Domestic Policy

Serendipity


The word “serendipity” stems from the ancient Persian tale, Serendipity and The Three Princes. It’s sometimes called The Three Princes of Serendip.* It was translated in 1557 into Italian as The Peregrinaggio. It is a tale of “the gift for discovery by accident and sagacity of things  .  .  .  not in quest of [it].” it’s commonly thought of as finding something of value while looking for something else.

I just had one of those moments when I came upon one of my long forgotten essays from shortly before the 2018 mid-term election. This isn’t about being self-congratulatory. Because of our current circumstances, I think it’s worth revisiting.

By 2018 we had endured a year and a half of Trump’s general election outrageousness and cruelty, then two years of him in office. That he was greatly popular with a substantial swath of Americans led to a search to understand his voters. The search was more than to satisfy our need to understand why otherwise sensible people voted for this brutish thug. If we were to stop his worst, those who would stand up to his behavior had to be voted into office. Quickly.

I did some research and posted an essay to help in the search, taking care to understand, rather than to persuade. The video is embedded below and I encourage you to have a look at it with fresh eyes, because we are still fighting to stop authoritarian rule.

Here’s that video:

Originally posted October 28, 2018, just before the mid-term election

Every bit of what was going on two and a half years ago is still going on. Indeed, some is far worse now. Republicans will not stop it. They have become a cult of anger, hatred, cowardice, violence and subservience. That means that we have to elect Democrats to stop the authoritarian stampede and to keep our democracy.

Click me for the Bamboo Ballot idiocy story

Expect the illicit Arizona election recount  of Maricopa County – the non-audit done by partisan ignorants and QAnon conspiracy believers, as they violate election ballot integrity – to report massive voting fraud that neither they nor anyone else can substantiate. After watching the video above, consider how our angry citizenry will react to the deceitful reports from Arizona that confirm their biases.

The 2022 mid-term election is of the same critical nature as that in 2018. It’s just 506 days away, with Republicans working every day to cheat their way to long term minority rule by gerrymandering, purging voter roles, requiring oppressive voter identification, closing polling stations, intimidating professional voting administrators and more.

We have two key jobs. The first is to fight voter suppression. We’re attacking that in the courts and, because there are potentially hundreds of repressive anti-voting laws, that will be a massive challenge.

We’re also attacking that in Congress. There are two bills – the For The People Act and The John Lewis Voting Rights Act – that we need to get through the McConnell-strangled Senate. The key obstructionist this time is, of course, Joe Manchin. We need a magic wake-up pill for him. It seems that those holding that pill are West Virginia voters. That’s why phone banks to those folks are so important right now.

The second job is to figure out a way to appeal to our voting citizens who feel blown off by the establishment. They aren’t all crazy. They are all angry. Please jot your ideas of how to appeal to them in the Comments section below.

Meanwhile, we best not count on serendipity to aid us in this mission. It’s time to be intentional. If we find something else of great value along the way, then lucky us.

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* Serendip is the classical Persian name for Sri Lanka.

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Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, 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.

JA


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

Have A Nice Memorial Day


From Giovanni Russonello’s article in the New York Times:

“QAnon Now as Popular in U.S. as Some Major Religions, Poll Suggests
.

“But it’s not just the notion that the election was stolen that [QAnon] caught on with the former president’s supporters. QAnon, an outlandish and ever-evolving conspiracy theory spread by some of Trump’s most ardent followers, has significant traction with a segment of the public – particularly Republicans and Americans who consume news from far-right sources.

“Those are the findings of a poll released today by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core, which found that 15 percent of Americans say they think that the levers of power are controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles, a core belief of QAnon supporters. The same share said it was true that ‘American patriots may have to resort to violence’ to depose the pedophiles and restore the country’s rightful order.

“And fully 20 percent of respondents said that they thought a biblical-scale storm would soon sweep away these evil elites and ‘restore the rightful leaders.'”

Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene are conducting hate rallies. Last week Gaetz began, saying, “We have a Second Amendment in this country and I think we have an obligation to use it.” He was reported by Heather Cox Richardson and all major news agencies this way:

“[Gaetz] told attendees that the nation’s founders wrote the Second Amendment to enable citizens to rise up against the government. ‘It’s not about hunting, it’s not about recreation, it’s not about sports,’ he said. ‘The Second Amendment is about maintaining, within the citizenry, the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government if that becomes necessary.’

“As the audience cheered, Gaetz continued: ‘I hope it never does, but it sure is important to recognize the founding principles of this nation and to make sure that they are fully understood.’”

These are powerful words harkening back to our founding days of tricorn hats and muskets and thoughtful men in wigs, except for one thing: every bit of Gaetz’s chest thumping declaration is false. All of it.

The Second Amendment was included in the Constitution for many reasons, including self-defense. It was also included to keep southern slave states in the Union. White slave masters were vastly outnumbered by slaves then and the slave owners figured they needed a mechanism to counter any slave rebellion. Local militias – essentially vigilantes with firearms – was their solution. The Second Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights to appease the slave owners.

Further, as Garrett Epps writes in The Atlantic. ”  .  .  .  the main—indeed, almost exclusive—purpose of the [Second A]mendment was, in fact, to protect the rights of states to maintain and arm militias.” And, indeed, they’ve done that. Today they’re called the National Guard.

However chest-thumpingly satisfying it may be to our citizens wearing camouflage, carrying military weapons and assaulting our state capitols and the Capitol Building in DC or plotting to kidnap and assassinate the governor of Michigan, they aren’t the militias envisioned by the Framers. They aren’t well-regulated. They aren’t even militias. They are insurrectionists in waiting.

There is nothing in the Second Amendment or in The Federalist Papers or in the words of any Founding Father, nor is there any representation anywhere of a right of citizens “.  .  .  to maintain an armed rebellion against the government,” to rise up in violence against democracy – not a word, however our many insurrectionists and impassioned blowhards think there is. What’s worrying is that our self-righteous believers in citizen tyranny own a huge proportion of the over 300 million firearms in this country.

There is no cabal of Satan worshiping child sex traffickers running the world or our country, nor is there an imminent biblical-scale storm that will sweep away elites. There is no right of insurrection. Accusations are not the same as evidence or proof. Fantasies aren’t the same as facts. Lies are not truths. But some people will believe whatever feeds their passions, hate and anger, good sense be damned.

And all of this fantasy based insanity that promotes tough guy-ism and stokes violence flies in the face of the special day we set aside for our military people who died protecting our nation from “all enemies, foreign and domestic.” That refers to enemies of the Constitution.*

Go to your local Memorial Day ceremonies tomorrow, be they in person or virtual. Honor our fallen ones and say thank you.

And have a nice Memorial Day – while we still have our democracy.

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In Case You Missed The Craziest Play in Baseball

Watch this.

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  • * I’m reminded of a line from Aaron Sorkin’s wonderful movie The American President:

“How do you have patience for people who claim they love America, but clearly can’t stand Americans?”

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

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, 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.

JA


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

The Performance of Our Economy


We all know that the Republican Party is no longer the Republican Party. It has become a mob dedicated to obstruction, hate mongering and voter suppression, all in pursuit of clinging to White supremacy and power just a little longer. Minority rule. Anti-democracy. Gone is the party promoting small government and low taxes, conservation of traditional norms and fidelity to the intentions of the Founders. No news there.

The Republican mantra chanted mechanically for decades has been that the evil Democrats were the tax-and-spend party, the socialism devils who will bring down our economy. Perhaps that’s a relic of conservative opposition to the New Deal nearly a century ago. They were against pretty much everything proposed by FDR and have never let go of that reflexive, unexamined opposition. You can check with Barack Obama for verification of that. He’s the president toward whom the Rs dedicated 100% of their effort to make him a one-term president, the needs of the people be damned. All opposition, all the time.

But were the Rs’ predictions of Democrat-driven job killing, economy destruction and a slide to socialism accurate? Do we suffer more economically when Ds have the reigns of power? Let’s check with the Office of Management and Budget and some other sources for data – you know: facts – to help us understand what has actually happened.

Here are four bar graphs comparing how we’ve done under both Republican and Democratic presidential administrations from when Truman took office in 1945 through Trump. See if you can spot a pattern.

Graphic courtesy of David Doney and Karl Faulstich of NWSOFA-Indivisible

Because these charts use data over such a significant span of time they pretty well neutralize the impact of spikes, like the high tech expansion of the 90s and the bust of 2008-9 and any of the tax rate adjustments.

We all get that pat political phrases are useful for bumper stickers and they’re great for frothing up true believers at political rallies, but sometimes they bear no resemblance to actual happenings on planet Earth. While saying that is not much of a revelation in our post-truth era (and that goes back way before Trump was lying and leading his cult of personality), what’s important is that those of us still within shouting distance of reality understand the empirical data: Democrats deliver a far better economy and all the goodies attendant to that, including jobs.

If you are a Republican and are choking on this information, please respond in the Comments section below about how Republicans are more fiscally responsible or more advantageous to the American people. For example, show us how George W. Bush started two wars and also reduced taxes twice, making it impossible to pay for his wars and how that was somehow good for us. Help us all understand how we’ve been duped by Democrats and why we should believe the Republicans’ bumper stickers.

That’s especially important to keep in mind now that Mitch McConnell has announced that he is “100 percent” focused on opposing all Biden initiatives, the needs of the people be damned. How’s that going to work for us and our economy?

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

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, 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.

JA

 

 


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

Bridging the Divide


Approximately 40% of Americans identify as Republicans. That includes traditional conservatives, centrists and hair-on-fire extremists. A new poll shows that 44% of them say they refuse and will continue to refuse to be vaccinated against the worldwide pandemic that has already killed nearly 600,000 Americans. Some say they’re all about individual freedom and nobody is going to tell them what to do. Perhaps it isn’t a problem to them if they become infected and spread it to others. (See my question for these people at the end of this post.)

So, let’s do the math. If 40% of Americans identify as Republicans and 44% of them are adamant vaccine and mask refusers, that means that 17.6% of all Americans – that’s 58,150,400 – who identify as Republicans will not get vaccinated.

Looking at all Americans, another poll found that one in four Americans are vaccine refusers, which translates to 82,600,000 Americans who think they’re bullet proof or that they’re the smart ones who know better than the scientists. That blends nicely with the roughly 50 million Americans who believe that the 2020 election was stolen and the 10 million who support an insurrectionist movement.

We are a nation of a great many absolutist, “it’s-true-if-I-believe-it’s-true” propaganda targets. They are easy to manipulate with lies told repeatedly, like the lie started decades ago by a fraudulent British doctor that vaccines cause autism. Or the lies of a megalomaniac telling the Big Lie, leading his chumps to have certainty of their rightness and virtue as they promote the obvious lie. No need for critical thinking here.

For a most informative take on how people are recruited into extremist views and organizations, read this from The Washington Post. Keywords: identity, community, purpose. It’s like the allure of city gangs: everyone wants the feeling of belonging, of community. Perhaps that’s part of the appeal of QAnon and its outrageously impossible and hateful conspiracy theories.

These are our fellow countrymen and -women who are eager to believe the unbelievable. They are ordinary looking people who are unwittingly making themselves the enemy of public health and the enemy of democracy. To state the obvious, that’s not okay. That’s harmful to women, children, men, other living things, our country and the world. It screams at us, demanding a solution.

On Thursday I posted the speech I wish President Biden had given. It betrays my frustration and an impassioned desire to let the facts – actual Earth 1 realities – do the persuading. The only real problem with that is that telling someone with fervent beliefs that both their “facts” and they themselves are wrong is a pretty effective way to prevent progress. Nobody likes to be told they’re wrong.

Which makes me think that President Biden is a pretty smart guy to go about persuasion just by doing a great job and being decent. (Click here and watch the video at the bottom for instruction on this.) I’m sure his having great people skills, a subtle understanding and a gentle touch is why he’s president – and I’m not.

For more on how to bridge our enormous cultural and political divide, have a look at Braver Angels.

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The Zombie Election – It Won’t Die

Surely, by now you know that conspiracy theorists and Big Lie proponents have been hired and paid for by mysterious and unidentified rich people to scour the Maricopa County, AZ 2020 election ballots. They are in search of the tens of thousands of non-existent fraudulent votes cast for Biden that they believe belong to Trump. And they’re on the lookout for the millions of fictional votes cast by non-citizens – illegal aliens – immigrants – people from shit-hole countries – who they believe voted illegally. Perhaps they’re hoping they can get those people deported. For sure they think they will prove the election was rigged, stolen. “It wasn’t fair!‘ they cry.

They have largely banned observation of their chicanery by third parties with no political axe to grind, as they pursue their “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,” double secret, occult manipulations of ballots to arrive at their pre-determined conclusions. They will prove that Trump is still the president. Be ready for, “Nya, nya, so there.”

Here’s a read on that which is both entertaining and factually illuminating. Many thanks to RS for the pointer.

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America’s Mayor

The Giuliani-Ukraine-Trump disinformation scheme for undermining the United States of America is another unbelievable that is believed to be valid by many Americans. If you’d like to better understand what actually happened in that scandal, read Asha Rangappa’s Twitter thread. This sordid Ukraine affair is exactly the kind of unpatriotic stuff that compromises our country.

Note that Rangappa is a former FBI Special Agent and a lawyer. She knows what she’s talking about. And unlike the conspirators, she’s a patriot.

Final note: Expect to see indictments against Rudy Giuliani, then his conviction and a trip to prison. And who knows? Perhaps he and Trump can get adjoining cells and further conspire while incarcerated.

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

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, 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.

JA


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

Who Should Get Out of Jail Free?


The triple convictions of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd prompted a variety of reactions including relief, joy, renewed hope, satisfaction, release and more. There was a palpable and stated sense of rightness that justice had been done. And there was another verse to this song.

Tucker Carlson went on a fresh, yet customary extremist rant, this time declaring that public support for George Floyd is “an attack on civilization.” There’s more to his hateful outburst, but I can’t bring myself to put it here. You’ll have to link through if you want to experience his full lunacy and cruelty. And do bear in mind that this hate monger is considered a leading candidate to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2024.

Click the pic for the story

Of course, it isn’t just Carlson saying hateful things. You can cruise the righty outposts and find lots of sticking up for the police, for example, even if they’re murderers. And no, I don’t mean the “one bad apple” defense. It’s more an absolutist devotion to turf protection, much like George W. Bush’s absolutist, “You’re either with us or you’re against us” polarization and evilization (yes, I made up that word). They are staunch supporters of “qualified immunity” for cops who violate people, giving them carte blanche to do inhumanity as they please without fear of consequences.

Perhaps America has always been this way. I’m reading Kurt Andersen’s Fantasyland to find out more. For now, just take it on faith (odd to use that phrase in this age of unreason*) that we have always had such highly opinionated absolutists who believe that whatever thought comes into their heads is a fact – the true reality – just because they believe it.

CAUTION: Don’t believe everything you think.

I heartily recommend that you look at lawfareblog.com for a thorough, even-handed and interesting description of qualified immunity. An argument offered there in favor of qualified immunity is,

” .  .  .  it would be unfair to hold government officials to constitutional rules they were not aware of at the time of the violation.”

I find that monstrously odd, in that if I violate a constitutional rule I didn’t know about, well, you know the deal: ignorance of the law is no excuse. How come it shouldn’t work that way for cops?

Lawfareblog.com also reported,

“The court wrote that ‘there is the danger that fear of being sued will dampen the ardor of all but the most resolute, or the most irresponsible [public officials], in the unflinching discharge of their duties.’”

Aren’t we all supposed to fear being sued for our malfeasance? You know, the accountability thing?

Here’s my favorite:

“When government officials are sued, qualified immunity functions as an affirmative defense they can raise, barring damages even if they committed unlawful acts”

At least that one makes sense, because every one of us has a Get Out Of Jail Free card, right? Check your wallet for yours.

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April 27, 2021

Related to bad cop defenders and to Tucker Carlson in their absolutism are those who refuse to wear a mask to prevent the spread of Covid-19 because wearing a mask is such an awful infringement on their rights and their freedom.

There are tens of thousands of new cases of Covid in this country every day, but, hey, we’re only killing a few hundred of those people. After seeing the number of Covid deaths in the thousands every day for so long, perhaps we’re immune to the grim reality of the deaths of a few hundred. That’s understandable, unless you are one of them.

So, for our mask-less, I have a new offering. Please pass it along to your favorite mask refuser.

A Question For Our Mask-less

It is your right, of course, to mask or not to mask.

There’s just one curiosity, and so I’ll dare to ask.

We know that 81% of deaths are of the aged,

The old folks who succumb by going past the bad end stages.

But you aren’t in that old folks group, you’re young and strong and healthy,

And maybe you’re well-health insured, with no need to be wealthy.

And if you catch the Covid bug it’s likely that it’s true,

That you won’t get much sicker than if you had caught the flu.

All that is true, there is no doubt, and this is also true,

That Covid threat is bigger and it’s not just all ‘bout you.

Because your mask-less face is like a vacuum to the bug,

Thanks go to JA for the cartoon.

Your mouth and nose can suck it in, and you become a thug.

A thug infected even if you haven’t symptom one,

You’ll pass it on, infecting more, a virus shooting gun.

And maybe when you visit Gramps and kiss him on the cheek,

It all seems quite so normal, but that changes when you speak.

Because the bug will slip your lips and entered Grandpa’s nose,

And now he’s been infected and you know where that tale goes.

Which leads us to the question now, so here’s my single ask:

What the hell is that about when you refuse to mask?

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*Nerd readers may enjoy a short book review of Our Age of Unreason; A Study of the Irrational Forces in Social Life, by Franz Alexander. In it the reviewer relates how philosophers through the ages, “.  .  .  were unable to formulate a political psychology which would enable man to bring his repressed destructive and rivalrous impulses under control for more than a brief period.” That was in 1942. Here we are now with our destructive and rivalrous impulses blazing throughout our culture in a war of irrationality.

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

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, 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.

JA


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

Speak


On Saturday I attended the Rally After the Verdict, organized by the Abolition Coalition of Skokie, IL and supported by the NAACP of Evanston. The point, of course, was to open eyes to the need for action, that the verdict isn’t the end of the story.

Indeed, some don’t even see it as a victory. One speaker told us she’s a school teacher and one of her students told her – and this is close to verbatim – that celebrating the jury’s guilty verdicts against Derek Chauvin was like applauding a fish for swimming.

Chauvin was so obviously guilty of murder – we all know what we saw – that it’s something of a wonder that there could be a question in anyone’s mind of his guilt. And I know in my bones that this verdict is just a small stepping stone on a very long path, but it is movement. So much is needed in mankind’s eternal struggle and our ongoing national struggle for freedom and justice, which leaves me with a notion of what is required.

Last week I taught a class for a friend who is a professor at Florida Gulf Coast University. I focused on how our politics work and how that affects whether we Americans are getting what we want. For example, since the slaughter of those little kids at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 over 90% of us have wanted universal background checks before the transfer of ownership of any firearm. That we don’t have that speaks both to the power of the gun lobby and the enormous amounts of money legislators have to raise in order to win an election. The point is that there are powerful reasons why we aren’t getting what we want – including liberty and justice for all – and things will remain this way until we make things change.

So, I told the students that they must speak up if they’re to get what they want, and that applies to you and me as well, of course, because,

If you don’t make your voice heard, people who want a very different America from the one you want will be heard, because they will be the only ones talking.

That’s right: If you go silent, they won’t shut up. They’ll continue pushing for what they want and you’ll have disempowered yourself. That’s why we all must speak up,

In 1966 Dr. Martin Luther King spoke at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, saying,

“I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.”

So do I. Go look in the mirror and you’ll know, too. That’s especially true for our younger people, our Millennials and Gen Zs. They are going to live much farther into the future and we are right now, right this minute, crafting the America they and all of our descendants will inherit.

So, give some thought to a definition of your vision for America, the one you want to leave to your dear ones, especially those who will be here long after you and I are gone. They will be “We the People” then. What do you want their America to be?

As an example – and just a guess – you surely want them to have full voting rights. There are a lot of people working day and night right now to make sure that they don’t have those rights and that they will never have a voice. That’s why our future “We the People” need you to speak up for them right now.

Speak. And keep on speaking. Let your voice ring out for the America you believe in.

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Bonus Section

Here’s a Star Wars prelude to the prediction of Gianna Floyd, George Floyd’s daughter, who said, “My daddy is going to change the world.”

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

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, 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.

JA


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

Pizza and Water


The issue is not whether it should be illegal to give a slice of pizza and a bottle of water to an old lady waiting in line for hours to vote on a Tuesday in November in Georgia. Focusing there completely misses the point.

Our brilliant and frightened (read: deranged) White supremacist citizens know that their God given superiority is incrementally being challenged and that it will be gone very soon unless they take strongly discriminatory action. Actually, they’ve known this since 1619 and they successfully led us to our bloodiest war, thousands of lynchings and other murders, the economic suppression of millions, plus police shootings of unarmed Black males at a rate 3.5 times greater than that of Whites. It has all been done in service to a desperate, fear-stoked drive for power for themselves.

Nixon used dog whistles to divide Americans, as did Reagan, H.W. Bush and the beyond-the-edge, far right Republicans, like the Tea Party and now the Freedom Caucus. The calls to discrimination were perfected by Trump. He’s completely out of the slime cave and overtly White supremacist. The incremental claw-back to Jim Crow can be seen every day, now with 361 voter suppression bills in the states.

Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is about to sign a bill he initiated last year, the so-called Anti-Riot bill. Extremists will be glad to know that Florida will be protected by this legislation that puts teeth into attacking the First Amendment. Said one critic, “It is racist, extremist, militaristic and dangerous. This is not an anti-riot proposal. It is actually an anti-protest proposal. This is just a Republican effort designed to stop the rising tide of protest prompted by the police murder of George Floyd. The governor wants to criminalize peaceful protestors who are merely exercising their constitutional rights.”

Surely, you recall the protests following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year. Outrage went around the world and people of all colors, races and nationalities were in the streets. Some of the protests included idiots committing vandalism and theft. Too bad, because those fools gave right wing extremists the fertilizer (feel free to substitute your own term) to criticize and attack anyone not on the fringe right and to create legislation against peaceful protesters, like that of Oberführer DeSantis. Indeed, his bill is a dog whistle serenade to his White supremacist base, which I’m sure will help him in his presidential bid in 2024. No need for concern over those whose rights will be squashed along the way, because they won’t be able to vote, anyway.

This Twitter thread is a MUST READ. Just click the pic. Many thanks to Jay Becker (@futureup2us) for pointing it out.

DeSantis, as self-serving and cruel as he is, is not alone. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is desperate for anything that will move the spotlight from his alleged sex crimes, so he’s partnered with QAnon nut case Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Arizona racist Paul Gosar (R-AZ) to found the America First Caucus. It is a blatantly White supremacist, love-to-hate effort cloaked in patriotic sounding distractions. You can download their 7-page manifesto here and get a flavor of it in this video. Either way it’s a call to hate and discrimination. Like DeSantis’ legislative dog whistles, this is a disingenuous “Look at me!” from these extremist representatives that is designed to appeal to “the base.”

Republicans want very much to restrict voting rights. That’s because they will become an extinct species if We the People actually have a democracy – i.e. majority rule. Republican Paul Weyrich, founder of the self-righteous Moral Majority and other right wing manipulation machines, said it plainly, clearly and publicly in 1980:

“I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the election, quite candidly, goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

Which is to say, the only way for Republicans to win is to stop millions of Americans from voting. So, gerrymandering, removing voters from voting rolls just because they missed the last election, closing polling places to make it difficult to vote, requiring IDs that are hard to obtain by poor people and all the other discriminations are just the things to keep those “others” down and to make sure White supremacy powers on. Instead of changing to become attractive to more voters, today’s Republicans are still channeling Paul Weyrich.

The Arizona RNC defended in court some Arizona laws that were undisguised discriminatory attacks on the Voting Rights Act. When questioned by Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett about the Arizona RNC’s interest in this issue, attorney Michael Carvin declared – and I’m not making this up – “Because it puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats.”

Translation (as if you need one): Republicans need to suppress the votes of Democrats in order to sustain their minority rule.

So, going back to the slice of pizza and bottle of water for the old lady still waiting hours to vote, the issue isn’t about the length of the line, the hours of waiting, the pizza or the water. The issue is solely that White supremacists want to sustain minority rule, so they don’t want her to vote. They gerrymandered her district to neuter her vote. They closed polling places to make voting take all day. The issue isn’t about pizza or water. The issue is minority rule fueled by racism and classism.

We humans are poor at detecting slow change; we tolerate it quite well. Our relative insensitivity has brought us overt racism in the White House (“fine people on both sides” and incitement to insurrection via The Big Lie), and in Congress. It infects our state houses with bills that are overtly discriminatory, anti-Constitution and anti-democracy. These laws are ready to pounce on our freedom and devour it.

HR1/SB1 – the For The People Act, aka the Voting Rights bill – has passed the House and awaits the Senate. It would eliminate much of our state voting discrimination, but House Republicans voted in lock step against it and Republicans in the Senate have all vowed to vote against it. Now, why would they be against voting rights?

Sadly, meanly, now you can be arrested for giving a slice of pizza and a bottle of water to that old lady waiting to vote and there is no relief for her in sight.

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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.

JA


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

RepublicanLand


This is not just another rant about anti-democracy, anti-fact, anti-truth, anti-progress Republicans. Sure, this is a rant and it’s fun to bash the bullies, but what Republicans are doing is amplifying their ingrained dishonesty to the point of imperiling our national bedrock. So, this is a semaphore signal or perhaps the ride of a descendant of Paul Revere. The turncoats are coming! The turncoats are coming! No, wait, it’s worse than that: they’re already here.


Let’s see what’s going on in RepublicanLand.

  1. Republican legislatures in at least 43 states have passed or are in process of passing at least 360 laws to make voting more difficult specifically for people of color, poor people and anyone else likely to vote for Democrats. Read Heather Cox Richardson’s take on this here.
  2. The House passed the For the People Act (the Voting-Rights bill) with zero Republican votes. This law would negate most of the pernicious state anti-voting laws. The Senate has promised similar opposition. Are you seeing a pattern yet?
  3. Republicans voted unanimously against the American Rescue Act, the bill that allows us to dramatically crank up the fight against Covid-19 and to help Americans who have been hit hard economically by the pandemic. This is a bill that has a 70% approval rating by Republican voters and even greater approval numbers from Democrats and independents. And all Republicans voted against it. They are trying to keep Democrats from having any wins to brag about and it’s painfully clear that they don’t care who – perhaps you – gets hurt by their scorched earth actions.
  4. They have vowed to vote in lock step against the American Jobs Plan, the infrastructure building/rebuilding initiative that is already supported by 52% of the electorate and that number is growing. Same reason as #3 above.
  5. The proposed funding for the American Jobs Plan is an increase in taxes on corporations from 21% to 28% (it was 35% prior to the Trump tax giveaway) and on people making over $400,000 per year. This is an overwhelmingly popular idea, but Republicans in Congress oppose it. Same reason as #3 above.
  6. Gun safety has once again come to the front burner and Republicans oppose any form of legislation to curb our ongoing massacre. They continue to do that even as 90% of Americans want universal background checks on the transfer of all firearms and that number has been a constant since Sandy Hook in 2012. Think: campaign contributions and yet again, #3 above.

What all of these and even more Republican manipulations have in common is that they are efforts by a minority of Americans to hold on to power, control, money and a frail, fragile self-image. They either refuse to or are unable to create policies to attract more voters in order to win elections, so,

their sole efforts are to protect themselves at the peril of our nation through obstruction in Congress and obstruction at the ballot box.

.

I bash Republicans regularly because they offer virtually nothing that is praise-worthy. The party has been taken over by a rage-filled mob and traditional Republicans, unable to deal with the craziness, are exiting. Would that this were not so, but this is what passes for the Grand Old Party today. Perhaps that acronym should keep its letters but now mean Grand Obstruction Party.

And that is exactly why we must be vigilant and active. Absent our involvement, this underhanded minority will steal our entire country.

The April “The Lady Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks” Award

This month the awarding of this most sarcastic honor is (so far) nearly a toss up.

On the one hand we have Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Hypocrisy) wailing his objections to corporations that are weighing into politics, like voting rights. He says that’s “stupid.” How awful and inappropriate, he tells us, that MLB took the All Star Game from Georgia and Coca-Cola, Home Depot and more big corporations have offered public criticism of Republican voting suppression laws. McConnell waves his political purity for all to see, even as he gleefully solicits and accepts corporate campaign contributions. He doth, indeed, protest too much.

On the other hand we have Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Pluto) and his alleged sex scandals and whatever else the Feds are investigating about him. He’s a purist, a Trumpian blowhard of Olympian caliber who apparently engages in the same or similar practices as Trump himself, including howling his integrity and his victimhood in incoherent rants. His only two supporters are Rep. Marjory Taylor Green (R-QAnon) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Wrestling Scandal). I guess the congressmen to whom he showed pictures of his female conquests in the nude couldn’t speak up on his behalf. Perhaps they liked the pictures and maybe their giggles echo yet in the House cloakroom, but they’re kinda busy just now, it seems. Still, Gaetz caterwauls his abusive indignation to anyone who will stand still long enough to hear about his untaintedness. He doth protest too much, too.

Whom to choose  .  .  . ?

I can’t help but recall televangelist Jim Bakker, who was a fire and brimstone preacher against dishonesty of any kind, right until he was indicted and convicted of fraud and conspiracy. Same for all preachers who extolled purity, then were caught in sex scandals, like Jerry Fallwell, Jr., Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart and more.

And all the Catholic priests preaching against sin while sexually violating children.

Really, it’s all the holier-than-thou types whom we at last learn have feet of clay.

Like today’s Republicans in Congress and state houses, protecting the sanctity of voting by preventing citizens from voting. And it’s all happening in the land of minority rule, RepublicanLand.

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Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, 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.

JA


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

Survival


Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI)

“The single greatest threat to our security right now is domestic terrorism and the tensions and polarizations between us.”

Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), former CIA Agent, now serving on the House Homeland Security Committee.

Given her security background and current access to national security information, it seems likely she knows what she is talking about.

I wrote of that same concern in a recent post and some of my words were picked up in a very clever Star Wars format video that you can see below. Many thanks to reader Bob Beltran for his creativity.

The key words from both are:

In the absence of the Republican Party and with Trump soon to be headed to prison, the nation will face its most threatening foe: domestic terrorism. All that stands against this hateful enemy is “We the People” in a desperate fight for democracy.

The words “absence of the Republican Party” refers to:

⋅  The incremental departure of moderates and conservatives from the GOP, leaving only extremists

⋅   The decades-long GOP negation of anything Democrats propose, regardless of the needs and desires of the citizenry – ”  .  .  .  the modern G.O.P. is allergic to any proposal to spend taxpayer money to advance the public good.” – Paul Krugman

⋅   The de facto abdication of fact and reason as official Republican Party policy

What is left in Congress are people on a self-important power trip that is long on puffery, slogans and inaction and short on observable facts and useful policy. That is increasingly leading us to a two party system of Democrats versus domestic terrorists flying a GOP banner. That’s dangerous stuff, especially in the hands of politicians who believe QAnon conspiracies and are beholden to citizens with firearms and the inclination to use them. Our very survival as a democracy is threatened.

There’s more.

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I continue to be amazed by President George Washington’s prescient comments in his Farewell Address of 1796. He used a great deal of it to direct caution against the nefarious acts of “factions,” by which he meant political parties. His primary concern was the action of men loyal to party over country.

Bear in mind that this was then a new country and the states were only loosely connected, making the union vulnerable to sabotage by vested interests, like political parties. That was his context and his concerns for our republic were well founded. Crucially, his concerns remain applicable for our republic even today. Here is one piece of his warning:

” .  .  .  [parties] are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government  .  .  .  “

Hold that thought.

From The New York Times: On Politics newsletter of March 25:

“State-level Republican lawmakers have proposed hundreds of bills this year that would tamp down voting rights  .  .  .  “

In that same newsletter they report:

“Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, said that states simply ‘are not engaging in trying to suppress voters whatsoever’.”

Really, Mitch? How would you explain to President Washington the over 250 Republican Party/Faction bills in 43 states that have been described by many as Jim Crow 2? Like the Georgia law that makes it a felony to give water to people standing in line for 8 hours to vote. Bear in mind that their wait is primarily due to states shutting down polling places in non-White and poor areas.

Back to George Washington.

McConnell’s posturing and manipulation now look a great deal like the very ”  .  . . [usurpation] for themselves the reins of government” by “cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men” about which Washington warned us. And even McConnell’s disingenuousness seems almost tame compared to the outright anti-American insurgency that is much of the GOP in Congress. Don’t tell our first president about that. He warned us.

So, instead We the People must focus on the survival of our democracy. This is no spectator sport, so, TAG – WE’RE IT.

Special Note: Washington’s Farewell Address is read in full in Congress at the start of every new Congress. Even so, the Republicans just can’t seem to remember his message.

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2022 Winter Olympics

With the reasonable assumption that the pandemic will be under control by February next year, likely many people are planning a trip to China for the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. But does attending these Olympics send the wrong message to that brutal and dangerous regime? Would attending be counter-productive for the free world?

I recommend that you read what Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) has to say about that before making travel plans. He has a nuanced proposal that is well worth our consideration.

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

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


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

Liberal and Most Illiberal


Liberal

New York Times conservative columnist Bret Stephens has an interesting post on our politics. He says we’re not divided by liberal versus conservative; we’re divided by liberal versus illiberal. Here’s what he says liberal democracy is supposed to be:

By “liberal,” I don’t mean big-state welfarism. I mean the tenets and spirit of liberal democracy. Respect for the outcome of elections, the rule of law, freedom of speech, and the principle (in courts of law and public opinion alike) of innocent until proven guilty. Respect for the free market, bracketed by sensible regulation and cushioned by social support. Deference to personal autonomy but skepticism of identity politics. A commitment to equality of opportunity, not “equity” in outcomes. A well-grounded faith in the benefits of immigration, free trade, new technology, new ideas, experiments in living. Fidelity to the ideals and shared interests of the free world in the face of dictators and demagogues.

If he’s right in his definition (and I think he is), then we’re not even hitting the liberal barn door today, much less the center of the bulls eye painted on it. And “illiberal” is probably too cozy a term. It’s more like outright hostility to democracy.

Perhaps ’twas ever thus, but we’re living in an age when outrageousness and high volume dominate. Given our wealth of venues for instant dissemination of whatever drivel dribbles from lips and finger tips, that makes every blowhard a blow torch that easily burns down decorum, critical thinking and even our sense of reality.

Stephens’ column was nicely book-ended by that of Ross Douthat, who wrote that voting restrictions aren’t really as impactful as lefties think they are. I wonder what response he’d get if he were to run that by the people in North Carolina where most polling places in Black areas were closed and people were forced to travel long distances and wait for hours to vote. Did he check in with the voters in Georgia and Florida whose names were removed from the voting roles solely because they missed voting in the last election? So many questions, so little liberal democracy.

Most Illiberal

In an interview on the Joe Pags show Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Racism) spoke of the insurrection against the Constitution on January 6, declaring,

“I knew those are people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, so I wasn’t concerned.”

“Now, had the tables been turned — now, Joe, this will get me in trouble — had the tables been turned and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.”

Never mind that the rioters clearly didn’t love this country – they were attacking it – and rather than “never do anything to break the law,” they were in constant violation of the law. And no, they didn’t honor Blue Lives Matter, either – they attacked over 140 police officers. And let’s ignore his blatant racism implicit in “I might have been a little concerned” if the rioters were BLM or Antifa. Instead, let’s look at how Johnson defended himself against the justified excoriation of his racist comments.

“This isn’t about race, this is about riots. I have been attacked and criticized because I pushed back on the narrative that there were thousands of armed insurrectionists, and that’s just a small part of the 74 million Americans that voted for President Trump that also need to be suspect of being potential domestic terrorists or also potentially armed insurrectionists. This is a false narrative, and so the few of us that push back on that we get mercilessly attacked.”

Since making his disingenuous comments, Johnson has been roundly accused of slimy, miserable scum bucket racism. Full disclosure: those are my adjectives and not necessarily those of all the senators, congressmen/women, pundits and ordinary folk who have called him out.

As you can see by his last sentence, he has advanced to the next step of despotic manipulation as instructed by Trump. After doing his own version of “fine people on both sides,” Johnson has taken refuge in sulking, declaring himself a poor victim. Just look what those unfair critics have done to him!

Ron Johnson is so morally bankrupt that he isn’t worth this much space in a blog post, except for one thing: he speaks for all the Americans who manage to rationalize their fear and hatred and notions of supremacy, somehow justifying their joy in discrimination. Holding him up as a fine example of this cowardliness is useful.

Michael Gerson says Johnson is no outlier. Writing in The Washington Post he says,

“There have always been bigots with access to a microphone. But in this case, Johnson did not face the hygienic repudiation of his party. Republican leaders preferred a different strategy: putting their fingers in their ears and humming loudly. Republicans have abolished their ideological police.”

“It matters whether leaders delegitimize hatred or fertilize it; if they isolate prejudice or mainstream it. If political figures base their appeal on the cultivation of resentment for some group or groups, they are releasing deadly toxins into our society without any idea who might be harmed or killed. Such elected leaders might not have blood on their hands directly, but they are creating a society with more bloody hands.”

To be clear, I do not know if Ron Johnson (or any other illiberal posing as a Republican) is feeble minded, galactically ignorant or if he is a vicious, pandering liar. I do know that he is dangerous because he perpetuates hatred that does more than upset people; it gets people killed and it can upend our democracy. That pleases Vladimir Putin, whose propaganda Johnson and other Republicans trumpeted loudly in the last election and beyond. Johnson, like so many other chaos generators, is actively working against America, and that is very illiberal. Read this from Anne Applebaum.

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

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


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

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