Thursday, February 22, 2018

Great Columns by Friedman and Cerebino, R.I.P. Billy Graham, Feminist Bannon and Few More Words on Guns

Important Message:  One of the greatest mistakes I ever made in using computers was starting to use Gmail a few months ago as my basic email service rather than AOL’s email service which I had been using for years.  I still will use both, but I will be minimizing my use of Gmail in the future and slowly returning to AOL.

The reason:  Gmail uses algorithms to determine what is and what is not spam.  To find what they have been missing, all Gmail users should inspect their spam files on a daily basis if not more frequently.  They should also check out what Gmail, using its own criteria, has decided is “social,” a “promotion,” an “update” or what they label a “forum.” This is an annoyance, beside letting someone else make your decisions for you.  To get to these “labels,” Gmail’s word for folders, it is sometimes necessary to look below the “Compose” button at the top left of the Gmail screen, clicking on “more” to reveal labels which may be hidden, and to which your email may have been moved.

AOL, on the other hand, allows the user to set up the criteria for determining what is spam.  Whatever advantages Gmail may have, this is enough to sour me on it.   I have discovered a lot of communications I have missed because of it. Also, the number of fonts and font sizes available in Gmail is far less than in AOL mail.  I only hope AOL stays in business.  I still will have my Gmail address, but I encourage all to contact me at once again.  I will be sending out emails to people who frequently contact me advising them of this shortly.  (This is not to say that AOL doesn't have disadvantages as well, but I think they are more easily managed than Gmail's shortcomings.)  Jack

A Tom Friedman Column

Tom Friedman's Feb. 18 New York Times column, headlined  "Whatever Trump is hiding on Russia is hurting us all"  has been passed on to millions of Americans. 
Rather than give you a difficult-to-manage link to it at the New York Times web site, I am reproducing the entire column.  Don't tell anyone!  It is vitally important that all Americans, including those who have been used by the Russians (see following item) read it.  Here goes.

Whatever Trump is hiding on Russia is hurting us all

Thomas Friedman 

Our democracy is in serious danger.

President Donald Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both, but either way he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy.
That is, either Trump’s real estate empire has taken large amounts of money from shady oligarchs linked to the Kremlin — so much that they literally own him; or rumors are true that he engaged in sexual misbehavior while he was in Moscow running the Miss Universe contest, which Russian intelligence has on tape and he doesn’t want released; or Trump actually believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he says he is innocent of intervening in our elections — over the explicit findings of Trump’s own CIA, NSA and FBI chiefs.

In sum, Trump is either hiding something so threatening to himself, or he’s criminally incompetent to be commander in chief. It is impossible yet to say which explanation for his behavior is true, but it seems highly likely that one of these scenarios explains Trump’s refusal to respond to Russia’s direct attack on our system — a quiescence that is simply unprecedented for any U.S. president in history.

Up to now, Trump has been flouting the norms of the presidency. Now Trump’s behavior amounts to a refusal to carry out his oath of office — to protect and defend the Constitution.

At a time when the special prosecutor Robert Mueller has brought indictments against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups — all linked in some way to the Kremlin — for interfering with the 2016 U.S. elections, America needs a president who will lead our nation’s defense against this attack on the integrity of our electoral democracy.

What would that look like? He would educate the public on the scale of the problem; he would bring together all the stakeholders — state and local election authorities, the federal government, both parties and all the owners of social networks that the Russians used to carry out their interference — to mount an effective defense; and he would bring together our intelligence and military experts to mount an effective offense against Putin — the best defense of all.

Think for a moment how demented was Trump’s Saturday night tweet: “Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign — there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

To the contrary. Our FBI, CIA and NSA, working with the special counsel, have done us amazingly proud.  We should be using our cybercapabilities to spread the truth about Putin.My guess is what Trump is hiding has to do with money. But whatever it is, Trump is either trying so hard to hide it or is so naive about Russia that he is ready to not only resist mounting a proper defense of our democracy, he’s actually ready to undermine some of our most important institutions, the FBI and Justice Department, to keep his compromised status hidden.

That must not be tolerated. This is code red. The biggest threat to the integrity of our democracy today is in the Oval Office.

Jack Lippman

Trump Supporters Tools of Russian Intelligence

I’ve heard that the dummies in the White House are somewhat relieved by the tragic shooting at the high school in Parkland, Florida, because it takes the spotlight off of Special Prosecutor Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, still denied by the Administration’s chief dunce.  The indictment of a group of Russians by Mueller brings this truth (not “fake news” as the dunce in the White House refers to the Russia probe) right back into the spotlight.  

Basically, they are accused of attempting to use dumb, gullible Trump supporters to reach their goals.  Many of them fell for it, hook, line and sinker. 

Read Frank Cerebino’s witty Palm Beach Post column on how the fire which drove many Trump backers to support him was ignited in their child-like, impressionable minds by the Russian intelligence apparatus skillfully using social media on the internet. 

Special Prosecutor Mueller’s commission has just indicted a group of Russian agents for doing this, and the poor souls (the same ones still waving pro-Trump banners as his motorcade drives by) who executed it were never even aware of for whom they were acting … and for whom they continue to work. 

Never, ever, overestimate the intelligence of a Trump supporter!  Read Frank Cerebino’s column by CLICKING RIGHT HERE!    

(In an article subsequent to the column I hope you just read, Cerebino contacted a few of the 'duped' Trump supporters.  These dummies couldn't care less.  One actually said that, in deriding the FBI's Russia investigation, "They're trying to connect Trump to Russia, but I was the guy dealing with the Russians, not Trump."  I suppose, if you're stupid enough, that makes being the dupe of a foreign power okay, even unwittingly, if it helped elect Trump.  As I have said, never ever overestimate the intelligence of a Trump supporter!)

Bottom Line on Guns

No matter how many millions, or even billions, are poured into mental health diagnosis, treatment and care, and no matter how detailed background checks of those purchasing weapons might be, there is no way of knowing which of the millions of Americans with grudges, anger problems or even criminal intent will be the ones who will carry out the next mass killing with an assault weapon.

Therefore, rather than embark upon the close-to-impossible task of seeking out potential trigger squeezers among the millions of Americans, the sale of assault weapons must be banned immediately and assault weapons already in private hands turned in at local police stations, with the government offering a premium price to buy them back for a limited period.  After that, their possession should be made a felony, requiring a minimum sentence of two years.  

There is no reason for military weapons designed for mass killings to be in the hands of anyone other than the military or law enforcement agencies.  Anything else is a delaying tactic supporting the Supreme Court’s corrupt emasculation of the Second Amendment in 2008.  That is the bottom line.  


And as for increased vigilance on the part of the public, "If You See Something, Say Something" just isn't enough when law enforcement agencies lack the personnel for detailed, around the clock, monitoring of all those about whom they have been "tipped off."   To do that job properly, many, many more law enforcement officers would be needed along with many, many more mental health professionals. There are millions of disturbed people in this country, some of whom have never sought help, and they are impossible to keep track of!  Military weaponry must be kept out of civilian hands.  You, the voter, rule America, not the NRA! 

                                    *  *  *  *

(I sent the following letter to the Palm Beach Post the other day.  Doubt that they will print it because they printed another letter from me fairly recently.  But here it is for your benefit.)

"The letter writer in Friday’s Post accusing the NRA of twisting the core of the Second Amendment and having “oceans of American blood on its hands” may not be aware that the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia vs. Heller confirmed this gross misinterpretation of the Second Amendment.  Hence, the hands of Justices Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito and the late Justice Scalia (who wrote the opinion) are also covered with blood.  Like Lady Macbeth, they will never be able to wash it away."

Jack Lippman

Steve Bannon, the Feminist

As much as one might dislike Steve Bannon, whom even Donald Trump grew to dislike and ultimately fire, he is no dummy.  He read the mood of the many American voters whose place in our society had been diminished by technological advances, competition with harder working newcomers to this country, lower cost overseas labor and the reduction of artificial racial and gender-based barriers which once had protected them.  He coached Donald Trump into the presidency by telling him to campaign for these voters, and precisely in what States to do so.  A smart fellow, Bannon is.

And now, after seeing the support Oprah Winfrey gathered at the Golden Globe Awards and recognizing the increasing role of women in both the private and the government sectors, he sees the future as one being one dominated by women at the ballot box as well as elsewhere.  Women are not being elected to public office and becoming corporate CEOs in greater numbers than ever before because of the specific traits that have traditionally set them apart.  They are getting there because they are equal to or better than the male competition, and moreover, they are united in their effort to erase any remaining historic barriers they may still face.

Women who manage homes, raise children, cook food and care for parents are still able to accomplish successes in areas which only a few years ago were male domains.  And men never had to simultaneously do all of this other stuff!   Men were necessary for women to produce babies, of course, but even this assignment is no longer necessary today.   And without women, there would be no babies.  Men cannot make that claim (at least without extensive surgical procedures). 

Steve Bannon senses all of this and can see what is going on and what the future may be like.  He should not be ignored.

Billy Graham and Jews 

Billy Graham, the evangelist who paved the way for the evangelical base which is a significant part of Republican support throughout the nation today, died last week.

Purportedly a friend of the Jewish people, probably because of the Christian theological necessity of the State of Israel’s survival for those who await the ultimate triumph of Christ over evil and the “rapture” after “Armageddon” to take place, Graham was also a bit of an anti-Semite.  Not knowing he was being taped, he had once agreed with some of Richard Nixon’s anti-Semitic remarks, but ultimately apologized years later to the Jewish community for doing so.  In addition to his strong support of the State of Israel, he also worked toward getting Jews in the Soviet Union to emigrate to Israel and he opposed evangelical Christians’ attempts to convert Jews.  On the final scale upon which all of us are ultimately measured, Graham comes out favorably.

About sixty-five years ago, I made it my business to attend one of the “services” at which Graham spoke at the Auditorium in Ocean Grove, NJ, adjacent to Bradley Beach, NJ, where I spent some time every summer.  He was already quite famous at the time and I felt hearing him would be an important historic event.  I recall his resonant voice making the usual evangelical pitch for Christians to come forth and be reborn, to reaffirm their belief in Jesus.  Many did, as you can still see happening today on numerous television evangelical programs and in the evangelical “mega-churches” which have since sprung up.  I consider it a bit of history.   I give Graham credit for recognizing his anti-Semitism and apologizing for it.  Rest in Peace. 
(Interior and exterior views of Ocean Grove Auditorium as it appears today, pretty much the same as it did in the 1950's.  Note the prominence of the American flag, not-so-subtly associating patriotism with Christianity.)


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