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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, February 28, 2017

Media and Matters Political plus a Poem


Media Matters … But Don’t Kid Yourself

The First Amendment guarantees a free press.  That’s why many who disagree with the Republican regime in Washington watch CNN and MSNBC to get a more truthful perspective on what is going on in our country.   That’s why many read the Washington Post and the New York Times and some of the articles and columnists of these newspapers carried by other papers throughout the nation.   Such honest journalism leaves some liberals, Democrats and others who have little confidence in the Republican Administration satisfied in believing that their anxieties and fears are being adequately voiced and hopefully addressed in the media.  BUT THEY ARE WRONG! 

Remember that the Administration, fearful of too many being exposed to the truth, has declared the media to be its enemy, and in fact, an “enemy of the people.” Many believe this to be so!  They should not be discounted!  Fighting this misconception keeps the media off balance and detracts from its mission of seeking out and reporting truth.

Actually, the place to go to for those who are concerned with the Republican regime in Washington is Fox News.  It is another world, a world where criticism of the Administration, when even voiced, it is done gently.  A world where as much time is still spent criticizing both Clintons and Barack Obama than is pointing up the alleged “accomplishments” of the current Administration. A world where knuckles are bared in challenging the media, which is to them the real problem, and not the issues the media addresses.  Where cutting taxes on businesses and the wealthy is the bottom-line solution for all of the country’s ills.  Try Sean Hannity some evening. 


Sean Hannity

And if Fox News, which has more viewers than either CNN or MSNBC, isn’t enough to awaken liberal eyes, visit www.breitbart.com to get the latest take on things from the “alt-right,” which has replaced the traditional conservative establishment as the conscience of the G.O.P. 

Some newspapers include opinion columns by writers from the right and from the left.  These pages have become confusing lately because many of the columnists “from the right” seem to be agreeing with some of the columnists “from the left” in some, but not all, of what they are writing.  This may be part of the basis of the Administration’s sweeping condemnation of the press as its enemy.  Everyone seems to be turning against the White House, at least in their eyes. It is time to watch for subtle attacks on the First Amendment rights on which our media’s freedom is based.  It happened in Germany.  It happened in Argentina.  It exists in Russia and elsewhere today.

Don’t be na├»ve. Remove yourself, at least temporarily, from the choir to which the honest, truthful, objective media is preaching.   Get some of your news and opinion from Fox News and www.breitbart.com.  Read the New York Post if you have the chance. There are millions of Americans who believe that the truth comes from only these sources, and all else is “fake news.”  And when you’re driving in your car, tune in to Rush Limbaugh.  He’s all over the dial.  Same stuff, and millions of listeners all day long!  And others like him!  Don’t kid yourself.   Listen to those with whom you disagree!  Be aware of what they believe.  If it makes you feel uncomfortable, that should motivate you to do something about it, to find a way to RESIST!
Jack Lippman



Steve Bannon – A Threat to the Republic

And speaking of www.breitbart.com, its former head, the brilliant Steve Bannon, who clearly has the President’s ear from his position as Senior Advisor, has unequivocally declared that he wants to “deconstruct the administrative state.”

Stop and think what these words mean.  The “administrative state” is the system whereby the Federal Government involves itself in taxation, regulation and trade.  It manages Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and provides an economic “safety net” for those who need one.  It also regulates many aspects of our economy for the overall good of the citizenry and the benefit of the nation.



Bannon wants to take apart (“deconstruct”) the Federal Government’s mechanisms for doing all of this.  He wants some left to the States, some turned over to the private sector and some just eliminated.  His platform is one of “economic nationalism,” whereby global concerns are always secondary to what is good for our country, regardless of the world-wide implications.  He chooses to downplay the fact that the United States shares the planet with over seven billion other people.  (This is not unlike the ideas of the Russian philosophical guru, Alexandre Dugin, who similarly has Vladimir Putin’s ear.)

Republicans, always eager to swallow the bait of “reduced taxes and less regulation,” will blindly follow him, but only up to a point.  Sooner or later, Bannon will overstep his limits of authority, and it will be the Republicans who will force his departure.  Until then, there is no limit to the amount of harm this man can do to the Republic, the Constitution and the entire world.  He presents a far greater threat to the United States than ISIS or even Russia. 
JL




I Write Letters

A letter of mine was published in the Palm Beach Post (which is a pretty fine newspaper for one with a daily circulation under 100,000 and a Sunday circulation under 150,000) last week, inspired by a column by Mona Charen.  Here’s the letter:

"Charen finally got one I agree with"

Although I disagree with much of what Mona Charen writes in her From the Right columns, her recent piece, “Nationalism, nor patriotism, is Trump’s dangerous style” (Monday), distinguishing between patriotism and nationalism, was right on the mark.
It’s too bad that too many shameless legislators who are from the right are so hungry to accept the votes that the president’s supporters bring to them that they ignore the truths Charen addresses, as well as many other truths
Jack Lippman

And if you want to read Ms. Charen’s column, the one which led to the letter, just click right here.

JL




Love Your Daily Newspaper or it will Disappear

And while talking about newspapers, it is important that they remain as a source of information to the public.  Most are struggling financially today.  Without them, there would be far less information for TV news outlets to pass on, and even less for internet news sources to publish.  It all starts with newspaper reporting. Their continued existence is crucial.  I personally subscribe to the Palm Beach Post.  Wherever you are, I urge you to subscribe to your local daily paper, or even the New York Times or the Washington Post.   Or at least, pick one up each day at a newsstand.  It is important to the continuance of democracy in our country.

Two interesting columns appeared in the Palm Beach Post last week.  One was written by Star Parker, who opposes Roe vs. Wade, and abortion in general.  Read it by clicking here.  

It would make far more sense to me, however, if Ms. Parker went on to explain how individuals or society would care for the unwanted children which would result from her position, many born into already economically distressed homes.   The “love, respect, responsibility and awe for the mystery of life” which she mentions is just not enough to get the job done.  

Another worthwhile column was Thomas Friedman’s division of the current administration into five separate presidencies. Click here to read it.   It’s a gem.

Read a newspaper every day!!  TV, magazines, the internet and radio are not enough!!

JL





The Three Issues that Matter

After all is said and done, and the tumult at “town halls” held by Members of Congress quiets down, there are just three issues on which Congressional candidates must take a stand.  These are the areas where the American people really have great concern:

1.    Affordable Health Care  



2.    Creating Jobs Paying Enough to Support a Family



3.    Not Getting our Boys and Girls in the Armed Forces Killed  


Nothing else really matters.  Not the environment, the infrastructure, trade, taxes, monetary policy, etc.  They all are secondary to these three issues.

Can the first two be dealt with by the private sector or is government involvement necessary?   Can the third be dealt with while still protecting our nation’s interests overseas, particularly in the Middle East?
JL





Poetry Corner

And here’s a poem of mine I recently came across.  It was included in a March, 2011 posting of this blog.  I think it’s worth posting again. 

The Tree Lover

It is enough to walk through a forest
And to see the trees, some ancient, some young,
Some just shoots emerging forth from between
Moist leaves on the forest floor and some dead,
Crashed to the ground and now nourishing bugs,
And this all has a smell, virile and sweet,
Sometimes sinister, more so at night when
Naught can be seen and the only sounds are 
Made by those who call the forest their home.





















But most times the forest is joyful as
It regenerates and grows and proves that
There is a Creator, indeed there is.
One need not go to a house of worship
One or more days a week to praise the Lord,
Once, twice, three times a day or even five,
Following whatever protocol is
Prescribed for offering praise to the Lord:

Shema Yisroel, Adonai Elohanu,  
Hail Mary, Full of Grace and Jesus, Fruit of Thy Womb,
Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar.

For some it is enough to see the trees
And to walk among them in the forest.
Others who take comfort in belonging
Will choose a faith to profess and follow
And be more than just a lover of trees.

JL
                 

                                 

HOW TO BE ALERTED TO FUTURE BLOG POSTINGS.
Many 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 clicking on Riart1@aol.com and sending me an Email.  

HOW TO CONTACT ME or CONTRIBUTE MATERIAL TO JACK'S POTPOURRI. 
BY CLICKING ON THAT SAME ADDRESS, Riart1@aol.com   YOU ALSO CAN SEND ME YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO BE PUBLISHED IN THIS BLOG AS WELL AS YOUR COMMENTS.  (Comments can also be made by clicking on the "Post a Comment" link at the blog's end.)

MOBILE DEVICE ACCESS.
DID YOU KNOW THAT www.jackspotpourri.com IS ALSO AVAILABLE ON YOUR MOBILE DEVICES IN A MODIFIED, EASY-TO-READ, FORMAT?   

HOW TO VIEW OLDER POSTINGS.                                                
To view older postings on this blog, just click on the appropriate date in the “Blog Archive” midway down the column off to the right, or scroll down until you see the “Older Posts” notation at the very bottom of this posting.  The “Search Box” in the right side of the posting also may be helpful in locating a posting topic for which you are looking.

HOW TO FORWARD POSTINGS.
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, enabling you to send them an Email providing a link directly to this posting.  You might also want to let me know their Email address so that they may be alerted to future postings.

Jack Lippman 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

First Amendment Rights, Some Fearsome Alternatives, Failure of a Life Insurance Company and the Two Minute Hagaddah



"Send me your tired, your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless,tempest-tossed to me ...  I lift my lamp beside the golden door."    Emma Lazarus' poetry, enscribed on the Statue of Liberty.

Protecting The First Amendment

When a government controlled by one party wants to suppress voters who for a variety of reasons, usually demographically determined, are likely to vote for the other party, legitimately sounding excuses must to be found. The most common one is “voter fraud.”  To prevent it from happening, and it rarely does from all available evidence, stricter identification and residence documentation might be required.  Also, to save money, registration and polling hours may be curtailed.  But these are merely subterfuges to suppress voters who might vote for the other party.



What we must watch out for today is a suppression of Americans’ right to assemble, speak and petition freely, as guaranteed by the First Amendment along with freedom of the press.  Of course, those who oppose such rights would never directly attack the First Amendment.  As with voter suppression, more legitimate sounding excuses must be found.  And you must keep your eyes and ears open for them.



They include rules against assembling on public thoroughfares which supposedly might endanger or impede traffic, limitations on noise levels, requiring demonstrators to be restricted to locations distant from the object of their message, the presence of a menacing law enforcement forces such as masked and shielded police along with military-type crowd control vehicles, restrictions as to the timing and format of petitions, fees and technical requirements involved in getting permits to assemble and a galaxy of excuses designed to eat into our First Amendment rights.  Keep your eyes open for them.  Such restrictions are being introduced in State Legislatures around the country by those who want to diminish your rights.  Be aware.  Resist.
Jack Lippman
                                              

How a Super-Salesman Destroyed a Company

All the politicians and pundits who can’t figure out what is going on in the White House are confused because they think the President is like any other head of state and is involved in leading and running the country.  

Perhaps they need to spend a few days at sales meetings of the sales people of any major business in the country, where the Director of Sales engages them with motivational and inspirational harangues about the merits of their products, the weaknesses of the competition’s products, and a plethora of vague and questionable facts which they are to use in somehow reaching their goals.  


Only then will they understand from where the President is coming.

But he seems to have surrounded himself with enough level-headed people who while listening to his sales pitches (and tweets) know what to take seriously and what to ignore.   Problems can arise if the President is convinced he knows better than those who really do know better than he does.

I’m reminded of the collapse of the Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company back in 1991.  Mutual Benefit, then the eighteenth largest life insurer in the country, was a “blue chip” firm, with the highest possible ratings.  Its downfall was attributed to its real estate and mortgage-based securities investment portfolio, which soured in an early version of what was to occur sixteen years later in the entire economy. 

To my way of thinking, and I was in the insurance industry at that time, the company’s collapse was due to its CEO who had previously been their dominant and highly successful sales Vice President.  Of course, Mutual Benefit had its investment professionals and cadres of actuaries, the ones who usually occupy the top posts in such companies, but the shots were being called by a sales-oriented CEO who fostered an aggressive investment policy which would enable their products to be highly competitive and in great demand.  Wiser heads did not prevail and the company folded.  There’s a lesson there somewhere.
JL
                                          

Two Dreadful Scenarios and Who Can Prevent Them

I have heard that the departure of Mike Flynn from the Administration will eventually be followed by the exiting, voluntarily or under duress, of Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon.  Some feel that neither can survive the kind of vetting to which White House advisors should be exposed.  And once that happens, the next one to go would be the unqualified man sitting in the Oval office.   I don’t totally agree that it will play out in this manner, but it is conceivable.


Another alternative course of events is even more frightening.  It is conceivable that the leaders of our intelligence community will determine that an extreme danger to the United States exists, and because of a lack of a coherent chain of command in a disorganized White House, steps to deal with the danger will not be taken.  Paired with this would be a recognition of this danger by our career military leaders including the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the retired General serving as Secretary of Defense.  These are the seeds from which can spring a military junta, combined with the intelligence services, to carry out a coup and taking over the government of the United States in order to properly defend and govern the nation.  This is the kind of thing which happens in Latin America and Third World countries.  Such a coup in Turkey failed last year.  I don’t believe such a event will occur, but given the President’s lack of qualifications to govern, it should not be ruled out.




I feel these ideas have entered the minds of those in power in both Houses of Congress.  As they recognize the possibility that such things are not unthinkable, I hope they will take legislative steps to make sure the chaos which governs the Executive Branch is well controlled.  I suspect that the Judicial Branch, including the Supreme Court, would go along with Congress in such a situation.

                                                         Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell

Bottom line:  it is up to the Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress to control the activities of the Executive Branch, including the President.



The Two Minute Hagaddah

It's about seven weeks until the Passover Holiday. Those who diligently observe it are already making preparations for their seders (the Passover meal).   For those who are not so observant, but would like to "do something," we offer an item I came across a few years back entitled "The Two Minute Haggadah."  Because doing something is better than doing nothing, here it is:

The Two Minute Hagaddah (the Hagaddah is the Passover Seder prayer book)
 Opening prayers:
   Thanks, God, for creating wine.  (Drink wine.)
   Thanks for creating produce.  (Eat parsley.)
Overview:
Once we were slaves in Egypt.  Now we're free.  That's why we're doing this.
Four questions to be asked by youngest at the table:
    1.  What's up with the matzoh?
    2.  What's the deal with horseradish?
    3.  What's with the dipping of the herbs?
    4.  What's this whole slouching at the table business?

Answers:
    1.  When we left Egypt, we were in a hurry. There was no time for making decent bread.
    2.  Life was bitter, like horseradish.
    3.  It's called symbolism.
    4.  Free people get to slouch.

A funny story:
    Once, these five rabbis talked all night, then it was morning. 
(Heat soup now.)
The four kinds of children and how to deal with them:
    Wise child-explain Passover.
    Simple child-explain Passover slowly.
    Silent child-explain Passover loudly.
    Wicked child-brow beat in front of the relatives.

Speaking of children:  We hid some matzoh.  Whoever finds it gets five bucks.
 
The story of Passover:
It's a long time ago. We're slaves in Egypt. Pharaoh is a nightmare. We cry out for help. God brings plagues upon the Egyptians. We escape, bake some matzoh. God parts the Red Sea. We make it through. The Egyptians aren't so lucky. 




We wander 40 years in the desert, eat manna, get the Torah, wind up in Israel, get a new temple, enjoy several years without being persecuted again. (Let brisket cool now.)

The 10 Plagues:  Blood, Frogs, Lice-you name it.

The singing of "Dayenu":
If God had gotten us out of Egypt and not punished our enemies, it would've been enough. If He'd punished our enemies and not parted the Red Sea, it would've been enough. If He'd parted the Red Sea (remove gefilte fish from refrigerator now.) etc.
Eat matzoh.  Drink more wine.  Slouch.
Thanks again, God, for everything.
SERVE MEAL.
Say Grace. Drink more wine. Sing some more songs. Try to stay awake. 
Who knows one? Who knows two through thirteen?
Dad bought a goat for two zuzim. Everyone beats up every one until God steps in.
Go to sleep.

Do it again another night.
(Want to do more that this?  Passover Hagaddahs are probably available in your local supermarket or in that bottom drawer where you keep the skull caps [yamulkas or kippahs] you've collected from various weddings and bar and bat mitzvahs over the years.  And watch for forthcoming abbreviated services for other religions which we will try to include.  Your submissions are welcome.)
JL

HOW TO BE ALERTED TO FUTURE BLOG POSTINGS.
Many 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 clicking on Riart1@aol.com and sending me an Email.  

HOW TO CONTACT ME or CONTRIBUTE MATERIAL TO JACK'S POTPOURRI. 
BY CLICKING ON THAT SAME ADDRESS, Riart1@aol.com   YOU ALSO CAN SEND ME YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO BE PUBLISHED IN THIS BLOG AS WELL AS YOUR COMMENTS.  (Comments can also be made by clicking on the "Post a Comment" link at the blog's end.)

MOBILE DEVICE ACCESS.
DID YOU KNOW THAT www.jackspotpourri.com IS ALSO AVAILABLE ON YOUR MOBILE DEVICES IN A MODIFIED, EASY-TO-READ, FORMAT?   

HOW TO VIEW OLDER POSTINGS.                                                
To view older postings on this blog, just click on the appropriate date in the “Blog Archive” midway down the column off to the right, or scroll down until you see the “Older Posts” notation at the very bottom of this posting.  The “Search Box” in the right side of the posting also may be helpful in locating a posting topic for which you are looking.

HOW TO FORWARD POSTINGS.
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, enabling you to send them an Email providing a link directly to this posting.  You might also want to let me know their Email address so that they may be alerted to future postings.


Jack Lippman 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Supplement to Feb. 14 Blog Alert


This material was not included in the blog posting sent to you earlier today, but in this constantly evolving story, it is important.  First, I ask you to familiarize yourself with the chronology of General Flynn’s relationship with the man in the White House by clicking here  and checking the NBC report on it.
  
And while you’re in the mood to click, you might as well check out General Flynn’s participation in the Republican Convention where he led a “Lock Her Up” cheer.  Just click right here to share that moment.  And if you listen carefully, you will hear the man who presently is in the White House seconding his words.  I wonder who, if anyone, as this story continues, will be “locked up.”

But all that is background for a conclusion that many will be making shortly.  That conclusion will probably be classified, but it will be something like this:

On December 29, President Obama imposed sanctions on Russia, closing two Russian diplomatic compounds in the United States and expelling some of their diplomats, after the FBI confirmed that the Russians were involved with hacking and tampering with the 2016 election in this country.

The immediate Russian reaction to this, from various levels of their government, was that Russia would reply “in kind.”  They never did, however, because later on December 29, Flynn’s phone calls to the Russian Ambassador were made, and finally after several attempts at evasion, Flynn has admitted that he discussed those sanctions just imposed by President Obama. 

The next day, December 30, to everyone’s surprise, Vladimir Putin said that he would do nothing to retaliate against the imposition of the sanctions.  If the classified investigation of the Flynn telephone calls of the previous day, which the FBI possesses, suggests that the incoming administration would reverse the sanctions, the reason for Putin’s doing nothing to retaliate is clear.   Remember, Obama was still President at the time, and we can only have one President at a time!

What is unclear is whether a career military man like Flynn, just given a new job, would have taken such an action without orders from his commanding officer to do so.   The fact that his commanding officer knew of the phone calls at least on January 26 when the Acting Attorney General brought them to the attention of the White House, and did nothing about them, suggests that the President was fine with it, at least until the press released the story.

I conclude that the Flynn phone calls were made at the request of the President-Elect, such a posture toward Russia on his part being consistent with his earlier attitude toward that country and its leader, Vladimir Putin.   In a spy novel, it would resemble the behavior of someone who is being blackmailed.  But this is not a spy novel.  That is why when the truth is discovered by the FBI and our other intelligence agencies, it will be highly classified and when the media discovers it, it will never be published.


But if l can come to this conclusion, I am certain that many, far smarter than me, also will.