Thursday, October 28, 2021

Postings Dated Oct. 28, 2021 and Items Added Thereafter.

Some re-construction work on JacksPotpourri has been going on.  A posting on Oct. 27, 2021 alerted you to this. Things are changing as the blog reverts to the built-in tools provided by Blogspot.  Have patience.



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Posting Started October 28, 2021:  Subsequent additions to it, most recent first, can be found by SCROLLING DOWNWARD!


                                                   



Items Added on Nov. 14, 2021

Well, well!  The Palm Beach Post finally published my letter to them which I had given up on seeing there, the one mentioned in this blog's Nov. 9 postings about the phony "ghost" independent candidate in Floriduh's 37th State Senate district, the one whose votes affected the election's outcome because he had the same last name as the winner's opponent.  

Maybe they saw my blog after sitting on my letter for more than two weeks?


JL

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Items Added on Nov. 11, 2021 - Veterans Day

In Honor of those who have served our country, this is a day for remembering.



JL

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Public schools must be saved

Here's something from Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times.  I agree with her.  Public schools must be saved.  However, fighting it out with those who are out to destroy them, believing them to be a center of left-wing propaganda, is not worth the tremendous effort required.  

A few days ago, I gave the Democratic Party a recipe for victory in 2022 and 2024.  Centering on locking in the votes of women and Americans of color, it comes down to avoiding getting bogged down in endlessly arguing about issues, but rather just stating that Republicans are against many things that are in the interest of women and those of color.  Insofar as education goes, merely saying that "Republicans are against public schools" should be enough in an election year.  Here's her column:

"Last Wednesday morning, Christopher Rufo, the architect of the right-wing crusade against critical race theory, sent me a message asking if I wanted to talk, I suppose because I was one of the first people to write about his project back in February. He was feeling triumphant.

A year ago, few conservatives outside of academia had heard of critical race theory, a graduate school approach to the study of race and power. Now it’s become a central issue in Republican politics, helping to fuel Glenn Youngkin’s victorious gubernatorial campaign in Virginia.
  
“I’ve unlocked a new terrain in the culture war, and demonstrated a successful strategy,” said Rufo, a documentary filmmaker-turned-conservative activist. With that done, he was getting ready for a new phase of his offensive.

“We are right now preparing a strategy of laying siege to the institutions,” he said. In practice, this means promoting the traditional Republican school choice agenda: private school vouchers, charter schools and home-schooling. “The public schools are waging war against American children and American families,” he said. Families, in turn, should have “a fundamental right to exit.”

Democrats need to take this coming onslaught seriously. The school choice movement is old — it’s often dated back to a 1955 essay by Milton Friedman. But Covid has created fertile ground for a renewed push.

As many have pointed out, the reason education was such an incendiary issue in the Virginia governor’s race likely had less to do with critical race theory than with parent fury over the drawn-out nightmare of online school. Because America’s response to Covid was so politically polarized, school shutdowns were longest in blue states, and Virginia’s was especially severe; only six states had fewer in-person days last year. 

The failure of our leadership to prioritize public education in Virginia is what’s created this firestorm,” said Christy Hudson, one of the founders of the Fairfax County Parents Association, which grew out of a pro-reopening group that formed in the summer of 2020. Critical race theory, she said, “has certainly added flames to that fire,” but “this is 19 months in the making.”

Across the country, the shutdowns have contributed to an exodus from public schools. In Fairfax County, for example, public school enrollment is down by more than 10,000 students since before the pandemic, a 5.5 percent decrease. Enrollment in New York City public schools declined by 4.5 percent, about 50,000 students. In California, public school enrollment decreased by 3 percent, or 160,000 students, the largest drop in 20 years. Because school budgets are partly dependent on head counts, these missing students could lead to severe cuts, making public schools even less attractive.

In an environment like this, Republican proposals to subsidize private school tuition are likely to be received gratefully by many parents. It’s a perilous situation for Democrats, the party of public schools. If they want to stanch the bleeding, they should treat the rollout of the children’s Covid vaccine as an opportunity to make public schools feel lively and joyful again.

Public schools may finally be open across the country, but in many districts, things are far from normal. In Fairfax County, an unvaccinated student identified as a “close contact” of someone who tests positive for Covid must quarantine for 14 days, no matter the results of the student’s own Covid tests. At some schools, students have been forbidden to talk during lunch. At my own kids’ school, students must be masked even during outdoor recess.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, wants to see outdoor masking ended as a first step toward unwinding other Covid restrictions. “The C.D.C. has been clear that everyone can unmask outside unless they’re in close contact with each other,” she said. “And I believe that schools should be doing this for recess. And I believe we need to give parents and teachers a road map to what it takes to start undoing the mitigations. It was clear that vaccines for teachers helped us reopen schools. Maybe it’s vaccines for kids helping us get to unmasking of teachers and kids in schools.”

Other post-Covid problems are harder to solve than masks. In Michigan, schools have been forced to close because of staff shortages. “Workers in short-staffed departments are shouldering more work, students have been denied bus rides to get to school, special education students are going without one-to-one aides, classrooms are doubled up and principals are acting as substitutes as pools of candidates dwindle,” reported The Detroit Free Press. This is a complicated problem, but it’s up to the state’s Democratic governor, as well as the Biden administration, to solve it, for their own sake as well as that of their constituents.

Rufo readily admits that school closures prepared the ground for the drive against critical race theory. “You have a multiracial group of parents that felt like the public school bureaucracies were putting their children through a policy regime of chaos, with Covid and shutdowns, and then pumping them full of left-wing racialist ideologies,” he said. He’s right about the first part, even if the second is a fantasy. 

Now Democrats have a choice. They can repair the public schools, or watch people like Rufo destroy them."

JL

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Items Added on Nov. 9, 2021


Assorted Thoughts Which Have Been Piling Up

Here are a couple of letters I have written to the Palm Beach Post, which were not printed: 

 

1.  Is there any reason why the election of State Senator Ileana Garcia in Florida’s 37th Senate District should not be voided and a new election be held?  She won her seat by 32 votes while the phony independent ‘ghost’ candidate with the same last name as her opponent, and written about in the Post on Friday, received 6,382 votes, all probably intended for her opponent.  Also, while the winners' margins of victory in Senate Districts 9 and 39 were enough to secure victory, even discounting the votes of similar ghost candidates in those districts, those two elections should also be voided since they were contaminated by similar massive  attempts at election fraud by the winning Republican Party's supporters. 

 

 

 

 

2.  Friday's Post's page one headline "PBC backs apartments in Ag Reserve" reminds me that little more than a few hundred years ago, most of Manhattan island above what is now Canal Street was undeveloped bucolic farmland. Just look at it now.

 

And here’s a letter I sent into cyberspace, hoping it would reach someone at Google.

Mr. or Ms. Al Gorithm:

Dear Al:

From my Google searches and from what I post on my blog and in emails, I know you’ve figured out what my political leanings are. What you don’t know, however, is that the emails you direct to me asking for donations to causes with which you think I sympathize all show up in a ‘promotions’ category that I quickly delete without opening after a maximum 30 second quick scan to see if something got there by mistake.

If by chance, an email asking for a donation does get into my real ‘inbox,’ I delete it or more likely unsubscribe the sender.

I do, however, make political and charitable donations directly but don’t like to be bothered with solicitations.

Have a nice day. day. day. day. day.

 

A Book Review

Just finished reading former arch-conservative Max Boot’s 2018 book, “The Corrosion of Conservatism … Why I Left the Right.”   If you ever voted Republican, or thought about doing so, it should be enlightening reading. I came away from the book with one question:

Is the zealotry of those on the left who feel they have historically been denied the equality which is part of the American dream the cause of the rise of white nationalism on the right? Or is it the other way around, that it’s the history of white nationalism in this country that has caused the rise of protests on the left from those who feel they have been denied equality? I think I know the answer. Do you?

In Congress, is the “squad” and their supporters a reaction to the “Freedom Caucus” or is the “Freedom Caucus” a reaction to the “squad” and their supporters? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

A Question about College Football

Why is it that when a college football game ends and the opposing coaches cross the field to shake each other's hands, they sometimes are accompanied by a couple of State Troopers or similar uniformed police, from their State? This is particularly prevalent among, although not limited to, Southern state universities.  Is this some sort of homage being paid to "state's rights"?  I don't recall a coach ever being attacked or needing protection.  Very subtly, it is a political statement.

 

And Some Commentary on Covid19

Sunshine State Governor DeSantis claims his policy of discouraging masking and vaccinations has brought Florida through the pandemic successfully despite his disparaging most CDC guidelines. Not quite!  Florida ranks third among the fifty States in both population and in the number of deaths resulting from Covid19 (63,000), which suggests the ranking of States by the number of Covid19 deaths is proportional to the ranking of States by population. (California and Texas lead Florida, having more people and consequently more Covid19 deaths.) I can’t see what DeSantis is bragging about. Not having more deaths than the two States with greater populations?  Huh?

But more importantly, these numbers can lead one to believe that it really doesn’t matter whether or not the CDC guidelines are followed. Again, not quite! They are arrived at scientifically and the whatever guidelines DeSantis follows are emotionally or more likely politically based. The reasoning behind DeSantis’ views does not deserve equivalency with science. Floridians ignored him and have been vaccinated in great numbers. Texans, a collection of dummies, didn’t and almost caught up with the number of deaths in more populous California which did. Big lies and little lies are closely related.

A column by David Leonhardt in the New York Times (Nov. 8), looking at counties that massively went for either President Biden or ex-president Trump in 2020, reported that In October, 25 out of every 100,000 residents in heavily Trump counties died from Covid19, more than three times higher than the rate in heavily Biden counties (7.8 per 100,000). October was the fifth consecutive month that the percentage gap between the death rates in Trump counties and Biden counties widened. Could this be the direct effect of the politicization of vaccinations and masking by Republicans, something which should never have happened.  Click Here for the Column or try to find it at:

 https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/08/briefing/covid-death-toll-red-america.html

 JL


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Item Added on Nov. 7, 2021

How Quickly We Forget

It has been about three and a half years since a teenage gunman, who has recently pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing, killed seventeen students and faculty at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. I remember participating in gun control demonstrations in those days and even have a faded “Grandparents Against Assault Weapons” tee shirt hanging in my closet.  How Quickly We Forget.

I still have my homemade “Want an Assault Rifle? Join the Army” sign in my car’s rear window and I believe it is the only such manifestation whatsoever of support for gun control on any vehicle in all of Broward (where Douglas H.S. is) or in adjacent Palm Beach Counties. My son lives in Parkland and I occasionally drive past Douglas High School there, and believe me, I’ve seen no indications anywhere, on cars or otherwise, that anyone is concerned with publicizing the need for controlling gun violence any longer, at least publicly. How Quickly We Forget.



JL

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Item Added on Nov. 5, 2021

What the Democrats MUST Do in Order to Win

The Democratic Party has to “wise up” and not take the loss of the governorship in Virginia and close races elsewhere lightly. They should be taken as wake-up signals, warnings of the dangers of movement conservatism to democracy, the same kind of signals which they have ignored, or taken too lightly, for the past half century.

Reinforced by Republican obstructionism in Congress, Democratic reforms, even when put into effect, usually go unnoticed by the voting public. The cancellation of a pipeline which might present an environmental hazard, for example, doesn’t arouse voters sufficiently to get them to the polls. They don’t take note of it the way Republican voters respond to unfounded charges of election fraud and imagined “socialist,” or even “Marxist” innovations by Democrats.  They don't produce votes.

Issues benefitting the people are important and Democrats are usually on the right side of them and Republicans are not, despite their galaxy of lies misrepresenting that for which they really stand. (Briefly, in my opinion, they stand for destroying democracy, replacing it with an autocratic government beholden to wealthy donors interested in tax relief, profits, lack of government regulation and not giving a damn for the welfare of the people whom to them are no better than serfs.)

Here’s the good news. Democrats can win massive victories in 2022 and 2024 but they have to stop playing around with issues, however real, that really don’t motivate enough voters and take off the kid gloves and go for the votes. The polarization in the ranks of Democrats must end. Those with progressive agendas must be willing to postpone them. Those closer to the middle of the road must stop dreaming of capturing Republican voters. Democrats must disband their circular firing squad. There is a better course of action to turn Democrats into winners.

There are two constituencies which the Democrats must lock in: Women’s votes and the Black vote. With them, they can win in 2022, 2024 and perhaps long thereafter. It is a vast resource of voting strength.

There is no reason on earth for any woman to vote Republican nor is there any reason on earth for any person of color to vote Republican. Those that do have succumbed to Republican lies. It’s a waste of time to argue with the liars, but the votes of these groups must be secured. That is what 2022 and 2024 will be all about.

Economics, jobs, climate change, the environment, health care, childcare, parental leave, gun violence, the infrastructure, abortion rights and even the struggle for voting rights must take a back seat to what must be the single driving force for Democrats, and that must be locking in the votes of these two groups at any cost.

This applies to every election in the country. No matter how nice or reasonable a G.O.P. candidate might be, no woman nor person of color should vote for any Republican for any office whatsoever, even for a part-time dog catcher in a local village. Doing so strengthens that party locally and that strength creeps up from those seemingly insignificant grass roots to town councils, Boards of Education, County and State legislatures, governorships and ultimately to Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court, giving power to a party dedicated to the destruction of democracy in the United States. That is what has been happening before our very eyes. Open yours, Democrats!

That’s what they are all about, destroying democracy. Read the words of William F. Buckley from the 1950’s which have inspired the movement conservative philosophy which captured the Republican Party with the smiling face and voice of an actor, Ronald Reagan, a few years later. But we don’t have time for that now. The job before us now is locking in the votes of all women and all people of color for the Democratic Party. The stakes are the highest and the votes to do it are there among those two groups, if it is done right. But it must be done right!

Let’s start with the women’s vote. First, we need strong leadership to carry the message to America’s women. This must include Jill Biden, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, women whose words will be listened to. Others from the political, business and entertainment worlds should join with them. Day in and day out, on TV, on radio and on the internet, in magazines, in newspapers and in public speaking engagements, they must point out that Republicans constantly oppose things that specifically apply to women such as legislation providing for childcare, parental leave, reproductive rights, equal pay and opportunities in employment and in fighting abuse domestically and in the workplace.

Other areas of great concern to women, as well as to other genders as well, where Republicans form a hostile opposition, are affordable health care, LGBTQ rights, treatment of immigrants, unemployment benefits, a $15 minimum wage, better public schools and student debt relief. The fact that many women not only work, raise children and struggle to manage single parent households make these things particularly important to them. And in Congress and State legislatures, Republican oppose all these things.

That is why any woman who votes for any Republican in any election has to be out of her mind. Even for a part-time dog catcher. That is the message the leadership I describe above must carry and drive home with the power of a sledgehammer.

Over the past few decades, even a group of nuns, known as “Nuns on a Bus” has been carrying this message throughout the country. Such efforts must be multiplied by the leadership mentioned above, and by all who hear their message, a hundredfold each day. The result should be that a woman who votes Republican will be as rare as a New York Yankee fan in Boston.

And next, or rather simultaneously, how can the Democratic Party gain the votes of all people of color, to the extent that a Black Republican becomes as rare as a colored person at a KKK gathering.

Because many Black households are run by women, the efforts to gain the votes of women, described above, also automatically apply to people of color. But still more is necessary.

Again, as with the women’s vote, let’s start with the spokespersons. There is no modern equivalent of Rev. Martin Luther King, but there are others today to whom people of color listen. Former president Obama is one. Without South Carolina Representative Jim Clyburn, Joe Biden would not only not have been elected president, but wouldn’t have even gotten the Democratic nomination in 2020. There are others like him. There are Black clergy throughout the country to whom millions listen. There are thousands of athletes, entertainers, educators and business leaders of color who must speak out. Not just once, but day after day, availing themselves of all aspects of media. And there are Black mayors and members of Congress. Some are doing that already. More must. They all must speak out, day after day, repeatedly.

They, along with the Black clergy, must hammer home the message that affordable health care, LGBTQ rights, fair treatment of immigrants, voters rights, equal job opportunity, enlightened law enforcement, unemployment benefits, a $15 minimum wage, better public schools, student debt relief, affordable housing and all aspects of the “safety net” without which many people of color would not survive, are all things that are opposed by Republicans, and always will be. 

Therefore, there is no reason for any person of color, or any woman for that matter, to vote Republican at any level. Ever!

In placing the importance of the Democrats’ locking in the votes of women and people of color ahead of promoting the individual items on the Democratic agenda, I am not saying to ignore them. Within the context of harnessing the votes of women and Blacks, these items must still be highlighted as things Republican oppose and therefore as reasons for not ever, at any level, voting for Republicans. The emphasis must be on Republican opposition to such measures rather than promoting the measures themselves. The Democratic Party must swallow that pill.

In many States, Republican foes of democracy have already changed the laws, making registration and voting more difficult for many. Despite this, all women and all persons of color must find a way to vote, even if it means registering in person at an Election Board office and standing in line, the old way, at an inconveniently located polling place for hours. The Republicans think voter suppression will work for them. It’s up to Democrats to prove them wrong by turning out millions of voters motivated by the very acts of suppression designed to silence them.

This is how the Democrats can win all up and down the ballot in 2022 and 2024 by locking in the votes of women and persons of color. There are enough votes in those constituencies to bring about election victories. Then, and only then, will the Democrats be able to fulfill their agenda’s promises.

If Democrats do not follow my advice and still insist on concentrating on individual issues rather than concentrating on Republican opposition to them, they will lose to the undemocratic forces whose campaign will be based on lies, bigotry, racism and unfounded charges which will be made to cloud the atmosphere and confuse the voters.

If Democrats listen to me, they will be winners in 2022 and thereafter. I doubt if many in Washington read this blog. If you know some there, pass this on to them.

JL
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Items Added on Nov. 4, 2021

The Scum of the Earth

Recently, at a race at the Talledega Speedway, somewhere in Alabama, a rookie driver named Brandon Brown got his first major victory.  Now I am not a fan of auto racing since the cars determine the winners just as much as the drivers’ skills do, but be that as it may, some do consider it a sport.  I suspect many of them come to the track, or watch on TV, hoping to see a multi-vehicle crash, hopefully without any fatalities. They get a vicarious thrill from that and it is safer than their seeking such thrills on an Interstate, where innocent people can be killed. In any event, they enjoy drinking beer, hollering and chain-smoking as much as the racing.  If these tracks had rules against smoking and alcohol, they would be deserted.  Finally, it seems to me that these fans are the kind of people who are Trump enthusiasts as well.  And Brandon Brown’s victory sort of justifies that suspicion.

While a TV commentator was interviewing Brandon Brown after his win, this wonderfully American crowd, unknowingly duplicating a stadium crowd in Nuremberg in 1940, started chanting “Fuck You, Biden, Fuck You Biden.”  The announcer couldn’t avoid commenting so she told a befuddled Brown that they were screaming for him, “Let’s Go, Brandon, Let’s Go Brandon.” Quick thinking! 

But that gave the “scum of the earth” an easy way of cursing the President without actually doing so, as they have been doing at various sporting events in some redneck parts of the country.

Just as “Let’s Go Brandon” became a euphemism for “Fuck You, Biden,” so “Scum of the Earth” as I have just used it, is an apt euphemism for the Republican Party and many of their ignorant and gullible supporters. They are really deserving of that name.  It is much more accurate than Hillary Clinton’s more polite “deplorables” of four years ago. 

They have even invoked “Brandon” in the halls of Congress.  I think they should hold their next G.O.P. caucus, or perhaps even their next convention at a place like the Talledega Speedway where there will be no one to shout much more pertinent and deserving chants such as “Fuck You Mitch, or Fuck You Kevin or even, Fuck You Donald!” That’s because when Republicans get together, only “the scum of the earth” are in attendance.

JL

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The "Culture Wars"

One of the explanations for Democratic losses in Tuesday’s election, which can be sensed in the writings of several pundits, is that they lost, particularly in the Virginia governorship race, because of “culture wars.”  Specifically, Republicans attacked the myth of “Critical Race Theory” influencing our schools.  Really, this was an appeal to racism.

Critical Race Theory is a many decades-old academic theory in which college professors wrote about how racism has affected our society, laws and behavior.  It is not a curriculum taught in public schools. Teachers, however, who studied a bit of American history in their undergraduate years and who had never even heard of “Critical Race Theory” might have come to the same conclusions.

Those I repeatedly refer to as “the ignorant and gullible,” however, see it as an insidious leftist conspiracy which has infiltrated our schools, resulting in their attacking school boards and demanding the removal of books which deal with racism from school libraries and curriculums. 

Important Paragraph! Some pundits even go so far as contending that those taking a judgmental position in regard to 'the ignorant and gullible as I frequently do (or as I've done when I referred to Republican 'scum of the earth' above or Hillary's 2016 'deplorables') including with them the deluded parents demanding a book by Toni Morrison be removed from a school reading list, only serves to solidify them into a united class which together recognizes that those they consider the 'elite' are putting them down.  And they don't like that.  And it is reflected in the way they vote.

Another Important Paragraph! These are the battles in the “culture wars” and this is why the Democrats lost the governorship in Virginia. And I wonder, do those who think as I do, and write about things as they honestly see them, share some of the responsibility for that.  Have we united them?  Would it be better to avoid criticizing 'ignorance and gullibility' and let them ultimately be 'hoist by their own petard' as Shakespeare put it?  Does calling them out for what they are, actually strengthen them?  We could stop doing that, but going that route risks our already threatened democracy.

Coming up in a future blog posting:  My formula for Democratic victory in 2022 and 2024.

 JL

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Items Added on Nov. 2, 2021

The Washington Post's Investigation of What Happened on Jan. 6, 2021

The Washinton Post recently released an extensive investigative report on the January 6, 2021 insurrection.  Its introductory words follow.  I suggest your going to their website to read the entire article.  (I apologize for its appearance, but that's how it copied off of their site.)  Here's how it starts:

BEFORE

Red Flags

Law enforcement agencies fail to heed mounting warnings before Jan. 6 as Trump propels his supporters to Washington, many with the intent to commit violent acts.

DURING

Bloodshed

For 187 harrowing minutes, the president watched his supporters attack the Capitol — and resisted pleas to stop them.

 AFTER

Contagion

Menacing threats and disinformation spread across the country in the wake of the Capitol siege, shaking the underpinnings of American democracy.

 Key findings of The Post’s Jan. 6 investigation

BEFORE THE ATTACK

Law enforcement officials did not respond with urgency to a cascade of warnings about violence on Jan. 6

·         Alerts were raised by local officials, FBI informants, social media companies, former national security officials, researchers, lawmakers and tipsters.

·         The FBI received numerous warnings about Jan. 6 but felt many of the threatening statements were “aspirational” and could not be pursued. In one tip on Dec. 20, a caller told the bureau that Trump supporters were making plans online for violence against lawmakers in Washington, including a threat against Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah). The agency concluded the information did not merit further investigation and closed the case within 48 hours.

·         One of the biggest efforts to come out of Sept. 11, 2001 — a national network of multi-agency intelligence centers — spotted a flood of Jan. 6 warnings, but federal agencies did not show much interest in its information.

·         The FBI limited its own understanding of how extremists were mobilizing when it switched its social media monitoring service on the last weekend of 2020.

Pentagon leaders had acute fears about widespread violence, and some feared Trump could misuse the National Guard to remain in power

·         Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy was left rattled by Trump’s firing of senior Pentagon officials just after the election and sought to put guardrails on deployment of the National Guard.

·         Then-acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller did not believe Trump would misuse the military but worried that far-right extremists could bait soldiers into “a Boston Massacre-type situation.” Their fears contributed to a fateful decision to keep soldiers away from the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The Capitol Police was disorganized and unprepared

·         The U.S. Capitol Police had been tracking threatening social media posts for weeks but was hampered by poor communication and planning.

·         The department’s new head of intelligence concluded on Jan. 3 that Trump supporters had grown desperate to overturn the election and “Congress itself” would be the target. But then-Chief Steven Sund did not have that information when he initiated a last-minute request to bring in National Guard soldiers, one that was swiftly rejected.

Trump’s election lies radicalized his supporters in real time

·         As the president exerted pressure on state officials, the Justice Department and his vice president to overturn the results, his public attacks on the vote mobilized his supporters to immediately plot violent acts — discussions that researchers watched unfold online.

DURING THE ATTACK

Escalating danger signs were in full view hours before the Capitol attack but did not trigger a stepped-up security response

·         Hundreds of Trump supporters clashed with police at the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial on the morning of Jan. 6, some with shields and gas masks, presaging the violence to come.

·         D.C. homeland security employees spotted piles of backpacks left by rallygoers outside the area where the president would speak — a phenomenon the agency had warned a week earlier could be a sign of concealed weapons.

Trump had direct warnings of the risks but stood by for 187 minutes before telling his supporters to go home

·         For more than three hours, the president resisted entreaties from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, other Republican lawmakers and numerous White House advisers to urge the mob to disperse, a delay that contributed to harrowing acts of violence.

His allies pressured Pence to reject the election results even after the Capitol siege

·         John C. Eastman, an attorney advising Trump, emailed Pence’s lawyer as a shaken Congress was reconvening to argue that the vice president should still reject electors from Arizona and other states.

·         Earlier in the day, while the vice president, his family and aides were hiding from the rioters, Eastman emailed Pence’s lawyer to blame the violence on Pence’s refusal to block certification of Biden’s victory.

The FBI was forced to improvise a plan to help take back control of the Capitol

·         After the breach, the bureau deployed three tactical teams that were positioned nearby, but they were small, specialized teams and did not bring overwhelming manpower.

·         As the riot escalated, acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen scrambled to keep up with the deluge of calls from senior government officials and desperate lawmakers.

·         Senior Justice Department officials were so uncertain of what was occurring based on chaotic television images that Rosen’s top deputy, Richard Donoghue, went to the Capitol in person to coordinate with lawmakers and law enforcement agencies.

AFTER THE ATTACK

Republican efforts to undermine the 2020 election restarted immediately after the Capitol attack

·         Eight days after the violence, state Republicans privately discussed their intention to force a review of ballots cast in Maricopa County, Ariz., setting in motion a chaotic process that further sowed doubt in the results and a wave of similar partisan investigations in other states.

False election claims by Trump that spurred the Capitol attack have become a driving force in the Republican Party

·         Nearly a third of the 390 GOP candidates around the country who have expressed interest in running for statewide office this cycle have publicly supported a partisan audit of the 2020 vote, downplayed the Jan. 6 attack or directly questioned Biden’s victory.

·         They include 10 candidates running for secretary of state, a position with sway over elections in many states.

Trump’s attacks have led to escalating threats of violence

·         Election officials in at least 17 states have collectively received hundreds of threats to their personal safety or their lives since Jan. 6, with a concentration in the six states where Trump has focused his attacks on the election results.

·         Ominous emails and calls have spiked immediately after the former president and his allies raised new claims.

First responders are struggling with deep trauma

·         Those who tried to protect the Capitol are contending with serious physical injuries, nightmares and intense anxiety. “Normal is gone,” said one Capitol Police commander.

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What do I have to say about it?  

Despite the truths in the Washington Post investigation, the chances of the several major instigators of the January 6 insurrection being indicted and tried during their lifetimes are minimal. 

As for the former president who seems to have been, according to the Post, at the heart of the matter, his chance of indictment is somewhat less than the chance of the Detroit Lions and the Miami Dolphins meeting in the next Super Bowl. 

If by some fluke, however, that does happen, martial law will have to be declared in the United States to restrain his supporters, in which case democracy will be dead here. That's why it won't happen and he will get away with his acts of treason, walking away clean. 

He won't even go on trial for treason as acquitted, but disgraced, Aaron Burr did in 1807.  The same goes for his major supporters, even those in Congress, other than the innocent boobs who were conned into carrying out the attack on the Capitol.

 JL


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Some Interesting Stuff

If you want to read some really interesting stuff, check out www.bariweiss@substack.com.  Ms. Weiss, formerly with the New York Times, resigned after she felt the paper’s left-leaning policies went too far, tolerating material which until recently, would have been considered anti-Semitic.  

While she didn't come out with that accusation, she certainly implied that it at least described some of her co-workers there, who were never called to task for it.  I wouldn’t call her a flaming liberal, but Ms. Weiss is not a conservative either, unless one defines conservatism as preserving something good in our society.

JL

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Item Posted on Oct. 31 2021

More on Medicare 

In reviewing my recent comments on Medicare choices, I’ve had the opportunity to visit numerous websites, including the government’s as well as those of the private companies providing Part C services and several articles commenting on them.  I see a lot of “ifs” and “ands” and “buts” and “maybes” requiring a Washington D.C. lawyer to interpret for those trying to make a choice.  The advice of a source which serves to profit from your decision is not necessarily reliable. 

Medical costs at older ages, say over 75, can be tremendously expensive and assembling the monetary resources to pay for them can be very burdensome for individuals and insurance programs, both private and governmental.  Eliminating these costs from Medicare would make Medicare more manageable and less expensive in all of its “Parts” because, as I see it, such claims (the ones submitted by those over age 75) would be gone.  But the cost of the claims is only half of the problem.

The other half of the problem is that we are living longer.  In 1960, life expectancy in the United States was to about age 70.  Sixty years later, it was to about age 79, although there has been a recent slight decline in life expectancy.  Such increased longevity results in many more people living to ages where expensive healthcare is required, and medical advances enable them to survive episodes which formerly would have ended their lives, to recover, and be around to continue to routinely need expensive healthcare of one kind or another.

    (painting hanging in my home by my 89 year old elementary and high school buddy, Dr. Howard Silver)    

So I am beginning to think that those over age 75 should be removed from Medicare and be treated separately. 

Let me throw out an idea.  If we did that, Medicare Parts A and the portion of Part B insureds don’t pay for would cost the government less.  Medicare Part C plans and Medicare Supplement policies would also cost less once they did not have to include those over age 75 who are increasing in number and who incur large medical expenses in the last years of their lives. 

But then, how do we provide health insurance for those over age 75, if they are removed from Medicare?  Private companies would not be able to price the cost of health insurance exclusively for them within reason.  It would be far, far, far, too expensive.  The answer is that the government must do it.  Rather than continuing to share those high expenses incurred by those over age 75 with everyone else over age 65 who is on Medicare, making Medicare more costly for all, the government should step in and set up a special program for those over age 75. 

Let’s call it “Post-Medicare Care” and it would have to be a “single-payer” plan totally managed by the government, as is Social Security.  To start with, they’ll have the money freed up for the government to use because their actuaries could forget about the morbidity (a term loosely defined as the percentage of those “getting sick”) of those over age 75 who would no longer be on Medicare at all. 

But much more money than that would be needed.  "Post-Medicare Care" would require increased taxes on the income and on the wealth of those at the top of our economic pyramid to successfully operate.  Business and corporate taxes would pay increased taxes too.  Such “Post-Medicare Care” would have minimal deductibles and co-insurance features and come close to being at no cost to those over age 75.  

Its final cost to our economy, in new taxes as mentioned above, will be the price the country will have to pay for the increase in longevity of Americans and the life extending medical advances which makes that possible.  And it would leave those not over age 75 with better and less costly health insurance alternatives. 

Remember, right now Americans already pay more, in premiums and taxation, for health care on a per capita basis than it costs in other Western industrialized countries, and do not get the comprehensive coverage that is present in the UK, France and Germany for example.  No one sits up nights worrying about paying doctor bills there.  That happens "Only in America."  We pay more and get less for our money.  A redistribution of the money we are already allocating for health care in our economy might reduce the need for the additional taxes "Post-Medicare Care" will necessitate.  

This is just an idea, but something in this direction is needed or Medicare will collapse. 

Sooner than you think.  In fact, back on June 5, 2021, I warned about increases in longevity wrecking Social Security and Medicare.  Scroll down to read it.

JL      
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Item Posted on Oct. 30, 2021


I thought Tennessee was part of the United States of America, and not of some euphemism for the defeated Confederacy?  It has been 160 years and they still won't let it go.  And that's the way they vote, too.
JL      
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Item Posted on Oct. 29, 2021

Today is the Anniversary of the 1929 Market Crash 

As some of you may know, I follow and sometimes comment on “Letters From an American,” the daily report posted by Boston College history professor Heather Cox Richardson.  Today, she pointed out, is the anniversary of the market crash of 1929 which initiated the Great Depression which was ultimately eased by FDR’s New Deal, and ended by World War Two. 

Another commenter remarked that what HCR wrote was “a lesson to those who have no clue how the Republicans are jeopardizing economic recovery and stimulus.” 

 

To that, I responded “They will never learn. You can't teach an old dog new tricks. Their anti-labor positions, their ties to Evangelical groups but mostly, their racism, blinds them and may give them enough votes, legally or otherwise, to put them back in control in 2022 and 2024, after which we will have to repeat this entire cycle.”  

 

That could lead to another 1929 market crash, Great Depression, and leave us waiting for another FDR.  My last comment was, in part, based on the thoughts of Nobel prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.

JL      
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Item Posted on Oct. 28

Medicare Open Enrollment Runs Until December 7 

You can’t watch TV very long without seeing an advertisement reminding viewers that this is the season for open Medicare enrollment. It lasts until Dec. 7. Without specifically saying so, most of these ads urge Medicare recipients to switch to private Medicare Advantage Plans (HMOs and PPOs) which comprise Medicare Part C, or to consider switching their Part C plan if they already have one. Many such plans include prescription benefits, which by itself is Medicare Part D. 

What the advertisements skirt around is that those who enroll in Medicare Part C are giving up Medicare Part A (hospital benefits) and almost always Medicare Part B (medical services including doctor bills) as well, which the benefits of Part C plans endeavor to replace along with providing some other benefits not present at all in Parts A and B, such as basic dental care or the cost of travel to doctors’ offices.

They also talk about an accompanying increase in one’s Social Security benefit when they make the switch mentioned above. This is because giving up Medicare Part B relieves one of paying extra for it out of one’s Social Security benefit. If you collect Social Security, there is usually no extra charge for having Medicare Part A, so dropping it doesn’t save you anything like dropping Part B does. Paying for Part B isn’t mandatory, but choosing it later than at the same time Part A is selected usually involves permanent penalties which almost make it mandatory at the time of enrolling in Part A.

Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) can save you a lot of money and can provide excellent benefits. Most people I know who have them are satisfied with them. Some plans are better than others so it pays to compare and speak to others you know who may have experience with particular plans. Those who make the switch to a Part C HMO (“Health Maintenance Organization” or PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) don’t have to worry about Medicare Parts A and B any longer since they will have given them up.  

But they should be concerned with limitations on participating physicians and medical facilities present in HMO plans. PPO plans, which cost more than the usually free HMO plans, make more providers and hospitals available and simplify referrals to specialists, leaving it in the insured's hands rather than in the HMO's hands.

Those who keep Parts A and B (sometimes referred to as ‘Traditional Medicare’) face significant deductible and co-payment costs. For example, Part B doesn’t pay more than 80% of the amount Medicare “approves” for a particular medical service. For major surgery, even this 20% can amount to very large amounts. These costs can be covered by private Medicare Supplement plans, sometimes called “Medigap” which come in several specific varieties differing in the extent to which they fill the “gaps” in Medicare Parts A and B. These plans tend to be expensive. And those who remain with Parts A and B need to purchase a separate private plan to cover prescriptions, known as Medicare Part D, which usually is packaged within Part C plans. 

This is an area which retirees should carefully explore before they make any decisions during the “Open Enrollment” period which runs until December 7, making certain that anyone whose advice they take is acting in their interest. There are reasons why organizations offering Part C plans are running full page advertisements in the Palm Beach Post and the Sun-Sentinel. I hope these comments, which I believe to be accurate and which are my personal opinions, have been helpful. 

But here are some conclusions at which I’ve personally arrived. They are my opinion: “You get what you pay for and there ain’t no free lunch.” 

First, let’s look at what a Plan C plan provides and where it gets the funding to provide these benefits. Some plans, usually HMOs, don’t require a premium to cover part of the cost of benefits while the PPOs do, depending on how much more flexibility than an HMO they provide. 

Where do they get the money? This year, for every individual selecting Plan C, the government pays the private insurer running the plan about $11,800. To provide their benefits, Medicare Advantage plans utilize this money and whatever premiums the plan might call for the insured to pay. 

To manage this, Part C HMOs might restrict the doctors and hospitals their insureds may use and require deductibles and/or co-payments, and make decisions regarding referrals to specialists.   In a Part C PPO, however, there may be a broader choice of physicians and hospitals and the insureds are able to choose their specialists.  There might not be geographic restrictions in a PPO which HMOs sometimes contain. But a PPO will require a premium payment above that, if any, which an HMO calls for. 

Let’s make something clear. When the government pays for something, like that $11,800 per capita payment, it must collect taxes or borrow money to be able to do it. We all pay taxes, so remember, there is no free lunch. This also applies to how the government pays for Medicare Part A and the portion of Medicare Part B not covered by the insured’s deduction from Social Security. Again, no free lunch. 

To collect that government $11,800 payment for as many participants as possible, these Medicare Advantage plans advertise heavily (and pay commissions to licensed agents). This, in turn, results in the government having to raise taxes or incur debt in order to pay that $11.800 (or whatever) for the increasing number of those choosing Part C, each one putting them on the hook for another $11,800 annually.  Which of course, the companies selling Part C plans love!  But the taxpayers pick up the tab, so again, there's no free lunch. 

Where is this all heading? Frankly, traditional Medicare Parts A and B are inadequate without a private Medicare Supplement plan. The premiums for such Medigap coverages are skyrocketing. (At age 89, I pay about $6,000 a year for a top-of-the-line Medigap plan.) Inferior plans cost less, but the remaining “gaps” are bigger. But they still cost a lot.  Eventually, Medigap plans will be priced out of the marketplace since only those with expensive medical histories and problems will continue to pay the premiums, making them unprofitable for the private insurers who sell them.

So I predict that within a few years, Medicare Parts A and B, inadequate by themselves, and Medigap plans will fade away and become obsolete, leaving us with Part C’s private Medicare Advantage plans, and the number of $11,800 payments (that dollar amount increases annually  ...  it originally started at about $1,000!) the government will have to come up with as a result will continually be increasing.  That would amount to big bucks, probably more than what Medicare Part A and the remainder of Part B, presently require.  This means more taxes, whether specifically called Medicare taxes, or buried under another name in the budget, or debt left for future generations to handle. 

The UK is the only Western industrialized nation practicing “socialized medicine,” where doctors are government employees and hospitals are government facilities. The rest seem to be following the road we are heading down, that of “socialized medical insurance,” funded in great part by taxes (and government debt) and private insurance, rather than “socialized medicine,” funded entirely by taxes (and government debt).

If this were a research paper, much of what I have written would be footnoted. The documentation for what I’ve written is there, but I just haven’t included it. Much of it, and similar information, is available on Kaiser Permanente’s website.
JL

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