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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.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Thoughts on the Aurora Shootings, Armageddon in Washington, The End of the Road and Something from Sid

Thoughts on Assault Weapons

Sadly, nothing is going to be done to reduce the availability of assault weapons to Americans, despite the killings by a deranged man in Aurora, Colorado.  The Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the right of citizens to bear arms.  The Supreme Court has affirmed this in a manner which even negates some local restrictions on gun ownership.  


Personally, I disagree with the Court and believe that the purpose of the Second Amendment was simply to guarantee that Americans, if called into military service in defense of their country, would have a weapon to bring with them, a necessity in those early days when the government couldn’t provide arms to those called into service.  Others take the Amendment to mean that Americans are guaranteed a final resource, their weapons, if their government ever becomes oppressive and tyrannical.  (Didn’t Thomas Jefferson say that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants”?  Such “refreshing” requires weapons.)  Most of the Amendment’s supporters today though, and this includes the Supreme Court, simply feel that Americans have the right to own weapons for sporting, collecting, hunting and if necessary, self-protection.

Politicians are very reluctant to support gun control, even if limited to assault weapons, because of the vast number of privately owned weapons in the country and the votes of their owners, including the more than four million members of the National Rifle Association.  It is believed by some that their votes cost Bill Clinton control of Congress in 1996 and lost the election for Al Gore in 2000.  So candidates for office resort to the safe political course of supporting full enforcement of whatever laws are currently on the books to make certain those who sell guns make sure that all purchases are in total compliance with such laws, with no corners being cut. That all of the purchases made by the Aurora killer were within the law illustrates the extent of the problem.  

Our lawmakers are afraid that a vote for gun control of any degree will arouse the ire of the National Rifle Association, bringing about charges that such laws take away Constitutionally guaranteed rights and putting the legislator's ability to be elected in great jeopardy.  And right now, the Supreme Court is on the NRA's side.


When we finally get around to it, and sooner or later we will, the key to tightening gun laws will be to first attempt to limit weapons which are clearly intended for much more than just hunting, sports use or self protection.  Clearly, assault weapons such as automatic rifles which can spray an area with bullets in a rapid file mode should be banned.  Their continued availability will be defended by the National Rifle Association, of course, but that will be an increasingly difficult position for them to maintain since any legitimate use of such weapons is hard to envision.  Their features include high capacity magazines, folding or collapsible stocks, pistol or thumbhole grips, barrel shrouds, flash suppressors, threaded barrels which allow for temporary attachment of suppressors, and bayonet lugs none of which enhancements are required for sports use, hunting nor personal self-defense.  

Opponents of gun control are quick to point out that the presence of such features was not really necessary for the shootings at Aurora, Columbine, Fort Hood and at Virginia Tech to have occurred.  These shootings would have taken place anyway they claim, regardless of whether or not these weapon enhancements were available to the shooters.  They believe that restricting such sophisticated weaponry, thereby taking away freedoms from all gun owners, would not have deterred the deranged perpetrators.    

Yes, but while perhaps such restrictions would have somewhat reduced the carnage, the results would still have been tragic.

        I apologize for the quality of the preceding chart, but I felt it was worth reproducing

          Is this fellow (with an AR-15) hunting, "sports" shooting  or just protecting himself?
I still feel that ultimately, the legal climate will change sufficiently so that weapons with such features will be banned. It is hard to believe that Americans, including the majority of Supreme Court Justices, are that stupid.  

I envision that we will start with restrictions on the number of rounds of ammunition a weapon’s magazine can hold.  How many shots do you think a gun owner should be able to get off before having to reload a weapon’s magazine?  6? 10? 100?  It will probably take another tragedy, unfortunately, for the nation to begin to address that question. 

Another tack will be the long term discrediting of the NRA.  Recently, that organization pushed for legislation in Florida and some other states prohibiting pediatricians from asking parents if there were weapons in the house, in the interest of the safety of the family’s children.  Such NRA positions weaken the organization’s image because they clearly put the group’s anti-gun control agenda ahead of common sense.  It would be good for local NRA representatives to be on call to visit emergency rooms as a learning experience when wounded children, hurt while playing with a family’s guns, arrive by ambulance. 


Finally, here is a question to mull over.  Rank the following organizations according to the danger each poses to democracy in the United States:
a.    The Communist Party
b.    Al Quaeda
c.    The National Rifle Association
d.    The American Civil Liberties Union

Jack Lippman                                                                 


The End of the Road

I went to a funeral the other day, and don’t ask me why, but the lyrics to Sir Harry Lauder’s signature song, The End of the Road, came into my mind as I was driving home. 
Lauder was the biggest star on the English stage for over a quarter of a century, achieving world-wide acclaim.  He passed away in 1950, but many of us may recall seeing him on the old “Ed Sullivan Show.”  Lauder composed this song after being told of his son’s death in battle during the First World War.  I have an old 33 1/3 LP recording of Lauder singing this and some of his other hits and will gladly play them for you.  (There is nothing comparable around today.  Actually, all of his songs sound better with a “wee deoch an doris.”  Feel free to Google that.}

The End of the Road  

Verse 1
Ev'ry road thro' life is a long, long road,
Fill'd with joys and sorrows too,
As you journey on, how your heart will yearn,
For the things most dear to you.
With wealth and love 'tis so,
But onward we must go.

Keep right on to the end of the road, keep right on to the end,
If the way be long, let your heart be strong, keep right on round the bend.
If you're tired and weary, still journey on, till you come to your happy abode,
Where all you love you've been dreaming of will be there at the end of the road.

Verse 2
With a big stout heart to a long steep hill,
We may get there with a smile,
With a good kind thought and an end in view,
We may cut short many a mile.
So let courage ev'ry day,
Be your guiding star alway.

Repeat Chorus twice      



Armageddon in Washington Looms

Way back last year when Congress was debating increasing the debt ceiling, they finally agreed to do so, but without increasing taxes nor cutting services, at the price of instituting drastic changes to take effect on January 1, 2013 which would do two things:  
1. The Bush tax cuts would be allowed to expire, raising every American's taxes, and 
2. Crippling spending cuts would go into effect hampering almost everything government does including military and social spending. 

With this "Armageddon" type threat hanging over the nation, a bi-partisan Congressional panel was formed to come up with a solution.  It failed to do anything, so right now, the United States of America is heading for a suicidal economic disaster in about five months.  If that happens, we will become a third world country.


What will happen?  I predict that Congress will approve a last-minute, short-term extension of our present tax system and spending patterns, either before the Presidential election, or shortly thereafter, and leave the tough decision-making to the newly elected Congress and Administration to tackle in early 2013.  

Sid’s Corner

Choices, Choices, and More Choices

Sid Bolotin

Psychologist, Barry Schwartz, in his 2004 book The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less states:

“Our brains — already over-worked & exhausted — cannot cope with too many choices. We’re asked if we want small, medium or large; full fat, half & half, soy or almond milk; vanilla, strawberry or chocolate; skinny, bootleg, boyfriend or bellbottom. Actually, being presented with too many options stresses our brain. It gives it too many things to compare & contrast. The problem with being given a lot of choices is that we simply don’t have the time to research or investigate all of them… & then we feel like we have failed.”

The above was crystallized for me recently when I was in Sears’ Electronics section waiting for an elderly customer to comprehend the youngish salesman’s explanation of the options available for the gentleman’s desire to get a “prepaid” cell phone. The customer looked to be in his late eighties or early nineties, slight of build, and sported a jaunty yacht captain’s white cap with a black visor. His younger, but still elderly companion was trying to help decipher the salesman’s rapid-fire description of options available from the array of choices hanging on the display rack. TracFone and Jitterbug were just two of the types available along with seemingly endless prepaid minute plans.


Because I had recently gone through my own search for a “pay as you go” plan for my needs, I empathized greatly with the poor man’s confusion as he repeated his pleas to his friend that he only needed a phone for emergencies, that he’d never be giving out the number for chit-chat, and that he wanted the most economical plan for his needs. He didn’t want to spend $100 for a Jitterbug, plus $14 per month. He was struggling to make his “best” choice.

Ironically I was at Sears with my wife because we were going through our own “tip-toe-through-the-tulips” adventure to find the “best” replacement for our defunct television. Costco, BJ’s, Brands Mart, Walmart, Best Buy, Target, et al were all on our list for exploration for the best deal.

Clearly, Mark, the salesman was anxious to be done with the phone guy. So, during a quiet moment while the elderly gentleman queried his friend as what the hell the salesman was saying, we told Mark that we were there to actually buy a television that was on sale for the “best” price we had found. With that knowledge Mark went into his final explanation of cost per minute of use represented by the multitude of pre-paid-minute cards with a blizzard of information that only served to intensify the old man’s bewilderment. Like a drowning man clutching at life preservers in the water, the glassy-eyed, exhausted customer collected brochures to take home, and staggered away…muttering, “Too much information that I don’t understand. I’ll have to study these at home.”

A final word from Publisher’s Weekly:
"Whether choosing a health-care plan, choosing a college class or even buying a pair of   jeans, Schwartz shows that a bewildering array of choices floods our exhausted brains, ultimately restricting instead of freeing us."


Most 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 contacting me at Riart1@aol.com.  

Also, be aware that www.Jackspotpourri.com is now available on your mobile devices in a modified, easy-to-read, format.

Our family of web sites includes:   www.computerdrek.com  - www.politicaldrek.com  -  www.sportsdrek.com  -  www.healthdrek.com.   

Check all of them out, find out what “drek” really means and feel free to submit your thoughts and articles for publication on these sites, which, while still “under construction,” already contain some interesting content.
Additional new material will continue to be posted on www.politicaldrek.com until the Presidential election.  New material will resume being added to the other three “drek” sites after November of 2012.

Jack Lippman
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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Looking Back on the Jubilee, Syria, Paranormal Experiences, a Sandal Wears Out, an Avian Rescue and Something from Sid

Looking Back on the Jubilee

I've just reviewed the blog posting of November 12, 2011, and it is still pertinent.  Read all about the Jubilee, as defined in the Book of Leviticus, and its application to our present day economic mess.  Go back and read it now.  Quickest way is to type the word "Jubilee" in the search box off to the right down towards the bottom.  I cannot imagine either Presidential candidate, regardless of their religious convictions, supporting these Biblical injunctions.  

No More Poll

We're removing the "poll" from the blog, folks.  Over the past seven days, during which there have been two postings, we've had about 135 "hits" in the United States and about 35 overseas, but only four responses to the "poll."  Perhaps it will come back during the week or two preceding the Presidential election, but for now, it is history.  (As for the question we asked, three of the four responders said that felons, once they've completely paid their debt to society, should be allowed to vote.  The fourth agreed, but said "not immediately.")

Stratfor, a private intelligence-gathering service, recently posted the following information regarding Syria.  It pretty much sums up the situation in that troubled land.  

"You probably hear about the Syria uprising every day. News agencies run stories of human atrocities and pontificate about Western intervention, but these stories don't tell you the endgame.  

The U.S. has left Iraq, and Iran is ready to fill the resultant power vacuum and raise its stature in the region. Syria is the current battleground for this wider struggle. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United States want to add Syria to the coalition of states counterbalancing Iran. Iran, on the other hand, needs to keep Syria as a strong ally in the Levant as a check on Israel. 

Then there are the Russians, whose relationship with the Syrians grants them access to the Mediterranean Sea and gives them leverage on the West.

What happens in Syria matters to all of us." 


  (For a more thorough treatment of this subject, go to www.stratfor.com.)


Jack Lippman


A Quote Worth Your Attention in this Election Year

"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
  Aldous Huxley

This is very applicable to members of Congress, regardless of party, who put their own agenda before a clear course of action dictated by "facts."  


Gotcha Men's Flip Flop Sandal Jackson - Brown at Sears.comA Shopping Experience

One sole on my old pair of flip-flops came off the other day and since they were about six years old, I threw them away.  I decided to buy a new pair, but this time, I sought a particular brand of which I have an even older pair and which still looks and feels great.  I found what I wanted online but my usual online store, Amazon.com, did not carry them.  Sears' web site did however, and they were on sale for 50% off as well.  But instead of buying them online from Sears and paying a $5 shipping charge, I went to a nearby Sears store after verifying online that they had my size in stock.  I found them and bought them.  

The store, however, had them tagged at the full price, and when the cash register indeed did confirm that they indeed were reduced 50%, the sales person was surprised that neither the price tag nor a sign at the display devoted to that particular brand reflected it.  So when you read that Sears may be headed for bankruptcy, don't be so quick to blame the economy.  It's the little things like this that add up to get poorly managed businesses  into trouble.


The Tunnel of Light

Harvey Sage, whose contribution to this posting appears below, also sent us this fine poem written by his friend, Theron White, who tells us of what appears to be a near death experience.

Did You See the Tunnel of Light?

"Did you see the Tunnel of Light?"
In the ER, they love the story:
Flat-liner from death untimely ripped.
Igor turned up the voltage, they joked.

No, I said. They say
What a baby sees in birth
Is a Tunnel of Light, and beyond
A world he hadn't dreamt of.

No, I said. Who can remember his birth?
Who can remember his death?

In Joyland, the Tunnel of Love
Is grown up in weeds. Gone are
The whispers and stolen kisses.
They text their love in the ER.

This is it, I said, when I knew I would die.
At the Third Word of the Seven, I was released--
It went black -- and awake in the ER, came
To me the miracle, not of return,
But I had trusted my life to hands
I have never seen.

The poem reminded me of a story I heard from a woman over coffee recently.  The conversation had turned to the kind of things we call paranormal experiences, such as what the poem might be describing.  She recalled that as a teen-ager, one day sitting on her porch, she saw her body rise from where she remained sitting and float or walk away, heading down the street.  She knew she was still on the porch, but her body … or something … had left her and she could see it departing.  Panicking, she got up and chased after it, urging it to come back, which it did, returning to where it belonged. She assured me that there were no drugs nor alcohol involved and that she had been awake throughout the entire experience. 

  I wonder whether, if she had not gotten whatever it was that she saw leaving her body to return, would she have died? Was this a "near death" experience?  Did it have religious significance to her, as the experience in the poem seems to have had for the poet?  Have you out there had any paranormal experiences?  Let’s hear about them.  Even anonymously.



Harvey Sage   (Based on a true incident) 

Doctor Karlo was out walking Early in the morning so there’d be no talking.  He glanced down and looked at his feet And saw a bundle at the side of the street.  Karlo is a hardnosed right winger. Yet when he saw that the bundle was a baby bird, he stooped over and picked it up. “Got to get you off the street little one before you get run over.” Was this anyway for a Tea Party Republican to act? He felt the birdling’s warmth. “Good. I see that you’re alive. Momma’s not around. I guess I’ll have to care for you.” Karlo brought the critter home.

His wife, Pam, thought he was nuts. “Why are we taking care of the bird? There are government agencies to take care of lost people and animals.” (Is his wife a Democrat?) She pointed at their two small dogs. “What are we running here, a zoo?”

Karlo gently put the bird in a basket and proceeded to give it water, which the bird eventually swallowed. She suggested that they try giving the little one moist dog food. Dr. Karlo, an ever obedient husband, did so. To their delight the bird pecked at it and swallowed. Now what to do?


For the next few days they nursed the bird back to health with water and dog food. The bird and the dogs eyed each other warily and it was obvious that Little One, as the bird was named, had to go. But to where? Pam called Animal Control and explained their plight. They were told by the receptionist (Republican or Democrat) that harboring wildlife was a class 3 misdemeanor. “But we saved its life,” she told A.C.

“No matter. If you want to care for wildlife you must submit Form Z32AD in triplicate. And make sure it’s notarized. Then we’ll send someone over, an A.C. tech and he’ll determine what to do. What is your name and address?” Pam was smart and hung up to avoid bureaucratic entanglement.

Soon Little One was ambulatory, sniffing and waging his hindquarters. It was time to let the bird loose since it was obvious that he was an Independent. So, after a final meal of dog food Karl and Pam brought the bird outside and placed it on the ground. Then it gave them a look (appreciation?), lifted its leg to pee, finished and began flying away, intermittently barking and chirping merrily.

Be thoughtful of what you give a bird to eat
It may not be bird food, though you think it’s a treat
If it is dog food containing meat
The bird may bark instead of tweet.


Sid’s Corner

Relationships      (Written in December 2002)

Sid Bolotin                            

Anita sped her vintage, restored VW up the winding driveway to her parent’s house. She was just bursting to tell her parents about her new relationship, her new love. As she passed under the towering Maples that lined both sides of the roadway, she remembered her days as a tomboy climbing them to lodge herself securely in their embracing branches, while she read romance novels and daydreamed of becoming the heroine in each story. She smiled thoughtfully as she realized that she was now the heroine of her own romance.                               

As the car exited the canopy of trees to enter the circular drive, Anita‘s breath caught in her throat as it always did when she sighted the grandeur of her family’s mansion perched on the bluff overlooking Boston harbor. She skidded the VW to a stop in front of the stairs, leaped out, and raced up the twenty marble steps to the front door.

Throwing open the door she bounded into the foyer calling out, “Mummy? Daddy? Where are you? I’m here! I have wonderful news!”

“We’re in the library, dear. Her mother called out. “Dad and I are just having our usual afternoon drink in front of the fire. Come on in.”

“Oh, Mummy, Daddy, I’m so happy,” Anita bubbled as she bounced into the mahogany-paneled room. After quickly pecking each of them on the cheek, she flopped onto an overstuffed loveseat, tucked her legs under her, and beamed at her parents.

“Well, Anita, don’t just sit there like a Cheshire cat,” her father commanded with a puff of his ever-present cigar. “Come out with it. What is it this time? Are you pregnant again?”

“Yes, yes,” interjected Mummy, “please tell us. What is your wonderful news?”

Ignoring Daddy’s last quip, Anita answered, “Well, guys, I’m in a new relationship and head-over-heels in love. I’ve never been so happy. This is it for me. No more singles bars, no more personal ads, and no more blind dates. This one is the one.”

“Humph,” grumbled her father, “I’ve heard this before. I’ll believe it when I see it. All those other guys were also ‘the one’. I’ve lost track of how many times you’ve repeated this scene. Ten?  Or is it closer to twenty? And each one of those was better than the last.”

“Yes, dear, Dad’s right. This seems like a perpetual replay. You’re almost thirty now, and we’ve given up that you’d ever commit to a long-term relationship. You’ve been such a butterfly, flitting from    lover to lover, that dad and I have resigned our selves to never becoming grandparents.”

“Oh don’t worry, Mummy,” Anita chuckled, “you will be grand parents and sooner than you think”

“Oh, no,” Mummy gasped, “you are pregnant.”
“No, no, I’m not pregnant. And, anyhow, we plan to adopt. We both want to help a child from China, Korea, or the Balkans. Chris feels very strongly about this; and I do too. It’s like we’re of one mind, like soul mates.”

“Oh, Anita, don’t do this to us,” Mummy cried out as she began to sob. “Think of our standing in the community. Don’t impose a foreign or racially different grandchild on us. What will our friends say? Where does Chris come from? Liberals? Do-gooders? Why not have your own? You’re still able. Your biological clock is still ticking. Please, Anita. This could even give your father a stroke. You know how your father feels about maintaining his lineage with his cronies at the country club.”

Anita’s father sat in stunned silence, his face was florid, and his eyes were almost popping out of their sockets as he sputtered, “That’s right, Anita. Your escapades have brought enormous embarrassment and sometimes shame on our heads. The drugs and the repeated running away broke our hearts. I’m not going to let you initiate more whispers in the club behind my back. I’ll pound sense into you and Chris. What is
he, some kind of bleeding liberal? Why can’t he be a man and father his own children? Give me his full name and phone number. I’ll straighten this out.”

 “No you won’t, Daddy. Not this time. I know what I want.  What Chris and I want. Even you can’t control this relationship. But go ahead; call if you want to. Chris’ phone number is (617) 555-0136.  Her full name is Christine Goldberg, and she’s the cantor at Temple Torah in Boston.


Most 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 contacting me at Riart1@aol.com.  

Also, be aware that www.Jackspotpourri.com is now available on your mobile devices in a modified, easy-to-read, format.

Our family of web sites includes:   www.computerdrek.com  - www.politicaldrek.com  -  www.sportsdrek.com  -  www.healthdrek.com.   

Check all of them out, find out what “drek” really means and feel free to submit your thoughts and articles for publication on these sites, which, while still “under construction,” already contain some interesting content.

Additional new material will continue to be posted on www.politicaldrek.com until the Presidential election.  New material will resume being added to the other three “drek” sites after November of 2012.

Jack Lippman
                                                    * * *   * * *   * * *
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.