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 for 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.

Friday, December 2, 2022

12-2-2022 - Popular Election of a President, the Fascism Luncheron, The 1st Amendment, World Cup Officiating, this Blog's Viewers, and My Newspaper Choices

 

 

                          

Fuentes, the DFP, and West - An evil trio!

                                       
 A Fascist Luncheon at Mar-a-Lago

Here’s the text of a letter I sent to the Palm Beach Post, published on Nov. 30. 

Any individual, organization, or charity, planning an event at Mar-a-Lago should be aware of the white supremacist, antisemitic, holocaust-denying, and pro-fascist dinner guests whom that establishment’s resident-owner recently welcomed there.  There are plenty of other catering facilities in Palm Beach County.’  

Groping with the problem of what to do with its imminent big fund-raising event scheduled for Mar-a-Lago is the Salvation Army, whose principles suggest it should cancel it and reschedule it elsewhere, a move which would negate months of detailed planning.  The theme of the event actually is a tribute to cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, a supporter of the Salvation Army and builder of Mar-a-Lago, which ended up in the government's hands before it was sold to its present resident.   Not doing so might even result in bad publicity reducing the amount of money dropped into their red kettles during their holiday campaign.  (To some, it comes down to how seriously the Salvation Army takes the biblical answer to the theological question, ‘What Price Salvation?’ ) 

But getting back to that sit-down meal with the Defeated Former President, by now you ought to be aware that Kanye West (Ye) brought along America First leader Nick Fuentes to dinner (or was it just lunch) with the DFP at Mar-a-Lago last week. If you are not, you should seriously consider your sources of obtaining news.

Fuentes represents and leads an antisemitic, Holocaust-denying, white supremacist organization.

The DFP’s claims that he didn’t know with whom he was breaking bread, are ridiculous.  Fuentes had swiped the America First moniker from the DFP who had been using it during his campaigns, probably ignorant of its historic origins and connections with right wing groups in this country.  Opponents of this country’s entry into the Second World War, many of whom had ideas similar to Fuentes’, used it.

Obviously, the DFP needs these kinds of allies on the extreme right to counter the Republicans who are showing early signs of growing back some brains again and abandoning him.  And such right-wing allies will not hesitate to use violence, as they proved in Charlottesville in 2017 and on January 6, 2021, at the Capitol, much to the delight of the DFP.

For more information on Fuentes, The New York Times article by Peter Baker (11/29) is very informative.  Try to find it at https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/29/briefing/nick-fuentes-trump.html or by CLICKING HERE.   If you cannot get into the Times site, there is a lot in the Anti-Defamation League’s report on him at https://www.adl.org/blog/nicholas-j-fuentes-five-things-to-know.  JUST CLICK HERE to view that.

It is to low-life bigots like Fuentes and West that the DFP is turning for help.  It’s hard to find anyone in this country worse than this crew, but given the chance, the DFP will find them.  No one gets invited to chow down with the DFP at his place without his knowledge.

Fuentes is a very bad guy, far worse than West whose simplistic antisemitism is part of his effort to lead, trading on his fame as an entertainer, those Americans of color who are looking for someone to blame for what they see as historic injustices.  West should better look across the luncheon table at his white supremacist ‘friend,’ Nick Fuentes, who represents a far better target for his venom and is a sworn enemy of persons of color.   

Any Republican who fails denounce Fuentes as well as the DFP for sharing a meal with him at Mar-a-Lago is not fit to hold any political office and is participating in the death and burial of their party. 

And a lot of Republicans should be asking, as the Salvation Army might be, ‘What Price Salvation?’  There are limits.

JL

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How to Elect a President by Popular Vote

Of the many requests I receive for political donations, one that I definitely disagree with is one asking for money to support a Constitutional amendment to eliminate the Electoral College, an idea allegedly but probably inaccurately attributed to Robert Reich, who served in Bill Clinton’s cabinet. 

Reich, a noted professor, author, lawyer, and political commentator, is smart enough to know that such an amendment would need the support of two-thirds of each House of Congress and three-quarters of the States, and is extremely unlikely to be approved.  A better method, which I believe Reich supports, is the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, whereby State legislatures pass legislation requiring a State’s electoral votes to go to the candidate with the greatest number of popular votes, nationwide.

If States with a total of 270 electoral votes pass such legislation, the popular vote would, in effect, determine who won the election, not the Electoral College. (There are 538 votes in the Electoral College.)  As of now, fifteen States (plus D.C.) have passed such legislation with a total of 195 electoral votes.   Those States are Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Vermont, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, California, Illinois, New York, and the District of Columbia.

That means that all that is now required is for such legislation to be passed and signed into law in enough States to provide 75 additional electoral votes! We are getting close!  This spotlights the importance of elections for governors and State legislators.  Now, ask me to donate for that, and I might write a check! 

JL

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Officiating in the World Cup Matches


I am not an expert in this area, but it is clear to me as I watch the World Cup Football matches (or Soccer as we in the United States call it) on TV, that having only one ‘referee’ on the field watching for violations and otherwise managing the game is grossly inadequate.

True, there are ‘linesmen’ on the sidelines determining who was responsible for knocking a ball out of bounds or when a player might be ‘offsides’ and another official available off the field when a video has to be reviewed, but there is only one ‘referee’ on the field, trying to keep up with 22 athletes (including two goal keepers) running back and forth for at least an hour and a half, watching for violations and otherwise managing the game.

No one person can do that without missing something and making mistakes. They would need eyes in the back of their heads to do the job properly.  I fully understand the frustration and anger of players when a foul is missed by a referee who happened to be looking in some other direction at the time.  This happens at least a dozen times in every match.  Contrast this with the number of officials actually on the field (three) in ‘American’ football. This should be corrected for what the rest of the world calls football, but what we call Soccer, with the addition of a second ‘referee’ on the field. 

JL

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Increasing Viewership of Jackspotpourri!

From the statistics I try to keep an eye on, it looks like my suggestion (repeated again at the end of this posting) regarding forwarding it to others have been working.  Viewership of Jackspotpourri’s last posting more than doubled from prior postings. 

With that in mind, and I hope this message reaches some of those newer viewers, I urge you to provide your email address to me so that I might add it to the list (now at about 55) of those who regularly receive email alerts which precede each new posting on Jackspotpourri.  Then you won’t have to count on someone else forwarding it to you.

You can send it to me at jacklippman18@gmail.com

JL

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Newspaper Choices

This month, I switched back to the Palm Beach Post after a few months of subscribing to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.  It was a hard decision. That paper’s inability to endorse anyone for governor or senator in the recent elections, the policy dictated by their hedge-fund ownership, was the last straw, adding to the Fort Lauderdale newspaper’s emphasis on Broward County material, of no interest to me, even in their supposed ‘Palm Beach County’ edition.  

Meanwhile, the Post is not without problems of its own.  I was disappointed to discover that its ‘opinion’ pages including readers’ letters are no longer published every day.

In April of 2022, the Post's Gannett, Inc. owners asked its many newspapers (100 daily papers and over 1000 weeklies) to ‘de-emphasize’ those opinion pages believing that (1) they are the least read part of the paper and (2) they are the greatest reason for the cancellation of subscriptions.  From a dollars and cents viewpoint, they may be correct, but this is an unhealthy approach to journalism on which I will have to keep an eye.  

A healthier approach to journalism can be found in an article published back in July in ‘brilliantio.com,’ entitled ‘Why Journalism is the Cornerstone of Democracy.’  Gannett’s management should take note of this.  Good journalism should be practiced seven days a week, even if it loses a paper a few subscribers. Excerpts from it read as follows:

 ‘Journalism plays an important role in holding those in power accountable. Journalists are critical in keeping elected officials and government agencies honest at the local news, state, or national levels  … It helps to foster a well-informed citizenry, which is essential for the functioning of any democracy. In a world where information is increasingly available, it is more important than ever to be able to sort through the noise and find reliable sources of information.’

While Gannett’s business-based reduction of ‘opinion’ pages in its papers might end up being a back door to the kind of censorship that caused the Sun-Sentinel’s failure to endorse anyone for the Senate or Governorship last month, it does appear to be a reasonable compromise.  Meanwhile, I also maintain a low priced ($4 a month) digital subscription to the New York Times which gives me everyday access to its headline stories each morning that serves to balance the reduction in the appearance of ‘opinion’ in the Post.

But on the good side, after several months of the Sun-Sentinel every day, I decided to go back to the Post.  Its sports and local coverage have improved.  Its comics were always better as is its far more readable typography, a larger sized font than the Sun Sentinel’s, and its wider selection of occasional national columnists.  And of course, the Sun-Sentinel had no one to equal political humorist Frank Cerabino. They did have the Post’s old editorial page editor, Randy Schultz, writing for them but that wasn’t enough.

While there really are no substitutes for the Washington Post or the New York Times, our leading ‘national’ newspapers, reading a locally oriented daily newspaper that does a decent job reporting national and worldwide news as well is important in today’s world. The late Tip O’Neill, former House Speaker, famously said that ‘all politics are local.’  And reading a good local newspaper is essential to being aware of local issues and local politics.  Except in New York, the Times does not fill that role, so subscribing to a local paper is necessary.

I read the Post’s printed paper version over coffee each morning and occasionally access its digital edition, which sometimes include ‘bonus sports or news sections’ not present in the print edition as well as material taken from Gannett’s flagship newspaper, USA Today, and is superior to that of the Sun-Sentinel.  Actually, there is a digital link to USA Today provided each day with Post subscriptions which provides access to some, but not all, of what is in that ‘nationwide’ Gannett newspaper! 

JL

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First Amendment Woes - Suicide by Speech

Misuse and misinterpretation of the Second Amendment is not the only problem with the Bill of Rights.  For information on the dangers presented by misuse of the First Amendment as well, which enables those like West and Fuentes (see above article) to thrive and survive, check out the Nov. 29 posting on another blog, written by a wise retired attorney, Marty London.  Its title is ‘Suicide by Speech.’   Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of democracy, but it also can lead to its downfall. Read this well-reasoned piece at https://londonsbh.blogspot.com/ or by CLICKING HERE.

JL

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And of course, please forward this posting to anyone you think might benefit from reading it.  The place to send them is: 

https://jackspotpourri.blogspot.com

IMPORTANT: It has come to my attention that Google Blogspot, the platform on which Jackspotpourri is prepared, has revised its forwarding abilities.  If you click on the envelope with the arrow at the conclusion of every posting, (it looks like this:  ), you will have the opportunity to list as many email addresses as you wish, along with a comment from you, each of which will receive a link to the full blog that you now are reading, with all of its bells and whistles.  This is a great advance from the very basic format Google Blogspot originally provided when they forwarded something for you.  It might take a few minutes longer for your message to be transmitted but this method of forwarding offers the advantage of being able to forward jackspotpourri to many addresses simultaneously. Try it.

Either way will work, sending them the link above or clicking on the envelope at the bottom of this posting.   

 


JL

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Monday, November 28, 2022

Covid Revisited, Second Amendment Isses, Thanksgiving, and Non-Voters

 


Covid Is Still Around - Be Careful 

It isn’t on page one any longer (if you continue to read newspapers … which you should) but Covid is still with us. The virus’ many mutations continue to take place and grow in response to our efforts to eliminate it. 

The vaccinations many people have received certainly reduce the severity of all Covid infections, but they are not a final answer. People should continue to be vaccinated and receive booster shots.  But vaccinations have served to some extent to take our eye off of the ball, as new variants develop.  Periodic testing at home should be continued.

What’s new is that scientists are developing nasal sprays which may be a more effective preventative measure for these infections. Such research, and their development, seems to be limited to Europe at this point. Our government has not come up with the funds to extend their development and use to this country.  France, for example, is way ahead of us.  Republicans blocked such funding in the House, claiming that the Biden administration used money initially intended to combat the Covid pandemic for purposes only remotely connected to the virus.

This is not the time nor the place to argue about this.  What the public should do is resume masking in public places, even if most there remain unmasked, seek outdoor seating in restaurants, keep current with available vaccines and continue simple ‘at home’ testing. 

That is my advice.  Senior citizens and those with compromised immune systems, diabetes and cardiovascular histories should pay particular attention to it.

I am not a physician, but as Bob Dylan sang back in 1965, ‘You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.’


JL

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Back to the Second Amendment

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

In the eyes of too many Americans, the Second Amendment (fully and correctly reproduced above in red), is treated by them as if it reads as follows, (in blue below) justifying rebellion.  Of course, the Framers never intentionally provided making such a ‘poison pill’ available to take down the Constitution they were creating. Some people today believe that they did. And some are sitting in Congress.

In their minds, this is the imaginary content of the Second Amendment:  ‘An unregulated Militia, being necessary to enable the people to overthrow a government which they believe threatens the security of a free State, or of that very government itself, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’

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The previous blog posting addressed the problem of gun violence.  That issue is of such importance that we are addressing it again today, a bit more specifically.   Please re-read Wednesday’s posting and what follows.

Unfortunately, to repeal the Second Amendment would require, if initiated in Congress or by a convention of States, the support of two thirds of both Houses of Congress and subsequent approval by the legislatures of three quarters of the States.  If we wait for that to happen, all readers of this will be dead from natural causes, an exit strategy at least preferable to gun violence. 

Therefore, because such repeal according to the Constitution (Article Five) seems next to impossible, a ‘de facto’ repeal of the Second Amendment must be accomplished by an interpretation of the Second Amendment by the Supreme Court, based on the Amendment’s words, not by political agendas. The weakness of that solution is that nothing prevents a future Supreme Court from ruling otherwise, as they recently did regarding abortion rights, but it is the best that we can hope for.

Such an interpretation should recognize that because we no longer have militias in this country, the Amendment’s first thirteen words are totally unnecessary and meaningless.  (The National Guard, the closest thing that today’s States have comparable to such militias, follows the regulations of the nation’s armed forces and does not depend on its members bringing their own arms, so the Amendment does not relate to it at all.) So, let’s forget about miliitias.

This leaves the Amendment’s final fourteen words (‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed’) standing alone, protecting the right of anyone to keep and bear arms for any purpose and without limitation. This is very dangerous and was never the intention of the Framers and is the cause of our being where we are today, in the midst of an epidemic of bloody gun violence in this country. 

In summary, the next best thing to repeal would be a Supreme Court interpretation that (1) recognizes the obsolescence of the first thirteen words of the Amendment, and (2) limits its final fourteen words to ‘a right of the people, not to be infringed, to keep and bear arms for sport and target shooting, hunting and personal protection of one’s home or business, as regulated by the States or other jurisdictions, but excluding any weaponry designed for military use.’

It’s that simple unless you went to law school and became a judge.

As I wrote on Wednesday, getting a Supreme Court to do this now would require the President to nominate Justices who would favor such an approach, even if it meant expanding the size of the Supreme Court.  Without such an expansion, the President would have to wait for at least three existing Justices to die or retire.  

In the 1930s, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was ready to do precisely that but did not have to when challenges to his New Deal legislation dissipated, his threat to expand the Court being sufficient.  But FDR had strong majorities in both Houses of Congress behind him, something President Biden lacks.

A simple majority of Senators, including the vote of the Vice-President in the event of a tie, is all that is needed to approve a nomination to the Supreme Court. THE CHALLENGE IS ACCOMPLISHING THE PASSAGE OF LEGISLATION BY CONGRESS ALLOWING THAT INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF JUSTICES!

The Constitution is silent on the number of Supreme Court Justices, leaving it to Congress, but the Court’s own website points out that the number of Justices has been changed six times before settling on the present number in 1869.  There is no prohibition on more such changes being made by Congress, in fact the Judiciary Act of 2021 did exactly that, including the addition of four more Justices, but that legislation, introduced in April of 2021, never made it out of committee consideration.      

Unfortunately, Republican control of the new House of Representatives will soon make passage of such legislation impossible, the Democratic majority in the Senate, alone not being enough.

Passage of this legislation was something Democrats should have fought for while having majorities in both Houses of Congress.  But they didn’t.  And that is not their problem - - - It is your problem and America’s problem!

JL 

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Wrapping Up Thanksgiving

Heather Cox Richardson (in her daily newsletter, ‘Letter From an American,’) included this in her Thanksgiving Message, after pointing out how the holiday, barely observed until then, served to inspire Americans at the time of the Civil War to unite to preserve that for which we all should give thanks.

‘In 1861, Americans went to war to keep a cabal from taking control of the government and turning it into an oligarchy. The fight against that rebellion seemed at first to be too much for the nation to survive. But Americans rallied and threw their hearts into the cause on the battlefields even as they continued to work on the home front to create a government that defended democracy and equality before the law. And they won.

And speaking of Thanksgiving, I was disappointed in the TV coverage of the traditional Thanksgiving Day parades.  True, they have always been commercially sponsored, but this year, the floats promoting various businesses and entertainment enterprises far outnumbered the traditional presence of high school bands, the balloons, and floats manned by the employees of the stores, such as Macy's, which remained the parade's overall sponsor.  I seem to remember that parades in other cities than New York used to be featured as well, but they were absent this year.  The 'commentators' describing the parade on TV came off as second rate shills for their networks.

Most shocking to me was the presentation of Mariah Carey as the 'Queen of Christmas.'   Did anyone consider that this might offend those whose religion already provided them with a Queen of Christmas?  They might have crowned Ms. Carey as 'the Princess of The North Pole' or something like that instead.

Hope you enjoyed your Turkey. 

JL

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Non-Voters and the Pendulum Theory

The recent unexpected success of Democrats in most of the country, pushing back on forty years of conservative efforts to dismantle the policies that have contributed to the nation's growth, have been conspicuously absent in Texas and Florida. That is not because of the voters in those States, but because of the non-voters there. Despite issues that affected their own interests, too many citizens in these two States just didn’t vote. Only about 49% of eligible voters turned out in Florida and about 45% in Texas.  Maine had the highest turnout, about 60%. Floridians and Texans apparently prefer watching football and exchanging barbecue recipes to political involvement.

I have written in the past about ‘the pendulum of history.’  Its leftward swing back toward equilibrium and even further has already started as the 2022 mid-term elections indicated.  What will it take for this leftward swing to even encompass places like Texas and Florida and some of the States of the old Confederacy?

Unfortunately, bad things have to happen in greater frequency to motivate enough Americans to make such changes.  They include the inability for the existing systems to deal with economic inequality, diseases such as Covid and its cousins, hunger, loss of personal freedoms, and of course, gun violence. 

Without such motivational tragedies, change will not come easily.  But it will happen.  It will not, however, be without pain and bloodshed, and there is no guarantee that it will ultimately be democratic.  Check out the pendulum.




JL

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And of course, please forward this posting to anyone you think might benefit from reading it.  The place to send them is: 

https://jackspotpourri.blogspot.com

 It has come to my attention that Google Blogspot, the platform on which Jackspotpourri is prepared, has revised its forwarding abilities.  If you click on the envelope with the arrow at the conclusion of every posting, (it looks like this:   ), you will have the opportunity to list as many email addresses as you wish, along with a comment from you, each of which will receive a link to the full blog that you now are reading, with all of its bells and whistles.  This is a great advance from the very basic format Google Blogspot originally provided when they forwarded something for you.  It might take a few minutes longer for your message to be transmitted but this method of forwarding offers the advantage of being able to forward jackspotpourri to many addresses simultaneously. Try it.

Either way will work, sending them the link above or clicking on the envelope at the bottom of this posting.   

 

JL

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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

11-23-2022 - Happy Thanksgiving! .... Gun Violence, Republican Fun and Games, America Afloat, and Customer Service Woes

 











The Unavoidable Issue – Gun Violence

We have had enough gun violence over the past few years to recognize that we must take steps to end it.  Shootings this week at a Virginia Walmart and at a LGBTQ club in Colorado add to the hundreds of similar incidents over the past few years.  Forget about mental illness and the right to possess arms as a deterrent to violence.  That is NRA bullshit, promulgated by the gun manufacturers and latched onto by right-wing extremists who prefer another form of government to our democracy.  Solving the problems seems to require, my friends (?), either a repeal of the Second Amendment to the Constitution or a rewriting of it.  Fat chance of that happening though.

Leaving it to politically appointed judges, even on the Supreme Court, to ‘interpret’ it, has failed miserably and we have had repeated mass murders in schools, supermarkets, houses of worship, night clubs and other entertainment venues that just don’t seem to end.  All of this can be blamed on the Second Amendment being responsible for the proliferation of weapons among the irresponsible in our country.  But let’s start at the beginning.

Here is the Second Amendment.  Read it over carefully. Note its punctuation.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

You’re smart (otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this) so now tell me what you think it means. Speak it aloud.  Write it  down.  But read it first.  At least two times.  Note its first thirteen words, followed by a comma.  Would you conclude that they state the reason for the Amendment’s second fourteen wordsI do, but the Supreme Court of the United States, following the lead of the late Justice Antonin Scalia does not. 

To me at least, it is clear that the people to whom were given the right to keep and bear arms were not given that right as individuals but solely to make possible ‘a well regulated militia.’ That’s what it says. Militias are formed by governments, not mobs or individuals, and the Framers had State governments in mind.  Who else did the Framers envision as responsible for 'well regulating' those militias? The words say ‘free State’ and they were what those Framers had in mind, not individuals.  Now think for a minute: What was the ‘security’ of those thirteen free States (now there are 50)  mentioned that these militias were necessary to protect?

Foreign invasion?  Aliens from space?  Nope.  American history indisputably tells us that slaveholding states would not vote to confirm the Constitution back in 1788 unless they were given some way of opposing slave rebellions, an unlikely occurrence, but more likely fear of actions by Federal troops to end or limit the practice of slavery, the key to their economies. They feared that might happen. That’s what these militias were supposed to be for, to oppose the armed forces of the Federal government. And although the militias no longer exist, their modern equivalent being the National Guard, that idea persists.

In those days, when citizens were called up to serve in a militia, they were expected to bring their own weapons.  The slaveholding States wouldn’t provide them (at least initially) and wanted to prevent the Federal Government from legislating against citizens keeping and bearing arms, which were necessary if these militias were to have any teeth in the form of weapons. Without them, they would just be window dressing.

For political reasons, during the past thirty years or so, Interpretation of the Second Amendment has been stretched by courts to mean that the people’s right to keep and bear those arms exists not for the reasons given above, which no longer exist because slavery was ended by the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, but for personal protection and more quietly, in the background, to aid in rising up against an oppressive government which itself might threaten the security of a free State, or of the nation itself.  Rebellion?  Revolution?  Insurrection?  Call it what you may. That is not what the Amendment says. But that’s what the misguided Supreme Court’s rulings permit.  That’s what those who attacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021 believed.  The chef culprit in making this horrible misinterpretation of the Second Amendment this was the aforementioned late Justice Antonin Scalia.  His warped and tortuous logic persists in today’s Supreme Court, ruled by a majority including three purely political appointments.

As a result, there are now many more guns, including military-type assault weapons in the United States than there are people!   Deranged individuals or those who want to attack people with whom they disagree or dislike have no trouble getting these weapons. They murder them regularly thanks to the Second Amendment and Justices like Scalia.

Really, the problem cannot be solved by repeal or rewriting of the Second Amendment because the Constitution’s rigid requirements to do either make it next to impossible that that will ever happen.  The majorities required in Congress and among the States are for all intents and purposes monumentally unattainable. Such changes, when made, take many, many, decades. The only remaining alternative, then, is to have a Supreme Court that interprets the Second Amendment by sticking to its words, as they were intended, as reproduced above, and not according to some political agenda fused onto them, in effect ignoring its first thirteen words. 

Doing this will require a President to appoint Justices who will interpret the Second Amendment by what it actually says and not politically, expanding the Supreme Court if necessary to do that, not just waiting for vacancies to occur, and a significant majority supporting that President in the Senate where confirmation of Justices takes place.

Ending gun violence turns out to be a problem which can only be solved by voters supporting presidential and senatorial candidates committed to doing so. Until then, blood will flow regularly in the streets of America.

JL

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Republican Fun and Games

Here’s a column by Dana Milbank published last Friday (Nov. 18) in the Washington Post (consider subscribing to it), reporting the fun and games that the Republicans, who will now control the House of Representatives, are planning.  I sense the beginnings of the G.O.P. starting to develop what the Democrats have had for years, a circular firing squad.

As Republicans Take the House, the ‘Crazies’ Take the Wheel’

"Wednesday evening, Republicans formally won control of the House.

Thursday morning, in the first public act of the new majority, senior House Republicans revealed their most urgent priority: They would investigate Hunter Biden.

The incoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the incoming chairman of the Oversight Committee, James Comer, R-Ky., and about 10 other members of the brand-new majority walked into the House TV studio first thing Thursday to announce multiple probes into the president’s son.

“Hunter Biden was conducting business with suspected human traffickers,” they asserted, and “Hunter Biden and Joe Biden were involved in a scheme to try to get China to buy liquefied natural gas,” and “credit cards and bank accounts of Hunter and Joe Biden were commingled” and “Hunter wanted keys made for Joe Biden” to his office. They mentioned Hunter two dozen times in their opening statements alone.

Reporters tried to ask questions about other topics. Comer cut them off. “If we could keep it about Hunter Biden, that would be great,” he said, explaining that “this is kind of a big deal, we think.”

“Why make this your very first visible order of business?” one reporter asked.

Comer assured her that other pressing issues would also be addressed: “Kevin [McCarthy] said the first legislation we’re going to vote on is to repeal the 87,000 IRS agents.”

Great idea! After a GOP campaign focused on crime, their first legislative act will be to protect criminals. They’ll try to block the hiring of IRS enforcement personnel (the true number is much less than 87,000) assigned to crack down on the wealthiest tax cheats. Voters who elected Republicans to fight inflation and gas prices might be feeling puzzled, if not swindled.

But, in fairness, the noisiest voices in the GOP have other plans, too: They also want to cut off military aid to Ukraine as it fights off Russia’s invasion.

A few hours after the Comer and Jordan show, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., took the same stage to announce plans to force a vote on ending funds for Ukraine. “Is Ukraine now the 51st state?” asked Greene, who alleged an elaborate cryptocurrency conspiracy in which military aid for Ukraine actually funds Democrats’ campaigns.

Not too long ago, the Republican Party stood against Russian aggression. But with the GOP’s single-digit majority in the new House, the oddballs hold all the power. “You’ve heard Leader McCarthy say publicly that he doesn’t see very good odds for much funding for Ukraine going forward in a Republican-controlled conference,” Greene pointed out.

Fellow crank Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., agreed: “I will not vote for one more dollar to Ukraine!”

It was heartwarming to see Greene and Gaetz on the same page again. Earlier in the week, they were feuding about whether to deny McCarthy the speakership (the defection of even a couple of Republicans could doom him).

Greene backed McCarthy for speaker and told McCarthy’s critics (including many of her fellow members of the far-right Freedom Caucus) to bring it on. “I’m not afraid of the civil war in the GOP — I lean into it,” she said on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast.

Gaetz shot back: “Whatever Kevin has promised Marjorie Taylor Greene, I guarantee you this: At the first opportunity, he will zap her faster than you can say ‘Jewish space laser’” — a reference to the antisemitic sentiments that got Greene kicked off her committees. McCarthy has promised to restore her privileges.

McCarthy’s age-old ambition to be speaker is again teetering. Thirty-one House Republicans opposed his nomination as speaker this week — many times the number needed to sink him when the full House votes in January.

Kevin McCarthy, who may or may not 
become Pelosi's successor as House Speaker

Even if he wins the job, he might soon wish he hadn’t. That’s because he’ll only get it by signing an endless pile of IOUs the crazies are demanding: impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Multiple Hunter Biden investigations. A select committee to investigate China. An investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, investigation. Investigations of Anthony Fauci and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And a panoply of probes into the Justice Department and the FBI. McCarthy is going to be held “completely hostage,” outgoing Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., predicted.

The same day Republicans were yammering about investigating Hunter and defunding Ukraine, outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced her retirement from leadership after two decades in charge of House Democrats. She was the first woman to be speaker and one of the most effective ever to hold that role.

Yet, most Republicans skipped Pelosi’s announcement on the House floor (and a few opted for social-media taunts). Among the missing was McCarthy, who explained: “I had meetings.”

One of those meetings McCarthy had Thursday was with Greene, who informed him of her anti-Ukraine maneuver. “I said, ‘I’m having a press conference at 4,’” Greene recounted. “And he said, ‘OK.’”

Of course he did. The crazies are all knocking at his door. And if he wants to be speaker, there is only one answer to their demands: “OK.”

(Dana Milbank is an opinion columnist for The Washington Post.)

 JL

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Poetry Re-Visited

This poem that I wrote for the July 30 posting on this blog, and which has been included in many postings since then, also recently appeared in my community’s magazine, receiving much favorable comment.  Only the original July 30 posting, however, included my explanatory notes about the meaning of the poem.  Here is the poem again, for the umpteenth time, and with those notes.

America Afloat

 Jack Lippman

The greatness of America

Is that it does survive

Attacks upon democracy

Whose flame it keeps alive.



The laws that blossom from the words

The Founding Fathers wrote

Still serve us well today to keep

America afloat.

 

This doesn’t happen by itself,

We cannot wish it true,

The bottom line, my friends, is that

It all depends on you.

                                               *   *   *

I am proud of this poem.  It is not just a collection of patriotic rhymes. It sums up a lot of my thoughts. 

It was written in response to the meaningless slogan of the defeated former president, ‘Make America Great Again,’ which encourages his supporters to look back to any time in the past that they think was better than what America is today, casting negative aspersions on any changes which may have occurred since that elusive time in the past that they feel have diminished America’s greatness, and pointedly reduced their own traditional social and economic positions.

The first verse points out that what really makes America great has been its ability to survive the attacks on democracy presented by the crises of 1776, 1812, 1860, 1918, 1941, 2001, and most recently, by the efforts of the defeated former president to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power which has followed every presidential election in American history except his, culminating in violence on January 6, 2021. That ability enables America to continue its role as a ‘city on a hill,’ serving as a democratic beacon to other nations.

The second verse points out that America is a nation based on laws, as established in the Constitution and those subsequently developed in the spirit of that document and of the Declaration of Independence as well. The unspoken alternative to 'staying afloat' is 'sinking.'

The third verse assigns responsibility for maintaining this greatness to us as individual citizens.

JL

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Customer Service

As of late, I have been having trouble dealing with the customer service people at several business that I patronize.  That’s because these companies had outsourced their customer service operations to companies that specialize in performing this function.  They are often located in the Philippines or somewhere in Latin America, resulting in their people lacking familiarity with the area where the companies employing them do business, making communications difficult. I suspect that I am not the only person experiencing such difficulties.

Sometimes these customer service operations cannot do much more than reply to basic questions, the kind that usually can be answered ‘online,’ and must refer more complicated problems, such as authorizing refunds or even changing credit cards, to other sites, unavailable to the customer, for handling. The result is inferior service from what was once available when a business maintained its own local customer service operation. Getting  to speak to a supervisor is rarely possible since the supervisor may be thousands of miles from the customer service person to whom one is speaking. Another complication is that a customer service representative may be handling several different companies from their desk and have different sets of rules to follow for different client companies. 

Finally, it is unpatriotic for American businesses to ship jobs overseas, and most of these customer service jobs are indeed outside of the United States, so long as there are Americans available to take these jobs right here. 

A solution to this problem might be to impose a tax penalty on businesses that outsource their customer service operations.  What they are doing, providing a service, is different from a company that outsources its manufacturing, for which such penalties would be impractical, amounting to a tariff.  Customer service is a different ball game entirely and most businesses can well afford to bring back their customer service to where it is closer to the customer it is intended to serve.  Such a penalty might encourage them to do so.

JL

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Voting By Mail is Not a 'Forever' Thing


 A Reminder to those who have voted by mail.  In Florida, at least, you must now renew your request to be sent a 'vote by mail' ballot in the future.  In Palm Beach County, visit 

https://www.pbcelections.org/Voters/Vote-By-Mail.  

Elsewhere, contact your County Supervisor of Elections, but remember, at least in Florida, your old vote-by-mail request runs out at the end of this year!

 JL

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And of course, please forward this posting to anyone you think might benefit from reading it.  The place to send them is: 

https://jackspotpourri.blogspot.com

Important 'Forwarding' Addendum - It has come to my attention that Google Blogspot, the platform on which Jackspotpourri is prepared, has revised its forwarding abilities.  If you click on the envelope with the arrow at the conclusion of every posting, (it looks like this:), you will have the opportunity to list as many email addresses as you wish, along with a comment from you, each of which will receive a link to the full blog that you now are reading, with all of its bells and whistles.  This is a great advance from the very basic format Google Blogspot originally provided when they forwarded something.  It might take a few minutes longer to be sent but this method of forwarding offers the advantage of being able to forward jackspotpourri to many addresses simultaneously.  Either way will work, sending them the link above or clicking on the envelope at the bottom of this posting.

 JL

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