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Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired in Florida for over two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

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. 


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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.


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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:


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.”


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Certified Liars


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.)


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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!


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