Courage

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.

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. 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?
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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?
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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.

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* 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.

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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. 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.

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. 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
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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.

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Getting Attention, Statistics and Projection


Hey! Over Here!

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

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

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

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

The key tools Republicans use to get attention are:

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

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

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

Many thanks to JN for passing this along.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Must Read

Late find following the writing of this post:

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

Statistics of the Week

From the Center for American Progress:

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

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

Projection Speak of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

————————————

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

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.

Little


Note: This is the promised follow up to last Sunday’s post. JA

——————————–

Anyone who is watching can see the naked assaults and the unscrupulous dismantling of American democracy. Everywhere, the angry little people are attacking our institutions, taking away our rights and freedoms, keeping power for themselves and replacing all that we hold dear with rule by an anti-democratic minority.

This frightened savagery of little men and little women with little intellect and little vision, club their way through democracy, beating primitive drums to frighten the people and destroying all that is in their path to ever-more power and money for themselves.

Truth has no place in their little world. It has been completely replaced by propaganda, by projections of their own failings onto others and by yet more cruel lies layered upon the carcasses of prior lies. They do this with their faux patriotism and their shams about freedom and independence. The smallness of these little people leads them to constantly scheme to create control over others’ bodies, minds and lives in their conspiracy mania to control We The People.

From Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises:

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked. “Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually, then suddenly.”

And that is exactly how democracies die: gradually, then suddenly. In case you have difficulty seeing the assaults on our own democracy, just look to the recent histories of other countries like Hungary, Russia, Turkey, the Philippines and elsewhere. They’re just a little further down the road to despotism. Here’s the really bad news about that:

Right now we are at a moment of inflection, a tipping point, between gradually and suddenly.

We suffer from a good but distracted populace, too myopic and stressed to notice much of what is beyond their daily lives. If we are to prevent the sudden fall, the crash that breaks everything, we must open the eyes of everyone to the truth and reality of the danger before us and we must then marshal our forces to push back the little people who would bring us tyranny.

Truly, this is a Thomas Paine moment.
.
“These are the times that try men’s souls; the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”
.

The bugle has sounded. It’s time for us to stand by our country and by We The People.

You know what to do to stop the little men and the little women of little intellect and little vision from destroying our democracy.* Look at the graphic below and you’ll realize that the countdown is relentless and that there is no time to waste. It’s time to grab your metaphorical musket, report for duty and stand a post for democracy.

Required
A photo of a crowd with a MAGA hat in the foreground and people standing on scaffolding with a Second Amendment flag and Trump banner in front of the smoke-obscured U.S. Capitol

January 6, 2021 – A day which will live in infamy

A lot of people are investigating threats to our democracy, most notably the members of the House January 6 Commission. They’re interviewing, issuing subpoenas and referring refusers for criminal prosecution. Likely, their report is almost a year away.

Other well informed people have plenty to say and you’re in luck, because some experts are convening on the 13th and you can watch this must-see event. From The Atlantic:

The January/February issue of The Atlantic is devoted to examining the crisis of American democracy.

Join Jeffrey Goldberg, along with Pulitzer-winning staff writers Barton Gellman and Anne Applebaum, on Monday, December 13 at 11 a.m. ET for a virtual event revisiting the Capitol riot, one year later. Register for free.

Here’s a link to the cover story of the January/February issue, Trump’s Coup Has Already Begun, and here’s a link to another piece, The Election That Could Break America. Like the virtual event, both of these pieces are a must.

Many thanks to LP for the heads up.

Finally

This can all feel overwhelming and unstoppable, but just in time the right message has arrived.

“December 7, 1941 – A day which will live in infamy” – FDR

Yesterday was the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on our naval and air forces at Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field in Hawaii. 90-year-old Dan Rather has some things to say about that. He was 10 years old then and today passes to us some wisdom from his father and from his own experiences. He concludes his piece, writing,

“I call upon those memories many times to return me to equilibrium. Especially on this day. December 7. A day that not only lives in infamy, but a day that also spawned a repudiation of despair.”

So, step off the ledge. Come back inside. We’ll roll up our shirtsleeves and do what Americans did then, what we always do. And we’ll repudiate the despair we’ve felt so deeply.

———————–

* I’m researching the best things for us to do to make sure those who would stab democracy in the heart are defeated. It’s often a confusing and even frustrating fight, because every cause seems to have a story and a hand extended toward your wallet. You want to do what will be most effective so that democracy wins, but you don’t know where to put your support. It’s just plain hard to divine where that is or what to do. If you have a suggestion, please pass it along. Meanwhile, expect a report soon. After all, the mid-terms will determine control of Congress and that election is just 335 days away.

————————————

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.

Winning, Part One: The Numbers, Rage and Yoda


This is just simple math.
.

                                STATE                           POPULATION (millions)

Wyoming                                    0.58

Vermont                                      0.62

Alaska                                         0.73

North Dakota                              0.76

South Dakota                              0.88

Delaware                                     0.97

Rhode Island                               1.1

Montana                                       1.1

                TOTAL                         6.73

Those eight states have 16 senators representing them.

Indiana has as many people as all those states combined, but has only 2 senators to represent them. It’s about the same for Massachusetts, Tennessee, Missouri and Maryland.

New York has over 3 times as many citizens as the total of those eight states, but has only 2 senators to represent them.

California has 6.5 times as many citizens as the total above, yet Californians have only 2 senators.

All power to the low population states! Minority rule today! Minority rule tomorrow! Minority rule forever!*
.

And it’s nuttier than that.

There are roughly 40 million more people in blue states than red states, yet senatorial representation is roughly equal, which means that 40 million blue state people are under-represented and discounted in the Senate. To be fair, that is due not just to our two-senators-per-state rule, but also because of voter suppression and gerrymandering that favors and keeps red states red. No way to paint a happy picture about that. It’s just what Republicans do.

In case you wonder why this mangled representation exists, read the explanation from Senate.gov.

What that explanation won’t tell you is that the Framers didn’t trust our mostly illiterate population to select well, so they created both the Electoral College and this presumably deliberative body, the Senate. Both were supposed to be safer when chosen by land-owning, literate white men.

Kyrsten Sinema

That assumption of the Framers has brought us presidents elected by a minority of voters (2 of the last 6 elections, plus some others and Republicans have lost the popular vote in every presidential election but one since 1988). It has also brought us a non-representative Senate. The primary present-day duty of the Republicans in the Senate is to obstruct progress for our country and to manipulate for their individual power – minority rule – which means they’re all about protecting and promoting the interests of big money donors. (See: Kyrsten Sinema receiving huge money from Big Pharma, then refusing prescription drug pricing reform. Just a coincidence, I’m sure.)

Red-Blue politics ebbs and flows (at least it used to), but common sense says that head count representation ought to be proportional in the Senate. It isn’t. That has substantive impact on the lunacy of our current politics and it’s related to our vaccine refusers in a very loud way.

The refusers are exhorted every day to refuse vaccines by breathtakingly false and destructive information coming from state and national leadership. They’re told to refuse the very thing that can save their lives and the lives of those they love. They surrender their facility for critical thinking and embrace only what stokes their rage.

They scream about the infringement of their freedoms. They proclaim entirely untrue propaganda, like that the vaccine will make them sterile, or that there are nanobots in the vaccine and Bill Gates will be able to track and control them, or that vaccines have killed more people than the disease or any of a hundred false claims from sick imaginations. And Americans continue to die at the rate of 1,400 per day.

The constant is the presence of  rage. It’s stoked every night by Tucker Carlson and during the day by Ted Cruz, Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott and the know-nothing TV and radio blabbers who rake in money from advertisers because our rage-ists tune in. And the refusers vote for red state politicians who tell them what they want to hear and who then go to Congress and state legislatures to fulfill the role of rage in minority rule. That’s the Senate-rage connection and the Republicans work it to perfection to win elections.

I think there’s something else going on and it fits hand-in-glove with rage. It’s fear. Fear of being controlled. Fear of being wrong. Fear of smart people. Fear of science. Fear of change. Fear of government. Fear of globalization. Fear of “others.” Fear of the future. Fear of needles. Fear of their own ignorance. Fear of complexity. Fear of everything they don’t understand. Fear of a world they can’t make sense of.

Keith Olbermann says it more flamboyantly than I do and I’m not crazy about the name calling parts of his post, but fundamentally, I think he has it right: our refusers are afraid. They won’t acknowledge that, because doing so wouldn’t be manly. It would pop their rage-puffery and they wouldn’t get to feel as powerful. Their refusal, though, doesn’t erase their fear or the tribalism it spawns. And their fear, stoked every day by Republicans, is causing more of us to die from the pandemic and is igniting violence around the country.

Perhaps you thought the dishonesty and hypocrisy of the Rs was the entire problem, but I tell you with certainty that it is not. Its matching bookend is wimpy Democrats enabling their anti-democracy, letting Republicans get away with that.

In 2002 Republican Senate candidate Saxby Chamliss cruelly attacked Viet Nam vet and triple-amputee Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA), who was slow and not aggressive in response. He lost his reelection bid.

In the 2004 presidential race John Kerry was attacked and called a coward by a Republican group that came to be known as the Swift Boaters. He kept silent about them, not wanting to give them credibility by responding to their their lies. When he at last did speak up it was too late and he lost the election.

Both of those Democrats were defensive and failed to attack. They failed to aggressively call out the lies. That’s how to lose an election, as both of them did. And I’m disgusted by Democrats who won’t do what’s necessary to win an election now.

Required homework assignment

Read Sheila Markin’s exceptionally clear, shocking and sadly accurate post. This will count for 50% of your Civics grade. The final will be on November 8, 2022.

Wisdom Wake-Up Call

From my Yoda-like friend, Ozzie (all italics mine):

“Reality always (and probably all ways) wins. Our only job is to get in touch with it.”

Enough with the illusions and wishful thinking.

“Or as the Little Prince shared: It is with the heart that one sees rightly. For what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Enduringly true. And there is plenty that is essential and easy to see with the eyes. Keep them open and see what is plainly before us.

“Or: If you want to live your dream: #)#_!%^ WAKE UP!!! (Screamed as loud as humanly possible).”

If your dream includes a healthy democracy that serves the people, sleep walking through life just won’t do. #)#_!%^ WAKE UP!!!

See Winning, Part Two on Sunday, November 14 to learn what to do about it.

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* Paraphrased from Gov. George Wallace’s (R-AL) inauguration speech, January 14, 1963. Even with the word swapping, my meaning is pretty much the same as his, except that I mean it as sarcasm. Wallace meant it as enduring hatred.

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

So Many Crises, So Little Time


Fiddle (or golf) while America burns?

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

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

The pandemic

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

Attacks on civil rights and voting rights

The obvious and looming climate crisis

Our decrepit infrastructure and lack of preparedness for the future

Our incendiary immigration dysfunction

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

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

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

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

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

Nero Destruction Award – NOT a Trump non-disclosure agreement

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

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

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

We Have a Democracy To Save

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

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

Thomas Paine

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

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

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

Resources – a Wake Up Call

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

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

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

Our Constitutional Crisis Is Already Here. by Robert Kagan

Anything by Anne Applebaum

How Democracies Die, by Sam Levitsky and Daniel Zieblatt

How Fascism Works, by Jason Stanley

On Tyranny, by Timothy Snyder

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

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

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

September 27 Twitter thread by Mark Jacob

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

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

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

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

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

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The Fine Print:

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

JA

 


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

It Begs the Question


From Thom Hartmann’s rant on August 6

The first real test of the [National Voter Rights Act of 1993] came in 2018, when Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State, John Husted, went on a voter-purge binge (that hit Black, student and elderly neighborhoods particularly hard) and was sued by the A. Phillip Randolph Institute for violating Ohio citizens’ right to vote.

In a bitter 5-4 decision, the conservative majority ruled in Husted v Randolph that purging voters because they failed to return a junk-mail-like postcard was entirely legal.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito

It’s a practice once called “caging” back when Karl Rove’s guy [George W. Bush] was allegedly doing it and it was illegal but that has, since that Court ruling, spread to pretty much every Republican-controlled state in the nation.

Justice Alito’s decision was particularly biting, asserting that the arguments made by the citizens who’d lost their right to vote were “worse than superfluous” and their argument that they shouldn’t have to regularly check  in with the Secretary of State’s office to stay on the voter rolls represented logic “no sensible person” could agree with.

Justice Alito’s comments fly in the face of the multiple declarations of the right to vote prominently displayed in the Constitution. That document doesn’t say anything about the need to send in a post card or “check in” with any government or agency in order to retain the right to vote. We just have to be citizens.

If Alito wants autocracy, minority rule and race and class oppression, he might consider moving to another country with just such a foundation. Maybe I missed something, but I thought that all justices took an oath to the Constitution of this country.

In acting to suppress the right of citizens to vote, Alito pushed back on democracy itself. Given that Alito’s Supreme Court vote and his comments are in opposition to both the Constitution and democracy, it begs the question of why he’s on the Supreme Court.

It Says Hope, But It Isn’t

The State of Florida continues on its path to become the place most intentionally disinterested in the welfare of its citizens. In the face of stiff competition from Texas, Arizona and several other states, Florida has codified its refusal to allow schools to protect students from Covid-19 and its variants by issuing an Emergency Rule.* Please download it. You’ll be amazed at the lengths to which the Florida Board of Education goes and the tortured un-reason it uses to attempt to make their prohibition of mask mandates sound like they’re delivering safety from this deadly virus.

Their logic is forehead-slappingly illogical, sort of like saying they are promoting good by ensuring bad.

Almost as shocking is that the state’s Board of Education offers an alternative to mask mandates. It invites students and public money to go to private schools. This smells very bad, like the public schools in the south in the 1950s and 60s that suffered because white students left for private, expensive (read: segregated) schools, as did the public money for education, leaving nearly nothing for Black kids.

And the Florida Board of Education is doing this under the banner “Hope.”

Here’s a startling headline from the Tallahassee Democrat on August 9 showing DeSantis’ disregard for Floridians:

Florida Gov. DeSantis to school officials: Enforce mask mandate, get your salaries withheld
.

I have no clue how that could be legal. It’s much like Texas Governor Greg Abbott declaring that he’s going to arrest the Democratic legislators who left the state to prevent horrid voter suppression laws from being enacted. He proudly boasted that he would arrest and hold these Democrats in the state capitol building In Austin for the duration of the special legislative session. That’s quite a statement from the Texas Governor, in that the Democrats have broken no laws and he has no power to incarcerate them in the capitol building or anywhere else.

Note that both of these governors are threatening opponents with exactly the same kind of king-of-the-hill bravado as despots and cruel dictators who imprison political opponents (think: Putin in Russia; Orbán in Hungary; Xi in China). The same goes for all the rest of the “I’ll show you!” tough guy governors and legislators. Tough guy stuff plays well with the alt-right, the MAGA hat wearers. Normally, that’s a “who-cares?” but in the face of Covid and civil unrest, it’s deadly.

Expect stupid litigation to follow DeSantis’ tough guy announcement. The reason that’s important is that we have an epidemic of people in power doing similarly anti-welfare-of-the-people things, as well as taking anti-democracy shots.

This Florida Board of Education Emergency Rule and DeSantis’ threat of withholding educators’ salaries are just the most recent actions that beg the question of why Gov. Ron DeSantis has been allowed to be anywhere near public office.

While DeSantis is the poster boy for selfishly bad governing, for our purposes he is a placeholder for all the governors, legislators and bloviators who chest thump and try to position themselves for more MAGA votes, even at the cost of the health and the lives of our fellow citizens. Future generations will look at our time with puzzlement and derision, because we voted for this. And that begs yet more questions.

Actual Hope

Dr. Chad Gestson, Supt. Phoenix Union High School District

A refreshing contrast to knuckle dragging governors like DeSantis and Abbott is Dr. Chad Gestson, Superintendent of the Phoenix Union High School District in Phoenix, AZ, with 32,000 students. He is a profile in courage, defying Gov. Doug Ducey’s “no mask mandates” order by requiring masks for students, teachers and staff in his schools. Apparently, the superintendent thinks the health of everyone in his schools is really important, a concept not comprehensible by certain elected officials.

What’s truly, self-destructively weird is that a teacher in his district is suing Gestson over his mask mandate, claiming it’s an infringement of his freedom to become infected, then infect others and finally to gasp and die (the sarcasm is mine – JA). Nevertheless, Gestson is standing strong. I bet he’d appreciate a note of support from you. [email protected]

Meanwhile, the Florida Board Of Education Emergency Rule, the various governors’ no-mask-mandate orders and the teacher’s lawsuit all beg the question of when self-serving temper tantrums replaced good sense.

Covid Corner

Please click the graph above and read the full thread.

The United States of America has

– 4.25% of the world’s population

– 18% of the world’s total Covid-19 cases – 36.8M/204.3M

– 14.7% of the world’s deaths from Covid-19 – 633K/4.3M. Before the vaccines that number was closer to 25%, but 71.9% of seniors are now fully vaccinated. Nevertheless, we have over 633,000 total deaths and the two week moving average is now 480 per day – and rising. See the STAT chart below.

– The distinction of being the only country in the world where mask mandates can be prohibited.

20% of new U.S. Covid cases are children – see here and here. Babies and young children are dying.

A new case of Covid-19 in the U.S. is reported every 0.7 seconds. The two-week moving average is a new case every 1.2 seconds. See the STAT chart below.

The U.S. has the largest supply of Covid vaccines in the world, but

– Only 58.1% of vaccine-eligible citizens in the U.S. is fully vaccinated.

– The U.S. is the only country where citizens have to be bribed to be vaccinated, even as citizens of other countries beg for vaccines.

Covid Cases as of 8-10-21

All of this Covid information begs so many questions, like,

What has happened to us and why did we let this craziness happen?

Where did our sense of civic duty go?

What happened to our caring for one another?

How did so many of us become so shockingly angry that our good sense has left us?

Why are we rationalizing so much avoidable suffering and death?

Why aren’t we shocked by a Covid death equivalent of the crash of a jumbo jet every day?

It begs these questions and so many more.

  • ————————

* Thanks go to JN for forwarding the Florida DOE Emergency Rule.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

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