About Me

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Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired in Florida for over two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

May 19, 2024 - Justices' Spouses, Brown vs. B. of E. and 14th Amendment, Israeli Extremism, You're the Jury, Hamilton, Franklin, and Baseball Trivia

 

                             * * * 
A Solution for Mrs. Thomas and Mrs. Alito

It looks like Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s wife was the instrumental one in hanging an upside-down American flag in their yard.  She joins Justice’s Clarence Thomas’ wife in providing us with a prejudiced SCOTUS. You can’t tell me that these spouses cannot influence their husbands.  We cannot have SCOTUS decisions based on ‘pillow talk.’  Justice Alito is as much out of tune with America as is Justice Thomas.  Unfortunately, demands that these two prejudiced Justices recuse themselves on certain cases has repeatedly failed.

 

Upside-down flag on Justice Alito's
lawn is a sign of distress

Perhaps it would be best to insist that on appointment to the SCOTUS, all married Justices were required to file for divorce. 

JL

 

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Brown vs. Board of Education Anniversary 

Friday marked the seventieth anniversary of the Brown vs Board of Education decision, desegregating schools, based on the Fourteenth Amendment. 

Heather Cox Richardson’s posting (dated May 16) on ‘Letters from an American’ chronicles the efforts of the Republican Party to destroy democracy and the intent of that Amendment.  Each day provides us with more and more proof that the most un-American organization in the country is the Republican Party.  Check it out at https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/may-16-2024/comments or by CLICKING HERE to learn about the undemocratic movements of which that party consists or represents.  At a minimum, it makes it clear that a vote for any Republican is a vote against the Constitution and of course, the Declaration of Independence.

JL

 

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Israeli Extremists are the Problem

Should American support of Israel include silence about the role of extremists, upon whom Benjamin Netanyahu depends to remain in office?  Check out how the Israeli government, now controlled by them, supports lawlessness on the West Bank, preventing a real solution for the Palestinians from taking place, a step necessary to assure peace for Israel. Here is a short New York Times piece on the problem.  If you cannot read it due to a possible Times ‘paywall,’ send me an email and I will get it to you.  It is an important article.  But first try CLICKING HERE or visiting https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/16/briefing/how-israeli-extremists-won.html 

While this Times article summarizes the situation, the full investigation upon which it is based appeared in the Times’ weekly magazine section.  It is not a quick read but it is essential to understanding how it came to be that millions of Israelis stand in the way of what might be lasting peace there.  (Months ago, Jackspotpourri offered a ‘two-state’ solution that addressed this problem.)  

The Times Magazine article is in no way a pro-Hamas or pro-Palestinian piece, but it certainly attacks those who control Israel’s present government and who cannot deny partial responsibility for the problem. 

The full Times investigation in that article, stressing the failure of Israel to punish armed right-wing extremists who ignore that nation’s laws, can be found at 

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/16/magazine/israel-west-bank-settler-violence-impunity.html?campaign_id=190&emc=edit_ufn_20240517&instance_id=123698&nl=from-the-times&regi_id=78918068&segment_id=167012&te=1&user_id=02fa158150d34dc186b01b1b8ec7a224  or by CLICKING HERE.

Possibly illegal roadblock in Israel
between Israeli and Palestinian communities


JL

 

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You Will Be the Jury

My respect for the legal profession keeps sinking when I see some of the graduates of law schools ignoring the rule of law upon which this country was based.  Some of them use the skills they learned there to obstruct that rule of law in the courtroom and some of the worst of them have been elected or appointed to public office where they specialize in obstructing legislation that supports such rules. 

They have delayed litigation in Federal courts in Florida and the District of Columbia, and in State court in Georgia because they know that were this litigation to reach the trial stage, they would either lose there or even without losing, it would bring highly unfavorable information about the defeated, former president, currently running for the presidency in November, into the spotlight. 

Similarly, even if they are able to avoid his conviction in the ongoing New York State case concerning ‘hush-money’ payments, enough unfavorable information about the defendant is being revealed to diminish his chances in November.  That’s why, in their apparently losing efforts, his defense counsel’s efforts are primarily directed at discrediting the prosecution’s witnesses, there being little factually to contest.  Facts are facts, and even liars occasionally speak the truth. 

Which means that in view of deficiencies in our legal system brought about by such lawyers, it comes down to five words that describe how this all will end.  On November 5, 2024, YOU WILL BE THE JURY!


JL

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Quoting Hamilton and Franklin

A recent New York Times column by Charles Blow quoted Alexander Hamilton’s letter to George Washington in which he wrote that the only path to a subversion of the republican system of the country is by flattering the prejudices of the people and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion and bring on civil commotion.’  That is exactly what the former, defeated president does! 

Blow also quoted Benjamin Franklin’s words: ‘freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government: when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved and tyranny is erected on its ruins.’ 

Many years ago, these Founding Fathers knew the score, and their words ring clearly today.  If they were alive today, where would they be interviewed? On Fox or on MSNBC?

JL

 

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The Dirt Strip

But enough of serious matters.  Let’s take a look at what used to be our national pastime, baseball.  The empty seats in many major league ballparks, contrasted with the full houses at NFL games, and the relegation of baseball news to the margins of the nation’s newspapers’ sports sections, are evidence of this demotion of baseball.  But it still has millions of fans, of which I am one.  So here follows a bit of baseball trivia: 

In the English game of cricket, from which baseball may be loosely described as a descendant, there is a dirt strip running from the bowler’s (the pitcher’s) place to the defending batsman, so that a struck ball would bounce on a smooth surface. Early baseball games were played on existing cricket grounds with that dirt strip.  Since there is always some foot traffic during a baseball game between pitchers and catchers, with umpires also sometimes making that trip, that dirt path avoided the problem of keeping the infield grass well maintained there, resulting in that strip surviving in many ballparks for many years.  

Nowadays, teams don’t mind that extra work, but one major league ballpark (until recently there were two) still maintains that dirt path, probably for the sake of tradition. Five years ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks removed the dirt strip at Chase Field between the pitcher and the batter, but one Major League ballpark still maintains it.  Can you name it?  

And while on the subject of baseball, let me make it clear that I never root for a team that does not put the names of the players on the backs of their jerseys.   Most fans can recognize their home teams’ players by sight, but this is not true of the visiting team.  TV commentators don’t always mention them either unless they are at bat or pitching.  I have always paid little attention to the New York Yankees because for years they have not included names on their jerseys.  (The Mets’ jerseys, of course, do include their names.)  

As of Friday, two New York Yankees had batting averages of exactly .269.  Here are their pictures.  One is recognizable as Aaron Judge. Can you identify the other guy?  It's difficult without their names appearing on their jerseys.

Aaron Judge



 

WhatsHisName

    

 




JL

 

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Housekeeping on Jackspotpourri

Strange “Hits’The large number of those accessing Jackspotpouri from Singapore has suddenly ceased. In their place, however, there have appeared large numbers of ‘hits’ on each posting in the hundreds, and as was the case with those from Singapore, but this time from Hong Kong!  I suspect that the Chinese are playing around with internet transmissions, possibly to try to identify who is reading them. 

Email Alerts:  If you are NOT receiving emails from me alerting you each time there is a new posting on Jackspotpourri, just send me your email address and we’ll see that you do.  And if you are forwarding a posting to someone, you might suggest that they do the same, so they will be similarly alerted. You can pass those email addresses to me by email at jacklippman18@gmail.com.

Forwarding Postings: Please forward this posting to anyone you think might benefit from reading it. Friends, relatives, enemies, etc.

If you want to send someone the blog, you can just tell them to check it out by visiting https://jackspotpourri.blogspot.com or you can provide a link to that address in your email to them. 

There’s another, perhaps easier, method of forwarding it though!   Google Blogspot, the platform on which Jackspotpourri is prepared, makes that possible.  If you click on the tiny envelope with the arrow at the bottom of every posting, you will have the opportunity to list up to ten email addresses to which that blog posting will be forwarded, along with a brief comment from you.  Each will receive a link to click on that will directly connect them to the blog. 

Either way will work, sending them the link to https://jackspotpourri.blogspot.com, or clicking on the envelope at the bottom of this posting.

Again, I urge you to forward this posting to anyone you think might benefit from reading it, particularly if they are a registered voter.  This is an election year.  Spread the word.

JL

                                                    *   *   *

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

May 15, 2024 - The Political Locomotive, Antisemitism, the Palestinian Solution, Cowboys, and a Thomas Friedman Column

 

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The Locomotive is Rolling On

In Florida, November’s ballot will include an amendment (requiring a super-majority of 60%) to the State Constitution guaranteeing a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion.

I believe it will pass, and more importantly, it is likely to bring enough voters to the polls so that it might serve as a ‘locomotive,’ pulling a string of cars along behind it.  

These ‘cars’ are carrying Florida’s 30 presidential electors (third most of all States), Democratic Senatorial candidate Debbie Muscarsel-Powell, and numerous Democratic Congressional and State legislative candidates. 

There’s a lot at stake because a ‘yes’ vote for Amendment Four can thereby conceivably help bring about a continuing Democratic White House and Senate  majority, plus control of the House of Representatives and the Florida State legislature as well! 

ALL ABOARD!

                                                          

 JL

 

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One Reason for Not Voting Republican

The House Speaker, and numerous Republican Congressional leaders, showed  up the other day at the defeated former president’s ‘hush money’ trial in New York to say, outside of the courtroom, the things Judge Merchan’s gag order has prevented the defendant from saying.  This made it clear that the Republican Party is willing to place itself in opposition to the federal and state legal systems that are foundational to the U.S. government and a cornerstone of democracy. There is no question that they prefer something more autocratic than the ‘rule of law.’

JL

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Another Reason for Not Voting Republican

The previous posting on Jackspotpourri chastised South Carolina Senator Tim Scott for refusing to commit to accepting the results of the 2024 presidential election, whatever they may be.  The real harm that this does is that it presents the American public with the idea that it is perfectly acceptable to deny the results of an election with which they disagree, without any basis whatsoever, other than their disagreement with it. 

‘Gee whiz, if a Senator can think this way, I can too,’ they believe!  This is the position, unfortunately, of too many Republican voters and elected officials.  It is damaging to democracy and reason enough to vote against any and all Republicans who take similar positions.

JL

 

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 And now, getting to the hard stuff ... the 'heavy lifting' part of this posting.

Antisemitism 

Antisemitism is a subject that needs to be discussed.  That word is thrown around frequently and not always in the same context.  There are a lot of ways to getting into that discussion. Few are easy.  Here is one way that I tried recently.   

A ‘Your Turn’ guest columnist in the Palm Beach Post, who happened to be Jewish, recently accused American Jewish organizations of labeling those demonstrating against Israel’s response to the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel by Hamas from Gaza, as antisemites.  The writer clearly agreed with the demonstrators and felt accusing them of antisemitism on the part of the Jewish ‘establishment’ was an act of desperation.  I wouldn't go that far, but certainly some clarification was needed so I wrote the following letter to the Post (still unpublished): 

'The Post’s guest columnist in Friday’s ‘Your Turn’ strongly objected to those who accuse the movement for Palestinian justice of antisemitism.  Throughout history, those who harbor a hatred of Jews, which some define antisemitism as being, have rarely hesitated to take advantage of other movements to manifest that hatred. The 'Unite the Right' demonstration in Charlottesville in 2017 was an excellent example.  When Palestinians speak of a Palestine ‘from the river to the sea,’ as Hamas does, demanding the elimination of the State of Israel, some antisemites do not hesitate to join in supporting their activities. Recognizing that fact is not an ‘act of desperation’ on the part of Jews or Jewish organizations but only seeing things as they are.'

                                                        *  * 

There are many definitions of antisemitism.  Look them up. ‘A hatred of Jews’ is one. And it exists independently from the demonstrations referred to in my letter.  My guess as to where that ‘hatred of Jews’ originates centers on two sources, (1) theological and (2) commercial. 

When Christianity developed out of Judaism about two millenniums ago, many Jews refused to accept Jesus as the Messiah predicted in the Hebrew scriptures, politely referred to as the ‘Old Testament.’  Despite efforts to convert them, they were obstinate in their refusal to accept Christ’s divinity as the son of God.  As governments became ‘Christian’ (Rome for example), this defiance took on almost criminal aspects, and Jews became isolated and eventually hated for it.  Such hatred even led to their expulsion from entire countries (Spain and Portugal) and even to events like the Inquisition (throughout Europe) where denying Christ’s divinity could get you burned at the stake. That I see as one source of antisemitism. 

Beyond this theological basis for antisemitism, economic restrictions were placed on Jews by some ‘Christian’ governments.  They were kept out of the professions and most businesses.  But Jews were still permitted to engage in those commercial activities forbidden to Christians according to their interpretation of the Bible, the prime example of which was a prohibition on usury or charging interest (see Deuteronomy 23:19).  This opened the door to Jews becoming involved in money-lending (politely called ‘banking’) and profiting from buying and reselling goods made by others that they were not permitted to create on their own by their governments. In many economies, they became ‘middlemen,’ often functioning as shopkeepers.  

In this manner, many medieval Jews avoided poverty, some even becoming wealthy.  This drew the resentment of those who were not able to accumulate wealth from engaging in such mercantile activities as Jews were allowed to do, but which to Christians might be sinful.  This resentment grew, over the years, into a hatred of Jews for having what they felt were ill-gotten gains. See Shakespeare's 'Merchant of Venice' as an example, where the name of the Jewish character, Shylock, has come to define this view of Jews. 

I see one or both of these two explanations as the basis of all antisemitism.

When an antisemite, as defined above, encounters a situation in which he or she sees an occasion that might lead to Jews being harmed, or made to look culpable of a crime, they jump into action and take advantage of it, even licensing them to commit acts of violence against Jews.  These are not antisemitic situations in themselves but do provide an environment where antisemitism can flourish. Such situations occur, even if there were no such a thing as antisemitism! The attack by Hamas on Israel and Israel's reaction to it, both bringing Israel's relationship with Palestinians to the fore, is such a situation. 

The presence of antisemites in the protests against Israel’s retaliation against Hamas’ October 7 attack does not  make them antisemitic protests, despite some protesters’ inability to make this distinction.  Accusing Israel of genocide, even if brought about by Hamas’ embedding their military facilities in civilian environments is a far stretch, but it still provides a fertile area for the involvement of antisemites.  Incidentally, this creates a problem for Jewish protesters in these demonstrations who suddenly find themselves susceptible to charges of being ‘self-hating Jews.’  Stretching a point, some Jews must even wonder if a Jew who disagrees with the policies of the State of Israel can be considered an antisemite? If so, there are many Israelis who fit this definition. 

Other examples of this include the execution of the Rosenbergs in the 1940s for giving nuclear secrets to Russia. Antisemites jumped in and made certain that the public knew they were Jewish.  Similarly, during the last century, antisemites made certain that it was made clear that Leopold and Loeb, accused of murder in Illinois, were Jewish, and when Leo Frank was lynched for a murder he didn’t commit in Georgia, ultimately with the assistance of antisemites, was it because Frank was Jewish?  In the 1950s, did the fact that Goodman and Schwerner, two of the three ‘freedom riders’ assassinated in Mississippi while working for racial equality, were Jewish, make their murderers antisemites? Or did other motivations, beyond the ‘hatred of Jews,’ also exist in these instances? The borders of antisemitism are fuzzy and ill-defined as these examples suggest. 

This was not limited to the United States.  In France at the end of the Nineteenth century, military information supposedly fell into the hands of the Germans and a French officer, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, was accused and convicted, questioning his loyalty to France.  The whole affair was a ‘frame-up’ and after many years, he was ultimately exonerated, but the fact that he was Jewish for years gave grist to the mill of antisemitism in France, some of which even persists today. 

There are some fine distinctions to be made in determining when something is truly a purely antisemitic act, directly manifesting a hatred of Jews, such as the Holocaust, or just an occasion when antisemites find something they can latch on to and get a free ride for their ideas, like many of the demonstrations on college campuses, or clear-cut criminal activity by criminals who happen to have Jewish names.  (This also is applied to Italians, but that is another story.) 

At a minimum, this gives us food for thought.  And I hope my remarks have not offended anyone. 

JL

 

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Restating My Position on Israel

It is not a great leap from discussing antisemitism to contemplating the war in Gaza.  Ending the war in Gaza leads directly into the larger question concerning the future for Palestinians.  This might be a good time to restate my personal views on that, as I have done on several occasions in Jackspotpourri. 

It is a fact that there is a Palestinian population in the territory that once comprised the British Mandate there that approaches in size the larger Jewish population in Israel.  Any one-state solution (either contemplated by Israel or by a Palestinian group) would leave an enormous unwelcome population, that would either emigrate if possible, or remain as a second-class, persecuted minority.  This assures that there would not be peace there.  So, it must be accepted that there cannot be a one-state solution for the Palestinian/Israeli question.  

A two-state solution is the only answer.  That could be accomplished if all Arab states, including those following Iranian orders, agreed to permanently accept the existence of the State of Israel in exchange for Israel gradually abandoning its settlements in the area (West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem) that would constitute the Palestinian state.  The two states would cooperate peacefully with each other in regard to customs and trade, as is the case with the nations in the EU and the UN would in no way be involved.

Each side would have to make significant changes in their present approach to reach a solution.  Conceivably, it might bring about a civil war in Israel and most certainly, it would require Palestinians to forget about their 'river to the sea' imagery.  

I have been saying this for months but now I see that Ehud Olmert, former Israeli Prime Minister, is going down that path as well.  He recently wrote about this in H’aaretz, Israel’s leading ‘liberal’ newspaper. (Olmert was jailed after his term as PM for financial activities not unlike those that Bibi Netanyahu fears would put him in jail, only avoided by his support of right-wing zealots in the Knesset whose loyalty he has bought with his support of their dead-end one-state solution.)  CLICK HERE to read the H’aaretz article or read it by copying and pasting this link on your browser line:

https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/2024-05-11/ty-article-opinion/.premium/the-gaza-wars-final-scene-and-beyond-this-is-what-israels-endgame-should-be/0000018f-6943-d284-adaf-7d7f58670000?utm_source=mailchimp&utm_medium=Content&utm_campaign=daily-brief&utm_content=faa596c27d

JL

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Tom Friedman Sees Netanyahu as the Problem

President Biden is attempting to continue the United States’ support of the State of Israel while acknowledging the need to reduce the loss of too many Palestinian lives in Gaza, where Hamas’ militants intentionally are placed within civilian environments, resulting in Palestinians being killed in Israeli attacks on Hamas militants. The only tool Biden seems to have is the supplying of weapons to Israel.  Right now, he is limiting supplying certain bombs to the Israelis, but continuing supplies of other ordnance. 

Discussions of this between Biden and Netanyahu seem to run in circles, mostly due to the latter’s reluctance to be tied down to a definite policy for the future of Gaza.  Tom Friedman addressed this situation in a recent New York Times column.  Read it by CLICKING HERE  or visit https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/10/opinion/bidens-real-mistake-in-pausing-military-aid-to-israel.html. 

Let’s go back to Yogi Berra saying ‘if you don’t know where you’re going, you may end up somewhere else.’  This seems to describe Netanyahu’s position, with which he is happy so long as it provides him with sufficient votes in the Knesset to keep him in power and out of jail.

JL

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About Cowboys

 Here’s an interesting quote from Professor Heather Cox Richardson’s 5-12 posting on Letters From an American’: 

“The cowboy myth was always a political image, designed to undermine the idea of a government that worked for ordinary Americans. It was powerful after the Civil War but faded into the past in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s as Americans realized that their lives depended on government regulation and a basic social safety net. 

The American cowboy burst back into prominence with the advent of the Marlboro Man in 1954, the year of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, and the idea of an individual white man who worked hard, wanted nothing from the government but to be left alone, was a sex symbol, and protected his women became a central myth in the rise of politicians determined to overturn the liberal consensus. 


Now it seems the myth has come full circle, with the party led by a man whose wife rejects him and whose lovers ridicule him, who makes up stories about dangerous “others,” cheats on his taxes, solicits bribes, and tries to sell out his followers for cash—the very caricature the mythological cowboy was invented to fight.”

 I wonder who she is writing about.

JL

 

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 Housekeeping on Jackspotpourri

Strange “Hits’!  The large number of those accessing Jackspotpouri from Singapore has suddenly ceased. In their place, however, there have appeared large numbers of ‘hits’ on each posting in the hundreds, and as was the case with those from Singapore, but this time from Hong Kong!  I suspect that the Chinese are playing around with internet transmissions, possibly to try to identify who is reading them. 

 

Email Alerts:  If you are NOT receiving emails from me alerting you each time there is a new posting on Jackspotpourri, just send me your email address and we’ll see that you do.  And if you are forwarding a posting to someone, you might suggest that they do the same, so they will be similarly alerted. You can pass those email addresses to me by email at jacklippman18@gmail.com.

Forwarding PostingsPlease forward this posting to anyone you think might benefit from reading it. Friends, relatives, enemies, etc.

If you want to send someone the blog, you can just tell them to check it out by visiting https://jackspotpourri.blogspot.com or you can provide a link to that address in your email to them. 

There’s another, perhaps easier, method of forwarding it though!   Google Blogspot, the platform on which Jackspotpourri is prepared, makes that possible.  If you click on the tiny envelope with the arrow at the bottom of every posting, you will have the opportunity to list up to ten email addresses to which that blog posting will be forwarded, along with a brief comment from you.  Each will receive a link to click on that will directly connect them to the blog. 

Either way will work, sending them the link to https://jackspotpourri.blogspot.com, or clicking on the envelope at the bottom of this posting.

Again, I urge you to forward this posting to anyone you think might benefit from reading it, particularly if they are a registered voter.  This is an election year.  Spread the word.

JL

                                                    *   *   *


Thursday, May 9, 2024

May 9, 2024 - Justice Denied, A.I. Judgeships, Disgraceful Tim Scott, and All About Media ... Plus a Great Cartoon!

 


Some of you may not have checked out the recent Time Magazine interview with Donald Trump to which numerous links were provided in the last posting of Jackspotpourri.  If you are one of them, do it now!  It’s the kind of message Thomas Paine spread in 1776 in his ‘Common Sense’ pamphlet.  We are all in very great dangerRight nowTodayFriends, before proceeding further, read that article by CLICKING HERE or copying and pasting this on your browser line: 

https://time.com/6972021/donald-trump-2024-election-interview/

(The brilliant cartoon above is by Clay Bennett, who works for the Chattanooga Times Free Press.)  

JL 

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How To Remedy ‘Justice Denied

Although ‘Justice Delayed’  is indeed ‘Justice Denied,’ you can remedy that sorry situation by working hard to see that Republican candidates go down to defeat wherever they appear on the ballot.  That is because Republican-appointed Judges are often among those putting ‘party before country.’  We see that daily in their efforts to delay, delay, and further delay the resolution of the charges for which the defeated former president has been indicted.

·         See it happening in Florida where Federal Judge Aileen Cannon works diligently to see that the ‘stolen documents’ case is not heard for a very, very long time. Her appointment to the Federal bench there was made by the defendant in that case. 

·         See it happening in Georgia where State Prosecutor Fani Willis’ private life is being used as an excuse for delaying litigation concerning the defeated former president’s effort to change election results in 2020.  

·         See it happening in our Supreme Court where time-consuming haggling over the degree to which a former president is immune from being held accountable for crimes committed by him while still in office is being treated as an academic Constitutional question, rather than actually dealing with those crimes. 

All of this delay is intended is to further the autocratic ambition of an egotistical liar who doesn’t know the meaning of democracy.   If he can dodge the truth until Election Day, and somehow win another term in the White House, he will then be able to make all this litigation disappear, and along with it, democracy in America.

Face it: There is no longer a Republican Party.  There is only a Trumpublican ‘cult’ dedicated to the worship of the defeated and indicted former president.  And judges appointed by Republicans in office are the problem.  Each day, ‘real’ Republicans leave what used to be their party and choose not to become Democrats but to wander in the wilderness inhabited by Liz Chaney and others, seeking an identity that does not yet exist.

But you can embark on the job of fixing that on November 5.   Just vote against any Republican on the ballot.  And work hard to make sure others do too!

JL

 

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Is Artificial Intelligence a Solution?

We are a nation ruled by laws, not by the men and women elected or appointed to carry out those laws.  But such people are not blank slates.  They have their own ideas and prejudices.  In carrying out the laws, they are supposed to ignore what they themselves believe.  Nevertheless, judges and prosecutors are sometimes criticized for acting more in furtherance of their personal beliefs than in merely carrying out the law.

Judge Merchan presides over New York State’s trial of the former president who is charged with trying to influence the 2016 elections by indirectly making illegal contributions to stop the publication of articles that might have negatively affected his electability.  Merchan is supposed to be neutral, but the former president and his lawyers are not reluctant to challenge that.  Are such challenges to the judge hearing the case beyond their duties in defending their client?  Is that not an attack on the ‘rule of law’ upon which this nation is built?

Earlier in this posting, the delaying tactics of some judges and justices is addressed, in cases in Florida, Georgia, and even before the Supreme Court. Do such tactics defy that ‘rule of law.’   

Perhaps at some time in the future, there will be no judges presiding over courts. Judicial decisions will be generated by Artificial Intelligence, based upon both current factual evidence and historic information stored within its bowels.  Then no individual judge would be accused of letting their personal views influence their actions in court.  But what resides in ‘the bowels’ of A.I. might stink just as much as a judge’s actions in a courtroom.  Please hold your nose. 

JL

 

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 About Media

Media means something more than the way an idea is transmitted.  A painter’s media might be watercolors or oil paint.  A composer’s media might range from a simple tune picked out on a piano or guitar to massive operatic or symphonic works requiring scores of individual performers.  If you ask around, you will find most people use the word to refer to the ways we get information, such as newspapers, magazines, television programming, and the internet.  To really get a handle on it, I suggest reading Marshall McLuhan’s 1964 classic, ‘Understanding Media,’ from which the frequently quoted slogan ‘the media is the message’ comes or the later work in which he collaborated, ‘The Media Is the Massage.’  (that is not a typo.)

Here it is in a nineteen-word nutshell:  The manner in which we receive a message can be just, if not more, important than the message itself. 

As ancient man emerged from the caves in which he had found shelter, communications were oral. For perhaps millions of years, knowledge was passed on by spoken words, hopefully remembered and repeated by those who heard and understood them, preserved as sagas or legends, but preserved only as remembered.  Speech was the media of those times.  Those with the loudest voices or a conspicuous platform on the highest rock from which to speak took advantage of it.  

And then, man found a way of supplementing the spoken word.  It was the discovery of the ‘alphabet.’  Throughout the planet, the oral grunts and sounds that had grown into speech became documentable, first just briefly, but eventually into full words, sentences, and lengthier transmissions of ideas.  Scratched onto cave walls, rocks, animal skins, or preservable leaves, known as papyrus, the antecedents of paper, the written word became a more permanent form of media. 

Because the ideas written words contained dealt with the barely understood world mankind saw around it, the maintainers and preservers of these written words were considered holy men and respected as scribes, our first authors.  And this form of media, along with the far less preservable spoken word, which did not disappear, were mankind’s basic communications tools for many thousands of years.

And then, in several parts of the world, about a millenium ago, just a droplet in the stream of time, printing with movable type was developed.  What the scribes, most of whom were identifiable as monks, had been tediously writing by hand became more widely available, at first only as religious documents, but soon about almost any subject and available to almost any person who knew how to read.  And people were learning how to read.  This was the ‘Great Enlightenment.’  You know the story from then on because you and I, and what is before your eyes right now, are part of it.  

When you shut off your television set, or when publications are not purchased, and read, the ‘message’ that such media might otherwise constitute doesn’t get delivered.  Similarly, if the type is small and difficult to read, it might not be read at all.  So larger type, and colors, and accompanying illustrations were added to attract your attention. Whether you expose yourself to various media is often a choice that might be yours to make.  There's a 'remote control' in the recipient's hand as well as that of the sender.  

On the other hand, however, if media is delivered to an audience that cannot get away from it, as in a darkened auditorium or theatre, or in a classroom, or even on a prominently placed billboard along a slow-moving, heavily traveled, highway, where it cannot be avoid being seen, you no longer have that choice. And that is the intention of the purveyors of messages carried through such inescapable media. 

Sometimes all that is ‘messaged’ goes back to pre-alphabetic days.  A car radio represents this return to an exclusively oral media. 

In looking ahead, I do not see this progression in the history of media stopping at where we are today.  Oral and printed media will not completely die. We will continue to talk, discuss, write, and read.  But forms of media, far beyond television and the internet, far beyond today’s electronic tools, will continue to grow and influence the way mankind thinks and acts.

In the future, there may or may not be unavoidable media like the loudspeakers and giant screens on street corners passing on ideas that today’s dystopian science fiction sometimes include, but there will be ways, unimaginable today, of moving those ideas into the consciousness of mankind, without their even knowing that was happening to them.  I do not think that would be a good thing.

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This might be a good time to mention a not totally unrelated thought I had after repeatedly seeing a TV commercial asking for donations to help ‘feed hungry kids,’ through a legitimate and respected charity.  The commercial showed hungry children being fed in both overseas and domestic environments.  What got to me was that its efforts to ‘feed hungry kids’ did not make it clear where most of those children receiving the charity’s benefits were located. 

It appeared to me that what looked like parts of the group’s domestic programs, right here in the United States, seemed to duplicate present efforts of local government and school districts, with Federal Aid, to fill this need, with school lunches, and even breakfasts, for kids who didn’t get these meals at home.  Was this a sneaky way of pushing for the privatization of such activity?  Who could argue with ‘feeding hungry kids’ particularly when the commercial included emaciated infants in Third World nations?  And finally, when they begged for a commitment to make a monthly donation, the commercial apologized for so asking in ‘in these hard times.’  This was clearly a political statement, because when it comes down to it, we are not living in ‘hard times’ right now.  The 1930s were indeed ‘hard times.’  But the 2020s are not ‘hard times’ though, except in the minds of extreme right-wing MAGA Republicans parroting Russian propaganda.  This is the kind of trickery that media of all kinds can include, but future media might make it entirely undetectable.

JL


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Yom HaShoah and Antisemitism

This week included Holocaust Remembrance Day.  In Israel, all activity, including traffic, pursuing one’s employment, and educational activities, all cease for fifteen minutes so that the entire nation pauses together to remember the six million Jews murdered in the 1940s.  Elsewhere in the world, Jews also participate in similar observances.  

Israeli UN Delegate Gilad Erdan

In the United Nations General Assembly, the Israeli Delegate spoke to the occasion with remarks directed at those who would destroy the State of Israel. See his stirring address at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMUrULG4Cug or just CLICK HERE.

I believe that the Holocaust would not have taken place if there were not an already existing antisemitism simmering beneath the surface that allowed many who knew better to close their eyes.  The same holds true for the Inquisition over five centuries ago. Such antisemitism (or more succinctly, ‘hatred of Jews,’) must be fought wherever it is encountered.  Why?  All hatred of Jews can potentially lead to Holocausts.  And this includes those whose objection to the policies of the State of Israel in Gaza and in regard to Palestinians in general have morphed into hatred of Jews wherever they are, in Israel or elsewhere.  

Acts of genocide throughout history have not been limited to Jews, and that is why this is an issue of world-wide concern.  More about this will follow in a future posting.

JL

 

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Tim Scott – Living in an Alternate Reality

As an example of the depths to which the Republican Party has sunk, South Carolina’s Senator Tim Scott’s was repeatedly asked on Sunday’s ‘Meet the Press’ on NBC if he would accept the results of the 2024 election if Trump didn’t win.  His repeated reply was simply “At the end of the day, the 47th president of the United States will be President Donald Trump.” 

When pushed further by host Kristen Welker, Scott accused NBC of working for the “Democrat Party” but refused again to agree to the peaceful transition of power.  (You can get some idea of the kind of party hack that Tim Scott is by his use of the pejorative adjective ‘Democrat’ instead of ‘Democratic’ when referring to that Party. This blog has addressed that in the past.)

This is a sad commentary on Tim Scott and on the voters who voted for him. He’s too naive to realize that the fact that his being Black is the only reason the Republicans appointed him to a Senate vacancy, and then ran him for his Senate seat, was to get Black votes.  He actually was competing for a while with the defeated former president for the G.O.P.’s 2024 nomination, until he realized that was a lost cause.  He now aspires to the vice-presidential nomination. 

Unfortunately, Scott’s Senate term runs until 2028.  Perhaps, he might spend his time there until then studying Article Two, Section One, of the Constitution instead of living in a Republican alternate reality, one that denies the rule of law in this country. 

JL

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Housekeeping on Jackspotpourri

Strange “Hits’The large number of those accessing Jackspotpouri from Singapore has suddenly ceased. In their place, however, there have appeared large numbers of ‘hits’ on each posting in the hundreds, and as was the case with those from Singapore, but this time from Hong Kong!  I suspect that the Chinese are playing around with internet transmissions, possibly to try to identify who is reading them. 

Email Alerts:  If you are NOT receiving emails from me alerting you each time there is a new posting on Jackspotpourri, just send me your email address and we’ll see that you do.  And if you are forwarding a posting to someone, you might suggest that they do the same, so they will be similarly alerted. You can pass those email addresses to me by email at jacklippman18@gmail.com.

Forwarding Postings: Please forward this posting to anyone you think might benefit from reading it. Friends, relatives, enemies, etc.

If you want to send someone the blog, you can just tell them to check it out by visiting https://jackspotpourri.blogspot.com or you can provide a link to that address in your email to them. 

There’s another, perhaps easier, method of forwarding it though!   Google Blogspot, the platform on which Jackspotpourri is prepared, makes that possible.  If you click on the tiny envelope with the arrow at the bottom of every posting, you will have the opportunity to list up to ten email addresses to which that blog posting will be forwarded, along with a brief comment from you.  Each will receive a link to click on that will directly connect them to the blog. 

Either way will work, sending them the link to https://jackspotpourri.blogspot.com, or clicking on the envelope at the bottom of this posting.

Again, I urge you to forward this posting to anyone you think might benefit from reading it, particularly if they are a registered voter.  This is an election year.  Spread the word.

JL

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