First Amendment

May You Not Live In Interesting Times


POST 1066

Read all the way to the bottom for some good stuff.


About Those Interesting Times

Of course, that expression, often claimed to be a Chinese curse (but without verified attribution), didn’t include the word “not” in the original. Decide for yourself if it was intended to hope for something other than bland life circumstances or for stimulating ones; whether it was meant as a tease or perhaps it really was meant as a curse. Regardless, the word “interesting” makes the phrase an analytical thing and distances us from passion and motivation and simply misses the point of humanness.

But if we are to identify with the original phrase we would certainly find things interesting. Our news media has been full of it since 2015 when the Grim Celebrity Phony slid down his golden escalator and announced that Mexican robbers, drug lords and murderers were coming to imperil us. Worse, millions believed him. That could be interesting on many levels, as could over 30,000 lies and thousands of racist dog whistles. Fine, we found it interesting, if not acceptable.

But now we find ourselves faced with a convict with the impulse control of a bratty 6-year-old, having rapidly waning mental faculties and spewing an increasing blathering of gibberish. He’s vying to have the nuclear codes. He’s promising that he will be a dictator and is free to commit murder.

Sure, that’s all intellectual food to digest, but he’s promising to be an existential threat. He might get us all killed. That’s no longer just interesting. It is a life-or-death threat. Sword of Damocles stuff. Pray you won’t have just moments to kiss your ass good-bye, all because that brat had a tantrum.

I have neither need nor desire for such interesting times. I want the chaos and insanity to go away, I want to live in boring times when my existence isn’t threatened. I’ll find my own way to get intellectual stimulation and I wish the same for you. May you not live in interesting times.

But you do and there is no getting around that. In fact, you can change “interesting” to “dangerous” and those are the times we live in.

Many people of influence are working every day to turn this nation into a dictatorship.

They call it “the unitary executive,” unaccountable to Congress or to the courts. Morally slippery Bill Barr is an enthusiastic proponent of this dictatorship.

They bring bizarre cases to the Supreme Court, one of which seriously contemplates whether a president may defy our laws, even to the point of committing murder and then be immune from prosecution. That would be a dictatorship.

The Supreme Court heard a case about electioneering and then bizarrely ruled to allow unlimited money to buy our elections, an issue not even part of the original case. That destroys faith in our judicial system and promotes authoritarian wannabees into dictators.

Presidents ignore laws passed by Congress and then defy those laws with “signing statements.” That’s dictator stuff started by Ronald Reagan.

Many declare that the Founders intended the United States to be a Christian nation, which is both factually untrue (ref: The First Amendment and various Federalist Papers) and which gives rise to dangerous Christian nationalism, which is actually a despotic Brown Shirt thug-ocracy.

They sent riot police to attack and arrest peaceful protesters on college campuses and, most profanely, they say that’s the right thing to do, this in the name of non-discrimination. That’s your kid they’re beating up in a mini dictatorship.

In case you aren’t already, you need to immediately become clear that there are millions who want to take away your rights. This is not an academic thought experiment. They are in action every day, taking the vote away from our citizens, thwarting accountability, cheating our election system, terrorizing immigrants, banning books in a Fahrenheit 451 orgy, siccing riot police on peaceful protesters and so much more. This is not just happening to others. These despots are coming for you.

So, you do live in interesting times. It’s just that these times are going to eat you alive.

Unless we do something about it.

Required Reading

Here’s how the far right (read: fascist pretenders to a despotic throne) see things, this from Heather Cox Richardson.

And here’s how this plot against America is getting funded, thanks to the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court scheming. Read this from Mother Jones.

For Our Moral Purist Voters

From Frank Bruni, May 3, 2024:

.  .  .  the smart way to bar someone “wholly unfit” from the White House [that’s Chris Christie’s descriptor of Trump] is to vote for that person’s opponent. That’s how elections work. “None of the above” isn’t a principled stand. It’s a moral cop-out — and its own dereliction of duty. [emphasis mine – JA]

The same goes for those who intend to vote for Robert Kennedy, Jr., Jill Stein or any other 3rd party candidate. Likely those intending to vote 3rd party think that they are making a statement of integrity or a principled stand against two unacceptable old guys. What they are really doing is abandoning their responsibility to guard our democracy and to protect and defend our Constitution.

You may not like the options. A vote for whoever you think is least bad may be onerous, yet it may be as good as it can get now. But a vote for anyone but Biden is a vote to attack and kill our democracy.

Print this section of this Disambiguation and bring it with you to the voting booth on November 5 as a reminder.

Something To Make You Proud

Our modern Foreign Service is 100 years old and it is staffed by amazing people doing the heroic as an every day thing.

I urge you to link here and read some of these short recollections from these amazing people who “were there when” and who stood a post every day to say, “This is who We The People are.” Reading these stories will make you proud both of our Foreign Service people and proud to be an American.


Today is a good day to be the light

  • _____________________________
  • 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 ALL 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.
    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.

    Click me

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Somebody Has To Tell Me . . .


POST 1063


.  .  .  why we are even talking about:

– whether doctors can be criminally prosecuted in Idaho for having made efforts to save the life of a pregnant woman in distress or if they have to wait until death is imminent before proceeding with life saving treatment and by then the woman might never again be able to carry a baby?

– Trump claiming that a president cannot be prosecuted for “official” criminal acts and that a former president cannot be prosecuted unless the House of Representatives has impeached him and the Senate convicted him. Clearly, “Equal justice under law” will no longer have any meaning.*

– that the Supreme Court of the United States has taken this immunity case, this violation of reason, this affront to the Constitution, this kick in the teeth of justice seriously? And they may well grant Trump such god-like power!** Read this excellent explainer.

– whether Texas women can travel to another state for an abortion or whether she can be given consult from others without any of them going to jail? That is to say, why is it necessary to question whether Texans have freedom of speech or freedom to travel? Or Floridians? Or Mississippians?

.  .  .  how it’s even possible that:

– the state of Tennessee has authorized school teachers to carry firearms, when everyone has known for a very long time that the real problem is not unarmed teachers, but over-armed citizens with a vigilante mania or some other mental derangement, like, “I feel like a weenie, and I know I’ll feel powerful if I kill a bunch of people.”

– Fuhrer Greg Abbot of Texas has his police and National Guard in riot gear on the campus of the University of Texas – Austin and they are arresting and are prepared to beat up kids who are in peaceful protest over suffering Palestinians? This looks like it can become like the 1968 police riot in Chicago all over again, with kids beaten, arrested and shot.

– hateful idiots on college campuses across the country are screaming pro-Hamas, anti-Semitic vitriol, hurling threats at and committing physical assaults on Jewish students? Someone taught them to hate. Someone taught them that they could beat up those who are somehow different from them. I wonder who that might be.

– we tolerate the cruelty heaped on Asians, Muslims, Blacks, Browns and Jews? Oh yeah: it’s that “Someone taught them” thing again.

– a large segment of the Republican Party favors Vladimir Putin and Russia over a democratic ally in Europe and even favors Russia over our own country?

– the majority of Republicans (about 70%) believe Trump’s Big Lie about the 2020 election? Didn’t these people receive an education? Do they understand concepts like evidence, reality and the rule of law? How is it that a jury of his peers found Trump liable for sexual abuse and for defamation – twice! – and they still plan to vote for him? And they’ll vote for him even if he is convicted of felonies – crimes – before the election?

– sitting senators (Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley) are calling for National Guard deployment against peaceful protesters? Cotton posted, “I encourage people who get stuck behind the pro-Hamas mobs blocking traffic: take matters into your own hands.”

– that Speaker Mike Johnson bellowed from the steps of Low Memorial Library, “Columbia has allowed these lawless agitators and radicals to take over. Anti-Israel encampments are popping up in universities all across this country. The madness has to stop.” Mother Jones How come today’s Republicans sound an awful lot like hateful, anti-civil rights creeps of the 1960s? Perhaps Johnson and his snarling Buddies On Repression Extremism Society (“BORES”) will bring Iranian Revolutionary Guards to shoot college campus protesters, just like they do in Tehran.

_____________________________________________

* This from Wikipedia:

OLC memoranda

In 1973, amid the Watergate scandal, the Department of Justice‘s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) issued a memorandum concluding that it is unconstitutional to prosecute a sitting president.[23] Its arguments include that the president “is the symbolic head of the Nation. To wound him by a criminal proceeding is to hamstring the operation of the whole governmental apparatus in both foreign and domestic affairs.”[24] It says that the statute of limitations should not be tolled while the president is in office, but suggests that Congress could extend the statute of limitations specifically for presidents.[25] After the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Clinton, the OLC issued a second memorandum in 2000, distinguishing civil and criminal presidential immunity and determining that it was still improper to prosecute a president due to the adverse affect it might have on his ability to govern.[26]

That is the rationale for the recommended prohibition against prosecuting a sitting president – but only while he or she is still president. My understanding is that there is nothing in either memorandum to indicate that there is a prohibition against prosecuting a president for crimes committed while in office once that president has left office.

More to the point, nowhere is it written that a president enjoys permanent protection from prosecution for criminal activity when no longer in office, as when Trump stole classified documents, brought them to Mar-a-Lago and then lied to the FBI and defied a subpoena. But, of course, Trump’s lawyers have claimed just such protection at the Supreme Court.

Required Reading – click here

Blindfolded Lady Justice – for now

.

The Court heard this case with Justice Clarence Thomas present. He did not recuse himself – again – in his obvious temper tantrum ignoring of his conflict of interest, as his wife Ginni participated in the insurrection at the heart of this case.

Someone has to tell me why the Supreme Court accepted this farcical and cruel excuse of a case. These Justices make it look like Lady Justice is peeking out from behind her blindfold, telling them that it’s okay for them to be political hacks and to undermine our justice system.

If you wish to dig into this further, here’s a link to the full OLC memos, along with pertinent commentary.

** If Trump succeeds with his case in the Supreme Court, President Biden could immediately have Trump assassinated by Seal Team 6, claiming him to be a clear and present danger to the United States. If Seal Team 6 were to refuse such an order, Biden could bring a pistol the the first presidential debate and kill Trump himself. Either way, Biden could never be prosecuted for the murder because the Supreme Court would have made it legal to be a presidential murderer.

Today is a good day to be the light

  • _____________________________
  • 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 ALL 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.
    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.

    Click me

    JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Scheming


Here’s Some Of What Decades of Far Right Scheming Have Brought You

Voter suppression through:

extreme gerrymandering;

voting rights suppression;

throwing out voter registrations for obscure reasons – especially in poor and minority areas;

eliminating voting places;

restricting ballot drop box access;

School vouchers for private and parochial schools that starve public schools of money and violate the freedom of religion guarantee of the First Amendment;

Attacking and eliminating healthcare rights;

Cheating on Supreme Court confirmation hearings to get a polarized Court;

Cultivating a power base by appealing to racism and hatred – no more need for dog whistles;

Book banning and book burning;

Stoking fear of the “other;”

Promoting supply side “voodoo” economics for over 40 years, which has served only to make the wealthy wealthier and more powerful and make all others poorer and less powerful;

Packing the Supreme Court to engineer the Citizens United decision into a grotesque monster that allows enormous sums of money from hugely wealthy individuals and corporations to control our elections. This was accomplished by expanding the original case into something not in contest – in effect, making up a new case to ensure power for the wealthy;

Denial of truth and embrace of cruel fictions that stick a spoke into the wheels of progress in Congress and state houses, then complaining that government can’t do anything. Example: spouting lies about the safety and efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines and demonizing public health officials, while well over a million people died and our healthcare infrastructure (hospitals) failed, leaving millions without healthcare at all – and at the same time complaining that the government grossly mishandled the pandemic;

A Trump appointed Texas judge overruling the FDA to eliminate Mifepristone, this on a foundation of boundless ignorance and vacuous reasoning. That compliments what appears to be his whitewashing of his extremist views that he hid during his lifetime appointment judgeship confirmation process;

Challenging election results on the basis of absolutely no facts or evidence – but the false claims have accomplished the undermining of citizen confidence in our elections;

Stoking fear and hatred of LGBTQ citizens and inciting violence;

Ignoring the overwhelming public will on issues like gun safety, abortion, healthcare and more. Here is an example in a chart from the April 11 STAT report, based on a Kaiser Family Foundation study.

These are shocking numbers and the story is actually worse than it appears. Read the full Kaiser Family Foundation report. This is what happens when a minority is in control and they ignore what the rest of us want. It’s deadly.

The extremists have been at this for decades, applying billions of dollars and enormous political pressure and their scheming has paid off in their minority control and their fantastic self-enrichment. Decide for yourself if this stuff works for you. If it doesn’t, then perhaps we should be scheming to set things right.

DNC: I don’t hear a thing from you except solicitations for my money. Is that your best shot?


Today is a good day to be the light.

______________________________

  • 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.
    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 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Hatred, Christian Nationalists & The Supreme Court


An Open Letter to Christian Haters

Did you go to Sunday School when you were a kid? Or at least attend a church service now and then? Here’s what you did with that.

They told you the stories and the lessons from long ago, like to be kind to strangers. They said to be generous to others, especially those less fortunate than you. You remember that stuff, right?

Do you remember the day they told you what Jesus said about hatred? I’m pretty sure they said that Jesus instructed, “Don’t hate,” although they wrapped a lot more words around the message. You sat in your chair and you heard the words.

Then you walked out of the building and said to yourself, “No way, man. I’m gonna do whatever I want, whatever makes me feel good and powerful and in control.” Whatever message or teaching or directive Jesus had for you was cast aside, forgotten, crushed under your heel. In that moment you rejected Jesus completely.

And you’ve been living without Jesus ever since.

Oh, you put up a Christmas tree and you do the other performative stuff and claim you’re a Christian, but you don’t follow the rules. You live under only your own rules and who cares about what those ancient guys said? You like to hate others. It makes you feel good.

This nation has been hating non-Whites for over 400 years. Asians are squarely in the center of the bulls eye again and antisemitism is up 34 percent (seven incidents per day), according to the most recent data a year ago. The count of those acts of hatred is almost certainly higher now. So, with all that hatred infecting people, tell me again how this is a Christian nation.

Bible thumpers, holier than thou types, those wearing beatific masks, please don’t even imagine you’re fooling anyone. There is a universe of issues on which you try to paint your non-Semitic image of Jesus, but it’s just your ongoing dishonesty.

When you invade a prayer meeting at a Black church and shoot the people there, when you blast away the congregants in a synagogue, when you make death threats and distribute hate literature, when you make laws that crush your out-group, you’re refusing, denying and even giving the finger to Jesus.

That’s your truth that you hide from. But know this: we see you for what you are. So, don’t tell us you want this to be a Christian Nationalist country, because you wouldn’t be allowed to live there.

The Constitution

Now that I’ve inflamed a lot of people, let’s take this one step further.

The Articles in The Constitution primarily describe how our government is intended to work. The Amendments primarily define the rights we have as citizens. Here’s a link so that you can review all The Amendments to understand your rights. And everyone else’s, too.

What neither the Articles nor the Amendments offers is an opportunity to check a box next to the parts you like and ignore the rest.

So, if you are an ardent believer that the Second Amendment gives you the unlimited right to own and carry whatever guns or other armament you like, you would surely check the box next to that Amendment. But in calling yourself patriotic, a true American, you also have to check the box next to the First Amendment, which gives everyone, even the people you hate, the right of freedom of religion. That precludes the possibility of this becoming a Christian Nationalist nation. This country was never meant to be that. Get over it.

The First Amendment also gives us the right of freedom of speech. That means that the people you hate can say what they like, just as you can. And they can publish what they want, even if it goes against your rigid principles. There are limits to what anyone can say, but the limits have nothing to do with whether you like what they’re saying.

The First Amendment also gives us freedom of the press, the right of peaceful assembly and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. These are for everyone, not just for you. Nobody gets to pick and choose those rights or deny them to anyone else.

We have senators and representatives who rail every day against the Bill of Rights, the first ten Amendments. They want to leave some of those imaginary boxes unchecked because it’s inconvenient or annoying that others whom they hate have the same rights as they have. The same goes for millions of ordinary citizens.

Show me the patriotism in that. Show me how demanding that this be a Christian Nationalist country comports with our founding document.

Right. You can’t.

So, Just For You .  .  .
.

Here’s a link to become a card carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union. Click it and join to protect and defend our Constitution. You’re patriotic and want to protect and defend the Constitution, right?

Question Of The Week

Since we’re talking about hatred, the Supreme Court consistently decides cases in ways that negatively impact Americans. They call themselves conservatives, but I’m wondering what they’re conserving. Think:

Citizens United – gave corporations and rich people the right to distort our elections in their favor and against yours

Dodd v. Jackson Women’s Health – killed abortion rights. And don’t even think of imputing your supposed Christian judgments on that – see the last paragraph below.

Various gun safety laws like Heller and MacDonald – effectively made it easier for haters to kill others

A swamp of voter suppression laws (e.g. closing polling places, eliminating ballot drop boxes, gerrymandering, removing voters’ registrations) and they all seem to be decided in favor of the haters

So, our Question Of The Week is,

Why do the so-called conservatives on the Supreme Court hate Americans?

Supreme Court Fallout

If you’re a woman, they stole your reproductive rights. If you’re a man, they stole those rights from your wife, your sister, your daughter, all the females in your neighborhood, extending from sea to shining sea plus you know where else. Almost as bad, that theft of rights is being imputed into other organizations, driven by far right pressure.

Take Walgreen’s, for instance. They just announced that they will no longer sell Mifepristone, the abortion pill. Not just in states where they’ve been outlawed, but in states where it is still quite legal to sell them. They have allowed themselves to be intimidated by far right big money pressure and they’re caving in.

I’m wondering if enough pressure can be applied the other way by we consumers, who have choices. We can explain to Walgreen’s that those choices include CVS, Rite-Aid and the rest.

Here’s a plea from an activist friend:

We hope you will take five minutes today to contact Walgreen’s headquarters at (800) 925-4733 (press 5 at the prompt) to make clear that those who want to strip away women’s fundamental rights are in the minority.

Women make 85% of all consumer purchases in the US (Forbes), and drive 70-80% of spending among consumers (Entrepreneur, Mar 19, 2021). We demand that our medical decisions be respected. We will not spend our dollars at institutions that do not protect us.

I’ll add that right-to-choose voters poll over the falsely named pro-life voters (the guys who hate abortion but love the death penalty) by 24 percentage points. Seems like we Americans like our rights.

Go call Walgreen’s.


Today is a good day to be the light.

______________________________

  • 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 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Science Fair Project, An Update, Hanukkah and the Weather


A Saturday post – because you might be busy tomorrow.

Voyager 1 – traveling for over 45 years, now 14.3 million miles from Earth in inter-stellar space, 22 light-hours away, traveling at over 36,000 mph – and still exploring.

Science Fair Project: The Search For Alien Life
Hypothesis:

There is detectable alien life in the universe.

Procedure:

Observe behavior.

Observation #1

I stumbled upon a short post from October 7, 2010 (edited here for brevity). Read it to observe behavior.

Lemmings and Leaders

It’s a common belief that those cute little lemmings follow one another over a cliff and are dashed on the rocks below to their instant demise. In point of fact, lemmings aren’t particularly smart, but they do have enough innate survival instinct not to follow their pals over a cliff.

Mark Kirk was a congressman (R-IL-10) for 10 years.  He did what he was told to do by Republican leadership, voting for every Republican spending bill. He helped to double the national debt, adding more to it than all previous administrations combined since George Washington, this because Kirk was a good little doobie follower. But we didn’t elect him to be a follower.

When the issue of war, any nation’s gravest question, came before him, Mark Kirk asked not a single question in session. He didn’t offer any skepticism or even appear to raise an eyebrow. He just voted as he was told, in lock step with the rest of the Republicans for Bush’s wrong war, taking us over the metaphorical cliff. He was a suicidal/homicidal follower.

We need our leaders to be bolder than that and, certainly, we need them to be at least as smart as lemmings and not follow anyone over a cliff.

We are beset by leaders who don’t lead, who instead take a cowardly path. Because this is ultimately self-destructive to our nation and is in conflict with our natural drive for self-preservation (Ref: lemmings), this behavior must be caused by some non-native force and is likely the result of alien influence.

Observation #2

The First Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law .  .  .  abridging the freedom of speech .  .  .”

That has nothing to do with whether any private company, including pre-Musk Twitter, may decide to blank out liars and hate speech.

Also, the First Amendment has nothing to do with Apple deciding to abandon Twitter and instead put their advertising dollars where the company won’t be associated with liars and hate speech. Musk’s whining about freedom of speech is factually empty and is highly indicative of aberrant behavior, possibly from an alien source.

The government won’t stop Musk from his senseless blabbing – that’s prohibited – but millions of exiting employees, users and advertisers may well stop him.

Oddly concurrent with his visionary, marvelous stuff, Musk wants to promote (or at least allow) extremism that harms people. This is solid evidence of a diabolical alien influence.

    • “Elon Musk is a geyser of gibberish, so it’s important not to make too much of anything he says.”
    • – Frank Bruni

With pasted on smirks, Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz sat, refusing to honor Ukrainian President Zelinskyy. Could they be aliens?

Hypothesis Proven True

Hypothesis: There is detectable alien life in the universe.

These observations of terrestrial life compromised by extraterrestrial afflictions should be enough to give us pause. We don’t need the new NASA moon program or the SETI Array or listening probes sailing beyond our solar system to establish that there are alien life forms about. They’re unmistakable, as they emit unstable, intelligence-impersonating signals that weaken us. We have Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, Donald Trump, Kevin McCarthy, Kari Lake and so many more proofs of alien life forms right here.

Most of the time they fiddled with their phones (texting one another?). That was after they had crashed security and refused screening. Yeah, they’re probably aliens.

Many alien forms are without skeletal support, spineless and weak. Others amass protection via insulation made of cash. Most babble fantasies constantly. They hide behind our laws and our protections, using our good will to attack and destroy us. They have infiltrated our planet, set us into tribal conflict and polluted our gene pool.

Conclusion

With such a mass of evidence, we are left without doubt of the existence of alien life. Even more significant, they walk among us!

Worst of all, they create deadly conflict among our people, putting us more at risk every day.

Recommendations

The key for us will be to minimize the influence of these aliens and to take steps to eradicate this infestation. We must be smart and clever, as we go about purifying our planet. Otherwise, Earth will become just another rock in the vastness of space that is absent of any intelligent life.

———————————-

An Update

In my December 14 post I listed many of the clinically crazy things far righties do. Among them was,

They project alt-right wrongdoing onto others. Whatever the far right is doing, they accuse the “socialist Democrats” of it, once again without any evidence.

As though to cast a bright light on such behavior, last weekend Trump posted on his Truth Social fantasy grievance platform:

“They say that the Unselect Committee of Democrats, Misfits, and Thugs, without any representation from Republicans in good standing, is getting ready to recommend Criminal Charges to the highly partisan, political, and Corrupt ‘Justice’ Department for the ‘PEACEFULLY & PATRIOTICLY’ speech I made on January 6th. This and my actions were mild & loving, especially when compared to Democrats wild spewing of HATE.” [Copied and pasted in full from Trump’s post. All emphasis, incorrect grammar, punctuation and spelling are his except the bold – that’s mine. JA]

It’s the “Democrats wild spewing of HATE” piece that is the projection. See how that works?

Now that the January 6th Committee report is out, expect continuous vomiting of such stupid stuff. Brace yourself.

Hanukkah

In addition to tomorrow being Christmas, it is also the eighth night of Hanukkah – all candles blazing. It is the celebration of the end of a long and brutal oppression, a victory for freedom and the restoration of justice.

Last week the members of the January 6 Committee gave our country the gift of a vital step in the same direction. They declared their referrals for criminal prosecution to the Department of Justice and referrals to the House for ethics violations.

The journey to freedom and justice is a hard and constant struggle. Light some candles tonight to celebrate our victory.

Weather

You don’t need to be told that it’s nasty, dangerous cold outside, but here’s the real deal.

You and I are inside heated dwellings and we stay comfy – and that’s great. It’s also true that right here on the North Shore we have homeless (“unhoused”) people trying to survive by staying inside a refrigerator box. It isn’t warm there and they most definitely are not comfy. But you and I can do something about that.

Rotary of Northbrook has a “Coat Off Your Back” project to collect and distribute “gently used” winter coats to people who need them. Here’s a link to find drop off points. If you aren’t near Northbrook, just check Rotary or other do-gooder organizations near you. The Rotary effort ends today, so hurry. People are cold.

On behalf of cold people, please pass along this message to family, friends, neighbors – even Trump voters. We’re in this together.

————————————

  • 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 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Ending the Tyrannical Minority


America has always lived with a minority, although we haven’t always been at its whim. The bad news is that it has taken great acts of hypocrisy, reality denial and blatant power grabs to bring us to where we are now, at the whim of a tyrannical minority. The good news is that we can do something to make this a democracy, as in: self-governing majority rule. To make that happen, we’ll have to do something different, because if we don’t, we’ll just get more of the same. Here’s a plan.

Insanity in the Senate
1. Reform the Filibuster

The Founders envisioned the Senate as a “great deliberative body,” which, I suppose, it has been for short periods and from time to time. However, that entire concept became impossible when the filibuster became a phone-in exercise. The Senate immediately became brain dead because majority rule was exterminated. Nothing controversial can get done because the filibuster makes it necessary to have a super-majority (60 votes) to break a filibuster and then to at last vote on something – anything.

The result of that is that the majority of Americans most commonly do not get what we want.

Example: 90% of Americans want universal background checks prior to the sale or transfer of any firearm, as well as a ban on the sale and the ownership of military style assault rifles.

Example: The majority of us favor pro-choice, universal healthcare and no corporate money in our politics.

All of that and far more are things We The People want, but which we don’t get because of an intransigent minority in the Senate with its finger always on the filibuster trigger.

I don’t think we should eliminate the filibuster, because that would inevitably accomplish nothing more than switching from minority tyranny to majority tyranny. Plus, it would enable extremists to cram through Constitution crushing legislation. All we have to do is to make the filibuster more difficult to initiate and more painful to sustain.

2. Make the Senate Proportional to Our Population.

It makes next to no sense for Rhode Island to have the same representation and power in the Senate as does California. The way it is now gives Rhode Islanders about 36 times more power than Californians. If you can find fairness or even a smidgen of sense in that, be sure to spell it out in the Comments section below and teach something to the rest of us.

Otherwise, it’s time to balance senatorial power. Here’s how.

There are roughly 331 million of us and 100 Senate seats. Do the math: we establish the rule of one senator per 3.3 million Americans. In this plan the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming together will have 1 senator; California will have 13; Florida will have 9; Utah will have 1; Illinois will have 4; Kansas will have 1; Nebraska and Iowa together will have 2; Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont together will have 2. You get the picture.

You’ve seen the electoral map showing that the vast, non-coastal parts of this country are red. Those areas have far more head of livestock than people and entire counties that are home to just a few dozen citizens. The practical effect of that is that they punch way above their weight class in the Senate. Good for them. Not so good for high population states or our country as a whole. Change that to make representation fair to everyone by making Senate representation proportional.

Insanity in the House
1. End Gerrymandering

It’s just a legalized form of cheating. It’s power grabbing that is funded by disenfranchising citizens. It is a way to undermine the Constitution. It is a sleight of hand that permanently impoverishes millions. It is a slimy way to make sure that lots of us aren’t represented in Congress at all.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder has done some remarkable work on this as Chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. He and the committee have clear, actionable plans to end this monstrously inequitable practice that empowers clever bad guys (the minority) and dis-empowers millions of us (the majority).

2. End Obstructions to Voting.

Yes, I’m talking about the practice of removing citizens from voting roles for idiotic reasons, like because they didn’t vote in the last two elections (Ohio and elsewhere) or because they’re Black and poor (North Carolina, Georgia and Florida) and more. The Constitution doesn’t say a thing about restricting such people from voting. In fact, it doesn’t suggest disenfranchising former felons, either. I’m looking at you, Florida Governor DeSantis.

Insanity in Campaigns and the Supreme Court
1. Reverse the 2010 Citizens United Decision

In an colossal act of larceny, the Supreme Court decided the Citizens United case in 2010 by deciding that inanimate, non-sensate corporations have all the same rights that you have. All of them. It’s larceny because that decision gave corporations and big money individuals way more impact on our elections than you have. That decision effectively stole elective power from you and gave it to big money interests to elect members of Congress who would do their bidding.

And that’s what Congress does. Blame Chief Justice John Roberts for that.

Want to fix that and restore the system intended by the Founders?

  1. Write a law that allows money and money equivalents to be donated to any candidate or political party only by flesh-and-blood, actual human persons. To accomplish that,
  2. Establish by law that money is property, not speech.
  3. Establish by law that inanimate objects like corporations do not have all the same rights as human beings. Corporations are not people, Mitt Romney.
  4. Establish by law that corporations cannot do back door political influencing by means of Super PACs and the like.

This will be tricky and the process will be fraught with comically feigned and eagerly performed indignation and impassioned idiocy. Keep in mind, though, that our current system is a perfect machine to ensure sub-optimal results for We The People. It discourages good people from running for office. It ensures the continuing enrichment of already fabulously wealthy people and corporations and the impoverishing of everyone else. It underlines in blazing colors that we don’t care about the intent of the Founders or anything else other than power grabbing.

But we don’t have to be like that.

Clearly, if we want something better, we’ll have to do something better, like,

2. Reverse the 2012 McCutcheon v. FEC Decision

Prior to this case the McCain-Feingold bill limited the amount any individual could contribute to any candidate to $2,600 per-candidate, per-election, or $5,200 for a primary and general election. It also limited the aggregate any individual could contribute to all candidates in any one election to $123,200. Shaun McCutcheon sued to have those limits abolished.

The Supreme Court shot down his hope of eliminating the per-candidate limit, claiming that allowing more financial leverage would be seen as, or effectively would be legalized (gasp!) bribery.

But in a truly contorted and galactically illogical opinion the Court decided that eliminating the aggregate limit somehow didn’t amount to authorizing legalized bribery. The 5-4 “We don’ need no stinking stare decisis” conservatives struck it down, popping the top off the bribery equivalent.

Just image if Mr. McCutcheon were to give $5,200 to every Republican candidate in any one election cycle. Do you suppose that might give him oversized influence in our politics and amount to legalized (gasp!) bribery?

If we are to be a representative democracy, this decision has to be reversed by Congress.

The Point

The playing field must be level if We The People are to be in charge (as in: self-government majority rule). For that to happen we have to remove the unfair, inequitable influences on our politics. What’s above isn’t the complete medicine for what ails us, but it’s a start.

Are you feeling a glow of gratitude, what with Thanksgiving right over the horizon? That’s fine and that’s good, because in this country we still can do something to move us toward a more just nation, that more perfect union.

Wishing you a heartfelt Thanksgiving.

————————————

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 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Dracula Today


Now it’s your turn.

Bad Moon

John Fogarty and Credence Clearwater Revival sang about it decades ago, perhaps prescient about the dangers that surround us today.

I see a bad moon rising
I see trouble on the way
I see earthquakes and lightning 
I see bad times today
    
Don't go around tonight 
 'Cause it's bound to take your life
There's a bad moon on the rise

I always needed an interpreter to understand Fogarty’s words. For example, I thought he said that there’s a bad moon “on the right,” not “on the rise.” If he had sung it the way I heard it, he’d be exactly right for today’s America, although his way is pretty accurate, too.

That bad moon on the right brings hatred, lies, hypocrisy, lost integrity and an imminent threat to our very democracy and threats of violence and death to our fellow citizens. But you know that, just as Fogarty seems to have known it in my misinterpretation of that line in his song.

We have 6 days left to stop that bad moon on the right and make the difference that must be made.

American Psychosis

Yes, of course we’re psychotic. That’s what explains all the reality denial and our pronounced sociopathy, like that self-deluded thug smashing Paul Pelosi’s head with a hammer. We’ve been down this Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole many times and somehow we’ve survived it. All we had to do was to tolerate the death and destruction and voilà! everything was just fine again.

Like the Civil War, when half the country violated its sacred word, violated its oath and attacked the other half of our country. We only had to tolerate over 600,000 dead and many times that number wounded, hobbled, disfigured for life or insane.

Like over 86 years of Jim Crow lynchings – 4,743 of them according to the NAACP – and those are just the documented lynchings. And, of course, there was the terrorizing of millions.

Like the hatred and violence unleashed on various immigrant groups, like the Catholics, Irish, Italian, Chinese and Jews.

That’s just some of what we’ve tolerated.

See Note 5 and the final graphic below.

In David Corn’s book American Psychosis he recounts the cruelty and flagrant dishonesty of America’s alcoholic senator, Eugene McCarthy (R-WI). A fellow senator, Millard Tydings (D-MD), described McCarthy’s claim about the State Department being infested with communists, saying his charges were “a hoax perpetuated on . . . the American people” and “perhaps the most nefarious campaign of half-truths and untruth in the history of the Republic.”

Nevertheless, Republicans back then “viewed McCarthy as a potent weapon to deploy against Democrats.” McCarthy supported “a popular revolt against the upper classes,” and “accused the Truman administration and Democrats of being traitors to America. He had no evidence, only accusations.” Put a bookmark in that: no evidence, only accusations.

Gen. Dwight Eisenhower was campaigning for the presidency in 1952 and was to give a speech in Milwaukee. Included was a paragraph excoriating fellow Republican McCarthy, the insanity of McCarthyism and the spinelessness of the followers of his hatred. That paragraph said that to believe McCarthy was to believe that the government was being run by “men whose very brains were confused buy the opiate of this deceit,” meaning the deceit of McCarthy.

But Eisenhower needed Wisconsin votes, so he never spoke those words in public. In fact, even as he deplored McCarthy, he remained silent for years about McCarthy’s hypocrisy and the cruelty he set upon good Americans and the very fabric of American values. Even the Supreme Court took a swing at what we profess to be our values by ruling that the First Amendment did not cover communists. Surely you’re seeing the parallels to today.

Trump is our McCarthy, the liar, the manipulator, the hatred spewer, the accuser of wild conspiracies without evidence. So, too, are his imitators, suck-ups and opportunists for votes who are doing the same thing, just as happened in the 1950s.

Were Sen. Tydings alive today we surely could show him what a real hoax on the American People can look like. He’d have a new take on “perhaps the most nefarious campaign of half-truths and untruth in the history of the Republic,” the Nazi-MAGA scourge.

Like the Civil War, lynchings and McCarthyism, our present psychosis – our blood sucking Dracula, in Halloween-speak – will not go away on its own. We’ve already tolerated too much death and destruction and America’s Dracula will continue to attack us and suck the life out of this republic until we take action.

This national vampire must be fought into a coffin and a stake driven through its foul heart so that it can’t drain all the blood from America. That’s what you’re going to do next Tuesday.

From Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) yesterday:

But I’m also sad this violence [against Paul and Nancy Pelosi] isn’t more surprising — just as I wasn’t surprised by January 6th.  This is what happens when we’re taught that those who disagree with us are existential threats to our survival; when we label our own tribe good and the other evil; when we fail to call out the bad behavior of our own “side” out of loyalty or denial.

We’re hearing calls of sympathy, empathy and caring for the Pelosi’s from Democrats. The Republicans are made of other stuff and prominent individuals are making up horrible conspiracy stories, they’re blaming the victim and refusing even a hint of concern for the Pelosi’s. Likewise, they haven’t concern for any of the Democrats or their families who receive a near constant stream of death threats prompted by Republicans’ dreadful demonizing. Republican politicians can’t even muster a, “Sorry that happened to you.”

Think about that when you go to vote on Tuesday. Think, “A stake through its heart.”

————————————

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 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Big One


Click, then pitch in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Are You Seeing The Pattern Yet?


The people at the not-for-profit Citizens United were on a mission. They hated Hillary Clinton. A lot. They filmed what they called a documentary, Hillary: The Movie, and planned to release it in 2008 in an effort to submarine her candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination for the presidency. They wanted to air their hit job film just prior to primary elections in the various states. But they had a problem.

One of the provisions of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (commonly called McCain-Feingold) banned the airing of corporate funded “electioneering communication” for the 30 days before a primary election and for 60 days prior to a general election. The Citizens United people wanted to blanket the airways with their electioneering communication attack piece all the way through the primaries, so in December 2007 they filed suit to challenge that provision of McCain-Feingold. If they won, they would be able to run their electioneering film in the then-upcoming campaign season of 2008.

The district court refused their application for injunctive relief. In the appeals court Citizens United claimed their 90-minute film was a documentary, not electioneering. The court easily saw through that smoke screen and refused that argument, stating what was perfectly clear to everyone, that it was not a documentary film, but a 30-minute attack ad. It was an attempt to affect the election (the very definition of electioneering). Further, the court saw that their intended use of the movie was expressly at odds with established law.

On the case went to the Supreme Court (Citizens United v. FEC), which decided in favor of Citizens United in January 2010, overturning the lower court’s ruling. The court declared that the corporate electioneering communications restrictions of McCain-Feingold were unconstitutional and Citizens United could air their film as they wished. That should have been the end of the case, but it wasn’t.

Chief Justice John Roberts directed the attorneys to return to the court and re-litigate the case, this time specifically testing the rights of corporations and speech equivalency. It’s important to note that those issues were not part of the case brought by Citizens United.

—->  In other words, the court fabricated an entirely new case focused on issues that were not in contest in the Citizens United case.
That is not supposed to happen.
.

And in this fabricated case, the Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 vote that corporations have full First Amendment rights.

Let me be clear about this:

—-> The Court majority effectively declared that non-sentient, non-human corporations have all the rights of flesh and blood human beings.
Like you
.

Making things worse, Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, reaffirmed that money was effectively the same as speech. He declared that the First Amendment doesn’t allow prohibitions of speech even if the speaker is a corporation.

And that started a deluge of corporate money – dark money – into our politics that persists today.

To be sure there were earlier cases that chipped away at our protection from big money influence in our politics, including Buckley v. Valeo, which effectively declared that money is the same as speech. That assertion, of course, is ridiculous.

While money used for a campaign contribution certainly enables speech, that doesn’t make it the same as speech. Indeed, if you follow the Court’s Buckley logic, they’d have you believe that if I use money to buy a car, that money is the same as a car. Utter nonsense.

Money is property that is used in exchange for other things. That doesn’t make it the same as those other things. Nevertheless, the Roberts court wasn’t able to or refused to see the difference and the Citizens United case became the back breaker of integrity in our elections.

Key Point: That decision was driven by John Roberts legislating from the bench in a case that was not even brought before the court by a plaintiff! One has to wonder if this was a predetermined decision he wanted to reach. Otherwise, where did that secondary case come from?

Put a bookmark here.

Professor Heather Cox Richardson reported this in her July 6 edition of Letters From an American:

“Both the Organization of American Historians and the American Historical Association, the flagship organizations of professional historians in the U.S., along with eight other U.S. historical associations (so far), yesterday issued a joint statement expressing dismay that the six Supreme Court justices in the majority in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision that overturned Roe v. Wade ignored the actual history those organizations provided the court and instead ‘adopted a flawed interpretation of abortion criminalization  .  .  . ‘ “

” ‘[t]hese misrepresentations are now enshrined in a text that becomes authoritative for legal reference and citation in the future, ‘an undermining of the imperative that historical evidence and argument be presented according to high standards of historical scholarship. The Court’s majority opinion…does not meet those standards.’ ” [emphasis mine]

Translation: the Supreme Court ignored evidence that was inconvenient to the decision the justices wanted to make (i.e. overturn Roe). As in the manufactured case derived from the Citizens United law suit, the court clearly had its mind made up to push the doctrines it wanted, irrespective of precedent, facts and even without having a case before it.

And that radicalization is the true danger of this gerrymandered Supreme Court. It appears these justices want to roll back rights and progress 90 – maybe 150 – years.

Are you seeing the pattern yet?

You better see it, because this Court has already invited yet more cases to give them the opportunity to end yet more rights of the people.

For further reading, review Harry Littman’s troubling forecast of Supreme Court malfeasance.

—————————————–

Special Note: According to an ongoing Gallup survey, public confidence of the Supreme Court has plummeted down to 25%. And this study update was conducted before any of the end-of-term Court decisions were announced, including Dobbs. A fresh study will almost certainly show a sharp drop from the already historically low public confidence in the Court.

A similar drop in confidence is what Justice John Paul Stevens predicted in his blistering dissenting opinion in the Citizens United decision in 2010. As you can see, that is what happened.

Click me for the story

For Nerd Readers

You must read Jeffery Toobin’s explanation of this sordid story in The New Yorker. For a sampling, here’s a section of Toobin’s comments on Justice John Paul Stevens’ dissent in the Citizens United case:

So it was especially galling that the Court converted Citizens United from a narrow dispute about the application of a single provision in McCain-Feingold to an assault on a century of federal laws and precedents. To Stevens, it was the purest kind of judicial activism.

Or, as he put it in his dissenting opinion, “Five Justices were unhappy with the limited nature of the case before us, so they changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law.” [emphasis mine] The case should have been resolved by simply ruling on whether McCain-Feingold applied to “Hillary: The Movie,” or at least to nonprofit corporations like Citizens United.

Stevens was just warming up. His dissent was ninety pages, the longest of his career. He questioned every premise of Kennedy’s opinion, starting with its contempt for stare decisis, the rule of precedent. He went on to refute Kennedy’s repeated invocations of “censorship” and the “banning” of free speech. The case was merely about corporate-funded commercials shortly before elections. Corporations could run as many commercials as they liked during other periods, and employees of the corporations (by forming a political-action committee) could run ads at any time.

Stevens was especially offended by Kennedy’s blithe assertion that corporations and human beings had identical rights under the First Amendment. “The Framers thus took it as a given that corporations could be comprehensively regulated in the service of the public welfare,” Stevens wrote. “Unlike our colleagues, they had little trouble distinguishing corporations from human beings, and when they constitutionalized the right to free speech in the First Amendment, it was the free speech of individual Americans that they had in mind.” Congress and the courts had drawn distinctions between corporations and people for decades, Stevens wrote, noting that, “at the federal level, the express distinction between corporate and individual political spending on elections stretches back to 1907, when Congress passed the Tillman Act.”

As for Kennedy’s fear that the government might regulate speech based on “the speaker’s identity,” Stevens wrote, “We have held that speech can be regulated differentially on account of the speaker’s identity, when identity is understood in categorical or institutional terms. The Government routinely places special restrictions on the speech rights of students, prisoners, members of the Armed Forces, foreigners, and its own employees.” And Stevens, a former Navy man, could not resist a generational allusion: he said that Kennedy’s opinion “would have accorded the propaganda broadcasts to our troops by ‘Tokyo Rose’ during World War II the same protection as speech by Allied commanders.” (Stevens’s law clerks didn’t like the dated reference to Tokyo Rose, who made propaganda broadcasts for the Japanese, but he insisted on keeping it.)

Stevens’s conclusion was despairing. “At bottom, the Court’s opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt,” he wrote. “It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.” It was an impressive dissent, but that was all it was. Anthony Kennedy, on the other hand, was reshaping American politics.

————————————

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 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Fixing It – and Another Thing


Fixing It

It’s likely going to take a new Supreme Court that isn’t beholden to extremist ideology and bad influencers to fix our corrupt Congress and state legislatures who refuse the will of We The People, because here is what will be required:

  1. Declare that companies and corporations are not people and do not have the rights of citizens.
  2. clarify that money is property, not speech. It is not protected by the First Amendment. #1 & #2 lead to:
  3. Establish that campaign contributions, whether made directly to candidates or to outside advocate organizations, may be made only by flesh and blood human beings. No company or corporation – no non-human entity – may participate directly or indirectly in electoral politics.
  4. Establish a maximum contribution to any candidate and a total aggregate contribution to all candidates that any individual may make in any election. I.e. fix McCutcheon.
  5. Establish term limits for all elective offices, bureaucracy appointments and for all judges. We have term limits for the president and many governors. I  can’t think of a single good reason not to have limits for all elective offices, appointments and judicial appointments – can you?
  6. Establish a long period following elective or appointed office during which elected and appointed officials are prohibited from lobbying activities on behalf of industries and companies they formerly regulated, adjudicated or affected in an way.
  7. Amend the quaint 18th century, fancifully imagined construct of the Senate as a deliberative body of unusually wise men, two per state. That construct gives added power to rural areas and weakens more populous states, making the Senate unrepresentative. Instead, construct the Senate to be proportional to population in order to represent We The People fairly. Wise people will still be welcome. Here’s an illustration of the why of this.
    1. Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas all together have 3.3 million people. That’s a third the size of just the Chicagoland population. Give those states 2 senators total, not each.
    2. The same for Vermont, the District of Columbia, Rhode Island and Delaware.
    3. Give California and Texas more senators, because they have 39 and 29 million people, respectively.
  8. Make the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico states.
  9. Eliminate the Electoral College and decide presidential elections solely on the basis of the total popular vote, just as for senators and representatives – really, every other elective office.

Clearly, this needs work by people who will see the intricacies and unintended consequences and who can write precise legislation that will both achieve the desired outcomes and will avoid creating what we do not want. These points are some obvious things that come to mind – surely, there are more. And yes, some of this will require amendments to the Constitution.

To get that new Supreme Court will likely require a super-majority of Democrats in both the House and Senate and a president who is a Democrat, because getting this job will be anathema to Republicans and, to be honest, some Democrats. Plus, this may require packing the Court – four new centrist-to-progressive justices who recognize the primacy of We The People.

And Another Thing

Click the pic to watch the entire speech. Every American should see this.

Matthew McConaughey gave a brilliant and impassioned speech to the White House Press Corps on June 7. He made the tragedy in Uvalde clear for anyone listening, leaving no possibility for anyone to miss the reality of the great human suffering this has caused and will continue to cause for a very long time. And he implored Congress to take action to prevent these tragedies from continuing to happen, like common sense gun regulations that will help to keep firearms out of the hands of those who would do us harm.

When he finished speaking and was leaving the lectern, James Rosen from Newsmax, a far right organization, shouted a question: “Were you grandstanding just now, sir?” McConaughey just left the room, but I’ll answer Rosen for him.

“Thank you, sir, for your question. You have just made it clear to all of America, indeed to the world, why we have such difficulty making progress in dealing with our challenges. You have demonstrated that sensationalism, destructive reporting and self-serving cruelty guide your actions and the actions of so many more. These are the over-loud voices with a megaphone but no sense of responsibility – really, no common sense – who vie for attention by widening our national divide. They are a vicious minority doing harm to our people and to our nation and you’ve shown us that you are one of them.

“Shame on you, sir. You could and should know better, but it’s obvious that you refuse to know. Shame on you.”

Be sure to watch Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) shred Republicans’ deadly intransigence on gun safety. His words are clear, compelling, accurate and beautifully impassioned – and they aren’t enough. If we’re to save our kids – like the Uvalde and Parkland and Sandy Hook and Santa Fe and Columbine kids and more – We The People are going to have to make that happen.

Must Read

Read Sheila Markin’s post of June 13. You already know much of the shameful stuff the Rs are doing, but we seem to be living in a post-shame world. More important are her comments about what Dems need to do. Go to a rally or town hall and tell your rep and senators to stop the nice-nice and call things what they are. Tell them that they get points – and votes – for brutal honesty.

————————————

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 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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