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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.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

07-26-2022 - Lincoln's Vision, Aristophanes' Play, A Winning Strategy, Depression, Madison's Ambiguity and a New Poem

 


Lincoln in 1838 Saw it Coming

In his Lyceum address in 1838, Abraham Lincoln pointed out that 'the country’s republican experiment, though successful so far, would always require the people’s vigilant care.' He told his audience that the main threat would not come from a foreign invader.

'At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected?' the future president rhetorically asked. He went on to answer his own question by saying 'If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be our author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.'

Lincoln feared, quite correctly, a civil war.  Today's House Committee's hearings are providing that 'vigilant care' Lincoln spoke of, in dealing with the present danger which is coming from within the nation, and not from elsewhere, presented by the acts of the defeated former president and his supporters, of which it appears America’s citizenry are both the ‘author and finisher.I hope it finishes well.

JL

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Leave it to the Girls?

Had lunch the other day with a bright couple dating back to my kindergarten days. The subject turned to what women might do to alter the political morass in which the nation seems to be.  Before long, we were discussing an old Greek play, Lysistrata.  

Aristophanes
With the aid of some ‘googling,’ we learned that back in 411 B.C., playwright Aristophanes wrote Lysistrata, in which the title character persuades the women of the warring cities of Athens and Sparta to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands and lovers as a means of forcing the men to negotiate peace in the Peloponnesian Wars. The Athenians were taking it on the chin from the Spartans at the time and there were probably a lot of 'peaceniks' demonstrating around the Acropolis, one of whom might have been Aristophanes. (Lysistrata’s strategy didn’t catch on, the war continued for seven more years, with the Spartans winning.) 

Nothing has changed much since then, except that women can now vote and hold office!  Lysistrata has been produced occasionally on Broadway, as a musical and I am sure some off-B'way producer is working on a revival right now in which this strategy is used to restore the rights taken away by the Dobbs decision, repealing Roe vs. Wade. 

I am awaiting the exposure of Aristophanes as an originating member of Antifa by Jim Jordan and Marjorie Taylor Greene and his also being denounced on Fox News, complaining that this 'commie' playwright refused to be interviewed by Tucker Carlson.

 JL

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A Strategy to Convict

Okay, you’re on a jury, where the defendant is presumed innocent until you and the other jurors, decide otherwise.  The defendant is the defeated former president.  A credible witness, a former acting Attorney General, testifies under oath that the defendant asked him to “Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen,” 

Assuming these congressmen would do his bidding, the defendant would have indeed committed a crime, in violation of the Constitution, if the acting Attorney General had gone along with him. But he didn’t, so this particular plan did not go beyond the defendant’s mind.  Your jury is not going to convict. 

This is just one example of the difficulty the Department of Justice will have in tying the many similar incidents of the defendant’s planning to defy the Constitution with the acts of others actually carrying out those plans.  Intent and planning sedition are not the same as carrying it out.  This is the problem the DOJ faces and they cannot risk losing in Court.  They would have a much easier job if the defeated former president had gone on to the Capitol and raised his fist in support before the rioters, urging them on, as Missouri Senator *Josh Hawley did.  But he didn’t.

As I see it, and I am not a lawyer, the only winning approach for the DOJ, if they proceed to indict, is to cite the many repeated incidents of planning on the part of the defendant as evidence of his intentions, even though it were others, getting the message, who attempted to carry out his plans. 

The prosecution must make the point that one or two such incidents might be acceptable as just ‘planning’ on the part of the defendant. The enormous number of them, however, all confirmed by reliable witnesses, should be taken together by a jury as going beyond being mere ‘planning.’  Considering their great number, they should be taken to amount to a planned 'grand strategy,' the culmination of which on January 6, 2021, he cannot separate himself from, and convict him.

* Josh Hawley defeated Claire McKissick to get his Senate seat in 2018 by a margin of 51.4% to 45.6% (3% went to minor candidates) which points up the fact that the defeated former president is not the problem so much as his misinformed and misguided voters are. Even if he were not available to run, they would find someone else to support, someone who also did not understand nor believe in democracy.

JL

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Depression Should Lead to Awareness and Ultimately, Action

A follower of the blog texted me saying that the last posting depressed her.  Here is what I said to her in response. 

‘Depression is good!  That should be motivation to do something about it.  Start with reading Timothy Snyder's very short book, 'On Tyranny.'  You may be depressed, but you are at least 'aware.'  Tyranny slips in quietly, with the people sometimes unaware.  

A short story.  It's true.  A Holocaust survivor who belonged to my shul on Long Island was still living in Germany when Kristallnacht occurred. His father had a furniture store, which was broken into and had its windows smashed. What did he do?  He picked up the phone and called the police about the vandalism.  Of course, they laughed at him and hung up. 

By 1938, living in Germany, he should have been aware of what was going on but he was not, shown by the fact that he actually expected help from the police.  Maybe, if more had been aware, and as a result, became depressed, they would have been moved to try to leave in time to save their lives.  We cannot ignore the torch-bearing marchers in Charlottesville and what they were shouting, the shootings at the synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, CA, and the Capitol invader with the 'Camp Auschwitz' tee shirt. 

These things are not to be taken 'in stride.' They should create awareness.  In my blog, I say that, eventually, things will get better.  But first, they have to get bad enough to make enough people 'aware,' even if some depression is involved.’

JL

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Everybody Loves Madison Who Walked on Both Sides of the Street

It seems that Republicans have embraced the idea that state legislatures should dominate our political system.  That lead me to embark upon a re-reading of James Madison in Federalist Paper Number 39, the last paragraph of which I quote below.

By using the term 'federal,' Madison refers to powers of those individual states, especially their legislatures and by 'national.' he means the powers of the central government. The Constitution. intentionally a bundle of the compromises needed to ensure its ratification was therefore confusing in 1789 and the one thing that is clear today is that it remains so. If you have an hour or so to spare, try to read #39 in its entirety. I'm sure you can find it online somewhere.  Here’s that excerpt:

'The proposed Constitution, therefore, is, in strictness, neither a national nor a federal Constitution., but a composition of both. In its foundation it is federal, not national; in the sources from which the ordinary powers of the government are drawn, it is partly federal and partly national; in the operation of these powers, it is national not federal; in the extent of them, again, it is federal, not national; finally, in the authoritative mode of introducing amendments, it is neither wholly federal nor wholly national.'

After digesting this gibberish, I can see that Madison was honest in Number 39 in pointing out that the powers of government came from ‘the great body of the people,’ a democratic idea.  He also was honest in pointing out that most of them, however, came indirectly, through their voting being limited to state legislatures and members of just one house of Congress.  This was a republican idea.  But either way, the powers of government came from the 'great body of the people' and not an autocratic leader or aristocratic group.  They just took longer to get where they were going via the republican route.  Hence, Madison catered to both sides and all were satisfied, at least openly, with our ‘democratic republic.’   

Of course, some today, as then, would prefer that the preferences of ‘the great body of the people’ be achieved either through more democratic (or national, giving more influence to central govenment) means and others through more republican (or federal, a word derived from 'confederation,' giving more power to the states) means.  Hence we have Democrats and Republicans, both claiming Madison as their own.

 JL

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America Afloat 

Jack Lippman


The greatness of America

Is that it does survive

Attacks upon democracy

Whose flame it keeps alive.

 

The laws that blossom from the words

The Founding Fathers wrote

Still serve us well today to keep

America afloat.

 

This doesn’t happen by itself,

We cannot wish it true,

The bottom line, my friends, is that

It all depends on you.

 

JL

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                         That’s Not Enough!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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