the functions required in the office to which the candidate was elected, especially the most demanding of offices, the Presidency.

Yet, our PEFAP (see definition in earlier blog postings or at the end of this posting) continues, even after being elected, to conduct campaign rallies. 


He uses them to market his position on issues (which may differ from those of his party), lambast those who oppose him, past and present, and energize his supporters.  Why does he do this?

Clearly, even though he won the election, he must feel sufficiently insecure in his office that he must continue to campaign.  Such campaign rallies are not directed at the nation he was elected to lead, but to those who supported and voted for him. Their cheering and their applause make him feel good, just as it did back when he was running for office.

Other than during the year or so when he might be running for re-election, I cannot think of an American president who took time off from running the country to do this kind of thing.

This is the height of insecurity.  In distant history, insecure monarchs would keep their courts filled with sycophants to make them feel less insecure.  Today, our sitting President who glories in campaign rallies for his supporters is doing no less. 
  
The United States of American does not need a President who is insecure.  Our nation has enough real problems with which to deal and should not be additionally burdened by the President’s troubled psyche.

The Republicans in the House and in the Senate should take steps to remedy this situation because it is of their party's making.  Our PEFAP must be impeached or urged to resign.

(In previous postings, PEFAP was defined as “Poor Excuse for a President.”)
JL
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Monday, August 21, 2017

Deplorables, Deflections, Two Quotes, Whiz and a Gathering

A Gathering


Gather them all together in a room, a big room:  Thomas Friedman, Paul Krugman, E.J. Dionne, Charles Blow, Ruth Marcus and any others from the Washington Post and New York Times newsrooms who want to come along.  Invite the folks from MSNBC, perhaps Chris Matthews, Joe and Mika, Rachel Maddow and some from CNN too, probably led by Wolf Blitzer and Anderson CooperDavid Brooks and Kathleen Parker, hearing about the gathering, will show up bringing some of their associates with them, too.  By now the fire marshal will have closed off the place since the crowd will have reached the legal capacity. (“Occupancy by more than 1000 people is illegal” the sign by the door reads.)

Inside the room, silence will soon reign because after a few minutes, all of them, regardless of their politics, will realize that they all agree with each other regarding the monumental incompetence of our *PEFAP.  Realizing that talking to one another would be no more than "preaching to the choir," they all shortly depart, returning to their keyboards and studios.

 


Meanwhile, millions of Americans, most of whom never read nor view any of the folks who had been in that room, or if they have, believe that such people are all part of some "deep state" conspiracy, go about their daily routines, knowing that at 10:00 p.m., good old Sean Hannity will be there on Fox News to tell them the truth about what is going on, defending the indefensible.  And on weekends, when he is off, some other Fox Neanderthal will be there to do the same.  It would be wonderful if only these Fox News people might be wired to a polygraph while they were broadcasting.  Then, an on-screen graph could show whenever they strayed from the truth.  (The same might be said of the PEFAP for that matter.)

*(As you may recall, in the prior posting on this blog, PEFAP was defined as “Poor Excuse for a President.”)

Jack Lippman

Two Quotes 

I am not going to waste any space criticizing our PEFAP’s behavior in regard to Charlottesville.  Anyone with half a brain understands what is going on.  Many of those who voted for our PEFAP now regret it, although they usually aren’t out there bragging about it.  Just like the German businessmen, including some Jews, who voted for the National Socialists in Germany as an alternative to Communism came to painfully regret their action.   

Here are two quotes worthy of your attention. (1) The first is from former Klan Grand Wizard David Duke speaking at a torch-lit rally in Charlottesville the night before the violence.  He said “We’re here to take our country back.  We’re going to fulfill the promise of Donald Trump.”  (2)  The second is from a column written by the New York Times’ David Brooks last week.  He wrote “If great words can heal and inspire, base words can corrupt.  Trump has been delivering the poison of prejudice in small but increasing doses.  In Charlottesville, the effect became fully evident.”

Impeach now.
JL
Whiz

Growing up, I remember a candy commercial which touted “Whiz, the best nickel candy there iz-z!”  Well, Whiz is no more (it's downfall started when the price went up to a dime and that killed the commercial).  Same goes for a lot of the other candies with which we grew up.  In fact, few of us can remember any candy bars selling for a nickel.  But believe it or not, you can still get chocolate cigarettes!  Remember them?  Start learning about this sweet bit of American history BY CLICKING RIGHT HERE!
I alert any diabetics or pre-diabetics to the possible hazard to their health which might result from clicking on this link.
JL

Deflection

Deflection!  That’s what the President does when he wants to change the subject.  As the Russia investigation gets closer and closer to the White House and its occupants, residential and otherwise, our PEFAP frantically tries to change the subject.  I am sure that the President knows exactly where the Mueller investigation stands, what they already know and where they are going.  And he is very concerned.

That explains his intemperate remarks concerning North Korea which sent our diplomatic and military leaders scurrying off to reassure the rest of the world.  That also explains his sudden threat to use military force to stabilize Venezuela, a move which didn’t endear the United States to most of our southern neighbors, either.  He knows a nation on a war footing would be reluctant to turn out its Executive Branch and its leader, our PEFAP.
  
Therefore, expect him to talk about anything whatsoever, preferably of a military nature, which would promote putting our country in a crisis mode and reduce the attention of the country on the Russia investigations.  Even Charlottesville.  Military involvement in Venezuela or North Korea would do just fine since his war against the media doesn’t seem to draw much support, except from Fox News.  Time is growing short for our PEFAP.  Very short.

Impeach now.
JL



Deplorables

Two months before the 2016 Presidential election, Hillary Clinton remarked that "to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”  By "he," Hillary was referring to Donald Trump.  And I translate "lifting them up" to mean "enabling" them.

Well, on this past Thursday, Jennifer Rubin who writes the conservative "Right Turn" blog for the Washington Post attempted to define precisely who these "deplorables" were. Clinton implied, perhaps in jest, that about half of Trump's supporters fit into this category.  Rubin makes it very clear who they are.  And some people may wonder how many people in America, not just Trump's supporters, fit her definition.

Although support for the President is eroding among Republican elected officials, polls continue to indicate that his supporters out there across the country are still sticking with him.  In view of this, could it be that Clinton's 50% number is close to accurate for America today?  

I have heard Jeffrey Toobin, who writes for the New Yorker and is often seen on CNN, questioning whether or not many, many Americans not living in the Northeast nor on the Pacific Coast are actually comfortable with the kind of bigotry which Trump (coached by the now departed Steve Bannon) used to reach the White House and continues to apologize for, and enable, even today.  That is a frightening unknown.

But getting back to Rubin's blog, here it is in its entirety.  Usually I do not include copyrighted material, but since this is from a blog, I will chance it.  It is important that you read it.  Particularly if you were
(choose one):
 ___ stupid enough,
 ___ gullible enough,
 ___ wealthy enough,
 ___ bigoted enough,
 ___ blind enough ...       to have voted for Trump last year.

About the ‘Deplorables’
By Jennifer Rubin August 17 at 10:15 AM ... from her Right Turn blog.


Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was vilified for calling some of her opponent’s supporters “deplorables.” During the campaign we noted her opponent’s reliance on white grievance and negative racial stereotypes. Pollsters could see that during the campaign — no surprise — those voters with the most racial animus were drawn to  then-candidate Donald Trump. (“Trump performs best among Americans who express more resentment toward African Americans and immigrants and who tend to evaluate whites more favorably than minority groups.”) Polling and statistical analysis after the election confirmed the role race and xenophobia played in the campaign, far outweighing economic anxiety. This did not mean that all Trump voters were racists, but some clearly were; for others, Trump’s racist appeals didn’t bother them enough to deter them for voting for him on other grounds (e.g., his business background, his promises on trade).

Now we fast forward to Charlottesville. Trump has spun a tale of moral equivalency between white nationalists and those who oppose them. He’s said some of those who participated were “fine” people. (Do fine people accompany neo-Nazis shouting anti-Semitic slurs, using the Nazi salute and embracing Nazi iconography?) And yet there is a segment of GOP voters who still defend him, agree with his response and have sympathy for the false narrative of white victimhood, an essential component of neo-Nazis’ and white supremacists’ ideology which seeks to “reclaim” (from Jews, minorities, foreigners, etc.) their country, as David Duke likes to say.
So who are the people who still support Trump?  It would be those who have been willing to tolerate his history of birtherism, his continued vilification of the “Central Park Five” (even after they were exonerated), his racial attack on Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel, his declaration that Mexican immigrants were “murderers,” the portrait of African American life as a war zone, and now even his efforts to shield neo-Nazis and white nationalists from blame.  Those who after all of that still back him, either share his racist beliefs or have an incredibly high tolerance for racism. 
Moreover, if Trump voters tolerated his racism during the campaign because they thought Clinton was a she-devil or because they were convinced he possessed unique skills or because they thought he’d be controlled by congressional leaders, what is their excuse now? Clinton isn’t the alternative to Trump. (Vice President Pence is.) Trump is not demonstrating even a smidgen of competence or ability to enact the agenda he promised. Even if you thought in the campaign his racism was mitigated by other factors (we find that entirely reprehensible, but let’s continue) those other factors don’t exist any more. All that is left is the white-nationalist sympathizer.
In sum, there is no non-deplorable rationale for continuing to defend this president, his rhetoric and his moral obtuseness. No one is asked to confess error in voting for him (although some self-scrutiny would be appreciated). Nevertheless, continuing to deny he is unfit for office and to make excuses for his verbiage makes one complicit in his racial divisiveness and his determination to provide aid and comfort to neo-Nazis and white nationalists.
Some delude themselves by thinking that Trump can show “greater moral clarity” (!) (as the Republican Jewish Coalition preposterously did) 



Sheldon Adelson sits on the Board of the Republican Jewish Coalition which minimized its criticism of Trump by merely asking for "greater moral clarity."  (They are still waiting for Trump to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  Hope Adelson isn't holding his breath.  T'was just another Trump lie designed to get votes from the gullible.  It amazes me how successful "businessmen" such as Adelson can be so dumb.) JL

or that staying in the administration prevents damage to the country (as Gary Cohn, John F. Kelly and others apparently do) or that the 2016 voters’ verdict cannot be upset with no regard for subsequent events (as Republican lawmakers insist). Let’s be blunt, these are rationalizations for continued support for an unfit, racist president. It does in fact make one deplorable.

                                                       *   *   *   *   *

Nice blog posting, right?   And from a conservative!  I agree with it.  But we have to start worrying what will happen when the President is either impeached or forced to resign. That will happen.  Vice-President Pence has not sufficiently separated himself from the President to be able to successully take up the reins of office, and if he does that now, it would only exacerbate existing schisms in the Republican Party.  Once there is a new occupant in the White House, whoever that might be, there will be an angry far-right group of Americans who still carry the destructive impulses which resulted in their supporting Trump.  Will they coalesce into a Third Party? What will become of the Republican Party once they leave it? And where does this leave the Democrats? There will be some rocky terrain to traverse before the harm done by Donald J. Trump to America and its institutions can be repaired.  We hope it can be done peacefully within the framework of the Constitution.
JL

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Jack Lippman 





Monday, August 14, 2017

North Korean Solution, the Vatican and Politics, PEFAP plus What's in a Name (Perception of Illusions)



The North Korean Solution

For some excellent insight into the problem we have with North Korea, take a look at an informative article from the American Security Project,  a nonpartisan organization created to educate the American public and the world about the changing nature of national security in the 21st century. CLICK HERE TO READ IT.  

But that article doesn’t go far enough. Clearly, a military solution is out of the question at this time because of the horrendous amount of death and destruction it would wreak upon adjacent South Korea, the vacuum it would leave once the present North Korean regime is destroyed and finally, the danger of a last-resort turning to nuclear weapons by North Korea once they see that their defeat is imminent.  




(The only way a military solution would work is if we have, and I don't think we do, the technical capability to render the North Korean traditional military forces on the border with South Korea harmless, at no cost to us or to South Korea.  It would have to be some sort of 'cyber' action comparable to the Israeli 'Stuxnet' assault on Iran's nuclear program.  If we had such a capability today, we probably would be using it on the North Korean nuclear and missile program.  And I have no reason to believe we can do that.)


So despite our Commander in Chief's ill-thought-out and intemperate remarks about what we can do regarding North Korea's bellicosity, we can forget about a military solution. The only value it has for us is that it can be used as a threat to counterbalance North Korea’s threat to use nuclear-armed ICBMs against the United States.  They don’t want to do that, regardless of what they say, since it would result in their country’s immediate destruction any more than the United States wants to send in troops or attempt to destroy North Korea’s missiles and nuclear weapons resulting in the a great number of deaths and wide-spread destruction in South Korea.  Seoul is but thirty miles from the North Korean border.

These two threats balance one another Having already achieved that may be considered a victory for North Korea.  That we let them get to this point is a tragedy. Previous administrations, Democratic and Republican, have let it happen, not wishing to "make waves" affecting our more significant economic relationship with China.

It is clear that China, without whose support North Korea's economy would crumble, is only going to do things which are in their interest, and not in the interest of the United States nor of world peace. Sanctions are not really an effective weapon to use against North Korea either because China, their major trading partner, really cannot be counted on to fully cooperate, despite their support of such sanctions against North Korea in the United Nations. China fears that a government which might succeed Kim's regime would constitute a threat to them and this bolsters their reluctance to do anything to really weaken him.

The only solution, then, is a diplomatic one.  We must negotiate with North Korea.   Once that process is outlined, it is likely that China will not remain seated idly at the sideline.  They would want to be at the table, or at least in an adjacent room, to see that their interests were protected.  


It is pretty clear what we would want to get out of such negotiations.  We would want a limit, or freeze, on North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapon program so that they would stop threatening the United States and its allies on the eastern Pacific rim (Japan, South Korea, Philippines, etc.)  North Korea would want the threat of interference by the United States or South Korea in their regime to disappear.  That threat doesn’t really exist but North Korea maintains that it does to justify their weapons buildup and to maintain tight control over their population.

Ultimately, we will end up recognizing this delicate balance between the threats made between North Korea and the United States.  It’s a poker game, and they do have nuclear weapons and ICBMs in their hand.  We have much more, but their hand is strong enough for them to keep raising the stakes. 

The goal of negotiations between the United States and North Korea would be a mutual non-aggression pact with strong UN guarantees.  We should be happy with that.  North Korea, however, might not be and prefer the delicate, but very dangerous, balance which exists today between the two countries.  They would want something more to sweeten their end of the deal.  That might consist of economic aid of some sort with the very long term goal of reducing their dependence upon China. This is why negotiations, once commenced, without some involvement by China seems very unlikely. They will not permit any "deal" to ultimately be to their disadvantage. 

Cutting a deal with so repulsive and oppressive regime as there is in Pyongyang, provided the Chinese go along with it, would be disagreeable to many Americans but that might be the direction in which negotiations will have to go. Some may say that such a solution smacks of what happened in Munich in 1938. Appeasing Adolf Hitler did not stop him.  But there were no international guarantees to that agreement, which any detente with North Korea must include.  And I don’t think Kim Jong-un’s goals are as geographically encompassing as were Hitler’s. Neither do I think he is suicidal.
Jack Lippman

Wait a Minute

A word I’d like to see the English language get rid of is “momentarily.”  Dictionary definitions of the word include “for a very short time” and “at any moment; very soon.”  “Moment,” the noun from which the word is derived is defined as “a very brief period of time.” 

Usually the word is encountered when a delay is anticipated and to give the appearance that it will be a very short one, implying just a few minutes. That is usually a lie, but is used to make the delay more acceptable. “Flight 333 will be boarding momentarily” can mean anywhere from one minute to several hours, or maybe never.  “Your feature presentation will begin momentarily” usually means you will be exposed to about twenty minutes of previews before the film you paid to see begins.”
  
People should say what they mean and not use words like “momentarily” to sugarcoat what is not the case.  If the length of a delay is known, it should be stated. If one cannot be precise about something, it is better to tell the truth rather than mislead the victims, even momentarily.

JL


Our PEFAP*

The PEFAP sitting in the White House has served as an enabler for the white supremacist gangsters who created the tragedy which has just taken place in Charlottesville.

Our PEFAP is at his best when he is in an attack mode, and that is demonstrable by those whom he has attacked for no reason other than that is the way he does things.  He attacks the press.  He still is attacking his Democratic opponent for the presidency.  He attacks his predecessor in office.  He attacks the Affordable Care Act.  He attacks immigrants, especially Muslims. He attacks Comey, Mueller, Sessions and McConnell in the same manner in which he attacked those against whom he was competing for the Republican presidential nomination.  Head-on, sidewise, by innuendo … whatever seems the best attack mode at the moment.  He frames his response to North Korean threats with ill-considered attacks, implying actions he has given little thought to.  The kind of tactics two-bit real estate dealers use are his stock in trade.

But he holds off on attacking those for whom he may have some use.  The bigots of America supported him for President.  Ask them. They think that down deep, he is their friend.  And because he does not go out of the way to specifically and directly attack and denounce them, they are encouraged.  They pay attention to what he "doesn't say" and read between the line of what he does say, or tweets.  And after all, didn't he bring one whom they revere, Steve Bannon, into the While House?  They appreciate that he limits his criticism to generalities and doesn’t call them out for what they are, white supremacist racists.  He doesn’t speak those words, and by not doing so, he enables them!  And that makes them believe they can get away with breaking the law.  (There may be a future use for Guantanamo yet.)

Add this to the great dissatisfaction which many Republicans in the House and in the Senate, whose party name he has permanently sullied, already have for our PEFAP.  They refuse to follow his wishes in regard to health care, the Russia investigation and increased sanctions on that country.  It is only a matter of time before they completely disassociate themselves from him, denounce him, bounce him and get on with Making America Great again after the harm our PEFAP will have done to the country.

*PEFAP  is an acronym for “Poor Excuse for a President.”
JL

Religion and Politics - The Vatican is a Player

Religion and politics are difficult to separate.  In some Muslim dominated countries, such as Iran, they are synonymous.  When a country calls itself an Islamic Republic, it makes no bones about its government’s relationship to God.  The connection is far more tenuous elsewhere and is in fact close to illegal in some Western democracies (even though the British monarch is still a “defender of the faith”) where many faiths exist and where none have locked-in political status.  

Nevertheless, in the United States we find that evangelical Protestant Christians, conservative Roman Catholics and Orthodox Jews generally tend to vote Republican and favored Donald Trump in the 2016 election.  Recently, the President signed an executive order removing the financial threat from the IRS faced by tax-exempt churches when clergy speak out on behalf of political candidates. Supposedly that would violate their First Amendment rights.  (I disagree.) 
Right now this issue is coming to a head in the Roman Catholic Church where conservative American bishops are often at variance with a much more liberal stance taken by the Church outside of the United States and particularly enunciated by Pope Francis.  An extremely interesting article on this issue appeared in the New York Times last week WHICH YOU CAN READ BY CLICKING RIGHT HERE.  Read it, please.
JL


It’s All in a Name - Two is Better Than One

Croft & Barrow and Rountree & Yorke sound very British, don’t they?  Can’t you see the two founders of these firms in their old shops on Savile Row in London stitching away on a garment for somebody with a royal title?  Well, not exactly.  Croft & Barrow is the name Kohls Department Store assigns to its own brand of men’s apparel and Rountree & Yorke serves the same purpose for Dillards.  Chances are that all the garments with these labels are made by underpaid workers somewhere in Asia.  But the marketing thrust is totally British.  

Having  a person’s name attached to a product gives it a personal touch.  And two people responsible for what’s going on sounds more stable than one name or just a plain old corporate name. Particularly if the names are conspicuously Anglo-Saxon !                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                           










Which company would you rather buy your detergent from: Proctor & Gamble (one of their original wrappers shown above) or the Cincinnati Soap Company? (Actually, P&G was started by two guys with those last names, brothers-in-law, back in 1837 in Cincinnati.) 


Sears & Roebuck, Barnes & Noble, Crosse & Blackwell all instill the same sense of solidity and permanence. Two names are stronger than one.  But BJ’s discount warehouse recently changed its own house brand from Berkley & Jensen to Berkley-Jensen.  Yet you still get the feel of dual ownership in that hyphenated version.  Competitor Costco manages to get by with just one name on its own products, Kirkland.  



And which do you prefer, the duality of the Mercedes-Benz name or just plain "Daimler" which is actually the name of the well known automobile manufacturer? Herr Benz and Herr Daimler started the operation and Mercedes was actually the name of the daughter of the man who became their top marketing guy, Emil Jellinek, who paired it with Benz' name.  Jellinek's biography is a story of its own. 

Years ago, Merrill Lynch was called Merrill, Lynch, Pearce, Fenner and Beane (with Beane being replaced with a guy named Smith in 1957).  The image was one of five financial wizards overseeing your investments.  Today, of course, Merrill Lynch is part of Bank of America which probably has more than five people looking after your money.  People don’t like to leave their money in one person’s hands. It’s better to know that Goldman and Sachs are keeping an eye on each other.  Same thing goes for Morgan and Stanley whom one can imagine come to work each morning with their brown bag lunches.  But having more than one money manager nomnally around to watch the store didn't work out very well with either the Lehman or the Salomon brothers.  

I wonder if an ice cream cone from just plain Ben’s or from just plain Jerry’s would taste as good as one from Ben & Jerry’s?  Got the picture?  


Their strength is their reliance on one another. When one of them goes in back to wash his hands, the other one can keep scooping out Cherry Garcia for customers.  Same thing might hold true for Horn & Hardart or Dean & DeLuca.  There's an illusion of strength in numbers. It's all a matter of perception.  But we must never forget that's all that it is, and that goes for everything mentioned above, perception of an illusion!
JL


             


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