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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.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

06-18-2022 - Liz in a Pickle, Watergate Revisited, Readers Responses, Sycophants, My Comments on LFAA, Hearing vs. Courtroom, Local Newspapers and Florida Roof Claims


There is only one overriding issue of political concern right now, encompassing much of what has been appearing on this blog. That is how to defeat Republicans on Nov. 8, about 21 weeks from now. The future of democracy in the United States, however imperfect it may be, 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, including preserving both abortion rights and voting rights.

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Watergate Anniversary
Yesterday was the 50th Anniversary of the Watergate burglary.  Heather Cox Richardson writes about it in her 'Letters From an American' today.  Even after it hit the newspapers, President Nixon was still able to be re-elected by massive popular and electoral vote margins. But as the truth crept out, the American people and even the Republican Party, (much smarter then than they are today) forced him to resign, the first president ever to do so. Today, Richardson goes on to point out that one of Nixon’s 1972 operatives told a reporter decades later, “It’s attack, attack, attack ... What I admire about Nixon was his resilience.” That operative, who sports a tattoo of Nixon on his back, was Roger Stone, who went on to advise Donald Trump’s political career. 
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Responses to the Blog

Here are a couple of responses to recent blog postings:

Hi Jack, Needless to say I read your blog and Richardson's letter. But my thoughts I want to share with you. If Trump runs and wins, I predict a civil war within a year. I don't think Biden has 'enough' to beat him. Also as insane and disgusting T is, his supporters are worse. Would love to the Dems find a young strong smart challenger. And that's all I'm going to say about that. Hope u r well and enjoying 90 dispite the shitty state of the union . This could be my blog.    HS


I like it when you quote Shakespeare, and don’t dwell on politics!!!!    MN


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Comments I've Made on LFAA
(Letters from an American - Professor Heather Cox Richardson)

In Response to a comment on gasoline price's role in the November elections.

The Republicans well know that inflation cannot be entirely blamed on President Biden and the Democrats, but their aim is to win control of Congress in 21 weeks and of the White House in 2024 and so they will use anything which gets them there. They would be fools not to use inflation, headlined by the price of gasoline, for that purpose. At a minimum, Republicans are forcing the Democrats to campaign reactively, trying to explain the reasons for such economic problems, as HCR does today. Meanwhile the Democrats are trying to go on the offense themselves by putting the Republicans in the position of defending the seditious actions of the defeated former president. But his lies are not posted on every gas pump. The per gallon price is.

In Response to a comment on doing something about the 'criminal conspiracy'

But what can we do about it? Arrest the millions of those involved in this 'criminal conspiracy'? Unlikely and probably impossible. The criminals would include, in addition to the defeated former president, many elected to Congress, judges, too many local officials to count, many in law enforcement, and their supporters. They believe the 'Big Lie' because it validates their opposition to democratic government of, by, and for the people for a variety of reasons. Where is it heading? Like the other banana republics in Central and South America, we will end up with a dictatorship that will ultimately be overthrown by a popular uprising, which will be too disorganized to have any permanence. Pick a country 'south of the border.' That's the story of all of them, and we are following that path. Is there any cause for optimism?


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Liz Chaney in a Pickle

Liz Chaney has performed admirably in her position as vice-chair of the House Select Committee investigating the January 8, 2021 attack on the Capitol.  Many Democrats consistently praise her, forgetting that outside of the work she does on the Committee, she remains a very, very, very, conservative Republican. This hasn’t stopped her, however, from putting country before her party in regard to the Committee’s hearings.  Other Republicans, whom Speaker Pelosi declined to put on the Committee, such as Jim Jordan, would have put party before country and done their best to disrupt the hearings.

But apparently, putting country before party will not be enough to preserve Chaney’s seat in Congress, despite her spotless record of conservative votes. Her telling the truth about the defeated former president has resulted in a primary challenge from those who put loyalty to him above loyalty to the nation. His hand-picked candidate, Harriet Hageman, is demolishing Chaney in the polls. This is just another proof of the defeated former president’s contention that if he shot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue, he would get away with it. 

Wyoming voters are so Republican than any Democrat running for that State’s single House seat doesn’t stand a chance.  That would include Jesus if he happened to be a Democrat.  And neither does Chaney in the Republican primary.  And this causes me to wonder if the truths being documented in the hearings, for all Americans to see on TV, will have any effect on Republican voters.  After all, look at whom they elect to local, State, and national offices.   


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The House Committee Ain't No Courtroom

No matter how much evidence the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 riots come up with, we must remember that they are not a court of law.  They cannot punish any law-breaking that their investigations uncover.  All they can do is use that information in framing recommendations for future legislation. That is their job.

This is not to say that the Department of Justice is not unaware of the criminal acts that the Committee uncovers.  Their investigative arms, particularly the FBI, can pursue these acts and if the DOJ feels the information suffices to justify indictments and trials, they should so proceed. I now ask the real, unavoidable question: Would there be enough evidence to indict a former president of the United States and convict him in a court of law?  Imagine the pleasure on the right and among his supporters if he is found innocent in such a trial. That’s why the DOJ is moving slowly and carefully.

While the bar is set very high for such litigation to take place, it is a simpler task for the House Committee to do its official job and recommend legislation based on their investigation’s findings.  

What laws would have prevented the attacks on the Constitution and the election process that the defeated former president and his supporters both in and out of Congress were found to have carried out?  Do we have them already on the books but they are not being actively and adequately enforced?  How much would new legislation involve reducing personal freedoms? While the Committee is a part of a ‘federal’ body, the Congress, how will individual States react to what they might have learned from the hearings or from new legislation the Committee recommends on the federal level. Justice doesn’t come easy.


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The Fate of Sycophants

In her Opinion piece in today's New York Times dealing with the tragedy of Mike Pence, Maureen Dowd leads off and concludes by saying that 'the fate of a sycophant is never a happy one.'  CLICK HERE TO READ HER COLUMN.  After all, what could Pence have expected from a boss who eventually throws everyone he uses under the bus.  Obviously, Pence never read Michael Cohen's book nor Mario Puzo's either.


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The next two items on this posting are of interest to Florida residents, so the rest of you can take a break, but if you live in the Sunshine State (or as some say, the 'Gunshine' State), stick around for them.

Comparison of Our Two Local Papers Down Here

It has been about a month since I switched the newspaper I read at the breakfast table from the Palm Beach Post, to which I had been subscribing for twenty years, to the South Florida SunSentinel.

Here is my comparison of the two papers.  Some of you have asked me for that.  Everyone should read a newspaper every day.  There just isn’t enough depth on TV or the internet to keep one well-informed.  And being well-informed is important today.

For years, I thought of the SunSentinel as a Fort Lauderdale newspaper and frequently, the Post referred to it as that.  I was mistaken.  Actually, I now get the Palm Beach County edition of the SunSentinel delivered each day.  Its email edition, when I visit that, offers me the choice of reading a Palm Beach County or a Broward County edition.

But let’s get on with the comparison.

General Appearance:  There is more physical ‘paper’ in the Post than in the SunSentinel, which is slimmer with fewer sections most days.  If you’ve got a lot of fish to wrap, get the Post. The type in the SunSentinel is a bit smaller than that in the Post, giving it a tighter appearance. It is a faster ‘read’ but some might discover they need glasses.

World and National News:  Both papers provide an adequate amount of world and national news, depending on articles from the Associated Press or the New York Times.  The Post sometimes draws upon another Gannett newspaper, USA Today. Neither has foreign correspondents.  In this area, the two are more or less equal, but after that, there are significant differences. 

State coverage: the Post shares the Gannett Tallahassee staff with the other Gannett Florida papers.  The SunSentinal joins with its sister paper, the Orlando Sentinel, for State coverage.  Winner here is the SunSentinel.

Sports Section:  The SunSentinel is the clear winner.  The Post doesn’t bother with horse racing at Gulfstream and devotes about half as much space to major league baseball, including the Marlins, as does the SunSentinel.  Both devote too much space to the Heat and Dolphins, even when they are not playing. The Post gives too much space to equestrian activities, catering to the horsey set.

Editorial Page: Both espouse liberal Democratic views, in terms of columns and editorials and print letters from both right and left.  The SunSentinel has a few of its own local columnists but lacks the nationally syndicated ones, liberal and conservative, which the Post offers each day. The SunSentinel has nothing to match the Post’s Frank Cerabino either. Clear winner here is the Post.

Comics:  Pretty even, except that the Post’s are in color every day while the SunSentinel’s are still black and white on weekdays. Crossword puzzles in the SunSentinel are more difficult.

Local News: Both papers have excellent local reporters who shine, particularly in investigative journalism.  But after this, the Post falls apart.  It tries hard but its local area ranges from Boca Raton on northward through all of Palm Beach and Martin Counties, with too much space devoted to the City of West Palm.  Consequently, there’s no room for the kind of depth in local coverage which the Palm Beach County edition of the SunSentinel provides, especially for people at the south end of the county. There’s Broward stuff in that edition too, but its local coverage concentrates on news from Lake Worth Beach southward to Boca Raton.  I don’t think the SunSentinel ever heard of Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens or Tequesta. The Post carries many articles and ads from that area and reviews many restaurants up there too.  Also, since Gannett acquired the Post, they include material from the other papers throughout Florida that they own that is of no interest here. Finally, in addition to the equestrian set which I mention above featured in their Sports pages, the Post also gives far too much publicity to the ritzy folks on Palm Beach island.  (They also print a separate local paper there.)  Winner by a mile is the SunSentinel, which remains a local paper while the Post is a regional version of a State-wide paper. It really doesn’t know what it is and it shows.

Either one is better, of course, than depending on TV or the Internet, so pick one and get yourself an inexpensive trial subscription.


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State Acts on Homeowners Insurance and Roof Replacement Solicitations

One subject that has been reported on extensively in both the Palm Beach Post and the SouthFlorida SunSentinel is the increasing cost of homeowners’ insurance.  Both newspapers mentioned questionable claims by roofers, supported by attorneys, as part of the reason for the increase in property insurance premiums experienced by many homeowners.  The Florida legislature met during the last week of May to deal with this problem.

That special session of the legislature resulted in the passage of CS/SB 2D which, among other things, provided significant relief for insurance companies that were being impacted by questionable claims resulting in some companies’ insolvencies, some policies not being renewed and increased premiums for many homeowners based on the age of their roofs.

Questionable roof claims were sometimes being paid by insurance companies because it cost them less to do that than to go to the expense of fighting the claim in court, where they very well might lose.

Relief for homeowners included grants for increasing the ability of homes to withstand hurricanes and the hope for future reduction in premiums resulting from additional reinsurance being made available to insurance companies as well as higher deductibles becoming available for roof replacement claims.  Additionally, restrictions on the compensation of attorneys involved in such claims were included.

While many roof replacement claims are undoubtedly legitimate, some may not be.  Because claims are sometimes made by roofing contractors to whom homeowners assign their policy benefits under the claim, the legislation contained the following provision: 

"Contractor Solicitation of Roof Claims

Prohibits contractors from making written or electronic communications that encourage or induce a consumer to contact a contractor or public adjuster for the purposes of making a property insurance claim for roof damage unless such solicitation provides notice that:

  • The consumer is responsible for the payment of any deductible.
  • It is insurance fraud punishable as a third-degree felony for a contractor to pay or waive an insurance deductible.
  • It is insurance fraud punishable as a third-degree felony to intentionally file an insurance claim containing false, fraudulent, or misleading information."

I wonder if the possibility of such punishment would still apply to a homeowner who had assigned their policy’s benefits on a claim concerning their home’s roof to a roofer, who would then file the claim.  If insurance fraud is involved, would that excuse the homeowner from being charged?

This legislation should present no problem for homeowners whose claims are wholly legitimate, which most are, and who pay their deductibles. In situations, however, where a perfectly good roof or one with just minor damage is replaced by an entire new roofthereby avoiding an increased premium charged because of the age of their roof, consulting a lawyer might be advisable.  

Insurance fraud has always been a serious charge, but the new legislation now requires roofers’ solicitations for making a claim for roof damage to specifically alert homeowners to that.


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