21st Century

Gerrymandering and Self-Neutering


Gerrymandering

Here are results from the 2020 U.S. House of Representatives elections* in some “swing states.” Have a look.

Texas

Republicans won 53.43% of the popular vote, but have 63.9% of the House seats.

Wisconsin
Republicans won 51.43% of the popular vote, but have 62.5% of the House seats.
North Carolina

Republicans won 49.4% of the popular vote (they lost the popular vote!), but have 61.5% of the House seats.

Missouri

Republicans won 57.98% of the popular vote, but have 75% of the House seats.

Oklahoma

Saving the best for last:

Republicans won 67.31% of the popular vote, but have 100% of the House seats!

This is what gerrymandering does to elections and to the will of We The People. It is what causes constant obstructionism in Congress. In the states, it is what produces the most draconian, evil, voting suppression laws, the “we promise to steal the next election” laws, the Texas “we love vigilantes” law and Mississippi’s attack on Roe v. Wade.

If this looks okay to you, there’s no need to do anything. But if this looks to you like a corrupt assault on democracy and an undermining of the will of We The People and like your vote is being tossed into a dumpster fire, contact the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (former A.G. Eric Holder’s shop) and tell them you want to help to repair this hideous abuse of our democracy.

Self-Neutering

Democrats are wimpy. Their words are too nice and they speak with the confusion of different messages, all with way too many words to remember and all at once. They get steam-rolled every day by strong, anger-inducing and unified messages from Republicans, who have the benefit of not being constrained by truth or reality.

Democrats are talking about the cost of the BBB bill, which at best causes eyes to glaze over and at worst scares the hell out of voters. Instead, they should consistently be talking about the benefits of their program, the stuff that voters will feel and love, the stuff that polls at around 80%. Instead, their time is used to bicker among themselves. I don’t know what they are seeing, but I’m seeing a party in disarray that can’t manage to walk across the street without creating a traffic jam. Do they think they’re convincing voters?

Democrats continue their insanity and while that’s happening the Republicans are picking the pocket of our democracy. The theft is going on in plain sight and most of the Democrats most of the time are squabbling with one another, insisting on their version of perfect, instead of protecting our country from the insurgents. What are we to do with this?

Sheila Markin addressed ways to stop the theft of our democracy in her recent post, but I tell you that I am not encouraged. Here’s a point from that essay.

Congress could pass the new Manchin inspired Voting Rights Act that outlaws PARTISAN gerrymandering but to do so Congress would need to carve out an exception to the filibuster and that looks like a pipe dream right now.

Anybody have time for a pipe dream?

I get that a complete end to the filibuster would make it impossible to stop the barbarian hordes when they are once again in the majority in the senate. Fine. Just do a carve-out for voting legislation. I do not understand the Democrats refusing to do that.

What do you think draconian Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader would do were he faced with a situation like this? Right. And he would get what he wants. What is the point of the Democrats self-neutering? Somebody explain that to all of us.

It seems to me that the only way for us to have free, fair elections and to ensure the continuation of our democracy is for Democrats to find the courage to modify the filibuster with a carve-out for voting rights legislation. Then pass both pieces that are ready to go and DO THAT RIGHT NOW.

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* Charts are from Wikipedia

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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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. 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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

So Many Crises, So Little Time


Fiddle (or golf) while America burns?

The vast majority of Americans are sick and tired of being sick and tired.¹ ² We’re sick of the things about which we disapprove and we’re tired of them being tolerated. We’re sick of disrespect everywhere we look and tired of fighting it. We’re sick of self-righteousness and tired of its mob. We’re sick of assaults on what we hold dear and tired of those attacks being countenanced. We’re sick of selfishness and tired of hoping for something better. We’re sick of helplessness and tired of despair. We’re sick of attacks on our democracy and tired of finding yet more vicious attacks on it.

And all of this is happening as we are besieged by impatient crises that simply cannot wait.

The pandemic

The horrendous wealth gap and the misery of our poor and middle class people

Attacks on civil rights and voting rights

The obvious and looming climate crisis

Our decrepit infrastructure and lack of preparedness for the future

Our incendiary immigration dysfunction

The idiotic, dishonest Republican brinkmanship over the debt ceiling. See the graphic to the right, courtesy of JN.

The crises pile atop one another and we get only partisan warfare instead of serious action – and we tolerate that. In short, we’ve stopped believing in ourselves. This is how democracies die.

The drumbeat of the daily report of Covid infections and deaths has faded into elevator music that we no longer hear. After all, “just” 1,625 people are dying of it every day and it isn’t you or someone you knew, unless you know more than 500 people. Its easy not to feel it.

The mobs that swarm our state capitols and the thugs who make death threats against public officials and volunteers at polling places are remote and impersonal for over 99% of us, so it’s easy to fail to react. Besides, all of that has become background noise because of a perverse familiarity.

Congress has been set in rigor mortis for decades, with intransigence the norm, as the system is gamed. We’re desperate for leadership that is worthy of our trust. Disappointingly, our politicians have proven to be mere humans after all, focused on self-interest first, last and always.

Nero Destruction Award – NOT a Trump non-disclosure agreement

Absurdly, our search for better brought us Donald Trump, the most totally self-interested of all. Indeed, the fires burning our democracy had been smoldering for decades, yet Trump golfed and, to complete the metaphor, continues to throw gasoline on those fires. He was and is worthy of a Nero Destruction Award.

We have millions who believe that cheating is not only acceptable, but that it is good, that the end justifies the dishonest means. They believe that “Don’t tread on me” and that “.  .  .  the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants”³ are calls to arms against fellow citizens, and all the while they believe they are the true patriots. There is nothing so destructive as a holy war and that’s what they think they’re waging.

All of that angers and either energizes or deflates us. But wallowing in our being sick and tired of being sick and tired simply isn’t an acceptable option. We either do what needs to be done or both we and this democracy will be interred in permanent despair.

We Have a Democracy To Save

That is, by far, our most urgent need, the crisis that overwhelms them all. And it can’t wait another moment, because if we fail to stand and be counted in this challenge, the other crises will soon look quite small.

We distract ourselves with our sports. They’re our modern gladiatorial contests. We exhaust our powers of attention on the trivialities of Facebook and designer eyebrows and Britney Spears and pointless Zoom calls and deleting emails and washboard abs and more. But those all-too-abundant dilutions of our focus are what allow for the destruction of our democracy.

Thomas Paine

So many crises, so little time, yet be clear that we have to focus on the overriding issue, the most important and most urgent: saving our democracy. Both history and the future of our children require that we set aside our distractions and rise to this occasion.

We start by ensuring voting rights for all, fairly accepted and impartially implemented as the will of We the People. That’s why those two voting rights acts need to be passed into law immediately.

“`These are the times that try men’s [and women’s] souls.” Again.

Resources – a Wake Up Call

I’m no Democrat — but I’m voting exclusively for Democrats to save our democracy, by Max Boot

We are Republicans With a Plea: Elect Democrats in 2022, by Christine Todd Whitman and Miles Taylor

This Is Why We Need to Spend $4 Trillion, by David Brooks

Our Constitutional Crisis Is Already Here. by Robert Kagan

Anything by Anne Applebaum

How Democracies Die, by Sam Levitsky and Daniel Zieblatt

How Fascism Works, by Jason Stanley

On Tyranny, by Timothy Snyder

How the South Won the Civil War, by Heather Cox Richardson (on recommendation – in my reading queue now)

How Far Down the Road Towards Fascism Has America Gone?, by Thom Hartmann

I Know This Is Crazy, But Maybe We Should Live Under Majority Rule, by Jamelle Bouie

September 27 Twitter thread by Mark Jacob

IMPORTANT: Book links to Amazon are for informational purposes only. Please see Note #4 below.

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¹ From the Merriam-Webster dictionary: thoroughly fatigued or bored; also: fed up

² As quoted from Nan Whaley, Mayor of Dayton, OH and candidate for governor.

³ Thomas Jefferson in a letter to William Stephens Smith, son-in-law of John Adams, 1787.

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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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. 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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

A 10-Point Action Plan For Democrats


Becoming a senator or representative was not intended by the Founders to be a career. It was meant to be a temporary post, one of taking a turn at representing one’s neighbors and making decisions for the nation. After a stint doing that a person would return to whatever they were doing before, like farming, and a newbie would come along to continue the legislative work. But now most of them dig in and stay (see point 7 below). They’re rather like a persistent allergen: it’s hard to get rid of them.

Right now we have a most dangerous pollen collection in Congress. In the House is Republican Kevin McCarthy, who only once spoke truth on January 6 and who has lied ever since. Leading the Senate Republicans is diabolical, 78-year-old Mitch McConnell (he’s been there 36 years – a very mucilaginous pollen). He’s diabolical because his words and actions make it painfully clear that Mitch only cares about Mitch. He’ll throw under the bus whoever and whatever gets in the way of his maniacal grab for more power. He’s even pleased to dishonor our nation before the world by threatening to cause us to default on our debts. And his Senate caucus members seem to have lost their spines, as they do whatever he tells them to do, regardless of how damaging his orders are for the country.

Most dangerous are the Trump robots who will repeat any absurd, outrageous thing that comes out of Trump’s mouth. They will make imbecilic, evidence-free claims against science and about non-existent election conspiracies. And they repeat imaginary connections to pedophile blood drinkers, socialists and, of course, George Soros. He’s a touchstone for foamy-mouth Republicans, who will invoke Soros’ name whenever they’re soliciting contributions. Such demonizing of opponents is standard stuff of fascists and authoritarians. Some of them are in Congress and it’s hard to get rid of them (see point 7 below).

All of that is extremely dangerous, because these people are attacking our very democracy from all sides. They contort themselves into cerebrum-free pretzels to whip up their authoritarian-loving “base.” That’s a code name for angry people being played for fools, who will believe any rageful thing, whose votes can be had and whose dollars can be separated from them. The point is that those politicians are on a swamp march to gain absolute power for themselves as authoritarians. Worse, they’re doing so in a fraudulent costume of patriotism.

The rot is everywhere that is red – red states, red politicians, red cable and radio blabbers, red online trolls and liars and the red, big money turncoats willing to sell out our country to have a slightly fatter wealth portfolio. Get your expectations in line with the likelihood of a vengeful dictator instead of a president if the Rs win in 2024. That election will be your last chance to vote.

What makes this even more frustrating is that the Democrats have good ideas for desperately needed projects and services that have been neglected for over 40 years. They have the opportunity to do what’s needed to make that stuff happen, as well as to blunt the Republican march to the bottom of the swamp. But instead of doing what’s needed, they’re having sibling fits of obstinance.

Another sad DNC bumper sticker – GET MESSAGING HELP!

There are moderates (two senators) and progressives each insisting on getting all of what they want. In President Obama’s terms, they are letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. In the process, they are ensuring that nothing gets done to make things better and that the Republicans won’t even have to break stride on their swamp march.

This is an exercise in self-destruction and an undermining of trust in government.

To restore faith in government and hold off the would-be fascists, we’re going to have to stop doing the things that undermine our form of government. The Republicans are the problem, so the Democrats are going to have to learn to be bold and take on the challenge themselves. Here’s a message to them.

A 10-Point Action Plan For Democrats
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  1. Compromise on the Build Back Better reconciliation bill to get the ball rolling so that voters get the feel-good of it well in advance of the 2022 election. They need a visceral sense of the benefits of Democrats being in charge. You can revisit the rest of what you want to do after that election, assuming you don’t screw up the election and wind up in the minority.
  2. Carve-out an exception from the Senate filibuster rules, to allow legislation pertaining to voting rights to pass on a simple majority vote. Then pass the two bills that will ensure full voting rights for all Americans and will block Republican thefts of elections. Do that now so that political gerrymandering can be prevented from distorting the 2022 election. If you aren’t willing to do all that, you will perpetually be played by a vicious minority and you will lose forever. This is your only chance. Don’t screw this up. Here’s a reference, just in case the reality isn’t obvious enough.
  3. Start playing hardball for House and Senate seats (ref: points 4 and 9). Make the Rs squirm by highlighting their cowardice, their dishonesty, their anti-American attacks on our democracy and their almost homicidal behavior that has allowed and encouraged Covid-19 to kill over 715,000 Americans. They’ve pulled the plug on granny. Hey, that’s a bumper sticker you can use! See point 10.
  4. Stop using typical Democratic Party wimpy tactics and instead hammer these guys in the knees. Fog out the message next year about how the Republicans voted like goose steppers AGAINST the programs that the overwhelming majority of voters want. Rub their noses in it. If you’re not willing to do that and more, drop out of the race to make room for someone who actually intends to win.
  5. Expand the Supreme Court with 4 new centrist-to-left justices after the 2022 election to offset the McConnell bastardization of the Court (see the chart below). And fill every open federal bench with similar people. Caution: This will require you to grow a pair.
  6. Fix Congress and the Supreme Court – Say it with me: “Term limits.” This is a requirement for survival.
  7. Offer statehood to Puerto Rico and DC in 2023, both to improve Democrat headcount in Congress and because it’s the right thing to do.
  8. Treat rural and non-college educated citizens with respect. It will be a refreshing change. Start by fielding really good congressional candidates in red states and fund them well so they can connect with voters just as though they’re human beings, not elitists.
  9. Aggressively attack the blabbers who indirectly kill people by lying about Covid, those online, on cable and in Congress. Call them mean names that they so richly deserve. Call out the “stop the steal” liars in Congress. Do it in the well of the Senate and House. Do this aggressively. Translation: Grow a pair.
  10. Get help with messaging. The Republicans came up with “Stop the Steal.” However dishonest, it’s a great bumper sticker and rallying cry. What’s yours? “We’re working on a Build Back Better compromise and maybe we’ll have something in a couple of years or so”? “Gosh, Mitch is a meanie?” Will Rogers said it best: “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” It’s time to both end such self-defeating stuff – it isn’t cute anymore – and present a compelling message to the country that people can remember and champion.

Start playing the right game. This ain’t beanbag; this is hardball. If at any time you’re unsure what to do, ask yourself what Mitch McConnell would do were he in your circumstances.

I repeat: This is your only chance. Don’t screw this up.

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Approval Rating of Supreme Court Drops to Lowest Level – EVER
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Our approval of the Supreme Court has plummeted 18% this year alone.
Expect it to get worse, unless we do something about it.

Click the chart for the Gallup report.

Resources

Hungarian-Style Soft Fascism Is the GOP’s Ruthless New Brand, by Thom Hartmann

Do Democrats Have the Courage of Liz Cheney?, by Tom Friedman

Our Constitutional Crisis Is Already Here, by Robert Kagan

This Is Why We Need to Spend $4 Trillion, by David Brooks

Protests Are Taking Over The World. What’s Driving Them?, by Zachariah Mampilly

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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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. 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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Liberty


Samuel Johnson

Just before the American Revolution the English poet and literary critic Samuel Johnson asked,

“How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?”

In a singular way, his insightful question puts a perspective to our founding hypocrisy. What was the contortion of mind and soul that allowed our Founders, men of great intellect and profound moral clarity, to live with such duplicity? One might reasonably think that, surely, that inconsistency must have vanished long ago, at least as far back as the abolishing of slavery, but I don’t think so.

Jim Crow didn’t end when southern governors were forced by National Guard or 101st Airborne troops to step aside and allow Blacks (or, really, any non-Whites) to attend public school with Whites. It didn’t end at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, NC, nor did it end with the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. And it didn’t end when Trayvon Martin fell to the ground dead with a bag of Skittles in his pocket.  On one side of each of these incidents and so many more were Whites yelping loudly about their liberty and demanding it to the detriment of others.

It’s no different with our flagrant White supremacists today. Some adorn their pickup trucks with Trump flags and intimidate innocent people. Others intimidate with a vote or with their signature, often on letterhead from the House or Senate, state legislatures or governors’ mansions. These are people of power and stature, the heirs to the mantle handed down from the Founders.

They don’t own slaves or chase people from lunch counters or schoolhouse doors any more, but they work every day to keep non-Whites from voting, to keep them down and powerless. And as these people in power steal from non-Whites – and they’ve expanded their domination to suppress the poor and our young people, too – they are all the while yelping loudly about their liberty.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have we learned nothing in these hundreds of years since Samuel Johnson asked his painful question?

Now add this from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”

Quite obviously millions covet their duplicitous, foolish consistency. It is much adored by our little statesmen and those who cheer them and harbor that self-same hypocrisy. Our duplicity hasn’t gone away. It’s just mutated and metastasized into today’s cruel, selfish liberty for some, but not for others.

Edward M. Kennedy, 1980

So, it falls to us to honor the pledge of Sen. Edward Kennedy, speaking at the 1980 Democratic National Convention:

“The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.”

Our challenge, as ever, is to make that dream of liberty live.

.

Many thanks to JN for the chuckle

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Serving The Dream

We need to reach voters in cities where they’ve been repeatedly slammed by so-called “100 year storms.” They at last believe the climate crisis is real and that it truly is a crisis, but believing in this reality isn’t enough; we have to do something about it – like VOTE FOR THOSE WHO WILL ACT TO COOL THE CLIMATE AND PROTECT US! 

You can help to motivate people to vote for candidates who are serious about combating the climate crisis by sending postcards that remind voters to take action. This has been made easy to do by the Postcards for Climate folks. You don’t have to be a wordsmith to do this because they’ll give you the script.

LINK HERE to get your postcards. And be sure to get your kids involved, because they’ll want to be able to breathe and eat when they’re adults. Plus, democracy is a participation sport, so sending postcards is good citizenship training for them.

We have to do democracy in order to have democracy.

– Kelly Ward Burton, President, National Democratic Redistricting Committee

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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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. 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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The End


Hanging from the rear view mirror of the car parked next to mine.

If you’ve never attended a soccer game played by six-year-olds then you’ve missed the practicing of cartwheels, playing of rock-paper-scissors and spacing out while twiddling hair, all while on the field. It’s something of an athletic and sociological miracle that goals are scored.

When our granddaughter’s game was over we headed back to the car and spotted this rear view mirror hanger in the car in the next space. At first I thought this little forward-vision-impairment item (in lieu of fuzzy dice) was a nice little feel-good.

It is, indeed, that, and its simplicity is appealing, but it has a major flaw. That’s because the end can be catastrophic if we allow that. The simple feel-good must not distract us from the important work we have to do if we’re to craft what must come about, the OK end.

For example, read this from a recent post by Dan Rather:

This idea of conservative and liberal becomes even more strained when we try to apply it to the courts, particularly the current Supreme Court. We talk about the “conservative” justices, as if they are holding back the mobs to protect the sanctity of the Constitution. In reality they are laying waste to settled Constitutional rights and condoning attacks on our democratic process. Doesn’t seem very conservative to me.

Me either. It’s really important that we do something to stop “conservative” justices from trashing the Constitution and our democracy. Complacency on our part just won’t do.

Here’s another example from a recent Paul Krugman essay focused on the Republicans voting not to raise the debt ceiling, this via filibuster. That’s pretty much like you refusing to pay your credit card bill. If you did that you wouldn’t be extended credit anywhere and even worse things would happen. Same for the United States. Here’s a good explainer for that. Now on to Krugman’s comments.

Make U.S. debt unsafe — make the U.S. government an unreliable counterparty [trading partner], because its ability to pay its bills is contingent on the whims of an irresponsible opposition party — and the disruption to world markets could be devastating.

He went on to say,

What is new is the complete ruthlessness of the modern Republican Party, which is single-mindedly focused on regaining power, never mind the consequences for the rest of the country. [emphasis mine]

So ask yourself: If a party doesn’t care about the state of the nation when the other party is in power, and it knows that its opposition suffers when bad things happen, what is its optimal political strategy? The answer, obviously, is that it should do what it can to make bad things happen. [emphasis Krugman’s]

That kind of behavior is now commonly done by Republicans. And similar to the point about Rather’s essay, that’s just not okay and complacency on our part just won’t do.

There are plenty of other examples where complacency won’t do, like the continuing Covid homicides in Red states, White supremacist hate and threats of violence, the efforts to steal elections, the foot dragging on dealing with the climate crisis and more. I think that little mirror hanger sign we discovered following the soccer game, the one that assures us that things will be okay in the end, is accurate, but that won’t – it can’t – happen through complacency. This is going to take a lot of work for a long time.

Final Question

It’s my belief that Mitt Romney, for all the disagreements I have with him over policy, is a sensible man with a clear moral compass. There are other Republicans in the Senate who can be described the same way. But if that’s true, how in the world could they filibuster against raising the debt ceiling, essentially threatening to severely harm the United States and even the the entire world? How would that be okay in the end?

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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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. 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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

That Elusive More Perfect Union


There are always impassioned young men who are quick to anger, who instantly deliver a snarl and vitriol, are over-eager to dominate and impatient for violence. Some remain that way for a very long time. They love their hate and anger and the rush of power they get from that, as their spittle flies. Ignorance is no impediment and they are easy targets for manipulators. They are heedless of who gets hurt in their quest for power and vengeance. Indeed, hurting others is more than collateral damage; it’s their reason. *

Click me and discover our violent reality

It should come as no surprise to any of us that people nurture their grievances today much as the Southern traitors did in 1861. They justify their rebellion in their victimhood. They have the power rush and their absolute belief in their righteousness. They hunker down and plot ways to attack, to hit back. We’re seeing it today in a continuing assault on reality, on our democracy and in their cowardly, selfish retreat from integrity.

Our ongoing mass carnage is testament to our national belief in violent solutions to all problems. The Gun Violence Archive tracks our mass shootings (that means bullets ripping apart 3 or more people in a single incident). To understand the efficiency with which we execute violent solutions, there have been 25 mass shootings in just the past 12 days, with 18 killed and 96 wounded. Click on the pic above or the inline link in this paragraph in order to read the page. Then scroll through the other pages. It might come to you that our killing one another isn’t just horrible; it’s normal. It’s every day. And that’s just the gun violence.

Smug, arrogant Jefferson Davis and his ministers. Nine men, each with a metaphorical White supremacist, self-righteously raised middle finger. Sound familiar? Click the pic for Jamelle Bouie’s essay.

Timothy McVeigh thought he was a patriot and hero for bombing the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and killing 168 people. Dylann Roof thought he was doing the right White supremacist thing by killing all nine people present at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. And the January 6 insurrectionists are still sure they are the true patriots, having beaten, bear sprayed, stabbed, blinded and killed the very people they pretended to champion with their Blue Lives Matter flags. May the rivers of testosterone forever flow!

Here’s a short list of things standing in our way of making things better:

  1. The lack of courage to enforce our laws evenly and fairly.
  2. Politicians whose primary driver is their self-interest.
  3. As a subset of #2, politicians who are terrified of their constituents and are spineless to the point of complete refusal to lead.
  4. Politicians who know they can’t get reelected unless they lie, cheat, steal and undermine our democracy, so they do it all.
  5. A rapidly changing world that has left millions in terrible circumstances. That’s matched with a Congress and state legislatures that are bereft of solutions, are intransigent and useless for everything but stoking the fire of rage in their “base” in order to get reelected.
  6. Idiots promoting guns, encouraging “Second Amendment remedies” and the message that everyone should be packing heat.
  7. Our refusal to energetically teach and promote civics.
  8. Our lack of a requirement for service to our nation, leaving us ignorant of one another and unwilling to sacrifice for our common good.

Clearly, this list could go on for pages. Glad to have your important additions – use the Comments section below.

It’s satisfying to point fingers, especially at politicians, but the truth that we really don’t want to acknowledge is that Pogo was right – see the cartoon to the left.

We met US in Oklahoma City, Charleston, Ft. Hood, Parkland, the Pulse Night Club and the Las Vegas concert, at Sandy Hook, the Capitol Building and in so many other places. And in every case we were and are Americans committing violence on Americans.

It is still true that the behavior we tolerate is the behavior we get. And we have tolerated far too much.

Click me for the story from The Onion.

If becoming an actual United States in a more perfect union is the goal, then that begs the question of what we are willing to do make that happen. We have some congresspeople, mostly ex-military, who get the idea of protecting and defending the Constitution, who are wired for duty, honor, country and who understand integrity and accountability. One thing we can do is to elect more people like them, irrespective of party labels.

It’s painfully obvious that pointing fingers will not be useful. If we are to get better results, we’re going to have to do something different.

—————————–

  • The spoken words are often shouted by overheated individuals who evidently believe that the lungs are the seat of wisdom.” George Will
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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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. 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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Empathy v2.0


Addendum to Can We Stop Wringing Hands?

Last Thursday President Biden borrowed portions of the speech I wrote for him and imposed a requirement for being vaccinated or tested at least weekly in most venues where the federal government has strong influence or control.

He doesn’t have the power to require teachers, staff and school children to be vaccinated or wear masks, because control of schools lies with the states, so he did the two things he could do there. First, he called out the governors who are doing so much to make things more dangerous. Second, he implored them to stop endangering the lives of children and make vaccinations and masks mandatory in schools. Note that vaccines for children under 12 won’t be available for a while, perhaps not for months.

As smack-downs go, the President’s last Thursday’s was mild, but it was a smack-down nonetheless.

While the right wing echo chamber is buzzing with hyperbolic idiocy over all of this, public sentiment is largely with President Biden and support will grow, as people see the infection, hospitalization and death rates plummet. The Biden approval rate will continue to climb as we become a healthier nation and the economy recovers.

Perhaps President Biden has made the time come sooner when we can stop wringing hands over this pandemic.

Empathy

I’ve moved quite a bit in my thinking about those who wear pandemic blinders, from their denial of the reality of the pandemic itself, to mask and vaccine refusal, to embracing conspiracies and to full-on temper tantrums on airplanes. I’ve struggled to understand the extreme right behavior that is to their significant detriment, but now I think I’ve found part of an explanation.

Tressie McMillan Cottom writes a new newsletter for the New York Times and in her first post she dug into what’s driving millions of Americans to refuse to do the simple things that will protect themselves and others. She included in her post part of her conversation with Martha M. Crawford, a psychotherapist and clinical social worker. Here are some of her comments.

Tressie: Still, I cannot deal with the Americans who are insane as it pertains to Covid denialism. What is up with them?

Martha: This is practically a Freudian notion of a kind of manic defense against death .  .  .  It is like the horror hasn’t hit them yet. They’re in an initial, almost ecstatic phase of grief where you’re just so relieved .  .  .  that you’re alive, you had your toes curled on the dip so you didn’t fall in. There’s a kind of manic response that is activated and grandiose and inflated by massive, collective crisis .  .  .

On this [denial] territory, there is no culture that is plugged into the radio, television, or reads books, that hasn’t been indoctrinated to believe in this kind of notion of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.

Okay, these refusers are denying death and invoking invulnerability, and all their experiences and exposure to ways of being are focused on bootstraps and individuality. That’s pretty psycho, but understandable.

Click for The Onion story.

My notion is that you can amplify this explanation with a thunderclap of attitude: “YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!” turbocharged by, “I’LL SHOW YOU!” (Caps and italics added to indicate shouting/screaming, like crazy people on airplanes and at school board meetings.)

Let’s be sure to cut some slack for those who waited for full FDA approval of vaccines out of an intellectually honest concern. By now, though, all vaccines have been fully vetted for a while and these folks should be fully vaccinated. If any are not, their reluctance is driven by something else.

I began this section stating that I have moved in my thinking about these refusers. At first I was puzzled and looked for explanations for why people would do self-harming things. I was concerned for their health and safety, too. You know, empathy.

Then it dawned on me that they were harming others and I was angry about that. My empathy shifted to be mostly for those others, including our frontline healthcare folks.

My primary interest is that they don’t take others down with them. I don’t have inside information, but I’m betting they haven’t asked others if they’re willing to die with them as they have their tantrums. That puts these refusers into a bucket with homicidal maniacs.

There are vaccine mandates on the way and our refusers are going to be affected. I’d like to make their transition as easy as possible, so I offer this heartfelt freedom advice for those who refuse to be vaccinated:

You have the freedom to lose your job if you refuse to be vaccinated.

You have the freedom to be refused rail and air transportation.

You have the freedom to be refused entry into the supermarket, gym, movie theater, baseball or football game and even the next MAGA rally.

You have the freedom to continue to believe what you want, for example, that Covid vaccines are unproven, dangerous and that they contain tracking nanobots that will allow Bill Gates to know where you are at all times.

You have the freedom to believe that behind the vaccines is a socialist, child blood drinking, world domination bent cabal, and that vaccines will subject you to space lasers and will suck your precious bodily fluids (Dr. Strangelove).

You have the freedom to be infuriated by governmental interference in your absolute freedom and to proclaim your rights with your gasping, choking last breath.

There’s a long list of freedoms our refusers will enjoy if they continue to insist upon being a threat to our fellow citizens.

I want to be bigger than this, more loving, more equitable in my empathy. Right now, though, as refusers make war against medicine, science, learning, wisdom, the rule of law and any hint of sacrifice for others and for our common good, this is the best I can do.

Click me for the CDC report

————————————
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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. 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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

I Know You Know This


You can’t be pro-life if you’re for capital punishment.*

You can’t be pro-life if you want to cut food assistance for poor kids.

You can’t be pro-life if you oppose medical help for poor people.

You can’t be pro-life if you want to eliminate Social Security or Medicare and let our seniors suffer in poverty – the way they used to before those programs.

You can’t be pro-life if you’re careless about the lives of at-risk pregnant women.

You can’t be pro-life if you are against the ACA that brought healthcare to over 18 million people.

You can’t be pro-life if you oppose masks and Covid vaccinations.

You can’t be pro-life if you walk past the homeless as if they aren’t there.

You can’t be pro-life if you oppose sex education and pregnancy prevention programs.

You can’t be pro-life if you oppose the very things that are pro-life.

If your pro-life caring doesn’t include these things, the truth is that your caring for the lives of people stops at the moment of their birth. Call yourself pro-fetus, if you like.

Nobody likes abortions. They are saturated with angst, with torment and with self-doubt. Nevertheless, we have never been without abortions. Before Roe they were commonly masked from society, as wealthy women were quietly helped by their doctors and poor women got mistreated in back alley hell holes. Roe put a 50-year halt to hell hole mistreatment. Reversing Roe won’t end abortions. It will just change the venue and produce suffering and dying women.

One option for us is to put aside our duplicity. That would be refreshing.

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* For every nine people who have been executed in the U.S., one person on death row has been proven innocent and released. Most of the rest were represented by inadequate legal counsel.

————————————

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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. 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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Primitive Fixes to Complex Problems


I knew a man who was born in the 1930s and who was raised on the south side of Chicago in the South Shore neighborhood. It was a thriving area and parts were quite wealthy, with grand boulevards and fabulous houses. By the 1960s it was blighted, often an urban war zone. Drugs were everywhere, as were many unhappy, unwed mothers, and the racial make up had turned upside down, This guy was angry – livid, really – at what had happened to his world.

He blamed it all on “the Blacks.” He told me they were the cause of the demise of his neighborhood. He said all men who committed rape should be castrated. When I heard him say that he was talking about “the Blacks” and I intuited that he meant for this cure to be applied to Black rapists.

He said that the welfare system was encouraging wanton promiscuity. I don’t recall if he said that his castration idea should apply to all men involved in out-of-wedlock pregnancies, but it might have. He would utter such things with barely contained fury.

Of course, his cure was never adopted, but he wasn’t alone in imagining diabolical cures for what he saw as the societal ills and the wrongs of others. There was nothing new in such tyrannical beliefs.

John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem How The Women Went from Dover details the repugnant punishment of three women for speaking publicly about their Quaker beliefs, religion and morality in 1662 Dover. For their crimes, these women were stripped to the waist and lashed 10 times each, then dragged behind a wagon from town to town where the whipping process was repeated. Over and over their flesh was ripped open. Surely, that would cure the societal ill of women speaking up and challenging male supremacy and authority.

Gov. Abbott signs the Texas vigilante powered anti-abortion bill, surrounded by 7 women and over 50 men. Click the pic

Now the Republican governor and legislators of Texas have instituted a cure for what they think of as our societal ill of abortion. It’s the same problem of insecure men wanting to impose their will and their position of dominance over others. To be fair to Texas, theirs is simply the most current and blatant attempt at this. Mississippi’s anti-abortion law will be tested in a gerrymandered, far right Supreme Court in the next session. Other cases are sure to follow, as they have repeatedly since 1973.

Patriarchal rule has been the norm throughout recorded history. So has clan dominance and fear and hatred of “others.” We’ve made inroads toward equal rights, but the pull of ancient ignorance is a powerful force, now dressed up in certainties of self-serving, chest-thumping, disingenuous language.

Simplistic, myopic thinking invariably leads to simple, draconian fixes to imagined ills that serve only a frightened, angry minority. People always pay a heavy price when these ancient prejudices are  allowed to succeed.

Speaking of Primitive Fixes

Florida, our leading unofficial clinical trial for spreading Covid infection and death, may expand the range of products available to treat patients suffering from the virus. A commissioner of Polk County, Florida, Neil Combee, composed a letter to that state’s governor proposing a game of medical Russian Roulette for stricken Floridians. In it he requested that Gov. DeSantis (R-Wuhan) promote a “Right to Try” law for treating Covid.

Think: ivermectin, a livestock de-wormer, and hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, neither with any efficacy data to support their use in treating Covid or any other virus.

The full county board put the kibosh on sending that letter, invoking the Bat Shit Crazy clause of the county procedural rules. Nevertheless, Combee may be on to something in promoting alternative treatments. Here’s why.

Two days after the Trump inaugural balls in 2017, the ones Trump financially skimmed, Kellyanne Conway stood on the lawn of the White House and defended against Chuck Todd’s interview question. He had asked why brand new press secretary Sean Spicer had blatantly and repeatedly lied at his first press briefing. She poured out a torrent of words, including saying that Spicer had given “alternative facts.” Many of us know those by another name: “lies,. But “alternative facts” sounds better to the true believers.

Indeed, the administration and the entire Republican Party gave us an ongoing tsunami of alternative facts to push their reality into an alternative universe. Oddly enough, those alternative facts are still pouring out from right wing alternative humans.

Alternative facts seem to have worked for those people, so alternative treatments for Covid, why not?

Given the possible expansion of Covid treatment options in Florida and the apparent success of alternative facts, here’s the email I sent to my friend Bob in Miami:

Hey, Bob, sorry you got the Covid. No worries, pal. I heard that Tucker Carlson and a couple of radio guys say that a shot of hemlock with a Jack Daniels chaser will get Covid off your mind.* You’ll have a right to try it, buddy. The commissioner wants you to have options and Gov. DeSantis is for it, right? Go for it!

No need to let me know how that worked out for you, Bob. Pretty sure I’ll know.

This is called the “So Long, Bob” Covid cure. Not available in most states. Void where prohibited. Your mileage may very, but not much. Just ask Socrates. Oh, wait – you can’t, because he died from drinking hemlock.

* DISCLAIMER:

I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but .  .  .

DO NOT take medical advice from this or any other Jax Politix post. For medical advice, always consult your doctor, rather than anyone focused on their own political career or cable ratings or online Likes. 👍

Friday, September 17, 2:00PM CDT – Media Matters

From Sheila Markin:

Angelo Carusone will talk about what Media Matters does and how they do it. Super smart guy. He talks really fast and thinks even faster. [He’ll tell you where disinformation comes from and how they track it and tell reporters and lawmakers about their findings, how they are getting Fox News hosts removed and [how they’re] fighting disinformation elsewhere. I know you will enjoy meeting him and asking him questions. It should be a lively discussion.

You’ll want to stream this FEEEBIE session. To do so, email Sheila at

[email protected]

and let her know you want in.

Make this even better: Pass this along to your friends and family and invite them, because a key to fighting disinformation is to be informed and smart about it. I mean, really, you can’t fight disinformation without having information.

Finally

I hope you used a little of your Saturday to remember and honor those directly impacted by 9/11, as well as our nation. There are plenty of lessons to be had, but now it’s a time to simply remember and honor.

I find myself deeply affected still by those who lost someone in the Towers, the Pentagon and in Shanksville. Their loss was and is compounded so painfully by our national shock. And I still cannot fathom the torment of that awful choice so many had to make between being burned alive or jumping to their death.

Perhaps the most profound for me are the firefighters who charged up the stairs of the towers and the military and first responders who went into the Pentagon to rescue those injured or trapped, this at a time when every survival instinct was screaming at them to get out. Hundreds paid the full price for their selfless courage. Although most wouldn’t like the title, they are heroes, all.

I was at Ground Zero just a few short weeks after. It was stunning and penetrating in so many ways. Remind me to tell you about it some day.

————————————

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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. 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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Can We Stop Wringing Hands?


Economy Hand Wringing

The August jobs report said that we added a net of “only” 235,000 jobs. That’s a big decrease from the 962,000 added in June and 1.05 million added in July. That has caused innumerable hand wringers to wail, sob and bemoan a looming catastrophe in our economy.

The truth is that our economy is continuing to expand, albeit at a slower rate in August. Unemployment went down from 5.4% to 5.2% in August and – did I mention? – a net of 235,000 people found jobs and employers found 235,000 employees. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has regained all the losses due to the pandemic.

Of course, there are lots of factors related to the pandemic that affect our economy, including ever-more people working from home, which impacts lunch revenues at restaurants and gym memberships. It also includes the economic impact of all the people who are not traveling due to Covid, as well as the enormous supply chain disruptions of the past 18 months due to Covid. Still, our economy is expanding.

The slowdown follows perfectly the immense expansion of sickness and death due to the Delta variant. If we really want to keep the economy growing robustly, all we have to do is to follow the direction of the CDC to curb the pandemic. It’s as simple as that.

Take that, economy hand wringers!

Immigration Hand Wringing

You know where you were and who you were with when you learned what had happened on 9/11. The horrific images are burned into your brain and your heart and perhaps passion still rises in you when you see those painful pictures. Maybe you remember our senators and congressmen on the steps of the Capitol Building late that day, singing God Bless America in an impromptu, non-partisan, heartfelt song of solidarity. You can see that again here. In an odd contemporary way, that was a most peculiar moment.

Israel Bellin was born in Telochin, Russian Empire in 1888. He arrived in this country with his family at age five. Fourteen years later he published his first song and went on to become one of America’s most prolific and beloved songwriters. His name was misprinted on a piece of sheet music from one of his early works as “I. Berlin” and the name stuck. Irving Berlin wrote God Bless America in 1918 during WW I and it has been a national favorite ever since, with many believing it should be our national anthem.

The peculiarity is that Berlin was a Jewish immigrant raised in poverty. There was no job waiting for his father when the family arrived at Ellis Island and Berlin had to drop out of school at age eleven to help support the family. According to a large segment of our politicians and citizens today, the only thing that would make him an acceptable immigrant is that he was White.

What would happen to this poor, non-Christian immigrant under today’s discriminatory immigration laws?  And, more to the point, how many others, who could contribute so much to this country, are being kept out now? What would they build here?

Under today’s immigration paranoia would we have Sergey Brin from Russia to co-found Google? Or Hamdi Ulukaya who left Turkey and founded Chobani Yogurt? Would we have jeans to wear if Levi Strauss had been forced to stay in Germany? Would we have the microprocessors that power everything that uses electrons if Andy Grove hadn’t come from Hungary and remade Intel? Would you be able to sell that baby crib on eBay if Pierre Omidyar’s Iranian family had been forced to stay in France?

Would members of Congress have God Bless America to sing if Berlin’s family were to apply to immigrate today?

Take that, paranoid immigration hand wringers!

Afghanistan Exit Hand Wringing

Other than the permanent hard right Biden detractors, nearly everyone agrees that ending our war in Afghanistan and bringing home our troops and extracting the Afghans who helped us was and is the right thing to do. As the president said, the alternative was to continue to bleed people and money with no possibility of any gain. He was not willing to put yet another generation of our best into harms way for nothing.

The main criticism has been over the messy exit that left 100 – 200 Americans and thousands of Afghan helpers and their families in Afghanistan. That is truly awful and even some Democrats have been critical, while the hard line accusers and demonizers, the Trumpyist of Trumpists, want Biden impeached. Don’t bother looking for valid reasoning there.

There’s just one thing: Not a single one of the denigraters has an idea for how the extraction process could have worked better. Not one. All they have is fatuous, flamboyant criticism. That brings to mind the admonition to either lead, follow or get out of the way. Perhaps we should have a congressional rule like that.

Some have said that we should have started the evacuation sooner, but that would only have generated the chaos at an earlier date. Some have said that we should have stayed there to prop up the charade of an Afghan government, but that would just prolong the bleeding and dying and deepen the bottomless money pit. Some say Trump should have included the Afghan government in the negotiations with the Taliban to underscore its legitimacy. They’re right, but that wouldn’t have prevented the chaos.

Got a better idea? Glad to hear it. Post it below. But let’s stop this national hand wringing over a war that we should have exited many years ago. Better yet: We should not have invaded that country at all. There were other ways to get bin Laden. In fact, George W. Bush turned down two of them before starting that war.

Take that, Afghanistan exit hand wringers!

————————————

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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. 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 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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