Domestic Policy

Empathy v2.0


Addendum to Can We Stop Wringing Hands?

Last Thursday President Biden borrowed portions of the speech I wrote for him and imposed a requirement for being vaccinated or tested at least weekly  in most venues where the federal government has strong influence or control.

He doesn’t have the power to require teachers, staff and school children to be vaccinated or wear masks, because control of schools lies with the states, so he did the two things he could do there. First, he called out the governors who are doing so much to make things more dangerous. Second, he implored them to stop endangering the lives of children and make vaccinations and masks mandatory in schools. Note that vaccines for children under 12 won’t be available for a while, perhaps not for months.

As smack-downs go, the President’s last Thursday’s was mild, but it was a smack-down nonetheless.

While the right wing echo chamber is buzzing with hyperbolic idiocy over all of this, public sentiment is largely with President Biden and support will grow, as people see the infection, hospitalization and death rates plummet. The Biden approval rate will continue to climb as we become a healthier nation and the economy recovers.

Perhaps President Biden has made the time come sooner when we can stop wringing hands over this pandemic.

Empathy

I’ve moved quite a bit in my thinking about those who wear pandemic blinders, from their denial of the reality of the pandemic itself, to mask and vaccine refusal, to embracing conspiracies and to full-on temper tantrums on airplanes. I’ve struggled to understand the extreme right behavior that is to their significant detriment, but now I think I’ve found part of an explanation.

Tressie McMillan Cottom writes a new newsletter for the New York Times and in her first post she dug into what’s driving millions of Americans to refuse to do the simple things that will protect themselves and others. She included in her post part of her conversation with Martha M. Crawford, a psychotherapist and clinical social worker. Here are some of her comments.

Tressie: Still, I cannot deal with the Americans who are insane as it pertains to Covid denialism. What is up with them?

Martha: This is practically a Freudian notion of a kind of manic defense against death .  .  .  It is like the horror hasn’t hit them yet. They’re in an initial, almost ecstatic phase of grief where you’re just so relieved .  .  .  that you’re alive, you had your toes curled on the dip so you didn’t fall in. There’s a kind of manic response that is activated and grandiose and inflated by massive, collective crisis .  .  .

On this [denial] territory, there is no culture that is plugged into the radio, television, or reads books, that hasn’t been indoctrinated to believe in this kind of notion of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.

Okay, these refusers are denying death and invoking invulnerability, and all their experiences and exposure to ways of being are focused on bootstraps and individuality. That’s pretty psycho, but understandable.

Click for The Onion story.

My notion is that you can amplify this explanation with a thunderclap of attitude: “YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!” turbocharged by, “I’LL SHOW YOU!” (Caps and italics added to indicate shouting/screaming, like crazy people on airplanes and at school board meetings.)

Let’s be sure to cut some slack for those who waited for full FDA approval of vaccines out of an intellectually honest concern. By now, though, all vaccines have been fully vetted for a while and these folks should be fully vaccinated. If any are not, their reluctance is driven by something else.

I began this section stating that I have moved in my thinking about these refusers. At first I was puzzled and looked for explanations for why people would do self-harming things. I was concerned for their health and safety, too. You know, empathy.

Then it dawned on me that they were harming others and I was angry about that. My empathy shifted to be mostly for those others, including our frontline healthcare folks.

My primary interest is that they don’t take others down with them. I don’t have inside information, but I’m betting they haven’t asked others if they’re willing to die with them as they have their tantrums. That puts these refusers into a bucket with homicidal maniacs.

There are vaccine mandates on the way and our refusers are going to be affected. I’d like to make their transition as easy as possible, so I offer this heartfelt freedom advice for those who refuse to be vaccinated:

You have the freedom to lose your job if you refuse to be vaccinated.

You have the freedom to be refused rail and air transportation.

You have the freedom to be refused entry into the supermarket, gym, movie theater, baseball or football game and even the next MAGA rally.

You have the freedom to continue to believe what you want, for example, that Covid vaccines are unproven, dangerous and that they contain tracking nanobots that will allow Bill Gates to know where you are at all times.

You have the freedom to believe that behind the vaccines is a socialist, child blood drinking, world domination bent cabal, and that vaccines will subject you to space lasers and will suck your precious bodily fluids (Dr. Strangelove).

You have the freedom to be infuriated by governmental interference in your absolute freedom and to proclaim your rights with your gasping, choking last breath.

There’s a long list of freedoms our refusers will enjoy if they continue to insist upon being a threat to our fellow citizens.

I want to be bigger than this, more loving, more equitable in my empathy. Right now, though, as refusers make war against medicine, science, learning, wisdom, the rule of law and any hint of sacrifice for others and for our common good, this is the best I can do.

Click me for the CDC report

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

Primitive Fixes to Complex Problems


I knew a man who was born in the 1930s and who was raised on the south side of Chicago in the South Shore neighborhood. It was a thriving area and parts were quite wealthy, with grand boulevards and fabulous houses. By the 1960s it was blighted, often an urban war zone. Drugs were everywhere, as were many unhappy, unwed mothers, and the racial make up had turned upside down, This guy was angry – livid, really – at what had happened to his world.

He blamed it all on “the Blacks.” He told me they were the cause of the demise of his neighborhood. He said all men who committed rape should be castrated. When I heard him say that he was talking about “the Blacks” and I intuited that he meant for this cure to be applied to Black rapists.

He said that the welfare system was encouraging wanton promiscuity. I don’t recall if he said that his castration idea should apply to all men involved in out-of-wedlock pregnancies, but it might have. He would utter such things with barely contained fury.

Of course, his cure was never adopted, but he wasn’t alone in imagining diabolical cures for what he saw as the societal ills and the wrongs of others. There was nothing new in such tyrannical beliefs.

John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem How The Women Went from Dover details the repugnant punishment of three women for speaking publicly about their Quaker beliefs, religion and morality in 1662 Dover. For their crimes, these women were stripped to the waist and lashed 10 times each, then dragged behind a wagon from town to town where the whipping process was repeated. Over and over their flesh was ripped open. Surely, that would cure the societal ill of women speaking up and challenging male supremacy and authority.

Gov. Abbott signs the Texas vigilante powered anti-abortion bill, surrounded by 7 women and over 50 men. Click the pic

Now the Republican governor and legislators of Texas have instituted a cure for what they think of as our societal ill of abortion. It’s the same problem of insecure men wanting to impose their will and their position of dominance over others. To be fair to Texas, theirs is simply the most current and blatant attempt at this. Mississippi’s anti-abortion law will be tested in a gerrymandered, far right Supreme Court in the next session. Other cases are sure to follow, as they have repeatedly since 1973.

Patriarchal rule has been the norm throughout recorded history. So has clan dominance and fear and hatred of “others.” We’ve made inroads toward equal rights, but the pull of ancient ignorance is a powerful force, now dressed up in certainties of self-serving, chest-thumping, disingenuous language.

Simplistic, myopic thinking invariably leads to simple, draconian fixes to imagined ills that serve only a frightened, angry minority. People always pay a heavy price when these ancient prejudices are  allowed to succeed.

Speaking of Primitive Fixes

Florida, our leading unofficial clinical trial for spreading Covid infection and death, may expand the range of products available to treat patients suffering from the virus. A commissioner of Polk County, Florida, Neil Combee, composed a letter to that state’s governor proposing a game of medical Russian Roulette for stricken Floridians. In it he requested that Gov. DeSantis (R-Wuhan) promote a “Right to Try” law for treating Covid.

Think: ivermectin, a livestock de-wormer, and hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, neither with any efficacy data to support their use in treating Covid or any other virus.

The full county board put the kibosh on sending that letter, invoking the Bat Shit Crazy clause of the county procedural rules. Nevertheless, Combee may be on to something in promoting alternative treatments. Here’s why.

Two days after the Trump inaugural balls in 2017, the ones Trump financially skimmed, Kellyanne Conway stood on the lawn of the White House and defended against Chuck Todd’s interview question. He had asked why brand new press secretary Sean Spicer had blatantly and repeatedly lied at his first press briefing. She poured out a torrent of words, including saying that Spicer had given “alternative facts.” Many of us know those by another name: “lies,. But “alternative facts” sounds better to the true believers.

Indeed, the administration and the entire Republican Party gave us an ongoing tsunami of alternative facts to push their reality into an alternative universe. Oddly enough, those alternative facts are still pouring out from right wing alternative humans.

Alternative facts seem to have worked for those people, so alternative treatments for Covid, why not?

Given the possible expansion of Covid treatment options in Florida and the apparent success of alternative facts, here’s the email I sent to my friend Bob in Miami:

Hey, Bob, sorry you got the Covid. No worries, pal. I heard that Tucker Carlson and a couple of radio guys say that a shot of hemlock with a Jack Daniels chaser will get Covid off your mind.* You’ll have a right to try it, buddy. The commissioner wants you to have options and Gov. DeSantis is for it, right? Go for it!

No need to let me know how that worked out for you, Bob. Pretty sure I’ll know.

This is called the “So Long, Bob” Covid cure. Not available in most states. Void where prohibited. Your mileage may very, but not much. Just ask Socrates. Oh, wait – you can’t, because he died from drinking hemlock.

* DISCLAIMER:

I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but .  .  .

DO NOT take medical advice from this or any other Jax Politix post. For medical advice, always consult your doctor, rather than anyone focused on their own political career or cable ratings or online Likes. 👍

Friday, September 17, 2:00PM CDT – Media Matters

From Sheila Markin:

Angelo Carusone will talk about what Media Matters does and how they do it. Super smart guy. He talks really fast and thinks even faster. [He’ll tell you where disinformation comes from and how they track it and tell reporters and lawmakers about their findings, how they are getting Fox News hosts removed and [how they’re] fighting disinformation elsewhere. I know you will enjoy meeting him and asking him questions. It should be a lively discussion.

You’ll want to stream this FEEEBIE session. To do so, email Sheila at

[email protected]

and let her know you want in.

Make this even better: Pass this along to your friends and family and invite them, because a key to fighting disinformation is to be informed and smart about it. I mean, really, you can’t fight disinformation without having information.

Finally

I hope you used a little of your Saturday to remember and honor those directly impacted by 9/11, as well as our nation. There are plenty of lessons to be had, but now it’s a time to simply remember and honor.

I find myself deeply affected still by those who lost someone in the Towers, the Pentagon and in Shanksville. Their loss was and is compounded so painfully by our national shock. And I still cannot fathom the torment of that awful choice so many had to make between being burned alive or jumping to their death.

Perhaps the most profound for me are the firefighters who charged up the stairs of the towers and the military and first responders who went into the Pentagon to rescue those injured or trapped, this at a time when every survival instinct was screaming at them to get out. Hundreds paid the full price for their selfless courage. Although most wouldn’t like the title, they are heroes, all.

I was at Ground Zero just a few short weeks after. It was stunning and penetrating in so many ways. Remind me to tell you about it some day.

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

From The Resolute Desk . . .


.  .  .  in the Oval Office, The President of the United States
.

Folks, I’m here tonight to focus on patriotism, because we have some terrible things going on. it’s time for some straight talk.

Our people are becoming infected with Covid-19 at a horrific and worsening rate. Over 1,500 of our fellow citizens are dying every day and the number keeps going up.

We’ve done everything we can from the White House to encourage the basic things that we know will protect our people, but it isn’t and cannot be enough. We need everyone pulling in the right direction and that just isn’t happening. This is a fight we absolutely have to win, so, as we used to say in Scranton, the gloves are coming off. It’s time for bare knuckles.

We knew at the beginning of this pandemic that the basics to beating it are to wear a mask, to socially distance and to wash hands well and often. A year later we had safe, highly effective vaccines and they became our big guns to beat this virus. If all those things are done, we can stop this virus in its tracks. But that isn’t happening and we know why.

The problem is that some governors and legislators are actively opposing those things that can save us. So are talking heads on cable, on TV, radio and online who are spewing lies, absurd, impossible conspiracies and who are spreading disinformation about phony cures for Covid. They’re hurting my people. They’re hurting you.

These state officials have enacted legislation to make it illegal to make kids and teachers wear masks in schools. That spreads the disease. They’ve terminated promotions for vaccines, closed vaccine delivery locations and opposed vaccine requirements. They’ve ridiculed those who wear masks in order to whip up voter outrage and, by extension, they’ve incited others to ridicule, threaten and even attack our citizens who are doing the right things.

These governors and legislators have effectively encouraged the spread of the virus to you and the people you love and it might kill you all. I see these officials as complicit in homicide and you should, too. After all, they’re gunning for you.

There is plenty of speculation about why these officials would intentionally put Americans at risk. Some have speculated that they’re trying to be seen as tough guys in order to appeal to their “base.” They want to be thought of as anti-establishment guys, even as they’re leaders in the establishment. Others have offered that they don’t want to slow the virus, because an expanding pandemic harms our economy and they can then attack me for leading a sluggish economy during the next two election cycles. What we know for sure is that they are intentionally putting Americans at risk.

They have their phony patriotism excuses to justify their treachery. They tell you that having to wear a mask is an abridgement of their freedom. So, too, they tell us, is having to be vaccinated. Well, here’s the truth.

The freedom of every one of us is abridged. it’s what has to happen if we are to live together in safety and security. Here are some examples.

We all have to stop for stop lights and stop signs. We don’t have the freedom to just blast through every intersection when we want to, because if we did that we would kill one another.

All of our kids have to be vaccinated against measles, because if they weren’t we would have a deadly epidemic. We know that’s true, because that’s what used to happen before we had a vaccine. We don’t have the freedom to refuse those vaccines and get kids killed.

None of us has the freedom to wantonly attack others or steal their property.

I could list a lot more examples, but it’s clear that we must have limits to individual freedom and the reasons for those limits are obvious.

That’s why it’s so repugnant that these governors and legislators who know the truth are hiding behind some imagined Constitutional right to do whatever we want, whenever we want. And they’re encouraging others to claim the absolute freedom defense for their behavior, but that’s killing our friends and neighbors and our kids.

We used to have something called shame. It used to be in the United States that we would call out someone who did something shameful, saying “Shame on you!” Sadly, we’ve had so much lying and cheating for so many years that the concept of shame seems to have been overwhelmed and the word itself can seem to be just some old, outdated thing. But I tell you it is not.

We have people in power doing shameful things. They are personally responsible for their despicable words and actions that hurt Americans and I’m calling them out. To those governors and legislators: Shame on you!

And to those talking heads on cable, on TV, radio and online who are lying to you with their preposterous claims and dishonest accusations, “Shame on you, too!

To We the People: You know when you’re being lied to and you know that those threatening your health are lying when they dump phony excuses on you that put you at risk.

We have an election in 14 months. Vote out of office those liars who imperil you and your kids. They’ve already proven that they aren’t worthy of your trust. And stop listening to the blabbers in the media who are lying to you and advising you to do things that will imperil your life and lead you to hate your neighbors.

To those leaders who threaten my people: You have time to do some honest things before you’re given the boot. Doing so won’t right the wrongs you’ve done and we won’t forget, but at least you can begin to treat people with dignity, respect and caring. A little contrition will go a long way. It will be good for your soul.

So, start now. No more lies. No more hiding behind a false version of our flag. Get out and promote vaccinations and the wearing of masks. Do it every day in every venue. Tell people the truth, that they’re too important to refuse these basics and that it’s their patriotic duty to be vaccinated and masked in order to protect all of us. Tell my people to do it for their kids, for all of our kids and for Granny. Tell them our national security depends on us being healthy.

Then tell your constituents you’re sorry for having lied to them and put them at risk, and you’re especially sorry for all those who suffered and died due to your malfeasance.

Folks, our troops are stationed all over the globe, doing their duty to protect us and our way of life. They never let us down and we must not let them down. We must do our duty. Get vaccinated and wear a mask. That’s what patriots do. That’s what patriotism looks like.

May God bless America and may God protect our troops.

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

Do You Smell What I Smell?


In another effort to quash the will of the majority of its citizens, the state of Texas passed a draconian anti-abortion law that effectively outsources law enforcement to vigilantes. The Supreme Court refused to issue an injunction to stop the law from taking effect before a full review of its breathtakingly unconstitutional provisions could be examined.* Effectively, abortion has been criminalized in Texas and enforcement of the law has been handed to bounty hunters, who have been offered cash prizes for spying on neighbors.

Historian and Professor Heather Cox Richardson puts it this way:

“The Republican Party is empowering vigilantes to enforce their beliefs against their neighbors.”

Ordinary citizens with nothing more than greed, strong opinions and with no training are now allowed to file lawsuits against anyone even remotely associated with an abortion, even those just having a conversation with a woman who may be thinking about it. They don’t even have to show harm to themselves to have standing to sue others for $10,000 or more, others who are doing Constitutionally protected things, even just having a conversation. That effectively makes these vigilantes the Thought Police** and trashes the First Amendment.

Regardless of how you feel about abortion, the worst part of this law is not that, even as harmful to women as this Texas hypocrisy is. It is about empowering vigilantes to perform the duties of the state in order for the state to avoid judicial review. Now, think about what that could mean.

Texas could enact another law that outsources collecting tax penalties to vigilantes, that encourages armed, ignorant citizens to pursue those they imagine have broken the law, that can allow extremists to sue journalists and news organizations to penalize their adverse reporting of politicians. The state can just turn everything over to crazed vigilantes and effectively do an end run around the courts.

You know, like in Germany in the 1930s and 40s. Like in the communist Soviet Union. Like in all repressive states. Neighbors turning on neighbors.

We already know what mobs of impassioned, self-important people can and will do. We saw that on January 6 at our Capitol Building. Now imagine such people up close and personal. They’re delusional about their patriotism and notions of godliness. They’re untrained and uninformed greedy bounty hunters rampaging through your neighborhood pretending they’re trained police officers and looking for you to sue you into bankruptcy.

Perhaps the worst part of this is that the extremist Republican Supreme Court justices could have stopped this plainly unconstitutional lunacy with an injunction, but they refused to do so. They allowed this law to go into effect without even having heard the case against it, which is coming before the court soon. They have abandoned the rule of law. Clearly, something needs to be done about this extremist court, because they aren’t done “legislating their ideology from the bench.”

Another Texas law makes it legal for gun toting vigilantes to roam around polling places – inside – and intimidate voters. The Texas hits just keep on coming.

These laws are sure to be copied by other minority rule, extremist Republican controlled states and we’ll have Wild West, blatantly unconstitutional actions all across our nation.

Let’s see: The Republicans have given us legally sanctioned vigilantism; minority rule; measures to encourage the infection of citizens with a deadly disease; horrific voter suppression; abandonment of the rule of law; refusal to hold cops accountable; refusal to extend healthcare to poor people; encouragement of insurrection; concealed carry and stand your ground laws that make murder legal; lies and cruel fictions replacing facts and truth; a rejection of science and a celebration of ignorance; bloated enrichment of the already wealthy and the impoverishing of our poor and middle class citizens; the destruction of trust in our electoral system; the teaching of religion in our public schools; the promotion of White supremacy and the glorification of racism; the denial of global warming in favor of enriching their wealthy donors. What else?

In the 2020 general election campaign the Republican Party had no platform. They offered a single page of rah-rah. That’s it. They offered no declaration of what they were about or of their vision for America. Sadly, now we know what they’re about. Now we know their dystopian vision for the destruction of our democracy.

I smell tyranny. I smell authoritarianism and dictatorship. I smell fascism and it stinks.

Do you smell what I smell?

Wanna Fight This Insanity? Here’s How

Sheila Markin is a friend, the publisher of The Markin Report and she smells what’s burning, just as you do. If you haven’t yet subscribed to her posts, you truly need to. She just emailed me with news about a couple of Zooms I’m certain you’ll want to attend.

As you can see from the destructive laws being enacted in Texas and elsewhere to assault our rights and our democracy, there’s much we have to learn and much we have to do. To that end, Sheila has put together two educational 1-hour Zooms for us. These are being offered at no cost and there will be no requirement to donate. This is about making a critical difference. Here is the schedule.

September 17 at 2:00PM CDT – Media Matters will help us understand how they fight disinformation. Did you ever imagine that there would be a need to fight a constant tsunami of disinformation? Well, there is and you’ve known it for a while. We need to get smart about dealing with that.

September 24 at 2:00PM CDT – The 314 Project will explain how they are working to get doctors and scientists elected to Congress, as well as to state and local positions of leadership. Take just a moment to consider what it would be like if doctors had legislative input on medical issues and if scientists had input on issues of science, instead of such things being handled by self-serving, ignorance-loving, know-nothing  politicians. Breathtaking!

Note that in order to attend you need to email Sheila at [email protected] and let her know you’ll be there. That way you’ll be on the approved good-guy list for the presenters and the Zooms.

Please invite your friends, your network of contacts who are concerned about our country, who insist that our democracy survives these assaults from the radical right wing.
.

I’ll be there and will be looking for you.

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* You must read Justice Sotomayor’s blistering dissent. Download a copy of all the justices’ opinions. Sotomayor’s comments begin on page 7.

In reading her comments I was reminded of a college football cheer, paraphrased thusly:

“Rip ’em up, tear ’em up, give ’em hell, Sotomayor!”

** From Wikipedia:

“In the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), by George Orwell, the Thought Police (Thinkpol) are the secret police of the superstate Oceania, who discover and punish thoughtcrime, personal and political thoughts unapproved by Ingsoc‘s regime. The Thinkpol use criminal psychology and omnipresent surveillance via informers, telescreens, cameras, and microphones, to monitor the citizens of Oceania and arrest all those who have committed thoughtcrime in challenge to the status quo authority of the Party and the regime of Big Brother.”

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

Justice


Merrick Garland’s Justice Department

In an interesting and even-handed essay in the Washington Post Magazine, author David Montgomery lays out his view of the Merrick Garland Justice Department in Merrick Garland Won’t Deliver Your Catharsis. Montgomery reports that Garland’s view is that a return to norms and consistently doing the right things is the path to lead the public to regain a sense of trust in the department, a trust that was lost due to the Trump/Barr years of stomping on our trust. That seems sensible, but I don’t think that’s enough.

I’ve argued many times for the need for accountability, in large measure because a lack of it invites more egregious violations in the future, as history has taught us. Here’s a list of posts about that important point. Yet, Garland has said more than once, “I am not going to look backward.” That’s a problem.

Garland was the real time, on-site Justice Department guy following the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. He was in a similar position chasing down Ted Kaczynski, the Unibomber. In both cases he and the Justice Department looked backward. They had to, because they were investigating and prosecuting what had already been done. That’s what legal actions and law enforcement do. That’s how the law is upheld. That’s how justice is done.

And that’s why, “I am not going to look backward” regarding the prior administration doesn’t make sense.

Click the pic above to read Montgomery’s essay or download a PDF of it here. See if you agree that looking backward and holding wrongdoers accountable is possibly the most important duty of the Garland Justice Department.

Also about justice, and crucially so: If Congress doesn’t pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act, it really won’t matter what Merrick Garland’s Justice Department does, because democracy will soon be gone.

Special Section:

Gifts For Our Freedom-Of-Choice Mask & Vaccine Refusers

Many people have refused to be vaccinated because the vaccines do not yet have full FDA approval. They’re waiting for the completion of all the analyses in order to feel safe; only then will they agree to be vaccinated. You may not agree with their calculation, but at least they’re rational in their thinking.

In contrast are the millions who think that having to wear a mask or be vaccinated is an unpatriotic infringement of their freedoms and liberties. In the face of a worldwide pandemic that continues to morph into ever more dangerous forms, that position is worthy of proud, mindless chest thumping, but not much more. It is not rational in the face of the unavoidable spread of the disease and the certainty of it causing many more deaths, absent action to stop it.

All of these people are causing our hospital and our National Disaster Medical System personnel to live in a nightmare world of death and despair. How proud our freedom frenzied must be to know they’re creating so much suffering for others.

So, special for our freedom-of-choice mask and vaccine refusers, we offer:

This from Charles Blow:

Americans who are refusing to get — and are taking a stand against — the coronavirus vaccine are “determined to prove that they are right even if it puts them on the wrong side of a eulogy.”

And this address from John Pavlovitz:

Generations of Americans sacrificed family and future and body and breath, so that you could be pulled from the birth canal nestled in the warm embrace of the easy liberty you’ve come to believe you deserve.

Which makes it all the more tragic and shameful how little regard you have for that freedom now, how much you’re squandering it over and over because you’ve decided the simplest of requests are too much for you to bear and constitute an assault on your personal liberty.

How sad it is that our freedom frenzied refusers don’t seem to have what it takes to sacrifice for those who will come after them in the way their forebears did for them.

And finally, this from The Onion.

From The Onion. Click the pic for the important story

Covid Update

Now trending at 141,000 new cases every day, it’s clear that the messages still haven’t gotten through to those we most need to hear them.

New Covid cases, 8-20-21

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

Governors Gone Wild


It is with enormous pride that we announce the winners of the very first

Governors Gone Wild Awards!
.

Surely, there is a special place for governors of our states who have distinguished themselves as more mentally regressive and self-serving than the call of duty requires and this is it. We mustn’t wait another minute to bestow honors upon those in power who are so clearly complicit in the suffering and deaths of their constituents and who bareface pander to the basest among us.

We’ve known for over 18 months that social distancing, hand washing and face masks dramatically reduce the spread of the deadly virus that has swept across the entire world. We’ve known since February that the marvelous vaccines developed in record time prevent infection and the spreading of disease. They make the rare infections of vaccinated people more mild and there have been near-zero deaths of vaccinated people. Perversely, throughout that time there have been various officials who have mandated by law or by executive order prohibitions against local governments requiring the use face masks and mandating vaccines.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on August 6, furious over the press accurately reporting the Covid crisis in Florida

Now, neanderthal Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) has prohibited the establishing of local requirements for the use of face masks in Florida schools. This is a marvelous example of DeSantis caring not a bit about the children and adults who will get sick and pass along the disease to others. We have over 100,000 new cases every day. Many will die.

No problem for DeSantis, who proudly boasted to President Biden, “I am standing in your way.” DeSantis is all about thumping his chest at the President, this as his state, Florida, with just 6% of the population of the U.S., has 20% of the new Covid infections every day. DeSantis gets well earned alt-right brand identity points and our very first Governors Gone Wild Award. Pay no attention to his obviously being an accessory to homicide. That is to say, the disease is the home invasion killer. DeSantis holds the doors open for it to enter.

Not to be outdone,

Lawmakers in South Carolina, Iowa, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, and Utah have prohibited schools from requiring masks, and South Carolina, Iowa, Florida, Montana, Arizona, South Dakota, Texas, and Tennessee prohibit local governments from doing so.

That’s a lot of lawmakers who don’t care if kids and adults get sick and die and who have gone out of their way to refuse their duty to protect. Each is a dishonorable runner up for the first Award, although technically they aren’t eligible for it, not being governors themselves. But the governors in those states could have stopped their legislators from putting out the welcome mat for the Delta variant. Instead, they enthusiastically promoted and signed the legislation. Every one of them gets a Governors Gone Wild Award. Check the list to see if your governor is a winner.

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Gov. Bill Lee accepting an award from the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association on July 30, this as children were not being vaccinated.

I’ve reported here and here about the State of Tennessee and its well engineered efforts to eliminate all promotion of vaccines for children. They’ve decided that they don’t need vaccines to prevent polio, smallpox, measles and Covid. If kids die, hey, they die.

It seems that what Tennesseans do need is the vaccination of all cattle, which the state subsidizes, as reported by Politico, the AP and others. Apparently, protecting cattle in Tennessee is more important than protecting Tennessee’s children, as evidenced by the actions of Gov. Bill Lee. He’s clearly a Governors Gone Wild Award winner, too.

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Kevin Strickland was convicted 40 years ago in Missouri for a triple murder that he says he didn’t commit. Two others convicted of the crime also say he had nothing to do with the murders. Strickland was convicted solely on the basis of one witness who has recanted her testimony. And the prosecutor’s office that convicted him originally says, “This is a profound error we must correct now.” But Governor Mike Parsons (R-MO) is having none of that. He refuses to pardon Strickland, saying he shouldn’t be able to go the the front of the line for a pardon.

Perhaps you remember Patricia and Mark McCloskey, the Missouri lawyers who stood on their lawn with AR-15s and hand guns last summer and brandished them at BLM protesters who were peacefully walking by. The McCloskeys were convicted of minor crimes and then somehow went to the front of the line. Gov. Parsons promptly pardoned them on August 3. They never spent even a minute in prison.

Oh by the way, the McCloskeys are White and Kevin Strickland is a Black guy. The McCloskeys were easily able afford the very best defense; Kevin Strickland was poor and couldn’t even afford dinner. The McCloskeys have great appeal to far right voters; Strickland doesn’t appeal to any voters. The McCloskeys are free; Kevin Strickland is still in prison. Mark McCloskey is running for senate next year. Kevin Strickland is confined to a wheelchair and he isn’t running anywhere.

Gov. Parsons proudly blows off innocent man and pardons gun crazies

Gov. Parsons pardoned the McCloskeys. He put them at the front of the line. No waiting. Kevin Strickland can read about the McCloskeys’ pardons from his prison cell. He’s still innocent and he’s still waiting in line.

In addition, Gov. Parsons continues to speak out against mask mandates, even as Springfield, MO is an ongoing Covid disaster, with hospital administrators, doctors and nurses begging for help. Actually, all of southwest Missouri is close to a Code Blue.

Clearly, a Governors Gone Wild Award rightfully belongs to Gov. Parsons.

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A hearty congratulations goes to all of our intelligence abdicating Award winners. Their self-serving, knuckle-dragging refusal of their duties to protect their citizens is an example we all should recognize. This is, indeed, a proud moment to showcase their betrayals.

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Get The Impact of This

From McKinsey & Company:

Our analysis shows that the impact of the pandemic on K–12 student learning was significant, leaving students on average five months behind in mathematics and four months behind in reading by the end of the school year. The pandemic widened preexisting opportunity and achievement gaps, hitting historically disadvantaged students hardest. In math, students in majority Black schools ended the year with six months of unfinished learning, students in low-income schools with seven. High schoolers have become more likely to drop out of school, and high school seniors, especially those from low-income families, are less likely to go on to postsecondary education. And the crisis had an impact on not just academics but also the broader health and well-being of students, with more than 35 percent of parents very or extremely concerned about their children’s mental health.

The McKinsey folks have some ideas of what to do about this, so I encourage you to read their article.

For the moment, we all need to understand that the backward academic slide of our children has had substantial impact already. The diabolical actions of our Award winning governors threaten to make things worse both for our kids and for our country.

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Question of the Week

The basics:

There have been 4 instances of fraud identified in the 2020 election out of hundreds of millions of votes cast. Two of the four were people attempting to vote for Trump on behalf of their dead mothers.

Trump launched over 160 lawsuits claiming massive fraud in the 2020 election. All were laughed out of court for their total lack of evidence. I.e. Trump’s lawyers could not produce even one piece of evidence to support their claims of voter fraud.

The question:

Why is it that the Stop the Steal types, the Big Lie believers, the corporate donor manipulators, the political sycophants, the freedom cowboys, the angry militia members and others require no proof, no evidence of election wrongdoing to blindly believe the totally unsubstantiated election fraud accusations? No credit will be awarded for accurately citing our popular national shift to accusation = proof.

Extra points will be awarded if you include in your erudite explanation why anyone would believe the absurd, physically impossible, ever-more-outrageous conspiracy claims of QAnon.

Voltaire

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Quote of the Week

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire.

Read this post to find out how accurate and how truly terrifying Voltaire’s comment really is.

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Headline of the Week
A Texas GOP leader railed against vaccines and masks. Then he died of Covid.

Click here for the full, so very predictable story. I can’t imagine the karmic balancing on the way for our Award winners.

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

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

What’s Going On?


First, Something Personal

Parkinson’s Disease is a miserable critter. It strikes famous people like Michael J. Fox, Linda Ronstadt and Neil Diamond and it hits we little folk as well. Nobody knows what causes it, so nobody knows how to prevent it. It’s progressive (it gets worse over time), so all that can be done now for those stricken with Parkinson’s is to manage symptoms. There’s no cure – yet.

There are ongoing medical trials and much research happening, so hope continues, The research and trials take a long time and are very expensive. That’s why son Scott and Wendy and the boys have dedicated their hike of the John Muir Trail this month to raising money for the cause. If you click on their picture you’ll find a donation page for The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Your joining in this battle in any amount will be greatly appreciated by my family, others who suffer from this disease now and for the millions in the future who will have more hope because of your help. Thanks.

And please pass this along to folks you know. Post on FB, Twitter  .  .  .  you get the idea.

Kudos to all who make the extra effort to raise funds for worthy causes. We’re way proud of this particular extraordinary help-the-cause people. You rock, kids!

Now, On To What’s Going On

I reported last Wednesday about the State of Texas proudly committing itself to denial of facts and reality and ever more firmly embracing Texas myths. The governor himself tweeted proudly that Texas children should be taught that those who died at the Alamo are heroes. No facts need be presented to impressionable minds about the real motivation of these men to fight. We wouldn’t want them to learn that Mexico prohibited slavery, so the actual (not mythical) truth about the battle at the Alamo was that Texas independence from Mexico meant free labor in Texas cotton fields.

And that’s why Texans wanted independence from Mexico. Now I get it!

But Governor Greg Abbott doesn’t want Texas school children to get it, so he’s stifling education. Pay no attention to the fact that those heroes were only heroes to slave owners. Ignore that this is the state that took two extra years to tell its slaves that they were free. Nothing to see here. Move along.

The governor also doesn’t want to allow today’s Texans to be free. He’s promised to arrest all the Democratic state legislators who left Texas to prevent a vote on his draconian voter suppression laws. There is no law that those Democrats have violated by leaving the state, but Abbott wants to arrest them anyway. He intends to incarcerate them in the state Capitol Building until the end of this special session of the legislature.

And he did more.

Abbott dictatorially vetoed funding for the legislature the first time Democrats fled his inquisition to prevent his voter suppression from becoming law. That stiffing of legislators is being challenged in court, but what can’t be challenged is that Abbott is a dictator wannabe. He thinks he’s a candidate for the presidency in 2024. If so, he’s heading the Anti-Democracy ticket.

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This was part of the TN Department Of Health Covid vaccine promotion. It’s gone now.

“The Tennessee Department of Health will halt all adolescent vaccine outreach – not just for coronavirus, but for all diseases – amid pressure from Republican state lawmakers,” reports the Tennessean. The geniuses in the state legislature are also stopping all Covid-19 vaccine events on school property. Plus they’re ending mailed vaccination reminders to teens. All that and only 38% of Tennesseans have been vaccinated. What could possibly go wrong?

Oh, and they also fired Michelle Fiscus, the state’s top vaccination official. The hollow heads in Nashville are even talking about eliminating the state Department of Health altogether. Yes, really.

Vaccine hostility at CPAC, a brain-free hate fest. Click me.

Halting outreach for ALL vaccines means that the State of Tennessee is now allowing – even encouraging – the elimination of vaccines for measles, chicken pox, smallpox, hepatitis, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, HPV  and more. Who cares about epidemics that maim and kill children? Apparently, not the Republicans in the Tennessee state house and in the governor’s mansion.*

Perhaps they think we should revert to the medicine practices of hundreds of years ago, like leeches, blood letting, driving out evil spirits and purification by fire. Remember, this is the state that refused to allow children to be taught evolution. It looks like they’re on the way back there again. Maybe they can burn some witches and thereby Make America Great Again.

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As reported last Wednesday, the new members of the library board in Niles, IL want to cut back hours, programs and pay for librarians by 23%. I guess the Enlightenment is so far back in our rear view mirror that we can now ignore its teachings and proudly go back to mass ignorance. Maybe the new library trustees will burn books and smash printing presses. Then they can cut the library budget by 100%.

As said about Nazis by Dr. Jones, Sr. in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,Goose stepping morons.”

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Tying It Together

All of this is being led by Republicans, who seem to be engaged in a frantic race for us to become mentally medieval. They are appealing to our most base animal instincts and would dumb us down to pounding drums in the forest. At the same time, they are scrambling for power in the most dishonest, anti-democracy ways possible. Here’s what happens when we put those two things together.

We get minority rule by autocrats – despots – dictators – leading an ignorant, uniformed public that can be manipulated into anything. We get theocracy and all its vile perversions, cruelties and suppression and a complete elimination of freedom. There has never been a theocracy that did not devolve into that and we have no reason to believe anything different will happen if the bible thumping, chest pounding, democracy smashing Republicans get their way.

Be clear that this isn’t about conservatism. There is nothing that today’s Republicans are doing that is even remotely conservative. They are anti-democracy radicals.

The actions in Texas and Tennessee and Niles, as well as children having been ripped from the arms of their parents at our southern border by the prior administration look cruel because they are, but John Pavlovitz cautions us that cruelty isn’t the point. Power is. And when some are grabbing and hoarding power, others are losing power. Others like us. Read David Frum’s Atlantic essay, There’s a Word for What Trumpism Is becoming.

The Founders didn’t have in mind that We the People should be ignorant peons enslaved by a cruel autocrat. Those conditions are exactly what led to our revolution. I sure as hell know those conditions are not what I have in mind for us and our country.

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* I recently had a nightmare about Nazis. Being an early Boomer I was raised in the aftermath of WW II when Nazi atrocities, the capture of Adolph Eichmann and so much more were commonly discussed. It’s likely I’m not alone in occasional recollections or even nightmares of those things. When I awoke I wondered if people born, say, 20 years after me – the late Boomers and those born after them – have such dreams. It’s probable they have no memories of talk of Nazi terror during their childhoods.

That’s a kid’s head poking out of that machine – an “iron lung”. It’s doing his breathing for him, because he can’t breath on his own. This was a common sight in the 1950s during that awful polio epidemic. I wonder if that kid survived.

Then my head scratching latched onto the Tennessee Republicans and their actions to cripple medical protection for children. I’m guessing that these politicians are young enough to have no memory of children in iron lung machines, measles epidemics, whooping cough ravaging the nation and the rest. Perhaps the same can be said for our Covid-19 vaccination refusers who simply refuse to understand.

They can “OK, Boomer” all they want, but there is so much being done in our country that suggests that we’ve lost individual and collective memory of enormous suffering and death. It seems that all that is left is a knee-jerk reaction to any public policy that contacts rugged individual freedom. And it seems they now want to force their automatic rejections onto helpless others – children.

Very strange. And very dangerous.

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

We’re A Very Entertaining Species & BHB


Here’s a Fourth of July message, because this is how we define ourselves. This is how we do things. This is how we plan for the future. Be advised that we can be a very entertaining species.

Read this from Wikipedia:

The oil depletion allowance in American (US) tax law is an allowance claimable by anyone with an economic interest in a mineral deposit or standing timber.[1] The principle is that the asset is a capital investment that is a wasting asset, and therefore depreciation can reasonably be offset (effectively as a capital loss) against income.

The oil depletion allowance has been subject of interest, because of the relationship of big oil with the US government, and because one method (percentage depletion) of claiming the allowance makes it possible to write off more than the whole capital cost of the asset.[2][emphasis mine]

The oil depletion allowance applies to most extraction commodities – anything pulled from the Earth, like fossil fuels. The allowance is basically a subsidy to those industries and to those who profit from them.

Once we’ve sucked all the oil out of the ground it’s gone. We don’t have another 60 million years to wait for more supply. So we pretzeled our tax code to give the industry billions of dollars in tax reductions so the oil barons would have a soft landing when all the holes are dry a long, long time from now. We surely wouldn’t want to burden them with the awful mental labor of figuring out what’s next. They just want to go on cashing their checks.

It was a simple jump to taxing the profits of the oil companies – income tax – to make governments beholden to the revenues they received from Big Oil, Coal and Gas. That made politicians and the public protective of the fossil fuel industry because of all the services they funded. It also relieved our leaders of that same burden, the terrible entrepreneurial mental labor of figuring out what’s next. They, too, just want to go on cashing their checks.

So, congratulations to all of us for setting ourselves up for sclerotic brain functioning about what comes next. We aren’t in immediate danger of running out of fossil fuels. But we are in danger of running out of a survivable place to live, because we’re cooking ourselves in our own juice, even as we defend the source of what’s cooking us. It’s good for individuals and local, state and federal revenues to protect the status quo. Pay no attention to the people dying of heat in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, or the water reservoirs going dry and agricultural fields drying up.

This is just another chapter in the Book of Reality Denial. Like most of the other chapters, you can get to the root of the foolishness by following the directive of Deep Throat: Follow the money.

We humans can be bought at such a low price. Every day there’s a blue light special in aisle seven and we stampede to it, heedless of our own coughing and wheezing. And that’s the BHB – Basic Human Behavior* – we have to overcome if we’re to save ourselves, because the Oil Depletion Allowance won’t grow food, provide water, stop mega storms or un-foul our air.

Be sure to wave your flag at your town’s Fourth of July parade (if it isn’t cancelled due to the pandemic). Watch for my traditional red, white and blue flag shirt as you pass by.

And wake up to the reality that a few more bucks in our pockets at both individual and governmental levels will be worth nothing if we’re scratching for existence. It’s time for us to see red, white and blue in a new way so that those colors will still be flying for our children and grandchildren.

Because ready or not, what’s next is coming.

If you’d like to have a look at our century-long subsidizing of and our squishy love affair with Big Oil, have a look at this piece from Mother Jones.

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* BHB – Basic Human Behavior

Be clear that we humans have a nearly infinite capacity for self-delusion. Even today we see Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) pledging to complete Trump’s border wall, at least in Texas, and he’s pledged $250 million of Texas tax payers’ money to do it. I guess Mexico just isn’t going to pony up any cash for a wall and, clearly, Abbott’s paltry fund won’t buy much wall, so he’s soliciting private donations. Abbott received $459,000 from duped donors in just a week. To learn why they’re duped, take this math test:

Trump’s border “wall” – sometimes it’s just a fence – cost over $22 million per mile. This was accomplished through the magic of Trump’s no-bid contracts awarded to his donor friends.

The Texas-Mexico border is 1,200 miles long.

How much would it cost to construct Gov. Abbott’s border wall?

Hint: $26,400,000,000

.

So, no, Gov. Abbott is not going to build that wall. You can be confident that the money he collects will go to the governor’s favorite campaign fund. And don’t be surprised if all that gets erected along the border is a weather beaten post with a bullet-riddled stop sign.

Politicians will fund raise on anything that tweaks donors. Stoking fear of immigrants has repeatedly proven to be an excellent stimulus for the emptying of citizens’ wallets into politicians’ piggy banks, exactly what Abbott is doing right now. Our BHB – Basic Human Behavior – allows us to be duped in this way over and over. And it gets even crazier than that.

Somehow Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem thinks it makes sense for her to send South Dakota National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border. Yes, seriously.

And Tennessee (not South Dakota) billionaire megadonor Willis Johnson has pledged to fund Noem’s spectacle of trying to look patriotic. Yes, seriously.

VSQ (Very Serious Question): What do you suppose megadonor Johnson expects to get back as a return on his investment in Noem? Hint: Noem thinks she’s a 2024 presidential candidate and Johnson might want to be on Noem’s favorite donor list to get whatever it is he wants. He’s just another grifter and we allow ourselves to get duped by the megadonor 2-step nearly every time.

Click me

Like I said, we’re a very entertaining species.

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More BHB

We Americans are making great progress in refusing vaccines. And we’re doing it just in time for the arrival of the Delta variant which is 140 times more contagious than the “that’s so 2020” Covid-19. Here’s a great summary.

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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.

Legislation Republicans Will Champion – The KBL Act


It seems so obvious that I just don’t understand why no member of Congress and no state legislature officials have proposed this. It comports perfectly with today’s Republican Party and its policy of having no policy other than obstructing all progress and stoking cultural wars to aggregate power for itself at the risk of our democracy. They find unconstitutional laws to be very attractive, so I have one for them. First, the substantiation for it.

It has yet to be judicially established that Republican members of Congress and/or their staffs took January 6 insurrectionists on tours of the Capitol Building – scouting missions – on January 5. However, other members of Congress witnessed these “case the joint” expeditions, so we can safely believe they occurred. These reconnaissance operations were critical to the insurrectionists if they were to have a chance of finding Mike Pence in order to hang him and to find Nancy Pelosi in order to murder her. That’s wrong.

After the bloody destruction and vile befoulment of our most symbolic building happened, the confirmation of the Elector’s votes took place, as proscribed by the Constitution. But even after the insurrection that put the lives of all members of Congress and their staff members in peril, 8 senators and 140 congressmen/women voted to reject the will of We the People. They succumbed in subservience to the Jackass-In-Chief, who constantly brayed lies about election fraud. Only a single example of voting fraud could be found. It was a guy in Pennsylvania who tried to cast his dead mother’s vote for Trump. That near-total lack of evidence of fraud (one in 160,000,000 votes cast = 0.0000006%) is why over 60 of Trump’s lawsuits were laughed out of court. Still, the 148 cowards voted to undermine our democracy. That’s wrong.

Those 148 legislators and more also blocked the formation of a special commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection. Some of these investigation refusers are the same people who were insane fanatics for investigating the Benghazi tragedy TEN TIMES OVER! But this time, when our entire democracy was threatened, they refused to look even once. Whatever their reasons (feel free to suggest your views on that), they voted to continue their attack on the Constitution. That’s wrong.

Captain No

Senate Minority Leader McConnell has done to Biden what he did to Obama: he vowed to block any and all things promoted by the President and has pretty much made good on his obstructionist promise. That subverts the will of the people and threatens our democracy. That’s wrong.

Our Senators and Congressmen/women have said some dazzlingly, on-the-face-of-it blatantly false things. Call them stupid, if you want, for saying that the January 6 insurrectionists were ordinary tourists visiting the Capitol Building (on a day when it was closed to visitors due to the pandemic), but they saw what you saw and they aren’t stupid. What they are is dishonest and cowardly. That’s wrong.

Republican state houses and Republican governors are stampeding their voting suppression laws through their legislatures to make sure that they can maintain minority rule. They’re even attacking their own structure and processes in an effort to remove impartial election officials and replace them with Republican/QAnon operatives. That’s wrong.

That’s a lot of wrong going on and defeating that at the voting booth level will take a very long time. Actually, it may be impossible to reverse the damage. We must do something far more expeditious, so I propose my unconstitutional act of democracy restoration and protection. Its very unconstitutionality should be like mother’s milk to Republicans.

The Kibosh Illegal Lying Liars Babbling In Government and Legislatures Idiotically Eliminating Self-government
(“Kill Big Lies” ) Act

.

Provisions of This Act

Section 1: It shall be illegal to promote small or big lies whenever the aim is to undermine our democratic processes and/or our democracy.

Section 2: All federally elected and appointed officials, as well as all their staff members shall be held personally responsible for any and all harm to persons and/or property caused directly or indirectly by their efforts to aid or abet insurrectionists or democracy threatening actors. Liability shall be determined based on the stupidity of statements uttered, actions taken and obstructions attempted. Penalties shall be doubled for obviously self-contradictory claims.

Section 3: All state level attempts to prevent or limit voting shall result in the immediate removal from office of perpetrators, be they legislative, executive or judicial, and the permanent removal of voting rights from them. In addition, they will be required to deliver pizza and bottled water to voters waiting in line to vote.

Penalties for Violation

Section 4: All violations of this law shall be deemed a felony with penalties of not less than 1 year nor more than 112 years in prison and up to $5 million in fines. In addition, violators of any provision of this Act shall immediately be placed in stocks in the public square of the municipality where they live, to be ridiculed by the citizens as the laughing stocks that they are. This public humiliation shall continue for a period of not less than 30 days nor more than 112 years.

Attempts to Avoid Compliance With This Act and Penalties

Section 5: No state shall be allowed to declare a states rights objection to this federal law. Each and every attempt to do so shall cause the proscribed penalty to be doubled and one Republican congressperson or senator of that state per attempt shall be removed from office. If, due to prior penalties, there are no longer any federal representatives or senators from a state which has again violated this provision, the penalties shall shift first to the governor of said state, then sequentially to members of the state legislature. Should all of those have been removed from office for their attempts to violate or circumvent this law, random registered Republican voters in the state will be selected for prosecution, including eliminating their right to vote.

Period of Applicability of This Act

Section 6: This law is retroactive to January 20, 2017 and there is and shall be no statute of limitations on any act of dishonesty or unconstitutional manipulation to which this law applies.

Severability

Section 7: If any part of this Act should be found to be unconstitutional, it shall be considered severed from the Act, leaving all other provisions intact. So there.

Who Is Eligible To Vote For This Act

Section 8: All members of the duly constituted voting public shall be eligible to vote for this bill in the Comments section below. No onerous voter ID is required. Early voting has started. Black, brown, poor and young people, high school seniors, college students and naturalized citizens are all eligible to vote – always. Plus old white guys and angry young white guys (“guys” is gender neutral here), as well as Native Americans, Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Buddhists, Jesus freaks, droolers and both conspiracy nuts and sane people. Also white collar, blue collar and no collar workers, as well as unemployed non-workers, the physically challenged and all convicted felons, whether they’re now free or still in prison. Urban, suburban, rural and wandering citizens are eligible and encouraged to vote. Gun ownership is not required for voting privileges, nor is an Armageddon hiding place, nor is a facility with the English language required. Those under the physical care of a Republican are encouraged to grab a laptop when the obermeister isn’t looking and register their vote. Polling places are everywhere internet electrons can reach, so no worries about a long journey to vote or a long wait in line or threats from Republican intimidation thugs. Bring your own pizza and bottled water.

Republicans like this kind of heavy-handed, blatantly unconstitutional legislation. It’s their style, their M.O. to promote anti-democracy things, so we might expect them to champion this Act.

On the other hand, this proposal puts the sting to them, so I don’t expect to hear a chorus of “D’OH!!!” from the Capitol Building and all Republican state houses, nor do I expect to see pictures of these Republicans posted on their FaceBook pages showing them slapping their foreheads. Still, we know who and what they are.

They are so busted.

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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.

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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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.

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