Education

The Best We Can Do


Disarming the Monterey Park shooter – Click me

Monterey Park, CA

After hearing an interview with Brandon Tsay, the man who disarmed the Monterrey Park shooter, Shannon Watts, Founder of Moms Demand Action, said,

“We are asking everyday civilians to stand up to gunmen because our lawmakers are too cowardly to stand up to gun makers.” *

You know in your bones that she’s right.

Here Are The Totals:  January 1 – 28**

Click me

.
  • All gun deaths                 3,244 – 116 per day
  • Mass shootings                   43 – 3 every 2 days
  • Children killed                    128***
  • Children injured                  297***

Those aren’t just numbers; they’re people. Like granny. Like your kids. Like you.

Is this the best we can do? Really?

Speaking of Violence

You know that Tyre Nichols was beaten by 5 Memphis cops and that he later died from that attack. You may have watched the videos that were released Friday evening. You may be tempted to share your horror with others by inviting them to watch the video.

Before you do, read this from Bear Bellinger of Indivisible. In part, he writes,

“Sharing the video is sensationalizing violence while minimizing the pain that it imparts on Black bodies. Share solutions. Share actions. Share outrage. Do. Not. Share. The. Video.

So, hold on to your horror, your sadness, your rage. Your feeling that way and more proves that you are a human being with empathy, but that’s not enough.

We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.”– MLK

Is this the best we can do? Really?

It Ain’t Over

Here’s a graph of total Covid deaths since the first, then-mysterious one in February 2020.

Click me

As you can see, we’re continuing to raise the death count, now at the rate of 543 dead bodies per day – and the rate is increasing. Weirdly, the pile up of bodies has faded into national background noise, as we seem to have forgotten the over 1.1 million already dead – roughly equivalent to everyone in Dallas, TX – the nearly 104 million total cases reported (likely, there are many more) and all the suffering. The point of showing you the graph is to help you realize that this isn’t over. The war isn’t won. Not all the boys are coming home.

  • I’m over 70 and my age alone makes me a pretty good target for any variant of this virus. And it found me. I hunkered down with Paxlovid and got better. Then it came back, laughing at me for my foolish belief that I had beaten it. I think it’s gone now.
  • I didn’t like having Covid, but the point is that I’m still here and able to say so.
  • Thank you, vaccine people!
  • Fie on vaccine conspiracy crazies!
  • The majority of us took one or two vaccines, but only about 16% of Americans have taken the bivalent vaccine for protection from the primary variants that are stalking us right now. You need to get it into your head that you need to get the updated booster into your arm. Not tomorrow; today, if you want to avoid being one of the 543 tomorrow.
  • Did I mention that only 16% of us have protection against the new viruses that are trying to take us down?
  • Is this the best we can do? Really?
  • Congress
  • Fifteenth ballot winner for Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy (R-Hypocrisy), is convening a new select committee, which means he gets to select its members. It is the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government (“HSS-WTF”). Per Heather Cox Richardson,

“Yesterday in The Bulwark, Jill Lawrence explained that the true goal of the committee is ‘shoveling paranoia and distortion into the news stream’ to make right-wing voters distrust the government even more than they already do. David Jolly, a former Republican congressman from Florida who left the party in 2018, told Lawrence: ‘It’s a drug they’re going to put out on the street for conservative media and conservative voters.'”

No surprise there. No surprise, either, that Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Rabies) will chair the WTF committee to ensure it is a circus of hateful delusion. It’s just what he does.

Plus, McCarthy has evicted Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA) from the Intelligence Committee and plans to remove Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from the Foreign Affairs Committee. He falsely claimed that Schiff and Swalwell had lied to the American people and that allowing either of them on that committee would compromise national security. And, as is quite obvious, Omar is a Muslim. He didn’t say that part out loud.

So, he’s packing the committee with far right extremists who tried to overthrow our government on January 6. All this is a matter of integrity to McCarthy, he told us. Seriously, he said that.

I figure that removing Schiff and Swalwell and replacing them with brain-free extremists will significantly lower the overall intelligence of the Intelligence Committee. My recommendation is to have low expectations of it.

That’s where the Republican majority is focused as we face a debt ceiling debacle.

Is this the best we can do? Really?

Education

Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida and 2024 presidential wannabe, is doing his best to keep kids in his state ignorant and to polarize his citizens. He recently removed AP (Advanced Placement) African-American studies from the high school electives offerings, claiming it is not education, but “indoctrination.” That was his word choice.

It’s interesting that De Santis doesn’t consider AP French to be indoctrination. Neither does he claim AP European History or AP American History or AP World History or AP U.S. Government and Politics or AP Spanish or any other AP course to be indoctrination. It’s only indoctrination if it’s about Blacks. Stoking culture wars in a “one up, all others down” society: does it get any better than that for that self-serving extremist?

This is his latest move to promote ignorance in Florida, following his book banning and the threat of 3rd degree felony charges against teachers or librarians who so much as whisper words suggesting anyone or anything that is not straight – the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law. This has led to a new state motto flapping above the capitol building in Tallahassee:

IGNORANCE R US

.

In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance.

  • “1984”, George Orwell
  • Many thanks to my lifelong friend, Frank Levy, for the quote.

Is this the best we can do? Really?

Finally, a Chuckle

Of course you remember Hurricane Ian that devastated Ft. Myers, FL last September and threatened states all the way to North Carolina. I pinged friends there to see if they were OK – they were – and they sent the pic of Mar-a-Lago to the right.

Ian, was that the best you could do? Really?

_______________________________

* The only thing that stops a cowardly, bad lawmaker with a vote is a good lawmaker with a vote.

Elect good lawmakers.

** Source: www.GunViolenceArchive.org

*** Firearms are the Leading Cause of Death for Children in the United States, But Rank No Higher Than Fifth in Other Industrialized Nations – Kaiser Family Foundation

______________________________

  • 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 or neighborhood vibrant.

    JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Cluelessness


Struggling to Understand

New York Times Senior Opinion Staff Editor Alexandra Sifferlin wrote a piece on Monday triggered by the Covid-19 death of sports journalist Grant Wahl while covering the World Cup in Qatar. Her story was not about his death. It was about the “anti-vaxxers [who] were quick to blame his death on the Covid-19 vaccine.”

Questions pop off the page, like why would people believe fact-free conspiracy rumors about the vaccines, canards that were spread by non-doctors and non-scientists and hateful rumor generators? Think: injecting bleach. And why would anyone invade the grief so many are feeling and dump cruelty on these innocents? Wait: this gets worse.

Sifferlin continues, “Céline Gounder is an infectious disease doctor and epidemiologist [i.e. a doctor and a scientist] and has been a prominent voice on the Covid-19 pandemic. She is also Wahl’s widow and has been sent numerous emails and voice mail messages blaming her for his death because of her support for vaccines.” Cruelty amplified.

Let this stand as a placeholder for so many forms of anti-social behavior that have become commonplace, like:

neighbors yelling vitriolic slurs at school board meetings

bullies making death threats to citizens doing patriotic things, like being poll workers

thugs committing murder – mass shootings or otherwise – that are encouraged by people broadcasting loathing in order to inflame anger and hatred

I’ve just begun reading Andy Borowitz’s new book, Profiles in Ignorance: How America’s Politicians Got Dumb and Dumber (see Fine Print #5 below). In his introduction he writes,

“We’ll retrace the steps of the vacuous pioneers who turned ignorance from a liability into a virtue. By relentlessly lowering the bar, they made it possible for today’s politicians to wear their dunce caps with pride. Gone are the days when leaders had to hide how much they didn’t know. Now cluelessness is an electoral asset and smart politicians must play dumb, or risk voters’ wrath. Welcome to the survival of the dimmest.”

The standout part of that is that cluelessness is mandatory or politicians will “risk voters’ wrath.” That means that the driving force of politicians’ proud ignorance is a public that wants them to be clueless. What’s going on with us that we rejoice in being uninformed and, worse, dumb? And why wouldn’t we want our leaders to be smart – smarter than the average bear – so they can make good choices for us?

We must want to be clueless and dumb in order to believe absurd conspiracy idiocy, like that there are giant Jewish space lasers igniting wild fires in California, that the moon landings were faked, that there is a Hillary Clinton sex trafficking operation in a non-existent basement of a DC pizza restaurant and all the rest.

Surely, there’s more to this than cluelessness. Ignorance doesn’t explain the ongoing undermining of our democracy by people proclaiming themselves to be patriots. (See: “oxymoron” with emphasis on the “moron.”) It doesn’t explain thousands trashing the Capitol Building and preparing to lynch the Vice President and Speaker of the House and defecating in the Rotunda. It doesn’t explain thugs in camo carrying AR-15s strutting around the entrances to polling places. Love of ignorance is a prerequisite for all of that, but it doesn’t explain the fear and rage and cruelty.

I’m a Boomer and distinctly recall President Kennedy declaring, “College is America’s best friend.” Of course, there were practical reasons for that, such as that we were in a cold war against a belligerent Russian bear and we needed smart, well educated people to be technical geniuses so we could defend our nation. Nobody argued for cluelessness. Nobody declared war on wisdom and learning, but that’s changed.

What’s going on that we cram theocracy into our public schools and steal public school tax money and give it to fund parochial schools? Why did we let George W. Bush get away with his attack on the First Amendment by shifting government education funds to “faith-based initiatives?” What’s going on that some opportunistic politicians are Big Brothering our schools to limit what children can learn and they’re burning books? How come some seem to want us to return to the massive ignorance that existed prior to the Age of Enlightenment?

Somehow a great deal has changed and we have a profound disdain for wisdom and learning. Far more dangerous is the anger toward people who think. We’re in an age of visceral primacy, where “Me getting what I want is all that matters and I’m pleased to stomp on anyone who sees things differently. Fie on education, learning and critical thinking!”

How did we elect pretty-face-empty-head Ronald Reagan? Why did we elect doofus frat boy George W. Bush? Why did we fall for an obvious con artist, Mr. 30,000 lies? Why don’t we want all of our presidents to be smart and well informed? Also, patriotic.

What has happened that we seem to prefer rage over everything else? Are we to return to some semblance of appreciation for learning and wisdom and of one another, or will we continue until the few of us left are living in caves? If we are to drop the primacy of cruelty that endangers us all, what has to happen? How will that come about?

I’m struggling to understand this.

Do Some Supporting

The mouse is now Speaker of the House and the legislative terrorists – the “Tear-Down Party” – are in control of him. Brace yourself, because this is going to be an extremely turbulent two years.

As those fifteen embarrassing elections were happening in the House of Representatives, I emailed my congressman, Brad Schneider (D-IL10), with a simple message:

Hang in there! Gotcher back as you fight the good fight.
.

He sent an appreciative reply.

There are a lot of people in Congress who do that every day – they fight the good fight. That’s in spite of the fact that they hear every day from people who are mad at government and mad at them. They get irrational demands thrown at them. They get hate mail. They get threats.

I figure that now and then they need to hear from the people who know they’re doing the right thing. They need to hear a thanks for standing tall in the face of cruelty and oppression and madness. They can use some validation that they’re on the right side, reassurance that they’re representing us properly.

So, I have a suggestion and a request: Call or text your senators and congressperson and let them know that you appreciate them fighting the good fight and that you have their back. https://www.house.gov/ and https://www.house.gov/

And if they’re on the wrong side, call or text them and say that you see them for what they are and what they’re doing and that you have the back of whoever opposes them.

Classified Documents Found in Biden’s Old Office

I’m shocked – SHOCKED!to learn that Fox-Never-Was-News is horrified by a revelation about a Democrat.

O’ the stupefaction of it all!

An Update On the Rotary of Northbrook Coat Drive

Ref: The last section of this post.

Text pasted from Rotary:

The Final Count.  831 winter coats plus around a dozen boxes of gloves/hats/scarves/boots.  In terms of winter coats, we are confident this is more than last year. Most have already been distributed to 9 charity organizations/locations, with the final boxes (pictured below) for World Relief Chicago, PADS, and a fifth dropoff at Connections for the Homeless all scheduled for next week.  Two Men and a Truck will donate transportation for these boxes for a fourth straight week. So far, five organizations have received at least a first installment of coats:  Refugee One, Stock the Shelves, Connections for the Homeless, Ethiopian Community Association (refugees), and Deerfield Free Store.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bunch of people will be warmer now. Thanks and kudos to all who contributed!

  • ————————————
  • 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 or neighborhood vibrant.

JA

 


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

A Love Letter To Millennials and Gen-Zs


Ed. notes:

  1. In these dispiriting times it can be easy to let our sense of love and awe for this country be dampened. But this Fourth of July weekend is exactly the right time to face that challenge, to find our inner red, white and blue and to cheer for the country we’ll make. Set out your flag and blast Stars and Stripes Forever for the more perfect union we are all tasked to create.
  2. If you’re not a Millennial or Gen-Z (and even if you are), please pass this along to all you know. Their future is at stake.

Dear Millennials and Gen-Zs,
.
Warning: This is not a 3-minute TikTok video. This requires critical thinking. You know how to do this. Buckle up.
.
Plus, what you think matters. Put it out there in the Comments section below to help we clueless Boomers understand how you see things.
.
Now on to your love letter.

————————————-

Do you like what Boomers have done to things you care about? I mean things like not being safe in school; like that tens of thousands of American citizens have been prevented from voting; like that women have lost the right to choose what happens to their bodies; like that babies were ripped from their mothers’ arms at our southern border; like that nobody in charge seems to give a damn if we cook this planet and suffer the terrible consequences. Just guessing you’re not okay with any of that.

The cruel irony of this situation is that Boomers are the ones who caused civil and voting rights to expand and who made that awful war in Viet Nam end. We’re the ones who fought segregation and made assault weapons illegal (for a little while – more on that later). We’re the ones who spoke truth to power, so you might have expected better from us, but here’s where it gets dark.

Majority rule simply doesn’t exist in much of America. Playing by the rules has become optional. And we Boomers did this.

For example, the conservative Boomer majority on the Supreme Court recently decided a case from Maine that effectively says that government must provide financial assistance to students even when the school they want to attend is a so called “faith-based” school. “Faith-based” means that their curriculum is based in religion.

But wait: isn’t religious freedom and freedom from religion a key reason the Pilgrims came here? Isn’t that a tenet of our Constitution, as in the First Amendment? Didn’t the Founders demand that there be no connection between government and religious institutions?

Yes, yes and yes, but that’s no bother to these justices. They’re just 6 Boomers cramming their minority held personal preferences into our lives. This is yet another step in the direction of churches controlling our government, which is just fine if you want a theocracy. It’s what they have in Iran. Go there. You’ll love it.

Not!

Here’s another example.

A cowboy Boomer president lied us into two wars that killed thousands and displaced millions of people. He also ended the assault weapons ban, which is handy if you’re 18 years old and want to kill little kids and Black people. He actively promoted deregulation that plunged the world into financial crisis and none of the fat cats were held accountable.

But I’ll argue that the very worst thing that has happened is that the Republican Party, now a fully Boomer asylum, has turned into a lying, cheating cult and the majority of Americans don’t want that. So, how come they hold power in so many places? Maybe we should do something about that.

Republicans have been claiming voter fraud when they lose elections at least since 1994, this without so much as a shred of evidence to support their wild claims – ever. Don’t imagine that Boomer Trump started this, although he certainly has perfected the lying and cheating parts. So have his sycophants who perpetuate his lies, as well as the Boomer radio and cable talkers who make lots of money spewing lies. Think: accusations of Democrats as pedophiles, operators of an evil, world-wide cabal and igniters of wild fires via space lasers.

Now the Boomer Republicans are stoking violence to crush democracy and replace it with fascism. Doubt that? Click here and read Thom Hartmann’s frightening chronicle of it. If all that truth doesn’t scare you, something’s wrong. But I promise you that it will scare you.

In their fight to destroy democracy, Republican Boomers have trained ordinary citizens to make death threats to fellow citizens – it’s mobocracy. And in their decades-long quest to upend government, they’ve turned their backs on fundamental service to our countrymen. That has allowed and encouraged our mass shootings and expanded death and suffering from disease. You must read the interview of Dr. Peter Hotez, 1 Million Deaths Was a Choice and you’ll understand immediately.

I tell you without hesitation or doubt that the choice of death was made by our first fascist wannabe president. He threw tank car loads of gasoline on the anti-science fire in this country and a million people paid the ultimate price for that.

The point is that we idealistic 60s Boomers don’t have a good track record of adhering to our professed ideals. The dishonesty and corruption against which we railed in the 60s has been dramatically expanded. The Republicans are thugs and the Democrats don’t seem to have the cojones necessary to stop the carnage. And rules just don’t seem to matter any more.

This is about deciding whether we are our brothers’ keeper or whether we’re just in it for our selfish selves. This is about whether we keep our word and are true to the values we espouse or whether cheating, lying and violent attacks on others and our cherished institutions should be our code of conduct.

I’m guessing that you don’t want the crazy stuff and you cannot count on Boomers to fix this because we created this mess.

Here’s the key:

Unless things change, nothing will change.

The good news is that you’re the ones who can and will make real change happen.

Pearl S. Buck, a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, unknowingly wrote this note for you in her 1967 novel, To My Daughters, With Love:

“Upon the profound discontent of the young…do I set my faith.
I beg you, the young, to be discontented.
I pray that you may rebel against what is wrong, not with feeble
negative complaining but with strong positive assertion.” *

From a Millennial/Gen-Z reader:

Past young generations have led groundbreaking movements that have shaken the system for the better. Through petitions, walkouts, and other disobedience, we’ve brought about change in the past.

So, Millennial/Gen-Z person, we Boomers are dumping a gigantic pile of political crap in your lap. This is completely unfair, but,

  1. You have enormous, perhaps not yet recognized power.
  2. The old guys who made the mess will be gone, no longer an obstacle.
  3. Did I mention that you have gigantic power and can outsmart and out-muscle the people who selfishly want to make things worse?

So, it comes down to this:

All the things you care about, like our country and our future survival are in your capable hands.
.

Here is the same message from the 1980 movie Airplane! It’s ancient history to you, of course, but one scene captures well your grim circumstances and the unreasonable tasks before you. Click the pic below.

Click me

Late Additions

The Senate, composed almost entirely of old Boomers, passed a “gun safety bill.” That’s an odd descriptor for legislation regarding killing machines. The good news is that 15 Republicans voted for the bill. The bad news is that 33 Republicans voted against it. Apparently, these 33 prefer dead grannies and dead school kids over a little inconvenience for gun owners. It’s absolutely astonishing that senators have to be shamed into protecting little kids.

Still, this bill is a first step to help to prevent your younger brothers and sisters from being gunned down while sitting at their school desks.

But don’t get too happy, because the twisted, far right Supreme Court 6 struck down a 109 year old New York law prohibiting carrying guns in public. That will be a huge boost to road rage shootings and bar fights in the Big Apple.

And stunningly, the Court ruled to dramatically limit the ability of the EPA to regulate climate warming emissions from power plants, which are responsible for about 30% of our carbon dioxide emissions. What could possibly go wrong?

Technical note: Science doesn’t care if we believe in it. It just is.
.

This is the kind of idiocy we Boomers are leaving to you. Like I said at the beginning, buckle up. It’s time to get to work to make this what you want it to be.

A Final Thought – and It’s Optimistic

If you feel despondent and, perhaps, mired in apathy, it’s because you care, yet are tired of feeling frustrated and hopeless. Understandable.

We are back to the beginning, when Thomas Paine** wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” He was right then and he’s right again now.

What Paine knew was that democracy is a participation sport. That’s the only way it works. We Boomers have had our time at the plate and we punched out some singles and doubles and even a few home runs. We also struck out a lot. Now, it’s your turn at bat.

You are the ones who can do this. You are the ones who are the best educated and most open both in your attitude and in your acceptance of others. You’re the ones thinking beyond the stimulus du jour and you have the energy to take action. And you know that you are the ones who will live with whatever consequences you create, so you have huge skin in this game. And millions of  you are united in all of that. That’s a lot of power. It’s why so many of us believe in you.

So, to torture the baseball metaphor one last time, grab a bat, because you’re up.

You can do this!
.

Love and kisses,

The Boomers

PS – A Request

What’s your reaction to this in-your-face dose of reality? What is it that Boomers just don’t get and need to understand? How do you see things? What are you willing to do to make things better?

There’s a Comments section below for the purpose of answering those questions and others and for airing your views. If there’s anything we need now it’s open discussion to bridge the I Don’t Get It Gap. So, please put it out there to help us all to understand how you see things.

Thanks!

——————————-

* Many thanks to friend and quotemeister Mardy Grothe for the Buck quotation.

** Interesting factoid: Paine was 39 when he wrote Common Sense, which would make him the equivalent of a Millennial.

————————————

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 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 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Symphonietta in the Key of Sarcasm


COVID is OVER!

That’s what they tell us. You know these experts, the screamers at our school board meetings, the politicians sucking up to extremists, the puffed up people crashing maskless into shops having signs on their doors reading, “Masks required,” the temper tantrum idiots at 35,000 feet attacking flight attendants, the fools filing fraudulent lawsuits against our schools and those hundreds of thousands of our unvaccinated with breathing tubes down their throats, yet still in denial. Those people.

They’re sure it’s over. And thank goodness that’s so, because they’re tired of the terrible burden of doing their part. There is no end to their suffering from a little mask.

They really do have challenges with their kids having had to Zoom school or wear a mask all day – that part is real. But these moms and dads are just fine if their kids’ teachers get infected by their unmasked, little Petri dish darlings. At least those moms and dads don’t have the terrible, crushing burdens of both parenthood and citizenship at the same time anymore, because Covid is over. *

On this wonderful end to the pandemic,

No doubt the 31,830 Americans who were diagnosed today will be thrilled to learn that Covid is over. So will the 1,126 people who died from Covid today and all 997,933 who have died since this pandemic began. Oh, wait: they can’t be thrilled to learn that because they’re dead.

Our long Covid sufferers who can’t put together 2 hours of feeling strong will rejoice to discover that their Covid is over.

And, of course, our millions of immunocompromised and high-risk folks can now dance on tippy-toes in the grocery store, because buying a sack of groceries is no longer a death-defying act because Covid can no longer touch them.

And those new variants in Europe and elsewhere, I’m sure there won’t be yet another spike in the graphs when they show up on our doorstep – or in our lungs, right?

Yup, Covid is over. Pass the word.

Best Congressional News!

Our proudly dysfunctional Senate has done something amazing: they passed a bill on just a voice vote to make daylight savings time permanent. It is not currently known how many senators actually knew that a vote was being taken.

So, soon we’ll have no more onerous changing of the clocks twice a year and having to fumble with the one on the microwave. Nosiree, not for us. These courageous senators proudly stood for the right of every patriotic American to live in the Founding Fathers’ vision of freedom from clock setting.

We have only to wait for this bill to zip through the House and then we’ll be free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty we’ll be free at last from the tyranny of setting clocks twice a year.

Similarly, Congress, in a bold bipartisan act, has bravely marched our country forward with the full-throated renaming of some unknown number of post offices. And isn’t that what we really want Congress to tackle – new names for old post offices?

Never mind that the Senate refuses to deal with gun safety issues, even as more blood baths happen almost daily in our way-too-heavily-armed nation. Not gonna do anything about climate change, either, even as it kills thousands of people every year and which may well drown our coastal cities and much of the Florida peninsula and which will make much of the world uninhabitable.

And with this evenly divided Senate that just loves its filibusters and dithering at the edges of loyalty, we don’t have to worry about any social programs being so much as considered, much less passed. Take that, you food stamp takers! You early childhood education freeloaders! You daycare dabblers! You medical cost moaners!

There’s more, of course, but for now just bask in the comfort of knowing that nothing important is getting done, but – good news! – you won’t have to deal with that microwave clock, thanks to our hard working Congress.

—————————–

* “You must never so much as think whether you like it or not, whether it is bearable or not; you must never think of anything except the need, and how to meet it.”

Clara Barton, 1821-1912

Founder of the American Red Cross

————————————

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 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Stop The Steal


What about We The People? When is it our turn? Here’s what’s going on.

—————————-

Elections

You already have some idea of the massive voter suppression being visited upon millions of our fellow citizens in Republican controlled states. Voters have been and are having their voter registrations removed without their knowledge for the heinous crimes of not returning a post card within 2 weeks or not having voted in the last several elections or not having a specific identification card or attempting to vote while Black, young or poor. And mail-in voting and even in-person voting are being made onerous, especially in areas of largely Democratic voters.

Every bit as bad is the distortion of who controls elections. Radicals are replacing nonpartisan election officials with Republican Party operatives. Some are double agents declaring their candidacies for secretaries of states.  They intend to ignore the will of the people and will instead declare Republican candidates winners even when they’ve decisively lost. So much for the will of the people, the rule of law and majority rule.

Schools

Public schooling continues to suffer assaults done by those who want to abolish it in favor of for-profit private schools. If they get their way your children’s education will be at best secondary to the maximizing of profit for school owners. And some bureaucrat with an attitude will determine what your kids will be taught and, more ominously, what will not be taught.

They’re banning and burning books in many of our states. They are preventing our children from getting an education that’s based in reality. These thought police want your kids taught only what they, in their supreme myopia, want taught. Children will be protected from the knowledge of actual history, and will be taught some manipulative revisionist history. It is setting up to be far worse than George Orwell imagined in his dystopian novel.

The old saying was, “Save your Confederate money, boys. The South will rise again!” Judging by the number of Confederate battle flags being waved by delusional pseudo-patriots it might be rising right now. So are the Nazi Germany book burning hate fests. Good luck getting your children a full, honest education.

Good luck, too, having a school board of civic minded, dedicated parents. Today’s school board meetings are fraught with hateful screamers yelling idiotic demands, accusations and only slightly veiled threats at board members. At home these school board volunteers are getting death threats.

Congress

Denial of what is plainly in front of them is standard for Republican senators and congresspeople, even when what is in front of them is a mob promising to murder them. Their only purpose is to be in power and deny anything and everything that Democrats propose. They have no policies other than that. Literally, no other policies.

Recall Mitch McConnell pledging that making both Obama and Biden one term presidents was job number 1. That makes preventing Supreme Court justice nominees from even getting a hearing justifiable to them. So does issuing a blanket rejection of any Black woman as a candidate before she’s been selected. So does voting to acquit a clearly law breaking, insurrection inciting, impeached president – twice. So does filibustering everything sent to the Senate by the House. There are no moderates. Only spineless people who long ago sold out their integrity and abandoned their oath of office.

Patriotism

How does it happen that Republican lawmakers and alt-right blabbers are siding with Vladimir Putin and Russia as they lay waste to a sovereign nation? It used to be that partisanship stopped at the water’s edge. Now, though, partisanship and the continual grubbing for minority control of our nation trumps everything for them. Patriotism is only important, it seems, if it serves the narrow, discriminatory purposes of Republicans.

How can Rick Scott (R-FL) resurrect and get away with Mitt Romney’s hateful “47%” rhetoric? How do Trump and the blabbers get away with their racism and antisemitism? This stuff is designed to divide us, to weaken our nation. These and so many other tropes used by Republicans are against both the intent and the letter of the Constitution.

I keep wondering where the bottom is, but we find once again that there is no bottom to which these radical people won’t sink.

Mobocracy

Our millions who threaten, attack and spew the lies do so because they’ve been convinced they’re doing the right thing. They believe that the end justifies the means and they get a fine power trip doing their bullying, too. So did Hitler’s millions and Stalin’s and Pol Pot’s and the followers of warlords everywhere. All of them thought they were doing the right things. As I’ve said often, it’s so easy to manipulate people into doing horrific things. All it takes is a lot of frustrated, angry people and a charismatic leader to stoke their anger and hatred and all can be lost.

And we’re losing.

We’re incrementally and very rapidly losing our democracy, our societal norms and the dream that is America.

The day will come, perhaps decades from now, when people will be recorded saying that they were just doing what they were told to do. Those who knuckled under will say that they feared for their lives in the face of a murderous mob. Some will say they didn’t know what was really going on. The excuses will be the same litany of self-justifications as always, but the harm they inflicted, condoned or hid from will have been done and many will have suffered terribly from our mobocracy.

There are so many attacks coming from so many sides that stopping the legalized insurrection via the courts is next to impossible. That’s why we need Congress to enact laws to stop the theft. The power to do that comes from protecting voting rights. With the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For the People Act we’ll be able to negate much of the election tampering now happening in many states. And that will give We The People the power to deal with the rest.

We cannot get that or anything else done when senators like Rand Paul will filibuster and 49 other Republican senators refuse to stand for what they know is right. That means only one thing.

Stop The Steal

We have to stop whining and declaring our helplessness over the coming 2022 election. We – that’s you and I, not some amorphous somebody else – have to get to work now to elect Democrats who will save our democracy.

That’s “now” as in:

NOW

P.S.

Wing nut Marjorie Taylor Green has announced articles of impeachment against President Biden. That’s going nowhere in this Democratic majority House. However, all she and her unhinged co-conspirators need to do to turn our Constitution into a bad joke is to win the House this November.

What are you going to do about that?

————————————

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 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

It’s a Feature, Not a Bug


Crime

Crime has been rising for several years, so it’s understandable that one year into the Biden presidency President Biden would be blamed for everything. That’s just how Republicans roll. But let’s set aside stupid talk about defunding the police, lousy administration job performance and the rest. Crime is a symptom, not a root cause. It isn’t a coordinated effort to keep cops employed or politicians’ hands wringing and fingers pointing, so let’s take a look at what might be driving crime.

Let’s start with two givens: first, I’m not an expert at this; second, while other kids are eager to grow up to be a fireman or doctor or a superhero, very few are eager to be criminals. There’s something that causes them to make that decision.

Try hopelessness. Try broken promises. Try the breakdown of families, perhaps broken by hopelessness and broken promises.

We swat at the symptoms, as though a crackdown will stop criminals and serve as an example and thereby prevent future crime. But if we are willing to ask how that’s working for us and we’re realistic, we’d have to answer that it’s not working too well.

What we are doing well is to provide our citizens with public examples of lawlessness and proud declarations of intent to break the law issued from the highest places. And we do next to nothing to create the things that would cause people to choose a life of non-crime. Let’s poke just a little at both pieces.

If you’re reading this (and obviously you are) you already know and have seen insurrection and lawbreaking on a breathtaking scale by elected leaders. Trump is the obvious and easy example, but we’ve locked up several from Congress in just the past few years for things like insider trading. The standard belief is that “They’re all crooks,” which may be a bit of overreach, but there is evidence to suggest that taking bribes, bent legislation that lines the wrong pockets and more is common. Clearly, that stuff happens at the local level, too, where we citizens have the most contact. That provides a not-so-fine example to follow, or at least a message that breaking the law is okay, that it’s just the way things work.

As for hopelessness, how do you think we’re doing at ensuring our people that there are prospects for economic security, a chance for a better tomorrow? We watched and even encouraged manufacturing jobs to go overseas, leaving thousands of towns and millions of people suddenly unemployed or under-employed. Politicians have given lip service to bringing those factories and those jobs back, but it’s been nothing more than hot air for decades.

They also give lip service to better education. Then they kill every attempt to make that happen, especially in poor areas. See “broken promises” above.

Said an unidentified woman participating in a focus group detailed in the New York Times,

” .  .  .  they’re not giving me any sort of ambition to feel like I have any sort of trust in the government to fix things or at least get the ball going in the right direction.”

It’s unlikely that she is prone to committing a crime, but she articulates well our general level of confidence in our self-paralyzing government. Worse, in Flint, MI government officials saved a few bucks or made them for donors by poisoning children with lead in the water. They weren’t alone in that and other nefarious behavior.

Our cities offer little hope for anything better for many of our fellow citizens, which leaves a lot of people with pockets full of empty. Answer for yourself what you would do in such circumstances. Answer for yourself what your level of anger would be – maybe substitute the word “rage.” A drive-by shooting just might help anyone to feel powerful and in control, if only for a moment. And cash stolen from an ATM or convenience store would ease economic woes a bit. Doing the robbery might even feel justifiable.

As I said, I’m no expert at this, but our national hand-wringing and political posturing don’t help a thing, and making the police force of any city the equivalent to the army of a small nation will make for yet more brutality and no progress. What if we were actually to address the root causes? What if we were to stop the hypocritical posturing about education and actually educate all of our kids well?

I’m guessing that there are experts who can tell us what to do to reduce crime. If a miracle happens and somebody in authority actually seeks such counsel, my confidence is high that we won’t pay any attention to that expert advice and that nothing will get better. That’s what we’ve always done.

What we can count on is that right wing politicians will continue using crime statistics to denigrate others and to promote themselves and their chest-thumping, faux virtuous righteousness. They’ll find more ways to blabber about freedom and responsibility. They need that cudgel for political gain, so they’ll steadfastly refuse to take action to open possibilities for those who need them most.

It’s the same logic that causes politicians to obstruct actions to mitigate the pandemic. It’s in Republicans’ interest to keep the suffering and death going, because that gives them both an ongoing pandemic and inflation as issues to use to beat on Democrats. They’d rather that people suffer and die than do anything to help. And review that focus group woman’s comment once again.

Then read Andrew Yang’s essay, The Data Are Clear: The Boys Are Not Alright. The facts and the numbers are shocking.

The design of our system creates these circumstances, which is why I say that crime is a feature, not a bug.

Death

Each is a lethal dose

Congratulations to us on our consistency. We have over 100,000 deaths from drug overdose every year – more than vehicle crashes and gun deaths combined. That number is sufficient to include someone not far from you, although, to be fair, there is a much higher concentration of overdose death in poor areas, like Appalachia, the slums of our cities and on Native American reservations. (How come we took the best land and “reserved” the worst land for them until we wanted that land and then “reserved” still worse land for them?)

Could it be that hopelessness to the point of complete resignation is involved? So, how come we don’t do anything about that hopelessness?

Oh yeah – out of sight, out of mind. Bootstraps demands. Self-induced Myopia. Those people are worth more to the suppliers hooked until they OD than alive and clean. Just ask the Sackler family of Purdue Pharmaceutical and the doctors who got kickbacks from them.*

Looks like our death from overdose is a feature, not a bug, too.

—————————–

* Read Barry Meier’s piece, Origins of an Epidemic: Purdue Pharma Knew Its Opioids Were Widely Abused, as well as German Lopez’s piece A Rising Death Toll, from which the chart below is taken.

————————————

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 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Potpourri – v13.0


Curmudgeon Corner

Richard Branson has successfully staged his self-promotional space spectacular and it is most disappointing.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m as geeky as most science geeks and a space shot, even a barely sub-orbital one, is pretty cool. But the science and engineering and cool factors aren’t the real story.

The real deal is the acquiescence of the national press to publicize Branson’s space tourism private business launch. They have followed this present day P.T. Barnum and faithfully done his marketing for him. What do you suppose 3 hours of cable coverage is worth? Multiply your figure by the number of stations covering the event. Now yet more rich guys will pony up a quarter of a million dollars to ride his roller coaster. Well done, Sir Richard.

That’s a perfect parallel to the non-stop free press coverage that Donald Trump got for 5 years, especially during each of his campaigns. We blame Russian hacking and Trump’s horrendous cheating for his temporarily living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But just as culpable is the press having slavishly done his marketing for him with all that free publicity. I mean, was it really legitimate news to air in full every promotional event and thousands of his inane tweets and every other outrageous thing he said and did?

All news outlets censor, in the sense that they cannot cover everything that happens. They pick and choose every day. Where was their sense of discretion for five years? Where is it today?

Re-education

If you visit the Alamo in San Antonio, TX you’ll see various artifacts of the men who defended it against General Santa Anna’s army in February 1836. Among the items is a brick from the chimney of Davy Crockett’s home in Tennessee. No clue what that has to do with the battle at the Alamo, any more than the tableware that is on display there from the far away homes of others.

The story of the battle and the men who defended the Alamo has been glorified on television, in movies and primarily in proud Texas lore. Some of that lore is accurate. Much is fictionalized to suit Texas pride and there is great Lone Star chest thumping about it going on right now.

There was to be a book tour event at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin to highlight “Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth.” It was cancelled by the museum hours before the event because of political pressure from the state’s Republican lieutenant governor Dan Patrick, who proudly killed the session. (Is that cancel culture? If so, should righties oppose the cancellation?) As one of the book’s authors, Jason Staffords, writes, “Apparently, the state history museum was no place to discuss state history.”

Not to be outdone by his lieutenant governor, Governor Greg Abbott, he of anti-mask and voter suppression infamy, tweeted “Stop political correctness in our schools.” “Of course Texas schoolchildren should be taught that Alamo defenders were ‘Heroic’!”

In other words, pay no attention to facts and reality if they disturb Texans’ comfort in self-serving fantasy. It’s yet another effort of the far right to control the minds of Americans, to educate or re-educate them to manipulative “alternative facts.” We don’ need no stinking truth or learning here in Texas.

Separately, Ira Leavitt wrote about his home town library, saying, “Four new Niles-Maine District Library trustees, stealthy victors in a sparsely-voted election, want to carve deeply into the budget, resulting in staff and program cuts and a 23% reduction of hours.” He called them, “The small-minded people attacking the source of knowledge of their community” No stinking truth or learning needed in Niles, either.

Citizens for Renewing America wants to re-educate our teachers so that our young Americans are properly indoctrinated. For example, Critical Race Theory (CRT), a relatively obscure legal concept, is now a favorite boogeyman used by the far right to demonize any adjustment to its favorite narratives, facts notwithstanding, and they are staunchly against any word of it leaking out. You can download a PDF of the organization’s manifesto, Model School Board Language to Prohibit Critical Race Theory here.

Don’t be fooled by its apparent shield against discrimination, because it’s anything but that. Scroll down to the extensive list of concepts that it proudly declares are prohibited and read its proscribed penalties for violation of its Big Brother doctrine.

These people are focused on prohibiting critical thinking of any kind. They are about muzzling teachers and controlling the minds of our kids. It seems we don’ need no stinking truth or learning in our schools, either. These people and their tyranny are a harbinger of the Thought Police.

All these episodes are part of today’s version of the Scopes Monkey Trial. It’s a battle for knowledge, truth, reality and critical thinking against an entrenched, pre-frontal lobe mob. We lost the Scopes battle (only to “win” later on a bizarre, wimpy technicality). Today’s fight is a battle every bit as important and we better win this one clean. Evolution is real and so is the true story – not the heroic Texas fantasy one – of the Alamo. Our need for knowledge and learning in all things is real. So is our need for librarians.

A Credible Revolution

President Trump told us that his health plan would be incredible – so good you won’t believe it – better coverage, lower cost and all the rest. Of course, it turned out that he was right. His plan was incredible – it lacked credibility because there never was a plan.

Now President Biden has signed An Executive Order Promoting Competition in the American Economy. In presenting it he said, “[W]e know we’ve got a problem—a major problem. But we also have an incredible opportunity.”

I don’t know how sensible his plan is, although Reagan effectively stopped our anti-trust (anti-monopoly) actions and it’s been competition elimination ever since. If Biden can reverse that, it should be a good thing for nearly all of us. Meanwhile, he started by labeling the opportunity as “incredible.”

Our language has evolved to the point where up is down and incredible means credible and spectacular. That’s not okay. I’m calling for a credible revolution, where “incredible” means “not credible, not believable” just the way we applied it to Lyndon Johnson. He had his “credibility gap,” which is what people said in the 60s when the president lied. And he lied a lot.

So, let’s stop using “incredible” when we mean wonderful or better than you might imagine or spectacular or really good. Let “incredible” go where it should, to describe those who lack credibility.

Can you think of anyone or any group that fits that description, boys and girls? I knew you could.

Short Reads in Reality

Dahlia Lithwick explains The Price of No Consequences for Trump.

Republicans, those stalwart “law and order” pounders of fists on desks, seem to have forgotten themselves. Jennifer Rubin explains in Republicans Now Stand for Lawlessness and Disorder.

There’s been enough pretending that there are honest brokers in the Republican caucus. Thom Hartmann makes his persuasive case in Dear Democrats: Don’t Negotiate With Terrorist-Lovers.

Maybe you want to know why Democrats aren’t running the table. Jeff Greenfield explains Why America’s Most Popular Party Isn’t Getting More Done.

Tucker Carlson is on a pseudo-patriotic crusade against “civilization ending poison.” It’s another of his fabricated hate fests, this one attacking teachers. Read a letter to him from an actual teacher, Dear Tucker Carlson.

Are you seeing the Delta variant trend?
236 deaths every day is equivalent to a Boeing 737-MAX crash every day.
GET VACCINATED!

————————————

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

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 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

E Pluribus Unum


Perhaps you heard that in the face of the Texas winter nightmare Republican Governor Greg Abbott blamed the breakdowns and suffering on the Green New Deal. Of course, the GND is only an idea; nothing has been done to create its physical reality, so Abbott’s pronouncements were most perplexing. Besides, the wind and solar renewables that have been in Texas for years kept working as the fossil fuel plants shut down. His gubernatorial leadership seemed rather QAnon-ish and unhelpful.

Former Republican Texas Governor and former head of the Department of Energy Rick Perry said that “Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business.” He also said that the current disaster shows that we have to double down on burning natural gas.

Perry made these claims even as climate scientists explained that the jet stream was altered by global warming and that the resulting redirection drove the frigid air that far south, all the way to Texas and northern Mexico. It’s incontrovertible that burning more gas won’t prevent the next arctic blast and it’s unlikely Texans want to experience yet more days without power. Like Governor Abbott, former Governor Perry’s comments were detached from reality and notably unhelpful at a time when help was needed.

“Don’t mess with Texas” is an attitude of fierce independence and pride in the Lone Star state and those politicians have used that attitude as their political tool. But the experts have made it clear that this stand-alone bravado and a mania for deregulation are key drivers of the Texas lack of preparedness for cold weather and the suffering it spawned this month.

In the face of our obvious interdependence, neither Texas nor, indeed, any part our country can go it alone in facing our deepest, most difficult challenges. It’s time to get over our self-puffing swagger, our self-serving pronouncements and leave the failed policies and attitudes behind.

We cannot “burn natural gas” our way out of our power and climate messes. We cannot “deny medical care” our way to health. We cannot “austerity” ourselves out of poverty. We cannot bootstrap ourselves out of natural disasters. We cannot suppress our way to security. We cannot hate our way into patriotism. It’s time – really, long past time – to deal with reality.

One reality is that everyone likes the idea of small government and low taxes. The companion reality is that we like that first reality only until the moment when disaster hits and we have to pull together. It’s called government. The Commons. It’s how we band together to do the things we cannot do alone. It’s why impoverishing government ultimately doesn’t work for us.

Philosopher and heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” That’s when the old plan shows its weaknesses and we realize that we are in a fight for our lives and that we’re in it together. That’s when we drop the pretenses and get about doing what we should have been doing all along.

Like aggressively fighting Covid-19.
Like rebuilding our infrastructure before everything falls apart.
Like admitting that we really need some things to be regulated.
Like standing up to bullies.
Like ending our ongoing un-civil war.
Like educating all of our young.
Like preparing for a tomorrow that is going to look very different from our yesterday.
Like acknowledging that not everything is a zero-sum game.
.

That means that we must be an E Pluribus Unum, because without it we are self-defeating. Just ask anyone on our Gulf Coast who has dealt with frequent and ever-more powerful hurricanes, or any former homeowner in the burned out wreckage of California, or survivors of the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis in 2007 or most any Texan right now,

Our being composed of such large numbers of people today make the E Pluribus Unum part difficult, because we humans are more comfortable in small numbers. But we’ve solved that puzzle before, once at our beginning and at other times since then, and we can do it again.

All we have to do is to deal with reality like an E Pluribus Unum.

From ES:

We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others bright, some have weird names, but they all have learned to live together in the same box. – Robert Fulghum.

————————-

American Idolatry at CPAC

Click me

People are bowing before a golden image of Trump at CPAC. It is the ultimate graven image of our time, today’s Biblical-political tale of debauchery and willful human debasement. That kind of idol worship over the last 4 years got us January 6. And now these people have their real Golden Calf to worship. The irony for Evangelicals is just too crazy.

This time for sure!

Said Mark Twain, “History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes.” Here it is again in perfect verse.

I don’t anticipate divine intervention to halt the CPAC worship perversion, but there was that one time at the foot of Mt. Sinai  .  .  .

.

To the attendees at CPAC

You booed the woman calling for wearing face masks and shouted “Freedom!” in protest of her outrageous proposal to suppress virus transmission. What was she thinking?

Hold tight to your liberty to refuse to wear a mask. Breathe, cough and sneeze to the point of hypoxia in your asymptomatic self-certainty. Exercise your freedom by sharing your disease with your family and friends.

Just keep your cooties the hell away from me and everyone else who knows they have the freedom to not be infected by you. Freedom!

And no, I won’t visit you in the hospital when that respirator is shoved down your throat. Neither will anyone else. You’ll have the freedom to die alone.

Random Fact of the Week

Barbie Doll’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. Now you have all you need for a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Many thanks to grandson JG and his Fact of the Day calendar for that.

—————————————-

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Trump’s Future, Dead Politician and Curmudgeon Corner


The Future of Trump

Memo to DC, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, New York State, New York City, SDNY, the Justice Department and all the women he raped:

Indict the crook for inciting a riot, election interference, bank fraud, wire fraud, tax fraud, insurance fraud, money laundering, incitement to insurrection and sedition, bribery and the rest.

Indict Jr. and Giuliani for incitement to riot, insurrection and sedition.

To the women Trump assaulted, abused and violated: full steam ahead, all guns blazing.

Memo to broadcast and cable news organizations:

Continue to refuse to give that circus sideshow barker any air time. You made the mistake of giving him free, almost constant advertising in 2016, including wall-to-wall broadcasting of his campaign rallies, obsessing over his tweets and televising his every public word for five years. Don’t do it again. Ever.

Memo to all:

Bow your head and join with me in the Accountability Prayer:

Constitutional Fathers, we pray that He-Who-Should-Have-Been-Convicted will spend the rest of his life defending against civil lawsuits and criminal indictments. We pray that he is relocated permanently to federal and state penitentiaries. May he there make new acquaintances with the kinds of people he has diminished, insulted and discriminated against for decades, that he may learn the error of his ways through their traditional teaching methods. Amen.

Dead Politician Walking

Memo to Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX):

Perhaps your four years of being a Trump suck-up have combined with your lifelong self-absorption and self-righteousness to cause you to believe that you can jawbone the entire state of Texas into submission. From your various mea culpas it appears that you think you can blame your behavior on your daughters and spin your way out of this. But here’s the thing.

Texans are cold now, desperate for water and sanitation and electricity and Covid-19 vaccinations and they are semi-homeless due to bursting water pipes. They were lied to by their state government, even as the loss of power, heat, water and the rest rolled on, but they didn’t lose their sense or suddenly become stupid. They can identify the difference between you actually caring about them, doing whatever you can for them, and your complete abandonment of them. You went on vacation to Cancun in their hour of greatest need.

They see you for what you are, which is why you are now officially a dead politician walking.

Impeachment Final

The supreme rule, the imperative of imperatives for Republican representatives and senators was, with just a few exceptions, the protection and preservation of one’s own ass. Refusing to act out of integrity was an integral part of the process.

It’s an easy swipe to make at these legislators, but the unavoidable predicate is that We the People put them in Congress. To paraphrase the snake story, we knew what they were when we voted them into office.

Curmudgeon Corner

Flint, Michigan water poisoned thousands of children and adults with lead as a result of the actions of the local dictator appointed by former Governor Rick Snyder, who now faces criminal indictment. There isn’t a lot that can be done for those kids medically.

Other than some immediate liberal outrage and hand wringing, the poisoning happened and kept on happening both there and elsewhere, but our nation as a whole isn’t paying attention. Do you suppose things might have worked out better if this had started in Bloomfield Hills instead of in Flint? I mean, those Flint kids aren’t White.

Same issue for our schools in non-White areas. Mold, 12 year old text books with pages missing, leaking roofs, mice and rats and the rest of the low income education wretchedness goes on and on and never gets fixed. Meanwhile, in White areas the schools and text books are just fine and the roofs don’t leak. Really, if we gave a damn about non-White kids, would we tolerate this?

A large percentage of the people in this country cheered as Trump imposed his Muslim ban. In a First Amendment smack down, the Supreme Court declared that religious discrimination was legal. But, hey, it was against Muslims, so no problem.

QAnon supplies news to many Republicans, which is how they know that Jews funded by George Soros are operating a laser from space, the very laser that started the California wildfires last year. But we don’t care about the harm these pea brains cause with their idiotic conspiracy theories because, after all, they’re only hurting Jews.

There are still children in cages at Tornillo and there are concentration camps just across the Rio Grande packed with refugees fleeing terrorism. They are effectively imprisoned by our Catch-22 immigration system. These prisoners have faded to almost nothingness for most Americans, so there they stay, out of sight, out of mind. But, no worries; they’re just Hispanics.

I propose that we get over our hypocrisy and admit that this nation only cares about White Christians. The rest are only of value as they serve their betters. I mean, somebody has to pick the lettuce and do the landscaping and pick up the garbage and clean other people’s houses and those White Christians won’t do that work.

For decades we’ve allowed minority rule to serve power hungry White Christians, AKA Republicans. Doubt that? The majority of the popular vote has gone to the Democrat in all but one of the last 8 presidential elections, but we still moved Republicans into the White House. That was accomplished thanks to the Electoral College, a vestigial remnant of government having surrendered to low population slave states to give them outsized power. It was then and it still is a racist practice, but it serves White Christians well.

The same can be said for the filibuster, another racism leftover that was created for and historically was employed by Senate segregationists. They used it to oppose civil rights legislation and other racial equity issues. Now the minority Republicans use it to oppose anything Democrats like or that hints at moving toward racial equality. That’s all done by power hungry White Christians for the benefit of White Christians.

Right now thirty-three Republican state legislatures are finding ever more outrageous ways to prevent non-Whites from voting. We elect extremists to Congress who effectively poison the air with racial dog whistles. We tolerate all of that.

From a recent essay by Fahreed Zakaria:

According to a recent American Enterprise Institute survey, 56 percent of Republicans believe “the traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.” Thirty-nine percent backed an even stronger statement: “If elected leaders will not protect America, the people must do it themselves even if it requires taking violent actions.”

These are White Christians who are fearful their superiority might be slipping. You can see clearly what they’re willing to do to keep their superiority. Too bad for everyone else. And for the Constitution.

If we were actually against these injustices we’d be outraged and would take action, but we aren’t and we don’t. So, let’s just get over that “liberty and justice for all” business and the self-congratulatory “land of the free and home of the brave” declaration, because we really don’t mean it. We really don’t care. Perhaps it’s time to wordsmith the Pledge of Allegiance into something that approximates the truth.

Or we can at long last do something about our perversions of integrity.

If my comments have ruffled your feathers because the words don’t describe you, then good for you and good for all of us. But be sure to pass this along to your crazy Uncle Bubba. He has different feathers.

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

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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. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Freedom


We begin with an incontrovertible fact, even as facts are so very 2015:

We have a lot of very big problems, challenges and opportunities in America and mounting them will require that we all get on board the solutions train. This will require our work, our sacrifice, our brilliance, our creativity and our cooperation in ways not demanded of us since WW II.

It’s my belief that if we succeed we will assure our prosperity and our leadership of this century. If we fail to do what is necessary, we will relegate ourselves to decline, insignificance and, at last, we’ll lose our freedoms.

We have fostered our decline through our anger, our rage, our self-righteousness and hatreds, which have led us to the lightning-charged divide that separates us from one another, where I-and-Mine are far more important than We-and-Ours. Sadly, we seem to have forgotten the lesson so painfully demonstrated and then laid bare by Abraham Lincoln, that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Whatever your personal certainties, you may safely be certain of that.

We are a nation borne of revolution, accurately seeing ourselves then as the underdog and we still prefer the underdog. Think: Rocky; whatever team is playing the team Tom Brady is quarterbacking; Star Wars; the Cubs. You get the idea.

We still think there’s something heroic when the little guy confronts the big guys and I’m wondering how much that fuels the popular resentment of those who have been called the “elites.” Never mind that the elites are equal citizens, that they actually may have earned what they have or that it’s possible they are creating opportunities for so many of us. There are those bent on resenting them and that helps to enlarge our national divide.

We have a lot of personal liberty absolutists, like the Michigan militia perps who plotted to kidnap and execute the Michigan governor  because they believed their freedom was abridged by her measures to stop the pandemic. They first expressed their displeasure by brazenly refusing to follow simple health guidelines to protect all of us, then by storming the state capitol armed with semi-automatic military assault rifles and waving Don’t Tread On Me flags, as though King George III had returned. They were clear about what they think our pandemic is about: it is about their own personal freedom. I-and-Mine.

They reminded me of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada cattle rancher who initiated a standoff against federal and state agents in 2014. Bundy had failed to pay his grazing fees on federal land for over 20 years and the Bureau of Land Management at last came to collect. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of armed anti-government absolutists joined Bundy. They proudly proclaimed that government overreach was the issue, that they were the true patriots and that the government didn’t and shouldn’t own and control land. They and Bundy apparently saw themselves as the freedom heroes of the story.

Bundy’s son Ammon seemed determined to have his own self-righteous fit of freedom in his occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon two years later. What they all have in common with our militias today is their clarity that I-and-Mine is more important than We-and-Ours. They thought that the federal land was theirs to do with as they pleased, regardless of the impact on others.

And that’s the problem. We cannot overcome our 21st century challenges and grab our opportunities if everyone acts as though s/he is an independent nation with absolute freedom of their own. So, I have something for folks like the Bundys and the camouflaged members of the Michigan militia who balk at anything that smacks of being an order or even simple direction.

Go ahead and refuse to wear a mask, socially distance or wash your hands. Stand proud and defiant. Feel free (I know you do) to congregate inside in small and large gatherings, in bars and saloons, in basement man caves and anywhere else you like. Spread COVID-19 within your freedom bubble in the manner of your choosing.

But when you become sick, as you surely will, when you have a fever and your body aches all over, when you’re weak and you can barely breathe and you feel like you’re drowning, don’t go to the hospital. You’ve done everything possible to ensure that you get sick – you had the freedom to do that. Now it will be time to man-up, to accept the consequences of your actions and not burden others who have played by the rules of We-and-Ours.

At that point it won’t be okay to dump your sick body onto the workload of our already horribly overworked and exhausted healthcare people. Just go into the woods and die alone. You have the freedom to do that. You will have lived your personal philosophy of I-and-Mine to the end and with your last tiny breath you will know that you died as you lived, all about you.

That’s absolute stuff, offered here as an extreme example to make the point that we don’t have to agree, but we do have to work together or we’ll metaphorically all die alone in the woods.

We have to stop our rugged individual stubbornness and our rages against authority. We have to agree that our absolute personal freedom stops at the tip of another person’s nose. We have to stop denying reality in some fit of grievance or resentment or denial. We have to stop listening to the hate mongers, the liars, the conspiracy theory con artists and the political manipulators. We have to hold our elected officials to account and call out their self-serving lies and then fire them. And if they’re criminals (no, that doesn’t mean “political opponents”) they have to go to prison.

And enough with so-called “alternative facts,” because they aren’t facts at all. They’re lies that make us weak. Even as difficult as it may be, we have to recognize that we are all on the same ship, and we will all share in its fate. Our future success lies in We and Ours.

So, we all have to roll up our shirtsleeves and partner with Rosie the Riveter. Our freedom is at stake in ways not even contemplated since WW II and surely not contemplated by our angry militants bent on assaulting other Americans. It’s time to build a new America, which makes it time to put down the guns and pick up a hammer. To those who won’t do that, get the hell out of the way of those of us who still think patriotism is a verb and it means that every one of us has an obligation to all of us.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2023 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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