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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.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Our "Coalition" to Defeat ISIS, Technology Rules Video, Subsidizing Sports and Medical Marijuana in Florida


What Coalition to Defeat ISIS?

(Events are moving rapidly in the Middle East, so rapidly that this material, current as of this morning ... 9/23/14 ... may be outdated by the time you are reading it.)

No matter how hard the United States tries to build up an alliance against ISIS, I feel that the surrounding Arab and Muslim states will be reluctant to put troops on the ground to play a role in defeating the “Islamic State.” Even in Iraq itself, it is reported that only half of its army can be considered trustworthy.  

Of course, coalition partner Sunni states such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates fear ISIS, but they do so because the Islamic State is pledged to abolish secular governments in the Arab world, replacing them with what amount to theocracies. When it comes to troops on the ground, It will be very difficult to get Sunnis to battle Sunnis, particularly when those they will have to attack are part of the most successful opposition to Syria's Iranian-supported Alawite regime, opposed by these nations, which happens to be ISIS.

Our "ally," oil-rich Qatar also is financing ISIS.  Meanwhile, they house a USAF base and as Sunni Muslims, are helpful to us in working with the Taliban and other hostage holders, but they also cooperate with Shia’ Iran. Actually, we need them as brokers more than they need us.   This more or less also applies to the other states on the Persian Gulf.

Turkey, which shares a 500 mile border with Syria and Iraq, is buying stolen oil from ISIS, and allows free back and forth traffic over that border.  Our bases there cannot be used in attacking ISIS.  At this point, they cannot be counted upon.

I cannot see Saudi Arabia, from some of whose citizens financial support for ISIS comes, ever putting put ground troops in action against their Sunni brethren in ISIS.  Troops on the ground is quite a step from a token role in air raids.

These countries want to get rid of Bashir al-Assad in Syria, where the Shia’ Iranians and Russians have significant influence.  They fear Iran. They see ISIS as the strongest opponent to Assad, having already taken over a large portion of Syria, and are reluctant to fight the Islamic State whose defeat would actually serve to strengthen Assad.  Our attempt to find and arm Sunni rebels in Syria who are more “moderate” than ISIS is a gigantic task so long as Assad considers ISIS to be his prime antagonist in Syria.  Once "moderate" rebels are armed, will they be more interested in attacking Assad than their Sunni brethren in ISIS?  We do not know.  I commend the Congressmen who voted against arming them.

The military regime in Egypt, which outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood, is naturally opposed to the theocratic Islamic State, but not directly threatened by them and cannot be counted on as a partner on the ground.

As I have indicated in earlier postings, should the Islamic State take over most of present day Iraq, neighboring Iran would be in threatened directly since the Sunni – Shia’ schism would present its militancy right on their border.  Hence, Iran is the neighboring nation most likely to ultimately put troops into action against ISIS.   Despite its protestations against our battling the Islamic State, Iran would like to see ISIS disappear in both Syria and Iraq.  If Iran gets involved militarily, and if this is done in cooperation with the United States, it would put us on the wrong side in regard to the Assad regime in Syria, at least temporarily.  But it may happen. 

If it doesn’t, in the likely absence of real ground support from the neighboring Muslim nations, we might have to send it our own troops to defeat ISIS.  Already, mixed signals are coming from the Iranians.  They smirk as they say that we are not willing to sacrifice American lives to defeat ISIS, but they have also said that the Islamic State is actually a creation of the CIA, allowed to grow only to justify the United States ultimately reoccupying Iraq and dominating the area, a place where Iran feels it should be the major influence.  We should assure them that is not the case.

The Islamic State is a threat to Muslims throughout the Middle East, most of whom do not prescribe to its strict religious orthodoxy. It is a threat to all Muslim secular governments, Arab or otherwise.  It also professes to be an opponent of the United States which, for all of the wrong reasons, most of the Arab world considers to be an enemy.   Americans and Western Europeans throughout the world are not safe so long as it exists.  I feel our best avenue is to continue bombing the Islamic State's roads and forces in Iraq and Syria on a daily basis and also find a way to work with the Iranians, and to do so without compromising the safety of Israel.  This will be a long and a Herculean task.
Jack Lippman

Technology Rules

Here is how technology is changing the world we live in.  Go to sleep, as Rip Van Winkle did, and wake up a generation later ... and you will be mystified.  Check out this fascinating eight and a half minute video ... and if you cannot access it, visit it via your browser at



Should Sports Get Favorable Tax Treatment

I think that everyone understands that when someone gets a tax exemption, the tax revenues that are lost are made up by those who pay taxes.  Similarly, when the government subsidizes someone, that money has to come from somewhere, and eventually it is from those who pay taxes.

When a community subsidizes, usually with a bond issue, a stadium for professional sports, the money to service that bond issue comes from taxpayers.   

Marlins Park in Miami, subsidized by a Miami-Dade County bond issue

The argument usually is that the stadium will attract taxpaying businesses and visitors which will more than make up for the supposed cost to the taxpaying base.  That usually doesn’t happen.  Making the picture even worse, Major League Baseball and the National Football League take advantage of every tax loophole their accountants can find. 
Major League Baseball was actually exempt from taxes until 2008 when they decided to pay them rather than make some disclosures as to how much they actually were making.  Bill Veeck, legendary team owner, once complained, “Why should we pay taxes; we play the Star Spangled Banner before every game!”

Bill Veeck (rhrymes with 'wreck')

In the old, old days, a baseball team was usually sponsored by a beer company which sold its product in the stadium, the cost of which was borne by the team’s owner.  Sometimes the two were the same, as were the Busch family’s Cardinals and the Ruppert family’s Yankees.  The tax payer wasn’t involved until later, when they were asked to build stadiums and provide tax exemptions.

The NFL’s front office (not the individual teams) got its tax exempt status when to avoid anti-trust problems, it merged with the upstart American Football League in 1966.  This was accomplished by the league agreeing to put an expansion team in New Orleans and thereby gaining the crucial support of Louisiana Senators and Congressmen. 
Something about this just doesn’t seem right.  It seems that taxpayers end up subsidizing sports businesses to a far, far, greater extent than they subsidize other businesses which make use of tax exemptions and loopholes.  Play Ball!

Medical Marijuana on Florida Ballot

About a week ago, there appeared on the op-ed page of the Palm Beach Post a column by several former Florida Supreme Court Justices which urged a “No” vote on the Amendment to the Florida Constitution which will be on the ballot in November, legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.  It highlighted several flaws in the Amendment’s language. 

All too often, instead of passing a law, our cowardly legislators resort to a State Constitutional Amendment to get something done.  Thusly, they can get off of the hook as to being for or against it.  (This Amendment did not originate in the Legislature; interested parties petitioned for its inclusion on the ballot.)  But when a Constitutional Amendment is flawed, as this one is according to the writers, it is very, very difficult to correct, far more so than if it were a piece of legislation.

I probably will vote for the Amendment because I believe that it will provide relief for those who need marijuana for medical reasons, and generally change the public’s perception of the use of cannabis.  It is an area where the government and law enforcement is somewhat out of touch with what is and is not acceptable in society today.  As for the obvious flaws in the Amendment, I would hope that they will be dealt with effectively in administering it so that the fears of the Justices will not reach fruition.  It’s a hard choice, but I feel that facilitating the medical use of marijuana is more important than objecting to the language of a poorly drafted Amendment.  Here is the text of the op-ed.  Make up your own mind.

As former Florida Supreme Court justices, we once took an oath to protect the Florida Constitution. Today, we call on all Floridians to protect it by voting “No” on Amendment 2. This amendment, promoted as a compassionate effort to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, should be rejected – regardless of one’s position on the issue.
Why should those who are both for and against medical marijuana vote “No” on Amendment 2? We offer five reasons.
First, the amendment is so broadly cast and vague, it will open the door to the general use of marijuana, not the carefully regulated medical use of a drug for those truly suffering. When proposed amendments are placed on the ballot, voters see a ballot title and ballot summary written by the amendment sponsors. Most voters don’t have the time or inclination to read the full text, much less study its impact. We have read the amendment and studied its impact. And, we are troubled by what voters are being told about Amendment 2. Voters are led to believe that medical marijuana could be used only for “debilitating diseases.” But the full text of the amendment allows the use of marijuana for virtually any medical condition at the discretion of any recommending physician, and no actual prescription is required.
Second, Amendment 2 endangers Floridians by granting broad immunity from criminal and civil liability to virtually everyone involved in the chain of custody of marijuana. Today, our criminal and civil justice systems protect citizens from harmful acts and compensate victims and families in cases of medical malpractice and negligence. But under Amendment 2, those providing and using medical marijuana, including every “certifying physician,” would be immune from basic enforcement and accountability that protect our safety.
Third, Amendment 2 creates a right to use marijuana, coupled with a right to privacy for medical marijuana users, without regard to age. This could be construed to allow minors to obtain marijuana for purported medical reasons without the knowledge or consent of their parents.
Fourth, Amendment 2 creates the role of medical marijuana “caregiver.” There is only one requirement to be a caregiver — be at least 21. Amendment 2 requires no medical expertise, training or background checks for caregivers, who would have the authority to provide marijuana to multiple individuals. This caregiver provision could be used as a legal shield to protect drug dealers from prosecution. The Florida Department of Health estimates that if Amendment 2 passes, there will be approximately 250,000 caregivers and nearly 1,800 pot shops that would dispense marijuana. This calls into question the state’s ability to adequately regulate the distribution of marijuana, since it would not be obtained from traditional pharmacies but from shops run by the marijuana industry.
Fifth, if Amendment 2 is approved, it would be almost impossible to fix its many flaws because it would be enshrined in the constitution, rather than being a general law that can be changed or improved as needed to respond to inevitable problems.
Whether marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes is an issue about which reasonable people disagree and more study is needed. But anyone who reads the full text of Amendment 2 should readily agree that it is plagued by loopholes and vagueness that would lead to myriad unintended and undesirable consequences. Amendment 2 doesn’t belong in the Florida Constitution.

For your information, here is the text of what will appear on the Ballot as Amendment 2 on November 4.

BALLOT SUMMARY: Allows the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers. Applies only to Florida law. Does not authorize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.

And here is the full text of the proposed Constitutional Amendment being voted on.  (This is what we get if it passes.)

ARTICLE X, SECTION 29. Medical marijuana production, possession and use.—
(1) The medical use of marijuana by a qualifying patient or personal caregiver is not subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law except as provided in this section.
(2) A physician licensed in Florida shall not be subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law for issuing a physician certification to a person diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition in a manner consistent with this section.
(3) Actions and conduct by a medical marijuana treatment center registered with the Department, or its employees, as permitted by this section and in compliance with Department regulations, shall not be subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law except as provided in this section.
(b) DEFINITIONS. For purposes of this section, the following words and terms shall have the following meanings:
(1) “Debilitating Medical Condition” means cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis or other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.
(2) “Department” means the Department of Health or its successor agency.
(3) “Identification card” means a document issued by the Department that identifies a person who has a physician certification or a personal caregiver who is at least twenty-one (21) years old and has agreed to assist with a qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana.
(4) “Marijuana” has the meaning given cannabis in Section 893.02(3), Florida Statutes (2013).
(5) “Medical Marijuana Treatment Center” means an entity that acquires, cultivates, possesses, processes (including development of related products such as food, tinctures, aerosols, oils, or ointments), transfers, transports, sells, distributes, dispenses, or administers marijuana, products containing marijuana, related supplies, or educational materials to qualifying patients or their personal caregivers and is registered by the Department.
(6) “Medical use” means the acquisition, possession, use, delivery, transfer, or administration of marijuana or related supplies by a
qualifying patient or personal caregiver for use by a qualifying patient for the treatment of a debilitating medical condition.
(7) “Personal caregiver” means a person who is at least twenty-one (21) years old who has agreed to assist with a qualifying patient's medical use of marijuana and has a caregiver identification card issued by the Department. A personal caregiver may assist no more than five (5) qualifying patients at one time. An employee of a hospice provider, nursing, or medical facility may serve as a personal caregiver to more than five (5) qualifying patients as permitted by the Department. Personal caregivers are prohibited from consuming marijuana obtained for the personal, medical use by the qualifying patient.
(8) “Physician” means a physician who is licensed in Florida.
(Continues on next page)
(Continued from previous page)
(9) “Physician certification” means a written document signed by a physician, stating that in the physician's professional opinion, the patient suffers from a debilitating medical condition, that the potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for the patient, and for how long the physician recommends the medical use of marijuana for the patient. A physician certification may only be provided after the physician has conducted a physical examination of the patient and a full assessment of the patient’s medical history.
(10) “Qualifying patient” means a person who has been diagnosed to have a debilitating medical condition, who has a physician
certification and a valid qualifying patient identification card. If the Department does not begin issuing identification cards within nine (9) months after the effective date of this section, then a valid physician certification will serve as a patient identification card in order to allow a person to become a "qualifying patient" until the Department begins issuing identification cards.
(1) Nothing in this section shall affect laws relating to non-medical use, possession, production or sale of marijuana. (2) Nothing in this section authorizes the use of medical marijuana by anyone other than a qualifying patient.
(3) Nothing in this section allows the operation of a motor vehicle, boat, or aircraft while under the influence of marijuana. (4) Nothing in this law section requires the violation of federal law or purports to give immunity under federal law.
(5) Nothing in this section shall require any accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana in any place of education or employment, or of smoking medical marijuana in any public place.
(6) Nothing in this section shall require any health insurance provider or any government agency or authority to reimburse any person for expenses related to the medical use of marijuana.
(d) DUTIES OF THE DEPARTMENT. The Department shall issue reasonable regulations necessary for the implementation and enforcement of this section. The purpose of the regulations is to ensure the availability and safe use of medical marijuana by qualifying patients. It is the duty of the Department to promulgate regulations in a timely fashion.
(1) Implementing Regulations. In order to allow the Department sufficient time after passage of this section, the following regulations shall be promulgated no later than six (6) months after the effective date of this section:
a. Procedures for the issuance of qualifying patient identification cards to people with physician certifications, and standards for the renewal of such identification cards.
b. Procedures for the issuance of personal caregiver identification cards to persons qualified to assist with a qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana, and standards for the renewal of such identification cards.
c. Procedures for the registration of Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers that include procedures for the issuance, renewal, suspension, and revocation of registration, and standards to ensure security, record keeping, testing, labeling, inspection, and safety.
d. A regulation that defines the amount of marijuana that could reasonably be presumed to be an adequate supply for qualifying patients’ medical use, based on the best available evidence. This presumption as to quantity may be overcome with evidence of a particular qualifying patient’s appropriate medical use.
(2) Issuance of identification cards and registrations. The Department shall begin issuing qualifying patient and personal caregiver
identification cards, as well as begin registering Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers no later than nine months (9) after the effective date of this section.
(3) If the Department does not issue regulations, or if the Department does not begin issuing identification cards and registering Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers within the time limits set in this section, any Florida citizen shall have standing to seek judicial relief to compel compliance with the Department’s constitutional duties.
(4) The Department shall protect the confidentiality of all qualifying patients. All records containing the identity of qualifying patients shall be confidential and kept from public disclosure other than for valid medical or law enforcement purposes.
(e) LEGISLATION. Nothing in this section shall limit the legislature from enacting laws consistent with this provision.
(f) SEVERABILITY. The provisions of this section are severable and if any clause, sentence, paragraph or section of this measure, or an application thereof, is adjudged invalid by any court of competent jurisdiction other provisions shall continue to be in effect to the fullest extent possible.

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People who live in most countries in the Middle East do not get to vote on questions such as this.  In fact, bringing up this question in the Islamic State could lead to your losing your head!  So cherish our freedoms and vote, whether you reside in Florida or somewhere else, where other questions and candidates will be on the ballot!



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Jack Lippman 

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