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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.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

05-18-2023 - Ultimate Democratic Successes, State Legislatures, the Debt Ceiling, the President's Remarks at a HBCU, Balls and Strikes, the Marlins' Future, and a Chrissy Frost Story

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The Debt Ceiling

And Under Your Pillow, I've
Put the Ability to Borrow Two
Trillion More!

Don't hold your breath but the debt ceiling will be raised.  Hurrah! 
The Democrats will claim doing so had nothing to do with concessions made to the House Republican majority in developing the nation's budget, and that the two processes were on entirely separate tracks.  I heard Hakeem Jeffries, the House Democratic leader, say that.  They also still believe in the tooth fairy.


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The Road to Democratic Success and its Obstacle, Our State Legislatures

A recent column by Robert Reich, former Obama cabinet member, as well as Simon Rosenberg’s ‘Hopium Chronicles’ blog both looked forward to future dominance of our government by the votes of younger people, increasingly college-educated, who lean toward progressive ideas and will vote for Democratic candidates. To these two commentators, it appears to be a matter of inevitable demographic change, chiefly based upon the aging process of the present electorate.  However, neither see it happening tomorrow but look forward to it taking a decade or two to occur.

To that I add two comments: (1) Voting rights must be preserved so that the electorate they forsee in a few years will actually come to be, and (2) it will take longer to happen in State elections than in Congressional or presidential races. 

Remember that it is in the fifty State legislatures that the election laws for those States are made, and that also is where the dilution of representation by ‘gerrymandering’ takes place!  

While Democratic politicians often have their heads in the clouds, Republicans know that the late Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill, hit the nail on the head when he said that ‘all politics are local.’  A vote for a State assembly member or State senator is far more important than your vote for president! (which you never really have, just a vote for some unknown 'electors.')

Think of how your vote for the latter is significantly diluted by the make-up of the Electoral College.  Contrast it to contests for State legislative seats where quite simply, the one with most votes wins.  That’s the way democracy should work, despite some unavoidable contamination by gerrymandering of those State districts.   And remember that it is in those fifty State legislatures, as I’ve pointed out, that the election laws for those States are made!


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Computer-Called Balls and Strikes Seen Soon on the Way

The Miami Marlins eked out a victory over the Washington Nationals in the last of the ninth inning the other evening with a three-run homer by Jorge Soler.  Two pitches before that, he should have been struck out by a two-out, two-strike pitch at which he didn’t swing, ending the game.  It was clearly a strike according to what most observers saw, what the TV commentators said, and what I witnessed on television.  But the umpire called it a ball, earning him a trip to the nearest ophthalmologist.

The sooner balls and strikes (unless they are swung at) are determined by computer-synchronized cameras, instead of by umpires, the better it will be for baseball.  It is only a matter of time and is currently the subject of experimentation in the minor leagues. 

A Hard Way to Earn a Living

As for the umpire who made the horrible call as Soler stood there not swinging at what really was strike three, he should be sent down to the minors, if major league baseball does such things.  (Hey, these are not sour grapes. I am not a Washington Nationals fan, but they deserve my sympathy after being screwed out of a rare victory by that umpire.)

(And speaking of baseball, I wonder how much longer the Marlins will remain in Florida.  Attendance last night and the night before crept below 9,000.  Even the Rays in the Tampa area draw significantly more fans than do the Marlins. The only team with worse attendance is Oakland and they're moving to Las Vegas next year.  Nashville and Portland are both seeking major league franchises and obviously, the greater Miami area cannot, probably in view of its other attractions, support major league baseball.)


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 A Commencement Address

The other day when President Biden spoke to the graduating class at Howard University, one of the nation’s leading historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU), he made it clear that he recognizes that ‘sinister forces trying to reverse racial progress’ in this country.

While the President warned of this danger, his words did not seem to light a fire under his audience.  Some observers seemed to feel he has not done enough and was only repeating what they already knew quite well.  

The Black vote is essential to a Democratic victory in 2024.  There is a lot of work to be done by Democrats before Election Day in 2024 to harness that vote!  Efforts similar to those of South Carolinian Representative Jim Clyburn in 2020, whose support some claim was crucial for President Biden’s victory, are needed.  Failure to do that has cost the Democrats elections in Florida, and that should not be a benchmark for future failures. 

Read the New York Times article about his remarks at the Howard University commencement by CLICKING HERE or by going to https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/13/us/politics/biden-howard-commencement-black-voters.html. 


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The Original ‘Chrissy Frost’ Stories are Back!

All eight of them, originally included on this blog back in 2017 recounting the story of a Florida entertainer, are now re-appearing on the blog. Together they form what might be a novella, entitled ‘Time After Time – The Crissy Frost Story.’

Here is the seventh story, chapter, or whatever you want to call it, in which Chrissy confronts a strange challenge to her sanity.  The eighth and final story will appear in the next posting of Jackspotpourri.  

The earlier ones appeared in recent postings, accessible from the ‘Archive.’  If you missed them, just go back and check them out.  (See the May 3, May 8, and May 14 postings, each of which contained two 'episodes.')  They should be read in order, as you would read a book.  And now … as Ed McMahon used to say on the ‘Tonight Show,’  “Here’s Chrissy!”

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Chapter 7:  Dream Girl – A Chrissy Frost Story

Jack Lippman


(“Chrissy Frost” is an entirely fictitious creation.  My apologies go to anyone who might happen to share that name, and I know there are some of you out there.)

Chrissy Frost was dreaming.  She was in an upscale steakhouse in Boca Raton, enjoying a succulent filet mignon cooked exactly the way she liked them done, black on the outside with a strip of red in the middle.  At least that was the way she had liked her steaks before her doctors told her to avoid red meat.  Although she was almost completely recovered from her stroke six years ago, and was earning a good living performing on the stages of Palm Beach County’s many retirement communities, she still had to watch her cholesterol and beef was no longer part of her diet.  But it was an enjoyable dream anyway.

She barely noticed the tiny brownish specks she was spitting out when she brushed her teeth and flossed the next morning.  But the following day, after having another “filet mignon” dream, Chrissy was again flossing out bits of steak when she brushed her teeth.  Very puzzling.  Particularly since she had eaten mostly salads, chicken and egg white veggie omelets over the past week or so. 

And when she went to Dr. Lopez for her regular exam the next week, he shook his finger at her. 

“Chrissy, your lipids are up.  Have you been eating anything to increase your cholesterol?  Looks to me like you have.”

“Swear to God, Doctor, I haven’t had a piece of beef in a couple of years.  Fish, chicken and rarely, a piece of veal maybe.  No red meat at all.”

The doctor scratched his head.

“But, let me tell you,” Chrissy continued, “Something funny has been happening lately. I’ve been dreaming of eating a delicious filet mignon in a fancy restaurant and when I brush my teeth in the morning, when I floss, it seems like I had really eaten a piece of steak during the night.  I think I’m flossing out bits of meat.”

Dr. Lopez looked at her kind of funny, peered into her mouth and set up another appointment for more blood work two weeks later. 

“Funny things happen all the time, Chrissy.  Let’s see what it looks like in two weeks.  Meanwhile, stop dreaming so much.”

During those two weeks, Chrissy ate like a vegan, but whenever she had the “filet mignon” dream, there still were particles of steak between her teeth when she flossed the next morning.

And when she went back to the doctor, the results were no better.  The cholesterol was still up, the LDLs were climbing and the HDLs were dropping.   She explained her diet over the past few weeks and then surprised Dr. Lopez by taking out a little pill box which contained a few strands of red meat. 

“This is what I flossed out this morning.  Take a look at it.”

“Looks like steak to me,” he said, holding them in a tweezer up close to his eyes.

“Chrissy, we have a problem and it’s beyond me.  I am referring you to a specialist whom I hope can help you.  Here’s his name and address.  I’ll call him this afternoon and his office will call you.  We’ll get to the bottom of this.  Don’t worry.”

“What’s this guy? A cholesterol specialist?  I certainly don’t want to have another stroke.”

“No, Chrissy, he’s a psychiatrist.”

“You think I’m crazy?”

“No way, but physical manifestations of what you’re dreaming about are a little beyond me.  You have bits of the meal you dreamt of stuck in your teeth.  Not a job for an internist, Chrissy, but this guy many have some answers.  Give him a chance.”                                        

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The sign on the glass door in the shabby professional building read “Tobias Fink, D.M.A.”  Chrissy went into the waiting room, signed in and waited to be for the nurse behind a glass window, or whatever she was, to call her.  Otherwise the room was empty.  Glancing around she saw some of the diplomas displayed, apparently to reassure patients of the credibility of Dr. Fink.  One was from the University of the Guianas, announcing his having received his Doctor of Medical Arts degree there in 1983 with honors and another testified to his having completed his residency in Psychiatry at the Cayman Islands Mental Health Center three years later.  Very reassuring, she thought.

Once ushered into Dr. Fink’s office, she was confronted by a barefooted chubby man in his fifties wearing a colorful Hawaiian shirt and denim cargo shorts.  He was smoking a pipe.

“Good morning, Miss Frost.  Dr. Lopez called me and told me a little about your story.  Would you mind repeating it for me.  But first, would you like a drink?” 

With that, Dr. Fink opened a small refrigerator next to his desk and took out a can of Diet Dr. Pepper, popping it open and inserting a straw.

“No thanks, Doctor,” Chrissy replied.  “But before I start talking to you, I’d like to find out if I really want to be here talking to you.  You must admit, you don’t look like any doctor I’ve ever seen.  Tell me why I should be even talking to you.”

“Miss Frost, all of my patients usually say about the same thing as you’ve just said when they first meet me, but believe me, I am legitimate.  Or almost, anyway.  You see, my medical and psychiatric credentials aren’t accepted anywhere in the United States, but here in Florida, I am able to practice because of a loophole in their licensing laws.  Actually, this place is officially licensed as a barber shop and somewhere along the line, I will snip off a half inch or so of your hair … and that makes everything else I do okay with the State.  You know, barbers are known to talk a lot with the person in their chair, and that’s what I do in my practice, so it works for me.   Of course, I can’t take insurance payments but that doesn’t matter much since my charges are very low.  I was left a lot, a real lot, of money a few years back, so I don’t depend on this practice, or barber shop, to support myself.  Okay?”

“Hmm,” Chrissy intoned.  “How come Dr. Lopez referred me to you if you’re not really a doctor?

“Good question.  Because Henry respects what I do, as do most of the physicians in South Florida.  They all know of me, and when they come across the kind of case I handle, they don’t hesitate to refer patients to me, even with my phony credentials, because I get results!”

Crissy was beginning to believe, at least a little, in this guy.  He slouched in his chair, popping a bit of his gut out between the buttons on his shirt.  She almost wanted to laugh.

“Listen, young lady … “

“Cut it out, Doctor,” Chrissy interrupted.  “I’m older than you are, so stop with the young lady bit.”

“Okay,” he said, “But let me tell you about some the cases I’ve handled and maybe you’ll want to give me a chance to help you.”

Chrissy nodded her assent.

“This guy, I’ll change his name, came to me a year or so ago with these bloody spots on his hand and on his lower torso.  ‘Rufus,’ I asked him, ‘where did you get these things?’  ‘Doc,’ he replies to me, ‘I got them in a dream.  I was dreaming I was Jesus Christ being crucified and when I woke up, these marks were on me from the dream of the crucifixion.’  Well, I checked him out and he wasn’t much of a religious guy, went to church once every couple of years maybe and didn’t even know the Biblical details of what he was dreaming.  Had him sleep over in my office one night, right on that chaise over there, and I watched him toss and turn.  He was dreaming alright, and in the morning, damn it, he had those spots right where he told me he was getting them.”

Intrigued, Crissy asked what happened with Rufus.  Dr. Fink continued.

“I got this friend in the Bishop’s office in West Palm.  Now I’m not a Catholic, but we grew up together.  I tell him this story … and he writes it up and gives it to the Bishop.  Two months later a bunch of priests show up in my office with Rufus and ask me to sign some papers.  I guess the schools I went to for my degrees, which aren’t worth much in this country, are fully accredited by the Vatican.  They tell me that once he dies, they’ll put Rufus up for what they call beatification, which is a step toward sainthood if they can verify any miracles or cures connected with him.  They’re taking their time because he really must die first before this thing gets moving.   So far, he hasn’t.  I told them I go to the track and the casinos with him occasionally, and damn it, he always wins, never loses, it’s unbelievable.  Big bucks, really big bucks … but he gives it all to charity.  They smiled when I told them that.  One of them whispered to me that he suspects that Rufus may actually be Jesus.  Keep that under your hat, he says to me.  So you see, I do deal with cases like yours, Miss Frost.”

“Wow,” Chrissy said as Dr. Fink cracked open another Dr. Pepper.  “Do you have any other interesting patients, ones more like me?”

“Sure … There was Melissa.  That wasn’t her real name.  Always wanted to be in show business, TV, the movies.  But she had no talent and was what I would call homely.  In her dreams, she was in the movies, not a star mind you, but a significant bit part player.  It was always the same movie, the one that won a lot of awards last year, you know, ‘La La Land,” and she always played the same part.   Well, I downloaded the video and she pointed out to me where she was in the movie in her dreams, and to my amazement, when I paused the video exactly there, damn it, it actually looked like it was Melissa playing that role!  Or at least someone whom she resembled very closely.  I zoomed in and the actress in the movie had the same mole on her neck as Melissa, sitting right where you are now, had.  Of course, some other actress played that role in the film, so I contacted the people who made the film, so I might really compare what she looked like with Melissa in person.  They told me they couldn’t help me since the actress had died in an automobile accident shortly after the film was made, but they would send me a photograph.  I have it right here in her file, and as far as I can see, it’s a photograph of Melissa.  She claims she remembers from her dreams when they took it after one of the shoots in Hollywood and even identifies some of the other actors in the background.

“What happened to Melissa,” Chrissy asked.

“Nothing much.  I told her never to go to the movies anymore and to cut out watching them on her TV screen too.  She also cancelled her Netflix subscription.  I know she got married last year and I think she just had a baby.  She’ll be fine so long as she stays away from movies.  But as far as I am concerned, professionally, I do believe that there was some cosmic merger of her dreams and the making of that movie which resulted in the real actress getting killed and Melissa, from her dreams, retrospectively taking over the role.  These things do happen.”

“Another one.   This guy, call him George, always was dreaming that he was cheating on his wife with another woman in a hotel room somewhere.  The hotel catches fire and the fire department calls up to them on a bullhorn to jump out of the window and they’ll catch them in a net.  The two of them do that, stark naked, and who do you think is one of the firemen holding the net?  The guy’s wife!  And this is where this dream always ends.  Normal stuff so far, George is dreaming that he’ll get caught.  Classic guilt.  Now his wife, I was given to understand, was a stay-at-home type wife, baking cookies, sending the kids off to school and all of that usual good stuff.  She had majored in Italian Renaissance Art in college and was a really bright woman.  So one day, right out of the blue, she tells George that she has decided to become a volunteer fire department aide.  It would be a change for her, she claimed.  Smiling, she said it was perfectly safe, he shouldn’t worry, the closest she would get to a fire would be to help those holding the net when someone was forced to jump out of a window in a burning building.  At this point, George turned white.  He went to the doctor the next morning and that is how I got involved. 

“You mean,” Chrissy said, “that his wife in real life was about to enter his dream world, and she was totally unaware of what she would encounter there.” 

“She wouldn’t encounter it there,” Chrissy, “George was the one doing the dreaming.  He would.”  But her presence in the dream would be as a real person, and under deep hypnosis, she might even remember being there in his dream, but we won’t go there.  Maybe it was just a coincidence, but it served to turn him into a faithful husband, as I’d advised him to be, and which he has been ever since.  Now do you think I’m capable of dealing with a bit of filet mignon stuck between your teeth?”

Chrissy replied “Yes, Doctor.”

After Chrissy repeated the full story of her dreams and the dental residue that remained afterwards, Dr. Fink smiled.

“You’re an easy one, Miss Frost.  We can wrap this up right now in one sitting, and my fee will be just $29.99.  And I’ll include a second consultation with that free!  That’s something I learned from watching TV … and of course, there’s no charge for shipping and handling.  Ha, Ha. Okay?”

Crissy nodded, adding, “And you can call me Chrissy, Dr. Fink.”

His remedy was a simple one.  “Chrissy,” he said.  “Set your mind to controlling your dream as soon as it starts.  When the waiter brings the filet mignon, scream at him saying something like ‘I don’t want that, take it away, no meat for me.’  You get the idea.  And if he persists, pick up the damn steak and throw it at him!  You must be the one who controls your dream, not that little bit of your brain that really wants the filet mignon.  Got it?”

Crissy smiled, wrote a check and went home.  That night she had the same dream, but this time she tried to confront the waiter.  “Take than goddamn steak away!  I don’t want it.”  Despite her entreaties, he placed the piece of meat on a plate before her.  The aroma was almost overpowering, but she hung on.  It was slow-motion in the dream, but it was really happening. With her left hand, she stabbed her fork into the steak and slowly, ever so slowly raised it off the plate. Transferring it to her right hand, she drew her arm back as if she were a quarterback throwing a pass.  As her arm moved forward, the steak flew off the fork and sailed across the room, hitting the waiter squarely in the eye.  And then the dream ended.

The next morning, her sister-in-law came into her bedroom as she was getting up.  “Is everything alright, Chrissy?”  I heard you screaming during the night, something about taking a steak away.  I looked in but you were sound asleep.

“Wait a sec, Stella,” Crissy said as she ran into the bathroom.

“No meat between my teeth!  Great!  That doctor cured me!”  Chrissy was delirious with joy as she waved a string of clean dental floss!  Let’s go shopping!”

Later that afternoon, walking through the Town Center mall in Boca, Chrissy thought she recognized one of the waiters from what used to be her favorite steak house strolling toward her.  He had a black eye.

Turning to Chrissy, he said, “Pardon me, M’am, I think I recognize you.  Were you dining in New York Prime last night about eight?”

“No,” Crissy replied.

“I could have sworn you were there and you threw a steak at me.  See my eye.  Don’t you remember, we had to call the cops to escort you out of the place.”

“You must have been dreaming.  I haven’t been in the place for months.  But I hope that eye heals up fast.”

“Yeah, I do too.  If it didn’t hurt so much, I would swear it was all a dream”




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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!

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