Freedom

Serendipity


The word “serendipity” stems from the ancient Persian tale, Serendipity and The Three Princes. It’s sometimes called The Three Princes of Serendip.* It was translated in 1557 into Italian as The Peregrinaggio. It is a tale of “the gift for discovery by accident and sagacity of things  .  .  .  not in quest of [it].” it’s commonly thought of as finding something of value while looking for something else.

I just had one of those moments when I came upon one of my long forgotten essays from shortly before the 2018 mid-term election. This isn’t about being self-congratulatory. Because of our current circumstances, I think it’s worth revisiting.

By 2018 we had endured a year and a half of Trump’s general election outrageousness and cruelty, then two years of him in office. That he was greatly popular with a substantial swath of Americans led to a search to understand his voters. The search was more than to satisfy our need to understand why otherwise sensible people voted for this brutish thug. If we were to stop his worst, those who would stand up to his behavior had to be voted into office. Quickly.

I did some research and posted an essay to help in the search, taking care to understand, rather than to persuade. The video is embedded below and I encourage you to have a look at it with fresh eyes, because we are still fighting to stop authoritarian rule.

Here’s that video:

Originally posted October 28, 2018, just before the mid-term election

Every bit of what was going on two and a half years ago is still going on. Indeed, some is far worse now. Republicans will not stop it. They have become a cult of anger, hatred, cowardice, violence and subservience. That means that we have to elect Democrats to stop the authoritarian stampede and to keep our democracy.

Click me for the Bamboo Ballot idiocy story

Expect the illicit Arizona election recount  of Maricopa County – the non-audit done by partisan ignorants and QAnon conspiracy believers, as they violate election ballot integrity – to report massive voting fraud that neither they nor anyone else can substantiate. After watching the video above, consider how our angry citizenry will react to the deceitful reports from Arizona that confirm their biases.

The 2022 mid-term election is of the same critical nature as that in 2018. It’s just 506 days away, with Republicans working every day to cheat their way to long term minority rule by gerrymandering, purging voter roles, requiring oppressive voter identification, closing polling stations, intimidating professional voting administrators and more.

We have two key jobs. The first is to fight voter suppression. We’re attacking that in the courts and, because there are potentially hundreds of repressive anti-voting laws, that will be a massive challenge.

We’re also attacking that in Congress. There are two bills – the For The People Act and The John Lewis Voting Rights Act – that we need to get through the McConnell-strangled Senate. The key obstructionist this time is, of course, Joe Manchin. We need a magic wake-up pill for him. It seems that those holding that pill are West Virginia voters. That’s why phone banks to those folks are so important right now.

The second job is to figure out a way to appeal to our voting citizens who feel blown off by the establishment. They aren’t all crazy. They are all angry. Please jot your ideas of how to appeal to them in the Comments section below.

Meanwhile, we best not count on serendipity to aid us in this mission. It’s time to be intentional. If we find something else of great value along the way, then lucky us.

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* Serendip is the classical Persian name for Sri Lanka.

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Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

If It Feels Right


This is a special time. It is a time when magical thinking has washed over the land, drowning our world in hyperbole, fiction and venom, and leaving so very little grounded in the observable. The waste of the neocortex imperils the people like oxygen deprivation, with hypoxia choking the rational.

Left behind is rigorous critical thinking, the very thing of the Enlightenment that brought such freedom and progress to mankind. It has been displaced by, “If it feels right to me, then it is right.” No need for evidence. No need for observation of any kind. No need for the bother of accuracy or the effort of thinking.

There is no need for testable theory, because that space has been taken over by the subjective satisfaction of, “If things are as I like them then all is fair. If not, someone cheated and stole from me.” So, fair becomes unfair if I don’t like outcomes, and accusation is the same as proof. Opinion is the same as fact and judgment is a prize unto itself. To quote Professor Scott Galloway’s commencement address, “We optimize for short-term emotional satisfaction rather than long-term prosperity,” and “[t]he prioritization of victimhood. The belief that to be offended is to be right.”

We are through the looking glass and opportunities to make the movie Back To Reality are incrementally, relentlessly turning to vapor. The portal to the world where lies are not the same as truth, where up is different from down, where knowledge, wisdom and learning are valued and where science is a real thing is closing. That is why there are so many calls for action right now, because absent our action, we won’t like the albatross we’ve placed around the necks of our children. They won’t like it either, although that won’t matter to the brutes, liars and manipulators in charge.

Our choices are: to ignore what’s going on; to sit at home and wring hands; to take action – do something about it

The first two options won’t help our children, so they’re unacceptable. Here are some ideas for the third option.

  1. Attend The For the People Act: A Conversation with Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn at 5:00PM on June 22. Register here. Go ahead: learn something that is Earth-based and useful. It will be a refreshing contrast to the ever-present magical thinking that assaults our ears.
  2. Do some phone banking to West Virginians to twist Joe Manchin’s arm back to where it belongs.
  3. Help the experts do what we don’t know how to do well ourselves. Donate to Focus4Democracy. These are the folks who know how to turn the crank of progress. And we surely need progress right now.

If this feels right to you, it’s because it is right. It’s right to fight for what you believe in. It’s right to do good and to fight the bad. And that stands in stark contrast to the magical thinkers, because you have evidence from the right side of the looking glass.

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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.

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Proper Names


Ed Note: This post begins in a dark way, because there is substantial darkness over our democracy. But keep your hopes alive, because we may be at the start of a new day. Read to the end for the unmistakable rays of sunlight of the dawn.

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Trump has gotten away with an enormous dung heap of wrongdoing. One of the reasons for his constantly skating from accountability is that before anyone can pin up his picture in the post office he’s done something else outrageous and likely illegal, so our attention is thus diverted and “poof!” goes the prior malfeasance.

Now we’ve found that he directed OUR Justice Department to snoop on Democrats and major news organizations. Under both of his Attorneys General, Sessions and Barr, investigations were conducted on those whom Trump saw as opponents. Emails and phone records were snatched and gag orders were issued so that Trump could dig for dirt on Eric Swalwell, Adam Schiff, their staffs, their families, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, their reporters, someone’s underage kid and whoever else the Tantrum Tyrant wanted investigated. All are Democrats. Except for the president’s own lawyer, Don McGahn and his wife, on whom he also snooped.

Tweeted Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post, “[G]ood God, they were running a police state. Barr needs to be hauled in and at the very least disbarred.” She’s right, and it shouldn’t stop with Bad Boy Barr.

Something to hope for. Image by LORRAINE DAY from Pixabay

This is truly horrible stuff, typical of Trump’s moral bankruptcy. It breaks yet more norms that are fundamental to a democracy. But what I have not heard yet are words like “illegal” or “felony” or even “misdemeanor.” Is anyone going to dig into these corrupt actions and bring charges?

So far we’ve seen nothing from Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland to indicate that he’s willing to bring wrongdoers to justice if they were a part of the prior administration. And what will happen  to the focus of the public, our news organizations and Congress when the next bright, shiny object of Trump’s unscrupulous weaseling is dangled before our eyes? How many prior wrongdoings will we forget?

The Biden administration is a mixed bag of resetting our values. It is blocking Congress in its efforts to unearth Trump’s manipulations to enrich himself at the Trump International Hotel, the DC facility he leased from the federal government. Biden’s Justice Department is asking the judge to dismiss lawsuits against Trump for violently clearing Lafayette Park of peaceful protesters. AG Garland is continuing what the former AG did to block the defamation lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll. One has to wonder why Biden would want to protect Trump from litigation.

This has huge implications for the future of our country. Allowing people in high office – like the President – to “get away with shooting someone on 5th Avenue,” like Nixon getting pardoned by Ford, like Reagan getting a pass on Iran-Contra, like Trump getting away with breathing while in office, which meant that he was doing something illegal, assures that future presidents will commit crimes, knowing that they will get away with them. They’ll leave office, skate free and recast themselves as statesmen, while We the People remain betrayed.

Do you want this to be a democracy? If so, then there’s a lot of bad news for you now, like this from Jewish Dems:

American democracy is in danger. Over half of Republicans believe the 2020 election was stolen because GOP leaders continue to exploit Donald Trump’s Big Lie, and they are now using it as an excuse to suppress the right to vote. Fourteen states have already enacted 22 voter suppression laws making it harder to vote, and hundreds more have been proposed. New data shows that voter suppression laws enacted in Georgia will have a disproportionate impact on Black voters.

Today’s Republicans have no interest in facts, truth, reality or integrity. They are solely interested in power and money. So, they recast the January 6 insurrection, the assault on our democracy, on the Capitol Police and on that symbolic building as (take your pick):

– a normal gathering of tourists

– a peaceful protest

– justifiable actions because the election had been stolen by (impossible to find) fraudulent votes

– something in the past – we should move on

And the lack of Republicans’ interest in facts, truth, reality or integrity allows them to claim they are protecting our national honor and the integrity of our elections, even as they viciously attack both.

Just be clear that your eyes tell you what you need to know and that “alternative facts” are just a rebranding of lying. But those who wallow in the pig slop of alternative facts have legislative power in two-thirds of the states and they are engineering voter suppression of such magnitude that they may well achieve anti-democracy minority rule that will last for decades. That’s insurrection without the street mobs.

From Confucius:

“The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.”

Mobs in the streets, mobs in the state legislatures and the elected Republican mob in the Capitol Building are all insurrectionists. Call them by their proper name.

Our democracy is already compromised and so far there hasn’t been even a hint of a light at the end of our long, dark insurrection tunnel. It’s time for Merrick Garland to break from the cowardly Justice Department he inherited and file five indictments against Trump for obstruction of justice. The details and the prosecutorial roadmap are all in Mueller’s report. Click here for a copy and focus on Section 2.

Now here are those promised rays of sunshine.

Last Friday Attorney General Merrick Garland addressed the entire Justice Department Civil Rights Division to drive a stake in the ground for voting rights. Here is some of what he declared:

  1. Because this is a huge battle, he will double the number of lawyers in the Civil Rights Division specifically in order to protect voting rights.
  2. The Criminal Division will prosecute all violations of civil rights laws.
  3. All lawful citizens will have the right to vote, will have equal access to the polls, their votes will be counted, they will have access to voting registration and they will be protected from voter intimidation.
  4. Early voting and voting by mail will be protected, as will the post-election integrity of ballots. (Arizona Republicans, brace yourselves.)
  5. Voting officials, poll workers and volunteers will be protected from efforts to intimidate them.

Just brave words so far, but it’s a good start. At last we have a warrior for democracy with the muscle to do something about it. And we have to hold him to his word.

Garland ended his presentation by quoting from John Lewis’ final address published just after his death.

“[Dr. King] said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.”

Our country is calling on you and me to do that, to help clean house, hold accountable and name names. So, you and I must do more than just hope and vote. Obey the dictum of the bumper sticker:

Be the person your dog thinks you are.

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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.

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Have A Nice Memorial Day


From Giovanni Russonello’s article in the New York Times:

“QAnon Now as Popular in U.S. as Some Major Religions, Poll Suggests
.

“But it’s not just the notion that the election was stolen that [QAnon] caught on with the former president’s supporters. QAnon, an outlandish and ever-evolving conspiracy theory spread by some of Trump’s most ardent followers, has significant traction with a segment of the public – particularly Republicans and Americans who consume news from far-right sources.

“Those are the findings of a poll released today by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core, which found that 15 percent of Americans say they think that the levers of power are controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles, a core belief of QAnon supporters. The same share said it was true that ‘American patriots may have to resort to violence’ to depose the pedophiles and restore the country’s rightful order.

“And fully 20 percent of respondents said that they thought a biblical-scale storm would soon sweep away these evil elites and ‘restore the rightful leaders.'”

Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene are conducting hate rallies. Last week Gaetz began, saying, “We have a Second Amendment in this country and I think we have an obligation to use it.” He was reported by Heather Cox Richardson and all major news agencies this way:

“[Gaetz] told attendees that the nation’s founders wrote the Second Amendment to enable citizens to rise up against the government. ‘It’s not about hunting, it’s not about recreation, it’s not about sports,’ he said. ‘The Second Amendment is about maintaining, within the citizenry, the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government if that becomes necessary.’

“As the audience cheered, Gaetz continued: ‘I hope it never does, but it sure is important to recognize the founding principles of this nation and to make sure that they are fully understood.’”

These are powerful words harkening back to our founding days of tricorn hats and muskets and thoughtful men in wigs, except for one thing: every bit of Gaetz’s chest thumping declaration is false. All of it.

The Second Amendment was included in the Constitution for many reasons, including self-defense. It was also included to keep southern slave states in the Union. White slave masters were vastly outnumbered by slaves then and the slave owners figured they needed a mechanism to counter any slave rebellion. Local militias – essentially vigilantes with firearms – was their solution. The Second Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights to appease the slave owners.

Further, as Garrett Epps writes in The Atlantic. ”  .  .  .  the main—indeed, almost exclusive—purpose of the [Second A]mendment was, in fact, to protect the rights of states to maintain and arm militias.” And, indeed, they’ve done that. Today they’re called the National Guard.

However chest-thumpingly satisfying it may be to our citizens wearing camouflage, carrying military weapons and assaulting our state capitols and the Capitol Building in DC or plotting to kidnap and assassinate the governor of Michigan, they aren’t the militias envisioned by the Framers. They aren’t well-regulated. They aren’t even militias. They are insurrectionists in waiting.

There is nothing in the Second Amendment or in The Federalist Papers or in the words of any Founding Father, nor is there any representation anywhere of a right of citizens “.  .  .  to maintain an armed rebellion against the government,” to rise up in violence against democracy – not a word, however our many insurrectionists and impassioned blowhards think there is. What’s worrying is that our self-righteous believers in citizen tyranny own a huge proportion of the over 300 million firearms in this country.

There is no cabal of Satan worshiping child sex traffickers running the world or our country, nor is there an imminent biblical-scale storm that will sweep away elites. There is no right of insurrection. Accusations are not the same as evidence or proof. Fantasies aren’t the same as facts. Lies are not truths. But some people will believe whatever feeds their passions, hate and anger, good sense be damned.

And all of this fantasy based insanity that promotes tough guy-ism and stokes violence flies in the face of the special day we set aside for our military people who died protecting our nation from “all enemies, foreign and domestic.” That refers to enemies of the Constitution.*

Go to your local Memorial Day ceremonies tomorrow, be they in person or virtual. Honor our fallen ones and say thank you.

And have a nice Memorial Day – while we still have our democracy.

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In Case You Missed The Craziest Play in Baseball

Watch this.

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  • * I’m reminded of a line from Aaron Sorkin’s wonderful movie The American President:

“How do you have patience for people who claim they love America, but clearly can’t stand Americans?”

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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.

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Under Attack


We have a lot of huge challenges before us. The problems are complex and not susceptible to simple thinking or uncomplicated solutions. In consequence, our indelicate dances around gun safety, education, healthcare, jobs, infrastructure, race and so many more issues continue to vex us, even as they are all secondary issues. There is one that lies like a death shroud over our country and resolving it has, is and will continue to bedevil us until we at last find the courage to assertively confront it.

We are a nation perpetually drunk on power, so we have a large minority that wants to get its way vigilante style. They are certain that they are right and that they are the true patriots, but they are ironically using unconstitutional means while thinking they are protecting the Constitution. They don’t believe in majority rule. They are ready and even eager for physical confrontation and they thrill to the message of a megalomaniac autocrat wannabe. They don’t want democracy and have demonstrated their intentions against it many times.

In short, we’re beset by people who are appallingly angry agents of unconstitutionality, who are somehow content in their dishonesty and who love the power rush of minority rule. That applies to both cowardly politicians, as well as to the mobs in the streets.

Our democracy is under attack from within.

We’ve been warned many times that this was happening, but we’ve done far too little to combat it. It continues almost exclusively because of elected leaders and appointees promoting hatred and spewing lies powered by their mindless and cowardly obeisance to a cult leader.

This is stuff that promotes vicious attacks, mob violence and civil wars. This is stuff that leads to autocracy and fascism. This is stuff that violates everything we say we hold dear.

Read what Professor Timothy Snyder has to say about that in his brilliant New York Times essay and in his little book, On Tyranny. Read what Professor Jason Stanley has to say in his book How Fascism Works.

Our democracy is under attack from within.

Just in case you have even a tiny bit of doubt that an angry, animated minority hates democracy, is intentionally working to take away your vote and whose members want to steal power for themselves, read this piece that unmasks Republican voter suppression, this in their own words, as reported by Mother Jones. The report is horrifying, even as it is completely unsurprising.

This kind of cheating and manipulating has been championed and practiced since Paul Weyrich* announced his voter suppression strategy four decades ago. Indeed, this kind of effort has a long and sordid history, as Heather Cox Richardson explains here.

If we don’t get a handle on that, if we don’t find ways to stop that attack, none of our other problems, challenges or opportunities will matter, because all will be lost. This is no time for complacency or willful self-delusion. This is no time to sit on the sidelines and expect someone else to do the critically important  work.

From Thomas Paine in The American Crisis #1,** December 23, 1776:

“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

Paine was right then and he’s right once again.

The anti-democracy mob is angry and motivated. They vote in large numbers and joyfully suppress others. Democrats aren’t as constantly angry and have a way of failing to be active, failing to vote and, of course, they’re nice. That’s a liability when facing an insurrection.

Stacey Abrams did an amazing job in Georgia last election. Can we replicate her 49 times? That, plus our active foot soldiering and the For The People Act are what we need in order to protect democracy and stop the thieves from stealing the next election.

Isn’t that an odd thing to be able to say? The insurrectionists – both politicians and the mobs – are having tantrums over what they’re calling a stolen election. Yet at the same time they are erecting barriers to voting so that they themselves can steal the next election. And they’re still trying to steal the last one. Pathetic irony.

Our democracy is under attack from within.

Fun Section

We all have to use our talents and energy in our own way to do our part. These posts, for example, are some of what I do to make a difference.

Randy Rainbow does his part, too, and I think he’s topped all of his prior offerings, as good as they are, with this musical paean to insurrection loving Josh Hawley and his duplicitous pals. Trust me, you don’t want to miss this.

Many thanks to brother Jim for the pointer.

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  • * Weyrich laid out his intention to suppress voting, saying,

“I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the election, quite candidly, goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

** “General Washington found Paine’s first essay so inspiring that he ordered it to be read to the troops at Valley Forge.”

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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.

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

The Speech I Wanted President Biden to Give Last Night


In The United States House of Representatives
Sergeant at Arms:

Madam Speaker: the President of the United States

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.:

Speaker Pelosi, Vice-President Harris, Members of the Supreme Court, Senators, Representatives and guests, we’re here tonight for an accounting of the condition of the United States of America – something of a report card for our nation. It is well and fitting that we should do so after the most turbulent transfer of power in the history of our nation.

While we are gathered here in the presence of officials and luminaries, tonight I’m speaking directly the American people – all 331,400,000 of us – because you know the truth, that we are in a fix of our own making, putting us in peril.

On December 1, 1862 Abraham Lincoln sent a message to Congress in those dark days of Americans fighting and killing Americans. Our nation was being ripped apart as he spoke a truth they all knew:

“We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of Earth.”

These times are not so different in spirit and this is our peril. There is a rise of autocracy around the world. It is the very enemy of democracy and we are not so exceptional that we are immune to that danger. Indeed, it has set foot on our doorstep.

I love this country just as you do, so it’s time that we put all the cards on the table, time that we stop withholding the gritty truth so that we might begin to heal ourselves and meet our challenges – so that we save this last best hope of Earth.

Surely, you remember the comments of the last president about the events in Charlottesville that culminated in the murder of Heather Heyer. He said that there were “very fine people on both sides.”

But you know that there weren’t.

Because one side was made of people chanting hateful things, people who wore the emblems of Nazis, the enemy we fought and defeated at the cost of hundreds of thousands of American lives. Nazis like and want autocracy – dictatorship – not democracy. They are an enemy that wants to bring down our country. So, no, those were not fine people.

Here’s more gritty truth: Congress is not unlike that.

We have people in Congress who promoted insurrection, violence against our country and our countrymen and women. We have people here in Congress who know full well that Trump’s Big Lie about the election having been stolen is pure fiction. They know that claims of hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes are pure fiction. They know that there is absolutely no evidence of fraud in our last election, which is why over 60 of Trump’s lawsuits were laughed out of court. They know that these are just another set of self-serving Trump lies. They will acknowledge that in the cloakrooms of the House and Senate and in other private places. They know the truth.

But in public, when it counts, they cower in fear of the megalomaniac and they toe the corrupt line for Trump and their party bosses. They mouth the Big Lie. When they do that they weaken our nation.

The Electoral College votes of all 50 states were certified, but 147 senators and representatives challenged some state counts and voted to overturn the election, even though they had no evidence of any election wrongdoing, nor any other factual reason to object. They were blindly promoting the Big Lie, even as they knew the truth, and they undermined our democracy. You elected them to be leaders, not followers, but they caved to party pressure. Here’s what that means to you:

They stand in opposition to any and every plan to make your life better and safer.

For decades they have voted against nearly every piece of legislation that would have had benefit for you. They voted in goose stepping unison to oppose the American Rescue Plan, our program that has led to the vaccination of over 200 million Americans, put money in your pocket and created hundreds of thousands of jobs. I say again: they voted against that. And they offer nothing to make things better for you.

They stand in unison against the proposed American Jobs Plan (the infrastructure bill), the John Lewis Voting Rights Bill and every other action proposed by Democrats designed to be of service to the American people. They stand against universal background checks before the transfer of firearms, even though 90% of Americans want that protection. They have no policy proposals and stand only for obstruction. They give no thought to you.

In short, they have sold you out.

That’s why I’m speaking directly to you. Because if you want anything good to happen, if you want government to work for you, you have to pressure your senators and congressperson to vote in favor of you. You have to tell them to stop the un-American, self-serving dance they do that focuses solely on themselves. Tell them to start working for you. Tell them to shape up or you will ship them out.

We are at a crossroads where we must decide which way to turn. One way leads to continuing division and anger and despair. It encourages more extremist violence like the awful attack on our nation on January 6. It has already generated state laws that dramatically attack your freedoms. It promises greater wealth for people who don’t need it and increasing poverty for everyone else.

A turn the other way leads to a better America – that shining city on the hill. It leads to greater prosperity for all Americans and keeps us the envy of the world. It restores our place among nations. It keeps faith with the Founders of our nation and the vision they gave to us of what we can be. It tells us that the American Dream is alive and well and it’s there for all of us, if only we have the courage to make the right choices and grab it.

So, call or write to your legislators both in Washington and in your own state. Tell them you want an end to their jiggering our country just to serve themselves. Tell them that you have a long memory when you’re double-crossed and you’ll surely remember their selling you out if they don’t start doing the right job for We the People, the job they were elected to do.

Look, there will be time to talk about programs we have developed and will be proposing. Right now what you need to know is that your voice is the one that must be heard if the self-serving obstructionists are to be stopped, so your job is to speak up. I’ll do my job of finding solutions that will work. Together we’ll get past our decades of self-defeat and restore our country to the path where we know it belongs.

May God bless America and may God protect our troops.

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Be sure to read Heather Cox Richardson’s take on this in today’s Letters From an American. And subscribe to her brilliant writings.

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Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Who Should Get Out of Jail Free?


The triple convictions of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd prompted a variety of reactions including relief, joy, renewed hope, satisfaction, release and more. There was a palpable and stated sense of rightness that justice had been done. And there was another verse to this song.

Tucker Carlson went on a fresh, yet customary extremist rant, this time declaring that public support for George Floyd is “an attack on civilization.” There’s more to his hateful outburst, but I can’t bring myself to put it here. You’ll have to link through if you want to experience his full lunacy and cruelty. And do bear in mind that this hate monger is considered a leading candidate to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2024.

Click the pic for the story

Of course, it isn’t just Carlson saying hateful things. You can cruise the righty outposts and find lots of sticking up for the police, for example, even if they’re murderers. And no, I don’t mean the “one bad apple” defense. It’s more an absolutist devotion to turf protection, much like George W. Bush’s absolutist, “You’re either with us or you’re against us” polarization and evilization (yes, I made up that word). They are staunch supporters of “qualified immunity” for cops who violate people, giving them carte blanche to do inhumanity as they please without fear of consequences.

Perhaps America has always been this way. I’m reading Kurt Andersen’s Fantasyland to find out more. For now, just take it on faith (odd to use that phrase in this age of unreason*) that we have always had such highly opinionated absolutists who believe that whatever thought comes into their heads is a fact – the true reality – just because they believe it.

CAUTION: Don’t believe everything you think.

I heartily recommend that you look at lawfareblog.com for a thorough, even-handed and interesting description of qualified immunity. An argument offered there in favor of qualified immunity is,

” .  .  .  it would be unfair to hold government officials to constitutional rules they were not aware of at the time of the violation.”

I find that monstrously odd, in that if I violate a constitutional rule I didn’t know about, well, you know the deal: ignorance of the law is no excuse. How come it shouldn’t work that way for cops?

Lawfareblog.com also reported,

“The court wrote that ‘there is the danger that fear of being sued will dampen the ardor of all but the most resolute, or the most irresponsible [public officials], in the unflinching discharge of their duties.’”

Aren’t we all supposed to fear being sued for our malfeasance? You know, the accountability thing?

Here’s my favorite:

“When government officials are sued, qualified immunity functions as an affirmative defense they can raise, barring damages even if they committed unlawful acts”

At least that one makes sense, because every one of us has a Get Out Of Jail Free card, right? Check your wallet for yours.

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April 27, 2021

Related to bad cop defenders and to Tucker Carlson in their absolutism are those who refuse to wear a mask to prevent the spread of Covid-19 because wearing a mask is such an awful infringement on their rights and their freedom.

There are tens of thousands of new cases of Covid in this country every day, but, hey, we’re only killing a few hundred of those people. After seeing the number of Covid deaths in the thousands every day for so long, perhaps we’re immune to the grim reality of the deaths of a few hundred. That’s understandable, unless you are one of them.

So, for our mask-less, I have a new offering. Please pass it along to your favorite mask refuser.

A Question For Our Mask-less

It is your right, of course, to mask or not to mask.

There’s just one curiosity, and so I’ll dare to ask.

We know that 81% of deaths are of the aged,

The old folks who succumb by going past the bad end stages.

But you aren’t in that old folks group, you’re young and strong and healthy,

And maybe you’re well-health insured, with no need to be wealthy.

And if you catch the Covid bug it’s likely that it’s true,

That you won’t get much sicker than if you had caught the flu.

All that is true, there is no doubt, and this is also true,

That Covid threat is bigger and it’s not just all ‘bout you.

Because your mask-less face is like a vacuum to the bug,

Thanks go to JA for the cartoon.

Your mouth and nose can suck it in, and you become a thug.

A thug infected even if you haven’t symptom one,

You’ll pass it on, infecting more, a virus shooting gun.

And maybe when you visit Gramps and kiss him on the cheek,

It all seems quite so normal, but that changes when you speak.

Because the bug will slip your lips and entered Grandpa’s nose,

And now he’s been infected and you know where that tale goes.

Which leads us to the question now, so here’s my single ask:

What the hell is that about when you refuse to mask?

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*Nerd readers may enjoy a short book review of Our Age of Unreason; A Study of the Irrational Forces in Social Life, by Franz Alexander. In it the reviewer relates how philosophers through the ages, “.  .  .  were unable to formulate a political psychology which would enable man to bring his repressed destructive and rivalrous impulses under control for more than a brief period.” That was in 1942. Here we are now with our destructive and rivalrous impulses blazing throughout our culture in a war of irrationality.

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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.

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

The Names


Daunte Wright

Rayshard Brooks

Daniel Prude

Breonna Taylor

Attatiana Jefferson

Aura Rosser

Stephon Clark

Botham Jean

Philando Castile

Alton Sterling

Freddie Gray

Janisha Fonville

Eric Garner

Michelle Cusseaux

Akai Gurley

Gabrielle Nevarez

Tamir Rice

Michael Brown

Tanisha Anderson

and of course, Rodney King*

George Floyd

Those are just a few of the Black people who have been killed in the past few years by police and who never, ever got justice. Neither did their families.

But now man one has. George Floyd is dead, but he and his family got justice. And we now know that justice for Blacks requires video recordings of police murders that are shown to the whole world. That’s what it took this time.

And maybe, just maybe, his little daughter, Gianna, will be proven right, saying, “My daddy is going to change the world.”

Which will be a very good thing. Writing to your senators and telling them to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is a good way to help.

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  • * Rodney King was brutally beaten by four Los Angeles police officers, but he did not die from that beating. He’s included in this list because his is an iconic and tragic story. Even with video tape evidence of his beating shown to the jury, neither he nor his family ever got justice. That touched off the LA riots in 1992.

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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.

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Pizza and Water


The issue is not whether it should be illegal to give a slice of pizza and a bottle of water to an old lady waiting in line for hours to vote on a Tuesday in November in Georgia. Focusing there completely misses the point.

Our brilliant and frightened (read: deranged) White supremacist citizens know that their God given superiority is incrementally being challenged and that it will be gone very soon unless they take strongly discriminatory action. Actually, they’ve known this since 1619 and they successfully led us to our bloodiest war, thousands of lynchings and other murders, the economic suppression of millions, plus police shootings of unarmed Black males at a rate 3.5 times greater than that of Whites. It has all been done in service to a desperate, fear-stoked drive for power for themselves.

Nixon used dog whistles to divide Americans, as did Reagan, H.W. Bush and the beyond-the-edge, far right Republicans, like the Tea Party and now the Freedom Caucus. The calls to discrimination were perfected by Trump. He’s completely out of the slime cave and overtly White supremacist. The incremental claw-back to Jim Crow can be seen every day, now with 361 voter suppression bills in the states.

Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is about to sign a bill he initiated last year, the so-called Anti-Riot bill. Extremists will be glad to know that Florida will be protected by this legislation that puts teeth into attacking the First Amendment. Said one critic, “It is racist, extremist, militaristic and dangerous. This is not an anti-riot proposal. It is actually an anti-protest proposal. This is just a Republican effort designed to stop the rising tide of protest prompted by the police murder of George Floyd. The governor wants to criminalize peaceful protestors who are merely exercising their constitutional rights.”

Surely, you recall the protests following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year. Outrage went around the world and people of all colors, races and nationalities were in the streets. Some of the protests included idiots committing vandalism and theft. Too bad, because those fools gave right wing extremists the fertilizer (feel free to substitute your own term) to criticize and attack anyone not on the fringe right and to create legislation against peaceful protesters, like that of Oberführer DeSantis. Indeed, his bill is a dog whistle serenade to his White supremacist base, which I’m sure will help him in his presidential bid in 2024. No need for concern over those whose rights will be squashed along the way, because they won’t be able to vote, anyway.

This Twitter thread is a MUST READ. Just click the pic. Many thanks to Jay Becker (@futureup2us) for pointing it out.

DeSantis, as self-serving and cruel as he is, is not alone. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is desperate for anything that will move the spotlight from his alleged sex crimes, so he’s partnered with QAnon nut case Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Arizona racist Paul Gosar (R-AZ) to found the America First Caucus. It is a blatantly White supremacist, love-to-hate effort cloaked in patriotic sounding distractions. You can download their 7-page manifesto here and get a flavor of it in this video. Either way it’s a call to hate and discrimination. Like DeSantis’ legislative dog whistles, this is a disingenuous “Look at me!” from these extremist representatives that is designed to appeal to “the base.”

Republicans want very much to restrict voting rights. That’s because they will become an extinct species if We the People actually have a democracy – i.e. majority rule. Republican Paul Weyrich, founder of the self-righteous Moral Majority and other right wing manipulation machines, said it plainly, clearly and publicly in 1980:

“I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the election, quite candidly, goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

Which is to say, the only way for Republicans to win is to stop millions of Americans from voting. So, gerrymandering, removing voters from voting rolls just because they missed the last election, closing polling places to make it difficult to vote, requiring IDs that are hard to obtain by poor people and all the other discriminations are just the things to keep those “others” down and to make sure White supremacy powers on. Instead of changing to become attractive to more voters, today’s Republicans are still channeling Paul Weyrich.

The Arizona RNC defended in court some Arizona laws that were undisguised discriminatory attacks on the Voting Rights Act. When questioned by Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett about the Arizona RNC’s interest in this issue, attorney Michael Carvin declared – and I’m not making this up – “Because it puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats.”

Translation (as if you need one): Republicans need to suppress the votes of Democrats in order to sustain their minority rule.

So, going back to the slice of pizza and bottle of water for the old lady still waiting hours to vote, the issue isn’t about the length of the line, the hours of waiting, the pizza or the water. The issue is solely that White supremacists want to sustain minority rule, so they don’t want her to vote. They gerrymandered her district to neuter her vote. They closed polling places to make voting take all day. The issue isn’t about pizza or water. The issue is minority rule fueled by racism and classism.

We humans are poor at detecting slow change; we tolerate it quite well. Our relative insensitivity has brought us overt racism in the White House (“fine people on both sides” and incitement to insurrection via The Big Lie), and in Congress. It infects our state houses with bills that are overtly discriminatory, anti-Constitution and anti-democracy. These laws are ready to pounce on our freedom and devour it.

HR1/SB1 – the For The People Act, aka the Voting Rights bill – has passed the House and awaits the Senate. It would eliminate much of our state voting discrimination, but House Republicans voted in lock step against it and Republicans in the Senate have all vowed to vote against it. Now, why would they be against voting rights?

Sadly, meanly, now you can be arrested for giving a slice of pizza and a bottle of water to that old lady waiting to vote and there is no relief for her in sight.

————————————

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.

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

We’re Still Not Free


Can you believe we’re still having conversations about basic Covid stuff? I mean, we’ve known what to do to defeat this pandemic for most of a year and the rising availability of vaccines has greatly enhanced our ability to fight it, but still over 60,000 Americans test positive every day and our hospitals are filling up once again.

Through most of the past year we sat on our hands and allowed a lot of people to get sick, and a lot of people to suffer very long duration horrible symptoms and we’ve stood by and watched over half a million of our fellow citizens die. Dr. Deborah Birx recently said what you know to be true, that about 450,000 of our 550,000 Covid deaths were preventable. Early on in the pandemic a study at Oxford University said that 70 – 99% of U.S. Covid deaths were due to poor national leadership; i.e. they were preventable, but for self-serving you-know-who.

Given that,

How is it that so many millions of Americans still refuse to wear a mask? Yeah, I know it’s a terrible infringement on their individual freedom, poor babies.

How is it that Republican governors like DeSantis (FL), Abbott (TX) and Noem (SD) are doing everything possible to prevent any requirement for mask wearing in their cities, at work and inside retail stores? Of course, they’re doing it to suck up to their flagrant and vocal constituents in order to collect campaign donations, but they harm those very constituents because they, like so many others, continue to get sick and die.

How is it that the vast majority of White Evangelicals oppose vaccines on self-righteous religious grounds?

How is it that way too many of our citizens are both anti-science and conspiracy believers who refuse vaccines for staunchly held, anti-fact reasons? No, vaccines don’t cause autism, as proven conclusively and repeatedly by – guess what? – science. And Bill Gates isn’t packing nanobots into vaccines so he can track and control you.

In all cases – mask and vaccine refusers, political contribution suckers and science and reality deniers –  these are people ruled by self-serving confirmation bias and a drive for power and control.*

Why are we treating this deadly disease like it’s an optional game of volleyball in the park, where refusing to play is no big deal? There are milliions of our people doing that, and that is why we’re still not free of this awful disease.

Here’s a parallel to that.

President Biden is initiating a series of Executive Orders aimed at curtailing our gun slaughter, but those will only be temporary fixes, subject to the whim of the next President. We need Republicans to act, but they’ve proven to be intransigent on this issue, as they are to most challenges.

Here’s my view about gun safety reform:

We’ll have strong gun safety legislation and the beginning of curtailing our national carnage when we and our legislators at last decide that we love our children, our relatives and our friends more than we love our lust for power and control.

Given the overwhelming public support for gun safety laws, it’s our Second Amendment thumpers and our political contribution suckers whom we have to win over if we’re ever to be free from this brutality.

And so it is with masks and vaccinations. The refusers are the key obstacle to our resuming full personal and national health and are the ones we have to win over if we’re ever to be free from this brutality.

Meanwhile, we know what to do to defeat this pandemic – really, both pandemics. The trick is getting people to do the right thing.

Jennifer Rubin explains why it’s so hard to do that here.

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End Note

Each year the local high schools combine their singing and orchestral talents into a marvelous spring concert of about 500 very talented kids under wonderful direction. It’s held in the cathedral of Techny Towers, a massive and beautiful sanctuary, the acoustics of which compel music to sound. It is a singer’s and musician’s delight.

The programs are new each year, but the closer is always The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Written by abolitionist Julia Ward Howe in 1861, it is a prayer for a time when we were ripping ourselves apart, not unlike today. If you have not heard this majestic piece in full, you need to – it’s attached below. As you listen, imagine that you’re surrounded by singers and musicians. They’re in front of you, along both sides and even along the sides of the balcony above and around you. You’re surrounded by a message.

The point of bringing this into the conversation is a line from the Hymn. It is inherently Christian, so feel free to take this in that way. But also read and feel these words as a compelling message for us in these dark times of civil strife.

As He died to make men holy let us live to make men free

That’s free, like: Our people healthy and free from pandemic; You and I free from the danger of firearms in the hands of those who would harm us; Our citizens free and with full and equal rights – all of them. Feel free to add to this list.

Let us live to make men – and women – free.

  • Glenbrook Festival of Music, March 13, 2016
  • Glenbrook High Schools, IL D-225, Choirs and Orchestra

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* Indeed, I believe that lust for power and control was the gut level driver for Derek Chauvin to murder George Floyd. Life and death is the ultimate power and control.

————————————

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.

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

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