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.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

04-29-2023 - Grand Juries, Mike Pence, Jean Carroll, and Collidge Football

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Grand Juries and Mike Pence

Grand juries came into use in England in the Middle Ages, their function being to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to accuse a person of committing a crime.  This was a great improvement over a government being able to bring someone to trial without first determining whether there was enough evidence to do that.  A ‘star chamber’ court there was an example of the latter kind of unfair justice.

In gathering information enabling them to decide to bring, or not to bring, persons to trial who may be guilty of a crime by indicting them, grand juries also serve as protection against unfounded and oppressive prosecution of individuals.  

The evidence-gathering and indictment function of grand juries are part of the very demanding criminal justice system in the United States, but in most of the rest of the world, a ‘preliminary hearing’ fills the same function. (The word ‘grand,’ simply signifies that there are usually more members on such a jury than on a trial, or ‘petit’, jury.  Both words come from the French for ‘big’ and ‘little.’) 

Former Vice-President Pence testified for several hours a few days ago before a Federal grand jury investigating possible crimes committed by the defeated former president and possibly others as well.  He is the highest-ranking former government official to appear before such a grand jury.

Pence

Testifying before a grand jury requires taking an oath agreeing to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, something testifying before other bodies may not demand, and which can lead to the indictment of the subject of the grand jury’s investigation for committing a crime.

That is why whatever Pence told the grand jury is very significant, far more so than would be his testifying before Congressional panels that only serve to gather information to use in proposing legislation.  Pence’s testimony before a grand jury, on the other hand, can conceivably lead the defeated former president to a fitting in a dressing room for a future orange suit.  And speaking of ‘dressing rooms’ …

JL

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Does What Occurred in a Dressing Room at Bergdorf-Goodman Doom the G.O.P.?

Contrary to a criminal case, a civil action cannot result in jail time, only in monetary damages.  That is what the litigation brought by E. Jean Carroll against the defeated former president is all about.  She accuses him of raping her in a department store dressing room, many years ago.  Carroll, a writer for Women’s Wear Daily, was meeting with him in the store for business purposes. 

Ms. Carroll Entering Courthouse

The evidence she presents, and the judge’s admission of the defeated former president’s boasting of such sexual escapades (like the 2005 ‘Access Hollywood’ tape) as such evidence makes his denials hard to believe.  He comes off as a real estate mogul’s version of Hollywood’s Harvey Weinstein, presently in jail for such activity.

Even if Ms. Carroll does not prevail in court, the defeated former president will not be able to survive the disgrace which is becoming a permanent part of his persona.  Many women will not vote for him, and if that party is stupid enough (they are) to nominate him for president in 2024, that will result in a nationwide ‘Blue Wave’ which will destroy the G.O.P. for the foreseeable future, with many governorships and State legislatures turning Democratic because of him. 

Disgust with the defeated former president will just be more icing on the layer cake of issues that  most people support such as abortion rights and gun control.

Right now, some Republicans recognize this but can do nothing about it because control of their party rests with an ultra-conservative right-wing that will find some excuse to support him.  They would prefer to be the party’s pallbearers as they proceed to its burial, steering the hearse by using its rear-view mirror only.

JL

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Collidge Football Ain’t Whut it Usta Bee

Once upon a time, a promising high school athlete might anticipate that a college would possibly offer him (and more recently ‘her’ as well) a four-year education, with all expenses paid, if they would enroll there and continue competing, but wearing the college’s colors.  And most colleges lived up to their offers, even if the athlete’s skills were less than anticipated or if an injury ended their competitive career.

But those days are gone.  Now, athletes choose a school that will arrange to offer them the most compensation should their skills became marketable to merchandise-buying alumni and the public.  Furthermore, loyalty to the school whose scholarship offer they initially accepted is non-existent.  The ‘transfer’ portal enables them to switch schools, usually to one which would offer them not only a better deal for using their names to sell merchandise but offering them better exposure to professional scouts, as well.

These practices are destroying college sports as we know them.  But the games will continue, of course, but with the teams functioning openly as the equivalent of minor league baseball, preparing athletes to hopefully move on to compete in the big-time, lucrative, professional athletic world.  This has nothing to do, please note, with the real purpose of colleges and universities, supposedly educational institutions.

In addition to the transfer portal and compensation of athletes, we cannot ignore the legalization of sports betting in much of the country, made simple by TV and the internet.  The games bet upon include intercollegiate sports.  Sooner or later, there will be a scandal as there always have been when the stakes are high enough.  (I suspect that even some chariot races back in ancient Rome were fixed.)  Few remember the bribery scandals which plagued college basketball in the 1960’s, even without legalized wagering, and the fixing by gamblers of the 1919 World Series (the Black Sox scandal). This is another reason why college sports, as we now know them, will die.

But fear not.  A few excellent, well-endowed, schools will still have teams and compete among themselves, with a very limited number of athletes receiving academic scholarships requiring them to agree to remain in the school for four full years, and not seek to transfer elsewhere, and receive no other compensation whatsoever.  Harvard will still play Yale.  The remaining personnel of such teams will consist of real ‘student-athletes.’

Some colleges and universities will totally shun intercollegiate sports and be none the worse for it.  Schools throughout the rest of the world, institutions that incidentally provide an increasingly large number of those doing advanced graduate work in this country, 




and do not concern themselves with bowl invitations nor NCAA basketball tourney bids, get along just fine without intercollegiate athletics. 

JL

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Coming up in May!  The Return of the Original ‘Chrissy Frost’ Stories 

All eight of them, originally included on this blog back in 2017, recount the story of a Florida entertainer and will be published again on the blog. Together they form what might be a novella, entitled ‘Time After Time – The Crissy Frost Story.’

JL

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A Final Word ... or Two

Email Alerts If you are NOT receiving emails from me alerting you each time there is a new posting on Jackspotpourri, just send me your email address and we’ll see that you do.  And if you are forwarding a posting to someone, you might suggest that they do the same, so they will be similarly alerted.  (You can pass those email addresses to me by email at   jacklippman18@gmail.com . ) 

Forwarding Postings: Please forward this posting to anyone you think might benefit from reading it

If you want to send someone the blog, exactly as you are now seeing it, with all of its bells and whistles, you can just tell folks to check it out by visiting https://jackspotpourri.blogspot.com or by providing a link to that address in your email to them.   I think this is the best method of forwarding Jackspotpourri.

There’s another, perhaps easier, method of forwarding it though!   Google Blogspot, the platform on which Jackspotpourri is prepared, makes that possible.  If you click on the tiny envelope with the arrow at the bottom of every posting, you will have the opportunity to list up to ten email addresses to which the blog will be forwarded, along with a comment from you.  Each will receive a link to the textual portion only of the blog that you now are reading, but without the illustrations, colors, variations in typography, or the ‘sidebar’ features such as access to the blog’s archives.

Either way will work, sending them the link to https://jackspotpourri.blogspot.comor clicking on the envelope at the bottom of this posting, but I recommend sending them the link. 

Again, I urge you to forward this posting to anyone you think might benefit from reading it.  

Have a nice day!

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Tuesday, April 25, 2023

04-25-2023 - Gun Control Tee Shirts, DeSantis Exposed, Newspapers, the Tenth Amendment, the Debt Ceiling, and What's Coming Up in May

 


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Get Out Your Old Tee Shirts

It has been over five years since seventeen students and faculty were gunned down by a killer at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in nearby Parkland.  Since then, our struggle against such gun violence has not been particularly successful as the carnage goes on, and on.  


Many of us participated in demonstrations at that time, and some still have the tee shirts we wore then. 
I do.  Mine reads ‘Grandparents Against Assault Weapons.’  Others have similar slogans.
                      

Recently, I have resurrected it and wear it in situations where it can be seen by many, such as visits to supermarkets and shopping malls, where it receives visual recognition and an occasional thumbs up.  

If you still have a similar shirt around, start making use of it again to rally the public’s support of measures to curtail gun violence.  Wear it!  The problem continues.

JL

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The Truth About Governor DeSantis

Here’s a column from a Guest Columnist which appeared in last Sunday’s Palm Beach Post.  (It is copyrighted but go ahead and sue me.  I make no profit from this blog and perhaps that newspaper might pick up a few subscribers because of its inclusion here.)  The author, W. E. Gutman, is a noted retired author and journalist, and obviously no friend of Florida’s governor.  Please read it. 

'Governor’s Mis-telling of History Misses the Mark'

 

W.E. Gutman  - From Palm Beach Post (4/23/2023)

 

'People always talk about the public interest, but all they really care about is themselves and private property.'

— Utopia, Thomas More (1478-1535)

 

Suddenly, everybody is invoking the Constitution, some to awaken America’s flaccid conscience by sanctifying its ideals, others by alleging that they have the right to reject them. For many, a compact’s legitimacy must include the privilege to ignore it.

The view, recently revived, that the socioeconomic and political character of what would become the United States of America was forged in August 1619, when the first slave ship landed at Point Comfort in the British colony of Virginia, and not on July 4, 1776, when the colonists declared independence from Britain, is a truth that many in this country find hard to swallow.

 

But slavery is what fueled America’s economy for 250 years and this monstrosity indeed began in August 1619 when 30 to 40 African men and women in shackles, weakened by disease and a long sea voyage, were sold and consigned to a life of unending toil, abuse, humiliation and premature death.

 

Out of the barbaric system of chattel slavery grew nearly everything that has made America exceptional — and aberrant: its economic might, income disparity, asymmetrical and prejudicial legal and electoral system, the inequities of its public health and education protocols, an astonishing penchant for violence and the annoying pretense that it is a land of freedom and equality while endemic racial fears and hatreds continue to plague it.

 

Predictably, serving red meat as bait to his political base, Gov. Ron DeSantis, America’s would-be Grand Inquisitor, wants to ban federal agencies from conducting race-sensitivity training related to 'white privilege' and critical race theory (CRT), which he dismisses as 'divisive, anti-patriotic propaganda.'

This revisionist ploy follows a pattern by the governor of denigrating attempts to process or reckon with the country’s fraught racial history.

 

Moreover, the argument that CRT would imbue white students with a sense of guilt is as spurious as it is outlandish. Most white students are too busy taking selfies and engaging in moronic babble on social media to experience remorse for atrocities that they know nothing about because history textbooks continue to conceal or rework the truth.

 

According to its detractors, CRT is 'an academic framework that centers on the idea that racism is systemic in America.'  Racism in America is not only systemic, it is entrenched and persists to this day to help maintain the dominance of white people.

It is an enduring feature of American life. Long overdue, CRT is not an 'academic concept.' It’s history revisited and restored.

 

Despite his prestigious degrees, DeSantis is not a Malthusian theoretician. He is not an intellectual. He is not a scholar. Groomed, later scorned by a scoundrel like Donald Trump, and clawing his way to the presidency, he is a sullen, charmless, callous pragmatist devoid of moral principles.

 

He is insensitive to human suffering. His aim is to galvanize largely uninformed white supremacists by spreading lies about the pandemic, masks, vaccination, transgenderism and the 'left’s' plot to seize the precious guns which they keep lovingly oiled, loaded and cocked.

 

He angrily rejects the notion that the Earth’s ecosystem is on the verge of collapse or that human activity is in any way responsible for the violent atmospheric anomalies ravaging the planet. All he cares about is his career.  He is such a power-hungry villain that he threatened to withhold state funds from any school that encourages mask-wearing.

 

He is itching to create a Vatican-style Index of Prohibited Books (abolished in 1966 by Pope Paul VI) to protect schoolchildren from 'heretical' or 'libidinous' works.

DeSantis’ sinister genius is to have understood that democracy is an imperfect and ultimately self-destructive system because it tolerates, nay, invites in its very bosom, the existence and proliferation of undemocratic ideas that enable wannabe inquisitors to find and burn heretics at the stake.

 

By retreating into our self-woven ideological cocoons and the comforting darkness of ignorance, we will not prevent the future from spawning other tyrants — Attila, Genghis Khan, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Victor Orb├ín, Jair Bolsonaro, Kim Jung Un, not to mention yet another Trump, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and DeSantis.

 

The greatest obstacle to wisdom is not a lack of knowledge but the illusion that we know everything.

 

W.E. Gutman is a retired Franco-American journalist and published author. He lives in South Florida.

JL

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About Newspapers

It is important to know what is going on, and no other media matches newspapers, in my opinion, in filling that role.  

The firing of Fox's Numero Uno Liar points up the unreliability of TV news.  But even honest reporters working through electronic media are often so devoted to particular causes, and subject to time limitations, that they leave much local territory untouched, news that is important to you.  And as for dependence on the internet and social media for news, forget about it.

Read newspapers.  

I read the Palm Beach Post daily in its paper version, although the inexpensive online edition is exactly the same.  If you live in South Florida, I recommend that you subscribe to the Post (or the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, if you prefer it).  I’ve tried both.  

But you should be reading newspapers!  Local ones where possible.  The New York Times and the Washington Post are commendable, but they don't report on local matters that can be of great importance to you.  

Because all newspapers are struggling to survive these days, the Post long ago gave up its independence and is now owned by Gannett, the publishers of USA Today, and now has a somewhat broader Floridian and national flavor than just Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, its traditional haunts.  But its local coverage is still quite adequate.

Probably because Gannett sets the rules, an ‘opinion/letters/editorial’ page is absent from the Post on Mondays and Tuesdays, but it resumes for the rest of the week, and culminates with four such pages on Sunday, more than making up for what is missing on Monday and Tuesdays.  The column posted above is from such a Sunday edition.

JL

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The Tenth Amendment Warrants Study

Along with repeal of the Second Amendment, about which I have written in two recent postings, consideration should be given to repeal of the Tenth Amendment as well. 

That Amendment goes to the heart of how ‘united’ the ‘United’ States really are or should be.  It might end up being the last resort of the ‘originalists’ who believe in the precise wording of the Constitution and its Amendments, ignoring modern interpretations of what the writers put down on paper in 1789.  

Other Amendments touch upon specific rights such as speech and religion (the First), or possessing weapons (the Second), or specific legal protections, but the Tenth is a catch-all that might someday be the greatest threat to democracy, if interpreted in a totally literal manner.

Hamilton

Federalists like Alexander Hamilton were against the Bill of Rights (the first ten Amendments) because, along with guaranteeing certain rights, they also diminished the power of the Federal government.  That lack of power is what doomed the original Articles of Confederation of the thirteen colonies.  But the Founding Fathers, all politicians, needed the votes of the slaveholding States to get the Constitution ratified so these Amendments were tacked on to it.

The Tenth Amendment reads The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.'  That is quite a mouthful.  It brings to mind a 'jump ball' in basketball between a seven-foot center and a six-foot center, definitely favoring the States.

The one saving grace of its language is the part about some ‘powers’ being prohibited (by the Constitution) to the States and specifically given to the Federal government.  (example: Vermont cannot declare war on Canada because only Congress has been given the power to declare war.)  

But other ‘powers,’ if not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, like declaring war, remain ‘reserved’ to the States, or to the people, according to the Amendment.  That’s a lot of ‘powers’ given to States (examples:  gun laws, public schools, abortion, and until 1865, slavery) unless one takes the word ‘people’ to mean something other than the people of the respective separate States.’

Does it mean the ‘people of a respective State’ or the ‘people of the entire nation’?  Ultimately, this will require a Supreme Court determination.  And as presently constituted, I do not trust the Supreme Court.

JL

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About the Debt Ceiling

Here's a quote from Hillary Clinton's op/ed column in yesterday's New York Times"Today the competition between democracies and autocracies has grown more intense. And by undermining America’s credibility and the pre-eminence of the dollar, the fight over the debt ceiling plays right into the hands of Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia."

Republicans should take note of this.  

JL

                                               *  *  *

Coming up in May!  The Return of the Original ‘Chrissy Frost’ Stories 

All eight of them, originally included on this blog back in 2017, recount the story of a Florida entertainer and will be published again on the blog .  Together they form what might be a novella, entitled ‘Time After Time – The Crissy Frost Story.’

JL

                                              *  *  *

 Housekeeping on the Blog

Email Alerts If you are NOT receiving emails from me alerting you each time there is a new posting on Jackspotpourri, just send me your email address and we’ll see that you do.  And if you are forwarding a posting to someone, you might suggest that they do the same, so they will be similarly alerted.  (You can pass those email addresses to me by email at   jacklippman18@gmail.com . ) 

Forwarding Postings: Please forward this posting to anyone you think might benefit from reading it

If you want to send someone the blog, exactly as you are now seeing it, with all of its bells and whistles, you can just tell folks to check it out by visiting https://jackspotpourri.blogspot.com or by providing a link to that address in your email to them.   I think this is the best method of forwarding Jackspotpourri.

There’s another, perhaps easier, method of forwarding it though!   Google Blogspot, the platform on which Jackspotpourri is prepared, makes that possible.  If you click on the tiny envelope with the arrow at the bottom of every posting, you will have the opportunity to list up to ten email addresses to which the blog will be forwarded, along with a comment from you.  Each will receive a link to the textual portion only of the blog that you now are reading, but without the illustrations, colors, variations in typography, or the ‘sidebar’ features such as access to the blog’s archives.

Either way will work, sending them the link to https://jackspotpourri.blogspot.comor clicking on the envelope at the bottom of this posting, but I recommend sending them the link. 

Again, I urge you to forward this posting to anyone you think might benefit from reading it.  Have a nice day!

                                                        *  *  *