Fascism

Don’t Tell Me


Click me

Stop the Presses!

Before we get to the meat of today’s post, please watch this most timely video. You’ll know what to do after that. Then, come back here for the aforementioned meat.

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Don’t Tell Me

You remember Popeye cartoons, I’m sure. Our hero would be going about his business but then would be attacked by the bully, Bluto. Sometimes Bluto would try to kidnap Popeye’s girlfriend, Olive Oyl. Bluto would beat Popeye to a pulp. Then, at last, Popeye would down a can of spinach and declare, “That’s all I can stands. I can’t stands no more!” and he’d proceed to apply some accountability to Bluto.

Well, I’ve reached my Popeye Point (again), where I can’t stands no more. So, put on your thick skin and protective eye wear, strap in and let’s go. This is for people who ostentatiously claim that they are Christians, as though that explains and excuses whatever they do.

Don’t tell me you’re a Christian if you’re spewing hatred at innocent people or objecting to a hearing for terrified asylum seekers.

Don’t tell me you’re a Christian and pro-life if you approve of the death penalty or you applaud the murder of abortion providers. And you’re not pro-life if you proudly deny food to poor children. Or you ignore high infant and maternal mortality rates, especially for poor women and children. Or you oppose gun safety legislation. I will concede only that you are pro-fetus and really don’t give a damn about kids after the moment of birth, even in the gruesome reality of Sandy Hook and Parkland.

Don’t tell me you’re a Christian if you plot to assassinate politicians or you lie about elections being stolen. And no, you can’t hide behind claiming you were duped. You’re not that dumb. You’re just horribly lazy, willfully gullible and, pathetically, you need to see yourself as a victim.

Don’t tell me you’re a Christian if you raised your arm and yelled “Seig heil!” or if you think there were “fine people on both sides” at Charlottesville. Or if you just turned away as babies were ripped from their mothers’ arms at the Rio Grande.

Don’t tell me that you’re a Christian if you voted for Donald Trump even after hearing him brag that he can “grab women by the p%$$y” and after hearing at least 19 women credibly accuse him of sexual assault. Or after his multiple hateful Muslim bans. Or after hearing his idiotic and murderous solutions to Covid, like injecting bleach or taking hydroxychloroquine, distractions that caused hundreds of thousands of extra deaths.

Don’t tell me you’re a Christian if you’re making up “grooming” and pedophile lies in order to get haters to donate to your campaign. Or if you donated to any of the liars making such claims.

Don’t tell anyone you’re a Christian if you’re spouting the insane conspiracy BS that Democrats drink children’s blood and are pedophiles and sex traffickers and are in charge of a worldwide cabal against White Christians. Instead, just tell people that you’ve had severe brain damage.

There’s more, of course. But your claim of being a Christian is a lie you use as a self-serving ploy, a cheater’s shield and a blinder so that you don’t have to look at yourself and see who and what you really are.

I love the question you consistently refuse to answer:

What would Jesus do?

Whatever the right answers are, you’re doing the opposite.

One more thing: an open-hearted invitation to redemption.

I know this crap has been crammed into your brain, but it doesn’t have to stay there. The invitation is for you to take the bold, daring step to think for yourself. Critically. That means no more sleepwalking through your life. No more goose stepping because some hate spewing moron told you to do that. Think for yourself. All the time.

Until you do that, don’t tell me anything.

To Everyone Else:
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This isn’t a diatribe against Christianity. It’s a rant against hypocrisy.

Those hypocrites from whom I don’t want to hear are irredeemable, my invitation to their redemption notwithstanding. We should waste none of our time laboring to get them to reform and to support democracy, because they are intentionally blind. We must hope that their children and grandchildren can be saved from repeating the fear and anger and hatred these people spit on our country.

30% of Americans are in that irredeemable category. Our future depends upon our reaching the other 70%.

Yet More Don’t Tell Me

Thanks to FL for pointing this out.

I also don’t want to hear smug assertions of apolitical justice from the five radical Supreme Court justices who lied, dissembled and snow jobbed their way through their Senate confirmation hearings so that they can now eliminate Constitutional rights.

I’m talking about the justices who directly said that Roe and Casey were settled law. And I’m talking about the ones who dumped a blizzard of words to lead us to believe that if challenges to those cases came to the Court that they would defeat those challenges. Instead, they all voted to kill Roe, according to Alito’s leaked draft opinion. These are the justices who brought their Roman Catholic and fundamentalist Christian beliefs to the bench and are now imposing them on all Americans.

Check me on this:
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I thought that judges and justices were supposed to rule on cases based on secular Constitutional and legal precedents. Did I get that wrong?

Perhaps the liars should be impeached.

But maybe we should save up for the impeachments, as this extremist, not-at-all conservative Supreme Court majority opens the door to stripping yet more rights from Americans, like voting rights (already in progress), same-sex marriage rights, birth control rights and all manner of privacy rights. Give some thought to what will happen when this court pushes more decisions down to radical, minority controlled state legislatures, which will then imperil even more Americans. Who will save Texans from Texas then?

The real problem is the injury these justices do to the Court, (see this Twitter feed, too) to our country and to the American people with their self-righteous Puritanism.

A Special Message For American Women from the RNC Inquisition
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“We’re sure the Supreme Court Justices will be sorry for all of you who will die or have your lives ruined because of their ruling on Roe. Clearly, these five or six justices and we here in the RNC Inquisition believe deeply that’s just God’s way. He (not She) works in mysterious ways, you know.

“So, bummer for you, honey. Things will go better if you just subsume yourself into the patriarchy of today’s Republican Party and we’ll control you. Just keep your mouth shut and be a good little breeder.”

Must Reads

John Pavlovitz writes fine, insightful essays, but this one is brilliant. It’s a clarion call to all of us. It truly is the time for us to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and hold up the sky. Read his piece and you’ll understand.

And do not miss Maureen Dowd’s proper contextualizing of the Republican Puritan insanity in today’s op-ed, Marilyn Monroe v. Samuel Alito,

Jokes of the Week

Q. Why did the Republican cross the aisle?

A. Don’t be silly – they never do that.

Q. How many Republicans does it take to get to the truth?

A. Nobody knows.

Q. What will women do when they have an unwanted pregnancy?

A. They’ll pray for divine intervention for a miscarriage and hope they aren’t indicted for murder.

Ear Worm of the Week

We took in a Rogers & Hammerstein concert last week and lots of show tunes have been dancing in my ears since then. One is Oklahoma! Unfortunately, a lyric from that song has become polluted by our politics in this way:

“We know we belong to the land,

“And the land we belong to is grand,

as long as you’re a straight, White Christian man.

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

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Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. 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.

Here’s Why


Take a look at this downloadable PDF map of NATO countries – they’re the ones in BLUE and follow along.

Putin has made it clear that the greatest tragedy of the 20th century was not WW I, WW II or the 1918 influenza pandemic, each of which killed millions of people. No, he’s certain that the fall of the Soviet Union was the very worst thing that happened over those 100 years. He has dedicated his grandiosity to reconstructing that paragon of repression and cruelty or perhaps creating something even more dreadful. I’m sure that in his dreams he hears the sound of Soviet tanks crushing the pavement of the streets of downtown Budapest and has visions of Khrushchev pounding his peasant shoe on a lectern at the United Nations, where Putin hopes to pound his Gucci loafers.

He claimed there are lots of Russian speakers in Ukraine, which means, he says, that Ukraine isn’t a real country, but rather, it’s part of Russia. Using that logic, San Francisco should be ceded to the Chinese, Montreal should become the property of France and Texas, New Mexico and Arizona should surrender to Mexico.

In 2014 Putin grabbed the entire Crimean peninsula and large swaths of the Donbas, the southeastern part of Ukraine. That’s where you can find the rubble that was the city of Mariupol. That’s where you can still find Mariupol’s besieged steel plant, with its hundreds, perhaps thousands of wounded fighters and noncombatants who can’t get food or medical supplies, who can’t get out and who the Russians bomb every day.

When the brutalizing of Ukraine started I said that the Moldovans must be shaking in their shoes because surely they would be next. Sadly, Putin is proving me to have been right. He has announced that he will sweep up the entire east and south of Ukraine all the way to Moldova, where he’s already dropped bombs. Moldova has no army, although they do have a few traffic cops, so stopping Putin’s thugs will be more than difficult for them.

Go back to that NATO map and look at the countries in GREEN that border Russia. These are nations that are not NATO member countries. Looking north from Ukraine and you’ll find:

Belarus

Finland

Sweden

Counter-clockwise from Ukraine there are:

Georgia

Armenia

Azerbaijan

Kazakhstan

The southern “-stans” of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan,Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan

Left off this list are Mongolia, China and Afghanistan. Surely, not even Putin is dumb enough to invade China or Mongolia. Or Afghanistan – again.

Finland and Sweden are likely to become NATO members by June. But the rest of the GREEN countries would be easy pickings for Putin. Belarus is already a vassal state and he can gobble up the rest without fear of a direct confrontation with NATO.

If you were the leader of any of these GREEN countries, what might you be thinking about NATO membership right now? Maybe that you’ve waited a bit too long to request membership?

Putin thinks that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are legitimate parts of Russia, just like his claim about Ukraine, but they are NATO member countries. I suspect that it’s in these Baltic states where the inevitable Russian confrontation with NATO will occur. Putin and the world will quickly learn whether Article 5 of the NATO Charter means anything. Meanwhile, here’s the reason for this geography lesson.

The U.S. is in the process of authorizing another $33 billion of aid to Ukraine and some are asking why we would spend our treasure this way. After all, they say, this is Ukraine’s war, not ours. That’s where I and many others disagree.

Set aside the humanitarian imperative to help people who are suffering or the important need to right a wrong. It’s more solidly connected to self-interest than that.

Putin’s actions threaten the entire world. He’s upsetting the carefully crafted and tended political peace and economic order that have lasted since 1945. That threatens America.

The Ukrainians are fighting for their country, their democracy, their freedom and their independence. Those are the same reasons every one of those GREEN countries will resist. But they can be picked off one at a time by Putin’s inept but numerically overwhelming forces and his threats of chemical and nuclear war. So, the world either stops Putin in Ukraine or we will have to fight him in the next country and then the next and the next. There will be no appeasement of this monster. Reference: Neville Chamberlain’s Munich appeasement of Hitler in 1938. That didn’t work out too well for the Brits or for the world and attempting to appease Putin would be a similar disaster.

The Ukrainians’ struggle is an existential fight for all democracy and freedom in the world and if Putin isn’t stopped there this will eventually become our own fight. We can either help to stop Putin in Ukraine or we’ll have to stop him later as he directly threatens our own shores.

That’s why.
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And that begs the question of why Representatives Biggs (AZ), Taylor Greene (GA), Bishop (NC), Gaetz (FL), Gosar (AZ), Norman (SC), Massie (KY), Perry (PA), Tiffany (WI) and Davidson (OH), all Republicans, voted against the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022. They and others also voted against the resolution of support for Moldova. Just guessing that they’ll vote against the additional $33 billion of aid for Ukraine requested by President Biden. And they’ll do so with the enthusiastic support of the supreme, authoritarian loving, Putin and Viktor Orbán suck up, Tucker Carlson.

Here’s the key question:

If all those Ukrainians are doing the fighting and dying so we don’t have to, why would these elected officials oppose supporting them?
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President Biden’s Call To Action
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“We’re calling on all Americans to pony up all the necessary military and humanitarian support for the Ukrainian people, who are fighting for all freedom loving people. That’s good, and it isn’t enough.

“Because of Putin’s war, there will be precious little agricultural output from Ukraine this year. That country was formerly the supplier of 10% of the world’s wheat, and that’s just a placeholder for all the disruption of food supplies the world will see this year. That’s why I’m calling on all of US agriculture to maximize production. No fields lying fallow. Find ways to produce more. This is your patriotic duty.

“European nations are already moving to get off the Russian gas and oil umbilical cord and move to renewables. We need to make similar changes here to maximize pressure on Putin.

“I’m calling on our fossil fuel companies to stop drilling and start building a carbon-free power infrastructure. I’m calling on Prime Minister Modi of India to do the same.

“And I’m calling on all Americans to support the switch to electric transportation, with all the infrastructure implications that means. This is war and we must lead the way for the world to end its dependence on fossil fuels.”

Hey, It’s Just a Draft

Yeah, but if its provisions become law, as it appears likely they will, we’ll take a giant leap back to women dying from complications of back alley abortions, women dying in childbirth, women delivering their rapist’s child – or their father’s incest child – ruined lives and more. It takes us back to brain-free, iron fisted patriarchy. It opens the door to making birth control measures – even within a marriage – illegal. Having a miscarriage could result in murder charges. And this draft opinion opens to door to reversing marriage rights and more. The Republicans in Congress and the Supreme Court stand steadfastly in their Dark Ages ignorance and will use their legal spears to kill everything they fear.

All of this is the proud result of the extremist, control freak Republican minority and of Supreme Court justices lying, dissembling and snow jobbing through their confirmation processes, falsely claiming that they believe that Roe v. Wade is settled law. Plus, there’s Mitch McConnell’s cheating, refusing to even hold a hearing for Obama’s SC nominee following the death of Antonin Scalia. The depth of their dishonesty is breathtaking.

So, congratulations to the many people who have worked so hard for so long to force their misogynistic way to control others. They think they should be in charge of making decisions for we lesser people, much like the result of the Dred Scott decision that said that Blacks had no rights and which put all power into the hands of White supremacists. Those 1850s guys really liked being in control of others, just like today’s Republicans.

But, hey, it’s just a draft. Who knows? Maybe between now and June one or two of the justices who now favor witch burning will relent. But don’t count on it. Instead, get to work making sure that all the people who otherwise would stay at home on November 8 learn what is being done to them. Inspire them to get off their butts and vote for Democrats, unless, of course, they want some primitive, rich old White guys controlling their lives.

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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.

Restoring the Dream


    • You got trouble, my friend. Right here in River City.
    • Oh, we got trouble with a capital “T” and it rhymes with “D” and it stands for Democracy.

With apologies to Meredith Willson, creator of the wonderful music and lyrics for the wildly successful musical The Music Man, paraphrasing his words became irresistible after seeing Rob Reiner’s tweet from April 20.

He’s right, of course, as today’s Republicans work every day to replace democracy with authoritarianism led by Donald Trump or a Trump imitator. But there’s a problem with Reiner’s tweet: It doesn’t sell.

For many, a threat to democracy is too esoteric, too theoretical to solidly grasp it, much less to be motivated by such a claim. Worse, millions of Americans believe that democracy has already been taken from them, stolen by elitists in the 2020 election, stolen by people who don’t understand or care about regular Americans. That makes Reiner’s tweet sound like a lie to them. Perhaps they hear his tweet and then believe that left-of-center types think regular Americans are stupid enough to believe his vaporous claim.

I was on a Zoom call last week with a couple dozen like-minded people who were bemoaning the continuing threat to our democracy by extremists and self-serving liars. The context was about how to win in our next elections. The problem is that the argument about the far right’s threat to democracy, however impassioned anyone may feel about it, is only motivating to those who already agree and there aren’t enough of them to win an election.

The real battle is not to win over the far right extremists. The battle is for the independents, the middle-ists,* the regular Americans just going about their lives and who don’t like getting bashed by crazy claims from those who would inflame them. To win these folks over will take something more tangible to them than a claim about an idea.

From the Captain Obvious System Operating Handbook:

Appeal truthfully to the middle-ists on the basis of what’s important to them.

Now, there’s an idea that just might be good for both middle-ists and our country. Pair that with some Rock ‘n Roll philosophy from The Rolling Stones’ Ruby Tuesday:

    • “There’s no time to lose,” I heard her say.
    • Catch your dreams before they slip away.
    • Dying all the time,
    • Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind.
    • Ain’t life unkind?

Okay, what about the American Dream? We figured it was ours, and it was. But some of us, perhaps millions of us, feel like it’s already gone or is being stolen from us and the robbery is happening in plain sight. The millions are angry, just as any of us would be if something dear to us were being taken away. Perhaps life doesn’t have to be that unkind.

What if we were to do something about restoring the American Dream, that sense of limitless possibilities (watch this space on Wednesday)? That might help. But the view of our possibilities is dramatically clouded by the anger and hatred that has been unleashed from the American subconscious by self-promoting thugs. This isn’t going to be easy. Nevertheless, it is necessary, because the alternative is unthinkable.

We have to catch that dream before it really does slip away and we all lose our minds.

Must Reads For Restoring the American Dream

First, Hillary Clinton wrote a wonderful piece about Madeleine Albright shortly after Albright died. Two notes about that.

  1. We have a national obsession to bash Clinton or defend her. Whatever your opinion of her, set that aside and learn about Albright.
  2. Albright lived under authoritarianism until she was 11 years old, so she knew the difference between that and freedom and democracy. She valued democracy likely far greater than those of us for whom democracy has been a given. Read and learn, grasshopper.

Second, Emmanuel Macron won the presidency of France over fascist, Putin loving, bigoted, authoritarian wannabee Marine Le Pen, daughter of fascist, Putin loving, bigoted, authoritarian wannabee Jean-Marie Le Pen. NATO and those who love freedom and democracy can breathe a sigh of relief over that.

David Leonhardt’s piece about that election provides clues to what is going on in the United States. For example, why do far right, angry, hateful extremist politicians get so many votes from ordinary citizens? I encourage you to read Leonhardt’s essay and substitute USA for France as you read and you’ll get a better understanding of how and why our nation is divided and perhaps a clue as to how to deal with that.

Hint: It’s a hard, uphill pull to convince people to let go of our protective “fear of the other,” of our need to blame and our enormous capacity for rationalizing of the irrational. That struggle is connected to restoring the American Dream.

Bonus Section: Gotta Fix This
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Click me for the story

Read that carefully: ” .  .  .  prosecutors may have used false testimony;”  “.  .  .  prosecutors suppressed other evidence that would have been favorable to her.” Oh, and they browbeat her into a false confession – it’s on videotape.

I’m no lawyer or Constitutional expert, nor am I conversant in all the details of this case, but I’m pretty sure that prosecutors cheating is not okay. Nevertheless, it happens. Note that the chief prosecutor in Ms.Lucio’s case is now in prison for bribery and other things no prosecutor should be doing.

There are hundreds of innocent people who have been falsely imprisoned, some nearly executed, but who were exonerated through the work of The Innocence Project. We’ll likely never see the end of cheating prosecutors or inept pubic defenders, but Ms. Lucio’s case and the cases of others are why we need to end capital punishment, even in Texas.

Gotta fix this.

Updated Children’s Book

With the disclosures of recorded telephone calls of House Republican leadership shortly after the January 6 insurrection, we were rewarded by learning of the concern they held for the welfare of others in Congress. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Spineless) was specifically concerned that the ongoing vilification of other legislators by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Pedophilia) could ignite additional violence. McCarthy said that kind of thing would have to stop and that he’d have words with Gaetz. Isn’t it wonderful that McCarthy had concern for the well being of others, for doing the right thing and for stopping Gaetz and others from putting other members of Congress at risk?

Sadly, his moment of morality didn’t last long. It appears he never took any such action and that he later lied about having said that he would. That’s just so surprising.

Meanwhile, Republicans in the states are moving to burn books and Gaetz is still running wild. Do you think the Republicans will ban this book, too?

Gaetz is under investigation for having sex with an underage girl and for sex trafficking. Many thanks to JN for the cartoon.

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* There’s nothing wrong with the word “centrists.” There’s just something pleasing today about “middle-ists,” regardless of the fact that until this post it wasn’t a word. I like it. Might use it again.

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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.

Numbers, Masks, Injustice & MTG


Numbers

This is scary.

There are roughly 331 million citizens in the United States, of whom 258 million are adults (identified at least by age, if not by behavior). Only 168 million adults are registered voters. The other 90 million adults either haven’t bothered to register, they’re ineligible to vote, like convicted felons in some states, or they have been removed from voter roles through black hearted partisan purgings.

Currently, 47% of adults claim to be Republican or Republican leaning. 47% of our 258 million adults equals 121 million Americans who identify as Republican or Republican leaning. But here is where the numbers become frightening.

Rachel Gutman of The Atlantic Daily reported about those 121 million Americans that,

“Sixty-eight percent of Republicans do not believe that the 2020 election was free and fair, but few can explain exactly why. “I can’t really put my finger on it, but something just doesn’t feel right,” one Donald Trump voter told Sarah Longwell.”

Applying that data, 68% of 121 million self-identifying Republican Americans equals over 82 million Americans, or 32% of all American adults, who believe The Big Lie even in the complete absence of facts, data or evidence to so much as suggest that fraud took place.

Clearly, for these 82 million Americans accusations alone have superseded the need for the presentation of evidence. No proof is necessary for them to pronounce judgment and sentencing. Let me focus that a bit better:

One-third of American adults “can’t put their finger on it” and have absolutely no evidence for it, but they believe outrageous, completely unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud!

Plus, 57% of Republicans (about 69 million Americans) say that the January 6 insurrection was “patriotism,” not a crime.

I warned you that this is scary.

Unmasked

Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle decided last week that the CDC was just too mean and had overstepped the limitations of a 1944 law that allowed it to create limitations on Americans to keep them from killing one another with disease. Apparently, she felt that interfering with Americans’ right to infect one another was an abridgement of freedom too far. So, thanks to her nationwide quash of the regulation, we may Covid-slay one another at will.

We have two problems. The first is this 34-year-old judge nominated by Trump.

Before her Senate confirmation she was found Not Qualified to be a federal judge by the American Bar Association due to her lack of experience. That was no impediment for Mitch McConnell and she was rammed through the Senate. Before assuming the bench for a lifetime appointment, Judge Mizelle had driven past a courtroom once or twice, but had  never been in one.

Now, without hearing even a single syllable of oral argument about the mask mandate (i.e. without actually trying the case), she’s made a decision that reverses this CDC regulation nationally. I guess her Trump appointment makes her smarter than all the doctors, scientists, legislators and lawyers. Her finding is likely to have huge consequences, as our case and death counts continue to rise and new variants of Covid are wreaking havoc.

The second problem we have is that we’re Americans, which means we’re little cry babies and we want what we want when we want it. If things don’t work to our satisfaction quickly, somebody has wronged us, we’re poor little victims, and somebody – anybody – has to pay big time. For example, “Make those pedophile, weenie-hearted Democrats suffer for the burdens imposed by their socialist CDC!”

But still, will we sacrifice a little comfort for the sake of the our nation, for the well being of our fellow citizens? Don’t get me started. Oh, wait: I’m already started.

Authoritarian Moment

“Despots go after the press first. They seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can’t stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it’s a huge threat to them.”   –  Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – MLK, 1963

Here’s Malcolm Nance from Ukraine. “I’m done talking. It’s time to take action here.”

I’m from the Internet and on some weekends I play fake soldier.

 

Something tells me that all the militia tough guys, the internet testosterone trolls and the badass guys with AR-15s strutting through their local Starbucks and threatening kids carrying posters at protests aren’t in Ukraine with Nance.

So, to all the camo wearing, shaved head burly boys: You whine about your rights; you wail about government stealing your god-given freedom; you bellow about your liberty. But when it’s actually on the line, when children and grandmothers (“babushkas”) are being murdered and cities are being leveled and people need help to keep their freedom, you’re AWOL. You’re nowhere to be seen when someone is shooting back.

In your next tough guy selfie video, please explain what that makes you.

The MTG Mental Infirmity

Click me

Last Friday Marjorie Taylor Greene testified in court, under oath, about her encouragement and participation in the preparation for the January 6 insurrection that was designed to upend our democracy. She responded to questions about what she had said and done, repeatedly claiming some version of, “I don’t remember.” That was a fine ploy to prevent her from committing perjury, but hardly believable, as she had spent years advocating for conspiracy theories, disrespecting the Constitution and encouraging sedition.

But with all her convenient loss of memory, perhaps she is rightly worried about her mental decline and loss of recollection. No worries, because we can provide comfort to her with this simple reassurance:

Marjorie, we understand your cunning testimony about not remembering those unpatriotic things you’ve said and done, but don’t fret. You can check with us any time, because we remember quite well what you’ve done.

And Finally, for Florida Gov. DeSantis
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Click me for the story from The Onion

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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.

Dunning-Krueger & SmackDown


The Dunning-Krueger Effect

We suffer – oh yes, we suffer greatly! – from people who proclaim they have wisdom, brilliance, expertise and, worst, announce “truth” as if they actually know something. They act as though their appearance of confidence is all that is required. The sad news is that some reasonable level of competence really is required for most endeavors, especially for leading a nation. Absent that, we get into a lot of trouble.

It’s called the Dunning-Krueger Effect.

“The Dunning-Kruger effect is the phenomenon whereby people with little knowledge tend to overestimate their abilities, precisely because they ignore how much knowledge is necessary .  .  .

That may seem rather benign, but it leads people to say and do the most outrageous and harmful things, like accuse others of horrific deeds (see the next section of this post). Here’s a graph of this phenomenon.

In the snap of your fingers you can name ten people immobilized at step one on Child’s Hill. Examples: Reps. Kevin McCarthy and Marjorie Taylor Green, as well as Sen. Bill Lee. And that’s just from last week’s cavalcade of deceit.

Here’s another graph of Dunning-Krueger with labels you may find more useful.

We have far too many politicians stuck on the peak of Mt. Stupid. Being there leaves them with nothing to do but sell out to whoever brings them more power and money. They are rendered paralyzed by fear of falling into disfavor with whoever is dispensing what they want (their “puppet master”). They will say and do the most inane and destructive things just to stay in the good graces of he who pulls their strings.

They will cheat and lie and when caught they will double down on their lies. They will sell others down the river without another thought. The problem is that you and I are on that boat headed south and we’re on board solely because of the permanent residence of our self-deluded politicians on Mt. Stupid.

If you want to know more about the Dunning-Krueger effect, click on the charts above. If you want to get rid of politicians stuck on the peak of Mt. Stupid, vote them off the mountain this November and in 2024 and recruit others to do the same.*

Smack Down

I know you hear the outrageous, hateful, bigoted rants of haters who seek to marginalize us, to create divisions to weaken us, to give power to the minority at the expense of the majority. Maybe your blood boils when you hear leaders spew lies and fear and your eyes go googly when some otherwise ordinary citizen recites the crap s/he has been fed by the hate mongers.

And just maybe you wish that somebody – anybody – would hit back hard. You need right and wrong to be restored to something having moral fiber.

Well, wait no longer.

The video below is of Michigan State Senator Mallory McMorrow on April 19 offering “words” for another senator who had trashed her with accusations of pedophilia in an emailed fund raiser the night before. Even if you’ve seen it, watch it again.

This is the kind of sterner stuff we need in this country. This is the kind of impassioned smack down of hatred that we need to see in every venue where hateful idiots are spewing vile lies. Sen. McMorrow may be exactly who we’ve been waiting for to shine a light that leads us all back onto the right path.

 


* Here’s a comment from one of the D-K pieces, addressed to those on the peak of Mt. Stupid:

“Please move out now while you still know it all.”

————————————

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!)

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Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. 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.

Cancel Culture, Crayons, Lincoln & Lemonade


Cancel Culture

It’s about shutting down, shutting up and shutting off opponents.

The power of authoritarians lies in the absolute, unthinking enforcement of their desires and taboos by absolute, unthinking followers who are otherwise average people. We’ve watched this dynamic in constant replay through all the Trump years, as people did and do unpatriotic things just because Trump wanted them to – and they’ve believed their actions were patriotic. All such things require is a nod from the authoritarian and people will do destructive, even self-destructive things. And nobody will push back against the authoritarian for fear of being persecuted and even expelled from the group at any time and for any reason.

For example, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) was a Trump sycophant. He regularly carried water for Trump and even talked insurrectionist trash at the rally on the Ellipse on January 6. But he got on the wrong side of Trump and has been kicked to the side by Trump and his followers. Brooks has been cancelled.

That’s cancel culture.

The funny thing is that Trump suck-ups point their sinister, threatening fingers at Democrats, accusing them of cancel culture whenever Dems decry bad behavior, like cops killing unarmed Black men. Then these same Trump wannabees proceed to cancel gays, lesbians, Blacks, teachers, doctors and more using legislation to shut them down, up and off. And they seek to end our democracy and our Constitution, which these cancelers falsely claim they are protecting.

The armies of the authoritarians charge ahead without so much as a single critical thought in their heads. That’s how Hitler got millions of ordinary and otherwise peaceful Germans to do the most despicable things. Threats and intimidation are all it takes. As Lord Tarkin said in Star Wars – Episode IV, “Fear will keep the local systems in line.” And so it does.

Republicans used to be strong advocates for law and order and for the rule of law. Yet on April 6 all but two Republicans voted not to hold Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino in contempt of Congress for having obviously and publicly refused to comply with lawful subpoenas issued to them by the January 6 Committee. Plainly, these guys broke the law. You would be in jail in a heartbeat if you did such a thing, but 203 Republican representatives voted to let these guys skate.

This happened because the House Select Committee is getting ever closer to Trump’s involvement in the insurrection, so Trump wants to stymie the committee. His unthinking and absolutist sycophants in the House did his unpatriotic bidding by voting against the contempt resolutions for fear of being persecuted and perhaps expelled from the Trump cult, like Mo Brooks. Ask Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney if you need further explanation.

Obeying Trump is more important to most Republicans than obeying the law.
So, they used their NO votes to cancel the rule of law.
.

That’s cancel culture.

Here’s a reminder from the New York TimesBret Stevens. Read these words as the marching orders for today’s Republicans.

.  .  .  we recall the words of Otter, one of the frat house characters from “National Lampoon’s Animal House”: “I think this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part.”

Canceling the rule of law is really stupid. Our job is to make sure that effort is futile. We have to cancel the cancelers.

Crayons

I don’t know where I found the graphic to the right – at the bottom it says, “Your Tango.” Feel free to explore.

Meanwhile, this is so simple – and frightening – that it could be written in crayon. If I had crayons.

Somehow, I managed to get to this point in life without having read George Orwell’s 1984. While walking the dog recently I came to a house with a Little Free Library in the front yard by the sidewalk. There I found a copy of 1984 and took it home.

Couldn’t resist

Within minutes of starting to read the book I was startled to find a plain description of Trump rallies, the January 6 insurrection and the mindless public recitations of demonstrably and obviously false claims. Here’s just a bit of the description of a Big Brother Two Minutes Hate session.

“The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretense was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic.”

” .  .  .  the entire group of people broke into a deep, slow, rhythmical chant of ‘B-B! .  .  .  B-B! .  .  .  B-B!” over and over again, very slowly, with a long pause between the first “B” and the second – a heavy, murmurous sound, somehow curiously savage, in the background of which one seemed to hear the stamp of naked feet and the throbbing of tom-toms.  .  .  it was an act of self-hypnosis, a deliberate drowning of consciousness by means of rhythmic noise.”

There is a mob mentality that is alive and murderous in our country. From “Lock her up!” to “Beat the hell out of protesters” to “Can we use the guns now?” we are awash in angry people who deny reality and recite the lies and rage they have been taught to chant by the authoritarian. They are ravenous for power and do not care who or what gets trampled by their stampede, even those things that allow them to rage.

Sometimes, their violence is thinly veiled. Sometimes, they make death threats and they menace voters and school boards. Sometimes, they shoot people.

Would that Orwell were wrong.

Abraham Lincoln and You

No, that isn’t the title of Heather Cox-Richardson’s April 15 post, but it could be.

She begins her post with this: “Early in the morning of April 15, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln breathed his last.” With him could have gone the glue holding the states together and our very democracy, even as the Civil War was all but over.

But it wasn’t over – not really – and we see it being waged today in sneaky, dishonest ways. Except for slavery itself, all the divides of those awful years are with us and they are as threatening and corrupt today as they were then. Richardson’s post is a must-read – here’s a link.

Lemonade

Friday night I found the flyer you see at the right stuffed into my mailbox. The next day I stopped by to find that 3 first grade girls, 7 years old, had created the flyer and had set up a lemonade stand, complete with cookies, surprise packages and bags of dog treats. They and several of their friends flagged down cars, sold their goodies and were devastatingly cute.

“Just a kid thing,” you might say. But when that cold spring day was over these kids had raised almost $800 to send to an outfit doing humanitarian work for Ukrainians.

And the kids had learned a lesson about helping those who need help. They’re a great example for all of us.

Girls, YOU ROCK!

————————————

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.

DNC Messaging Sucks


I have periodically accused Democrats of having terrible messaging. Turns out, I’ve been too kind.

——————————–

In a recent rah-rah fundraiser email from “Team Joe,” written in Biden’s voice, he listed some of his accomplishments. Joe, I know you’re a Democrat because – and let me say this gently and respectfully – your messaging, generally speaking, sucks. This fundraiser piece made me want to pull out what’s left of my hair (see the pic to the right).

The first rah-rah heading in the email was “A massive vaccination effort.” Seriously now, who cares about the administration’s vaccination efforts?

Joe, what we voters care about is that we were protected from this terrible disease, that more of us didn’t die and that the Biden Administration made that happen for us.

They did that in spite of the far right homicidal messages that Americans should refuse vaccines and in spite of Trump insanely telling us to mainline Lysol and take the useless anti-malaria drug Ivermectin. But it’s hard to get across the Biden victory message when Team Joe highlights the administration’s effort as though effort is what’s important.

Note, too, that it’s necessary to read to the end of the second paragraph of that section to learn of any benefits that were delivered to We the Voters. You hid the goodies, Joe!

The next section was “Getting folks back to work,” under which they waved the success flag for the creation of over 7.4 million new jobs. Great!

Below that was this graph:

There are only three problems with this graph. First, they pulled the rug out from under its power by soft-pedaling “in history” in the title.

Second, it says 6.4 million jobs were created, not the 7.4 million named in the text above the graph. Joe, the damned thing argues with your own words!

Third, that skinny little vertical white line on the right doesn’t sufficiently wave the success flag because it’s too hard to find. Plus, it looks like it’s just a right angle extension of the baseline of the chart. Joe, where’s the big, thick, Democrat blue WOW! line?

Here’s the thing, Joe: The creation of millions of new jobs is, in reality, what you and most of us  – even your detractors – call a BFD. But Joe, this fundraiser graph managed to make it look like it’s only an insignificant little D.

This piece sucks just as so many DNC communication efforts suck. For example, Democrats are messing up with school issues. Read If You Think Republicans Are Overplaying Schools, You Aren’t Paying Attention, originally entitled, Republicans Are Winning the School Wars.

And they are. See Gov. Glenn Younkin (not Terry McAuliffe) and his phony school hysteria that won him the Virginia governorship and which continues to rally support for him.

It isn’t that the Democrats are bad for education or that their ideas are poor. It’s that Dems consistently shoot themselves in the foot with terrible messaging. When they do that they hand Republicans (who want to stifle education) easy targets to shoot at. It’s like the people who chant and lobby to defund the police. Why don’t they just take out ads saying that everyone should vote for Republicans?

It seems to me that there are two ways to promote political candidacy. One is to attack the opponent (e.g. “My opponent is lying to you about Critical Race Theory.”). The other is to wave the “I’m just so good for you!” flag.

To illustrate this, watch any commercial for a Disney movie or for their theme parks. They are non-stop listings of benefits. Not characteristics. Not how they do it. Not how hard working they are. Benefits for their customers and visitors. And they always end their theme park commercials with some famous person saying they’re going to Disney World!

Mr. & Ms. voters: Where did you say your family is going on vacation? I thought so.

See, Joe? This stuff works.

More

Ending the CDC emergency public health order that restricts immigration at U.S. land borders because of the Covid pandemic is probably a good idea. But politically it’s suicide.

Instead, Joe, try this “Demand Better!” address to the nation:

“President George W. Bush offered comprehensive immigration reform of our dysfunctional system as a core piece of his campaign for the presidency. Once president, he tried to get something moving, but Congress, in its infinite ability to avoid dealing with challenges, stonewalled his effort. The same thing happened during the Obama administration.

“The net of this is that the challenge of modernizing our immigration system is just another can being kicked down the road by Congress, leaving hopeful new citizen applicants to be used and abused solely for partisan political gain – again.

“Well, that abuse of these people and the self-sabotage of our nation ends now.

“I’m formally challenging Congress to step up to the plate and tackle this vexing issue. I’m doing that specifically because it is Congress’s job to do that.

To jump start the process I will be inviting a bi-partisan select committee of senators, congresswomen & -men to the White House to start this process. And all the resources of the Executive Branch of government will be supporting them.

“Look, folks, We the American People should and must demand that Congress do its job. To make sure that happens I will be reporting to you regularly on the progress of the Immigration Reform Select Committee so that you can hold them accountable. If you’re happy with what you see, call your senators and representative and let them know. And if you aren’t happy with what you see, call your senators and representative and let ’em have it!

“Demand Better!

You see, Joe? It isn’t that hard.

There’s no need for you to put your face in the center of the political shooting range bulls eye. Congress belongs there. Handling this issue in the Demand Better! way means you won’t take heat for their failures. Besides, there’s an outside chance that this way something might actually get better. They might even agree with your CDC to lift the emergency public health order that’s no longer needed.

One last thing: Afghanistan.

Instead of just taking an ongoing beating from Republicans for the debacle at the end, where’s the messaging saying how grateful We the People are that you had the courage to at last do what we all knew needed to be done to end the 20-year disaster?

Where’s the message that the end was always going to look like that? The generals told you and everyone else that’s what would happen. Congress chickened out of doing the right thing for 20 years. You’re the one who had the guts to do what everyone knew needed to be done.

I’m still looking for those victory flags, Joe.

Look, man, this isn’t that hard. Just put on your aviator sunglasses and lay some rubber on the concrete approach to the Capitol Building with your classic Corvette. They’ll get the message. No joke.

————————————

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 Scariest Part


Holy crap, Batman!

There’s a lot of scary stuff going on, like the Ukrainian genocide done by that Putin beast and his threat to use weapons of mass destruction, with all of their end-of-the-entire-world implications. He’s Hitler in the 21st century, and we all know how well the 20th century version worked for us. Be sure to check the Required Viewing section at the end of this post about that.

The scariest part, though, is our national craziness, the absolute conviction of right-ness of the toxic, extremist right and our smoldering civil war.

A March 24 WaPo story (this is a must read, &/or Jane Mayer’s report) exposed the radical, extremist views of Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She was strongly connected to Trump’s attempt to upend our democracy. Her husband, Justice Thomas, was the only one to vote to keep hidden from the January 6 committee an important cache of documents, this in an extremist attempt to obstruct the investigation. Dan Rather asks the Watergate questions:

What does Clarence Thomas know? And when did he know it?

What do you suppose the Thomas’ talk over dinner sounds like? “Don’t ask, don’t tell” isn’t an acceptable explanation. And, with his clear appearance of impropriety at a time when public approval of the Supreme Court is down to only 50%, why hasn’t Justice Thomas recused himself from all Supreme Court issues related to the January 6 investigation?

The WaPo story revealed Ginni Thomas’ mind numbingly wacko certainty that the 2020 election was stolen, calling it, “the greatest Heist of our History” in a November 10 text to then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. He went Biblical, texting back, “This is a fight of good versus evil…. Evil always looks like the victor until the King of Kings triumphs.”

This is (currently) a free country where people can believe what they want to believe. If Ms. Thomas and Mr. Meadows want to believe her heist lunacy or if they believe that the moon is made of green cheese or that butterflies are evil spirits sent to carry them to a place of everlasting pollen irritation in their noses, they get to think that. What is far more worrisome is Meadows’ reply.

He and millions of Americans who believe the Stop the Steal fiction don’t believe they’re in a political brawl. They believe down to their bones that this is an existential battle of good against evil, against the devil, ungodliness, unholiness, lies, impurity, sexual deviance and more. Again, Meadows said it plainly. And, like all religious extremists, he invoked the “King of Kings.” Ya gotta believe Ginni Thomas is mainlining that drug. That isn’t the problem.

The problem is that at least 73 million Americans are mainlining it. They think their Stop the Steal delirium is an existential battle for the glory of the King of Kings. There is almost nothing in the history of the world as murderous as a religious zealot, let alone millions of them. Their story is fully set in concrete and no assemblage of facts or presentation of reality will dissolve their holy concrete. *

They are fed self-justifying, cruel fictions by manipulators in order to reinforce their hateful certainties, like that Democrats drink children’s blood (an old anti-Semitic trope) and that they traffic children and that they will bring in socialism to poison the pure heart of our godly republic or that they will bring aliens (meaning immigrants) to take away their god-given jobs – the list of their lies is endless. The 73 million hear these perversions of reality and their rage gets amped up.

Given all the putrefaction they believe is assailing them, why wouldn’t true delusionals storm the Capitol intending to murder Pelosi, Pence and any member of Congress they could find? Why wouldn’t they crush democracy in the states, steal from the unbelievers, send asylum seekers back to be snuffed out, conspire to kidnap and murder a governor, withhold medical care from millions of undeserving “others” and more? They believe they see so much appalling and vile contamination that all of their actions are justified as purification in the name of God. That’s the holy crap, Batman.

And that’s the scariest part.

And they aren’t alone

I’ve always had to hold my nose whenever authoritarianism loving William Barr was so much as mentioned. His smug self-certainty and absolutist (read: terrorist) beliefs and actions are anathema to our Constitution. Plus, there is his lying by misdirection, like his summary of the Mueller Report. It bore no resemblance to the actual report, but his summary did manage to claim exoneration of Trump by falsely saying that the Report says Trump was innocent of all wrongdoing. Then he withheld the full Report for months, leaving his phony summary to infect the public consciousness.

He did lots more reprehensible stuff, but his motivations are the scary thing. Professor Heather Cox Richardson’s post details his fundamentalist views. She reports Barr’s warped notions about self-government.

The Framers clearly intended that there would be no king of this country, no authoritarian for life. They were clear that we the people would pick our leaders through periodic free and fair elections. You know: democracy. In contrast Barr thinks that self-government means individual morality. “And, since people are inherently wicked, that self-government requires the authority of a religion: Christianity.”

Whoa!
.

Judgements heaped on others commonly are projections of oneself, so from Barr’s own mouth we learn that he is inherently wicked. Worse, he jumps to Christianity as the cure for inherent wickedness. Yet Vladimir Putin is said to be deeply religious. It doesn’t appear that the authority and impact of Christianity on him is helping the world or the Ukrainians much. Barr is deeply wrong in both his judgement and his conclusion.

The more important point is that Barr makes up James Madison quotes (things Madison never said) on which to base his dishonesty and arrives at a conclusion that endorses theocracy – there’s that fundamentalist thing. Again.

There are a lot of people with sincerely held religious beliefs who would gladly transform our democracy into a theocracy, perhaps like Ginni Thomas and Mark Meadows. Worse, they have a former United States Attorney General on their side.

And that goes along as a piece of the scariest part.

Feckless – Who dat?

Righties have been exulting in demonizing Democrats with imaginary awfuls at least since the Newt Gingrich hysteria over Bill Clinton in the ’90s.

(Impossible to resist parenthetical: That’s when Gingrich thumped Bible at Clinton over his sexual dalliances. That continued until Gingrich got caught with his pants down – just ask his third wife. She was “with” him. O’ the delicious irony!)

To give credit where it’s due, Righties expanded their vocabulary during the Obama administration by adding a new term of demonization. Their ubiquitous labeling of him and all Democrats was and still is, “feckless.” **

Be honest: had you even heard that word before the constant attacks on Obama and now Biden? And have you heard any credible examples of fecklessness from them that don’t deal with very complex situations using moronically simplistic notions? Neither have I.

feck·less| ˈfekləs | adjective – ineffective; incompetent; futile; having no sense of responsibility; indifferent; lazy.

Wait, now. No sense of responsibility? Incompetent and ineffective? – who does that describe?

That’s pretty scary, too.

———————————————-
Required Viewing

Julia Ioffe did an interview on March 9 for a Frontline episode, Putin’s Road to War, which aired on March 15. I recommend watching both. Ioffe’s conclusions are stark and frightening.

———————————————-

* That certainty and immobility is actually thicker than that and is bound up in the human reaction of disgust. Read Molly Young’s piece, How Disgust Explains Everything. Then read Jonathan Haidt’s book The Righteous Mind to better comprehend the implications of disgust to our politics. First see note 5 below.

** Isn’t it odd that Republicans are so facile at spewing the “feckless” label at Democrats, but when George W. Bush and his White House Halliburton cabal lied us into two unprovoked wars, that word was never uttered. And it could have been used accurately on every day of the Trump administration, too, but we never heard it then either. Odd, indeed.

————————————

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.

Same Song, Next Verse


What Will We Do Then?

The largest invasion of a sovereign nation since WW II is occurring, It’s the current iteration of European wars ignited by a narcissist who thinks he’s going to rule the world. People have died and more will continue to die in urban warfare. Meanwhile, Putin has gone cynical and fully delusional.

He’s using the same blitzkrieg tactics against Ukraine that Hitler used to invade Czechoslovakia, Poland and France. He’s claimed this is to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

Wait a second: Nazi tactics to de-Nazify Ukraine? That’s such miserable crap that I don’t have words to describe it.

What Putin has said he wants is as disingenuous as it is homicidal. Yes, he wants Ukraine, but not because it’s a traditional part of Russia. Yes, he wants Ukraine, but not for its wheat and industrial capacity. What this ex-Soviet KGB thug actually wants more than anything is a new world order with Russia and himself at the center. Crushing and owning the entirety of Ukraine is the next step on his megalomaniac rampage.

Putin believes that “the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century.” Not the 20 million killed in WW I or the 80 million killed in WW II or the 12 million killed in the Holocaust. All of those happened right where he could see them, but those catastrophes pale in comparison to the end of the Soviet Union, according to Putin. So, he wants it back. We make a strategic mistake if we think he wants anything less or that there is some hard stop in tactics or geography that he won’t exceed. That must be our clarity of what we must stop.

Look at a map (enlarge it to 100% for easier viewing) and it’s plain to see that Moldova and Belarus will be next in Putin’s incremental land grab plan. Belarus is already a Russian vassal state and Moldova is not a NATO member nation. Easy pickings for Putin. So will be nearly any of the -stans and he already has Georgia. How hard would it be for him to grab Azerbaijan and Armenia?

The international push back might be strong enough that Putin would pause before invading neighboring Finland, a non-NATO country. While he’s pausing he’ll contemplate how to “get back” the Baltic states, Romania, Hungary, and Poland, all of which are NATO member countries.

Here’s the key question: If NATO must face Putin and Russia on the battlefield, it will be the start of WW III. What will we do?

I hope the planning for that was done a long time ago. And I also hope that the plans are being updated right now by very smart, well informed, insightful people.

It Used To Be .  .  .

.  .  . that politics stopped at the water’s edge. When it came to international matters, we wouldn’t want any adversary to have any ambiguity about our national resolve, especially in the face of hostilities. Apparently, Republicans, opportunists, conspiracy wackos and self-promoting narcissists didn’t get the message. Apparently, their selfish little aspirations are more important than  our national security. Apparently, they aren’t patriots.

There is traitorous talk from Republican mouthpieces speaking in support of Putin. They are anti-democracy, anti-American useful idiots.

Would that I had a second version of this pic with Tucker Carlson’s face on the little brat. Many thanks to JN for the pic.

Trump has declared Putin a genius, that he’s smart and savvy and his words are being used in Russia to inflate support for Putin. And Trump is not alone in his submarining of American interests.

Margaret Carlson reports on Fox blabber Tucker Carson in The Washington Post:

“And, in a particularly obnoxious rant, he suggested that Putin is morally superior to “permanent Washington,” some vaguely malign force that Carlson claims is manufacturing a global pandemic, teaching children to embrace racial discrimination and trying to snuff out Christianity.”

It isn’t just these two fools. The list includes Sen. Ted Cruz, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, SD Governor Kristi Noem and more. They’re in a race to criticize President Biden in order to burnish their extremist bona fides for their runs for President in 2024, So, they praise Putin and Putin uses their words to praise himself. They are quite clearly giving aid and comfort to our adversary and potential enemy.

It used to be that Republicans – conservatives – presented themselves as the iron-spined defenders of American values. They had a  permanently cocked fist ready to punch Russia in the nose. What would those Republicans have said about Trump, Tucker Carlson and the others? Where are the staunch Republicans lining up to support the President in opposing Putin now?

From USLegal.com:

“Treason is punishable by death if a traitor levies war against his state or country or supports its enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

We aren’t in a shooting war against Russia, so the term “traitor” probably can’t be used accurately for today’s conniving Republicans and blabbers. If you have a better word, please post it in the Comments section to help us all.

And Now The Adolphs

Dan Rather’s post of February 18 included this very hard-to-look-at pic of an Elon Musk tweet.

Apparently, Musk was having a hissy fit over a Canadian regulation of financial institutions concerning crypto currencies. Clearly, this regulation must have been so heinous that Musk had to invoke the murder of millions of people and the laying waste of an entire continent. Musk has taken down the tweet, but his damage was done.

This is America and Musk is entitled to whatever crushingly cruel metaphors and hateful views he holds, just like Trump and Carlson. He has the right to see his billions of dollars as proof of his superiority and his entitlement to be rude, disrespectful and detestable. But there are limits, as he should have learned from the $137 million jury award to a former Tesla employee for racism at Musk’s San Francisco area factory. On the other hand, Musk’s hateful post was put up after that jury award. Maybe Musk didn’t learn anything at all from that lost lawsuit.

We have extremists coming out of the woodwork saying false, cruel and incendiary things. We have spine-free politicians and political candidates willing to say any stupid and false thing in order to benefit themselves.

Sometimes it works in reverse, as we’ve seen from the new governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin. During the campaign last year he steered clear of Trump and spoke in moderate terms, invoking moderate policies. Once elected he went full-on radical, claiming the awfulness of Critical Race Theory in K-12 classrooms that were damaging Virginia’s fragile White children. We can’t have that going on, he told Virginians, and he’s promoting a law to put a stop to the evil distortion of children’s brains done by CRT.

There’s just one thing about that: no K-12 school in that entire state was or is teaching CRT, nor was any school even contemplating teaching it. In fact, there isn’t a single K-12 school anywhere in the country teaching CRT. It isn’t even being taught in colleges or universities. It is strictly a law school discussion construct. So, invoking CRT as the evil of evils for Virginia’s delicate, can’t-handle-reality school children goes way past disingenuous; it’s hateful. And Governor Adolph DeSantis is doing the same thing in Florida, as is Governor Adolph Abbott in Texas.

The real issue is teaching the truth about race in America. Youngkin and all the other Republican politicians and far right hand wringers are playing to the White supremacists who don’t want to own any truth that doesn’t puff their chests in Confederate testosterone. It is exactly the same as stoking hatred.

Adolph Musk and the other Adolphs have the same right to free speech that you and I have. There isn’t much we can do to muzzle them and their hatred or to silence Putin’s useful idiots with their anti-American undermining of our country without muzzling ourselves. What we can do is to speak out.

We can do that with our voices, our votes and we can do that with our dollars. We can donate to the campaigns of political candidates whose feet are firmly planted on Earth 1. My love affair with daydreaming of buying a Tesla is over. My fascination with Musk’s Space X won’t thrill me again and I won’t send links to my geeky family members and friends to watch his launches. And I won’t vacation in Virginia, Florida or Texas.

I will do whatever I can to avoid supporting the haters and will actively oppose them. I’ll do that until our politics bears some resemblance to reality. Some kindness would be good, too.

Required Reading

Hillary Clinton co-wrote an essay (or here) with Dan Scherwin in The Atlantic last week that you must read if you care at all about our democracy, our global leadership and national security.

And read Thomas Friedman’s post about why the Russian invasion of Ukraine is different from any we’ve seen and unpredictable in dangerous ways.

————————————

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.

Guest Essay: It’s The Right Question


My friend Ed Gurowitz is an insightful guy. He recently had something to say that connects Black History Month with a larger picture. His post speaks to how easily we can lose our democracy or, harder, keep it and spread it to all we men/women whom we long ago declared are created equal.

Ed gave me permission to share his essay with you. Read it and be prepared to nod your head in agreement. Then do what he says to do.

——————————–

Black History Month: Who is an American?
by Ed Gurowitz

Published February 1, 2022

As you probably know by now, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the following in defense of his party’s stand against the John Lewis voting rights bill:

“The concern is misplaced because if you look at the statistics, African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans.”

While McConnell attempted to walk the statement back the next day, what he said is what he said and, I believe, what he meant.

Many thanks to JN for this

For opponents of voting rights, African-Americans are not “real” Americans. Neither are Native Americans, and for some on the Right, neither are Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Asian-Americans…the list goes on and on.

For me, having participated in the civil rights battles of the 1960’s and since, this is profoundly disheartening. For a while there, it looked like things were moving, however slowly, in the right direction – the direction of Dr. King’s famous statement that “the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

So what happened? I believe that the election and presidency of Barack Obama, with a Black man at the head of the government and a beautiful Black family in the White House uncovered the racism that every Black person knows was always there, and the execution of George Floyd and the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and so many other Black men and women exposed the structural or systemic nature of that racism.

In a recent article in Medium [required reading – JA], Peter Burns talked about a centuries-old theory first articulated by a 2nd Century Greek historian called Polybius. The theory, called anacyclosis, says that societies go through a cycle of stages:

Monarchy

Tyranny

Aristocracy

Oligarchy

Democracy

Mobocracy

So, the United States was established under the British monarchy. As detailed in the Declaration of Independence, the monarchy became tyranny, and a group of men, all white and mostly enslavers, got together and, from their position of profound white male privilege, created an aristocracy – rule by an elite few – which became abusive in its own right, so (white) people demanded and got a kind of democracy. Democracy in the United States in the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries was still largely restricted to white men, but there was some evolution as women and Black people exercised the right to vote. (It’s worth noting that even US “democracy” was based in the Constitution on protecting the rights of white men and, until the Civil War, enslavers.)

The abolition of government-sanctioned enslavement after the Civil War began a process of degradation of democracy, a degeneration that culminated in the naked racism of the reaction to the Obama presidency, the “populism” of the Right (which was thinly disguised mobocracy), and the full-blown mobocracy of the past five or six years. What, after all, were Charlottesville, MAGA rallies, the Mother Emanuel murders, synagogue and mosque bombings and desecration but mob rule.

The danger of anacyclosis is that it is cyclical – mobocracy is unstable and leads back to monarchy (rule by one person) and then tyranny and there we go. Trump and his followers are angling for a monarchic second term for their leader in the 2024 elections.

Here is hope: If Dr. King was right, then each time through the anacyclosis cycle moves us along the moral arc of the universe toward greater justice, but the cost in lives lost and people’s suffering is too high. The alternative is to rededicate ourselves in this Black History Month to breaking the cycle of anacyclosis and moving the US toward a democracy that is sufficiently stable to not degenerate into mobocracy. This will require all the tools we have – speaking out, demonstrating, demanding justice, and the most powerful tool – the vote, starting with this year’s mid-term elections. So here is how to honor those who, like John Lewis, dedicated their lives and sacrificed for democracy:

VOTE!

Master Coach, Diversity and Inclusion (DEI) Specialist, Strategy Consultant, Executive and Leadership Consultant & Coach

—————————————-
Final Comments

Ours is the current iteration of our schizophrenic national story, the one that both embraces and rejects whomever and whatever is not exactly the same as “us.”

Quoting Lincoln,
.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation
so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”

Many thanks to AT for this

.
I submit to you that Ed is right about what needs to be done. And if we are to keep our democracy, if we are to answer Ed’s question properly, and if we are to pass Lincoln’s test, then Ed’s direction needs a couple more steps.
.
We must both make it possible for all voting age Americans to vote (Read: eliminate voting suppression laws and practices) and then provide the motivation that gets people to show up and vote. That’s on all of us, because we want to – we must – long endure.

————————————

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.

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