Posts by: Jack Altschuler

Excess Deaths


Excess death is what happens when a virulent killer arrives at civilization’s door. It’s the number of people who have died over and above the number who would have died in the absence of, say, bubonic plague, the Spanish Flu or Covid-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced that there were 15 million excess deaths worldwide over the first two years of Covid. The Economist has done an exacting study of this issue and concludes the number is 18 million additional dead people.

We just passed the dreadful mark of 1 million Americans dead from Covid in just two years and we know that’s a low number for reasons identified below. For now, let’s put that into perspective by comparing that number to our battlefield war dead.

Here’s a chart from Statista – you can click the chart for details and to read the labels more easily.

For a more thorough comparison, have a look at this WaPo analysis.

Simple addition tells us that our total battlefield war dead from all major conflicts since 1775 is 1,284,702. In all cases the deaths from our wars were horrific and a tragedy and we were shocked by the losses.

It’s crazy that we’re well on our way to surpassing that number solely due to Covid and in just two years. In fact, we could surpass that number this year; certainly by next year. How strange that we continue to mourn our war dead but seem to have accommodated the ongoing massacre of our countrymen from Covid and have relegated their deaths to background noise.

One of the fascinating denials in the early days of our pandemic was the claim that Covid was far less of a threat than the flu, so what’s the big deal? I heard claims that the flu kills “only” 65,000 Americans every year and that Covid’s reach was far less, Eat, drink and be merry.

Turns out it hasn’t been that merry.

The CDC shows us that, depending on the flu variant, between 12,000 and 52,000 Americans die each year from influenza. That’s between 39 and 142 deaths from flu per day.

Here’s a chart of new daily Covid deaths through May 12:

 

As you can see, we’re now at 445 deaths from Covid per day – that’s a rate of 162,425 for the year. That’s more death from Covid than from the flu this year or in any recent year – at least 3 times more. And that math doesn’t take into consideration the escalating number of deaths from Covid expected as this year progresses.

Here’s a STAT chart of our 1 million Covid deaths through March:

Click the chart for the story of wonderful scientific achievement and horrible systemic failures, some willful. Indeed, read Politico’s assessment of the ongoing, conscientious Republican insanity to promote the death of Americans. Key point: “It was a deliberate effort by members of the House Freedom Caucus, in the House, some U.S. senators, amplified nightly on Fox News.”

Yes, it’s true that vaccinated people can contract Covid and a few can die – see the blue lines at the bottom of the chart. The difference is that most don’t die from it. They just need medical help for a while and then they go home and resume their normal lives.

This chart only reflects the officially reported Covid deaths since vaccines became available. They don’t count the people who died without a diagnosis or who died away from a medical facility that tallies the numbers, two of the reasons that the total Covid death count is almost certainly much higher than 1 million.

This chart also doesn’t count those who died because they couldn’t get help for an unrelated affliction, and if the present trend continues we are going to have lots more excess deaths like that. These people will be, for example, heart attack, stroke, cancer and car crash victims who were unable to access the medical care they needed in time to save them because their medical facility was overrun by Covid patients.

Think: Dad died from a heart attack while waiting in his car in the Emergency Room parking lot. He was there because unvaccinated Uncle Bubba had Covid and was in the bed that dad needed and was taking the time, attention and energy of the doctors and nurses who could have saved Dad.

So, don’t imagine that you’re safe from Covid because you’re vaccinated and boosted and you’re a good little mask wearer. You might one day require medical help that you can’t get because of all the unvaccinated people who are sure that Covid isn’t as bad as the flu, or because they think that vaccines cause all manner of imaginary symptoms or are loaded with Bill Gates’ nanobots or because their freedom is more important than anything, including your life – and who are in hospital beds needed by others.

These are the numbers. Factual, empirical data. Again, the current daily Covid corpse count is 445 and that number is expected to rise. Making that worse is that we don’t know how many more people will die because the unvaccinated are clogging hospitals. I sure don’t want the people I love or me to be among those excess deaths. Just guessing you feel the same.

Video of the Week

If you paid attention during the Democratic primary season of 2020 you learned that Pete Buttigieg is a really smart fellow. He’s clear, articulate and is a no drama presenter. Take a listen to his discussion of the implications of the Supreme Court’s likely smack down of Roe during his visit to the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago last week. Note especially his metaphor that now might be the last high water mark for rights and freedom in America. Brian Tyler Cohen’s commentary following Buttigieg is well worth the watch, too.

For the full Buttigieg session, click here.

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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Show-And-Tell


There have been an uncountable number of rallies and protests since the draft copy of the Justice Alito-written decision of the Supreme Court to crush Roe was made public. My observation is that public outrage is on a level with that over the murder of George Floyd (say his name). Even Stephen Colbert couldn’t manage mirth – there were no smiles in his delivery. The chants at protests are angry. The editorials are biting.

This is rage over the abuse of the majority by the activist, dishonest minority that has gone on for decades. This is fury over the horrific betrayal of the public trust and the near certainty that more betrayal is on the way. And this is outrage over the inevitability that women will suffer and women will die because of this Supreme Court’s culmination of the Republican Party’s march backward to Puritanical psychosis.

Don’t imagine that a strike down of Roe will make for the end of abortions. There have always been abortions. The difference will be that without Roe we’ll return to the dark days of back alley abortions. Women will suffer from procedures conducted in filthy rooms by semi-educated quacks, instead of getting the help they need in certified, hygienic medical facilities from licensed doctors and nurses.

Read the complete piece from Monika Bauerlein, CEO of Mother Jones. Meanwhile, read this excerpt:

“As Ari [Berman] explained, ‘Republicans invest so much energy into voter suppression…because it allows them to enact cruel, unpopular policies with no accountability at the ballot box. The GOP doesn’t need to have the support of a majority of the state’s voters if it skews who actually gets to vote.’

“Same in Washington, DC. Five of the Supreme Court’s nine justices were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote. In the Senate, the 50 Republican senators represent 41 million fewer people than the 50 Democrats. The GOP controls state legislatures and congressional delegations through an absurd degree of gerrymandering: In Wisconsin, 75 percent of districts are heavily Republican, even though Joe Biden won the state in 2020. In Texas, just under 40 percent of the population is white, but white voters are the majority in 60 percent of state legislative seats. (It took me a minute to wrap my head around that math.) The Texas legislature that passed a ‘heartbeat’ bill, which forces women to leave the state for abortion care, is 73 percent male and 61 percent white. It’s hard not to think of apartheid-era South Africa when you look at numbers like that.”

Don’t think even for a moment that this Roe betrayal is about anything but a return to the full patriarchy of White Christian supremacy and the powerless non-citizenship of everyone else. I can’t help but wonder in astonishment at the women who want that powerlessness.

If there is ever to be a more perfect union, this destruction of rights, as well as the destruction of rights caused by voting/voter suppression in all its diabolical forms must be reversed. There’s only one way to do that:

Remove the thieves from office
.

The pictures above are from the rally last Saturday in Skokie, IL, with several hundred in attendance. I’ll leave you with one last image from there. It’s a bit hard to make out the coat hanger at the top of the sign. If you don’t know what it means, ask your grandmother. She knows about the desperation and self-mutilation of women before Roe. That’s why we must never go back.

————————————

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA

 


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Don’t Tell Me


Click me

Stop the Presses!

Before we get to the meat of today’s post, please watch this most timely video. You’ll know what to do after that. Then, come back here for the aforementioned meat.

‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾

Don’t Tell Me

You remember Popeye cartoons, I’m sure. Our hero would be going about his business but then would be attacked by the bully, Bluto. Sometimes Bluto would try to kidnap Popeye’s girlfriend, Olive Oyl. Bluto would beat Popeye to a pulp. Then, at last, Popeye would down a can of spinach and declare, “That’s all I can stands. I can’t stands no more!” and he’d proceed to apply some accountability to Bluto.

Well, I’ve reached my Popeye Point (again), where I can’t stands no more. So, put on your thick skin and protective eye wear, strap in and let’s go. This is for people who ostentatiously claim that they are Christians, as though that explains and excuses whatever they do.

Don’t tell me you’re a Christian if you’re spewing hatred at innocent people or objecting to a hearing for terrified asylum seekers.

Don’t tell me you’re a Christian and pro-life if you approve of the death penalty or you applaud the murder of abortion providers. And you’re not pro-life if you proudly deny food to poor children. Or you ignore high infant and maternal mortality rates, especially for poor women and children. Or you oppose gun safety legislation. I will concede only that you are pro-fetus and really don’t give a damn about kids after the moment of birth, even in the gruesome reality of Sandy Hook and Parkland.

Don’t tell me you’re a Christian if you plot to assassinate politicians or you lie about elections being stolen. And no, you can’t hide behind claiming you were duped. You’re not that dumb. You’re just horribly lazy, willfully gullible and, pathetically, you need to see yourself as a victim.

Don’t tell me you’re a Christian if you raised your arm and yelled “Seig heil!” or if you think there were “fine people on both sides” at Charlottesville. Or if you just turned away as babies were ripped from their mothers’ arms at the Rio Grande.

Don’t tell me that you’re a Christian if you voted for Donald Trump even after hearing him brag that he can “grab women by the p%$$y” and after hearing at least 19 women credibly accuse him of sexual assault. Or after his multiple hateful Muslim bans. Or after hearing his idiotic and murderous solutions to Covid, like injecting bleach or taking hydroxychloroquine, distractions that caused hundreds of thousands of extra deaths.

Don’t tell me you’re a Christian if you’re making up “grooming” and pedophile lies in order to get haters to donate to your campaign. Or if you donated to any of the liars making such claims.

Don’t tell anyone you’re a Christian if you’re spouting the insane conspiracy BS that Democrats drink children’s blood and are pedophiles and sex traffickers and are in charge of a worldwide cabal against White Christians. Instead, just tell people that you’ve had severe brain damage.

There’s more, of course. But your claim of being a Christian is a lie you use as a self-serving ploy, a cheater’s shield and a blinder so that you don’t have to look at yourself and see who and what you really are.

I love the question you consistently refuse to answer:

What would Jesus do?

Whatever the right answers are, you’re doing the opposite.

One more thing: an open-hearted invitation to redemption.

I know this crap has been crammed into your brain, but it doesn’t have to stay there. The invitation is for you to take the bold, daring step to think for yourself. Critically. That means no more sleepwalking through your life. No more goose stepping because some hate spewing moron told you to do that. Think for yourself. All the time.

Until you do that, don’t tell me anything.

To Everyone Else:
.

This isn’t a diatribe against Christianity. It’s a rant against hypocrisy.

Those hypocrites from whom I don’t want to hear are irredeemable, my invitation to their redemption notwithstanding. We should waste none of our time laboring to get them to reform and to support democracy, because they are intentionally blind. We must hope that their children and grandchildren can be saved from repeating the fear and anger and hatred these people spit on our country.

30% of Americans are in that irredeemable category. Our future depends upon our reaching the other 70%.

Yet More Don’t Tell Me

Thanks to FL for pointing this out.

I also don’t want to hear smug assertions of apolitical justice from the five radical Supreme Court justices who lied, dissembled and snow jobbed their way through their Senate confirmation hearings so that they can now eliminate Constitutional rights.

I’m talking about the justices who directly said that Roe and Casey were settled law. And I’m talking about the ones who dumped a blizzard of words to lead us to believe that if challenges to those cases came to the Court that they would defeat those challenges. Instead, they all voted to kill Roe, according to Alito’s leaked draft opinion. These are the justices who brought their Roman Catholic and fundamentalist Christian beliefs to the bench and are now imposing them on all Americans.

Check me on this:
.

I thought that judges and justices were supposed to rule on cases based on secular Constitutional and legal precedents. Did I get that wrong?

Perhaps the liars should be impeached.

But maybe we should save up for the impeachments, as this extremist, not-at-all conservative Supreme Court majority opens the door to stripping yet more rights from Americans, like voting rights (already in progress), same-sex marriage rights, birth control rights and all manner of privacy rights. Give some thought to what will happen when this court pushes more decisions down to radical, minority controlled state legislatures, which will then imperil even more Americans. Who will save Texans from Texas then?

The real problem is the injury these justices do to the Court, (see this Twitter feed, too) to our country and to the American people with their self-righteous Puritanism.

A Special Message For American Women from the RNC Inquisition
.

“We’re sure the Supreme Court Justices will be sorry for all of you who will die or have your lives ruined because of their ruling on Roe. Clearly, these five or six justices and we here in the RNC Inquisition believe deeply that’s just God’s way. He (not She) works in mysterious ways, you know.

“So, bummer for you, honey. Things will go better if you just subsume yourself into the patriarchy of today’s Republican Party and we’ll control you. Just keep your mouth shut and be a good little breeder.”

Must Reads

John Pavlovitz writes fine, insightful essays, but this one is brilliant. It’s a clarion call to all of us. It truly is the time for us to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and hold up the sky. Read his piece and you’ll understand.

And do not miss Maureen Dowd’s proper contextualizing of the Republican Puritan insanity in today’s op-ed, Marilyn Monroe v. Samuel Alito,

Jokes of the Week

Q. Why did the Republican cross the aisle?

A. Don’t be silly – they never do that.

Q. How many Republicans does it take to get to the truth?

A. Nobody knows.

Q. What will women do when they have an unwanted pregnancy?

A. They’ll pray for divine intervention for a miscarriage and hope they aren’t indicted for murder.

Ear Worm of the Week

We took in a Rogers & Hammerstein concert last week and lots of show tunes have been dancing in my ears since then. One is Oklahoma! Unfortunately, a lyric from that song has become polluted by our politics in this way:

“We know we belong to the land,

“And the land we belong to is grand,

as long as you’re a straight, White Christian man.

————————————

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Here’s Why


Take a look at this downloadable PDF map of NATO countries – they’re the ones in BLUE and follow along.

Putin has made it clear that the greatest tragedy of the 20th century was not WW I, WW II or the 1918 influenza pandemic, each of which killed millions of people. No, he’s certain that the fall of the Soviet Union was the very worst thing that happened over those 100 years. He has dedicated his grandiosity to reconstructing that paragon of repression and cruelty or perhaps creating something even more dreadful. I’m sure that in his dreams he hears the sound of Soviet tanks crushing the pavement of the streets of downtown Budapest and has visions of Khrushchev pounding his peasant shoe on a lectern at the United Nations, where Putin hopes to pound his Gucci loafers.

He claimed there are lots of Russian speakers in Ukraine, which means, he says, that Ukraine isn’t a real country, but rather, it’s part of Russia. Using that logic, San Francisco should be ceded to the Chinese, Montreal should become the property of France and Texas, New Mexico and Arizona should surrender to Mexico.

In 2014 Putin grabbed the entire Crimean peninsula and large swaths of the Donbas, the southeastern part of Ukraine. That’s where you can find the rubble that was the city of Mariupol. That’s where you can still find Mariupol’s besieged steel plant, with its hundreds, perhaps thousands of wounded fighters and noncombatants who can’t get food or medical supplies, who can’t get out and who the Russians bomb every day.

When the brutalizing of Ukraine started I said that the Moldovans must be shaking in their shoes because surely they would be next. Sadly, Putin is proving me to have been right. He has announced that he will sweep up the entire east and south of Ukraine all the way to Moldova, where he’s already dropped bombs. Moldova has no army, although they do have a few traffic cops, so stopping Putin’s thugs will be more than difficult for them.

Go back to that NATO map and look at the countries in GREEN that border Russia. These are nations that are not NATO member countries. Looking north from Ukraine and you’ll find:

Belarus

Finland

Sweden

Counter-clockwise from Ukraine there are:

Georgia

Armenia

Azerbaijan

Kazakhstan

The southern “-stans” of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan,Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan

Left off this list are Mongolia, China and Afghanistan. Surely, not even Putin is dumb enough to invade China or Mongolia. Or Afghanistan – again.

Finland and Sweden are likely to become NATO members by June. But the rest of the GREEN countries would be easy pickings for Putin. Belarus is already a vassal state and he can gobble up the rest without fear of a direct confrontation with NATO.

If you were the leader of any of these GREEN countries, what might you be thinking about NATO membership right now? Maybe that you’ve waited a bit too long to request membership?

Putin thinks that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are legitimate parts of Russia, just like his claim about Ukraine, but they are NATO member countries. I suspect that it’s in these Baltic states where the inevitable Russian confrontation with NATO will occur. Putin and the world will quickly learn whether Article 5 of the NATO Charter means anything. Meanwhile, here’s the reason for this geography lesson.

The U.S. is in the process of authorizing another $33 billion of aid to Ukraine and some are asking why we would spend our treasure this way. After all, they say, this is Ukraine’s war, not ours. That’s where I and many others disagree.

Set aside the humanitarian imperative to help people who are suffering or the important need to right a wrong. It’s more solidly connected to self-interest than that.

Putin’s actions threaten the entire world. He’s upsetting the carefully crafted and tended political peace and economic order that have lasted since 1945. That threatens America.

The Ukrainians are fighting for their country, their democracy, their freedom and their independence. Those are the same reasons every one of those GREEN countries will resist. But they can be picked off one at a time by Putin’s inept but numerically overwhelming forces and his threats of chemical and nuclear war. So, the world either stops Putin in Ukraine or we will have to fight him in the next country and then the next and the next. There will be no appeasement of this monster. Reference: Neville Chamberlain’s Munich appeasement of Hitler in 1938. That didn’t work out too well for the Brits or for the world and attempting to appease Putin would be a similar disaster.

The Ukrainians’ struggle is an existential fight for all democracy and freedom in the world and if Putin isn’t stopped there this will eventually become our own fight. We can either help to stop Putin in Ukraine or we’ll have to stop him later as he directly threatens our own shores.

That’s why.
.

And that begs the question of why Representatives Biggs (AZ), Taylor Greene (GA), Bishop (NC), Gaetz (FL), Gosar (AZ), Norman (SC), Massie (KY), Perry (PA), Tiffany (WI) and Davidson (OH), all Republicans, voted against the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022. They and others also voted against the resolution of support for Moldova. Just guessing that they’ll vote against the additional $33 billion of aid for Ukraine requested by President Biden. And they’ll do so with the enthusiastic support of the supreme, authoritarian loving, Putin and Viktor Orbán suck up, Tucker Carlson.

Here’s the key question:

If all those Ukrainians are doing the fighting and dying so we don’t have to, why would these elected officials oppose supporting them?
.
President Biden’s Call To Action
.

“We’re calling on all Americans to pony up all the necessary military and humanitarian support for the Ukrainian people, who are fighting for all freedom loving people. That’s good, and it isn’t enough.

“Because of Putin’s war, there will be precious little agricultural output from Ukraine this year. That country was formerly the supplier of 10% of the world’s wheat, and that’s just a placeholder for all the disruption of food supplies the world will see this year. That’s why I’m calling on all of US agriculture to maximize production. No fields lying fallow. Find ways to produce more. This is your patriotic duty.

“European nations are already moving to get off the Russian gas and oil umbilical cord and move to renewables. We need to make similar changes here to maximize pressure on Putin.

“I’m calling on our fossil fuel companies to stop drilling and start building a carbon-free power infrastructure. I’m calling on Prime Minister Modi of India to do the same.

“And I’m calling on all Americans to support the switch to electric transportation, with all the infrastructure implications that means. This is war and we must lead the way for the world to end its dependence on fossil fuels.”

Hey, It’s Just a Draft

Yeah, but if its provisions become law, as it appears likely they will, we’ll take a giant leap back to women dying from complications of back alley abortions, women dying in childbirth, women delivering their rapist’s child – or their father’s incest child – ruined lives and more. It takes us back to brain-free, iron fisted patriarchy. It opens the door to making birth control measures – even within a marriage – illegal. Having a miscarriage could result in murder charges. And this draft opinion opens to door to reversing marriage rights and more. The Republicans in Congress and the Supreme Court stand steadfastly in their Dark Ages ignorance and will use their legal spears to kill everything they fear.

All of this is the proud result of the extremist, control freak Republican minority and of Supreme Court justices lying, dissembling and snow jobbing through their confirmation processes, falsely claiming that they believe that Roe v. Wade is settled law. Plus, there’s Mitch McConnell’s cheating, refusing to even hold a hearing for Obama’s SC nominee following the death of Antonin Scalia. The depth of their dishonesty is breathtaking.

So, congratulations to the many people who have worked so hard for so long to force their misogynistic way to control others. They think they should be in charge of making decisions for we lesser people, much like the result of the Dred Scott decision that said that Blacks had no rights and which put all power into the hands of White supremacists. Those 1850s guys really liked being in control of others, just like today’s Republicans.

But, hey, it’s just a draft. Who knows? Maybe between now and June one or two of the justices who now favor witch burning will relent. But don’t count on it. Instead, get to work making sure that all the people who otherwise would stay at home on November 8 learn what is being done to them. Inspire them to get off their butts and vote for Democrats, unless, of course, they want some primitive, rich old White guys controlling their lives.

————————————

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Restoring the Dream


    • You got trouble, my friend. Right here in River City.
    • Oh, we got trouble with a capital “T” and it rhymes with “D” and it stands for Democracy.

With apologies to Meredith Willson, creator of the wonderful music and lyrics for the wildly successful musical The Music Man, paraphrasing his words became irresistible after seeing Rob Reiner’s tweet from April 20.

He’s right, of course, as today’s Republicans work every day to replace democracy with authoritarianism led by Donald Trump or a Trump imitator. But there’s a problem with Reiner’s tweet: It doesn’t sell.

For many, a threat to democracy is too esoteric, too theoretical to solidly grasp it, much less to be motivated by such a claim. Worse, millions of Americans believe that democracy has already been taken from them, stolen by elitists in the 2020 election, stolen by people who don’t understand or care about regular Americans. That makes Reiner’s tweet sound like a lie to them. Perhaps they hear his tweet and then believe that left-of-center types think regular Americans are stupid enough to believe his vaporous claim.

I was on a Zoom call last week with a couple dozen like-minded people who were bemoaning the continuing threat to our democracy by extremists and self-serving liars. The context was about how to win in our next elections. The problem is that the argument about the far right’s threat to democracy, however impassioned anyone may feel about it, is only motivating to those who already agree and there aren’t enough of them to win an election.

The real battle is not to win over the far right extremists. The battle is for the independents, the middle-ists,* the regular Americans just going about their lives and who don’t like getting bashed by crazy claims from those who would inflame them. To win these folks over will take something more tangible to them than a claim about an idea.

From the Captain Obvious System Operating Handbook:

Appeal truthfully to the middle-ists on the basis of what’s important to them.

Now, there’s an idea that just might be good for both middle-ists and our country. Pair that with some Rock ‘n Roll philosophy from The Rolling Stones’ Ruby Tuesday:

    • “There’s no time to lose,” I heard her say.
    • Catch your dreams before they slip away.
    • Dying all the time,
    • Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind.
    • Ain’t life unkind?

Okay, what about the American Dream? We figured it was ours, and it was. But some of us, perhaps millions of us, feel like it’s already gone or is being stolen from us and the robbery is happening in plain sight. The millions are angry, just as any of us would be if something dear to us were being taken away. Perhaps life doesn’t have to be that unkind.

What if we were to do something about restoring the American Dream, that sense of limitless possibilities (watch this space on Wednesday)? That might help. But the view of our possibilities is dramatically clouded by the anger and hatred that has been unleashed from the American subconscious by self-promoting thugs. This isn’t going to be easy. Nevertheless, it is necessary, because the alternative is unthinkable.

We have to catch that dream before it really does slip away and we all lose our minds.

Must Reads For Restoring the American Dream

First, Hillary Clinton wrote a wonderful piece about Madeleine Albright shortly after Albright died. Two notes about that.

  1. We have a national obsession to bash Clinton or defend her. Whatever your opinion of her, set that aside and learn about Albright.
  2. Albright lived under authoritarianism until she was 11 years old, so she knew the difference between that and freedom and democracy. She valued democracy likely far greater than those of us for whom democracy has been a given. Read and learn, grasshopper.

Second, Emmanuel Macron won the presidency of France over fascist, Putin loving, bigoted, authoritarian wannabee Marine Le Pen, daughter of fascist, Putin loving, bigoted, authoritarian wannabee Jean-Marie Le Pen. NATO and those who love freedom and democracy can breathe a sigh of relief over that.

David Leonhardt’s piece about that election provides clues to what is going on in the United States. For example, why do far right, angry, hateful extremist politicians get so many votes from ordinary citizens? I encourage you to read Leonhardt’s essay and substitute USA for France as you read and you’ll get a better understanding of how and why our nation is divided and perhaps a clue as to how to deal with that.

Hint: It’s a hard, uphill pull to convince people to let go of our protective “fear of the other,” of our need to blame and our enormous capacity for rationalizing of the irrational. That struggle is connected to restoring the American Dream.

Bonus Section: Gotta Fix This
.

Click me for the story

Read that carefully: ” .  .  .  prosecutors may have used false testimony;”  “.  .  .  prosecutors suppressed other evidence that would have been favorable to her.” Oh, and they browbeat her into a false confession – it’s on videotape.

I’m no lawyer or Constitutional expert, nor am I conversant in all the details of this case, but I’m pretty sure that prosecutors cheating is not okay. Nevertheless, it happens. Note that the chief prosecutor in Ms.Lucio’s case is now in prison for bribery and other things no prosecutor should be doing.

There are hundreds of innocent people who have been falsely imprisoned, some nearly executed, but who were exonerated through the work of The Innocence Project. We’ll likely never see the end of cheating prosecutors or inept pubic defenders, but Ms. Lucio’s case and the cases of others are why we need to end capital punishment, even in Texas.

Gotta fix this.

Updated Children’s Book

With the disclosures of recorded telephone calls of House Republican leadership shortly after the January 6 insurrection, we were rewarded by learning of the concern they held for the welfare of others in Congress. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Spineless) was specifically concerned that the ongoing vilification of other legislators by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Pedophilia) could ignite additional violence. McCarthy said that kind of thing would have to stop and that he’d have words with Gaetz. Isn’t it wonderful that McCarthy had concern for the well being of others, for doing the right thing and for stopping Gaetz and others from putting other members of Congress at risk?

Sadly, his moment of morality didn’t last long. It appears he never took any such action and that he later lied about having said that he would. That’s just so surprising.

Meanwhile, Republicans in the states are moving to burn books and Gaetz is still running wild. Do you think the Republicans will ban this book, too?

Gaetz is under investigation for having sex with an underage girl and for sex trafficking. Many thanks to JN for the cartoon.

————————————–

* There’s nothing wrong with the word “centrists.” There’s just something pleasing today about “middle-ists,” regardless of the fact that until this post it wasn’t a word. I like it. Might use it again.

————————————

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Numbers, Masks, Injustice & MTG


Numbers

This is scary.

There are roughly 331 million citizens in the United States, of whom 258 million are adults (identified at least by age, if not by behavior). Only 168 million adults are registered voters. The other 90 million adults either haven’t bothered to register, they’re ineligible to vote, like convicted felons in some states, or they have been removed from voter roles through black hearted partisan purgings.

Currently, 47% of adults claim to be Republican or Republican leaning. 47% of our 258 million adults equals 121 million Americans who identify as Republican or Republican leaning. But here is where the numbers become frightening.

Rachel Gutman of The Atlantic Daily reported about those 121 million Americans that,

“Sixty-eight percent of Republicans do not believe that the 2020 election was free and fair, but few can explain exactly why. “I can’t really put my finger on it, but something just doesn’t feel right,” one Donald Trump voter told Sarah Longwell.”

Applying that data, 68% of 121 million self-identifying Republican Americans equals over 82 million Americans, or 32% of all American adults, who believe The Big Lie even in the complete absence of facts, data or evidence to so much as suggest that fraud took place.

Clearly, for these 82 million Americans accusations alone have superseded the need for the presentation of evidence. No proof is necessary for them to pronounce judgment and sentencing. Let me focus that a bit better:

One-third of American adults “can’t put their finger on it” and have absolutely no evidence for it, but they believe outrageous, completely unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud!

Plus, 57% of Republicans (about 69 million Americans) say that the January 6 insurrection was “patriotism,” not a crime.

I warned you that this is scary.

Unmasked

Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle decided last week that the CDC was just too mean and had overstepped the limitations of a 1944 law that allowed it to create limitations on Americans to keep them from killing one another with disease. Apparently, she felt that interfering with Americans’ right to infect one another was an abridgement of freedom too far. So, thanks to her nationwide quash of the regulation, we may Covid-slay one another at will.

We have two problems. The first is this 34-year-old judge nominated by Trump.

Before her Senate confirmation she was found Not Qualified to be a federal judge by the American Bar Association due to her lack of experience. That was no impediment for Mitch McConnell and she was rammed through the Senate. Before assuming the bench for a lifetime appointment, Judge Mizelle had driven past a courtroom once or twice, but had  never been in one.

Now, without hearing even a single syllable of oral argument about the mask mandate (i.e. without actually trying the case), she’s made a decision that reverses this CDC regulation nationally. I guess her Trump appointment makes her smarter than all the doctors, scientists, legislators and lawyers. Her finding is likely to have huge consequences, as our case and death counts continue to rise and new variants of Covid are wreaking havoc.

The second problem we have is that we’re Americans, which means we’re little cry babies and we want what we want when we want it. If things don’t work to our satisfaction quickly, somebody has wronged us, we’re poor little victims, and somebody – anybody – has to pay big time. For example, “Make those pedophile, weenie-hearted Democrats suffer for the burdens imposed by their socialist CDC!”

But still, will we sacrifice a little comfort for the sake of the our nation, for the well being of our fellow citizens? Don’t get me started. Oh, wait: I’m already started.

Authoritarian Moment

“Despots go after the press first. They seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can’t stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it’s a huge threat to them.”   –  Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – MLK, 1963

Here’s Malcolm Nance from Ukraine. “I’m done talking. It’s time to take action here.”

I’m from the Internet and on some weekends I play fake soldier.

 

Something tells me that all the militia tough guys, the internet testosterone trolls and the badass guys with AR-15s strutting through their local Starbucks and threatening kids carrying posters at protests aren’t in Ukraine with Nance.

So, to all the camo wearing, shaved head burly boys: You whine about your rights; you wail about government stealing your god-given freedom; you bellow about your liberty. But when it’s actually on the line, when children and grandmothers (“babushkas”) are being murdered and cities are being leveled and people need help to keep their freedom, you’re AWOL. You’re nowhere to be seen when someone is shooting back.

In your next tough guy selfie video, please explain what that makes you.

The MTG Mental Infirmity

Click me

Last Friday Marjorie Taylor Greene testified in court, under oath, about her encouragement and participation in the preparation for the January 6 insurrection that was designed to upend our democracy. She responded to questions about what she had said and done, repeatedly claiming some version of, “I don’t remember.” That was a fine ploy to prevent her from committing perjury, but hardly believable, as she had spent years advocating for conspiracy theories, disrespecting the Constitution and encouraging sedition.

But with all her convenient loss of memory, perhaps she is rightly worried about her mental decline and loss of recollection. No worries, because we can provide comfort to her with this simple reassurance:

Marjorie, we understand your cunning testimony about not remembering those unpatriotic things you’ve said and done, but don’t fret. You can check with us any time, because we remember quite well what you’ve done.

And Finally, for Florida Gov. DeSantis
.

Click me for the story from The Onion

————————————

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA

 


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Dunning-Krueger & SmackDown


The Dunning-Krueger Effect

We suffer – oh yes, we suffer greatly! – from people who proclaim they have wisdom, brilliance, expertise and, worst, announce “truth” as if they actually know something. They act as though their appearance of confidence is all that is required. The sad news is that some reasonable level of competence really is required for most endeavors, especially for leading a nation. Absent that, we get into a lot of trouble.

It’s called the Dunning-Krueger Effect.

“The Dunning-Kruger effect is the phenomenon whereby people with little knowledge tend to overestimate their abilities, precisely because they ignore how much knowledge is necessary .  .  .

That may seem rather benign, but it leads people to say and do the most outrageous and harmful things, like accuse others of horrific deeds (see the next section of this post). Here’s a graph of this phenomenon.

In the snap of your fingers you can name ten people immobilized at step one on Child’s Hill. Examples: Reps. Kevin McCarthy and Marjorie Taylor Green, as well as Sen. Bill Lee. And that’s just from last week’s cavalcade of deceit.

Here’s another graph of Dunning-Krueger with labels you may find more useful.

We have far too many politicians stuck on the peak of Mt. Stupid. Being there leaves them with nothing to do but sell out to whoever brings them more power and money. They are rendered paralyzed by fear of falling into disfavor with whoever is dispensing what they want (their “puppet master”). They will say and do the most inane and destructive things just to stay in the good graces of he who pulls their strings.

They will cheat and lie and when caught they will double down on their lies. They will sell others down the river without another thought. The problem is that you and I are on that boat headed south and we’re on board solely because of the permanent residence of our self-deluded politicians on Mt. Stupid.

If you want to know more about the Dunning-Krueger effect, click on the charts above. If you want to get rid of politicians stuck on the peak of Mt. Stupid, vote them off the mountain this November and in 2024 and recruit others to do the same.*

Smack Down

I know you hear the outrageous, hateful, bigoted rants of haters who seek to marginalize us, to create divisions to weaken us, to give power to the minority at the expense of the majority. Maybe your blood boils when you hear leaders spew lies and fear and your eyes go googly when some otherwise ordinary citizen recites the crap s/he has been fed by the hate mongers.

And just maybe you wish that somebody – anybody – would hit back hard. You need right and wrong to be restored to something having moral fiber.

Well, wait no longer.

The video below is of Michigan State Senator Mallory McMorrow on April 19 offering “words” for another senator who had trashed her with accusations of pedophilia in an emailed fund raiser the night before. Even if you’ve seen it, watch it again.

This is the kind of sterner stuff we need in this country. This is the kind of impassioned smack down of hatred that we need to see in every venue where hateful idiots are spewing vile lies. Sen. McMorrow may be exactly who we’ve been waiting for to shine a light that leads us all back onto the right path.

 


* Here’s a comment from one of the D-K pieces, addressed to those on the peak of Mt. Stupid:

“Please move out now while you still know it all.”

————————————

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Getting Attention, Statistics and Projection


Hey! Over Here!

The New York Times gathered for a discssion Four Opinion Writers on How the G.O.P. Fringe Took Over American Politics. Here’s a comment from Ezra Klein from that discussion.

“Democrats have a lot of theories of policy. They have a lot of theories of politics. They just do not have a theory of attention. And what I would say for the Trumpist Republican Party is it mostly doesn’t have a theory of policy. It has a middling theory of politics, and it is overwhelmed by its own theory of attention. And I don’t think there’s some kind of grand strategic plan happening over there.

“But I think that one way to think about the asymmetry, or maybe the inversion of the two sides right now, is that Republicans know how to get attention, but they don’t know how to be strategic about it. And Democrats know how to be strategic, but they don’t know how to get attention.”

I maintain that messaging from Democrats is uninspiring and commonly submarines their value to Americans. Klein is adding that they don’t know how to get attention, this in the face of Republicans who are experts at getting attention. I’m certain he’s right.

The key tools Republicans use to get attention are:

  1. Stoking fear of “the other”, be they Democrats or Blacks or Mexicans or Muslims – all the usual suspects. Those “others” aren’t real Americans, Republicans would have us believe.
  2. Saying crazy, even stupid things and being outrageous.

Clearly, Democrats aren’t going to stoke racial fears and hatreds in order to get attention and votes. But what about being outrageous? They can:

Call out Republican lies and label them that way – not falsehoods or misstatements: LIES! And ask Americans how they like being lied to.

Many thanks to JN for passing this along.

As the food stamp program is ending they can make headlines saying, “Republicans don’t care if poor kids starve!”

They can go on the Sunday news programs and tell America that Republicans are banning and burning books, just like the Nazis.

Speaking of books, Democrats can proclaim that Republicans want to cut short your kids’ education – leave them ignorant and prepared to be losers. They even want to close your public school.

Beto can tell Texas women that Gov. Abbott wants them to carry their rapist’s baby to term. And carry the babies from incest, too. Even if they’ll likely die in childbirth. Same thing in Mississippi, Oklahoma, Florida and other states.

Declare that new strains of Covid are already here and it’s killing our unvaccinated, but Republicans don’t care if they die.

Speaking of Covid, Republicans are spreading anti-vaccine and anti-mask disinformation, fighting against everything that would help end the pandemic. They’re doing that to attack Democrats over the inflation caused by the pandemic! Clearly, they don’t care if Americans go broke or die. That last sentence is the important one.

You get the picture. It’s how it’s said that gets attention.

One of the reasons so many liked Trump is that he seemed to them to be strong. No politically correct phrasing comes from him. He’s all about groundless accusation and promises of “unbelievable” and “huge” great stuff that never materializes. And he’s about “hit back harder,” as declared by Kellyanne Conway, as though hitting back harder were a good thing. Many see that stuff as strength.

There’s no need for Democrats to mimic Trump’s cruelty and stupidity. All they have to do to appeal to those wanting strong leaders (that’s all of us) is to speak plainly.

For example, when Ted Cruz was abusing Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson over kids’ books, Democrats should have said the same thing publicly as they screamed while watching their TVs: “What a jerk! That guy wouldn’t know the truth if he read it in a children’s book.” I.e., Democrats must speak the outrage plainly.

Instead, we got Dick Durbin doing nothing. When he did speak he seemed to have a mouth full of oatmeal.

He let Lindsay Graham get away with his temper tantrum, false accusations, stealing 50% more time than was his, and then storming off like a 7-year-old brat. We got next to nothing in leadership from the #2 senator at a time when strength was called for. What we should have heard from Durbin was,

“The senator’s time is done – we’re not negotiating more. The senator will silence himself or he will be removed from this chamber. He will not be allowed to come back until he is prepared to apologize for his rude, insulting behavior and write on the board, ‘I will follow the rules, I will follow the rules,’ 100 times.”

That would be outrageous, of course, yet appropriate. And it would have made the 10:00 o’clock news across the nation. The Ds would have gotten some good attention as the strong ones. It would have been clear what they stand for. Instead, it was just another lost opportunity and a show of weakness.

Democrats have managed to disagree with Republicans, but only in nicey-nice Democrat-speak. That gets no attention. But it just isn’t that hard to get attention. The question is whether they have the courage to do what’s necessary.

Must Read

Late find following the writing of this post:

Thom Hartmann writes, “It seems that Democratic leadership is suffering from a serious deficiency of outrage.”

Statistics of the Week

From the Center for American Progress:

“There are 139 elected officials in the 117th Congress [109 representatives and 30 senators] who still deny the scientific consensus of human-caused climate change.”

These Republicans “have received more than $61 million in lifetime contributions from the coal, oil, and gas industries.” [emphasis original]

Projection Speak of the Week

Democracy is failing and authoritarianism is rising because of democracy’s bad moral foundations, said Sergey Karagonov, former advisor to Vladimir Putin, from back in the days when Putin had advisors. Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of the powerless Russian legislative body, attacked democracy as the evil against which good guy authoritarians fight. Think: Putin as a warrior for all that is good and right in the world.

Somebody please tell me when there has been an authoritarian whose primary motive wasn’t amassing wealth and power for him/herself. For extra points, name one who made the lives of ordinary citizens better. Name even one authoritarian (another word for “dictator”) who wasn’t amoral or immoral and who didn’t descend into some form of debauchery and cruelty.

Oddly, an authoritarian is exactly what our extremist political righties think they want. Set aside whether that is an American thing to do. Focus for the moment on whether you want to be under the thumb of a self-serving, amoral, cruel dictator. See this Sunday’s post for more.

Sadly, our home grown authoritarian lovers don’t even get to the point of thinking about such things. They get a short-lived jolt of power from their tirades as they demand non-democracy, but they’re left powerless immediately after the power rush fades.

The science is well known about how anger short circuits logic and reason and it is that short circuit that we have to confront if we are to avoid a Vladimir Putin wannabee in power over the United States of America. For more, read this from Heather Cox-Richardson.

————————————

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Cancel Culture, Crayons, Lincoln & Lemonade


Cancel Culture

It’s about shutting down, shutting up and shutting off opponents.

The power of authoritarians lies in the absolute, unthinking enforcement of their desires and taboos by absolute, unthinking followers who are otherwise average people. We’ve watched this dynamic in constant replay through all the Trump years, as people did and do unpatriotic things just because Trump wanted them to – and they’ve believed their actions were patriotic. All such things require is a nod from the authoritarian and people will do destructive, even self-destructive things. And nobody will push back against the authoritarian for fear of being persecuted and even expelled from the group at any time and for any reason.

For example, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) was a Trump sycophant. He regularly carried water for Trump and even talked insurrectionist trash at the rally on the Ellipse on January 6. But he got on the wrong side of Trump and has been kicked to the side by Trump and his followers. Brooks has been cancelled.

That’s cancel culture.

The funny thing is that Trump suck-ups point their sinister, threatening fingers at Democrats, accusing them of cancel culture whenever Dems decry bad behavior, like cops killing unarmed Black men. Then these same Trump wannabees proceed to cancel gays, lesbians, Blacks, teachers, doctors and more using legislation to shut them down, up and off. And they seek to end our democracy and our Constitution, which these cancelers falsely claim they are protecting.

The armies of the authoritarians charge ahead without so much as a single critical thought in their heads. That’s how Hitler got millions of ordinary and otherwise peaceful Germans to do the most despicable things. Threats and intimidation are all it takes. As Lord Tarkin said in Star Wars – Episode IV, “Fear will keep the local systems in line.” And so it does.

Republicans used to be strong advocates for law and order and for the rule of law. Yet on April 6 all but two Republicans voted not to hold Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino in contempt of Congress for having obviously and publicly refused to comply with lawful subpoenas issued to them by the January 6 Committee. Plainly, these guys broke the law. You would be in jail in a heartbeat if you did such a thing, but 203 Republican representatives voted to let these guys skate.

This happened because the House Select Committee is getting ever closer to Trump’s involvement in the insurrection, so Trump wants to stymie the committee. His unthinking and absolutist sycophants in the House did his unpatriotic bidding by voting against the contempt resolutions for fear of being persecuted and perhaps expelled from the Trump cult, like Mo Brooks. Ask Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney if you need further explanation.

Obeying Trump is more important to most Republicans than obeying the law.
So, they used their NO votes to cancel the rule of law.
.

That’s cancel culture.

Here’s a reminder from the New York TimesBret Stevens. Read these words as the marching orders for today’s Republicans.

.  .  .  we recall the words of Otter, one of the frat house characters from “National Lampoon’s Animal House”: “I think this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part.”

Canceling the rule of law is really stupid. Our job is to make sure that effort is futile. We have to cancel the cancelers.

Crayons

I don’t know where I found the graphic to the right – at the bottom it says, “Your Tango.” Feel free to explore.

Meanwhile, this is so simple – and frightening – that it could be written in crayon. If I had crayons.

Somehow, I managed to get to this point in life without having read George Orwell’s 1984. While walking the dog recently I came to a house with a Little Free Library in the front yard by the sidewalk. There I found a copy of 1984 and took it home.

Couldn’t resist

Within minutes of starting to read the book I was startled to find a plain description of Trump rallies, the January 6 insurrection and the mindless public recitations of demonstrably and obviously false claims. Here’s just a bit of the description of a Big Brother Two Minutes Hate session.

“The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretense was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic.”

” .  .  .  the entire group of people broke into a deep, slow, rhythmical chant of ‘B-B! .  .  .  B-B! .  .  .  B-B!” over and over again, very slowly, with a long pause between the first “B” and the second – a heavy, murmurous sound, somehow curiously savage, in the background of which one seemed to hear the stamp of naked feet and the throbbing of tom-toms.  .  .  it was an act of self-hypnosis, a deliberate drowning of consciousness by means of rhythmic noise.”

There is a mob mentality that is alive and murderous in our country. From “Lock her up!” to “Beat the hell out of protesters” to “Can we use the guns now?” we are awash in angry people who deny reality and recite the lies and rage they have been taught to chant by the authoritarian. They are ravenous for power and do not care who or what gets trampled by their stampede, even those things that allow them to rage.

Sometimes, their violence is thinly veiled. Sometimes, they make death threats and they menace voters and school boards. Sometimes, they shoot people.

Would that Orwell were wrong.

Abraham Lincoln and You

No, that isn’t the title of Heather Cox-Richardson’s April 15 post, but it could be.

She begins her post with this: “Early in the morning of April 15, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln breathed his last.” With him could have gone the glue holding the states together and our very democracy, even as the Civil War was all but over.

But it wasn’t over – not really – and we see it being waged today in sneaky, dishonest ways. Except for slavery itself, all the divides of those awful years are with us and they are as threatening and corrupt today as they were then. Richardson’s post is a must-read – here’s a link.

Lemonade

Friday night I found the flyer you see at the right stuffed into my mailbox. The next day I stopped by to find that 3 first grade girls, 7 years old, had created the flyer and had set up a lemonade stand, complete with cookies, surprise packages and bags of dog treats. They and several of their friends flagged down cars, sold their goodies and were devastatingly cute.

“Just a kid thing,” you might say. But when that cold spring day was over these kids had raised almost $800 to send to an outfit doing humanitarian work for Ukrainians.

And the kids had learned a lesson about helping those who need help. They’re a great example for all of us.

Girls, YOU ROCK!

————————————

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Freedom and At Long Last


Freedom

Passover is nearly here. It offers many messages and one of the most important is the message of freedom.  It is the story of a people living without freedom for hundreds of years and they knew that bitterness. It is exactly that bitterness that the Ukrainian people are now fighting to prevent from overwhelming them.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Freedom loving people all over the world stand with Ukraine and its people. Now is a good time to help, because these days are desperate for the Ukrainian people.

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A Platform, At Long Last

It’s true. Really.

The Republicans at long last actually have a platform!

Pretty much.

Mitch McConnell has publicly declared that Republicans will not have a platform for the 2022 and 2024 elections, just like in 2018 and 2020 when they refused to take a stand on anything. No policies, no positions, no programs, no nuthin’. But opportunist, Medicare defrauder and presidential hopeful Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) has made his Look-At-Me! mark with his 11-Point Plan To Rescue America.

This crook (details below) is actually declaring he’s for something other than brain-free opposition to the opposition. And what a plan he’s proposing! Here’s a link to his self-serving, gag-on-the-flag explanation. I encourage you to link through to the details of his “points.” CNN had a look and made some comments of their own in their piece, Rick Scott’s ‘Plan to Rescue America’ will do anything but that. Here are some of Scott’s key points:

The Rick Scott 11-Point Plan To Rescue America
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  1. First, we’ll raise $1 trillion in new taxes, almost entirely on the backs of the poorest Americans. And o’ joy! There won’t be any financial impact on Scott’s hedge fund buddies. We’ll tax the poor to ensure that “every American has skin in the game.” Yes, he said that.
  2. Next, we’ll end Social Security.
  3. And Medicare.
  4. And the Affordable Care Act.
  5. And Medicaid,
  6. We’ll end every social welfare/safety net program within five years. He calls it “sunsetting.” What that really means is a knife across the throat of all the programs that help people, so call it “murdering.”
  7. Trump stole $15 billion from the Defense Department and built only 80 miles of his wall in places where there wasn’t already a barrier. Rick Scott will finish the remaining 1,500+ miles of that wall and name it after Trump (“Felon’s Fortification”?). And no, Mexico won’t pay for it. You will.

I know you think I’m making this up, but I’m not. This is the Republican dream that they’ve dreamed for decades. It’s been their hearts’ fondest desire to kill FDR’s New Deal, the collection of programs that led this country and all Americans out of the Great Depression. Rick Scott wants to lead Republicans in stopping all the things that help people.

Did I mention fraud? Before he ran for office, Scott’s healthcare company committed the biggest Medicare fraud in U.S. history and had to pay an $840 million fine. Here’s the complete fact check.

So, let’s see, first Rick Scott defrauds you and me and the U.S. government – he’s the Big Kahuna of Medicare cheats. Now he wants to cheat some more by taking from working and poor people who are barely getting by and then he wants to eliminate all the the things that help them. What would you call that?

Now, at long last, we have a clear declaration of what Republicans will do if they get their hands on the reins of power again.

You good with that?

Must Read

“Democrats need to get back to a fundamental message: When in power, they make government work for ordinary people and defend American values (democracy, opportunity, fairness, playing by the rules). They solve real problems. When Republicans are in power, they create division, conflict and chaos. They are not on your side. That’s it. A simple dichotomy.”                                                                                 Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post

Gotta add something.

It’s time – long past time, really – to take an axe to Republican lies and cruelties. Call these guys out ruthlessly with the truth.

I know, I know – Democrats like to play nice and they don’t like to be mean.

GET OVER IT!

Because we can already smell the defeat that’s on the way.

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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
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  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
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JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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