21st Century

The Ledge


She tried to talk me off the ledge, but I only moved back a bit.

It was late in the afternoon and I was suiting up for walking the dog on a cold January day, muttering under my breath and slamming drawers that had done me no wrong.

“What’s the matter?” she asked in her gentle way.

“I’m mad as hell and not fit to be with. Please respect yourself by staying away from me. I’m so damned mad I’m trying to stay away from myself.”

She insisted on walking with me, so instead of grunting to myself as I walked the dog, I spoke mostly complete sentences.

I’m so goddamn mad that 4,000 of my countrymen are dying every day. President Doesn’t Give a Shit told us of his level of care directly, saying, “I’m not responsible for anything.” That comment was aimed specifically at anything having to do with our mass death pandemic, so of course I don’t expect any action from him to protect and defend the American people – you know, the ones dying at the rate of 4,000 per day?

But there’s a commission specifically tasked with distributing vaccines and getting them into the arms of Americans and now weeks after vaccines were available we’ve managed to vaccinate just 9 million people, while tens of millions more vaccine doses are sitting uselessly in freezers.

And 4,000 of us are dying every day. That’s one every 22 seconds. Go ahead – look at your watch or iPhone timer and count off the deaths. One every 22 seconds.

And every single one of those deaths is somebody’s mom or dad or grandma or grandpa or brother or sister or son or daughter or friend or co-worker or neighbor or the guy at the convenience store. Those who have died lost their lives. The survivors have lost their hearts.

And that goddamn incompetent distribution commission continues to bumble.

That’s why I’m furious.

Now President Burn It All Down has incited insurrection – sedition. He’s attempted to neuter the Congress, to violate every voter and take over the country in order to become a fascist dictator. His mobs have the same certainty that they are on the side of justice and what’s right, that they’re the true patriots and that God is on their side as does al Qaeda and ISIS and the World War II Nazis and the Hutu’s and Slobodan Milosevic’s army of ethnic cleansing thugs and all the rest of the genocidal maniacs.

This time the terrorists, the killers and the rampagers are our countrymen.

Our domestic terrorists believe they’re the true good guys because President Burn It All Down has told them so. He’s told them he loves them. Here’s what I’ll tell you.

We’ve always had our significant minority of citizens who hate, who dearly love to hate. I want to be bigger than this, but the truth is that right now I hate them. I fantasize about violently dragging those slimes off the walls of our Capitol Building and of beating the hell out of the vandals who beat the hell out our beautiful windows and doors of that building. I want to smash those who are trying to smash our Constitution.

My dad and 16.5 million of his generation served in the military in World War II. 405,399 of them died in Europe to end Nazism. On behalf of my dad and his compatriots in that awful war, our Greatest Generation says loud and clear that you goddamn neo-Nazis are an American disgrace. You are everything we know to be wrong.

That’s why I’m so damned angry.

In some ways what is even worse is the cabal of hypocritical, cowardly, manipulating cretins in Congress who have enabled and even encouraged the hate and violence, not out of some warped sense of patriotism, but for individual, stupidly selfish personal gain. We’ve known of their treachery for years and they have gotten away with it.

That’s why I’m livid.

The thing is, there are a lot of truly patriotic Americans on that ledge with me. That doesn’t ease my anger, but they and I know right from wrong and will not stand for anything less than full punishment for those who did these awful things. I expect that a lot of us will continue to be on that ledge until the balance of justice is restored.

Meanwhile, the domestic terrorists have promised more violence and hate in DC and in our state capitols this weekend and on Inauguration Day. So,

Memo to DHS, the National Guard and all the agencies that somehow managed to come out and beat the hell out of Black Lives Matter protesters last summer:

Show up and do your job this time. I don’t give a damn what President Doesn’t Give a Shit or Burn It All Down says to you. Do your goddam job.

On January 6 they failed us. They failed to do their job. Now the Capitol Building is desecrated and four more people are dead.

That’s why I’m on the ledge.


Late Additions

Three congressmen/women have tested positive for COVID-19 following their sheltering in place with Republican congressmen/women who arrogantly, selfishly, stupidly refused to wear masks. They should be chained to the wall of the darkest, moldiest part of the basement of the Capitol Building and left there until they fervently apologize for their cruelty to others and swear to comply with the simple public health directions of the CDC for the duration. It will be okay to feed them gruel once per week until they repent.

Watch/listen to what Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has to say about the attempted overthrow of our government.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so,

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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. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  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.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Government Hall of Shame


While traitors attacked our democracy, we were killing 4,000 Americans with COVID-19 every day. Somehow, four 9/11s every three days – one gasping death every 22 seconds – got overshadowed. That’s how insane things are.

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Be sure to read to the end for a poem for our time.


We start with the obvious.

Sedition – 18 U.S.C. § 2384:

“If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.”

Benedict Arnold

You could have stopped reading in the middle of the second line above at “conspire to overthrow,” because that’s what scheming to fraudulently reverse an election is. And the sedition guilt isn’t in the overthrowing; it’s in the conspiring. The conversation is all it takes to earn 20 years in prison. Still, feel free to be motivated by the “seize, take, or possess” part as well, and apply that to Trump’s incitement to riot, vandalize and seize the entire Capitol Building. Seriously, is there any part of this that isn’t clearly worthy of a Benedict Arnold award?

Brad Raffensperger, Georgia Secretary of State

If you take the time to read the transcript or listen to the audio recording of the phone call Trump placed to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger last weekend (yes, that was just 8 days ago), you’ll hear Trump and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows attempting to persuade, cajole, muscle and threaten Raffensperger into fabricating 11,780 votes in order to award the election to Trump. Attempting to overthrow an election and toss out the votes of millions of Americans is an affront to any sense of democracy and is illegal on its face.

So is inciting violence, beginning with calls to beat up protesters at his rallies starting in 2015 and his Charlottesville “good people on both sides” declaration in 2017. So is inciting people to riot, like inviting the Proud Boys and neo-Nazis to storm the Capitol Building during the recording of the Electoral College votes. His continuing shameful calls to violence were the training wheels for his calls to sedition on January 6. All of this whipping up of mobs is what fascists do. And, because this is a democracy, that’s why all of that is illegal.

How illegal, how un-American, how outrageous does a crime spree have to be until we at last say, “No more. Not now; not ever“? Failing to do so will invite far worse from the next megalomaniac to hoodwink our country.

So, shame on Trump, of course. But shame on us if we let him get away with his crimes.

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The senators and congressmen listed below (someone called them the Sedition Congress – and no, there isn’t a “both sides” argument) promised to do all they can to subvert the will of the people by overturning a free and fair election. Each of them swore on a Bible to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, including some brand new legislators, whose very first official act in office was to betray their supposedly solemn oath. That happened after mutinous, faithless thousands stormed the Capitol Building to undermine our democracy.

Their claim of fraud is the very same non-existent fraud that Trump made up and blabbered all across MAGA-Land. It’s all fake. It’s all treachery. It’s all lies. And these Republicans broadcast those lies from the halls of the Congress of the United States.

There is speculation as to why these turncoats would stand up in Congress and declare to the world and for all history that they themselves are seditionists. I am certain that ignorance of reality is not the reason. They know that Trump lost the election fairly and that there was no fraud. The only way for them to weasel out of guilt for betraying our country is if they are truly delusional – mentally ill – and believe that elections are only valid if their preferred candidate wins. But contagious mental illness contracted only by Republicans just isn’t what’s going on.

January 6 , 2021, U.S. Capitol Building – The flag of treason, our lowest moment as Americans.

They want to avoid getting tweet-trashed by Trump before their next reelection campaign. That might avoid their getting primaried by a gold plated Trump suck up and that might help them to keep their jobs.

Theirs is a job that pays $174,000 per year and gets them free healthcare and free parking at Reagan National Airport. I hope our adversaries like Russia, Iran, North Korea and China don’t realize how cheap it would be to get these sell-outs to sell out.

They have turned their backs on the Constitution and their formerly sacred word. And they’ve done all that and worse for the self-serving possibility that Trump’s base will vote for them in their next election.

Is it any wonder that approval and respect for Congress is just 15%? That means that 85% of Americans disapprove of Congress. Now we know what it takes to get bipartisanship.

Here Are Your 2021 Government Hall of Shame Inductees
Heap Shame and Scorn Upon Them as Befits Their Absence of Integrity

________________________________________________________________________

Senate

Sen. Tommy Tuberville                             Sen. Cynthia Lummis                            Sen. Ted Cruz

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith                              Sen. John Kennedy                              Sen. Josh Hawley

Sen. Rick Scott                                           Sen. Roger Marshall

And, of course, the Chief Perp, Donald Trump

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A Poem For Our Time

A mob of the MAGA persuasion

Conducted a Capitol invasion.

Though possibly armed,

They parted unharmed,

And that’s how you know they’re Caucasian.

– Lindsey Horner

– @NoMorBS1958

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so,

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section 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. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  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.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Anthem


Reading time – 1.38  .  .  .

It is the morning of the Electoral College report to Congress. Donald Trump has encouraged militants like the Proud Boys and neo-Nazis to demonstrate in the streets of DC, knowing full well that they will bring their anger and their firearms. As of this writing it is unknown if violence will erupt, but DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has called out the National Guard. We have a real live political and cultural divide that has the capacity to explode.

Muriel Bowser, Mayor, Washington DC

This kind of contentiousness, this threat to our national welfare and safety has happened before, most notably and disastrously in the Civil War. And during the 1960s we were torn apart over the concurrent crises of the Vietnam War and a renewed fight for civil rights.

It was mostly young people in opposition to an entrenched conservative power structure. That makes sense, in that it was young people being sent off to fight people they did not recognize as an enemy and perhaps to die for no good reason. They faced down generations of people who had been taught to do as they were told and who expected the 60s young to do the same.

That generational struggle also made sense because while young Blacks certainly had suffered racism, they weren’t yet beaten down by a life of racial discrimination and they refused to live with that injustice. So, they stood up to the entrenched conservative power structure, too, and were joined by white activists.

All that opposition led to violent confrontations and a lot of people were injured and some were killed. Some were assassinated by police, like Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, leaders of the Black Panthers. The Chicago Police didn’t knock, didn’t announce themselves, but simply started shooting, firing nearly 100 bullets into their residence late one night as the men slept. Some were killed by National Guardsman, like the student demonstrators at Kent State in 1971. Some were clubbed mercilessly by Chicago Police in what the Kerner Commission labeled a “police riot.” The times were indisputably violent and deadly. People in power don’t willingly give up their power.

There were calls by some for moderation and many tried to find a way forward that avoided violence, but passions ran high and Americans were polarized. Does that last sentence feel familiar? Isn’t that what is going on right now?

It’s clear that we didn’t resolve that basic conflict 50 years ago. George Santayana told us, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, and surely we’re doing that right now. Mark Twain told us, “History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.” Take your pick. Either way, our national divide isn’t new and it has all the capacity for delivering terrible results just as before, especially when so many on one side seem to act as though violence is the the best solution. Plus, they’re very well armed.

I have some suggestions for an anthem for our time. Both of these are from the late 60s and even if you know them well I encourage you to listen with fresh ears. Perhaps the messages from these can provide some sane direction.

Maybe you have a notion for how we can move forward safely. Maybe you have a suggestion for an anthem to guide us through these very dangerous times. Please share them in the Comments section below.

For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield – 1967

Everyday People by Sly and the Family Stone – 1969

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so,

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section 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. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  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.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Proper Names


Trump has abandoned nearly all presidential duties since November 3. What’s missing from this list?

Reading time – 3:29  .  .  .

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name. – Confucius

The Crash occurred in October of 1929 during Herbert Hoover’s first year as President. He had been successful in business and had held several high level government posts where he produced good results. He beat Al Smith in the 1928 presidential election, was sworn in and proceeded to bungle his presidency because of his grossly inadequate response to the Great Depression.

Hoover opposed efforts to provide federal relief measures for the millions of suffering Americans, which was quite odd. He had led the American Relief Administration to help European countries following WW I and also led the federal response to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 to provide emergency relief. But he refused to do the things that were needed to help struggling Americans and to dig this country out of the depression.

Seattle Hooverville

One of the outcomes of Hoover’s intransigence was an enormous amount of homelessness. People were evicted for nonpayment of rent, but they didn’t just vanish. The had to go somewhere, so they found what materials they could and built ramshackle shelters. These hovels joined with others to create slums and there were hundreds of these miserable villages of homeless people all across the country. In a derisive gesture at the insufficient actions of the president they were called “Hoovervilles”.

Hoover wasn’t responsible for the crash, just as Trump isn’t responsible for the virus. Each of them, though, is accountable for their response to an American catastrophe that confronted them and each failed miserably. Hoover refused to do what was necessary. Trump blatantly said, “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

Click me

Trump proceeded to make a lot of noise about Covid-19, promising wildly impossible things (“It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.”), recommending treatments that are ineffective (hydroxychloroquine) or even toxic (Lysol and Clorox) and doing effectively nothing to protect the people. We’re nearly a year into the pandemic and we are still woefully short of PPE, Covid tests, contact tracing to create safety quarantines, and leadership to encourage the simple preventive measures that can minimize our suffering and deaths. There are vaccines, but Trump has refused to see the job through, making it impossible to get vaccines into American arms rapidly. Instead of helping the people, he’s still doing his “don’t blame me” dance. Trump’s refusal to take responsibility means that he put Harry Truman’s “The buck stops here” sign into locked storage and abandoned his post.

The old saying is that Nero fiddled while Rome burned, but of course that isn’t literally true. The violin wasn’t invented until 1500 years after his death. But, “His infamous reign is usually associated with tyranny, extravagance” and ruthlessness. He killed his own mother. Perhaps oddly, Nero was a populist, having captured the fancy of many commoners. Nevertheless, Nero was a cruel sociopath.

Most of those descriptors of Nero sound painfully familiar today. Instead of his fiddling, we can accurately say that Trump golfed while hundreds of thousands died. It’s projected that 700,000 Americans will be dead from this disease by the time 75% of us are vaccinated some time late this year. At 2,000 – 3,000 deaths per day over the winter, the math is pretty simple. If the vaccine distribution problem isn’t fixed quickly, the mortality numbers will be far worse.

Roughly 75% of all of the deaths from this pandemic would not have occurred with proper presidential leadership from the start (see this).  The number of excess deaths caused by Trump’s ineptitude and intransigence are staggering. Biden’s plan should help, but the momentum is baked in for producing a terrible total.

Vaccines stuck in warehouses or on hospital shelves don’t help a bit.

It’s crucial that we apply the proper name to Trump’s well-earned responsibility for our massive, preventable suffering and death. What shall we call that? Trump Fever? Death by Sociopath? Leadership Abandonment Syndrome?

And what is the proper name for the slums of today that are populated by people displaced by this pandemic? Trumpvilles? MAGA Motels? Trump Tower Slums?

History will record the craziness of these years and the great harm brought to our country by a madman. There will be headlined paragraphs in history textbooks with the proper names for these times. One will be American Supplication to Russia. Another will be The Massive Assault on Democracy. Still another will be When America Abandoned Reality. But the biggest, boldest headline of all will be Massive Death and Suffering By Presidential Abandonment.

Here’s hoping that we learn the painful lessons* before us and make 2021 the year we restarted America’s great march to form a more perfect union.

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  • * Try this on for a painful lesson we need to learn.
  • From a recent commentary: “the casualties to date are shocking and far in excess of what was expected  .  .  .” But are we really shocked?
  • Front line healthcare workers have been shocked. Families of the dead were shocked. The unemployed and food insecure are shocked. But a huge percentage of Americans – tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of us – go on with only minor changes to our lives, which doesn’t result in shock – only minor inconvenience. Worse, the numbers of the infected, hospitalized and dead are so large as to be mere statistics without an apparent connection to human beings and their suffering. It seems that there is no shock unless people are impacted directly. Perhaps we have a national empathy outage.
  • What shall we do with this lesson?
  • And millions of Americans oddly refuse to believe that Covid-19 is real. With the reality of suffering and death all around, they steadfastly hold to their claim that it’s a hoax and respond to calls for simple public health measures with refusal and scorn. Of course, that spreads the disease quite efficiently, which means far more people get sick.
  • What is the lesson begging for understanding in that?

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so,

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section 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. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  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.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Freedom v2.0


Reading time – 3:01  .  .  .

I received some off-line comments (i.e., not posted in the Comments section) questioning the contention in my “Freedom” post last Sunday that if we don’t begin working together instead of fighting one another that eventually we will lose our freedoms. Here’s an effort to make that connectivity clearer.

China is in the process of building an economic colossus and a 21st century military that will rival and be able to dominate any other nation. As they trigger their tidal wave toward world domination, what do you suppose will happen to your freedoms if we continue fighting ourselves instead of dealing with this international treat? Where will your freedoms go when a totalitarian power is incrementally dominating the globe and there’s little we can do about it?

Vladimir Putin has made it exquisitely clear that he’s completely comfortable assassinating adversaries anywhere in the world. His functionaries have ripped into our national security apparatus and stolen our top secret information. At the same time, he’s had his hackers set him up to control our infrastructure. What do you suppose your freedom will look like when he shuts off your electricity and water and at the same time he knows our national security vulnerabilities?

Those AR-15s our militia members carry around won’t be good for much, nor will bombastic speeches in Congress, especially when we can’t agree on facts or whether science is good or if Hillary ran a child pornography and sex trafficking operation from the basement of a DC pizza shop. All that conspiracy crap will have done its job of making sure that we can’t work together, that we don’t and won’t trust each other and that will make us impotent.

We are in the depths of the worst pandemic in a century, but 38% of Americans think somehow it’s a hoax, even as Covid-19 is the leading cause of death in America. What happens to individual freedom when people can’t breathe? What happens if all this continues because a huge percentage of Americans refuse to believe the science and won’t take the vaccine?

What happens to your freedom when infected people are all around? You know the answer to that because that’s how you’re living right now. Worse, that’s how our millions of hungry unemployed people are living, but they’re doing it food insecure and in fear of eviction. Take a guess at what freedom feels like to them right now.

What happens when bands of militants with too many firearms, too much anger and too little accurate information storm all of our state capitols? That isn’t freedom; it’s insurrection. Sedition. Treason. And your freedom looks pretty limited in the face of those armed attempts at minority rule.

By the way, I’ve talked with some of those over-firearmed folks and asked why they’re carrying loaded firearms. The answer every time has been, “Because I can.” I’ve always tried to get a real answer by responding with some version of, “Yes, of course that’s true. But you could also stand here clucking like a hen, but you’re not doing that. Why the gun?” Commonly, the response is a repetition of “Because I can.” I’ve never been offered a real answer that approached the truth, like their needing to feel in control, their need to take some action against whatever it is they don’t like at the moment, or so they can feel like the toughest S.O.B. in the valley or to flick off authority figures. Side note: These people aren’t powerful. Their guns are powerful and deserve respect. That doesn’t transfer to them.

How do you feel walking down the sidewalk along with angry people carrying loaded hand guns and assault rifles? Do you feel safe, like they’re on the same side with you, that they’re the good guys like you, that they believe in patriotism just like you do? Can you work with them to build a better, stronger America? If your answers are no, then they’ve already trimmed your freedom.

And the more that happens the more we will sink into international irrelevance because we aren’t all pulling the American wagon in the same direction.

The reality deniers and the angry people itching for confrontation are killing our freedom. And if you’re calling them names, like stupid, racist, idiot or moron you’re making things worse. Our undeclared civil war is killing 3,000 of us every day and people with big mouths, limited information and selfish notions are the leaders in this parade to the end of the “free country” you think this is.

That’s why we’re going to lose our freedoms if we don’t start working together.

Not convinced? Then read this essay – all of it. Get over your wanting to be protective or accusatory and give serious consideration both to the facts presented, as well as the opinions.

On second thought, read the essay even if you’re already convinced. We’re living in a fraught age and a culture of peril, with our freedom at grave risk. We all need to understand well what’s happening. That’s the reason to read the essay.

Many thanks to MN for sending the link.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so,

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section 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. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  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.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Freedom


We begin with an incontrovertible fact, even as facts are so very 2015:

We have a lot of very big problems, challenges and opportunities in America and mounting them will require that we all get on board the solutions train. This will require our work, our sacrifice, our brilliance, our creativity and our cooperation in ways not demanded of us since WW II.

It’s my belief that if we succeed we will assure our prosperity and our leadership of this century. If we fail to do what is necessary, we will relegate ourselves to decline, insignificance and, at last, we’ll lose our freedoms.

We have fostered our decline through our anger, our rage, our self-righteousness and hatreds, which have led us to the lightning-charged divide that separates us from one another, where I-and-Mine are far more important than We-and-Ours. Sadly, we seem to have forgotten the lesson so painfully demonstrated and then laid bare by Abraham Lincoln, that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Whatever your personal certainties, you may safely be certain of that.

We are a nation borne of revolution, accurately seeing ourselves then as the underdog and we still prefer the underdog. Think: Rocky; whatever team is playing the team Tom Brady is quarterbacking; Star Wars; the Cubs. You get the idea.

We still think there’s something heroic when the little guy confronts the big guys and I’m wondering how much that fuels the popular resentment of those who have been called the “elites.” Never mind that the elites are equal citizens, that they actually may have earned what they have or that it’s possible they are creating opportunities for so many of us. There are those bent on resenting them and that helps to enlarge our national divide.

We have a lot of personal liberty absolutists, like the Michigan militia perps who plotted to kidnap and execute the Michigan governor  because they believed their freedom was abridged by her measures to stop the pandemic. They first expressed their displeasure by brazenly refusing to follow simple health guidelines to protect all of us, then by storming the state capitol armed with semi-automatic military assault rifles and waving Don’t Tread On Me flags, as though King George III had returned. They were clear about what they think our pandemic is about: it is about their own personal freedom. I-and-Mine.

They reminded me of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada cattle rancher who initiated a standoff against federal and state agents in 2014. Bundy had failed to pay his grazing fees on federal land for over 20 years and the Bureau of Land Management at last came to collect. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of armed anti-government absolutists joined Bundy. They proudly proclaimed that government overreach was the issue, that they were the true patriots and that the government didn’t and shouldn’t own and control land. They and Bundy apparently saw themselves as the freedom heroes of the story.

Bundy’s son Ammon seemed determined to have his own self-righteous fit of freedom in his occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon two years later. What they all have in common with our militias today is their clarity that I-and-Mine is more important than We-and-Ours. They thought that the federal land was theirs to do with as they pleased, regardless of the impact on others.

And that’s the problem. We cannot overcome our 21st century challenges and grab our opportunities if everyone acts as though s/he is an independent nation with absolute freedom of their own. So, I have something for folks like the Bundys and the camouflaged members of the Michigan militia who balk at anything that smacks of being an order or even simple direction.

Go ahead and refuse to wear a mask, socially distance or wash your hands. Stand proud and defiant. Feel free (I know you do) to congregate inside in small and large gatherings, in bars and saloons, in basement man caves and anywhere else you like. Spread COVID-19 within your freedom bubble in the manner of your choosing.

But when you become sick, as you surely will, when you have a fever and your body aches all over, when you’re weak and you can barely breathe and you feel like you’re drowning, don’t go to the hospital. You’ve done everything possible to ensure that you get sick – you had the freedom to do that. Now it will be time to man-up, to accept the consequences of your actions and not burden others who have played by the rules of We-and-Ours.

At that point it won’t be okay to dump your sick body onto the workload of our already horribly overworked and exhausted healthcare people. Just go into the woods and die alone. You have the freedom to do that. You will have lived your personal philosophy of I-and-Mine to the end and with your last tiny breath you will know that you died as you lived, all about you.

That’s absolute stuff, offered here as an extreme example to make the point that we don’t have to agree, but we do have to work together or we’ll metaphorically all die alone in the woods.

We have to stop our rugged individual stubbornness and our rages against authority. We have to agree that our absolute personal freedom stops at the tip of another person’s nose. We have to stop denying reality in some fit of grievance or resentment or denial. We have to stop listening to the hate mongers, the liars, the conspiracy theory con artists and the political manipulators. We have to hold our elected officials to account and call out their self-serving lies and then fire them. And if they’re criminals (no, that doesn’t mean “political opponents”) they have to go to prison.

And enough with so-called “alternative facts,” because they aren’t facts at all. They’re lies that make us weak. Even as difficult as it may be, we have to recognize that we are all on the same ship, and we will all share in its fate. Our future success lies in We and Ours.

So, we all have to roll up our shirtsleeves and partner with Rosie the Riveter. Our freedom is at stake in ways not even contemplated since WW II and surely not contemplated by our angry militants bent on assaulting other Americans. It’s time to build a new America, which makes it time to put down the guns and pick up a hammer. To those who won’t do that, get the hell out of the way of those of us who still think patriotism is a verb and it means that every one of us has an obligation to all of us.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so,

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section 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. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  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.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Numbers


The Election

The electors have voted, the election vote totals are in and they are final.

The good folks at Quinnipiac have a detailed breakdown of this information, so have a look if you’re interested. Plus, updated vote totals can also be seen here. For our purposes, what’s important is in red, because it begs the question:

How can we govern ourselves when almost 60 million Americans prefer to believe lies and don’t trust what is in front of their eyes?

I’ll phrase that in another way, this time addressing the 60 million:

You’ve been fed lies for decades from elected officials, Fox News, conspiracy nutballs*, propagandists, Breitbart, and more. For the last 4 years (plus the campaign year of 2015) the President of the United States has stuffed your head with fantastical lies, lies claiming his greatness, lies demonizing hundreds of people who he didn’t think were sufficiently loyal to him (although their job was to be loyal to the Constitution), lies slandering millions of people, lies citing false statistics and made up facts. The President lied to you over 17 times per day for over 4 years – over 25,000 lies. Here’s your question:

How do you feel about being played for a sucker?

Perhaps you’ll hear it better this way:

How do you like being lied to?

Note that if you don’t care about being played for a sucker and you don’t mind being lied to, there’s nothing you need to do. Just go along as before, being fed lies that stoke your fear, that fire your anger, that make you distrust your neighbors and hate anyone who isn’t exactly like you. No need for that E Pluribus Unum stuff.

On the other hand, if you’re sick of being played for a sucker and you’ve had it with being lied to, welcome to Planet Earth #1. Glad to have you aboard.

Regardless of Trump’s vacuous claims, even his attorney general couldn’t find any evidence of voting fraud. The same is true for the guy who protected our election from cyber hackers. There isn’t even one state election official who could find illegal voting activities – that includes all 50 states. The election was clean. Joe Biden won fair and square. The number of frauds committed in the election is zero.

To be clear, there was cheating. There were tens of thousands of voters purged from voting roles when they should not have been. Polling places were closed, making voting difficult for many thousands of voters. There were dirty tricks to confuse voters into not voting. But all of that was done by Republican operatives for the benefit of Trump. There is no “both sides” argument. There is no room for whataboutism. That number is zero, too.

Back to the original question: How can we govern ourselves when 60 million Americans prefer to believe lies and don’t trust what is in front of their eyes? Those 60 million people are largely angry, resentful, certain theirs is a just cause, believe they are the true patriots and oh, by the way, they own most of the guns in private hands. Did I mention that they’re angry? Plus, their elected representatives in both Congress and the state houses are terrified of them, so the number of Republican legislators those folks both listen to and who will provide leadership in the direction of the aforementioned E Pluribus Unum is zero.

Those are the numbers. President Biden, how will you govern?

The Pandemic

Here is how this killer pandemic stacks up against events we have universally called tragedies, monstrous killers and national disasters. The charts below are from December 10.

 

 

 

 

 

Those are, indeed, awful numbers. Day after day, week after week we’re given nothing from any of our Republican national leadership (the President and those in Congress) to indicate even a little concern over our massive suffering and death. Instead, we get over 50% of Republican House members signing onto the gigantically stupid lawsuit filed by the pardon-seeking attorney general of Texas, seeking to invalidate the votes of millions of citizens of four states in order to give the election to Trump. That was their focus, instead of the suffering of the American people.

Thanks, Melania, for explaining this administration and the Republicans in Congress.

As for how we’re doing relative to other countries, we already know that we’re just 4% of world population and but we have 19% of worldwide Covid deaths. It’s noteworthy that densely populated India has the second highest number of Covid deaths. Their number is 38% fewer deaths from Covid than the U.S., yet India has over 4 times as many citizens. This is not a good way for the U.S. to be number one.

Now vaccines are beginning to be available, but at least 25% of Americans are either skeptical of them or outright hostile to them. If you have reservations about taking a vaccine, given the manipulation, lying and grandstanding of the President about vaccines, given the pressure he’s put on the FDA to approve vaccines without any reasonable review, even for an Emergency Use Authorization, there is some hope.

It comes in the form of a clear explanation of what’s gone on to make it possible to develop a vaccine so quickly. It wasn’t done by cutting corners or succumbing to political pressure. It was done by years of hard work borne of developing vaccines for other pandemics, like Ebola, MERS and SARS. For some confidence building and satisfaction of your curiosity, read this piece from the BBC News. It explains the good things that happen when we trust facts, knowledge and science, instead of populist rage and manipulation.

As for interim relief for Americans suffering from personal economic devastation, Republican leadership in the Senate continues to refuse to help We the People. We have the means to alleviate much suffering, but Republicans, who couldn’t wait to give $1.5 trillion to rich people and corporations, are suddenly horrified that we might run up some debt feeding our hungry and protecting our soon-to-be-homeless people. Help was created over half a year ago, but these programs all go away within a few weeks. There are rumors that McConnell has come out of his shell and that there may be a little relief coming. But right now those are just rumors. If you have a Republican senator, be sure to lean on him/her to refuse to be stingy and instead take proper action to relieve suffering. Even if you’re doing okay, millions of others are not.

Finally, that swelling of passion you feel when you see vaccines being delivered to our heroically courageous front line healthcare workers is testament to how gut wrenching this pandemic has been. Still, the number of available vaccine doses is small and it will be months before you and the people you love will be able to be vaccinated. So, boring as it may sound at this point, keep that mask on, socially distance, wash your hands, avoid all but small gatherings and sanitize everything. We’re starting the last lap of this marathon race. This isn’t the time to stop running.

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*No, there wasn’t a child trafficking scheme operated by Hillary in the basement of a pizza parlor in DC. The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School did happen. There is no plot for Jews to control the world. The Denver International Airport does not sit above an underground city housing The New World Order. The moon landing wasn’t faked. There is no evidence to support the notion that Jesus and Mary had offspring, many generations of which have been hidden in Europe. George Soros doesn’t fund Antifa and it is not a single far-left militant group. Democrats aren’t molesting and selling children. Global warming is real. The Israelis don’t use animals to spy or attack. Fluoride in our drinking water isn’t a communist plot to poison us. The earth is not flat. Elvis and JFK really are dead and are expected to stay that way for a while.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so,

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section 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. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section below is for. Please use it to help everyone
  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.

JA

 


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Shame


“Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block the battleground states from casting ‘unlawful and constitutionally tainted votes’ in the Electoral College. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, experts say.

The Texas Tribune, December 8, 2020

“The states supporting the suit, all of which have Republican attorneys general, are Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.”

CNBC, December 9, 2020

There have been many wild accusations from Donald Trump, his family members, various sycophantic officials, members of the RNC and others claiming voting fraud, election unfairness, election rigging, stealing of the election and various other claims of election warping in favor of Joe Biden and against Donald Trump.

There are people in the streets who have been lied to over and over and manipulated to believe these outrageous claims. They’re now demonstrating outside the homes of state election officials, terrorizing children and chanting absolutist claims of election theft, even though none of them has seen anything to support the accusations. Many are threatening violence and death to these officials, both online and by telephone.

There have been over 50 lawsuits filed by Trump and Trump supporters in an effort to overthrow the election and flaunt the will of the American people. These cases have nearly all been either withdrawn or laughed out of court. In one sentence the Supreme Court dismissed a case against Pennsylvania and did so without hearing any testimony because, like all the other lawsuits, it was completely groundless, without evidence, valueless and lacking any basis in fact. Just wild accusations.

Now the Texas Attorney General has filed suit in the Supreme Court against 4 swing states in an effort to get the results of their elections tossed out and have their states supply electors who will vote for Trump in order to keep him in office. Seventeen other Republican state attorneys general have joined the suit, as has Trump. They are doing this in the face of no evidence whatsoever of voting irregularities. They can’t supply even one fraudulent vote as evidence. Indeed, Trump’s own attorney general has said that there is no evidence of voting fraud that would change the election. Christopher Krebs, former head of the agency that guards against cyber tampering of our elections said this was the cleanest election ever.

Gotta wonder why these attorneys general would file this bogus lawsuit. Let’s take a stab at an explanation.

  1. Trump has leaned hard on them to obstruct and overturn the election and they lack the courage to stand up to the playground bully. Plus they want a pat on the head for being good little do-bees.
  2. They’re sucking up to Trump’s angry base so that they can be re-elected and they don’t care who or what gets damaged in their pursuit of what’s best for themselves.
  3. The RNC threatened to refuse to give them financial support for their next elections unless they did the Trump suck up dance. So they’re sucking and dancing.
  4. They want a presidential pardon. From the Texas Tribune: “Paxton, who has been under indictment since 2015 for felony securities fraud charges, is facing fresh criminal allegations from eight of his top deputies, who said they believe he broke the law by using the agency to do favors for a political donor. The FBI is investigating Paxton over those claims, according to the Associated Press. Paxton has denied wrongdoing.” I have no information indicating that desiring a pardon is Paxton’s motivation, but in the Trump “pardon anyone with a last name and who supported me” era, one has to wonder. Further, it’s just a hypothetical about the other attorneys general involved in this suit. Look up accusations of federal crimes of these people if you feel like doing some research.
  5. They have had it with democracy and they want the United States to degenerate into an autocracy. A dictatorship. A fascist state. To that end, they are sowing doubt about the election to undermine public confidence in our institutions, our government and the Constitution itself. It’s another nail in the coffin.

Note that other than Mitt Romney, no elected Republican official in Washington has spoken out against these baseless lawsuits and claims of illegitimacy of the election. Only a handful have even called to congratulate Joe Biden on his overwhelming victory. Eighty percent of these Republicans acknowledge in private that Biden will be the new president, but they lack the courage to call and congratulate him, much less speak about it publicly.

⇒        This is today’s Republican Party        ⇐

There is nothing conservative in the actions of these people. There is nothing in their actions that would be recognizable to The Framers. There is nothing that they are doing that is in accordance with their oath of office. There is nothing patriotic in their actions. There is only monumental self-serving cowardice.

These reality deniers intentionally do great damage to our country, so shame on them. Too bad those words mean nothing to them. Because of their hypocrisy and cowardice they have lost the ability to be ashamed of themselves. The whole point of shame is a self-awareness that keeps us within civilized bounds. There is something distinctly sub-human about these people having lost that.

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Now that the election results of all 50 states have been certified, electoral votes will be cast on December 14 and Joe Biden will be inaugurated on January 20, 2021. Don’t be surprised if Trump stages his own phony inauguration spectacle in DC at the same time. He really is that desperately needy of attention. Nevertheless, Joe Biden will be the President of the United States as of 12:00:30PM EST that day.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so,

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section 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. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  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.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Chinese Century via Bioweapon


Reading time – 4:10  .  .  .

I’ve written many times about the likelihood of this becoming the Chinese century and the many things we’re doing (or not doing) to make that a reality. We pay a huge price for our shortsightedness and small thinking.

We’ve been complacent since our 1950s dominance of the world economy, riding our then-intact manufacturing base, the only country in the world to have one. Then we pretended for decades that the world economic power it created for us still existed. But it didn’t and it doesn’t and we’ve actually enthusiastically created the path for our economic demise through short term thinking and behavior. That’s why so many millions of manufacturing jobs disappeared. And our constant kicking the can down the road instead of rebuilding and enhancing our infrastructure has left us weak. Now, though, there’s another more urgent threat to our world leadership.

Bob Woodward’s book Rage includes an examination of Covid-19 and it details comments from Robert O’Brien, National Security Advisor. Before you dismiss him out of hand because he is just another of Trump’s revolving door cavalcade of advisors, read what follows, lifted directly from Woodward’s book (p. 333), referencing comments by O’Brien on June 11, 2020:

O’Brien continued, “It appears that they closed down travel all through China so that this disease couldn’t get to Shanghai or Beijing and other key cities. But at the same time they’re letting other folks travel from Wuhan to all over Europe and infected Europe and infected the United States. That’s not good. But whatever happened the Chinese have repurposed it into a bioweapon. And they’re using it, they’re attempting to take advantage of Covid to gain a geopolitical advantage over the United States and the free world, and to displace the United States as the leading power in the world.” [emphasis mine]

O’Brien said since Covid “hit the whole world, they’re using it with what they call their wolf diplomacy and for a long time they were attempting to trade PPE to get access for Huawei [5G provider with systems that allow the Chinese government to spy on users, including us] into countries. They were bullying countries into thanking them. They were bullying countries into saying things about the U.S. But overall, the theme is that they, as an authoritarian government, with all their surveillance state and their concentration camps and all that sort of thing, offer a better alternative for the world, a more efficient alternative, a kind of weird nationalistic, technocratic alternative to the world that’s better than liberal democracy. And Covid is an example of why the world should embrace China and Chinese values, and the Chinese form of hybrid capitalistic-mercantilist-communist government.

O’Brien said, “they’re taking every measure possible during this crisis to displace the United States. And we’ve got a hell of a fight on our hands.” [emphasis mine]

O’Brien concluded the consequences were dire. “If we lose our economic edge and we lose our economic might and stay closed for too much longer, we might be in a position where we couldn’t stay ahead or maybe we’d get behind and couldn’t catch up.”

CDC chief Dr. Robert Redfield had something to say about this, too (p. 332):

“It was difficult to understand how China had aggressive travel restrictions within China, and yet did not move to any travel restrictions” for people who wanted to leave China and go abroad, Redfield said.

“They really locked down Wuhan at one point. I think they quarantined over 11 million people. You couldn’t go from Wuhan to Beijing, but you could go Wuhan to London.”

Trump has done little to deal with the Chinese efforts beyond childish name calling. There have been no aggressive steps to lead Americans to safe behaviors to counter the pandemic; worse, he has given dangerous advice and helped to spread the disease. Nothing has been done at the federal level to make it safe to “reopen” our economy or begin to rebuild our economic might, which puts us further behind.

We are in the international fight of our lives – for our lives. We either face the reality of Chinese economic, military and political might or we will become a second rate nation.

This is the challenge the Biden administration faces on day one, even as we’re hobbled by disease. We’re all going to have to learn to walk and chew gum at the same time and we’ll have to stop fighting ourselves immediately, or the consequences for us will be terrible. We’ll have to face up to the danger before us and stop whining about a little inconvenience or even large personal impacts and instead support one another through our health and economic suffering and recovery. Prosperity and international leadership will require universal sacrifice for our common good. The question that will stay with us is whether we still have it in us as a nation to do that.

Some of the cost of complacency is incremental, like the chipping away at our industrial base; some happens faster. Regardless, complacency is a guarantee of our demise. I’m reminded of Hemmingway’s words in The Sun Also Rises, when his character is asked how he went bankrupt. He replied, “Gradually, then suddenly.”

We love to think of ourselves as extraordinary, that we are blessed with American exceptionalism. As gratifying to us as that may feel, we undermine ourselves with our self-congratulation. As I wrote in one of the essays referencing this becoming the Chinese century,

The problem with American exceptionalism is that we assume a superiority that isn’t always warranted. That doesn’t make us exceptional.

But we could be.

We’re already late in building 21st century America. It’s time to take action, to accept the necessary sacrifices and get on board that train to the future. And it better be a high speed train. The chief obstacle to that will be obstructionist Republicans in Congress who may rediscover the awfulness of deficits, now that a Democrat will be in the White House. They are in the way of our exceptionalism.

Mitch McConnell is the leader of the Republican wall of obstruction to progress. His Senate filibustered nearly everything Obama tried to accomplish for the first six years of the Obama administration, including efforts they themselves had championed before January 20, 2009. They effectively eliminated a fundamental tenet of our society: majority rule. For the two years after that McConnell was the majority leader in the Senate and he refused to bring most legislation proposed by Obama or any Democrat to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

We are paying the price for that wall to progress right now and McConnell’s obstructionism is going to continue during the Biden administration. There’s only one way to limit the damage he and his Republican agents of despair can do to America and the pain they inflict on you and me. It is to put Senate leadership into the control of Democrats so that the obstructions to progress can be minimized and we can begin to build our 21st century.

The January 5 double Senate run-off elections in Georgia give us the opportunity to create a 50-50 headcount in the Senate, which will strip Senate leadership and much of the power to obstruct from McConnell. For that to happen we have to do everything in our power to remove the two corrupt sitting senators from Georgia and replace them with honest brokers for We the People. Your part is to help to make that happen.

Go to this link and do all you can. If you’d like to understand this more, I strongly suggest that you read Sheila Markin’s excellent post.

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Ed. note: It has been said that the soon-to-be former president has lived in our heads rent-free for over 5 years, starting with his birtherism slander. That is what constant outrageousness and sensationalism can do, as every circus sideshow barker knows. But our national eviction notice has been posted. The squatter will be gone on January 20 and there’s a permanent

sign for him and every other ego-maniacal tyrant. I recommend that you post a similar sign for your own head.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so,

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section 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. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  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.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Potporri – v 13.0


Reading time – 5:44  .  .  .

Culture Wars

I vacillate. I go to boiling anger over what Republicans are doing, like voter suppression, stoking of hatred, flagrantly lying and supplicating themselves in spineless obeisance to the immoralities and anti-democracy molestation done by Donald Trump. In contrast, in my more enlightened moments I look for how we will move forward together in this country, even in the presence of millions who would rather make war than peace. So, if reading these posts gives you a bit of whiplash, that vacillation probably explains it. Send me your chiropractor bill.

Culture clash case in point

Read this from the Washington Post report on violence at the numerically misnamed Million MAGA March last weekend (the actual number of attendees was 1/100th of the claim):

“On stark display in the nation’s capital were two irreconcilable versions of America, each refusing to accept what the other considered to be undeniable fact.”

We’re bedeviled by divisions that run deep, fueled by our moral certainties, such that compromise feels like  an affront against God. In the face of these dueling, absolutist convictions, how will we find a way forward with one another?

I wish I had an answer to that question. Actually, I wish that anyone had an answer. Perhaps the Braver Angels folks can give us some direction.

I do know that hate begets hate and won’t help anything beyond a momentary but illusory jolt of feeling powerful. Maybe we can find some clarity from a review of this essay. It was offered by Jeffrey H. Smith, who recently found a letter his father wrote to him in 1945. It contains great wisdom and I recommend it to you.

Donald Trump had been in office almost one year when I penned my first post about our embattled culture. It’s worth another look, as we plunge headlong into a new administration that has pledged to begin to heal our vexing national divide. Our healing will be no small task and will not be for the feint of heart.

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Race In America, Year 401

Do you think you understand race in America? I think I do, yet I most certainly don’t.

Caroline Randall Williams is an author and writer in residence at Vanderbilt University. She has penned yet another stunning essay which I wholeheartedly recommend to you if you want to learn about race from someone who lives our national conundrum every day. Find it here.

As well, read her highly acclaimed op-ed, ‘My Body Is a Confederate Monument’: Slavery, Rape and Reframing the Past. She begins her essay,

“I have rape-colored skin. My light-brown-blackness is a living testament to the rules, the practices, the causes of the Old South.”

Williams gives a clarity about race that can help us to understand – or at least more fully appreciate – the truth. She is so bright and so clear that I would listen to her read the phone book – if we still had phone books.

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  • A Covid Vaccine and You

    Trump doesn’t get this, but you do: The problem won’t go away without taking the cure. Even if the cure is painful, at least it’s temporary. Without it, the pandemic is permanent.

    There was a time when education, knowledge and learning were considered good things. We believed in science, evidentiary facts, research and other things. President Kennedy told us that college is America’s best friend and we believed him. It was a time when we trusted science to eradicate diseases like smallpox and polio. We’re there on smallpox and nearly there with polio.* When experts talked we listened and we usually followed their advice because they knew a lot more than we did. Now, though, it seems we have no need for such expertise or education, knowledge, learning or even facts, which leads to vaccine refusal.

  • The recent announcements by Pfizer and Moderna of fabulous protection by their vaccines from COVID-19 are public announcements that make shareholders happy. But their products aren’t ready for prime time because we need our FDA to review them before these products receive approval for use. Therein lies the stumbling block.
  • Take a look at the chart below. It tells us that even if a vaccine were to cut the risk of contracting COVID-19 by 90%, fewer than 70% of Americans would get vaccinated and that would allow the pandemic to continue. What do you suppose is behind that apparently self-defeating attitude?
  • Confidence in a vaccine has been undercut by Trump’s politicization of the process, corner cutting and general dishonesty about medicine and science, as well as his months of promises of vaccines coming “very soon.” (Side note: If you wait long enough, “very soon” becomes accurate.)
  • The problem Americans have with vaccines now is that we have reluctance to believe in the efficacy of any vaccine, and we’re not sure we’ll be safe from potentially lethal side effects, all due to Trump having compromised the FDA with his pressure to take shortcuts. In other words, we have to hope our fine FDA folks will refuse to succumb to Trump’s pressure and instead do their usual excellent work. (See the sidebar below.)

Click me for the story

Of course, vaccine refusal will be exacerbated by millions of people refusing to wear masks, socially distance or do much of anything to curtail this pandemic. That intransigence has made us #1 in the world in infections, hospitalizations and death, which seems to be our official national policy. Here’s what is behind that.

Trump’s coronavirus expert is neuro-radiologist Dr. Scott Atlas, a true blue coronavirus ignorant. Atlas hasn’t practiced medicine for over 10 years, but he has frequently opined on Fox News, which was enough for Trump to hire him. That wasn’t snark; it’s literally true.

Click the sidebar and read at least the first paragraph of the Times article.

When Atlas was a practicing doctor his expertise was in reading CT and MRI scans. He had no training in and knew nothing about dealing with viruses or pandemics. He still doesn’t.

Until vaccines are widely available to all 320,000,000 of us (and they are proven to our satisfaction to be both safe and effective, such that we’ll take them), Trump and Atlas want to force us to rely on herd immunity for protection. That’s the coronavirus fighting strategy of giving up. Playing and then being dead.

Sweden initially tried this surrender technique, but they realized fairly quickly that all they were accomplishing was the eradication of the population of their country. Since then they’ve stopped that craziness and they are (don’t get ahead of me) wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands.

The experts (in contrast to Trump and Atlas) tell us that seeking herd immunity in the U.S. will result in 2 – 4 million dead Americans if allowed to run its course. Honk your horn if you love that plan. If you don’t love that plan, put on your damn mask.

No vaccine will arrive in time for the 1,300 healthcare workers who have died trying to save others. They died because of the official White House policy of foot dragging to achieve herd immunity. That denied these healthcare heroes sufficient PPE to protect themselves. What should we call that? Words like “betrayal” and “accessory to homicide” come to mind. Come up with your own descriptors.

Our dedicated healthcare professionals give their all – literally – in overlong shifts, working every overlong day trying to save us from ourselves. Have no illusions about this: We’re still denying them what they need in order for them to be safe.

Here’s a quotation from Abba Eban, former Israeli politician and ambassador. It seems perfect for our time of inept pandemic leadership:

“Men and nations behave wisely when they have exhausted all other resources.”**

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Divided Government

If you like it, no need to read further, except for the footnotes.

If you don’t want divided government, if you want the Ds to be marginally in control of the Senate, you better not sit on your hands.

I wrote about why Biden won while at the same time the Rs gained ground in state governments, the House and held their seats in the Senate. The Rs will win the two Georgia Senate seats still in contest if Democrats play their cards the same way for the January 5 run-off elections as they did for the general election. If you’re aligned with the Ds and want a better outcome, you must do three things:

  1. Don’t scare the poo out of moderate voters. Just shut up about far left policies and notions (Green New Deal, Defund the Police, etc.) because those extreme ideas are repugnant to moderate voters and they are the ones who are going to decide who gets those Senate seats.
  2. Contribute to the D candidates. This is going to be a stupidly expensive campaign. The most money spent doesn’t always win (ask Jamie Harrison in South Carolina), but it sure helps a lot when the other side is blanketing the airwaves, social media, billboards, bumper stickers and knocking on every door in the state multiple times. Either Ossoff and Warnock will have the weapons to win this battle or they will lose. Be a passive observer at your peril. Way better is to help out.
  3. Reach out to register and remind Georgia voters.
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*Except for a number of American anti-vax knuckleheads who have refused to protect their children from polio and who have consequently managed to give polio a resurgence in America. Be sure to ask someone who survived polio what they think of those people.

**I had originally heard a version of this identified as a Winston Churchill quotation and have subsequently learned that both the attribution and the quotation itself are incorrect. Since Churchill never said it, I’ll modify it slightly and claim it as my own. Feel free to quote me thusly:

“We Americans always do the right thing – after we’ve tried everything else first.”

  • —————————————-

    Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so,

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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. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
    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.

    JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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