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.

Monday, January 31, 2022

1-31-2022 - A Poll and a Column, DeJoy and the Filibuster ... and the Quiz

A Frightening Poll and a Frightening Column 


A recent poll shows that 57% of Republicans say they will not vote for any candidate who admits Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 election. 
If we define being a Republican as being one of the 74 million who voted for the defeated former president in 2020, that amounts to about 42 million voters, or approximately 27% of the total of 155 million who voted in 2020. That’s still a big number of believers in the “Big Lie.” 

The poll to which I refer was conducted by UMass Amherst and its associate director, political science Professor Raymond La Raja, commented that “regardless of the truth of the situation, public officials need to shore up faith in how we vote,” citing the results as ”extremely worrisome perceptions, and improved faith in the electoral process won’t happen until Republicans stop saying the election was stolen.” Good luck, Professor! 

And if Republicans don’t stop saying that, I ask, what will happen?  Check out a January 30 column from the Philadelphia Inquirer by CLICKING HERE.  or just visiting https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/commentary/donald-trump-rally-conroe-texas-pardons-20220130.html.  

There you will see that even worse than the “Big Lie” are the latest words of the defeated former president in Conroe, Texas, where he implied that re-electing him in 2024 might result in the pardoning of the convicted January 6 attackers on the Capitol.  He also did a lot of ‘dog whistling’ about the racist nature of investigations into him in New York, Georgia and of course, by the House Select Committee, amounting to obstruction of justice.

Here's the last paragraph of that column by Will Bunch, but please read it in its entirety.  CLICK HERE.

"Trump’s chief weapons are fear and intimidation. To save American democracy, the people tasked with getting to the bottom of a former president’s high crimes and misdemeanors — on Capitol Hill and in those key courthouses — must be ready for the violence that Trump is inciting, and must summon the courage to finish their job. My fear is that Trump’s speech in Conroe will live in infamy — but the only reason it happened at all is because we have not held Trump to account for attempting to wreck American democracy on Jan. 6 ... not yet. Now, Trump has told us in no uncertain terms how he plans to break the nation this time. We can act forcefully to stop his new insurrection and punish his past crimes — or we can sit back and let the comet of autocracy strike."

I don’t know how Americans can be optimistic when so many of them remain ignorant and gullible.  Democrats must recognize this, and quickly, very quickly.

  JL

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DeJoy and the Filibuster 

Postmaster General DeJoy still on the job?  Failure of the President and the Democratic Congressional majorities to take the steps needed to fire him will cost them votes in November.  It is clear he was part of the defeated former president's plan to sabotage voting by mail!  Wake up! It's only a bit more than nine months till Election Day!   To accomplish this, legislation must be introduced in Congress to modify the 1970 Act which created the Postal Service’s Board of Governors, making their removal possible “only for cause,” and requiring four governors from each party plus one “non-partisan” governor.  They appoint the Postmaster General.  Otherwise, the defeated former president’s appointees will continue to dominate the Board until at least the end of 2022, which would not be in time for the November elections.  But would a Senate filibuster stop DeJoy's firing from happening?

Could it be that failure to act to fire DeJoy will be just another result of the Senate filibuster not only protecting the views of a minority but obstructing the intent of a majority.  

But I wonder if, in the event of a future Republican majority in the Senate dominated by the defeated former president’s supporters, the filibuster might be an important tool for minority Democrats to use to save democracy in our country. A perplexing thought.  But still, there ought to be a way of getting rid of DeJoy before November, 2022.

  JL

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Quiz Time 

Answers to Quiz #1:  Here are the eight States beginning with the letter “M” and their capital cities.  How many were you able to guess? 

Maine-Augusta                                             Massachusetts-Boston

Maryland-Annapolis                                    Mississippi-Jackson

Missouri-Independence                              Michigan-Lansing

Minnesota-Saint Paul                                  Montana-Helena 

 

Quiz #2:  Let’s try again, only this time with the letter “N.”  There are also eight States starting with that letter.  Name them and their capitals if you can without cheating.  Answers on the next posting in a few days.

 JL

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Reminders:  

1. Get vaccinated against Covid-19 ... and if you already are, get a booster shot.  

2. Test yourself with readily available 'antigen' home tests to see if you might be infected and capable of spreading the virus.  

3. If you experience symptoms, or test positive on a home 'antigen' test, go for more sophisticated, and more accurate, PCR testing. 

4. Failure to vaccinate or test, even if such inaction is encouraged by Floriduh's governor, guarantees the continued spread and mutation of Covid-19, so please, vaccinate and test!  Ignore the Governor!  For suspicious political reasons, he has allied himself with the virus.  (If the coronavirus were a 'registered voter,' there is no doubt that it would be a Republican.)

 JL

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Saturday, January 29, 2022

1-29-2022 - The Insurance Business, Telephones and a Quiz

Starting with this posting and occasionally thereafter, Jackspotpourri will be including a quiz.  Here’s one to start with.  The answers will appear in the next posting in a few days.  Watch for it, and please, don’t cheat by ‘googling’ for the answers.

JL

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Quiz Time:

Quiz #1:  There are eight States in our country beginning with the letter “M.”  Can you name them and their capital cities?

JL

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The Insurance Business

Insurance is a good business in which to be.  I don’t mean selling it though.  Insurance agents, no matter how professional they try to be, are paid on a commission basis, and that is never forgotten as they try to fill the needs of customers, the search for which is always a major part of their job, particularly if their major product is life insurance.  Life insurance people usually make a big commission up front in a policy’s first year while property and casualty agents get smaller commissions, but these continue on, year after year.  Bottom line:  Essential as they may be, they are still basically salespeople.

It's the insurance company itself, though, which is the real money-maker.  Agents come and go.  Companies endure. Not having to worry about merchandise or an inventory, they sell products (life, health, property, casualty insurance, etc.) which, no matter how they are sliced or diced, are guaranteed to be profitable.  They know how much they need to pay the claims that company-wide and industry-wide studies tell them will occur on both a short and long-term basis.  They know how to determine those whose business they want and those whom they would be better off declining to have as customers. They know how much they are paying agents and agencies to acquire the business that produces the premiums.  They know how to conservatively invest the premium money they receive and hold to cover these outlays as well as the cost of running the entire operation, including management salaries and leaving a tidy profit. 

Met Life Building in NYC


This conservative investment aspect of an insurance company’s operation causes some to refer to them as ‘cash cows’ and make them attractive acquisitions by companies outside of the insurance industry.  And if they are wrong with their numbers despite their having their own actuaries or hiring actuarial consulting firms to make sure they are right, they still purchase ‘reinsurance’ insurance from other companies which specialize in this type of coverage just in case their numbers turn out to be wrong or overly optimistic.  An insurance company has to be really stupid not to be successful.  Insurance companies which get into trouble are usually those who have former successful sales executives as their presidents or CEOs, rather than investment people or number-crunchers.

(Sometimes companies falsely call themselves ‘insurance companies' when they are merely insurance sales agencies or insurance sales components of a larger financial services operation. Beware of them. They may be part of the insurance industry but they are not ‘insurance companies.’)

Insurance companies, if you weren’t aware of it, are regulated by State governments and not the Federal government.  This has its greatest impact in property and casualty insurance where automobile and homeowners’ insurance rates are determined based on the statistics from that State alone. Profitable business from other parts of the nation is not used to affect the rates in States with particular hazards such as hurricanes, forest fires and hundreds of law firms advertising on TV specializing in milking insurance companies for every possible penny.  Of course, rates in such States, where major insurers do business through separate subsidiary companies, go up annually to cover these “hazards.”  That’s why people moving to such States sometimes experience insurance “sticker shock.”

It doesn’t matter if you buy your insurance from a green lizard, a guy in a red shirt hanging out with football players, a distinguished gentleman wearing a vest and looking like the curator of a museum, a bunch of people dressed as if they work in a bakery, a bumbling band-aided troublemaker in a suit, an annoying man with an Australian bird, or just some folks at the southern tip of Manhattan island, it’s all the same crap. I know.  I worked in that business for over 40 years.  And the companies never lose, even the one that has a jingle saying it is on your side.

 JL

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Telephones Ain't What They Used To Be 

When I was growing up we used to have a telephone sitting on a table in our foyer. The company which provided us with it back in those days was the New Jersey Bell Telephone Company, I assume part of the “Ma Bell” family. Below the telephone was a shelf on which sat a fat telephone directory about four inches thick which was filled with residential and business numbers, the latter on yellow pages. Eventually, we had an extension which enabled calls to be picked up in another room as well.  Back before my time we had shared a line with others whose calls to their numbers also came through that same line.  That was called a ‘party line’ but they eventually became unnecessary as more lines were installed.  Until they were totally eliminated though, they were cheaper to have. Also, there were ‘unlimited’ and ‘limited’ prices for phone service too, the latter providing only a certain number of calls. Going over the ‘limit’ was costly as were all calls outside of the local area.  Hence, such ‘long distance’ calls were kept to a minimum.  But things are different today.  One can call anywhere in the country without an extra charge.

We still have a similar phone in my home today.  Looks different though.  No 'dial' of course, just buttons.  It has three extensions in different rooms and it also can record a message if the caller wants to leave one.  It doesn’t come in via a wire as it did in the old days; it is part of an internet service to which I subscribe.  I rarely pick up that phone when it rings because most of the calls which come in on it are unwanted junk. When I recognize the name of the caller, which shows up on a screen on the phone, I might pick it up.  When I don’t pick it up, the caller hears a message telling them to call me on my ‘mobile’ phone or send me an email, without giving them the ‘mobile’ phone number or my email address.  They can leave me a short message if they wish to in the rare instance where the caller happens to be someone I really know, but who doesn’t have my ‘mobile’ number or email address.  Usually they are not.

I call it a landline, which it ain't

Once in a rare while, I pick up an incoming call from an unknown source which looks like it is for real.  Sometimes it is, but usually it is not.  An example might be a call from my congressional representative or Senator to whom I had written or an emergency power outage or weather announcement.  Picking up calls from numbers one doesn’t recognize can result in one’s number being stolen for use in making unwanted junk calls to others as well as increasing the number of junk calls coming into that number.  It can also open the door to identity theft.  A deluge of unwanted calls usually wears off in a few weeks or so.  Listing the number with the Federal government’s ‘Do Not Call’ list has little effect.  Many people I know, especially the younger ones, have given up on this type of telephone service entirely and totally depend on their ‘mobile’ phones.  Right now, I still like having it as a ‘back-up.’ service. 

My IPhone 11
Nowadays, most of my telephone experience is carried on through my ‘mobile’ phone, which has its own number.  Besides telephone service, it also provides the ability to exchange ‘text’ messages and leave voice mail messages with other ‘mobile’ telephones and access the internet for incoming and outgoing email and enable me to use it to access an almost infinite number of ‘applications,’ such as the weather, the stock market, sports scores or several ‘search engines.’  It also serves as a camera, a photo album and a flashlight if need be.  Of course, I have to check to see if it needs to be ‘recharged’ each day and make sure its ‘blue tooth’ capabilities are activated when I wear my hearing aids or drive my car, which enables it to be heard via speakers other than the one provided on the phone. 

Although my ‘mobile’ number is also listed with the government’s ‘Do Not Call’ list, several unwanted calls come into it each day, which probably result from my having accepted one which I should not have, but the number of which looked familiar, but without a name showing up on the screen. (I’ve occasionally received such ‘mobile’ calls from unfamiliar locations which I routinely deleted until I realized they were the ‘mobile’ numbers of a someone I knew, secured before they moved to Florida.)  

Picking up calls from unfamiliar numbers is a much riskier thing to do on a ‘mobile’ phone because of its internet connections and since there are many illegitimate groups actively stealing (‘phishing’ they call it) numbers to use to reach other ‘mobile’ phones, which can be the first step to identity theft.  When you pick up such a call and there is no one there, it means they were just trying to get you to pick up your phone. The ‘connection’ was all they wanted, and that’s how you ended up a week later, getting a batch of strange calls from places like Boise, Idaho or Jackson, Mississippi, which are of course to be ignored.

Sometimes I wish things were as simple as they were when we just had one old-fashioned phone with a rotary dial on a table in our foyer.

 JL

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See!  An entire posting without any politics or Covid19 advice.

 JL

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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

1-25-2022 - Fooey on Floridah, a Tragic Murder and FOOTball

A Local Tragedy 

Sunday’s Palm Beach Post included a lengthy article about a local man serving a life term in prison who murdered his wife and young children about ten years ago. This tragedy stemmed from economic problems of his own making with which he could not cope and possibly from the medication he was taking to control his anxiety. Included in the article, by the Post’s Wendy Rhodes who covered the tragic collapse of the Champlain Towers condominium in Surfside, were several photographs, including one of the coffee table in the murderer’s and his victims’ home.

Among the material resting on the table was a copy of a self-help book titled “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … and It’s All Small Stuff,” which the murderer apparently had been reading for advice.  Obviously, he didn’t find what he was seeking from the book, but its presence somehow points up that this tragedy could have been avoided by more perceptive physicians, including those who were trying to help him with drugs, the effects of which may have contributed to his behavior.  The book’s presence indicates that the murderer was looking for help, if not crying out for it, but no one heard him.

Not mentioned in the article is the 2008 Supreme Court decision in D.C. vs. Heller which ruled against laws limiting the possession of weapons in one’s home.  True, there were, and are, no such laws in Florida.  Nevertheless, when the Supreme Court in 2008 legitimized the idea that possessing weapons at home for self-defense was totally permissible, that, in my opinion, contributed to the atmosphere which gave this troubled man the tool with which to murder his family.

  JL

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 Sports Page – FOOTball!

Well, the four teams that are playing for the two conference titles in the National Football League all got there by virtue of three-point field goals!  We’re now in the final stretch after which they all can go home and baseball’s Spring Training can start.

The Cincinnati Bengals, the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco Forty-Niners defeated the Tennessee Titans, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Green Bay Packers, respectively, by last-second field goals.  The Kansas City Chiefs’ overtime win over the Buffalo Bills was similarly made possible by a last-second field goal sending the game into overtime.  What this accomplishes is putting the “foot” back in FOOTball!  Incidentally, something will have to be done about the NFL’s ‘overtime’ procedures which seem less fair than what happens in college games.

And while I am about it, here’s what Jackspotpourri’s crystal ball says about this seemingly endless NFL season:  In the AFC, Kansas City will make short shrift of Cincinnati and in the NFC, Los Angeles will send the Forty-Niners back home. 

Mahones
In the Super Bowl, don’t bet against Pat Mahones and the Kansas City Chiefs.  

And speaking of wagering, TV commercials are sucking in all too many fans who can least afford it into now-legal online wagering, at its heart no less unsavory than using a bookie to place bets. 

 



JL

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Bitching and Moaning About Floriduh

In my opinion, why would anyone want to retire to a backward place which is governed by an irresponsible demagogue of a Governor and a political party which is basically anti-democratic, spelled with a small “d”?  It’s almost like moving to places like Russia or China or Cuba, but with the people not knowing what kind of rotten government they actually have!   

First, recognize that the people whom Florida’s government chooses to serve exclude minorities. That’s why, for example, available Federal aid for Medicaid remains refused.  Reducing the number of people who vote, and gerrymandering those districts in which they do, is part of their permanent agenda.  That’s how they manage to stay in power, year after year.  They find ways to get around what the people have voted for, such as returning the vote to felons who have served their time. 

The State’s governor openly attacks Covid19 vaccinations and testing, giving them a lower priority than boasting about the State’s individual freedoms, which allow Floridians to choose to do whatever they want, including spreading Covid19 or even dying from it.  

They reluctantly accept the existence of public schools but favor diverting a good portion of taxpayer dollars to “charter” schools and private, often religious, institutions. They are willing to attack free speech on the part of college faculty members and government officials, even ones they appoint.  The Governor even threatens to monitor what teachers do in classrooms as well as what goes on in polling places.  In a State with miles of coastline, they ignore the effects of climate change, real estate consideration coming first.  Flooded streets, a collapsing condominium burying 98 bodies, and the long-term effect of surrendering the shrinking Everglades and agricultural areas to development do not deter them. Air contaminated by sugar cane burning, banned elsewhere, flourishes in Florida.  Septic tanks where there should be sewer systems persist.  

In certain areas, these shortcomings may not be apparent because local governments may actually recognize and try to deal with them, but a backward State government in Florida usually has the final say and nothing gets done.  To this, I add preposterous automobile and homeowners’ insurance premiums made possible by State regulations designed to protect insurance companies rather than the public.  (More about insurance will follow in a subsequent posting.) 

In the past, I have lived in places where the Republicans were in charge (Nassau County, NY, New York State when Pataki was governor, New Jersey with Republicans in the governor’s mansion and running the legislature) but never have I encountered as corrupt, as contemptible and as dishonest a crew as the Republicans in the State legislature and governor’s office in Florida.  It is not an accident that a disproportionate number of those who attacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021, were from the Sunshine State, from which the late Rush Limbaugh broadcast, where Newsmax is based, where you’ll find Roger Stone, leader of the riot at the Miami-Dade Board of Elections in 2000 and other G.O.P. political obscenities, and where the defeated former president resides.  Florida is a den of Republican iniquity.


Any retiree who chooses to move to Florida should be aware of all of this, and even more.  Its low taxes, pleasant climate, and numerous entertainment and recreational facilities are not really worth it when its shortcomings are recognized.  Eventually, its entire structure will come tumbling down, as most undemocratic societies eventually do when the people “wise up,” with uncertain results.  There are other places retirees should consider.  The climate may not be as nice there, but the sun shines on more places than just the Sunshine State.  Had I the opportunity to do it over, I would not be here, but frankly, I am now too old to make a change.  But I can warn others to stay away.

JL

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Friday, January 21, 2022

1-21-2022 - The Wheels of Justice, a Book and a Priority

 


The Wheels of Justice Turn Slowly

It has been over a year since the acts of sedition or treason (call them what you wish) took place in Washington. The evidence regarding those who invaded the Capitol building on January 6, 2021 and those who inspired, instigated, organized and financed them continues to pile up.
Republican Tourists Visiting Capitol

Some of the conspiracy's 'foot soldiers' have been arrested but the insurrection’s  planners, despite being investigated by the House Select Committee, the Department of Justice and even the FBI, still roam free. For far lesser crimes, many Americans are routinely indicted and tried and if found guilty, imprisoned. WHY NOT IN THESE CASES? In my opinion, the Department of Justice is proceeding slowly and very methodically before they act, making certain their cases are solid.  But the evidence is piling up, day by day! How long can they wait? Is this need for "perfection" what is causing the delay?   

But when the DOJ finally acts and those who inspired, instigated, organized, and financed the January 6 attack, unquestionably including the defeated former president, were to be arrested, indicted and put on trial, would their millions of gullible and deluded supporters elevate our second civil war, already started but presently limited to words and rhetoric (except on January 6), to more acts of violence, not unaided by the Second Amendment. The government would then have no choice but to respond but with weapons far more powerful than subpoenas.  It would not be pretty. 

Is fear of that happening preventing justice from being done? How can justice be served without destroying the Union as long as millions of Americans and many State governments still support the defeated former president? That is the question we seem to be avoiding but which must be answered! Soon.

  JL

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How Civil Wars Stop and How to Stop Them 

Professor Barbara F. Walter (Univ. of California at San Diego) has written a book entitled “How Civil Wars Stop and How to Stop Them.”  On the Amazon page from which the book may be purchased, one unidentified purchaser’s five-star review of the book pretty much sums up the author’s thoughts and is reproduced here:

"Political scientist Barbara Walter evaluates this timely issue using her decades of experience studying civil wars around the world. Although this book is relatively brief (226 pages not including footnotes), Professor Walter offers many interesting ideas to consider, and generally seems to be objective with her analysis. She acknowledges that most Americans probably think about "civil war" with images of Generals Grant and Lee leading armies in large scale battles. However, she uses examples to show that the US now shares some common factors with those countries that have experienced violent civil conflicts.

Walter discusses (the former) Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland, the Philippines, Iraq, Syria and other examples. One of her main points concerns the dangers when a country moves from autocracy to democracy (or vice versa). Rarely is there a smooth transition. In addition, Walter also describes how the emergence of extremist militias defending the (perceived threatened) status of a ethnic and/or religious groups often occurs in these civil wars.

Although at first small scale, these extremist groups created a "tipping point," leading to widespread violence and a breakdown of civil society. The motivation for these groups stems from fear of losing their economic and social status. In the US, politically conservative (especially rural) whites are becoming a racial and political minority and view the Federal government as unresponsive to their concerns.

Walter concludes that the US does indeed face the possibility of increasing violence and political instability which could threaten our democracy. In the final part of her book, Walter offers some ideas about how to prevent a civil war, suggesting that the US Government should be reformed to "bolster the rule of law, give all citizens equal access to the vote, and improve the quality of government services".

Overall, I found this book well worth reading, but a critical weakness is the lack of historical perspective about the US. Even a casual reading of US history reveals the nearly constant themes of violence and political conflicts, but only one civil war. So what might be different this time? Readers will come to their own conclusions about this, but my major takeaways from this book are:
1) Undermining democratic institutions, such as voting, can move the US toward autocracy, creating the strong possibility of political instability.
2) The rapid growth of armed militant white nationalist groups represent a much greater danger than we may realize.
3) The rise of significant "tribalism" in US politics contributes to ineffective government, and further creates conditions for civil unrest.

Regardless of one's political beliefs, Walter's message seems to be that we (as Americans) need to be aware of these dangers, and work together to make government work for all. The alternatives are much, much worse."

Professor Walter


  JL

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Highest Priority: November 8, 2022

It's no secret that Vladimir Putin wants to establish hegemony over what was once the USSR and it's no secret that the House Select Committee will ultimately place the blame for the January 6 attack on the Capitol where it belongs, on the defeated former President.  But these issues should not deter Democrats from focusing on the November elections! 

In view of the defeat of their voting rights legislation, it is likely that Democrats will break that legislation into individual pieces, forcing G.O.P. Senators to take positions against changes which are overwhelmingly popular with the people.  Every word spoken by Senators Ron Johnson and Marco Rubio, who are running for re-election and who will certainly vote against all voter rights legislation, should be thrown back at them repeatedly, every day, from now until Election Day.  Right now, these two seats, and successfully defending Democratic seats which will be contested, are more important than the January 6 investigation and Putin’s ambitions, as is maintaining control of the House of Representatives as well.  

Americans must remember that in the upcoming election, and in all future elections, no Senator deserves the votes of any Americans whose right to vote they weakened by voting against voters’ rights legislation.  That includes 50 Republicans and the two Democrats who betrayed democracy.

 JL

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Reminders:  

1. Get vaccinated against Covid-19 ... and if you already are, get a booster shot.  

2. Test yourself with readily available 'antigen' home tests to see if you might be infected and capable of spreading the virus.  

3. If you experience symptoms, or test positive on a home 'antigen' test, go for more sophisticated, and more accurate, PCR testing. 

4. Failure to vaccinate or test, even if such inaction is encouraged by Floriduh's governor, guarantees the continued spread and mutation of Covid-19, so please, vaccinate and test!  Ignore the Governor!  For suspicious political reasons, he has allied himself with the virus.

 JL

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Monday, January 17, 2022

Polarization, Truth and "Mojo"

 

Where Polarization Leads

We hear a lot about the desirability of bi-partisanship these days in government and elsewhere in our society.  All we seem to be getting, though, is unbridled polarization, the presidency and Congress being prime examples.

In the “Critics” section in the January 3 & 10 issue of the New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert discusses several books dealing with America.  Proceeding from one suggesting “thoughtful self-examination” as a way to “get America out of its rut,” she turns to Stephen Marche, novelist and former Esquire columnist, to whom the answer is clear. He indicates in “The Next Civil War: Dispatches from the American Future” (Avid Reader, publisher) that the answer is obvious, “the United States is coming to an end.” 

Kolbert writes that Marche is fond of sweeping claims. ‘No American president, of either party, now and for the foreseeable future, can be an icon of unity, only of division,’ Kolbert quotes him as writing. ‘Once shared purpose disappears, it’s gone,’ he declares in that same chapter. Unfortunately, Kolbert concludes, too many of his pronouncements ring true, such as ‘When the crisis comes, the institutions won’t be there.’

This is not a book for optimists, or maybe it is.

For additional opinions and reading material on this vital subject, check out what Dr. Barbara F. Walter (Univ. of California at San Diego) and writer Ezra Klein have to say.  ‘Googling‘ them will give you an idea of what both have written in articles and books.  They are not quite so pessimistic as is Stephen Marche but lean in that direction. 

JL

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Truth

In the blog posting before this one, probably available right below this one, I said in regard to determining the ‘truth’ (you know, the stuff “ye” ought to know that supposedly ‘makes you free’), one must recognize that what is presented as ‘truth’ is sometimes based on misinformation. So let’s look at these sources of ‘information’ and ‘misinformation.’ Can you tell one from the other? Which report information?  Which report disinformation? Which report both?

Wall Street Journal – Washington Post – New York Times – the Guardian – Atlantic Monthly – Commentary – USA Today – National Public Radio – Fox News – the National Review - CNN – MSNBC – OAN – Newsmax – and numerous internet sites, some with agendas ranging from far right to far left and some purporting to be objective. 

The same story can appear quite different depending on where and how it is reported.  The recent attack on a synagogue in a Dallas suburb illustrates this.  (I suggest you take a look at Bari Weiss' Substack blog "Common Sense" for her views on this, posted this morning.  Access to her blog, unless you care to comment on it, is free.  CLICK HERE TO READ IT)

And of course, some sources engage in passing on outright lies someone else reported somewhere else that they heard someone else reporting. Official-sounding or what appear to be reliable sources may not be what they claim to be. One should be able to recognize them.

Somewhat appropriate is the song from “HMS Pinafore” where Buttercup sings:  Things are seldom what they seem, Skim milk masquerades as cream; Highlows pass as patent leathers; Jackdaws strut in peacock's feathers.’

Finally, there must be an old proverb somewhere, probably from an ancient Chinese philosopher predating our First Amendment, which says, “Man who bend over backwards too far so words of opponent may be heard may never regain equilibrium.”  If no one before has said that, well, I’m saying it now.

 JL

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A Maureen Dowd Column 

Maureen Dowd has some insight into why President Biden is having so much trouble getting his agenda passed.  Check out her New York Times column suggesting he needs more “mojo” which can be found at ….  (the column, not the “mojo.”)  Try CLICKING HERE or just visit:

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/15/opinion/biden-senate-mcconnell-sinema.html#commentsContainer

After reading the article, I made the following comment which the Times website added to the many they received.

Although I voted for Biden in 2020, I did not vote for him in the Democratic primary (I have since become a 'No Party Affiliation' voter.)  I feared that he lacked the fire needed to combat the Republicans about which Ms. Dowd writes. I also wonder what has happened to our vice-president, who was loaded with fire when she entered the Democratic primary with a dynamic speech in Oakland. Is Biden's problem contagious? Biden only got the nomination because of the support of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, led by South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn and that wing has not proven to be an asset to the President, once he was elected. On the contrary, it has hurt him, giving the Republicans a target.”

 JL

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Certified Liars

Pinocchio

In today’s political climate, it’s best to doubt anything *most Republicans say, not even if it’s their answer to a simple question like “What time is it?”  If you stop to think about it, nothing that comes out of their mouths can be believed. The presidential election results, the January 6, 2021 Capitol invasion, the need to vaccinate and test for Covid-19 ... you name it! Whatever!  Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy make Pinocchio look honest.

 *(There are exceptions, like Liz Cheney.)

 JL

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Reminders:  

1. Get vaccinated against Covid-19 ... and if you already are, get a booster shot.  

2. Test yourself with readily available 'antigen' home tests to see if you might be infected and capable of spreading the virus.  

3. If you experience symptoms, go for more sophisticated, and accurate, PCR testing. 

4. Failure to vaccinate or test, even if such inaction is encouraged by Floriduh's governor, guarantees the continued spread and mutation of Covid-19, so please, vaccinate and test!  Ignore the Governor!

 JL

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Thursday, January 13, 2022

1-13-22 -The Silent Republicans, A Biblical Quote Revisited and At-Home Covid Testing Clarified, Sort Of - (Slight Color Change Made on the Blog Today. Easier on the Eyes I Hope.)

Silent Republicans and Stopping a Street Fight

The Republicans who have chosen to be held in contempt of Congress rather than to answer a subpoena from the Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 violence at the Capitol, along with those who have indicated that they would not cooperate with that investigation, have one thing in common.
Each one of them, if they testified, would be in the position of incriminating the defeated former president, resulting in his being tried for treason if they revealed the nature of their conversations with him. Lying would subject them to risking being prosecuted for perjury and using the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination would amount to an unspoken, tacit admission of their guilt along with that of the defeated former president.  So they choose not to show up.

None of them … Bannon, Meadows, Clark, McCarthy … want to be the one whose testimony sends the defeated former president to prison. And once the defeated former president is in the hands of the law, Vladimir Putin also may be concerned about what he might say to avoid imprisonment which might affect the tenuous relationship between the United States and Russia.  He might even take steps to see that the defeated former president never has the opportunity to “come clean” to avoid prison. It might hurt him and lead to rash action.  Once Pandora’s box is opened, no one knows what will pop out of it.

But Getting Back To the Issues About Which All of This Revolves:  In a 'street fight' which is what the struggle for voting rights bills in Congress and elsewhere is turning into, the gang that plays by the rules usually loses to the gang armed with unacceptable stuff like baseball bats and brass knuckles instead of merely fists.

(And as for those 'voting rights' bills, I wonder if Senator Shumer will today be offering Senators Manchin and Sinema a deal leaving the filibuster alone in exchange for their votes for still-further-watered-down versions of the  Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.  We'll see.)

In our current ‘street fight,’ that gang also includes those who think the January 6, 2021 invaders of the Capitol were just enthusiastic tourists. The two issues are not unrelated.

For democracy to be preserved in the United States, the Attorney General and the DOJ must act quickly to get those who don't play by the rules regarding these issues put behind bars, and that includes those who inspired and instigated them. That's what the police who arrived at a ‘street fight’ with a paddy wagon used to do to lawbreakers, hauling them off to jail, especially those who ‘didn’t play by the rules’ (whatever they are regarding ‘street fights’) and let the courts take it from there, telling them to "tell it to the judge."

  JL

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Secular Meaning To Biblical Quote 

‘You shall know the truth and it shall make you free” is a New Testament biblical quote (John 8:32) dealing with accepting the divinity of Jesus. 

It also takes on a totally secular meaning today when considering current political issues.

Actually, when John wrote his Gospel, about two generations after the events in Jesus’ life, the conflict between those Jews who believed in his divinity and those Jews who did not, was, I believe, a current issue in Roman-dominated Israel at the time where political and religious issues were inseparable, as they still are in some places in the world today. But I’m not writing about religion today.

Today, in our world, there are different versions of what purport to be political  ‘truths’ circulating on TV, in print, on radio and on the internet.  ‘Truth’ is not a relative thing.  Multiple versions of ‘truth’ are not possible. Much of what is presented as ‘truth’ therefore is based on misinformation.

Those who believe what they choose to believe as being the ‘truth’ claim that those who believe otherwise have been conditioned by such misinformation through the media mentioned above to do so.

Understanding what is the ‘truth’ is crucial to preserving democracy in the United States.  There is a test, though.  Throughout the centuries, history has repeated itself.  Understanding history enables one to properly evaluate what they see, hear and read in terms of its truthfulness.  That is the key to knowing the truth, and insofar as current political and social issues go, that truth can make you free. Without knowledge of history, that becomes difficult if not impossible.

 JL

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 Covid Testing At Home

It looks like inexpensive (or perhaps free through government support) frequent ‘at home’ Covid-19 testing will soon be readily available to all, although I am a bit uncertain how this will work with Medicare Parts B and C.  These will be simple antigen tests, not requiring any computer involvement, and enable users who test positive to modify their behavior (masking – social distancing – possible quarantine or isolation), perhaps consulting with their personal physician, or getting retested (perhaps with a physician-administered more definitive PCR* test) and thereby reduce the spread of the virus resulting in Covid-19. 

Paired with vaccinations which will at a minimum reduce the severity of an infection, if not fully preventing it, such testing will go a long way toward defeating the pandemic.  In my blog posting of January 10, I quoted my recent letter to the Palm Beach Post, the last sentence of which read, “Until frequent, inexpensive, self-administered COVID-19 testing becomes the rule, vaccinations are the best safeguard we have."  Well, it looks like that’s where we now are at! 

Unfortunately, because of selfish and ignorant politicians like Florida’s Governor DeSantis who does not actively support vaccinations nor testing, there will always be some spreading of the virus’ infection. Blame him and those like him.  They are willing allies of the virus, hanging their hats on Americans’ freedoms to do what they wish, including remaining unnecessarily susceptible to Covid-19 infection, and dying in the process, if that is their choice.

I saw a nurse on TV earlier today (Wednesday) pointing out that hospitals were filled with unvaccinated people, infected by the milder, but more contagious, Omicron variant, leaving NO BEDS for those needing hospitalization for a myriad of non-Covid-19 problems.  Should they die because of not being able to get into a hospital, the Governor of Florida, and those others who shun masking and vaccinations must share the blame.

As for those ‘at home’ tests, a recent USA TODAY article found at https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2022/01/10/covid-home-tests-easiest/9129309002/?gnt-cfr=1 reported that most of them did the job, but that some were better than others. They ranked Intrivo’s On/Go on top and BD Veritor at the bottom. The heavily used BinexNow (see my January 10 blog posting) ranked somewhere in the middle. The article also mentioned eMed.com which I included in my posting as another option.  CareStart and FlowFlex were other highly ranked antigen tests.  I will probably use whichever is readily available in stores or online.  Nevertheless, antigen tests are not as accurate as the PCR* tests physicians provide.  Some recommend at least two negative antigen test results within 48 hours to increase their reliability.

* (a Polymerase Chain Reaction test is a molecular test that checks the upper respiratory specimen for genetic material (RNA) including the virus that causes Covid19 rather than just seeking the presence of antibodies which is what the antigen tests do.)

JL

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