Domestic Policy

It’s a Free Country


The Jewish Democratic Council of America posted a list of what Congress must do if we are to preserve our democracy. These steps aren’t attached to any party or any religion. They are exclusively about keeping and protecting democracy – the real deal, not the cruel charade that Republicans are making of it by trying to limit voting to White Christian men.

Every one of these items must be done or we will knowingly, intentionally inscribe the name of our country on a plaque. It will hang on an obscure wall off The Great Hall in The Failures of Hope for Humanity Museum. Our failure will lead school children millennia from now to gaze at that plaque and shake their heads in sorrow and dismay. They will wonder how we could have been so petty, so lazy and so foolish as to squander this best hope.

Here’s the list.

  1. Demand Congress pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which together represent a sweeping election reform agenda that would prevent gerrymandering, restrict dark money in politics, and strike down voter suppression laws;
  2. Urge Congress to pass the Protecting Our Democracy Act, which would establish crucial checks on executive power and prevent the presidential abuse we saw during the Trump administration;
  3. Support DC statehood and call on the Senate to pass the Washington, D.C. Admission Act and grant Washington D.C and Puerto Rico the opportunity to become states, which would give political representation to more than 4 million Americans, a majority of whom are people of color;
  4. Support the continued work of the January 6 commission, which aims to uncover the truth of what happened during the insurrection and hold its organizers responsible; and
  5. Call on all elected officials of all political parties to reject and publicly denounce the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen. [emphasis original]

If anyone claiming to love democracy has a problem with any of this, just know that, like those school children so many years from now, I will shake my head in sorrow and dismay and I will wonder how any of us could be so petty, so lazy and so foolish.

We like being able to say what we want to say, do what we want to do and believe what we want to believe. We fortify ourselves with the simple declaration, “It’s a free country.” That’s “free” as in rights, not cost. That’s what the Founders intended, with very explicit clarity and direction for we who follow after them. No kings or autocrats or despots for us. No trampling of individual rights. The Founders’ choices and the reasons for their choices were and remain brilliantly clear.

If we fail our country now and let democracy perish, everything they risked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to create, as well as all we hold dear today, will vanish, because this will no longer be a free country. Instead, all of that freedom will be replaced by the forcing on We The People the beliefs, lies and punitive laws orchestrated by autocrats. We will no longer be free to say, do and believe as we want. You know the historical and present day examples, so you know that this is how it always works when the strongman, the power hungry, the manipulators take over.

Be clear about what must be done to save and preserve our democracy. It’s listed above. And emblazon in your heart this quote borrowed from Gene Kranz, Mission Director of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission to the moon:

“Failure is not an option.”
.

Apollo 13 Service Module showing catastrophic damage

It wasn’t an option for those three astronauts whom our scientists and engineers successfully brought back alive and unharmed. And it isn’t an option for us today.

Overcoming all the lies and distortions that are so effective at undermining our democracy is a daunting challenge. Millions of otherwise good Americans have been conned into believing that bad is good and that threats, violence and gaming the political system are fine and honest things. They think they’re the patriots. The constant stream of lies and distortions they’re fed convinces them of that, which is why they are so impassioned in their efforts to destroy our democracy.

Just when you thought that the extremist’s low couldn’t get any lower, read this from Common Cause:

“A Waukesha County Circuit Judge has banned absentee ballot drop boxes in the entire state. That forces all Wisconsinites to vote in person – even during a pandemic – or hope that their ballot arrives on time in the mail.” [emphasis original]

Clearly, we’re not doing a good job of stopping the radical right from its selfish pursuit of money and power. We’re this close to them tossing our democracy into a dumpster, lighting it on fire and replacing it with their minority rule. If we are to save our We The People democracy we need new thinking, new ideas and fresh, out-of-the-stodgy-old-box notions.

An anti-democracy Republican spouting anti-American rhetoric. Click the pic and be appalled.

Required Reading

Tom Friedman has offered just such a path. Read his piece on how to keep our democracy.

And read this, just in case you thought that Republicans aren’t out to eliminate our democracy. They’ve been working to do just that for decades. Recall the words of Paul Weyrich, Republican hate monger and cheat, these from 1980. Click the pic to the right to hear him promote the crushing of our rights that continues to be Republican dogma today. 42 years later the only thing that has changed is that Republicans are now much better at lying and undermining our rights and our values.

Cops

It’s an inherently dangerous job, but cops aren’t dying in the biggest numbers due to violent drug busts. Or due to cop killers or gang member drive-by’s or traffic stops gone bad. Not from heart attacks, strokes or cancer. Read the caption in this screenshot:

Rep. Val Demings (D-FL 10th) is a former cop and was Chief of Police in Orlando. She knows something about the dangers of the job. Turns out the biggest cop killer in 2021 was COVID. It was the biggest killer in 2020, too.

It’s a good thing this is a free country, where cops and the citizens they protect have the freedom to refuse to be vaccinated, then get sick, infect others and die.

Hospitals are overrun with COVID patients, about 97% of whom are there because they were unvaccinated and caught the virus. Likely, 95% of the unvaccinated COVID patients in hospital wouldn’t be there had they been exposed to the virus after being vaccinated. Things would be much different then.

We’d have plenty of empty beds in hospitals for you when you get into that car crash, or for your spouse who slips, falls and breaks a leg, or for grandpa when he has a stroke and for your daughter when she needs an emergency appendectomy. Instead, today all of those folks can just go home and hope for the best, because not only are all the hospital beds full, but all of the gurneys in the hallways are full, too. And the nurses and docs attending to that overload of patients are exhausted and burned out, all because of our unvaccinated fools, including unvaccinated cops.

Q: Why are the right and the far right and the way-out far right fighting vaccines, masks, mandates and they’re promoting lies about vaccine dangers and COVID hoaxes?

A. Prolonging the pandemic slows economy recovery which makes Democrats look bad, which enhances Republican candidacies. Same for cutting all family support programs. Same for voting obstruction. Tell me again how righties love Americans, because I can’t remember.

That rugged individualism, that “You can’t tell me what to do” attitude works if you’re young, strong, healthy and have no sick family members needing expensive help. Otherwise, not so much. When it hits the fan for those folks, those same rugged individuals will be able sit homeless in their refrigerator boxes and hug their Ayn Rand books, recalling the good old days before they were no longer young, strong and healthy.

Finally,

Captain Louis Renault in Casablanca. He was shocked, too. Click the pic.

You have to listen to Mitch McConnell’s tantrum in response to President Biden’s blistering speech challenging those who are attacking our democracy. McConnell’s blathering is a tutorial in Republican snow jobs.

He does what Republicans, Trumpies, insurrectionists and hate mongers always do: instead of focusing on the issues, he made ad hominem attacks; he projected Republican failures and lies onto Biden; he was outraged over what is not outrageous; he misrepresented actual, Earth-based reality umpteen different ways; and he completely chickened out of dealing with the real issues. I’m shocked, shocked! to find obfuscation is going on by Republicans.

Go ahead. Listen to that duplicitous, manipulating zombie and learn.

Then read Eugene Robinson’s critique, McConnell’s defense of the filibuster is pure hypocrisy.

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Daydream 2, The Rolling Stones & COVIDumb


You can find Daydream 1 here. JA

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In Federal Court, Washington DC

It is the jury selection process, where I am being questioned as a potential juror by skilled lawyers for the defendant, Donald J. Trump.

Lawyer: Are you an attorney?

Me: No

Lawyer: Do you now have any legal case pending before any court?

Me: No

Lawyer: Have you ever been involved in either a civil or criminal case?

Me: Yes

Lawyer: Please describe all such cases.

Me: There was a civil dispute years ago with a former employee of my company who violated his employment contract. It’s sad how some people simply can’t be trusted. Know what I mean?

Lawyer: Are there any issues pertaining to that case that remain unresolved?

Me: No

Lawyer: Are you familiar with the defendant, Donald J. Trump?

Me: Yes. I know of him.

Lawyer: How do you know of him?

Me: He was the President of the United States. Pretty hard to miss that.

Lawyer: Do you have any opinions about the defendant?

Me: You’re kidding, right?

Lawyer: Please answer the question.

Me: Yes

Lawyer: Please tell the court what your opinions are, this for the purpose of determining if you will be open to hearing evidence as an unbiased, impartial juror.

Me: Okay.

It’s been established by multiple mental health professionals that Mr. Trump is an amoral narcissist who willfully refuses to consider the harm he does to others while in pursuit of what he wants for himself, which happens pretty much all the time. That enables and encourages the criminal acts he committs in plain sight. He has violated many laws, including sedition, conspiracy to commit lots of crimes, money laundering, various kinds of fraud, incitement to riot, election interference, the emoluments clause of the Constitution, the Hatch Act, at least 20 sexual predator acts and more. So, sure, I’ll be a most impartial juror.

Lawyer: Your Honor, clearly this juror candidate is incapable of being impartial. This goes way beyond a peremptory challenge to his being wholly unfit for jury duty.

Me: No, wait, Your Honor. Don’t listen to him. Put me on the jury. I promise to listen to all of this lawyer’s absurd lies about his client and do it with an open mind. Really. No fingers crossed. I’ll give serious thought to his B.S. evidence before rejecting it. Even more, I’ll consider with an open mind the total crap testimony of the defendant before I vote to convict him and recommend the maximum sentence for each and every one of his crimes. I’m so unbiased that I’ll recommend to the court that the defendant’s sentences run successively with no possibility of parole. That should lock him up with some very unusual people for a few hundred years.

It’ll be great, Your Honor! See? I’m impartial. C’mon, put me on the jury. Please?

The Rolling Stones

In a hopeful article, Build Back Better Isn’t Dead Yet, David Axelrod reminds us of the premature declarations of death of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) in 2010. After months of fruitless negotiations with Republicans, no agreement could be found – imagine that! Not even Democrats could agree with one another – imagine that, too! – and many progressives argued at high decibel levels that lack of a public option made the ACA pointless. Nevertheless, the Act passed a couple of months later. In spite of 7,963 Republican legislative efforts over the next 11 years to drown it in a bathtub, the ACA remains the law of the land and continues to grow in popularity.

Obama took heat for years over the lack of a public option, but he consistently responded with the truth: they passed what could be passed. He refused to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

What if we were to apply that same clarity and action to President Biden’s Build Back Better plan? What if we were to pass what can be passed? What if the perfect were set aside in order to achieve the good? What if we were willing to pass BBB piece-by-piece, like FDR did with the New Deal?

The Rolling Stones said it clearly and said it best:

“You can’t always get what you want.

“But if you try sometime, you just might find

“You get what you need.”

COVIDumb

Mark Felt, aka Deep Throat

The U.S. has:

4% of the world’s population

20% of the world’s COVID cases

15.2% of the world’s COVID deaths.

That’s what continues to happen in this first world, wealthiest nation on Earth. For an understanding of how that is possible, do the Deep Throat imperative: Follow the money to determine who benefits from our homicidal dysfunction.

Hint: It might be those who will benefit from a weak economy and an angry citizenry.

.

The big loser states – all with gubernatorial and/or legislative obstacles to vaccinations and masking. There is a terrible price for obstinance and false claims of freedom.

A Tale of Death in Two Same Story Cities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

….Can you help with an attribution for this video?

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Domestic Terrorism and Your Ancestors


Likely, the first part of the title of this post makes you think of the kid who killed 4 classmates in Michigan’s Oxford High School last week. Maybe you also remember the Las Vegas shooter, the Tree of Life Synagogue and Mother Emanuel AME Church shooters and the murderer in Charlottesville and the insurrectionist murderers at the Capitol Building. You’d be right using that title for all those murderers. But I’m thinking about our terrorist elected officials.

Like the terrorists who made it a felony to give a bottle of water to someone waiting in line to vote. And the ones who made it legal for thugs carrying Glocks and assault rifles to patrol the grounds right outside polling places. What could possibly go wrong there?

And like the terrorist legislators who use minority rule to make second class, powerless citizens of those who likely wouldn’t vote for them.*

And the terrorists in Congress who regularly threaten to shut down the U.S. government whenever a Democrat is in the White House. They’re the same terrorists who threaten to cause our country to default on its debts. They do that every year a Democrat is in the White House, too.

“Hey, world, we just decided we won’t pay you what we owe you. Too bad for you and goodie for those of us who refuse to pay our national credit card bill, ‘cus we just stuck it to the President and our opponents in Congress. That’s how you know that we’re very tough guys. You’re just collateral damage and honestly, we really don’t care what happens to you or our standing among nations, as long as we get our way now.”

There was a time when terrorists putting a gun to the nation’s head to get their way wouldn’t have been tolerated. Back then the idea of claiming that an election was stolen, this in the total absence of any evidence to support the claim, would have earned censure, rebuke and ridicule. Storming the Capitol to stop the peaceful transfer of power wouldn’t even have occurred to anyone. But all of that and more have gone on and much is still going on right now, energized by a constant fire hose of lies. We’ve always had politicians who lie, but there are few if any other examples of a coordinated, extremist attack on reality.

If we’re to deal with this domestic terrorism we’ll have to figure out some things, like:

How is it that ignoring the will of the people is standard and lying to the public every day is both commonplace and smart politics?

How is it that we wring hands and then move on as though nothing has happened every time some whack job guns down kids, shoppers, concert goers and worshipers? Then we refuse to do anything to prevent the next murderer wannabe from getting his hands on a gun.

And how is it that the extremists, the radical terrorists, have manipulated the Supreme Court into a being a mob of partisan hacks that,

– invites huge money into our politics so the rich can buy their legislators (Citizens United). Worse, they exaggerated that harm with an issue unrelated to that case (“legislating from the bench”) that gave full human rights to corporations

– blocks gun safety legislation at every opportunity (Heller) and snuffs countless other attempts to obey the will of We The People – NOTE: a minimum of 80% of us want those gun safety laws.

– is now almost certain to ignore established law, decisions and the precedent of generations (no more stare decisis), leading to mistrust of the rule of law and making Supreme Court justices nothing more than political hacks**

– is now almost certain to tell women that they are not full citizens with the right to make decisions for themselves and that the government will be their daddy for life**

– is now almost certain to stimulate huge growth in the back alley abortion business, leading to otherwise preventable sterilizations, sickness and death – we’ve seen this movie before**

How is it that we tolerate such wanton disregard of decency and responsibility and we abandon the most fundamental rule of democracy, majority rule?

What has happened to us such that we allow all of this to go on?

Those aren’t idle or rhetorical questions. I want your insight on how we came to allow our values to be desecrated, because I surely don’t have answers. Here’s something to stimulate your thinking.

About your ancestors

Imagine for a moment that you could talk to your grandparents or great-grandparents for an hour or two, people of the Greatest Generation and perhaps the generation before them, born in the late 19th or the earliest part of the 20th century. You’d tell them what is happening in today’s America. What do you suppose they’d say? Here’s my guess.

It would take most of that time for them to begin to believe you, because they’d be shocked and horrified. Your report would be of an America that is unimaginable to them. Much of the story you’d have told them would describe some of the very reasons we went to war against countries that did the things we’re doing right now.

That’s how far we’ve strayed.

Look for a clear call to action on Wednesday, December 8.

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* From Prof. Heather Cox Richardson:

“After 19 Republican-dominated states have passed election laws suppressing the vote and gerrymandering districts, a reactionary minority controls them. Although Biden won Wisconsin, for example, the state supreme court today left in place districts that likely will enable Republicans to control 60% of the legislative seats in the state (and 75% of the state’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives). Ending federal protections for civil rights means handing to these reactionaries power over the majority of us.”

**  From Dan Rather:

“The issue of abortion is one on which fair minded people, honest to their own beliefs and moral codes, can disagree. But today was not about personal choice. It was about the law of the land that will make no exceptions other than those carved out by the states. And if the history of a time before legal abortions is any guide, and there is no reason to suspect otherwise, today will beget many personal tragedies, ruined lives, hardship, and despair.

“What transpired in the marbled halls of the Supreme Court was not genteel, even if it was wrapped in the ceremony and vocabulary of polite legal discourse. It was a traumatic reckoning. First and foremost for the rights of women to have control of their bodies and their lives. And secondly for a nation of laws, where precedent is supposed to matter. Instead, we saw a fixed legal right, enshrined in jurisprudence for half a century, likely shredded by a handful of unelected and unaccountable arbiters of what our nation of more than 300 million souls can and cannot do.”

“There are many subplots to this drama. We can talk about how a majority of the justices on the reactionary side of the ledger were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote, and what that means for the health of our democracy. We can talk about how many of the justices were less than truthful, or outright lied, in their confirmation hearings when they acted like they would judge an abortion case on precedent and the law instead of having their minds made up. We can talk about the politics of the court and whether Democratic voters slept-walked on the issue for too long.”

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

The Thing


The First Thing

In a recent post Jamelle Bouie mounted an interesting review of horror films, this being appropriate for the Halloween season and things that scare us. He focuses on the 1982 cult classic movie The Thing. Perhaps oddly, he shows how it is instructive for us right now.

Bouie writes:

For as much as critics dismissed the film as expensive trash, there is an idea here: that fear and paranoia can dissolve the bonds of friendship, camaraderie and citizenship. That they can sap us of our ability to work together and paralyze us in the face of crisis. It is an idea which, in our age of misinformation, public distrust and pandemic disease, lands with heavy force.

Which is what is happening – what we’re doing – every day.

Think about the rabid, vicious attacks on our people and institutions that are trying to keep us from being annihilated by COVID. Why would people threaten our protectors with death? Why would they insist that children go to school without protection from a killer disease and instead become walking, virus-saturated gas clouds to infect their school mates? Why would people dismiss the horrible truth that almost 3/4 of a million Americans are now dead and over 1,600 die every day of COVID?

Why would they go berserk at school board and town hall meetings? Why would they willingly embrace fantastical, impossible conspiracy theories that paint themselves as hapless victims of a powerful, evil cabal?

I submit for your consideration that all of this is yet more manifestation of the rage of powerlessness that drives people to act like ravenous, meat devouring reptiles. All higher brain functions shut down when rage inflames us and we do things like assault the Capitol Building, cops and Congress, plot to kidnap and assassinate a sitting governor and call for a civil war. “When do we get to use our guns?” asked one enraged brain attached to a mouth.

Rage makes licensed lawyers stand in their front yard and threaten peaceful protesters with assault weapons. It makes elected officials lie both actively and passively to overthrow our government and it sends some of them to a series of meetings in the Willard Hotel to plot that overthrow. It’s what makes camo-wearing tough guys show up at public events with AR-15s strapped to themselves. And it’s what tears families apart.

This nation was born in a violent fit of “You can’t tell me what to do!” and people who have felt powerless for generations carry that attitude as a token of the power they crave. Indeed, 30% of Republicans believe that they are not only right, but that violence is appropriate in order for them to get what they want. And oddly, they imagine they’re in a brotherhood with those who are pulling the strings of power against them to gain absolute power for themselves. It’s so easy to fool and manipulate angry people.

The Civil War wasn’t a war of northern aggression and the belief that “The South will rise again” never died. The spirit of renegade, self-labeled good guys and their hatred for victimizing bad guys lives on and gives breath to the rage that is manifest here every day. Now, though, it isn’t just the South. It’s rural versus urban and struggling versus comfortable. It’s hateful versus complacent and have-nots versus haves, or so they believe. And it’s dehumanizing versus human. It’s every guerilla war.*

People have always had their certainties and self-righteousness when they believe they’ve been wronged. When we think we’ve been hit, we want to hit back, even when doing so is self-destructive, like refusing vaccines.

Just because you’re not sure if you feel a little tickle of paranoia both personally and for our democracy doesn’t mean it’s an illusion or that there aren’t people plotting against you. They actually exist and they are enraged and they are armed with weapons they’re itching to use.

I wish you a pleasant Halloween full of lawn ghosts and cardboard goblins, which, even if they were real, wouldn’t be even a tiny fraction as scary as our reality. And that’s The Thing.

Be sure to read this from John Pavlovitz.

And Another Thing

I don’t know if in 2009 – 2010  President Obama wanted our new healthcare system to be universal coverage – Medicare for All. What I do know is that creating M4A simply was not possible with the 111th Congress, propelled as it was by Citizens United-fueled money and having its finger on the No Way button. Trying for M4A would have been an exercise in folly and failure.

He was left with the politics of the possible, a compromise that really didn’t thrill anyone, but which moved the ball downfield and we wound up with the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare. It’s been quite a success even in the face of the dozens of Republican attempts to scuttle it. The American people love it, as long as Obama’s name isn’t mentioned (not that we have race issues). The point is that we enacted the bill that could be enacted.

Everyone likes the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act because we can all see the potholes, crumbling pavement and rickety bridges and we know they have to be fixed or replaced – built back better. Even our distorted reality, galactically dysfunctional Senate managed to see that and pass the bill. That made it a fine hostage for Democrats to use to force the President’s Build Back Better Bill through Congress.

There are only two obstacles to BBB becoming law and you know their names.** They are objecting to various parts of that legislation, some objections being named in squishy sound bites and some going unnamed. That makes negotiating with the extortioners like shaking hands with a ghost.

What’s clear is that not every provision originally proposed in the BBB bill is going to be included. Some people won’t get their favorite piece of that pie because the half-pie won’t include it.

The important thing is to recognize that, like the ACA, this is a step in the right direction and a really good one. Focus on the wins. We’ll come back for more when the time is right. For now, let’s do what’s possible.

And that’s another very important Thing.

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Still More Things

* Can you think of a time when people in Congress slung vile epithets at the President of the United States and it was somehow deemed to be okay behavior, even cheered? Read this from Professor Heather Cox Richardson:

The Republican Party has long ceased to offer policy ideas and is focusing on culture wars and obstruction. Their big statement this week has been to throw “Let’s go, Brandon” into speeches and, in the case of Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO), into a rap video in which she stars. The phrase means “F**k Joe Biden,” for those in the know; they use it because social media moderators do not flag it.

The press secretary for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tweeted it out on Thursday morning, just after the president announced a framework for the Build Back Better bill  .  .  .”

This is what people in a rage and people clawing for power do. They become a brat-on-the-playground to egg on the rest. These people are supposed to be leaders of our country, but they’re only leaders to the 38% of Americans who are stuck in their blind anger. But those people show up to vote.

Think about that, because it’s a really big Thing, a monster that has the power to crush us and all we hold dear if we fail to stand against it. Making smug faces and hurling derision won’t help. Supporting those on the front lines, encouraging people to vote and our showing up on all election days will help. As you know, Democracy is a participation sport, just like they said in civics class. You did take a civics class, right?

** From Tressie McMillan Cottom in the New York Times:

Sinema is known for making a visual splash as a method of political storytelling. That story seems to be something like, “I am a maverick. You can’t control me. You are not the boss of me. I’m an independent thinker,” even when thinking independently may run afoul of reason or ideological positions.

Sinema is like many voters in that her identity as an independent has supplanted her actual political ideology.

If you know anyone who values their independent identity over substance, please invite them to reconsider. Sinema is damaging the country and the prospects of her constituents with her independent tantrums. That isn’t a good model to follow in a time when we have to band together to stop the ragers from destroying our country.

“All politics is based on the indifference of the majority.” – James “Scotty” Reston (Thanks, MG!)

This isn’t a good time to be indifferent.

And that’s the biggest Thing.
————————————
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

So Many Crises, So Little Time


Fiddle (or golf) while America burns?

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

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

The pandemic

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

Attacks on civil rights and voting rights

The obvious and looming climate crisis

Our decrepit infrastructure and lack of preparedness for the future

Our incendiary immigration dysfunction

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

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

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

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

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

Nero Destruction Award – NOT a Trump non-disclosure agreement

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

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

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

We Have a Democracy To Save

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

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

Thomas Paine

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

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

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

Resources – a Wake Up Call

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

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

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

Our Constitutional Crisis Is Already Here. by Robert Kagan

Anything by Anne Applebaum

How Democracies Die, by Sam Levitsky and Daniel Zieblatt

How Fascism Works, by Jason Stanley

On Tyranny, by Timothy Snyder

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

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

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

September 27 Twitter thread by Mark Jacob

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

________________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Fine Print:

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

JA

 


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

A Movie Message For . . .


Senate Republicans who hold hostage this nation and the world, solely for their own political benefit

The people who show up at school board meetings to be verbally abusive and hateful

Those who tear down mobile Covid test stations

Those who abuse healthcare workers

Those who shout down doctors and scientists

Those who refuse vaccines, regardless of their reasons

Those who attack others who wear a mask

Those who give credence to conspiracy spouters

Those who manipulate truth into lies solely to get viewers and clicks

Those who try to intimidate parents as they walk their kids to and from school

Those who seek to marginalize people, especially politicians crushing people’s rights

The screamers at town hall meetings

The political delusionists who explain away clearly illegal, immoral behavior with absurd fictions

Those who threaten and intimidate election officials and volunteers

Those who attempt to disrupt vaccination centers

Those who vote for politicians who act to take rights from others

Just get this: As you deny the reality that is right before you and as you hurt others, you’re hurting yourself. And your kids. And your parents and sisters and brothers and friends and neighbors from sea to shining sea.

The only people who benefit from your actions are people who don’t give a damn about you. They’re just using you to get what they want and would sell you out for a nickel.

They’ll never respect you until you respect yourself.

This message comes to you from the 1987 film Moonstruck. In the clip below, you are the Nicholas Cage character on the right. The rest of us are Cher’s character, speaking to you from the heart.

.

Note: In composing this post it was dispiriting to recognize how easy it was to come up with the list above. Sadly, we see this stuff every day.

Special January 6 Commission Q & A

Q: Is contempt of Congress a violation of the law?

A: Yes

Q: Is obstruction of justice a violation of the law?

A: Yes

Q: Is failing to produce records subpoenaed by Congress both contempt of Congress and obstruction of justice?

A: Yes

Q: Is there any reason not to refer Steve Bannon, Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino (wherever he’s hiding) and Kash Patel for criminal prosecution?

A: No

Q: Do the Democrats in Congress have the cojones to refer these miscreants for criminal prosecution?

A: Maybe

Q: Does the Justice Department have the cojones to prosecute these bums?

A: Maybe

Q: If the roles were reversed and Republicans were investigating an insurrection associated with the Democratic Party and 4 witnesses ignored their subpoenas, what would the Republicans do?

A: They would have those guys in jail so fast they’d have to do a perp run instead of a perp walk.

Q: Has the Democratic Party learned its lesson about failing to be bold and recognized that they must do what must be done?

A: Hope springs eternal, but it ain’ no strategy for success.

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Liberty


Samuel Johnson

Just before the American Revolution the English poet and literary critic Samuel Johnson asked,

“How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?”

In a singular way, his insightful question puts a perspective to our founding hypocrisy. What was the contortion of mind and soul that allowed our Founders, men of great intellect and profound moral clarity, to live with such duplicity? One might reasonably think that, surely, that inconsistency must have vanished long ago, at least as far back as the abolishing of slavery, but I don’t think so.

Jim Crow didn’t end when southern governors were forced by National Guard or 101st Airborne troops to step aside and allow Blacks (or, really, any non-Whites) to attend public school with Whites. It didn’t end at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, NC, nor did it end with the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. And it didn’t end when Trayvon Martin fell to the ground dead with a bag of Skittles in his pocket.  On one side of each of these incidents and so many more were Whites yelping loudly about their liberty and demanding it to the detriment of others.

It’s no different with our flagrant White supremacists today. Some adorn their pickup trucks with Trump flags and intimidate innocent people. Others intimidate with a vote or with their signature, often on letterhead from the House or Senate, state legislatures or governors’ mansions. These are people of power and stature, the heirs to the mantle handed down from the Founders.

They don’t own slaves or chase people from lunch counters or schoolhouse doors any more, but they work every day to keep non-Whites from voting, to keep them down and powerless. And as these people in power steal from non-Whites – and they’ve expanded their domination to suppress the poor and our young people, too – they are all the while yelping loudly about their liberty.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have we learned nothing in these hundreds of years since Samuel Johnson asked his painful question?

Now add this from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”

Quite obviously millions covet their duplicitous, foolish consistency. It is much adored by our little statesmen and those who cheer them and harbor that self-same hypocrisy. Our duplicity hasn’t gone away. It’s just mutated and metastasized into today’s cruel, selfish liberty for some, but not for others.

Edward M. Kennedy, 1980

So, it falls to us to honor the pledge of Sen. Edward Kennedy, speaking at the 1980 Democratic National Convention:

“The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.”

Our challenge, as ever, is to make that dream of liberty live.

.

Many thanks to JN for the chuckle

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Serving The Dream

We need to reach voters in cities where they’ve been repeatedly slammed by so-called “100 year storms.” They at last believe the climate crisis is real and that it truly is a crisis, but believing in this reality isn’t enough; we have to do something about it – like VOTE FOR THOSE WHO WILL ACT TO COOL THE CLIMATE AND PROTECT US! 

You can help to motivate people to vote for candidates who are serious about combating the climate crisis by sending postcards that remind voters to take action. This has been made easy to do by the Postcards for Climate folks. You don’t have to be a wordsmith to do this because they’ll give you the script.

LINK HERE to get your postcards. And be sure to get your kids involved, because they’ll want to be able to breathe and eat when they’re adults. Plus, democracy is a participation sport, so sending postcards is good citizenship training for them.

We have to do democracy in order to have democracy.

– Kelly Ward Burton, President, National Democratic Redistricting Committee

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

The End


Hanging from the rear view mirror of the car parked next to mine.

If you’ve never attended a soccer game played by six-year-olds then you’ve missed the practicing of cartwheels, playing of rock-paper-scissors and spacing out while twiddling hair, all while on the field. It’s something of an athletic and sociological miracle that goals are scored.

When our granddaughter’s game was over we headed back to the car and spotted this rear view mirror hanger in the car in the next space. At first I thought this little forward-vision-impairment item (in lieu of fuzzy dice) was a nice little feel-good.

It is, indeed, that, and its simplicity is appealing, but it has a major flaw. That’s because the end can be catastrophic if we allow that. The simple feel-good must not distract us from the important work we have to do if we’re to craft what must come about, the OK end.

For example, read this from a recent post by Dan Rather:

This idea of conservative and liberal becomes even more strained when we try to apply it to the courts, particularly the current Supreme Court. We talk about the “conservative” justices, as if they are holding back the mobs to protect the sanctity of the Constitution. In reality they are laying waste to settled Constitutional rights and condoning attacks on our democratic process. Doesn’t seem very conservative to me.

Me either. It’s really important that we do something to stop “conservative” justices from trashing the Constitution and our democracy. Complacency on our part just won’t do.

Here’s another example from a recent Paul Krugman essay focused on the Republicans voting not to raise the debt ceiling, this via filibuster. That’s pretty much like you refusing to pay your credit card bill. If you did that you wouldn’t be extended credit anywhere and even worse things would happen. Same for the United States. Here’s a good explainer for that. Now on to Krugman’s comments.

Make U.S. debt unsafe — make the U.S. government an unreliable counterparty [trading partner], because its ability to pay its bills is contingent on the whims of an irresponsible opposition party — and the disruption to world markets could be devastating.

He went on to say,

What is new is the complete ruthlessness of the modern Republican Party, which is single-mindedly focused on regaining power, never mind the consequences for the rest of the country. [emphasis mine]

So ask yourself: If a party doesn’t care about the state of the nation when the other party is in power, and it knows that its opposition suffers when bad things happen, what is its optimal political strategy? The answer, obviously, is that it should do what it can to make bad things happen. [emphasis Krugman’s]

That kind of behavior is now commonly done by Republicans. And similar to the point about Rather’s essay, that’s just not okay and complacency on our part just won’t do.

There are plenty of other examples where complacency won’t do, like the continuing Covid homicides in Red states, White supremacist hate and threats of violence, the efforts to steal elections, the foot dragging on dealing with the climate crisis and more. I think that little mirror hanger sign we discovered following the soccer game, the one that assures us that things will be okay in the end, is accurate, but that won’t – it can’t – happen through complacency. This is going to take a lot of work for a long time.

Final Question

It’s my belief that Mitt Romney, for all the disagreements I have with him over policy, is a sensible man with a clear moral compass. There are other Republicans in the Senate who can be described the same way. But if that’s true, how in the world could they filibuster against raising the debt ceiling, essentially threatening to severely harm the United States and even the the entire world? How would that be okay in the end?

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Empathy v2.0


Addendum to Can We Stop Wringing Hands?

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

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

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

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

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

Empathy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click for The Onion story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click me for the CDC report

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Primitive Fixes to Complex Problems


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking of Primitive Fixes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* DISCLAIMER:

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

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

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

From Sheila Markin:

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

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

[email protected]

and let her know you want in.

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

Finally

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

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

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

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

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