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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 in Florida for over 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 2, 2024

July 2, 2024 - Persisting Challenges, the SCOTUS Screws Up Again, the Democratic Candidate for the White House in November, and Extremism.


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Challenges That Won’t Go Away

It has been 74 years since I got my ‘diploma’ from high school and 70 years since I received my college degree.  I must admit that most of my teachers and professors, at least in history and the social sciences, were progressive, leaning to the left after growing up during the Great Depression and the Second World War.  What I never expected, however, was that the challenges that America faced back in those days would not have been resolved by now, several generations later.  Fool that I was, I actually expected that they would be.

It appears that the broad distinctions between right and left, and between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of our government, have grown sharper, along with the competing roles of Federal and State governments.  Perhaps the lesson of this is that such conflict is part and parcel of our representative democracy, and its absence would mean that some other form of government has replaced it.

Madison, Jefferson, Adams, and Hamilton didn’t think alike, just as Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, 75 years later, disagreed.  FDR’s critics were too numerous to mention here.  Adam Schiff and Matt Gaetz both come to work each day in the same place. Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Or maybe not!


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Supreme Court Needs Four More Justices ASAP

One change that must be considered is an expansion of the Supreme Court.  The number of its Justices is not specified in the Constitution, but it makes clear than it is the president who appoints these Justices and the Senate that approves them by a majority vote.  Though not a constitutional provision, it appears that the House of Representatives has a say in this because the number of Justices is part of the Judiciary Acts, legislation that is periodically updated in Congress.

I raise this question because our Supreme Court is out of control.  It is almost as bad as the Supreme Court that allowed escaped slaves to be apprehended in free States back in 1857 in the Dred Scott decision! (The Civil War came three years later, in part a result of the States’ rights prejudices of the SCOTUS.)

Two present Justices (Thomas and Alito) are financially compromised, having accepted substantial ‘gifts’ from political supporters of their views.  In fact, right now, the SCOTUS is politically comprised because the three appointees made by our forty-fifth president are clearly political appointees, (Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett) repeatedly demonstrating  that they put party over country, giving that viewpoint a consistent 6 to 3 majority, disregarding legal precedents. That's not the way judges are supposed to behave.  It is the way political hacks behave.

The SCOTUS has just ruled that a president has unlimited continuing immunity from prosecution for his or her ‘official’ acts but leaves the definition of what ‘official’ means to lower courts, where they may float around for years seeking to be defined. And this includes the pending case concerning the forty-fifth president’s involvement in the January 6, 2021 insurrection, now being returned to the lower court to see if that might be considered an official act and ‘immune’ from criminal prosecution!   It enables a president to ride roughshod over government actions, including those by the Department of Justice and many agencies, declaring acts to be ‘official’ at his or her discretion with continuing immunity from being taken to task by the criminal justice system, even after leaving office

Since 1776, no one here has been above the law.  George III thought he was but the Declaration of Independence told him otherwise, and our nation was born. This decision by the SCOTUS has put a would-be president, one who is a convicted felon awaiting sentencing, in a position above the law.  That is wrong and reason enough for every American, regardless of party, to vote Democratic in November.  This runaway, corrupted, Supreme Court majority is upsetting the delicate system of checks and balances between the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of our government that has enabled it to endure for 235 years.  It emasculates the ‘rule of law.’ Does it take a sledgehammer banged into the skulls of those six Justices to teach them that 'no one is above the law' in our democratic republic, even an elected president?

President Biden, or whoever the Democratic standard bearer may be in November (see the following article), must pledge to immediately add four additional Justices to the SCOTUS so that it better represents the American people.  It is true that this would be a political step, but such an action is necessary because the evils it would serve to undo are themselves political in nature.

In the upcoming November election, a tidal wave of Democratic voters can remedy this by returning the SCOTUS to its proper place as defined in the Constitution when they cast their votes for president and both Houses of Congress in great enough numbers to make this happen.  

This may be the most important issue American democracy has faced since the nation’s founding. 



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Biden's Candidacy -The Next Two Weeks Will be Determinative

An email one follower of Jackspotpourri sent me in regard to the last posting about Thursday evening’s presidential debate included this opinion:

You and I are almost a decade older than Joe, but I daresay, we could have debated better on Thursday.  Biden has done a remarkable job in his term. He will be remembered historically in the top tier of presidents. If he steps aside now, he will be revered and honored. If he stays and loses, he will be remembered as the guy who let fascism emerge. You have to know when to hold 'em, and when to fold 'em. Joe Louis and Ali fought too many fights after they were in obvious decline. The better part of valor is to know when you're ahead. My former boss at the college at which I taught memorably said when he announced his retirement that "I have taken the college as far as I can, it's now time for someone else to carry on."

To this, I responded: This needs about a week or two, no more, to settle down.  I saw a comment somewhere that Ruth Bader Ginsburg's many excellent opinions were far outweighed by the harm she did by refusing to leave the SCOTUS while Obama was still president, enabling '45' to name her successor when she died.  Give it until mid-July to see what happens.”  His prompt response to me was that he agreed and thatthe next two weeks will be determinative.”

Those in media are stating their opinions, but their punditry counts for less than decisions made by those who have a horse in the race, meaning President Biden, possible alternative Democratic presidential candidates, those running for offices elsewhere on the Democratic ticket, and those who put up the major donations essential to political campaigning. 

I’m sure pollsters are out there asking questions about things like the effect Biden’s withdrawal from the race would have on the votes of some Democrats and independents who hadn’t planned on voting for him because of concerns about his age and fragility.  Not having him at the top of the ticket might keep them voting ‘blue’ and turn out to be a ‘plus’ for the Party’s candidates.  Also, it might make a real choice other than Biden available for disillusioned Republicans who recognize Trump’s many faults and who might add to the Democratic vote as well.

Another problem is that, should President Biden take the advice of those suggesting he drop out of the race, the possible replacement candidates presently lack the organization and resources needed to compete with one another publicly and at the Democratic convention in August, there not being enough time for primary elections.  

During the next two weeks, Democrats, including the Biden family, will be meeting and discussing such questions, and wondering whether the conflicts within the Party that would be exacerbated by an ‘open’ convention might be avoided by sticking with the President as their standard bearer, provided that further missteps like his Thursday debate performance do not occur.  One more like that would be personally fatal to his campaign, and possibly the campaigns of those running for the Senate and House who have hitched their campaigns to his. That is why many Democrats are walking on tip-toes and speaking accordingly.  

With that in mind, keep your eyes and ears open for a turning up of the frequency, volume, and vehemence with which Vice-President Kamala Harris emphasizes her support of President Biden, making it clear that should she ever have to assume her constitutional duties of the presidency, all of Biden’s positions will become hers, and with much greater clarity.  

Vice President Harris

This is not the place to discuss them but the accomplishments of President Biden and his plans for the future far outstrip what his likely Republican opponent, whose campaign is based on lies, bigotry, and stoking the fears of voters, offers to the country.

Let’s see how all this looks two weeks from now.


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Extremism and its Practitioners

In 1964, American voters chose Lyndon Johnson to continue as president rather than Republican Barry Goldwater, who is remembered for the right-wing maxim that started by stating that ‘extremism in the cause of liberty is not a vice.’

Goldwater had picked up this philosophy from a young right-wing conservative named William F. Buckley, who ended up ghostwriting a biography for Goldwater entitled ‘The Conscience of a Conservative.’  Since then, extremism has found a home within the Republican Party, to which it turned after the Lyndon Johnson and the Democratic Party made a commitment to civil rights.

The right-wing extremists who demonstrated in Charlottesville in 2017, carrying swastikas and screaming antisemitic slogans were acceptable to then President Trump who said there ‘were good people on both sides.’  Buckley and Goldwater are gone, but their philosophy continues, based at the rightmost fringe of the Republican Party, but exerting influence far beyond there, particularly in State legislatures and on the Supreme Court. 

Extremism often is accompanied by violence, disregard of the law, and an unwillingness to compromise.  And contrary to Goldwater’s (or Buckley's) words, it is indeed a ‘vice,’ unfortunately present in many places in the world these days, increasingly so in Europe.

Right now, extremism is preventing peace from replacing war in Israel. Hamas and other extremist Palestinian groups want nothing less than the eradication of the State of Israel, replacing it with a Palestinian state.  That’s their ‘one-state solution.’

The present Israeli government is little better, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu depending on extremists in the Knesset to stay in power.  Their goal is the expansion of Israel’s borders to what they were in Biblical times, including the territory lost by neighboring Arab states in their unsuccessful wars to destroy Israel, and now occupied by Israel, with nothing better than second class citizenship left for any Palestinians who remain there, as Israeli settlers move in. That’s their ‘one-state solution.’

It's all there on both sides: violence, disregard of laws, and an unwillingness to compromise.  Most of the rest of the world supports a ‘two-state solution,’ loosely patterned after the United Nation’s 1947 partition map.  Until that is accomplished, violence, disregard of laws, and an unwillingness to compromise will continue.  That is dangerous for not only Israelis and Palestinians but for the rest of the world as well.


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Housekeeping on Jackspotpourri

Strange “Hits’!  The large number of those accessing Jackspotpouri from Singapore has suddenly ceased. In their place, however, there have appeared large numbers of ‘hits’ on each posting in the hundreds, and as was the case with those from Singapore, but this time from Hong Kong!  I suspect that the Chinese are playing around with internet transmissions, possibly to try to identify who is reading them.  

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. Friends, relatives, enemies, etc.

If you want to send someone the blog, you can just tell them to check it out by visiting https://jackspotpourri.blogspot.com or you can provide a link to that address in your email to them.  

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 that blog posting will be forwarded, along with a brief comment from you.  Each will receive a link to click on that will directly connect them to the blog. 

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

Again, I urge you to forward this posting to anyone you think might benefit from reading it, particularly if they are a registered voter.  This is an election year.  Spread the word.



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