Freedom

Empathy v2.0


Addendum to Can We Stop Wringing Hands?

Last Thursday President Biden borrowed portions of the speech I wrote for him and imposed a requirement for being vaccinated or tested at least weekly in most venues where the federal government has strong influence or control.

He doesn’t have the power to require teachers, staff and school children to be vaccinated or wear masks, because control of schools lies with the states, so he did the two things he could do there. First, he called out the governors who are doing so much to make things more dangerous. Second, he implored them to stop endangering the lives of children and make vaccinations and masks mandatory in schools. Note that vaccines for children under 12 won’t be available for a while, perhaps not for months.

As smack-downs go, the President’s last Thursday’s was mild, but it was a smack-down nonetheless.

While the right wing echo chamber is buzzing with hyperbolic idiocy over all of this, public sentiment is largely with President Biden and support will grow, as people see the infection, hospitalization and death rates plummet. The Biden approval rate will continue to climb as we become a healthier nation and the economy recovers.

Perhaps President Biden has made the time come sooner when we can stop wringing hands over this pandemic.

Empathy

I’ve moved quite a bit in my thinking about those who wear pandemic blinders, from their denial of the reality of the pandemic itself, to mask and vaccine refusal, to embracing conspiracies and to full-on temper tantrums on airplanes. I’ve struggled to understand the extreme right behavior that is to their significant detriment, but now I think I’ve found part of an explanation.

Tressie McMillan Cottom writes a new newsletter for the New York Times and in her first post she dug into what’s driving millions of Americans to refuse to do the simple things that will protect themselves and others. She included in her post part of her conversation with Martha M. Crawford, a psychotherapist and clinical social worker. Here are some of her comments.

Tressie: Still, I cannot deal with the Americans who are insane as it pertains to Covid denialism. What is up with them?

Martha: This is practically a Freudian notion of a kind of manic defense against death .  .  .  It is like the horror hasn’t hit them yet. They’re in an initial, almost ecstatic phase of grief where you’re just so relieved .  .  .  that you’re alive, you had your toes curled on the dip so you didn’t fall in. There’s a kind of manic response that is activated and grandiose and inflated by massive, collective crisis .  .  .

On this [denial] territory, there is no culture that is plugged into the radio, television, or reads books, that hasn’t been indoctrinated to believe in this kind of notion of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.

Okay, these refusers are denying death and invoking invulnerability, and all their experiences and exposure to ways of being are focused on bootstraps and individuality. That’s pretty psycho, but understandable.

Click for The Onion story.

My notion is that you can amplify this explanation with a thunderclap of attitude: “YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!” turbocharged by, “I’LL SHOW YOU!” (Caps and italics added to indicate shouting/screaming, like crazy people on airplanes and at school board meetings.)

Let’s be sure to cut some slack for those who waited for full FDA approval of vaccines out of an intellectually honest concern. By now, though, all vaccines have been fully vetted for a while and these folks should be fully vaccinated. If any are not, their reluctance is driven by something else.

I began this section stating that I have moved in my thinking about these refusers. At first I was puzzled and looked for explanations for why people would do self-harming things. I was concerned for their health and safety, too. You know, empathy.

Then it dawned on me that they were harming others and I was angry about that. My empathy shifted to be mostly for those others, including our frontline healthcare folks.

My primary interest is that they don’t take others down with them. I don’t have inside information, but I’m betting they haven’t asked others if they’re willing to die with them as they have their tantrums. That puts these refusers into a bucket with homicidal maniacs.

There are vaccine mandates on the way and our refusers are going to be affected. I’d like to make their transition as easy as possible, so I offer this heartfelt freedom advice for those who refuse to be vaccinated:

You have the freedom to lose your job if you refuse to be vaccinated.

You have the freedom to be refused rail and air transportation.

You have the freedom to be refused entry into the supermarket, gym, movie theater, baseball or football game and even the next MAGA rally.

You have the freedom to continue to believe what you want, for example, that Covid vaccines are unproven, dangerous and that they contain tracking nanobots that will allow Bill Gates to know where you are at all times.

You have the freedom to believe that behind the vaccines is a socialist, child blood drinking, world domination bent cabal, and that vaccines will subject you to space lasers and will suck your precious bodily fluids (Dr. Strangelove).

You have the freedom to be infuriated by governmental interference in your absolute freedom and to proclaim your rights with your gasping, choking last breath.

There’s a long list of freedoms our refusers will enjoy if they continue to insist upon being a threat to our fellow citizens.

I want to be bigger than this, more loving, more equitable in my empathy. Right now, though, as refusers make war against medicine, science, learning, wisdom, the rule of law and any hint of sacrifice for others and for our common good, this is the best I can do.

Click me for the CDC report

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

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The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Primitive Fixes to Complex Problems


I knew a man who was born in the 1930s and who was raised on the south side of Chicago in the South Shore neighborhood. It was a thriving area and parts were quite wealthy, with grand boulevards and fabulous houses. By the 1960s it was blighted, often an urban war zone. Drugs were everywhere, as were many unhappy, unwed mothers, and the racial make up had turned upside down, This guy was angry – livid, really – at what had happened to his world.

He blamed it all on “the Blacks.” He told me they were the cause of the demise of his neighborhood. He said all men who committed rape should be castrated. When I heard him say that he was talking about “the Blacks” and I intuited that he meant for this cure to be applied to Black rapists.

He said that the welfare system was encouraging wanton promiscuity. I don’t recall if he said that his castration idea should apply to all men involved in out-of-wedlock pregnancies, but it might have. He would utter such things with barely contained fury.

Of course, his cure was never adopted, but he wasn’t alone in imagining diabolical cures for what he saw as the societal ills and the wrongs of others. There was nothing new in such tyrannical beliefs.

John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem How The Women Went from Dover details the repugnant punishment of three women for speaking publicly about their Quaker beliefs, religion and morality in 1662 Dover. For their crimes, these women were stripped to the waist and lashed 10 times each, then dragged behind a wagon from town to town where the whipping process was repeated. Over and over their flesh was ripped open. Surely, that would cure the societal ill of women speaking up and challenging male supremacy and authority.

Gov. Abbott signs the Texas vigilante powered anti-abortion bill, surrounded by 7 women and over 50 men. Click the pic

Now the Republican governor and legislators of Texas have instituted a cure for what they think of as our societal ill of abortion. It’s the same problem of insecure men wanting to impose their will and their position of dominance over others. To be fair to Texas, theirs is simply the most current and blatant attempt at this. Mississippi’s anti-abortion law will be tested in a gerrymandered, far right Supreme Court in the next session. Other cases are sure to follow, as they have repeatedly since 1973.

Patriarchal rule has been the norm throughout recorded history. So has clan dominance and fear and hatred of “others.” We’ve made inroads toward equal rights, but the pull of ancient ignorance is a powerful force, now dressed up in certainties of self-serving, chest-thumping, disingenuous language.

Simplistic, myopic thinking invariably leads to simple, draconian fixes to imagined ills that serve only a frightened, angry minority. People always pay a heavy price when these ancient prejudices are  allowed to succeed.

Speaking of Primitive Fixes

Florida, our leading unofficial clinical trial for spreading Covid infection and death, may expand the range of products available to treat patients suffering from the virus. A commissioner of Polk County, Florida, Neil Combee, composed a letter to that state’s governor proposing a game of medical Russian Roulette for stricken Floridians. In it he requested that Gov. DeSantis (R-Wuhan) promote a “Right to Try” law for treating Covid.

Think: ivermectin, a livestock de-wormer, and hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, neither with any efficacy data to support their use in treating Covid or any other virus.

The full county board put the kibosh on sending that letter, invoking the Bat Shit Crazy clause of the county procedural rules. Nevertheless, Combee may be on to something in promoting alternative treatments. Here’s why.

Two days after the Trump inaugural balls in 2017, the ones Trump financially skimmed, Kellyanne Conway stood on the lawn of the White House and defended against Chuck Todd’s interview question. He had asked why brand new press secretary Sean Spicer had blatantly and repeatedly lied at his first press briefing. She poured out a torrent of words, including saying that Spicer had given “alternative facts.” Many of us know those by another name: “lies,. But “alternative facts” sounds better to the true believers.

Indeed, the administration and the entire Republican Party gave us an ongoing tsunami of alternative facts to push their reality into an alternative universe. Oddly enough, those alternative facts are still pouring out from right wing alternative humans.

Alternative facts seem to have worked for those people, so alternative treatments for Covid, why not?

Given the possible expansion of Covid treatment options in Florida and the apparent success of alternative facts, here’s the email I sent to my friend Bob in Miami:

Hey, Bob, sorry you got the Covid. No worries, pal. I heard that Tucker Carlson and a couple of radio guys say that a shot of hemlock with a Jack Daniels chaser will get Covid off your mind.* You’ll have a right to try it, buddy. The commissioner wants you to have options and Gov. DeSantis is for it, right? Go for it!

No need to let me know how that worked out for you, Bob. Pretty sure I’ll know.

This is called the “So Long, Bob” Covid cure. Not available in most states. Void where prohibited. Your mileage may very, but not much. Just ask Socrates. Oh, wait – you can’t, because he died from drinking hemlock.

* DISCLAIMER:

I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but .  .  .

DO NOT take medical advice from this or any other Jax Politix post. For medical advice, always consult your doctor, rather than anyone focused on their own political career or cable ratings or online Likes. 👍

Friday, September 17, 2:00PM CDT – Media Matters

From Sheila Markin:

Angelo Carusone will talk about what Media Matters does and how they do it. Super smart guy. He talks really fast and thinks even faster. [He’ll tell you where disinformation comes from and how they track it and tell reporters and lawmakers about their findings, how they are getting Fox News hosts removed and [how they’re] fighting disinformation elsewhere. I know you will enjoy meeting him and asking him questions. It should be a lively discussion.

You’ll want to stream this FEEEBIE session. To do so, email Sheila at

[email protected]

and let her know you want in.

Make this even better: Pass this along to your friends and family and invite them, because a key to fighting disinformation is to be informed and smart about it. I mean, really, you can’t fight disinformation without having information.

Finally

I hope you used a little of your Saturday to remember and honor those directly impacted by 9/11, as well as our nation. There are plenty of lessons to be had, but now it’s a time to simply remember and honor.

I find myself deeply affected still by those who lost someone in the Towers, the Pentagon and in Shanksville. Their loss was and is compounded so painfully by our national shock. And I still cannot fathom the torment of that awful choice so many had to make between being burned alive or jumping to their death.

Perhaps the most profound for me are the firefighters who charged up the stairs of the towers and the military and first responders who went into the Pentagon to rescue those injured or trapped, this at a time when every survival instinct was screaming at them to get out. Hundreds paid the full price for their selfless courage. Although most wouldn’t like the title, they are heroes, all.

I was at Ground Zero just a few short weeks after. It was stunning and penetrating in so many ways. Remind me to tell you about it some day.

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

From The Resolute Desk . . .


.  .  .  in the Oval Office, The President of the United States
.

Folks, I’m here tonight to focus on patriotism, because we have some terrible things going on. it’s time for some straight talk.

Our people are becoming infected with Covid-19 at a horrific and worsening rate. Over 1,500 of our fellow citizens are dying every day and the number keeps going up.

We’ve done everything we can from the White House to encourage the basic things that we know will protect our people, but it isn’t and cannot be enough. We need everyone pulling in the right direction and that just isn’t happening. This is a fight we absolutely have to win, so, as we used to say in Scranton, the gloves are coming off. It’s time for bare knuckles.

We knew at the beginning of this pandemic that the basics to beating it are to wear a mask, to socially distance and to wash hands well and often. A year later we had safe, highly effective vaccines and they became our big guns to beat this virus. If all those things are done, we can stop this virus in its tracks. But that isn’t happening and we know why.

The problem is that some governors and legislators are actively opposing those things that can save us. So are talking heads on cable, on TV, radio and online who are spewing lies, absurd, impossible conspiracies and who are spreading disinformation about phony cures for Covid. They’re hurting my people. They’re hurting you.

These state officials have enacted legislation to make it illegal to make kids and teachers wear masks in schools. That spreads the disease. They’ve terminated promotions for vaccines, closed vaccine delivery locations and opposed vaccine requirements. They’ve ridiculed those who wear masks in order to whip up voter outrage and, by extension, they’ve incited others to ridicule, threaten and even attack our citizens who are doing the right things.

These governors and legislators have effectively encouraged the spread of the virus to you and the people you love and it might kill you all. I see these officials as complicit in homicide and you should, too. After all, they’re gunning for you.

There is plenty of speculation about why these officials would intentionally put Americans at risk. Some have speculated that they’re trying to be seen as tough guys in order to appeal to their “base.” They want to be thought of as anti-establishment guys, even as they’re leaders in the establishment. Others have offered that they don’t want to slow the virus, because an expanding pandemic harms our economy and they can then attack me for leading a sluggish economy during the next two election cycles. What we know for sure is that they are intentionally putting Americans at risk.

They have their phony patriotism excuses to justify their treachery. They tell you that having to wear a mask is an abridgement of their freedom. So, too, they tell us, is having to be vaccinated. Well, here’s the truth.

The freedom of every one of us is abridged. it’s what has to happen if we are to live together in safety and security. Here are some examples.

We all have to stop for stop lights and stop signs. We don’t have the freedom to just blast through every intersection when we want to, because if we did that we would kill one another.

All of our kids have to be vaccinated against measles, because if they weren’t we would have a deadly epidemic. We know that’s true, because that’s what used to happen before we had a vaccine. We don’t have the freedom to refuse those vaccines and get kids killed.

None of us has the freedom to wantonly attack others or steal their property.

I could list a lot more examples, but it’s clear that we must have limits to individual freedom and the reasons for those limits are obvious.

That’s why it’s so repugnant that these governors and legislators who know the truth are hiding behind some imagined Constitutional right to do whatever we want, whenever we want. And they’re encouraging others to claim the absolute freedom defense for their behavior, but that’s killing our friends and neighbors and our kids.

We used to have something called shame. It used to be in the United States that we would call out someone who did something shameful, saying “Shame on you!” Sadly, we’ve had so much lying and cheating for so many years that the concept of shame seems to have been overwhelmed and the word itself can seem to be just some old, outdated thing. But I tell you it is not.

We have people in power doing shameful things. They are personally responsible for their despicable words and actions that hurt Americans and I’m calling them out. To those governors and legislators: Shame on you!

And to those talking heads on cable, on TV, radio and online who are lying to you with their preposterous claims and dishonest accusations, “Shame on you, too!

To We the People: You know when you’re being lied to and you know that those threatening your health are lying when they dump phony excuses on you that put you at risk.

We have an election in 14 months. Vote out of office those liars who imperil you and your kids. They’ve already proven that they aren’t worthy of your trust. And stop listening to the blabbers in the media who are lying to you and advising you to do things that will imperil your life and lead you to hate your neighbors.

To those leaders who threaten my people: You have time to do some honest things before you’re given the boot. Doing so won’t right the wrongs you’ve done and we won’t forget, but at least you can begin to treat people with dignity, respect and caring. A little contrition will go a long way. It will be good for your soul.

So, start now. No more lies. No more hiding behind a false version of our flag. Get out and promote vaccinations and the wearing of masks. Do it every day in every venue. Tell people the truth, that they’re too important to refuse these basics and that it’s their patriotic duty to be vaccinated and masked in order to protect all of us. Tell my people to do it for their kids, for all of our kids and for Granny. Tell them our national security depends on us being healthy.

Then tell your constituents you’re sorry for having lied to them and put them at risk, and you’re especially sorry for all those who suffered and died due to your malfeasance.

Folks, our troops are stationed all over the globe, doing their duty to protect us and our way of life. They never let us down and we must not let them down. We must do our duty. Get vaccinated and wear a mask. That’s what patriots do. That’s what patriotism looks like.

May God bless America and may God protect our troops.

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

The “This Didn’t Have To Happen” File – v2


Click me for the This Didn’t Have To Happen story from the CDC

The teacher did what teachers do: she stood in front of the class in 70%-vaccinated Marin County, CA and taught. She read something to her class of elementary school kids, as usual. The only problem was that she was unvaccinated.

Well, there was one other problem. She had been Covid symptomatic for two days before then. Oh, and she wasn’t wearing a mask.

She infected half her class, more kids at the front of the class – those within spit-spray distance – than at the back. Those infected kids brought the virus home to their siblings, who then became infected. Gotta wonder how many others were infected by those kids before their symptoms began and they tested positive.

Of course, elementary school kids can’t be vaccinated, which makes them unwitting targets of this disease, as it’s passed to them by infected people, whether or not those passers have symptoms, which this teacher did.

The CDC report on this episode of Pandemic Roulette is an easy read and I recommend it to you. Just click the graphic above, read the report and then say it with me: “This didn’t have to happen.”

Neither Did This

Florida is the place where over 23,000 people per day are testing positive. That’s over twice the national rate. They’re running out of oxygen for Covid patients. Over 260 people are dying every day and the rate is soaring. The hospital morgues are stockpiling corpses in refrigerator trucks out back.

Florida is where Gov. Ron DeSantis has effectively mandated escalating infections and deaths from Covid with his anti-mask temper tantrums. As he continues to thwart the efforts of those fighting this disease, he is idiotically criticizing President Biden for not having ended the pandemic. That’s right: DeSantis is doing all he can to encourage the spread of the disease and at the same time is criticizing Biden for not having eliminated it.

“Breathtaking” is an appropriate term for DeSantis, as he points a finger at Biden. “Breathtaking” also fits the victims of his pandemic who can’t breathe. Somebody please twist DeSantis’ hand 180° so that he points his finger at himself.

Click me

I highlight Florida because it is perhaps the most egregious example of “This Didn’t Have To Happen” in the nation, but anywhere the stupid stuff is going on deserves as much scorn.

We have more kids in hospitals with Covid right now than at any time since this pandemic began. These are little kids and Mom and Dad aren’t there to hold their hands because these sick kids are in quarantine.

I’m wondering how they became infected. Could mask and vaccine refusers have done this? Might the Freedom Fools have infected these kids? Are the self-important Freedom Fools’ rights more important than whether those kids live or die? Sadly, I know the answers to those questions and so do you.

To our Freedom Fools: Go ahead and refuse masks and vaccinations for yourself and your kids. I have just two requests. First, please pre-pay all of your medical costs. I don’t want them shifted onto me through the insurance labyrinth when you get sick and die because of your pig-headed refusal to do the simple things that would keep us all safe.

And second, keep the hell away from my kids and my grandkids because you don’t have to happen to us.

Afghanistan Didn’t Have To Happen, Either

It is vitally important that we be clear about the truth of what happened and why. Read this piece and cry for the This Didn’t Have To Happen, sad déjà vu story.

The years of deceit are related by perfidious blood to a Kevin McCarthy Lie-A-Thon last week. CNN’s headline reads,

Fact check: Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy makes at least 5 false claims in 7-minute Fox News interview

.

It seems we get lied to a lot by political leaders. Sometimes those political lies start wars and lots of people die. Sometimes those political lies accelerate pandemics and lots of people die. Sometimes those political lies savage the Constitution and large chunks of democracy die. In every case, This Didn’t Have To Happen.

“At this point, to be a conservative in good standing you have to pledge allegiance to blatant lies — Democrats are Marxists, the election was stolen, basic public health measures are sinister assaults on freedom.”   – Paul Krugman, August 31, 2021

Krugman is right. Check the Election Countdown below. We have work to do and a decreasing amount of time to do it. It’s time to dig in.

We Chant “USA! USA! USA!” And Break Records, But This Didn’t Have To Happen
.

The 1,180 dying daily are actually gone forever. This isn’t just a horror movie. This is horror reality.

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Justice


Merrick Garland’s Justice Department

In an interesting and even-handed essay in the Washington Post Magazine, author David Montgomery lays out his view of the Merrick Garland Justice Department in Merrick Garland Won’t Deliver Your Catharsis. Montgomery reports that Garland’s view is that a return to norms and consistently doing the right things is the path to lead the public to regain a sense of trust in the department, a trust that was lost due to the Trump/Barr years of stomping on our trust. That seems sensible, but I don’t think that’s enough.

I’ve argued many times for the need for accountability, in large measure because a lack of it invites more egregious violations in the future, as history has taught us. Here’s a list of posts about that important point. Yet, Garland has said more than once, “I am not going to look backward.” That’s a problem.

Garland was the real time, on-site Justice Department guy following the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. He was in a similar position chasing down Ted Kaczynski, the Unibomber. In both cases he and the Justice Department looked backward. They had to, because they were investigating and prosecuting what had already been done. That’s what legal actions and law enforcement do. That’s how the law is upheld. That’s how justice is done.

And that’s why, “I am not going to look backward” regarding the prior administration doesn’t make sense.

Click the pic above to read Montgomery’s essay or download a PDF of it here. See if you agree that looking backward and holding wrongdoers accountable is possibly the most important duty of the Garland Justice Department.

Also about justice, and crucially so: If Congress doesn’t pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act, it really won’t matter what Merrick Garland’s Justice Department does, because democracy will soon be gone.

Special Section:

Gifts For Our Freedom-Of-Choice Mask & Vaccine Refusers

Many people have refused to be vaccinated because the vaccines do not yet have full FDA approval. They’re waiting for the completion of all the analyses in order to feel safe; only then will they agree to be vaccinated. You may not agree with their calculation, but at least they’re rational in their thinking.

In contrast are the millions who think that having to wear a mask or be vaccinated is an unpatriotic infringement of their freedoms and liberties. In the face of a worldwide pandemic that continues to morph into ever more dangerous forms, that position is worthy of proud, mindless chest thumping, but not much more. It is not rational in the face of the unavoidable spread of the disease and the certainty of it causing many more deaths, absent action to stop it.

All of these people are causing our hospital and our National Disaster Medical System personnel to live in a nightmare world of death and despair. How proud our freedom frenzied must be to know they’re creating so much suffering for others.

So, special for our freedom-of-choice mask and vaccine refusers, we offer:

This from Charles Blow:

Americans who are refusing to get — and are taking a stand against — the coronavirus vaccine are “determined to prove that they are right even if it puts them on the wrong side of a eulogy.”

And this address from John Pavlovitz:

Generations of Americans sacrificed family and future and body and breath, so that you could be pulled from the birth canal nestled in the warm embrace of the easy liberty you’ve come to believe you deserve.

Which makes it all the more tragic and shameful how little regard you have for that freedom now, how much you’re squandering it over and over because you’ve decided the simplest of requests are too much for you to bear and constitute an assault on your personal liberty.

How sad it is that our freedom frenzied refusers don’t seem to have what it takes to sacrifice for those who will come after them in the way their forebears did for them.

And finally, this from The Onion.

From The Onion. Click the pic for the important story

Covid Update

Now trending at 141,000 new cases every day, it’s clear that the messages still haven’t gotten through to those we most need to hear them.

New Covid cases, 8-20-21

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

President Biden’s Address to the Nation on Covid (I Wish)


It’s time for some straight talk. It’s time for us to put it on the line – no political weasel words. So, here it is.

We have an epidemic in this country that isn’t going away. In fact, it’s rapidly getting worse. Last year it killed a lot of seniors, but our surviving elderly got vaccinated. Now it’s killing younger people. It’s killing babies.

This virus doesn’t care about the color of your state, although the more red your state is the more likely it is that you’ve put out the welcome mat for the enormously infectious Delta variant.

That’s why so many hospitals are full to overflowing. That’s why a child with appendicitis and pregnant women aren’t getting medical care when they need it. That’s why the University of Mississippi Medical Center is constructing a field hospital in a parking garage. But they and we have a problem. They’re so short of doctors, nurses and techs that the federal government has had to send in staff who have been borrowed from other hospitals, leaving them short of help. The entire Mississippi state health system is on the edge of failure. And that story is being replicated in other states, too.

While that’s going on some of our governors are preventing mask mandates in schools, in municipalities and they’re even trying to stop private businesses from requiring masks. In an effort to promote themselves, they’re standing in the way of their citizens being protected. They stood in the way of protecting the 4  Broward County, FL teachers who all died in one day last week from Covid. They’re standing in the way of prevention from this disease for millions of Americans. That will guarantee more and more people will become infected, more will clog our hospitals and more of our people will die.

At the same time we have citizens threatening violence because they think their freedom to not wear a mask is more important than whether they infect others, who then die.

Last week we saw some toughs threatening a man leaving a meeting of the Williamson County Board of Education in Tennessee. That man supports masks in schools and he had just attended a meeting focused on that question. Those toughs yelled at him with vicious rage and told him that they know who he is and they know where he lives. Their intent to do violence to him couldn’t have been more obvious. Yet strangely, in their self-righteous anger and threats of violence, these toughs believe themselves to be patriots, so I’ll speak to them directly.

I know who you are and I know where you’re going, tough guy. You’re headed to the ICU, so it won’t be hard to find you and you won’t look so tough then. Maybe they’ll even have a bed and a ventilator for you. Maybe.

Just get this: Threatening my people – the American people – isn’t okay and it isn’t what patriots do. Threatening people with contracting Covid and with physical violence is as unpatriotic as it gets. You tough guys running around threatening people and you governors and legislators refusing to do your duty to protect your people aren’t patriots. But you could be.

All it will take is for you to get beyond yourself, to stop thinking of yourself as the center of the universe, to stop imagining that your absolute freedom is more important than anyone or anything else. Here’s what you need to learn:

Your freedom stops at the tip of the next person’s nose and you don’t have a right to infect that person or threaten them with harm.

If you’re to be a patriot you have to see the plain truth, that it’s time for us to sacrifice for one another. That’s what true patriots do and it’s way past time for you to show up and do your part.

You want to be a patriot? Here’s the deal.

Take your temper tantrum someplace else. There’s no room and no time for it now, because we – all of us – are in a crisis. Either lead, follow or get the hell out of the way. It’s time for real patriots to answer the call of duty.

– Get vaccinated.

– Wear a mask indoors in public.

– Teach your children how to avoid bringing this virus home and infecting Granny.

Patriot wannabe, we know who you are. And we’ll know if you stand to be counted when the bugle blows. It’s blowing right now.

————————————

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

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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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


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

It Begs the Question


From Thom Hartmann’s rant on August 6

The first real test of the [National Voter Rights Act of 1993] came in 2018, when Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State, John Husted, went on a voter-purge binge (that hit Black, student and elderly neighborhoods particularly hard) and was sued by the A. Phillip Randolph Institute for violating Ohio citizens’ right to vote.

In a bitter 5-4 decision, the conservative majority ruled in Husted v Randolph that purging voters because they failed to return a junk-mail-like postcard was entirely legal.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito

It’s a practice once called “caging” back when Karl Rove’s guy [George W. Bush] was allegedly doing it and it was illegal but that has, since that Court ruling, spread to pretty much every Republican-controlled state in the nation.

Justice Alito’s decision was particularly biting, asserting that the arguments made by the citizens who’d lost their right to vote were “worse than superfluous” and their argument that they shouldn’t have to regularly check  in with the Secretary of State’s office to stay on the voter rolls represented logic “no sensible person” could agree with.

Justice Alito’s comments fly in the face of the multiple declarations of the right to vote prominently displayed in the Constitution. That document doesn’t say anything about the need to send in a post card or “check in” with any government or agency in order to retain the right to vote. We just have to be citizens.

If Alito wants autocracy, minority rule and race and class oppression, he might consider moving to another country with just such a foundation. Maybe I missed something, but I thought that all justices took an oath to the Constitution of this country.

In acting to suppress the right of citizens to vote, Alito pushed back on democracy itself. Given that Alito’s Supreme Court vote and his comments are in opposition to both the Constitution and democracy, it begs the question of why he’s on the Supreme Court.

It Says Hope, But It Isn’t

The State of Florida continues on its path to become the place most intentionally disinterested in the welfare of its citizens. In the face of stiff competition from Texas, Arizona and several other states, Florida has codified its refusal to allow schools to protect students from Covid-19 and its variants by issuing an Emergency Rule.* Please download it. You’ll be amazed at the lengths to which the Florida Board of Education goes and the tortured un-reason it uses to attempt to make their prohibition of mask mandates sound like they’re delivering safety from this deadly virus.

Their logic is forehead-slappingly illogical, sort of like saying they are promoting good by ensuring bad.

Almost as shocking is that the state’s Board of Education offers an alternative to mask mandates. It invites students and public money to go to private schools. This smells very bad, like the public schools in the south in the 1950s and 60s that suffered because white students left for private, expensive (read: segregated) schools, as did the public money for education, leaving nearly nothing for Black kids.

And the Florida Board of Education is doing this under the banner “Hope.”

Here’s a startling headline from the Tallahassee Democrat on August 9 showing DeSantis’ disregard for Floridians:

Florida Gov. DeSantis to school officials: Enforce mask mandate, get your salaries withheld
.

I have no clue how that could be legal. It’s much like Texas Governor Greg Abbott declaring that he’s going to arrest the Democratic legislators who left the state to prevent horrid voter suppression laws from being enacted. He proudly boasted that he would arrest and hold these Democrats in the state capitol building In Austin for the duration of the special legislative session. That’s quite a statement from the Texas Governor, in that the Democrats have broken no laws and he has no power to incarcerate them in the capitol building or anywhere else.

Note that both of these governors are threatening opponents with exactly the same kind of king-of-the-hill bravado as despots and cruel dictators who imprison political opponents (think: Putin in Russia; Orbán in Hungary; Xi in China). The same goes for all the rest of the “I’ll show you!” tough guy governors and legislators. Tough guy stuff plays well with the alt-right, the MAGA hat wearers. Normally, that’s a “who-cares?” but in the face of Covid and civil unrest, it’s deadly.

Expect stupid litigation to follow DeSantis’ tough guy announcement. The reason that’s important is that we have an epidemic of people in power doing similarly anti-welfare-of-the-people things, as well as taking anti-democracy shots.

This Florida Board of Education Emergency Rule and DeSantis’ threat of withholding educators’ salaries are just the most recent actions that beg the question of why Gov. Ron DeSantis has been allowed to be anywhere near public office.

While DeSantis is the poster boy for selfishly bad governing, for our purposes he is a placeholder for all the governors, legislators and bloviators who chest thump and try to position themselves for more MAGA votes, even at the cost of the health and the lives of our fellow citizens. Future generations will look at our time with puzzlement and derision, because we voted for this. And that begs yet more questions.

Actual Hope

Dr. Chad Gestson, Supt. Phoenix Union High School District

A refreshing contrast to knuckle dragging governors like DeSantis and Abbott is Dr. Chad Gestson, Superintendent of the Phoenix Union High School District in Phoenix, AZ, with 32,000 students. He is a profile in courage, defying Gov. Doug Ducey’s “no mask mandates” order by requiring masks for students, teachers and staff in his schools. Apparently, the superintendent thinks the health of everyone in his schools is really important, a concept not comprehensible by certain elected officials.

What’s truly, self-destructively weird is that a teacher in his district is suing Gestson over his mask mandate, claiming it’s an infringement of his freedom to become infected, then infect others and finally to gasp and die (the sarcasm is mine – JA). Nevertheless, Gestson is standing strong. I bet he’d appreciate a note of support from you. [email protected]

Meanwhile, the Florida Board Of Education Emergency Rule, the various governors’ no-mask-mandate orders and the teacher’s lawsuit all beg the question of when self-serving temper tantrums replaced good sense.

Covid Corner

Please click the graph above and read the full thread.

The United States of America has

– 4.25% of the world’s population

– 18% of the world’s total Covid-19 cases – 36.8M/204.3M

– 14.7% of the world’s deaths from Covid-19 – 633K/4.3M. Before the vaccines that number was closer to 25%, but 71.9% of seniors are now fully vaccinated. Nevertheless, we have over 633,000 total deaths and the two week moving average is now 480 per day – and rising. See the STAT chart below.

– The distinction of being the only country in the world where mask mandates can be prohibited.

20% of new U.S. Covid cases are children – see here and here. Babies and young children are dying.

A new case of Covid-19 in the U.S. is reported every 0.7 seconds. The two-week moving average is a new case every 1.2 seconds. See the STAT chart below.

The U.S. has the largest supply of Covid vaccines in the world, but

– Only 58.1% of vaccine-eligible citizens in the U.S. is fully vaccinated.

– The U.S. is the only country where citizens have to be bribed to be vaccinated, even as citizens of other countries beg for vaccines.

Covid Cases as of 8-10-21

All of this Covid information begs so many questions, like,

What has happened to us and why did we let this craziness happen?

Where did our sense of civic duty go?

What happened to our caring for one another?

How did so many of us become so shockingly angry that our good sense has left us?

Why are we rationalizing so much avoidable suffering and death?

Why aren’t we shocked by a Covid death equivalent of the crash of a jumbo jet every day?

It begs these questions and so many more.

  • ————————

* Thanks go to JN for forwarding the Florida DOE Emergency Rule.

————————————

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Good-Bye, America


STATUS ALERT!

This is a proud JaxPolitix moment, as we have officially received our first vile, disgusting and politically inane troll message.

To the troll:  We wish you a full recovery from the multiple head traumas you obviously have sustained.


It started decades ago, but that was just laying the ground work for what has now happened. We pick up the story in the recent past.

When President Obama and his Justice Department decided not to prosecute for the torturing of prisoners done by the CIA or pursue the higher-ups who okayed and directed torture during the Bush II wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, something profound happened.

Obama avoided dispiriting and alienating the CIA. He avoided giving the far right lunatics an easy launch point for an all out assault on him. He prevented the law and order muscleheads from using their self-certain, righteous indignation to attack his administration. All that and more was true and accurate and it completely misses the most important and self-destructive point.

In refusing to prosecute obvious criminal behavior, Obama and his Justice Department became complicit in those crimes. Their hands were as dirty as those of the torturers and George W. Bush, his Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and his law twisting accomplice, John Yoo, he of the “Torture Memo.” That memo gave cover for the U.S. to violate all the Geneva Conventions against torture of enemy combatants, the U.S. Constitution and our own Military Code of Conduct. That was a dozen years ago, but don’t imagine that kind of complicity is all in the past, because it’s happening right now.

Trump’s wrongdoing has been on public display for over four years and the list of his corruptions is so long that you may be forgiven for having forgotten most of it.

He started with various versions of his Muslim ban. Then he ripped babies from their mothers’ arms at our southern border. The Mueller Report lists at least 10 prosecutable instances of Trump’s obstruction of justice (see Section 2). He orchestrated his people to refuse subpoenas to testify at the impeachment hearings. He attempted bribery of the President of Ukraine. He led a conspiracy to defraud the United States in Post Office-gate. And there are all those campaign finance violations, multiple violations of the Hatch Act, federal tax fraud, violations of the Voting Rights Act and more. For a more comprehensive documentation of Trump’s horribles, click here.

And President Biden and his Justice Department are doing nothing about any of it. They are even defending Trump against the defamation lawsuit filed against him by E. Jean Carroll.

When we look to the Democrats to restore norms, to play by the written rules and the spirit of those rules we are fooling ourselves, because their refusal to hold Republicans’ feet to the fire makes them complicit in their crimes. They’re colluding with the perps because they don’t have the political courage to do what needs to be done. What is even more frightening is that today’s Republican crimes are focused on destroying our democracy. And this is set up to get worse.

Trump is a buffoon, a carnival sideshow barker who’s good at fooling the rubes. That’s us. That his blatantly phony “stop the steal” campaign still has breath only means that those who want to be angry and vent their rage with violence feel justified. “Trump sent me,” is what they told us on January 6. But Trump will at last go away. What will not go away are those who would continue the attack on our democracy, the dismantling of what we say we hold dear.

The next megalomaniac won’t be a buffoon. The next guy – it won’t be a woman because these people are all about white male supremacy – will be smart and smooth and won’t make Trump’s stupid mistakes. The next guy will end our democracy because we will have refused to hold people accountable. We will have failed to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. The Republicans will end our republic. Read Dahlia Lithwick’s piece in Slate, The Price of No Consequences for Trump.

There’s another chapter to this story.

We fought the Korean War in the same way we fought WW II, which made sense, in that we fought against a nation state backed by another nation state, both with standing armies. It was our uniforms versus theirs. But then Viet Nam came along, a guerilla civil war, peasant-versus-peasant, and our WW II tactics were all wrong. We intervened completely unprepared to fight such a war and the result was a disaster. We fought the last war instead of the present war.

And that is what Democrats are doing in Congress.

The Republicans are fighting a guerilla war, ignoring precedent, norms, the intent of the Constitution and even basic morality in order to gain power. The Democrats are using quaint, gentlemanly tactics, singing paeans to bipartisanship and are somehow surprised when they get steamrolled yet again.

That’s going to continue to happen (thanks, JN for the link), as we experience what President Biden has called “Jim Crow on steroids” and Republicans – Americans, mind you – eliminate majority rule, wipe out free, fair elections and they disempower the electorate. They’re conspiring to determine election results by fiat – their fiat –  instead of by the will of the people. That’s subversion. And they continue their anti-democratic march without being held to account and with just a limp-wristed fight by Democrats.

As Charles Blow put it, I’m, “not consumed by romantic, hagiographic* illusions of yesteryear,” nor should any of us be. There are literally millions of Americans who would crush our democracy right now and that’s what we must deal with.

In a recent Pew Research Center survey, “Two-thirds of Republicans and Republican leaners say voting is a privilege that can be limited .  .  .  compared with about half as many (32%) who say it is a fundamental right.” Even 21% of Democrats think voting isn’t a right. That’s neither liberal nor conservative ideology. It’s fascist. Pay no attention to the words of the Constitution. Nothing to see there. Move along.

So, good-bye, America. We loved you dearly and believed in you for a long time, but it’s almost over now because we let it be over.

———————

* hagiographic – to idealize the subject

————————————

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

Golden Calf


Trump’s endless string of lies at the July 2021 CPAC convention was not just boring; it was old news boring. New day, same old lies.

On the other hand, his supplicants applauded and made the proper guttural noises for him in response to his calls for adulation. They did the same for the rest of the lying and outraged victim presenters. All of that, though, was secondary to the February CPAC supplication.

Golden Trump at CPAC, February 2021

That’s when the circle became complete, with people literally bowing down to an actual golden image of Trump. It is the ultimate Golden Calf of our time, today’s version of the biblical tale, this time focusing on our very own political debauchery and wilful human debasement.

The Evangelicals sold out for a promise of ending Roe, seating extreme conservative judges and having marriage strictly defined as between one man and one woman. They slimed their souls by tolerating the lying, cheating and moral degradation they actually got, and they did it with their eyes wide open. The irony for Evangelicals is just too crazy.

The White supremacists and hate groups sold out our country in the hope of moving their hate show to the main stage. They got that, and now everyone is clear that the haters are the real victims, poor babies, that it’s good and right to suppress the lowly “others” and that the haters are the meanest badasses in the country. In support of their sell out of our country and their beating of cops as they waved Blue Lives Matter flags is a human hot air balloon encouraging their wreaking national carnage.

The rest sold out for flimsier reasons, like, “I’ve always voted Republican and could never vote for a Democrat.”

And now all the sellouts have their very own golden idol to worship. Millions voted for him and continue to chant, “Stop the steal!”

Many thanks to JN for this graphic.

So do the Republicans in Congress, even the ones who at first finger-shamed and blamed Trump for his January 6 treachery. But then they chickened out. Back pedaled. Re-instituted their sucking up. Revved up their inner jelly fish and puckered their lips to match Trump’s ass.

They lie about everything that isn’t self-serving and, most awful, are trying to whitewash the insurrection against our country, even as they know that doing so is the path to the destruction of our democracy. That’s what passes for the Republican Party today.

The Tiananmen Square student protests of 2001 in Beijing were an illustration of the constant human struggle for freedom, this time played out on the world stage. It was also a demonstration of the unbridled lengths to which those in power will go to crush opposition.

That’s what autocracies do.

As those bloody events unfolded, one student summoned the courage to stand in front of army tanks and speak truth to power. He would not be silenced by the brutality of leadership. He would not allow the lies and cruelty to go unnamed.

We’re still looking for Republicans with that same kind of courage. Okay, I’ll give you Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. That’s two Republicans out of 263. Name another.

Strangely, we humans love to keep doing the same thing and then expect different results, but there are consequences to Einsteinian insanity. It’s time for Democrats to figure out that their opponents have been playing by different and draconian rules for decades, which is why Democrats have been overpowered in most state houses and governorships and manipulated into insignificance in Congress.

From The NKC Occasional Update of July 23, 2021:

Progressive think tank Future Majority is out with solid research that shows Dems are not getting credit for their achievements #ForThePeople. Their advice? Play offense on legislation, focus on message discipline about “Delivering” Democratic solutions for American families, and employ similar discipline in defining R’s as “For Q and Not for You!”

Democrats, the traditionally tongue-tied, slogan challenged, inept communicators, better figure out a smarter, more effective way fast, because terrible Republican stuff is afoot.

I don’t anticipate divine intervention to halt Republican Golden Calf prostration and the killing of democracy it can cause, but there was that one time at the foot of Mt. Sinai  .  .  .

————————-

I’ve written many times to and about our vaccine refuseniks. I’ve answered their reasonable concerns, offered doses of truth to counter the disinformation and propaganda they’ve been fed, used patriotic duty persuasion, offered snarky comments and ridicule and I’ve also washed my hands of them. Still, they insist upon endangering themselves and others, especially our first responders who have to risk their own lives to treat them in hospitals. Many still proudly declare their right to be stupid and die, which they are doing at the rate of about 260 per day.

(Darwin Awards alert: We have some solid contenders in this bunch.)

I’ve come to the point where it’s clear that Emmanuel Macron, President of France, has it right. Read his comments that start this edition of The Markin Report. Then read the rest of the report. It’s time for plain talk, setting limits and accountability. The reason it’s time is because this is an immediate life and death issue that is on the way to becoming far more threatening.

Click the graph

Tennessee Update

As reported here, the Great State of Tennessee proudly announced its cancellation of all outreach to promote all vaccines for kids. Not just Covid; all vaccines. As reported by The Tennessean, after receiving pressure from national condemnation of that decision, Gov. Lee announced a reversal, with the exception of continuing to refuse to use social media to reach teens, where they might actually be able to connect with them and encourage them to be protected. Apparently, they’ve also decided not to eliminate the Tennessee Department of Health, which they had threatened to do.

The Covid vaccination rate in Tennessee is just 39% and new cases of Covid have quintupled in the past month. There is no word on whether they will attempt to rehire Michelle Fiscus, the state’s former top vaccine official, whom they fired when they caved to GOP pressure and had their health damning fit of insanity on July 13.

Bear in mind that Tennessee is the state that proudly attacked and denied science in the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. – Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

.

————————-

“The blameless became the victims of the feckless.” *

.
  • * feckless – adjective
  • lacking initiative or strength of character; irresponsible. In this usage, Republicans.

————————————

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

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

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

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

JA


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

The American ISIS – Part Two


This is Part Two of The American ISIS. Part One was published on Wednesday, July 7, 2021. You can find it here.

————————

Kurt Andersen’s 2017 book Fantasyland is a remarkable journey through our 5 century endeavor to perfect our ability to believe almost anything. It’s about how we blind ourselves to obvious reality and embrace outrageous explanations and fantasies to fill our gaping ignorance and feed our passions. We may be reaching perfection in that right now and could achieve escape velocity.

I recommend Andersen’s book to you but caution that you may find some of his views objectionable. Should that happen, simply focus on the basic American manias of belief in whatever puffs our bubble and our need to be wowed by ever more spectacular wow. There are hard consequences to those vulnerabilities. Our enthusiasm to believe the otherwise unbelievable is especially true when we live in fear of the ground shifting farther away from what feels solidly familiar. We clutch after vaporous memories of an imagined better time that never happened and we demand that it return.

He concludes his book quoting Hannah Arendt, who escaped Germany in 1933, came to America and became a leading political philosopher. In her 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianism she wrote, “The essential conviction shared by all ranks [in a totalitarian movement], from fellow-traveler to leader, is that politics is a game of cheating.” Consider that in the context of our fellow-traveler mobs chanting “Stop the steal!” and their dear leader having whined, accused and lied incessantly since 2015 about rigged elections and who now donkey brays about how the 2020 election was “stolen” from him and his mobs.

Back to Arendt:

“A mix of gullibility and cynicism have been an outstanding characteristic of mob mentality before it became an everyday phenomenon of masses. In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and nothing was true  .  .  .  Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable truth of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.”

Her references were to Stalin and Hitler but she could as well have been writing about 21st century America and Donald Trump. We’re not a different species from any other people at any other time and this story is a recurring one. The difference is that it is being played out on us today and it is our democracy that is in danger.

The Nazi Brown Shirts and Stalin’s Death Squads and Pol Pot’s Kymer Rouge were each absolute followers of an absolute, tyrannical leader. They were constantly infused with propaganda. So, too, were and are the al Qaeda and ISIS vengeful mobs.

Right here at home our American ISIS is propagandized by Trump. He is yet another megalomaniac who will get his way or he will burn it all down. His followers have promised death to whomever he points a stubby finger at, including the Vice President of the United States. There are over 300 million guns in private hands in America and most are owned by a relative few, meaning that we have propagandized militias with over-stocked arsenals and barely contained rage. Even some of our military and police are fully propagandized.

These American ISIS members have promised ongoing violence fueled by their self-righteous certainties of patriotism and their imagined unity with 18th century revolutionaries. They have demonstrated their eagerness to inflict their violence on others. In fact far right extremists are the biggest perpetrators of domestic terrorism in America – by far. Now consider what will happen when their tyrannical leader, their Caligula, is indicted and convicted of his crimes.

Consider, too, how critical it will be to pass S.4263, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and H.R.1, the For The People Act to stop a Republican steal of our upcoming elections and of our democracy.

The facts are before us, so expecting the American ISIS to make good on their threats is an exercise in reality. Believe your eyes.

————————

Good News!

On Friday President Biden fired the Trump appointed head of the Social Security Administration, Andrew Saul, and solicited and received the resignation of his chief deputy, David Black. Saul spent the past years doing everything he could to deny benefits to seniors, our disabled and others for whom the system is supposed to work. He tried to bust the employee union and more.

Saul’s firing is a fine start to removing all the Trump toadies who have their jobs due to campaign donations and blatant conflicts of interest with the agencies they lead, like Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who spends his days hobbling the post office system and slowing your mail.

Well done, President Biden. Keep purging!

————————————

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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