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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.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

What to Believe and Witch Hunts

What to Believe

Some years back, before the dawn of the internet, a wise man told me to believe no more than half I what I read, no more than a third of what I see and no more than a quarter of what I hear.  Today’s political climate requires a further adjustment of these fractions by fifty percent if the speaker is a Republican legislator or official in Washington, and by ninety percent if the speaker is Donald Trump.   

Examples: 1.  The 400-plus page Muller Report clearly documented G.O.P. collusion with Russia in the 2016 Election and the President's obstruction of the process.  Attorney General Barr's cosmetic treatment of it ignored and denied this.  Barr lied.  2. The "transcript" of Trump's telephone call with Ukraine President Zelensky is not a verbatim "transcript" at all but an edited summary of what was said with information damaging to the President deleted.  Every time Trump speaks, he lies.

A clue:  If a government employee, a civil servant, doing a job for his or her country, is referred to as a 'bureaucrat' or his department as a 'bureaucracy,' the speaker is probably lying.  They try to conjure up an image of lazy, do-nothing, civil employees, waiting to retire and shuffling meaningless papers, and waiting for retirement.  Usually such liars are Republicans and down deep, they want the government 'privatized' so their big donors can make a buck out of it. 

Most Republicans, and certainly their big donors, deny the role of the Federal government as being there to serve and to help the people.  They want it limited to national defense and security with everything else left to the States and the private sector.  To them, all regulation is bad. This is libertarianism carried to the ultimate and is really anarchy.  That's why they don't give a damn about the environment, the infrastructure and climate change.

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Witch Hunts

Here’s how to identify a witch.    CLICK RIGHT HERE.  

One of the 'old' ways
Not comfortable with these alternatives?  Then do it on Election Day.   Seriously.  There are witches in Washington!   Or maybe wizards.   We gotta get rid of them.

Witch Removal Technique

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Added-  10:45 a.m.   Nov. 5

Yes, Yes, Yes,
“Read the Transcript” Tee-Shirt Wearers!
Please Do!
Really, How Dumb are You, Even for Republicans?
*Now what can that favor possibly be?
         Wash my car?  Date my daughter?  Mow my lawn?
Change a light bulb I can’t reach?
   Babysit my kids?

Really, How Dumb are You,

Even for Republicans?


Conservatives frequently quote the Washington Examiner and its reporters often appear on TV.  Many folks think it is a real newspaper with the credibility of the Washington Post or New York Times.  

NOT SO!!  It is a weekly with a circulation of 45,000, less than half of that of the daily circulation of the Palm Beach Post!  

Don't be fooled!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Twilight of Democracy and "The Shadow"

Oct. 24, 10:00 p.m. -  Added Item:  The Administration’s announcement that it was initiating a criminal investigation into the investigation which resulted in the Mueller Report is just a very clever tool to bring about more delay in the ultimate impeachment of the president. 

Sadly, some Democrats and even such astute commentators as Rachel Maddow will fall for this and will spend time responding to it, time which otherwise would be better used to strengthen the case the for impeachment and the removal from office of Donald Trump.  There's a lot of work to be done to swing some votes in the Republican-controlled Senate!

Trump’s tactic is to get the Democrats to play “defense” while his team pretends to be on “offense.”   Usually, except for occasional fumble recoveries and intercepted passes, touchdowns are not scored by teams on “defense.”  The “investigation” will amount to nothing, but it looks like it will delay and divert the Democrats’ “offense” from their true goal, proceeding with impeachment.  The evidence for impeachment is overwhelming and that’s why the Republicans are trying to get the “Democrats” to play time consuming “defense.”  Perhaps, even until after the 2020 election. 

I watched a bit of “Hannity” this evening and it is clear this is “red meat” aimed at the President’s supporters, to take their minds off of the increasing likelihood of impeachment based on overwhelming evidence.  Their whole gambit is based on a discredited “conspiracy” theory, which they would love the Democrats to spend time and resources further discrediting, rather than concentrating on impeachment.

Jack Lippman

The President Claims he is Being Lynched.  Not So!

Democracy is a delicate plant.  It can thrive if well fertilized and watered or it can rot and wither away.  With many gardeners, some with little or no experience, entrusted with its care, things can go badly.  And then the gardeners turn to an experienced horticulturalist, one supposedly who knows what to do, to take charge.  Another way of looking at this is the old bromide, "Too many cooks spoil the broth."

Enough with the allegory.  Some gardeners and soup makers have turned away from democracy and put their trust in someone who tries to be more single-minded in running their governments.  Often this actually is the popular choice after the electorate is turned off by the slowly moving wheels of democracy.  Look at Europe.  Hasn’t It happened in at least Poland, Hungary, Italy and what do you think the “Brexit” mess in the UK is all about? Look at Brazil, the Philippines, Pakistan and numerous nations who seem to appreciate autocracy more than democracy.  China and Russia supposedly have democratic forms of government but look at whom the people “elect” there.  Africa and Latin America offer more examples of democracy moving to a back seat, handing the steering wheel to one determined driver.  Which brings us to the United States and Donald Trump.

Julius Caesar's Downfall
When Julius Caesar got too big for his britches, the Roman Senate assassinated him on the infamous “Ides of March.”  Plain and simple, it was the legislative branch versus the executive branch.  Sound familiar?  They did it with knives.  But we don’t do that in the United States, even though that was the norm on our planet many, many centuries ago.  Our four  assassinated Presidents were the victims of “crazies,” not their direct political opponents nor the population in general.

We have two much better alternatives.  First is our electoral process.  We can vote those leaders who become “too big for their britches” out of office.  And if their misfeasance and malfeasance reach the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” requiring immediate action, they can be impeached during their term of office.

That’s where we are today.  Let’s get moving with impeachment. This is not 44 B.C.

The Shadow Knows

The President, by betraying the Kurds (watch out, the Israelis may be next) has abdicated any role for the United States in the Middle East.  We’ll sell weapons to Israeli and to the Sunni Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia’s MBS (the guy who ordered Khashoggi’s murder) while pulling out our troops and along with it, our influence. But that’s it.  We're just arms dealers.  But who steps in to replace us physically?  Russia and Turkey, backing Syria’s Assad, that’s who!  They are no friends of the United States, although their autocratic leaders (see above article) are friends of the President of the United States.  Now that’s quite a paradox!

Why is Donald J. Trump so eager to serve Vladimir Putin.  He has just given him dominance in Syria and an alliance with Turkey, both incidentally willing to play footsie with another of our supposed adversaries, Iran.  And we walk away, against the advice of every American diplomat.  Why?  The Shadow Knows.

And although Putin was booted from the Group of Seven after annexing the Crimea, Donald is now shilling for him, trying to get him invited back in.  Why?  The Shadow Knows.

And the aid the Russians (not the Ukrainians, the Russians) provided to Trump during the 2016 election campaign, thoroughly documented in the Mueller Report which Trump’s lacky, shyster Attorney General Barr, emasculated, must not be ignored.  Why did Trump let Putin get away with that?   (Remember his saying the phony social media material might be the product of some 400 pound kid in his bedroom.  Hah.)  The Shadow Knows.

Why are Executive Branch employees blowing whistles and resigning left and right?  The Shadow Knows.

The Shadow (If you are under age 60, ask someone older about him.)

There is only one answer.  (Go ask Lamont Cranston, the Shadow of old-time radio fame, who knows “what evil lurks in the hearts of men.") The Shadow Knows.  

Vladimir Putin has something to use on Donald Trump.  At a minimum, it is the key to future access to the Russian market for his “hospitality business” after he is out of office.  At the worst, it’s the graphic evidence in British ex-spy Steele’s infamous “dossier,” which no one has proven … nor disproven, for that matter.  Any women involved in it are probably dead by now. Who knows what Vladimir is sitting upon?   But the Shadow Knows.

Finally, what about the President's ordering the withholding from Ukraine of the military equipment  needed in their struggle with Putin's Russia unless their President agreed to attempt to dig up political information useful to Trump's 2020 campaign?  

We don't need the Shadow to figure that one out.  Everyone (except those who get their news from Fox) knows how that happened and knows that act of treason justifies the impeachment and the removal from office of Donald Trump ... even some usually cowering Republicans.   So let's get moving and get that done ... before the traitor in the White House figures out another delaying tactic.  

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Treasonous Thoughts, Letting Gmail Think for You and More

Politics:  Wishful Thinking Department:  Treason?

It is time for our military, in the personage of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to disregard the orders of their Commander in Chief.  He might call it treason, but it is he who is the traitor.   For no good reason other than being out-negotiated by Turkish President Erdogan in a night-time phone conversation with no advisors present, he has betrayed the honor of the United States, exposing tens of thousands of Kurds to murder.  That is an act of treason far greater than our military leaders disobeying him would be.

A President, unless in times of war and true imminent danger to the nation, is not empowered to make such decisions. This is a time for the American military to stand up and defy the President and return American troops to their positions, protective of our Kurdish allies in northern Syria.  The Joint Chiefs should advise the Congress of their intention to disobey the Commander in Chief.   Their defiance would not be an act of treason.  It would be an act of honor.  And if it amounts to a “constitutional crisis,” if you haven’t noticed, we already are there!

This would be only a part of the constitutional crisis the President has brought upon the country by disregarding and denigrating the role of the co-equal Legislative branch of our government, just as he has attacked anyone even in the Executive branch who disagrees with him.  This is why so many have resigned, been fired and so many positions left unfilled.  This is why subpoenas are defied by our insolent President.

Inevitably, this constitutional crisis will come before the Supreme Court where the President will find that his two appointees, while agreeing with the conservative policies of the Federalist Society, will not tolerate his disregard for the Constitution.  Nor will the Chief Justice, who will preside over the Senate portion of the impeachment process.   Donald J. Trump’s presidency will go down in history as evidence that democracy must be carefully nurtured; failing to do so can have disastrous consequences.

It has been said that the impeachment process is unnecessary since the Constitution provides for getting rid of a president through its election process.  That makes sense, and should the Senate not convict the President and complete his impeachment, that is the course the nation will follow.  Nevertheless, because his very corruption of that election process itself would be one of the issues involved in the President’s impeachment, it would be better if the process were carried to completion in the Senate.  Sadly, the Republican majority there is dominated by cowards who put their dying party over nation.  It’s a stretch, but that too is treason of a sort.  Senators take an oath to defend the Constitution, not the President nor their Party.

George Will ... From the Right, always.
At this point, don’t take the word of progressive Democrats, like me, but listen to the words of a conservative, old-line, traditional, right-wing Republican columnist like George Will.  Here’s his Washington Post column of the other day.  Copy and paste this on your ‘browser line’ :

And then feel free to pass it on you your Republican friends, who may have missed their dose of “Kool Aid” on Fox this morning.

Jack Lippman

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Will ‘Smart Compose’ Replace Your Brain?

Those of you who use Gmail may have noted that when you’re composing an email message, the system sometimes jumps ahead and suggests in a gray, not black, typeface what you might say.  This is based on the system’s familiarity with your prior writings, with those of others like you, and uses a kind of artificial intelligence to think ahead for you.  You can ignore the suggested wording (in gray) and type whatever you want to type, or if you want to go along with the system’s suggestion, just hit the tab key and the gray wording automatically becomes your work in black (or in whatever color you are typing).  This feature of Gmail, incidentally, is known as “Smart Compose.”   (Another similar Gmail feature is “Smart Reply,” which again based on the nature of the email and its sender, sometimes gives you a selection of very brief responses which you can send such as “Thanks,” “Got It,” or “Really?” without bothering to compose them yourself.)

Check out John Seabrook’s article on this in the October 14 issue of the New Yorker. He cites an email he was sending to his son on which he had just typed in “I am so p” with the intention of continuing “pleased with you,” but Smart Compose thought “proud of you” would be better.  He decided that it indeed was and went along with the suggestion.  So now, it appears machines are thinking for us, and improving on our thoughts.  It started when you allowed your computer to check your spelling, but as its “artificial intelligence” expands, it begins to get frightening.
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There are NOT Always Two Sides to Every Story

It is not a legitimate struggle between those who believe the impeachment inquiry process going on right now in the House is proper … and those who believe it is not.  One side is filled with law breakers, whose positions courts are repeatedly overruling.  Some are even in prison for their acts.  That is not true of the other side, which the courts and the Constitution support.  Even those running around with their MAGA hats are beginning to recognize this and turning to conspiracy theories (like the Dark State) to justify their beliefs.  They have no other place to go when the evidence is on the table.
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I'm "Taking Five"                         

There won't be any blog postings for a few days during which I'll be away from my computer.  If you miss it, just read some older postings.


Friday, October 11, 2019

Watching the Senate and "Craziness"


If you believe what the Trumpublicans are saying, you probably will believe this too:

Trump's Traveling Salesmen

Ivanka and Jared, the 'smart' ones
Before this is over, both Rudy Giuliani and William Barr will come close to being sentenced to prison time (but will not be) and certainly will be disbarred.  The President will not come to their support and will even point out that that is what such perpetrators of acts of corruption deserve.  Both will “flip,” but the President will get still get off, claiming that what he did was a set-up engineered by Ivanka and Jared, both very much smarter than he is.  This lovely couple, when threatened with long jail terms, will also “flip” and the reveal the real conspirators
behind the President’s unconstitutional acts, 
Melania and Barron, who will be convicted of something or other which Nancy Pelosi will figure out and be exiled to Slovenia.  Trump will remarry, his new love being Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who will end up the Republican Presidential nominee in 2024.
Jack Lippman

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Watch the Senate

Senators Collins, Romney and Sasse: Likely to desert Trump!
Seriously, for a moment, watch for the steady erosion of support for the President among Senate Republicans, especially the ones who must to run in 2020.  Like the “end game” in a chess match, they are being backed into a corner by (1) the President’s outrageous behavior in regard to the Kurds and of course (2) his holding back Congressionally-approved arms from Ukraine until they agreed to investigate the Bidens.  (Obstruction of Congress and defying the Constiturion are merely icing on the cake.)

Unlike House districts which are more solidly dominated by one party and not so easily swayed, Senate seats have been determined by a broader statewide electorate since the passage of the 17th Amendment in 1913.  Only 20 Republican votes in the Senate will be needed to confirm any Bill of Impeachment voted on by the House.  Right now there are possibly three or four such votes, but soon there may be more, many more.

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Don't Get Me Mixed Up With This Stuff! I Wouldn't Have Him!
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Told Ya So

Ex-Foxer Smith
In this blog's Sept. 29 posting, I alerted followers to the possible resignation or firing of anchors at Fox News.  Less than a month later, Shepard Smith, their daytime anchor is gone.  He may have been involved in serving Fox's "Kool Aid" to the gullible, but that didn't mean he drank it himself.  His honest reporting of the Fox News poll showing 51% of Americans agreeable to the House's impeachment inquiry is what probably did him in.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The President's Latest Misdeed, a Letter to Pelosi and Perez, G.O.P. at the Plate and a Kitten in a Tree

My Advice to the Speaker of the House and to the Chairman of the Democratic Party

Speaker Pelosi,  Chairman Perez:
They look like they mean business.
They should.  Impeachment is
important business.

It is quite clear that playing by the rules is a losing game when your opponent does not play by the rules or makes up their own rules as they go along.   Trump and those who support him will never play fairly;  Trump, because he is an egotistical narcissist with no deep knowledge of anything (I still doubt that he ever set foot in either Fordham or the Wharton School), and the Republicans because they are frightened about losing the votes of Trump’s supporters when they run against Democrats, or even face primary challenges from the right if they dare to speak the truth.

So what do you do in the face of lies, delays, diversionary tactics leading into endless conspiratorial rabbit holes, stonewalling of both witnesses and evidence, all of which I guarantee will continue until November 3, 2020?

First:  The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives must tighten the rules, making them harder to defy.  This means an immediate introduction of a formal Bill of Impeachment, not next month or next week but today!  This will be tougher for the Trumpublicans to handle, although they will try mightily to obstruct it.  A mere “inquiry into impeachment” is not enough.

Two evil men in 1954:  Senator Joseph
McCarthy and Counsel Roy Cohen  who
later became Donald Trump's mentor
Second:  All questioning of witnesses in the impeachment proceedings must be by professional prosecutorial lawyers, like the late Joseph Welch, who performed admirably in the McCarthy hearings in 1954.  The politicians on the impeachment committee should forget their individual agendas.

Third:  The spineless Republican Senate will never confirm the Bill of Impeachment passed on to it by the House.  Nevertheless, the House impeachment hearings will enable the voting public to learn the truth about the depth of the high crimes and misdemeanors of which the President will be charged.  The hearings must serve to get that message out!  Voters will make the final decision on Election Day, but immediate impeachment proceedings are necessary to get that information to them and prevent it from being buried, as was the damning information about the President and the Republican 2016 campaign provided by the Mueller Report.

Fourth:  The Democratic Party must devote its resources to voter registration activities in those crucial States whose electoral votes will determine the election results:  Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Minnesota and Texas.  A dollar spent in New York or California is a dollar wasted.

That's how Democrats win in 2020! 
Jack Lippman 
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 A Man Not to be Trusted

The unhinged P.O.S. in the White House has just betrayed our Kurdish allies,  who sacrificed thousands of troops on the battlefield, playing a crucial role in defeating ISIS in northern Syria.  Trump has dumped them to support another autocratic leader, Turkey’s President Erdogan, who fears Kurds in Turkey will seek autonomy.  There’s a lesson here for those who think Trump is a friend of Israel. 
That friendship exists only because there are millions of Jewish voters in the United States, including many gullible enough to believe that to be sufficient reason to support him, an example of which are people like casino-owner Sheldon Adelson. 

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Kitten in a Tree

A kitten can quickly climb up a tree and settle in its branches.  But getting down is another story.  Without help, the kitten might perish in the tree or drop to the ground fatally injuring itself.  Getting to where you think you want to be is sometimes easier than getting back to where you were in the first place.  

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G.O.P. in the Batter's Box

When asked about the President’s position in regard to the Ukraine ‘whistleblower’ or in regard to troop withdrawal in northern Syria by a TV reporter from a ‘normal’ news channel, Republicans ‘in the batter’s box’ on TV are visibly uncomfortable and seek to change the subject (sometimes even to Hillary!) or go to some other diversionary tactic.  

But when the same questions are posed by a Fox News reporter, they become relaxed and end up supporting the President in one way or another. It’s like being in the batter’s box and being pitched to by a minor league relief pitcher rather than by the Justin Verlanders or Max Sherzers who hurl the questions, unlike Fox, on real news channels.  

Please watch Fox and you will get an idea of the poison that has warped the judgement of millions of Americans.  (And that's why, due to the protection of the First Amendment, we're stuck with Trump in the White House.  Free speech is predicated upon there being an intelligent population, which unfortunately cannot be legislated, although the tools to acquire intelligence are always available.)

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Thursday, October 3, 2019

Grasping at Straws, Giuliani's Words and an Email to Two Senators

Grasping at Straws

The Republicans are grasping at straws which won’t be of much use when their ship is going down in the middle of the ocean.  I suspect that there might be enough patriotic Americans among the Republicans in the Senate to go along with impeaching the President and sending him on his way.  (Only 20 are needed.)  And if there are not, the American people will do so on Nov. 3, 2020, sending the Republican Party on their way along with him. 

Realization of this is what’s causing the frantic barrage of lies and attacks on Democrats you can find anytime on Fox News, on right-wing internet sites and of course from the President every time he gets near a microphone.  The President’s accusing a House Committee Chairman of “treason” and suggesting the Congressional hearings amount to a coup d’etat wouldn’t even qualify as a script for a high school drama club play.  Once Trump’s defenders recognize that the American public is not so stupid nor so gullible as they believe them to be, I hope enough of them will give up on him and to save their Party, go along with impeachment.  Watch and see. 

And as his ship sinks, just as the Pequod did when rammed by Moby Dick, Rudy Guiliani, William Barr, Mike Pompeo, Sarah Sanders, Steven Miller and the rest of his motley crew will be sucked down into the whirlpool of oblivion.  Probably, Trump will share Ahab’s fate.

But despite this, the 2020 election is not “in the bag” for Democrats … although by all logic and reason, it should be.  Kathleen Parker, in a recent Washington Post column wrote that “as the late GOP chairman and ruthless political operative Lee Atwater once told a political science student: Unless you can sell your message in two minutes at a truck stop, it was either wrong or wouldn’t work”  Parker concludes by saying that “for now, the Democratic Party message is still in the bottle.”

Marshall McLuhan, years ago, said that “the media IS the message,” which I take to mean that how you say something is more important than whatever it is you are saying.  This agrees with the Atwater quote above.

My recommendation to Democrats:  Devote your efforts to voter registration which is far more valuable a tool than the traditional Democratic strength of “preaching to the choir.”
 Jack Lippman

Rudy's Words

Rudy Guiliani, in explaining his connection in seeking information regarding Ukrainian involvement in our affairs is quoted as saying, “I was doing it to dig out information that exculpates my client (the President), which is the role of a defense lawyer.”  Rudy uses fancy “lawyer” words to impress us, but let’s look at what they mean.

Guiliani uses the word “exculpate,” which can mean the getting rid of the suspicion or appearance of guilt by his client, rather than “exonerate” which would clearly declare his client’s innocence, not just negate the suspicion or appearance of guilt or involvement in something unsavory.  The word “culpable,” to which the word “exculpate” relates, means “deserving of blame.”  Getting rid of deserving blame for something is not the same as the innocence which using the word “exonerate” would imply. Why did he not use that word?  My guess is that "innocence" was nowhere to be seen.

Letter to My Senators 

Here is the text of an email I have sent to each of my Republican Senators, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott.  If you have a Republican Senator, you might do the same.  I don’t know what good it does, but they do count the letters, emails and phone calls they receive. 

“I am not a Republican but I believe firmly in the two-party system which has brought this country great leaders of both parties in time of need.

Listening to and watching the President of the United States, I am appalled at what his words and actions have done to the office he holds.  Normally, as provided for by the Constitution, the American public can get rid of a president by voting him out of office.

The vile actions of this president, however, demeaning the co-equal Legislative branch of our government as well as dedicated public servants in the FBI and our intelligence services and his underhanded activities aimed at his re-election, demand that the nation not wait for November 3, 2020 to remove him from office.  The ethics common in the lower reaches of the business community, from which the President comes, should not be allowed to continue to besmirch the White House and the Executive Branch of our government.

It the House of Representatives finds sufficient grounds for passing a Bill of Impeachment, I urge you, as a Senator representing the  people of the State of Florida, to support it, putting patriotism and the Constitution, to which you have pledged to support in your oath of office, ahead of politics.

Your doing so would be a vote to save the nation as well as the Republican Party.”