Domestic Policy

This Most Consequential Moment


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

Reading time – 3:41  .  .  .

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

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

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

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

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

I recently wrote,

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

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

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

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

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

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

·

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

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

VOTE IN PERSON EARLY

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*Essay of the Week

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

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

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

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Tweet of the Season

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

VOTE IN PERSON EARLY

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


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

A Little Help for You, Mike Pence


Reading time – 4:42  .  .  .

WARNING: Contains extra-crispy snark.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, and one other thing about violence and looting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BREAKING NEWS

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

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

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

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

VOTE IN PERSON EARLY

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


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

Stomach Turning in 4 Parts and 5 Questions


Reading time – 4:49  .  .  .

1. Immigration Vile

We’re all appalled by the forced, medically unnecessary, inept and deceitful sterilizations of would-be immigrants at the hands of at least one doctor at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”),  Irwin County Detention Center. It is a privately owned (LaSalle Corrections), for-profit immigration jail in rural south Georgia. We don’t yet know if such things are happening in other ICE prisons.

First question: Why do we pay private corporations to run this and many other prisons, where they have incentives to lock up as many people as possible and perhaps perform stomach turning additional revenue enhancing acts?

The hideousness of these forced sterilizations – by some counts as many as 18 known and medically unnecessary, non-consensual surgeries – is now known and the full story isn’t out yet. This is a new chapter in American immigration cruelty. The good news, of course, is that this has never happened before.

Except it has. Many times.

In the 20th century alone (and it didn’t start there) tens of thousands of men and women were forcibly sterilized and it will come as no surprise to you who the targets were. From a report on this travesty (and here’s another report on this):

More than 60,000 people were sterilized in 32 states during the 20th century based on the bogus “science” of eugenics, a term coined by Francis Galton in 1883.

Eugenicists applied emerging theories of biology and genetics to human breeding. White elites with strong biases about who was “fit” and “unfit” embraced eugenics, believing American society would be improved by increased breeding of Anglo Saxons and Nordics, whom they assumed had high IQs. Anyone who did not fit this mold of racial perfection, which included most immigrants, Blacks, Indigenous people, poor whites and people with disabilities, became targets of eugenics programs. [emhasis mine]

But that was way in the past, right? Wrong.

Such practices are documented as occurring as recently as 2010. Over 1,400 forced sterilizations were performed in California prisons in just over 13 years. These were all state-sanctioned, non-consensual sterilizations.

To give you an idea of the cruelty of eugenics, the Nazis copied it, using the laws of Indiana and California as models for their 1930s laws that led to roughly 400,000 forced sterilizations. The Nazis weren’t the kind of people to whom we would want to be compared, and yet in this sense we can be.

Second question: Why do we tolerate this cruelty as part of our stomach turning immigration practices?

 

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2. COVID-19 Deaths

Trump’s cruelty and ineptitude remains exactly what the Oxford study said it was. Worse, he continues to do what is counterproductive to beating this pandemic and he avoids doing what would make things better. Nevertheless, there is more to this story and it’s likely not exactly what you think.

If you want to know why some countries have had relatively good results dealing with COVID-19 and why the U.S. has fared much poorer, read this.

Third question: Why have we tolerated a stomach-turning hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths?

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3. RBG’s Seat

Ruth Bader Ginsberg, progressive, civil rights icon of the Supreme Court has died. Separate from her loss and ours we must contend with Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, promising to hurry Trump’s replacement pick through the Senate. He announced that less than two hours after the news of her death broke. His was truly astonishing disrespect.

This is the same Mitch McConnell who declared from a dark corner of his manipulative, power-grabbing mind that in the last year of his administration President Obama couldn’t refill the seat left empty by Antonin Scalia’s death. It wouldn’t be fair to the voters, McConnell told us. The next president should handle that, he said. Besides, he informed us that no president had ever nominated anyone for a Supreme Court seat in his last year in office.

And he was right. Except for Anthony Kennedy, who was nominated by Ronald Reagan in his final year in office. And William Rehnquist and Louis Powell, who were nominated in the last year of Nixon’s first term – you get the idea. But it was really important to the Grim Reaper to prevent President Obama from having a Supreme Court pick in his last year in office, so McConnell made up precedent and put a knee on the neck of Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.

Now, though, we’re hearing from the other fork of McConnell’s tongue. Somehow his phony precedent doesn’t matter so much, now that Trump is the one doing the nominating. Now McConnell has promised to ram Trump’s pick through the Senate before the November 3 election.

Fourth question: What does that do to your stomach?

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4. American Wars

From Sheila Markin’s recent post:

Trump has called himself a wartime president. Yes, America is at war. Our country has been beset by 4 huge assaults at once.

First, there’s the pandemic which, because of Trump’s interference and mismanagement, has cratered our economy and devastated the lives of Americans, resulting in lost jobs, lost health care, lost health, lost homes, and food insecurity for millions of Americans.

Second, there’s climate change which has created huge raging fires in the West with smoke that turned into cyclones with their own embedded lightning, more powerful hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and ice caps melting at a rapid rate which will cause sea level rise, imperiling coastal areas.

Third, there is social unrest and mainly peaceful marches to support the Black Lives Matters movement in response to the unfairness documented by cell phone footage proving that people of color are treated horribly and are killed by police in disproportionate numbers.

Fourth, our democracy and cherished “free and fair elections” are being attacked by Russia working in tandem with Trump and Republicans to suppress the vote, discourage Dems from coming to the polls and cast doubt on the reliability of mail-in ballots.

America IS at war and Trump is not on our side.

It’s time for we soldiers to report for duty, leading to the

Fifth question: It appears that we have perfected the art of complacency. It’s time to abandon that dark art in all of these issues before our stomachs go terminal. Are you ready?

From Rosh HaShanah commentary:

“If you want to see God save the innocent, you need to get off the couch and save the innocent. If you want to see God feed the hungry, you need to feed the hungry. If you want to see God stand by while the innocent suffer, all you need to do is stand by and do nothing yourself.” (emphasis original) – by Rabbi Brent Chiam Spodek and Ruth Messinger.

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

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA

 


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

A Modest Proposal – v4.0


Reading time – 5:35  .  .  .

We are locked in an increasingly bloody and always hateful conflict. Red America and Blue America think in different ways, speak different languages, recognize different facts and are unable to communicate with one another except with threats and mean-spirited accusations. The differences and animosities are growing and the situation seems to be intractable. Writes Anand Giridharadas, We Are In A Cold Civil War. I think he’s right. David Frum has written that Trump Is a Secessionist From The Top and his followers seem to revel in how separate they are from the rest of us. Truth be told, I’m weary of it all.

I’m sick of the hateful speech and the denials and contortions of reality. I’m disgusted by the ever more common brandishing of assault weapons by strutting tough guys. I’m offended by the easy acceptance and even the promotion of criminality at the top. And I’m disheartened by the obvious welcoming of fascism by followers of this autocratic, dictator-wannabe president. There seems to be no courage left in Red America to commit to what many of us had thought was the American way. There don’t seem to be many patriots left who will stand and be counted when it’s time to stop a tyrant. That says to me that there may be no possibility of narrowing the chasm of our national divide.

Well, I have a solution – a modest proposal. I confess it isn’t original. I read something about this many years ago when the first storm clouds of our cold civil war reached the horizon. It seemed absurd at the time; not so much now.

Since we are already steadfastly, both by culture and core values, unaligned, we’ll formally divide America into two independent, nations. For the most part the geographic division will be easy. We’ll just separate out all the steadfastly red states, like South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Kentucky, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Utah, Indiana and West Virginia. There will be some difficulty in placing the purple states, like Colorado, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Ohio. The rest will be Blue State America. You get the idea.

We’ll have details to iron out, like border protections and passport requirements, trade and the decision of which America gets to keep DC and the stars and stripes. Plus, we’ll have to figure out who gets the might of our military and yet more questions.

A benefit of this solution is that Red State Americans will get to keep their Confederate statues and memorials and will be able to proudly display Confederate battle flags. They can choose the facts and reality that suit them. All those proud, rugged individuals will be able to walk with heads held high, chest out, safe with their concealed carry and in the knowledge that no elite* weenies from Blue State America will be dictating their fates or limiting their freedoms. No overblown government bureaucracy will take their money and regulate them to death.

Gone will be the self-important scientists telling them to wear a mask and stay out of churches and bars. They won’t have to justify going to Trump rallies by claiming patriotism or announce they’re accepting of the consequences of refusing pandemic protections, only to hear Blue State Americans tell them that their freedoms stop at the tip of the next person’s nose. In fact, they’ll be able to go about their business in the certainty that COVID-19 is a hoax.

There will be no more federal government standing in the way of their personal liberty. The new Red State American government will be benign and will never intrude on their lives. And there’s even more for Red State Americans.

They’ll be able to listen to their president’s “straight talk” and not be bothered by Blue State American busy-bodies howling about how his straight talk is actually a pack of lies. They won’t have to listen to audio recordings of the president proving his homicidal dishonesty leading to tens – maybe hundreds – of thousands of American deaths. They won’t have to listen to Blue State Americans whine about his over 20,000 lies to the public (over 16 per day, every day).

There are a couple of points that will be important for Red State Americans to know. For example, those horrible things that FDR created, like Social Security and the terrible things Lyndon Johnson did, like Medicare and Medicaid, will disappear for them. Each citizen will be on their own to pay for all of their own healthcare, including when catastrophic health issues arise. They’ll simply have to deal with their lifetime of debt. Each will have to fund all of their own retirement. Failure to do so will cause them to live in abject poverty until death finally brings relief at the end of their rugged individualism, pretty much as it was before Social Security.

This national split will have substantial business impact, too. For example, Fox News will relocate from Manhattan in New York to Manhattan in Kansas, a huge cost saving. Koch Industries will be perfectly positioned in Wichita to take control of the Red State American oligarch government.

Click me for a full scale map

There are important issues of independence to consider and Alabamians, for example, will have to do some adjusting. Once separated into two countries, Alabama will no longer get back $2.02 for every $1 they send to DC. It’s a similar balance in West Virginia ($2.08 for every $1 sent to DC), South Carolina ($1.62) and for most of Red State America. Economic life is going to become much more challenging in those places, as funding for roads, bridges, schools, healthcare, disaster relief and more becomes either far more individually burdensome or they will have to dramatically ratchet down their way of life. Of course this change will create an economic windfall for all in Blue State America, who will no longer have to fund Red State America.

Still, this separation will give everyone what they want. We can stop accusing and attacking one another and each make our own way. Gone will be charges of racism one way and burdensome elitism the other way. No longer will we argue about protests or whose life matters or whether our troops are losers and suckers. We’ll end our contentiousness over the president’s supplication to authoritarians and his solicitations for foreign election interference. Each America can choose its own allies or none at all. It’s the ultimate freedom of choice.

So, there is our way forward, just when it seemed there wasn’t one. Take a deep breath and begin to make the decision where you’ll want to live.

To put a fine point on this, read Eugene Robinson’s essay on Trump’s racism, and – this is critical – watch the 11-minute video embedded in his piece, Voter Suppression Never Went Away. It Evolved. Once we split up the country, we won’t have to worry about such things.

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End of satire. What follows is deadly serious.

From Harlan Coben’s The Boy From The Woods, page 285:

”  .  .  .  it will now be easy to destroy the social order. The middle has become complacent. They are smart, but they are lazy. They see the grays. They get the other side. Extremists, on the other hand, see only black and white. They are not only certain that their vision is absolutely correct, but they are incapable of even understanding the other side. Those who don’t believe as they do are lesser in every way, and so they will kill for that vision.”

“Extremists are relentless. They don’t see right or wrong – they see us and them.”

I’ve been warning of creeping autocracy and fascism for a long time (click here for a list of some of those posts). It’s easy to pin that clear and present danger on Trump, but it’s critical that you see him as the embodiment of the forces of absolutism running hellishly in our society. Trump is both the repugnant inciter of rage and a tool of the brutal, angry mob. He wouldn’t be in office or be getting away with his criminality, his cruelty and the destruction of our democracy if there weren’t millions of people who want that, who think his behavior is okay, who believe the end justifies the means. It doesn’t matter to them how evil and eventually tyrannical both the end and the means will prove to be.

That is why we must not be complacent. That is why we dare not be lazy.

Vote to stop this insanity. Help to register others to vote – click here and scroll to the Opportunities section for resources to make a difference. Encourage everyone you know to vote. Early voting has already started, so there is no time for delay. Act now, because there may not be another chance.

This is the only way.

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  • * Do you remember when “elite” was a good thing? That was before Barack Obama became president. He was monstrously bright and knowledgeable and had checked all the “smart” boxes, so white guys felt threatened and “elite” got warped into a negative thing and has been used ever since as a dog whistle for racist animosity.
  • “Elite” was good back when we wanted the best and brightest to be the ones who thought through our toughest challenges. “Elite” meant “the best.” Clearly, we have need for some truly elite people right now.

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

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


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

Here’s How To Fix This


Reading time – 6:15  .  .  .

Preface: Presidential Leadership In The Time of COVID-19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Here’s How To Fix This

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE – EVERY ONE OF THEM!

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

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

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

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

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

———————-

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

 

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

——————————

Click me

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

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


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

A Critically Important View From Europe


Reading time – 7:15  .  .  .

Presidential Befoulment of the Military Update

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From McTague’s post:

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

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

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

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

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

——————————-

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

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


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

I Really Need Your Help With This


Reading time – 3:49  .  .  .

My pal John Calia (find him here) describes himself as a libertarian. Because I’m a progressive we have lots to talk about and frequently do so. Last week we had an email exchange that eventually reached the shoulder shrug point because even together we were unable to find much in the way of solid answers.

This series of exchanges was sparked by an essay in The New York Times that took a look at what it is that causes voters the most heartburn about Donald Trump. Public polling shows that his persona, separate from his policies, is a huge source of angst.

Okay, nothing new there, as this issue deftly crosses our political divide. But the comparison itself set me to asking the key question: What are Trump’s policies? Let’s start with an historical benchmark.

During the Cold War the foreign policy of all presidents included Soviet/communist containment, and the expansion of democracy. With hindsight we can pick apart the successes & failures and the value of those policies and the strategies that supported them, but the intent was always clear. Agree or disagree with it, that’s what policy looks like.

As I crafted my list of Trump policies it quickly became clear that what I was able to name was a list of Trump actions. What wasn’t clear was any identifiable policy behind them. Here are some examples.

Two of the first things Trump did upon assuming office was to pull us out of both the Paris Climate Accord and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Those are not policies; they are actions. What is the foreign policy those actions support? What is his policy on climate warming?

He took us out of the JCPOA – the Iran deal. Iran was in full compliance with the agreement at the time. After Trump took the U.S. out of the deal, Iran promptly restarted its uranium enrichment program, exactly what the JCPOA had stopped. Since then he has levied new sanctions, has pressured allies to institute snap-back sanctions and talked very tough against Iran. Again, these are all actions, but I’m hard pressed to identify the policy they serve.

He boasted he would “drain the swamp,” but has installed mostly swamp creatures in his Cabinet; i.e., industry moguls, insiders and lobbyists in charge of their own industry. What’s the policy?

He talks tough about law and order and has sent federal troops to attack protesters in, for example, Portland, OR. But apparently the protests and white supremacist violence in Charlottesville were okay – no troops were sent there. Plus he praised the 17 year old vigilante who killed 2 protesters and injured a third in Kenosha. What is his law and order policy?

He has dramatically reduced legal immigration but used 5 immigrants as props in a new citizenship ceremony on the second night of the RNC show and did so without their consent. In speaking about immigration he has excoriated “sh#t-hole” countries and called for more immigration from Norway. What is his policy on immigration?

He has tried multiple times to ban all Muslims from entering the country. What is his policy on freedom of religion?

His actions regarding China are schizophrenic. What is his China policy?

He gave Kim Jong-un international standing by meeting with him and then claimed a great victory for the U.S., saying he had negotiated the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Regardless, there has been no change in North Korea’s behavior, nor a disposal of its nuclear arsenal or its missiles, despite Trump’s claim the he and Kim “fell in love.” What is Trump’s policy regarding North Korea?

Roughly 80% of terrorist acts in the U.S. are done by white supremacists. Trump never addresses that, but does rail about MS-13, ISIS and Muslim/Islamist terrorists. What is his policy regarding terrorism in the U.S.?

Trump is once again challenging the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) in order to eliminate it. He promised during the 2016 campaign and afterward that he would replace it with a program that is both farther reaching and less expensive, yet four years later has literally nothing to offer in the way of a replacement. What is his healthcare policy? To be fair, in all 10 years since 2010 when the act was passed the Republicans chanted and promised “remove and replace,” yet never offered any replacement, so it appears their policy on healthcare was limited to “Repeal Obamacare.”

I truly cannot answer my own questions and my pal John is pretty well challenged to name policy, too.

As I made my list I tried valiantly to avoid judgment and snark and must confess I didn’t do well with that.  Nevertheless, I continue to want clarity about policy. Not presidential flamboyant statements, not tough guy posturing, but actual national policy, so I turn to you.

Please post your notions in the Comments section about any Trump policy that seems clear to you. I’m after coherent statements, something that might be on a screen at the front of the Situation Room and on a flip chart in the Oval Office to keep everyone clear and focused.

What are Trump’s national policies?

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Speaking of policy, if Joe Biden wins he’ll be wise to follow some of the FDR policy advice as explained in a recent David Brooks piece. The loud voices on the left want a revolution, but most Americans want something that goes down a bit easier.

—————————————-

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

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA

 


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

The Real GOP


Reading time – 1:51  .  .  .

President Trump signed an executive order on August 8 to temporarily delay the withholding of employee contributions to Social Security payroll taxes from September 1 to December 31 for people making less than $2,000 per month. I have just two comments about that executive order.

First, this is no gift. Gotta wonder how that EO helps people to pay the rent or mortgage or feed their kids or pay for their meds or repair the car, because they’ll have to pay back every cent soon. And because people are likely to spend those extra bucks, they’re going to be in a nasty bind in January. But, of course, that will be after the election. That temporary extra few bucks is just more Trump smoke and mirrors to get re-elected.

Second, it took 3 months for Trump to do even this hollow BS executive order. (To be fair, he signed 4 executive orders which, in the aggregate, amount to nothing.) That includes his refusing to do good faith negotiating with the House and the complete absence of Mitch McConnell’s Senate from negotiations. Where’s the concern for the people? Oh, right; Trump and the RNC aren’t about the people.

——————————–

The Republican National Convention started of with an  impressive parade of lies, misleading statements and a massive airing of grievances, most of which refer to things that don’t exist on planet Earth. There were reality-free attacks on Joe Biden, a continuing hatefest (easy for them – think: children in cages), never-ending claims of America as dystopia and a brainless fealty to Trump. We knew about the brainless fealty in advance of the RNC–Trump reality show, partly because the Republican Party flatly told us that’s where they stand.

This Republican Party literally has no platform for the 2020 election and they will be creating no policy statements at all. Nothing to tell us about their values. No way for us to know where they stand on anything. Their entire statement is a one-pager.

Well, there is one thing they’ve told us about where they stand. It is that they exist solely to serve Donald Trump. Here’s a direct quote from their 1-page non-platform:

RESOLVED, That the 2020 Republican National Convention will adjourn without adopting a new platform until the 2024 Republican National Convention;

RESOLVED, That the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda;

That’s it. All Trump, no brain, all the time.

Download the entire 67-page non-platform here and see for yourself. You’ll only have to look at the first page, because pages 2-67 are the 2016 platform. Perhaps the RNC included those outdated pages to make the document thicker so we’d think there’s something of substance there. Of course, there isn’t.

The Republican Party has formally declared that it is de facto a cult of personality. They have terminated all of their higher brain functions in favor of robotic declarations of Trump fantasy and blind support of Dear Leader, Mein Fuhrer, His Majesty or whatever is today’s groveling object title. They are formally no longer conservative. They stand for subservience. They are the Door Mat Party. And they’re proud of that.

This quote from the1997 movie The Rainmaker seems to fit for today’s members of the Republican Party:

“Do you even remember when you first sold out?”

—————————————-

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

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


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

Recycling Geologic Time: A Textbook for Today


Reading time – 3:49  .  .  .

The Pre-Cambrian Era dates from the origin of the Earth, through the arrival of the first one-cell organisms and progresses to multi-cell organisms. It was a truly exciting time 4.5 billion years ago.

Trilobyte (or trilobite) fossils

Following that was the Cambrian period of the Mesozoic Era, the beginning of which marked the reign of the Trilobites around 540 million years ago. It lasted until their extinction about 290 million years ago.

The Silurian period came along in the midst of the Trilobyte dynasty and with it came the first fish. That changed everything, because they were vertebrates. They had backbones and, of course, their progeny are still around. Not so the extinct Trilobytes, although fossils abound to mark their prior existence.

Haikouichthys, an early vertebrate

Geology has had its way and we’ve passed through the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods and find ourselves smack dab in the midst of the Quaternary period of the Cenozoic Era. The most recent development of that period is we humans. Think: Lucy in the Great Rift Valley just inland from the southwest corner of the Red Sea. Ever since her time we have declared us to be the most noteworthy evolutionary thing ever.

Lucy, 3.2 million years old. Discovered in 1974 in Ethiopia at the southwest corner of the Red Sea

And here we are, king of the hill, as it were, masters of all we survey. We stand up straight with a greatly enlarged frontal lobe and spines of sturdy bone and cartilage. Well, most of us do. The geologically misplaced among us are those born without those internal accoutrements, such that they are unable to stand for anything.

Some of them are pleased to sit in Congress and do that surveying business and little else. They are able to thump their chests in a posture of agreement with whoever will pat them on the head and tell them they are good boys and girls and who also promise not to call them mean names.

There are many others of this reverted species, too, and all of them long for simplicity. That’s based upon a memory of some long ago that they think they had but which they never actually experienced. It was in their idealized yesteryear, they believe, when their lives were idyllic. There was no need to deal with “others“ then, people who were in any way different from them and who annoyingly would demand things like rights.

It’s unsurprising but often shocking to find that these Cambrian reversions are unable to experience shame for their words and actions, which leads to frequent dishonest behavior, like cheating and lawbreaking and sometimes the murdering of others not in their group.

Even the casual observer can see with the unaided eye their self-focused behavior in such things as elections. Some reversions act as though laws, norms and rules don’t exist and they operate solely for their own benefit and without regard for their impact on others. Seen in a broader context, such behavior is clearly reptilian, which is in line with the primitive brain structure common to the post-Cambrian period, specifically, the Carboniferous Mississippian period.

Pit bull

Without a spine to connect body with brain they either refuse to or are unable to consider complex notions, much like the Trilobytes, and all their behavior is little more than reflex reaction to stimulus. For example, when poked the Cambrian reversions reflexively lash out at the source. It’s very much like the behavior of a pit bull. When they see anything that isn’t just like them they react with fear, anger and hatred and immediately work to expel or kill whatever seems to them to be foreign. It appears that the Cambrian reversions can’t fully consider the concept of consequences. To be fair, neither can the pit bull.

Trump rally

Today, oddly, these Cambrian throw-backs often raise a fist and cheer passionately for themselves. Anthropologists have suggested that this behavior may be some form of in-group reinforcement. A theory proposed recently is that this is a pre-verbal, ceremonial event, possibly part of a mock war enactment or even a mating ritual. Regardless, there is strong consensus among anthropologists that this group always includes the profound rejection of others.

These group actions seem to mollify the participants for short periods of time. Nevertheless, they retain their ability for a quick display of animosity. More study is needed here.

White supremacist/Nazi march, Charlottesville, VA, August 2017

They have no need to be the most numerous creatures in order to control or at least influence all around them because they are facile with violence and the threat of violence. They are adept at powerful rationalizing and bending rules to advance their self-interest and seem to enjoy rallying around ancient fertility symbols. All they require is a leader to ignite their passion with simple words that stoke their fears and thereby their hatreds.

What is so very interesting is that they can accomplish their dominance and damage through the power of lies, manipulation, abandoned reason and by always insisting on simplicity over the much more difficult consideration of complexities. Their way takes little mental effort, is quick and easy and it requires no spine at all. It doesn’t even require curiosity. In fact, tests conducted at the National Institutes of Health in 2017 found that 100% of the subjects were wholly without curiosity and 96.7% were unable to associate their actions with impact on group outsiders. Oddly, during testing all test subjects insisted on wearing a cap with letters indicating pride in a fictitious past.

It seems many have effectively managed to return to the Cambrian period of evolution, a time when there were no spines or higher brain functions. Unlike the actual Cambrian period, there’s no room this time for the Trilobytes, because they would be considered “others” and killed on sight by today’s Cambrian human invertebrates. The true danger now lies in what else they might kill, including democracy.

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Your homework

Read this now. There will be a continuing quiz from today through November 3 and you must ace this test. Otherwise, your penalty will be far worse than detention hall.

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

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


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

Questions For the August Town Halls


Reading time – 2:56  .  .  .

The House of Representatives remains in session this month. In contrast, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called a recess for the month of August for the Senate. That means that August town halls are solely with senators. Feel free to ask any of these questions of your Republican senator, as they don’t apply if s/he is a Democrat.

From constituent #1:

Senator, thank you for taking my question.

There is a pandemic in our country that is taking down millions of Americans. Over 158,000 of our friends and family have died from it and the disease is extending its reach and accelerating its spread.

Our economy is cratering, as GDP has fallen more in one quarter than at any time in the past 150 years.

Tens of millions of Americans are out of work, with a million more joining the ranks of the unemployed every week. The supplemental aid package ran out at the end of last month and millions are facing the inability to pay for their housing, which will lead to foreclosures and evictions. Millions of Americans will be unable even to feed their families.

Congress is willfully paralyzed over extending a hand to our people. Sen. McConnell called a recess of the Senate and you and your colleagues dutifully vacated the premises as directed.

It’s your job – we pay you – to represent us and promote our welfare, but instead you’re here politicking for your next election, working for yourself. My question is simple:

Why aren’t you back in Washington working for us?

From constituent #2:

Senator, you’ve been in Congress for a long time and have been a staunch promoter of American values around the world. You’ve been a forceful opponent of Russian aggression and a plain spoken critic of Vladimir Putin.

President Trump fails to confront Putin for his paying bribes to the Taliban to kill Americans; he failed to forcefully oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and occupation of the Crimea; he fails to confront Putin over the ongoing Russian cyber-espionage on the U.S. and now is pulling a large percentage of our military from Germany, weakening our position throughout the region and further damaging our  relationships with NATO allies. There is nothing conservative about any of those failures.

Throughout all of this and worse from this president you’ve remained silent, without so much as voicing a single objection, much less mounting opposition to Trump’s dereliction of duty to protect and defend. In your silence you have been an enabler of his sell-out of America, meek as a lapdog. Why aren’t you speaking out, senator?

From constituent #3:

Senator, you voted against the PPP program and every other measure to help working Americans during these perilous times. In contrast, in 2017 you voted for the tax cut bill that sent 83% of its benefit to the richest people and corporations in the country. You vigorously promoted it, saying it would generate wage increases, but that didn’t happen and the economists told you that’s what would happen. But corporations did buy back their stock, which boosted stock prices solely to the benefit of rich people.

Tell us why you like rich people so much and clearly don’t care about middle class or poor people.

From constituent #4:

Thank you for being here today, senator, and for taking our questions.

My question is about the anonymous federal troops that President Trump has sent to 7 of our cities and who have brutalized and terrorized largely peaceful protesters. We’re told that these troops are from the Department of Homeland Security, the purview of whose policing force is solely to defend federal property. However, nearly all of the actions of these troops has taken place well away from federal property.

These troops are heavily armed and anonymous, as they wear no agency or unit identifying insignia, police star numbers or name badges and they drive unmarked SUVs. They have kidnapped our citizens without warrant, have failed to Mirandize those they have kidnapped and have held them without cause and without charge.

Please don’t claim that the demonstrators were violent, because we have amateur video and press coverage that plainly shows that’s a lie. My question is simple: Why have you remained silent as our friends and family are being beaten, gassed, shot and pepper sprayed? Where is your voice to stop this brutality?

From constituent #5:

Thank you for taking my question, senator.

The manufacturing facility where I’ve worked for 14 years is shut down because of the pandemic. The extra help I used to get from the federal government made it possible for my family to hold on, but that’s cut off now. And you’ve opposed financial aid to laid off workers, saying that providing that aid is a disincentive to working.

I’ve played by the rules all along and am now in a really tough spot because of a disease over which I have no control, and you’ve essentially called me and millions of other Americans bums. I invite you to apologize to us all right here, right now, and then go back to DC and do your job to work for us. Otherwise, you can come to my house and explain to my kids why there not only won’t be any birthday presents, but that they should be happy with just 1 or 2 meals a day. And you can explain to my wife that she’ll have to do without her insulin that we can’t afford.

So, what’s your choice, senator: my house or DC?

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

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


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

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