About Me

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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 for 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.

Friday, December 31, 2021

12-31-2021 - College Football, Covid19 Testing and Getting the DOJ and a Grand Jury Involved in the January 6 Insurrection

DOJ and a Grand Jury Needed

Professor Heather Cox Richardson recently pointed out in her blog, “Letters From an American,” that "Since the 1990s, Republicans have used violence and the news coverage it gets to gain through pressure what they could not gain through votes."

Democrats should have gotten the message in 2000 when Roger Stone (later a convicted and pardoned criminal) engineered the theft of Florida's electoral votes. They didn't, and still don't get it that Republicans don't play by the rules. For the sake of democracy, Democrats still do. They should start playing hardball by turning the whole investigation of what happened on January 6, 2021, over to the Department of Justice and a grand jury to speed criminal indictments where justified.

Attorney-General Garland


Why? Democrats will still control the DOJ until 2024, but they may lose the House (and the Select Committee investigating Jan. 6) in about ten months. A Congressional committee is not the best venue in which to bring about justice in regard to the possible traitors like Bannon, Navarro and ultimately, the former president. Such committees "investigate" with the aim of developing legislation, not bringing criminals to justice. The whole investigation must be moved to the DOJ quickly and that grand jury must be impaneled.

  JL

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Saving College Football and Some Dreaming

To keep college football from turning into little more than a farm system for the NFL, the first step must be to close the “transfer portal” which enables student-athletes to switch colleges with minimal, if any, waiting periods before they can play for their new school.  Any recipient of an athletic scholarship, or educational funding from any source supporting that college, must commit to staying there for at least four years and not playing football for any other school to which he transfers for any reason whatsoever or attends thereafter for graduate studies.

The NFL, in addition to looking to colleges for promising talent, should organize and subsidize semi-professional leagues with teams composed of talented former high school football players who would rather be paid to play immediately instead of enrolling in a college in order to continue playing football.  College players who give up their scholarships would be able to transfer to such semi-professional leagues, as would players after having attended a college for four years with an athletic scholarship.  Players in such semi-professional leagues, however, would not be eligible to play football if they later decide to enroll in a college.

Ideally, college football should be a sport in which college students compete with students from other colleges, with whoever wants to watch them play sitting in a venue enjoying the game.  It should not be a million-dollar business throughout the country, with coaches sometimes paid more than college presidents.  One side effect of this is the predominance of immigrant students, and children of immigrants, among our top academic achievers.  They, like the rest of the world’s students, don’t give a damn about competitive college sports … and it is showing up in our scientific and engineering communities where who wins the Toilet Bowl game this year doesn’t have any significance whatsoever.  

And while I'm on a football kick, let me complain about another thing besides the 'transfer portal' which is killing the sport, and this even extends to the NFL.  It's about tackling and fumbling.  The purpose of a tackle is to stop a runner from running or to stop a passer from passing.  A fumble is when for one reason or another, a runner or passer (or even a punter) loses control of the ball and drops it resulting in a pile-up to see who recovered it. The problem arises when the defending team loses sight of what tackling is all about. It seems that there is just as much emphasis on dislodging the ball as there is in stopping the runner or passer.  To me, it borders on playing 'dirty' and is more like street fighting than a competitive sport.  Striking at the ball instead of trying to stop the ball carrier or passer is worth a fifteen yard penalty in my book.  (They did it with head-butting with the steel-hard plastic of the helmet, intended as a protective device, not a weapon.  They call that 'targetting.')  But this is more 'dreaming' too, isn't it.

 JL

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Covid19 Testing

Covid19 isnt't going away so fast.

From a layman’s viewpoint, it appears to me that the increase in the number of the nation’s Covid19 “cases” is the result of an increased number of symptom-free people being tested and found to be infected.  Without such testing, they would not have been counted as a “case” and we wouldn’t be seeing such a big increase. 

From testing’s positivity rate, it would appear that in some parts of the country, at least 20% of the population (based on Florida's statistics), whether they know it or not, have been infected by the coronavirus.  All of them are contagious for a while, capable of spreading the virus to others, including the vaccinated to some extent.  

Those testing positive, after a brief quarantine period, (five days is the latest CDC recommendation) should observe social distancing, avoid crowded public places, wear a mask and schedule a future test.  Those untested should do the same, on the chance that they would be among that 20% which would have tested positive if they had been tested. 

Testing negatively should not be taken as a license to return to pre-pandemic behavior patterns, making one vulnerable to infection. Those politicians who oppose local and business masking mandates are allies of Covid19 and should be shunned and voted out of office.  They are contemptible.

 JL

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HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

 

  Jack

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Wednesday, December 29, 2021

12-29-21 - Three Quotes, Enid and Why Covid19 is Going into Extra Innings

 

Three Quotes Worth Reading

Gerson
A recent Washington Post carried a column by conservative columnist Michael Gerson headlined “If Report from January 6 is True, Will it Matter?”  You can read it by visiting https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/12/16/capitol-riot-committee-relevance-trump-voters/ or BY CLICKING HERE.

Knowing that some of you won’t do that, here are two salient quotes from the column, which points out that Trump’s G.O.P. support remains strong.

“In some ways, the GOP’s rank and file still holds the proxy for America.  The votes of Trump-alienated Republicans will eventually be required to deny him the 2024 G.O.P. presidential nomination or to seriously damage his reelection effort.  It is Republican tolerance for the intolerable that threatens American democracy.”

And further on in his column, Gerson quotes Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) who in turn quoted Benjamin Franklin as saying “I have observed that wrong is always growing more wrong until there is no bearing it anymore.  And that right, however opposed, comes right at last.”

(Permit me to add that what Franklin observed can take a very, very long time to happen.  For it to occur sooner, there must be a massive Democratic turnout in 2022, despite Republican efforts to restrict voting opportunities.  This is made more difficult because Republicans in Congress are now proudly telling their constituents about the benefits Congress in now providing for them through the 'For the People' Act and at the same time, keeping quiet about the fact that every one of them voted against them!  But voters dumb enough to elect Republicans in the first place seem susceptible to such deceit.  That is the problem.)

Finally, here is a quote posted by me on Professor Heather Cox Richardson’s “Letters from an American,” in response to a complainer who thought Attorney General Garland was moving too slowly.  I wrote that:

It is becoming more clear with each passing day that the former president is deserving of blame for the January 6 attack on the Capitol and the related efforts to affect the Constitutional process of confirming the electoral vote. The Attorney General is aware that taking action against those whose evidence might elevate the former president's apparent culpability to full responsibility would risk more violence, and that is why the DOJ is proceeding on tiptoes. I do not see how this can end well for the nation.


 JL

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Democracy Miscarries in Enid, Oklahoma

A New York Times piece published Dec. 26 carried the headline “First They Fought Over Masks, Then Over the Soul of a City.” It dealt with what is tearing America apart, using the example what happened in  Enid, Oklahoma, as an example.  You can read the article at https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/26/us/oklahoma-masks.html OR BY CLICKING HERE.

What struck me most about it was the close relationship between one side, the anti-maskers (who won out) and Protestant Christianity as practiced in the United States, and particularly in places like Enid, Oklahoma. These Americans fought for their beliefs with the violent fervor of the Crusaders who in other times trekked across Europe to free Jerusalem from Muslim control, who during the Reformation, resented a Church which took orders from a Pope in Rome, or even earlier, despised Jews for not accepting Jesus as the Messiah, instituting the Inquisition. Simply, they were unable to separate politics from religion.

This is the way they, and millions of Americans, seem to look not only at masking but also at every other change which has taken place in our country over the past century and earlier.  The pandemic only served as a focus for their fervor and brought it to a head.  It didn’t take long for Enid’s anti-masking vendetta to spread to other areas such as same sex-marriage, what books were read in the public schools and a resentment of the supposed equality which came to the nation after the Civil War.  Unsurprisingly, the antii-maskers were subsequently elected to a majority on the city's council.

That is not the way America works. That is why the Constitution forbids the establishment of a church in our nation and allows for change to occur through its Amendment process.  Those who are against change seem to forget than failure to change, when necessary, can be a greater failure than what they see as undesirable change.  But when the citizenry is incapable of separating the fervor which only religious beliefs can muster from their approach to social and political change as manifested in issues such as abortion and the teaching of American history in public schools, we are in trouble. 

Benjamin Franklin’s quote directly above, hits the nail on the head, but by the time right dominates over wrong, there may not be a United States any longer, merely a disunited bunch of States. And to the threat to democracy posed by Republican tolerance for the intolerable, pointed out by Michael Gerson (also reproduced above), I wonder if  we should be adding the fervent quasi-religious support these zealots bring to non-theological matters such as masking.

  JL

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The Headlines in Today’s (Dec. 28) Palm Beach Post, Say it All.  “COVID Skyrockets over Holiday – Palm Beach County Saw Almost 12,000 New Cases, Positivity Close to 21%, Test Lines Grow.”

Well, if 21% of the tests are positive, with even those without symptoms being counted among the new cases, that explains the big increase.  More testing ends up with more cases being reported.  

Nevertheless, a five-day quarantine (sufficient according to the CDC’s latest announcement) for all of them is suggested, along with masking and stricter social distancing.  In my opinion, that 21% number applies to the untested population as well, so my advice in the last posting of this blog (“The best way for those without symptoms to deal with the spreading variants of the coronavirus is to behave as if they had tested positive for them even though they weren’t tested!) still holds true. 

Looking at the other side of the coin, could it be that many of those without symptoms who are being tested are doing so to confirm that they are NOT infected, giving them some license to revert to pre-pandemic behavior, which could get them infected!  Would it be better for them to remain untested and behaving as if they were indeed infected?

Nevertheless, testing seems to be the key to curbing the spread of infection. Quoting from the Post’s article (by Jane Musgrave with contributions by Kimberly Miller):

“The demand for testing has increased, in part, because infections caused by the Omicron variant closely mirror symptoms of the common cold, *Bush said.  That is making even more people worry they may have contracted the deadly coronavirus that has already killed more than 813,000 people nationwide, including 62,389 in Florida.  Few people are now reporting loss of smell and taste, one of the hallmarks of the earlier variants, such as delta, Bush said. Instead, people are experiencing runny noses, sore throats, headaches and coughs – all symptoms of he common cold, he said.

Those with symptoms who are unwilling to wait in line or are unable to find a home testing kit should assume e they have COVID-19 and quarantine for at least ten days, *Bush said.

(This blog recommended that, acting as if they were ‘positive,’ two days ago, before the CDC’s reduction of the suggested quarantine to five days. The article went on to suggest that those who actually test positive should get monoclonal antibody treatment, but then added that two readily available approved therapies, including that antibody treatment, are not effective against the Omicron variant.  In fact, for that reason, some hospitals in the area have even stopped administering it.  There still is a lot of confusion regarding Covid19, even among professionals.)

*Dr. Larry Bush, an infectious disease specialist and a former president of the Palm Beach County Medical Society.

 

  JL

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 Why the Covid19 Pandemic is Going into Extra Innings?

Who's to Blame?

When I exchange Emails with an unvaccinated, unmasked neighbor, he frequently brings up evidence “proving” that the pandemic is a hoax, that the vaccine manufacturers are dishonest, that the vaccines themselves are dangerous, and so forth. This purported evidence includes opinions of faculty members at Harvard, Stanford and even at the University of Florida’s medical school. These “experts” are outliers, exceptions to the vast preponderance of the medical and scientific community and sometimes tied to libertarian political movements. An MD or PhD after their names doesn’t make what they say the truth.  But many people believe them.  Even some physicians.

Some attack vaccination because of the ability of the latest variants of Covid19 to bypass vaccinations to some extent. They claim this proves their point, even though infections of the vaccinated are milder than those infecting the unvaccinated.  

Many of these “scientists” gathered in 2020 in Barrington, Massachusetts, to produce the Barrington Declaration, expounding their ideas. Most scientific and medical organizations, including the World Health Organization, roundly denounced the Declaration’s views as fallacious and in fact, dangerous.  But that doesn’t stop all too many Americans from believing them.  

Magellan's Voyage of Discovery


For a long time after Magellan circumnavigated the earth, many still believed the earth was flat.  There are even a few, very few, even today who believe that it is.  Similarly, it cannot be denied that there is a body of research, condemned by most scientists, which is taken as the real truth by those who doubt the realities of the Covid19 pandemic and who do not trust the remedies science and medicine have developed to battle it. Occasionally when one is dying, he or she, or their families, experience a last-minute change of mind regarding vaccination and ask for it, too late.

That is why the Covid19 pandemic will be around for a long time, going into “overtime,” continuing to spread, and producing variants complicating the work of those developing vaccines.  Chiefly, it will be the fault of those who are unvaccinated, or who do not believe the pandemic exists, or if they do, believe in remedies which real scientists have found to be worthless such as Ivermectin, a 'de-wormer' used on horses and cattle.  

The contagion they will spread will be enough to keep Covid19 around a long time and will result in many hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths in the United States.  Most of them will be among the unvaccinated, a large percentage of whom might turn out to be Republicans. (The percentage of those not vaccinated is much higher in States that voted for the former president in 2020 than it is in States that voted for President Biden.)  I am not so cruel as to point out the political implications of this.

JL

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Sunday, December 26, 2021

12-26-2021 - Covid19 and Some Political Thoughts

 


I’m Just as Confused over Covid19 as Everyone Else, but IMHO:

The best way for those without symptoms to deal with the spreading variants of the coronavirus is to behave as if they had tested positive for them even though they weren’t tested!  Simple, inexpensive home testing would make life, and survival, easier for us all.  And that is what President Biden advocates.

Eventually, almost everyone will at some time or other, test positive, as the virus spreads among us all, not necessarily with symptoms, among the unvaccinated and to a lesser extent, among the vaccinated.  The fact is that vaccinations do wear off.  How quickly, we do not know yet.  But it appears that those vaccinations significantly reduce the number of infections resulting in hospitalization or death.

While behaving as if one tests positive doesn’t mean going into an actual quarantine, as a real, not a theoretical, positive test result would usually call for until a subsequent test is negative, it does mean using masks and avoidance of crowded public places as much as possible.  And of course, vaccination plus booster shots are a given. Such a spread is like a double-edged sword: It suggests an eventual herd immunity effect reducing infections while at the same time increasing the number of those infected, a few of whom will be seriously sickened. 

Almost as great a hazard to public health as the virus itself presents is the obstinancy of those who debunk the remedies and the protocols science and medicine have developed to fight it.  Their position is based on "bad science."  Unfortunately, the Republican Party recognizes that these people form a significant voting bloc and identifies with them in many parts of the country.  Many unnecessary deaths will result from this and Covid19 will persist for far longer than it otherwise would because of them.  Anyone who votes Republican is an ally of the virus, knowingly or not!


JL

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Political Commentary: Don’t Trust Manchin – Also, Boebert and Cawthorn and the Rest of that Vile Crew

Senator Manchin’s withdrawal from supporting the “social infrastructure” portion of President Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda, support that might have enabled its passage, should not blind voters to the fact that not one of the fifty Republican Senators supported the legislation which, among other things, would have strengthened the expiring Child Care Tax credit.  Not one of them.  They’re all “no good.” 

And West Virginians are among the top recipients of that benefit.  Manchin had implied earlier that some of them might use the money to “go hunting during deer season” or buy drugs. Tell that to the wife of an unemployed coal miner with four kids working nights as a waitress to make ends meet.  Don’t expect Manchin to ultimately swing around.  He has played that game before and is not to be trusted.

The millions of poverty level parents whom this will penalize must be mobilzed to defeat Republican candidates at all levels on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022.  Face it: Republicans are against “government for the people,” something their Party, contrary to the words of Lincoln, would like to see “perish from this earth.” 

They think “government for the people” is socialism.  Too many Republican voters are either ignorant, gullible or stupid enough (take your choice) to actually believe such crap. Here are two quotes from the Nazis, oops, I mean Republicans, in Congress:

At a recent gathering of young fascists, oops again, I mean conservatives (Turning Point USA), Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO) said: “I am tired of having Godless people who hate America run this country! You and I are going to take this country back!” Representative Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) told the audience of college students that they should drop out of school. “I think you should home school. I was home schooled all the way through. I am proudly a college dropout. Unless you are becoming a doctor or lawyer or engineer, I highly encourage you to drop out.”  These two pieces of crap would have been among those who forced Socrates to drink the hemlock.  (You might have to explain to Cawthorn who Socrates was.) Think about the kind of people who vote them into office. These fellow citizens of ours are just as bad as they are.

I know some Republicans don’t really believe this crap but go along with it anyway. They don’t deserve a pass.  They are equally guilty.

JL

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They Just Might Get Away With It, So Register and Vote!

Do Americans realize that if the Republicans win the House in a bit more than ten months, the House’s January 6  investigation will disappear?   Bannon, Meadows, Clark, Perry, Flynn, the former president, etc. will walk away smelling like roses, vindicated by an electorate whose Congressional votes on Nov. 8 will have validated their ignorance, gullibility or stupidity (take your choice) by believing the “big lie” and that the mob that attacked the Capitol were just enthusiastic tourists?  

 JL

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Lifetime Tenure in Congress?

I made the following comment on the Washington Post’s website where Dana Milbank’s Dec. 23 column appeared, discussing how the Republicans, by controlling elections and gerrymandering at the State level, are turning many of their Congressional Representatives into lifetime officeholders: 

“In my opinion, unless the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For the People Act are passed and put into effect within the next month or two, the Republicans will control Congress starting on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022.  They also will also increase their control of State legislatures, whose role in the election process is making this tragedy likely to take place just a bit more than ten months from now.  Speaker McCarthy (!) and Senate leader McConnell (!) will quickly lead repeal of whatever parts of President Biden's agenda have passed, and we can say goodbye to any further investigation of the January 6 insurrection.  The rioters will end up as heroic patriots demonstrating against a "stolen election."  Gerrymandering will continue and the economic and social successes already passed by Congress will disappear.  I don't know how a sense of extreme urgency can be imparted to Democratic leadership, but unless they have something magical up their sleeve, their goose is cooked.  And they don't even smell the aroma coming from the oven!  They must pass Voting Rights legislation NOW, while they have bare Congressional majorities or all is lost for the next half century.”  

Carving out a filibuster exception for voting rights legislation will be necessary to get something done. 

JL

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Having Your Cake and Eating It

Here’s a quote from Heather Cox Richardson’s ‘Letters from an American’ on Wednesday, 12/22:  

“It appears that the circle closest to Trump is not going to try to deny involvement in the attempt to overturn the election, but rather is challenging Congress’s authority to ask about their actions. This is an extraordinary position to take: they are declaring that they are not bound by our laws (although they are apparently eager to try to use them to reduce their exposure.)"

That’s known as “having your cake (protection of our laws) and eating it (committing acts of insurrection against those laws).”

 JL

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Friday, December 24, 2021

Our Annual Christmas Story - Santa's Belt

Each year, for children of all ages, we publish our annual Christmas story

Santa’s Belt 
Jack Lippman

It was that time of the year when things were getting hectic at the North Pole.  Santa and the elves had been working overtime to make certain that everything would be ready to go on Christmas Eve.  After all, children of all ages throughout the world were waiting for Santa to bring them the gifts which they had been wishing for, gifts to make their dreams come true.

“Rufus,” Santa called out.  “Are all of the presents ready to load into my bag?  Have our helpers down on Earth, the toy manufacturers, gotten their toys and games ready for the kids?  And how about the parents?  You know, they all have to do their part too!  Hey, we only have a few days left!”

“Don’t worry, Mr. Claus,” Rufus replied.  “There won’t be any foul-ups this year.  The toys are all ready to go!”

 “And is my sleigh ready?  Are the reindeer in good shape?”

 “Don’t worry, Santa,” Rufus reassuringly replied.  “The sleigh has been repainted, the runners greased and the harnesses repaired.  And the reindeer are just fine.  Comet and Cupid are over their colds and the others have even gotten used to Rudolf, who wasn’t even in that poem about us.  Even Donder and Blitzen have calmed down.  Santa, you must stop worrying.  Everything is going to be fine!”

It had been three years since Rufus had been promoted to the position of Chief Elf in Santa’s workshop.  Of course, he had been helping out there for many years but only recently had Santa learned of Rufus’ prior experience working closely with Merlin the Magician centuries ago.  Some of Rufus’ innovations, obviously learned from that apprenticeship with the ancient wizard, had greatly increased the efficiency of Santa’s operation.  For example, it was Rufus who had developed the mathematical formulas which, when put into practice, enabled Santa to defy mere physical laws and be in many different of places at the same time.  Rufus had solved the problem of running out of toys with a procedure which in effect, cloned one toy from another, so Santa’s bag was never empty. And of course, he used a lot of old Merlin’s techniques to ease Santa’s trip up and down chimneys throughout the world, without his red outfit ever getting dirty.  Finally, it was Rufus who convinced Santa to include intangible things such as peace, love, brotherhood and wellbeing among the gifts he left on Earth for those who deserved them.

It was just a few nights before Christmas when Rufus encountered Santa in a state of real panic.

“Santa, what’s the matter?  Why are you holding your waist like that?”

“Can’t you see, you darn fool!  I’m holding my pants up!  If I let go, they’ll fall down.  It happened this morning.  My suspenders snapped and I don’t have a belt big enough to fit around me to hold my pants up.  Rufus, they keep falling down and if we can’t fix them, how can I go out on Christmas Eve?  Rufus, do something to help me!  You must!”

“Now, Mr. Claus” the elf answered, holding back a snicker.  “I can see how this happened.  Come to think of it, I should have seen it coming and done something about it.  I’ve watched the way you’ve been eating all of that delicious food Mrs. Claus prepares for you.  Pies and cakes, chickens and steaks, soups and puddings, pizzas and knishes, pasta and dumplings and on and on.  I’ve seen you put away enough for an army at one sitting and top it off with a banana split and a chocolate bar.   What did you expect?”

“Stop your preaching, Rufus!  What would your Merlin do?  Come on.  Think of something so that I don’t disappoint all the children who’ll be waiting for me on Christmas Eve!  I can’t go out there with my pants falling down!”

“Santa, I don’t think suspenders will do the job for you any more because of the pear shape you’ve developed!  We must to get you a belt big enough to hold up your pants!”

“What do you think I’ve been doing all day?  I’ve been looking for one and there just aren’t any made that big.”

Rufus thought for a minute and stroked his chin.  He then turned his eyes upward and look toward the stars, fixing them on the constellation Orion the Hunter.  In an instant, using a mystic incantation remembered from his days with Merlin, he turned himself into a thunderbolt and flew up into the heavens directly at the strip of stars which formed Orion’s belt.  Grasping as many as he could, Rufus flew back to Earth and fashioned a belt from them for Santa.  The old man, finding for the first time since his suspenders had snapped that he was able to keep his pants up, was ecstatic.   

                                     


                                 
 Star map showing the constellation, Orion the Hunter

A few nights later, Santa was able to travel his appointed rounds delivering gifts to children of all ages throughout the world.  As he headed back toward the North Pole, he smiled up at the constellation Orion the Hunter, whose belt, as you can see on any clear evening when you look up in the sky, consists of only three stars, which was all that Rufus left up there.

Circling the Earth, Santa made a promise to go on a diet.  He had learned his lesson.  Soon, recognizing the welcoming lights of the workshop far below, the reindeer guided the sleigh into a slow descent and the jovial old man once more waved his hand to the world, crying out, “Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night, especially to you, Rufus!”




                                   

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Manchin's Switcheroo, Political Perspective for 2022, More on Covid19 and a Strange Bowl Game

 

Two Tall Orders and the Political Perspective

On Sunday’s TV News shows, Senator Joe Manchin finally derailed the social portion of the President's "Build Back Better" agenda, passage of which requires the votes of all Democratic Senators. He had previously been more or less committed to support it with the modifications he insisted on, but he changed his mind.  On another show, Senator Bernie Sanders suggests that Manchin be honest and go all the way, showing his true face and vote "No" with the Republicans.  

This leaves Democrats with the necessity of getting out a massive voter turnout in a little more than ten months to restore the role of government as being "for the people" and incidentally to save democracy in our country. 

That is a “tall order,” joining the other “tall order” kicking around, that of the Republicans’ saving what’s left of their party from the right-wing extremist cancer which is consuming it.  

I don’t know what the Republicans will do about their Party but I know the Democrats must mobilize the votes of women and persons of color, groups which benefit from measures the Republicans always oppose, in order to win.

Let’s start in the Senate where in November, 34 seats are up for grabs, 20 of which are now in Republican hands.  Of these, 17 are sure to remain Republican but the Democrats have a shot of taking 3 of them, specifically in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Wisconsin.  (I would hope for a fourth in Florida based on a strong race by Val Demings against Marco Rubio, but I am not counting on it.)

Forgetting the Vice-President’s tie-breaker, this will give the Democrats a 53 to 47 edge in the Senate, providing they don’t lose any of the fourteen seats they presently hold which are up for grabs. These include the seats of Senators Warnock (GA), Kelly (AZ), Masto (NV) and Hassan (NH), all of whom face strong G.O.P. competition.  Let’s say they lose two and win two of these seats, giving them a 51 to 49 edge in the Senate.  I think this is the best they can hope for, with the vote of Senator Manchin no longer being crucial.  It will amount to a more solid 50-50 split than we have today, with the Vice-President’s tie-breaker saving the day, enabling the filibuster rule to be modified, an essential step in eventually protecting voters’ rights.

Right now, on the House side, I fear that State-managed gerrymandering will result in the Democrats losing their already thin majority. I don’t know what they can do about that without the immediate passage of voting rights legislation and action based on it.  But that will, I fear, be too late for 2022.  So we will end up with a split Congress which will be no real asset to the President.  A Republican House, even worse, will do away with the House Select Committee investigation of the January 6 insurrection.

But things can change.  The pandemic, the truths coming out of that investigation and the former president’s legal troubles all can have an effect on what happens in November.  

 JL 

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Two Quotes

Journalists say things better than I can.  Here are two quotes from some really good ones.  They appeared during the past week in the New York Times.

Conservative columnist Ross Douthat, no fan of progressive Democratic measures, looked ahead to the 2022 elections and wrote:

“… Without Trumpishness as a foil and boogeyman, current-era liberalism would be headed for a fate once anticipated for Republicans: a slow but steady ebb, a surprising demographic squeeze.”

And Charles Blow, at the other end of the political spectrum, fed up with the unvaccinated, wrote:

“… I am furious at the unvaccinated, and I am not ashamed of disclosing that. I  am no longer trying to understand them or educate them.  Barriers to access have fallen.  The only reason for remaining unvaccinated that I now accept is from people who have medical conditions that prevent it.  All others have a choice to either be part of the solution or part of the problem.  The unvaccinated are choosing to be part of the problem.”

The Pandemic

And while on the subject, here are my latest thoughts on the Covid19 Pandemic. They are to say the least, muddled.

While it is becoming clear that vaccination cannot automatically prevent infection, those who are vaccinated and subsequently infected might not need hospitalization nor even show symptoms.  They might, however, be contagious for others, and that is why testing is becoming a priority.  Those who test positive, with or without symptoms, should to some extent quarantine themselves and wear masks.

Fortunately, many of those vaccinated will still be prevented from being infected and that reduces the opportunity for the virus, in its many variants, to spread and further infect others.  But some still can be infected, although to a lesser extent than the unvaccinated and become contagious.  The virus’ continued existence among the unvaccinated and some of those vaccinated still enables future variants to develop, until its spread is stopped.  That is the battle medical science is fighting right now.

I feel that, although in a reduced state, Covid19 will be around for many years and as with the flu vaccine, there will be annual boosters attuned to the latest variants, recommended and I hope required. 

Summary:  The real problem is that Americans do not know who is infected and can spread the virus to them, and who is not.  Being fully vaccinated helps but is not the answer.  They too, along with the unvaccinated, can be infected, and still spread the virus, regardless of whether or not they have any symptoms.  

And if tested and found to be positive, should a full quarantine routine be followed as it was in the pandemic’s early days?  How long before they should venture out to stores, restaurants and public events?  Are we looking at a future where everyone will need to be tested weekly, even at home with a do-it-yourself test kit?  This might be necessary because there will always be those who remain unvaccinated, untested, not wearing masks and not observing social distancing, enabling the virus to survive. Will that be the new “normal”?

The bottom line is that the unvaccinated should get vaccinated and if they already are, get a booster shot!  All of us should continue masking and observing social distancing (K95 and KN95 masks are preferable to all others). We should avoid crowds in closed public areas.  And if you are exposed to political hacks like Floriduh governor DeSantis and his Sturgeon General (something is fishy about him), ignore them! 

You want to blame someone for this confusing picture?  Look to those who choose to remain unvaccinated and who are the main, though not the only, contributors to the spread of the virus.  They are its allies.  Most are Republicans, too.  Remember that when you vote.

  JL 

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 A Strange Bowl Game

I wonder if the steep increases in homeowner’s insurance premiums have anything to do with “Roofclaim.com,” a national company which sponsored a recent football Bowl game in Boca Raton, Florida (an area with a lot of roofs).  At best, their customers get a roof replaced that needed replacement.  At worst, their commission-driven marketing manages to make a perfectly good roof, or one needing only minor repairs, eligible for full homeowners’ insurance coverage for replacing it, which gets paid to them.  There are arguments on both sides but with insurance companies often involved in paying all or part of the bill, I have my doubts.  The inclusion of the word “claim” in this company’s name suggests that its skill might rest in getting insurers to foot the bill, or much of it, anyway. A name like “Roof Repair” would be more reassuring than “Roof Claim.”

Sponsoring a football Bowl game, which isn’t cheap, may add credibility to this firm, but that is for the individual to determine. I make no recommendations.

Recently, when confronted with a sizable increase in my homeowner’s insurance premium, I asked my broker to see if another company might be less expensive.  The answer was “No” because they all were afraid to insure homeowners with roofs over fifteen years old (mine is twenty).  I wonder if that has anything to do with Roofclaim.com’s wide and aggressive solicitation of business.

Incidentally, the Roofclaim.com Bowl game was very poorly attended.  Western Kentucky outscored North Carolina’s Appalachian State, two teams having no appeal whatsoever in the Bowl’s South Florida location, by a score of 59 to 38.  The stadium’s 30,000 seat capacity was no more than half-full as the accompanying picture shows.  Many local high school games draw as much.   It was just played for TV exposure for the sponsor.

2021 Roofclaim.com Bowl at Boca's FAU Stadium


I yearn for the days when Bowl games were not business-sponsored but were civic ventures publicizing something for which an area was known (Examples:  Orange, Cotton, Rose, Sugar, Sun, Tangerine, Peach Bowls, etc.).  I recall seeing a football in a trophy case at a Pennsylvania college marked as commemorating a 1946 victory in the Tobacco Bowl, played years before in Lexington, Kentucky. That Bowl game didn’t “honor” a brand of cigarettes, mind you, but tobacco in general.  That’s quite a distance from roof repair, or more specifically, insurance claims to cover roof repair, the 2021 sponsoring interest in what was once called the Boca Bowl.

 JL 

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Saturday, December 18, 2021

Weekend Reads, DeSantis, Moms for Liberty, Patriotic Policemen, Filibusters and Bagels. (Wow!)


Reading for the Weekend

If you missed them, here are two important articles to check out.

MSNBC last week reported that the possible extradition of Julian Assange to the United States would reveal a lot about the connection of the former president with Russia that the Muller probe never fully confirmed.  It’s by former FBI Ass’t. Director Frank Figliuzzi who is never wrong!  CLICK HERE TO READ IT  or just visit:

https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/julian-assange-extradition-could-mean-even-more-legal-trouble-donald-n1285880

The other, from the New York Times, is about why the former president’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, since cited for contempt of Congress, clammed up.  What he knows could focus on sedition among members of Congress.  CLICK HERE TO READ IT  or just visit:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/15/us/politics/trump-meadows-republicans-congress-jan-6.html

 

JL

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Gov. DeSantis, Dr. Fauci, Moms for Liberty and God's Possible Involvement

Locally, (which means Florida) in a Palm Beach Post “Your Turn” column  (12-16), a reader commented on Floriduh governor Ron DeSantis who has launched a personal attack on Dr. Fauci. Quoting from the column “The savaging of Dr. Fauci is a rallying point for DeSantis … Like (the former president), DeSantis has a cruel method to his madness.  Assault character. Propagate lies. Assail the truth.  All under some warped concept of patriotism and freedom 

DeSantis recently attacked Fauci at a rally at “the Villages,” an enormous retirement community near Ocala, which always votes Republican, and will forever, no matter who their candidates are, even “Howdy Doody,” whom all of them are old enough to remember, but who are not quite so intelligent as was he, even though he was just a puppet.

Elsewhere in the paper was an article on “Moms for Liberty,” a group dedicated to being free from having to vaccinate, and wear masks, and working to remove certain books from schools along with the parts of American history to which they close their eyes.  I used to refer to such people as ignorant and gullible (both of which can be remedied) but it appears they are just plain stupid or considerably worse.  There were plenty like them in Germany in the 1930’s.

I read somewhere that there is a greater increase of Covid19 infections in the parts of the United States that support the Republican Party than in areas which lean toward the Democrats and that this might be an ‘act of God’ directed at them.  I do not believe this, but it bothers me that the lesson it teaches is being ignored by those opposing vaccinations and masking.  Their stupidity can have serious consequences for them, and unfortunately, for others as well because it permits the continued existence and spread of the coronavirus in all of its variants for all of us.  We need everyone’s help in dealing with Covid19, even God’s, if he or she or whatever wants to get involved.

 

 JL

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Law Enforcement Patriots 

Commenting on a recent posting on Professor Heather Cox Richardson’s “Letters From an American,” blog on Substack, a follower mentioned the kid-glove treatment Palm Beach law enforcement gave to the late Jeffrey Epstein while under arrest.  I added the following to her comments:

“This problem extends beyond Palm Beach. Too many in law enforcement don't understand that their mission, to protect the public and maintain civil order, must take precedence over their personal politics. Give someone a law enforcement job which entitles them to wear an American Flag on their shirt sleeve, and this includes related jobs such as corrections personnel, and they identify themselves as personal protectors of that flag, letting their politics influence them. Look at all the flag wavers on January 6 at the Capitol.”

 JL

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Getting Rid of the Filibuster

An editorial in today’s Palm Beach Post supported the need for the continuance of the Senate filibuster as a means of protecting a minority from being steamrolled over in that chamber.  But it endorsed making further exceptions to it (some today exist such as the confirmation of SCOTUS Justices and bills affecting the budget) in regard to voters’ rights.  After citing the failure of bipartisan efforts to accomplish that, it concluded:

“Democrats in the Senate are working to reform the filibuster to pass vital pieces of election reform.  This must be done.  The alternative – that America would suffer through a chaotic, divisive and disputed election outcome in the not-too-distant future – is unthinkable.”

 

 JL

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Finally, Let’s Get to Important Stuff - BAGELS!

The branded bagels one buy in the supermarkets, either frozen or not, are baked months before and preserved with chemicals.  Otherwise they would be stale.  So the first lesson in Bagelry 101 is “Never a Lender nor a Thomas eat.”  Next up the scale are the ones coming from the supermarket chain’s own bakeries.  But these are not real bagel bakeries, which are special places.  The also bake cupcakes and cookies and bread and that isn’t the kind of bakery from which real bagels come.  And they usually carry an expiry date of a week or so off on their label, which means one thing: chemical preservatives!  There are many places around (I am in Florida) which claim to be bagel bakeries.  Some try hard and come close, but in some manner, almost all of them fall short.  They apologize saying it’s the water. Maybe it is.

Up north, we had truly great bagel bakeries in Newark, one of which was Watson’s and the several other bagel bakeries derivative from their operation.  You know, the water in Newark was always pretty good, which historically drew many breweries there (*Budweiser, Ballentine, Kreuger, Hensler, Feigenspan, Pabst, etc.).  Maybe that applied to bagels as well.  There were similar bagel bakeries to Watson’s throughout the New York metropolitan area. 

All other sources of bagels were inferior, as are most of the bagel places here in Florida.  The closest to a real Newark bagel that I have encountered are those produced at the outlets of the Brooklyn Water Bagel Bakery here in the Sunshine State.  They do something with their water to simulate New York (or N.J.) water. Their product captures the chewiness which all the others mentioned here lack. That’s the name of the game. Chewiness.  But they’re pricy at $7.50 for a half dozen. 

Please pass the cream cheese.

*Only Budweiser still brews in Newark, or possibly right over the city line in Elizabeth, N.J.

 JL

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