Alt-Right

This Most Consequential Moment


Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Now is a good time for that.

Reading time – 3:41  .  .  .

Here’s one of the great and beautiful things about America: both of these things are true.

The ragers, the haters, the reality deniers, the hoax and conspiracy screamers, the bullies, the demonizers, the bigots and the misogynists get to wail their vitriol and grievances. They get to verbally assault those who disagree with them. And even as they bray their hatred of Americans, they get to wave American flags and proclaim their love for America. Hint: It’s impossible to both love America and hate Americans.

As they do all that, even when they do their worst, the rest of us get to call them out and stand rock solid against their intentional, destructive cruelty and instead demand a decent America.

A First Amendment exercise is what happened two Fridays ago in Northbrook, IL at a non-violent Trump demonstration and counter-demonstration. The two groups were on opposite sides of an intersection, but they were much farther apart than the three lanes of roadway between them. Read this for a better understanding of the divide and for an example of courage in the face of cruelty.

The enormous gulf between the two groups of demonstrators is a perfect representation in microcosm of our country in this turbulent time, as well as a demonstration of why this election is an enormously consequential moment, perhaps behind only the founding and the Civil War.

I recently wrote,

It’s easy to pin that clear and present danger on Trump, but it’s critical that you see him as the embodiment of the forces of absolutism running hellishly in our society. Trump is both the repugnant inciter of rage and a tool of the brutal, angry mob. He wouldn’t be in office or be getting away with his criminality, his cruelty and the destruction of our democracy if there weren’t millions of people who want that, who think his behavior is okay, who believe the end justifies the means.* It doesn’t matter to them how evil and eventually tyrannical both the end and the means prove to be.

This president is encouraging intimidation of voters, the discarding of ballots, he’s stoking violence, refusing the fundamentals of our Constitution and more. And millions of Americans support his reprehensible words and behaviors. At the same time, the spineless Republicans in Congress continue to promote his lawlessness. It seems that avoiding his playground bully name calling in order to keep their seats in Congress is more important to them than keeping their oath of office. Like Trump, these cowards are playing to the mob.

In contrast, Joe Biden is calling for decency (watch his 22-minute signature video here), for Constitutional norms, for the rule of law and for active measures to protect the American people from both foreign threats, like Russia, and domestic threats, like the coronavirus and white supremacist terrorists.

The screamers wear their MAGA hats and wave Trump flags in their puffed chest power rush, but if America is to be truly great there is only one path for us to follow and it isn’t the Trump path, because his is the path to a brutal past that millions of our ancestors fled.

That’s why this is the most consequential moment of our national lives and nearly the most consequential moment in the history of our nation.

This isn’t a choice of policies; it is a choice to keep our democracy or let the mobs end it forever.

·

From the closing words of Marilynne Robinson’s brilliant essay, “What Does It Mean to Love a Country?

”  .  .  .  we might see a new birth of freedom, and another one beyond that. Democracy is the great instrument of human advancement. We have no right to fail it.”

VOTE IN PERSON EARLY

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*Essay of the Week

It is truly frightening that millions of people are demanding authoritarianism in America. They want an end to our self-rule, our long and noble experiment in democracy. Christopher Ingraham spells out the truth that has been so difficult to define in his Washington Post article, “New Research Explores Authoritarian Mind-set of Trump’s Core Supporters.” Key takeaway: we practice apathy at our collective peril.

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Quotes of the Month – So Far
  1. Chief Justice John Roberts reported, “Ruth [Bader Ginsberg] used to ask, ‘What is the difference between a bookkeeper in Brooklyn and a Supreme Court Justice?’ Her answer: ‘One generation.'”
  2. The international experts have said that at least 70% of U.S. Covid deaths were completely avoidable = 150,000 extra dead people. Reflecting on that, Amy Tucker said, “This is just a whole lot of stupid that didn’t have to be this bad.” Just so.
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Video of the Week

If you aren’t now on the receiving end of the hate, violence and discrimination that’s so common and is being stoked by this president, get ready, because it’s just a day away. Hatred always needs new targets to fuel it. Watch this video. We’ve seen this movie, we know how it ends and it isn’t good.

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Tweet of the Season

Robert Hendrickson, Rector at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Tucson, AZ, tweeted the definitive description of today’s presidential leadership in July. See the truth for yourself. Many thanks to brother Jim for the pointer.

VOTE IN PERSON EARLY

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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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Sent to a Libertarian Friend on 9-11


Reading time – 2:44  .  .  .
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This was sent to a friend on 9/11. The message informs our present moment.
·
I’ve been thinking about what you labeled my “way too much certainty of how events would have played out if something had happened that didn’t happen.” I understand your skepticism of my views, yet consider the likelihood of these “didn’t happen” events:
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1. The Florida election in 2000 requires no speculation, because the full count has been done multiple times. Gore won. Not by much, but he got more votes than Bush. Then there was Bush’s slimy lawsuit.
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2. If Gore had been president, I really don’t think he would have blown off the intelligence on an imminent terrorist attack as Bush did, like dismissing the FBI agent who warned him of an attack. He told the agent, “Okay, you’ve covered your ass,” then did nothing to protect our nation.
·
3. There isn’t a remote possibility that if 9/11 had happened on Gore’s watch that he would have conflated religious extremist al Qaeda with secularist Saddam, who never attacked the U.S. in any way, so there would have been no invasion of Iraq and no war and thousands of our troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis would still be alive. Plus, a major piece of the middle-east would not be in ongoing chaos, so there wouldn’t have been a crush of refugees into Europe.
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4. If the 9/11 attack had occurred during a Gore presidency, Gore would have captured bin Laden at Tora Bora, where our CIA had him trapped. They needed the military to finish the job, but Bush refused to send help, allowing the bad guys to escape, which led to a war in Afghanistan. And yes, the protracted mess in Afghanistan was predictable. Just ask the British, the Soviets and others about their experience there. Seventeen years later we’re still trapped in that country. Stunning how we could be so blind and foolish.
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5. Trump cheated his way into office. Had Hillary won instead (i.e. had she not been a terrible campaigner, had she not used a private server, had there not been 11 Benghazi hearings, etc.) she would have been president. I don’t think it’s even a remote possibility that she would have blown off the pandemic, so a lot fewer people would have become sick and died.
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What all that has in common is fallout from cheating and it continues, as you know.
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Trump’s constant cheating, starting with his birther slime to his “Russia, if you’re listening” to his begging China to interfere in the 2020 election and his abandonment of We the People in this pandemic have brought us nearly 200,000 dead Americans [ed. note: 34 days later there are over 217,000 dead], and you and I are in the center of the bulls eye for this disease. Plus, his “good people on both sides” has encouraged vigilantes in our streets. Plus, he’s promoting – even arranging – voter intimidation. None of this would have happened absent Trump’s cheating, lying, fraud and the rest.
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Is there a certainty that these events that didn’t happen would have happened absent the cheating? Of course not. But this looks pretty likely to me. And just maybe 3,000 people wouldn’t have died suddenly 19 years ago. And about 3/4 of the people who have died from COVID would still be alive – see the Oxford study. All of that and more is why our upcoming election is so very critical. As in: clear and present danger.
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We probably can’t stop all the cheating but we can overwhelm the bad guys with votes.
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Watch this space this Sunday for “This Most Consequential Moment.”
·

VOTE IN PERSON EARLY

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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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

A Little Help for You, Mike Pence


Reading time – 4:42  .  .  .

WARNING: Contains extra-crispy snark.

Mike, at the V.P. debate you said lots of things that are – well, let’s not call them lies; this is politics, so let’s just say they’re “creative.” We can’t look at everything, so we’ll pick just one thing to look at. Perhaps I can help you with that.

You said, “This presumption that you hear from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris that America is systemically racist, and as Joe Biden said, he believes that law enforcement has an implicit bias against minorities, it’s a great insult to the men and women who serve in law enforcement.”

On the slim chance that there are some facts (you remember what those are, right?) that somehow have slipped past you, here’s some help for you, Mike – just in case the issue of systemic racism ever comes up again in conversation.

When a White kid – say, your kid – gets busted for marijuana possession, one of two things happens.

  1. You get a call from the police to come down to the station to pick up your dumb kid. Before you leave the station the cop in charge says to your kid, “I don’t want to see you here again.” He turns to you and apologizes for having had to bother you. You take your kid home and ground him for a month. Or,
  2. Your kid gets charged, goes to court and the judge sentences him to 30 days of community service. He tells your kid that if he completes that satisfactorily his record will be expunged.

Here’s what happens when a Black kid from the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago gets busted for marijuana possession.

  1. He gets slammed into the side of a police cruiser, handcuffed and thrown into the back seat. While all that is going on he’s called a lot of cruel and abusive names.
  2. He spends every night in jail until somebody scrapes together enough cash to post bail. Or he just languishes there until his court date, which could be years away.
  3. The judge sentences him to a few years in prison, where he is surrounded by hardened criminals.
  4. He gets out of jail but can’t get a job because he has to check that box on the job application form that says he’s a convicted felon.

That’s how the system works, Mike. That’s why it’s called “systemic racism.” Let’s look at this another way.

Here’s a chart showing the rate of police fatal shootings per million people broken down by race. Review this carefully, Mike, and feel free to click the chart for the source material.

Are you seeing a problem here, Mike? Does any kind of discrimination jump out for you, like that the rate of fatal police killings is way higher for Blacks than for Whites? It’s 2.5 times higher. Does that look systemic to you, Mike? Okay, maybe you’re not seeing it, so let’s look at this yet another way.

Here’s a different chart. This one shows the number of people shot to death by police over a 4-year period and the data is broken down by race. Click the chart if you want to dig into the facts.

Let’s look at 2019, Mike – the gray bars – the last full year represented on the chart. You can see that fewer Black people were killed by police than Whites – about 1/3 fewer. The thing is, Mike, that Blacks are only about 15% of the U.S. population, but they have been killed by cops disproportionately more often. Does that look like a system of racism to you yet, Mike?

Tell you what: Watch this video. I’m recommending it to you because at the debate you deplored, with practiced, plastic passion, the awfulness of violent protests and looting. Oddly enough, though, you failed to deplore the conditions that lead to violence and looting. This video will help you to understand and appreciate those conditions. But I warn you that if you watch this video you’ll be in danger of understanding systemic racism. Your willful ignorance will be at risk, Mike. Still, be brave – watch the video. I think you can handle it.

Oh, and one other thing about violence and looting.

You demand, “Law and order!” and Trump proclaims, “I am the law and order president!” Sounds great, Mike. Works as an election bumper sticker almost magically. And you warn Americans against a Biden-Harris administration, letting us know in no uncertain terms of the carnage that will ensue if they get into office. The suburbs will never again be safe! There will be riots! Violence! Looting!

What’s interesting about that is that the violence and looting you claim to deplore are and have been occurring during your administration, Mike. It’s been stoked by your boss for four years. You remember El Paso, right? And Poway and Tree of Life Synagogue and Parkland and Jersey City and Gilroy? There are lots more. Not a lot of law and order going on there, Mike. And it’s all happened on your watch. Isn’t that fascinating?

Are you sure that Biden and Harris will do worse? Really? Honestly, that doesn’t seem possible, Mike.

Except, of course, that your boss is calling on militias, white nationalist and white supremacist groups to “Stand by.” It’s just the most recent of his barely disguised calls to arms to our thug-right, to whom he’s given cover for four years (Ref: “Good people on both sides.” Trump said that after a white nationalist murdered Heather Heyer with his car.). So, America might become more violent once you and Trump are out of office, as he rage-tweets for the violent minority to attack the rest of us in a civil war. He’ll call them the true patriots.

Important safety tip, Mike: Once you’re out of office and living in your affluent suburban home, you really ought to make sure your security detail is up to standing against Trump’s army of angry delusionals. They might mistake your house for someone else’s.

I feel so bad for you, Mike, because you’re stuck in your comfortable ignorance and I really want to help you. But the thing is, Mike – and there’s no getting around this – nothing I do will help you until you let go of pandering solely to old White guys, far right extremists and the Bible thumping closed-mindeds. Not even your over-practiced syrupy-ness or your God-thing certainties, or your robotic, disingenuousness will help until you at last give up your self-serving self-righteousness and embrace the actual reality out here where the rest of us live.

I’ve done all I can for you, Mike. Now it’s up to you. But in a final gesture of heartfelt support, let me suggest to you that you acquire an urgency for updating your résumé. Good luck to you, Mike, in whatever you do next. It will be here before you know it.

BREAKING NEWS

There was another Trump demonstration and counter-demonstration in Northbrook, IL yesterday, October 10. The groups were planted on their own corners of the intersection by the coronavirus death count sign. The vast majority weren’t locals – I know because I asked. They were mostly outside agitators. One proudly announced who he would vote for in South Carolina – clearly not a townie.

About 2 hours into the demonstrations a shaved head, mask-less tough came strutting over to the Biden supporters’ side and got face-to-face with demonstrators. The Biden supporters wore face masks, but the mask-less tough got in the face of some freshman high school girls, yelling and frothing COVID denials at them.

I have tried mightily to understand Trump supporters, to seek middle ground, to simply have a respectful conversation, but all I’ve found is anger, hatred, bluster, reality denying and, worst of all, puffing and posturing to demonize and dominate others, just like that frothing tough tried to do. This is a collection of adult bodies whose development was stunted at age 10, so they act like playground bullies, brats, the kids your mom and dad told you to stay away from. And they feed on the sense of power they get from chanting brainlessly. Their behavior reminds me of Nazi goose-stepping morons.

If they want to be miserable and ruin their own lives, it’s their choice. The truth is that now that they’ve done so much harm to others and they’ve attacked our democracy while cloaking themselves in a false mantle of patriotism, I don’t care about their misery. When they plot to kidnap a state governor, when they surrender all their reasoning to a cult tyrant and when they threaten COVID infection of 14 year old girls, our country is truly in peril and it is critical that we shut these bullies up using our votes.

VOTE IN PERSON EARLY

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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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

ACTION REQUIRED AGAIN!


The people who organized the Trump rally a couple of weeks ago are calling for another “reopen schools, support law enforcement, and Trump 2020” demonstration, this time on Saturday, October 10 from 3:00 – 5:00PM in the parking lot across from the Coronavirus sign at Shermer Road and Walters Avenue. The first one was organized by a high school junior, perhaps aided by “others.” It was physically non-violent, but was verbally abhorrent. Nevertheless, about as many people demonstrated across the street in a counter-protest. It’s critical that we stand firm again.

Some high school students from Deerfield and Northbrook are calling for a critical counter-protest to stand firm against the bullies. Here’s their call to action:

Bring your sign, your American flag and your peaceful passion and stand firm against the hate. See you there.

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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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

An Historical Perspective


Join the Disambiguation Gang right over there (scroll down just a bit) →

Reading time – 3:18 .  .  .

COVID-19 has at last caught up to our science-denying President. Of course, it was inevitable, given his flaunting of all protections, other than getting tested, which isn’t protection at all. By the time someone tests positive they’re already both sick and contagious.

In President Trump’s case, he did what he always does: He thought only of himself and managed to knowingly infect many others, including hundreds at his Bedminster club. The next episode of his contagion spreading happened Sunday at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He went for a joyride to greet the crowds lining Rockville Pike at the western edge of the hospital campus. He rode in the President’s armored, hermetically sealed SUV, along with his Secret Service detail of 2 agents.

In a sealed vehicle.

As he exhaled clouds of coronavirus containing droplets.

They were all wearing masks, but that isn’t complete protection for the Secret Service agents from Trump’s viral fog in that sealed space. The extra bad news is that whatever infection was passed from Trump to those agents they’re going to take home to their families.

On the other hand, I’m sure Trump appeared to be the strong warrior to his fans on the sidewalk. Being a tough guy is very important to all of them, Trump included. Knowing that helps to explain the schoolyard bully behavior of demeaning others and name calling. For them, putting others down is a strength of character thing. King of the mountain. Manly man. Macho. Puff-up stuff.

When Trump arrived back at the White House on Monday evening he stood on the Truman balcony and saluted Mussolini-style. The last thing he did before turning and walking inside was to strip off his mask, heedless of the infection he was almost certain to spread to others in the always heavily-peopled White House.

From the New York Times Tuesday morning newsletter,

“’Don’t be afraid of Covid,’ President Trump tweeted, on the same day that the White House outbreak spread further and another several hundred Americans died from virus complications.”

This is just the latest series of incidents to generate this question: What would the hair-on-fire Republicans be saying if instead it had been President Obama going for that joyride and entering the White House mask-less?

They’d be apoplectic. They’d be maniacally blurting and frothing. They would be all over cable news and on the Sunday talk shows with their eyes bulging and the veins in their necks throbbing in self-righteous indignation and rage. We know that because we saw that almost weekly for the 8 years of the Obama administration. They even went berserk over Obama wearing a tan suit.

If you close your eyes and listen carefully, you can almost hear their wailing today:

“O’ the fecklessness!” (They liked to use that word when speaking about President Obama.)*

“O’ the betrayal of our brave Secret Service agents!”

“O’ the abandoning of our national security!”

“Woe be unto us from this reckless, feckless Black president!” They’d leave out “Black” but everyone would hear the dog whistle just the same.

That’s not what’s happening in reaction to President Trump’s joyride and his restarted campaign to infect White House staff. The Republicans are absolutely silent about what Trump has done. I guess fecklessness, the lives of Secret Service agents and the White House staff and Trump’s ditching of our national security just don’t matter as much now as they did back in the Obama years.

Or perhaps this is just another Republican spineless moment. Time for an additional Jellyfish Award. And time to vote these invertebrates out of office before they do yet more damage.

Numbers of Note

7.4 million Americans have been infected by the coronavirus. That’s 2.2% of our total population. Of those infected, over 211,000 have died.** That’s a COVID-19 mortality rate of 2.8%. Roughly 200,000 more are predicted to die by the end of the year.

The seasonal flu is not a reportable disease, so the CDC doesn’t have perfect numbers for it. Their best estimates are that in 2019-2020 between 39 – 56 million Americans became sick from seasonal flu (that’s between 11.8% and 17% of our total population) and between 24 – 62 thousand died. That’s a seasonal flu mortality rate of 0.06% – 0.11%.

That means the mortality rate of COVID-19 is at least 25 times worse than seasonal flu.

This pandemic  is not “no worse than the seasonal flu.” It’s deadlier. And it hasn’t and it won’t “miraculously disappear,” especially if we continue to refuse to do what is necessary to beat it.

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*Feckless: lacking initiative or strength of character; irresponsible.

**It’s likely that approximately 80,000 additional people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S., based on several analyses. Precise reporting is quite difficult in the middle of a pandemic; plus, there have been many deaths at home or otherwise away from reporting centers due largely to an overwhelmed medical system.

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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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Republicans For Biden


Join the Disambiguation Gang right over there  (scroll down just a bit)

Ed Note – Apologies for the false alarm notification of a new Disambiguation yesterday. Entirely my mistake. In contrast, this one is for real.


FLASH MESSAGE!

Trump is doing every weasely thing he can to rig the election in his favor, including promising to throw out mail-in ballots and stopping the process on November 3 before all the mail-in ballots are counted.

So, DON”T vote by mail unless you must in order to avoid contact with others.

VOTE IN PERSON AND DO IT EARLY

See the instructions below.


Update to the Presidential Befoulment of the Military

It has been 27 days since the baring of the foul statements of Donald Trump about our military. To date, not a single Congressional Republican has spoken out against his cruel, hateful words and behavior. Not one. Most have run from reporters. And the usual administration sycophants and the Fox News sub-species have slimed out from under their rocks to defend this faithless president and deny his blatantly reprehensible behavior.

This is our current reality. It should never happen.* That is the reason for what follows.

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Republicans For Biden

Okay, the folks listed below aren’t all Republicans – most are – nor are they all enthusiastically for Biden. All are for America and therefore they are against Trump, which is why they have publicly pledged to vote for Biden.

Here is an expanded list of names you’ll likely recognize – more announce nearly every day. In addition, you can watch over 1,000 videos of Republican Voters Against Trump here.

There are 500 more Americans here. This is a letter signed by former high ranking military, State Department and national security patriots, most having been registered Republicans, and they are all voting for Biden. These are knowledgeable people who see clearly what is going on and the enormous danger to our country this president has created.

Most of these folks likely never before imagined they would vote for a Democrat. Nevertheless, these are people with the spine to stand and be counted when it’s all on the line.

And it is all on the line right now.

These folks – every one of them – believe in the Constitution and in America and are taking action to protect and defend. So must we all.

Gen. Colin Powell                            Charlie Sykes                                        Carly Fiorino

Steve Schmidt                                 Jennifer Rubin                                       S.E. Cupp

Michael Steele                                 Sec. Def. Chuck Hagel                         Meghan McCain

Rick Wilson                                      Sec. HHS Jeh Johnson                        Bret Stephens

Pres. George W. Bush                      Sec. HUD Carla Jills                             Mike Murphy

Gov. Jeb Bush                                  Admin. EPA William Reilly                    Rep. Joe Walsh

Gen. James Mattis                           Chair, HSA William Webster                  Rep. David Jolly

Gen. John Kelly                                Exec. Dir. UNICEF Ann Veneman          Rep. Charlie Dent

Adm. William McRaven                    Sec. Homeland Security Tom Ridge      Sen. Jeff Flake

Sen. Mitt Romney                            Admin. EPA Christine Todd Whitman     Mitch Monnin

George Conway                               Amb. William Howard Taft IV                  Meg Whitman

Susan Del Percio                             Sec. Navy Richard V. Spencer                Ana Navarro

Bill Kristol                                         Dep. Sec. State John Negroponte         Benjamin Wittes

Anthony Scaramucci                        Dir. FBI James Comey                           Sully Sullenberger

Gov. John Kasich                             Solicitor Gen. Charles Fried                   Gov. Bill Weld

David Brooks                                    Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman                   Asst. to V.P. Olivia Troy

Dep. Sec. State Richard Armitage    Sen. John Warner                                  Gov. Jim Edgar

Rep. Mark Sanford                            Rep. Justin Amash                                 Fiona Hill

Amb. Gordon Sondland                     Amb. Wm. Taylor                                    Amb. Marie Yovanovitch

Peggy Noonan                                   Cindy McCain                                         Scientific American Mag.

Gen. Paul Selva                                  Ross Douthat                                          Dwayne Johnson

Thomas Friedman                               Gen. Michael Hayden

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From Steve Sheffey

(Read Steve’s full post here.)

“Political scientists Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein wrote that the Republican Party ‘is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.’ They wrote that in 2012. It’s truer today.

“Trump and McConnell are not outliers; they lead the Republican Party because they embody what the GOP has become. Democrats need to stop pretending that we have a functioning two-party system with sanity on the other side of the aisle.”
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And Republican voters need to recognize that their party has been stolen from them. It has abandoned them. They need to stop pretending that the values they hold dear are still there and then break away from the insanity, like the courageous people listed above and in the linked pages.
·
Not convinced yet? Nineteen Republican branded candidates for Congress embrace QAnon. That’s right: Republicans are becoming The Insane Conspiracy Theory Party.
·
Your Republican family and friends need to see that the only thing left of the Republican Party they joined and believed in is the title. Everything else has been crushed under the heel of a cult.
·

——————————

Want to stop the madness?

In this battle for our country, you are Obi-Wan Kenobe. Princes Leia speaks to you for the people, saying, “Help us, Obi-Wan. You’re our only hope.” VOTE!

Then VOTE to stop it.

EARLY voting has started in many states and time is of the essence in this desperate battle to preserve our democracy. Here’s a simple short list of instructions for your voting:

Make sure you’re registered to vote – go to Vote.org to be certain. Now is a fine time to do that.

Unless you must avoid contact with others, VOTE IN PERSON EARLY at your polling place. If you don’t know where it is, check your city or state website for the proper location, a list of days you can vote EARLY in-person and the hours your polling place will be open. Voting EARLY will expose you to fewer people and there will likely be a much shorter wait time to vote. Nevertheless, bring a chair and water just in case. Bring disinfectant with you and, of course, wear your mask.

If you plan to vote in-person on election day, Tuesday, November 3, show up EARLY in the day for the shortest wait time to vote. Same deal regarding a chair, water, disinfectant and your mask.

  • – OR –

If you must vote by mail, request a mail-in ballot EARLY. If you haven’t already done so, it may be too late. Check with your Secretary of State or your municipality for instructions. Once again, now is a fine time to do that.

Fill out your mail-in ballot right away – immediately after you receive it. FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS EXACTLY.

Instead of mailing your properly (did I mention “follow the instructions?”) completed mail-in ballot, drop it off EARLY where your state or municipality directs – drop box, city hall, etc.

Summary:

VOTE IN PERSON EARLY

Any questions?

——————————

* Read this piece by Charles Blow. Then pass this post along to 3 others. If it isn’t already clear, you’ll see why.

CLICK-READ-ACT

·

And read Tom Friedman’s new post following the so-called presidential, so-called debate. He urges us to vote for Biden, ending with, “Do it as if your country’s democracy depends on it, because it does.

—————————

Follow-Up To the Protest Report

Here’s what happened after I left the demonstration last Friday. It’s a story of courage in the face of violence threatened by Trump supporting thugs.

Just wondering: How many of the Trump supporters at that demonstration aren’t neighbors, but instead are outside agitators?

—————————————-

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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Learn Something


Just back from the demonstration / counter-demonstration in Northbrook Friday night. Did you make it? Good on you. If not, see you next time.

There was a good turnout on both sides of the street but the crowds were very different from one another.

I was good to my word in promising to do my part to engage in civil discussion and avoid name calling. It proved to be quite a challenge and that’s the learning, even as it may come to no surprise to you.

One female Trump supporter crossed the street and was near me, so I approached her, asking if she would talk with me. She agreed, so I asked her about her support for Trump and did she have concerns because of Trump’s behavior toward women? Her answer stunned me.

She said she is from Montenegro, part of the former Yugoslavia. It’s a totalitarian state, she said, which is why she came here.

“Okay, but you’re a woman and Trump has a very bad reputation with women.”

“Well, Kennedy did bad things  .  .  .” I stopped her and reminded her that Kennedy is not on the ballot in November. She went on with other politicians’ names, claiming they all do it. Then she attacked Jill Biden and her morality. I pointed out that she, too, is not on the ballot, which she dismissed, indicating that I just don’t get it.

“All powerful men do those things,” she told me.

Things went on a while longer, but everything she said was some form of whataboutism. She’s a Trump supporter and justifies her support with the rationalization that “They all do it.” She made it clear that she is stuck where she is. And she likes it there. She seemed for all the world an angry woman who simply wanted to lash out at something. Anything.

A fellow across the street was wearing an olive t-shirt, camo pants and a ball cap turned backward. He had a loud electronic megaphone and talked incessantly. What he said was inflammatory toward Biden, liberals (“go take your meds”), anyone standing across the street and more. That paired nicely with the flyer for the Trump demonstration naming the opposition “socialist morons.”

There was anger and hatred coming from Mr. Camo nonstop, so I approached him and, like the Montenegran woman, I asked him if we could talk and could I ask him a question?

I told him my name is Jack – what’s yours? “George,” he said. “George McGovern.” He and his friend shared a snarky smile.

“As you know, you’re saying things that are inflammatory to the people across the street. My question is why are you doing that?”

“Because I can.”

“Yes, of course, but  .  .  .”

“First amendment. Because I can.”

“Right, but you can say anything. Why are you saying these things?”

He went off on what sounded like a cocaine-fueled rant, becoming indignant, defensive, threatening, demeaning and more, so I walked away. He continued spouting accusations, schoolyard bully name-calling and more (“China, China is for Biden”) until I left the scene an hour later with his continuing rant fading away over my left shoulder. He wasn’t alone among the Trump supporters in behaving that way.

And the point – the learning – is about the power trip these Trump supporters are on. It’s about dominance, venting their rage, demeaning others, taunting, braying their real or imagined grievances and their victimhood and deliberately ignoring reality.

It’s the aphrodisiac of feeling powerful.

These are the people who are supporting Donald Trump. These are the people who want him to get away with subverting our election – anything for him to stay in power. They wave their flags even as they support Trump’s destruction of our democracy. That their bullying works against their own interests doesn’t seem to enter into their thinking.

We love to claim American exceptionalism. We love to proudly announce that we are the greatest nation in the world. If all that is true, then why do we need all the hatred?

I was interviewed by a couple of news agencies at the demonstration and was asked why we were there. Here’s what I told them.

This is a fight for the life of our democracy and it falls to us, we the people, to win this fight. It always falls to us. It’s just that we’re so perilously close to rule by thug now.

Better vote early.

And read Dana Millbank’s essay here. Many thanks to JB for pointing me to it.

—————————————-

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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

BREAKING NEWS! ACTION REQUIRED!


The graphic below arrived as you see it, promoting a Trump rally in my generally peaceful town. I confess that I am struck by the insight of the creator of the notice, apparently knowing me well enough to observe that I am a “socialist moron,” even as they misspelled “physical.” I am a bit concerned that they thought it necessary to instruct their attendees that there will be “no pysical fighting with the socialist morons.”

This is the “anti-American ‘Covid Scoreboard'” sign by the railroad tracks (not in the park), complete with vandalism. Power, apparently, to the spray painters.

This calls for a counter-protest

I’m happy to meet them in the park. I hope to engage in a civil discussion and avoid name calling and demeaning behaviors. I promise to do my part.

The location of this event is a bit confusing, as the writer of the announcement says their rally is in the Village Green Park (that’s clear), but then says they’ll be protesting in front of the “anti-American ‘Covid Scoreboard.'” I only know of one Covid-related sign and it isn’t in the park. It’s a block west where Shermer Road intersects Walters Avenue by the railroad tracks. We’ll figure it out Friday, even if we’re socialist morons.

Bring signs and flags of support for Biden and Democracy

Note that Trump supporters are encouraged to also bring megaphones. This is a small area and I’m guessing such things won’t be necessary for counter-protesters. But if you’re so moved, do whatcha gotta do.

And wear your mask, even if the Trump supporters don’t wear theirs. Especially because the Trump supporters won’t wear theirs.

PLAN TO BE THERE BY 5:30PM THIS FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25.

See you there.

—————————————-

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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Here’s How To Fix This


Reading time – 6:15  .  .  .

Preface: Presidential Leadership In The Time of COVID-19

In Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward’s new book Rage we see the words of the President of the United States acknowledging the deadly danger of this disease. He says it will infect “through the air” and is five times more deadly than the “most strenuous flu.” Then he says that he wants to “play it down,” rather than marshal our national resources and the public to fight this pandemic. That’s what he’s done and continues to do, as Americans die.

We don’t have to take Woodward’s word for all of Trump’s deceit because Woodward has audio recordings of their conversations. They are as clear and as damning of this president as can be.

He’s lied to us over and over and put us all at lethal risk. He’s held election rallies that he knew would cause the spread of infections. You could ask Herman Cain about that, but he attended a Trump rally and then died of Covid-19.

Trump has ridiculed those advising and those practicing proper precautions, influencing millions of Americans to refuse those protections. That has unavoidably caused the massive spread of this infection. The result of that behavior is that a lot more people have suffered, a lot more will live with terrible debilitation that may last years and a lot more people have died.

In an Oxford study earlier this year they reported that between 70 – 99% of Covid deaths in the U.S. could have been prevented had this president provided proper leadership. We’ve suffered nearly 200,000 deaths from this disease, so in the most conservative estimate there are 140,000 dead Americans who would still be alive had the President of the United States not been intentionally derelict in his duty.

What is every bit as important is to recognize that the Republicans in Congress have never confronted Trump on this. They’ve said not one word about his intentional and deadly betrayals, even as the CDC projects that we’re headed toward 415,000 Americans dead of COVID-19 by the end of the year.

In fact, the Republicans in Congress have never confronted Trump on anything.

This package of lethal deceit and cowardice is our current reality. It should never happen.

————————–

Here’s How To Fix This

I’ve been clubbing Republicans since the Gingrich Vigilante Inquisition in the 1990s, especially those in the age of Trump. Let me be fair and say from the heart that every bit of it is deserved.

If you disagree, please list in the Comments section following this post the names of all the Republicans in the House and Senate who have done the right thing and stood up to any of Donald Trump’s horribles, be they illegal,  unconstitutional, anti-democracy, culture and values destroying, immoral or cruel. I’ll give you Mitt Romney as a part-time critic; very occasionally, tepidly, Lisa Murkowsky and Susan Collins have spoken up.

Former Senators Jeff Flake and  Bob Corker realized that their days as senators were numbered when they saw that their opposing Trump resulted in the rest of their colleagues hiding under their desks, so they left the Senate. Who are the others in Congress who did more than whisper in the cloak room? I must have missed them when the call to stand and be counted was sounded.

They all knew that Trump attempted to extort President Zelensky of Ukraine, demanding his unconstitutional foreign interference in our 2020 election. Trump pressured him by threatening to withhold from Ukraine desperately needed military assistance. These Republicans also knew that Trump obstructed justice in the investigation of that wrongdoing, yet on an almost complete party line vote (Romney voted yes to obstruction of justice), the Republican controlled Senate voted to acquit this criminal president in his impeachment trial.

Following that Republican disgrace, not one of these cowards has demanded that Trump confront Vladimir Putin about the bounties he’s paying to the Taliban to kill American soldiers. Are you seeing the pattern?

John Bolton outlined a lot of examples of Trump obstructing justice and these legislators knew about many of them even before Bolton’s book was published. The Mueller report outlined 10 specific charges of obstruction of justice (refer to Section II) and they knew about all of those, too. Still, Republican crickets.

These legislators know that Trump has manipulated the Justice Department, too, to get away with his wrongdoing. To put that in perspective, think of those westerns where the bad guy, the wealthy cattle and land baron, has the sheriff and judge on his payroll and in his pocket, enabling him to control and fleece the townspeople. You hated that bad guy, right? Well, now he’s in the Oval Office and Attorney General William Barr is that sheriff and judge in Trump’s pocket. He is yet another Trump crime enabler.

Trump has constructed his swampy Cabinet to benefit himself with no concern at all for ethics, like posting former lobbyists as “acting” department heads. And the Republicans in the Senate, which should have been vetting and rejecting these guys, instead has abdicated their duties and enabled Trump’s swamp to stink yet worse. Congressional Republicans know that he’s crashed through every guardrail of democracy that stood in his way and that he is consistently undermining our international safety and security. Still, these Republicans in Congress sit on their hands.

I ask again, who are the Republicans who have spoken out against Trump’s assault on American bedrock? Show me who has cast a vote against this child tyrant, sitting in his high chair, kicking, screaming and banging his fork and spoon on his tray. They cave in time after time. What happened to the courage of these Republicans? Their cowardice has earned them a Jellyfish Award.

Sadly, the cowardice doesn’t stop on Capitol Hill.

The state government of North Carolina was controlled entirely by Republicans until the 2018 election, when a Democrat was elected governor, although the state house remained in Republican hands. Just before the gubernatorial switch was made the Republican majority in the state house and the outgoing Republican governor (Pat McCrory, the guy who refused to concede and said he wouldn’t leave office) enacted laws to hamstring the incoming Democrat governor. They made it so that he would be unable to undo their horrific voter suppression acts – things like stripping voters’ registrations, closing polling places in college towns and in poor and non-white areas, and requiring IDs that are difficult for many poor people to obtain.

It isn’t just in North Carolina where the Republicans have done these things. They’ve done it in Wisconsin (why are there only 5 polling places – down from 180 – in all of Milwaukee?) and in Kentucky (only 1 poling place in Louisville – the same in Lexington), in Texas (how come it’s so hard to get a mail-in ballot for those under age 65, but for the likely Trump voters – those over 65 – it’s automatic?). And it’s just as cowardly and corrupt as that in yet more states.

Just as for the Congressional Republicans, these state Republicans have earned a Jellyfish Award, too.

We love our equivalencies, be they true or false, so let’s be fair and ask the equivalencies question: Don’t Democrats do such things, too?

Of course they do. Or, rather, they have. But Democrats haven’t tried to suppress anyone’s vote for a really long time. If you think I got that wrong, please note your examples below.

We’ve known since at least kindergarten that cheating must be punished or it will continue and become worse. Indeed, we’ve seen that worsening happen in the Trump administration every day since January 20, 2017, with Congressional Republicans remaining silent all the while. What is the proper punishment for our spineless, cowardly Republicans? Try this:

VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE – EVERY ONE OF THEM!

Okay, let’s be reasonable. We need traditional conservatives to repopulate the Republican Party into something that doesn’t look like it came from the House of Horrors. The ones who must go are the Trump Republicans, the Freedom Party wackos and every one who chickened out and refused to speak up. You know who they are. Give them the boot – every one of them.

Click me to hear a speech by a 17 year old kid that’s better than anything Trump has done.

I don’t know Emma Gonzalez, survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre and co-founder of Never Again, but I’ve seen her work. I feel confident she and her generation will call “BS!” to Trump and to our Republican jellyfish. The rest of us must do the same.

The past 4 years have been a most amazing demonstration of both fraud and Congressional cowardice. It’s time to put an end to this reign of terror.

NOTE: I’m not a registered anything and certainly am not a Democrat shill. I used to think of myself as an Eisenhower Republican, but that’s pretty much an extinct species. There are a few proud Republicans (mostly former) with starch in their spines and I’ll be publishing a list of some of them on September 30. We’re counting on those folks to resuscitate the Republican Party once our long national nightmare is over. Until they do, it’s up to us to fix this.

———————-

The Simple, Clear, Non-negotiable Marching Orders To Beat Covid-19

 

  1. Wear a mask in public.
  2. Socially distance.
  3. Wash your hands often.
  4. Put your damn mask on.

——————————

Click me

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

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

A Critically Important View From Europe


Reading time – 7:15  .  .  .

Presidential Befoulment of the Military Update

It has been 3 days since the foul statements of Donald Trump about our military were exposed. To date, not a single Congressional Republican has spoken out against his cruel, disparaging words and behavior. Not one.

————————–

The G7 Summit is scheduled to meet virtually in November or perhaps later. In anticipation of that and our mail-in ballot season, some notion of how the rest of the world sees America is crucial, because America’s world leadership is on life support. That makes our election choices and actions critical.

A friend forwarded the opinion piece below from The Irish Times (many thanks to JS) and it gives us a view into what America looks like from a European democracy. Consider it in the context of my piece last April, Absolute Power, as well as the closing section of Potpourri v11.0 – The “How Can We Be This Stupid?” Edition.


Donald Trump Has Destroyed The Country He Promised To Make Great Again
The world has loved, hated and envied the U.S. Now for the first time, we pity it.

Irish Times-April 25, 2020 – By Fintan O’Toole

Over more than two centuries, the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger. But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the US until now: pity.

However bad things are for most other rich democracies, it is hard not to feel sorry for Americans. Most of them did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016. Yet they are locked down with a malignant narcissist who, instead of protecting his people from Covid-19, has amplified its lethality. The country Trump promised to make great again has never in its history seemed so pitiful.

Will American prestige ever recover from this shameful episode? The US went into the coronavirus crisis with immense advantages: precious weeks of warning about what was coming, the world’s best concentration of medical and scientific expertise, effectively limitless financial resources, a military complex with stunning logistical capacity and most of the world’s leading technology corporations. Yet it managed to make itself the global epicenter of the pandemic.

As the American writer George Packer puts it in the current edition of the Atlantic, “The United States reacted … like Pakistan or Belarus – like a country with shoddy infrastructure and a dysfunctional government whose leaders were too corrupt or stupid to head off mass suffering.”

It is one thing to be powerless in the face of a natural disaster, quite another to watch vast power being squandered in real time – willfully, malevolently, vindictively. It is one thing for governments to fail (as, in one degree or another, most governments did), quite another to watch a ruler and his supporters actively spread a deadly virus. Trump, his party and Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News became vectors of the pestilence.

The grotesque spectacle of the president openly inciting people (some of them armed) to take to the streets to oppose the restrictions that save lives is the manifestation of a political death wish. What are supposed to be daily briefings on the crisis, demonstrative of national unity in the face of a shared challenge, have been used by Trump merely to sow confusion and division. They provide a recurring horror show in which all the neuroses that haunt the American subconscious dance naked on live TV.

If the plague is a test, its ruling political nexus ensured that the US would fail it at a terrible cost in human lives. In the process, the idea of the US as the world’s leading nation – an idea that has shaped the past century – has all but evaporated.

Other than the Trump impersonator Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, who is now looking to the US as the exemplar of anything other than what not to do? How many people in Düsseldorf or Dublin are wishing they lived in Detroit or Dallas?

It is hard to remember now but, even in 2017, when Trump took office, the conventional wisdom in the US was that the Republican Party and the broader framework of US political institutions would prevent him from doing too much damage. This was always a delusion, but the pandemic has exposed it in the most savage ways.

What used to be called mainstream conservatism has not absorbed Trump – he has absorbed it. Almost the entire right-wing half of American politics has surrendered abjectly to him. It has sacrificed on the altar of wanton stupidity the most basic ideas of responsibility, care and even safety.

Thus, even at the very end of March, 15 Republican governors had failed to order people to stay at home or to close non-essential businesses. In Alabama, for example, it was not until April 3rd that governor Kay Ivey finally issued a stay-at-home order.

In Florida, the state with the highest concentration of elderly people with underlying conditions, governor Ron DeSantis, a Trump mini-me, kept the beach resorts open to students travelling from all over the US for spring break parties. Even on April 1st, when he issued restrictions, DeSantis exempted religious services and “recreational activities”.

Georgia governor Brian Kemp, when he finally issued a stay-at-home order on April 1st, explained: “We didn’t know that [the virus can be spread by people without symptoms] until the last 24 hours.”

This is not mere ignorance – it is deliberate and homicidal stupidity. There is, as the demonstrations this week in US cities have shown, plenty of political mileage in denying the reality of the pandemic. It is fueled by Fox News and far-right internet sites, and it reaps for these politicians millions of dollars in donations, mostly (in an ugly irony) from older people who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

It draws on a concoction of conspiracy theories, hatred of science, paranoia about the “deep state” and religious providentialism (God will protect the good folks) that is now very deeply infused in the mindset of the American right.

Trump embodies and enacts this mindset, but he did not invent it. The US response to the coronavirus crisis has been paralyzed by a contradiction that the Republicans have inserted into the heart of US democracy. On the one hand, they want to control all the levers of governmental power. On the other they have created a popular base by playing on the notion that government is innately evil and must not be trusted.

The contradiction was made manifest in two of Trump’s statements on the pandemic: on the one hand that he has “total authority;” and on the other that “I don’t take responsibility at all”. Caught between authoritarian and anarchic impulses, he is incapable of coherence.

But this is not just Donald Trump. The crisis has shown definitively that Trump’s presidency is not an aberration. It has grown on soil long prepared to receive it. The monstrous blossoming of misrule has structure and purpose and strategy behind it.

There are very powerful interests who demand “freedom” in order to do as they like with the environment, society and the economy. They have infused a very large part of American culture with the belief that “freedom” is literally more important than life. My freedom to own assault weapons trumps your right not to get shot at school. Now, my freedom to go to the barber (“I Need a Haircut” read one banner this week in St Paul, Minnesota) trumps your need to avoid infection.

Usually when this kind of outlandish idiocy is displaying itself, there is the comforting thought that, if things were really serious, it would all stop. People would sober up. Instead, a large part of the US has hit the bottle even harder.  And the president, his party and their media allies keep supplying the drinks. There has been no moment of truth, no shock of realization that the antics have to end. No one of any substance on the US right has stepped in to say: get a grip, people are dying here.

That is the mark of how deep the trouble is for the US – it is not just that Trump has treated the crisis merely as a way to feed tribal hatreds but that this behavior has become normalized. When the freak show is live on TV every evening, and the star is boasting about his ratings, it is not really a freak show anymore. For a very large and solid bloc of Americans, it is reality.

And this will get worse before it gets better. Trump has at least eight more months in power. In his inaugural address in 2017, he evoked “American carnage” and promised to make it stop. But now that the real carnage has arrived, he is reveling in it. He is in his element.

As things get worse, he will pump more hatred and falsehood, more death-wish defiance of reason and decency, into the groundwater. If a new administration succeeds him in 2021, it will have to clean up the toxic dump he leaves behind. If he is re-elected, toxicity will have become the lifeblood of American politics.

Either way, it will be a long time before the rest of the world can imagine America being great again.

——————————-

If this report seems far-fetched; if the perspective seems far too narrow; if you’re inclined to dismiss this as just one disgruntled Irish guy opining, then I urge you to have a look at Tom McTague’s essay from London in The Atlantic entitled “The Decline of the American World.” Be clear that Trump is engineering that very thing. E.g. last week Trump announced that we won’t participate in the worldwide effort to develop a vaccine to battle Covid-19. What do you suppose that looks like from abroad?

From McTague’s post:

Bruno Maceas, Portugal’s former Europe minister, whose book The Dawn of Eurasia looks at the rise of Chinese power, told me, “The collapse of the American empire is a given; we are just trying to figure out what will replace it.”

You can check with the folks at Gallup for more. Here’s a recent graph of how Europeans view American leadership. The charts for how Asians and people in the Americas see American leadership look the same. Be clear that the rising black line on the right represents increasing disapproval of U.S. leadership over the past 3 years.

On the left of the graph you can see the high disapproval of the leadership of George W. Bush. Then there were eight strong years of approval for American leadership during the Obama administration (the green line). Now Trump has managed to achieve the highest leadership disapproval of America by our global neighbors. Ever. This is what Trump’s destruction of alliances and his sucking up to tyrants have done to our place in the world. Click the chart and read the report for yourself.

Consider if you were accosted by a street tough. You likely wouldn’t respect him. On the other hand, you’d be keenly aware of have and great respect for the assault rifle and semi-automatic pistol he carried and you would be exceedingly clear about the destruction and chaos they can cause. It’s quite the same for the the way the world views the United States of Trump.

Finally, five years ago the offices of the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo were attacked and eleven of its staff were murdered by Islamist terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda. The trial of some accomplices to those murders began last Wednesday and Charlie Hebdo once again published the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed and Islam that triggered the attack. Once again they’ve put a stake in the ground to declare freedom of the press will not be stifled. So, once again we can all declare, Je suis Charlie.

——————————-

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

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  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 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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