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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.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Impeachment, Politics and a New Piece of "Fiction"


The Senate will not vote to remove the President.  The Republican Senate, afraid of retribution in primary elections by Trump’s gullible and ignorant base, and of being put in the majority leader’s doghouse, will not approve the House’s Articles of Impeachment.  The final decision on what the Impeachment hearings produced will be made by the voters on November 3 by you, the voter  ....  but not all of you!   Some of your votes just won't matter.

Polls showing that almost all potential Democratic candidates would beat Trump should be ignored.  Indeed, Hillary Clinton beat him, and she isn’t in the White House.  Nationwide poll results do not tell the story.  Poll results should be watched in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and other States where Trump’s appeal to those shortchanged by social, demographic and economic changes gained him crucial electoral votes in 2016.  Those States are all that count.   We know what will happen in New York, California, Oregon, South Dakota, Missouri and Kansas.  Results are in effect pre-determined there.   If you live there, please vote, but your vote really won't matter.  New York will go Democratic and South Dakota will go Republican regardless of your vote.

Democrats must resolve their conflict between progressive new ideas and a more centrist approach quickly.  They cannot afford to alienate any Democrats.  Not doing so might reduce Democratic turnout and be a gift to our impeached but un-convicted president.

And for what it’s worth, right now I am looking toward either Senators Michael Bennet or Amy Klobuchar to form part of the ultimate Democratic ticket, which part I'm not sure.  Where Biden, Warren and Sanders end up is still up in the air.

                                                             * * *
The lawyers who defended the President before the Senate used fancy language, no evidence, attacks on the accusers and other legal gimmicks to befuddle the jury of Senators.   They said nothing in defense of the President other than attacking the process.  New heights of fiction were reached by Alan Dershowitz who claimed that even if all of the charges against Trump were true, they wouln't justify impeachment.  No reputable Constitutional lawyers would endorse that.  

                                         * * *

And here’s my latest work of fiction:

Bulletin from The Office of Alternate Facts

An apple, loosened from its attachment to its branch on an apple tree, will fall to the ground.  It won’t shoot upward toward the sky nor remain hanging there in mid-air where it was before its stem snapped.    This is because of what Isaac Newton defined as “gravity” in his laws of motion.

But, friends, hold on a second, please!  Let us assume that at the same instant that the apple falls from the tree, right here in the United States, a similar apple becomes detached from its stem on an apple tree in Argentina.  That apple will similarly fall to the ground, but clearly, it is not falling in the same direction as its North American cousin fell.  That is because by just looking at a globe, you can see that what is “pointing upwards” in the Northern hemisphere is “pointing downwards” in the Southern hemisphere, and of course, vice versa.  You can see the difference.  You can’t tell me “up” and “down” are the same thing directions in these two places.  To an extraterrestrial observer out in space with a very powerful telescope, those apples clearly would appear to be falling in different directions!  So clearly, just as some claim that “gravity” is a fact, it can be proposed that there is an alternate fact stating that, at a minimum, “up” and “down” are not the same thing as Newton claims they can be.

Well, for “believers” in what Newton suggested, there had to have been an explanation for the crazy idea of “up” equaling “down” in different places on our planet.  The three “laws of motion” which he devised serve well to explain to “believers” that something called “gravity” is the force that brings this about.  That is, of course, if they choose to believe in them.  To back up these “laws,” an impressive formula is included to prove the theory.  (This is included in the appendix.)  Simply, they supposedly claim that every object in the universe that has “mass” exerts a pull, or force, on every other object that has “mass” and that that pull or force, in the case of the apples and everything else in the universe, is what creates the illusion of “up” and “down,” and also keeps the planets revolving around the sun rather than their falling haphazardly out into space and gives order to most other things in the universe. Today, most people accept this explanation of what “gravity” is as factual.  Newton did not, however, deal with the possibility that there might be alternate facts, as your looking at a globe illustrates to anyone whose mind is not closed.   Someone standing precisely on the Earth’s south pole clearly is upside down from someone standing precisely on the Earth’s north pole, no matter how one claims otherwise.  And of course, an empirical, objective look at matters scientific requires such open minds.  Right?  And that is precisely why our group is dedicated to promulgating alternate facts.

When we next meet, our agenda will include a new, revealing, paper on why, really, if you sail far enough out into the ocean, you will indeed fall off the earth.  This is contrary to the fake news which has been circulating for about the past four or five hundred years claiming that our planet is a sphere rather than a flat surface, as had previously been well documented for many centuries by the revealing woodcuts made by many extremely learned monks.  (One of these woodcuts is included in the Appendix.)

Meanwhile, let me remind you that the deadline is approaching for registering for our 2020 worldwide seminar on “Climate Change – The Greatest Hoax Since Noah’s Ark.”  Originally scheduled for a lovely resort on Australia’s southeast coast, we may be relocating that event since the “Happy Koala Lodge” doesn’t seem to be answering the phone.   Wherever we end up, be sure to bring your alternate facts.  Rumors that prospective alternate locations have been subject to unexpected volcanic action, wildfires, flooding or earthquake are clearly no more than fresh fake news originating with supporters of the aforementioned Mr. Newton, whom it is rumored is currently trying to understand the alternate facts recently reported in the media, specifically, 

that apples actually have been occasionally seen falling upward from trees in Buenos Aires!   Always, friends, please keep your mind open to new ideas.

Jack Lippman, Acting Alternate Factotum


A:   Newton’s three laws of motion may be stated as follows:
  1. Every object in a state of uniform motion will remain in that state of motion unless an external force acts on it.
  2. Force equals mass times acceleration [f (t) = m a (t)].
  3. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
B:   Woodcut illustrating that the earth is flat.  (Translation of inscription: ‘A missionary from the Middle Ages, or possibly a middle-aged missionary, announces that he had found the point where the heavens and the Earth touch one another.’)  This graphically confirms the flatness of the earth.   Our modern-day Alternate Fact Research Team out in the field tends to place that point about three miles north of the city of Manaus on the Amazon River in Brazil.  


Monday, January 20, 2020

Focus on the Evil of William Barr and a Short Story from the Archives

I count on you, dear readers, to pass this on to others, and please remember to check out the blog (www.jackspotpourri.com) a few times a week so that you don't miss out on its interesting postings, such as:

The Grand Inquisitor

In the eyes and minds of many of those who oppose Donald Trump, he is neither brilliant nor anywhere close to the unbeatable negotiator he claims to be.  His “success” is based on his inherited wealth, and his life-long access to disposable legal talent to keep him out of trouble.  Thus, he has managed to play the role of a builder, a businessman, a showman, a playboy and often an iconoclastic buffoon.  His latest part is that of the President of the United States.  Somehow, this man has appeal to those who are overwhelmed by the hard-to-understand ideas of the liberals, who often come across to them as snobbish elitists.  His supporters usually end up blindly supporting right wing conservatives, whose dishonest and simplistic programs are something easy enough for our not-so-bright President and most importantly, his followers, to comprehend. 

That is what the presidency of Donald Trump looks like to many; those who oppose him hope it will ultimately go away and the country will recover.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.  His “programs” actually mask something far more sinister than traditional conservatism, something far darker.  Right now, this evil is manifesting itself in the conflict over the House's doomed effort to remove him from office via the impeachment route.  Oversimplifying, the struggle going on right now comes down to a reworking of the first three articles of the Constitution. 

Supposedly, the Legislative. Executive and the Judicial branches of our government are designed to work in delicate balance with one another.  Forces exist, however, which aim at making the Executive branch more powerful than and dominant over the Legislative branch with the Judicial branch ultimately backing the Executive branch.  This was not the way it was supposed to be.  That’s why we rebelled against George III.  This is the pattern of autocrats throughout the world who answer to someone other than the people, the Putins, the Erdogans, the Kims and the Xi’s.  This is the role Trump tries to play.

Barr, whose malign ideas empower the President
At the core of this effort is William Barr, the country’s Attorney General.  The January 20 issue of The New Yorker magazine includes a lengthy article on him which is at best, terrifyingly frightening.  (The author is David Rohde, an executive editor of newyorker.com, whose forthcoming book, “In Deep: the FBI, the CIA and the Truth about America’s ‘Deep State,’ will be published in April.)   CLICK HERE TO READ IT.   

Once Trump rid himself of Jeff Sessions, his first Attorney General, who had too much of an independent streak for the President, he turned to Barr, whose way-out ideas seem to coincide with Trump's autocratic dreams.

It was no accident that William Barr soft-pedaled and emasculated the Mueller Report, turning its damning of the Republicans and the President into a purported exoneration of Trump, and why he joins with the President in considering the impeachment effort a hoax.   And many of Barr’s activities have been aimed at strengthening the Presidency at the expense of the popularly elected “People’s House” over on Capitol Hill.  His whole life has been dedicated to this kind of thing.  He attacks by dishonesty, by demanding re-investigations of what has been already thoroughly investigated, continuing to provide seeds of doubt to those lost souls looking for some reason to support the President.  Unfortunately, his positions gain legitimacy with many because they are grounded in his lifetime of participation in supposedly respectable legal, philosophical and religious activities, most significantly involving a subtle and dangerous linkage between that last mentioned area, religion, and government.   Read the article!
(Note the resemblance)

The most frightening thought that the article left with me was that had William Barr lived five hundred years earlier, instead of Attorney General, his title might have been Grand Inquisitor.

It will take you about half an hour, but please, read the article.   I doubt that your doing so will put you on anyone’s hit list.   Read it.  ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS CLICK HERE.

And if the links don't work for you, just visit:

Jack Lippman

Here's a short story I wrote back in 2005 for the original "Writers' Group" in our community.  It's fifteen years later and I feel it has stood the test of time, so enjoy reading:



                                                           Jack Lippman

“You think we know what is going on back there, don’t you?  I bet you imagine we spend our time looking down at what’s happening, right?  Well, you’re wrong”!

I looked at him and tried to figure out what to say next, but words came out of my mouth automatically, without my even thinking them out.

“You mean that when you die and go to heaven, you get don’t get the ability to look back on people back down there who are still alive?”, I heard myself asking incredulously.

“That’s correct,” he replied, lighting a cigarette and placing it in a holder.  “Yes, we all die sooner or later, but once we do, we don’t have any more information about the who, the what, the when and the where of what’s going on back there than we did when we were alive.  Only the Big Guy knows the score, and frankly, none of us gets to see him.  In fact, I don’t even know where he hangs out up here.  Actually, we look forward to running into someone like you who just got here, so you can let us in on what’s been going on back on Earth.”

I looked at his face carefully.  He looked vaguely familiar but I couldn’t quite place him.  I was sure that some divine plan had resulted in my running into him when I showed up in heaven. 

“Do I know you from somewhere”?  I asked.  “I mean are you someone who I should remember from when I was alive?”

“I don’t know,” he replied. “I’ve been hanging around just inside the Gates for a couple of weeks, or months or years … I forget how long, not that time makes any difference up here … seeing if I could grab someone to talk to who was just coming up, and you were the first one who ever bothered to come over when I waved.  I guess the others were too confused about suddenly being dead and all that.  I really appreciate your taking the time to talk to me.  But let me introduce myself.  I’m Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  I was elected President of the United States four times, saved the country from going down the tubes and if Harry Truman turned out to have half the brains I thought he had, I probably led the United States to victory in the Second World War as well.  I died before I could finish the job, though.  I’ve been looking for Harry up here, but I’ve never been able to find him, or anybody else who died since I did for that matter, until you were nice enough to stop and talk with me.”

I straightened up, coming to what I remembered from my Army days as the position of attention, and replied. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. President.  I never expected to have the pleasure.”

 “Thank you,” FDR replied.  “But can you fill me in on what happened since I passed away.?  Last thing I remember is a terrible headache.  We lose track of time up here.  How long has it been, and what has happened since.  You’ll have to do it fast, though. because we’re really not supposed to talk to newcomers like you.  If the Big Guy catches us, there may be a problem.”

I took a deep breath and started talking.  “Mr. President, let me fill you in generally, and if you want me to get more specific on anything, just interrupt, okay?”

FDR nodded.  “That will be fine. You know, come to think about it, the Big Guy has to know we’re having this conversation, so it must be okay with him.  So start talking before he changes his mind”!

“Well, when you died of a stroke, everyone in the world mourned your passing. They buried you in Hyde Park, and ultimately, Eleanor and Fala were buried next to you.”

“That’s nice,” FDR smiled.

“We won the war, but Truman had to drop a couple of atom bombs on Japan to get it done quickly.  You knew about the bombs, of course.”

FDR nodded.  “How long ago was that?  What’s happened since then?”

“Well, that was in 1945, and I died early in 2005, so it has been sixty years since the war ended.”

Roosevelt sucked deeply on his cigarette holder and looked at me.  “Did the world remain at peace?”

“Sort of,” I responded.  There have been small wars all over the place over the years.  Mostly offshoots of our “cold” war with Russia.   We had a stand-off situation with the Communists which never quite resulted in a “hot” war.  We did end up fighting their surrogates and lost 45,000 men in Vietnam.  But that’s all history now.”

“I never trusted Stalin, or any of them.  I suppose he had an atomic bomb too, and I can see that’s what caused the stand-off.  But what’s this Vietnam place,?” he asked.

“French Indo-China,” I responded.

“I bet the Frogs pulled out, and left us to solve the problem, right?  I never trusted DeGaulle either.”

“You got it, Mr. President,” I answered.

“But how is the country doing?  Who’s President now,”? he asked.

“Well,” I continued.  The President now is a Republican named George W. Bush.  He just got elected to a second term.”

 Roosevelt stroked his chin. “Bush?”, he mumbled.  “From Connecticut, maybe? I knew a Prescott Bush, a blue-nose Wall Street Yale Republican from Greenwich.  Nice guy though.  Helped me in the war.  Ran the USO for a while.”

“Yes.  I believe the President is his grandson.  His father, Prescott’s son, also was President for a term.”

“From what you are saying, son, it looks like the same crowd which we threw out in 1932 is back again.  Have they gotten rid of the New Deal?”

“They’re trying, Mr. President.  They’re trying very hard.”

His eyes twinkled.  “Tell me more, please.”

“Well, they’re screwing around with Social Security and Medicare for one thing, and they’re running up deficits like you can’t imagine.”

“Republican bastards,” FDR mumbled.  “What’s Medicare?”

“Health insurance for retirees on Social Security,” I explained.

“Great,” FDR chuckled.  “I had that in the back of my mind.  Glad to see that it happened.  I certainly hope they don’t mess it up too badly.  But look, I’ve been asking you a lot of questions.  The Big Guy won’t let this conversation go on forever, so go ahead, ask me something, if you want to.”

“Okay, Mr. President,” I continued, taking a deep breath. “Remember during the war when Albert Einstein, Bernard Baruch and some others were telling you about what Hitler was doing to the Jews in Europe?  By the way, Mr. President, Hitler committed suicide in his bunker as the Russians moved into Berlin.  Thought you would like to know that.  But as I was saying, remember how they asked you to do something to stop the Holocaust?”

“Too bad we didn’t catch Adolph alive, but this Holocaust thing, what’s that,?” Roosevelt asked, looking puzzled.

“Mr. President.  After all was said and done, the Nazis murdered six million Jews, mostly in gas chambers.  That period has become known as the Holocaust.  And many Americans wonder if you knew about it, and why you did nothing to stop it.  And there was a ship, the St. Louis, with Jewish refugees which wasn’t allowed to dock in the United States.  It was sent back and many of the passengers died in the gas chambers.  How did you allow that to happen?”

FDR’s face turned ashen.  “I did indeed know what was going on.  I didn’t do anything about it though.  It was a matter of priorities.  If I had it to do over, I would have done it differently.  I would have let the St. Louis dock in Miami.  I would have bombed the railroad tracks leading to the extermination camps.  But I didn’t.”
Roosevelt looked downward and continued, his voice now trembling. “It was a matter of priorities.  Nobody is perfect.  And now I see why the Big Guy has let this conversation take place.   He wants me to know that I didn’t arrive here with as clean a slate as I thought I did, and that he remembers, and will never forget, what I chose not to do while I was still alive.”

Roosevelt turned to me and raised his hand to his forehead.  “Excuse me.  I have this terrible headache, and I want to close my eyes and lie down.”

And suddenly there were clouds and fog and smoke and a funny aroma filled the air, and FDR wasn’t there any longer, nor was I.


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Impeachment Reaches the Senate and Male Attire

Impeachment Rolls On ... Heading Nowhere

If justice prevailed, the Senate would make short order of its “trial” of Donald John Trump, accused of impeachable offenses in the Articles of Impeachment passed on to the Senate by the House of Representatives, and he would be sent packing.

But things are not that simple.  Despite undenied proof of his culpability, Republicans in both Houses continue to support him, although all of them really know better.  They do that because of the votes of the vast number of ignorant and gullible people who follow Trump’s leadership, falling for his lies about everything, despite indisputable evidence to the contrary.   They will not vote to remove him from office.

The truth, readily available on most news channels and in most newspapers, is more difficult to digest than Trump’s bluster.   It takes a bit of intelligence, some discerning intellectual honesty and an absence of long-ingrained prejudices, traits most Trump supporters lack, to do that.  They prefer things in black and white, easily understood.  It’s easy to call Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi names and insult and demean their actions that to try to grasp the intricacies of Trump’s deceitful, self-serving behavior.  The Republican Senators who will form the jury in Donald John Trump’s trial all understand this but their need for the votes of Trump’s supporters on Election Day and their fear of opposition in primary elections will cause them to violate the oath (see below) they all have taken, elevating them to new heights of hypocrisy, a great accomplishment even for Republicans.

The Oath the Senators Take: Chapter IV, Paragraph 5 and also Chapter XXV of the Senate Rules, which stipulate that all Senators must take oaths, states: “I solemnly swear [or affirm, as the case may be] that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of [the person being impeached], now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God.”

So, if Trump himself is not the problem (but merely a manifestation of it), and the Republicans (who are "reacting" rather than "acting) are not the problem, who is?  It is the American public, more interested in “Americas Got Talent,” “Dancing with the Stars” and the Super Bowl than what happens to our nation. 

For democracy to work, the electorate must be knowledgeable, and the American electorate, thanks to TV programming, the internet and Fox News, is pathetically ignorant of what is going on.   The Founding Fathers made one big mistake in creating a democratic republic back in 1789.  They assumed the citizenry was ready for that kind of government.  True, they did limit the voice of the people by creating the Electoral College and leaving the selection of Senators to State Legislatures (that was changed in 1919 by the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution), but that was not enough to prevent the election of an incompetent, unqualified, self-serving fraud to the Presidency and makes the fearful Senate reluctant to approve his clearly warranted removal from office.  The vote, in those days, was not universal as it is now and States undemocratically denied many the right to vote.  But this also initially prevented the vote being given to the ignorant and gullible, a practice which changed
Jackson - Never Impeached
but was censured by Congress. 
He scorned the Legislative
Branch of Government
in the elections of the 1830’s which gave us Andrew Jackson, who incidentally, might count Donald John Trump as one of his fans.

Something will have to be done about this.  Abolishing the Electoral College entirely or dividing a State’s electoral votes proportionately according to the popular vote in that State, or simply electing the President by popular nationwide vote might be good starting points.  But the real answer is improving the educational level of the electorate.

A question:  Do you feel that voters who cannot name their Senators and Representative in Congress should be allowed to vote?  If so, why?  It puts a premium on ignorance, the kind of thing which brough Donald John Trump into the White House.  Another question:  How much accumulating evidence will be necessary to get even the most doctrinaire Republican, and those who blindly vote for them, to abandon Donald John Trump and put America first?  And what will happen to those who lead his evil legion of enablers, let by Attorney General Willliam Barr, a disgrace to the the legal profession as well as the Department of Justice?

Fashion Corner

Women at 2020 Golden Globes
Penguins Waiting in Line to
Attend Golden Globe Awards
Women "dress up" very well, in a variety of colors and styles.  A good place to see this is on the TV presentations of the award programs such as the Golden Globes, the Emmies and the Academy Awards.  They spend thousands of dollars to look stunning and attractive.   Men, on the other hand, on these occasions,  dress up in costumes making them resemble a colony (or a 'waddle') of penguins. 

Golden Globe Men - 2020
I suppose this desire to appear attractive on the part of women comes from their pre-historic inate desire to appeal to males and attract a mate.  Men, on the other hand, seem to dress to "conform" rather than to appeal to anyone else.  I suppose such behavior serves to prevent them from standing out and being the target of competing males.  Seems pre-historic to me.