Sunday, November 29, 2020

Thoughts from E.J. Dionne and David Brooks

A Two Party System Within One Party 



E. J. Dionne, in a recent Washington Post column, pointed out that the internal battling within the Democratic Party, now that they have elected Joe Biden to the presidency and gotten rid of Donald Trump, has resumed.  It appears to be between progressives on the left and centrists, the former espousing a liberal agenda and the latter looking for avenues of compromise to travel along with the Republicans.  But things are seldom what they seem.

With the seizure of the Republican Party by its extreme right, their conservative ideas dealing with regulation, taxation and the role of government in our society, including a dose of conspiracy theory, will not go away.  Seventy million voters wanted them to continue for four more years.  Dionne referred to the G.O.P as a “closed circle.”  But it did serve to drive more realistic Republican voters away from the GOP.  They voted for Biden but did not go so far as to give him a Democratic Senate (yet) nor an increase in his House majority.  

To quote Dionne, “the 2020 election perfectly captured the distinction between Democratic diversity and Republican homogeneity. Biden’s coalition was a little bit of everybody – self-described liberals (they constituted 42% of his voters), moderates (48%) and conservatives (10%), according to the network exit poll conducted by Edison Research. In other words, contrary to Trump’s claim that Biden is a tool for raging leftists, a majority of his electorate was non-liberal.”

This places the former Democratic-Republican rivalry within, or at least in the shade of, the Democrat’s “big tent.” This rivalry is between the more progressive Democrats and the centrist Democrats, who would be powerless without their appeal to Republicans who cannot stomach the right wing “closed circle” which the Republican Party has become.  In effect it is a rivalry among Democrats, with the remnants of the original Republican Party committed to the far right, and ultimately forming a third party. 

Dionne continued, “Georgia’s impending Senate runoffs will provide the ultimate test of strength between the mobilizing power of the Democrats’ big tent and the solidarity of the Republicans’ closed circle. The politics of diversity and a whole lot of voter registration helped Democrats convert Georgia from a Republican bastion into a battleground. So did the Biden’s carefully calibrated appeal to all wings of the party’s coalition. Control of the Senate and Biden’s ability to enact his larger program depend on his party’s ability to hang together.

 

The number of Republicans who will vote for Ossoff and Warnock, rather than the candidates of the G.O.P.’s “closed circle,” may make the difference.




Biden's Appointees


Someone pointed out to me in an email that a number of Joe Biden’s cabinet level appointees were Jewish to some extent.  I replied to the person who had forwarded the article with this information to me as follows:  This is good ... and not so good in that it gives fuel to the Anti-Semites in this country with which to quietly attack Biden.  I note among their academic credentials a fair sprinkling of Catholic colleges (Georgetown, Loyola).   Biden deserves credit for making these excellent appointments. They are far, far, above the Meadows, Mnuchins, Pompeos and Trump's other political loyalist appointees whom they will replace.”

 

Epistemology

And in another column last week, David Brooks of the New York Times wrote about “The rotting of the Republican mind.”  It bothered me that it sent me to the dictionary to find out what “epistemology” and “precarity” meant, a  necessity (at least for me) which might reduce the number of people who actually finish reading the column.  Using words like that reduces the influence of what he writes.  But the “elites” do not care about that and possibly, that is why we had to suffer through four years of Trump.  Like they say, *KISS.

David Brooks dreams a lot


Anyhow, here is an excerpt from the column.  Brooks’ analysis …

“begins with a remarkable essay that Jonathan Rauch wrote for National Affairs in 2018 called “The Constitution of Knowledge.”  Rauch pointed out that every society has an epistemic (hope you didn’t put your dictionary away … or kept the URL for it handy) regime, a marketplace of ideas where people collectively hammer out what’s real. In democratic, non-theocratic societies, this regime is a decentralized ecosystem of academics, clergy members, teachers, journalists and others who disagree about a lot but agree on a shared system of rules for weighing evidence and building knowledge.  This ecosystem, Rauch said, operates as a funnel.  It allows a wide volume of ideas to get floated, but only a narrow group of ideas survive scrutiny. “We let alt-truth talk,” Rauch said, “but we don’t let it write textbooks, receive tenure, bypass peer review, give expert testimony or dictate the flow of public dollars.”

Well, that’s all well and good if you feel “academics, clergy members, teachers, and journalists” as Rauch puts it should be the arbiters of what the nature of truth is (epistemology?) coming out of that “epistemic regime.”  Some would prefer that this decision be made by people who get their hands dirty and those whose aim in life is to acquire wealth.  Rauch tacks on “and others” to his list of those he feels should be the determiners of what “is real” and I suppose those with dirty hands or those who are greedy would fit in there. 

The point Brooks was trying to make was that people who believe in false realities (like what Trumpublicans preach) do so because of their distrust of and anxiety over the hand life has dealt them.  To reduce this distrust and anxiety, he writes that “contact” should be attempted by attempting to reduce ‘the social chasm between the members of the epistemic regime and those who feel so alienated from it” as well as government “policy making life more secure for those without a college degree.” 

Read this kind of stuff with caution.  Remember that for centuries, the ideas that the Earth revolved around the Sun and that a ship disappearing over the horizon did not fall off into space were considered alt-truths, not part of reality, by those who purported to set the rules (a Middle Ages group not unlike the ‘ecosystem’ Rauch proposes for today) for defining truth and reality. 

Brooks and Rauch live in warm houses and know where their next meal, and all future ones for that matter, are coming from. They have pensions. They can preach this sermon to the choir but not to those on the outside, across what Brooks calls a ‘social chasm’ where it will not be well received, nor even understood.  People on the other side of the chasm do not want “elites” making the rules for them.  Instead, they turn to autocrats like Donald Trump who peddle a different reality, one which makes them comfortable. 

Brooks (and Rauch) want to take that comfort away. I doubt that either Brooks or Rauch ever spoke to one of those without a college degree about making their life more secure.  If that requires their getting a government handout, they would spit in their faces calling it ‘socialism.’ They do have some pride. (Read the book “Hillbilly Elegy” or see the forthcoming movie.)  What Brooks and Rauch suggest ain’t gonna happen.

*Keep It Simple, Stupid

JL

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

A Chinese Philosopher, Thoughts on the Presidency and a Word on Medicare





Lao Tzu, Fifth century (B.C.) Chinese philosopher, wrote that:

A leader is best

When people barely know that he exists,

Not so good when people obey and acclaim him,

Worst when they despise him.

‘Fail to honor people,

They fail to honor you;’

But a good leader, who talks little,

When his work is done, his aim fulfilled,

They will all say, ‘We did this ourselves.’

  

Presidential Thoughts 

Trump, who will soon be history, was content to listen to the poison dispensed by Stephen Miller ... just as he was captivated by Bannon for a while. I am sure he enjoyed watching the ravings of Rudy, too. It is an indictment of democracy that Trump was ever elected in the first place, but how do we remedy that without damaging the democratic process? That's a question for the next few generations. We had our shot and blew it.

Donald Trump’s presidency was an absurdity which endangered and still endangers democracy in America, in view of the millions who still believe his lies. Advocates of White supremacy are still included among Republican supporters. But is Trump’s defeat at the polls enough? Will Joe Biden’s efforts to be a president of all Americans lead him to try to find a way to compromise with those who support Republican positions, some of which remain extremist?  I suspect that he will find it difficult, if not impossible, to do business with them.  It takes two to tango!


Democratic Activists
  The next four years will be a time for activism, and the only   activism I see is in the left wing of the Democratic Party   whose ideas must be made more palatable to more         Americans, despite charges of ‘socialism.’  Many of them  didn't think Social Security or Medicare would be good for   them at first, but no one dare take these benefits away from   them now, even the extreme right.



 

Be Careful with Your Medicare

Your TV blasts the news that Medicare Open Enrollment (no health questions) lasts until December 7.  Be careful in responding to these advertisements.  Open Enrollment only permits you to change Medicare Advantage Plans (HMOs or PPOs) if you already have one or want to drop out of Medicare Parts A and B and enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan.  Currently, 58% of Medicare participants still are in traditional Medicare Parts A and B, so this is fertile ground for those selling Medicare Advantage Plans (and earning a commission) which is what these advertisements are all about.  The “up to $144 monthly” they claim you’ll get paid applies only to those switching to a Medicare Advantage Plan from Parts A and B.  That is the maximum amount presently deducted from Social Security for those who now have Medicare Part B.  Once you drop it, that deduction will cease. Be careful.

The low cost, or absence of cost, of many Medicare Advantage Plans is made possible because they receive a per capita lump sum from the government to pay for the coverages that they provide. This amount is made available because the government no longer has to pay for Medicare Part A which must be dropped when one chooses a Medicare Advantage plan. (Medicare payroll taxes gave the government this money to start with.)  Also freed up is the amount the government pays for Part B coverage, over and above what the Medicare recipient has deducted from their Social Security, which may prove insufficient to cover claims.   Generally speaking, that's how Medicare Advantage plans are paid for.

If you change your mind about having enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you can “disenroll” and go back to traditional Medicare’s Parts A and B during  a special Open Enrollment period (Jan. 1 to Feb. 14) set up for this purpose.  Because Medicare Parts A and B have gaps in coverage (typically the 80% limit on Part B claims), many purchase a Medicare Supplement policy (Medigap) to fill these gaps.  One should be aware that the companies issuing such Medigap policies are not obligated to issue you a policy under these circumstances and can ask health questions, or turn you down, depending on how long you have had the Medicare Advantage plan from which you are considering disenrolling.  It's not the same as applying for a Medigap policy at the same time one initially goes onto traditional Medicare.    Be careful.


Phone Numbers to Write Down



The Washington D.C. phone numbers

 of Florida's Senators are:

Senator Marco Rubio -  202 224 3041

Senator Rick Scott - 202 224 5274

(See their websites for their local numbers in Florida.)

 JL

Friday, November 20, 2020

Worsening Pandemic, the GOP view from 1968, Laundry, an E.J. Dionne Column and Federalist Paper Number 68




Inside the Head of Alexander Hamilton - The Electoral College

Got about half an hour to kill?  Go back and read this blog’s posting of Wednesday, December 14, 2016.  It reproduces Number 68 of the Federalist Papers and explains what the Electoral College was and is about.  It was written by Alexander Hamilton.  It is well worth reading and studying. 

You can find it at https://jackspotpourri.blogspot.com/2016/12/number-68-of-federalist-papers.html. Simply copy and paste that link on your browser line and click “enter.”  Or you can use the Blog Archive to your right (if you’re reading this on a PC or Mac) to get there, or just  CLICK HERE to read it.

The Pandemic Worsens

What we are now facing in terms of the spreading pandemic is even far worse than another 9/11 attack or another Pearl Harbor. While the number of deaths is more controllable now, the number of those infected and spreading the virus is soaring. Hospitals are filling up with those with serious symptoms. How should we react to that?  We actually know what to do, but do we have to wait until Biden is in the White House on January 20 for that to happen? So long as Trump is in the White House, that seems to be the case.  And even then, it will be difficult considering his supporters who won't go away.

How Trump’s Support Came to Be, Described 52 Years Ago

During Richard Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign, a manuscript of Kevin Phillips’ book ‘The Emerging Republican Majority,’ offered a playbook for how white voters could form a winning national coalition in the post-civil rights era. Phillips called America “the melting pot that never melted” and explained that “all you’ve got to do with American politics is work out who hates whom and you’ve got it.” Phillips advised Nixon that the Republican party could win without African American votes by painting the Democrats as the “black party.” Phillips predicted “a new American revolution coming out of the south and west” because of fears and objections raised by the civil rights movement’s victories. Nixon intended for this “Southern Strategy” to establish a new sun belt power base for the Republican party in the south and west.

Indeed, the Southern Strategy made the Republican party a political home for tens of millions of white people who could not move on after the civil rights movement. Strom Thurmond, who had run as a Dixiecrat candidate for president and championed “massive resistance” to the Brown v Board of Ed decision, led the march of southern Democrats into a Republican party that was ready to use “positive polarization” to pit their base against a fusion coalition of Black, white and brown voters whom Republicans demonized as “socialists,” “coastal elites” and “godless progressives.” Though Republicans knew their base was reactionary white conservatives, they did not make explicit appeals to white supremacy. Instead, they insisted that their values were the true American values. Casting themselves as the champions of everyday Americans in the Heartland, they paved the way for Trump’s faux populism.

(The above taken from Heather Cox Richardson’s blog, “Letters from an American.”


And Here's a Column by E. J. Dionne, bringing the above 1968 prediction up to date

 Why the GOP is sticking with Trump’s deceit

His new supporters are important to House Republican victories

WASHINGTON – The refusal of most Republicans to stand against President Donald Trump’s unconscionable campaign to discredit a free election is one of the lowest points in the history of our republic - and a threat to democracy itself.

But understanding the motivation behind their irresponsibility requires a close look at what happened in the election itself.

At one level, the result was a solid defeat of Trump and Trumpism. President-elect Joe Biden’s projected electoral college vote matches Trump’s from four years ago, which back then the president called a “landslide.” Biden’s popular vote margin is approaching 6 million votes, more than double Hillary Clinton’s edge four years ago.

The long-term problem for the country, however, is that the outcome marks the near complete Trumpification of the GOP, and a far deeper partisan divide than existed even two years ago. A look at the election data from 2018 and 2020 shows that the alignment between the Trump vote and support for down-ballot Republicans, particularly in races for the House of Representatives, is closer than ever. Democrats are tearing each other apart because they not only failed to advance in the House; they actually lost seats. According to the Cook Political Report vote tracker, Republicans have netted 11 seats in the House with five races left to be decided.

What occurred is less mysterious than the polemics between the party’s wings would suggest.

The Democratic victory in House elections in 2018 was sweeping. The party flipped 43 seats and lost only three for a net gain of 40. More importantly, the Democrats achieved an unprecedented turnout of their supporters. Democratic House candidates won 60.7 million votes, compared with 51 million for the Republicans. Republicans got 10 million more votes than they won in the 2014 midterms, but the Democrats won an astonishing 25 million more.

The long-term problem for the country is that the outcome marks the near complete Trumpification of the GOP, and a far deeper partisan divide than existed even two years ago.

When you look at where the big 2018 turnout increase came from, it’s obvious that Democratic-leaning constituencies intent on punishing Trump far outperformed Trump’s core constituencies, perhaps because Trump himself was not on the ballot.

The Census Bureau found that turnout among those with college backgrounds, who tend to be Trump critics, rose significantly more than it did among those who didn’t attend college. Turnout in metro areas was up 12.2 points; in non-metros – Trump territory – it rose just 7.7 points.

But in 2020, Trump voters came out in droves and thus boosted down-ballot Republicans. Trump won over 10 million more votes in 2020 than in 2016 – exit polls suggest that 6.5 million of his ballots came from first-time voters – which means he brought new supporters into the electorate who were important to this year’s House GOP victories.

As one Democratic strategist noted, “2018 was a wave year because our people showed up and theirs didn’t. 2020 was like a reversion to the mean because both sides showed up and right now we’re feeling the whiplash because no public or private data saw it coming.”

Nothing is clearer in the outcome than how closely the presidential vote matched the vote in House races. The latest count in the presidential race shows Biden with 51% of the popular vote. Cook’s tracker shows Democratic House candidates with 50.4% of the vote.

Democrats still managed to hold on in more than two-thirds of the 30 districts that went to Trump in 2016. But this achievement has a telling backstory: On the current count, it appears that at least 11 of the 30 Trump districts switched to Biden, and several more may eventually move Biden’s way. In these places, the Democrats’ strong showing in 2018 House races were a leading indicator of what was to come. So far, Republicans have picked up House seats in only four 2016 Clinton districts, with two others on the edge.

Going forward, figuring out how Trump won an additional 10 million votes is one of the most important questions in politics. Here’s a plausible and discouraging theory: Given Trump’s intemperate and often wild ranting in the campaign’s final weeks and the growing public role in GOP politics of QAnon conspiracists, the Proud Boys and other previously marginal extremist groups, these voters may well be more radical than the party as a whole. This means that Republicans looking to the future may be more focused on keeping such Trump loyalists in the electorate than on backing away from his abuses.

Trump’s bitterest harvest could thus be a Republican Party with absolutely no interest in a more moderate course and every reason to keep its supporters angry and on edge. Ignoring reality and denying Trump’s defeat is part of that effort.

E.J. Dionne, Washington Post columnist,  is on Twitter: @EJDionne.



Illegal and Unspeakable Words Out of the Mouths of Babes  Teenagers

In posting on this blog and elsewhere, I have gone to great pains to avoid touching upon what is both illegal and unspeakable.  The teen-age daughter of a Palm Beach County Commissioner (who was called to task about it) was not so cautious the other day when she included in a “tweet” critical of Florida’s conservative Republican governor DeSantis (who doesn’t believe in masks nor social distancing to fight the Coronavirus’ spread), the words “someone assassinate him already.”  How many of us occasionally harbor such really dangerous thoughts, which as mature adults we are able to sublimate, but a less-conditioned teenager is able to blurt out?  Cures can be worse than the malady they attempt to address.

 

It Comes Out in the Wash

We take commonplace things for granted.  This past Spring, when I was under the weather and had a health aide with me for a while, I noticed that in addition to doing my laundry, he was bringing his in to do in my washer and dryer.  I didn’t mind. Today I noted in a blog I receive from my old high school that another Newark high school, Barringer H.S., has installed two washing machines and dryers for the use of students who lack such conveniences at home.  The blog went on to point out that the facility, free for students, will be a big boost for young adults who are “housing insecure” and may not have access to a washing machine at home. It's much more than a clean pair of socks, organizers said. For students, it can also mean improved attendance, boosted confidence or an end to bullying.  How many of you have this kind of problem?  Be grateful.

Barringer is not the only high school where this is being done, a fact indicative
of the homes from which some students come, and those who are homeless.


JL 

 

 


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Looking Back Two Weeks

 Don't Ignore the Others

This is certainly no time to relax, but it is almost like that Dutch kid in the story putting his finger in a dike, an almost insurmountable task.  There are 70 million Trump voters that cannot be ignored. Many, in addition to not accepting the election's results, do not denounce violence either.  That is frightening.  Convicted felons like Roger Stone, with commuted sentences, are permitted to spout lies in downtown Delray Beach. 

Jefferson Saw it Coming 

Thomas Jefferson, less than a generation after the founding of our republic, wrote the following:  










"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." That's why he was big on public education, founding the University of Virginia. Jefferson was a foe of ignorance.  Other Presidents (like Jackson and Trump) relish it. Such ignorance is a basic tenet of today's Republican party which still refuses to denounce Trump's lies. 

Rumsfeld Said So Ages Ago

Conservative icon Donald Rumsfeld once said that the absence of evidence is not evidence of its absence.  Trumpublicans apply that warped logic to their charges of election fraud.  “We have no proof of it but that doesn’t prove it didn’t happen,” they say. That's why these nut jobs are inconvincible, not willing to believe their ship is sinking, even as the water pours in up to their knees.  

And it is Crippling our Education System 

Few of the ignorant read the nation’s history, or much of anything else for that matter, and this applies to at least half of our population.  Kids in our schools are way behind their peers in schools in other nations.  Notice the names, usually indicating immigrant parents, of so many of those rising to the top in medicine, engineering and like professions.  That is no accident. Things will get better, but only after a long, long, period of their getting worse.  Like maybe, the Middle Ages?

What Can You Do

But getting down to doing something constructive today, every loyal American should email and call their Senators and Representative in Congress demanding that Trump follow presidential transition procedures now.  Delay endangers our national security.  In addition, those who believe in the Constitution as the law of the land must concentrate on the Democrats winning those two Senate seats in Georgia.  Donate money.  Sign up to make phone calls and write postal cards. 

That May Not Be Enough 

But even twin victories for Warnock and Ossoff there will not, I’m afraid, convince those who believe the moon is made of green cheese.  What makes them that way?  Why do they still pledge allegiance to a man who holds them in contempt and does nothing for them, except play the cheerleader, lie and massage their nationalistic egos.

WHY??  A Sad Story 

Here’s why.  They see Donald J. Trump as an outsider who upset the system.  In the eyes of half the nation’s population, the “system” has been screwing them for years, favoring minorities, immigrants, globalization, the United Nations and high falutin’ elitist ideas, including treaties which benefit the world, and world peace, but not specifically the United States.  But doing little for them. Like that BS about climate change! They take the Affordable Care Act, Social Security, public education and food and drug regulation as institutions favoring someone other than them.   Just more socialism where the government butts in where it has no business being. (But don’t take my parents’ Medicare away ... or mine if I'm old enough !)

For different reasons, that is the position Trump takes too!  He’s against what they’re against. A bull in the china shop! They can’t shake things up but he can, and that is why 70,000,000 voters see him as an outsider, just like them.  And he wears a red MAGA hat too, just like they do.  They belong to the same club… and its not Mar-a-Lago.  Fast food, television watching, Twitter, Facebook and no deep intellectual stuff, all are shared by them with Donald.  Country music but not folk music!  Nobody’s going to force him to wear a mask either; and he got sick and he got better fast!  See!  Donnie and me are right there together!  No mask for me!  

The Democrats Did Not Defeat Trump.  The Coronavirus Did.

I really don’t see how the Democrats can compete with this. Were it not for the Coronavirus, Trump would have won a second term!  Democrats lost seats in the House and thus far, only picked up one in the Senate.  Even Susan Collins won re-election.  We all expected more.

But the two Senate run-off races in Georgia offer you a start.  Participate in them!  Regardless of where you live.  Give America a cause for optimism.  Give democracy a cause for optimism.

JL

GRRRRRRRRRR!





Friday, November 13, 2020

From Bad to Worse, Advice from the 17th Century, a Preacher's Passing and a Letter to Senators.

 .


Two Quotes from Baltasar Gracian

Gracian

Here are a couple of my occasional quotes from “The Art of Worldly Wisdom,” a “Pocket Oracle” of thoughts by the seventeenth century Spanish Jesuit scholar, Baltasar Gracian.  (The translation from the Spanish is by Chirstopher Maurer.)  Considering the political situation in our country, it offers wise guidance to all.  It appears that there were liars and untrustworthy people then, just as there are today.

 (Number 116) – Always deal with people of principalFavor them and win their favor.  Their very rectitude ensures they will treat you well even when they oppose you, for they act like who they are, and it is better to fight with good-minded people than to conquer the bad.  There is no way to get along with villainy, for it feels no obligation to behave rightly.  This is why there is no true friendship among villains, and their fine words cannot be trusted; for they do not spring from honor. Avoid the person who has no honor, for if he esteems not honor, he esteems not virtue.  And honor is the throne of integrity.”

 And here is some really excellent advice for Donald J. Trump from Gracian. 

(Number 59) – End Well.  If you enter the house of Fortune through the door of pleasure, you will leave through the door of sorrow, and vice versa.  So be careful of the way you end things, and devote more attention to a successful exit than to a highly applauded entrance.  Fortunate people often have favorable beginnings and very tragic endings.  What matters isn’t being applauded when you arrive - - - for that is common - - - but being missed when you leave.  Rare are those who are still wanted.  Fortune seldom accompanies someone to the door.  She is as courteous to those who are coming as she is rude to those who are going.

 Having spent two years at Fordham University, a Jesuit school, it is conceivable that Trump was exposed to such ideas, if he ever showed up in class or did the assigned readings..

 JL

 


Write to your Senators 

Here is the text of an Email I sent to my two Senators, both Republicans. “Please stop lying about the results of the presidential election, misleading your constituents who deserve better.  Produce evidence (not merely announce hunting expeditions to find some) of sufficient election improprieties to change the results of the election, and if you cannot,  proceed to expedite the transition of power to the President-elect, and cease attacking the democratic process for selfish political reasons. Simply stated, "Put up or shut up." 

They may not read these Emails or listen to phone messages but they do count them, so keep sending them!

 

 


 

Will the Military Get Involved?

Ex-Defense Sec'y Esper - Cross the
President and get fired

Things are now turning from bad to worse.  We are witnessing a struggle for control of our armed forces.  Trump knows they will turn against him eventually in living up to their oath to defend the Constitution.  Esper, with all of his flaws, was not fired as Secretary of Defense without good reason, possibly the same reason Comey was canned, refusal to pledge his loyalty to Trump.  Trump is hurrying to cripple the Department of Defense as quickly as possible, recognizing that the armed forces may make a move against him in defense of the Constitution.  That is why he is appointing his loyalists (Gee, that's what they called Franco's fascists in Spain in 1938) to key roles in the DOD.
 

This kind of behavior is common in African and Latin American nations which lack a robust democratic tradition.  Now, for the first time, it is happening in the United States. Trump is no better than Maduro in Venezuela.  Neither has any intention of leaving office.  Republicans, only interested in maintaining the support of the many mindless Trump voters, close their eyes to this scenario.  That is why Trump still has the support of many educated, knowledgeable Republicans who should know better.  They just don’t care.  Once these Republicans have killed and buried democracy in the United States, the progressive, but not necessarily democratic, government which will eventually take over, will have no problem in erasing the party of Abraham Lincoln from history.  They will have deserved it.

I would hope that Biden's people are already in contact with the Joint Chiefs. They will need them.  Soon. 

And here is a question which has to be answered sooner or later:

In the event of a threat to our national security before President-elect Biden is inaugurated, a threat of the dimensions of a Pearl Harbor or a 9/11 and one with which our lame-duck president and emasculated and politicized Department of Defense are unable to cope, how quickly will our armed forces step in and temporarily take charge of our government, despite General Milley’s saying that our military will not resolve a disputed election?

 



R.I.P.

Did you read about the Evangelical preacher, Rev. Irvin Baxter, who on TV a few months ago (on the Jim Bakker show, that of another tele-evangelist) claimed the Coronavirus pandemic was God’s punishment for our engaging in fornication outside of marriage.  He died this week from Covid19, the disease transmitted by the virus.  God works in mysterious ways. Read the story, featured in the New York PostBY CLICKING HERE  or pasting this on your browser line.

https://nypost.com/2020/11/06/televangelist-who-blamed-covid-19-on-premarital-sex-dies-from-virus/  

It is odd that this story was given prominence by a Murdoch-owned newspaper which has not objected to Donald J. Trump’s downplaying of the pandemic, which contributes to the spreading of the Coronavirus and ultimately, deaths, like that of Rev. Baxter.   Anything to sell papers.                 


Time for Democrats to Play Hardball, like Republicans Do!

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

A Crisis in Government, Some Medicare Information, FloriDUH Does it Again and Poetry Corner


                                             💥

Seventy Million Fools

Some surveys report that seven out of ten Republicans think the election was illegitimate and GOP leaders in Congress are listening to them and the President rather than to the State officials who ran the election and cannot confirm anything fraudulent or illegal. 

Why then does the President keeps pushing sure-to-lose meritless litigation? Here’s why!   If he delays resolution of the issue another month, he gets the election out of the Electoral College and into the House, with one vote per State.  Americans will not let this happen.

Gen. Mark Milley - Head of Joint Chiefs of Staff

In some manner, the Joint Chiefs of Staff will ultimately step in, when it is clear that national security is endangered by Trump’s failure to cooperate with a transition to the President-Elect, and by his tearing down of key parts of our governmental structure. (Look at the people he is firing and those who are quitting.)  

Joint Chiefs head General Mark Milley says that the military will not be involved in resolving a disputed election, but would not follow an illegal order either.  Like it or not, the military is involved in this situation, brought to the fore by the firing of the Secretary of Defense.  I feel that ulltimately the military will live up to their oath to defend the Constitution which takes precedence over their taking orders from the Commander in Chief.  Only then will all the States finally be able to certify their election results.

How the 70 million who, mostly out of ignorance of the facts and/or chronic gullibility, voted for Trump and that seven out of ten Republicans who believe his lies about the election results’ illegitimacy, will behave is the next question the nation must answer.  Stay tuned. Do you know where your passport is?

 JL

                                                                   💥💥

Medicare Recipients Take Note 

Joe Namath Touting Medicare Part C


The ads flooding your TV screen about switching your Medicare plans during the current (Ending Dec. 7) Open Enrollment Period are not a scam, but they are not totally honest either, and some older people may be fooled by them.  There’s a lot they don’t mention. With many generalizations, here is some information which may be of assistance.

Medicare consists of four parts, A, B, C, and D. 

Part A pays most, but not all your hospital bills and is paid for by the Federal government. 

Part B pays, after some deductibles, 80% of your doctor bills.  Remember that there is a difference between hospital and doctor bills.  You pay for this with a deduction from your Social Security payment up to as much as $140 monthly. 

Part C plans are Medicare Advantage Plans, usually HMOs or PPOs (Health Maintenance Organizations or Preferred Provider Organizations), of which there are many, and which require that you not have “traditional” Medicare which consists of Parts A & B.  You cannot have them if you choose Part C.  These Medicare Advantage plans may cost nothing at all or considerably less than staying with Parts A & B, especially if you purchase a Medicare Supplement or Medigap plan to fill in the gaps in Parts A & B, most specifically that 20% of doctor bills which Part B will not cover.  (According to AARP information, about 42% of all Medicare recipients are covered by Part C rather than by the "traditional" Parts A & B.)

During the annual Open Enrollment period (now), one can switch between existing Part C plans or replace existing “traditional” Medicare’s Parts A and B with a Part C plan with no questions asked.  Dropping “traditional” Medicare’s Part B, which you must do if switching to a Part C plan, along with dropping Part A means that up to $140 monthly for Part B will no longer be deducted from your Social Security payment, so that is sometimes advertised as “money in your pocket.”

Part D covers prescription costs.  Various plans are offered, some combined with Part C plans but also available for purchase by those with Parts A and B, which do not have prescription coverage.

Medicare Supplement, or Medigap plans, to cover Part A and Part B “gaps” in coverage, particularly the 20% Part B does not cover, are always available but unless one enrolls in them when initially enrolling in Medicare, the insurance company issuing them can reject an applicant, raise their premium, or not cover pre-existing conditions for a specified period.  To have them requires one to have Parts A and B and most importantly, these plans are not included in the “no questions asked” Open Enrollment period currently being advertised on television.  Medicare Supplement policies come with various levels of benefits designated by letters, but their provisions are standardized among the companies selling them, but whose premiums are not the same.

The most expensive way to proceed is to be insured in “traditional” Medicare Parts A  & B, and purchase separate Part D coverage and a Medigap policy to fill in what Parts A and B do not cover, primarily deductibles and that 20% which Part B does not cover.   At the other end of the spectrum, many Part C plans, even those with prescription coverage, cost nothing.  Remember that traditional Part A did not call for any payment by an insured. The government paid for it.  Well, in a Part C Medicare Advantage plan, an HMO or PPO, that government money goes to the Part C insurance company, and with it they provide benefits.  Typically, it is about $8,000 a year per insured.

Often these Part C benefits limit the hospitals one may stay in, limit one’s choice of medical providers, can utilize telephone or internet doctor or nurse appointments instead of face to face exams and sometimes not be usable outside of local areas.  This is less true of PPOs which have a broader choice of doctors and hospitals, but which cost a bit more.  Added Part C benefits such as vision, dental or hearing provisions are usually very limited.  Traditional Medicare’s Parts A and B, on the other hand are accepted by any physician or hospital participating in Medicare, anywhere in the country.

What this comes down to is that you get what you pay for.  Bear that in mind when you see the commercials on television and the fulll page ads in the newspapers.  They are saying one of two things:  Switch your present Part C plan or dump your Parts A & B and replace them with a Part C plan,  Joe Namath was a fine quarterback but don’t accept him as your health care advisor.  Call the number he gives you and you will be connected with a salesperson (licensed agent) offering the plans of many companies selling Part C coverage, which vary greatly.  And if you are sticking with Parts A & B, they can provide or switch your Medicare Supplement Plans, but these usually require that health questions be asked, and you can be turned down.

 

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Florida Will Never Change 

Birds of a Feather - Ron and Don

In a letter of mine published back on July 18 in the Palm Beach Post, I suggested that were Florida to vote Democratic in the presidential election, Governor DeSantis ought to resign since the election might be considered a referendum on how to deal with the Covid19 pandemic, an issue on which our Governor parroted the now-defeated President’s position. 

Well, contrary to the election’s national results, Florida voted Republican, justifying Governor DeSantis’ continuing to open up venues where people can gather and spread the virus, oppose face mask mandates and generally not taking the pandemic very seriously. That’s apparently what the majority of voters in FloriDUH want.  Certainly, it is not reflected in the number of Canadians and others snowbird visitors who have chosen not to come to FloriDUH during the winter months.


                                    

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Poetry Corner  

Hughes
Here is the full poem from which an excerpt appeared in the last blog posting.  It was written in 1935, published in Esquire Magazine in 1936, at the height of the depression.  It expressed the feeling of Langston Hughes, a Black American as a Black and as an American.  The 45th President, unknowingly I am sure, plagerized the title, but not the thoughts.  How much of this feeling is still true today? It was reflected in the vote of the Black community in the recent election.

Let America Be America Again

Langston Hughes
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine—the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!
                                     

All About the Supreme Court plus a Quote

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