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

Friday, June 3, 2022

06-03-2022 - Florida Homeowners Insurance, Mandalay, Congressman Jacobs Quits, and the only real Gun Violence Solution

 

There is only one overriding issue of political concern right now, encompassing much of what appears on this blog. That is how to defeat Republicans on Nov. 8, about 23 weeks from now. The future of democracy in the United States is at stake. Really. To win in November, Democrats must capture the votes of women and persons of color, groups whose interests Republican actions consistently attack. I suggest that Vice President Harris lead this effort keyed to preserving both abortion rights and voting rights.
JL
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Tallahassee Report on Homeowners Insurance

Well, the Floriduh Legislatshur went into ‘Special Session” on May 23 to do something about the crisis in homeowners’ insurance which has been in all the newspapers in the State and described in some detail on this blog.  As expected, they passed some laws which would help the insurance companies, many of which were on the brink of joining those that already had turned insolvent, primarily because of conniving roofing contractors and scheming lawyers … and homeowners whom they suckered into getting new roofs when they didn’t really need them.  No relief for the homeowners facing skyrocketing property insurance premiums though.  They said that might take place in about eighteen months or so.  It might take place much sooner though if the present governor and his party’s State legislative majority are voted out of office on November 8.  But most Floridians aren’t smart enough to figure that out.  (They also passed long-overdue legislation which might prevent decades-old condominium buildings from collapsing to make it seem that the Special Session wasn't entirely a waste of time.)

An interesting side comment is about the football stadium at the State-run University of Central Florida in Orlando, the naming of which was up for grabs.  The State said ‘no’ to naming it after two companies whose names suggested involvement in the kind of questionable claims mentioned above.  They didn’t want UCF’s stadium’s name to be a reminder of a problem they let happen and couldn’t solve.  Meanwhile, one of the companies settled for having the annual football bowl game played in Boca Raton (at State-run Florida Atlantic University’s stadium) named after it, the “RoofClaim.Com Bowl.”  There’s some kind of inconsistency there, I think. But as I said, Floridians aren’t smart enough to figure that out, either.

JL

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G.O.P. Congressman in Favor of Gun Reform Chickens Out

Congressman Cris Jacobs, a conservative Republican from the Buffalo, NY, area just withdrew from his campaign for re-election.  Why?  He came out for laws to combat gun violence, which killed thirteen of his neighbors in a supermarket adjacent to his district two weeks ago. The local and national Republican Party chastised him for this and forced his withdrawal.  I telephoned his office suggesting he follow the actions of Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger, a Republican who is sticking it out, after putting 'Country before Party.' 

JL

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Happy Birthday to Me

At my recent birthday party, I recited one of my favorite poems, Rudyard Kipling’s “Mandalay,” boring all of the guests.  When one reaches a certain age, he (or she) is entitled to do that.  And I certainly did!  For those who are interested, here is its full text.  Its theme, a Western soldier in love with an Asian girl, has been echoed in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly  and on Broadway in Miss Saigon and South Pacific as well.  (Frank Sinatra recorded a corrupted version of it which just included two verses, and is worthless.  He had no idea of what the poem was about.)

Your enjoyment (?) of the poem can be enhanced by being aware of the following geographic explanations of some of its words.

1.  The ‘Road’ to Mandalay doesn’t refer to an avenue, path, or highway on land.  It refers to a part of the Irriwaddy River, on which Mandalay sits, about 200 miles north of Rangoon. A ‘road’ is a place on a body of water, in this case the Irriwaddy, where vessels might anchor near a port. Think of Hampton Roads, Virginia.

2.  “China ‘crost the bay’ refers to the other side of the river from Mandalay.  Both sides of the river are part of Burma, but at one time the area to the east was part of Yunnan province of China which was off in that direction.  Way off.

3.  As for ‘looking eastward to the sea’ as Kipling wrote in the first verse, his compass must have been broken. More likely, he was just ‘winging it.’ The sea was many miles away to the west.  Of course, the Irriwaddy, which was pretty wide at that point, almost like a bay, was actually west of Mandalay too. Whatever he meant, the sea or the river, Kipling had no sense of direction. When one looked at that body of water from that pagoda, they were looking westward, not eastward.  Here is an 1870 photo looking westward toward the Irriwaddy from one of the largest of the many pagodas in Mandalay (or Moulmein) and also a map placing Mandalay on the east bank of the Irriwaddy, where anyone watching for the ‘dawn coming up like thunder’ had better be looking eastward toward China, and not ‘crost the bay’ from that pagoda, which is where the sun sets each day. 

View Westward From Old Moumein Pagoda

Map Showing Mandalay on the East Bank of the Irriwaddy River.
For the Sun to 'come up like thunder 'outer China 'crost the Bay
(or river or whatever), it would have to rise in the West.


4.The ‘bank’ referred to in the fourth verse is the Bank of England in London, near which one could catch a bus.  But not to Mandalay.

So lean back and now enjoy

                              'Mandalay' 

                           By Rudyard Kipling (1890)

By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin' eastward to the sea,
There's a Burma girl a-settin', and I know she thinks o' me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say:
"Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!"
    Come you back to Mandalay,
    Where the old Flotilla lay:
    Can't you 'ear their paddles chunkin' from Rangoon to Mandalay?
    On the road to Mandalay,
    Where the flyin'-fishes play,
    An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!
 
'Er petticoat was yaller an' 'er little cap was green,
An' 'er name was Supi-yaw-lat -- jes' the same as Theebaw's Queen,
An' I seed her first a-smokin' of a whackin' white cheroot,
An' a-wastin' Christian kisses on an 'eathen idol's foot:
    Bloomin' idol made o'mud --
    Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd --
    Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed 'er where she stud!
    On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin'-fishes play,
    An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!
 
 
When the mist was on the rice-fields an' the sun was droppin' slow,
She'd git 'er little banjo an' she'd sing "Kulla-lo-lo!"
With 'er arm upon my shoulder an' 'er cheek agin' my cheek
We useter watch the steamers an' the hathis pilin' teak.
    Elephints a-pilin' teak
    In the sludgy, squdgy creek,
    Where the silence 'ung that 'eavy you was 'arf afraid to speak!
    On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin'-fishes play,
    An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!
 
 
But that's all shove be'ind me -- long ago an' fur away,
An' there ain't no 'busses runnin' from the Bank to Mandalay;
An' I'm learnin' 'ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells:
"If you've 'eard the East a-callin', you won't never 'eed naught else."
    No! you won't 'eed nothin' else
    But them spicy garlic smells,
    An' the sunshine an' the palm-trees an' the tinkly temple-bells;
    On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin'-fishes play,
    An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!
 
 
I am sick o' wastin' leather on these gritty pavin'-stones,
An' the blasted Henglish drizzle wakes the fever in my bones;
Tho' I walks with fifty 'ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand,
An' they talks a lot o' lovin', but wot do they understand?
    Beefy face an' grubby 'and --
    Law! wot do they understand?
    I've a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!
    On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin'-fishes play,
    An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!
 
Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
Where there aren't no Ten Commandments an' a man can raise a thirst;
For the temple-bells are callin', an' it's there that I would be --
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea;
    On the road to Mandalay,
    Where the old Flotilla lay,
    With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay!
    On the road to Mandalay,
    Where the flyin'-fishes play,
    An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!

JL

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I can’t seem to get await from gun violence on this blog.  I hadn't planned on including anything about it in this posting, but the Tulsa hospital shooting changed that.  Even he poem which appears above is involved in it!   Five years ago, a crazed gunman, shooting from an upper story window, killed 60 people gathered at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas gathered for a concert.  Enough is enough.  Read on.

Five Steps to a Solution to End Gun Violence

Another shooting, this one in a hospital in Tulsa, adds to the recent violence in Buffalo and Uvalde. They and other acts of gun violence have one thing in common. While the shooters’ motivations may vary, all these tragedies share one common element:  Guns. They are the problem which must be addressed.  The shooters may have their own problems, but without guns, they cannot so easily kill other people.  Peripheral issues like gun shows, waiting periods, red-flag laws, ghost weapons, ‘hardening’ likely targets like schools, encouraging defensively carrying guns in more places, etc. do not matter.  Only getting rid of guns matters.  Guns are the problem.

There is only one real solution to the problem of gun violence. Halfway measures will not work. And here is how to get to that solution, in five easy steps:

1. Read the Second Amendment.  Here is its complete text.  ‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’ Most sixth-graders can probably read and understand it, although they might have to go to a dictionary for ‘infringed.’

2. Recognize that Justice Antonin Scalia's 2008 Supreme Court majority opinion of it in D.C. vs. Heller, stating that the Second Amendment’s final fourteen words could stand alone, without the pre-condition included in its first thirteen words, was a tragic misinterpretation.  Most sixth-graders would come to that conclusion too, I suspect.

3. Why?  Today, those who join the National Guard (our State militias) are no longer asked to bring their own guns.  But in 1789, the Second Amendment’s language was crafted to gain the support for the proposed Constitution by southern slave-holding States which feared Federal interferance with their ‘peculiar institution,’ slavery. To satisfy them, the amendment was worded to prevent the Federal Government from passing laws which would take away from their State militias the availability of already armed recruits. That’s what the Amendment’s first thirteen words are all about.  Remember that this was in 1789, when there existed animosity, if not hostility, between the Federal Government and some States, specifically those in which slavery existed. That is why the Second Amendment contains 27 words and not the 14 to which a politicized Supreme Court reduced it in 2008. The purpose of its language stated clearly in its first 13 words no longer exists. Its final 14 words cannot stand alone.

4. Without this purpose, there is no longer any need for the Second Amendment.  Furthermore, the Supreme Court’s 2008 misinterpretation of it, encouraging a never-intended proliferation of weapons in the hands of Americans, has resulted in many unnecessary deaths through gun violence. Therefore, the Second Amendment must be repealed. Its continuance is dangerous to all Americans.

5. Simultaneously with the Second Amendment’s repeal, laws can be passed to permit the possession of weapons just as we have laws regulating food, drugs, airlines, the environment, the stock market, the airwaves, etc., etc., none of which require a Constitutional Amendment. Such laws would permit guns for hunting, sport shooting, personal protection for homes and businesses but not any military weapons. 

Until then we will have gun violence.  Halfway measures do not work. Watch and see. There will be another mass shooting next month, and the month after and the month after that, and on and on.  Repeal of the Second Amendment is the only real answer, along with the legislation to replace it as it described above. Until then, measures to reduce gun violence such as an assault weapon ban, universal background checks and a ‘red flag’ list, will not survive cases challenging them in our politicized Supreme Court which will lean on its 2008 misinterpretation as precedent.

It all must start with an immediate executive order from the President suspending the Second Amendment until the very lengthy and time-consuming  procedure to repeal it is completed.

JL

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JL

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