Courage

Divine? Not So Much


Hey – it’s September 11. 9/11. That date rings a bell, right?

In this constant blizzard of the absurd, where everything is BREAKING NEWS! our attention is easily diverted. Nevertheless, it’s important that we hold on to the truth of it – the horror, the political ineptitude, the generosity of strangers, the selfless courage of our first responders and the determination of the warriors on Flight 93.

This is a good day to remember that day.


The Divine Right of Trump

From Wikipedia:

“In European Christianity, the divine right of kings, divine right, or God’s mandation is a political and religious doctrine of political legitimacy of a monarchy.”

That’s very legitimizing if you’re the king.

King George III, who in 1776 was on the throne by means of just such a right, was considered by many to be a mad king. Ref: the Declaration of Independence for an astonishing and awful list of things he did. The word “mad” just might come to mind.

He manipulated rules and events to enrich himself and his wealthy aristocrats, including the notorious tax on tea that gave the East India Trading Company a virtual monopoly and triggered the Boston Tea Party. Divine source of power or not, sometimes We The People get to the point where, as Bernie Sanders likes to say, enough is enough, although I’ve never cared for that phrase when any at all is way too much.

Meanwhile, you can substitute the disgraced, twice-impeached, former president’s name for King George III in the Declaration of Independence. Then substitute Trump’s egregious wrongdoing, including his illegal, unconstitutional and immoral actions into an updated version and it’s now the Declaration of Expulsion. You’ll understand immediately that he is totally mad and why he was the loser in the 2020 election. Any of him is way too much.

Plus, there’s nothing divine about Trump. So, notwithstanding the mindless and odious Christian theocracy zealots and the “self-defining as patriots” insurrectionists, we turned him out decisively for all those mad reasons. And we’ll do so again via the voting booth, should he beat all the legal raps coming his way.

Click me

All of which is to announce to Trump and to all of his angry, frothing (some just deluded) voter base and to his vile legislative sycophants that there is no Divine Right of Trump. To paraphrase Obi Wan Kenobi, “These aren’t the leaders we’re looking for. We can go about our business of replacing them.” Here I’m working a Jedi mind trick on you.

Yoda

To be fair, Trump has one inherent right, albeit constitutional rather than divine. He has the right to be held accountable and to pay the price for his wrongdoing. It’s going to be a rocky, uncertain and dangerous road, but, quoting Yoda, “Make that happen we must. On this everything depends.”

Yoda is very wise.

Can’t Catch a Break

King Charles III

The recent anniversary and media saturation coverage of Princess Diana’s death were noteworthy for an unexpected reason.

As their marriage was devolving, both Diana and Prince Charles had extramarital affairs. She was understood and continued to be adored by the public. He was castigated. He never stood a chance, as the public took the side of the pretty princess.

Now Queen Elizabeth II has died after 16 years as a princess and 70 years as queen. She endeared herself to the public, first at age 14, as she spoke via radio to the terrified children of the empire during the blitz of WW II. She brought words of comfort, hope and strength to them. Later she greeted the troops coming home and did so much more over the decades that won over the public. And she reigned for such a long time that few can remember any other monarch.

Immediately upon her death her 73 year old son became King Charles III. It really won’t matter what he does or how well he does it. His mother was and will remain so enormously popular that he will be regarded as little more than a caretaker until his son becomes king and renewal begins.

This guy just can’t catch a break.

Here’s Maureen Dowd’s take on this.

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Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
.
Fire the bastards!
.
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Cpl. Hershel Williams


Special post – 21 July 2022

I was struck speechless and motionless when I saw the picture in the New York Times Newsletter of July 16. Goose bumps ran from the back of my neck all the way down my left leg.

Click for the detail of Cpl. Williams’ action.

The awful Battle of Iwo Jima* in February 1945 killed or wounded over 27,000 Americans. Cpl. Hershel Williams’ actions there saved countless lives and later that year he was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry Truman.

So many of the recipients of that honor have said something similar to what Cpl. Williams said.

“I claim to be only the caretaker of the medal. There were 27 medals awarded [for heroism during that battle], but there were countless others who did as much, if not more.”

Cpl. Hershel Williams was the last living recipient of the Medal of Honor from World War II and he was among the very best of us.

The photo below is of the recent Congressional ceremony in Cpl. Williams’ honor in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building. Study it: the flag draped coffin; the Army sentinels standing guard; “The Landing of Columbus” painting; the polished brass stanchions; the ghost-like guard passing by; and the reflection of all of it on the polished marble floor. You’ll gain new perspective on why we must get to the bottom of the January 6 desecration of that place.

Hershel Williams, the last living Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, recently died at the age of 98. He was honored at the Capitol. Haiyun Jiang/The New York Times (Click the pic for the full story.)

Published on the morning of the January 6 Select Committee step-by-step presentation to the nation of the actions of the former President of the United States in the insurrection. It is the story of those who insulted true patriots like Cpl. Williams and those who spawned the disgraceful and traitorous carnage.


See footnote 5 below

Click for the Wikipedia article

* I learned of James Bradley’s stunning book, Flags of Our Fathers, while sitting next to his sister on a cross country flight in 2000 as the book was being released. It is the story of the six men who raised the flag atop Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima. Their father, Navy Corpsman John Bradley, was one of those men.

If you prefer, watch the Clint Eastwood film of the same name. Either way, this is a story you need to know. You’ll appreciate Cpl. Hershel Williams and the honoring of him in the Capitol Rotunda all the more.

Click for the Wikipedia article

————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
.
Fire the bastards!
.
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

A Love Letter To Millennials and Gen-Zs


Ed. notes:

  1. In these dispiriting times it can be easy to let our sense of love and awe for this country be dampened. But this Fourth of July weekend is exactly the right time to face that challenge, to find our inner red, white and blue and to cheer for the country we’ll make. Set out your flag and blast Stars and Stripes Forever for the more perfect union we are all tasked to create.
  2. If you’re not a Millennial or Gen-Z (and even if you are), please pass this along to all you know. Their future is at stake.

Dear Millennials and Gen-Zs,
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Warning: This is not a 3-minute TikTok video. This requires critical thinking. You know how to do this. Buckle up.
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Plus, what you think matters. Put it out there in the Comments section below to help we clueless Boomers understand how you see things.
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Now on to your love letter.

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Do you like what Boomers have done to things you care about? I mean things like not being safe in school; like that tens of thousands of American citizens have been prevented from voting; like that women have lost the right to choose what happens to their bodies; like that babies were ripped from their mothers’ arms at our southern border; like that nobody in charge seems to give a damn if we cook this planet and suffer the terrible consequences. Just guessing you’re not okay with any of that.

The cruel irony of this situation is that Boomers are the ones who caused civil and voting rights to expand and who made that awful war in Viet Nam end. We’re the ones who fought segregation and made assault weapons illegal (for a little while – more on that later). We’re the ones who spoke truth to power, so you might have expected better from us, but here’s where it gets dark.

Majority rule simply doesn’t exist in much of America. Playing by the rules has become optional. And we Boomers did this.

For example, the conservative Boomer majority on the Supreme Court recently decided a case from Maine that effectively says that government must provide financial assistance to students even when the school they want to attend is a so called “faith-based” school. “Faith-based” means that their curriculum is based in religion.

But wait: isn’t religious freedom and freedom from religion a key reason the Pilgrims came here? Isn’t that a tenet of our Constitution, as in the First Amendment? Didn’t the Founders demand that there be no connection between government and religious institutions?

Yes, yes and yes, but that’s no bother to these justices. They’re just 6 Boomers cramming their minority held personal preferences into our lives. This is yet another step in the direction of churches controlling our government, which is just fine if you want a theocracy. It’s what they have in Iran. Go there. You’ll love it.

Not!

Here’s another example.

A cowboy Boomer president lied us into two wars that killed thousands and displaced millions of people. He also ended the assault weapons ban, which is handy if you’re 18 years old and want to kill little kids and Black people. He actively promoted deregulation that plunged the world into financial crisis and none of the fat cats were held accountable.

But I’ll argue that the very worst thing that has happened is that the Republican Party, now a fully Boomer asylum, has turned into a lying, cheating cult and the majority of Americans don’t want that. So, how come they hold power in so many places? Maybe we should do something about that.

Republicans have been claiming voter fraud when they lose elections at least since 1994, this without so much as a shred of evidence to support their wild claims – ever. Don’t imagine that Boomer Trump started this, although he certainly has perfected the lying and cheating parts. So have his sycophants who perpetuate his lies, as well as the Boomer radio and cable talkers who make lots of money spewing lies. Think: accusations of Democrats as pedophiles, operators of an evil, world-wide cabal and igniters of wild fires via space lasers.

Now the Boomer Republicans are stoking violence to crush democracy and replace it with fascism. Doubt that? Click here and read Thom Hartmann’s frightening chronicle of it. If all that truth doesn’t scare you, something’s wrong. But I promise you that it will scare you.

In their fight to destroy democracy, Republican Boomers have trained ordinary citizens to make death threats to fellow citizens – it’s mobocracy. And in their decades-long quest to upend government, they’ve turned their backs on fundamental service to our countrymen. That has allowed and encouraged our mass shootings and expanded death and suffering from disease. You must read the interview of Dr. Peter Hotez, 1 Million Deaths Was a Choice and you’ll understand immediately.

I tell you without hesitation or doubt that the choice of death was made by our first fascist wannabe president. He threw tank car loads of gasoline on the anti-science fire in this country and a million people paid the ultimate price for that.

The point is that we idealistic 60s Boomers don’t have a good track record of adhering to our professed ideals. The dishonesty and corruption against which we railed in the 60s has been dramatically expanded. The Republicans are thugs and the Democrats don’t seem to have the cojones necessary to stop the carnage. And rules just don’t seem to matter any more.

This is about deciding whether we are our brothers’ keeper or whether we’re just in it for our selfish selves. This is about whether we keep our word and are true to the values we espouse or whether cheating, lying and violent attacks on others and our cherished institutions should be our code of conduct.

I’m guessing that you don’t want the crazy stuff and you cannot count on Boomers to fix this because we created this mess.

Here’s the key:

Unless things change, nothing will change.

The good news is that you’re the ones who can and will make real change happen.

Pearl S. Buck, a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, unknowingly wrote this note for you in her 1967 novel, To My Daughters, With Love:

“Upon the profound discontent of the young…do I set my faith.
I beg you, the young, to be discontented.
I pray that you may rebel against what is wrong, not with feeble
negative complaining but with strong positive assertion.” *

From a Millennial/Gen-Z reader:

Past young generations have led groundbreaking movements that have shaken the system for the better. Through petitions, walkouts, and other disobedience, we’ve brought about change in the past.

So, Millennial/Gen-Z person, we Boomers are dumping a gigantic pile of political crap in your lap. This is completely unfair, but,

  1. You have enormous, perhaps not yet recognized power.
  2. The old guys who made the mess will be gone, no longer an obstacle.
  3. Did I mention that you have gigantic power and can outsmart and out-muscle the people who selfishly want to make things worse?

So, it comes down to this:

All the things you care about, like our country and our future survival are in your capable hands.
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Here is the same message from the 1980 movie Airplane! It’s ancient history to you, of course, but one scene captures well your grim circumstances and the unreasonable tasks before you. Click the pic below.

Click me

Late Additions

The Senate, composed almost entirely of old Boomers, passed a “gun safety bill.” That’s an odd descriptor for legislation regarding killing machines. The good news is that 15 Republicans voted for the bill. The bad news is that 33 Republicans voted against it. Apparently, these 33 prefer dead grannies and dead school kids over a little inconvenience for gun owners. It’s absolutely astonishing that senators have to be shamed into protecting little kids.

Still, this bill is a first step to help to prevent your younger brothers and sisters from being gunned down while sitting at their school desks.

But don’t get too happy, because the twisted, far right Supreme Court 6 struck down a 109 year old New York law prohibiting carrying guns in public. That will be a huge boost to road rage shootings and bar fights in the Big Apple.

And stunningly, the Court ruled to dramatically limit the ability of the EPA to regulate climate warming emissions from power plants, which are responsible for about 30% of our carbon dioxide emissions. What could possibly go wrong?

Technical note: Science doesn’t care if we believe in it. It just is.
.

This is the kind of idiocy we Boomers are leaving to you. Like I said at the beginning, buckle up. It’s time to get to work to make this what you want it to be.

A Final Thought – and It’s Optimistic

If you feel despondent and, perhaps, mired in apathy, it’s because you care, yet are tired of feeling frustrated and hopeless. Understandable.

We are back to the beginning, when Thomas Paine** wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” He was right then and he’s right again now.

What Paine knew was that democracy is a participation sport. That’s the only way it works. We Boomers have had our time at the plate and we punched out some singles and doubles and even a few home runs. We also struck out a lot. Now, it’s your turn at bat.

You are the ones who can do this. You are the ones who are the best educated and most open both in your attitude and in your acceptance of others. You’re the ones thinking beyond the stimulus du jour and you have the energy to take action. And you know that you are the ones who will live with whatever consequences you create, so you have huge skin in this game. And millions of  you are united in all of that. That’s a lot of power. It’s why so many of us believe in you.

So, to torture the baseball metaphor one last time, grab a bat, because you’re up.

You can do this!
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Love and kisses,

The Boomers

PS – A Request

What’s your reaction to this in-your-face dose of reality? What is it that Boomers just don’t get and need to understand? How do you see things? What are you willing to do to make things better?

There’s a Comments section below for the purpose of answering those questions and others and for airing your views. If there’s anything we need now it’s open discussion to bridge the I Don’t Get It Gap. So, please put it out there to help us all to understand how you see things.

Thanks!

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* Many thanks to friend and quotemeister Mardy Grothe for the Buck quotation.

** Interesting factoid: Paine was 39 when he wrote Common Sense, which would make him the equivalent of a Millennial.

————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
Fire the bastards!
.
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.
.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

A Different Take


The Atlantic’s Jonathan V. Last Thinks Mike Pence Is an American Hero
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You read that right.

Pence was on the wrong side of nearly every issue, like reproductive rights, gay rights, failing to prevent an Indiana HIV outbreak from becoming far worse and more. His public religiosity didn’t extend to caring about those who got hurt by his policies. And he sucked up to Trump and his malfeasance for four years plus two campaigns.

All he did on January 6 was to obey the rules of the Constitution to do his clerical job. He could have spoken up at least a month before the insurrection and that might have saved lives, but he refused to do that.

We all know that he was under great pressure from Trump, who didn’t “want to be Pence’s friend anymore” if Pence wouldn’t lie and cheat Trump back into the White House. Pence didn’t knuckle under. That one time. I guess they aren’t friends now.

Sorry, Mr. Last, but this guy’s no hero. His tombstone might read, “At long least I got one right – in the last minute.” The sub-text will be all the things he got so terribly wrong for such a very long time.

Similarly, we learned from the June 23 public hearing of the January 6 House Select Committee proceedings that DOJ men of integrity had prevented Trump from invoking the Department in his efforts to steal the 2020 election. But, like Pence, they didn’t speak up when it could have prevented the injury, death and destruction of the January 6 insurrection.

What If  .  .  .

.  .  .  the January 6 insurrectionists and seditionists had started a large bonfire just a short way from the gallows intended to be used to hang Mike Pence?  What if they had brought with them a poster size version of the United States Constitution? What if they had ripped one page at a time from it and fed it into the flames of that bonfire? Would that have been worse than what they actually did?

They were bashing the Capitol Building, defecating on its marble floor, ransacking offices, bear spraying cops and viciously mauling every person and every thing that stood for our Constitution and our country. They tried to overturn the democratically determined will of We The People. They tried to paralyze the very government that is outlined in the Constitution. They sought to establish authoritarianism in place of democracy. They wanted and still want government by vigilante.

They were motivated and led by Republican officials, the likes of which have been working to overturn and end our democracy since at least 1960 and probably since FDR. The Republican Party may as well have burned the Constitution back then.

So, what if the insurrectionists, the seditionists, had lit a bonfire and burned the Constitution? They as much as did that, as they tried their best to end America. And vacuously, ignorantly, they claimed they are the patriots. That was no 1776 event. It was a Benedict Arnold betrayal.

One More Time

We’ve known all along that Trump knew he lost the election fairly and we’ve learned through testimony to the January 6 House Select Committee that he was told that by an army of his own people. They begged him to tell the insurrectionists to stand down, but he didn’t listen to any of them, not even his own daughter. He sat watching and enjoying the destruction. And there is exactly one reason why.

Trump was desperate to remain president because he knew that as soon as he was an ordinary citizen once again that he would no longer have the protection against prosecution that accompanies that office. He knew that prosecutions for election tampering, money laundering, conspiracy to commit a dozen crimes and so much more would come down on his head and he would spend the rest of his life in prison. That’s why he was and is willing to do anything, bray any unpatriotic lie and more just to stay in office.

Plus, of course, he would have to admit publicly that he’s a loser.

“Desperate people do desperate things.” – Rachel Caine

Special from The Texas Republican Party

From the June 18, 2022 report by Professor Heather Cox Richardson:

.  .  . delegates to a convention of the Texas Republican Party today approved platform planks rejecting “the certified results of the 2020 Presidential election, and [holding] that acting President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was not legitimately elected by the people of the United States”; requiring students “to learn about the dignity of the preborn human,” including that life begins at fertilization; treating homosexuality as “an abnormal lifestyle choice”; locking the number of Supreme Court justices at 9; getting rid of the constitutional power to levy income taxes; abolishing the Federal Reserve; rejecting the Equal Rights Amendment; returning Christianity to schools and government; ending all gun safety measures; abolishing the Department of Education; arming teachers; requiring colleges to teach “free-market liberty principles”; defending capital punishment; dictating the ways in which the events at the Alamo are remembered; protecting Confederate monuments; ending gay marriage; withdrawing from the United Nations and the World Health Organization; and calling for a vote “for the people of Texas to determine whether or not the State of Texas should reassert its status as an independent nation.”

That’s pretty much the horrific bleeding edge of the GOP today and what they want to do to America. So, right now, this minute, mark your calendar to vote – November 8, 2022 and November 5, 2024 – unless you want what’s in that paragraph above.

From reader and writer Steve Sheffey:

Democracy is not a friend of Republicans, and instead of changing their policies to win votes, they are fighting democracy so that they don’t have to change their policies.

A Republican Song Of Today

To the Tune of This Land Is Your Land

Chorus

This land is my land,

I don’t mean thy land.

It’s just for my clan,

Not for those we can’t stand.

So if you’re all woke

You’re sure not our folk.

This land was made for me and mine.

Verse 1

I schemed and hated

And I agitated.

And scammed and ripped-off

And l lied my ass off.

We won’t be lonely

‘Cause it’s White’s only.

This land was made for me and mine.

Chorus

Verse 2

We band together

To hate forever.

Stick it where it don’t shine,

‘Cus you just aren’t me’n mine.

We are the patriots,

Unlike you idiots.

This land was made for me and mine.

Chorus

Verse 3

So, send the Blacks back

To where they came from.

We don’t need Asians

Making us all feel dumb.

And adios to

Hispanics, all of you.

This land was made for me and mine.

Chorus

 

————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
Fire the bastards!
.
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Gun Ears


‘You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.” – Winston Churchill

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Let’s start with this obvious but enormously powerful basic: Regardless of where we stand, all discussions about guns are loaded with emotional juice, primitive fight-or-flight reactions and mind blanking, logic eliminating passions. We cannot imagine the depth of the stupidity of those who disagree with us.

This is a true “both sides” situation.

Many thanks to Gary Larson for his years of genius exemplified in this Far Side cartoon that just seems to fit our “think-they-know-everythings”

Because of that it’s pretty well impossible to have a thoughtful, logical discussion about guns. Nevertheless, to illustrate my foolishness, I’m going to try just this one time. Plus this other time. Oh, and this one. For more, click on the search box above my pic on the right and search on the word “guns.” BTW, that’s a seagull flying past my nose.

Gun lovers cite the Second Amendment as though that’s all they need to establish their claim that they can keep and bear whatever arms they want. It’s an absolute, they tell us. “What part of ‘shall not be infringed’ is unclear to you?” they ask. Well, there are just a few things about that – here’s a sampling.

First: The reason for the Second Amendment

It was included so that southern states would ratify the Constitution. Basic bribery. Those muskets and militias were for one purpose: to put down slave rebellions. To the best of my understanding, that need no longer exists. That means that amendment is no longer required.

I’m now less confident that another reason for the Second Amendment was because our early government had no money for a standing army, so they needed citizens to be ready if the Brits came back, which they did a dozen years later. Go look it up, if you like.

Second: The “well regulated militia” part

Start buy watching this previously linked video.

The hypothesis in the Second Amendment is, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State .  .  .” Well, the Revolutionary version of a militia has morphed into the National Guard. They are well regulated. There are no other state militias.

And there is no other place for the required regulation (i.e. training) outside of the active duty military, so the rest of the hypothesis for gun ownership according to the Second Amendment no longer exists, either.

Private citizens possessing firearms aren’t members of a real militia, however earnestly some may believe they are, and they aren’t regulated at all. They bear no resemblance to the Second Amendment or to the National Guard.

Read this thread by a vet as he explains the training our military recruits receive – very much like the description in the video above. They are very well regulated. Compare that to the training – regulation – you’d receive if you were to purchase a handgun, hunting rifle or assault rifle at a gun show or from a gun dealer. Or if the 18 year old next door were to buy those firearms. There’s no relationship of that to the intent of the Second Amendment.

Watch this video of former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Warren Burger as he explains the fraud about the Second Amendment that has been foisted upon the American public by the gun industry.

Third: The “shall not be infringed’ part of the Second Amendment

That does sound like an absolute, but here’s what super conservative, “originalist” Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said about that:

Turns out that the right to keep and bear arms may, in fact, be infringed. It already is. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Fourth: The weapons

Go ahead, hold to originalist thinking. Keep and bear arms exactly as intended by the Founders. Stockpile muskets, balls, powder horns and flintlock pistols. I just don’t want that to be extrapolated to any citizen having the right to have any modern weapon. Today’s weapons are killing machines not even imagined by the Founders.

Fifth: Protection against a tyrannical government

The Second Amendment doesn’t say or imply any such thing. Read it above – that’s the entire Second Amendment. There’s nothing about imagined tyranny done by our government or what to do about it if it were real.

Seriously, is some bunch of camo-wearing guys skulking through the woods going to overpower our armed forces and topple what they believe to be a tyrannical government or perhaps bend the government to their will? Doesn’t matter. The Second Amendment has nothing to do with any perceived tyranny of our government,

The Gun Ears Part

This is the hard stuff.

I’ve tried to be logical and level headed about this, even as I became more agitated as I wrote. Like I said, this issue is loaded with juice for most of us and I’m no exception. Perhaps it’s time to hear from someone who disagrees with me.

Try this guy. But first, be clear that your challenge is to listen to him all the way through. Maybe listen twice or even three times, seeking solely to understand him and what he has to say. Your job is not to craft your insightful response to prove him wrong or to impugn his intelligence or to give in to becoming angry and resentful. It is simply to understand.

I warn you that this assignment will almost certainly be difficult, but it’s very important. Click on the pic, watch, listen and learn, grasshopper.

Maybe you noticed immediately that this fellow demonstrates my opening point, that gun ownership – keeping and bearing arms – is a very emotional subject.

Yes, I know you can shoot down some of the things he says, including his redirection away from guns in America to the British gun laws and to our drug problems. Yes, I heard his toxic masculinity about what “real men” do and “going down swinging.” Just ignore that stuff and consider that he is earnest in his distrust of government (aren’t you?) and, by the way, he has some ideas worthy of consideration, like hiring unemployed vets to protect kids.

Could you have a conversation with this guy without it turning into a fight, what with Buffalo, Laguna, Uvalde and Tulsa on your mind? Do you have the courage to listen to him while seeking only to understand? I tell you with complete confidence that’s exactly what it will take for us to begin to mend our deep political divide and learn to live with one another.

I have no illusions about converting this guy. What I have is a notion that we all have plenty to learn and we cannot accomplish that task by yelling at one another. That demand for learning and being respectful is on all of us. So is taking action.

Must Reads of the Week

It is critical that we stay clear about what needs to be done. Read Thom Hartmann’s piece on this because this is going to take a while.

And read the Twitter thread of Sean Castin (D-IL 6). The comments below it are worthwhile, too.

Adaptive Quote

From Monika Bauerlein writing in Mother Jones about the likely Roe decision and minority rule:

” .  .  . I thought about how far gone a democracy is when 54 percent of the population support a constitutional right and 28 percent oppose it, yet the 28 percent position wins out.”

The numbers on gun safety/control are far more lopsided than that, with 80 – 90% of us supporting gun safety laws, yet the minority position continues to win out. That’s deadly.

From Reader FL

For those red-staters who proudly believe that it is safer to live in Alabama than in big, bad, dangerous NYC, here are some numbers to chew on:

The 2021 homicide rate in NYC was 5.5 individuals per 100,000 residents.

The 2021 homicide rate in Alabama was 14.2 individuals per 100,000 residents.

Finally, A Little Lighten Up

Watch Stephen Colbert’s Monday scoop on PuppetGate.

————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution: Fire the bastards!
.
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA

 


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

Murderers Welcome


Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action

Shannon Watts was a communications executive and is the mom of 5 kids. The day after 20 kindergartners and first graders (6- & 7-year-old little kids)* and 6 teachers and staff were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012 she started a FaceBook group. She urged all Americans to do whatever we can to reduce gun violence. Then she founded Moms Demand Action and has dedicated her life to ending gun violence in America.

Why is it necessary for this mom to dedicate her life to preventing school kids from being murdered in their classrooms? Or to stop grandmothers from being gunned down in the supermarket? Why does anyone have to do that?
.

Isn’t it obvious to everybody that, by definition, kids should be safe in school? Isn’t it plain that children being murdered isn’t something any of us should tolerate?

So, how come we tolerate it?

How come Shannon Watts has to dedicate her life to this work?

It is true insanity that we put up with this American carnage. It is mind boggling that we continue to elect legislators who promote the slaughter of our people by refusing to do anything to stop it. It’s like posting a sign at the edge of town like this:

HR8 is a universal background check bill that passed the House 2 years ago. It hasn’t been brought to the floor of the Senate for a vote because

50 Republican senators are dedicated to preventing this potentially life protecting bill from becoming law. They really don’t care that over 90% of We The People want that law passed.

I’m proud of our law enforcement people who respond quickly and decisively when there is danger. But,

Q. Why do we refuse to do the simple things that would reduce the need for police protection?

A. Because half of those who vote on laws to protect us are self-serving money and power grubbers who are beholden to big money interests, not our interests.

The only way we’ll get legislation to keep our kids from being killed by angry and deranged gunmen is to vote out of office those who thwart the will of We The People and for us to vote into office those who will act to protect us.

How many dead kids will it take for us to say NO MORE?
.

From The Onion. Click the pic for their story.

Follow this logic:

Most of those who post the metaphorical welcome signs for murderers are Republicans. If you think of yourself as a Republican and continue to vote Republican, we’ll keep getting what we’re getting – dead kids, dead grandmas and wailing, bereft families. You’re going to have to come face-to-face with the reality that this isn’t the Republican Party you signed up for and you’ll have to vote instead for people who will do what you want them to do.

Do you have what it takes to vote for Democrats who will take action to protect our kids, even when you don’t like some of the Democrats’ other ideas?

Do you?

Because if you don’t have what it takes you’re telling yourself and every kid in your town that you don’t care if they get gunned down while sitting at their desks in school. You’re telling me that my first grade granddaughter might not survive her next active shooter drill. Indeed, if you refuse to vote for the people who will protect our kids and the rest of us, you’re telling us and yourself that you don’t care who gets gunned down, even your own kids.

Brutal, I know. But that is the miserable hand that’s been dealt to us.

Just one more question.

President Biden requested $33 billion of aid for Ukraine to stop Putin’s murder spree. Our Congress said, “Nope. We’re going to make it $40 billion,” and 86 senators voted aye for that bill. Eleven idiots voted against it.

Putin’s army of thugs is bombing schools, maternity hospitals and residential properties where kids live. That means that our $40 billion is going to protect Ukrainian kids from Putin’s murderous insanity. If our legislators insist upon protecting Ukrainian kids, how come they won’t protect American kids in ways that don’t cost even a penny?

Hint: See the Q & A answer above.

I’ll say it again:

The only way we’ll get legislation to keep our kids from being killed by angry and deranged gunmen is to vote out of office those who thwart the will of We The People and for us to vote into office those who will act to protect us.

The carnage will not stop until we decide we love our kids more than we love guns.

Texas Testosterone

“Last year, Abbott signed at least seven new laws to make it easier to obtain guns . . . “ – Prof. Heather Cox Richardson Plus, he cut $21 million from state mental health services.

Here’s a great pic of smiling Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas proudly brandishing a killing machine. He assures us that our problem is mental health, but here’s the deal, this from Irv Leavitt:

“.  .  .  [Gov.] Abbott’s state has a long way to go to fix the heads of its citizens. Depending on whom you ask, Texas is 48th or 49th in the nation on funding [for] mental health.

“Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz suggests one hardened entrance for every school. This is an expensive solution for a state that ranks 41st in public school spending.”

Yeah, but Texas has low taxes, they brag. Lousy services, but low taxes. And lots of murders. Low taxes and 19 half-size coffins to bury. And Abbott is just one disingenuous, politician failing at leadership. We have lots more.

Must Reads of the Week

You. This is Your Fault, by Christina Emba in the WaPo.

And He Did Not Act Alone, by Clara Jeffery.

—————————————-

* If they hadn’t been murdered, those Sandy Hook kids would be getting their drivers licenses this year. Some would go to prom. But of course, they won’t do either of those things and their moms and dads have to deal with that anguish every day. It didn’t have to be this way.

————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem. Fire the bastards.
.
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA

 


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

This Isn’t The Time


Instructions

Study this material. There is a test at the end.

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Click me to view the Gun Violence Archive

I know that this isn’t the time, because after each horrific mass shooting in America Mitch McConnell tells us that yet again. He said that after Sandy Hook. He said that after Parkland. He said that after the Pulse Nightclub and Sugar Land and Mother Emanuel AME Church and Aurora and Poway and Tree of Life Synagogue and El Paso and I’m pretty sure he’s going to say it now, after the Buffalo and Laguna Woods church shootings last weekend.

Yesterday, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), third-ranking Republican in the House, said, “It is not the time to politicize this tragedy,” yet she paid for ads pushing the replacement lie. Just another day in HypocrisyLand.

It seems that it’s never time to talk about doing anything to stop our American massacres. And it’s not because they happen infrequently. In fact, there have been 27 mass shootings this month alone and it’s only the 18th. Actually, we’re pretty good at murdering one another and we’re steadfast in doing nothing to make us safer.

For decades over 80% of Americans – that includes over 72% of NRA members – have wanted strict, universal background checks prior to the sale of any firearm. The vast majority of us want assault weapons to be prohibited. Same for large capacity magazines, bump stocks and both concealed and open carry. How’s that working out for We The Majority?

It was just a short time after those twenty little 6- and 7-year-old kids and their six teachers and staff were slaughtered at Sandy Hook Elementary School that Wayne LaPierre of the NRA began to insult this country with, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” I have to admit that was a most excellent, chest-thumping marketing ploy for selling more guns.

There are way more guns in this country than people, so there must be a lot of good guys with guns. But how many bad guy murderous rampages have been stopped by a good guy with a gun? Can you think of even one? Neither can I.

Can you imagine a good guy with a gun at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in a shoot out with the bad guy as the halls were full of kids between class periods?

I’m not running for office and I don’t care who I upset by saying this:

  1. I want universal background checks before the sale or transfer of any firearm. That includes Grandpa giving his favorite hunting rifle to his grandson. That grandson just might be named Dylann Roof or Nicholas Cruz or  Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold or Omar Mateen or Robert Gregory Bowers or Adam Lonza. He might be mentally ill or he might be a White Supremacist, hate-filled homicidal maniac like the Buffalo murderer. I don’t want that grandson to get his hands on any firearm.
  2. I want assault weapons to be illegal. These are so-called “man guns” with which our over-testosteroned, angry, under-educated, morally deficient people get their “man card reissued.” Yes, that was the advertising for the Bushmaster assault rifle, the murder machine used at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
  3. I want absolutely no large capacity magazines or bump stocks or automatic firearms of any kind to be allowed anywhere. Alternatively, Americans to have the right to own as many muskets and musket balls as they want, just as the Founders intended when they wrote the Second Amendment.
  4. I want all new firearms sold to have an interlock so that only the owner can fire it. That will help to stop the theft of guns and their subsequent use to kill you and me. If technology makes it possible, I want all existing firearms to be retrofitted with that same technology.
  5. I don’t want any civilian walking my streets carrying a firearm, whether concealed or open carried. And I don’t want anyone to have a gun in the passenger compartment of their vehicle, just like we don’t allow open containers of alcoholic beverages in cars. We don’t need homicidal road rage any more than we need drunk drivers.
  6. I want a full semester of civics taught to every 8th grade school kid, whether in public or private school. Then I want every high school senior to take two semesters of civics classes. Graduation should be contingent upon successfully completing those classes. Maybe that will help to establish a sense of responsibility in our young citizens. They might even grow up to be responsible older citizens. That would be a refreshing change for our country.

Until I’m in charge you better make your voice heard. Otherwise, you’ll once again hear McConnell tell us this is not the time to talk about ways to stop the bleeding and the dying. You’ll have to endure chorus after chorus of “thoughts and prayers” from our jellyfish elected officials. You can identify them as those occasionally somber looking people with special lapel pins and who haven’t the courage to sneeze without first getting permission from their Party leaders, from the hate spewers and from the gun crazies.

If you and I don’t stand up and speak up there will be lots more dead fellow citizens who did nothing worse than go to school or go to an outdoor concert or go to church or have the audacity to go grocery shopping while Black.

Test

Answer each question to the best of your ability. If you find yourself stuck on any question, go on to the next one. When you circle back to the unanswered questions, if you find you still need help, you may use the Hint and the Explainers below.

Questions

  1. Why isn’t this already fixed?
  2. How is it possible that our circumstances have become far worse?
  3. What have we become?

    Click for the video – but be prepared with some tissues.

  4. Story Problem:

    On Monday Victor Blackwell of CNN interviewed survivors of the slaughter rampage in Buffalo last weekend. Two women he talked with had been on their way to the Tops supermarket. Their aunt was already there and was killed by that White supremacist gunman. One of the women was entirely distraught and the other was, as she described herself, devastated. Their pain was so palpable that Blackwell could barely keep himself together.

    At last he turned to the camera and to his anchor in the studio and said,

    “I was counting in the car, talking with my producer  .  .  .  I’ve done 15 of these – at least the ones I can count. And we keep having the conversation about Democrats will say guns, Republicans will say mental health, and nothing will change.

    “And I’ll probably do another one this year. Family after family, having nowhere to go with their grief.

    “We’ll get into a political conversation later, but is this the way we’re supposed to live? Are we destined to just keep doing this, city after city? Have we just resigned that this is what we’re going to be?”

    Q. What are your answers for Victor Blackwell?

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Hint

   The answer to questions 1 – 3 (and maybe #4) can be found in one word: Apathy.

Explainers

  1. The behavior we tolerate is the behavior we get.
  2. If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we always got.
  3. Unless something changes, nothing will change.
Joke of the Week

This is humorous, but it’s sadly related in style to our present reality, including our domestic terrorism.

Fox News anchors stole engines #3 & 4 from the right wing of several large airplanes, then blamed it on a left wing conspiracy.

Many thanks to MA for this.

————————————

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Restoring the Dream


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

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

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

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

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

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

From the Captain Obvious System Operating Handbook:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Must Reads For Restoring the American Dream

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

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

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

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

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

Bonus Section: Gotta Fix This
.

Click me for the story

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

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

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

Gotta fix this.

Updated Children’s Book

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

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

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

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

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

————————————

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Getting Attention, Statistics and Projection


Hey! Over Here!

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

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

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

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

The key tools Republicans use to get attention are:

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

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

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

Many thanks to JN for passing this along.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Must Read

Late find following the writing of this post:

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

Statistics of the Week

From the Center for American Progress:

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

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

Projection Speak of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Year End Awards


Hypocrite of the Week

Iron Dome is a defensive rocket system that finds and destroys attacking missiles. During the Gaza war in May 2021 Israel used it against the roughly 4,400 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel and knocked down about 90% of therm. This entirely defensive system is all that stands between Israeli civilians and the next barrage of rockets launched by Hamas in Gaza.

Israel’s supply of these defensive rockets was greatly depleted during that war, so Israel is looking to the U.S., the only source, to replenish the supply. There is near universal support for that in the U.S. Congress, with the notable exception of Sen. Rand Paul. He has blocked the funding bill for Iron Dome four times, leaving the security of Israel in peril for over 90 additional days as of this writing.

ImageThis is the same Rand Paul who voted against humanitarian aid for the people devastated by Gulf Coast hurricanes, but who now has pleaded for help for Kentuckians devastated by that super tornado a couple of weeks ago.

I guess if it doesn’t help Rand Paul personally, it’s just not important to him. And being a hypocrite isn’t a problem for him, either. That makes Rand Paul the winner of the Hypocrite of the Week Award for a lot of weeks.

Hypocrites of the Year

Read these examples highlighted by Steve Sheffey:

More than 800,000 Americans have died from COVID, but Republicans continue to oppose vaccine mandates. Last week marked the ninth anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook, when 20 first-graders and six educators were murdered, but Republicans continue to block gun-control legislation.

Gotta add that this Valentine’s Day will mark the fourth anniversary of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, FL, where 17 students and teachers were killed and 17 more were injured by the bullets fired by a deeply messed up former student. And still Republicans refuse to pass gun safety legislation that over 80% of Americans want. These Republicans are the same people who loudly proclaim that they are pro-life. Yes, seriously.

So, it’s the same deal: If it doesn’t help these Republicans personally, it’s just not important to them. And being a hypocrite isn’t a problem for them, either, just like Rand Paul. That makes them individually and collectively this year’s winners of the Hypocrite of the Year Award, same as last year. And the year before. And next year.

Oddly, Americans selected this hypocrisy by voting these people into positions of power. Ruminate on that a bit.

The 2021 Lucy Award

The Pull-The-Football Award Committee is unanimous in awarding the 2021 Lucy Award to Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia for his steadfast commitment to not committing. Furthermore, the Committee’s deliberation led them to the obvious conclusion that Manchin must also receive the Goalpost Mover Citation of Excellence for his incremental “one more thing-ism.” It’s unclear as of the time of this writing if Manchin will change parties and throw control of the Senate to Mitch McConnell and the obstructionist Republicans, but experts suspect that move may be on the way. That would secure the Benedict Arnold Award for Manchin, too.

Hypocrite of the Century

The votes are in and only one candidate received votes – all of the votes. Congratulations to Donald Trump for securing the well deserved Hypocrite of the Century Award! Here’s what’s amazing about that.

There are 79 years to come in this century, yet all 7.9 billion people on planet Earth agree on the winner of this award. “People are saying,” that it will be impossible for anyone to be a bigger hypocrite. This award is bestowed upon its recipient even knowing that he is on his way to becoming the world’s biggest loser, going from the Oval Office to the Iron Bars Office. He’ll be a hypocrite there, too.

Dupes of The Year Award

Ronald Reagan began the overt demonizing of government four decades ago and it has been amped up continuously by people appealing to the frustrations of ordinary citizens. Donald Trump tapped into that and exponentially increased that anger with the very things that get people to follow him, including his lies, never backing down regardless of how obviously wrong he is, continuously circus barking promises that will not and could not be fulfilled and always appealing to victimhood. And grift.

Trump has manipulated thousands of elected officials and pundits to repeat and even expand his inflammatory lies and together they have fooled millions of Americans. Now over 60% of Republicans believe the 2020 election was stolen and 20 million think violence is appropriate for “taking back our country.”

These millions are once again the winners of the Dupes of The Year Award. Ensuring this honor for them were the hundreds of thousands of their fellow Americans who refused to mask or be vaccinated because of the right-wing lies told to them and who subsequently died. It’s possible that they are worthy contenders for a Darwin Award, too, which each year goes to people who most improve the human gene pool by removing themselves from it.

Wrong Time Award

No, not that kind. I’m talking about Time Magazine and their poor choice for their 2021 Person of the Year. Read Eugene Robinson’s clear, compelling case that Eugene Goodman is the real deal and should have been awarded that honor and been on that magazine cover. That’s why the Wrong Time Award goes to Time.

James Webb Telescope rocket lift-off, 12/25/21

The Hope Award

If you watched NASA TV early Christmas morning you saw the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope on an Ariane 5 Rocket. For we science geeks (Key requirement: you must believe in science) it was another lump in the throat success, a reinvigorater of can-do spirit and an ultimately cool way to restore a sense of pride.

The “Of Course I Still Love You” autonomous landing barge

An observation that I found impossible to miss is that the vast majority of NASA scientists are 20-somethings. That’s right, it was kids who put the most sophisticated telescope in the world out of this world. And it’s kids who make Elon Musk’s rockets back down onto their launching pads and onto the “Of Course I Still Love You” barge in the ocean.

And it’s largely kids protesting and demonstrating for action to battle climate warming all around the globe. It’s kids who are jettisoning racial and gender hatreds. It looks as if we Boomers and X-ers at last have done something right: we raised this upcoming generation who just might save us from ourselves and fix upon our times the label: “Hope.” That’s why our 20-somethings get The Hope Award.

Finally

God’s Tech Support – click me

We have skyrocketing infections and deaths due to the twin epidemics of COVID and American pigheadedness, and plenty more threats to send us out on the ledge. But before you climb through the window, reread The Hope Award section above and then read this from Dan Rather. He’s no Pollyanna, but he’s been around the block enough times to have a valuable perspective on the use of ledges.

In this season of wishing for stuff, I wish for us a just nation, where right matters and wins, where democracy always prevails, where we care about one another in the ways that truly matter and where we think and plan far into the future to set things on the best path for our children, grandchildren and all who will come after us. I figure it’s our job to make all of that happen, so wishing isn’t enough.

————————————

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

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