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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 25, 2018

Blueberries, Judge Kavanaugh, the Neuse River, Florida Politics and a Chess Endgame

A Blueberry Tariff? 

I read recently where Florida blueberry growers were hoping that the President would add blueberries to the list of American products protected from foreign competitors.  In most instances where tariffs are imposed, comparable well-priced domestic products are not available so the imports continue with the tariff being passed on to the consumer. That amounts to a tax!  Often, tariffs have nothing to do with supply and demand but are only a retaliatory tool in an economic struggle.  That's what is going on today between us and China.  

Well, blueberries are different.  There are plenty of blueberry growers in the United States, but it costs them more to grow and bring their product to market than their foreign (usually Mexican, Peruvian or Chilean) competitor does.  Hence, they want protection.

Well, I add a handful of blueberries to my breakfast cereal every day!  That makes me an expert!  Sometimes, I’m puzzled over why the container of berries which I buy is either a shallow one or a deeper one, and why, regardless of the container size, the price is always $4.99, $3.99 or rarely $2.99, never anything in between . In local stores, the source of the berries varies.  I always take note of where my blueberries come from.  Over the past few months, my blueberries have come from Florida, New Jersey, North Carolina, Michigan, Mexico and most recently, Peru.  By far the tastiest and longest-lasting berries (regardless of their origin, usually a few at the very bottom of the containers don’t make it) I have enjoyed are the Peruvian ones.  They are the very best!  I am against tariffs on foreign blueberries.   If Florida farmers cannot make a living raising them, they should switch to another crop, or sell their land to real estate developers.
Jack Lippman 


Did he or didn't he?
Opposition to the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court bench now centers of charges of sexual molestation during his teenage years.  This is out of left field on the part of Democrats.  That’s why it wasn’t brought up earlier.  Doing it now is like using a pinch hitter in the last of the ninth.  Whether true or not, and that will be very difficult to determine, it is the kind of thing that in other times would not even come to light and if it did, normally would not carry very much weight in the confirmation process.  But these are not normal times.

Mitch McConnell played a dirty game when he refused to even entertain President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the late Justice Scalia’s seat on the Court and stalled until a Republican was in the White House.   The Democrats are therefore entitled to return his favor and play just as dirty in their opposition to Kavanaugh and do whatever they can to stall his confirmation until they have a possible majority in the Senate or even lacking that, an election victory in November demonstrating a popular distrust of anything the President and his lackeys in Congress do.

Most Senate Republican blindly follow McConnell’s leadership because they fear primary challenges from their party’s extreme right, which the President has in his pocket because of his appeal to millions of gullible Americans. (More about that later.).  When you play dirty, chickens come home to roost, Mitch!    Sad thing is that if Kavanaugh withdraws or fails getting confirmed, Trump’s replacement appointee, again drawn from the Federalist Society’s approved list, would be just as objectionable to Democrats as is Kavanaugh. 

One factor favorable to Democrats is that the behavior of the Republicans in regard to Kavanaugh only serves to strengthen the appeal of Democrats to women voters.  I’ve even seen replays of Anita Hill’s lurid testimony which failed to prevent Clarence Thomas from getting on the Court in 1991.  That would not even be on TV again, reminding women of supposed Republican attitudes toward them, were it not for the Kavanaugh ruckus.

Regarding the President, his background regarding relationships with women is such that under normal circumstances, Evangelical Christians and other religious conservatives would abhor him.  But in 2016, and right now, holding their noses, they support him only because of his pledge to put an anti-abortion Justice on the Supreme Court. In the unlikely circumstance where the Democrats somehow manage to prevent that from happening, Evangelical support for Trump will evaporate.  They would have no reason to support him.


The Sewer in the Middle of North Carolina 

The 275 mile long Neuse River is not a major river by national standards.  It is not in the class of the Mississippi, the Colorado or even the Hudson Rivers.  But it is still the longest “major” river in North Carolina. 

It was in the headlines a few years back when its function as a sewage facility, carrying the waste materials from hundreds of hog farms out to sea, contaminating the land on its banks along the way, hit the headlines.  Attempts to remedy the situation have been made but with minimal success in North Carolina, a state of environmental deniers.  The flooding caused by Hurricane Florence’s rainstorms has worsened the situation, leaving rotting carcasses of drowned animals, both domesticated and wild, to add to the danger already posed by the established flow of hog excrement in the Neuse.  This is a very big problem.

But it’s good to know that at least one person, the President of the United States, is concerned with the crisis in North Carolina!  As reported in the Charlotte Observer, Trump asked about the storm’s effect upon Lake Norman, which is managed by Duke Energy, but which is some distance from the Neuse.  Duke’s CEO told him that the lake was good but got a lot of rain, according to a briefing  released by the White House.  “I love that area,” Trump was quoted as saying. “I can’t tell you why, but I love that area.” 
(Lake Norman, is home to the Trump National Golf Club, an 18-hole golf course with “world class country club amenities,” according to its website.) 
It never ends, does it?

Floriduh Politics 

The biggest asset that the Republicans running at the top of their ticket in Florida have is the endorsement of the President.  Without that, Rick Scott (running for the Senate) is just another conservative candidate with a lot of oppressive baggage.  Ron DeSantis (running for Governor) is a big nothing whose only appeal is to those on the far right of his party.  Ah, but they both have more wisdom than Donald Trump. Neither of them agreed with his attack on the George Washington University study, commissioned by the government of Puerto Rico, which greatly increased the number of deaths resulting from Hurricane Maria last year.  (There are a lot of Puerto Rican voters in Florida.)  

As a result, the President’s support for them has cooled and his base may react accordingly and cannot be counted on as they were when these two candidates were fully in agreement with Trump’s lies and fabrications.

And speaking of the Florida races, DeSantis remains on the low road.  After bringing racism into the contest by criticizing the ideas of Democrat Andrew Gillum’s programs as programs which he suggested can “monkey up” things, he has made a blatant appeal to Jewish voters, of which there are about 600,000 in Florida. He is attempting to tie Gillum to the pro-Palestinian agenda of some on the Democratic far left, including those advocating a boycott of Israeli goods. Gillum of course strongly denies this.  

Not all Jewish voters, this blogger included, buy into Bibi Netanyahu’s right-wing positions (necessary to maintain his majority in the Knesset) which delay a real solution in Israel, and that includes moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.  Although a governor has little to do with it, Andrew Gillum is for a two state solution there and opposes steps which serve to prevent that from happening.  That's no sin.  DeSantis thinks Jewish voters are “one issue” voters.  They are not.  And Gillum, a politician, while a strong supporter of the State of Israel, is not going to go overboard to alienate Democratic voters on the extreme left. 

Endgame for the President

Like the last phase of a chess match, the President is slowly being deprived of available options to avoid a loss.  The best he can hope for is a “stalemate,” but he cannot win.  He has already lost too many of his key pieces (Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen) to salvage a victory.  If you look closely, there are beads of sweat on his brow.

His opposing player, Robert Mueller, still has his key pieces in place on the chessboard.  That is why the President is attempting to get them removed from the board.  Right now, his efforts are directed toward eliminating the “recused” Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, and his second-in-command at the Department of Justice, Rod Rosenstein. (Consider them to be “rooks” in chess terminology.)  Rosenstein is accused of privately talking about, but not acting on, some extreme tactics to counter the President’s actions.  That may be enough to wipe him from the board.  Trump is also trying to eliminate his opponent’s “pawns,” the FBI, by discrediting that agency’s normal and routine operating procedures and demanding access to the confidential information essential to any law enforcement agency’s operation.  Their “bishops” (Comey and McCabe) have already been captured and taken off of the board.

And when it comes down to deciding whether the game will end with the President being the victim of a “checkmate” or a “stalemate,” that well may be left up to the Supreme Court.  They will decide whether the President can also capture his opponent’s “queen,” which is the report which Robert Mueller’s investigation ultimately makes, eliminating that from the board as well.  This is really, in addition to abortion, what the battle over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is about.  

Of course, if the Supreme Court rules against Trump, he can always kick over the chessboard and say that he makes the rules and the game is over.  Demonstrations and bloodshed might follow.  It’s that serious.

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Jack Lippman 

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