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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.

Monday, December 12, 2016

December 19th, Gasoline Prices, a Parker Column and Election Postscript


December 19th

On Monday, December 19, the Electoral College will cast its votes.  The electors, with few exceptions, are not legally bound to vote the way the people in the states they represent voted. 

It is conceivable that some of them, primarily life-long “establishment” Republicans whose role in government and the Party had earned them the role of electors, are not overly thrilled with Donald Trump, particularly in view of some of his appointments, his unthinking and inappropriate thrusts into foreign policy and his continuing to “campaign” over a month after Election Day.  Some, lifelong anti-Communists, are appalled by the direction Trump seems to be taking in regard to Russia.

Donald Trump won 306 electoral votes on November 8.  One of those electors has already declared that he will not vote for Trump.  If 36 more make that choice, Donald Trump will not be elected by the Electoral College.  The chances of this happening are remote, but not inconceivable Minds can change over the next few days.

If Trump’s 306 electoral votes are diminished by just 37 independently-minded electors, the choice of our President will fall upon the House of Representatives, where each State will have one vote, with a simple majority needed to name a President.  Republicans dominate enough State delegations to guarantee that the House would name a Republican, and in all likelihood, they would name Donald Trump, but the door would actually be opened for other Republican to receive consideration.
Jack Lippman


Kathleen Parker Speaks Sense

Image result for kathleen parker

In a recent column, traditional Republican Kathleen Parker pointed out that “the Founding Fathers didn’t fully trust democracy, fearing mob rule, and so created a republic.”  She went on to say that “most important among the criteria for a president was that he (or now she) be qualified … and that the Electoral College was created as a braking system that would, if necessary, save the country from an individual such as Trump.”  Alexander Hamilton, she goes on to quote, wrote that the Electoral College “affords a moral certainty that the office of the President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”

I recommend that you read the entire column. And see what surprising conclusion this respected Republican columnist reaches.  Find it by clicking right here.


Gasoline Prices

Over the past few days, gasoline prices have gone up resulting in my glancing more often at the prices posted at gas stations which I drive past.   Friday morning, the Valero station at Jog and Clint Moore Roads in Boca Raton listed a price of $2.78 per gallon for regular gas, if purchased with cash.  Their credit card price was obviously higher.  I have always been aware that gas was more expensive in Boca, but when I drove a bit north and got to Boynton Beach, I saw that the prices were 40 cents a gallon less expensive, for either cash or credit purchases. $2.38 per gallon for regular.  Wow! 

Image result for gasoline pump
This reminded me of when, a few years back, I commented on the prices at the Sunoco station in Palm Beach, the only station on the island.  They were running about $1.50 more than prices a five minute drive over the bridges to West Palm Beach.
Initially, I thought that there must be a local tax on gasoline in Boca Raton and Palm Beach.  That is not the case, however.  Businessmen charge as much as the traffic will bear.  If the customers are comfortable enough not to care about that extra six or seven dollars when they fill up their tanks, why not charge it?

Or could it be that people who live in these places actually like to spend more than they have to for things which are less expensive elsewhere, just because they can easily afford it?   Does it make them feel good to be able to unnecessarily shell out extra money with a smile, gaining the respect of those receiving it, who then dutifully recognize them as being among the “very rich people” who have retired to Florida rather than the rest of us?
I would prefer it if gas prices in Boca Raton and in Palm Beach were not kept artificially high for the purpose of allowing residents there to take pride in their supposed wealth, if that is indeed the case. It would be easier just to put a sticker on their cars, or print a message on a tee shirt, saying “I am very rich, so respect me for it!”  $2.38 a gallon is just fine for me, as it probably would be for Warren Buffett if he lived in South Florida.  But a word of caution:  Don’t run out of gas in Boca nor in Palm Beach.  It’ll cost you.


Election Post-Postscript

Okay, it’s all becoming clear.  Super-salesman Donald Trump, totally unqualified for the position regardless of what he says, got himself elected President with the votes of the gullible and frightened voters out there, some of whose jobs were disappearing, and many others who were hoodwinked into believing a lot of meaningless malarkey about Hillary Clinton regarding emails and her family’s foundation. One must give the Trump campaign credit for knowing precisely where these voters were concentrated.

And with a conservative Republican Congress and ultimately a more conservative Supreme Court, the right wing is ready to roll, with or without the acquiescence of the White House!  (Or the majority of voters in the Presidential election for that matter.)

It is slowly dawning on Americans, at least those that are exposed to “real” newspapers and other reliable sources of information, that however desirable it might be to try to present balanced viewpoints on current issues, “truth is on one side or the other and that’s not partisanship.”  (Arianna Huffington - 2009)  So let’s remember that elections have consequences, easily visible to those whose eyes are open.

Just look at some of the President-elect’s proposed appointees named thus far: Steven Mnuchin (the great “forecloser”), Tom Price (the great health care privatizer), Betsy DeVos (the charter school fan of Amway fame), Nickki Haley (nice governor but no foreign affairs experience), Ben Carson (a brain surgeon to fix our urban housing?), Jeff Sessions (watch yo’ self, boy!), Scott Pruitt (the climate change denier), Andrew Pudzer (of light porn ad fame and job elimination), Rex Tillerson (Russian-decorated oil man likely to head State?), Mike Flynn (bringing insecurity to national security) and Steve Bannon (need I say more?).  And there are more appointments on the way!

  Likely Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson with a friend, whose government, incidentally, had presented Rex with their "Order of Friendship" in 2013.

This gang’s agenda shapes up as reduced taxes for businesses and the wealthy, demolition of government regulations by those who they were intended to regulate, foreign relations geared to making it easier to make money rather than to make peace, reduced social services for those who fall through a shredded safety net, greater reliance on the profit-oriented private sector for education, prisons, health care and infrastructure renewal and finally, a cozier than ever relationship between the Treasury and the investment banking industry. 

To make this rip-off of America palatable to the gullible, it will be dressed up in the cloak of our supposedly historic values consisting of opposition to abortion, enshrinement of the Second Amendment, subtle racial discrimination, traditional marriage, Christianity, conspicuous support of local police and putting women back where they belong in the kitchen with Betty Crocker and Aunt Jemima.  The gullible will initially eat this stuff up, just like they whooped it up at Trump rallies.

But the nation’s wealth, soon to be even more clustered at the top of the economy in private and corporate hands than it now is, will not “trickle down” to the middle and working classes, as the supply-side economics people say it should.  It never has and it won’t this time either.  That’s an even phonier argument than Hillary’s email servers ever were.  But the gullible believed it, and very well may continue to believe things that just aren’t so.
Perhaps it is time to stop calling certain Americans “gullible” and state what they really may be: “stupid.” Call it what you may, but it was a quality in the 2016 electorate that the Democrats badly underestimated.  It resulted in millions of voters casting ballots for a candidate whose appointments clearly indicate that they voted against their own interests!

And such voters were not what the Founding Fathers meant when they talked about “a well-informed electorate” being crucial to democracy.  Our “electorate” is far from “well-informed” and that applies to elections on levels ranging from “Presidential” down to “Town Councilmanic.”  That’s why those Founding Fathers restricted the electorate back in 1789.  They knew what would happen if they didn’t.  (One doesn’t have to know where Aleppo is or what “the nuclear triad” is, but one should at least be able to distinguish real news from “fake news.”)

Sooner or later, when the millions who were conned by Donald Trump finally wise up, primarily because the jobs he promised didn’t come back, the Republicans will be chased from office in the same manner as they were in 1932 after they last tried to keep the wealth of the nation in the hands of a very, very few.  At that time, the Presidency and both Houses of Congress turned Democratic.  It will happen again, but here’s the big caveat:  IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN ONLY IF THE NOW-THREATENED FREE PRESS MANAGES TO REMAINS ABLE TO ALERT AMERICANS TO WHAT WILL BE HAPPENING TO OUR COUNTRY.  (And that free press, besides facing tremendous economic challenges today, is now under less-than-subtle attack, aimed at its ability to nourish a "well-informed electorate"!)

Otherwise, the United States of America will slowly turn into the largest banana republic in the Western hemisphere.  And we don’t even grow bananas here.

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