Domestic Policy

Criminals


Did You Ever Wonder .  .  .

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) tells Fox News that he was grateful to have been in Washington instead of helping his constituents in Florida during Hurricane Ian. After the barrier islands off Fort Myers disappeared into the ocean he said, “Just think how much worse the hurricane would have been if global warming were real.”

.  .  . how the former Criminal-in-Chief has gotten away with so much obvious lawlessness for so long? Here’s an excerpt from Sheila Markin’s explainer, One Two Punch for Donald Trump:

Of course, the reason he has gotten away with so many travesties is that he was shielded by Republicans who were eager to use his power as president to get power for themselves and benefits for their ultra wealthy funders [emphasis mine]: tax cuts for the wealthy, right wing judges on the federal bench to protect corporate interests, culture war victories, a border wall instead of a reasonable border policy, the end of women’s reproductive rights to keep evangelicals loyal voters and an undercurrent of threat from white supremacy mixed with militias to keep low information aggrieved white men happy. Next, Trump knows how to talk out of both sides of his mouth as every good crime boss does, which allows him plausible deniability. And third, it takes time for investigations to be carried out when they are done thoroughly, factually, and investigators follow the rules which they must do to have an unbeatable case.

More is needed to explain Trump’s years of alleged money laundering, stiffing of contractors and lawyers, bribing skin dancers and calling it a campaign expense and far more, but you get the idea. Meanwhile, I find the part about his Republican shields (a.k.a. cowards and jellyfish) to be most interesting, what with the lying and reality denial. If you want to understand more of how lying became not just acceptable to, but required of Republicans, be sure to read Carlos Lozada’s piece, The Big Joke That Became the Big Lie.

Lozada defines the Big Joke as, “the idea that American politics is, in essence, a joke, and that it can be treated as such without consequence.” He goes on to give examples of the Big Joke, as when,

“politicians publicly defend positions they privately reject”

“they give up on the challenge of governing the country for the rush of triggering the enemy” [“own the Libs”]

“they intone that they must address the very fears they have encouraged or manufactured among their constituents”

“their off-the-record smirks signal that they don’t really mean what they just said or did”

Read the piece. I promise that you will not laugh at the joke.

Meanwhile, the good news is that our very own supremely bad guy – the former Criminal-in-chief – is going down in at least a half dozen really nasty ways. Be patient and be ready to celebrate. I already have a special post prepared for his first of many courtroom defeats. And that’s no joke.

Speaking of Criminals

Republicans have entered a new phase of national sabotage by threatening to refuse to fund the government unless President Biden and the Democrats reverse all their policies.

Yes, really: All!

This refusal to raise the debt ceiling is a favorite bludgeon Republicans use to try to get their way with Democrats. Basically, they threaten to hold their breath until they turn blue (fine with me) unless they get what they want. They’ve been playing this self-destructive game since Newt “Mr. Amoral” Gingrich was Speaker of the House in the 1990s, slyly fingering his never executed “Contract With America”. He and his phony, power grabbing posse acted as though there weren’t always a contract, an obligation of Congress to the American people. But there was and there is. Back then Clinton was president and he was a Democrat, so the extremist Republicans shut down the government. Twice.

To review, raising the debt ceiling (done over 100 times since it was first a thing roughly 100 years ago) is simply allowing our government to pay its debts that it has already incurred. It’s like paying your credit card bill. Raising the debt ceiling is not more government spending. It’s avoiding being a deadbeat. Congress did it 18 times under Reagan and 3 times under Trump. But last year under Democratic President Biden the Republicans refused to pay our bills and they’re refusing again this year. Are you seeing a pattern?

But that’s not important to Republicans. Their propeller hats are spinning wildly now, as are their eyeballs, glorying in this wonderful opportunity to show everyone how testosterone-y they are.

The Senate passed a short-term extension of government funding to December 16. During the week prior to that date look for a most entertaining spectacle of Republicans wildly grabbing the big gun to see who can shoot more holes in America’s foot, telling the world that we are a most undependable nation. “Don’t trust us,” they’ll tell the world, “because we’ll Trump you with non-payment of our debts.”

This is yet another example of why Republicans must be defeated at the polls. That happens in just 37 days and you are the engine that will make that happen.

Speaking of Criminals – Again

22-year-old Mahsa Amini died while in the custody of the Morality Police in Iran following her arrest for improperly wearing the hijab last month. As I understand it (let me know if I have this wrong), the requirement for wearing the hijab is based on the well known fact that the very sight of a woman’s hair can cause men to go mad with lust. Anything they might do under such a spell is the fault of the uncovered woman. It’s quite like the rapist’s defense, claiming that the way she was dressed or acted caused his assault.

Shifting to a national perspective, our insurrectionist thugs and our Republicans would have us believe that their malfeasance, like sedition, is someone else’s fault.

I think I’ve been clear on these pages that accountability – personal responsibility – is a real thing and that there is a price that must be paid for wrongdoing.

So, MAGA boys, even if you think there are elites controlling poor, oppressed you, even if you’re the most absolutist pickup truck driving, AR-15 toting, Jim Crow loving cowboy, you may not threaten, attack or kill others and claim that the elites or Democrats made you do it. You’re just a criminal thug blaming someone else for your crimes.

Hey Merrick! Make those guys pay the price.

On the other hand, perhaps we can export the “blame somebody else” types to Iran. I’m sure they’ll love it there. Maybe the rest of the Republicans will go, too. They can blame any women who are not wearing the hijab and get away with their cruelty.

Hypocrisy of the Week

“President Biden, I take back all the idiotic and false things I’ve said about you. Okay. Now that we’re buddies, how about some emergency help for Florida? What if I throw in returning those Venezuelans to San Antonio? I could ditch the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, if that would help and I can pressure Florida school boards to stop burning books. What do you say?”

Ron DeSantis was elected to Congress in 2013 and proudly voted against a $9.7 billion federal flood insurance assistance package for the victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey. Now, as governor of Florida, he’s begging President Biden for emergency help for his state. DeSantis explained, “We all need to work together, regardless of party lines.”

Funny how things work differently when DeSantis is the one in need. Insert your own label for him in the Comments section below.

DeSantis is a “drown government” guy. Leave everything to the private sector – “the market,” he believes. I’m just wondering what part of “the market” is going to pony up $90 billion to glue Florida back together and help all those suffering people.

Required reading on this topic: The White Man’s Burden, Revisited, by Ed Gurowitz.

————————————

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

Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take a lot of us to get the job done.

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

We Can Make This Worse – Or Better


In 1974 Gerald Ford, the guy whose only professional ambition had been to one day be Speaker of the House, found himself to be President of the United States. That followed the crystal clarity of the breathtaking criminality of Richard Nixon that drove Nixon from office just ahead of a Senate impeachment posse. With Nixon’s disgrace on view across the globe and the passions in this country still white hot over Watergate, what would Ford do?

According to his public statement, Ford gave Nixon,

“a full, free, and absolute pardon…for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon .  .  . has committed or may have committed or taken part in”

Ford excused his accountability-killing action by saying that prosecution of the perp would,

“cause prolonged and divisive debate over the propriety of exposing to further punishment and degradation a man who has already paid the unprecedented penalty of relinquishing the highest elective office of the United States.”

And so Nixon avoided being held accountable. That left us wondering if the pardon was part of a shady deal that had made Ford Vice-President following former Vice President Spiro Agnew’s sordid bag man criminality and forced resignation.

In his third interview with David Frost, Nixon declared that, “Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” That stunning Nixon moment of Through The Looking Glass lunacy left many of us dumbfounded and enraged. This is the man who abused his power by ordering the Watergate break-in, obstructing justice, illegally bombing Cambodia and using the apparatus of government (FBI, IRS, etc.) to persecute everyone on his “enemies list.”

According to Nixon’s idiotic declaration, all of those crimes he committed weren’t crimes because he was President when he committed them. He was a self-serving, counter-factual, inherently evil man making a statement that matched his derangement. Yet Ford had pardoned him even before he was indicted, much less convicted.

The Nixon get-out-of-jail-free card wasn’t the last one issued. In fact it was modern history’s bedrock upon which an expanding avoidance of accountability has been built.

From 1985 – 1987 Ronald Reagan’s administration committed multiple crimes captured under the banner of the Iran-Contra affair. The basic framework was that a team headed by Vice-President George H.W. Bush sold arms to Iran, then funneled the proceeds to the Contras in Nicaragua to help them overthrow the far left government ruling their country.

The problem was that only Congress has the power of the purse, not the Chief Executive. As well, Congress had made specific law that prohibited the actions of the Reagan-Bush cabal. Once the illegal activity was exposed, we got an “Oh, golly” from Reagan, as he took responsibility in scripted Hollywood fashion, playing nothing more than a pretend role. The significant part came later.

Eleven administration officials were indicted, convicted and sent to prison for their Iran-Contra crimes. Both Reagan and Vice-President Bush were implicated in the scandal, but not a thing was done about that. When Bush became President he pardoned all of the convicts – on advice from his attorney general, William Barr. Yeah, that William Barr. And all the criminals were freed. So much for accountability.

Barr was and is a strong proponent of the “unitary executive,” the main point of which is the belief that the President, as head of his own branch of the government, is not subject to oversight or check on his actions by Congress or the courts. That theory would make a President a dictator, completely above the law and any accountability. Hello Viktor Orbán.

In 2004 George W. Bush told us that he was a strong proponent of that cockamamie notion, which is handy for him, because he had lied us into two intractable wars. And he refused to accept intelligence warnings before the 9/11 attack, leaving us completely unguarded and unprepared. And he led us into the Great Recession of 2008. When a CV includes such things, it’s good to have a Get Out of Jail Free card in order to avoid accountability.

Look at the progression:

Nixon sent out thieves and then obstructed justice and the Congress.

Reagan flagrantly violated the law and covered it up.

H.W. Bush pardoned all the criminals of the Iran-Contra affair.

W. Bush’s lies led to wars that killed hundreds of thousands and his dereliction of duty led to 9/11 and the Great Recession.

Lack of accountability does exactly what you would expect: it leads to greater and more harmful wrongdoing, because the message is that if you’re high enough in government you’ll never pay a price for your criminality or incompetence.

Which brings us to today.

The doomsday predictions of far right violence if Trump is indicted and convicted might actually come about. But what we know with certainty will happen is that if he isn’t indicted for his alleged string of crimes, like incitement to riot and sedition, obstruction of justice, election interference, wire fraud, money laundering, extortion, violations of the Presidential Records Act, lying to federal agents, violations of the Espionage Act and more, we’re setting the stage for – wait for it – worse things to happen.

Because as horrid as Trump’s alleged crimes are, if Trump gets away with them, the next President will do far worse, because s/he will know in advance that there won’t be a price to pay for breaking the law. We’ve seen the continuing descent into ever worsening lawlessness, so we know how this works.

And the next guy may be – probably will be – way smarter, more manipulative and far more clever than Donald Trump. That will be the moment when everything is lost.

But we don’t have to wait for that and then cry “woe is us.” All we have to do is to establish solidly that nobody – not anyone – is above the law. All we have to do is to hold Trump and his operatives fully accountable for every one of their might be, could be, likely are crimes.

Hey, Merrick Garland: got a minute to chat?

————————————

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

What Should We Do About That? – v2.0


Source: Wikipedia – click the pic

Basic Human Decency

Naomi Judd died by suicide in April at the end of a long battle with mental illness. That’s bad enough, but this story gets worse.

Law enforcement did their investigative work following the suicide, creating a dossier of private, intimate conversations and information that may be released to the public. Daughter Ashley Judd and others of the family have filed a petition, asking the court to keep private what is so obviously private. She wrote that when such things are exposed to the public,

“The raw details are used only to feed a craven gossip economy, and as we cannot count on basic human decency, we need laws that will compel that restraint.”

The middle portion of that sentence grabbed me: “as we cannot count on basic human decency.” Of course, Judd is right. That plays out in millions feeding on prurient stuff, taking delight in public outrage and the raw hostility that besets our nation. We really cannot count on basic human decency. Just ask our polling place workers.

If you think decency – being respectful of one another – is a critical piece of a solid social structure, one you’d want to be a part of, and we cannot count on basic human decency, what should we do about that?

Fauci

There are millions of frustrated Americans, upset with the changing directions prescribed to us to deal with the Covid pandemic. Is it masks or no masks? Lockdowns or just go about your business? “Social distancing” or not? Vaccine? Second Vaccine? Booster shots? New booster shot with only an emergency use authorization?

The official story has changed numerous times and a lot of people lost confidence in the CDC and Dr. Anthony Fauci because of those many changes. Plus the lies and conspiracy theories peddled by the twice impeached, disgraced former President and know-nothing muckrakers expanded confusion and frustration exponentially and a lot of people died needlessly.

But wait just a second.

Regardless of the obsessive finger pointing about the origin of the never-before-seen virus, our medical establishment started with no knowledge, no base of information to find answers for how to deal with this disease. Our professionals didn’t know how the disease spread, had no tools to diagnose it (no tests, remember?), they didn’t know how to treat it except to swat at symptoms and they were woefully short of PPE to protect themselves so they could continue protecting us.

The President refused to trace cases, which could have limited spread, and did his best to stop testing so that the pandemic wouldn’t look as bad as it really was just to make himself look better. The scientists and docs didn’t know who was most susceptible or how to cure them and they didn’t even have a place to pile the bodies – and that’s just a short list of the knowledge holes and roadblocks our professionals faced.

And people were pissy because the scientists and docs couldn’t immediately give one absolute and unchanging answer from the very start!
.

So, the valuable questions have nothing to do with Covid. They have to do with the hyper-reactive “I want what I want even before I know what I want” people who prefer being pissy. They’re the people who seem to have forgotten about basic human decency. They are part of the reason why Dr. Anthony Fauci is ending his CDC career.

So, it’s the same question as in the first section of this post: If we cannot count on basic human decency, what should we do about that?

Covid Corner

Speaking of Covid and the CDC, here’s a chart showing “Covid positive hospitalizations per week (all ages)” since the pandemic began. This doesn’t include all cases. This reports only the cases that were so severe that hospitalization was required. Over a million of those people died and we know that the pandemic remains dangerous because almost 500 of our fellows are dying from it every day.

.

.

Given our obviously cyclical experience with Covid (reference: the chart above), what do you think will happen this January? What should we do about that?

Quotation Station

“Joe Biden’s “Soul of the Nation” address got at a cold and disquieting truth: the MAGA movement cannot be placated, reasoned with, or politically accommodated in any way. There is nothing its adherents want – and nothing anyone can give them – beyond chaos and political destruction.”

  • Tom Nichols, Staff Writer
  • The Atlantic Daily, September 6, 2022

“They promote authoritarian leaders, and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country  .  .  .  MAGA Republicans have made their choice. They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They live not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies.”

  • President Joe Biden,
  • Independence Hall, September 1, 2022
What should we do about that?
.

Also see David Frum’s short read, The Justification of Biden’s Speech – So Much of It Was True. 

————————————

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

What Should We Do About That? – v 1.0


Sun Tzu

The great soldier, leader and philosopher Sun Tzu offers wisdom from 5th century BC China that is valuable even today. Here’s a case in point.

Donald Trump has shown repeatedly that he doesn’t care a bit about America, democracy, the law, truth, reality – this list could be quite long. All he cares about is enhancing his power and wealth and he doesn’t care what he has to destroy to get it. Here’s Sun Tzu on this:

.
.

We have millions of our fellow citizens behaving badly. They weren’t always hostile and ready to believe the unbelievable, but with charismatic leadership from a sociopath, they’ve gone reptilian. They want nothing less than to vent their rage in destruction and in dangerous and anti-American ways. And they take their direction from Donald Trump.

What do you think we should do about that? I mean before Donald Trump and his mobs burn our own nation to the ground.

“Let me say this to my MAGA Republican friends in Congress:
Don’t tell me you support law enforcement if you won’t
condemn what happened on [January] 6th.
For God’s sake, whose side are you on?”
President Joe Biden, August 30, 2022, Wilkes Barre, PA
.

Yes, there are sides. You know the right side to be on and it surely is NOT the “burn it to the ground” side.

What Do You Think We Should Do About This?
.

Trump is the brat who threw the board game all over the room when it was clear that he was going to lose. He broke pieces and stomped on the board. If he couldn’t win he was going to make sure that nobody else could win, either. He’s still behaving that way, but today the game is a dire one, because the stakes are life and death.

There were more than 11,000 documents or photographs found at insecure Mar-a-Lago that were not classified. There were also 31 documents marked CONFIDENTIAL, 54 marked SECRET, and 18 marked TOP SECRET.

Among the materials stolen by Trump and recovered by the FBI are 48 folders marked at some level of classification like those in the picture above, but the folders are empty. The secret documents are gone.

Some folders are labeled TOP SECRET; some are SECRET/SCI, the most closely guarded information. That designation means that the information in such a folder is critical to our national security. And the super secret information in the documents those folders used to contain is missing.

This isn’t about some love note from a malicious despot. It isn’t a picture of Trump with some dignitaries. What’s missing is likely information concerning our nuclear arms, strategic plans, secret agreements with allies and more. That information may well no longer be secret.

The documents and information that belong in those folders were where they belonged, in those folders, on January 20, 2021. That’s when Trump metaphorically sneaked out of the White House and smuggled the classified documents out with him by hiding them under his overcoat. And now that we know those super secret folders are empty, we are faced with some existential questions:

–  Who has the contents of those folders now?

 –  What have they done with the documents?

–  Who and what are now imperiled because Trump has released the information to unknown persons and nations who may well be our enemies?

Trump lost the game of President and, because of that, has repeatedly tried to prevent Joe Biden from winning and keeping it. But this isn’t a board game. This is the most serious game in the world. It’s the game where informants are killed when they’re found out. It’s the game that, when nations lose, the worst happens.

We cannot afford to let Trump break alliances, out the very people who feed us critical intelligence and throw the moving pieces of this game all over the world, but he may well have already done just that. To mix metaphors, this time it may not be ketchup on the wall. This time it might be blood.

What do you think we should we do about that?

Related: For a clear and valuable take on “the soul of our nation,” have a look/listen to this. Many thanks to JA for the pointer.

Watch for What Should We Do About That? – v2.0 on Wednesday, September 7.

————————————

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Over Just The Past Few Days


Education

Ron DeSantis blasted President Biden’s student debt relief program – just another entrant in the “Nothing So Stupid That the Republicans Won’t Say It” contest.

We established publicly funded public schools 170 years ago to educate our people. From How Stuff Works:

“Massachusetts passed the first compulsory school laws in 1852. New York followed the next year, and by 1918, all American children were required to attend at least elementary school.”

From QuestionAnswer.IO:

“By 1918, all U.S. states had some sort of mandatory attendance law for [high] school.”

Each level of education became necessary for the welfare of our nation and for individuals to be ready for the challenges of our rapidly changing life and world. We funded schools publicly then, as now, because both we-the-public and our nation benefit. Ignorance just doesn’t work well for our country.

The world has progressed and much of what it takes now to succeed simply cannot be supplied solely by a K-12 education. Ever-finer, more advanced skills continue to be required. We’re late coming to the realization that we must publicly fund college just as we do public grade schools and high schools. Here’s an example of why that’s true.

We graduate about 70,000 engineers annually. China graduates about 600,000 and India graduates about 350,000. They are both dramatically out-educating their young compared to us.

We’re in a global competition and we will remain unprepared to compete and win as long as we continue to refuse to fully educate our citizens for today’s world and tomorrow’s. Keeping our people unprepared would be a huge economic and national security mistake.

Doubt that? Read this.

And recognize that student debt relief and public funding of colleges and universities necessarily mean a redistribution of wealth – the haves will be required to subsidize the education of both the haves and the have-nots. Everyone else will have to pitch in, too. That brings us to the never ending conflict over wealth redistribution, which traces its angry origin at least as far back a the Civil War, and that brings us to,

This Gallup Moment

Check the graph below from Gallup’s This Week In Charts and you’ll have no difficulty seeing the massive shift to public approval for heavy taxes on the rich to finance the commons, which importantly benefits our poor and middle class with schools, roads, etc.

I suspect this change in public attitude has been accelerated by the past 50 years of legislation favorable to the rich and which penalizes the rest of us. The change may also be traced to the lack of enforcement of laws to prohibit rich guy favoritism. Example: only one guy went to prison for the massive fraud and deceit of the George W. Bush financial meltdown of 2008, even though many violated SEC regulations and fraud statutes. Then there are all the massive “trickle down” tax breaks, about 85% of which benefited already rich people, not you and I.

You’re right: that isn’t fair.

So the rich have benefited enormously for decades – for generations, really – while the rest of us just muddled by. It seems that now over half of we Americans think that rich people should pony up their fair share for the benefit of all of us. Imagine that!

Click me for the story.

The IRS and (probably not) You

On August 26 German Lopez wrote in The Morning newsletter of the New York Times, opining on the Biden announcement about increasing the number of IRS agents and resources, “Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for Arizona governor, tied the increase in [IRS] agents to the F.B.I. search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and warned, ‘Not a single one of us is safe.’”

I sure hope she’s right, if by “safe” she means “protected from being audited and indicted for tax evasion.” I don’t want anyone to be safe from that.

While squatting in the Oval Office for four years, Trump dramatically reduced IRS resources in a stunning effort to protect himself and his rich buddies from scrutiny. That worked. Now Biden is working to restore the agency to a level where it can actually do its job. Got a problem with that, Kari Lake? We can fix your problem by defeating you in November. Go back to your hollow-head TV gig.

Covid Corner

Covid continues to rear its ugly head and promises to keep doing that until all the unvaccinated people either get vaccinated or die. It’s just that simple.

Below are the new cases chart and the death tally chart. These are cases per day averaged over 10 days. We’re still reporting nearly 100,000 new cases every day, and that number doesn’t include the cases identified via home test and those who never get diagnosed (the ones who just tough it out).

Nearly 500 of our fellows are dying every day from Covid. Almost every one of those 500 had refused to be vaccinated. Some have religious objections. Got that. But some just refuse as a demonstration of their stubbornness, masked in a mantle of self-identified freedom. And some refuse to be protected because they believe the cruel and evil lies about both the disease and the vaccine that have been crammed down their throats since Covid was identified and then vaccines became available.

Regardless of the why of their intransigence, our vaccine refusers are over-burdening our medical professionals and institutions and are walking super-spreaders who endanger the rest of us.

Whatever happened to “promote the general welfare” and concern for others and our freedom to not be infected by stubborn people?

Source: STAT, 8-29-22 – click me

Everything’s Okay Now

Following the virulent Republican anti-abortion campaign of fear and moral outrage over the past 49 years, the extremist Supreme Court killed Roe and now everything is just great for Republicans.

Wait – it’s not?

The national outrage over Republicans ending rights and promising to end still more has caused Democratic voter registrations to double those of Republicans and has caused Kansas to declare there’s nothing wrong with it. They defeated the extremist minority, killing the anti-choice state constitution amendment by 18 points.

The mid-term election is just 69 days away and proclaiming an anti-abortion position is threatening to be an anti-get-elected certainty for Republicans. What’s an extremist, hair-on-fire, Trumpy-MAGA candidate to do? Well, they figured it out.

Republican candidates are removing anti-abortion everything from their websites, their campaign literature and their campaign stops, hoping you won’t remember it was there. They haven’t changed their toxic minority position and they still want to force their medieval ways onto the majority of us and they’re just as authoritarian as before. But they think you’re dumb enough to forget who they are and what they stand for, now that they ditched the evidence.

See? Everything’s okay now.

Finally,

All of this happened over just the past few days. This list doesn’t include the Donald Documents crimes and his threat to our national security, extremist violence, mass shootings or stupid Ted “Cancun” Cruz or Lindsay “Weather Vane” Graham statements. It omits Doug Mastriano, Hershel Walker and Dr. Oz inanities, billionaire Barre Said’s $1.6 billion gift to an ultraconservative PAC that avoided taxes, and, and, and.

We didn’t used to have so many unforced domestic errors.

 

————————————

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Guest Essay: Elections Have Consequences


Boyhood pal, smart person and activist Frank Levy cares about justice, fairness, inclusiveness, freedom, rights and more. Come to think of it, he’s a lot like you in that way. That’s why I asked his permission to share his recent FB post about what we must do to make sure all those good things we care about actually are ours.

Just to be clear, Frank’s message is motivated by the destructive fact that Republicans consistently vote against all those things you care about. For example, they had to be shamed into passing the PACT Act to help our veterans harmed by exposure to toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. And that happened after they first killed the bill. That’s a fact – the Republicans voted against our vets! That and so much more are why it’s mandatory to remove these anti-We-The-People politicians from public office.

Frank’s post follows. Read it slowly and let it sink in, because he’s right. And note his number “10”. He’s right about that, too.


Elections have consequences. Legal, untainted elections make a difference. If Hillary Clinton had won the presidency in 2016, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett would not be sitting on the Supreme Court and Roe would still be the law of the land. Elections have very real consequences.

If Joe Biden had not been elected, Merrick Garland would not be Attorney General and no one would be prosecuting the police officers who murdered Breonna Taylor.

There are JUST 86 DAYS until the November midterm elections.

If we are to have any chance of keeping our fragile and imperfect democracy alive, Republicans at all levels of government [the people who oppose what you support – ed.] must be soundly defeated in November.

If we are to have any hope of passing a national law allowing access to safe and legal abortion, Republicans must be defeated in November.

If we are to have any chance of passing meaningful and sensible national gun laws, Republicans must be defeated in November.

If we are to have any chance of expanding the Supreme Court, Republicans must be defeated in November.

If we are to have any hope of retaining the right to marriage equality, retaining legal protections for LGBTQ+ individuals, interracial marriage, access to birth control, the right to vote, and the right to free and fair elections, Republicans must be defeated at every level of government in November.

If we are to have any hope of living in a thriving, diverse, equitable, inclusive, and just America, each of us must do everything we can to ensure Democrats win state and local elections and increase their majority in the House and Senate.

Here are some things each of us can do to help ensure that Democrats defeat Republicans at every level of government on November 8, 2022:

  1. Make sure you are registered to vote.
  2. If you are not registered to vote, register to vote now.
  3. Make a specific plan to vote on November 8, 2022 or sooner depending on election laws where you live. [Now comes the “10” thing – Ed.]
  4. Convince 10 people you know who don’t normally vote to this time register to vote, to make a plan to vote, and to vote Democratic on November 8, 2022.
  5. Convince each of those 10 people to convince 10 of their friends who normally do not vote to, 1) register to vote; 2) to make a plan to vote; 3) and to vote Democratic on November 8, 2022. Easy as 1-2-3.
  6. Get involved with one or more of the national efforts listed below to get out the Democratic vote.

https://naacp.org/actions/power-your-vote
https://democrats.org/take-action/
https://www.rockthevote.org/get-involved/https://statesproject.org/
https://swingleft.org/


Ed. Notes
  1. Now that Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago hidey-hole and contraband warehouse have been searched by the FBI and sensitive government documents have been recovered and secured, the incitement to violence from elected Republicans and talking empty heads has exploded. So, too, have threats of violence from far right militants. Their self-righteous fantasies of 1776 won’t go away any time soon and their promises of savagery must be met with appropriate protections provided by the proper authorities. That means we need people who believe in the rule of law and who deploy those we count on, like the FBI and police. So that all of us will be safe, follow Frank’s advice and elect Democrats. Our children, grandchildren, our families and friends – we’re all counting on us.
  2. Extra Credit Questions: Some of the classified documents Trump stole are TS/SCI*, so critical to our national security, that neither the DOJ nor the National Archives is allowed to even catalog them. Like things that include the word “nuclear”. And Trump kept them in unlocked boxes in an unlocked, unguarded basement at unsecure Mar-a-Lago. What could possibly go wrong?  Here are some extra credit questions about that.
    1. In how many ways has Trump already imperiled our country by using these stolen documents as bargaining chips?
    2. What do you imagine he thinks he can get for them? To start your thinking, consider things like a Trump Tower in Moscow. Or Budapest. Or Pyongyang. Or Tehran. Or refuge for him and his crime family in a country with no extradition treaty with the U.S.
    3. Click me

      Explain why Americans who consider themselves super patriots would froth at the mouth and threaten to kill FBI agents, Democrats and election workers to put this (at best) careless, cheating  moron back in the White House. Earn 5 extra points for each of the following included in your answer: narcissist; authoritarian; despot; over 30,000 lies; “very fine people on both sides”; double-down; criminal; the wall; con-man; unpatriotic; insurrection; sedition; martial law; Mexican “drug dealers, criminals, rapists”; fraud; election interference; jail; autocrat; liar; Muslim ban; babies ripped from mothers’ arms; “my Negro”; infantile; “acting” cabinet appointees; private phone for classified conversations; prison; racist; traitor; money laundering; Russia; suck up; toadies; golf; fake electors; sycophants; thief; tantrums; “do us a favor, though”; “Mexico will pay for it”; high chair; “very stable genius”; Lafayette Square; alternative facts; American Carnage; grab women by the p###y; “losers” buried in Arlington National Cemetery; stopped-up toilet – “toiletgate”; Ivermectin and bleach; Big Lie; “But her emails“. Use ’em all for 250 extra points!

  3. !KANSAS! Read Ed Gurowitz’s take on the message to us from !KANSAS!
    1. Ed’s message comports perfectly with Frank’s.
    2. Hint: This isn’t about Dorothy or Toto and it’s more powerful than a twister, Auntie Em.
    3. Attention: Here’s a special message about Republicans from Oz (no, not Mehmet, the New Jersey carpetbagger in Pennsylvania) – watch this 7-second clip. Couldn’t resist.
Finally,

Here are two pics of a reservoir in northern Mexico. You can find pics of Lake Meade and other reservoirs in the U.S. that look just like these – because the west is in a drought of Biblical proportions, this as Kentucky drowns, as California burns and as coastal waters inundate ever more land. Be sure to show the pic to your climate warming denial friends, especially if they like to visit the west and southwest.

This crisis has been made possible by decades of Republican reality denial and obeisance to the fossil fuel industries. Also look here.

Many fossil fuel captured Republicans simply don’t believe in the reality of global warming and the catastrophes it creates, like how unlivable areas are when there is no water or too much water or fires or hurricanes or tornadoes. Optimistic you, you’re hoping tomorrow will actually happen and that’s why you’re going to vote for Democrats at every level.

Click the pic for the WaPo story.

From the Onion:

“If Trump can get investigated, then by that logic, that implies our country has laws and when those laws are broken, there are consequences. What kind of hell are we living in?”

—————————–

* TS/SCI means “Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information.” Available only to those necessary to the project. Must be discussed, used, and stored only in secure locations. Its release to the public would cause “exceptionally grave” damage to our national security.

————————————

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Any Representative Democracy . . .


Freshman wing of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School – still a crime scene. Click to read the story

.  .  .  should be representative of the people.

Ours isn’t.

Well north of 80% of us want far greater regulation of guns than we got with the recent milquetoast bill. And even that weenie bill required accumulating hundreds of thousands of murdered people to sufficiently motivate legislators captured by the gun industry to find the courage to stand up for little school kids. Not representative.

Emma Gonzalez: “We call B.S.” Don’t you? Click the pic

BTW – Canada just banned the importation of handguns. They are taking substantive steps to make their country safer. Tell me again why we can’t take strong measures to stop, oh, say, school shootings. Note that the words “school shootings” is a sanitized version of what actually happens. The reality is children are ripped to pieces by bullets from assault weapons. Read the linked article.

Memo from the Supreme Court: “Did you remember to set your clocks back 400 years?”

Nearly 70% of us want abortion to be legal, but the Supreme Court killed that at the federal level, this in a Bible thumping tantrum. You can download the 15th century based majority opinion written by Justice Alito here, although I warn you that it is 79 pages of drivel.

At the same time, half the states are in the process of making abortion illegal at that level. Ref: Kansas, where the state legislators are thumping their Bibles to end abortion, but the people just deep-sixed the proposed amendment to their state constitution that would have done just that. But the self-righteous zealots in Topeka have promised to be back to thwart the will of the people. Not representative.

The vast majority of We the People want democracy. Nevertheless, the Republican Party is doing everything it can to destroy the democracy the majority of us want, as legislators raise fists, lie and pass laws to steal elections from – guess who? – We the People. Not representative.

It used to be unthinkable for a political candidate to declare before an election that if they win it was a free and fair election, but if they lose that the election was stolen by massive voter fraud. Heads I win; tails you cheated. There are a bunch of Republicans claiming that now, before the upcoming mid-term election. 26% of Americans actually believe that deceit, but the majority of We the People see the dishonesty and manipulation and say no. Still, that’s what the autocrat wannabees are saying to us. They’re unrepresentative.

Orbán the Terrible Beware the jaws that bite, the jaws that catch.

Viktor Orbán, the dictator of Hungary, was the keynoter of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC). He spouted racist, anti-Semitic hatred and immigrant slurs, “a pure Nazi speech worthy of Goebbels”. The rabid attendees cheered him wildly. Why are Republicans celebrating dictators like Orbán and Putin?

All this and more would not have been possible just a short time ago. Can you imagine Republicans as autocrats trashing democracy during the Cold War? Or during Reagan’s presidency? Unthinkable. And it would have been unrepresentative.

To be fair, we’ve always had a minority population of Christian nationalism zealots who want the United States to be a theocracy. That’s an autocracy with a religious text as its constitution, full of sufficiently vaguely worded rules, ripe for interpretation in any way desired by the autocrats. The only theocracies these despot lovers criticize and even hate are Muslim theocracies in Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Be clear, though, that the inevitable result of the “My theocracy is better than your theocracy” insanity is a new Crusades.

Wait! That’s it! Let’s send drones and a bunch of Navy Seals dressed as palmers and knights to all those Muslim countries to force them to change to our pure Christian nationalism ways. Forced conversion always works so well.

“There be monsters here!”

And we can apply that same technique to our coastal elites to change their colors to bloody red. This is shaping up to be a joyous global spectacle of outrage and murder on an exponential scale that might satisfy even the apocalyptic world enders. Of course, we’ll need world maps to be redrawn showing both that the Earth ia flat and that there be monsters off the edges. O’ the glory of the age of darkness we’ll create with our country run by unrepresentative autocrats!

Or we can come to our senses and vote out of office the traitors to democracy, the unrepresentative ones, and once again be that shining city on the hill, holding the lamp for all the world to see. And we’ll tell Viktor Orbán to go away and never come back.

————————————

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Fun In Far-Right Lunacy


How ’bout a Little Murder?

Right wing crazies continue to be out in force in North Carolina, a state that joyously stole voting rights from tens of thousands of its citizens. That’s a state that does precision, targeted gerrymandering to deliver the majority of Congressional seats to White Republicans, even though they garner only a minority of the votes.

NC Bill 158 was intended by its sponsor, state Rep. Larry Pittman, to be a ballot initiative this November. His bill would make it legal to murder a pregnant woman who intends to get an abortion if you are “defending the life of a baby.”

No, of course you don’t believe that. How crazy would someone have to be to propose such a thing? Well, now we know.

Download that stupid, barbaric, death-dealing proposed legislation here and read that seriously hollow-skull death warrant by a seriously hollow-skull legislator who would authorize murder. It was drafted and submitted to the NC legislature in 2021, but, surprisingly, even in North Carolina most of the state representatives aren’t quite that crazy. Too few of them supported that homicidal maniac law, so it bogged down in committee.

The point is that Rep. Larry Pittman’s insane, legalized murder scheme was proposed at all. For now, the good news is that Pittman is not seeking reelection. The bad news is that Pittman isn’t alone in his dangerous and wacko notions.

Consider Texas SB8, enlisting vigilantes to spy on and bust neighbors for even thinking about getting an abortion. They can then collect a $10,000 reward (that’s the minimum) for doing the dirty work of the state, this to immunize the state and thus allow it to circumvent the law.

Click for the story

Our Murder Industry Good News

We massively cull our human herd via suicides at the rate of one every 21.5 minutes, mostly accomplished using pistols. Easy-peezy, trigger squeezy. That’s testament to something – I don’t know what. While that’s been happening, we’ve had an ever-increasing series of mass murders and now the firearms industry has set a new record.

Those mass murders have largely been done with assault rifles. Here’s what’s noteworthy about that: our firearms industry has sold over $1.7 billion of assault rifles in just the past 10 years. What a success story! I’m sure they’re cheering in Buffalo, Uvalde, Highland Park, Newtown, Parkland, Aurora, Littleton, Blacksburg, Stockton, and Santa Fe. And in Las Vegas, Squirrel Hill, Loveland and more. The mass murder list grows at the rate of 1.5 shootings per day, nearly all by assault rifles.

That billion dollars doesn’t count the money spent to accessorize those battlefield killers, like extended capacity magazines, bump stocks, sniper sights and huge volumes of ammunition. Be clear that the (literally) breathtaking billion bucks doesn’t count any of the other things that go “bang” and which aren’t assault rifles, like hunting rifles, shotguns, pistols and the rest. $1 billion. It’s a true American commercial victory.

It’s great to see that we Americans still have “it”. Indeed, you may have thought that we’re first only in Covid deaths. Not so, because we’re also number one in death by firearms, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Cue the proud, real man music.

This is the country we have created with our intentional injustices, our overt embrace of  dishonesty, our never ending claims of grievance and our bottomless insecurities masquerading in bravado. Is there a way to send an entire country into psycho-therapy? Should we supplement fluoride with mood elevators added to our water supplies? Think of it: we’ll stop tooth decay and rage crimes all at the same time.

Dear Clarence,

The Federalist Society Six – The Rights Bandits – They’re Wrong

You killed our rights as if we weren’t right there seeing what you were doing. You’ve promised to do yet worse, as you metaphorically play your pre-Enlightenment instrument and declare that only 2,000-year-old music may be played. You’ve made it clear to everyone that you want to restore ignorance and fear and you want to hobble our minds, relegating us to a new Dark Ages. But bad news is on the horizon for you, Clarence, because our turn is coming.

Clarence, you’re just not seeing it. We will out-last you. We will out-live you. We will negate you.

Your band of self-righteous rights assassins is having its day and a tiny percentage of Americans who are big mouthed zealots is cheering all of you. But the vast majority of We The People (remember us?) are preparing to supersede you. We will out-smash your smashing of stare decisis and we will revisit and restore everything you crushed. We will overwhelm and reverse your attempt to take us to some fantasy of Biblical purity, your far right lunacy. We’ll do that because:

Far right is far wrong.
.

Clarence. Your day of basking in the glow of your puffed, self-righteous ego and your imagined high tech victimhood will be over and you will be a mere footnote in the history of world cruelty. We will replace you. We will not miss you.

Begone, Clarence.

Many thanks to JN for this

WAKE UP, AMERICANS!

Smell the coffee and see what is really happening right in front of you, because it’s all going to play out in the duplicity of this far-right court. Your pocket will be picked clean of your rights. It will take generations to repair the damage. So, watch this video. It will give you clarity about what the Court is really doing.

And just in case you’re still a smidgen unclear about your important choices, read Ira Leavit’s explainer featuring your favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero. I superrecommend it.

Then pass this message along to 3 people, because it’s going to take a massive number of us to prevent a far-right lunacy disaster.

We must do that, because in all ways, there is no fun in far-right lunacy.

————————————

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

The Big One


Click, then pitch in

Religion has been the driving force or the excuse for more death, misery and suffering than any other cause in all of recorded history.

I refuse to do the research necessary to numerically substantiate that claim. If it’s important to you, do your own research. If my claim isn’t exactly right, it’s close enough to merit our concern.

Religious beliefs are precisely that: beliefs. They are necessarily a leap of faith that is driven by internal, non-analytical forces, not by observable facts. They are neither right nor wrong but they are customarily held to be absolutely, factually right, regardless of how many language translations and manipulations have assaulted original texts. Therein lies the problem, because personally held certainties overwhelm higher brain functions, which then causes humans to insist on cramming their certainties onto others. See: the Spanish Inquisition and many other forced conversion and murder rackets.

The Pilgrims left England seeking relief from the domination of the Church of England. Seventeen decades later their quest for religious freedom was enshrined into the First Amendment of the American Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof .  .  . “

For the past 250 years we’ve been trying to tie down the various threads hanging off that phrasing.

For example, Congress passed a law adding “In God We Trust” to all U.S. currency in 1955. No, those words were not always there and yes, that sounds suspiciously like tying religion to government. But back in the Cold War days we had to somehow differentiate ourselves from the godless Commies, so there was little opposition to the additional words. Besides, who would object to those words in those days, and thereby risk accusations of being a closet communist?

Nevertheless, that phrase doesn’t work too well for people who fervently believe that there is no God. If people are to use money, that phrase explicitly denies the free exercise of the religion of no religion every time they buy something. That’s a big chink in the armor of separation.

Here’s another example. George W. Bush managed to get federal money sent to “faith-based initiatives” during his Reign of Doofus. That meant that church run schools were given public money – your tax dollars – for the purpose of religious indoctrination. That sounds a great deal like pre-Pilgrim England. What happened to the separation of church and state during the glorious Doofus Days?

Last month 1 Episcopal (raised Catholic) and 5 Catholic justices of the Supreme Court commanded the State of Maine to pay for the education of children attending private, parochial schools. Insert the same question about separation here.

Now you can add to this hanging thread list the North Carolina public school football coach who wants to pray at the 50 yard line after each game. The religion-powered Supreme Court decided that his ostentatious public display of his private religious beliefs at his public school function was just fine. The Supreme Court implied, “Take a knee in the middle of the field, catechism coach, and implicitly direct your players to do the same.”

You don’t suppose that with all that peer pressure and obeisance to The Coach that impressionable teens might find it impossible to refuse to participate, do you? So much for their freedom from religion. We’re back to the separation issue, except it seems to be fading into a distant memory, now with the enthusiastic support of the “We’re substituting our personal beliefs for the Constitution” Supreme Court.

We have religious fundamentalists all over this country claiming that our country was founded to be a Christian theocracy, which is true only if you ignore the contrary facts offered by the Founders.

Yes, this issue is fraught, as the Founders (at least some of them) believed that ” . .  .  we are endowed by our Creator  .  .  .  ” Nevertheless, they signed off via the First Amendment on individuals being free from any governmental imposition of religion. I’ll support the freedom side in that conflict every time.

The most urgent time for confronting this threat to our liberty is now, as public school boards are inserting both Christian prayer and religious teaching into their curricula. And public school boards themselves are now saying Christian prayers before their meetings. Florida is banning books based on bureaucrats imposing their religious views on public libraries and public schools.

One would hope that all the people at these public, governmental venues would realize that they are not running Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show. If they don’t see that – and apparently they don’t – and if we don’t take action, most urgently with our votes, we will be on the slippery path to theocracy.

Wake up call: Many of your neighbors think that’s what this country should be.

In case you think theocracy would be just peachy, let’s look at other theocracies around the world to see how those work for the people. Try Iran. Or Afghanistan. Or Saudi Arabia. Now how do you feel about creating theocracy here?

Don’t foolishly think that a Christian theocracy would be better than a Muslim theocracy. That’s never been true. We disproved that deluded notion during the aforementioned Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades and even as we were burning women as witches in Massachusetts.

TO ALL PUBLIC OFFICIALS: If you want to practice religion, go to a religious institution of your choice or to the privacy of your own home. Or go to that traveling salvation show. But keep your religion out of our government and out of our public squares.

But that is exactly where Christian nationalists want to put it. For a chilling read on this, see The Washington Post piece, After Court Ruling, Activists Push Prayer Into Schools. The subtitle is “They say church and state are already too separate.”

Not so! Cramming Christianity into public school classrooms and onto public school football fields simply isn’t separate. It’s an establishment of religion exactly as prohibited by the Founders. Take that, self-proclaimed originalists!

If you want to fully understand Christian nationalism (which is neither Christian nor nationalist), link here and then click the orange “View the report” button. That will get you a download of the PDF “Christian Nationalism and the Jan 6 Insurrection.” This document is required reading for all patriots and believers in freedom.

————————————

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

MAGA Time and Time For A Moon Shot


I was thinking about what the term “MAGA” means. I don’t mean the words; rather, the reference point.

If the goal is to make America great again, the construct requires an antecedent when America was deemed to be great, a glory from which we’ve foolishly slipped. That’s what the MAGA folks want to restore, it seems. Okay, when was that?

Could they be thinking about the Revolutionary War period, when the inhabitants of the Colonies were all engaged, shoulder to shoulder, in the great quest for freedom from King George III? If so, that’s misguided, because about 20% of the colonists were loyalists to the King and the vast majority were fence sitters. The revolutionaries were a small minority. That’s why Thomas Paine had to exhort colonists to enlist in the fight. Was America great then? There were heroics, to be sure, but probably not overall greatness.

It’s hard to imagine the Civil War period as great, as we killed 620 thousand Americans. Or perhaps that was a great time for some, proudly enslaving others and reaping the benefits and when poor Whites were pretty much our national trash. The White land owners were the undisputed kings of their realms. Maybe that was when America was great.

I’m not confident that the Reconstruction and Jim Crow periods qualify. Not a lot great there, if “liberty and justice for all” means anything, although we did manage to kill and displace uncounted numbers of Native Americans in our westward expansion and lynching was a semi-national past time.

Same problem with Freedom Summer in 1964, when Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman were tortured and murdered in Philadelphia, MS. They were there for the very American activity of registering citizens to vote. Their murders still stand as a symbol of the period. Was that a proud epoch in our history – a MAGA idealized period – when brutality ruled over civics and basic decency?

Maybe the MAGA folks think of the 1950s as the time when America was great. It did work pretty well for Whites. Ours was the only industrial economy left intact after WW II. Jobs were plentiful and wages were good. It was a time when “others” knew “their place.” And it was well before the radical Blacks and college kids were making trouble with all those pesky protest marches for civil and voting rights and against the Viet Nam war. Yeah, that was a great time to be White in America. That must be the MAGA reference point.

It seems to me that when the almost completely White* MAGA crowd spouts “Make America Great Again” what they really mean is to make the country great for them. Just them. This is the very definition of White supremacy, selfishness and the refusal of equal protection. It’s all for me and who cares about anyone else?

That’s what the enslavers said until the Civil War. They continued to believe all their lives that “The South will rise again!” touting their “Lost Cause” totem, and it seems to have done just that with our current insane far right populism. That’s what the Jim Crow South enforced. That’s what hundreds of years of cruelty and broken promises to native Americans were all about. That’s what Reagan worked to create, albeit with carefully written and highly choreographed terms that made selfishness sound patriotic.

And that is what Trump and all the ideological, far right extremists in Congress and elsewhere want to create. It’s about the absolute right of the individual over the common good. All for them and who cares about anyone else?

I should have told you that there will be a pass-fail exam. To prepare, you must watch the history lesson from Professor Heather Cox Richardson, as she digs into the deeper meaning of the Roe-killing Supreme Court Dobbs decision. It’s likely much farther reaching than you now realize. So, grab your cup o’ joe and listen up.

To close this section, here’s a fine and insightful, pre-massacre comment from the July 4th weekend:

“Even though our politics is toxically polarized right now, we don’t need fewer arguments right now; we just need less stupid ones.”

  • Eric Liu, CEO, Citizen University
  • PBS News Weekend, July 3, 2022
Time For A Moon Shot

Picture credit: NASA and Wikipedia

Surely, there can’t be many doubters left that we are at the whim of the fossil fuel industry. The craziness of U.S. gas prices that have gone over $6 per gallon is actually dwarfed by what customers are paying in Europe. So, let me say this with as much clarity as I can muster: We travel about and stay warm in the winter at the pleasure of and discretion (if any) of oil producers, and many of them have no interest at all in what works best for us. Think: Russia; Saudi Arabia; Iran – and even the myopically focused, shareholder and  C-suite-centric U.S. fossil fuel companies, still selfishly thinking Milton Friedman got it right. **

Add to that the actual, real life fact that we are in the process of cooking our planet, making huge areas uninhabitable, reducing crop yields, killing people in freak storms that are so common that they aren’t freaks anymore and incrementally drowning coastal land areas. It’s possible that the smart move is to let go of our petty insecurities and short term thinking that lead to nothing good and instead do something about what matters. Like staying alive.

Apparently, Coal State Joe doesn’t care about his grandkids.

This just might be the moment to rally the U.S. and perhaps the world to a moon shot, a dramatic shift from fossil fuels to renewables that won’t kill all of us. This just might be the time to create incentives for solar panels on every roof, for far more fields of wind generators, for the development of power from tides and all the rest of the things that we will eventually do anyway. The only question is when our circumstances will have become sufficiently dire and scary for us to break out of our denial and do the obvious.

Right now is the time for that moon shot. We can start with a Presidential call to action and by firing all politicians who refuse to accept reality. I’m thinking about you, Joe Manchin (D-WV), as you abandon any concern for your grandchildren (see the graphic to the left). You, too, Marco Rubio (R-FL), as you mealy mouth about climate warming, while the Mayor of Miami Beach is on Highway A1A and the sea water is over his ankles. Read a related CBS story here.

In the face of Manchin’s Luddite refusal to support fighting global warming and the Supreme Court having hamstrung the EPA’s power to regulate, read Four Ways the United States Can Still Fight Climate Change. It’s not enough, but it’s something.

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* Don’t let a few Black faces in the audience behind MAGA speakers fool you. They’re placed where they are to make these hate rallies look more inclusive for TV viewers, but there are actually very few non-Whites attending. If you want to test that, watch any video of the January 6 insurrection and count the non-White faces.

** Friedman Doctrine: “An entity’s [corporation’s] greatest responsibility lies in the satisfaction of the shareholders.” Friedman’s tortured logic said that focusing solely on maximizing return to shareholders would result in the best outcomes for all stakeholders (employees, customers, suppliers, the community, etc.).

Today’s era of high inflation is caused, in part, by whimsically puffed up prices (whatever the market will bear) for energy, transportation, food and more. Per corporate reporting, this has resulted in greatly inflated corporate profits and, therefore, a far greater return to shareholders.

Is that resulting in the best outcomes for all stakeholders, as Friedman predicted? How is Friedman’s notion working for workers and small businesses? How is that working for you, as you stand at the gas pump and watch the numbers climb?

I really don’t think that Gordon Gecko (“Greed is good“) was entirely right. Self-interest is fine, but not in the absolute and certainly not to the exclusion of everyone and everything else. If we’re to keep this planet habitable, it’s going to require us all to work for the common good, irrespective of shareholder satisfaction.

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

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Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
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