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

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Iranian Nuclear Deal, the Nomination Seekers and Some Ideas about Ideas


The Iranian Nuclear Treaty
I feel that the nuclear treaty with Iran is a good thing.  Without it, Iran would be free to immediately proceed with the unimpeded development of nuclear weapons.  I feel that the inspection provisions are rigid enough to assure Iranian compliance for at least a decade, during which a lot of things can happen.

As for the removal of economic sanctions on Iran, it is hoped that the resultant strengthening of Iran’s economy will be used to benefit its people and not be used for exporting terrorism, but even if Iran directs it toward that latter end, it should not be a sufficient deterrent to justify walking away from the treaty.  And if we do, nothing will prevent the other signatory nations from removing their sanctions, rendering ours of little value.  The important thing is controlling nuclear research in Iran, which is what the treaty is all about.


                                          John Kerry Across the Table from Mohammad Zarif in 2015

                                              Nixon and Breznhev Negotiating in 1972

Remembering that treaties like this are not negotiated among friends and allies, I liken the Iran Nuclear treaty to the SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) Agreement which Richard Nixon signed with the Soviet Union in 1972, limiting the amount of nuclear weapons in each of our arsenals.  It did nothing to improve our otherwise hostile relationship with the USSR, increase freedoms in that country nor reduce its domination of Eastern Europe, but it did reduce the likelihood of mutually destructive nuclear warfare occurring.  Similarly, this treaty accomplishes the same kind of result in regard to Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, particularly as a threat to Israel and other Middle Eastern nations.  It  took almost twenty years for some changes to come about in the former Soviet Union,  and it is quietly hoped that as a side effect of the Nuclear Treaty with Iran,  a similar result will eventually occur there. In both situations, the United States negotiated with a nation it could not fully trust, but that is what international diplomacy is all about.  It did not deter us in 1972 and it should not in 2015.  

I invite any of you who disagree with these comments to send me an eMail (Riart1@aol.com) outlining what you feel are realistic alternatives to the treaty, rather than simply voicing your disagreement with what you might think is a “bad deal” as many politicians have.  I will be glad to include your comments  in the next blog posting, but please, if you disagree with me, SUGGEST ALTERNATIVES!
Jack Lippman


The Nominees in Your Mind's Eye
Here’s an interesting, and possibly unfair, exercise to aid in evaluating those seeking their party’s nomination to run for President in 2016.  It will take some imagination on your part, but I suspect it's just this kind of “imagining” that will sway the opinion of many voters.  See if you can picture in your mind’s eye each of the following nomination seekers in the following nine situations:   
Donald Trump  
Jeb Bush
Marco Rubio
Scott Walker
Chris Christie
Rick Perry
Lindsay Graham
Ted Cruz
Rand Paul
Hillary Clinton
Bernie Sanders
Ben Carson
John Kasich
Mike Huckabee          and anyone else who comes to mind. 


                                                        The Oval Office

From what you know of them, which of them simply “look right” in these situations?  Let’s go!
1.    Picture the nomination seeker sitting in a well-appointed room in a Palace in Switzerland discussing arms limitation and the Ukraine with Vladimir Putin.  The British and French Prime Minister are also in the room. 

2.     Picture the nomination seeker sitting in White House conferring with the President of Mexico about a variety of issues.

3.    Picture the nomination seeker sitting in the White House conferring with the Chairperson of the Federal Reserve Bank regarding increasing the interest rate on Federal funds.

4.     Picture the nomination seeker sitting in the South Korean Prime Minister’s office in Seoul discussing the threat posed by North Korea.

5.    Picture the nomination seeker throwing out the first pitch at the first 2016 World Series game.   (They all do it.  Coolidge, Reagan and George W. Bush pictured.)


6.     Picture the nomination seeker speaking on national TV the day following a shooting in a school or movie theater in which a dozen people were killed.

7.     Picture the nomination seeker sitting down in the Oval Office with the Speaker of the House, the House Minority leader, and the Senate Majority and Minority leaders, attempting to get them to compromise on a sensitive issue such as health care reform, social security reform or funding for the military.

8.     Picture the nomination seeker addressing the United Nations.

9.  Picture the nomination seeker conferring with any Muslim head of State, shortly after meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister (or vice versa).

Do you like what you are seeing One of these nominees will find themselves in these situations, or similar ones, starting on January 20, 2017.


I think that the only occasions when they arise spontaneously from someone’s mind is when that person is a genius.  Outside stimulation wasn’t necessary for Galileo, Michaelangelo, Mozart or Einstein.  Their fertile minds generated ideas on their own!  The minds of the rest of us, however, need stimulation.


Our minds need some kind of input to ignite the thought processes which produce our ideas.  And we get that input from our senses, particularly our hearing and vision.  The spoken words of those around us, the voices we hear on radio and television, what we see before us on television or computer monitors and what appears in print all stimulate our minds’ thought processes to come up with ideas.  Historically, the most significant of these stimuli have been the words that appear in books, newspapers and other periodicals.  Perhaps that will not always be the case, but it has been so since the printing press and movable type was invented by Gutenberg in the early Fifteenth century.  Before then, written documents were rarities which were not readily accessible to most people, few of whom could read anyway.  In those days, the spoken word was the single greatest stimulus for the creation of ideas.  Lectures were given in forums and tales were told around campfires and hearths.

Although more and more of what appears in books and other publications is now available through electronic devices, I feel that the printed word is still the single greatest stimulus to make your mind work, with television coming in a close second.

Do you have any political ideas?  Are there any politicians or parties you favor, or dislike?  Where did you get these ideas?  You were not born a liberal, conservative, progressive, libertarian or whatever.  Somewhere, somehow, you were exposed to input which set your mind to work making choices and developing your own ideas.  And that is good. 


Make sure that your mind is constantly stimulated!  Do this by reading one or more newspapers every day, preferably exposing yourself to a variety of opinions. Similarly, watching news and opinion programs on different TV networks is a good idea.  (It is just as bad for your mind to be stimulated by exclusively watching MSNBC as it is for it to be stimulated by exclusively watching Fox News.)  The same thing goes for what you read on the internet. Skip around.  Doing this brings different kinds of stimuli to your brain.  The same thing goes for books and magazines which provide even heavier doses of input.  All if this will result in your mind giving birth to ideas.  But you have to do it regularly and consciously.   

Needless to say, you shoud always consider the source of the input you choose to select.  A recent op-ed piece in the local paper touted "intense competition among health plans and providers" as a solution to the shortcomings they saw in Medicare and Medicaid.  This totally ignored the fact the fact that right now, Aetna Insurance is purchasing Humana and Anthem Insurance is purchasing Cigna, actions which lessen such competition.   Examination of the origin of this "input" identified it as the Heritage Foundation, and that explains why it took that particular position.   Always be aware of the source of the input!

Sadly, some people use their senses to receive only what they consider to be “pleasurable” input.  Usually such stimulation does not result in idea creation and while enjoyable, is purely transitory.  It literally and figuratively goes in one ear and out the other, tickling your senses as it passes through.  This kind of input is readily available electronically on television, the internet, in motion pictures, on personal devices, in magazines and occasionally in books.  It should be ingested in very limited amounts to provide occasional relief from the more meaningful kinds of input mentioned above.  Unfortunately, a steady diet of it can result in a mind devoid of any original ideas whatsoever. 

Such input is encouraged, unfortunately, by those in our society who like it when a significant portion of our population is indeed devoid of any ideas whatsoever, and can readily succumb to the blandishments of salesmen, politicians and other hucksters.  


Finally, it should be remembered that authoritarian governments, without exception, institute censorship and quickly take over electronic and print media so that the "input" available to the public can be rigidly controlled, influencing what goes on in the minds of its citizens.  To such governments, ideas can be dangerous!  

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Jack Lippman 


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