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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, June 13, 2017

Political Thoughts, the Predator, Some Kipling and What's With Qatar?

Never a Presidency Like this One

I have lived through fourteen presidencies up until now! Although I don’t remember anything about Herbert Hoover who was our president when I was an infant, I actually do remember what went on during the terms of Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush the Elder, Clinton, Bush the Younger, and Barack Obama.  

I can state unequivocally that there has never been a presidency like that of Donald tRrump in my lifetime, and probably not in the history of the Republic.  His presidential library will be minimal, other than printouts of his tweets, but the number of books written about him and how he came to be elected will be monumental.  

tRump’s presidency reached its nadir yesterday when he assembled his cabinet and senior staff in his office and they all briefly stated their love, devotion, loyalty, admiration and whatever else would please their glorious leader.  Some have commented it was like a cabinet meeting in the old Soviet Union or Nazi Germany where the higher-ups figuratively kneeled before Stalin or Hitler or whomever was their leader. (German translation of leader is “Fuhrer.”)  I liken it to feudal days when the dukes and earls and princes lined up to literally kneel before the king who needed their support as much as they needed his protection.

Not Much Has Changed

A lot of ring-kissing was involved in those days.  At the White House, this was probably done off camera.

tRump doesn’t have the slightest idea of how to be a president, and having his appointees praise him was the best medicine his ego could have.  The whole session might have been prescribed by a shrink for that purpose.  Who knows?  The president, whether or not he realizes it, has gone through some real ego-shattering experiences lately.  He has been called a liar by people under oath. This is far more serious than being called one by a heckler.  Unfortunately, some abroad have realized that massaging that ego is the doorway to relating best to him.  The Saudis know this.
Meanwhile, nothing is getting done in running the country.  Nothing.  No new health care.  No new immigration policy.  No new budget.  No constructive foreign policy, just Bannonesque deconstruction.  Some of the president’s supporters on the far, far, right might like such a static state.  Really, their libertarian philosophy borders on anarchy, and a do-nothing president provides them with what real liberty means to them, freedom from government.  Thus far, the legislative branch hasn’t asserted itself, but is slowly simmering as they witness the disaster consuming the executive branch. They wonder how much longer tRump will be an asset rather than a liability. And up to the appellate level, the judicial branch hasn’t succumbed to the president, but we have yet to see if the brilliant minds on the Supreme Court recognize what is becoming obvious.  They may.  The Emperor has no clothes.

In the midst of this, the Republican party is trying to redefine itself.  Doing so in terms of the tRump presidency and the tRump voters whom they treasure, is proving difficult.  Republicanism has almost always been synonymous with stability and tRump’s foreign, domestic and trade policies do not go in that direction.  The Democrats are also in a defining struggle.  Are they to simply be a disloyal opposition to the right-wingers whom tRump carried into power or are they to pursue a leftist course aimed at income redistribution by another name … or attempt to capture the elusive center?  They might end up being what the Republicans used to be, conserving the good things government has learned to do.  In 2017 that might pass for a conservative approach.

Down in the gullible nitty-gritty valley where elections are decided, such thoughts are absent.  I would wager that very few of the voters who put tRump into office know who George Will is.   The only things on their minds are jobs,  job security and keeping their kids out of war.  Don’t look for more sophistication on the Democratic side either. Most voters never read the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, or any other serious newspaper.   How many people read a clever article in the New Yorker or the Atlantic Monthly?  Very few.  FoxNews still dominates TV news shows, but who needs to even watch news when there are plenty of sit-coms, movies and “reality” shows on the tube.  The best one of those is in the White House.
Jack Lippman

Our Predator-in-Chief

Many women, and some men as well, have been the victims of sexual predators.  One’s boss or manager possesses the upper hand in decision making, often affecting one’s career, and sometimes is not reluctant to seek sexual favors in making such decisions. 

This is sometimes done openly but more often in a subtle manner involving innuendo and ambiguous but suggestively coercive language.  With that in mind, I commend to you all a magnificent piece by Nicole Serratore from last Friday’s New York Times Opinion page.  It deals with our nation’s predator-in-chief and his attempt to seduce the former Director of the F.B.I.  Read it by clicking right here now!  Note:  Seductions need not be sexual.

If ... by Rudyard Kipling

If you went to the kind of schools I attended three quarters of a century ago, you were probably exposed to, and required to memorize, poetry like this before you even got to high school.   Possibly the most popular poem among the British people of the past century, it still has meaning for us today.   We speak the English language in the United States and therefore, share a literary heritage with the British Isles.  

Kipling, born in India in 1865, spent many years there and in England, and even lived in Vermont for a while.  Besides his poetry, he wrote novels for both children and adults, winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1907.  He died in 1936.  Take a few minutes off from whatever you are doing and read this brief poem.  JL


If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, 
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, 
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, 
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, 
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: 

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster 
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken 
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, 
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, 
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools: 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings 
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, 
And lose, and start again at your beginnings 
    And never breathe a word about your loss; 
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew 
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you 
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’ 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch, 
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, 
    If all men count with you, but none too much; 
If you can fill the unforgiving minute 
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Strange Things Happening in Qatar 

Off of the front pages of most newspapers, and absent from the TV news screens, is the story of the Saudi Arabian diplomatic conflict with Qatar, one of the five small Sunni sheikdoms  on the Persian Gulf. (The others are Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.)  All are Sunni, oil-rich and absolute monarchies.


Qatar, however, is a bit different in that it maintains some sort of relationship with Shia Iran and discretely, with Israel.  It is not in lock-step with the Saudis.  For some sorely needed insight into this underreported story, check out a recent opinion piece from the Forward.  Read it by clicking here.


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