Sunday, September 30, 2018

Protectionism or Globalism, Telling the Truth, Excess Sexual Drive and the Latest Butterfly Report







Somewhere in this posting is buried a totally irrelevant sentence, having nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of the material it accompanies.  See if you can spot it.  (This is really a subterfuge on my part to get you to read this entire posting but look for it anyway.)

 

Putting on My Economist’s Hat

In the room in my home which I am presumptuous enough to call my “study” (that’s where my desk, computer, library and paintings are), sits an album containing copies of the published letters to newspapers here in Florida which I have written over the past eighteen years. 

One early one (an undated copy but probably around 2003 or 2004) suggests “protectionism” as the solution to the nation’s economic ills, particularly in the areas of job creation and preservation which would supposedly kick off economic growth by increasing consumer spending.  The credibility of that position goes back, in this country, to Alexander Hamilton, a believer in protective tariffs.  

Over the years, my views have changed to a more globally oriented position, recognizing that our economy cannot exist without integration with that of other nations: In a word, globalization!   Even though I lack real credentials in the field of economics, I still am ready to pass on my ideas because, as I have often said on this blog, I frequently doubt the believability of recognized economists since there are always highly respected economists advocating diametrically opposed theories. Milton Friedman and John Maynard Keynes are examples.  I liken them all to alchemists and astrologists which throughout history have occasionally been taken seriously.  

Lighthizer
My thoughts in this area have changed and grown.  Apparently, Robert LighthizerPresident Trump’s chief trade advisor, is back where I was a decade and a half ago.  I hope that his ideas will evolve to a more global approach once his mistaken direction has been proven wrong.  I hope it doesn’t take an economic disaster for that to happen.  Without change and growth, we’d still be in the Middle Ages.  Through the mechanics of feudalism, those years actually saw economic problems dealt with more realistically than they were in the more savage preceding centuries, known as the Dark Ages, but that, and succeeding systems, are not good enough for us today in our undeniably global economy. 
Jack Lippman




Applying for Insurance, Kavanaugh and a Youthful Approach

At one time, back in my working days, I headed up a risk selection (some called it “underwriting”) department in a small life insurance company in New York City.  Basically, our task was to make sure that we knew the medical, and often the personal, histories of the folks our company were insuring.  We had a lot of tools with which to do our job, and we worked closely with the reinsurance companies upon which all small life insurance companies depend to be competitive with the “big” companies.  A senior executive of one of our reinsurers, known throughout the industry for his wry sense of humor, frequently described a common attribute of a significant number of people applying for life insurance.  They, in addition to possessing hearts, livers, lungs, and the rest of the usual bodily parts, were all endowed with good “forgetters.” 


Sometimes, this hitherto unknown organ resulted in their not mentioning on their insurance application the two heart attacks they had experienced a few years back nor the chemotherapy they underwent for that lump that was removed a year before.  It wasn’t really their fault; the blame lay on their “forgetter.” 


People with well-developed “forgetters” may actually be honest when they claim to not remember this stuff at all, ever, not only when applying for life insurance, but also in their normal everyday life as well.  Their “forgetter” just wipes it from their memory.  Or at least represses it.  Entirely.   

(Those who were in the business, and who might still be around, know about whom I am talking.  Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, Charlie ran the stateside branch of the old Cologne Reinsurance company, now part of Berkshire Hathaway’s General Re.)

Which brings us to Brett Kavanaugh.  Need I say more?

But I will, anyway.  The Democratic strategy, obviously aimed at the upcoming mid-term elections, can be simply explained with four words.  “Payback for Merrick Garland.  Mitch McConnell should be blamed for bringing great, if not fatal, problems to his party. 

If Judge Kavanaugh is hurt in the process, it is his fault for not anticipating that what the Republicans did to Barack Obama’s 2015 nominee would influence the way the Democrats would react to his nomination. Did he think he would get through just as Neil Gorsuch had?  No way, Brett, not with mid-term elections coming up!  Chalk that up to naivete.  Perhaps he went into the nominating process with his eyes wide closed, awed by the fact that he was nominated.

As for Kavanaugh’s testimony and that of Dr. Christine Ford before the Judiciary Committee last week, she was totally believable.  She was truthful and was not confused over details.  If she wasn’t absolutely sure of something, she said so. But she could not come up with corroborating witnesses who were at the party. 

Kavanaugh was also sincere and believable. He was obviously emotionally distressed by the fact that regardless of whether or not he is elevated to the Supreme Court, a lifetime of building a fine reputation had been permanently stained.  (A highly perceptive friend read his distress as a manifestation of shame on his part, which would lead one to believe more strongly in Dr. Ford’s claim than in Judge Kavanaugh’s denial.) I wonder what personal conclusion the esteemed Arizona sex-crimes prosecutor who did most of the questioning for the Republican members of the Committee made.  She had certainly dealt with such contradictory and conflicting testimony many times before.  Whatever the truth is, I feel she has a pretty good idea of where it rests.  Someday she might write a book. 

My take on his testimony is that he was so drunk that evening that he didn’t remember a thing about what had occurred.  (See the first two paragraphs of this piece, the “insurance” part.)   He did admit to having occasionally “fallen asleep” after drinking.  If this were the case that evening, which he denied ever even taking part in, it would have left him unable to remember it happening and to account for anything which might have happened during that period when he was “asleep.”  It would not have found a prominent place in his memory bank, so quite correctly, he remembered nothing and replied honestly.  The FBI investigation might or might not shed more light on what happened.  I doubt it.  Hypnosis might do that but I don’t think the Senate nor the FBI will go there.

I drink beer too, but I am no authority on it.  A six-pack usually lasts a least a month in my refrigerator. Assuming each beer is the equivalent of a 12 oz. bottle, here is the way it affects me.   I think the same might apply to most beer drinkers.  I cannot really remember the last time I had more than two beers at a sitting, but I have in the far distant past.
1 beer    No effect.,
2 beers – Little effect, but I am aware that I have been drinking.  Feeling good.
                   And groping back far into my memories:
3 beers – Borderline drunk.  Feeling great.  I won’t drive.
4 beers -  Drunk -  If no food consumed, ready to fall asleep, otherwise, just woozy and unsteady on feet.
5 beers -  Drunk enough so that I can’t remember what happened.

I wonder what would happen if the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee were replaced by a panel of high school juniors and seniors of both sexes, representing both public and private secondary schools. 
I think they would be able to make a better connection with the believability of the testimony of Ford and Kavanaugh than the grownups on the Committee who have to try to think back 36 years.  The kids, on the other hand, are there right now.

My bottom lineRegardless of whether or not Brett Cavanaugh molested Dr. Ford 36 years ago, his demeanor at the Committee hearings, his snapping back at questioning Senators’ questions, his becoming angry in the face of hostility and his general arrogance clearly indicated that despite his recognized legal acumen, he is unfit to serve on the United State Supreme Court, where Justices cannot be allowed to lose their “cool.”   
JL




Excess Sexual Drive

In the big scheme of things, what is the purpose of life?  Some scientists say that, just like other forms of living things, the purpose of life for homo sapiens, us, is to reproduce.  Our other achievements, scientific, intellectual or practical, may be remarkable but the main thing is that we are born for the purpose of continuing our species’ existence by reproducing.  In that way, we are no different from insects, reptiles and other kinds of life.

In order to do that, we are born with sexual drives which are intended to lead to our reproducing.  The intellectually based institutions we have established to see that we accomplish this, such as marriage, are incidental to the pleasurable sexual activity which drives us to actually perform the intended task.

Men and women are provided with slightly different sexual drives because their roles are different. Most men are outwardly more aggressive while most women are more subtle in their approach to the acts leading to reproduction.  Both, however, consciously or not, direct their behavior at reproducing the most desirable progeny.  That is why men chase after what they consider to be pretty women.  That is why women take steps to become attractive to men, and select from among the ones they attract, the ones they feel will produce the most desirable offspring.  Look at the eyeliner even ancient Egyptian women wore!  What was that all about?  Why are businesses such as Sephora or Victoria’s Secret so successful?
 
Whole industries (men’s and women’s apparel, cosmetics, fitness, weight loss, jewelry, fragrances, nail salons, beauticians and barber shops, for starters) are devoted to taking advantage of this drive and making money from it.  Women want to attract men and men do not want to be rejected by the women to whom they are attracted.   Both want to look good!  Even look “sexy.”

And when someone looks in a mirror and asks “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is fairest of them all,” they don’t give a damn what the mirror thinks, it’s what someone of the opposite sex thinks.  Even if we do not consciously act this way and sincerely believe we might be merely grooming well to please only ourselves and our families, that behavior is initially conditioned by our built-in sexual drive.



Biology, recognizing that failure to reproduce or producing offspring not surviving long enough to reproduce can cause the demise of a species, provides creatures with an overabundant sexual drive in order to maximize reproduction. Although unnecessary for homo sapiens for a variety of reasons, we still are provided with that overabundant sexual drive.  That’s where problems start. 

The drive is there long before the social institution of marriage comes into play and it remains long after the reproductive role in marriage is fulfilled.  It is there among those who never marry or do not reproduce.  Outlets for this excessive drive are found to be acceptable or unacceptable in varying degrees.  They run the gamut from the innocence of gay and lesbian relationships and various out-of-wedlock relationships to the harmful evils of pedophilia and bestiality with a middle ground which includes adultery, prostitution, pornography, masturbation, celibacy, polygamy, sexual harassment, rape or combinations of one or more of these outlets.  This is nothing new.  The Bible refers to them frequently.  

Harvey Weinstein
Usually these outlets for excess sexual drive are referred to in the context of males, but they apply to women as well, although one hears less about that. Think about this when you hear about business executives and politicians whose careers have been affected by their involvement in some of these outlets for excess sexual drive.  

One of the challenges faced by today's engineers and scientists is harnessing this almost universal overabundance of human sexual drive and using it in the development of self-driving automobiles.
JL




Butterfly Report


Over the past few years there has been a reduction in the number of visits by the beautiful Monarch butterflies which we had been used to frequently seeing.  Aware of the migratory habits of the Monarch butterfly, scientists have attributed this to the deforestation of certain areas of Mexico where some Monarchs winter, the change in weather patterns which we have been experiencing and finally, the use of herbicides throughout the country, particularly in Midwestern agriculture, which, along with other undesirable plants, eliminates milkweed from fields and roadsides.  Without milkweed, Monarchs will not breed.

I had stripped down most of my butterfly plants due to our Florida community’s recent house painting project.  I did leave a few milkweeds which had grown from seeds naturally dropped to the earth from earlier years’ plants.  Afterwards, I planted about four new milkweed plants.  (Although new milkweed plants will provide leaves as nourishment for Monarch caterpillars and regrow leaves when a plant’s leaves are is devoured, the plant will not produce and drop its own seeds for reproduction until it is about three years old.)

Over the past few weeks, there have been occasional Monarch caterpillars lunching on my milkweed plants. Earlier this week there were at least four.  I have even spotted a couple of green chrysalises (cocoons) which these caterpillars turn into, and which give birth to the actual butterflies, but my sightings of Monarch butterflies have been few and far between.  I think there is more to their disappearance than the three reasons mentioned above.  Could it be the Chinese or the Russians?

Meanwhile, growth on my passion flower vines is progressing.  They have already produced a few blossoms.  I anticipate seeing some Gulf Fritillary butterflies, which they attract, in a few months.   I continue to see Broadwing Zebras, but I really cannot identify where they are breeding.  They are very secretive.  My dutchman’s pipevine is now fully re-grown and I have seen one or two Goldrimmed Swallowtails, which breed on that plant.  Finally, my Wild Lime tree has managed to breed a few magnificent Giant Swallowtails, which I hope will continue.

Although butterflies do not lay eggs on them, I have a profusion of blue blossomed porterweed around the house.  These attract bees, moths and butterflies, all of which stop by to taste the nectar of the flowers.  Once there, I hope the butterflies choose to lay their eggs on their appropriate host plants, which I hope I have provided for them nearby. 

Three years ago, after being provided with a listing of the plants in my butterfly garden, and the butterflies I had spotted there, the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs provided me with a Official Florida Butterfly Sanctuary certificate for my garden.  (It is displayed on my patio.)  I would hope that within a year or so, my plantings will enable it to once again function on that level.
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 sending me an email at Riart1@aol.com.

HOW TO CONTACT ME or CONTRIBUTE MATERIAL TO JACKSPOTPOURRI.com 
Contact me by email at Riart1@aol.com.   YOU ALSO CAN SEND ME YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO BE PUBLISHED IN THIS BLOG AS WELL AS YOUR COMMENTS AT THAT ADDRESS.  (Comments can also be made by clicking on the "Post a Comment" link at the blog's end, though few followers of the blog have done that lately.)

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 




Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Blueberries, Judge Kavanaugh, the Neuse River, Florida Politics and a Chess Endgame


A Blueberry Tariff? 

I read recently where Florida blueberry growers were hoping that the President would add blueberries to the list of American products protected from foreign competitors.  In most instances where tariffs are imposed, comparable well-priced domestic products are not available so the imports continue with the tariff being passed on to the consumer. That amounts to a tax!  Often, tariffs have nothing to do with supply and demand but are only a retaliatory tool in an economic struggle.  That's what is going on today between us and China.  

Well, blueberries are different.  There are plenty of blueberry growers in the United States, but it costs them more to grow and bring their product to market than their foreign (usually Mexican, Peruvian or Chilean) competitor does.  Hence, they want protection.

Well, I add a handful of blueberries to my breakfast cereal every day!  That makes me an expert!  Sometimes, I’m puzzled over why the container of berries which I buy is either a shallow one or a deeper one, and why, regardless of the container size, the price is always $4.99, $3.99 or rarely $2.99, never anything in between . In local stores, the source of the berries varies.  I always take note of where my blueberries come from.  Over the past few months, my blueberries have come from Florida, New Jersey, North Carolina, Michigan, Mexico and most recently, Peru.  By far the tastiest and longest-lasting berries (regardless of their origin, usually a few at the very bottom of the containers don’t make it) I have enjoyed are the Peruvian ones.  They are the very best!  I am against tariffs on foreign blueberries.   If Florida farmers cannot make a living raising them, they should switch to another crop, or sell their land to real estate developers.
Jack Lippman 



Kavanaugh

Did he or didn't he?
Opposition to the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court bench now centers of charges of sexual molestation during his teenage years.  This is out of left field on the part of Democrats.  That’s why it wasn’t brought up earlier.  Doing it now is like using a pinch hitter in the last of the ninth.  Whether true or not, and that will be very difficult to determine, it is the kind of thing that in other times would not even come to light and if it did, normally would not carry very much weight in the confirmation process.  But these are not normal times.

Mitch McConnell played a dirty game when he refused to even entertain President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the late Justice Scalia’s seat on the Court and stalled until a Republican was in the White House.   The Democrats are therefore entitled to return his favor and play just as dirty in their opposition to Kavanaugh and do whatever they can to stall his confirmation until they have a possible majority in the Senate or even lacking that, an election victory in November demonstrating a popular distrust of anything the President and his lackeys in Congress do.

McConnell
Most Senate Republican blindly follow McConnell’s leadership because they fear primary challenges from their party’s extreme right, which the President has in his pocket because of his appeal to millions of gullible Americans. (More about that later.).  When you play dirty, chickens come home to roost, Mitch!    Sad thing is that if Kavanaugh withdraws or fails getting confirmed, Trump’s replacement appointee, again drawn from the Federalist Society’s approved list, would be just as objectionable to Democrats as is Kavanaugh. 

One factor favorable to Democrats is that the behavior of the Republicans in regard to Kavanaugh only serves to strengthen the appeal of Democrats to women voters.  I’ve even seen replays of Anita Hill’s lurid testimony which failed to prevent Clarence Thomas from getting on the Court in 1991.  That would not even be on TV again, reminding women of supposed Republican attitudes toward them, were it not for the Kavanaugh ruckus.

Regarding the President, his background regarding relationships with women is such that under normal circumstances, Evangelical Christians and other religious conservatives would abhor him.  But in 2016, and right now, holding their noses, they support him only because of his pledge to put an anti-abortion Justice on the Supreme Court. In the unlikely circumstance where the Democrats somehow manage to prevent that from happening, Evangelical support for Trump will evaporate.  They would have no reason to support him.

JL





 
The Sewer in the Middle of North Carolina 

The 275 mile long Neuse River is not a major river by national standards.  It is not in the class of the Mississippi, the Colorado or even the Hudson Rivers.  But it is still the longest “major” river in North Carolina. 

It was in the headlines a few years back when its function as a sewage facility, carrying the waste materials from hundreds of hog farms out to sea, contaminating the land on its banks along the way, hit the headlines.  Attempts to remedy the situation have been made but with minimal success in North Carolina, a state of environmental deniers.  The flooding caused by Hurricane Florence’s rainstorms has worsened the situation, leaving rotting carcasses of drowned animals, both domesticated and wild, to add to the danger already posed by the established flow of hog excrement in the Neuse.  This is a very big problem.


But it’s good to know that at least one person, the President of the United States, is concerned with the crisis in North Carolina!  As reported in the Charlotte Observer, Trump asked about the storm’s effect upon Lake Norman, which is managed by Duke Energy, but which is some distance from the Neuse.  Duke’s CEO told him that the lake was good but got a lot of rain, according to a briefing  released by the White House.  “I love that area,” Trump was quoted as saying. “I can’t tell you why, but I love that area.” 
(Lake Norman, is home to the Trump National Golf Club, an 18-hole golf course with “world class country club amenities,” according to its website.) 
It never ends, does it?
JL




Floriduh Politics 

The biggest asset that the Republicans running at the top of their ticket in Florida have is the endorsement of the President.  Without that, Rick Scott (running for the Senate) is just another conservative candidate with a lot of oppressive baggage.  Ron DeSantis (running for Governor) is a big nothing whose only appeal is to those on the far right of his party.  Ah, but they both have more wisdom than Donald Trump. Neither of them agreed with his attack on the George Washington University study, commissioned by the government of Puerto Rico, which greatly increased the number of deaths resulting from Hurricane Maria last year.  (There are a lot of Puerto Rican voters in Florida.)  

As a result, the President’s support for them has cooled and his base may react accordingly and cannot be counted on as they were when these two candidates were fully in agreement with Trump’s lies and fabrications.

And speaking of the Florida races, DeSantis remains on the low road.  After bringing racism into the contest by criticizing the ideas of Democrat Andrew Gillum’s programs as programs which he suggested can “monkey up” things, he has made a blatant appeal to Jewish voters, of which there are about 600,000 in Florida. He is attempting to tie Gillum to the pro-Palestinian agenda of some on the Democratic far left, including those advocating a boycott of Israeli goods. Gillum of course strongly denies this.  

Gillum
Not all Jewish voters, this blogger included, buy into Bibi Netanyahu’s right-wing positions (necessary to maintain his majority in the Knesset) which delay a real solution in Israel, and that includes moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.  Although a governor has little to do with it, Andrew Gillum is for a two state solution there and opposes steps which serve to prevent that from happening.  That's no sin.  DeSantis thinks Jewish voters are “one issue” voters.  They are not.  And Gillum, a politician, while a strong supporter of the State of Israel, is not going to go overboard to alienate Democratic voters on the extreme left. 
JL



Endgame for the President

Like the last phase of a chess match, the President is slowly being deprived of available options to avoid a loss.  The best he can hope for is a “stalemate,” but he cannot win.  He has already lost too many of his key pieces (Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen) to salvage a victory.  If you look closely, there are beads of sweat on his brow.

His opposing player, Robert Mueller, still has his key pieces in place on the chessboard.  That is why the President is attempting to get them removed from the board.  Right now, his efforts are directed toward eliminating the “recused” Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, and his second-in-command at the Department of Justice, Rod Rosenstein. (Consider them to be “rooks” in chess terminology.)  Rosenstein is accused of privately talking about, but not acting on, some extreme tactics to counter the President’s actions.  That may be enough to wipe him from the board.  Trump is also trying to eliminate his opponent’s “pawns,” the FBI, by discrediting that agency’s normal and routine operating procedures and demanding access to the confidential information essential to any law enforcement agency’s operation.  Their “bishops” (Comey and McCabe) have already been captured and taken off of the board.

And when it comes down to deciding whether the game will end with the President being the victim of a “checkmate” or a “stalemate,” that well may be left up to the Supreme Court.  They will decide whether the President can also capture his opponent’s “queen,” which is the report which Robert Mueller’s investigation ultimately makes, eliminating that from the board as well.  This is really, in addition to abortion, what the battle over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is about.  

Of course, if the Supreme Court rules against Trump, he can always kick over the chessboard and say that he makes the rules and the game is over.  Demonstrations and bloodshed might follow.  It’s that serious.
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 sending me an email at Riart1@aol.com.

HOW TO CONTACT ME or CONTRIBUTE MATERIAL TO JACKSPOTPOURRI.com 
Contact me by email at Riart1@aol.com.   YOU ALSO CAN SEND ME YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO BE PUBLISHED IN THIS BLOG AS WELL AS YOUR COMMENTS AT THAT ADDRESS.  (Comments can also be made by clicking on the "Post a Comment" link at the blog's end, though few followers of the blog have done that lately.)

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, September 17, 2018

Andrew Gillum, The Swiveling Menorah, Medicare Choices, Seven Questions for Republicans, Your Garbage Disposal and a Book Review (The Death of Democracy in Germany)





Andrew’s Turn

In our last posting we devoted a lot of space to the abysmal record of Ron DeSantis who with the endorsement of President Trump is running for governor of Florida.  This week it’s Andrew Gillum’s turn.  Here are ten great reasons, from the pen of Mike Gentry, for voting for Gillum to be the next governor of the Sunshine State.

Ten Reasons to Vote For Andrew Gillum For Governor

Criminal Justice Reform: Andrew believes that after someone pays the penalty for their mistake, they should be given a second chance. He supports the legalization of marijuana in order to generate new revenue to pay for teacher and instructional staff pay increases and to reduce the mass incarceration of people with low-level drug offenses.

Economy and Jobs: Nearly half of Florida’s households struggle to make ends meet, and as the son of a bus driver and construction worker, Andrew knows firsthand what it’s like to have your parents choose between which bills to pay before a service gets cut off.  As Governor, he will address the devastating inequality that has hurt our working families, who are forced to live paycheck to paycheck and feel that the opportunity to get ahead isn’t available to them anymore.
Education: Andrew believes a quality, public education is still the best path to equal opportunity, but that Florida’s education reform has been a failure. Our education system and its over-reliance on high-stakes testing has failed our children, our parents, our teachers and our state. He has proposed a $1 billion investment in our public schools, students, and teachers to boost early childhood education, raise teachers’ starting salaries to $50,000, restore public school construction funds, and increase SHOP 2.0 vocational training.
The Environment: Andrew believes that climate change is a real and urgent threat. Politicians like Donald Trump, who call it a “hoax,” and Governor Rick Scott, who banned the words “climate change” and “global warming,” are putting us and future generations of Floridians at risk. These politicians have failed to take action against climate change, with Florida having the most property at risk in the nation.
Gun Safety: Andrew is the only candidate who has fought the powerful gun lobby in court and won. He has beaten the gun lobby, including the National Rifle Association, to protect a law that bans firing a weapon in a city park.  In the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy, Andrew led the charge for more common-sense gun safety policies including a ban on assault weapons, large capacity magazines, and bump stocks; strengthening and requiring universal background checks for all gun sales; and banning the purchase and possession of armor piercing bullets.
Health Care: Andrew believes that healthcare should be a fundamental right, not a privilege. Instead, extreme politicians refuse to acknowledge that Floridians struggle every day to keep themselves and their families from going bankrupt due to the lack or cost of healthcare. Andrew believes that Senator Sanders’ Medicare for All plan will help lower costs and expand coverage to more Floridians. Gillum has promised to fight the new health care premium increases that are a result of President Trump, Rick Scott and Congressional Republicans trying to attack Obamacare.
Immigration: Immigrants strengthen our society and have played a vital role in Florida becoming one of the leading economic states in the Union. Andrew is the only candidate for Governor who opposed both Donald Trump and Rick Scott’s policies that target immigrants.  During the child separation crisis, he spoke out loudly and forcefully against the Trump Administration’s inhumane and cruel zero-tolerance policy that separated young children from their parents. Gillum held Rick Scott and the Republicans accountable for their silence during this fight, and demanded Rick Scott support S. 3036, the Keeping Families Together Act.
LGTBQ Rights: Andrew has always been a staunch supporter of LGBTQ rights during his years as a public leader. As a City Commissioner, Gillum led the charge to expand domestic partner benefits for City employees. As Mayor, when more than a dozen counties were refusing to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Florida, Gillum raised his voice in opposition and extended an invitation for couples to get married in Florida’s capital – Tallahassee.
Women’s Rights: When women succeed, Florida succeeds. As Governor, Andrew would support the state legislature ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment. Florida should make it clear that civil rights will not be denied based on gender.  Andrew believes Florida must have Equal Pay for Equal Work, so women are given an equal opportunity to succeed at every level.  A Gillum administration will work to protect and encourage women-owned businesses and hire the best and brightest women to help lead our state forward.
Puerto Rico: Mayor Gillum is proud to stand with our fellow citizens from Puerto Rico — both as they recover in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, and as they strive for better-paying jobs, better-funded schools, and a state that puts everyday people first.  Andrew will stand in the gap for our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters to advocate for new federal legislation and assistance.
Jack Lippman


The “God Squad”

The “God Squad” was a TV program and a weekly newspaper column hosted by Rabbi Marc Gellman and the late Monsignor Tom Hartman.  (The two of them authored the popular book, “Religion for Dummies.”) Gellman continues the column; it appears each Friday in the Palm Beach Post.

In this season, many Jews’ observance of the High Holidays unfortunately does not include attendance at a temple or synagogue where they might be exposed to a sermon by a Rabbi.  By clicking right here though, they might find that role filled by Rabbi Gellman’s words from last week’s column.  Easy reading; nothing heavy! (Until you start thinking about it.)  And others might learn something new and enjoy reading it as well.  Click right here and learn about the swiveling menorah and a country which is "a pluribus in search of a unum.”

 JL





Medicare Information 

Those who supplement their traditional Medicare (not a Medicare Advantage Plan) with a Medigap or Medicare Supplement policy are probably aware that Medicare Part B covers 80% of the Medicare approved rate for most doctor bills.  Your Supplement plan (regardless of insurance company - these plans are standardized), subject to whatever co-pays or deductibles are involved with your choice of the standardized selection of plans, pays the other 20%.   For a $400 doctor bill, that amounts to saving you $80 out of your pocket.  But that’s NOT why you have a Medicare Supplement policy!   


You have it for that operation which Medicare approves for $120,000 (which the doctor cannot argue with even though he billed for more) and pays 80% percent of that, $96,000, leaving you obligated to pay that other $24,000!  That’s what you have the Supplement for!  Not the little stuff.



But, you might ask, why not avoid the need of paying almost anything at all, including the not insubstantial cost of a Medicare Supplement, by choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan?  Good question! 

When you do that, you and your family lose the ability to decide when a referral to a physician of your choice is desirable, and the ability to select a hospital of your choice.   In some plans, you may be able to exercise these choices, but in a limited manner and usually at a higher cost than if you had remained within the choice of doctors and hospitals fully participating in the plan.

Example:  Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, the nation’s top two cancer centers, both accept Medicare and Medicare Supplement insurance but do not routinely participate in Medicare Advantage plans and usually, will not accept them as coverage, although they may accept some to a limited extent.  

Both these hospitals’ web sites recommend contact with one’s Medicare Advantage Plan beforehand to determine to what extent they may or may not provide coverage in institutions like these.  A patient with such a plan may end up in an excellent hospital but possibly not the one they would prefer.
 JL





Questions for Republicans

Seven questions for Republicans, whether in Congress or out among the population of these United States:

(1)  Would you want your children to grow up to be like Donald Trump?

(2)  Would you approve of your daughter dating, or considering marrying, a man like Donald Trump?

(3)  What do you call a “witch hunt” that ends up catching real witches?

(4) Who, in you Party, was responsible for “vetting” now-admitted criminals like Paul Manafort, Paul Papadapoulos, Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen, allowing them into the “inner sanctums” of your otherwise bankrupt Party? 

(5)  Why were these soon-to-be-proven criminals even issued credentials to be admitted to Republican campaign events?  Terrorists wouldn’t have been admitted to the G.O.P.’s 2016 Cleveland convention, yet these criminals were.  Who knew and who didn’t know?

(6)   Why the hell are you still supporting Trump and his few remaining supporters in Congress who are cowering in fear of a primary attack from the right?   Think about that the next time you feel like joining him in screaming “Make America Great Again.”  

(7)  Are you a real American or something else?  Many Trump supporters indeed are “something else.”  Most Republicans really are true Americans but are afraid to admit it.  If they look around them, they will find that most Republicans think just like they doSo why don’t YOU all step up and support “Impeachment, Conviction and Exile” (to Patagonia) for Donald?  (The Chileans or Argentinians who control the place might vomit at the thought of having him there, but it must be considered.)  Ivanka, Jared and Donald, Jr. will probably be welcome in Israel, at least by Bibi.  That has probably been long arranged.
JL

A Kitchen Hint

And while on the subject of cleaning out filth, have you ever considered cleaning your kitchen sink garbage disposal unit?  




It should be done periodically.  Not a big job either.   Check out your unit’s manual or Click right here.  


JL





A Book Review - It Happened in Germany Not So Long Ago

Ideas gotten from books are never equaled by what appears on the internet, on television or in theatres.  Books can be read, re-read and digested, deeply thought about or just skimmed over.  It is the reader’s choice.  The more transitory nature of other media lessens their impact and places them on a level lower than books.

Historian Benjamin Carter Hett’s 2018 book, “The Death of Democracy,” chronicles Adolf Hitler’s rise to power and the downfall of the Weimar Republic, the government which ruled Germany from the end of the First World War until 1932.  While very readable, the detail it provides about the many personalities, political parties, economic forces and ethnic and social groups which populated Germany in those years might be a bit boring to some.  Nevertheless, this is a book which should be on your reading list.  How high on that list, of course, is up to you.

Right now, here are some quotes from “The Death of Democracy” which might interest you.  They might even tempt you to read the entire book.
    “One of the challenges of understanding what the Nazi movement was all about comes from a basic fact of politics.  The Nazis were politicians: like all politicians, including fascists in other countries, they moved into the political space that was available to them, and their programs evolved to fit the supporters they attracted.” (page 98) 

Permit me to add that in those days, the 1920’s, “Nazi” was not yet the synonym for evil which that word later became.  It was merely a shortening of the party’s full name – the National Socialists. (It was a party of “anti’s,” anti-capitalist, anti-communist, anti-Semitic, anti-intellectual … and became a home for those with many such hatreds.)

Quoting the words spoken in 1932 by Kurt Schumacher, eventually the Social Democratic Party’s leader both before and immediately after World War Two, “The whole National Socialist agitation is a constant appeal to the inner swine in human beings.  If we recognize anything at all about National Socialism, it is the fact that it has succeeded for the first time in German politics in completely mobilizing human stupidity.” (page 128)

     The burning of the Reichstag in 1933, probably the work of Nazi arsonists to justify their cracking down violently on their opponents, was a matter of dispute at the time. Hett quotes a German woman writing to her daughter in Holland and who “noted with approval that a Social Democratic editor had been arrested because he had told the foreign press that the Nazis might have set fire to the Reichstag.  One need not be surprised any longer, she continued, that such false news about the National Socialists is always being spread by the foreign press.” (page 193)  Supporters of the Nazis always considered unfavorable news about the Party to be “false news.”

In 1932, the various conservative movements in Germany, unwilling to work with the more liberal Social Democrats, concluded that they needed the support of the Nazis to remain in power.  

They thought they could temporarily use Hitler, who had the support of millions of Germans, to their advantage, even while recognizing the despicable nature of his party’s agenda.  Sadly, the reverse turned out to be true and once given a foothold in the government, the Nazis quickly destroyed German democracy.  Contributing to this was the practice of German political parties of having some sort of ceremonial paramilitary adjunct, which potentially armed them with something more than mere rhetoric.  The Nazis had their “stormtroopers” and did not hesitate to use them in dealing violently with their opponents.

At this point, it’s time to recall the advice of philosopher George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."  These words have frequently been applied to the lessons of history.
JL



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