Foreign Policy

Carrots, Sticks and George Washington


George Washington’s Farewell Address was delivered to Congress in 1796. He offered profound wisdom to our young nation and his words have value that is undiminished by time. Indeed, it reads as though Washington had a telescope to see into the 21st century and address our challenges of today. His address is wordy in its 18th century style, but it is accessible with a little concentration and it is your reading assignment this week (click here to download the PDF).

Washington had great aspirations for the country he served selflessly through war and for years after that when he would have preferred to be in retirement on his farm.  Here is a piece of his hopes for this nation:

”  .  .  .  I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free Constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.”

The question now is focused on how we are doing in maintaining our brotherly affection, maintaining a free Constitution, ensuring that every department of government is “stamped with wisdom and virtue,” and that we have the happiness and liberty sufficient to recommend democracy like ours to other nations.

There are many Americans now wanting to bring our democracy and our Constitution crashing down and they are doing so while mouthing their perversely impassioned cries of democracy and liberty. We have politicians and blatherers spouting embarrassingly flagrant and witless lies to enrage our citizens against one another and our country. So much for our brotherly affection. And we have abandoned allies and supplicated to tyrants, hardly providing a recommendation of democracy to others.

It’s possible that we’ve back-slid on the path to Washington’s aspirations for us, so our focus needs to be on restoring the pursuit of those lofty goals. Right now it appears that we’ll need both carrots and sticks to begin to move in the right direction.

President Biden hit the ground running, even in the face of the refusal of Trump administration operatives to help in the transition, even in the face of their withholding critical information, even in the face of a complete lack of prior structure to tackle our national challenges and even in the face of their denials of Biden’s achievement and authority.

We are at last on a path to get the pandemic under control and stop killing thousands of Americans daily. We are on a path to restore economic security for our people and we’ve rejoined the global fight for our planet. We are in hopes of soon having the infrastructure program we’ve declared as critical for over three decades and which will benefit all of us in many ways. And we have begun to mend international fences with our allies and put tyrannical opponents on notice. All of that will go a long way to taming the fiery beast of American anger. Perhaps that will narrow our national divisiveness and make us safer here and around the world at the same time.

All are good things, but those carrots alone won’t be enough. It’s hard to picture Michigan Militia toughs suddenly becoming placid and deciding not to kidnap the governor or storm the state capitol with assault weapons, chanting like goosestepping morons about their freedom. The Proud Boys and Oath Keepers won’t miraculously stop calling for a new civil war and threatening to once again attack Congress. Even now they’re threatening to kill Democrats. They are bent on violating Washington’s hope for us, “that [our] union and brotherly affection may be perpetual.” Preventing their violence and chaos will take more than carrots; it will take some sticks.

We need an ongoing and very robust domestic intelligence gathering engine and powerful national policing to crack down on the violent hard heads before they harm more Americans and before they bring down American democracy. That’s the tricky part, because in doing so we risk becoming a police state, compromising the very liberty Washington recommended to us and celebrated. That will be a huge challenge for a very long time.

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Follow Up to the Donald Trump Golden Calf Report

Last week I reported on the CPAC Trump golden idolatry extravaganza and hereby make a prediction based on biblical history.

The T-GOP, like the original wanderers, will take generations to forget their comfort in slavery and their supplication to a false god. Expect no quick miracles.

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Best Opinion Videos of the Week

Brianna Keilar at CNN captures the Pinocchio that Republicans are using to promote minority rule and restore Jim Crow. They are not and never will be real live boys.

And she skewers the jellyfish here.

As you watch the CNN clip, keep in mind the Rudy Question, from the movie The Rainmaker: “Do you even remember when you first sold out?”

Best Political Satire of the Week

Click me for the story

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

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  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

E Pluribus Unum


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From ES:

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

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American Idolatry at CPAC

Click me

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

This time for sure!

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

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

.

To the attendees at CPAC

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

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

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

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

Random Fact of the Week

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

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

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Chinese Century via Bioweapon


Reading time – 4:10  .  .  .

I’ve written many times about the likelihood of this becoming the Chinese century and the many things we’re doing (or not doing) to make that a reality. We pay a huge price for our shortsightedness and small thinking.

We’ve been complacent since our 1950s dominance of the world economy, riding our then-intact manufacturing base, the only country in the world to have one. Then we pretended for decades that the world economic power it created for us still existed. But it didn’t and it doesn’t and we’ve actually enthusiastically created the path for our economic demise through short term thinking and behavior. That’s why so many millions of manufacturing jobs disappeared. And our constant kicking the can down the road instead of rebuilding and enhancing our infrastructure has left us weak. Now, though, there’s another more urgent threat to our world leadership.

Bob Woodward’s book Rage includes an examination of Covid-19 and it details comments from Robert O’Brien, National Security Advisor. Before you dismiss him out of hand because he is just another of Trump’s revolving door cavalcade of advisors, read what follows, lifted directly from Woodward’s book (p. 333), referencing comments by O’Brien on June 11, 2020:

O’Brien continued, “It appears that they closed down travel all through China so that this disease couldn’t get to Shanghai or Beijing and other key cities. But at the same time they’re letting other folks travel from Wuhan to all over Europe and infected Europe and infected the United States. That’s not good. But whatever happened the Chinese have repurposed it into a bioweapon. And they’re using it, they’re attempting to take advantage of Covid to gain a geopolitical advantage over the United States and the free world, and to displace the United States as the leading power in the world.” [emphasis mine]

O’Brien said since Covid “hit the whole world, they’re using it with what they call their wolf diplomacy and for a long time they were attempting to trade PPE to get access for Huawei [5G provider with systems that allow the Chinese government to spy on users, including us] into countries. They were bullying countries into thanking them. They were bullying countries into saying things about the U.S. But overall, the theme is that they, as an authoritarian government, with all their surveillance state and their concentration camps and all that sort of thing, offer a better alternative for the world, a more efficient alternative, a kind of weird nationalistic, technocratic alternative to the world that’s better than liberal democracy. And Covid is an example of why the world should embrace China and Chinese values, and the Chinese form of hybrid capitalistic-mercantilist-communist government.

O’Brien said, “they’re taking every measure possible during this crisis to displace the United States. And we’ve got a hell of a fight on our hands.” [emphasis mine]

O’Brien concluded the consequences were dire. “If we lose our economic edge and we lose our economic might and stay closed for too much longer, we might be in a position where we couldn’t stay ahead or maybe we’d get behind and couldn’t catch up.”

CDC chief Dr. Robert Redfield had something to say about this, too (p. 332):

“It was difficult to understand how China had aggressive travel restrictions within China, and yet did not move to any travel restrictions” for people who wanted to leave China and go abroad, Redfield said.

“They really locked down Wuhan at one point. I think they quarantined over 11 million people. You couldn’t go from Wuhan to Beijing, but you could go Wuhan to London.”

Trump has done little to deal with the Chinese efforts beyond childish name calling. There have been no aggressive steps to lead Americans to safe behaviors to counter the pandemic; worse, he has given dangerous advice and helped to spread the disease. Nothing has been done at the federal level to make it safe to “reopen” our economy or begin to rebuild our economic might, which puts us further behind.

We are in the international fight of our lives – for our lives. We either face the reality of Chinese economic, military and political might or we will become a second rate nation.

This is the challenge the Biden administration faces on day one, even as we’re hobbled by disease. We’re all going to have to learn to walk and chew gum at the same time and we’ll have to stop fighting ourselves immediately, or the consequences for us will be terrible. We’ll have to face up to the danger before us and stop whining about a little inconvenience or even large personal impacts and instead support one another through our health and economic suffering and recovery. Prosperity and international leadership will require universal sacrifice for our common good. The question that will stay with us is whether we still have it in us as a nation to do that.

Some of the cost of complacency is incremental, like the chipping away at our industrial base; some happens faster. Regardless, complacency is a guarantee of our demise. I’m reminded of Hemmingway’s words in The Sun Also Rises, when his character is asked how he went bankrupt. He replied, “Gradually, then suddenly.”

We love to think of ourselves as extraordinary, that we are blessed with American exceptionalism. As gratifying to us as that may feel, we undermine ourselves with our self-congratulation. As I wrote in one of the essays referencing this becoming the Chinese century,

The problem with American exceptionalism is that we assume a superiority that isn’t always warranted. That doesn’t make us exceptional.

But we could be.

We’re already late in building 21st century America. It’s time to take action, to accept the necessary sacrifices and get on board that train to the future. And it better be a high speed train. The chief obstacle to that will be obstructionist Republicans in Congress who may rediscover the awfulness of deficits, now that a Democrat will be in the White House. They are in the way of our exceptionalism.

Mitch McConnell is the leader of the Republican wall of obstruction to progress. His Senate filibustered nearly everything Obama tried to accomplish for the first six years of the Obama administration, including efforts they themselves had championed before January 20, 2009. They effectively eliminated a fundamental tenet of our society: majority rule. For the two years after that McConnell was the majority leader in the Senate and he refused to bring most legislation proposed by Obama or any Democrat to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

We are paying the price for that wall to progress right now and McConnell’s obstructionism is going to continue during the Biden administration. There’s only one way to limit the damage he and his Republican agents of despair can do to America and the pain they inflict on you and me. It is to put Senate leadership into the control of Democrats so that the obstructions to progress can be minimized and we can begin to build our 21st century.

The January 5 double Senate run-off elections in Georgia give us the opportunity to create a 50-50 headcount in the Senate, which will strip Senate leadership and much of the power to obstruct from McConnell. For that to happen we have to do everything in our power to remove the two corrupt sitting senators from Georgia and replace them with honest brokers for We the People. Your part is to help to make that happen.

Go to this link and do all you can. If you’d like to understand this more, I strongly suggest that you read Sheila Markin’s excellent post.

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Ed. note: It has been said that the soon-to-be former president has lived in our heads rent-free for over 5 years, starting with his birtherism slander. That is what constant outrageousness and sensationalism can do, as every circus sideshow barker knows. But our national eviction notice has been posted. The squatter will be gone on January 20 and there’s a permanent

sign for him and every other ego-maniacal tyrant. I recommend that you post a similar sign for your own head.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

This Most Consequential Moment


Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Now is a good time for that.

Reading time – 3:41  .  .  .

Here’s one of the great and beautiful things about America: both of these things are true.

The ragers, the haters, the reality deniers, the hoax and conspiracy screamers, the bullies, the demonizers, the bigots and the misogynists get to wail their vitriol and grievances. They get to verbally assault those who disagree with them. And even as they bray their hatred of Americans, they get to wave American flags and proclaim their love for America. Hint: It’s impossible to both love America and hate Americans.

As they do all that, even when they do their worst, the rest of us get to call them out and stand rock solid against their intentional, destructive cruelty and instead demand a decent America.

A First Amendment exercise is what happened two Fridays ago in Northbrook, IL at a non-violent Trump demonstration and counter-demonstration. The two groups were on opposite sides of an intersection, but they were much farther apart than the three lanes of roadway between them. Read this for a better understanding of the divide and for an example of courage in the face of cruelty.

The enormous gulf between the two groups of demonstrators is a perfect representation in microcosm of our country in this turbulent time, as well as a demonstration of why this election is an enormously consequential moment, perhaps behind only the founding and the Civil War.

I recently wrote,

It’s easy to pin that clear and present danger on Trump, but it’s critical that you see him as the embodiment of the forces of absolutism running hellishly in our society. Trump is both the repugnant inciter of rage and a tool of the brutal, angry mob. He wouldn’t be in office or be getting away with his criminality, his cruelty and the destruction of our democracy if there weren’t millions of people who want that, who think his behavior is okay, who believe the end justifies the means.* It doesn’t matter to them how evil and eventually tyrannical both the end and the means prove to be.

This president is encouraging intimidation of voters, the discarding of ballots, he’s stoking violence, refusing the fundamentals of our Constitution and more. And millions of Americans support his reprehensible words and behaviors. At the same time, the spineless Republicans in Congress continue to promote his lawlessness. It seems that avoiding his playground bully name calling in order to keep their seats in Congress is more important to them than keeping their oath of office. Like Trump, these cowards are playing to the mob.

In contrast, Joe Biden is calling for decency (watch his 22-minute signature video here), for Constitutional norms, for the rule of law and for active measures to protect the American people from both foreign threats, like Russia, and domestic threats, like the coronavirus and white supremacist terrorists.

The screamers wear their MAGA hats and wave Trump flags in their puffed chest power rush, but if America is to be truly great there is only one path for us to follow and it isn’t the Trump path, because his is the path to a brutal past that millions of our ancestors fled.

That’s why this is the most consequential moment of our national lives and nearly the most consequential moment in the history of our nation.

This isn’t a choice of policies; it is a choice to keep our democracy or let the mobs end it forever.

·

From the closing words of Marilynne Robinson’s brilliant essay, “What Does It Mean to Love a Country?

”  .  .  .  we might see a new birth of freedom, and another one beyond that. Democracy is the great instrument of human advancement. We have no right to fail it.”

VOTE IN PERSON EARLY

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*Essay of the Week

It is truly frightening that millions of people are demanding authoritarianism in America. They want an end to our self-rule, our long and noble experiment in democracy. Christopher Ingraham spells out the truth that has been so difficult to define in his Washington Post article, “New Research Explores Authoritarian Mind-set of Trump’s Core Supporters.” Key takeaway: we practice apathy at our collective peril.

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Quotes of the Month – So Far
  1. Chief Justice John Roberts reported, “Ruth [Bader Ginsberg] used to ask, ‘What is the difference between a bookkeeper in Brooklyn and a Supreme Court Justice?’ Her answer: ‘One generation.'”
  2. The international experts have said that at least 70% of U.S. Covid deaths were completely avoidable = 150,000 extra dead people. Reflecting on that, Amy Tucker said, “This is just a whole lot of stupid that didn’t have to be this bad.” Just so.
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Video of the Week

If you aren’t now on the receiving end of the hate, violence and discrimination that’s so common and is being stoked by this president, get ready, because it’s just a day away. Hatred always needs new targets to fuel it. Watch this video. We’ve seen this movie, we know how it ends and it isn’t good.

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Tweet of the Season

Robert Hendrickson, Rector at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Tucson, AZ, tweeted the definitive description of today’s presidential leadership in July. See the truth for yourself. Many thanks to brother Jim for the pointer.

VOTE IN PERSON EARLY

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

An Historical Perspective


Join the Disambiguation Gang right over there (scroll down just a bit) →

Reading time – 3:18 .  .  .

COVID-19 has at last caught up to our science-denying President. Of course, it was inevitable, given his flaunting of all protections, other than getting tested, which isn’t protection at all. By the time someone tests positive they’re already both sick and contagious.

In President Trump’s case, he did what he always does: He thought only of himself and managed to knowingly infect many others, including hundreds at his Bedminster club. The next episode of his contagion spreading happened Sunday at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He went for a joyride to greet the crowds lining Rockville Pike at the western edge of the hospital campus. He rode in the President’s armored, hermetically sealed SUV, along with his Secret Service detail of 2 agents.

In a sealed vehicle.

As he exhaled clouds of coronavirus containing droplets.

They were all wearing masks, but that isn’t complete protection for the Secret Service agents from Trump’s viral fog in that sealed space. The extra bad news is that whatever infection was passed from Trump to those agents they’re going to take home to their families.

On the other hand, I’m sure Trump appeared to be the strong warrior to his fans on the sidewalk. Being a tough guy is very important to all of them, Trump included. Knowing that helps to explain the schoolyard bully behavior of demeaning others and name calling. For them, putting others down is a strength of character thing. King of the mountain. Manly man. Macho. Puff-up stuff.

When Trump arrived back at the White House on Monday evening he stood on the Truman balcony and saluted Mussolini-style. The last thing he did before turning and walking inside was to strip off his mask, heedless of the infection he was almost certain to spread to others in the always heavily-peopled White House.

From the New York Times Tuesday morning newsletter,

“’Don’t be afraid of Covid,’ President Trump tweeted, on the same day that the White House outbreak spread further and another several hundred Americans died from virus complications.”

This is just the latest series of incidents to generate this question: What would the hair-on-fire Republicans be saying if instead it had been President Obama going for that joyride and entering the White House mask-less?

They’d be apoplectic. They’d be maniacally blurting and frothing. They would be all over cable news and on the Sunday talk shows with their eyes bulging and the veins in their necks throbbing in self-righteous indignation and rage. We know that because we saw that almost weekly for the 8 years of the Obama administration. They even went berserk over Obama wearing a tan suit.

If you close your eyes and listen carefully, you can almost hear their wailing today:

“O’ the fecklessness!” (They liked to use that word when speaking about President Obama.)*

“O’ the betrayal of our brave Secret Service agents!”

“O’ the abandoning of our national security!”

“Woe be unto us from this reckless, feckless Black president!” They’d leave out “Black” but everyone would hear the dog whistle just the same.

That’s not what’s happening in reaction to President Trump’s joyride and his restarted campaign to infect White House staff. The Republicans are absolutely silent about what Trump has done. I guess fecklessness, the lives of Secret Service agents and the White House staff and Trump’s ditching of our national security just don’t matter as much now as they did back in the Obama years.

Or perhaps this is just another Republican spineless moment. Time for an additional Jellyfish Award. And time to vote these invertebrates out of office before they do yet more damage.

Numbers of Note

7.4 million Americans have been infected by the coronavirus. That’s 2.2% of our total population. Of those infected, over 211,000 have died.** That’s a COVID-19 mortality rate of 2.8%. Roughly 200,000 more are predicted to die by the end of the year.

The seasonal flu is not a reportable disease, so the CDC doesn’t have perfect numbers for it. Their best estimates are that in 2019-2020 between 39 – 56 million Americans became sick from seasonal flu (that’s between 11.8% and 17% of our total population) and between 24 – 62 thousand died. That’s a seasonal flu mortality rate of 0.06% – 0.11%.

That means the mortality rate of COVID-19 is at least 25 times worse than seasonal flu.

This pandemic  is not “no worse than the seasonal flu.” It’s deadlier. And it hasn’t and it won’t “miraculously disappear,” especially if we continue to refuse to do what is necessary to beat it.

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*Feckless: lacking initiative or strength of character; irresponsible.

**It’s likely that approximately 80,000 additional people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S., based on several analyses. Precise reporting is quite difficult in the middle of a pandemic; plus, there have been many deaths at home or otherwise away from reporting centers due largely to an overwhelmed medical system.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Potpourri – v12.0


Reading time – 5:15  .  .  .

BREAKING NEWS!

Hope Hicks, President Trump’s closest aide, has tested positive for coronavirus. Hours after the announcement of her infection we learned that both the president and Mrs. Trump had tested positive for coronavirus, too. So have some senators and White House staffers, with more surely in the Covid queue. That isn’t the breaking news.

The important story for America is that even after learning he had been exposed to the infected Hicks, Trump continued his normal schedule, including a round-table with supporters and a fundraiser reception, both at his Bedminster, NJ club. He did all that without wearing a mask.

There have been subsequent unverified reports that he didn’t know he had been exposed prior to the Bedminster events. Regardless, Trump remains a one man super-spreader event and a totem, a roll model for the third of this nation that is in denial about this disease.

Also note that Trump was in close proximity to V.P. Joe Biden and Chris Wallace at the debate on Tuesday night. And the president was talking loudly, projecting clouds of his spittle, necessarily putting the others at risk.

I am steadfastly resisting the enormous urge to send a “We told you so” tweet to our now hospitalized president and am proud that instead I’m wishing him and the rest of the infected good health. I’m proud, too, of Joe Biden for withdrawing criticizing ads of Trump while he’s down. It’s a visible demonstration of the decency Biden has promised to bring to the White House, even though, as of this writing, Trump has continued his attack ads against Biden. As I’ve said, there is no low that is so low that Trump won’t go there.

For now, I fervently hope the leaders of the Democrats are devising a plan for the election if Biden goes down sick due to Trump projecting his infection at him and he can no longer run for office. And, because it would be unseemly to kick Trump while he’s down, Kamala Harris and her team better be retoolng her V.P. debate focus.

Going after Pence won’t take long. Everyone knows he’s smarmy, disingenuous and plainly dishonest. Indianans were in the process of throwing him out of the governor’s office when the V.P. gig lifeline was thrown to him. He really isn’t worth much attention. That leaves the rest of the 90 minutes for Kamala to go after Trump, now having to do it gently. Bummer for the former prosecutor.

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It’s So Taxing

Trump claimed hundreds of millions of dollars in profit while at the same time claiming a $47 million loss on his IRS tax form, so he paid no taxes. Imagine if you tried such a deception.

He has hundreds of millions of dollars of loans – debt – money owed – coming due within the next four years and he has no way to pay it back. Plus, we don’t know to whom he owes that money – could be Vladimir Putin or Mohammad bin Salman, which would raise enormous national security issues.

For anyone else, that much debt from any source would disqualify him/her from even the lowest security clearance, because anyone’s knowledge of the debt is kompromat and the enormity of it is financial leverage. In the absence of seeing Trump’s financial documents we’re left wondering who has Trump’s privates in their vice.

Trump was facing financial disaster in 1990, so he did what any enterprising fellow would do: he attempted to grab all of his father’s wealth for himself. He sent a lawyer and an accountant to the elder Trump’s home to get him to change his will. He did that as his father was falling into dementia. With that kind of self-serving pathology as his guide, what do you imagine Trump would do to the United States over four more years and with all that debt hanging over his head?

This is President Flim-Flam and, sadly, Lincoln was right about being able to fool some of the people all of the time. None of Trump’s malfeasance means a thing to his ardent, information refusing supporters. Many of them are prepared to use violence against fellow Americans in support of him, as they wave their American flags and misuse Thomas Jefferson’s Tree of Liberty quote, imagining themselves to be patriots in their flagrant law breaking. And all the while Trump eggs them on.

Perhaps some of the independents, the folks in the middle, will figure out they’ve been victims of the biggest scam in our history and will act accordingly in this election to stop the madness.

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From Peter Strzok’s book COMPROMISED

Page XXIII

Speaking about having lived in 4 countries that each went through revolution by a strongman dictator, Strzok writes, ”  .  .  .  all shared common characteristics, and all taught me lessons about dictators and authoritarians and their hunger to consolidate power and obtain – or at least convey – legitimacy. That quest for legitimacy played out in a host of ways. One was the desire to manipulate, control, or discredit media. A relentless distortion of reality numbs a country’s populace to outrage and weakens its ability to discern truth from fiction.

“Another way dictators sought to secure power and legitimacy was by co-opting the power of the state – its military, law enforcement, and judicial systems – to carry out personal goals and vendettas rather than the nation’s needs.

“Still another was by undermining dissent, questioning the validity of opposition and refusing to honor public will, up to and including threatening or preventing the peaceful transfer of power.”

Page 307

“Authoritarian leaders and tin-pot dictators don’t tolerate dissent or criticism, and when they hear it, they smear their critics in outlandish terms, as traitors, as enemies of the people, as saboteurs and spies. If they can imprison or execute their critics, they frequently do. If they can’t they call for their imprisonment [think: “Lock her up.”] or execution instead, or demand mob retribution against them. Corrupt and compromised, with no moral center and no ethics and only their own self-interests to guide them, such leaders see criticism as a challenge to their legitimacy and, when challenged continuously, rage louder – ruining lives, destroying careers, and worse.”

“One of [the pipe bomber, Cesar] Sayoc’s attorneys would later explain in court that his client’s ‘blind admiration for the president’ [much like MAGA hat wearers] had fed his spiral toward violence. ‘It is impossible, I believe,’ the lawyer said, ‘to separate the political climate and his mental illness.'”

Strzok continued, speaking of “[Trump’s] impact on the vulnerable fringes of American society, on troubled people susceptible to suggestions and inflammatory rhetoric.”

Somebody please tell me what the violence-prone Trump supporters will do when Trump loses and continues his ranting about a rigged election, fake news, lock somebody up and dog whistle calls to violence.

Read traditional conservative David Brooks’ eyes-wide-open comments about the chaos debate last week, the immoralist who created it and the threat it signals for America.

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Coronavirus – Again

We’ve known all along what to do to stop dying from COVID-19. And how to stop suffering debilitating illness from it. And the way to prevent long term lung and heart damage. I wrote about that here.

We haven’t done those things.

Leadership has lied about proper protocols, waffled on protections, recommended lethal cures and valueless treatments and refused most positive actions to stop this pandemic. Left to the states, failure was certain. That’s because some states imposed serious measures to protect the people, while neighboring states blindly, spinelessly followed the President’s lead, claiming COVID-19 was like the flu that would “magically go away”, or some other excuse for inaction. And then people traveled from infected areas to non-infected areas, which spread the disease very quickly. Now, over 210,000 Americans are dead. It was all predictable and avoidable.

We chose not to avoid.

We have a temper-tantrum narcissist, responsibility-refusing president. He sits in his highchair, pounding on his tray and screaming his fantasies, while his enablers say, “Whatever the president wants, it’s his. I’ll do whatever he says.” Republican senators and governors knuckle under, as though they’ve lost all higher brain functioning. They are all children, acting as though there are no consequences to anything, focusing only on what they can imagine they’d like to have and thinking only as far as the immediate future for themselves. They abdicate all responsibility and refuse their accountability for the consequences of their actions on others.

Exactly like misbehaving, disobedient children.

Together, these irresponsible leaders instruct large portions of the population to distrust reality, to flaunt their bravado and to continue to spread the disease and death. Then our citizens act exactly as their leaders do, like misbehaving, disobedient children. And all the while people die for lack of responsible leadership.

This disease won’t go away until we all start acting like adults, conscious of our responsibility to ourselves and one another. What do you suppose that will require?

Read How America Lost 200,000 Lives to COVID-19 – even better, watch the video – for more.

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

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The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

A Critically Important View From Europe


Reading time – 7:15  .  .  .

Presidential Befoulment of the Military Update

It has been 3 days since the foul statements of Donald Trump about our military were exposed. To date, not a single Congressional Republican has spoken out against his cruel, disparaging words and behavior. Not one.

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The G7 Summit is scheduled to meet virtually in November or perhaps later. In anticipation of that and our mail-in ballot season, some notion of how the rest of the world sees America is crucial, because America’s world leadership is on life support. That makes our election choices and actions critical.

A friend forwarded the opinion piece below from The Irish Times (many thanks to JS) and it gives us a view into what America looks like from a European democracy. Consider it in the context of my piece last April, Absolute Power, as well as the closing section of Potpourri v11.0 – The “How Can We Be This Stupid?” Edition.


Donald Trump Has Destroyed The Country He Promised To Make Great Again
The world has loved, hated and envied the U.S. Now for the first time, we pity it.

Irish Times-April 25, 2020 – By Fintan O’Toole

Over more than two centuries, the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger. But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the US until now: pity.

However bad things are for most other rich democracies, it is hard not to feel sorry for Americans. Most of them did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016. Yet they are locked down with a malignant narcissist who, instead of protecting his people from Covid-19, has amplified its lethality. The country Trump promised to make great again has never in its history seemed so pitiful.

Will American prestige ever recover from this shameful episode? The US went into the coronavirus crisis with immense advantages: precious weeks of warning about what was coming, the world’s best concentration of medical and scientific expertise, effectively limitless financial resources, a military complex with stunning logistical capacity and most of the world’s leading technology corporations. Yet it managed to make itself the global epicenter of the pandemic.

As the American writer George Packer puts it in the current edition of the Atlantic, “The United States reacted … like Pakistan or Belarus – like a country with shoddy infrastructure and a dysfunctional government whose leaders were too corrupt or stupid to head off mass suffering.”

It is one thing to be powerless in the face of a natural disaster, quite another to watch vast power being squandered in real time – willfully, malevolently, vindictively. It is one thing for governments to fail (as, in one degree or another, most governments did), quite another to watch a ruler and his supporters actively spread a deadly virus. Trump, his party and Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News became vectors of the pestilence.

The grotesque spectacle of the president openly inciting people (some of them armed) to take to the streets to oppose the restrictions that save lives is the manifestation of a political death wish. What are supposed to be daily briefings on the crisis, demonstrative of national unity in the face of a shared challenge, have been used by Trump merely to sow confusion and division. They provide a recurring horror show in which all the neuroses that haunt the American subconscious dance naked on live TV.

If the plague is a test, its ruling political nexus ensured that the US would fail it at a terrible cost in human lives. In the process, the idea of the US as the world’s leading nation – an idea that has shaped the past century – has all but evaporated.

Other than the Trump impersonator Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, who is now looking to the US as the exemplar of anything other than what not to do? How many people in Düsseldorf or Dublin are wishing they lived in Detroit or Dallas?

It is hard to remember now but, even in 2017, when Trump took office, the conventional wisdom in the US was that the Republican Party and the broader framework of US political institutions would prevent him from doing too much damage. This was always a delusion, but the pandemic has exposed it in the most savage ways.

What used to be called mainstream conservatism has not absorbed Trump – he has absorbed it. Almost the entire right-wing half of American politics has surrendered abjectly to him. It has sacrificed on the altar of wanton stupidity the most basic ideas of responsibility, care and even safety.

Thus, even at the very end of March, 15 Republican governors had failed to order people to stay at home or to close non-essential businesses. In Alabama, for example, it was not until April 3rd that governor Kay Ivey finally issued a stay-at-home order.

In Florida, the state with the highest concentration of elderly people with underlying conditions, governor Ron DeSantis, a Trump mini-me, kept the beach resorts open to students travelling from all over the US for spring break parties. Even on April 1st, when he issued restrictions, DeSantis exempted religious services and “recreational activities”.

Georgia governor Brian Kemp, when he finally issued a stay-at-home order on April 1st, explained: “We didn’t know that [the virus can be spread by people without symptoms] until the last 24 hours.”

This is not mere ignorance – it is deliberate and homicidal stupidity. There is, as the demonstrations this week in US cities have shown, plenty of political mileage in denying the reality of the pandemic. It is fueled by Fox News and far-right internet sites, and it reaps for these politicians millions of dollars in donations, mostly (in an ugly irony) from older people who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

It draws on a concoction of conspiracy theories, hatred of science, paranoia about the “deep state” and religious providentialism (God will protect the good folks) that is now very deeply infused in the mindset of the American right.

Trump embodies and enacts this mindset, but he did not invent it. The US response to the coronavirus crisis has been paralyzed by a contradiction that the Republicans have inserted into the heart of US democracy. On the one hand, they want to control all the levers of governmental power. On the other they have created a popular base by playing on the notion that government is innately evil and must not be trusted.

The contradiction was made manifest in two of Trump’s statements on the pandemic: on the one hand that he has “total authority;” and on the other that “I don’t take responsibility at all”. Caught between authoritarian and anarchic impulses, he is incapable of coherence.

But this is not just Donald Trump. The crisis has shown definitively that Trump’s presidency is not an aberration. It has grown on soil long prepared to receive it. The monstrous blossoming of misrule has structure and purpose and strategy behind it.

There are very powerful interests who demand “freedom” in order to do as they like with the environment, society and the economy. They have infused a very large part of American culture with the belief that “freedom” is literally more important than life. My freedom to own assault weapons trumps your right not to get shot at school. Now, my freedom to go to the barber (“I Need a Haircut” read one banner this week in St Paul, Minnesota) trumps your need to avoid infection.

Usually when this kind of outlandish idiocy is displaying itself, there is the comforting thought that, if things were really serious, it would all stop. People would sober up. Instead, a large part of the US has hit the bottle even harder.  And the president, his party and their media allies keep supplying the drinks. There has been no moment of truth, no shock of realization that the antics have to end. No one of any substance on the US right has stepped in to say: get a grip, people are dying here.

That is the mark of how deep the trouble is for the US – it is not just that Trump has treated the crisis merely as a way to feed tribal hatreds but that this behavior has become normalized. When the freak show is live on TV every evening, and the star is boasting about his ratings, it is not really a freak show anymore. For a very large and solid bloc of Americans, it is reality.

And this will get worse before it gets better. Trump has at least eight more months in power. In his inaugural address in 2017, he evoked “American carnage” and promised to make it stop. But now that the real carnage has arrived, he is reveling in it. He is in his element.

As things get worse, he will pump more hatred and falsehood, more death-wish defiance of reason and decency, into the groundwater. If a new administration succeeds him in 2021, it will have to clean up the toxic dump he leaves behind. If he is re-elected, toxicity will have become the lifeblood of American politics.

Either way, it will be a long time before the rest of the world can imagine America being great again.

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If this report seems far-fetched; if the perspective seems far too narrow; if you’re inclined to dismiss this as just one disgruntled Irish guy opining, then I urge you to have a look at Tom McTague’s essay from London in The Atlantic entitled “The Decline of the American World.” Be clear that Trump is engineering that very thing. E.g. last week Trump announced that we won’t participate in the worldwide effort to develop a vaccine to battle Covid-19. What do you suppose that looks like from abroad?

From McTague’s post:

Bruno Maceas, Portugal’s former Europe minister, whose book The Dawn of Eurasia looks at the rise of Chinese power, told me, “The collapse of the American empire is a given; we are just trying to figure out what will replace it.”

You can check with the folks at Gallup for more. Here’s a recent graph of how Europeans view American leadership. The charts for how Asians and people in the Americas see American leadership look the same. Be clear that the rising black line on the right represents increasing disapproval of U.S. leadership over the past 3 years.

On the left of the graph you can see the high disapproval of the leadership of George W. Bush. Then there were eight strong years of approval for American leadership during the Obama administration (the green line). Now Trump has managed to achieve the highest leadership disapproval of America by our global neighbors. Ever. This is what Trump’s destruction of alliances and his sucking up to tyrants have done to our place in the world. Click the chart and read the report for yourself.

Consider if you were accosted by a street tough. You likely wouldn’t respect him. On the other hand, you’d be keenly aware of and have great respect for the assault rifle and semi-automatic pistol he carried and you would be exceedingly clear about the destruction and chaos they can cause. It’s quite the same for the the way the world views the United States of Trump.

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Finally, five years ago the offices of the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo were attacked and eleven of its staff were murdered by Islamist terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda. The trial of some accomplices to those murders began last Wednesday and Charlie Hebdo once again published the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed and Islam that triggered the attack. Once again they’ve put a stake in the ground to declare freedom of the press will not be stifled. So, once again we can all declare, Je suis Charlie.

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

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

I Really Need Your Help With This


Reading time – 3:49  .  .  .

My pal John Calia (find him here) describes himself as a libertarian. Because I’m a progressive we have lots to talk about and frequently do so. Last week we had an email exchange that eventually reached the shoulder shrug point because even together we were unable to find much in the way of solid answers.

This series of exchanges was sparked by an essay in The New York Times that took a look at what it is that causes voters the most heartburn about Donald Trump. Public polling shows that his persona, separate from his policies, is a huge source of angst.

Okay, nothing new there, as this issue deftly crosses our political divide. But the comparison itself set me to asking the key question: What are Trump’s policies? Let’s start with an historical benchmark.

During the Cold War the foreign policy of all presidents included Soviet/communist containment, and the expansion of democracy. With hindsight we can pick apart the successes & failures and the value of those policies and the strategies that supported them, but the intent was always clear. Agree or disagree with it, that’s what policy looks like.

As I crafted my list of Trump policies it quickly became clear that what I was able to name was a list of Trump actions. What wasn’t clear was any identifiable policy behind them. Here are some examples.

Two of the first things Trump did upon assuming office was to pull us out of both the Paris Climate Accord and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Those are not policies; they are actions. What is the foreign policy those actions support? What is his policy on climate warming?

He took us out of the JCPOA – the Iran deal. Iran was in full compliance with the agreement at the time. After Trump took the U.S. out of the deal, Iran promptly restarted its uranium enrichment program, exactly what the JCPOA had stopped. Since then he has levied new sanctions, has pressured allies to institute snap-back sanctions and talked very tough against Iran. Again, these are all actions, but I’m hard pressed to identify the policy they serve.

He boasted he would “drain the swamp,” but has installed mostly swamp creatures in his Cabinet; i.e., industry moguls, insiders and lobbyists in charge of their own industry. What’s the policy?

He talks tough about law and order and has sent federal troops to attack protesters in, for example, Portland, OR. But apparently the protests and white supremacist violence in Charlottesville were okay – no troops were sent there. Plus he praised the 17 year old vigilante who killed 2 protesters and injured a third in Kenosha. What is his law and order policy?

He has dramatically reduced legal immigration but used 5 immigrants as props in a new citizenship ceremony on the second night of the RNC show and did so without their consent. In speaking about immigration he has excoriated “sh#t-hole” countries and called for more immigration from Norway. What is his policy on immigration?

He has tried multiple times to ban all Muslims from entering the country. What is his policy on freedom of religion?

His actions regarding China are schizophrenic. What is his China policy?

He gave Kim Jong-un international standing by meeting with him and then claimed a great victory for the U.S., saying he had negotiated the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Regardless, there has been no change in North Korea’s behavior, nor a disposal of its nuclear arsenal or its missiles, despite Trump’s claim the he and Kim “fell in love.” What is Trump’s policy regarding North Korea?

Roughly 80% of terrorist acts in the U.S. are done by white supremacists. Trump never addresses that, but does rail about MS-13, ISIS and Muslim/Islamist terrorists. What is his policy regarding terrorism in the U.S.?

Trump is once again challenging the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) in order to eliminate it. He promised during the 2016 campaign and afterward that he would replace it with a program that is both farther reaching and less expensive, yet four years later has literally nothing to offer in the way of a replacement. What is his healthcare policy? To be fair, in all 10 years since 2010 when the act was passed the Republicans chanted and promised “remove and replace,” yet never offered any replacement, so it appears their policy on healthcare was limited to “Repeal Obamacare.” That isn’t a policy; it’s just an action that is absent of justification.

I truly cannot answer my own questions and my pal John is pretty well challenged to name policy, too.

As I made my list I tried valiantly to avoid judgment and snark and must confess I didn’t do well with that.  Nevertheless, I continue to want clarity about policy. Not presidential flamboyant statements, not tough guy posturing, but actual national policy, so I turn to you.

Please post your notions in the Comments section about any Trump policy that seems clear to you. I’m after coherent statements, something that might be on a screen at the front of the Situation Room and on a flip chart in the Oval Office to keep everyone clear and focused.

What are Trump’s national policies?

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Speaking of policy, if Joe Biden wins he’ll be wise to follow some of the FDR policy advice as explained in a recent David Brooks piece. The loud voices on the left want a revolution, but most Americans want something that goes down a bit easier.

—————————————-

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

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA

 


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Real GOP


Reading time – 1:51  .  .  .

President Trump signed an executive order on August 8 to temporarily delay the withholding of employee contributions to Social Security payroll taxes from September 1 to December 31 for people making less than $2,000 per month. I have just two comments about that executive order.

First, this is no gift. Gotta wonder how that EO helps people to pay the rent or mortgage or feed their kids or pay for their meds or repair the car, because they’ll have to pay back every cent soon. And because people are likely to spend those extra bucks, they’re going to be in a nasty bind in January. But, of course, that will be after the election. That temporary extra few bucks is just more Trump smoke and mirrors to get re-elected.

Second, it took 3 months for Trump to do even this hollow BS executive order. (To be fair, he signed 4 executive orders which, in the aggregate, amount to nothing.) That includes his refusing to do good faith negotiating with the House and the complete absence of Mitch McConnell’s Senate from negotiations. Where’s the concern for the people? Oh, right; Trump and the RNC aren’t about the people.

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The Republican National Convention started of with an  impressive parade of lies, misleading statements and a massive airing of grievances, most of which refer to things that don’t exist on planet Earth. There were reality-free attacks on Joe Biden, a continuing hatefest (easy for them – think: children in cages), never-ending claims of America as dystopia and a brainless fealty to Trump. We knew about the brainless fealty in advance of the RNC–Trump reality show, partly because the Republican Party flatly told us that’s where they stand.

This Republican Party literally has no platform for the 2020 election and they will be creating no policy statements at all. Nothing to tell us about their values. No way for us to know where they stand on anything. Their entire statement is a one-pager.

Well, there is one thing they’ve told us about where they stand. It is that they exist solely to serve Donald Trump. Here’s a direct quote from their 1-page non-platform:

RESOLVED, That the 2020 Republican National Convention will adjourn without adopting a new platform until the 2024 Republican National Convention;

RESOLVED, That the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda;

That’s it. All Trump, no brain, all the time.

Download the entire 67-page non-platform here and see for yourself. You’ll only have to look at the first page, because pages 2-67 are the 2016 platform. Perhaps the RNC included those outdated pages to make the document thicker so we’d think there’s something of substance there. Of course, there isn’t.

The Republican Party has formally declared that it is de facto a cult of personality. They have terminated all of their higher brain functions in favor of robotic declarations of Trump fantasy and blind support of Dear Leader, Mein Fuhrer, His Majesty or whatever is today’s groveling object title. They are formally no longer conservative. They stand for subservience. They are the Door Mat Party. And they’re proud of that.

This quote from the1997 movie The Rainmaker seems to fit for today’s members of the Republican Party:

“Do you even remember when you first sold out?”

—————————————-

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

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Questions For the August Town Halls


Reading time – 2:56  .  .  .

The House of Representatives remains in session this month. In contrast, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called a recess for the month of August for the Senate. That means that August town halls are solely with senators. Feel free to ask any of these questions of your Republican senator, as they don’t apply if s/he is a Democrat.

From constituent #1:

Senator, thank you for taking my question.

There is a pandemic in our country that is taking down millions of Americans. Over 158,000 of our friends and family have died from it and the disease is extending its reach and accelerating its spread.

Our economy is cratering, as GDP has fallen more in one quarter than at any time in the past 150 years.

Tens of millions of Americans are out of work, with a million more joining the ranks of the unemployed every week. The supplemental aid package ran out at the end of last month and millions are facing the inability to pay for their housing, which will lead to foreclosures and evictions. Millions of Americans will be unable even to feed their families.

Congress is willfully paralyzed over extending a hand to our people. Sen. McConnell called a recess of the Senate and you and your colleagues dutifully vacated the premises as directed.

It’s your job – we pay you – to represent us and promote our welfare, but instead you’re here politicking for your next election, working for yourself. My question is simple:

Why aren’t you back in Washington working for us?

From constituent #2:

Senator, you’ve been in Congress for a long time and have been a staunch promoter of American values around the world. You’ve been a forceful opponent of Russian aggression and a plain spoken critic of Vladimir Putin.

President Trump fails to confront Putin for his paying bribes to the Taliban to kill Americans; he failed to forcefully oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and occupation of the Crimea; he fails to confront Putin over the ongoing Russian cyber-espionage on the U.S. and now is pulling a large percentage of our military from Germany, weakening our position throughout the region and further damaging our  relationships with NATO allies. There is nothing conservative about any of those failures.

Throughout all of this and worse from this president you’ve remained silent, without so much as voicing a single objection, much less mounting opposition to Trump’s dereliction of duty to protect and defend. In your silence you have been an enabler of his sell-out of America, meek as a lapdog. Why aren’t you speaking out, senator?

From constituent #3:

Senator, you voted against the PPP program and every other measure to help working Americans during these perilous times. In contrast, in 2017 you voted for the tax cut bill that sent 83% of its benefit to the richest people and corporations in the country. You vigorously promoted it, saying it would generate wage increases, but that didn’t happen and the economists told you that’s what would happen. But corporations did buy back their stock, which boosted stock prices solely to the benefit of rich people.

Tell us why you like rich people so much and clearly don’t care about middle class or poor people.

From constituent #4:

Thank you for being here today, senator, and for taking our questions.

My question is about the anonymous federal troops that President Trump has sent to 7 of our cities and who have brutalized and terrorized largely peaceful protesters. We’re told that these troops are from the Department of Homeland Security, the purview of whose policing force is solely to defend federal property. However, nearly all of the actions of these troops has taken place well away from federal property.

These troops are heavily armed and anonymous, as they wear no agency or unit identifying insignia, police star numbers or name badges and they drive unmarked SUVs. They have kidnapped our citizens without warrant, have failed to Mirandize those they have kidnapped and have held them without cause and without charge.

Please don’t claim that the demonstrators were violent, because we have amateur video and press coverage that plainly shows that’s a lie. My question is simple: Why have you remained silent as our friends and family are being beaten, gassed, shot and pepper sprayed? Where is your voice to stop this brutality?

From constituent #5:

Thank you for taking my question, senator.

The manufacturing facility where I’ve worked for 14 years is shut down because of the pandemic. The extra help I used to get from the federal government made it possible for my family to hold on, but that’s cut off now. And you’ve opposed financial aid to laid off workers, saying that providing that aid is a disincentive to working.

I’ve played by the rules all along and am now in a really tough spot because of a disease over which I have no control, and you’ve essentially called me and millions of other Americans bums. I invite you to apologize to us all right here, right now, and then go back to DC and do your job to work for us. Otherwise, you can come to my house and explain to my kids why there not only won’t be any birthday presents, but that they should be happy with just 1 or 2 meals a day. And you can explain to my wife that she’ll have to do without her insulin that we can’t afford.

So, what’s your choice, senator: my house or DC?

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JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
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