Saturday, April 27, 2019

Tragedy in Sri Lanka, Impeachment (?), Butterfly Update, Immigration Solution, Two Great Columns and a Song to Sing





Sri Lanka Massacre … Echo of Outrageous Behavior in the Name of God


There’s nothing wrong with believing in God in whatever manner one chooses.  Organized religions offer a vast menu of choices in ways to do this.  Even available is a basic belief in some sort of original “power” or “creator” of the universe in which we live, or even the denial of the existence of any deity whatsoever, which in itself can be a kind of faith. 

Muslim extremits attacked churches
in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing hundreds of people
But one thing is for certain. “God” … or whatever religious choice one may make … does not sanction, approve of, authorize nor welcome acts of violence by its believers against those who believe other than the way they do. Anyone’s “God” is a creator and not a destroyer!  

And going a bit further, “clergy” (if one's "faith" has such leaders) should tend to their own flocks and out of respect for what others believe (or choose not to believe), should not criticize nor attempt to convert them.  That too can lead to violence on the part of their followers!   Parts of any “holy” books which say otherwise  are to be condemned and that includes parts if the Bible and of the Koran.


Certain passages, despite any historical religious significance they might have, do not have pertinence today.  Clergy should take note of this and have the courage to say it.  If they do not, they share the guilt of perpetrators of those acts, who, whatever faith they profess to follow, represent evil, and this is doubly so when that belief is tied to or masks a secular cause.

Jack Lippman


Impeachment –   Fuhgeddaboudit! 


It is a certainty that the Democrats have enough votes in the House of Representatives to pass Articles of Impeachment regarding the President.  All that is required there is a simple majority.  In the Senate, however, a two-thirds vote is needed to convict the President, finalizing his removal from office.  That means that, assuming all 45 Democratic Senators and the two Independent Senators vote to convict, at least 20 more votes are needed. 

These 20 votes would have to come from among the 53 Republican Senators. Twenty-two of these Republican seats are up for re-election in 2020.  Therefore, it is very safe to assume that fact eliminates their 22 votes because, in their re-election races, these Senators will not give up the votes of Trump supporters in their states.

That leaves 31 Republican Senators, none of whom are up for re-election in 2020, from which to gather the 20 additional votes needed for impeachment.  Most are strong conservatives, blindly loyal to their party, and highly unlikely to support impeachment.  Therefore, any talk of impeachment by Democrats is a waste of time and energy.  A simpler road to getting rid of "Cheatin' Donald" would be his defeat at the polls in 2020, 

and his eventual criminal indictment once his cloak of Presidential immunity is removed.  Material in the Mueller Report is sufficient for that. 

(The only way that this picture might change, moving at least 20 G.O.P. Senators to join with the Democrats in voting for impeachment, is for upcoming Congressional hearings to reveal hitherto unknown behavior and acts on the part of “Cheatin’ Donald” so reprehensible and indefensible that even Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham and most of all, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, will become strong advocates of impeachment.  That is extremely unlikely.  Don’t bet on it happening.) So, Fuhgeddaboudit!

Meanwhile, Democrats should concentrate on those issues which can make things better for most Americans:

1.    better health care,
2.    better educational opportunities,
3.    better job opportunities,
4.    better consumer protection,
5.    better financial oversight of money matters,
6.    tax reform to preserve Social Security and Medicare, and
7.  repairing and improving our nation’s infrastructure to provide better transportation, roads, power, water and recreational options.

As for “Cheatin’ Donald,” who is now busy figuring out how to obstruct Congress, and get the courts to go along with him (a distinct possibility), it’s best to “Fuhgeddaboud – him” and concentrate on the paragraph in blue directly above.  Attacking him is like punching a pillow.  He is insulated by his lies and those of his acolytes.
JL


Two Excellent Times Columns - Krugman and Dowd


Back on April 18, the New York Times included a column by Paul Krugman which poked at the heart of what is increasingly becoming the crux of a problem in our economy, the inequality in the distribution of our nation’s wealth.  When the owners of a company have an income far in excess of 300 times what his or her typical employee earns, it is time to start worrying.  (And what is worse, I might add, is when the business involved is one dealing in “money” such as banking or investments, rather than in the goods or non-financial services which add to the nation’s wealth. All they do is merely manipulate money.)  Although Krugman doesn’t go that far, (which I do) I believe such inequities ultimately feed revolutionary sentiments, for better or for worse, among the population. They are the fuel which drives the rise of despots.  Read this column by CLICKING HERE:


And now that you’re into “clicking” on links, take a look at Maureen Dowd’s April 20 New York Times column, in which she praises former White House Counsel Don McGahn for telling the truth about Donald Trump in the Mueller Report but also points out that he was instrumental in guaranteeing decades more of a conservative, anti-regulatory, Supreme Court by promoting Gorsuch’s and Kavanaugh’s appointments to the Court.  The moral, if any, I might add, is “be wary of Republicans, even ones that might occasionally behave honestly.”  CLICK HERE FOR THE ARTICLE.
JL


News from the Butterfly Garden


While there has been little resurgence of the beautiful Monarch butterflies, which are having trouble nation-wide, other species are now appearing occasionally in the garden.  The key is having the “host plants’ there on which they can lay their eggs, producing caterpillars which eventually molt into cocoons and finally, burst open, releasing the butterfly.  I’ve seen many Monarch caterpillars, but few if any reach the butterfly stage, even after voraciously devouring the leaves from my milkweed, their host plant.  

But otherwise, here’s the story:

Two of my Sulphur
Butterfly Caterpillars
My passionflower (passiflora suberosa and passiflora incarnata) vines have been successfully hosting gulf fritillary and broadwing zebra butterflies.  The dutchman’s pipevine is occasionally hosting the black, yellow fringed polydamas swallowtail butterfly.  Finally, the senna (cassia) bush I put in a few months ago has successfully hosted the garden’s initial appearance of the orange-barred sulphur butterfly’s caterpillar and one has actually produced a beautiful butterfly seen last week in the garden (or perhaps she was a visitor, attracted by the plant, and which laid the eggs from which the caterpillars hatched).

JL





My Southern Border Solution


Have you read about the private armed militias patrolling the Southern border and actually capturing refugees seeking asylum?   This is crazy.  It’s time to repeal the Second Amendment and arrest these apparently well-financed nut jobs who feel it justifies their taking the law into their own hands.  If you examine what their leadership says, theoretically, they are willing to militarily oppose the Government of the United States when they disagree with its policies.  They believe the Constitution allows them to do so. They are criminals.  And while on the subject of the Southern Border, here is my take on what has to be done to handle the immigrant crisis there, and it cannot be denied that there is one.

Historically, with some notable exceptions, the United States welcomes those seeking asylum from a country where their lives and existence are in danger.  Many approach our Southern border for that purpose.  Some wait in line at legal points of entry to state their case for asylum and others request asylum when captured by our Border Patrol entering elsewhere.  I believe those in the latter category should be moved to legal points of entry and instructed to wait in line behind those already there.  
Immigrants in line at Southern border entry point

Solution rests with Congress


To expedite this process, Congress must allocate the funds necessary to establish and staff many more additional facilities to promptly process those seeking asylum and appoint the many additional judges needed to hear their pleas and adjudicate their cases.  This entire process should take no more than a week; therefore, reasonable facilities (not jails nor cages) for temporarily housing these immigrants during that period need not be extensive.

Of course, families should not be separated, and immigrants should not, as is the present practice, be admitted pending a court date, which might be months if not years away.  Often, once admitted, they disappear into our population and are lost track of.   No more than a week in a comfortable holding facility is not too great of an imposition to ask of these immigrants.

At points of entry other than on our Mexican Border, this process is much quicker and does not require housing, and ultimately, that is the way it will be there too, once entry facilities are expanded.  Historically, immigrants waited for admission at Ellis Island in New York Harbor, and before that, at Castle Garden, so a week’s delay at our Southern border should not be a great imposition.  But Congress must act quickly with the funding to expand the physical, staffing and judicial aspects or our immigration process. Delay only makes the problem worse.

The cost of doing this properly would be much less than the cost of building and maintaining walls or fences along our borders, the effectiveness of which is questionable. (Claims of the successes of the walls in Israel and the cold-war wall in Berlin are not good comparisons. They were in mostly urban settings.  Our Southern border is mostly rural, desert and mountainous.)

Finally, our government should attack the reasons these immigrants are seeking asylum through humanitarian and diplomatic means in the countries from which they come, and all of the above ideas should be promoted on a bi-partisan basis in Congress.

JL




A Musical Interlude

Here are the lyrics of a song I heard the other evening.  It is reminiscent of the kind of folk music with political messages popular in the middle of the last century:

The Ballad of “Cheatin’ Donald”

Sung while strumming a guitar (or at least pretending to).  Chorus is sort of like “Davie Crockett.” Verse is something like “Sweet Betsy from Pike.”  (And in today’s musical environment, it might fit in with rap or hip hop as well.)




Oh, he cheats on his taxes,
He cheats on his wives,
But the hammer of justice never arrives,
He don’t pay his bills,
He’ll fight you in court,
When you try to collect, the amount he wuz short.

Cheatin’, Cheatin’ Donald, a pro at the old con game

Do things his way,
Or you’re right out the door,
The rule of law, he prefers to ignore,
To Liberty’s gates,
He’ll add ste-el locks,
That’s what he learned, from watching Fox.

Cheatin’, Cheatin’ Donald, a pro at the old con game

To keep his guys happy,
He’s got all the tools,
So long as they let him, he makes all the rules,
They buy into
His big song and dance,
Blaming their pain on those damn immigrants.

Cheatin’, Cheatin’ Donald, a pro at the old con game

The problems of plain folks,
He’d good at ignorin’,
Like health costs which are, eternally soarin’,
But give him a despot,
With ty-rannical power,
To be his buddy and b’fore whom to cower.

Cheatin’, Cheatin’ Donald, a pro at the old con game

He pours it on thick,
Like with real estate,
Though it involves, our nation’s fate,
But sooner or later,
Our laws he’ll obey,
Or get himself locked up at, Gwan ton a mo Bay.

Cheatin’, Cheatin’ Donald, a pro at the old con game

Oh, he’ll cheat on his taxes,
He’ll cheat on his wives,
Till the day that hammer, of justice arrives,
I don’t give a damn, what will be his fate,
But I only hope that, it won’t come too late! 

Cheatin’, Cheatin’ Donald, a pro at the old con game

JL



HOW TO BE ALERTED TO FUTURE BLOG POSTINGS.
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HOW TO VIEW OLDER POSTINGS.                                                
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Jack Lippman 





Saturday, April 20, 2019

Insulting Names, an Early Warning, the Mueller Report, Impeachment, Looking Forward to 2020, Kathleen Parker on Trump and Notre Dame and the Survival of our Planet





Name Calling Ain't Nice

Most of you are aware that the President takes pleasure in adding insulting adjectives to the names of people he dislikes.  Examples are “Crooked Hillary,” “Crazy Bernie” and “Little Marco.”  Conversely, most Democrats are too civil to start referring to the President as “Cheatin’ Donald,” which I will do throughout this posting.  That would be totally accurate in view of his repeated marital infidelities. 

Remember that while Hillary Clinton is not a “crook,”  that while Bernie Sanders has all of his wits about him and that while Marco Rubio is 5’9” tall, “Cheatin’ Donald” was actually sleeping with Marla while married to Ivana, and has committed adultery with both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. “Cheatin’ Donald” should learn to keep his mouth shut.
Jack Lippman
  



Early Warning and Not About Hurricanes

It will be too late to save democracy in the United States if we reach the point where a Trumpian Executive branch has so manipulated the Department of Justice and its Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other Federal law enforcement agencies, that they become tools of the Administration’s political agenda.  Such an occurrence would amount to a disregard of our Constitution and would be possible only with the acquiescence or impotency of the Legislative and Judicial branches of our government.  If this politized control ever extended even further and involved the armed forces, the game would be over … and Americans would be wise to consider emigration, if it were still possible, to friendlier democratic nations where they might seek asylum.  Scary, isn’t it.  That’s why your political involvement is necessary today to prevent this from happening.
JL



Mueller Report and the Thought of Impeachment

Barr, Who Violated his Oath of Office
Attorney General Barr forgot that his oath of office was to the Constitution and not to “Cheatin’ Donald.” He provided a cushion for the Mueller report which despite its heavy redactions was loaded with evidence of the pitiful level to which the President had sunk, but nevertheless which would not meet the exacting standards required in a court of law to convict any defendant who had hired a half-way competent attorney.  Those high standards, however, will not apply in the ultimate court of jurisdiction in this action, the voice of the American voter in 2020.

The real question, now, is whether they will be able to see enough of Mueller’s actual findings to counteract the sanitized version of which the President’s hand-picked Attorney General spoke before the redacted documents were released last Thursday.

Many voters will not be capable of seeing beyond that.  That’s why, as I recommended in earlier postings, that the Democrats not focus on “Cheatin’ Donald” in 2020 and concentrate on bread and butter issues like health care, real jobs to replace those lost to technology and cheap overseas labor and tax relief for other than the wealthy.

                                                            *   *   *


As for the question of impeachment, right now, many Democrats feel that there is enough in the Mueller Report, despite its redactions, to establish a pathway to impeachment of the President.  Although I have endorsed impeachment in the past,  I now disagree.  There is no doubt that the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives can pass Articles of Impeachment, but it is very doubtful that the two-thirds vote needed to convict in the Senate can be reached.  Remember, the Republicans nominated and have, by and large, stood by “Cheatin’ Donald.”  

Failure to convict in the Senate will only give the Republicans an opportunity to scream out to America that the true “facts’ are those broadcast daily on Fox News and the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC just represent “fake news.” (In 1998, failure by the Senate to convict Bill Clinton of the House-passed Articles of Impeachment served to strengthen his position among the population.)

So long as Republican Senators are beholden to “Cheatin’ Donald” to avoid primary challenges from the right, and insure the support of his base on Election Day, the issue of impeachment should be avoided by Democrats.  Remember, many an election has been lost in this country by candidates who overestimated the intelligence of the American people.  So it goes with impeachment.  

The issues laid out above along with the grim shadow the Mueller Report sheds on the President are sufficient to get him out of office in 2020.   Impeachment is too great a risk to take.  Its likely defeat in the Senate would hand the Republicans a potent weapon.

JL





Looking Forward to 2020

And speaking of that election, the major 2020 strategy of “Cheatin’ Donald” and his dutiful Republican followers includes three specific tactics at this point:

Look for more of this
(1) continued emphasis on the danger to the nation’s security and economy posed by immigrants being allowed to try to enter the United States under the guise of seeking asylum under our existing laws,

(2) trying to sow dissention in the Democratic Party, specifically by questioning the patriotism of progressive Democrats, particularly those with Muslim backgrounds, and by reducing the traditional support of Jews for that party by unrealistic endorsement of anything Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu does, and

(3) continued attacking of the press and media which he had specifically accused of being an “enemy of the people.”  "Cheatin' Donald," of course, excludes Fox News from this label.

To blunt these tactics, and defeat the strategy of “Cheatin’ Donald,” the Democrats have one weapon.  That is the “truth.”  Truth is an absolute, not a relative thing.  Failing to recognize it as such results in events such as the current spread of measles among the unvaccinated, who chose to believe in internet-spread fictions rather than scientifically proven truths.  

There may be many “truths” in religion, for example, where different people may have varying beliefs in the nature of the Deity, or even denying that one exists, but that is a matter of faith, which takes over when truth is unprovable.  But this does not extend to politics where "truths" cannot be as ambivalent as they are in matters of faith.  “Cheatin’ Donald’s” strategy also includes the tactic of undermining truth by confusing it with “alternate facts.”  (Donald, the world is not flat, although there may be a significant number of its inhabitants who believe it is.  Some of them will also contract measles.)

All the more, this emphasizes the need for Democrats to concentrate their efforts on bread and butter issues, as described in the article directly above this one, rather than on "Cheatin' Donald."  Attacking him is like punching a pillow.
JL







 
Survival of our Planet – Survival of Democracy

Now let’s get serious … and in fact, frighteningly so.  Planet Earth has been around for a very long time.  And it has been hospitable to life forms for only a tiny portion of that time. Its environment has changed many times over uncountable revolutions around the sun. It took a very, very, very long time for a single cell life form such as an amoeba to appear, for plant and animal species to evolve, develop, flourish, and usually become extinct for a variety of reasons such as climate changes, cataclysmic disasters and natural predators.  Animal life in the form of man, homo sapiens, has dominated Planet Earth for only an infinitesimally minute portion of the tiny portion of its history during which any form of life whatsoever has been present. 

We live here as tenants.  We do not own the place.
All that mankind has created over that very brief period, our literature, music, art, philosophy, history, technology and even our belief in a “divine” power, is miniscule and insignificant when viewed in the context of the apparently limitless universe where time and space merge and of which “our” planet is but a part.  It would be presumptuous to assume that our presence here and our dominance over the planet will last forever.  The dinosaurs were around for longer than mankind has been here, and they are long gone.  Someday, we will be too. We might be subject to a planet-wide flood or fire, be struck by a giant asteroid, we may lose the ability to feed ourselves or we may blow ourselves up.  Don’t kid yourself.  Homo sapiens is not the ultimate species.  (Some say ants might be.)

Nevertheless, it would be wise for those inhabiting our planet to take steps to guarantee the human race’s survival for as long as possible. To survive another ten thousand centuries, a mere droplet in the history of Planet Earth, would be great!  (That would be about 40,000 generations.) It probably will be much less.

Unfortunately, the steps necessary for such survival cannot be taken by a planet which is infatuated with the very, very recent and glorious idea of democracy!  With survival on the line, we cannot afford the luxury of preserving individual rights and making decisions after logical debate by thinking individuals. Democracy, while satisfying to the soul, is not well suited for taking the kinds of actions, possibly very unpleasant and costly ones, needed to prolong the survival of the human race.

To accomplish that, we will need to evolve politically into having one all-powerful technological authority in control of the entire planet, making all the rules, decisions, and taking the steps necessary to continue the efforts necessary to extend the existence and control of our planet by the human race for as long as possible.  The tool to accomplish this might take the form of some kind of artificial intelligence. Doesn’t sound nice, but that’s the way it is going to be over the next few thousand years.  Whatever happens, the ants, or someone or something, will be waiting to take over.

The following time line is approximate, but it should make it clear that we are merely the most recent tenants of this planet.

 __1_______________________2________________________________________________________________________3__4_5.  

   1. Creation of Planet Earth – 4.5 Billion Years ago    
   2. First Appearance of living cells on Earth – 3.5 Billion Years ago
   3. First Appearance of Dinosaurs on Earth – 230 Million years ago
   4. First Appearance of early Human-like Creatures – 66 Million years ago
   5. End of Stone Age – 15,000 years ago, Beginning of recorded history – 5,000 years ago.

JL


A Great Kathleen Parker Column

Parker


Tragic File at Notre Dame
Last week Kathleen Parker wrote in the Washington Post about the President of the United States and the tragic fire which destroyed most of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.  If you missed this terrific column, CLICK HERE to read it.  



(It is often difficult to set up links to Washington Post columns … they want you to subscribe … but it is indeed possible to access their columns when they are reprinted in other papers, as we’ve done here.  The same thing goes for the New York Times.  As for reproducing the columns in their entirety on the blog, I have been advised by someone at the Palm Beach Post that doing so is actually illegal, and to use links where possible instead, so that is what I do.)
 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.
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HOW TO VIEW OLDER POSTINGS.                                                
To view older postings on this blog, just click on the appropriate date in the “Blog Archive” midway down the column off to the right or scroll down until you see the “Older Posts” notation at the very bottom of this posting.  The “Search Box” in the right side of the posting also may be helpful in locating a posting topic for which you are looking. THESE FEATURES, ALONG WITH OTHER VALUABLE “SIDEBAR” ITEMS, INCLUDING ADVERTISEMENTS, MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE ON ALL MOBILE DEVICES.  CHECK THEM OUT ON YOUR DESKTOP OR LAPTOP COMPUTERS.

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